Daily Archives: January 22, 2012

the fall by Claire McGowan

Published by Headline.

What would you do if the man you love was accused of murder?

Bad things never happen to Charlotte. She’s living the life she’s always wanted and about to marry wealthy banker, Dan. But Dan’s been hiding a secret, and the pressure is pushing him over the edge. After he’s arrested for the vicious killing of a nightclub owner, Charlotte’s future is shattered.

Then she opens her door to Keisha, an angry and frustrated stranger with a story to tell. Convinced of Dan’s innocence, Charlotte must fight for him – even if it means destroying her perfect life. But what Keisha knows threatens everyone she loves, and puts her own life in danger.

DC Matthew Hegarty is riding high on the success of Dan’s arrest. But he’s finding it difficult to ignore his growing doubts as well as the beautiful and vulnerable Charlotte. Can he really risk it all for what’s right?

Three stories. One truth. They all need to brace themselves for the fall.

It’s always great to get on at the ground floor when a new crime author enters the party and, with Claire McGowan’s debut ‘the fall’ you have the chance to do just that.  There is already a huge buzz about this psychological crime novel with strong comparisons to Rosamund Lipton and Belinda Bauer, to which I would also add Elizabeth Haynes, Julia Crouch and Sophie Hannah.

So, the short review would be: Buy it, because this new lady in crime is going to be big.

With a plot steaming with racial tension, it’s a timely read, fairly low on graphic on the page violence but packed full of the impact that violence and crime has on real people thrust into difficult circumstances beyond their control.

All of the characters, despite a reasonably large cast, are well illustrated to provide the reader with enough to care about each of them – making their reasons for their actions and reactions so frighteningly realistic and, for the most  part, understandable.

So, get your copy ordered here, and get prepared for ‘the fall’.



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where THE DEVIL can’t go – by Anya Lipska

Out now from Tadeusz Books.

The thing I love about the advent of the ebook and using twitter in combination to keep abreast of new releases from both established and new authors is the chance to find gems that might otherwise slip by.

And here’s a case in point, with Anya Lipska’s debut ebook release, a gritty hard read, based in the criminal underworld where British and Polish operatives collide.  Young waitress and wannabe model Weronika has disappeared and Janusz Kiszka has been given the task of finding her. The body of a young girl has been found in the Thames. Is Pawel Adamski – a man of dubious reputation and known drug dealer responsible for the counterfeit version of ecstasy flooding the streets of London, with possible links to the deaths of three girls in Poland? A known side-effect is the overheating of those who take the drug, so stripping naked and leaping into the Thames cannot be ruled out as a possibility for the body of the girl found in the river.

Whilst Janusz pursues the family’s needs for finding what has happened to Weronika, DC Natalie Kershaw is seeking the truth by more traditional means. But Janusz has the inside track, close contact with Weronika’s friend, Justyna Kozlowska, and the ways and means to make a trip to Poland (albeit by having to accompany a coffin) to help his private investigation.

With political and sexual undercurrents to the plot, and its spattering of great Polish expressions and phrases throughout, ‘where THE DEVIL can’t go’ is a great debut with plenty to get your teeth into.

A closing sequence of events that literally left me breathless cemented my want to read more of Anya Lipska’s crime fiction – well worth you hitting this click.


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A Serpent Uncoiled by Simon Spurrier

In celebration of the unleashing of A Serpent Uncoiled in paperback from Headline, Simon Spurrier has written this illuminating and very entertaining piece on the journey to publication and the book itself – PLEASE make sure you read to the end and click the video link (one of the best things you’ll see/hear this year – but turn the speakers down if there are little ones in the room):


They say a thin-skinned writer is a doomed writer. I’d say you can cut-out the “doomed” bit and it still makes sense.Listen. Like the rest of you, I’ve watched with mouth agape as X-Factor hopefuls and talent-show noddies are shredded by the collective ire of that most modern social-arbitration MustHave: The Expert Panel. Countless times I’ve wondered how it is that Johnny Crapvoice or Jenny Mankfoot could have arrived at this point – this needle-tipped moment of unimaginable ridicule – wherein it’s explained to them, live, that despite all their protestations to the contrary they in fact cannot sing, cannotdance, and in all likeliness will never again trouble a camera-lens with their likeness. That they are in fact worthless, talentless nuggets of gristle and fear, and that should the door Hit Their Ass on the way out, they will thereafter be invoiced for sweat-clearance. That the dreams of validation and idolisation they’ve been culturing since adolescence are so much bumsoup and that – thanks to the ritual humiliation they’ve just undergone – their return to vanilla mediocrity will in all likelihood be a shitload harder than it was before.…And I’ve guffawed at these peoples’ subsequent denials or dejections or defeats, same as you, because, really, we’re all completely horrible. How, we’ve all wondered, do these poor sods get to be so delusional?The fact is, they’re not. The fact is that we live in a world horrendously deprived of perspective. It’s a world in which no opinion can be said to be certain, and no quality proven, until it’s been hardbaked by the nuclear attentions and vitriolic judgements of a million people – or more. Increasingly, I feel that if someone has the balls – the rippling enormogonads – to test themselves against that compound-eye of consumer attention, then (sorry) they can be forgiven for overcompensating on the confidence front. For appearing to be so damn sure they’ve got the goods. These suckers’ve spent a lifetime being uplifted by the misguided love-compliments of friends and family, but… secretly? They don’t really know. They’ve simply figured out that in the game of Risking Everything, you might as well step into the light with a swagger.

Here the is unpleasant truth. Nobody truly knows if they’re Good or Shit until someone they’ve never met – ideally lots of someones they’ve never met – says so. Be they singer, dancer, painter, elephant-tamer, stage magician, wombat-tickler or, yes, yes, yes, writer.

Nobody wants to hear this: Reviews are almost everything.

Of course, reviews can’t always be trusted. That’s particularly true in this, our frothing Internet digirealm, wherein the stakes for reviewers aren’t quite as simple as “express opinion; feel satisfied at same.” It can’t be ignored that in the anonymity of certain online communities, a vitriolic savaging of the source-material accomplishes at double-speed what no amount of carefully-considered praise ever could: entertaining one’s fellow Internauts and endearing oneself to their collective.

In my other life as a comics scriptwriter – particularly with the bigger super-hero stuff – my fellow creators will often recite a simple brain-preserving Commandment (usually over the froth of a melancholy beer): Do Not Read Online Reviews. Even editors have given me this instruction: as if swaddling me from a toxic cloud of schedule-disrupting hatred which, counter-intuitively, doesn’t seem to colour the editors’ own opinions. Theirs, maybe, is the thickest skin of all.

I read the reviews anyway, of course. Some days I feel slightly as thought it’s a transaction of judgement: the reader has the right to express an opinion on the mewling literary baby I’ve left dangling and vulnerable before his face; just as I have the right to decide that his ill-use of grammar, obsession with exclamation-marks and evident lack of actually-having-read-the-bloody-work allows me to confidently ignore his opinion.

As long as you’re not shutting your eyes to everyone, the gestalt opinion is probably roughly accurate.

Let’s narrow this down a bit.

As frequent readers will know, my latest book – A Serpent Uncoiled – was released in largescale and kindle formats last year. And it received – honestly – some astonishing reviews.

“This is the most original book of the year, and it will take a work of staggering outlandishness to wrest that title from Spurrier’s claws.” — BookGeeks

“A Serpent Uncoiled is a great book, but not for the faint of heart. Grim, gritty and atmospheric, it is certainly for those who like their stories with verve. With great prose and dialogue, Spurrier had created a novel that will I hope become a classic.” — Shotsmag

“An elaborately tooled razor of a book.” — Warren Ellis

“A unique protagonist, a unique voice, and a plot that sucks you in from the first page. Spurrier’s sharp, brilliant prose is addictive.” — Mike Carey

Thin skinned? I’m so thin-skinned I’ve never needed an X-ray in my life – the doctor just stands near a candle. Happily, it turns out that a crippling inability to insulate oneself from the judgement of others works in both directions. Upon reading all these lovely reviews I started to get excited. Here, I felt, was the tipping point to my career. A tsunami of hyperbolic praise and acclaim awaited me. Simon Cowell had waggled his eyebrows, pursed his lips… and raised his thumb.

That’s an amazing moment, for a fragile-ego’d wordmonkey. At long last one allows oneself a little confidence. You’ve sat and watched as the careers of your cherished peers have matured and tumesced all around you. You’ve secretly feared all along that you’re the mediocritite, the runt, the also-ran; doomed to be humoured and condescended by the giants of your circle. And now here, finally: validation! Not quite enough to become a monster – you’re not a dick, are you? – but ohhh that quiet warmth.

They say I’m good. They say I’m good. Oh god, this is really happening…

And then the book doesn’t go up onto any shelves. And the newspaper critics have got too many “big” authors to get through and not enough space. And the UK’s biggest literary retailer is in the middle of a crisis and isn’t buying anything – especially not creepy problematic Grime Novels by silly-named comicbook geeks. Oh, and Jordan’s got a new frilly-arsed gold-embossed wordcrime out, and Jeremy Clarkson just wiped his arse and published it, and there are at least four hundred soppy middle-class village-based mystery novels to be stocked before we come to the weirdo drug-taking brainfreak Private Eye stuff, and, and, and…

I said “reviews are almost everything, right?” The remainder is purely this: Attention.

When the trade-format edition of A Serpent Uncoiled was released, it staggered onto the X-Factor stage, nervous like a nun in her knickers. It puffed out its chest and gave its most confident smile. It prayed for glory and prepared itself for humiliation. And yes, oh gorgeousness and gorgeosity, Simon Cowell raised his thumb.

But there was nobody in the bloody audience, and all the cameras were watching for Cheryl Cole’s cleavage.

I’m not bitter, really. Everything’s a learning curve, in the end. So to all the readers out there I offer Perspective, and to all the writers I offer a freebie LEVEL-UP-lesson to save you a few disappointments:

The dream of becoming a writer is a fine and noble thing. The hoops one must jump to achieve it are fiery, vertiginous and smell like fart. There is no safety mat. No trainer. No chalk-pot to help you grip. And once the routine’s over and you’ve landed — ohhh the relief!

But it’s all bollocks. The hoops never stop. They just change their shape from time to time. Quality, my loves, Isn’t Enough.

The paperback edition of A Serpent Uncoiled is out this week.

And if I want to sell my book – and you’d imagine I probably do – I’ve got to take responsibility for that. And, possibly, to get a little crazy. Behold: Check this video out !


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