Tuesday 30 June 2020

Nothing To Hide (Constance Fairchild #2) by James Oswald

Another enjoyable read from Mr Oswald. This is the second in his Constance Fairchild series and finds her still away from work as her last case nears trial. She's soon back on the job though (unofficially) when a young man is found near death and very mutilated beside the bins near her home.

As before, in No Time To Cry, there are guest appearances by characters from Oswald's other detective fiction series (The Inspector McLean books) which I really enjoyed and this does make me wonder if Fairchild and McLean will team up at some point in the future.

The only downside to this book was that the 'Big Bad' was kinda obvious right from their first appearance but that didn't spoil it really, just less to puzzle out.

The injuries inflicted on the victims was pretty gruesome but tied in with the reasoning for them so not just gratuitous violence.

This has been my 7th James Oswald novel in the last 2 months or so and I'm still enjoying each one so that must say something for the standard of the writing


Wednesday 24 June 2020

We Ride The Storm by Devin Madson

 Welcome to Day 3 of the Blogtour for Devin Madson's 'We Ride The Storm'.

 "War built the Kisian Empire. And now war will tear it down"

So, yeah, as you can guess from that snippet this is a story of war and those fighting it/affected by it. Told in first person POV by three different characters I did think this might be a bit much to get my head around but I was wrong, oh so wrong!

The three main characters are Rah E Torin and his band of exiled warriors, Miko, the Princess who wants to make a difference in a male dominated land and my favourite of the three, Cassandra - whore, assassin, and all round bad ass crazy person. The crazy side of her persona may just come from having a 'traveller' sharing her body. The conversations between the two, the constant sniping at each other makes for fun in what is a very grim Grimdark tale.

I think what helped me get along with the three POVs were the introductory lines for each one's first chapter:

MIKO - "They tried to kill me four times before I could walk. Seven before I held any memory of the world."

RAH - "It's harder to sever a head than people think"

CASSANDRA - "The man's last breath sighed out between damp lips. It was a peaceful sound, graceful even, unlike the mess I had left behind. Protruding eyes. Blood. Saliva. Semen.

Each instantly gives you an insight to the kind of person they are and each does that essential thing - makes you want more.

The world-building is good and I feel it will open up more in later volumes. It felt very Asia based and made a refreshing change from the usual European Middle-Ages setting of much of the genre.

There are sections of the novel that may not appeal to some (the enslaving, mental, physical and sexual abuse of Torin and his troops is a prime example) but if you can handle that you have a cracking read ahead of you.

This was my first Devin Madson novel but while I'm waiting for the next volume in this tale I'll be looking up her previous books - after reading We Ride The Storm I'm guessing you will too

4.5/5* Highly Recommended

Monday 15 June 2020

No Time To Cry (DC Constance Fair child) bk 1 by James Oswald

Oswald's best yet

I've been reading James Oswald's other series ,The Inspector McLean books, over the last month and thoroughly enjoyed them. This, the first in a new series, is next level stuff though.

When Con Fairchild is suspended after her boss is killed when an undercover op goes wrong things feel bad enough. No one in her department trusts her anymore. A chance meeting with an old friend leads Con to investigate the disappearance of her sister and things go from bad to worse - hitmen, corruption, paedophiles. It takes all Con has got and then a bit more to sort all this out.

And there's a crossover from the McLean books that made me smile a lot more than I expected.

I was going to give this a 4* rating as I'm expecting the next book to be even better but this is just so good it deserves, in my opinion, the whole 5

Highly recommended

Wednesday 10 June 2020

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This has to be one of the funniest and saddest stories I have ever read.

Ove comes across, at first, as a bit of a Victor Meldrew type, grumpy, exasperated with other people's seeming incompetency, but as the story unfolds the real Ove is revealed as someone totally different.

The main gist of the story is that Ove's wife died 6 months prior to the story starting and he has decided it is time to join her. His attempts though are always ambushed (unwittingly) by his various neighbours, all of whom seem to need Ove's help. And this 'help' is where the true character of Ove comes to the fore.

Ove is a no nonsense chap, as down to earth as they come. Even at his absolute grumpiest he shines.

At various times there's laughter, tears and all things between the two. When I started the book I thought we are all a little bit Ove at times but by the end that had changed - we should all strive to be more Ove than we already are.

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Theakaton Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year 2020 shortlist


Oyinkan Braithwaite | Helen Fitzgerald | Jane Harper
Mick Herron | Adrian McKinty | Abir Mukherjee

harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com | #TheakstonAward | @HarrogateFest | Images & further info here

Harrogate, Tuesday 9 June 2020: The shortlist for the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year has been announced, taking the reader on an international crime spree from New York to Calcutta, London to Lagos via Glasgow and the Australian outback.

Chosen by a public vote and the prize Academy, the titles in contention for this most prestigious of prize’s – which feature five Theakston award alumni and one debut novelist – showcase exceptional variety and originality, including spy espionage, historical crime, gallows humour, outback noir and serial killing siblings.

The news coincides with updated lockdown reading research from Nielsen Book showing that the genre is continuing to soar in popularity, a trend led by younger readers and men. Alongside an increase in the overall number of crime and thriller novels in the bestseller charts, even more people are turning to the genre in lockdown, particularly younger readers (18-44). Of the three quarters saying that their fiction interests have changed, 26% say that crime and thriller has become their genre of choice.

Marking a meteoric rise since being selected by Val McDermid as a spotlight author in the 2019 Festival’s highly respected ‘New Blood’ panel, Oyinkan Braithwaite remains in pursuit of the coveted trophy with the Booker nominated My Sister, the Serial KillerBased in Nigeria, Braithwaite is the only debut author remaining, and one of the youngest ever to be shortlisted. Inspired by the black widow spider, Braithwaite turns the crime genre on its head with a darkly comic exploration of sibling rivalry, exploring society’s feelings towards beauty and perfection. 

The remaining five authors on the shortlist are all previous contenders hoping 2020 is their year to claim the trophy. The legendary Mick Herron, likened to John Le CarrĂ©, has picked up a fifth nomination with Joe Country, the latest in his espionage masterclass Slough House. A former legal editor, Herron’s commute from Oxford to London led to the creation of this much-lauded series, which is currently being adapted for television with Gary Oldman taking on the iconic role of Jackson Lamb.

Scottish-Bengali author Abir Mukherjee is vying for the title with Smoke & Ashes, described by The Times as one of the best crime novels since 1945. Accountant turned bestseller, Mukherjee was shortlisted in 2018 for the first book in the Wyndham & Banerjee series set in Raj-era India, The Rising ManSmoke & Ashes – the third  instalment – is set in 1921 in Calcutta, where Mukherjee’s parents grew up and where he spent six weeks each year during his childhood.

Authors making it through to the shortlist for the first time include Glasgow’s Helen Fitzgerald for Worst Case Scenario, which marks her first appearance on the Theakston list since The Cry, adapted into a major BBC drama starting Jenna Colman, was longlisted in 2013. Packed with gallows humour, Worst Case Scenario takes inspiration from Fitzgerald’s time as a criminal justice social worker in Glasgow’s Barlinnie Prison, alongside her experiences with depression and going through the menopause.

Despite receiving international recognition, before Belfast’s Adrian McKinty started writing The Chain – for which he picks up his second Theakston nod – he had been evicted from his home and was working as an Uber driver to make ends meet. Persuaded to give writing one last go, McKinty started on what would become the terrifying thriller that sees parents forced to kidnap children to save their own, and for which Paramount Pictures has acquired the screen rights in a seven-figure film deal.

The final title on the shortlist is The Lost Man by former journalist Jane Harper, who was previously longlisted for her debut The Dry in 2018, for which the film adaption starring Eric Bana is due to be released this year. Inspired by the beautifully brutal Australian environment, The Lost Man explores how people live – and die – in the unforgiving outback and is a moving – particularly topical – study in the psychological and physical impact of isolation.

The full shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 is:

-                 My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Atlantic Books)
-                 Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Orenda Books)
-                 The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Little, Brown Book Group, Little, Brown)
-                 Joe Country by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)
-                 The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Orion Publishing Group, Orion Fiction)
-                 Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (VINTAGE, Harvill Secker)
Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “Seeing the huge variety and originality within this shortlist, it comes as no surprise to hear that crime fiction is dominating our lockdown reading habits. Offering both escapism and resolution, these exceptional titles transport readers around the world and I can’t wait to see where we settle on 23 July when one of these extraordinary authors takes home the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier cask.”

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals and supported by T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019 by UK and Irish authors.

The shortlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith, alongside a public vote.

The shortlist will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign from WHSmith, digital promotional materials will be made available for independent bookstores, and the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s online community – You’re Booked – features exclusive interviews and interactive content. This forms part of the Harrogate International Festival virtual season of events, HIF at Home, which presents a raft of live music, specially commissioned performances, literary events and interviews to bring a free festival experience to your own digital doorstep.

The public vote for the winner is now open on  www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com, with the champion set to be revealed in a virtual awards ceremony on Thursday 23 July marking what would have been the opening evening of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. The legendary gathering – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The winner will receive £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

For further information, please contact Midas PR:
hannah.mcmillan@midaspr.co.uk | 07971 086649 | anna.zanetti@midaspr.co.uk | 075 8312 7515

About Harrogate International Festivals

‘Harrogate International Festivals’ is a charitable organisation with a mission to present a diverse year-long programme of live events that bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible. Delivering artistic work of national importance, the Festival curates and produces over 300 unique and surprising performances each year, celebrating world-renowned artists and championing new and up-coming talent across music, literature, science, philosophy and psychology. The HIF+ ongoing education outreach programme engages schools, young people and the local community with workshops, talks, projects and inspiring activities, ensuring everyone can experience the Festival’s world class programme and the transformative power of the arts.

Established in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals are an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England.
Find out more at:
-                 Website: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com    
-                 Facebook: @HarrogateInternationalFestivals
-                 Twitter: @HarrogateFest
-                 Instagram: @harrogatefestivals