Guest Post: “What I Ripped Off From My Life And Used In My Book” by Sharon Doering

DoeringS-SheLiesCloseWhen I was writing She Lies Close, my debut psychological thriller, I was feeling desperate for the first time as a writer. I hadn’t felt it before in my twenty years of writing (countless short stories, a horror novel, a romance, a PI novel, and three tech thrillers). Out of nowhere, a terrifying thought hit me. Wait. Wait. What if I never get published?

That desperation I was experiencing in my writing career? I gave that to my main character, Grace Wright. Grace wasn’t worried about her writing career, but she was worried about, well, pretty much everything.

My desperation didn’t just work its way into Grace’s psyche, it weaved into the novel’s plot. I threw the kitchen sink into this novel. I wanted She Lies Close to be a car crash where you (and first, an editor) couldn’t look away. Grace is running; she’s crying; there’s an attack. Put her on stimulants. She can’t sleep. Her neighbor might be violent. She’s sleepwalking. What about the missing girl? Oh my god, who just ran across the lawn? Did her menacing neighbor give her three-year-old candy? Continue reading

Excerpt: EVEN IF WE BREAK by Marieke Nijkamp (Source Books)

NijkampM-EvenIfWeBreakToday, we have an excerpt from Marieke Nijkamp’s latest novel, Even If We Break. First, here’s the synopsis:

A group of friends go to a cabin to play a murder mystery game… only to have the game turned against them.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

For five friends, this was supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways — a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets.

Finn doesn’t trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.

When the lines between game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against time before it’s game over — forever.

Are you ready to play?

Even If We Break is out now, published by Sourcebooks in North America and in the UK.

Continue reading

Quick Review: BOX 88 by Charles Cumming (Harper)

196232-1_BOX 88_HB_REV_ii.inddAn excellent espionage thriller

An organisation that doesn’t exist.

A spy that can’t be caught.

Years ago, a spy was born…

1989: The Cold War will soon be over, but for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency, the espionage game is heating up. Lachlan Kite, recruited from an elite boarding school, is sent to France, tasked with gathering intelligence on an enigmatic Iranian businessman implicated in the Lockerbie bombing. But what Kite uncovers is more terrifying than anyone expected…

Now he faces the deadliest decision of his life…

2020: MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88’s existence and go after Kite – but Iranian intelligence have got to him first. Taken captive and brutally tortured, Kite has a choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.

In a battle unlike anything he has faced before, Kite must use all his skills to stay alive.

Long time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Charles Cumming’s spy thrillers. Ever since Typhoon, I’ve eagerly anticipated each new novel from the author. Box 88 was no different, and I’m very happy to report that it lived up to my high expectations. Really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: LOVE AND THEFT by Stan Parish (Faber/Doubleday)

ParishS-LoveAndTheftUKA chance encounter, a new chance for a real life, forced into one last job…

What price would you put on a second chance?

When Alex Cassidy and Diane Alison meet by chance at a party in Princeton, New Jersey, there are instant sparks. Both are single parents living in wealthy suburbia, independent, highly competent and seemingly settled in their lives. She runs a successful catering business. He’s part of a crew that robs banks, casinos and jewellery stores around the world. Neither realises initially that their lives have overlapped before, or that their shared history and burgeoning relationship will come to threaten everything they love. As Alex prepares for one final, daunting job, he discovers that he’s not the only one with secrets — and that both of them are playing for the highest stakes imaginable.

Love and Theft is a very good crime novel. Complete with exciting heists and elaborate operations, it is populated by interesting and well-rounded characters. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Interview with NICHOLAS BOWLING

BowlingN-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Nicholas Bowling?

Nicholas Bowling is a 35-year-old man who writes books and plays music and sometimes teaches Latin. He is quite tall and his eyesight is very poor. He’s got two children’s novels out with Chicken House, and another one coming from Titan that is categorically not for children.

Titan Books are about to publish your new novel, Alpha Omega. It sounds really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s a mixture of a few things: part sci-fi, part horror, part satire. Part email chain. It’s about a school in the near future where the kids start getting suddenly, inexplicably, violently ill. In the background is the garish, surreal world of Alpha Omega, an online VR role-playing game that no one – teacher or student – ever wants to leave; the discovery of trepanned skull on the school playing fields, which may or may not be cursed; and a privatized, corporatized academy seeking to micromanage every aspect of the kids’ lives. All told, it’s scary and sad and funny and quite odd. Hopefully it’ll make you think a bit, and laugh a bit. Some people have likened it to Black Mirror, which is a lovely thing, but I think it’s a bit wonkier and weirder than that. It’s not a series – just a one-shot. Continue reading

Upcoming: RED WIDOW by Alma Katsu (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

KatsuA-RedWidowUSSpotted this on Edelweiss. After making quite a splash with The Deep, a supernatural suspense novel about the Titanic, Alma Katsu‘s next novel takes on the espionage genre. In addition to the eye-catching cover, Katsu’s latest novel has an intriguing premise — the mole in the spy agency sub-genre has always been interesting to me, so this is high on my must-read list. It looks like it could appeal to readers of Karen Cleveland (Need to Know and Keep You Close), John le Carré, Jason Matthews (the Red Sparrow trilogy), and thriller/mystery readers in general. Here’s the synopsis for Red Widow:

An exhilarating spy thriller about two women CIA agents who become intertwined around a threat to the Russia Division — one that’s coming from inside the agency.

Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during her most recent assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague, now Chief of the Russia Division, recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself once more. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been discovered — including one of her own — and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question, and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, only this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.

Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow,” the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she exposes a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it…

Alma Katsu’s Red Widow is due to be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in North America and in the UK, on March 23rd, 2021. Looking forward to reading it!

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with JACKSON FORD

FordJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jackson Ford?

A gigantic flaming sh*thead who thought it would be fun to write paranormal action thriller novels set in Los Angeles, despite never having been there, and is frankly amazed that anything ever came of it. Fortunately, he also happens to be the alter ego of Rob Boffard, who has been to LA and is a much better writer.

Your new novel, Random Sh*t Flying Through the Air, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks rather fabulous: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

While it is part of a series, each book can also be read as a stand-alone. You definitely don’t have to start with the first one! Jump in wherever.

The books document the adventures of Teagan Frost, a government agent with psychokinetic abilities who dreams of living a normal life and running her own restaurant. I’d introduce it to the reader by saying: it’s the best book you’ll ever read, and if you disagree, then f*ck you. Continue reading

Upcoming: BOX 88 by Charles Cumming (Harper Collins)

CummingC-BoxUKUKI started reading Charles Cumming‘s novels back in 2009, when Typhoon was released. Since then, each new novel of his has been a must-read of the given year — and I have thus-far never been disappointed. This October, he has a new novel out — Box 88 — with a new protagonist and an intriguing premise:

An organisation that doesn’t exist.

A spy that can’t be caught.

1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall is imminent and the Cold War will soon be over. But for BOX 88, a top secret spying agency known only to an inner circle of MI6 and CIA operatives, the espionage game is heating up.

Lachlan Kite, recruited straight from an elite boarding school, is sent to France – the frontline of a new secret war. Kite is tasked with gathering intelligence on a mysterious Iranian businessman implicated in the tragic Lockerbie bombing. But what he uncovers is even more deadly…

2020: MI5 hear rumours of BOX 88’s existence and go after Kite – only for Iranian intelligence to get to him first.  Taken captive and subjected to torture, Kite is presented with a simple choice: reveal the truth about what happened in France thirty years earlier – or watch his family die.

Past and present merge, as MI5 and BOX 88 are caught up in a race against time to save Kite.

I learned about this novel when Damian Lewis (Billions, Band of Brothers, and many more) Tweeted about the cover reveal earlier today. Can’t wait to read this! Charles Cumming’s Box 88 is due to be published by Harper Collins in the UK, on October 1st, 2020. (Not sure about North American publisher/dates, but some of his recent novels have been published recently by St. Martin’s Press, so… maybe?)

Also on CR: Interview/Guest Post A Colder War Mole Hunt”; Reviews of Typhoon, The Trinity Six, A Foreign Country, A Colder War, and The Man Between

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: UNDER PRESSURE by Robert Pobi (St. Martin’s Press / Mulholland UK)

PobiR-LP2-UnderPressureUSThe explosive second Lucas Page novel

A series of deadly explosions rock the city of New York and with too many victims and no known motive, the F.B.I. turns once again to Dr. Lucas Page…

On a beautiful October evening, New York City’s iconic Guggenheim Museum is closed for a tech company’s private gala. Until an explosion rocks the night, instantly killing 702 people, including every single attendee — yet the damage to the building itself was minimal.

An explosion of that precision was no accident and, in response, the FBI mobilizes its entire team — but the sheer number of victims strains their resources. Were all 702 victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there only one target and 701 unlucky bystanders? That many victim files is a staggering amount of data to sort through and Brett Kehoe, Special Agent in Charge of Manhattan, decides that he can’t do this without more computational power.

Dr. Lucas Page, astrophysicist, university professor, and former FBI agent, is uniquely gifted for the task at hand — he can visualize a crime scene as if he was a bystander and can break down any set of data at a glance. Even though Page wants nothing to do with the FBI, with his city under attack and his family at risk, he steps in to find a killer in a haystack before they strike again.

I really enjoyed the first novel in Robert Pobi’s Lucas Page series, City of Windows. I was therefore very much looking forward to the character’s second outing, and I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed this, and zipped through it. Continue reading

Review: MASKED PREY by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons / Simon Schuster UK)

SandfordJ-LD30-MaskedPreyUSRight wing extremists and social media collide in Lucas Davenport’s latest investigation

Lucas Davenport investigates a vitriolic blog that seems to be targeting the children of U.S. politicians…

The daughter of a U.S. Senator is monitoring her social media presence when she finds a picture of herself on a strange blog. And there are other pictures… of the children of other influential Washington politicians, walking or standing outside their schools, each identified by name. Surrounding the photos are texts of vicious political rants from a motley variety of radical groups. It’s obviously alarming — is there an unstable extremist tracking the loved ones of powerful politicians with deadly intent? But when the FBI is called in, there isn’t much the feds can do. The anonymous photographer can’t be pinned down to one location or IP address, and more importantly, at least to the paper-processing bureaucrats, no crime has actually been committed. With nowhere else to turn, influential Senators decide to call in someone who can operate outside the FBI’s constraints: Lucas Davenport.

This is the 29th novel in Sandford’s excellent Lucas Davenport series. I’ve been a fan of the series (as well as the author’s other novels) for decades, and so each new novel is a highlight of my year. In Masked Prey, Sandford takes on two American plagues: guns and internet radicalization. It’s another excellent addition to the series, and a must read for all fans of the series. Continue reading