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Monday 28 May 2018

‘The Fear’ by C L Taylor

Published by Avon,
22 March 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-0081109-4

If you want a larger-than-life heroine who is determined to deal with her past, look no further than Lou Wandsworth in The Fear. Lou was bamboozled by an older man when she was a schoolgirl, taken to France and abused – and she’s never come to terms with it. She doesn’t set out to confront Mike, but things haven’t been going too well and when she finds herself back in her hometown to put the family farm on the market after the death of her father, virtually the first person she sees is her abuser – and first love – making overtures to another schoolgirl.

Lou lures Mike out to her isolated house. What happens next isn’t what she intended and it’s certainly not what Mike – or the reader – expected. I was startled by Lou’s behaviour but at no time did I completely lose sympathy for her. Meanwhile, someone is organising a vendetta against Lou – and Lou has no idea what danger she might be in from an unknown enemy –  while Chloe, the latest schoolgirl to be besotted by Mike, is devastated at a sudden cessation of texts.

I have to say, this was one of those commercial novels where the plot was compelling, the reading easy and the multiple viewpoint structure worked nicely. The storylines kept on delivering and page-turning kept on happening. There was depth and complexity to the characters, too. I particularly liked how Lou’s feelings towards Mike remained ambiguous for a long time – and how her determination to protect Chloe pulled her through.

The climax was worth waiting for, and the final ghoulish twist made me shudder. I’d not seen that coming: but it was well planted and plausible, which I do like in a thriller. Men get rather a hard deal in the novel, with few sympathetic portrayals, although the plot is so gripping it probably won’t trouble most readers. I can imagine The Fear will draw more fans to C L Taylor’s bright flame with its satisfying themes of revenge and redemption.
Reviewer: Dea Parkin

C.L. Taylor is the Sunday Times bestselling author of five gripping, stand-alone psychological thrillers: The Accident, The Lie, The Missing, The Escape and The Fear. Her award-winning books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on all the ebook platforms, optioned for television and translated into over 20 languages. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

Dea Parkin is an editor with her consultancy Fiction Feedback and is also Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association. She writes poetry and occasionally re-engages with The Novel. When she isn't editing, managing or writing she is usually to be found on the tennis court – or following the international tour at home on TV. Usually with several books on the go, she entertains a penchant for crime fiction, history, and novels with a mystical edge. She is engaged in a continual struggle to find space for bookshelves and time for her friends and her cat.

Shortlist Announced for Theakston Festival Crime Novel of the Year 2018


The shortlist for one of crime writing’s most wanted accolades, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.
The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles.
The prize, created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction, was open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.
The shortlist in full
Mick Herron, Spook Street

Val McDermid, Insidious Intent

Denise Mina, The Long Drop

Abir Mukherjee, A Rising Ma

Stav Sherez, The Intrusions

 Susie Steiner, Persons Unknown

Val McDermid, Susie Steiner, and Mick Herron return as contenders after being shortlisted in 2017,
the year Chris Brookmyre took the winning accolade.

Mick Herron’s espionage thriller, Spook Street, is the fourth in his award-winning Jackson Lamb series. His acclaimed series is based on an MI5 department of ‘rejects’ – intelligent services’ misfits and screw-ups. Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for ‘the spycraft of le CarrĂ© refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.’
Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent features DCI Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, two of the most iconic characters in crime fiction. The LA Times said it was a novel that ‘shows Val McDermid deserves her Queen of Crime crown’. McDermid last received the Novel of the Year accolade in 2006.
Denise Mina could make it a hat-trick after winning the award in 2012 and 2013, she is the only author to date to have won the Novel of the Year in two consecutive years. The Long Drop has already attracted a wealth of awards; Mina was the first woman to win The McIlvanney Prize for The Long Drop.

Abir Mukherjee is the only author on the shortlist for a debut novel. A Rising Man, saw Abir Mukherjee picked as a 2016 New Blood author by Val McDermid at the Festival. She hailed it as, ‘One of the most exciting debut novels I’ve read in years.’ It too has won awards, including the CWA Historical Dagger. His sequel in the Sam Wyndham series is A Necessary Evil.
The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was a 2017 Guardian and Sunday Times book of the year, dubbed ‘A Silence of the Lambs for the internet age’ by Ian Rankin. The book was acclaimed by critics for its echoes of Emile Zola and influences from Graham Greene to Dostoyevsky.

Former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner’s first crime novel introduced Detective Manon Bradshaw in Missing, Presumed, a Sunday Times bestseller. Her follow up, Persons Unknown, a Richard and Judy book club pick, has attracted huge critical acclaim.
The 2018 Award is run in partnership with title sponsor T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.
2018 marks the 14th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said:
“The shortlisted authors are already rich in awards, but there’s only one Novel of the Year, so it will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails - all are simply outstanding.”
The shortlist will feature in a six-week promotion in libraries and in WHSmith stores nationwide. The overall
winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote.
The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at
Helen Donkin, Literature Festival Manager at Harrogate International Festivals, said: “The public’s vote is incredibly important. It’s the readers that have real power when it comes to judging a book’s worth, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard – it’s free and simple to vote online.”
The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 19 July on the opening night of the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.
The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

‘The Murder Tree’ by Alan Veale

Published by Matador,
1 October 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78306-111-2

New Yorker Chrissie Fersen, who only a few months previously was pregnant and in love, has now travelled to Glasgow in Scotland with her brother Edward for a break, following a traumatic time. When Edward is called into work, Chrissie continues her sightseeing alone and wonders into a neighbourhood of elegant three storey houses. Staring at the buildings she experiences a feeling of familiarity. Then in a basement window she sees what can only be a woman being murdered. Running to escape the sight and sounds that surely must be in her head she finds herself in front of a library. She starts by researching murders in Sauchiehall Street going back 50 years.

In the library she meets Billie Vane who helps her by producing back copies of the Glasgow Herald.  Eventually Chrissie tracks the murder back to 1862, and the death of a servant girl.  But what has a murder more than a hundred years ago got to do with her?  How can she recognise a house in Glasgow when she has never visited Glasgow before? These two unlikely people seek the truth to the murder. But as they investigate to find the truth they put themselves in danger. Could the events of the past have tentacles linking to the current day?

This intriguing and absorbing this mystery contains a fey element that captivated this reader’s attention. Well-written with good characterisation this fascinating mystery will keep you turning the pages. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Alan Veale was born in 1952 in Manchester. He spent most of his formative years (from age 20 to 60) as a thespian and/or working in the civil service. As a teenager he discovered the joy of creative writing and applied his energies in that direction mainly to theatre scripts. His first novel The Murder Tree was published in October 2013, and he has just released a more personal story about his parents’ experience of emigrating in 1949 (A Kangaroo in My Sideboard). Written in his mother’s words and based on original letters she wrote during her adventure, it is a heart-warming tale of ambition versus adversity in a pre-internet world.