Saturday, 31 October 2015

Nowhere Girl Ruth Dugdall

I'm big fan of Ruth Dugdall, Humber Boy B was one of the best books I have read, so I was very excited when I was asked to read Nowhere Girl. I wasn't disappointed, this book is another fabulous read.

Book Description

Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself. She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home.

My review

Cate Austin is once again the protagonist of this book. It does follow on from Humber Boy B but it can easily be read as a stand alone, (although I recommend you read all of Ruth's novels). Cate has given up her job, left her home in England, and along with her daughter Amelia, has moved to Luxembourg to live with her boyfriend Olivier.

The story centres on Ellie, a teenage girl, the sister of Cate's daughter's friend. Ellie's relationship with her mother is very strained so when she disappears at a local fair it is assumed that she has ran away. At first Cate doesn't want to get involved but as the days pass she becomes increasing frustrated by the attitude of the local police, and especially Olivier.

Ruth DugdallRuth, an ex probation officer herself, was born in Felixstowe but now lives in Luxembourg with her family, not surprisingly, she captures the setting perfectly.

The pace of the story really suited me, and I loved the way it switched from character to character.

The characters themselves were very believable, and I quickly found myself being drawn into their lives. The fear and panic of the children was utterly convincing and unsettling.

There are twists in this story that I was not expecting, some that are quite shocking.

It is a great novel, one that will open your eyes to the horrors of child trafficking. I loved it, and thoroughly recommend it.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Legend Press for giving me a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Fabulous night with Peter James

My hubby and I attended a performance of the stage play of Peter James' DEAD SIMPLE this month.

I'm a great fan of Peter's, and luckily it fell close to my birthday, my hubby's not really into reading, and especially not crime fiction, so I didn't think he'd want to go to see the production, but he did like The Mousetrap when it came to Nottingham, and said he like to see a more contemporary play.

I'd received an email from the Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall telling me that if I had a ticket I could also attend a crime writing workshop Peter was putting on before the performance, so hubby got the tickets. I called the box office, as the email instructed but the girl on the other end of the phone didn't know anything about the workshop. Finally, she found out that it did exist but only for people with the best price tickets, we had tickets for the dress circle because I like sitting there. I pointed out that the email didn't say that, and if I had known we could have purchased the more expensive tickets.

A few days I got a call telling me that I could attend, and that the ticket was in the post, but a couple of days before I was due to go I received another phone call saying that the workshop was cancelled due to lack of interest! What is wrong with the people of Nottingham, we are talking about a workshop by the man voted the best crime writer ever!

That didn't stop me from enjoying the show. It was fabulous. I did wonder how they were going to pull it off, it was very clever. I'm not going to say too much because I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the play doesn't exactly follow the book, how can it, books are so long, plays are much shorter, but if you're a fan of Peter James, (and even if you've never read his work), you will love it.

Afterwards we were lucky to be able to go to a question and answer session with the great man himself.

Peter James is so engaging and amusing, and if you get a chance to see him you must. He is full of witty stories. The cast were great too. There is a lot of warmth between them all. It was a fantastic end to a great evening.

After all that Peter came out and did a book signing. Unfortunately all of his books are safely ensconced on my kindle, so we just said hi, and went home.

The other great thing about this evening is that my hubby is now reading Dead Simple, and really likes it, in fact, he likes it that much that he wants to read MORE crime fiction. Thank you Peter James, at last we'll be able to discuss books instead of talking about footy or the cricket!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Evil Games Angela Marsons

Warning, this book will keep you up at night. It is a fantastic read, with an antagonist as scary as a certain Mr Lectar.

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time - it’s personal.

The character of DI Kim Stone, who I just love, is developing more and more with each book. Ably assisted by DS Bryant, she is one lady I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of.

Her antagonist in this novel is Doctor Alexandra Thorne, another fabulous character who is so evil she gave me chills. A dangerous sociopath, she makes it her business to delve into Kim Stone’s past in an effort to find her Achilles heel and destroy her. This is truly an evil woman, and she’s brilliant.

This book takes you on a wonderful, unnerving ride. Full of twists and turns, the action never stops.

This is the second book in the series, Silent Scream was the first, but it can be read as a standalone.

Silent Scream was great, but, in my opinion, Evil Games is better. It is definitely going into my top five books of 2015.

A definite 5* read, and thoroughly recommended.

This book is available now:

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

What She Left Behind by T.R. Richmond

Not sure what I really felt about this book. 

Yes it was original, and I, personally, have never read a book like it before, the concept of writing a book by using diary/blog pages, emails, tweets, and Facebook posts was great. 

It contains a lot of really nice prose, and the storyline is good.

I really like Alice Salmon. She had her faults, what heroine doesn't! She is the subject of the book, the girl who died, mysteriously, on a snowy February night. Prof Cooke is the protagonist. He’s the man who wants to gather all the information he can about her, to find out what sort of on-line presence she left behind, to see if he could make her dance again! Through this process we slowly come to realise the truth about Alice’s death.

The story is told through multiple viewpoints, Alice herself, the Prof, Alice’s boyfriend, friends and family, and through multiple time frames. The switch from one time frame to another is very cleverly done, and I was never unclear about where I was in the story. 

The characterisation is exceptional, I have a daughter the same age as Alice, and the things she did/wrote about, remind me so much of my daughter when she was younger, as well as now.

I think that what really bothered me about the book was I didn’t like Prof Cooke, I found him supercilious, and irritating. Some of the things he did, and wrote were truly awful, and I had no sympathy with him whatsoever.

I found it to be quite a sad book, but it was a book that I couldn’t stop reading. That was my dilemma, I hated the protagonist, but I had to get to the end.  That’s why I gave this book a 4* review. One thing this book does make you do is think about your own on-line footprint, it's amazing what stuff is out there in cyberspace!

Would I recommend this book, yes I would, it is a very clever, different read that grabs you in.

Available now:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Friend or Foe?

One of the things we were asked in editing today was, Should editing be a collaborative process or not?
Collaborative editing allows the work to be edited by a group of people simultaneously, then having a feedback and discussion session with the writer on points they have picked up. This is the point of the group I belong to.
Editing my stuff -
I like to get different peoples viewpoints on my work. My editing group tells me what they feel works and what doesn't. It’s sometimes hard to listen to people pulling my words apart, but it is better in the long run to know something isn't working than to carry on regardless and waste months writing a novel no one will want to read because the tone is wrong, or there are mistakes with continuity. Never mind the grammar!  
Editors need to have good attention to detail, and be able to spot mistakes in the story. A number of people reading that story are able to pick up far more that the individual writer. I have found with my own writing that I am often too close to the story to notice many stand out errors. Even with my editor’s ‘hat’ on, there are still things I miss.
Whilst the others are reading the story it is uncomfortable but I have grown to trust their judgements, and they have picked up some humongous mistakes that I've made.
And editing isn't just about the mistakes that I've made, editors also pick up on the good things that I've written, and they are very encouraging and supportive.
There is a danger that the group of editors can become complacent with my work
Editing other peoples stuff –
I used to find editing other peoples work quite difficult, especially if it was a piece that I didn't like, but I now realise how useful it is to the writer, and I really don’t mind any more.  What I try to look for are the positives as well as the ways the work can be improved. When the author addresses the criticism I find that I get a lot out of it, I have gained a better understanding of the way people think, and the way they view things.
After all I am writing to be read, and so are the rest. 

Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall

Humber Boy B is a novel I won’t forget in a hurry. It is heart-breaking, horrific, and at times, absolutely unsettling, but it is one of the most gripping novels I’ve read this year.

A child is killed after falling from the Humber Bridge. Despite fleeing the scene, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity. Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B’s reintegration into society. But the general public’s anger is steadily growing, and those around her are wondering if the secret of his identity is one he actually deserves to keep. Cate’s loyalty is challenged when she begins to discover the truth of the crime. She must ask herself if a child is capable of premeditated murder. Or is there a greater evil at play?

The novel tells the story of Humber Boy B, who killed another child when he was ten years old, and the difficulties of reintegrating him into society eight years later.

Cate Austin, is his probation officer, and it is her job to keep his identity secret, against a society that is outraged at his early release. Some of the Facebook posts, skilfully woven throughout the story, are chilling.

It is told from the different viewpoints of the characters involved, not only after his release, but also at the time of the killing.

Ruth Dugdall, was herself a probation officer, and she deals with this harrowing subject with a great deal of sensitivity.

It is a very thought provoking novel, full of twists and turns, it’s one that will stay with you for a long time after you’ve reached its disturbing conclusion.

I have never read Ruth Dugdall before, but I will be reading her books in the future. She is an excellent story teller. Her characterisation is faultless, and her plot draws you in from the start.

This is a definite five star read. I loved it, and thoroughly recommend it.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Legend Press for giving me a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Humber Boy B can be purchased now from:

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The last editing session : (

Today was our final editing session, so I couldn't give up this chance to have one more piece of work scrutinised by the group.

I submitted the opening piece of my novella.  It is quite an atmospheric piece, about a young girl, who has gone to a deserted cove in the middle of the night to kill herself, but before she actually takes her life she finds an injured seal.

As I was reading the passage out loud I realised that I had used the work instinctively twice in as many sentences. I had broken the cardinal rule, that before I submit anything I need to read it out loud.

The feedback I received was that I had captured the atmosphere really well, the editors knew why my protagonist was at the cove.

Prior to my piece we had been editing a piece about a dog. Everyone assumed that the animal on the beach was a dog! I need to make it clearer that the animal is actually a seal, which is easy to rectify as I could mention that when he looks at her she realises it is a baby seal. Another thing that was brought up was the fact that she has to move him, which would be very difficult if he was full grown.

I also recognised that I really need to do some more research, when asked if there was a chance that my protagonist could be bitten by the seal I really didn't know.

It was pointed out that I write about water quite a bit, and was it significant. I can't say that it is. My husband is from Scarborough and we tend to spend a lot of time up there. I love the sea and my dream is to have a little house near the beach, so maybe it is just my unconscious longing to be back there.

I did receive some lovely feedback, especially from my tutor who picked out a passage he liked.

As I reached the top I took a deep breath. I knew now why the cove was deserted, the state of the path was keeping people away; the state of the path would keep you safe.

According to my tutor it has nice rhythm, but it is a paradox, the path is dangerous. It is nicely compressed in atmosphere, tone and mood.

I have found that editing is all about taking the good points with the bad, there may be things that have to be put right with my writing, but there are times when you know that something works, and it doesn't hurt to have your opinion reiterated.

As a writer I feel it is better to work with the editor. I am able to discuss the points I disagree with, after all none of us feel comfortable about getting rid of our little darlings. Editors see my work from a different viewpoint, and by working with them, hopefully I will end up with an acceptance letter from an agent.

Friday, 1 May 2015

FORSAKEN by J.D. Barker

When horror author Thad McAlister began his latest novel, a `tale rooted in the witch trials of centuries past, the words flowed effortlessly. The story poured forth, filling page after page with the most frightening character ever to crawl from his imagination. It was his greatest work, one that would guarantee him a position among the legends of the craft.

But was it really fiction?

He inadvertently opened a door, one that would soon jeopardize the lives of his family.

She wants to come back.

At home, his wife struggles to keep their family alive. Secretly wondering if she caused it all…a deal she made long ago. A deal with the Forsaken


It’s been a while since I read a really gripping horror novel, but this one had me hooked.

Thad McAlister is a horror story writer. He is chronicling the story of a 17th Century witch trial, and he feels compelled to write it. 

The moment he finishes his book creepy things start to happen to Thad and his family, and I mean really creepy things. His wife and daughter are terrorized by evil creatures. I got the jitters going through their ordeal with them because the characterisation is so good, you can actually feel the horror the family are going through.

I was transported back to the 17th Century by snippets of Thad’s book that are interwoven throughout the novel. This works very well and helps to build up the tension.

The plot is great. The action doesn’t slow down for a minute. I never really understood the term ‘Tension building up to a crescendo’ before, but now I do. The ending is brilliant.

I have never read a book by J.D. Barker prior to this, but I will seek out his books in the future. He is a fabulous story teller.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that this book is genuinely scary. Definitely a 5* read. I thoroughly recommend it.

Available now on Amazon

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ey up me duck!

This week I sent part of my novel in to be edited. What was picked up was the improvement in my dialogue.

The novel is a gritty police procedural, which is set on a fictional estate in Nottingham. In the piece the characters speak in colloquial vernacular, (slang).

Having been born and raised in Nottingham, I find writing in local dialect very easy. My characters speak in my mother tongue, the hardest part of the writing is how to spell the words, I know the sounds but not the spellings. I found a great guide in the Left Lion magazine.

I must admit that a lot of my characters swear. This is because I believe that dialogue should sound authentic. The way a character speaks should be appropriate to that character. My novel is about drug dealers, readers wouldn’t believe a drug dealer who said ‘Oh dear,’ they expect such rough and ready characters to use bad language.

I try to keep my dialogue short. People don’t usually speak in long sentences, so why would my characters. What people usually do is add a few ums and urrghs to their conversations, but writing dialogue the way people literally speak would quickly become irritating to the person reading it, so I tend to leave out the awkward pauses, and write my dialogue as realistically as possible, without making my characters irksome.

I have stopped using so many dialogue tags, (he said, she said). Since I’ve learnt about beats I find my dialogue sounds a lot more realistic with some action interspersed between speakers.

One of the things I was commended on was that none of my characters call another character ‘Duck’. A lot of people associate Nottingham people with the word duck. Saying ey up me duck instead of hello, and calling people duck, which is, according to the Left Lion, a term of endearment. I only call people duck when I’m in a different Town or City, then I tend to broaden my accent.  I know very few Nottingham people who use it, (although they do say ey up), so I didn’t want my characters to use it. According to my editing class, to use the term would have been lazy as it’s stereotypical Nottingham talk.

Although my dialogue is getting a lot better, it’s still not perfect. One of the things I was picked up on was question marks. I had left the question mark off a piece of speech, because although it was a question, the character already knew what the answer was going to be, so she was really being sarcastic. This lead to a discussion on when is a question not a question. Apparently they don’t use question marks in Italy. A lot of the editors thought that I was wrong to leave off the question mark, and in the end I agreed with them. I have to consider the rule of the genre, and whether the readers would expect it. I think they would.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

TWISTED by Andrew E Kaufman

The psychologist with a troubled past…

Dr. Christopher Kellan spends his days at Loveland Psychiatric Hospital, overseeing a unit known as Alpha Twelve, home to the most deranged and psychotic killers imaginable. His newest patient, Donny Ray Smith, is accused of murdering ten young girls and making their bodies disappear. But during his first encounter with Donny, Christopher finds something else unsettling: the man looks familiar.

The killer with a secret…

Donny Ray knows things about Christopher—things he couldn’t have possibly learned at Loveland. As the psychologist delves deeper into the mysterious patient’s case, Christopher’s life whirls out of control. The contours of his mind are rapidly losing shape, and his grasp on reality is slipping even faster. Is he going mad, or is that what Donny Ray wants him to think?

The terror that binds them…

In this taut psychological thriller from Andrew E. Kaufman, bestselling author of The Lion, the Lamb, the Hunted, a tormented man must face his fear and enter the mind of a killer to find the truth…even if it costs him his sanity.


Twisted is an utterly absorbing book which kept me hooked from the very first page right through to the excellent ending.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away because I don’t want to spoil a great read. Dr Christopher Kellan, a psychologist at Loveland psychiatric hospital recognises his latest patient. Donny Ray Smith is due to stand trial for the murder of a six year old child, but he soon realises that the enigmatic Donny Ray knows more about him than he should. On a tight deadline to evaluate Donny Ray’s mental state, Dr Kellan begins to lose his grasp on reality.

The reader is taken through a whirlpool of emotions as we take the journey with him, and what a journey it is: shocking, mystifying, mind blowing, but ultimately compelling.

Twisted is the ideal title for this book, because there are so many twists and turns that lead to a superb ending that I never saw coming.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will definitely be reading more by Mr Kaufman.

I have no problem recommending this novel. A brilliant 5* read.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Broken Tamar Cohen

Ever since the birth of their daughters four years ago, two couples, Josh and Hannah, and Dan and Sasha have been best friends. They spend so much time in each other’s company that the two young girls have grown up more like sisters than friends. Then one day Dan drops a bombshell, he is leaving Sasha.

Josh and Hannah agree to be neutral, and support both couples during this difficult time, but things soon take a downwards curve, when the emotionally unstable Sasha refuses to accept the situation. Bad things start to happen, Dan and Sasha blame each other, Josh and Hannah are torn between the two. When bad things start to happen to them, just who should Josh and Hannah believe.

This is a fantastic book. Cohen takes you on a ride that you don’t want to get off.

The situation is all too real, one couple caught in the middle of the breakup of their best friends marriage. The ‘perfect’ couple splitting up, whilst the relationship of the less than perfect couple is sound, or is it?

It was chilling witnessing the sophisticated Sasha fall apart. My sympathies went from one character to another at an alarming rate, until I wasn’t sure what, or who, to believe.

There is also the memoir of a young girl dotted throughout the story, that adds a mysterious undercurrent to the already dark plot.

The pace was fast. It was definitely a CPID, (couldn’t put it down), book. I was definitely not expecting the ending, it was a complete shock.

This is a fabulous psychological thriller that left me wanting to read more by the talented Ms Cohen, I’m sure you will feel the same.



A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He's unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman - before it's too late.


To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety - both for her, and her young niece who's been recently admitted. She's heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman's next target will be. But he's there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks...

This book starts at the end, which is quite a fresh approach, and something that I feel works well, because you want to read on to find out what has happened, (You don’t find out who the shooter is until the actual end of the novel). It starts with Charlie, a journalist, witnessing a mass shooting at a the local Mount Pleasant hospital.  

The story is very effectively told over six days,  from the perspective of the four main characters: Charlie, a journalist with the local paper, Aden, a firearms officer, Imogen, a psychologist, and the shooter. Don’t let that put you off. It is a very easy book to read.

There are quite a few sub plots involving these characters, Imogen the copper red haired twin, who is desperate to have a baby, Charlie, who’s friend has died mysteriously, and Aden troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy.

The plot is very clever, and quite gripping. I liked the way that somehow the characters lives are all intertwined. Charlie is a little bit of a stereotypical journalist, but I did become fond of her.

This was a couldn’t put down novel, because I had to know what why there was a shooter stalking the hospital, and why did he open fire.

There were plenty of red herrings to misdirect me and I didn’t guess the ending.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Me, The Debut Daggers, and CRIMEFEST

The Crime Writers' AssociationOn the 31st January I finally sent my manuscript off to the Debut Daggers. Three perfect chapters and a synopsis, well, as perfect as I could make them.

The Debut Daggers is run by the Crime Writers Association (CWA), and is open to anyone who has not had a novel published commercially. Like me.

All shortlisted entries receive a professional assessment of their work. The winning entry will be seen by leading agents and top editors. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The Long list will be announced AFTER they have announced the shortlist on 15th May at CRIMEFEST, it seems such a long way off, but it's only just over a month away.

Follow the Debut Daggers on Facebook
For more about the CWA go to

Talking about CRIMEFEST, It's your chance to meet, and mingle with authors, agents and publishers, and have a great time.

There are some fabulous authors attending this year.
Some of the highlights are: Maj Sjöwall being interviewed by Lee Child, and Sophie Hannah & Mathew Prichard celebrating 125 years of Agatha Christie.

Other participating authors include
Rhys Bowen, Sam Eastland, Felix Francis,   M.R. Hall, Antonia Hodgson, William Ryan,       Zoë Sharp, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Laura Wilson
and many more.

So why not get your ticket now
The Full CRIMEFEST Pass is currently £135 but will incrementally go up to £175. The full pass includes admission to all panels and a CRIMEFEST delegate bag with books and a programme. Day passes are also available.
Visit the website at

Monday, 30 March 2015

And the quest goes on - I DO want to write part two

I now try to get to the Harrogate Crime Writers Festival every year. It’s a great place, a place where ordinary people like me can mingle with wonderful crime writers, such as Mel Sherratt, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Elizabeth Haynes, and Harlan Corben.

One of the people I met at my first Creative Thursday (yes, I’ve done more than one!), was Jackie. We both sat nervously, waiting for the first session, and started to talk to each other. Jackie has become a great friend, was later instrumental in helping me to further my pursuit.

In May 2012 I saw an advert for a one day creative writing workshop, intriguingly called A man comes into the room with a gun... Crime writer Zoe Sharpe was running the workshop. I downloaded one of her books, found that she was a really good author, I also found a great heroine in Charlie Fox. (If anything, my quest to become a writer is opening my eyes to some fabulous new, (to me), authors). I immediately signed myself up.

Through Zoe I learnt about the importance of a great first line, and techniques to keep my readers reading. It was a very full, but fun day. I left exhausted, but even more sure that I wanted to write, and more sure that I wanted to be a crime writer.

Meanwhile, my job situation was becoming unstable. I had worked for thirteen years for one of the largest housing providers in Nottingham, but the chances of my job being cut was becoming more and more evident. I needed to think about the future. I started to look at University courses, was I to old to start a new career? could I hack a university course after so many years out of school?

Alex Davis was running a six week evening course From Idea to Publication, if I could handle this, University would be a breeze, wouldn’t it?
Have you even taken any writing courses, what did you think of them?