Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen

I am delighted to welcome Owen Mullen to the blog today and his crime fiction novel Out of the Silence. Don’t miss the brilliant Q&A with Owen!

About the Author

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is an epic revenge thriller set in Pakistan.

Follow @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook on Twitter, on Instagramon Facebookon YoutubeAmazon Author pageGoodreads Author pageBookbub page,

Buy Out of the Silence

About the book

A compelling revenge thriller

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there. When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered, one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime. As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost? Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

Q&A with Owen Mullen

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know)Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Calibre…great Scottish drama

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper?Stephen King and James Lee Burke

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet?Jesus Christ…that would be an interesting conversation!

A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home – you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why?Firstly I’ve got my own version of Marie at home! The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes – my all-time favourite detective, A Bend In The River by V.S. Naipal – it’s a slow burner but I love his use of language and Brideshead Revisited – an old boss switched me on to Evelyn Waugh

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about Out of the Silence.

I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by your book. It blends the often stringent boundaries of crime and women’s fiction. I would love to know all about your inspiration for Out of the Silence?Several years ago I watched a horrific documentary on the treatment of women in Pakistan; it stayed with me. Some years later, my wife Christine and I were travelling in the region for the third time and the idea started to form for an amazing crime thriller set in this wonderfully colourful environment. When we ventured into the Thar dessert we came across a young woman selling salt: when she looked up at me from behind her hijab Afra was born.

The use of the bangles as a plot device to connect the threads is both clever and emotional. Again, I am intrigued by the inspiration to use the bangles in this way.The idea just arrived from wherever it is they live.

The contrasting effect of seeing how the lives of Jameel and Afra go in such different directions is an excellent example of the stark difference in opportunities and development when it comes to gender. Do you think giving a voice to the silent will help to end or at least level out the inequality a little?I’m going to be honest here: I didn’t set out to change things. I simply wanted to write a thrilling crime fiction novel. That said however, if anything I ever write can help someone in any way I would be more than delighted.

As I mentioned above I enjoyed the fact that this fits firmly into both crime and women’s fiction. Did you know your crime story would end up being a silent call to arms for the abused and oppressed or did it just evolve that way as the story progressed?The story arrived almost complete for me, so I always knew that Dr Simone would take up the cause.

What’s next for Owen Mullen? Are you already working on something new?Almost finished the follow up to In Harm’s Way, then there are several ideas fighting for my time!

Thanks for answering all of my questions, even the odd ones!Thanks for inviting me here today…I really enjoyed it. – Owen

Review

Although the blurb suggests that the investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan is the main character and takes centre stage, the truth is he is a mere bit-player in the story of Afra and Jameel. Saying that, aside from the important connection and emotional significance of the family heirloom Jameel gives to his love, even he doesn’t play as much of a pivotal role as Afra.

This story belongs to her, every disillusioned moment, every injury and each second of silence. In turn her story belongs to every woman and girl, who have been and still are treated as a sub-humans. Treated with contempt, abused and used for pleasure and/or pain.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of countries that still do nothing to combat the abuse, molestation, torture, rape and murder of girls and women. Not that our western society has a stellar record, but the country in which this is set, Pakistan, still lives in the dark ages in regards to women’s rights and the abuse of women. Don’t even get me started on India.

An intriguing and emotional element of the story is the way Mullen connects all the threads of the story with the bangles, and indeed they become an integral part of the plot. They become synonymous with the image of Afra, every time they are mentioned it conjures up images of the young girl before, when her world existed only of her family, the village and Jameel. The innocent girl experiencing the first blushes of young love, before life submerges her into a quagmire of systemic and cultural abuse.

It’s a crime thriller combined with a poignant plot about the abuse and neglect of girls and women. This is so much more than a crime thriller, perhaps because the story of Afra takes precedence over the murders, despite the fact everything leads back to her. She is always there in the background, watching and waiting.

Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy Out of the Silence at Amazon com.at Waterstonesat FoylesBook Depository,

Publisher: Bloodhound Books; pub date Paperback – 21 Jan. 2019pub date ebook edition 28 Jan.2019

#BlogTour Severed by Peter Laws

Today it is an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Severed by Peter Laws. I have no idea why I haven’t come across this author before, but I will be making a point to do so in future. It’s an eclectic mixture of theology, faith, thriller and horror.

About the Author

Peter Laws is an ordained Baptist minister with a taste for the macabre. He regularly speaks and preaches at churches and events. He lives with his family in Bedfordshire.

Follow @revpeterlaws @AllisonandBusby,Visit peterlaws.co.uk

Buy Severed

About the book

During a communion service at a village church, the teenage son of a vicar brutally attacks his father with an axe. The horrified congregation watch the son escape and during a frantic police search rumours arise that the boy was involved in devil worship.

Professor Matt Hunter, an atheist ex-minister and expert on religion, is brought in to advise, yet he quickly suspects the church attack may have a far more complex cause. Meanwhile, a ten-year-old boy called Ever grows up in a small Christian cult. The group believe they are the only true humans left and that the world is filled with demons called Hollows, but they’re working on a bizarre ritual that will bring peace and paradise to the world. Soon, the worlds of Matt and Ever will collide in one awful, terrifying night where Matt is thrown into the frightening and murderous world of religious mania.

Review

I have no idea why I haven’t come across this author before, but I will be making a point to do so in future. 

Matt Hunter is a one-time man of God, who now likes to dabble in atheism instead. Now he spends his time dissecting his own feelings of faith and his knowledge of theology. He is also the go-to man for all things macabre and faintly godly or devilish in any way, which is how he ends up in the middle of an unusual attempted murder in an old church.

A teenage boy attacks the local vicar during a service all whilst mumbling a strange language. At the same time the reader is introduced to a young boy called Ever, who lives in a seemingly idyllic, albeit odd, small community of very religious people. His family. The question is what is their connection to the events in the church?

I think one of the most interesting aspects of Severed is the way the author unfurls the complexity of cult mentality. How is easy it is to be sucked into a theoretical concept, which to the objective outsider may seem completely absurd. I mean how many people, including really intelligent people I might add, do you think would fall for a money making oppressive religion based on the failed sci-fi stories of an ego-maniacal author who envisioned himself as a leader of the ‘enlightened’ members of the human race. Oh wait, yeh, my bad. Loads of people already have and are paying through the nose for the privilege.

A cult environment is bit like creating the perfect growth habitat for delusional thought fungi. They absorb the vulnerable, the rejected and the lost of our society, whilst the sharks at the top feed on their insecurities, fears and traumas.

This eclectic mixture of theology, faith, thriller and horror makes for a spectacular read. It bandies around the concepts of Christianity, religion, cults and atheism in a way that engages the reader in the narrative like a literary novel, despite the fact it is an action-packed horror read. 

When you’ve read this book take a moment to read the author’s note of acknowledgement – emotional and honest words on the thought process behind the story. In a way it says so much more about the story, the author and society, perhaps more than a mere read may.

Buy Severed at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Allison and Busby; pub date 24 Jan. 2019

#BlogTour Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Today it is my absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Changeling by Matt Wesolowski. It is the third book or episode in the brilliant Six Stories series. If you haven’t read a book in this series then I can only suggest you do so, because it is a fascinating premise.

About the Author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime WritingFestival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Follow @ConcreteKraken or @Orendabooks on Matt-Wesolowski on Facebook or visit him at mjwesolowskiauthor.wordpress.com

Buy Changeling

About the book

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.

Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…

Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought-provoking, Changeling is the latest in the critically acclaimed, international bestselling Six Stories series, written as six Serial-style podcasts, and which are being adapted for TV by a major US studio.

Review

Changeling is the third part of the Six Stories series, an innovative fresh idea in a sea full of stories.

This episode of Six Stories is different in a sense that Scott King immerses himself in a completely different way this time. In the other episodes there was always an element of distance to the people, the crimes, the myths and the folklore. In this episode the reader gets a deeper look into the main characters soul, and also into that of the author.

The disappearance of a seven-year-old boy over three decades ago is still a story that gets tongues wagging. He vanished into the darkness in the middle of the night near a forest. A wooded area connected to a lot of disturbing tales and a lifetime of folklore. The fairie folk have taken him, the monsters in the woods have eaten him or maybe the trees have made the little boy become one with them. All of that and plenty more is fodder for the curious, the gossips, the amateur sleuths and even the family members of the child.

I often think it is easier for society to believe the unbelievable than to accept the possibility that humans are worse than the monsters we imagine in our minds. The inability to acknowledge the inhumanity in some of us leaves us weakened and unprotected against the evil living among us.

Kudos to the author for giving a platform to the abuse featured in this particular mystery. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re experiencing or seeing when you encounter this kind of subtle, hidden systemic abuse. The problem is people are happy to pass on a malicious rumour or assume something they have been told is the truth without knowing whether it is or not.

Been there, done that, met the monster and got the t-shirt..

If you haven’t read a book in this series then I can only suggest you do so, because it is a fascinating premise. I can’t wait to see what the TV adaptation looks like. It is a dark menacing premise that Wesolowski has given a 21st century vibe to. He delves into the darkest depths of human nature, and plays with fractured memories, hidden fears and the ancient folklore and myths embedded in our culture. Podcasts meet rumours, theories and facts to create a fascinating murder mystery with a thriller come horror vibe. You don’t want to miss this series or the author.

Buy Changeling (Six Stories #3) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Orenda Books; pub date 24 Jan. 2019

Read my review of Six Stories #1

Read my review of Hydra (Six Stories #2)

#BlogTour Too Far by Jason Starr

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Too Far by Jason Starr. Starr writes crime with the improbable in mind, so expect the unexpected.

About the Author

Jason Starr is the international bestselling author of many crime novels and thrillers and his books have been published in over a dozen languages. Many of his books are in development for film and TV. Starr’s bestselling crime novels include Cold Caller, Nothing Personal, Fake ID, Hard Feelings, Tough Luck and Twisted City, followed by Lights Out, The Follower, Panic Attack, Savage Lane and his latest novel, Too Far. He is one of only a handful of authors who have won the Anthony Award for mystery fiction multiple times. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in Manhattan.

Follow @JasonStarrBooks @noexitpress on Twitter, Visit jasonstarr.com

Buy Too Far

About the book

One night. One date. What have you got to lose?

Jack Harper isn’t a bad man, but he’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a mediocre job just trying to keep sober. The only good thing in his life is his son. When an old college friend introduces him to a new extramarital dating website, he tentatively reaches out to find a distraction from his misery. But when he goes to meet up with his steamy online date, he quickly realises it was a dire choice.

Soon, Jack finds himself desperately trying to prove his innocence for crimes he did not commit, and the life he once had – unhappy as it was – is nothing but a dream. Now, he’s living his worst nightmare. . .

Gripping and packed with shocking twists and turns, this intense psychological thriller plays with a basic anxiety we all harbour: What if one reckless decision could ruin your life forever?

Review

Jack, oh Jack, what can I say about Jack? He likes to blame everything and everyone else for his failures and mistakes. At least he is consistent throughout the story when it comes to this. He never accepts any responsibility for his actions. His wife makes him unhappy, which means it’s okay to look elsewhere. His friend is more successful at life, so it’s fine for Jack to want more from his own life.

Clearly his friend is there holding each finger to the keyboard as Jack sets up a profile on an extramarital aka cheating hook-up site. An invisible force makes him send flirtatious and salacious messages to women other than his wife, women who are also married or in relationships. When he goes as far as arranging to meet up for a dangerous liaison he finds himself in a bit of a pickle.

Jack, who wants a bit of fun on the side, becomes Jack the murder suspect and Jack the alleged killer. Within hours he has a very displeased wife, a detective gagging to pin a death on him and his life starts unravelling before him.

Starr presents a main character with a penchant for self-pity and a knack for finding himself in difficult situations. Not exactly the perfect leading man, but certainly a good pick for this rather unpredictable crime thriller. It’s a read with infuriating scenes and characters, and they inadvertently also act as red herrings in a crime story with an apparently simple solution.

The author finishes the book off with an intriguing about-turn in a direction, which leaves the story open for a possible sequel. Starr writes crime with the improbable in mind, so expect the unexpected.

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

Publisher: No Exit Press

Too Far Blog Tour poster (2)

#BlogTour The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley. A crime based on the way our society reacts to social media and news, and how it changes their values and morality.

About the Author

Rebecca is the author of four novels in the DI Hannah Robbins series, Shallow Waters, Made to be Broken, Fighting Monsters and The Twisted Web as well as a standalone thriller, Dead Blind.

She lives with her family in the UK with their two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep Rebecca company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, Rebecca was medically retired from the police where she finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

Rebecca now runs a consulting service where she supports crime writers in making sure their fiction is authentic so they can get on with telling a great story. You can find details of that HERE.

Follow @RebeccaJBradley on Twitter, On Facebook on Instagram Amazon Author page, Visit rebeccabradleycrime.com

Buy The Twisted Web

About the book

A social media shaming. A killer with a message. A deadly combination.

When the body of a man is left in the city centre set up as a realistic police crime scene, DI Hannah Robbins is forced to enter a world that can break a person, a case and a reputation.

Social media platforms light up and Hannah is pitted against the raging online monster and a killer who has already lost everything.

Can she catch the killer and put him behind bars or will she become part of his sadistic game?

Review

I think the premise of social media shaming is quite an interesting one. The ability to communicate, share info and connect within a moments notice has changed the way our society relays, processes information and how we communicate. It is especially interesting to note the lack of impulse control and morality when it comes to sharing info online.

It certain countries accidents and tragic events are plagued by people hungry to take pics and footage of the darkest moments in humanity, so they can be the first to share gory pics online. They crave the attention, the hit of the like and the rush of the mega-shares. Being a famous online persona is more important than the dignity of the person captured in the shot.

In a sense it is quite ironic that the villain in this piece wants revenge for his life being destroyed by a social media campaign after an incident he is involved in is misconstrued, and in response to that he uses the same hunger for exposure to get revenge on society.

DI Hannah Robbins is pitted against a hungry steadily growing information engine, a machine that feeds itself and has a never-ending supply of supporters. It’s a huge needle in a haystack to find a killer in.

It’s a crime based on the way our society reacts to social media and news, and how it changes their values and view on morality. Bradley makes an intriguing point with this story that eats its own tail.

Buy The Twisted Web at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published in paperback and eBook on 17th September 2018.

Buy The Twisted Web at Amazon com

#BlogTour No Time to Cry by James Oswald

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour No Time to Cry by James Oswald. It’s the first part in a brand new crime series featuring tougher than old boot nails DC Constance Fairchild.

About the Author

James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both shortlisted for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. No Time To Cry is the first book in James’s new Constance Fairchild series.

James farms Highland cows and Romney sheep by day, writes disturbing fiction by night.

Follow @SirBenFro @Wildfirebks, Visit jamesoswald.co.uk

Buy No Time to Cry

About the book

Undercover cops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.

Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.

In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.

There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.

Quickfire Questions with James Oswald (supplied by the publisher) 

Give us three adjectives to best describe your new novel? Thrilling, breathless, short

What are the three most important character traits of your protagonist? Dogged determination, ability to think on her feet, she doesn’t much care what others think of her.

Where is the novel set? London, Northamptonshire, Perthshire and Angus

Who is your biggest influence as a writer? Without a doubt, Terry Pratchett

Have you ever killed anyone off from real life in one of your novels? Frequently. One friend even asked if he could be the villain. He dies naked in his bath.

What was your favourite ‘terrible’ review? The Hangman’s Song, book three in the Inspector McLean series, has a one star Amazon review that ends

“Incidentally, even the title is misleading – there’s no singing in the book.”

What is your favourite writing snack? Chocolate. It’s the perfect brain food.

Which of your characters would you most like to have dinner with? Madame Rose. Or maybe Mrs McCutcheon’s Cat.

Review

DC Constance Fairchild certainly doesn’t have time to cry or take a breather. It is non-stop action from the get go, from the very moment she finds her mentor, superior, colleague and friend murdered. Instead of the police trying to widen the net and look for possible suspects they zoom in on Connie, so she finds herself suspended and without back-up in a very precarious situation.

Simultaneously an old school friend asks her to look for her missing teen sister, which leaves Connie in the strange position of wanting to find the girl, but being unable to use the usual resources to do so. She soon finds herself in the middle of deeply buried family secrets and running for her life at the same time.

I loved her bolshy attitude. She is the rich kid, who dislikes her family and yet gets treated like a posh kid with connections, despite working hard to get where she is in her career. She is also a woman, which means having to deal daily with misogyny, sexism and harassment. Not exactly a raving endorsement for the police force. Her frustration and anger are understandable, so kudos to her for not whacking them all around the head with a baseball bat.

My second favourite element of the story was Pete. The fact the ‘two’ of them engage in dialogue brings an aura of the paranormal to the story, despite Connie telling herself that he isn’t really there. Her conscience speaks to her in the most informative way. Sort of like the Watson to her Sherlock or the alarm signal in her gut.

Let’s not forget the cat, the hardened fuzzy criminal who becomes a steadfast feature in Connie’s life, albeit inadvertently. In fact overall all the characters came together so perfectly it’s almost as if they were meant to be together from the start.

What Oswald does brilliantly and with such panache, is to deliver the tragic and serious with an almost indiscernible layer of wit. It’s always there just hovering in the background waiting to spring forward into the scenes. This is the start of fantastic new series and I can’t wait to read more.

Buy No Time to Cry at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Wildfire (1 Nov. 2018)

#BlogTour Night Shift by Robin Triggs

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Night Shift by Robin Triggs. It’s a well-written and superbly plotted crime thriller based in the Antarctic.

About the Author

Writer of speculative fiction and extremely poor cricketer. #Proofreader and #SfEP member. Debut novel NIGHT SHIFT out Nov 2018. He/Him/The Monstrosity

Follow @RobinTriggs @FlameTreePress on Twitter

About the book

Antarctica. A mining base at the edge of the world.

Anders Nordvelt, last-minute replacement as head of security, has no time to integrate himself into the crew before an act of sabotage threatens the project. He must untangle a complex web of relationships from his position as prime suspect.

Then a body is found in the ice. Systems fail as the long night falls. Now Anders must do more than find a murderer: he must find a way to survive. Will anyone endure the night shift, or will ice and frozen corpses be all that remains?

Review

You are in the middle of nowhere surrounded by ice, there are only thirteen suspects, well twelve because you’re one of the thirteen and you know you didn’t do it. Cut off from civilisation as you know it and with your impending death a more likely scenario than being rescued, how do you figure out who is taking the Night Shift out – one by one?

I have to hand it to Triggs this is an excellent crime story. It combines the helplessness of being in a dangerous living situation, geographically and logistically speaking, with the mistrust and paranoia of people living in isolation the majority of the time.

At times I felt sorry and frustrated for Anders, because the new guy is automatically the most convenient suspect. He arrives and people start dying and things start blowing up. Some people would say that is a coincidence and others just think that is enough proof to point the finger at him.

He tries really hard to catch the culprit, but whoever it is always seems to be ten steps ahead of him during the entire story. This person can hack computer systems, set bombs and come and go without leaving any evidence at all.

The pinhead cameras made me realise what was going on. Perhaps not the exact execution of the how or why, but it did reveal the culprit. It has an underlying aura of suspense, as the events unfold and the suspicion is cast in every direction. It’s speculative fiction with a whodunnit vibe and an aura of creepy suspense.

This a well-written and superbly plotted crime thriller based in the Antarctica. This is the first in a planned trilogy, so hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to read more by Triggs.

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

Publisher: Flame Tree Press; US paperback edition (1 Nov. 2018)

Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.