I am a big fan of Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson, therefore I was really pleased to get the chance to read his latest novel, Final Cut.
Final Cut is set in the fictional town of Blackwood Bay, a formally busy seaside town now struggling to survive in a world of cheap package holidays. Alex is a film maker who grew up in the Bay and is commissioned to make a ‘fly on the wall’ style documentary about the town. She is not keen to revisit the place she grew up in and knows that something bad happened to her, yet she has no memory of the events. When a young girl goes missing the lives of the villagers start to unravel as secrets start to emerge.
I really enjoyed this novel. Final Cut is an interesting premise starting with the idea that everyone nowadays is a filmmaker, as people in the village are being encouraged to film themselves and then upload it to a website. It was not what I would call fast paced, it is very character led and there is a lot of conversation, but that for me was what made it interesting. It felt a very compelling read with a sense of menace running through.
The writing is excellent and conjours up some vivid pictures of a quaint but run down seaside town. The book follows a ‘now and then’ storyline as we find out what happened to Alex after she left the town, and also the village as it is now. I found both plots to be interesting which is often not the case in dual narratives where I often find myself skipping through one storyline fast to get back to the more interesting one. The story itself is good although it did go a little flat in the middle, but I suspect that was mainly because I was so keen to find out what was going on that I got a bit frustrated with no one talking. I like the unreliable narrator as a hook, and you can’t get much more unreliable than someone who has little memory of her past.
Overall I very much enjoyed Final Cut. To find out what others on the tour thought of it visit the other stops on the blog tour.
As I’ve mentioned many times, I read a lot more than I review. A lot of that is down to the fact that I love to read, and tend to move immediately from one book to another. Then I end up forgetting about the review. Annoyingly that happens even when I love a book. My scatty-ness also often means that I think I’ve reviewed things and it’s only when I go back to check I realise I haven’t done at all.
One such author that has fallen foul of this is John Marrs. I know that I have read a number of his books and that I have loved them all. Therefore when I was asked to join a blog tour for his latest novel, The Minders I jumped at the chance. However it’s not until I look back I realise I haven’t reviewed any of them which is very remiss of me.
I personally think John Marrs is one of the most interesting authors I have come across in a long time. Each of his novels is a standalone with a story that has kept me hooked. I have just finished listening via audible to What Lies Between Us, a super twisty tale of two women living together. His previous The One about finding love through DNA testing will put you off dating for life. I have thoroughly enjoyed them all, in fact looking at John’s back catalogue there are only two I haven’t yet read, The Passengers and his latest The Minders. Well I intend to change that and am very lucky to have recently received a copy of The Minders which I can’t wait to start. This time I promise I’ll remember to review it too!
The Minders by John Marrs
In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads. Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew. But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…
Now regular readers of this blog will know that every year at Harrogate one of my favourite panels is always the New Blood panel. 4 debut authors chosen by queen of crime herself, Val McDermid. Therefore you can imagine my delight to be told that this year the panel is going virtual! Just when I thought my tbr pile was finally going down I’ve got 4 more books to add, and they all sound fantastic.
This year’s panelists are:
– Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)
– Elizabeth Kay – Seven Lies (Sphere)
– Jessica Moor – Keeper (Penguin)
– Trevor Wood – The Man on the Street (Quercus)
The New Blood 2020 panel will be streamed on Saturday 25 July on harrogateinternationalfestivals.com
Since 2004, the best-selling Scottish author of the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series has curated an annual celebration of the most formidable debuts taking the crime and thriller genre by storm, with an invitation to join the line-up of the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
This year, Deepa Anappara has been selected for her part coming-of-age, part detective mystery Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, a heart-breaking and thought-provoking social commentary of modern India’s slums that has been recognised for the Women’s Prize. Elizabeth Kay is on the list for her explosive Seven Lies, taking domestic noir to a whole new level in a deliciously dark blurring of truth and lies, and Jessica Moore is recognised for her brutal and beautiful Keeper, the addictive literary thriller that has had everyone talking. Concluding this year’s New Blood contingent is Trevor Wood and his debut The Man on the Street, a gritty thriller set on the streets of Newcastle.
Val McDermid said: “I have been hosting the New Blood showcase since the festival began in 2003 and, in my book, discovering and sharing new talent with an eager audience is the best job in crime fiction. I know exactly what I’m looking for on my quest: fresh and distinctive voices, a well-told, convincing story and the almost indefinable sense that these authors all have much more to say. Deepa, Elizabeth, Jessica and Trevor tick all of these boxes and more, and if this year’s debuts share a theme, it is the irresistible and devastating way in which crime fiction shines a light on our times: homelessness, domestic violence, child trafficking and mental health are all dissected with an unflinching gaze. Whilst we can’t gather en masse at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate this year, I hope that readers will enjoy our virtual introduction to these brilliant new writers.”
The unveiling of McDermid’s selection has become one of the most anticipated moments of the publishing calendar, with readers on the lookout to uncover their new favourite author and add the ‘next big thing’ to their bookshelves.
Former ‘New Blood’ alumni include Clare Mackintosh, SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Liam McIlvanney and Belinda Bauer, as well as three authors on this year’s shortlist for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award – Theakston Old Peculier: Abir Mukherjee, Jane Harper and Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was chosen just last year for her Booker longlisted My Sister, the Serial Killer.
As part Harrogate International Festivals’ year round programme of events, each year the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival welcomes the world’s famous authors each year to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel – the scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – for a celebration of the crime genre like no other.
This year’s instalment – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and so the 2020 ‘New Blood’ showcase will be streamed on the festival’s HIF Player on what would have been the legendary weekender on Saturday 25 July 2020.
Val McDermid will also interviewed by Mark Lawson about the legacy of the New Blood panel, discussing the vital role of the showcase in giving a platform to new writers in the industry and the crime community, and giving a peek behind the scenes into how and why she chooses the books.
Trevor Wood said: “As a kid I dreamt of playing in the cup final. I’m a fraction older now but being chosen for Harrogate’s New Blood panel feels exactly like that did.” Jessica Moor said: “To have been chosen for this panel, which has included some of my favourite new authors of the last decade, and to have been chosen by the legendary Val McDermid, is a such an honour.” Deepa Anappara said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be picked for the New Blood panel, and grateful to Val McDermid for her immense generosity and support of debut novelists.” Elizabeth Kay said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected for such a prestigious event. The ‘New Blood’ panel has an incredible history, and I’m delighted to be participating this year alongside three really exciting other authors.
As many of you will know fellow blogger Noelle Holten is not only a great book blogger, she is also a fabulous author, therefore I was very pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel Dead Wrong.
In Dead Wrong notorious serial killer Bill Raven is behind bars. DI Maggie Jamieson put him there and is convinced of his guilt. However when one of the missing women that Bill Raven admitted to killing turns up dead, and it is clear that she was alive until a few days ago, her colleagues start to doubt her. Maggie is then in a race against time to find a second killer and the other missing women who could potentially still be alive.
This was a fantastic second novel that kept me gripped from the beginning and just like her debut it didn’t let up. Unlike the first in the series, the main character in this novel was actually Maggie rather than Lucy (although she was still there of course) I actually liked Maggie more this time, she seemed a bit less annoying than in the previous novel, the fact that she may have been wrong about the conviction of Raven has dented her confidence slightly, despite her belief that she convicted the right person.
I enjoyed the interaction between Maggie and Bill Raven, he is clearly enjoying playing games and the scenes between them were practically crackled with tension. The writing in this book is crisp and punchy, the twists are ones you don’t see coming and it is a very enjoyable read. My only criticism about this is the short chapters, the fact they are short means that the temptation to keep reading just one more chapter meant it kept me up late into the night!
This can be read as a stand-alone but I wouldn’t recommend that, purely because the first novel is so good you should definitely read that too. For my review of Dead Inside click here.
To find out what others thought of Dead Wrong you can visit the other stops on the tour.