#BlogTour The CWA Anthology of Short Stories: Mystery Tour edited by Martin Edwards

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The CWA Anthology of Short Stories brings together some of the finest international crime writers. The Mystery Tour is edited by Martin Edwards, an award winning crime writer and critic.

Anthologies with a variety of authors are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, however I find it an excellent way to discover new writers. This way you can try before you buy. You get a glimpse of their writing voice, style and creativity. And if you already know some of them, as is the case with this anthology of short stories, it is just an added bonus. You get to taste their goods with a specific topic in mind.

Buy The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour

Content

The Queen of Mystery by Ann Cleeves – Ann Cleeves began her crime-writing career with a series featuring George and Molly Palmer-Jones, and followed it with books about a cop from the North-East, Inspector Ramsay. More recently she has won international acclaim for two further series, featuring Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez, respectively, which have been successfully adapted for television as Vera and Shetland. Raven Black won the CWA Gold Dagger, and in 2017 Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger. Follow @AnnCleeves Visit anncleeves.com

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – Anna Mazzola writes historical crime fiction. She studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a criminal justice solicitor. Her debut novel was the Unseeing, and her second, about a collector of folklore on the Isle of Skye, will be published in spring 2018. She lives in Camberwell, London with two small children, two cats and one husband. Follow @Anna_Mazz Visit AnnaMazzola.com

You’ll be Dead by Dawn by C.L. Taylor – C.L. Taylor was born in Worcester, studied psychology in Newcastle and has had a variety of jobs, including fruit picker, waitress, postwoman, receptionist, shipping co-ordinator, graphic designer and web developer. her debut novel was Heaven Can Wait and in 2011 she won the RNA Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. More recently she has enjoyed success with psychological thrillers such as The Missing and The Escape. Follow @callytaylor Visit cltaylorauthor.com

The Last Supper by Carol Anne Davis – Carol Anne Davis is the author of seven novels and eight true crime books, the latest of which is Masking Evil: When Good Men and Women Turn Criminal. She is currently one of the judges for the CWA’s Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, and when she’s not reading or writing she loves to dance. Unfortunately she’s dyspraxic so can’t tell her left from her right and has been in the beginner’s flamenco class for the past five years. Visit carolannedavis.co.uk

The White Goddess by Cath Staincliffe – Cath Staincliffe is an award -winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV’s hit series Blue Murder. She was joint winner, with Margaret Murphy, of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. She also writes the Scott & Bailey books, based in the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester. Follow @CathStaincliffe Visit cathstaincliffe.co.uk

High Flyer by Chris Simms – Chris Simms graduated from Newcastle University then travelled round the world before moving to Manchester in 1994. Since then he has  worked as a freelance copywriter for advertising agencies throughout the city.The idea for his first novel, Outside the White Lines, came to him one night when broken down on the hard shoulder of a motorway. More recently he has written a series featuring DC Ilona King. Visit chrissimms.info

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – Before Christine Poulson turned to crime, she was a respectable academic with a PhD in the history of art. Cambridge provided the setting for her first three novels, Dead Letters, Stage Fright and Footfall, which were followed by a stand-alone suspense novel, Invisible. the first in a new series Deep Water, appeared in 2016. Her short stories have been short-listed for a Derringer and for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Follow @ChrissiePoulson Visit christinepoulson.co.uk

Travel is Dangerous by Ed James – Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians. He is currently developing two new series, set in London and Dundee, respectively. He also writes the Supernature series, featuring vampires and other folkloric creatures. Follow @EdJamesAuthor Visit Edjamesauthor.com

Take the Money and Run? by Gordon Brown – Gordon Brown lives in Scotland but splits his time between the UK and Spain. He’s married with two children and has been writing since his teens. So far he has had five books published – his latest, Darkest Thoughts, being the first in the Craig McIntyre series. Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival. Follow @GoJaBrown Visit gordonjbrown.com

No Way Back by J.M. Hewitt – J.M. (Jeanette) Hewitt is a crime fiction writer living on the Suffolk coast. She is the author of Exclusion Zone, The Hunger Within and The Eight Year Lie. Her short story ‘Fingers’ was published in Twisted50. a horror anthology, and she was the winner of the BritCrime Pitch Competition in 2015, a success that led to the publication of Exclusion Zone. Follow @jmhewitt Visit jmhewitt.com

Mystery Tour by Judith Cutler – Judith Cutler has produced no fewer than five series of crime novels and more than thirty books in all. Her first regular detective was Sophie Rivers, and since then she has featured Fran Harman, Josie Welford, Tobias Campion and Lina Townend. She has also published stand-alone novels, and is a former secretary of the CWA. Visit judithcutler.com

Wife on Tour by Julia Crouch – Julia Crouch has been a theatre director, playwright, drama teacher, publicist, graphic/website designer and illustrator. It was while he was doing an MA in sequential illustration that she realised what she really loved was writing. Her debut novel, Cuckoo, was followed by Every Vow You Break, Tarnished, The Long Fall and Her Husband’s Lover. Visit juliacrouch.co.uk Follow @thatjuliacrouch

The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis – Kate Ellis worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before finding success as a writer. The latest title in her series featuring Wesley Peterson is The Mermaid’s Scream, while she has also published a series about another cop, Joe Plantagenet, and two historical crime novels, including A High Mortality of Doves. Follow @kateellisauthor Visit kateellis.co.uk

Snowbird by Kate Rhodes – Kate Rhodes went to the University of Essex and completed a doctorate on the playwright Tennessee Williams. She has taught at universities in Britain and the United States, and now writes full time. Her books were two collections of poetry, and her novels Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels are both set in London, her birthplace. she lives in Cambridge. Visit katerhodes.org Follow @K_RhodesWriter

The Repentance Wood by Martin Edwards – Martin Edwards has published eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards. He has edited thirty-five crime anthologies and has won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize and the Poirot Award. He is the president of the Detection Club and current chair of the CWA. Follow @medwardsbooks Visit martinedwardsbooks.com

A Mouthful of Restaurant by Martine Bailey – Martine Bailey writes about food and mystery and was credited by Fay Weldon as inventing a new genre, the ‘culinary gothic’. Her debut in the genre was An Appetite for Violets, and while living in New Zealand she wrote the Penny Heart (retitled A Taste for Nightshade in the US). Martine is an award-winning amateur cook and now lives in Cheshire. Visit martinebailey.com Follow @MartineBailey

Cruising for a Killing by Maxim Jakubowski – Maxim Jakubowski is a crime, erotic, science-fiction and rock music writer and critic. He is also a leading anthologist. Born in England to Russian-British and Polish parents, he was raised in France and ran the Murder One bookshop for many years. He is the current chair of judges for the CWA Debut John Creasey Dagger, and also serves as joint vice-chair of the CWA. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television. Visit maximjakubowski.co.uk

Three on a Trail by Michael Stanley – Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Their first mystery, A Carrion Death introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, and was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. Their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for the Edgar Award. Visit detectivekubu.com Follow @detectivekubu

The Riddle of the Humming Bee by Paul Charles – Paul Charles was born and raised in the Northern Irish countryside. He is the author of the Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy series, set in Camden Town, and the Inspector Starrett series, which is set in Donegal in Ireland. the short mystery in this collection features retired PSNI Detective McCusker from Down on Cyprus Avenue. Paul is currently working on a second McCusker novel. Visit paulcharlesbooks.com

Writer’s Block by Paul Gitsham – Paul Gitsham started his career as a biologist, before deciding to retrain and impart his love of science and sloppy lab skills to the next generation of enquiring minds as a school teacher. Paul lives in a flat with more books than shelf space, where he writes the DCI Warren Jones series of police procedurals and spends more time than he should on social media. Follow @DCIJoneswriter Visit paulgitsham.com

Lady Luck by Peter Lovesey – Peter Lovesey short stories have won a number of international awards, including the Veuve Clicquot Prize, the Ellery Queen Reader’s Award and the CWA Short Story Dagger. When the Mystery Writers of America ran a competition to mark their fiftieth year, The Pushover was the winner. Peter is a recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger (among many other honours) and also a former chair of the CWA. Visit peterlovesey.com

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson – Ragnar Jónasson is the author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series. He was born in Reykjavík, where he still lives, and is a lawyer. He teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Visit ragnar-jonasson.squarespace.com Follow @ragnarjo

A Clever Evil by Sarah Rayne – Sarah Rayne is the author of a number of acclaimed psychological thrillers, and ghost-themed books. Much of the inspiration for her settings comes from the histories and atmospheres of old buildings, a fact that is strongly apparent in many of her books. She recently launched a  new series, featuring the music historian and researcher Phineas Fox. Visit sarahrayne.co.uk

The Prodigy by Shawn Reilly Simmons – Shawn Reilly Simmons lives in Frederick Maryland, and has worked as a bookstore manager, fiction editor, convention organiser and a wine rep. Currently she serves on the Board of Malice Domestic, is a member of the Dames of Detection, and an editor and co-publisher at Level Best Books. Her red Carpet Catering Mysteries feature Penelope Sutherland, an on-set movie caterer. She has also published several short crime stories, and co-edited crime anthologies. Visit shawnreillysimmons.com Follow @ShawnRSimmons

A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday – Susi Holliday grew up in Scotland and now lives in London. She was shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize with her short story ‘Home from Home’, She has published three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, and her latest novel is a Christmas-themed serial killer thriller, The Deaths of December. Visit sjihollidayblog.wordpress.com Follow @SJIHolliday

Bombay Brigadoon by Vaseem Khan – Vaseem Khan is the author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, a series of crime novels set in India. The books feature retired Mumbai police inspector Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick, a baby elephant named Ganesha. Vaseem says that elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order. He plays cricket all summer, attempting to bat as an opener, while fielding as little as possible. Follow @VaseemKhanUK Visit vaseemkhan.com

Matricide and Ice Cream by William Burton McCormick – William Burton McCormick’s fiction appears regularly in American mystery magazines. A Nevada native, William earned his MA in novel writing from Manchester University, was elected a Hawthornden Fellow in Scotland and has lived in Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. His novel Lenin’s Harem was the first fictional work added to the Latvian War Museum’s library in Riga. Follow William Burton McCormick on Facebook

The Spoils by William Ryan – William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. He was called to the English Bar after university in Dublin, and then worked as a lawyer in the City. He now teaches crime writing at City University. His first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for four awards, including a CWA New Blood Dagger. His latest book in The Constant Soldier. Follow @WilliamRyan_ Visit william-ryan.com

Review

Personally I think anthologies are a great way to discover new authors. It’s kind of like having a taster session with a book full of talented scribes. You can get a real feeling for writing styles, voices and how creative they can be. Not everyone can draw in a reader with a short story. Short stories are an art-form unto themselves.

This anthology offers a great mixture of authors, and all of them know exactly how to create suspense and tension in a few pages. Some of the stories veer more towards the macabre, others have a noirish quality to them, and then there are those with a wicked sense of humour. I would even go as far as to say some of the stories border on the horror genre.

Now, I could write something about every single story, but instead I will just pick out a few to give you a sense of what you can expect.

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – I have to say I enjoyed the story within numbers and receipts. Storytelling in a modern way. In exactly the way you would experience it if you processed the information through sight and thoughts alone.

Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – This had a What Lies Beneath feel to it. It would make a great TV plot. Mazzola only infers a certain scenario, and the reader has to imagine what actually happened to the girl who disappeared.

A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson – Short and sweet or rather short and scary. Just enough to get the imagination going and yet not enough to give the reader all the answers.

The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis – This has a gritty modern feel to it. Reality paired with fear, resentment, shame and betrayal. You never know who you can trust. The closest friend might be the the person you should trust the least.

I could go on and on. The truth is every single story is unique, despite being connected through the element of crime. Each and every author has taken the idea and made it specific to themselves and their own particular style.

The CWA Mystery Tour certainly does not disappoint. It is a compelling mixture of talented authors and their often disturbing, sometimes amusing and certainly always memorable tales.

Buy The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour or go to Goodreads for any other retailer

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The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

the frozen woman.jpgFinding a dead body in your garden is either really bad luck or you have something to hide. Unfortunately Thygesen has a dodgy past, which kind of points the police straight in his direction.

Thygesen is eccentric and a wee bit quirky, which is part of the charm I suppose. It simultaneously comes off as creepy, passive-aggressive and endearing. Vanja is eventually drawn in by the eccentricity, despite it being her job to find the killer, and becomes perhaps a bit too close to the possible suspect. The lines between her job and what she thinks she wants as a person become skewed.

The reader sees the story of how the dead body came to be in his garden, why she is there and who she is, through a seemingly separate story. Eventually small links and connections appear and things become clearer.

The frozen woman is suddenly connected to criminal biker gangs with a taste for brutal retaliation and little regard for human life.

Michelet gives readers a fast-paced story filled with that special brand of snark and humour reserved for the Scandinavian crime genre.

Buy The Frozen Woman at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @noexitpress

Dry Bones by Sally Spencer

dry bonesWhen Charlie asks Jennie to investigate two bodies in the cellar of his Oxford university, he also asks her to keep it secret. Keeping it quiet is a crime, and not telling her friend on the police force puts two friendships in jeopardy too.

Charlie seems to have more secrets than a puzzle-box. Jennie starts to suspect his involvement in at least one of the deaths. Is he trying to distract her from the truth by sending her on wild goose chases?

The Jennie Redhead Mysteries are very similar to the Phryne Fisher Mysteries, but Jennie is lot more brash and confrontational. The difference is that the author duo that makes up the Sally Spencer also like to add a little controversy to their stories.

I’m not sure I entirely agree with the way the topic of homosexuality was approached from a historical point of view. In the mid 1940’s it was still considered a criminal offence, so the majority of men kept it a secret, as opposed to being openly gay in society. In 1967 sexual acts between two men over the age of 21 was decriminalised in England and Wales, however it still remained illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and or the Isle of Man.

Now, whilst there is always room for fictional interpretation and the rewriting of history, I do believe keeping it slightly more historically correct would have given the story a stronger sense of realism, instead of applying the overall laissez-faire feel of the story to this particular topic.

Personally I wish history had been more like the scenario of Dry Bones, in a sense that it is just as normal as heterosexual relationships, which is possibly what the authors were aiming for.

What I really enjoyed was the excellent description of the upper and lower classes, especially in relation to the academic world of Oxford. In the 20th century we saw the deconstruction of these antiquated ways of thinking, although I am sure one could argue that we are still seeing the last remnants of it in the UK government structure and political field. Kudos to the authors for the reality of the Upstairs/Downstairs scenarios and the descriptions of both the Great War and World War 2, which feature heavily in this story. The mistakes made by the entitled upper class officer ranks, and the fates of the lower class bullet fodder.

Overall Spencer delivers a good read with feisty and unusual characters.

Buy Dry Bones at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @SallySpencerebk Author duo @AlanRustage & @LannaRustage or @severnhouse

Visit sallyspencer.com

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

dont let goAre there some secrets that should be left buried and forgotten? This is the real question when it comes to this story.

Nap is obsessed with finding out the truth about the death of his twin brother Leo. His death was so unexpected and sudden that over a decade later Nap still hasn’t come to terms with it, especially because his own girlfriend disappeared into thin air on the same night.

Now she has suddenly made a reappearance he also takes note of the strange things happening to other old high-school friends. Is there something more nefarious going on other than random acts of violence and disturbances, which just happen to be connected to said old friends.

How well do we really know any person, even when you have a tight connection like twins. Everyone has secrets or personality traits they keep hidden from certain people. Thinking that his brother was nothing less than perfect is clouding his view of the facts.

Coben combines a fast-paced thriller with strong emotional undertones to create a read which may make you ponder the advantages of raking up the past.

Sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. At least that way one can maintain some semblance of a facade for others, and more importantly for our or their own peace of mind. Like I said it is an interesting combo of conspiracy and moral of the story tale.

Buy Don’t Let Go at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @HarlanCoben

Visit harlancoben.com

Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy

Fatal MasqueradeThe cosy mystery is often delegated to the inconsequential, fluffy and comfortable read shelf. It simply isn’t given its dues. It is actually a really popular sub-genre of the crime and mystery genre.

Not everyone wants to read brutal psychological stories that mess with your head and make your little grey cells ask for a break, although admittedly I love those a lot.

Some readers want the eloquence and eccentricities of Christie-like characters combined with the quirky scenarios of Beaton, witty reads that leave you with a smile.

Conroy delivers the kind of characters you remember and enjoy. An ode to Tuppence and Tommy, but perhaps a little less suave and with a lot more cheek.

In this fourth book in the Lady Alkmene Mystery series, the reader is spoilt with choices of possible culprits, which means the amateur detectives have to work a lot harder to discover who did the deed.

Lady Alkmene accompanies her friend to a masquerade ball, which becomes a wee bit more serious when a dead body turns up and the hostess and her family become the main suspects.

If you’re looking for a bit of mystery, a dead body now and again, and a set of colourful characters then you should give Conroy a try.

Buy Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Rubies in the Roses by Vivian Conroy

Follow @VivWrites

The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen

the ghosts of GalwayBruen has a very specific style when it comes to his Jack Taylor books. They are in your face coarse, gritty and hardcore realistic or rather the character of Jack Taylor is.

Jack always seems to walk on the thin line between abiding by the law and breaking it, well he tends to lean more towards the latter, especially when it comes to protecting those in his bubble. Not that they are always grateful, but then again perhaps they take lessons in etiquette and being polite from Jack.

His nemesis, strangely enough, is a bizarre combination of seductive temptress, a complete and utter fruitcake, and a ruthless player in this game of ghosts. Jack never seems to be able to decide which category to place her in.

As I mentioned above, Bruen has a distinctive writing style, which is staccato like and abrupt. Despite that he still manages to fill the story with important national and international topics, ranging from pseudo celebrities, fraudulent medical systems to Brexit and terrorism.

It is done in a subtle and witty way, and there are also often imperceptible nods in a certain direction, and off the cuff remarks. It’s almost like experiencing the thought and speech processes of the main character in real-time. It has a noirish quality to it, coarse and brutal, which is what gives it a strong sense of realism.

Buy The Ghosts of Galway at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @MysteriousPress  @groveatlantic

Blog-Tour: Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Snare is a fresh, gritty walk through life and crime as we know it in the 21st century.

About the Author 

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Schweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykavik with her partner.

Follow @lilja1972  Visit liljawriter.com

Buy Snare

About the book

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling tp provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Review

It’s kind of ironic that Sonja makes such an excellent drug smuggler. Her planning is meticulous and she seems to be able to out-think the border control by ten steps every time. If left to her own devices she could probably run the whole set-up herself.

There is no doubt that Snare is a well executed crime story, however it is so much more. Sigurdardóttir has created a layered literary cake with a variety of topics, which will appeal to a multitude of readers. The divorce and the custody battle, the complexity of the snare itself and the topic of homosexuality.

Like many women Sonja finds herself in a position of vulnerability after her husband catches her in flagrante with her lover and demands a divorce. He, and society, believes she is at fault and is an unfit mother because her lover is a female. It begs the question whether she allows herself to be treated like a sub-human because she believes the same thing or just because of her guilty conscience.

Either way she finds herself in financial difficulty, which then makes her a target and she ends up trying to make enough money to get her young son back where he belongs. She is willing to go to any length to get custody, a part of the story many readers will identify with. You never know what you’re capable of until you’re pushed to your limits.

One of the really captivating elements of Snare is the relationship between Alga and Sonja, especially Alga and the rejection of her own emotions and sexuality. She is curious about the inner sanctum and secrets, and yet rejects it all with an equal level of passion. Her entire existence is a balancing act of what she believes she should want and what she really needs.

I really enjoyed the realism. This could happen to anyone, and the snare is explained really well. Being caught between a rock and a hard place. You either do it, commit a crime to achieve your hearts desire or you remain a law-abiding citizen and lose what you love the most. A lose-lose situation, so the reader can’t help but feel empathy for the criminal.

The other aspect, which I believe Sigurdardóttir has purposely written in a way that creates a dialogue, is how same gender sexual attraction is still a point of contention for some of those still discovering their sexuality and people who view it as something to feel guilty about.

Snare certainly has a noirish quality to it, however I think it is a strong and vivid Kodak moment of our modern times. It often makes for uncomfortable reading because it is easy to relate to the desperation of the main character, because when it comes down to it, Sonja could be any one of us.

Buy Snare at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @Orendaboooks