July 2014 Round Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)Another busy month on the blog with no less than three blog tours for Dan Smith, John Burley and Tim Adler, and although not as many reviews posted as normal, a lot of reading has been going on to get ahead for the jam packed August release schedule (see below).  July also heralded the start of International Crime Month in the UK and there was the traditional Theakston’s Harrogate Crime Festival. Belinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker claimed the prize of Crime Book of the Year, and the other books on the shortlist included:

Elly Griffiths- Dying Fall

Malcolm Mackay- The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

Peter May- The Chess Men

Denise Mina- The Red Road

Stav Sherez- Eleven Days

 

 And so to the books:Reviewed this month:Dan Smith- Red Winter

M. J. Arlidge- Eeny Meeny

Tim Adler- Surrogate

A. D. Garrett- Believe No One

Chris Carter- An Evil Mind

Neely Tucker- The Ways of the Dead

Georges Simenon- A Man’s Head (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Raven’s Book of the Month

neely Neely Tucker: The Ways of the Dead

To be honest, this was one of the easier months to decide on a best read, despite the visceral charm of Chris Carter’s An Evil Mind, and the previously reviewed Red Winter from Dan Smith, as this book just sang to me from the first few pages. This Washington DC based thriller illustrates perfectly all that is good and true about contemporary American crime fiction, and taking as its starting point a real life crime case from the 1990’s, just had me completely hooked throughout. The plot and characterisation were compelling and emotive, as well as the realistic detail afforded to the racial and economic tensions, behind the glamour and wealth of the seat of America’s political power. A superb read, and I would be very surprised if this one doesn’t feature strongly in my traditional best five reads of the year.

Also read with reviews coming in August:

Erin Kelly- Broadchurch (at Crime Fiction Lover)

Malcolm Mackay- The Night The Rich Men Burned

Marco Malvaldi- The Art of Killing Well (at Crime Fiction Lover)

K. T. Medina- White Crocodile (including a feature about the inspiration for the book)

Kanao Minato- Confessions

Kevin Sampson- The House On The Hill (including a feature on the writing of the book)

Andrea Maria Schenkel- The Dark Meadow

Kevin Stevens- Reach The Shining River

 

 

 

Tim Adler- Blog Tour 14-19th July- Surrogate out now…

Tim blog tour Delighted to take part in this week’s blog tour heralding the publication of Tim Adler’s second crime thriller Surrogate. Following Tim’s debut stand alone thriller Slow Bleed reviewed here  Surrogate is an equally tense psychological thriller focusing on the possible pitfalls of choosing the wrong person to bear your child. Not all dreams come true in a good way. Read on for an extract,  and Raven’s review follows…

EXTRACT

I climbed over a hillock and then dropped down onto the sand. Despite the fog, I could make out how bleakly beautiful it was. I started trudging across the corrugated moon landscape and dug my phone out of my waterproof.

She answered after the third ring. “It’s me,” I said. “I’m here. How will you find me?”

“Don’t you worry about that,” she replied. “Just keep walking. Are you sure you weren’t followed?”

“Yes,” I lied. “I’m alone.”

She ended the call, and I turned to face the way I had come. Blankness had already swallowed up the railway station and car park, and you could barely see your hand in front of your face. I kept on walking just as Mole had instructed me to. It had become eerily quiet. The only sounds were the suck of each footfall and the occasional plangent bark of a seagull high above my head. That and the sound of my breathing. I pictured us as figures in a painting she had shown me once, a flat Dutch landscape with two tiny people walking towards each other.

She emerged out of the fog as if somebody had breathed on glass. She was pushing our baby daughter in a buggy and was weighed down with a holdall she was carrying. My first instinct was to check whether Nancy was all right. Our darling baby was buttoned up against the cold, snuggled up in some kind of sleeping bag.

Emily, too, was zipped up, wearing a parka, and my heart thickened in surprise as she removed her fur-trimmed hood.

She had shaved all her hair off.

My wife was completely bald, and she was crying…

RAVEN’S REVIEW:

  surrogateHow much is your child worth? That’s the question Hugo and Emily Cox must answer when they get a ransom demand for their child – from Alice, the surrogate mother they paid to carry their baby. The police are helpless. No law has been broken — the baby belongs to their surrogate. And Hugo has a secret he’s keeping from his wife that makes their search even more desperate. Now Hugo and Emily must find their missing daughter… even if it costs them everything they own.

Having made the leap from established non-fiction author to thriller writer, Adler’s first book Slow Bleed was well received among the reviewing community and readers alike, and I enjoyed the debut. Admittedly in my opinion there were slight flaws with the first, but what is interesting with Surrogate is the noticeable growth of confidence, and more  fluid writing style in evidence here, making for a very readable and intriguing thriller.

The story revolves around the somewhat privileged son of a business entrepreneur, whose father’s grasping and ruthless business style, has caused trouble for the reputation of the family’s insurance business, and his heir apparent Hugo. On reflection, Hugo is not a particularly bad guy and it’s interesting to see how his his world is turned upside down by meeting the flighty, artistic Emily (or ‘Mole’), and how they begin to forge a future together. Due to a nasty twist of fate, that makes them unable to conceive a child naturally, they call on the services of a surrogate to complete their family. However, Hugo is soon to discover that the female of the species is deadlier, and infinitely more devious, than the male, as a series of violent events find him framed for murder and looking for answers. I am somewhat reluctant to reveal too much of the plot, as the gradual inclusion of well-placed reveals, and surprising revelations drive the narrative forward, and shift your perspective of who is good, and who is bad. The plot is controlled throughout, and I did enjoy the confusion and angst experienced by the hapless Hugo at the hands of these women. Yes, it could be said that the plot feels vaguely familiar, but I think that Adler manipulates the premise well, and this certainly did not impinge on my enjoyment of the book generally.

Overall, the characters are well-formed, and despite the less admirable facets of their personalities, I engaged with them throughout, even the ones imbued with scheming minds and general wickedness! I did feel varying degrees of sympathy with them all as the plot progressed, as their dark motivations and damaged psyches are brought to the fore. Even though I cottoned on to one character’s secret, the pace of the story and engaging writing style carried me along nicely to the conclusion, although out of sheer devilment, and to frustrate the reader I would have used the genuinely frightening, but beautifully described atmosphere of Chapter 38 as my closing chapter. See- you will all have to read the book now to find out why…

So all in all, an enjoyable thriller, and a good choice for a summer holiday read.

Surrogate is available to buy from Amazon

 

timTim Adler is an author and journalist who has written for Financial Times, The Times and the Daily Telegraph among others. His debut psychological thriller Slow Bleed went to number #1 in the Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. The Sunday Times called Tim’s latest non-fiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Daily Telegraph gave it 5 stars. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob — an exposé of how the Mafia has corrupted the movie industry – was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail. Tim is former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website. Before that, he edited film trade magazine Screen Finance — described by Evening Standard as “highly influential” – as well as TV business magazine New Media Markets. He regularly features as a pundit on BBC Radio 4′s Today, BBC Breakfast and Sky News. Follow on Twitter @timadlerauthor

Tim Adler- Slow Bleed

Product DetailsA missing son.
A kidnapper who’s dead.
Nobody believes her.
Nothing will stop her.

Everything changes for Doctor Jemma Sands when she tries to save the life of a car crash victim rushed to A&E. The young woman, Toppy Mrazek, is pregnant. Jemma is faced with a terrible dilemma: either she can save the mother or the baby. Jemma saves the mother, a decision which has terrible consequences.

When Jemma’s five-year-old son Matthew goes missing, only Jemma believes that her vengeful patient has stolen her child. After all, how do you convince police to search for a dead woman, one who survived a car crash only to drown on holiday? As her world falls apart, Jemma realises she is the only one who can save her son. If somebody took your only child, how far would you go to get him back?

From its explosive opening chapter Slow Bleed grabs you by the throat and is entirely unwilling to relinquish its grip from that point on. Balancing the demands of both a thriller, and an exploration of the darker side of the medical profession and the lucrative world of the pharmaceutical business,  Tim Adler produces a tense and gripping crime read, in his first foray into the crime fiction genre.

I would have to say that this a genuine easy reading thriller, that as the story ebbs and flows, leading the reader in unexpected directions, you will fair whip through this. With the central character of Doctor Jemma Sands, a professional and steady woman of good character and a seemingly settled home life, Adler seems to take a genuine delight into uprooting everything she holds to be true and most treasured, and turning her world upside down. From her initial interaction performing a life saving operation on the mysterious Toppy Mrazek, Jemma’s life goes into tailspin, as she discovers an emotional connection between her duplicitous husband and Toppy, but most tellingly that Toppy is in no way, shape, or form the woman she appears to be, and will prove to be Jemma’s arch nemesis. As Toppy begins to malevolently influence all corners of Jemma’s comfortable life, our intrepid doctor must draw on all her resources to outwit her opponent, particularly when her child’s life is threatened. For me, this was the most successful aspect of the book, as Adler really seemed to tap into the female mentality and the ‘lioness’ instinct, that is demonstrated by both women. Although it is quickly evident that Toppy possesses a singularly devious and self assured character, that shapes and dictates her less than honourable deeds, it is interesting to see how Jemma grows in stature and strength, as she is thrust into a whole host of dangerous situations, and how those around her seek to manipulate her. As she is led down blind alleys, and placed in danger- particularly by those she puts her trust in- she begins to think outside her own complacent reality, and proves herself a more than worthy adversary to the troublesome Toppy- but who will come out on top?

With my normal honesty, I won’t pretend that the plot was without flaws and there were certain incidents that did require a little leap of faith by the reader, particularly in relation to a brief sojourn across the Channel, and sometimes a little too much reliance on slightly clunky coincidences. However, such is the breathless pace of this thriller, any small kinks in the general story arc can be forgiven to keep the action moving forward. As the reader’s empathy is aroused by our emotionally bruised and battered heroine,  you are quickly moved from chapter to chapter, to see the next twist in Jemma’s nightmare. A good page-turner overall.

Tim Adler is an author and journalist who has written for Financial Times, The Times and the Daily Telegraph among others. His debut psychological thriller Slow Bleed went to number #1 in the Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. The Sunday Times called Tim’s latest non-fiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Daily Telegraph gave it 5 stars. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob — an exposé of how the Mafia has corrupted the movie industry – was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail. Tim is former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website. Before that, he edited film trade magazine Screen Finance — described by Evening Standard as “highly influential” – as well as TV business magazine New Media Markets. He regularly features as a pundit on BBC Radio 4’s Today, BBC Breakfast and Sky News. Follow on Twitter @timadlerauthor