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THE GUILLOTINE CHOICE by Michael J. Malone

This is a must-read book by the award-winning author of crime novels (the DI Ray McBain series), poetry, and Carnegie’s Call.

Hop on over to the website where I do my fiction stuff for a review and tips about where you can get it in paperback or for your Kindle: http://lindamchenry.com/2014/05/book-review-the-guillotine-choice-by-michael-j-malone/

 

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Book Review: SAFE HOUSE by Chris Ewan

I’d never read any of Ewan’s work before Safe House but that issue is to be remedied … and soon.

Safe House is a complex whodunit that begins when Rob Hale finds himself recovering in the hospital after a motorcycle accident. Problem is, his doctors and the authorities don’t believe him when he insists his passenger was taken away by ambulance before he was rescued.  In fact, only one ambulance was called to the scene–and it transported him to the hospital.

Other complications involve the woman’s resemblance to his sister, who recently committed suicide, and the private detective his mother hired to look into his sister’s death.

Safe House is set on the Isle of Man, where Ewan lives and works as a celebrated crime writer.  The setting is unique but did not overtake the story, which centers around the the motives and hidden agendas of all the characters.  Although the cast is extensive, every single character is clear and sharp, and you can’t help wondering what’s really going on in the minds of each.  The plot is intricate and keeps you guessing until the very end, something I don’t find as often as I used to.

This is a terrific read.

Safe HouseChris Ewan

To be released 10/29/2013 by Minotaur Books

ISBN 978-1-250-03815-9

 

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Book Review: LOST by S.J. Bolton

Lost may just be the most suspenseful book I’ve ever read.

Set in London, where a serial killer’s  abducting and killing ten- and eleven-year-old boys, Lost weaves together the emotional stories of a number of people living in same neighborhood. Enter Barney, an 11-year-old who’s searching for his mother … and whose father just happens to have been out on the nights the murdered boys disappeared.  Enter Lacey, Barney’s next door neighbor, a Detective Constable on the London police force who’s  on leave from her job and having a difficult time recovering from a recent job-related trauma.  Enter Lacey’s coworker DI Mark Joesbury–and his 10-year-old son…

As the number of murdered boys mounts, Bolton  delves into the lives of Barney and his friends, who are trying to find the murderer on their own.  And as Lacey struggles to remain autonomous and sane, she can’t help but be drawn back to her job and DI Joesbury.

The rapid pacing, exquisitely depicted characters, and unremitting suspense make this a must-read.

Lost by S.J. Bolton

ISBN 9781250028563

Minotaur Books – released June 6, 2013

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Book Review: A TASTE FOR MALICE by Michael J. Malone

A Taste for Malice is the second book in the DI Ray McBain series by Michael J. Malone.  (Blood Tears is the first and the third is scheduled for release in November 2014.)

I came up with a one word description of this book after reading the first chapter and am sticking by it now that I’ve finished the book:  brilliant.

Malone’s characters are real–with all their kindnesses, cruelties, and quirks.  And although this crime novel doesn’t have a single dead body in it, the tension continues ratcheting upward, causing you to hold your breath as you’re sure you know what’s going to happen next … only it doesn’t.

That’s it for me.  I’m going back to my original assessment:  brilliant.  You should be adding this to your summer reading list.  NOW!

Book Blurb:

DI Ray McBain is back at work and on filing duty. Desperate for something to do, a pair of old files intrigue him. In the first a woman pushes her way into a vulnerable family. The children adore her. At first. Then she has some ‘fun’, which soon becomes torture and mental cruelty. Then she disappears. Meanwhile, in Ayrshire, another young family is relieved when a stranger comes into their lives to help them out. McBain makes the link, but nobody is interested in what he has to say. Is it even the same woman?

A Taste for Malice by Michael J. Malone

ISBN:  978-1907869754

Published by Five Leaves Publications

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GUEST BLOGGER: Michael J. Malone

My guest blogger today is Michael J. Malone, a Scots writer published in crime fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  I “met” Michael several years ago through a mutual friend–just before his first novel, Blood Tears, was sold.  That book’s follow-up novel, A Taste for Malice, was recently released and my review will appear on this blog later in the week.  (Hint:  you DON’T want to miss this book … or my review!)  Without further blabbering from me, here’s Michael:

More and more authors are writing across genres.  What motivated you to do so?

There wasn’t much aforethought going on here. I just went where the ideas took me.  Something came at me as a poem. Something else as a work of fiction and something else as a piece of non-fiction.

Perhaps that’s a benefit of working with a smaller publisher? I can go with the idea, express myself, and not worry that the bean-counters will forbid me from publishing what I want.

A friend of mine did point out, however, that there are similarities with my approach to each of these areas of writing – in all of them there is a narrative. A novel speaks for itself in that regard. With the non-fiction book I was telling the story of some remarkable countrymen and women of mine. And with my poems there is more often than not some kind of story layered into the language.

It appears – bottom line –  that I’m a storyteller. Who knew?

As a writer of poetry and crime novels, tell us about the different mindsets you need to write each type of work … and what writerly approaches are similar.

With poetry I often start with pen on paper. I draft an outline and then re-draft it on to the screen, cleaning and pruning the language as I go. Then I’ll set it aside for a few hours/days/weeks – months even, before going back over it. I try not to leave it too long as the motivation for the poem can wane – as can my enthusiasm for it – and then it appears on the page as a muddle. I prefer to get it on the page as soon as I can and then worry about the editing later.

When I edit a poem I’m looking for the sense of it. Does each and every word merit its place? Would another word say it better? Does what I want to say appear on the page? Am I spelling it all out for the readers or am I trusting them to bring a little bit of themselves  to the reading? Does the poem even have a point or is it a nice piece of word play with a big fat SO WHAT running after it?

Often, it’s a sprint with a massage and ice bath afterwards. A novel, is of course a marathon and requires much more in the way of dedication, persistence, and focus. But sometimes, depending on how much writing time I have, it can feel like a whole series of sprints.

I think the part of my brain that has been exercised by looking for interesting word choices in poetry also gets a workout when I’m writing the longer pieces, but I can’t afford to be that deliberate for a stretch of 100,000+ words. I’m writing what I hope is a thrilling piece of fiction and using the right words for the job. Readers want pace – a variation in pace, to be sure – but pace all the same. And interesting word play can slow that down. There are moments of description when I will allow access to the poetic part of my brain (if I can call it that) and moments of action and dialogue when I’m aware the reader will want to race through to find out what happens.

In essence, any form of writing is all about the right words in the right order. It’s all about word choice. It’s just different combinations depending on the effect I want to create in the reader’s mind. And often that is all done by instinct. It’s only later in the editing process when I can try to assess whether or not it works.

The majority of your fans live in the U.K. but you have a following in the U.S., as well.  Do you believe readers are readers, regardless of where they live, or do you find differences that other writers might want to consider when writing for international audiences?

The only reader I have in mind as I write is me. Thinking of your audience as you write is the way madness lies. Or sub-standard work.

I remember reading and loving Angela’s Ashes. And then being deeply disappointed by the follow up, Tis. Paddy McCourt hadn’t become a poor writer overnight, it was just that he became too aware of his audience. It was like the narrator in Tis kept apologising for what he was like as a young man instead of letting the words just tell the story.

I’m not sure that answers your question. But yes, readers are readers and they like what they like. You can’t try to second guess that. Which is why I write the book I think I would want to read – and then hope that if it satisfies me it will please others.

In terms of changes in taste when it comes to books transferring across the pond, there has been enough books over the last few decades that work on both sides of the Atlantic to suggest a whole lot of similarities. And certainly from the UK side, we have been heavily influenced by popular American culture, from music, TV, film, and books – and perhaps in my own case that influence has worked its way into my style and folks in the US connect with that AND the Scottish stuff. You guys do appear to like the Scots.

What always amuses me is the changes in covers. We might like lots of the same books, but we prefer them to be dressed differently. The marketing people know what they are doing. Right?

Do you think having a twin sister has given you an edge when it comes to creating female characters?

Good question.

I remember some time ago I was commissioned to write a group of poems for a novel by Margaret Thomson Davis. Margaret told me the character whose perspective I was writing from was a young girl from a repressed background. Her mother knew she was in Art School but thought she was studying embroidery – when in fact she was falling in love with a young fireman who was posing nude in the life drawing class. In these poems, I was to highlight the sexual awakening of this young woman.

At first I was daunted. I had to get in to the mind of a young woman who was, in effect, lusting over this naked young man.  How the hell was I going to manage that? And it was while talking it over with a friend I realised that ultimately we all (men and women) want the same things – love, validation, kindness etc – but just different body parts. (The friend I was discussing this with was gay. And he just scoffed at my different body part comment.) With that thought, I was freed to write what I needed to write.

I understand that some men struggle to write from a female perspective, but equally lots of men don’t.  The thing is, I often write poems from a female point of view. Perhaps being so close to my twin sister has helped create a mindset that encourages that. She has been filling my head with her worries for as long as I can remember.  (Sorry, sis.) That’s bound to have had an effect.

What is the timeline of your future releases and where can we purchase your titles that are already in print?

The next McBain book (#3 after Blood Tears and A Taste for Malice) is still in my head and has been penciled in for release in November 2014.

I have a book coming out in February 2014 that’s a blend of fact and fiction. It is called The Guillotine Choice and it is based on the true story of an innocent young Algerian, during the French colonisation of his country. He was effectively given the choice of 25 years hard labour in Devil’s Island or to send his cousin to the guillotine. To learn more, you’ll just need to wait and read the book. The man this novel is based on led a remarkable life and I can’t wait to get the book out there.

My other books are available through all good bookshops, if you live in the UK. If you insist on using the interwebs, Foyles is a proper bookshop with good online discount: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/a-taste-for-malice,michael-j-malone-9781907869754

Sadly, Amazon is pretty much the only party in town when it comes to ebooks.  So, go here for my author page, which, BTW,  is seriously in need of an update:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-J-Malone/e/B009WV9V4Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1370197713&sr=1-2-ent

For American readers, you can buy my books from the Book Depository with your credit card … and FREE shipping:  http://www.bookdepository.com/author/Michael-J-Malone

Here’s the blurb for  A Taste for Malice …

DI Ray McBain is back at work and on filing duty. Desperate for something to do, a pair of old files intrigue him. In the first a woman pushes her way into a vulnerable family. The children adore her. At first. Then she has some ‘fun’, which soon becomes torture and mental cruelty. Then she disappears. Meanwhile, in Ayrshire, another young family is relieved when a stranger comes into their lives to help them out. McBain makes the link, but nobody is interested in what he has to say. Is it even the same woman?

Here’s an excerpt from the Undiscovered Scotland review:

“He has produced one of the more unusual detective novels we can remember reading. Most crime novels kick off with a dead body within the first few pages, and build from there. What is particularly fascinating about “A Taste for Malice” is that the story does not revolve around the tracking down of a killer or serial killer. The central story, which develops in two parallel strands that steadily converge as the book moves towards its climax, deals with something altogether less wholesome.”

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Book Review: SCRATCHGRAVEL ROAD by Tricia Fields

Scratchgravel Road by Tricia Fields is a gripping mystery with enough plot twists and quirky characters to keep you reading from start to finish without coming up for air.

Why did a local woman abandon her car by the side of the road in the Texas desert … and why was her unconscious body found beside that of a dead Mexican immigrant?  Why won’t the young woman answer the questions posed by Josie Grey, the police chief of the small Texas town?  And more importantly, what caused the man’s death–and the alarming wounds found on his body that just may signal something sinister going on at the dead man’s place of employment?

As the story unfolds, the small town of Artemis, Texas is embroiled in something much bigger than whatever it is Josie Grey discovered out in the desert.  And it’s her job to figure it all out before anyone else winds up dead.

Scratchgravel Road by Tricia Fields

by Minotaur Books

ISBN 978-1-250-02136-6 (hardcover)

ISBN 978-1-250-02278-3 (eBook)

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Book Review: BLACK SHEEP by CJ Lyons

Here’s another book to be added to your list of must-reads.  In Black SheepCJ Lyons‘ characterization of FBI Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney is excellent–especially if you’ve ever asked yourself why people behave the way they do–especially your parents…

It’s the only mystery Supervisory Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney has never solved:  her father’s unexplained suicide after arresting his best friend for murder.  It drove Caitlyn to become one of the FBI’s best agents–and often the most unorthodox.  Her latest case is no exception:  when the man she holds responsible for her father’s death asks for help in finding his missing daughter, Caitlyn’s search brings her back to her North Carolina hometown.  The town is now vibrant with new money, old lies, and an unknown enemy who will do anything to keep Caitlyn from learning the truth–and who will kill to keep it buried.

The characters in this book come alive and the suspense kept me turning the pages.  And all the while I thought I knew whodunit, and why, I kept changing my mind.  Yep, this was one of those books I read straight through … ’til 2:00 a.m.

Black Sheep by CJ Lyons

Published by St. Martin’s Press February 26, 2013

ISBN 978-1-250-01534-1

Contact Sarah Melnyk

 

 

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Writer’s Market reports “4 Book Publishers Looking for Writers”

I subscribe to Writer’s Market, as well as an email feed.  Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this information:

4 BOOK PUBLISHERS LOOKING FOR WRITERSWritersMarket.com lists hundreds of book publishers for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for children, and more. Here are four open to submissions from writers:

  • Avon Romance publishes high quality romance novels. In fact, this HarperCollins imprint publishes 400 novels per year, and they take submissions directly from prospective authors. Use their online submission form.
  • Free Spirit Publishing produces 20-25 titles per year “to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world.” Prospective authors should submit a proposal.
  • Seal Press publishes 30 titles per year. The publisher proclaims they publish books by women for women and hopes writers will take that into consideration when submitting. Prospective authors should send a query letter or proposal.
  • Shambhala Publications publishes 90-100 titles per year. This publisher is mostly focused on nonfiction topics, especially related to Buddhism, yoga, mindfulness, creativity, martial arts, natural health, and green living. Prospective authors should submit a book proposal by post.

(NOTE: If you’re unable to access the listing, it means you either need to log in or sign up for WritersMarket.com first.)

WritersMarket.com lists more than 8,000 publishing opportunities, including listings for contests, magazines, book publishers, literary agents, conferences, and more. Log in or sign up today to start submitting your work.

Click to continue.

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Book Review: COME HOME by Lisa Scottoline

I enjoy all of Lisa Scottline’s books but Come Home is by far one of the most emotionally wringing novels I’ve read in years.

After divorcing, pediatrician Jill Farrow has finally gotten her life back on track.  Her 13-year-old daughter Megan is happy and Jill is engaged to marry a wonderful man.  But when her former stepdaughter suddenly appears one night with the news that Jill’s ex-husband was murdered, Jill’s world is turned upside down.  Abby insists her father was murdered and enlists Jill’s help to find the killer.

Come Home combines the nail-biting tension of an expert thriller with the unbreakable ties of family.  As Jill’s obligations to her fiance, the daughter she loves, and the daughter of her heart pull her in different directions, she battles to do what is right and bring her family home.  If you’ve ever struggled with family ties and loyalty, this novel taps into all those turbulent emotions … and love.

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Released 04/10/2013 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN (hardcover) 978-0312380823

ISBN (ebook) 978-1429942324

P.S.  If you click the link above to Come Home, you’ll be taken to Lisa’s website where you can read the first chapter.

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Book Review: DON’T GO by Lisa Scottoline

I love emotionally-charged stories and characters who grow and evolve throughout them.  Don’t Go is a powerful story and as emotionally charged as any story I’ve read in a long time.

While Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving in Afghanistan, his wife Chloe falls victim to a fatal household accident.  Devastated, he returns home only to discover he’s a stranger to his baby girl, and the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death are not as simple as they seem.  Now, he must fight to discover the truth and to reclaim his life–and his daughter.

This novel touches on all a parents’ fears, and all the things that go through your mind when you’re dealing with a tragedy you’re woefully under-equipped to handle.  Scottoline taps into all our fears and the guilty thoughts and recriminations that keep us up at night–not to mention our tendency to avoid when life is simply too awful to bear.

Don’t Go is a must-read.

Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline

ISBN (hardcover) 978-1-250-010070

ISBN (ebook) 978-1-250-025999

Release date April 9, 2013

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

 

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Book Review: THE PERFECT GHOST by Linda Barnes

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Linda Barnes, including the books in the Carlotta Carlyle series, but she’s outdone herself with The Perfect Ghost.   I was truly awed by Barnes’  ability to build the character of Em Moore layer by exquisite layer in this tale of an agoraphobic biographer who is compelled to push her personal boundaries after the death of her writing partner.

The shy and insecure Em is forced to leave her structured world to visit Cape Cod to tackle alone the project she and her partner had begun before his death:  interviewing the dashing filmmaker and director Garrett Malcolm.  Normally the silent half of the writing partnership, Em becomes privy to family secrets and longstanding feuds, as well as the odd comings and goings of a washed-up movie star.

Everything about this novel is spectacular:  the characters, the storyline, and and the unique narrative of Em Moore.  You definitely need to add this book to your reading list.

The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes

Published by Minotaur Books

hardcover ISBN 978-1-250-023636

e-book ISBN 978-1-250-02364-3

 

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Proof that Perseverance Pays Off

Have you ever given up on pursuing a dream because it seemed unattainable?  Or worse, quit because someone told you your dream was unrealistic?

Take a lesson from my friend, Jaclyn:  don’t give up and don’t quit.  On April 1st, and at age 83, Jaclyn is going to see her first romance novel published.  Talk about perseverance!

I first met Jaclyn  in 1989 when I joined Romance Writers of America.  She and I served on the board of directors for the New England Chapter of RWA from 1990 to 1994 and, for years, supported each other by critiquing each other’s work.  I’m SO proud of her and her accomplishments:  she’s won numerous awards for her writing and never gave up.

Her time travel romance, The Ring, will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing on 04/01/2013; here’s more info:

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Good Cop by Brad Parks

One of the things I like best about Brad Parks is that he’s funny. Downright hilarious, in fact. He’s also a terrific writer.

In The Good Cop, Carter Ross–a newspaper reporter in Newark, New Jersey, finds himself wondering why a cop committed suicide when he had everything to live for.  He had a terrific wife, two children he planned to take to Disney World, and the respect of all who knew him. When the local cops accept the suicide theory, despite the protests of the widow and others in the know, Ross does what all good reporters do:  he digs and keeps digging, despite a number of challenges, including attempts on his life.

Parks nails the setting, transforming Newark and all its many flavors into a top-notch character. The plot moves along at a good clip, tossing surprises and action with enjoyable regularity. And I love Carter Ross:  smart, witty, and human–the perfect blend between Alpha and Beta.

Brad Parks’ Bio (excerpted from his website):  Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus Award and Nero Award for the same novel.  That book, FACES OF THE GONE, introduced Carter Ross, the sometimes-dashing investigative reporter, who has gone on to star in EYES OF THE INNOCENT and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which was named to the Kirkus Reviews’ Best Fiction of 2012 list and nominated for a Lefty Award for best humorous mystery. The series, which Shelf Awareness has called “perfect for the reader who loves an LOL moment but wants a mystery that’s more than empty calories,” has earned starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. It continues with THE GOOD COP and a fifth, as-yet-unnamed installment. Parks is a graduate of Dartmouth College and spent a dozen years as a reporter for The Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. He is now a full-time novelist who lives in Virginia with his wife and two small children.

The Good Cop

Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-1-250-00552-6

Release date:  March 5, 2013

 

Click here to read my 2009 interview with Brad Parks after he published Faces of the Gone, his first Carter Ross novel.

 

 

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Book Review: When the Past Haunts You by L.C. Hayden

This is the second book I’ve read from the Harry Bronson series and it’s just as good as the first one.  Hayden sucks you into the story on the first page with her talent for devising unique and unexpected plot twists.

In a nutshell, retired police detective Harry Bronson is reluctant to even talk to his estranged sister when she calls, begging him for help.  Decades after the tragedy that destroyed his family, Bronson finds himself not only flying cross-country to his sister’s aid but also committed to solving a murder.  He winds up digging through years-old family secrets and dealing with a multitude of corruption among his sister’s wealthy and powerful friends and business associates.

The action is non-stop and, as Harry struggles to learn the identity of the murder, he must face his past.  I highly recommend When the Past Haunts You, which is available from Amazon in both trade paperback and for Kindle.

L. C. Hayden is an award winning author. Her Harry Bronson series have been the finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (Why Casey Had to Die) as well as finalist for Left Coast Crime’s Best Mystery (What Others Know).

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How to Protect Yourself from Violence

Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, may just be the single most important book I’ve ever read.  The sub-title of the book is “and other survival signals that protect us from violence.”

My biggest takeaway from reading the book is confirmation and validation of something I’ve always believed … but didn’t always know how spot on the belief was and didn’t always practice.  Here’s the takeaway:  our instincts are always right.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, if your instincts, guts, inner voice–whatever it is you want to call it–tell you something’s wrong, something’s wrong!

Contrary to what many will try to tell you, what de Becker calls instinct isn’t a 6th sense.  It’s not something woo-woo, it’s not clairvoyance, it’s not ESP.  Actually, it’s way more logical than that.  In fact, it’s precisely like the processing of a computer.  For example, I’m 56 years old.  I’ve lived on this earth for 56 years and have experienced 56 years’ worth of interactions with other people.  Every single moment of my life was recorded by the computer inside my head.  And, like a computer, my brain processed those sights, sounds, smells, and stored them away for future use.  My instincts are the embodied in the future.  When my instincts tell me something’s wrong, something’s wrong.   I may not know exactly what’s wrong, or why, but I can take the warning to the bank because the processor in my brain has evaluated all the facts and has spotted something out of kilter.

de Becker talks about pre-incident indicators, what he calls PINs.  No one is ever violent without first giving clues to the impending violence.  And, the majority of violence can be avoided if we pay attention to our surroundings and the people in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  The PINs are always there.  He also proves that fear, when respected, is not only a survival instinct, it’s your friend.

I read The Gift of Fear on the heels of reading Fight Like a Girl … and Win by Lori Hartman Gervasi.  Although Fight Like a Girl is  touted as a self-defense book (the sub-title is Defense Decisions for Women), it’s more a how-to about how to prevent putting ourselves in situations that are threatening or violent than it is about how to physically defend ourselves.  It’s practical and after reading it, I picked up dozens of tips about how to keep myself safe.  I especially liked Gervasi’s advice about how all sorts of everyday household contents have the potential to be serious weapons in the event an unwanted person (read:  man) enters your home, threatens you, and you need to defend yourself.

You can’t go wrong reading this books.  In fact, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you do so.  Especially if you read them in the order I did:  Gervasi’s book first, from a woman’s perspective, which views all the potential violence that’s out there and then de Becker’s book, from a man’s perspective, which is also that of a person who lived with violence as a child and grew up to be the premier security expert in the world.

P.S.  Many thanks to Alain Burrese, for recommending Gervasi’s book when he helped me with some research I was doing, and to both Alain and Gervasi for recommending The Gift of Fear.

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Book Review: UNSAFE ACTS by Bill Kirton

Here’s another excellent Jack Carson crime novel.  Set in Scotland, this story centers around an offshore platform in the North Sea and the people who work there.  Despite the fact that Ally Baxter has a girlfriend, his co-workers decide he’s gay and murder is the consequence of their extreme views on the subject.

When another murder victim is discovered, DCI Jack Carston finds himself embroiled in a much more complicated crime than a gay-bashing.  Issues arise with a subordinate officer and disciplinary charges  result from their interactions, making the crime that much harder to resolve.

Kirton tackles a number of issues in this novel, and they’re layered craftily.  His ability to combine ugliness with compassion, and then to top it off with a sense of humor, is only one of the reasons to read this book.

Unsafe Acts  was released in February 2012 by Pfoxmoor Publishing and is available in hardcover and for Kindle (free to Prime members)

ISBN 978-1936827213

Bill Kirton was born in England but has lived most of his life in Scotland.  He’s the author of stage and radio plays, flash fiction and short stories, novels, children’s books, and how-to books for college students.   He’s been a university lecturer, actor, director, TV presenter, visiting professor and artist at the University of Rhode Island and spent a few years as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews.  (Since I live about 10 miles from URI, I’m hoping he returns!)

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Book Review: DIE A STRANGER by Steve Hamilton

This was the first book I’ve read by Steve Hamilton and I can’t wait to get my hands on another.  What I liked most about this book was the realistic portrayal of the characters and the fact that on the few occasions I put it down, I kept thinking about it and how urgently I wanted to get back to it.

DIE A STRANGER is a compelling thriller that takes us along on Alex McKnight’s trek across Michigan’s upper peninsula to find his friend Vinnie.  Vinnnie, a straight-as-an-arrow and  reclusive Objibwa tribal member, suddenly disappears and is suspected of being involved in a drug delivery gone wrong that results in the death of five men.

The suspense mounts as Vinnie’s father, an ex-con who disappeared years ago, returns to the U.P. and insists on forming an alliance with McKnight to track down his only son.  Alex is beleaguered not only by the questionable motives of  Vinnie’s father but also  by the taciturn and protective residents of the nearby reservation.  As Alex and Vinnie’s father team up to uncover clue after clue, they face the very real possibility that Vinnie’s days are numbered because of his mysterious link to a drug operation on the U.P.

DIE A STRANGER by Steve Hamilton

Release date:  July 3, 2012 by Minotaur Books

ISBN:  978-0-312-64021-7

Steve Hamilton is the author of the award-winning The Lock Artist and the New York Times bestseller, Misery Bay.

 

 

 

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Review: MORE FORENSICS and FICTION by D.P. Lyle, M.D.

More Forensics and Fiction:  Crime Writers’ Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered is a wonderful book.  Not only does it answer the questions posed by some extremely creative crime writers, it also does some from two perspectives.  If you’re the kind of writer who wants the technical details, Lyle provides them.  But if you want an answer in English, he gives you that too.

For a fellow who’s a practicing cardiologist, teacher of forensic science classes in the criminal justice program at DeSales University, and author of many thrillers and non-fiction novels, he’s extremely generous with his time and expertise.  If you want to know about traumatic injuries or illnesses (i.e., Can nasal trauma cause my character to lose his sense of smell? or Could a doctor save an unborn child if the mother is shot and killed?), this is your book.  It’s also your book if you want to know about poisons, toxins, and how to effectively kill off a character, (i.e., Could my sleuth suspect that someone was planning a poisoning simply by seeing what he purchased at a grocery store? or Can my murderous gardener use autumn crocus to kill his victims?)

Other topics include The Police, The Crime Scene, and the Crime Lab; the Coroner, the Body, and the Autopsy; and Odds and Ends, Mostly Odds (i.e., How long could my character survive if buried alive?).

This is a straight-forward Q & A with a lot of helpful advice, from both a medical professional and a successful author.  Lyle shares questions he’s been asked by numerous authors (most of whom he identifies) in their quest for technical accuracy and then provides answers.  What I found both helpful and fascinating is that after D.P. Lyle, M.D. gave the specific answer the author wanted, Doug the author often suggested a variety of options that might work (or not) and then explained why.

Call me morbidly curious, but I found the book vastly entertaining aside from my perspective as a writer.  Even if you’re not the author of crime, mystery, or thriller novels, you’ll be fascinated by the tremendous amount of information and varying perspectives Lyle offers his readers.

D.P. Lyle, M.D. is the Macavity Award-winning author of Forensics for Dummies and has been nominated for both Edgar and Scribe awards.  He’s also been a consultant for a number of popular television series such as CSI: Miami, House, and Cold Case.  Visit Doug on his author website or at The Writer’s Forensics Blog.  His next Dub Walker thriller, Run to Ground, will be released in August.

More Forensics and Fiction – ISBN 978-1605423-94-4

Published by Medallion Press, Inc.

Released April 2012

 

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Review: BLOOD TEARS by Michael J. Malone

Michael J. Malone’s debut crime novel sold out its first printing within a week of being released.  Not bad.  And not the least bit surprising, either.

Blood Tears is a heartrendingly wonderful read and its protagonist, DI Ray McBain, is a flawed character you can’t help liking and identifying with.  McBain’s most recent murder case involves a victim who once worked in Bethlehem House, the Catholic orphanage in which McBain was raised.  The victim was tortured, killed, and left with wounds that clearly shout “Stigmata!”  The deeper McBain digs to uncover the killer and his motivation, the more firmly he entrenches himself in the past … and in recurring nightmares that threaten his sanity.

When McBain learns the murdered man was a pedophile, and that he’d actually worked at Bethlehem House while McBain was a resident, he withholds that information from his colleagues because he has a deep, personal, urgency to solve the case.  Unfortunately, when his colleagues discover his unprofessional behavior, they believe it has a more sinister motivation and McBain is arrested and charged with murder.  As McBain escaped jail and mounted his own investigation, I found myself not only sympathizing but also performing a lot of introspection and philosophizing.  And not just about Catholicism (into which I was born), either.

The cleverness of Malone’s dialogue and prose, along with his wit and ability to keep me turning the pages long after bedtime, make this novel a must read.

Malone’s poetry, over 200 works, has been published in Scotland and broadcast on radio to much acclaim and many awards.  His upcoming publications include a non-fiction book later this year (or is it early next year?) and the second in his McBain series.  Michael can be found  on his blog, May Contain Nuts, and as a reviewer on Crimesquad.

For those of us in the U.S. who aren’t able to hop over to Scotland to purchase the book in hardcover or on Amazon U.K., here’s a link to purchase it–shipping should take about 14 days and is free.  (P.S.  Although I was provided with an electronic Advance Reader Copy, I bought my own paperback and anxiously await its arrival.  Yep, I’m gonna read it again.)

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Are You a Middle Child?

A lot of people have griped about being a middle child.  I’ve heard that Mom and Dad trust the oldest more and let the youngest do more.  What say you about being a middle child?

If you’re a middle child, I’d love to receive your input for some  research I’m doing.

Feel free to make a comment here OR copy and paste the following questions into an email and send your responses to me at linda@lindfaulkner.com:

  1. As a child, did you resent your older or younger siblings?  If yes, whom did you resent the most … and why/why not?
  2. As an adult, do you still resent those siblings .. and why/why not?
  3. What are the advantages of being a middle child?
  4. What are the disadvantages of being a middle child?
  5. Do you think you’re more, or less, well-adjusted than children with a different birth order (i.e., firstborn, lastborn, or only)?
  6. In an emotional sense, which sibling are you the closest to … and why?
  7. Provide me with the birth order of you and your sibs, including only gender and age and where you fit into the sequence.  For example, I’m the oldest of four, so I’d say:  Me/Female; brother/2 years younger; brother/4 years younger; sister/8.5 years younger.
  8. Volunteer one or two other highlights (or lowlights) of being a middle child.

I will conduct a drawing of all the people who respond to my shout out.  If you’re the winner, here’s how you’ll contribute to the first book in my new series–the one with the middle child as the protagonist/lead character:

  • You’ll be able to name one of the characters, AND
  • You can choose one of the personality traits of the lead character.

 Thanks!

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Book Review: ICE CAP by Chris Knopf

Jackie Swaitkowski is an attorney practicing law in the Hamptons of Long Island.  Her client is accused of murdering her late husband’s uncle … and nobody wants to believe her client’s innocent.

The worst winter on record dumps endless snow on the Hamptons, which hampers our heroine’s attempts to discover who really committed the murder.  Of course, Jackie’s the only person who believes Franco Raffinni is innocent and she really has to work at it.  Also hampering her efforts to solve the mystery are members of her husband’s family and the Polish-American community in which they live, the victim’s widow, and emissaries of a local mob boss whose visits become increasingly more threatening and violent.

As a former resident of Long Island, I found myself skimming over the numerous references to the Hamptons; however, Jackie’s clever, witty, and entertaining personality MORE than made up for that minor flaw and I certainly didn’t skim anywhere else!  I laughed out loud numerous times as I read this book in one sitting.  Knopf does an excellent job writing from the perspective of his female character and I’ll be checking out more of Jackie’s adventures.

You shouldn’t miss this one.

ICE CAP by Chris Knopf

Available in hardcover on June 5, 2012 by Minotaur Books

ISBN 978-1-250-00517-5

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Book Review: Bonefire of the Vanities by Carolyn Haines

Bonefire of the Vanities, the 12th in Carolyn Haines‘ series about PI Sarah Booth Delaney, needs to be added to your summer reading list.  It’s a clever, funny, adventurous mystery you won’t want to put down once you start reading.  Chock full of entertainment, this novel’s focus is a religious cult’s attempt to bilk an elderly billionaire of her fortune … and the PI who masquerades as a maid in her attempt to put an end to the scam.

Filled with charlatans, spooks, murder, and plot that’s both entertaining and thought-provoking, Bonefire of the Vanities is simply an excellent read.  I was very impressed by Haines’ ability to simultaneously make me laugh out loud and shudder about the prospects of what just might happen next.

I need to go out and buy 1 through 11…

BONEFIRE OF THE VANITIES by Carolyn Haines (ISBN 978-0-312-64187-0)

Minotaur Books; hardcover on sale June 19, 2012

 

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What’s Your Birth Order?

I’m preparing to begin writing the first book in a series that revolves around a family:  two parents and four children.  I’ve researched birth order in the past and agreed a great deal with the opinions of Dr. Kevin Leman, who wrote The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are.  I’m using the information gleaned from his book, and other sources, as I create my characters and–more importantly–their motivations.

Although I’m a firstborn, I admire the traits of the middleborn the most but get along better with lastborns.  Why do you think that is? 

Well, according to Dr. Leman (who’s a psychologist) people get along best with others who are opposites–personality-wise.  He claims  the majority of married couples he’s counseled during the past 30 years have been firstborns, onlies, or a combination of the two.  (I surely fit that demographic!)

Anyway, here are a few of the things Dr. Leman has to say, followed by brief descriptions of traits that are universally accepted to belong to certain birth orders (by people who agree with the concept, of course!).

  • In a family, each child is most directly affected by the next oldest child.
  • Each child typically behaves opposite the next oldest child. However, if he believes he can compete successfully with the next oldest child (and “overthrow” that child), role reversal takes place.
  • All children want attention from their parents and begin seeking it in infancy; if they don’t get it, they seek either power or revenge–in that order.

Firstborn traits:  Goal-oriented, seek control and approval; aggressive; type-A personality; responsible; conservative; organized; serious; self-sacrificing; puts self and others under stress and pressure; perfectionist

Middleborn traits:  Peacemaker; easy-going; peer-oriented rather than family-oriented; excellent people skills; adaptable; agreeable; may feel overlooked, unheard, ignored; compromising; loyal to friends; secretive; risk-taker; may be cynical or suspicious

Lastborn traits:  Creative; charming; manipulative; identifies with underdog; can be too dependent upon others; risk-taker; spoiled; lazy; temperamental; clown or comedian; entertainer; fun-loving; affectionate; reads people well

Only child traits:  (Very similar to firstborn):  Struggles with parental expectations; perfectionist; doesn’t handle criticism well; critical of self and others; confident; doesn’t relate well to peers when a child; self-motivated; fearful and/or cautions; self-centered

So, what say you?

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What self-publishing is … and is not

A lot of unpublished folks seem to think self-publishing is the way to go these days.  Unfortunately, the two people I spoke with during the past few days didn’t really understand what self-publishing is.

So, in an effort to educate those without any publishing experience, here’s a brief outline of some facts I think you should know when considering to self-publish.  Of course, this is only my personal opinion so I’m counting on the rest of you–published and self-published alike–to chime in here to assist the uneducated.

Traditional publishing:  The writer sells his or her work to a publisher, who pays the author for the rights to publish it.  The publisher pays the costs associated with transforming the writer’s manuscript into a book–whether it’s a hardcover, paperback, or ebook.  This includes editing, printing, some publicity, etc.  The author doesn’t pay the publisher anything.  Depending upon whether the publisher is a large conglomerate  or a small press, the writer will either receive an advance and royalties in exchange for the rights to publish the book or will simply receive royalties. 

Self-publishing:  The writer controls all aspects of the publication of the work–and pays all the costs associated with publication.  This includes editing, printing, and publicity.  The self-published author may pay a publisher to handle publication (sometimes called a vanity, or subsidy, publisher) or can handle everything himself or herself.

All the details about book publication are negotiated and spelled out in a contract when a writer contracts with any type of publisher.

The popularity of print on demand services (the publisher prints books as they’re ordered rather than printing a large quantity at one time, before most orders are received) has given many people the impression that writers published by small, independent presses are self-published.  Not true.  A self-published writer may certainly get his or her books to market via print on demand services, but so can an independent press or a traditional publisher.

With the proliferation of small, independent presses, it’s a lot easier for writers to get published these days.  The publication of ebooks is also helping writers get published more easily.

I provided a couple of links for you to check out if you’d like a little more detail.  What does anyone else have to add?