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Raven Crime Reads

Criminally good reads…

Month

August 2013

Luke Delaney- The Keeper/Redemption of the Dead

 

Thomas Keller knows exactly who he’s looking for. They tried to keep them apart, but when he finds her, he’s going to keep her. Just like he knows she wants him to. DI Sean Corrigan is not like other detectives. His dark past has given him the ability to step into a crime scene and see it through the offender’s eyes. He understands what drives a person to commit terrible acts – but sometimes his gift feels more like a curse. When women start disappearing from their homes in broad daylight, Corrigan’s Murder Investigation Team is reluctant to take on a missing persons case. But then the first body turns up, and Corrigan knows he must quickly get into the mind of the murderer. Because this killer knows exactly who he wants. And he won’t stop until he finds her.

Having been metaphorically blown away by Delaney’s debut Cold-Killing , I was as keen as mustard to get stuck into the next in the DI Luke Corrigan series, The Keeper, which promised much and delivered even more. Building on the exceptional characterisation in the first, we are further enveloped in the world of this smarter than average police officer with his unique perception of the criminal mind…

Once again drawing on the experience gained in his former life as a police officer, Delaney has constructed a central plot that is both thrilling and chilling in equal measure. Focusing on a random nutter, imprisoning women in the vain and misguided hope of recapturing the magic of a childhood experience, Delaney captures all the nuances of a delusional mind and the inherent fear of his captives, and captures perfectly the claustrophobia and tension of their experience. There is perhaps a little too much repetition of the nefarious goings-on in the psychopath’s tracksuit bottoms, but essentially the strange imaginings and brutality of this particular individual will keep you thoroughly unsettled. Needless to say, I was worried enough by the actions of said nutter to warrant me keeping a much closer eye on my own postman- our killer’s day job- but what really sold this book to me was Delaney’s building on the strong characterisation of the first book in both his regular and new characters.

DI Sean Corrigan is a marvellous creation, and I like the multi-faceted aspects of his character. To all intents and purposes he is a normal copper in terms of his fairly settled home life and utter professionalism in his duty to the job. However, he has a remarkable insight in to the twisted mind, gleaned from the less than harmonious events of his childhood, and his ability to enter the killer’s mind and to effortlessly tap into their motivation. Although his actions arouse the suspicions of his colleagues no-one can deny his powers of perception, and Delaney in introducing the character of criminal psychologist Anna provides an interesting dimension to Corrigan’s unique ability, and the resistance he puts up to others who seek to challenge or get inside his mind. Likewise, the character of DS Sally Jones is explored further after her horrific experiences in the previous book, and her tentative journey back from recovery and the effects these events have had on her are, to me, the most moving aspect of the book, effortlessly gaining the empathy of the reader. So few male writers can really characterise female characters in a believable way, but Delaney has the knack, not only in the personal trials of Jones and the fiercely independent mind of Anna, but also as regards the captive women who find themselves at the mercy of the killer. A rare feat indeed.

So all in all what we have is a great second book, building on and extending the characters of the first, but all wrapped in a gripping plot that will keep any crime fiction fan on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t discovered Delaney yet, go now and seek him out- you won’t regret it!

 And a little Luke Delaney bonus for you e-reading folk….

1993. The Parkside Rapist has been terrorising the women of South London, and Detective Chief Superintendent Charlie Bannan is in need of a secret weapon if he’s going to catch this particular monster. When fresh-faced PC Sean Corrigan is transferred to join the team, Bannan immediately spots his potential. Soon Sean will find himself exploring the scars his own dark past has left him in the race to help his new mentor catch their quarry before he goes on to commit more, and worse crimes…

A small but perfectly formed short story  which effectively introduces us to the fledgling career of the now DI Sean Corrigan, and marking the start of his extraordinary ability to truly enter the mind of a killer, despite the ridicule and suspicions of his colleagues. If you’re not quite ready to commit to Cold Killing or The Keeper, or likewise you are a fan of both, this is a nice little side dish to the full length novels…

Luke Delaney joined the Metropolitan Police Service in the late 1980s and his first posting was to an inner city area of South East London notorious for high levels of crime and extreme violence. He was later asked to join the CID where he investigated murders ranging from those committed by fledgling serial killers to gangland assassinations. Follow on Twitter @LukeDelaneyUK

Read my review of Cold Killing (Sean Corrigan 1) here: Luke Delaney- Cold Killing.

(With thanks to HarperCollins and Kate @KillerReads for the ARC)

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Chris Carter- One By One

Detective Robert Hunter of the LAPD’s Homicide Special Section receives an anonymous call asking him to go to a specific web address – a private broadcast. Hunter logs on and a show devised for his eyes only immediately begins. But the caller doesn’t want Detective Hunter to just watch, he wants him to participate, and refusal is simply not an option. Forced to make a sickening choice, Hunter must sit and watch as an unidentified victim is tortured and murdered live over the Internet. The LAPD, together with the FBI, use everything at their disposal to electronically track the transmission down, but this killer is no amateur, and he was more than prepared for it. Before Hunter and his partner Garcia are even able to get their investigation going, Hunter receives a new phone call. A new website address. A new victim. But this time the killer has upgraded his game into a live murder reality show, where anyone can cast the deciding vote.

Chris Carter has quickly carved out a niche for himself in the realm of the psychological serial killer thriller, and One By One marks the fifth outing for his detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia. Tapping into the fertile world of social networking and the sometimes insidious influence of the Internet, Carter has produced a truly chilling crime read, which most scarily could eventually happen…

Robert Hunter of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division finds himself receiving the very personal attention of a cold calm killer: a killer who posts videos online of his victims on the verge of death, their fate to be decided in a voting system by those who click the link. Thanks to the propensity of video to quickly go viral globally, Hunter and his stalwart partner Detective Garcia, along with the finest brains in the FBI Cybercrime Division, face a race against the clock to reveal the connection between the victims of this twisted killer’s game and close in on the perpetrator of these heinous acts. Carter has a natural knack for tapping in to our worst nightmares and by bringing this storyline so realistically alive, the reader is imbued with a real sense that horrifyingly this plot is all too easily imaginable in a world so influenced by the power, and less than savoury activities, to be found on the medium of the internet. Once again, I would issue a warning to the more fainthearted of readers as to the visceral detail of the crimes committed, but for the more ghoulish amongst you they really are quite engrossing and the killer’s motivation is an interesting, and a surprisingly sympathetic one, when they are eventually unmasked.

Perhaps due to the demands of the compressed and quickly moving plot, which Carter unfolds in his normal meticulous style, there is little time for any real further development of the relationship between Hunter and Garcia- a kind of cerebral Batman and Robin. However, regular and new readers alike will quickly recognise the intrinsic understanding and closeness between them, gleaned from not only this book, but by the careful addition of references to previous investigations. As the two have plumbed the depths of a series of evil and twisted killers, there is almost a sense of telepathy between them in their actions and reactions that is seldom replicated in other crime novels, and in Carter’s portrayal of these two men, and the differences between them in a psychological sense, once again, their professional and personal relationship lies at the heart of the strength of this series. One By One homes in on, not only the natural humour and camararderie between them, but also the strength of their symbiotic relationship, when this killer comes a little too close for comfort to one of the detectives nearest and dearest. Throw into the mix, Michelle Kelly, a former hacker and now a cyber geek for the FBI who teams up with our intrepid duo, who I found a very compelling character and liked what she brought to the plot, and you will not be disappointed. With great plotting, a precision control of pace and tension, and assured characterisation, Chris Carter once again proves his worth in this thrilling and chilling tale. Scary stuff…

 Born in Brazil of Italian origin, Chris Carter studied psychology and criminal behaviour at the University of Michigan. As a member of the Michigan State District Attorney’s Criminal Psychology team, he interviewed and studied many criminals, including serial and multiple homicide offenders with life imprisonment convictions. http://www.chriscarterbooks.com

See Miles’ review of One By One here: http://www.milorambles.com

See my review of The Death Sculptor here: Chris Carter– The Death Sculptor.

See my review of The Hunter here: Chris Carter– The Hunter.

(With thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC)

Barbara Nadel- An Act of Kindness (Hakim & Arnold Mystery 2)

Product DetailsLondon’s East End has always been a social and racial melting pot and never more so than today. PI Lee Arnold and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim don’t mind – it keeps them on their toes. It is November. The days are getting darker and they have a new case on their hands. A young Asian couple moves into a dilapidated house in Upton Park. The woman, Nasreen, spends much of her time working alone on the house, her husband Abdullah preoccupied with his job. John Sawyer is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Since his discharge, he has been volatile and is now homeless. An unlikely friendship develops between Nasreen and John, one that her husband would frown upon. When John’s body is discovered, Nasreen’s suspicions light upon Abdullah. Did he know they were friends? Reluctant to go to the police, Nasreen reaches out to the Arnold Detective Agency. Mumtaz Hakim begins to dig into Abdullah’s past and into the house itself which, she finds, holds its own grim secrets.

Must admit to having tuned in late to this new crime venture by Barbara Nadel, known for the excellent Turkish Inspector Ikmen series, and having missed the first book A Private Business, featuring PI’s Lee Arnold and Mumtaz Hakim, will seek to make amends with a review of this, the second in the series.

Gravitating around the East End of London in the run-up to the Olympics, I think what struck me most about the book was how issue-based the story was, with a wide-reaching commentary on the social and cultural problems facing normal people scratching out a life in the metropolis. Nadel interweaves these issues, not only into the central murder plot, but also within the lives and back stories of all the main protagonists, notably in her Muslim PI Mumtaz Hakim, a single parent suffocating under the weight of debts left by her late husband, and with the mental scars left by the abuse that she and her step- daughter received at his hands. This story is replicated to some degree in her interaction with Nasreen, a wife not wholly trusting of her own husband, and who strikes up a tentative friendship with street dwelling ex-soldier John, who is later murdered. Nadel deftly illustrates the stresses of these women’s previous and current relationships with secretive and violent men, hemmed in by the constraints of their religious obligations in marriage. We also gain an insight into the abuse of other women, as Nadel highlights such issues as sex trafficking and the difficulties for women trying to raise their families under the constraints of slum landlords and moneylenders. These are debts that can sometimes only be repaid by the cruellest and most demeaning acts possible, and Nadel provides an effective counterpoint throughout against the backdrop of the hope and regeneration bound up in the staging of the Olympics- a renewal that provides little succour in reality for those that lived in its shadow.

Although for my taste I found the plot a little pedestrian, I did read this book at a pace, as the previously mentioned socio-cultural aspects of the book were more than enough to keep my interest, and I did like the little nuggets of interesting facts and observations that Nadel drip-fed throughout. I also took to the central characters of Lee Arnold, the ex-police officer and Mumtaz Hakim, and the respectful parameters of behaviour that defines their relationship both on a personal and professional level. I enjoyed the touches of humour on Arnold’s part especially in relation to Nadel’s portrayal of the nastier characters of the piece and Arnold’s interaction with them, and how her ‘baddies’ were truly despicable and seemingly untouchable from the forces of law and order, personified by feisty DI Vi Collins, who also enjoys a unique relationship with Arnold. Indeed, the natural wit and characterisation of the book along with the more thought-provoking addressing of social and cultural problems, more than made up for any weaknesses that I perceived personally in the plotting.

On the strength of this book, I will most certainly be seeking out A Private Business, to catch up on the beginnings of the partnership of Arnold and Hakim, and would certainly recommend An Act of Kindness for those who like their crime with a little more social conscience, uncovering the reality behind London’s shiny facade.

Born in the East End of London,  Barbara Nadel trained as an actress before becoming a writer. Now writing full-time, she has previously worked as a public relations officer for the National Schizophrenia Fellowship’s Good Companion Service and as a mental health advocate for the mentally disordered in a psychiatric hospital. She has also worked with sexually abused teenagers and taught psychology in schools and colleges, and is currently the patron of a charity that cares for those in emotional and mental distress. She has been a regular visitor to Turkey for more than twenty-five years and is the author of  the acclaimed Ikmen series of crime novels, set in Turkey. An Act of Kindness is the second in the series of Hakim and Arnold novels. Follow on Twitter: @BarbaraNadel

(With thanks to Midas PR/ Quercus for the ARC)

 

 

Charles Salzberg- Devil In The Hole

Product DetailsIn the ballroom of a sparsely furnished Connecticut mansion, police find a shocking sight: four bodies lined up next to each other, three teenagers and a middle-aged woman, each lying on a blanket, each shot once in the head. In an upstairs bedroom: an elderly woman and the family dog, both of them shot as well. The only person missing is the husband, father, son, and prime suspect, John Hartman, who’s got a three-week jump on the police. Through the eyes of almost two dozen characters, including the neighbor who reports the crime, Hartman’s mistress, a dogged state investigator, the family minister, and some of the characters Hartman meets on his escape route, we piece together not only what happened and how these shocking murders affect the community, but how John Hartman evades capture, where he’s headed, and maybe even why he committed this gruesome crime in the first place.

I am always fascinated by fictional recreations based on notorious real life murder cases, and this is the starting point for this exceptional novel by Charles Salzburg, that kept me hooked and emotionally involved throughout in equal measure. The novel is based on the real case of John List who in 1971 killed his wife, mother, and three children in their home in New Jersey and then disappeared, having planned the murders so meticulously that nearly a month passed before anyone noticed that anything was amiss. List then became a fugitive from the law, evading capture for nearly 18 years after assuming a false identity, eventually being brought to justice and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment. Salzberg recreates these events using the skeleton details of the real crime itself, and stealthily constructing a timeline of the events following the murders, through the eyes of everyone witness to, involved in the life of and pursuers of, his fictional construct the killer, John Hartman.

Chapter by chapter we bear witness to the testimonies, amongst others, of his neighbours, co-workers and his mistress along with those that seek to bring him to justice, in particular the dogged detective Charlie Floyd, and as Hartman’s flight progresses, those he encounters as a fugitive, and more emotively the thoughts and actions of Hartman himself. One of my biggest bugbears with novels is authors introducing characters far too quickly for the reader to get a handle on who’s who and who’s doing what to who. Remarkably, despite its slender form, Devil In The Hole actually contains no less than twenty-five characters, but thanks to the skill and control of Salzberg’s prose and characterisation, you never once lose sight of their place in the narrative and their connection to the main storyline. In every case, their presence, and the sometimes full, or in some cases, rudimentary details of their part in the plot are precisely delivered, little by little, all with a unique narrative voice, that separates them so distinctly in the reader’s mind. It’s a joy to read such an acutely well-constructed narrative, dwelling little on the physical description of character and location, but with Salzberg defining his characters so completely by their impression of, and personal interaction with a killer. Interestingly, we do not begin to hear the voice of Hartman until the third act of the book, and his, along with detective Floyd, are the key elements I feel in engaging the reader, and playing with our perceptions of and reaction to both. I found their narratives in particular exceptionally emotive, and how the travails of tracking a killer, and a life on the run impacts on both, and the ending was so unexpectedly poignant, I felt genuinely moved.

 If I was to compile a list of the crime books that have had the greatest influence on me, Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn would feature very highly on the list, where Jahn manipulates the details of a true crime case, through the eyes of a host of beautifully rendered characters. However, and without compunction, I would sit Salzberg’s Devil In The Hole comfortably alongside Jahn in my Hall of Fame for playing so subtly with my emotions, and demonstrating the power on the reader of a perfectly constructed multi-voiced narrative. A remarkable and affecting read and certainly not the last I shall read from this author.

Charles Salzberg is a novelist, a journalist, and an acclaimed writing instructor. He is the author of the Henry Swann detective series and a number of non-fiction books. He has been a Visiting Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, the Writer’s Voice, and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He is a consulting editor at the webzine Ducts.org and co-host, with Jonathan Kravetz, of the reading series, Trumpet Fiction, at KGB in New York City. His freelance work has appeared in several publications. http://www.charlessalzberg.com/ . Follow on Twitter @CharlesSalzberg

(I was sent a review copy by the author)

Sheila Bugler- Hunting Shadows

Product DetailsA young girl has been taken. There are no witnesses, no leads, no clues. The police are tracking a shadow, and time is running out. DI Ellen Kelly is at the top of her game – at least she was, until she took the law into her own hands and confronted her husband’s killer. She’s back at work now, but has a lot to prove. And she knows it. When she’s drafted in to lead the investigation, it resurrects painful memories. As she hunts for the missing girl, Ellen is ambushed by her own past and the question that has always haunted her: why was her own sister murdered?

With a nice little tagline from the one and only Ken Bruen on the front cover, and the mouthwatering allure of a new London based police procedural, I could not resist the temptations that this debut crime thriller offered. So did this live up to my expectations? I would say, categorically, yes….

Knowing my love/hate relationship with female police characters, and the intrinsic baggage of cliches that usually surrounds them, I have to say that DI Ellen Kelly, rose above the normal mediocre and largely predictable female protagonists that I have encountered, and proves herself a more complex character. I always cite the character of DS Stella Mooney from David Lawrence’s excellent and late lamented crime series as my doyen of London female detectives, so was singularly delighted that DI Kelly could easily give Mooney a run for her money. Although Kelly inevitably has dark secrets threatening to undo her career and liberty, with her bloody reprisal on the man responsible for her husband’s death, I actually found this very credible, and felt emotionally drawn in to the interior pain and anger that Kelly seeks to keep below the surface of her day-to-day life and career. Through Bugler’s pinpoint characterisation, Kelly is a woman of extremely interesting contradictions stemming from her complicated formative years, with her professional persona as a police detective, as a widow, a mother, and a woman who harbours not only a resilience and strength that fuels her air of calm, despite the anger beneath, in so many areas of her life, but interestingly causes her to question her ability to connect emotionally as she seeks to embark on a new fledgling relationship. By constructing such a multi-faceted character who easily carries the weight of the story, the importance of the plot could easily be relegated to second place, but Bugler does not disappoint…

I concede that the plot is an oft repeated one in terms of its use of an abduction of a young girl, Jodie Hudson, (reminiscent of an earlier unsolved abduction) by a seemingly beyond-a hope-completely-la-la weirdo fixated on the evil and brutal events of his childhood, but maybe all is not as it seems to be. Intrigued huh? The trauma of the abduction is brought to the reader through the eyes of Jodie in a form of stream of consciousness, as she seeks to make sense of, and more importantly try to survive, her ordeal, with the story mushrooming out to include a very intriguing plotline involving her stepfather that bats against the predictable conventions of a plot such as this. Throw into the mix, the personal and professional machinations during the investigation of DI Kelly, and all-in-all this is a thoroughly readable and satisfying thriller, and certainly merits a resounding thumbs-up from this reader.

Sheila Bugler grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway, she left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Argentina before finally settling in Eastbourne, where she lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children. Sheila adores crime fiction and has never wanted to write anything else and would  be delighted to share her recommendations and to hear yours too. If you’d like to contact Sheila, you can do so through her website: www.sheilabugler.co.uk  or via Twitter: @sheilab10.

(With thanks to Brandon, an imprint of O’Brien Press, for the ARC)

Pieter Aspe- The Square of Revenge

Product DetailsThe beautiful medieval architecture of Bruges belies the dark longings of her residents. When the wealthy and powerful Ludovic Degroof’s jewelry store is robbed, nothing is stolen, but the jewels have been dissolved in jars of aqua regia, an acid so strong that it can melt even gold. In the empty safe is a scrap of paper on which a strange square has been drawn. At first, Inspector Van In pays little attention to the paper, focusing on the bizarre nature of the burglary. But when Degroof’s children begin to receive letters with this same enigmatic square, Van In and the beautiful new District Attorney, Hannelore Martens, find themselves engaged in solving the mystery of a complex web of Latin phrases, a baroness’ fallen family, and Degroof’s unsettling relationship with a hostage grandchild, who is being ransomed for a priceless collection of art.

Having a penchant for European crime I am delighted to bring you a review of Belgian crime author Pieter Aspe, who until recently despite his prolific output, I was entirely unfamiliar with. Marrying the essential ingredients of any good Euro crime thriller, and in particular injecting the overall darkness of this tale with a light humorous touch, this author will now be a regular addition to my reading list.

Focusing on the character of Commissioner Pieter Van In of the Bruges police, what begins as a surprising robbery of a jeweller’s shop where nothing is taken, merely destroyed in a vat of aqua regia, and an unwillingness by the store’s influential and rich owner, Ludovic Degrooff or any publicity of the fact, the plot then takes a darker turn of kidnap and seedy family secrets. Van In is a brilliant creation- a hard drinking, chain smoking, rumpled heap of a man- who despite appearances not only proves himself as an astute investigator, but along with his police colleagues, possessed of a nifty knack for the killer one-liner. There is also a nice little side story involving him and the keen and comely Deputy Public Prosecutor, Hannelore Martens, who is new to the job, and sets our detective’s loins aflame. Working in cahoots, despite the Degroof’s reticence for their investigation to continue, Van In and Martens spur each other on to get to the heart of this unpleasant family’s murky past and face a race against time when Degroof’s grandson is kidnapped. As often seen in Scandinavian crime thrillers, there is an interesting inclusion of a political strand as a backdrop to the plot, but also I saw a resemblance to Italian crime fiction in the main protagonist, along with the other characters, and in the deft humour of the book. With such an intriguing and entertaining cast of characters and the minutiae of their personal travails, a great plot with some positively dark revelations that twists and turns throughout, and sprinkled with genuinely laugh out loud moments, there is much to recommend this for any fan of the Euro thriller. A great find.

Pieter Aspe is the pseudonym of Pierre Aspeslag. He studied Latin-Sciences at the Sint-Leo College in Bruges and has been a full time writer since 1996. Aspe writes crime fiction novels with inspector Pieter Van In and D.A. Hannelore Martens as principal characters, mainly situated in Bruges, Belgium. In 2001Aspe received the Hercule Poirot Price for his novel Zoenoffer. The first ten novels of Aspe were made into a TV series called Aspe by VTM (Flemish TV channel). He has currently sold over 1.5 million books in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Internationally bestselling author Pieter Aspe on how he got the inspiration for his unconventional lead detective and why he thinks it’s best to wait to start writing until you’re at least forty… https://www.facebook.com/openroadmedia/posts/10151655181391812

(I received this ARC as a digital download from Open Road Media via www.netgalley.com )

An Interview With Kathy Reichs- Bones Of The Lost/ Bones In Her Pocket

To mark the release of Bones of the Lost, the  latest book in the hugely successful Temperance Brennan series, Kathy kindly answered some questions for Raven Crime Reads about the new book, the discipline of writing, and the joy of peanut butter…  

 

With the release of the 16th book in the series, Bones of the Lost, this week in the UK could you tell us a little about the new outing for Temperance Brennan and the inspiration for the book?

The inspiration came from a recent trip I made to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan with the USO.  I was so impressed with the dedication of the troops  and with their bravery in the face of danger and hardship that I had to write about it.  Also, my daughter is a nurse and works with organizations dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking.  She encouraged me to visit that very important topic.
 
 
I must confess to not reading a huge amount of crime fiction by female authors as sometimes I feel that narcissism rears its ugly head in terms of the attractiveness of the character and others reaction to them. Temperance Brennan, although an attractive and intelligent woman herself, always displays certain insecurities as a woman, particularly in her physical appearance and in her turbulent personal relationships. How important is it to you to keep this sense of reality in her character?
 
Very important.  I want my main character to be approachable, to be someone with whom readers, especially women, can identify.
 
Temperance Brennan has taken on a life of her own as regards the success of the series and the incredibly popular spin off TV series ‘Bones’. Is this limiting to you as a writer and do you fear the reaction from your reading public if you wanted to diversify and write something different?
 
I like the fact that the TV version and the book version of Temperance Brennan differ.  When I write my stories I am not impacted by what occurs on the small screen.  The television series is like a prequel, an earlier version of book Tempe.
 
Many crime writers hold the tenet that to gain a true picture of the socio-political atmosphere of a country or even a smaller community, crime fiction provides a ‘truer’ portrait of these themes than is being accomplished in mainstream fiction these days. Is this something you agree with, particularly in relation to the more global themes that you incorporate into your books?
 
Yes and no.  Some themes tend to be overplayed.  Serial killers don’t lurk around every corner.  But I do use my stories to throw light on real issues that need attention: trafficking in endangered species (Bare Bones) trafficking in people (Bones of the Lost), child pornography on the internet (Bones to Ashes).
 
Throughout your whole series there is, more often than not a seamless melding, of crimes past and present, obviously influenced by the atrocities you have witnessed in your professional career. How important is it to you personally, this sense of history repeating itself in the evil that men do, and why do you think that there seems to be a steadfast refusal in our inability to learn from the sins of the past?
 
For some books this is true: Death du Jour, Grave Secrets, Bones to Ashes, Spider Bones.  For others the plot is more of a straight line modern mystery:  Deja Dead.  In some cases, such as Monday Mourning,  the mystery involves the question of timing.  Just how long ago did the victims die? Is there, in fact, a crime at all?     
 
With books being released around the world, there must be pressure on you to travel and do promotion, let alone the time you devote to the demands of your professional career, whilst retaining a personal life. How do you manage to juggle all these demands of career and writing?
 
 
Discipline.  As I write this I am at my beach house looking out my bay window at the ocean and dunes.  My family are out there, enjoying the sun surf, and sand.  I have a deadline for the next novel.  It is Tuesday.  So I am working all morning.
 
 
And just for fun…

Your dream dinner party guests from history would be…

Mark Twain and Douglas Adams, to keep the conversation fun and witty;  Jesus Christ, I have a lot of questions;  Fletcher Christian, I’ve always been fascinated with the Bounty mutiny and life on Pitcairn’s Island; my great grandmother, to know why they all left Ireland;  Leonardo Da Vinci, needs no explanation.

What makes you happy?  

Family.  Pinot Noir.  

Your musical pleasures are….

 Unsophisticated.  

Your favourite word?  

Linoleum.

Peanut butter or jelly? 

Peanut butter.  Creamy.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as one of only seventy-seven forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Dr Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerising forensic thrillers. Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller, a Sunday Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel.  She is also a producer of the chilling hit TV series Bones.

Visit her website: http://kathyreichs.com/ .

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathyreichsbooks

Follow on Twitter: @KathyReichs

Bones of the Lost  published 15th August in the UK ( William Heinemann)

The body of a teenage girl is discovered along a desolate highway on the outskirts of Charlotte. Inside her purse is the ID card of a local businessman who died in a fire months earlier. Who was the girl? And was she murdered? Dr Temperance Brennan, Forensic Anthropologist, must find the answers. She soon learns that a Gulf War veteran stands accused of smuggling artefacts into the country. Could there be a connection between the two cases? Convinced that the girl’s death was no accident, Tempe soon finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy that extends from South America to Afghanistan. But to find justice for the dead, she must be more courageous – and take more extreme action – than ever before.

Also available now – Bones In Her Pocket- a Temperance Brennan short story

Dr. Tempe Brennan has seen it all. Human bones. Animal bones. Old bones. Young bones. Male bones. Female bones. What she hasn’t seen is all of them mixed together in the same case. Until now…

The foothills of North Carolina aren’t the only unfamiliar territory Tempe faces as she races to learn the meaning of the Bones in Her Pocket.

 
 

 
 

Ken Bruen- Purgatory (Jack Taylor 10)

Product DetailsSomeone is scraping the scum off the streets of Galway, and they want Jack Taylor to get involved. A drug pusher, a rapist, a loan shark, all targeted in what look like vigilante attacks. And the killer is writing to Jack, signing their name: C-33. Jack has had enough. He doesn’t need the money, and doesn’t want to get involved. But when his friend Stewart gets drawn in, it seems he isn’t been given a choice. In the meantime, Jack is being courted by Reardon, a charismatic billionaire intent on buying up much of Galway, and begins a tentative relationship with Reardon’s PR director, Kelly. Caught between heaven and hell, there’s only one path for Jack Taylor to take: Purgatory.

Ken Bruen, being a personal favourite of mine, would mean that I could wax lyrical for hours about Purgatory, the tenth outing for Jack Taylor, a man destined for melancholy punctuated by acts of random violence. I could draw attention to the pitch perfect characterisation of Jack, with his regular mounting and dismounting of the wagon of physical pleasures, the booze and the fags, and his less than harmonious forays into the pleasures of the flesh. Always the wrong woman Jack. I could highlight the intrinsic morality buried deep in his soul, that manifests itself at times in observations of an almost lyrical beauty and  his steadfast  engagement with books, culture and current events that Bruen effortlessly weaves into the plot. At the same time it would be foolish to ignore the dark side of our erstwhile hero though, and the black places he inhabits mentally, and gets taken to, in the demands of this case all beautifully rendered by the sparsity yet richness of Bruen’s language which ebbs and flows with laconic perfection throughout Jack’s travails. I could mention the twisted, yet ultimately affectionate, relationship between Jack and  his native Galway, as the seedier aspects of this community and those that wish to exploit it, come to bear in this tale of avarice and murder…

Or I could keep it simple in a homage to Jack himself with his honest,  sweary nature and gravitation to the simple pronouncement.  Purgatory? Feckin’ great.

Ken Bruen was born in Galway, Ireland. After turning down a place at RADA, and completing a doctorate in Metaphysics, he spent 25 years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, South East Asia and South America. An unsheduled stint in a Brazilian prison where he suffered physical and mental abuse spurred him to write and, after a brief spell teaching in London, he returned to Galway, where he now lives with his daughter.

(With thanks to Transworld Ireland for the ARC)

William Shaw- A Song From Dead Lips

song deadLondon, 1968

The Runaway A young woman found naked and strangled in an alley in well-to-do St John’s Wood.

The African The neighbours would love to pin it on the enigmatic black stranger who has just moved in.

The Pariah Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen is convinced there’s more to the case than anyone wants to admit; no-one’s listening.

The Outsider In walks WPC Helen Tozer – awkward chatterbox, farmgirl, and the first woman to enter the murder unit – and gives Breen a breakthrough.

Prepare to be transported back to the heyday of the swinging Sixties in this thoroughly enjoyable debut by William Shaw. Drawing on the sights and sounds of this iconic era, with a musical soundtrack resonating with references to the age of Beatlemania and the hugely influential Abbey Road studios, Shaw has conjured up a gripping crime thriller infused with period detail. I think to simply draw comparisons with Life On Mars vis-a-vis the police element is fair to an extent- the novel is peppered with references to racism, homophobia, sexism and the more Neanderthal methods of policing, all in what we view now as the non-PC language of the time- but I think this does the novel a bit of a disservice. As the larger, and indeed more global, themes of the novel become apparent, and the strength of the police characters generally have a more intrinsic depth to them, Shaw rises above a mere whimsical trip back to the past and produces something altogether more gritty and compelling.

The main police protagonists, DS Cathal Breen and WPC Helen Tozer are well-drawn and carry the weight of the plot with ease. Breen is a deep and thought provoking character, set apart from his more brutish colleagues in the murder unit, often being at the brunt of their misplaced humour or vitriol. At times he shows a distinctly more human and empathetic approach to both victim and the suspects, and genuine physical responses to the criminal acts he bears witness to. The interplay between him and the ballsy Tozer, the first woman assigned to the murder unit, is beautifully realised combining a mixture of humour, camararderie and emotional involvement, which makes the scenes between these two in particular, one of the most satisfying aspects of the book. Breen is haunted by demons, but Tozer has also experienced a dark event in the past, which has caused her to carve out a career in the police service. The grittier aspects of this investigation has serious effects on, and consequences to both officers that Shaw effortlessly inveigles into the main, and for the most part, intriguing and disturbing plot making reference to the social prejudices of the era and drawing on aspects of the Biafran conflict- a political hotspot of the era.

I had certain pre-conceptions of this book, largely because of the period it was set in, thinking it might just be a run-of-the-mill sixties police procedural, which were confidently dispelled by the weight of the issues contained within the book, and the exceptional characterisation throughout. Shaw recreates the sights and the sounds of the era with ease and the prejudices of the time and I found this a most enjoyable and compelling read, drawing on a historical conflict that I personally had little knowledge of. A highly readable debut and I hope to see more in this series.

William Shaw was born in Newton Abbot, Devon, and lived for sixteen years in Hackney. For over twenty years he has written on popular culture and sub-culture for various publications including the Observer and the New York Times. A Song from Dead Lips is his first novel http://williamshaw.com/ @williamshaw1

http://www.quercusbooks.co.uk/blog/2013/07/29/william-shaw-30-second-qa/

(With thanks to Quercus for the ARC)

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