Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

What causes fear?

fear - What causes fear? Tastes Like Fear
D.I. Marnie Rome 3
Sarah Hilary
mystery, police procedural, psychological, women sleuths
(28 July 2016)
four star - What causes fear?

Children are missing. Teenagers disappear. D I Marnie Rome returns to investigate in Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year winner Sarah Hilary's TASTES LIKE FEAR. For readers of S J Bolton and Alex Marwood.

'Intelligently and fluently written with a clever plot and an energetic pace, dealing with harrowing topics and shot through with humanity' Cath Staincliffe


The fragile young girl who causes the fatal car crash disappears from the scene. A runaway who doesn't want to be found, she only wants to return to the man who understands her and offers her warmth, comfort, a home. He gives her gives her shelter. Just as he gives shelter to the other lost girls who live in his house.

He's the head of her new family.

D.I. Marnie Rome has faced many dangerous criminals but she has never come up against a man like Harm. She thinks that she knows families, their secrets and their fault lines. But as she begins investigating the girl's disappearance nothing can prepare her for what she's about to face.

A mystery girl wanders into the road causing a car crash and what follows is unsettling for many in this police procedural.

A number of issues are explored – why would girls write on their bodies? How paranoid can you get from being locked up? Does being locked up causes fear and thus aggression? And does the Forgiveness Project really work?

We are left wondering about the young girls in this story such as Christie – does she have Stockholm Syndrome? Who exactly is Aimee? And can a 13 year old girl really behave like Loz?

I thought there were some some nice twists but also some predictability. I did like the alternating voices style as reading the ‘lost girls’ stories in their own voices helped understand them more and why they might be in the situation they were. I also liked finding out a little – but not too much – of the police characters and their backgrounds.

I am giving it 4 as I did guess who Aimee was just over half way through the book and thus some of the storyline was then obvious.

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Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

London Calls to?

london - London Calls to? London Calling
Inspector Carlyle
James Craig
Crime, Thriller & Mystery, Police procedurals
(4 Aug. 2011)
four star - London Calls to?

Can you win an election and cover up murder at the same time? When Inspector John Carlyle finds a body in a luxury London hotel room he begins a journey through the murky world of the British ruling classes which leads all the way to the top. In the middle of a General Election, a murderer is stalking the man poised to be the next Prime Minister. With power almost in his grasp, Edgar Carlton will not stand idly by while his birthright is threatened. Operating in a world where right and wrong don't exist and the pursuit of power is everything, Carlyle has to find the killer before Carlton takes the law into his own hands.

A complex story with a surprise ending!

And clearly based on some political characters we know and love in the UK…

So we start with Xavier, the spoilt twin of Edgar, who are both interested in being Prime Minister of England, but currently Edgar is, with Xavier promised the next turn..

Xavier rides a bike – rather reluctantly into work at the Houses of Parliament to illustrate their green credentials – only he is followed by his minder, his briefcase and his suit in the chauffeured limousine… not only was this hypocrisy but he had been caught several times breaking traffic laws on camera… (much like most fast cyclists in London I have to say – at traffic light crossings it’s the cyclists who nearly run me down not the cars jumping the lights!).

As a result of his bad biking behaviour there is a petition to get him back on his bike – fuelled by Xavier himself faking a number of signatures…(fake voters, now where have I heard about that recently?) as with most ‘fake’ voting it failed and he had to continue – and to add injury to this failure when  his bike was  stolen, the  bike was returned – un like my husband’s 2 Bromptons.

So we have the ‘Golden Twins’ Edgar and Xavier from a very privileged background – that came back to bite them. As some of our UK politicians have found before, that which happens at Oxbridge doesn’t stay hidden forever.

I have 3 main criticisms of this book:

  1. Whilst James Craig lives in London he has not quite kept up with the times – the Thames is full of life. In 2011 when this book was published,  it was full of salmon, eels and even dolphins.
  2. Yes, the public transport system is chronically underfunded but not unreliable. Except for certain exceptions. Where else will you know that a tube train will be along in less than 2 minutes –  or that a bus will be 5 mins –  unless it says otherwise? It is chronically over-full, but personally I blame the ever increasing numbers of tourists on that! It has improved since 2011 I’ll give him that.
  3. And Brick Lane again – is known for being part of the up and coming areas – it had a porridge cafe with a chocolate hazelnut and quinoa porridge, but which was forced to close due to its high prices which caused a number of demonstrations against it – and its gentrification of the area (re-opening in March as a pop-up just down the road). Yet Tower Hamlets, the borough in which Brick Lane is situated also has extreme wealth in the Canary Wharf area, and is very close to the the tech hub of the Silicon Roundabout.

These 3 points down-grade the book as I think readers should be given a true view of London.

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Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

London Calls for Justice

london - London Calls for Justice London Calling
Inspector Carlysle
James Craig
police procedural, crime, mystery, thriller
(4 Aug. 2011)
four star - London Calls for Justice

Can you win an election and cover up murder at the same time?

When Inspector John Carlyle finds a body in a luxury London hotel room he begins a journey through the murky world of the British ruling classes which leads all the way to the top.

In the middle of a General Election, a murderer is stalking the man poised to be the next Prime Minister. With power almost in his grasp, Edgar Carlton will not stand idly by while his birthright is threatened.

Operating in a world where right and wrong don't exist and the pursuit of power is everything, Carlyle has to find the killer before Carlton takes the law into his own hands.

A complex story that involves politics and an election and privilege.

The Old Boys’ Club that seems to exist amongst certain rather wealthy young men appears to encourage and support an amount of youthful high jinks that can be rather more serious in nature than just fun and games. Sometimes they include what amount to serious crimes, but that are covered up by members of the club, as (almost) part of their rights and dues for their societal positions.

In this story a crime committed long ago, in university, comes back to haunt the Club in the most macabre way.

It is the job of the police to unravel the clues and to find out just what is being hidden, by whom, and who are the guilty parties.

I enjoyed this, my first Inspector Carlyle novel. I enjoyed the writing style and the storyline set against the complications of an election and party politics.

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Books/book review/Fantasy/fiction/Romance/crime fiction

Talking Cats

crazy cat - Talking Cats Crazy Cat Ladies: Cat Scratch Fever
L.C. Alleyne
paranormal, romance, crime
11 Oct 2016
two star - Talking Cats

Inspector Rafael Montigue detects the scent of a potential mate during a delegate meeting. Kristin Wallin is working undercover to bring down the Brazilian Minister’s drug ring. When terrorists attack, Rafe exposes his panther shifter identity in order to protect Kristin, but she surprises him with secrets of her own that make him look like an innocent kitty cat.


A shifter story – panther who is now a policeman and a political assassination attempt – falls for someone he meets there.

Here we also have a Norwegian forest cat – forest 300x300 - Talking Catsvery intelligent here – it can converse with a panther shifter. (And, yup, they are rather large cats…) I didn’t realise cat language was quite so universal – in fact I have read that it is very specific and that each domestic cat speaks a language it has developed to its human, that is different to every other cat.  This might be the case here?

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Why the Question was Perilous: Barry Finlay tells all.

Questions for Authors: Barry Finlay author of A Perilous Question responds

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?
The premise for my new novel, A Perilous Question, is based on a question asked of me by a teenage girl during a tour of a dormitory in Africa we had helped to fund through our fundraising activities. Her question was, “When are you taking me to Canada?” I always wondered what would have happened to her if she had asked the wrong person. There was nothing holding her there. Her parents had died of HIV/Aids and she had no siblings. As far as I know, the real girl was fine, but the girl and her friend in my book are not so fortunate.  

I believe it is a relevant subject with human trafficking being so prevalent. It points to a need for better education. The teenager in Africa was either unaware of the potential risk or willing to take the chance for a better life. The fact that I’ve visited Africa twice and have some familiarity with the education system provides some uniqueness.
  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?
The tour of the dormitory took place in 2009 and I wrote my first novel, The Vanishing Wife, which had little to do with this topic, before I tackled A Perilous Question. It was always in the back of my head to write a novel about the subject. I do have some notes about topics, but I knew that this was one I just had to write about.
  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
I did some research on human trafficking before I started writing and continued throughout the writing process.  It was rolling around in my head for about 4 years and I researched off and on during that time.
  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
The internet is my primary source, but I always check more than one article on the subject before using the information. For both my novels, I spoke with Detectives who are experts in human trafficking, negotiations and general police procedure. One scene in my first novel takes place in a Casino and I talked to some employees at one we have locally and got a tour of the restaurant during quiet hours.
  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?
In my opinion, talking to subject matter experts is priceless. It adds authenticity to the book. Things just don’t happen the way they do on CSI. I was thrilled with my conversations with the members of the local police department.
I am fortunate to have contacts that got me in the door and introduced me to the right people. The detectives I met were extremely forthcoming and giving of their time. 
Without those contacts, I guess I would start with their Public Relations team. I think the level of success in approaching them will depend on the police force and their particular outreach programs. The people I spoke with seemed to be happy that I was taking the time to try to get it right.
  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
 When I wrote my first book, a non-fiction story called, Kilimanjaro and Beyond, I received my share of rejection letters. My second non-fiction story called I Guess We Missed the Boat, was published by a small press. They ultimately became insolvent and I have been self publishing ever since.

 If I may, I would just like to comment on self-publishing versus publishing.
There are definite advantages to being a author published by a publishing house. Some that I can think of off the top of my head are improved distribution, greater access to mainstream newspaper, TV and radio spots and opportunities to enter more prestigious literary competitions. 
However, there are many advantages to self-publishing, including maintaining control of your work, setting your own deadlines, etc. and there are also many promotional opportunities and more every day. There is still some stigma attached to self-publishing, but it is disappearing. 
My experience with the publishing house was that I still had to do most of the marketing and promotion myself. In short, there’s nothing wrong with chasing the dream, but someone who is self-published should never consider themselves less of an author.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
I think self-publishing Kilimanjaro and Beyond helped me find a publisher for my second book.
  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?
 In my opinion, it helps to demonstrate a level of commitment before approaching a publisher. They want to know you are in it for the long haul and that you have some sense of the business. Some sales and awards are also helpful. Some publishers may be willing to take you on without that, but I certainly think your chances of being noticed improve with self-publishing experience

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Writing does not provide sufficient income for me to live on, although it is getting better. Now that I have four books on the market, I’m seeing some regular monthly income. There is a great deal of competition so that makes it difficult to stand out. I think most writers have to be prepared to supplement their income somehow.
  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
I get some strange questions when I’m signing books and many people want to talk about their own writing or other personal experiences. Someone asked me once how long an elephant lives. I guess I was supposed to know that because I wrote a book about Kilimanjaro in Africa. Any opportunity to meet the readers is a great experience.

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