The Treadstone Resurrection Review: An Enticing Addition To The Jason Bourne Series

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As part of the blog tour for this latest action novel, today I’m reviewing The Treadstone Resurrection.

The latest in the Jason Bourne universe is a heart-stopping, thrill-packed ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

It’s obvious from the very first sentence that author Joshua Hood has extensive experience in the military. He understands guns, fights, military weaponry, codes, the CIA and more.

This experience and knowledge is what really sets this book apart from other military thrillers you’ll see in bookshops throughout the summer. They’re a quick read staple, something you can enjoy without having to put much effort in.

The Treadstone Resurrection introduces a new character: Adam Hayes, a witty, battered and bruised former asset turned carpenter who’s trying to turn his life around when his past comes back to kill him.

After he receives a mysterious email from an old friend containing encrypted photos, Hayes is rapidly drawn into a sinister international plot.

He quickly has to leave his new life as a contractor and abandon his plans to visit his family to face his enemies and battle against some of the world’s best military agencies.

With his friend dead, Hayes has to rely on his wits, ingenuity and waning international contacts to fight back and get justice. His journey takes him across the USA and into the wilds of South America, where he battles against deadly foes with far better equipment, teams and plans than he has.

The novel is gripping from start to finish, and Hood has expertly created an engaging replacement for Jason Bourne in the form of Adam Hayes. He’s a smart, wisecracking hard man with the potential to go far.

The only thing I have a serious problem with is the depiction of women in this novel. Hood’s female characters are just pouting, opening extra buttons on their blouses in response to hot guys, or sobbing at the first sign of trouble. Either way, it’s clear that the author hasn’t actually met that many real women. His female characters are a male fantasy, and in today’s action genre, where women read just as many novels as men, this simply isn’t acceptable.

Despite this, I actually enjoyed reading The Treadstone Resurrection. It’s a gripping thriller that might be a little formulaic at times, but for the most part delivers the kind of gritty, deep drama readers of the Jason Bourne series are looking for. The novel sets itself up for a sequel, which I’m looking forward to; I only hope that this time they’ll be more realistic female characters in it.

5 Gripping Political Thrillers Written By Former Politicians Themselves

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As former deputy Labour party leader Tom Watson announces that he’s writing a political thriller following his exit from parliament, I started to think about the other former politicians who’ve drawn on their personal experiences to write thrillers.

These books are often gritty, tense and scary because they’re based on the real-life experiences of these people who have first-hand experience of how countries around the world are lead.

It’s surprising how many politicians choose to write political thrillers, ranging from small fry right all the way up to former presidents. So, if you fancy reading a political thriller created by someone who really knows what they’re talking about, read on!

5. A Very British Coup: Labour MP Chris Mullin’s novel, which was adapted for television and had a sequel, discusses a Labour politician’s rise to become Prime Minister. Once he achieves his dream, he struggles to get his progressive policies past his colleagues and other members of the established order, who quickly conspire against to take him down.

4. Open Arms: A female British politician working in India becomes embroiled with a Billionaire arms tech genius during the middle of deepening political and racial tensions in the country, leading the both of them to question their loyalties. Vince Cable’s thriller is tense and fast-paced, giving readers an intriguing international storyline that evolves and grows with every chapter.

3. House of Cards: You may have heard of the TV series House of Cards, but you might not know that it was based on a book by Conservative politician Michael Dobbs. It follows on from the resignation of Margret Thatcher, and shows the brutal, imagined Conservative party leader election, with members of the party blackmailing, threatening and conniving against one another in a nail-biting thriller that will give you a unique glimpse into the backbiting that goes on behind the closed doors of Number 10 Downing Street.

2. The Pelican Brief: The famed novel that became a popular film, The Pelican Brief tells the story of journalists working to uncover the link between the assassinations of two Supreme Court Justices and the White House. John Grisham is a famous political thriller writer, but he’s also a lawyer, former Democratic member of the House of Representatives and a political activist who’s been working with the American political and justices systems for more than 40 years. As such, his many books are all incredible stories that are accurate representations of these systems and the complicated, often convoluted ways they work.

1. The President Is Missing: Co-authored by former president of the United States Bill Clinton, this is a gritty thriller about a potential cyber threat that keeps on giving. Created by Clinton in collaboration with serial author James Patterson, who brings out about 500 books a year, the novel seems a little pedestrian at times, but it has a lot of twists and turns, meaning it’ll keep any reader on their toes. It is about a President navigating the corridors of power and dealing with the petty jealousies and major insecurities of those who are supposed to support them, but could very well be out to destroy everything.

Crime Fiction I’m Excited For In 2020

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A little late I know, but here are some of my top picks for crime fiction books that’ll be released later this year.

There’s some really great stuff coming out throughout the year, so read on to find see the ones I’m most excited for and find some exciting to put on your reading list.

The Memory Wood: Billed as “the must-read novel of 2020”, Sam Lloyd’s book thriller tells the story of a child who’s abducted and taken to a wood where she meets a young boy, who she thinks is a saviour but quickly turns out to be another sadist. The tale turns into a cat and mouse game that you’ll find hard to put down.

Knife: The latest in Jo Nesbo’s revered Harry Hole series sees his detective in a bad place mentally, when his luck takes another turn for the worse. One of his early collars is out of prison and out for revenge, leaving Harry set to face his past and present in one. I’m a massive fan of the Harry Hole series and can’t wait for the next instalment to see how this dogged detective digs himself out of his latest pit of despair.

The Killings At Kingfisher Hill: Sophie Hannah’s latest reimagining of Agatha Christie’s famed Belgium detective sees the finicky Hercule Poirot travel by luxury passenger coach to Kingfisher Hill, a luxury estate where a woman stands accused of a murder that her fiancé is convinced she didn’t commit. On the way, a strange incident occurs which results in a murder. Poirot will have to use all his ingenuity and imagination to solve the puzzle, which is part of Hannah’s incredible series of books featuring the Queen Of Crime’s most renowned character.

All That’s Dead: Another book in a series, this time Stuart MacBride’s gritty but gripping Logan McRae collection, All That’s Dead looks set to be another smasher. Set in the concrete jungle that is Aberdeen, MacBride’s books often feature actual real world issues, and this latest outing is no exception as McRae handles a case that showcases the still simmering tensions from the Scottish Referendum. A high-profile anti-independence campaigner goes missing, and his case plays a part in the tensions that are being played out in harrowing detail in the country’s media. McRae faces both a professional and a PR challenge as he balances the case with the constant threat of negative media attention.

The Better Liar: Tanen Jones’ thriller, set for release later this month, tells the story of a woman who decides to partner with a stranger who will impersonate her sister so that they can claim an inheritance. The story becomes increasingly complicated, with both women facing up to their lies and striving to be the Better Liar. If you’re a fan of gripping, slow burn thrillers then this is one for you to enjoy during the roaring 20s.

 

Nate Hendley Interview: “The best way to keep the reader interested is to tell a compelling story”

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As a lover of true crime novels I was honoured to interview Nate Hendley, a Toronto-based journalist and author who has written several books, primarily in the true-crime genre. Here’s what he has to say about his work and the books he loves to read.

How did you come to define your writing style? What drew you towards crime writing?

My style largely stems from the fact I work as journalist. I like to state the facts and tell a story while avoiding too much moralizing. I describe the actions of people in detail but don’t attempt to explain what they were thinking at a given time, unless I have direct knowledge of their thoughts, derived from interviews, reports or personal correspondence. I like to write in a direct, lean fashion that avoids too many flashy words unnecessary explanations.

I was drawn to crime writing almost by accident; ever since I was very young, I always wanted to write a book. I did write a few (unpublished) books in the fiction genre (primarily action type stories). In the early 2000s, an opportunity came up to write books for a Canadian publisher. The publisher was looking for short, punchy “pop history” books (that is, non-academic books about historic events or people). I pitched them a book about Edwin Boyd, a notorious Toronto robber from the 1950s. They liked the pitch, I wrote the book and they proceeded to suggest other topics to me, primarily in the crime genre. I accepted and became the publisher’s “go-to” person when it came to crime writing.

I like the crime genre because it’s extremely broad: you can discuss history, social issues, politics, personalities, cultural events and psychology all in one book. For example, I wrote a book about bandit duo Bonnie and Clyde that delved into the socioeconomic conditions they operated in (that is, the Great Depression of the 1930s) and how they actually had better guns and faster cars than most police departments at the time.

Tell me about how your background in journalism. How does this influence your writing?

My background in journalism has been extremely helpful to me as an author. When you’re a journalist, you learn the importance of deadlines, word count, interview techniques, research techniques and self-discipline. Journalists don’t have the luxury of “waiting for muse to strike” (unless they’re looking to lose their job). They have to be prepared to write a story any time, any place under just about any circumstances. All these attributes help in getting books done.

What aspect of your books do you feel attracts your readers and makes your work so hard to put down?

Storytelling. Keeping the reader interested. The best way to keep the reader interested is to tell a compelling story, usually based around people rather than an issue. Nothing will draw a reader in than a good story. Nothing will turn a reader off faster than a dry, dull recitation of facts or pompous opinionating.

Where do you find the inspiration for your work? Are there any specific exercises or tricks you use to get your creative juices flowing?

As a journalist you learn quickly how to sit down and write, even when you’re not in the mood. That said, there are certain helpful tricks that can kick-start creativity. I call one of these techniques, “Trick Yourself to Write”. Tell yourself, “I’m not going to do any real writing on my book today. I’m just going to put down some information/data in point form.” Write down your info/data—in rough form. Then, start “fleshing the points out”—adding details, transforming data/info into proper sentences. Then turn these proper sentences into paragraphs. Keep going. You will often end up writing several complete pages—even though your actual goal was much more modest.

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

Truman Capote ,author of the classic true-crime book, In Cold Blood, would be an interesting person to collaborate with. He never took notes (he claimed he had a photographic memory) and he had a weird, squeaky voice and theatrical mannerism. Yet, he did a brilliant job covering the murder of family in rural Kansas in the 1950s (the subject of In Cold Blood). Capote was accompanied by his friend, Harper Lee, the future author of the classic anti-racism novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, during his Kansas travels. It would have been fascinating to watch the two of them in action, interviewing locals and gathering facts about a horrendous crime.

What does the future have in store for you as a writer? Any upcoming projects you would be happy to share with me?

I am playing around with some ideas for future books. Most of these ideas are based on historic crimes that occurred in Toronto. I live in Toronto so I figure I might as well cover my hometown. And it’s a lot easier to research a Toronto crime when you live in Toronto (as opposed to say, a crime that happened in the Baltics).

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to in the future?

Anything by Jeff Guinn (click here to see his books on Amazon). Amazing writer who books about Jim Jones (the cult-leader who oversaw the mass suicide of his followers at Jonestown in South America) and Charles Manson. Guinn did a huge amount of research for these works and did a great job demystifying both Jones and Manson (who have achieved cartoon-like “super villain” status among many crime writers).

I also love Erik Larson (click here to see his books on Amazon). I’ve read two of his books, Devil in the White City (which tells two separate stories, about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes, one of America’s first serial killers who was murdering people in Chicago) and Dead Wake (about the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania, an ocean liner, by a German submarine, an action that brought America into the First World War).

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for hosting this blog. Writers hugely appreciate people who promote writing. Not enough people do.

Thanks to Nate for answering my questions! For more information about his books and background, please visit his website at www.natehendley.com or click here to check out his books on Amazon.

Addressed To Kill Review: A Creepy Christmas Crime Story

COVER FOR ADDRESSED TO KILL

The newest instalment in the Inspector Stark novels features a chilling Christmas mystery, as Keith Wright delivers another thrilling instalment in this incredible series.

In 1987 Inspector Stark is gearing up for another busy Christmas, having just enjoyed his station’s festive shindig, when on Christmas Eve the body of a young woman is found having been brutally raped and murdered in a park.

Switching between viewpoints, Wright paints a picture of a deeply twisted murderer with a strange modus operandi revolving around toying with his victims before raping and brutally murdering them.

As such, Stark and his team are forced to spend the festive season battling to find the culprit before he attacks again. With many leads to follow and a variety of red herrings put in their way, the team have their work cut out if they want to uncover the truth.

Wright isn’t afraid to delve into the gritty details of sordid crimes such as this, and as such this book, much like the others in the series, has many enticing details that will engage and thrill crime fiction fans. For those who love reading creepy, dark novels full of suspense, this is the book for you this winter.

It’s not as atmospheric as it could be, but Wright has a way of pushing the plot along so you hardly notice, and instead quickly become wrapped up in the disturbing world of the killer and the police’s obsessive hunt for the truth. Stark and his team, as well as the other characters readers encounter, are all deeply human and well-rounded, making the story believable and engaging.

Overall I was incredibly impressed by Addressed To Kill. I’m not usually a big fan of Christmas themed books, but in this novel Wright shows how the festive season makes victims more unsuspecting and gives killers opportunities they don’t usually have, making it an eye-opening and gripping tale that you’ll want to revisit time and time again.

 

Alice Boatwright Interview: “I have loved mysteries ever since a librarian handed me a Happy Hollisters adventure”

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On Halloween weekend I catch up with mystery writer Alice Boatwright to learn more about her work and the extensive inspiration behind it.  

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

I have always been drawn to clean prose with good, insight-provoking metaphors and wit, rather than jokes. Although I admire more complex and experimental styles (James Joyce, William H. Gass, and Mario Vargas Llosa come to mind), this is not “me.” I loved “the Russians” when I growing up, but I never aspired to be Dostoyevsky. Willa Cather would be nice. Other writers who influenced me early on were Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and I do think E.B. White’s Elements of Style is the only writing book that is essential. Master that, and you know everything. I am still working on it.

I have loved mysteries ever since a librarian handed me a Happy Hollisters adventure when I was about eight years old; and there is something irresistible about the idea of trying to write the kind of books you enjoy so much.

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

My father was a musician and college professor, who began writing his first textbook when I was very young. I loved to go to sleep listening to the sound of his typewriter (an old Underwood that I still have). When this book was published, and he put the publisher’s special boxed edition on our mantel, I announced that he was not going to the only one in the family to publish a book. I began writing stories right away and studied writing all through college. I also have an MFA from Columbia.

Writing professionally turned out to mean something different than what I first imagined: a tenure-track teaching job and the bestseller list, of course. I have held a variety of jobs based on my writing skill, and I am very grateful for the amazing career I’ve had, which has taken me around the world. I have always written fiction too, but it is only recently that I have made an income from that.

Tell me about your books. How did you come to write them and what was the inspiration behind them?

My first book, Collateral Damage, had its origins in the thesis I wrote in graduate school. It slowly evolved into three linked novellas about the impact of the Vietnam War on those who fought, those who resisted, and the family and friends caught between them. I grew up during this era, and the conflicts at home and abroad, the brave decisions, and tragedies of this war influenced me profoundly. I wanted to write this book “no matter what” – but it took a long time and finding a publisher was not easy. Eventually it came out, won an award, and has now been released in a new edition in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the war.

I turned to writing mysteries during the time I was seeking a publisher for Collateral Damage. Vietnam remains a difficult subject that many publishers would not touch, and I thought I ought to try writing a book on a subject people enjoyed reading about – murder! I also knew it would be fun for me to write. My husband and I are both long-time Anglophiles, as well as avid readers of English mysteries, so we used to make up plots as we explored the countryside. One of my ideas was to write about an American married to an English vicar, and I still have the notes I scribbled down about this. A few years later, we moved to a village in Oxfordshire – and I had the time and experience to develop that idea into the first Ellie Kent mystery, Under An English Heaven (Cozy Cat Press, 2014). The second book in the series, What Child Is This?, came out in 2017; and the third will be out in the coming year.

I am delighted to say that the Ellie Kent books have proven to be very popular. Ellie’s experiences as an incomer and her outsider perspective as an American – as well as the opportunities for a certain amount of nosiness as the vicar’s wife – give her reasons to get involved in solving crimes. The books also give me the chance to write about England, which I love, and explore questions such as the meaning of home, the value of faith, and the challenges of blended families. Under An English Heaven won the 2016 Mystery and Mayhem Grand Prize and the first two books have both been Amazon bestsellers, reaching #1 in the traditional detective mystery category.

I have also always written short stories – another form I love. This year I had the pleasure of collaborating with an artist friend on Sea, Sky, Islands, a chapbook of three stories set in the beautiful San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington. She provided the cover painting and interior illustrations, so it is really a very pretty little book. I love today’s freedom to create any kind of book you want. It’s so different from the age of “no”, when agents and publishers had the final say about what you could offer to readers.

When choosing books to read, what style of writing do you enjoy yourself? Are there any particular writers you admire?

I like books that have strong believable characters and whose stories – regardless of genre – are grounded in the real challenges of life. I like to be inspired by the writer’s fresh and skilful use of language as the medium for creating a world and experiences that entertain, inspire, and move me. There are many writers I admire, so I will just name a few recent ones – Elizabeth Strout, Alice Munro, and Patrick Modiano. Amongst mystery writers, my go-to models are primarily from the Golden Age – Josephine Tey, Dorothy L. Sayers, Marjorie Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Agatha Christie – but I love Georges Simenon and P.D. James too.

As a successful woman writer, what do you think the literary industry can do to provide more support for women looking to succeed?

Support for women writers begins with support for the idea that women and their ideas and experiences are as important and as autonomous as those of men. This requires a global effort to reverse centuries of tradition, law, and practice. Progress is variable, depending on where you are in the world. Of 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 2/3 are women. So, the bottom line is education needs to be available to every girl and woman: these are potential writers and readers.

The next level of success is achieved if you actually write. The obstacles here are mainly in your own head. If you have a pencil and paper, you can write whatever you want. Making the time, having the interest and confidence to keep at it and develop your skills, believing in yourself: these are all challenges faced by every writer.

For training, if you have access to a library, you can educate yourself in every way from reading a wide variety of books to researching the business of writing and publishing. There are also many other options for learning from self-run writing groups and small workshops to degree programs. Today in the US, some 50% of graduate arts degrees are awarded to women. When I went to graduate school, there were 2 women and 13 men in my workshop.

I’m not sure the “industry” sees itself as responsible for cultivating women’s voices, but women demanding to read books by women certainly make a difference. From what I have read, men still predominantly prefer books by men (or are predominantly interested in the topics men tend to write about).

Sisters in Crime is an organization that was founded more than 30 years ago to address the disparity between men and women in getting published and reviewed, as well as bias in other areas, such as award programs and size of advances. Its programs supporting the professional development of women crime writers are well-respected, and it has been successful in raising these issues and documenting progress.

One indicator of success for women mystery writers is that the percentage of women on the NY Times bestseller list has risen from 15% in 1950 to 44% in 2010. But there are undoubtedly many challenges facing women writers as in other fields. The possibility of self-publishing has created new opportunities, but making a living from writing fiction is probably as hard as making a living from acting or painting or playing the violin.

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

To be honest, I can’t imagine collaborating with anyone. The joy of writing fiction comes from being free to do whatever I want. It’s my show. I would be interested in being a fly-on-the-wall to watch Georges Simenon produce a beautifully written mystery in a weekend. Of course, he had a wife. That makes a difference.

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?  

My primary focus is on finishing the third Ellie Kent mystery, which will come out in 2020. I also fiddle around with my stories and make notes when other book ideas come along.

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

My Puget Sound chapter of Sisters in Crime is very prolific, so I have a stack of books I am looking forward to reading by authors such as Marty Wingate, Candace Robb, Ingrid Thoft, Curt Colbert, Waverly Fitzgerald, and Jeffrey D. Briggs. It’s very special to follow the progress of writers you know, because you know both the book and all that went into making it happen.

Do You Have Any Final Words Of Advice?

If you want to be a writer, keep writing, no matter what, and never give up on a story you want to tell until you get it right and get it out!

Huge thanks to Alice for answering my questions, it’s been a pleasure to hear your thoughts. You can learn more about Alice’s work HERE.

The Regret Review: A Heart-Stopping Thriller You Won’t Be Able To Put Down

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Dan Malakin’s The Regret is a fast-paced psychological thriller about how far people will go when their lives are threatened.

The novel centres around Rachel, a young nurse and mother to a three year old girl, Lily. Her seemingly perfect life is interrupted by the possible return of her past stalker, who may or may not be the person responsible for attempting to destroy Rachel’s life now.

Having been sent to prison for being a paedophile, Rachel’s former stalker is seemingly out for revenge, as Rachel framed him when she couldn’t make the stalking allegations stick. However, as the book moves on it becomes clear that the plot is much more complicated than that and that the protagonist is facing something far more frightening than a man scorned.

Malakin throws in a lot of red herrings, including a sketchy boyfriend, his dead-beat best friend and a technological wiz kid with questionable morals in the form of Lily’s dad and Rachel’s friend. Throughout the novel Rachel and, by extension, the reader, are left constantly wondering who is behind the destruction until the book reaches its apocalyptic climax.

Switching between a third person review of Rachel’s life and a deliciously creepy first person insight into the thoughts of the person trying to wreck her life, the novel is deeply disconcerting from the beginning and designed to unnerve and frighten.

The author has clearly done his research, giving an in-depth account of how the cyber-crime is being committed. From hacking Rachel’s bank account and re-routing her money through to scamming the NHS into giving access to patient records to be altered, the first-person chapters of the novel are the most harrowing of all, and the novel is well worth reading just for them.

The only issue I have the The Regret is that I feel that Malakin may have underestimated victims of such vile abuse. Often they become cautious after such experiences, and would not be as trusting as his protagonist. After all, she agreed to have a baby with a man she barely knew, and then allowed her boyfriend of a short time to have a key to her home.

If you can overlook this major character flaw then this is a thrilling and, frankly, terrifying novel about how remarkably easy it can be to ruin someone’s life. The twist at the end is so horrifying that it leaves you literally wondering how you never saw it coming. Malakin is a master of suspense and really leads his reader on in this tightly wound novel.

In all, The Regret is an enticing and deeply-disturbing book that I would recommend for those looking to get some real thrills this Halloween and frighten yourself with a tale of how far someone would go to destroy someone else’s life.