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

orenda

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

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 Snowman by Jo Nesbo

the snowmanThis is how you do crime Scandinavian style.

Harry Hole is a sober alcoholic, well sort of, sometimes. His inner demons are always there lurking just below the surface, waiting to drag him back down below the murky depths of his disease.

He finds himself drawn into the cat and mouse game of a vicious serial killer called The Snowman, who leaves behind an icy calling card after every kill.

His superiors seem reluctant to accept the existence of a serial killer, which is detrimental to his investigation, and leads to quite a few mistakes. Harry is also saddled with a new colleague and she brings a whole load of baggage with her. Sometimes her actions and statements set his alarm bells ringing. Is she just not up to the job or is something else going on?

I had the Snowman pegged from the beginning. There was just something in the attitude, the demeanour, and in general in the air. A particularly clever talent of the author, to be able to point all the arrows in every direction but at the culprit, and yet at the same time being able to leave a subliminal trail leading straight to the killer.

Nesbo is a master storyteller with an instinct for crime. It will be interesting to see how the story translates onto the big screen, and whether or not they can accurately portray this particular setting and main character without losing the gritty charm.

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

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

Insidious intentI don’t think I have ever read such an unusual request by an author in an actual book. I have read impassioned pleas on social media and in blog posts, but never as an add-on author’s note after the read. I guess it says a lot about how much McDermid wants her readers to enjoy the story completely without any spoilers.

I have to say I can understand why she wants this particular twist and spectacular ending to be experienced during a subjective reading experience.

Carol has ended up on the wrong side of the law. The powers that be made sure that she can still do her job, but that has dire consequences. She is finding it hard to cope with some of her past decisions, which makes her doubt her current actions.

The team are confronted with a meticulous killer. The type, who plans every last detail and pre-empts every possible scenario the police may investigate. Have they finally met their match?

There is a sub-plot in the midst of the serial killer storyline about an issue that happens far too often in this age of social media, so first of all kudos to McDermid for presenting both sides of this particular issue.  I have actually come across a similar scenario at our local high school, just without the blackmail element. Both parents, young adults and teens have difficulty comprehending that sending, receiving, sharing and owning of certain material is also considered a crime when you are a teen. McDermid has created a realistic scenario, which should give some readers some food for thought.

The ending is way out of left field, and it happened so quickly it left me slightly bewildered, and I’m sure I am not the only one who wants to know where the heck do they go from there?

Once again McDermid proves why she is such a revered crime writer.

Buy Insidious Intent at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailers.

Follow @valmcdermid

Blog-Tour: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone

spines

Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for the fabulous House of Spines by Michael J. Malone. Be prepared to be drawn in by this eerie mystery and you may even start to wonder about reality, dreams and hallucinations.What is real and what is taking place in his darkest corners of his mind?

About the Author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Follow @michaelJmalone1 on Twitter or facebook.com/themichaeljmalonepage

Visit mjmink.wordpress.com

Buy The House of Spines

About the book

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Buy The House of Spines

Review

Imagine not only inheriting a whole house and the kind of library every bookworm dreams of, imagine inheriting a lifetime of secrets and lies too.

Ran seems to be pleased, and yet at the same time unnerved by Newton Hall. The question is whether his gut instinct is warning him about some danger in the house or are his mental health issues starting to reappear now that he is off his medication. Instead of enjoying being the man of the manor he seems to be looking over his shoulder and jumping at shadows.

I’m just saying I wouldn’t be displeased if someone decided to give me a huge house with a massive library filled with books. I wouldn’t mind putting up with all the weird spooky stuff, the passive-aggressive relatives and the leftover staff from the Adams Family.

Newton Hall has secrets hidden in the walls and in the mirrors. The kind of secrets that haunt and torture people, especially the guilty. Ran is starting to unravel the mysteries or are they starting to slowly unravel him. He is losing his grip on reality, drifting back and forth from moments of lucidity and nightmare scenarios.

Mental health issues play a pivotal role in the plot, which is done in a subtle and a realistic way. The author manages to portray the illness and the way society, and loved ones react to the illness. The constant suspicion, doubt and lack of trust is a constant factor on both sides.

Malone invites the reader into his little shop of horrors and let’s them wrestle with the question of whether the nightmare is real or just the meanderings of a sick man. House of Spines may have a gothic feel to it, but it also has the interesting aura of a Hammer Horror. Some readers might not remember Hammer, however they were renowned for evoking an eerie and haunting sense of horror. The kind of hair on the back of your neck creepy you never quite forget.

The house will drag you in and may not let you go again, well at least not until she gets what she wants.

Buy House of Spines at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Visit orendabooks.co.uk  Follow @OrendaBooks