Dishonoured Review: A Gripping And Unique Psychological Thriller

From the acclaimed author of Proximity and No Signal, Jem Tugwell, comes a new stand-alone novel, Dishonoured.

I was really excited to check it out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Tugwell creates a gripping thriller that has stayed with me even though I finished reading it at the end of last year.

Dishonoured begins by introducing its readers to Dan. Dan’s a happy dude. He’s got a pretty perfect looking life. He has a family, a nice home and a great job.

He’s also a bit of a creature of habit. One day, one random day, he’s taking his usual train, when he recognises the waitress who served him earlier. In one short moment, everything changes in Dan’s life.

No spoilers, but when Dan gets off the train he’s a criminal with his life in tatters. The waitress said ‘sorry’ to him, but what could she mean by that? Dan’s left to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. He’s a determined guy, so he sets out to try and right the wrongs and find the culprit who’s trying to trash his life.

Through this journey, there are so many twists and turns that, in the hands of a lesser writer, this novel would be hard to follow. Thankfully, Tugwell is a superior writer, so Dishonoured is engaging and unforgettable. It’s remarkably easy to keep up with, despite the fact that there is loads of plot twists to keep you guessing.

Tugwell’s real skill is creating relatable characters, so that the reader invests in them emotionally. Every character is intriguing and enhances the story. The dialogue is also snappy and swift, so the story runs smoothly and you’re kept hooked throughout every plot twist and new piece of information.

One of the best things about this novel is that the really scary thing isn’t violence or monsters, but human nature and cruelty itself. Tugwell creates a psychological thriller that shows the darkest depths of human anguish and how far people will go to destroy each other. If you’re looking for a breathtakingly thrilling tale that will take your mind off the current mad situation, then this is the ideal book for you.

At the end of the day, while Dishonoured doesn’t have the same familiar characters as Tugwell’s past novels, it retains the same cutthroat plotting and razor sharp dialogue as his earlier work. It’s a gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, and with so many twists and you’ll find it almost impossible to put the novel down.

Andrew James Graham: “I want the reader to be taken on a journey”

Andrew James Graham talks me through his writing and the techniques he uses in his work.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

I feel my writing style is quite descriptive. I want the reader to be taken on a journey into the world I’ve created. To not only tell them what the characters are doing but also feel, taste and smell the situations they are in. I want the reader to think, almost act like the detective in trying to work out who the killer is, making them laugh along the way. I got into crime fiction writing mainly by watching crime shows on TV. I’ve always been a fan and thought I’d try writing a crime novel myself.

Please tell me about your career background and how you draw on it in your writing.

I worked for many years as a Housing Officer in some of the most economically and socially deprived areas of North Tyneside. I worked closely with Probation Services, Drug and alcohol treatment centres and Homeless charities. I’ve always found that real life people and situations are always far more interesting.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

My inspiration is often the wonderful characters that I have come into contact with over the years, be it through work situations, or on public transport or even the local supermarket. When it comes to writers block I try to think of subplots for my characters. I think about a particular incident or character that I have had to deal with in the past. How would they react to that situation? What would they do? How would it affect their life?

What books do you read yourself and how do they influence your writing?

I love British Crime fiction, in particular, Ian Rankin, Peter James, Martina Cole, Mark Billingham and Peter Robinson. I love the way their characters interact with each other with workplace banter. Ian Rankin is especially good at this in his Rebus Novels.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I would love to work on a screenplay with Quentin Tarrantino. I just love his dark humour and how he writes the dialogue between his characters. It would also help me get an insight into how he successfully gets his ideas from paper onto the big screen. Pure genius.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I have started writing my next novel, so finishing that would be good.  I’m also really hoping to improve my website as well as putting together a newsletter and increasing my mailing list. I also hope to be more active on twitter and in the creative writing groups on Facebook.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I would like to get my hands on any new book from my favourite authors. But there is always a new book to read as the first time you pick it up it’s new to you, even though it could have been 20 years since it was first published. I’m also always looking for new authors from my part of the world, as I find Tyneside an excellent backdrop for crime thrillers. Trevor Wood’s new novel, One Way Street is one I would like to read.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I think 2020 has been an awful year for a lot of people, but one positive thing to come from 2020 is that more people have had time to rediscover their love of reading, whether it be through Kindle eBooks or the good old fashioned paperbacks. I hope that as the New Year progresses and this COVID virus is finally controlled, people continue to read, and they will hopefully give my book a try.

It’s been a pleasure Andrew, and thank you very much for answering my questions.

The Thursday Murder Club Review: The Ideal Cosy Crime Novel To Help You Beat The January Blues

Often when writers who are already famous publish books, there’s a degree of nepotism, which automatically makes me suspicious.

Some, like actor Hugh Fraser, turn out to be incredible writers with amazing skills who create phenomenal stories. Others, like social media personality and influencer Zoella, create duds that are ghost written, and badly done at that.

As such, I was unsure about what to think when TV quiz show host Richard Osman released a novel. Named The Thursday Murder Club, the book sounded like a Sunday TV drama on ITV from the off, and I wasn’t sure whether it would be an amazing work of cosy crime fiction or some lame attempt to break into a new market by a quiz show host seeking to broaden his horizons.

I’m pleased to inform you that the former is correct, and Osman’s debut novel is a witty, droll crime fiction caper that is both funny and engaging. Written in Golden Age style, The Thursday Murder Club is set in modern England, but it has a timeless feel that makes it an almost instant classic.

Osman’s smash hit, which has beaten many records for a debut novel, is set in a charming Kentish retirement village named Coopers Chase, where four elderly residents meet every Thursday to discuss real-life cases. Started by a retired policewoman and someone who is covertly referred to as a sort-of spy, the group loses its former cop and now includes a busybody unionist, a former psychiatrist and its newest member, a retired nurse.

The group meets in a small meeting room known as ‘The Jigsaw Room’ to paw over cold cases, although nothing ever comes from their musings. They simply work together to try and figure out a solution and get some kind of personal resolution.

All that changes when Tony Curran, the builder and part owner of Cooper’s Chase, is bludgeoned to death in his kitchen. A cryptic photo is placed beside the victim’s body, depicting him many years before, with a set of friends, including the professional boxer son of Ron, the busybody unionist who forms one forth of the murder club. In front of them sits a huge pile of cash.

The victim had a dubious career as an enforcer/ drug dealer, until he went legit (ish) and helped to create Coopers Chase. As such, there are a lot of suspects to wade through, including Curran’s business partner, the professional boxer, the Polish builder poised to take over Curran’s role at the retirement village and more.

The members of the club, together with a young policewoman that they befriended, start to sift through the clues and uncover new insight into Curran’s fishy background, dodgy dealings and dubious associates. All the while, they share the highs and lows of life in a retirement village, including worries about old age, infirmity, loss of memory, vulnerability, a struggle against the ever-encroaching digital age and more.

Osman switches between perspectives in each chapter, which makes for an interesting read that will keep you hooked. You’ll learn new information not from long, boring descriptions and info-dumps, but from dialogue, diary entries and weird little asides. Each chapter brings something new, and you become drawn into the funny, hum-drum life of the residential home and the cosy life in Fairhaven, where life used to move at a snail’s pace before the murder changed made things interesting. Some of the jokes are surprisingly funny (there’s an ongoing gag about llamas which is surprisingly effective).

The story is both heart-warming and inviting. You’re quickly drawn into the world of the club, and want to find out more about them. Osman makes his characters relatable and entertaining, so you’ll feel an instant connection to them. They’re endearing, particularly Joyce the former nurse, who is the main narrator of most of the first person chapters, written in the form of her diary entries.

With a combination of humour, human interest and murder, Osman manages to create an unforgettable novel that will keep you hooked and leave you wanting more. It’s already been announced that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to The Thursday Murder Club, and with that stellar Hollywood recommendation as well as the amazing reception that the bestseller has received, it’s clear that we’ve not seen the last literary endeavour from Richard Osman. I’m excited to see what else he can create in the future and how Spielberg will transform this funny and engaging mystery novel into a blockbuster movie.

Andrew Puckett Interview: “The British countryside inspires me”

For my first interview of 2021 I speak to Andrew Puckett about his work and how he creates incredible medical thrillers based on his experience working for the NHS.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards medical thrillers?

Books and writing have always fascinated me.  I read Enid Blyton from the age of eight, but the turning point was finding a tatty paperback in the living room when I was 11: Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie.  The discovery that I could actually try and guess whodunnit was a revelation…

I worked my way through suspense writers such as Hammond Innes, and then I graduated onto J B Priestly (still my favourite author) Henry Williamson, Laurence Durrell and Winston Graham.  I think the best crime authors at the moment are Andrew Taylor and C J Sansom.  The best was Minette Walters, but she’s stopped now – unfortunately!

How do you draw on your career in the NHS when you’re writing?  

I started writing in my early twenties, but the acquisition of a girlfriend put a stop to that.  I concentrated on my career in Biomedical Science, we moved to Oxford from Taunton and any ambitions to write were subsumed in career and happy marriage.  I worked in the Blood Transfusion Service, testing donations for Hepatitis, Syphilis and Aids.

Then my wife died.  I decided to have a go at writing again.  It took two not very good novels and seven years to publish my first Medical Thriller, Bloodstains, which was published by Collins.  (Two rules: Write about what you know, and Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration).  I had six novels published by Collins, three by Constable.  These days I publish with Sharpe Books.  These are mostly e books, but some paperback.  All 14 of my books are available from them.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

My main inspiration has been my career in Medical Science.  Specific to various books were the emergence of HIV (Bed Of Nails) a trip to the Scottish Highlands (Bloodhound) a visit to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Desolation Point) the ruthlessness of some drug companies (A Life For A Life) and Bioterrorism (Going Viral).

I’ve come across some pretty ruthless characters in the NHS – a tiny minority – but they have an effect way beyond their numbers.  Think Harold Shipman.  And the people jailed some thirty years ago for pinching donated blood and flogging it abroad.  Some are in my books, although heavily disguised.

The British countryside inspires me.  I love it and nearly all my books reflect this.  Nearly all are set in the West Country, several completely or partially in Dorset.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Collaboration is difficult – at least it is for me.  I did once with a close friend, and wouldn’t do it again!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Books I’m looking forward to reading: the latest Andrew Taylor or C J Sansom.

Thanks to Andrew for answering my questions; stay tuned for other exciting interviews throughout the year! Here’s to an awesome 2021 for Andrew and other awesome crime fiction writers.

Crime Fiction I’m Looking Forward To In 2021

Happy New Year to everyone who’s supported my blog throughout 2020, and here’s to a much better year in 2021.

After a horrific year, 2021 can only get better. It’s hard to imagine that things will get better, and while they might not return to what we consider to be ‘normal’, they’re certainly going to improve as the vaccine roles out, Trump fucks off and we all get used to caring for and supporting each other.

Also, a New Year means new books for readers to dig their teeth into. Following my list of the crime fiction I was looking forward to in 2020, I’ve created a fresh list for a shiny New Year.

If you’re searching for something to read in 2021, especially while we ride out the pandemic and spend more time indoors to protect others, then read on. I’ll share my pick of the crime fiction novels being realised throughout the year.

Dial A For Aunties: A murder mystery mixed with a touch of romantic comedy by Jesse Q. Sutanto, Dial A For Aunties is funny and gripping. Set in a Chinese-Indonesian community living in America, the novel gives readers a glimpse into this society and how far family will go to protect its own. When Meddelin Chan kills her blind date by accident, she turns to her family for help. Her mother reaches out to her aunts for assistance in disposing of the body, which is harder than they initially believe it will be, leading to mayhem and mystery. The family’s wedding business provides a unique opportunity, but also many instances of chaos and calamity.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden: The third novel in Stuart MacBride’s Ash Henderson series, The Coffin Maker’s Garden is an innovative new thriller with a unique setting; a house that’s crumbling into the sea during a vicious storm. The crime scene is falling into the sea, which makes the job of uncovering how many bodies are there, and how they died. The case quickly catches the attention of the local media, and with the region’s leaders searching desperately for a scapegoat to pin the crimes on, the former detective inspector faces a desperate race against time to learn the truth about the coastal garden full of human remains that’s falling into the sea.

Death in Daylesford: The latest in the Phyrne Fisher series by the respected Australian author Kerry Greenwood, Death In Daylesford is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time. It’s been a while since the last in the series featuring the 1920s society flapper turned super sleuth, so this latest novel, launching in June of this year, will be something to enjoy in the summer. When the detective receives an invitation from the owner of a respected spa in Victoria, she’s excited to get her teeth stuck into another thrilling mystery. Taking her faithful maid with her, she embarks on an intriguing trip to the spa, while at home her friends and adopted children work to uncover the truth about a mysterious body pulled from the river.

The Survivors: From the bestselling author of The Dry, the smash hit thriller that took the world by storm, comes the latest mystery. Jane Harper’s new novel, The Survivor, brings us the tale of a small coastal town battling a lot of secrets and mysterious circumstances. A body found on the beach, a sunken wreck and a missing girl cause a stir that will have a lasting impact on the local community and change many lives forever. The incidents particularly impact on recent returnee Kieran Elliott, who has come back to town to nurse old wounds and visit his parents. The novel is full of twists and turns, as the writer brings to life a gripping tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the final chapter.

 Not Dark Yet: Peter Robinson’s popular detective DCI Banks gets yet another outing in the 27th novel featuring the dour detective, Not Dark Yet. A gory double murder at the luxury home of a property developer looks like an open and shut mob hit from the Albanian mafia. However, when Banks’s team uncovers a mysterious stash of videos, the case takes a sinister turn. Meanwhile, one of Banks’s friends is digging into the past to find the men who trafficked her, but her digging puts her, Banks and those he loves in danger. All in all, you can expect a gripping police procedural from Robinson, who’s renowned for his relatable characters and modern thrillers that will keep you enthralled.