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…
I have been lucky enough to be able to follow the Kay Hunter series from the beginning, and whilst I must admit to being a couple behind I was still very excited to be asked to join the blog tour for the latest ‘Turn to Dust’
Turn to Dust starts with the discovery of a naked body in a field, it looks like he may have fallen out of a plane. Yet the injuries soon point to a much more brutal cause of death. When Detective Hunter finds out that someone has been offering money in exchange for information about the dead body she begins to realise that this case is not going to have a simple ending. When a key witness goes missing Kay and her team have a race on, to stop more people ending up dead.
Turn to Dust by Rachel Amphlett is the 9th in the series featuring Detective Kay Hunter, and I have to say I think they keep getting better. I really like the character of Kay, she has a relatively normal marriage and just wants to focus on doing a good job. I like the relationship between the two and I think that Adam’s job as a vet and his love of saving stray animals adds a great comedic element to what is a pretty sad tale.
I always like the style of writing by Rachel, the chapters are relatively short and this makes it a pretty fast paced read. Although it is part of a series I think it works as a standalone too, there is enough back story of the characters to help you get to know them, but not so much that you feel like you are reading the same book again and again (which can be a tricky balance) As with her previous novels as well, she manages to make the murder line the main story throughout with the characters pushing the investigation along.
This is one of those stories that is difficult to review without giving away the plot, but it will certainly make you think about the way that people on the edge of ‘normal’ society are treated, and how any of us could one day end up having to ask for help.
I would highly recommend this series, in fact now I’ve finished Turn to Dust I intend to go and fill in the gaps of my Kay Hunter knowledge and read the couple that I’ve missed!
I have read previous novels by Rod Reynolds and so was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest Blood Red City.
Blood Red City starts with Lydia being sent a video of an apparent assault on the tube. The sender of the video is a friend who left the paper under a cloud. Lydia has recently been relegated to the night shift entertainment slot but at heart she is still a serious investigative journalist and thinks this could be the story to restart her career. She sets out to track down the victim of the assault but with no victim and the only witness disappeared she begins to think she may be being led down the garden path. Michael however knows that something went on and he is determined to find out what Lydia has found out before he is exposed. When Michael and Lydia meet, she soon realises that she couldn’t have begun to predict just what a dangerous situation she has put herself in.
Set in London Blood Red City is a book that definitely deserves the accolade ‘gritty thriller’. The story shows us the dark side of London and the battles to keep control. The novel starts off with a great hook, a crime that might not be a crime, and doesn’t let up throughout as we discover corruption and violence lurking just beneath the surface of our capital city.
I really liked the character of Lydia. A lot of the time female protagonists are either written as weak and indecisive, or conversely whisky swigging, don’t care about anything types. Lydia however just seemed normal, she made some bad decisions but also some good ones and she was clearly good at her job. The character of Michael was harder to pin down, throughout the story you get the impression of there being two sides to him and it’s not clear if he wants to protect or to harm Lydia.
The story itself is full of twists and turns that I found impossible to predict. There are some very unpleasant characters in it and each time you think that you have a handle on what is going on another red herring is thrown in. It is a complement to the standard of the writing however that despite the twists it doesn’t get complicated. It is a fascinating story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I would definitely recommend Blood Red City if you like gritty drama where the setting is as important as the characters.
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out what other bloggers thought of Rod Reynold’s latest.
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.