Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Living on a Prayer by Sheila Quigley

A week before Christmas Debbie Stansfield's life falls apart. Her son - her funny, cheeky, kind Richard - has been found hanging from a tree at the Seven Sisters. The police think it's suicide but Debbie won't - can't - accept it. Her son would never kill himself. Not her Richard. No way.
Richard's four friends know something about his death. Detective Inspector Lorraine Hunt can feel it. The teenagers are clearly terrified about something - something that scares them more than the police. But they're not about to tell…

As the days tick down to Christmas, Lorraine, increasingly overworked and under pressure, can't ignore her suspicions that there's more to Richard's death than meets the eye. And when Richard's friends start going missing, her worst fears are confirmed. Just who is preying on the young people in Houghton-le-Spring? And will Lorraine be able to stop them, before another vulnerable teenager is found dead?

Sheila Quigley is on top form with her third novel Living on a Prayer. She paints a darker picture than we have seen in her previous novels. This novel tells the tale of how some of the most vulnerable in society are at the most risk of the predators in society and how this can have deadly consequences. However, despite this we also have some humorous playful moments courtesy of Jacko and his friends on their dashes across the channel to get duty free goods.

Quigley juggles a number of plot lines here and it is clear that as the series progresses we will see these characters fleshed out still further. We see more development on Lorraine and Luke's relationship.  Luke has a personal crisis which comes out of the blue and which threatens not only his relationship with Lorraine but also his job.

In another gripping page turner Sheila Quigley is doing what she does best; creating believable three dimensional characters. This is perhaps her most involved and complex novel so far in the series yet she still delivers the aspects I enjoy the most. Interesting interplay between characters I am growing increasingly fond of as the Seahills books progress.

One of the things I’ve always liked about Sheila Quigley’s writing is that she has the common touch. Her stories are not set in drafty old manor houses with suspicious butlers. They are set in believable everyday settings with characters that we can all relate to.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Mina's Daughter...The Harker Chronicles by S.L. Schmitz

Like most people I’ve always been a fan of the classic novel by Bram Stoker.  Schmitz gives us an interesting take on the subject here introducing the character of Mina’s daughter and her friends.

From the very start of this piece we get an excellent juxtaposition from a cosy picnic setting to the sense of deep foreboding and immediately a feeling that things are not quite what they seem with Mina’s daughter. When something goes awry at the picnic and the girls picnicking find themselves suddenly in very real danger.

Schmitz sets the initial scene very well within these first couple of chapters and we learn more about Katie. I found this first instalment to be well written and interesting throughout.  I very much look forward to the next.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Insatiable (Drunk On The Moon) by B.R. Stateham

In B R Stateham's Insatiable, PI Roman Dalton gets a request from an old friend to help him solve a murder. A murder so horrible, so brutal, it had to be caused by a werewolf! Dalton is approaching his 'change' and at the same time trying to solve a vicious crime. How does he stop himself from leaping onto his friend, when the time comes, and making his old buddy an evening snack? How does he find and remove from the city a werewolf who happens to be much older, and far stronger, than he is--and not create a panic among all the potential meal tickets walking around? Find out in Drunk On The Moon Four: Insatiable by BR Stateham based on characters created by Paul D Brazill.

For the first time in this series a writer concentrates on the feelings Roman has in the run up to a full moon. The author explores the nature of the changes using strong descriptive writing that really gets you into Roman’s head. We also get a more solid sense that Roman might actually be a good and talented PI who knows his job.  In short a more serious story but with, as you would expect for this series, a few laughs along the way.  There are plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested. I was left with the satisfying feeling you get when you have really enjoyed a good story well told.

The Devil’s Music – Volume 1 Raised in Hell by Julia Madeleine

It’s the late 1930s in Memphis Tennessee and “The King Of The Delta Blues Singers” is reigning in the dingy juke joints. Sadie, the daughter of the Devil himself, has a signed contact with him that’s come due. She’s got a soul to collect. In a blues club on Beale Street, Sadie finds him on the stage and waits for him with a bottle of bourbon, ready to take him to hell. But what happens if he doesn’t want to go?

Daddy’s little girl, Sadie, like all spoilt children always gets her way. Except that Daddy is the Devil so her games tend to be deadly. Sadie is a dangerous and curvaceous chameleon that stalks through time and place to collect her chosen prey, the talented musicians of the world. Performers that would sell their very soul to achieve the success they yearn for.

Trestle Press author Julia Madeleine brings us a deliciously descriptive tale.  She sets the scene well and entertains throughout this enjoyable tale.  A Great read.

Reprisal Part 3 - Shadow Boxing by Sam Lang

Trestle Press author Sam Lang sets the scene for the Reprisal series nicely with the first two episodes: Making Plans, Making Memories (Reprisal) and Impeccant (Reprisal).  This third episode switches over to another setting, the Edgar King Federal prison. Unlike Impeccant that was playful in parts this third instalment is dark throughtout but also atmospheric as we get a glimpse inside a killers mind.  We are introduced to prison inmate Devin “De’Light” Lighter. A nasty piece of work who finds himself with an unexpected visitor.

Another enjoyable episode of this serialisation. I am looking forward to the next thrilling episode. As with any multi-part story this is building slowly, patience is required just enjoy the ride as Sam Lang slowly builds the tension.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Byker Books: The Radgepacket Series of Anthologies

Several years ago one man had a vision. It was a bold vision. It was an ambitious vision.

** Cue inspirational music **

It was a world dominating, Lily the Pink's medicinal compound, universal panacea of all that is good, pure and right kind of vision. A bold man, hero if you will, strode out of the mists among the bodies, rubble and detritus.  In his hand he held aloft a Newcastle Brown bottle.  In his other hand he held a shining pen.  Over his shoulders he wore a Newcastle United scarf….

** The sound of a record being removed from a turntable and thrown loudly against a wall **

That vision was called Radgepacket and right now writers from across the Country are without fingernails as they nervously wait to find out if their story will be included in Radgepacket 6.

I don't know if Byker Books mysterious head honcho, known only as Ed, envisioned that his drive and passion would bring together such a range of talent when he started out but I suspect he did. Radgepacket has launched more writing careers than the Queen (Gawd bless her) has launched ships. Including my own.  Byker Books showed me that I could inflict my own brand of fiction on the world and that there were others who wrote this kind of fiction. It is described as industrial strength fiction on Byker Books website, which is a pretty accurate tag lane.  The Radgepacket series brings you stories with swearing, sex and violence. Some of the fiction has a hard edge to it, a gritty feel that resonates with the nasty things that sometimes happen in the real world.  Radgepacket authors don’t seek to shock, they seek to entertain. These are great stories told in urban environments. Nasty or sometimes unfortunate characters are brought kicking and screaming to life within the Radgepacket books. Why not check out what they get up to?

Byker have been on the go quite a few years now but I write this article now because Byker have now made the whole Radgepacket series available for digital download. Each of the five titles is UNDER A POUND.  These publications feature writers such as Danny King, Ray Banks, Sheila Quigley, Rod Glenn, Ian Ayris, Paul D. Brazill, Lee Kelly, Nick Boldock, Nick Quantrill, Andy Rivers, Steven Porter, Pete Sortwell, Craig Douglas, Carol Fenlon, Martyn Taylor and many, many more.

Many apologies if I have missed anyone out but if I have it only highlights my point that there has been such a vast array of talent within the Radgepacket series of books.

Now a call to arms addressed to the Radgepacket authors and avid readers of the series. You can directly help Byker Books in this tough and competitive marketplace and also yourselves (authors) by doing the following: “Like” each of the publications on Amazon and Good Reads.  Leave a review, even if it is only a few lines, for each of the publications.  These small tokens of appreciation help to show readers what is out there and that others have found it worthwhile. Otherwise they won’t stand out like the shining beacon they are against the bland masses of homogenised Tesco shelf fillers that are out there. You could also share this review on your Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

If you want to check out all of Byker Books titles, including the critically acclaimed Maxwell's Silver Hammer simply type Byker Books into your amazon search box.

Find Byker Books website HERE

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Slammer by Allan Guthrie

Slammer is a gripping novel by the man behind the fantastic Criminal-E blog and author of the critically acclaimed novels Hard Man and the 2007 Old Peculier Crime novel of the year Two-Way Split. Slammer is now available as a digital download.

Slammer continues the theme of some of his other novels, which is that of flawed characters. Allan Guthrie does to his characters what major car manufacturers do to crash test dummies and then some. That’s not to say that they don’t sometimes deserve being put through the mincer. Guthrie delights in bringing us protagonists that for one reason or another are not functioning on all levels.  The major character Nick Glass is a weak individual who is easily exploited and most definitely not the kind of person who should be working as a prison officer. Your whole world can shatter if you make the wrong decisions and so it is for Nick Glass, an individual who it is crystal clear has chosen the wrong career. When Glass turns to drugs for solace his life starts to go downhill rapidly.

A very fast paced novel that is most definitely for adults only featuring graphically described dark scenes. However, I’d point out that they are in keeping with the setting and never overdone. Slammer is a gritty psychological thriller, which as you come to expect from Guthrie is the kind of tightly written novel you race through. A roller coaster ride of a novel and like any good roller coaster you are thrown around with all the twists and turns. Allan Guthrie remains tartan noirs master of the nasty surprise. His plots are never predictable which is one of the things that make his novels such a thrilling read.  Cracking stuff with Guthrie at the height of his writing prowess.

Download the kindle version HERE