The Act of Treachery by Gavin Scott

image

Special Operations Executive agent Duncan Forrester has returned from the war and is back at his Oxford college as a junior Ancient History Fellow. But his peace is shattered when a much-disliked Fellow is found murdered in the quad. Forrester is not convinced of the principal suspect’s guilt and, on the hunt for the true killer, he finds himself plunged into a mystery involving lost Viking sagas, Satanic rituals and wartime espionage.

My Review:
The Act of Treachery is the first in a new trilogy of books. Duncan Forrester is a very likeable character who is convinced that his close friend is not responsible for a hated colleague’s death. His efforts to prove that he is innocent doesn’t impress the police, he realises that his opinions of people he has known for years change and he finds himself in danger.
Many famous people feature in the novel, some I familiar with but some I had to re-read their part because I hadn’t picked up on it straight away. I thought this worked quite well and it had me looking on the Internet in some cases so I could find out more about the ones I was less familiar with.
The way post war Europe was described was convincingly grim especially in Berlin and this was my favourite part of the novel. I could see everyday people struggling to rebuild their lives after the war and the conditions that they were living in.
I did work out fairly early on who the murderer was fairly early on but not the reason why so I still enjoyed the novel. I will be definitely interested in reading the second book that is due to be published in 2017.

Thanks to Titan Books for the copy received.

A Time of Torment- John Connolly: Charlie Parker’s Music

All this week, Liz from LizLovesBooks has been running a feature on John Connolly and his series of books featuring Charlie Parker.
The features have appeared here:

The Mythology of Charlie Parker at LizLovesBooks

Anti- Heroes at Northern Crime

Creating The Villains at Grab This Book

Charlie Parker’s World at espresso coco

I am delighted to welcome them both to my blog today.

image

Q/A – Charlie Parker’s world through music.

Can you talk a little about what made you name your main protagonist after a famous musician and how that feeds into the stories?

If I remember correctly – and it does seem like a very long time ago – it was the nickname that attracted me. Parker was known as “Bird”, and there was something about a man like Charlie Parker (the PI version) having a nickname associated with flight, and perhaps spirituality, while being so earthbound and mired in mortality. But as the books progressed, “Bird” came to be used less and less in association with him, and that was very deliberate. I didn’t want people to think it was a gimmick, and now I actually wince a little when writers or journalists refer to him as Charlie “Bird” Parker. In my mind, that’s the musician, while Parker is just, well, Parker.

There’s maybe also a small in-joke in that Parker ends up accidentally named after a jazz musician, as it’s made clear in the books that his parents didn’t listen to jazz at all. Also, Parker doesn’t really listen to jazz. I do – a little – but I always wonder a bit at the number of detective characters who seem to listen only to jazz and blues. Does nobody listen to the music of the eighties apart from me?

image

 

You can read more about Charlie Parker on the website

Charlie Parker

Music obviously inspires you – the CD’s that come with the occasional special edition are full of gorgeous tone and atmospheric sense – how do you discover the artists that DO inspire?

Gosh, often by accident. It’s funny, but in terms of books and music I find myself going back, not forward. I do listen to new artists, just as I read new writers, but I’m very conscious of the gaps in my knowledge of both books and music; it may be a function of my age. I’m reading a lot of classics, and less in my own genre, as I think, or hope, that I’m pretty familiar with it by now. As for music, ABC to XTC, the weekly radio show that I host, focuses on the late seventies to the mid-eighties, which is the era of my teens. I thought I knew a lot about the music of the period, but the deeper I delve, the more I realize that I actually missed a great deal. It’s become a very pleasurable process of musical excavation.

image    ABC

 

image    XTC

When it comes to the music on the Parker CDs, though, it’s often lyrical touches that catch my attention, and then it’s mood. Actually – and you’re the first person to be told this – I’m just putting the finishing touches to a limited edition (a long one!) that has music as its primary focus, using the songs on the CDs as a starting point for discussions of the novels, or writing, or sometimes simply the artists themselves. We’ll be giving people information about that at the end of April. So there: an exclusive!

If the books were to be turned into a show for television (if wishing made it so) which one piece of music or song would you imagine as the title sequence ran?

Gosh, that’s a hard one to answer! I suspect that I’d just leave it up to those involved. After all, I don’t think anyone would immediately have associated The Handsome Family with a detective drama until True Detective used their music – although they’ve always had a pronounced gothic streak.
One track that I never tried to license, even though it was hugely influential on Every Dead Thing, is Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails. It has one use of the f-word, and I always try to be careful about that with the CDs, as stores sometimes like to play them over their PA systems. But the mood of that song might be appropriate.

image

You can read more about Nine Inch Nails on their website

Nine Inch Nails

That question is going to bother me now: I’ll end up obsessively going through the CDs on my shelf.

You can read more about John Connolly on his website

John Connolly

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

image

Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.

My Review:

Every now and then I read a book that is different to my usual choice of fiction. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was an absolute joy.
It starts just before the first anniversary of his wife’s death and we learn how the decision to go through her belongings changes his life. Up until that point his life had consisted of going though his daily routine like clockwork. He never tries anything different, not even a different outfit or a different meal for his breakfast. He tends to his plant which he has named Frederica and goes out of his way to avoid his neighbour who insists on baking him pies and giving him self help leaflets.
When he finds the charm bracelet a whole new world opens its doors to him, that of his wife’s life before she met him. When he decides to look into the story of each charm he learns a lot. Some he finds comfort in but there are also things that he finds distressing.
I loved reading about his adventures, and how he learned to embrace what he had left in life. He had his family but he also realised that there were people he could build a friendship with. He accepted that even though there were parts of his wife’s past that he didn’t know about it didn’t affect the memory of their happy marriage.
If you liked Harold Fry you will love this, it’s perfect.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson

image

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes.

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

Following the success and acclaim of the Callum Doyle novels, A Tapping at My Door is the first instalment of David Jackson’s new Nathan Cody series

My Review:

David Jackson’s previous novels were set in New York, I’ve read the first but have them all. And it was very good. This new series featuring Nathan Cody is set much close to home in my favourite UK city, Liverpool. I like to read a novel set somewhere that I am familiar with. When Cody first appeared I could picture exactly where he was and was laughing when he chased his prey through the shopping area. I could also picture another scene very clearly, but this wasn’t one that made me smile. It takes part in one of the more eerie parts of the city.

At times it’s quite intimidating, not just the parts that involved the killings but also when the police had to go into areas where they weren’t welcome, and it was very believable. But there is also some humour at times, especially Cody’s reaction to some that he deals with.
It’s one of the few novels that I have read where I felt some empathy towards the killer and revulsion towards a victim. I can’t really say more, to do so would be too much of a spoiler but if you have read it you will probably know what I mean.
Often when I’m reading I picture which actors should appear in lead roles if is ever televised. This is a novel that would definitely make great TV and I’m absolutely certain on who I would pick to play Stella. She would be perfect for the role.
It’s a fantastic novel, the first in a new series that has huge potential.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, the e book version also arrived on my kindle this morning.

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor- cover reveal

Today, I am pleased to reveal to you the stunning cover for Laini Taylor’s new novel that will be published by Hodder and Stoughton in September 2016. We also get to see a glimpse of the prologue.

image

Prologue
On the second sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky.
Her skin was blue, her blood was red.
She broke over an iron gate, crimping it on impact, and there she hung, impossibly arched, graceful as a temple dancer swooning on a lover’s arm. One slick finial anchored her in place. Its point, protruding from her sternum, glittered like a brooch. She fluttered briefly as her ghost shook loose, and then her hands relaxed, shedding fistfuls of freshly picked torch ginger buds.
Later, they would say these had been hummingbird hearts and not blossoms at all.
They would say she hadn’t shed blood but wept it. That she was lewd, tonguing her teeth at them, upside down and dying, that she vomited a serpent that turned to smoke when it hit the ground. They would say a flock of moths had come, frantic, and tried to lift her away.
That was true. Only that.
They hadn’t a prayer, though. The moths were no bigger than the startled mouths of children, and even dozens together could only pluck at the strands of her darkening hair until their wings sagged, sodden with her blood. They were purled away with the blossoms as a grit-choked gust came blasting down the street. The earth heaved underfoot. The sky spun on its axis. A queer brilliance lanced through billowing smoke, and the people of Weep had to squint against it. Blowing grit and hot light and the stink of saltpeter. There had been an explosion. They might have died, all and easily, but only this girl had, shaken from some pocket of the sky.
Her feet were bare, her mouth stained damson. Her pockets were all full of plums. She was young and lovely and surprised and dead.
She was also blue.
Blue as opals, pale blue. Blue as cornflowers, or dragonfly wings, or a spring—not summer—sky.
Someone screamed. The scream drew others. The others screamed, too, not because a girl was dead, but because the girl was blue, and this meant something in the city of Weep. Even after the sky stopped reeling, and the earth settled, and the last fume spluttered from the blast site and dispersed, the screams went on, feeding themselves from voice to voice, a virus of the air.
The blue girl’s ghost gathered itself and perched, bereft, upon the spearpoint-tip of the projecting finial, just an inch above her own still chest. Gasping in shock, she tilted back her invisible head and gazed, mournfully, up.
The screams went on and on.
And across the city, atop a monolithic wedge of seamless, mirror-smooth metal, a statue stirred, as though awakened by the tumult, and slowly lifted its great horned head.