Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dead Scared by S.J.Bolton

Out now from Bantam Press

Someone is watching you . . .

When a Cambridge student dramatically attempts to take her own life, DI Mark Joesbury realises that the university has developed an unhealthy record of young people committing suicide in extraordinary ways.

Against huge personal misgivings, Joesbury sends young policewoman DC Lacey Flint to Cambridge, with a brief to work under-cover, posing as a depression-prone vulnerable student.

Psychiatrist Evi Oliver is the only person in Cambridge who knows who Lacey really is – or so they both hope. But as the two women dig deeper into the darker side of university life, they discover a terrifying trend . . .

And when Lacey starts experiencing the same disturbing nightmares reported by the dead girls, she knows that she is next.

Don’t be fooled by the friendly face of S.J.Bolton, or by her lovely nature and personality – this lady can keep you welded to the pages, digging into your deepest darkest fears and nightmares, her books holding you captive until only she agrees to let you go.

Over the course of her previous four novels; Sacrifice, Awakening, Blood Harvest & Now You See Me, she has racked up the tension and created her own brand of creepy gripping crime fiction. And, if you were scared by all of the previous books, now prepare to be Dead Scared!

The initial premise of the start of the investigation, that of a cluster of suicides akin to those we all remember from Bridgend a few years back, but you just know that there is going to be a lot more here than just a simple copycat or trend occurring -this is, after all, an S.J.Bolton book.

It would spoil the plot to give too much away here, but I would say that the fears played upon in the novel are handled in her customary terrifying manner, racking up the tension through such simple objects as plastic toys and masks – but, oh my god, are they creepy!

The suicides are creative and very untypical violent for the female characters – which is what sparks DC Lacey’s investigation further and her playing the part of Laura Fallow as her under-cover character is well handled and only adds to her frustration in having to keep her identity secret from those around her to keep herself safe. Her initiation to the university as ‘fresh meat’ is very disturbing and at times we are almost into gothic or Hammer Horror territory, with some particularly  inventive and gruesome suicides and the aftermaths of same.

It’s great to have the characters of Lacey and Joesbury return after Now You See Me, and to see their, at times, very difficult working and personal relationship develop in this new book.

Although the themes within the book have all been dealt with at some point in other books and movies, S.J.Bolton has mixed them here in a fantastically creepy and well-crafted piece of crime fiction of the type she and she alone can write.

This is fiction on the terrifying brink of reality and you may never really trust a dream again.

Go, on, check the video and order here – dare ya!



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Your chance to have your Script reviewed by Nick Santora

Ever watched a great television show and thought you’d love to write one?

Watched Prison Break, The Sopranos or Law & Order and been impressed by the scriptwriting and the production of the shows themselves?

Written a tv script you’d love to have read and reviewed by one of the best in the business?

Well, here’s your chance.

Scriptwriter/producer of episodes of some of televisions top shows (including those mentioned above) Nick Santora wants to read your scripts.

The now-author of two great crime novels from Mulholland, ‘Fifteen Digits’ & ‘Slip & Fall’ is behind a great scriptwriting competition – so get writing and get over here for full details.

Best of luck


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Unexpected Fairytale – Flashfiction

So, I decided to give this one a whirl, leaving it, in my usual style, until a few hours before close of submissions.

Thanks to the Yearning For Wonderland blog and to Susi Holliday for the nudge for #ouatwriting

It might not be what fits the bill for their competition, but I enjoyed knocking out these 350 words all the same:

No damn fairy tale.

‘This ain’t no damn fairy tale’.

She felt the hand tighten around her throat as his rancid breath met her nostrils, her back drawn up sharp against the rough bark of the tree as he shoved her harder.

‘So, you can drop the bag – you’re not gonna make it to Grandma’s house tonight, Snow White!’

Charlotte resisted the urge to tell her assailant that he was getting his stories mixed up, clutched her bag ever tighter, knowing the contents might just save her life. Her feet paddled to seek purchase on the forest floor as she was hoisted higher.

It may have been a human killer that she faced, but his power seemed evermore supernatural.

There was movement in the surrounding darkness, she sensed and then she saw it – figures moving amongst the trees, eyes focused on her. Charlotte didn’t fear them, she only feared the man whose hands held her tight, knowing of the trail of corpses he had left in his wake in previous weeks. He’d been hiding right there, in the dense woodland, for nearly a month, his tattered grubby clothing, his growing facial hair more than enough to secure the moniker of ‘The Wolfman’ which had been anointed to him by the local press.

She waited until she felt the moment was right, stared him right into his bloodshot eyes and spoke for the first time since he’d snatched her from the trail.

‘You are nothing.’ She raged. ‘A nobody – just a killer, plain and simple. Nobody special – for all your huff and puff!’

She kicked hard into both his shins, his hands releasing their grip enough for her to slip loose.

Her hand released the bag, dropping it to the floor. The hardened casing of the police radio inside ensured it wouldn’t break.

From the surrounding trees they ran, fourteen officers, most dressed in black and with weapons drawn on their target.

DI Charlotte Grimm stepped back quickly as the figure before her raised his hands and placed them behind his head, smiling as he did so.

Charlotte had finally got her happily ever after.



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Richard Laymon – The Horror is back !

When I started secondary school, there were certain publications that got passed around between my friends and I – and stop right there with those thoughts!

On my first day I can clearly remember being the first kid to get called to stand in front of the entire school because I’d got caught taking a copy of MAD Magazine from my new found buddy sitting beside me to read after assembly. Things progressed after that day, but before I discovered the wonders of Stephen King and Shaun Hutson I found a literally ‘Savage’ US horror author in Richard Laymon.

Whilst he may have appeared somewhat like Harold Bishop from neighbours in photos, you should never judge an author by their jacket photo – Laymon wrote some of the cruellest and violent horror, interspersed with some pretty nasty sexual violence throughout a long running series of novels.

I recall ‘The Woods are Dark’ as being the biggest favourite for my class at school – a single battered paperback doing the rounds with the same speed as Laymon dispatched his many victims.

With their garish covers, cracking titles and sometimes unbelievable and yet gripping narratives, Laymon’s books captured the imaginations and morbid curiosities of many – AND NOW THEY ARE BACK !

Great news – From Headline Books, you can now get to experience the full horror of the late great Richard Laymon with a selection of some of his finest titles from the relative safety of your ereader.

The titles for you to grab at are:


And here are the links you may dare to click to take you to Richard Laymon’s world of horror:



You have been warned and recommended in equal doses – download and sleep tight…….


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Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Harrogate 2012

Last week saw the London launch of this year’s Harrogate Crime Festival, an event so packed with great authors due to be further North in July it had the feeling of ‘let’s do the show right here’.

The 10th Anniversary of this must in crime readers’ diaries sees one of the strongest line-ups to date, with great authors, panels and events; some old favourites such as New Blood and some nice new twists on others, plus the bonus of some all new ventures such as Neil Cross on stage with some of the cast of Luther.

I’ve already tweeted out the list of the events – tired fingers into the small hours after the event itself, but all the events in full and all the booking info you need is now live on the festival site – so, don’t delay, get over to here and I’ll see you there.



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World Book Night 2012

Well, it’s been and gone and my World Book Night 2012 experience was very different from last year.

Firstly, I was honoured to be asked by BBC Radio 4 to be interviewed for their “One in a Million” show along with other givers of last year’s books to talk about the whole experience. You can still catch the show on iplayer here, and the notes from the BBC Radio 4 show are here.

The fact that the event was this year held on a Monday (for Shakespeare’s birthday) made it a very different event as all involved had to work the giving around their jobs and regular Monday activities – Last year’s Saturday giving was much more rewarding and easier to manage.

I collected my books with my daughter, as last year, with our collection point once again being the lovely Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham – and yes, we just had to both buy books whilst we were collecting our box of WBN books, would have been rude not to.

With just 24 copies this year, and the title being Mark Billingham’s SLEEPYHEAD, the books were despatched very quickly locally. My initial plans to visit local Police Stations were however dashed by the rotten weather conditions and the fact that most Police Stations were closed.

Highlight of the giving this year had to be when offering a book to a cop on the high street who, much as he looked like he wanted to take a copy, said that they (Police officers) aren’t allowed to accept gifts 🙂

I tweeted this out at the time and Mark Billingham saw it just as he was meeting up with WBN organiser Jamie Byng at the Royal Festival Hall event – so that cop has no idea that his comment went straight to the top !

Looking forward to WBN2013 already.


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NEVERMORE – A Graphic Adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories

Published by Self Made Hero

With a nice little introduction by film Director Roger Corman, who has tackled several Poe stories during his career, this great graphic adaptation of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s most well known short stories helped while away some time as I await the release of the John Cusack Poe vehicle ‘The Raven’ to hit the DVD stores (as I sadly missed it’s brief cinematic release).

Although this collection has been around for a few years, and I’m late to the party on this one, I’m sure it managed to achieve what was certainly on of its aims – to bring the work of Poe to an audience that would haven been unlikely to have read his original work, in the same way that the Manga Shakespeare titles (also from Self Made Hero) work for so many younger readers.

With a nice mix of writers and artists, Nevermore is an ever-changing experience from very graphic and stark images to those of a more painterly quality, and not a dud amongst them.

For me, one of the highlights is ‘Edgar Allan Poe’s Biography’ by Laura Howell, which rounds up the end of the book – giving all the mysterious facts of Poe’s own life and death compressed into just two creative and informative pages.

The full run down of stories, writers and artists is:

THE RAVEN adapted by Dan Whitehead and Stuart Tipples. Art by Stuart Tipples.

THE PIT & THE PENDULUM adapted by Jamie Delano. Art by Steve Pugh.

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MR VALDEMAR adapted by Jeremy Slater. Art by John McCrea.

THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE adapted by Ian Edginton. Art by D’Israeli.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER adapted by Dan Whitehead. Art by Shane Ian Oakley.

THE BLACK CAT adapted by Leah Moore and John Reppion.

THE OVAL PORTRAIT adapted by David Berner. Art by Natalie Sandells.

THE TELL-TALE HEART adapted by Jeremy Slater. Art by Alice Duke.

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH adapted by Adam Prosser. Art by Erik Rangel.

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S BIOGRAPHY art and script by Laura Howell.

Highly recommended both to fans of Poe and collectors of fine Graphic Novels.


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Cold Grave by Craig Robertson

Published in June 2012 by Simon & Schuster


November 1993. Scotland is in the grip of the coldest winter in living memory and the Lake of Menteith is frozen over. A young man and woman walk across the ice to the historic island of Inchmahome which lies in the middle of the lake. Only the man comes back.

In the spring, as staff prepare the abbey ruins for summer visitors, they discover the unidentifiable remains of the body of a girl, her skull violently crushed.

Present day. Retired detective Alan Narey is still haunted by the unsolved crime. Desperate to relieve her father’s conscience, DS Rachel Narey returns to the Lake of Menteith and unofficially reopens the cold case.

With the help of police photographer Tony Winter, Rachel discovers that the one man her father had always suspected was the killer has recently died. Risking her job and reputation, Narey prepares a dangerous gambit to uncover the killer’s identity – little knowing who that truly is. Despite the freezing temperatures, the ice-cold case begins to thaw, and with it a tide of secrets long frozen in time is suddenly and shockingly unleashed.

Third book in and Craig Robertson scores a crime fiction hat-trick.

After blasting onto the scene with Random and following it up with the assured and equally strong Snapshot, this latest novel which is due out in June just wouldn’t wait patiently on the shelf and, well to be honest, I thought if I didn’t pick it up, it might just chin me. And so, you will have to excuse the early review on this one – it couldn’t wait, I couldn’t wait and, if you’ve read the first two books then you’ll be pre-ordering now anyway.

Cold Grave brings back the two central characters from the previous novels, DS Rachel Narey of Strathclyde Police and Tony Winter, a crime photographer with an unnerving interest in photographing horror and death, and of keeping his favourite shots on his wall at home. It’s a ‘past-meets-present’ book and that’s what sets it aside from the previous books as ‘most’ of the violence has already taken place. Note I say ‘most’, as there are still those classic Robertson moments here which may well make you flinch and turn from the page, particularly if you’ve ever had a hearty kick in the b******s or have ever worried about standing too near the edge of a station platform – reader beware.

The chill created by the opening first few pages in which two people walk across the frozen lake and only one returns is soon warmed again by the talk of whisky as Narey takes Winter away for a ‘mystery’ break (in every sense of the word). It’s this careful balance of cold and warmth that works so well throughout, taking the reader from moments of out and out frozen terror through to some of the saddest moments I have read in some time.

The violent act of 1993 may appear frozen in time, the ‘Lady in the Lake Murder’ almost the stuff of local folklore, but it’s clear that more than one person is looking for a form of closure to the case. For Rachel Narey it’s the case that remains haunting her father, the case that he didn’t close, and the only thing left that he appears to be able to hang on to with any clarity whilst the rest of his life is so cruelly shattered every day by his alzheimer’s.

A thoroughly satisfying, thrilling and chilling ride through the cold and dark streets of Glasgow – of which there will surely soon be Narey & Winter tours.

Keith                 – and you can read an interview with Craig right here.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M.Cain

From the 1946 movie adaptation starring Lana Turner in her first screen role, to the steamy remake with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange scrabbling passionately on top of the kitchen work surfaces, it’s easy to forget that these came from a great short noir book published back in 1934.

I just spent some time today rediscovering the smart, spare and deadly deeds of the James M. Cain novel, which rattles along and it’s clear to see why his work translated so well to screen for this, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce.

The copy I read was from Orion and features a really nice intro by James Lee Burke on his own discovery of Cain’s writing. You can order it here.

Go on, go take a little journey to the dark side of life – see where passion takes you.


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World Book Night 2012

Well, the second World Book Night is nearly here (Monday 23rd April) and I’m due to collect my copies of this year’s gifting title: Mark Billingham’s SLEEPYHEAD from Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham.

SLEEPYHEAD was my first choice and I’m planning on gifting it to local Police Stations near to my home – the author recently did some drive-alongs for research with Croydon area Police, so it seemed to make sense.

Here’s my short review on We Love This Book.

My second choice was Stephen King’s MISERY, and I’ve also written a mini review for that here for We Love This Book.

And, recounting my experience of being involved in last year’s event – the gifting and attending the London launch event you can tune in to Radio 4 on Monday afternoon to listen to ‘One in a million’ with comments by me and others here.

Happy book giving.


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