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Saturday 30 April 2022

‘The Choice’ by S.J. Ford

Published by Head of Zeus,
3 March 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-80110137-0 (PB)

Ask yourself this: if you knew for certain someone was about to detonate a bomb in a school-full of children including your own, and no one would listen when you tried to tell them, would you grab the opportunity to kill the killer before he could do the deed? That’s the choice that faces Jane Bell one otherwise ordinary winter day. There are no spoilers here, no mystery about what she chooses to do; it’s made plain on the second page of this unusual crime novel. As she returns home she sees her neighbour James Foster fetching in his wheelie bin – and drives her car straight towards him at speed, killing him almost instantly. She admits it right away, and even signs a confession.

All the same, is she a murderer who mowed down a defenceless man in cold blood, or a hero who saved the lives of nearly three hundred children? That is the question the novel sets out to explore.

The answer may be obvious, but in law it’s far from simple, and Jane finds herself remanded in custody and eventually on trial for murder despite huge support from the media, the public and even the detective inspector charged with interviewing her. The story unfolds from multiple viewpoints, all narrated in the first person: the detective, a newspaper reporter, the barrister who volunteers to defend her pro bono, a member of the jury, Jane’s husband who is left to cope with family life, and of course Jane herself. 

The background to Jane’s horrific act emerges slowly, through the eyes of all these characters, all of whom have their own story as well. Bill the detective is juggling a demanding job with a wife with terminal cancer and two teenage sons. Aneesa the reporter has spent most of her life searching for her missing mother. Simon the barrister has history with Aneesa and is gradually realizing there is more to life than his high-powered career. Mary the juror discovers inner reserves. Neil the husband also finds he is stronger than he thought. We even learn that James Foster had his own reasons for planning such a horrific act.

And Jane... Jane is just an ordinary woman hurled into an extraordinary situation. One thing is certain: whatever the outcome of the trial, she is responsible for the death of a man, and that knowledge is something she must learn to live with.

The result is an intriguing exploration of a knotty problem. It will make you think about the nature of good and evil, and where, if anywhere, to draw the line between them.

And that outcome? Hero – or murderer? You decide.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

S.J.Ford lives in the Cheshire countryside. She currently works in online marketing and writes part-time - gathering the quirky, emotional and problematic to feed her imagination and unleash her pen. She has a Golden Retriever that she relishes going on adventures with, a horse that lets her fly, and her favourite place is Cemaes Bay on Anglesey. The Choice is SJ's debut novel in this genre.

Lynne Patrick  has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Friday 29 April 2022

CrimeFest 2022: ITW: Thrilling For A Living

   Friday 13 May 2022
16:00 - 16:50

The Panel are: Alison Bruce, Dugald Bruce-Lockheart,
Alex Shaw, Michael Stanley

and the participating Moderator is Zoe Sharp

Alison Bruce was born in Croydon and grew up in Wiltshire. She had moved to the Cambridge area in 1998 and decided to make it the backdrop for the books because of its unique mix of characteristics. She writes the DC Gary Goodhew / Cambridge Blue series and has also written two standalone novels, I Did It for Us and The Moment before Impact. Alison has a first-class BSc (Hons) in Crime and Investigative Studies and works with the Eastern region police forces. Her next novel, Because She Looked Away, will be published in spring 2023.

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart is an actor-turned-writer with 25 years of experience in theatre, television and film. His debut novel The Lizard, published in 2020, has been optioned by Australian TV & Film company, Prodigy Movies, to be turned into a television series for a global audience. Having written the pilot episode for the TV adaptation, Dugald is putting the finishing touches to the sequel of The Lizard, Second Skin.

Alex Shaw spent the late 1990s in Ukraine, teaching and running his business before joining Siemens to work across the former USSR, and the EMEA. An ITW and CWA member, his Aidan Snow, Jack Tate and Sophie Racine thrillers are published by HarperCollins and Luzifer Verlag. Total Blackout was shortlisted for the 2021 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Award – Best Published Novel. Alex and his family divide their time between homes in Ukraine and England. 

Michael Stanley is writing duo Stanley Trollip and Michael Sears. Their mystery novels, featuring Detective Kubu, are set in Botswana. The third – Death of the Mantis – won a Barry Award and was an Edgar finalist. Their fourth, Deadly Harvest, was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers award. Their seventh mystery, Facets of Death, was released in 2020. Their book, Dead of Night, published in 2019, is a thriller about rhino-horn smuggling, with protagonist Crystal Nguyen. Stanley lives in Minneapolis and Cape Town.

Zoë Sharp spent her childhood living aboard a catamaran on the northwest coast of England. She opted out of mainstream education at twelve and wrote her first novel at fifteen. She began writing crime thriller fiction after receiving death-threats in the course of her work as a photojournalist and has been nominated for numerous awards. She is currently writing a new mystery thriller series for Bookouture, which began with The Last Time She Died.