Author Archives: keithbwalters

Moving on…..

Thanks for following the blog to date….

…just to let you know that, from this point on, all existing content and all future content will appear on my new website at

I look forward to seeing you there.

All best


29th April 2013

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The Magpies by Mark Edwards

Available now from amazon.

UnknownFrom the #1 Bestselling Author of Catch Your Death

Fear lives next door…

When Jamie and Kirsty move into their first home together they are full of optimism. The future, in which they plan to get married and start a family, is bright. The other residents of their building seem friendly too: the horror writer and the middle-aged herbalist who live upstairs, and the Newtons, a married couple who welcome them to the building with open arms.

At first, the two couples get on well. But then strange things start to happen. Dead rats are left on their doorstep. They hear disturbing noises, and much worse, in the night. After Jamie’s best friend is injured in a horrific accident, Jamie and Kirsty find themselves targeted by a campaign of terror.

As Jamie and Kirsty are driven to the edge of despair, Jamie vows to fight back – but he has no idea what he is really up against…

THE MAGPIES is a gripping psychological thriller in which the monsters are not vampires or demons but the people we live next door to. It is a nightmare that could happen to anyone.

“A nailbiter of suspense with terrific characterisation.” –Peter James on KILLING CUPID (Sunday Express Books of the Year 2012)

“Masterfully done…Makes slick, well-plotted, ridiculously tense thrillers look deceptively easy to write’ –Matt Haig on CATCH YOUR DEATH

“A very clever, very pacey story that kept me guessing right to the end.” –Elizabeth Haynes on KILLING CUPID

Any fears about Mark Edwards going solo for this book were quickly put to one side, but they were replaced by all new fears – those of what were certainly looking like becoming the neighbours from hell.

I wasn’t disappointed.

The Magpies is a cunningly crafted piece of psychological crime fiction which burrows into the brain with a plentiful supply of ‘what if’ moments that’ll have you concerned about your own closest neighbours, whilst also (hopefully) giving you some assurance that you’re probably much better off than the central characters in this tale.

Often with this genre of novel, or indeed film of this type (of which this would make a great one), the tales suffer from those moments where little is happening, when the reader/viewer is left to ponder what the next set piece might be coming along.

With The Magpies, Edwards has built the tension and the elements of the unknown sufficiently well enough that, even in those quieter moments, you’ll be clutching your e-reader tightly with concern about just what is to unfold on the next page click.

Keep the keys to your home in sight, check your letterbox, monitor your emails – like the best in crime fiction the fact this could happen to any of us will keep those pages turning.


About the Author

Mark Edwards is the No.1 bestselling author of CATCH YOUR DEATH and KILLING CUPID, co-written with Louise Voss. He lives in Wolverhampton, UK, with his young family and works as a freelance copywriter. Find him on Twitter @mredwards or on


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Below the Thunder by Robin Duval

Published by Matador


Robin Duval’s follow-up to Bear in the Woods is a heart-in-mouth tale of international conspiracy, self-discovery and romance. 

One summer evening in Bavaria, fortyish history professor Bryn Williams – more Frasier than Bond – falls simultaneously into love and mortal danger. He becomes a target for MI6, Mossad and an American hit man. Oblivious to his predicament, he continues his holiday in America. Walking alone in a National Park, he stumbles on a newly dead body. He is arrested for murder, and released only when evidence of a third party emerges. But when he discovers the identity of the killer, and reports it to the San Francisco police, his motel room is blown up. With no-one to turn to, he flees north. 

He is intercepted in the mountains by a cousin, who works for MI6. And by the woman he fell in love with in Bavaria. They persuade him – against his better judgment – to help frustrate a plot to destroy the American President. He is drawn into a web of conspiracy and deceit whose true nature only gradually becomes apparent. 

As the narrative races towards its unexpected and shocking climax, the hero discovers untapped reserves of talent – as lover and as man of action. 

This is also a tale about the underbelly of American and international politics. About the secret forces that drive people and nations towards destruction.

I came to this book without having read Duval’s previous novel and just the introduction that this was a novel from the man who’s best known for his time spent at the BBFC .  I must confess that the blurb above made me more than a little concerned that this was a book with just far too much going on, and I feared that it was an almost certain derailment waiting to happen with such a tangled and seemingly unbelievable plot.

It’s to Robin Duval’s credit, and my shame, that I was very mistaken – I found myself caught up in the at first slightly unbelievable and then all consuming tale of Bryn and his attempts to stay one step ahead of events that are fast crashing around him. Yes, there are moments when the reader will likely have ‘oh really?!’ reactions to some of the plot twists, some of which do at times seem very convenient, but the same can be said for many of the hollywood movies that Duval spent years watching in his BBFC role, and we all get swept along by those story lines pretty willingly.

Like an unsuspecting Jason Bourne fan getting caught up in his own fantasy adventure, this was a fun and entertaining ride across the globe with characters I enjoyed and would want to read more of in the future.



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A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Published by Black Swan (Transworld) on 28th March.



They said Pastor Chambliss was a good man.

They said he could perform miracles,

heal the sick – like my brother Stump.

After it happened, they said that

sometimes miracles go wrong.

They said it was God’s will,

and that’s all there is to it.

But I know what I saw

And it wasn’t no miracle.

From the opening of this superb and beautifully told tale I wasn’t at all surprised that it had so deservedly been awarded the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger award for best first novel 2012.  Wiley Cash has such a fresh and atmospheric tone to his writing that I couldn’t help but be completely and utterly drawn in.

Told from three key viewpoints, this tale of a preacher of dubious means and the spell he seems to have his flock under in the town of Marshall in North Carolina is pure American Gothic, a place of secrets, of family bonds both broken and healing.

It’s a gentle book but with a dark terror at its heart. The fact that the author was inspired by the true story of a young African American boy being smothered during a healing ceremony, coupled with his own upbringing in an evangelical church in the South, have clearly collided in a wonderful way to provide such an emotive and intense read.

A Land More Kind Than Home is a fairly quick read, much aided by the fact that, like the lead character, nine year old Jess Hall, you’ll be so caught up in the story to find out what has happened to his brother, that those pages will turn faster and with more rewards than many of the more generic crime thrillers that adorn the bookstores.

Here’s a real chance to try something new in crime fiction – a great debut.


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Max Allan Collins drops by to discuss his writing and ‘Seduction of the Innocent’.

Having recently enjoyed the latest novel, Seduction of the Innocent, from the ever-prolific Max Allan Collins, I was honoured that he dropped by to answer a few questions here about his work and his life of crime (writing):


1. At the end of 2011, Crimespree magazine did a cover feature on you and your work celebrating 40 years in print – a heck of an achievement ! Do you have a favourite book, or series, from your vast canon of work to date?

My favorite series, and the work of mine that I think has the best shot at surviving, is Nathan Heller.  For those unfamiliar with the series, Heller is a private detective in Chicago who is very much in the Phillip Marlowe mode, but gets involved with many of the great crimes and mysteries of the twentieth century.  I’m often asked what my favorite Heller novel is, but I really consider it one body of work…one ongoing, massive novel.  But I would single a few out as favorites – TRUE CRIME (John Dillinger), STOLEN AWAY (Lindbergh kidnapping), FLYING BLIND (Amelia Earhart).  And I’m very happy with my most recent additions to the saga, the three novels that comprise my JFK trilogy – BYE BYE, BABY, TARGET LANCER and the forthcoming ASK NOT.

Second place would be Quarry.  It’s very cool that something I created back in college in 1971 is still going strong.  Just completed the tenth Quarry novel, THE WRONG QUARRY, for Hard Case Crime.

I also love working with my wife Barb on our “cozy” mystery series about antiquing – we write together as “Barabara Allan,” and the next book, ANTIQUES CHOP, will be out in May.


2. That same cover feature showed you standing proudly before a huge collection of crime fiction books and memorabilia – what is your most treasured possession amongst those? And is there a book or a piece of crime fiction history you are still trying to track down?

I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one item – I have signed books by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain, and that’s probably as good as it gets.  And I have first edition hardcovers of every Mickey Spillane novel, signed by Mickey.  Oh, and a signed BAD SEED by William March, dated just days before his death.

The missing link for me is an obscure paperback that some people say doesn’t exist, although I swear I saw it many, many years ago…and couldn’t afford the thirty-five cent price.  DRAGNET 1967 by R. Trailins.  There is a DRAGNET 1968 by David Vowell that is fairly common.  These are Popular Library paperbacks.  I’m a huge fan of Jack Webb and DRAGNET – the 1950s version, not the ‘60s one.

3. Seduction of the Innocent marks the 3rd book for comic world mystery books featuring Jack and Maggie Starr – are there any plans to relaunch A Killing in Comics and Strip for Murder in the UK?

I have the rights back, finally, and they will probably be reprinted, and made available on e-book, before too long.  Titan hasn’t shown any interest in reprinting them, so they will probably join the many backlist titles of mine published by Thomas & Mercer at Amazon.

I’m very grateful to Titan and Hard Case Crime for this opportunity to continue with Jack and Maggie, as I had originally intended this to be a trilogy, and felt like the series had been cut off prematurely.  Now I’m considering doing a fourth one.

4. Any plans ahead that will team you with Terry Beatty to illustrate again? And do you work closely on the books?

I can’t imagine doing Jack and Maggie Starr without Terry.  The idea from the start was to do something that was sort of in-between a novel and a graphic novel.  I just loved books with illustrations as a kid.  I am hoping that one day there will be editions of my prose ROAD TO PERDITION sequel novels, ROAD TO PURGATORY and ROAD TO PARADISE, with Richard Piers Rayner illos.

Terry doesn’t have huge input, frankly, though carte blance to draw what he pleases, with my suggested image as a starting point – I send him a script, just like we’re doing comics.  He does not see the novel, though, till it comes out.  I love the way Terry does artwork appropriate to the story at hand – he’s very EC Comics in this one!

5. What’s next from Max Allan Collins and will we see you in the UK anytime soon?

I love the UK.  I am not sucking up – I am a genuine Anglophile, born of James Bond and the Beatles in the ‘60s.  My wife Barb and I very much want to visit London (again) and other UK cities in the near future.  That’s a real benefit of having a British publisher.  By the way, all of my favorite crime shows of recent years are British – HUSTLE, FOYLE’S WAR, LEWIS, POIROT, MIDSOMER, and on and on.  I buy the British discs – I don’t wait for them to air or go on sale in the USA. My wife is hooked as well.

6. What’s the best/worst writing advice you’ve ever heard or been given?

Best advice is to write what you know, and this is tricky if you’re attracted to genre writing.  The breakthrough for me was when I “robbed” the bank where my wife worked, for my first published novel, BAIT MONEY – it’s one of two novels collected in Hard Case Crime’S TWO FOR THE MONEY.  Also in that novel I made the secondary protagonist a young comic book collector, which is exactly who and what I was at the time I wrote it.  So it’s a matter of looking at your life and experiences and figure out how that might relate to whatever sort of novel you like to read.  Another thing I did was use my home area as the setting, at a time when everybody in the crime genre in America was doing New York and Los Angeles.

Worst is to imitate another writer.  I’ve done my share of that, but I was such a mix of influences, it allowed me to generate my own voice.  Even when I wrote the novels collected in TWO FOR THE MONEY, which were heavily influenced by Donald E. Westlake’s Parker series, I was as much in the sway of Spillane, Hammett, Chandler and a dozen other mystery writers.  Elmore Leonard’s famous “how to write” list is terrible.  Great as Leonard is, all he did was outline how to write like him.  Well, there already is an Elmore Leonard, thank you very much.

7. Who has/have been your favourite new crime author discoveries in the last twelve months?

I am notorious for not reading other crime fiction writers.  I’m a natural mimic and don’t care to be influenced.  So I read chiefly writers from the Golden Age of mystery fiction.  I came to Christie and Rex Stout very late, for example, and loved Stout so much, the Nero Wolfe pastiche aspect of the Jack and Maggie Starr books is unmistakable.  Still, I don’t think I’m outright imitating him.  I occasionally discover a mystery writer because of a TV series – I became a fan of Colin Dexter through MORSE, for example.

My taste has always been quirky – among my favorite mainstream writers are William March, Calder Willingham, and Mark Harris, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, you’re not alone.  In recent years I discovered Fannie Flagg, who writes Southern humor, famously FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, but there is always a mystery in her novels, though she’s seldom discussed in those terms.

Thanks again to Max for his time and to Titan Books for kindly setting up the Q&A.





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Exciting new signing for Harvill Secker Crime Fiction.




In a major acquisition, Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to two books by Elizabeth Little – an exciting new American voice in crime fiction.  Pre-empted by foreign publishers across the world, Alison Hennessey secured a two-book deal for Harvill Secker with Hal Fessenden at Penguin US. The first book, Dear Daughter, will be one of Harvill Secker’s major titles in early 2015 and will be published simultaneously with Viking in the US.


Los Angeles-based Elizabeth Little’s work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and she is the author of two non-fiction titles: Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic, published in 2007 by Melville House, and Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages, published by Bloomsbury in March 2012.


Alison Hennessey said: ‘Dear Daughter is everything I’ve been looking for since I started at Harvill Secker – sharp, spiky, clever and enormously fun, with the kind of acerbic narrator that editors (and readers) dream of discovering.  Dear Daughter is like a glorious combination of Gone Girl meets Mean Girls with a twist of Alice la Plante’s award-winning Turn of Mind, but it has a freshness and vitality that’s all its own. Elizabeth Little is a fiction star in the making, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we’ll be publishing her at Harvill Secker.’


About Dear Daughter:

After a trial that transfixed America, teenager Janie Jenkins – rich, pretty and far too clever for her own good – was convicted of the murder of her mother, a reclusive philanthropist. Ten years later, Janie has been released on appeal but most of the country remains convinced she’s guilty – and even Janie’s not entirely sure what she did that fateful night. All she has to go on are the last words her mother spoke before she was killed, which send Janie on a mission to an odd little town in the very back of beyond but, with the whole of America’s media on her tail, she has to do everything she can to find out the truth about her mother’s death without revealing her true identity.


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As if you needed any more reasons to go to Harrogate….



When you come to compiling your Top British Festivals/ Top Literary Festivals/ Best Boutique Festivals etc. kindly consider the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – celebrating a DECADE OF CRIME this year. It’s the BIGGEST event of its kind in Europe and considered by the crime writing fraternity as their AGM! (albeit over the bar).

Harrogate is a top festival destination (and will be the star backdrop of the Tour De France). Kindly see some killer facts (no pun intended with the crime writing festival) about the town and festivals below.

WHEN: 18 – 21 July 2013


WHERE: The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.


Harrogate: restorative spas, tranquil gardens, quaint tea shops. Believe us, you’ll need them. Brace yourselves. Cordon off the flower beds, lock your valuables in the hotel safe, and steady the old nerves with a pint of Theakstons finest ale…

Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing reveals a strong female line-up of Special Guest Authors as over 80 authors gather for a long summer weekend.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’.

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, whose Jack Reacher novels got the big screen treatment starring Tom Cruise.

The 18th July also sees the return of ‘Creative Thursday’ delivering creative writing and publishing courses and tips direct from acclaimed authors, editors and agents.

Box Office: 01423 562 303

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (there’s no apostrophe and it’s peculier with an ‘e’) is part of the Harrogate International Festivals. Harrogate features a range of festivals including the Summer Festival, Raworths Literature and Lecture Series, Children’s Festival and Fringe (details to be announced for all the above mid-April)


  • Heard of the book Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014? It’s time to GO NORTH! with the North of England’s leading arts festival. The only way is up with our northern soul – last year the Festivals DOUBLED the economic impact on the town to £8.2m despite less than 2% of its income is from the public sector.
  • The Festivals are an UMBRELLA for the arts with a diverse programme delivering over 300 unique events. Come rain or shine, whatever the weather – there’s a Festival for Everyone’s temperament and taste.
  • The Festivals attract 90,000 visitors annually!
  • With Dame Fanny Waterman as its Honorary President and Prince Charles as its patron in a spa town that was home to the Fox acting dynasty’s patriarch – with the once Mayor of Harrogate, Samson Fox – it’s a Festival rolling in heritage.
  • The first Festival was in 1966 in answer to a call by Harold Hyde Walker, Chief Reporter on the Harrogate paper who, since the 1940s, had been urging Harrogate to establish a series of regular concerts and a festival.
  • It’s a platform for launching new talent – as well as giving the likes of Lesley Garrett and Julian Lloyd Webber a platform before they were famous, it also featured Amy Winehouse and cult legends Wynton Marsalis, Van Morrison, Youssou N’Dour, and BB King.
  • 2013’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will have a beer brewed in its honour called ‘A Shot in The Dark’.
  • In 2012 the Harrogate International Festivals outreach and education programmes worked with over 6000 disadvantaged young people in communities across the region.


One of the things that make Harrogate such a boutique, beautiful festival destination is the town itself….

  • Charles Dickens described Harrogate after a visit in 1858 as, “The queerest place with the strangest people in it leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.
  • Agatha Christie famously disappeared in 1926 (her abandoned car triggered the biggest manhunt known to the UK at the time).  She was found in Harrogate. Under a lot of stress she was no doubt swayed by its healing spas, luscious parks, and of course, dancing (she was found in the ballroom of the Old Swan Hotel which is now home to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival). It’s been charmingly dubbed by a national travel journalist as ‘Doing an Agatha’ (escaping to Harrogate to de-stress!)
  • Mark Cavendish will have the chance to take the 2014 Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey in the town where his mother lives (yep, Harrogate!) after it was announced the first stage of the race will finish in Harrogate.
  • Don’t be fooled by the stereotyped retired ‘Blue Rinse’ little old lady! Harrogate was one of the major towns in the suffragette campaign. Their literature secretary, Agnes Wilson, of 4 Studley Road, Harrogate, travelled to London in March 1912, and took part in the window-smashing campaign, and as a result was sentenced to two months’ hard labour, and went on hunger strike.
  • Harrogate became known for its waters in 1571. By 1700 the town’s expansion was linked to the 88 springs discovered and the fashion of ‘taking the waters’. It’s said to have the highest concentration of different mineral springs than any other town in the world.
  • Visitors included Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill – a visit covered in the Harrogate Advertiser on 1 December 1900 noting the race down Parliament Street in bath chairs, which Churchill described as ‘the charge of the Bath Chair Artillery’.
  • Members of every European royal family have visited Harrogate to take the waters in times gone. Princess Alix Hesse and her sister, Princess Victoria of Battenburg, were regular visitors and amused themselves by racing their bath chairs through the streets of Harrogate.
  • The notorious and great Victorian sex writer, Henry Havelock Ellis researched his taboo book on homosexuality in 1889 in Harrogate; today it a favourite destination of the Beaumont Society Transgender Events – the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK.
  • Harrogate is known as ‘The Jewel of the North’ and is the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ featuring some of Yorkshire’s top tourist destinations in its region including Fountain’s Abbey, Lightwater Valley, RHS Harlow Carr Gardens and Harewood House.

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Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing has announced its headline Special Guest authors, revealing a strong female line-up.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, which recently hit the big screen starring Tom Cruise.

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is hosted at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, where Agatha Christie was famously found in 1926 after her disappearance sparked a national manhunt.  Attendees are invited to join over 80 of the world’s most celebrated crime authors ‘in conversation, in action and in the bar’ from 18 to 21 July.

Val McDermid said: “When I was ‘persuaded’ to chair the Programming Committee for the first festival all those years ago, what tempted me to take it on was the prospect of helping to showcase the range and quality of contemporary crime writing. I know that my passion for this genre is shared by the thousands of readers who have attended our events over the years, and we’ve all had some memorable encounters with those writers who have given us so much delicious, disturbing terror over the years. 2013 will be no different.”

The full programme will be announced over the coming weeks, and individual tickets and rovers will go on sale in the spring. You can secure your place at the Festival now by booking a Weekend Break Package, which includes 3 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation and a weekend rover ticket, giving you access to all Festival events. To book your Weekend Package call the Festival Office on 01423 562303.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and programme announcements at and on Twitter @TheakstonsCrime

The Festival will be releasing details of participating authors every day on their website and through Twitter in the run up to the full programme being announced.

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The Damage by Howard Linskey

Published by No Exit Press

Unknown‘There’s a thought that keeps me awake at night; I have to be lucky every time, they only have to get lucky once.’

David Blake is a worried man. He should be enjoying the high life now he’s Newcastle’s ‘Top Boy’, the man who controls everything in the city that’s worth controlling. He lives in exiled luxury, while his brother Danny and trusted right-hand men, Palmer and Kinane, take care of business and make sure no one steps out of line. The money keeps on rolling in and Blake is sharing his life with the girl that he loves, Sarah Mahoney. Shame he had to murder her father to save his own skin but at least she doesn’t know anything about that.
Blake never wanted to be boss but who else is savvy enough to deal with all of the firm s problems; like Braddock, the rogue drug dealer, who s keeping too much of the take, and The Turk , Blake s new source of product who s taken a million Euros down-payment on a shipment that never arrives. Newly-crowned Glasgow crime lord, Alan Gladwell, wants to do business with the firm and the deal makes sense but can Blake really trust the man whose brother he brutally murdered. Then there is his obsession with the beautiful but troubled Simone, who chooses to work in one of the firm’s massage parlours when she is so much better than that.
When one of his men takes two bullets in the back and someone tries to kill him, Blake struggles to stay in control.
From the heroin-laced high rises of Newcastle to the seedy back streets of Bangkok, in a world of contract killers, corrupt politicians, bent detectives, coke snorting footballers, fixers, hookers and pimps, Blake is in a race against time to find his potential assassin and discover the truth in ‘The Damage’.

I’ve met Howard Linskey and am very glad to report that he’s a very nice chap indeed. I say this with more than a slight sigh of relief as, if that had not been the case, then I could quite easily be currently in hiding, fearing that he might have some ‘friends’ who might just pay me a visit for the fact it’s taken me so long to get round to reading ‘.The Damage’.

I read a majority of the novel yesterday, which I should now refer to as ‘The Long Good Saturday’ for its masterful take on the criminal underworld which manages to successfully make the reader at times love and hate its characters in equal measure in much the same way as we once felt sympathy for the villains in a certain classic Bob Hoskins’ movie. A thoroughly enjoyable ride through the dark streets of Newcastle and much further afield, ‘The Damage’ does exactly what it says on the tin and if that striking jacket image that looks torn from the movie ‘Sin City’ doesn’t already convince you, trust me you are in for some tough gangster action throughout.

Now, if I can just work out how to get these shackles off, then I’ll be out of this deserted warehouse – nice of Linskey to leave me some water and chocolate though !



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Stalkers by Paul Finch

Published by Avon


Time’s up. You’re Next.

“All he had to do was name the woman he wanted. It was that easy. They would do all the hard work.”

Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg is investigating the disappearance of 38 different women. Each one was happy and successful until they vanished without a trace.

Desperate to find her missing sister, Lauren Wraxford seeks out Heck’s help. Together they enter a seedy underworld of gangsters and organised crime.

But when they hear rumours about the so-called ‘Nice Guys Club’ they hit a brick wall. They’re the gang that no one will talk about. Because the Nice Guys can arrange anything you want.

Provided you pay the price…

From the keyboard of former cop and journalist, Paul Finch, a writer who started out writing episodes of The Bill, comes Stalkers, and the terrifying premise it holds within its pages!

In a time where the daily news events seem to worryingly wash over us, regardless of just how grim some true life horrors seem to be, Finch has still managed, in a similar vein to authors like Stuart MacBride, to come up with something that really is a  tough at times but, nevertheless, very rewarding read.

The opening sequences are the very thing of great horror movies, with bluff after double-bluff of the reader knowing something bad is about to happen to a character, but managing to keep those pages turning as with each stage of the journey we are given short and merciful release before its back into the darkness and the worrying and the tension being racked up more notches. Stalkers is a novel that has come as a clear result of Finch’s background, interests and experience – the having been a cop, coupled with being a writer of horror fiction and movie scripts has certainly congealed in such a way as to create a great and sinister premise with a new DS on the block, in Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenberg, for crime lovers to follow.

Unknown-1But there’s a skill in Stalkers too, and one I find sadly lacking in a lot of crime novels that might tread similar stories. Finch seems to know when best to take his foot off the accelerator when it comes to some scenes. I won’t spoil things here, but suffice to say that at a fairly early point in the novel at the close of a chapter I nearly put the book down and didn’t pick it up again as I felt I’d read beyond my comfort zone. But I continued to the next page, then flicked back, and it was only then that I realised that what the author had managed was to make me think that what I’d read was far worse, far more detailed than it was. In fact, he’d pretty much closed a door on a scene that was about to unfold, but had given enough information to leave me no doubt in my mind as to what was about to happen without actually writing it. In a way, I guess that again harks back to the best moments in horror movies, where the audience is convinced they saw more blood, more horror on the screen, whereas actually it was the skill of the director to put the germ of the ideas in the viewers heads – and that, as it was for me in Stalkers, is sometimes so much more powerful than pages and pages of gore.

With the cases of nearly forty missing women on his mind, ‘Heck’ clearly has his work cut out from the get-go, but his uninvited side-kick in the form of feisty Lauren Wraxford proves a very useful and dedicated ally as he works with, and then behind the law, in his investigations.

Finch has created a very likeable central character, but shows his skill as a storyteller through all the other players in the story as well – the fact that someone who signs up for what the ‘Nice Guys Club’ are offering and then constantly loses his lunch just thinking about what it has led to him becoming illustrates that the author is thinking around his characters and they are very much more rounded than just names on a page.

Stalkers is a very dark premise and read but, as a result and of the fast paced narrative, it’ll have you by the throat until you get to the end.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Heck when the second book in the series ‘Sacrifice’ is released.


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