Friday, 29 June 2012

Wish You Were (Not) Here: free for two days

Do you like reading about happy times? Joyous events? Sunny days and blissful nights? No?

Good, because I don’t write about any of the above. I tend to kill people, or at the very least make them very, very unhappy.

If people bumping off other people sounds more like your idea of heaven than fluffy cloud angels being nice to each other, why not try Wish You Were (Not) Here, a collection of seven short stories?

The book will be free to download tomorrow, Saturday 30th June, and Sunday 1st July. Go on, you know you want to ...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Reviews, Readers, Rock Gods and a Gift

I’ve got a few things to cover in this blog post, so bear with me because there is a gift at the end for reading all the way down.

Amazon reviews - Makers, breakers or irrelevant?
I was asked to guest post on this topic over on I know that many indie writers struggle to get reviews from regular review sites and bloggers, and so rely on family and friends to boost their visibility on Amazon, but you might want to rethink this strategy after reading my article:

Reviews from total strangers
Ultimately, what we really want and need are comment from readers. Those lovely people who have bought our books and take the time to give feedback on them. One way of achieving this is for your book to be picked as a book club read. Bad Moon Rising featured on the Crime Scene Reader book club. Here is a link if you're interested in finding out how blunt and honest readers can be: Reader Reviews

Name a Rock God Competition
This competition is now closed. I’ve had some wonderful (and weird) suggestions, which I’ll be poring over to make a shortlist. Watch this space to find out who won.

And finally, here's the gift: a free collection of short stories to while away an hour or two
Wish You Were (Not) Here (Pentalpha Publishing Edinburgh) is a collection of seven short stories. On Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July the book will be free on all Amazon sites. Please help yourselves to a copy.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Waging War to Shake the Cold - review

In Waging War to Shake the Cold the author, Chic McSherry, has achieved something I didn’t think was possible – he made me empathise with someone who was basically unlikeable at the beginning of the novel. When I started reading, I wanted Kats, an ex-army veteran turned gangster, to be apprehended and made to pay for his actions, but by the end I wanted him to succeed in his endeavours - causing such a change of heart is no mean feat on the author’s part.

We follow Kats as he unwittingly causes the death of an innocent woman. From her he picks up some information on which much of the storyline hangs, although Kats himself is unaware of this at the time. For me, this is the only part of the plot that comes across as less than credible. It feels a bit too much like a plot device that this person should not only be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that she just happens to have the evidence with her for Kats to pick up.

Apart from the above quibble, this is a well told and compelling story. I found it hard to put down once I got into it – and that was even while I was unsympathetic to Kats!

Kats retires from active duty in Iraq to find that the country is offering less than nothing to its returning heroes. Unable to find work and becoming increasingly frustrated with the attitude of those he left behind, Kats is drawn into a life of crime. The villains in this story are psychotic and violent, but they act always in character, so the violence is both credible and chilling. Kats himself is not above using techniques learned while in the army to get any necessary information, but again, he acts in character, using just enough to get the job done and not simply for the sake of inflicting pain on another.

Throughout I felt as if I were in the shady and frightening world inhabited by the gangsters controlling Glasgow’s underworld – not a comfortable feeling. And this is not a comfortable book, but it is a gripping one. I defy anyone to stop reading halfway.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Behind Closed Doors - Review

Behind Closed Doors introduces us to a new detective – one that I hope is going to feature again and again in future books. Beatrice Stubbs came to life for me in a way few fictional characters do. She irritated me at times, but not because she wasn’t well written, quite the opposite in fact. She annoyed me in exactly the same way a close friend would. I wanted to yell at her when she did something I considered dumb, hug her when she felt down and cheer her on when she got things right. In other words, J J Marsh has created a living, breathing person with whom readers can identify.

The plot is well crafted and original. DI Stubbs has been seconded to Zurich to uncover the truth behind a series of supposed suicides, which are, in fact, carefully crafted murders – each one designed to fit the ‘crime’ for which the killer has deemed the victims guilty.

We know fairly early on who is orchestrating everything, but not how or why, and it is this need to know which keeps the reader turning pages.

Behind Closed Doors straddles the boundary between literary fiction and crime writing, but it sits comfortably in both camps. It is, quite simply, a very well constructed crime novel written by an author in total control of her material.

I can’t wait for the next Beatrice Stubbs novel. My only concern is that the author has set the bar so high this is going to be a hard act to follow.