Night Driver Review: An Engaging Thriller the Likes of Which You Won’t Have Seen Before

night driver

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to your average thriller, but with the grit and human drama that you’re used to, then look no further than Marcelle Perk’s latest novel. Initially established as a sort of alternative crime novel, the narrative quickly escalates as the reader becomes embroiled in a tense mystery that is both unsettling and empathetic at the same time.

Heavily pregnant Frannie is an English woman who now lives in Germany. Hoping to gain some control over her confusing life, she learns to drive; however she is so nervous that she chooses to only drive at night. During one of her nocturnal drives, she becomes entangled in a search for a missing person, and is then thrown into the path of a serial killing truck driver.

Putting a woman, and better yet a heavily pregnant one, at the centre of the mystery gives this a great dynamic, and as unlikely sleuth Frannie gets deeper into this intriguing mystery we learn more both about her and the danger she is facing. Author Marcelle Perks creates has a true imagination and an eye for detail that lends itself to this great, new take on the traditional late night thriller.

Written in the third person, the novel gives Frannie a unique agency as she explores a truly horrendous underground world of pimps, prostitutes, organ trafficking drug addicts and sadistic serial killers. It is really different to read about a heavily pregnant woman snorting cocaine and generally raising hell, but this is what you get with Night Driver.

At the end of the day, this is an unusual take on a thriller/ mystery novel, but it’s definitely one worth checking out. Being a book blogger who specialises in crime fiction, mystery and thrillers, I rarely read anything truly unique, but with this novel I was genuinely impressed.

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The Top Five Canadian Authors to Celebrate on Canada Day

Margaret Atwood

Happy Canada Day!! To celebrate, I decided to compile a list of my five favourite Canadian authors from across the genres that showcase the best that this unique country has to offer. So check it out and see if you can find something new to read on this exciting national holiday, and maybe keep going with for a bit longer if you’re so inclined. Happy Reading!

5. Yann Martel: Celebrated author of The Life of Pi, Martel offers readers a truly unique perspective on the absurdity of life. Another of his books that is well worth a read is Beatrice and Virgil, an allegory for the holocaust told through a novelist’s exploration of taxidermied animals.

4. Joy Kogawa: Japanese-Canadian Poet and Novelist Joy Kogawa writes some truly phenomenal poems which are really delve deep into human trauma and the most harrowing of human experiences possible. I have personally never read her novels, however I am told that her work is inspirational, and as such she is absolutely worth looking into.

canada writers3. Peter Robinson: Odd to think that the author of the Yorkshire based DCI Banks as Canadian, but Robinson was born in Leeds and moved to Toronto, presumably because it’s better than Leeds (although, let’s be fair here, there are lots of places better than Leeds). His novels are gripping and will keep you entertained for ages, because there are a lot of them, so what’s not to like?!

2. Louise Penny: Canadian thriller writer Penny creates harrowing and tantalising novels, which will stay with you forever. Set in Quebec, her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has been translated into a number of different languages and has become a true bastion of Canadian fiction, and as such any thriller reader should defiantly check her out, especially as it is Canada Day today!

1. Margret Atwood: Renowned for her novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which has recently been turned into a brilliant TV series, Atwood has also written a range of novels across a variety of genres, and her work really resonates, particularly in today’s perilous world. Her intuitive explorations of human nature are incredibly empathetic and as such everyone will find a character in Atwood’s work that they can relate to.

Simon Bower Interview: “As long as I can remember, I have adored a good crime thriller”

SIMON BOWER

For anyone looking for a good book to read while they laze on the beach and enjoy the heat wave, Dead in the Water is a great thriller to keep you entertained. I interviewed Author Simon Bower to learn more about the novel and how he drew on his own experiences of international travel to write it.

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

As long as I can remember, I have adored a good crime thriller. While I can appreciate some literary fiction, my personality dictates that I prefer fast-paced heart thumping suspense and mystery to beautifully crafted clauses! When I wrote Dead in the Water, I spent considerable time defining the writing style. Specifically, my first decision was to couch each chapter in the viewpoint of one of the characters. This provides a limited viewpoint that also allows a scenario to be explored from two different points of view, and at times with humour (an early example of this in the book is when Charlie and Ana see their relationship from very different points of view). I also decided to write Charlie’s chapters in the first person – it really immerses the reader in his psychological character. Finally, the vantage point of parts 1 and 2 of the Dead in the Water, is at the end of part 2, so part 3 transcends naturally into a present tense suspense. This real-time style can be liberating for the writer and the reader, since anything at all can happen. So I was attracted towards the writing style that I love and I wrote the book that I wanted to read.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I have always enjoyed writing and wrote a number of pieces for personal exploration during the past twenty years that I have spent living away from the UK. Undoubtedly, these projects guided the maturity of my work and allowed me to structure Dead in the Water from the outset. In terms of profession, I have lent myself to a whole array of jobs and industries in quite a few different continents – some of my most influential jobs have been when working in the communications field. Despite my keen interest I writing, time has always been in short supply. So the catalyst to put into words my plot for this book was the opportunity that presented itself a few years ago to concentrate on writing full time.

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

In order to have characters with sufficient depth, emotions, speech style and motive, I base my characters on exaggerations of real people that I know. I might not know them well, but it helps to ensure consistency of thought and the liveliness of reality. The crime elements come from a release of constraints, thinking like a kid who has not yet understood the moral lines and laws accepted in our society. What could you get away with if moral boundaries were removed and you didn’t care about the risk of a life in prison?

Dead in the Water is one of a new wave of hybrid genres. It’s a thriller, but before that it’s realistic and a mystery too. Three books in one. The one constant throughout my work is a very strong sense of place. I draw inspiration from locations I know intimately, taking the reader to parts of France, to Amsterdam, New York, London and Oxford, to name a few. When I wrote the manuscript, it was not one contiguous drafting journey – I dipped and delved into different parts of the book, and this meant if I ever met a wall, a way around it soon appeared by working on another point in the story, then going back to it.

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

Writing the first draft for Dead in the Water was a solitary endeavour. However, developing it with my editor, Kate Taylor, was a productive collaboration. Suddenly I could share the responsibility and she was terrific at editing out superfluous details. However, I have not really considered collaborating to write a book, like Clive Cussler and James Patterson tend to do. Although I love the idea of working with Iain Banks, who has sadly left us, it would probably be most fruitful to work with someone who could bring a truly different perspective to the table – a CIA agent, or a convicted killer.

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

I’ve begun planning a sequel to Dead in the Water. It certainly won’t be simply an extension of the first, but so many people are craving to know what happens next. I won’t say too much, to avoid spoilers, but it would also be set globally, have some of the same characters and occur after the end of the first book.

Other than that, I have a keen interest to work on a book that is more speculative in nature. I enjoyed Matt Haig’s The Humans in part owing to its completely normal setting, but with an utterly abstract twist.

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

I’ve mentioned a few writers, but the one that keeps getting away is Terry Hayes. I enjoyed his debut novel I am Pilgrim, despite some reservations of stereotyping, and very much look forward to his belated next release The Year of the Locust. I also like to check out new writers and I have a few of those to try out. One example is Strangers on a Bridge, by Louise Mangos – the plot sounds intriguing.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

My book has been released by a UK indie publisher, Middle Farm Press, and the odds are stacked against ‘David’ when ‘Goliath’ and all the collaborators hold all the cards. Dead in the Water is stocked in some bookshops but for now, our distribution is limited mainly to the biggest online consumer direct suppliers. We are working on improving this, but need to demonstrate demand, so we are most appreciative for the support we get for either the eBook or paperback. Finally a hearty thanks to Hannah for conducting this interview and I hope you enjoy Dead in the Water!

Thanks for answering my questions Simon, it has been awesome to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Grave Island Review: A Scorching Thriller to Get You Through the Heatwave

Grave Island

For anyone with time on their hands during the warm spell we’re currently experiencing, Grave Island is the latest gripping thriller to keep you hooked as you laze around and lap up the sunshine. Spy novels are all the rage right now, and as far as espionage tales go Andrew Smyth’s tale of counterfeit drugs and one man’s desperate quest to stop this vicious trade is as intense as they come.

Beginning with the disgrace of Philip Hennessey, an army intelligence officer with a troubled past, following a set-up that sees him lose his career, Grave Island, leads the reader straight into a devilish mystery. When an old friend of his former wife comes knocking to plead for help following the death of her father, Hennessey is drawn into a quest to find a consignment of counterfeit vaccinations before they wreak untold havoc.

Faced with multiple challenges, including the issue of his downfall and the planting of false evidence, Hennessey is diligent and determined as he hunts down a consignment of fake vaccines that could impact the lives of thousands.

Throughout the novel I have the sense that there is a serious understatement to it all. After all, Smyth is depicting a scandal on a global scale that could potentially affect millions, yet his protagonist is, largely, calm and collected, or certainly less panicked than anyone I can think of would be in such a situation. Nonetheless, Hennessey is a strong central character, with his supporting cast equally strong as they lie, cheat and deceive their way through this fast paced novel.

Overall, I was impressed by Grave Island. I enjoyed the pace of the storyline and the intensity of Smyth’s characters as they race against time to stop a global massacre. There is a constant tension throughout the narrative that is completely compelling, drawing the reader through to the nail-biting conclusion and leaving you wanting more.

Corrupted Review: A Slick Thriller That Will Keep You Guessing

corrupted simon michael

After reviewing and enjoying The Lighterman I was interested to check out the fourth book in the Charles Holborne thriller series, Corrupted. I compared the previous novel in the series to John le Carré’s work in my review, and as I read Corrupted I could not help but feel that my opinion was completely justified thanks to the exquisite characterisation and the exacting nature of the dogged lawyer Charles Holborne. 

In the latest instalment in this gripping series our intrepid protagonist is settling into his perfect life: he has a girlfriend, his job is going great and things are generally peachy. This is the swinging sixties, and author Simon Michael evokes a great atmosphere that crackles with tension as he catapults his character from homely bliss to underworld grime as he cavorts with gangsters and thieves in a bit to take down the notorious Kray twins.

The plot escalates quickly, and pretty soon Charles is out of happy land and into some strong shit, as he starts courting scandal and contending with threats to his life while investigating a sex ring that involves not just the Krays and the Mafia, but extends up to the very echelons of the UK’s power.

Skilfully blending history with a fast paced narrative to create a suspenseful story, Michael showcases his creative prowess with a novel that is almost instantly classic. The integration of real historical figures adds an extra dimension that keeps the reader hooked throughout. Blending snappy dialogue with strong characterisation, the novel runs away with the reader and leaves them wanting more with each jaw-dropping, suspense-filled chapter.

So if you’re looking for some old-school espionage with elegance then look no further. With strong characters, quick conversation and an exceptional plot, Corrupted is a truly awesome thriller that will leave you coming back for more.

Fred Shackelford Interview: “There’s something to be learned from every writer’s style”

Fred Shackelford publicity photo X4

For those of you who fancy reading an exciting new author interview this Bank Holiday I spoke to Fred Shackelford, author of the innovative thriller The Ticket, to find out more about what makes him tick!

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

The Ticket has a plot-driven style. I attempted to write a page-turner with lots of twists and turns to move the story along at a quick pace. The plot revolves around a missing lottery ticket that will become worthless if it expires, so the tension mounts as the deadline approaches. The character development emerges primarily through dialog. The book’s style is dark because I created several very sinister characters that readers will love to hate. However, other characters are more sympathetic – perhaps even heroic.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

I’m an attorney who writes legal memoranda and briefs, so much of my professional writing is in a somewhat dry, technical style. However, some intriguing cases do inspire my creative thoughts. I’ve enjoyed venturing into fiction writing with The Ticket, as I have far more freedom in terms of style, vocabulary and subject matter in my role as a novelist. I draw on my past when I develop composite characters that possess traits that I’ve seen in people I’ve actually met.

With regards to the books you read, do you have any particular favourite writers or series?

My favourite author is John Grisham. When I began reading The Firm years ago, I couldn’t put the book down until I finished it. Coincidentally, Grisham and I live in the same county in Virginia, and I was fortunate to meet him one time in a local bookstore when I dropped in to sign a few copies of The Ticket. The owner invited me into a private room, where Grisham was busy autographing a huge stack of books.

I also enjoy the Henry Spearman mystery series by Ken Elzinga, who writes under the pen name Marshall Jevons. Elzinga’s protagonist is an amateur sleuth who solves crimes by applying economic analysis. Other authors of interest are John F. Jebb, III, Alden Bigelow, Janet Martin and Mary Morony.

How important do you believe variety in reading material is for a writer?

That’s very important. There’s something to be learned from every writer’s style, even though in rare cases the lesson is how not to write!

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

I developed the basic theme of The Ticket from a newspaper article about an unclaimed lottery jackpot. I tried to imagine an interesting scenario to explain why someone might wait until the last minute to cash in a winning ticket. When I experience writer’s block, I often take a break and stop trying to force an idea onto paper. Sometimes it helps just to walk outside and watch the world go by.

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

I think it would be fun to work with Charles Dickens. I love the rich imagery in the text of A Christmas Carol. It would be a treat to get advice from such a creative author.

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

I may try to write a screenplay based on The Ticket. The formatting and style of a screenplay are markedly different from a novel, so it would not be easy. But writing my first novel wasn’t easy either, so we’ll see how it goes. Many readers have encouraged me to write a sequel to The Ticket, but it’s more likely that my next book will be a stand-alone novel. I’ve been mulling over some plot ideas. Some of them involve buried treasure, but that theme is a cliché, so I may have to come up with something more imaginative.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I hope everyone who reads this interview will rush out and buy a copy of The Ticket!

Thanks to Fred for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about Fred and his work HERE.

 

 

 

Rose Gold Review: Another Chilling Dystopian Novel

rose gold

Hot on the footsteps of Blue Gold is the follow up,  Rose Gold, and as part of author David Barker’s blog tour I reviewed this latest dystopian climate change novel, which is perfectly topical given the current political landscape.

Following on from the events of Blue Gold, Barker’s latest novel depicts the later years as earth battles its biological issues, and man seeks a new solution on the moon, of all places. Focusing the action of Sim Atkins, whose life is turned upside down by revelations that threaten his family and his future, the novel explores his determination to right wrongs and stop deadly terrorism before it is too late.

With Sim’s former partner Freda called back into service in order to assist, the pair is driven into a web of secrets, lies and deceit. Skilful navigation and nerves of steel are required to ensure success, which could be vital for the future not just of them, but of the human race as a whole.

My previous criticism of Blue Gold revolved around the slightly clunky dialogue and Barker’s tendency to launch information on his readers, which is often hard for them to digest easily (also known as info-dumping). I am very pleased to say that Rose Gold alleviates both these issues, to a certain extent, although the dialogue remains a little old fashioned.

However, this appears to be Barker’s style, and whilst it isn’t to everyone’s taste he certainly has the great skill of crafting dynamic, multi-dimensional characters that will never go out of style. Combined with the author’s superb plotting, which sees Sim’s fraught backstory expertly weaved into the larger story, and you get a really intense thriller that keeps you hooked from the get-go until the final line.

As I finished Rose Gold and contemplated the novel, I was impressed by Barker’s expert creation of an unique dystopia; his books are an unflinching representation of human nature at its most base and greedy, and in today’s political and social climate, with Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement and many pondering the future of our planet, the timing could not be better.