#BlogTour A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour for A Secret Worth Killing For by Simon Berthon. It’s a story full of political intrigue and betrayal. (A Secret Worth Killing For was previously released under the title Woman of State)

About the Author

Simon Berthon has been described by The Daily Telegraph as a ‘formidable Second World War Historian’ for his reporting of events. He became the editor of BBC Northern Ireland’s current affairs programme Spotlight, moved to ITV’s investigative series World in Action  where he won a Gold Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, and went on to make the major historical series The Shape of the World which won a Gold Medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.

He became a founding partner of 3BM Television, seeing over a stream of high quality historical and investigative documentaries, many of which are award-winning.

His books, Allies at War: Churchill v Roosevelt v De Gaulle (Thistle, 2011) and Warlords (Thistle, 2006) offer detailed accounts of the mind games played by leaders in the war as well as examining their relationships, deals and decision making, all of which has been expertly researched and recounted intelligently.

His latest book, A Secret Worth Killing For (HQ, 2018), follows protagonist Maire Anne McCarthy, a one-time honey-trap for the IRA.

Follow @HQStories

Buy A Secret Worth Killing For

About the book

Secrets – 1991, Belfast. Maire Anne McCartney is recruited for a one-off IRA mission as a honey trap. She is told there will be no violence. But she has been lied to. To save herself, eighteen-year-old Maire must flee across the border alone, and start a new life.

State – Present day, London. Human rights lawyer Anne-Marie Gallagher is appointed Minister of State for Security and Immigration. At the same time, the police in Belfast receive an anonymous tip-off. The password is verified from the Troubles – and the co-ordinates lead DCI Jon Carne to a field. And a body.

Betrayal – The new Minister receives a message and realises that the new life she has crafted is at risk of being uncovered. And when Carne’s investigation brings Anne- Marie to his attention, she must decide where her allegiances lie…

Review

Anne-Marie is an ambitious politician with quite a few skeletons in her closet. Not exactly unusual for a politician. Her secrets are buried all the way back in Ireland in the midst of the Troubles. The story moves from past to the present and back again, as some of those secrets begin to surface and threaten to destroy the new life and identity she has built for herself.

Although Anne-Marie is portrayed as the unsuspecting and innocent victim of political machinations and spy games, I find that perspective hard to swallow. The whole set-up of the honey-trap suggests at the very least a subconscious awareness of what would happen, especially considering her family and their involvement in the IRA.

The most interesting aspect of the story is the question of guilt. Anne-Marie doesn’t seem to feel as if she is complicit in any way. One could argue that her role in the honey-trap, which leads to the death of a man, is what hardens her and makes her less empathetic or does her family loyalty and politics play a bigger role in her life than she lets on?

To me Anne-Marie reads as a woman fully aware of her actions and the consequences of said actions. In a way her ambitions and her almost instinctive play for power after the successful election is indicative of her true nature and personality.

I also think it is a fairly common assumption that women are less likely to be ruthless leaders, killers and in positions of power, when it comes to crime or terrorism. A fatal mistake I might add. There is this stereotypical misconception that we are less likely to be cruel, brutal and able to make life and death decisions.

Regardless of the truth all of the above still applies to the situation, so I suppose in the end it is a question of whether everything is fair game when we are at war. If that is the case then why do we put war criminals on trial? Are some acts of murder deemed not to be a crime, depending on the circumstances, the conflict and the person who committed them? It’s food for thought at the very least.

Berthon makes an interesting political point and one about human rights with this story, regardless of whether it is intentional or not. It also speaks to the nature of politicians, the omnipotence of secret military and police operations, and human nature in general. The author takes a snapshot of the events during that violent period in our history and manages to place the blame where it belongs, which is firmly on both sides.

It’s a gripping venture into the world of politics, political skirmishes, clandestine operations and history. Ultimately it is also one about human nature, conscience and guilt, and betrayal. I think it is fair to say we all have some skeletons in our closet, some of us have just buried them deeper than other people.

Buy A Secret Worth Killing For at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

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#BlogTour Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

Today it really is my absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron. Dead Girls is the sequel to the successful psychological thriller Normal. When I read Normal in 2015 I knew Cameron was one of the as yet small group of writers willing to extend and break the boundaries of the crime genre.

About the Author

Graeme Cameron is the bestselling author of Normal and its sequel, Dead Girls. He was born, raised and remains in Norfolk, where he juggles writing with a career in the motorsport industry. He is assisted in procrastinating by four children and such high-octane pursuits as photography, boardgaming, toy restoration, crochet, and bingeing on Netflix

Follow @GNCameron @HQStories

Visit graeme-cameron.com

Buy Dead Girls

About the book

I may not remember everything, but I know he won’t hurt anyone else. I won’t let him. 

It’s been two months since a serial killer brutally attacked police detective Alisha Green and left her for dead. Two months since she could effortlessly recall simple things, since her mind felt remotely sound. The nameless killer thinks he knows her, thinks she’s just another dead girl among many. Ali Green plans to show him he’s dead wrong about that.

Ali has two enemies now: the dangerous man she’s hunting and her own failing memory. As explosive new evidence comes to light and conflicting accounts from a witness and a surviving victim threaten both her investigation and her credibility, she begins to question what is and isn’t real. And now Ali has no choice but to remember the past…before it buries her.

A hypnotically gripping thriller that proves internationally bestselling author Graeme Cameron is one of the most unique voices in contemporary fiction today.

Review

This is the sequel to Normal (published 2015). It can be read as a standalone novel, because Cameron fills in enough of the blanks to be able to do that without it taking over this story or being repetitive. It starts off where the previous book ended, which was in the middle of an epic showdown between the discovery of an alleged serial killer, one of his victims and the police.

I absolutely recommend reading the first in this series, but not necessarily because it is the book that explains the events which continue to unfold in this book. I recommend reading it, because it is an exceptional and innovative read that stands out from the crowd. The whole reading experience of Normal takes place through the eyes, ears and narrative of the killer, the killer without a name or identity.

I was surprised the author decided to take this spectacular premise a step further, and yet also intrigued by the idea of how it could be accomplished. Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. Once again Cameron delivers a sublime plot and intricately planned scenarios, dialogues and characters. At some points it is so convincing I’m not even sure he is absolutely sure or aware of the truth, and he is the one writing the story.

Although Ali is still suffering from the physical limitations caused by the attack at the end of the first book, unfortunately both her long and short term memory are letting her down, she is absolutely certain her theory is correct. No matter what the evidence suggests, she believes Erica is and was a victim, and that somewhere out there That Man is controlling the narrative of the investigation.

It makes her look incompetent and as if she is unable to cope. She knows her gut instinct is the best compass in a situation where her injuries have left her adrift at sea. Is it all in her mind, is she seeing conspiracy theories where there are none? Is Ali just in denial about the fact that a young girl has been traumatised to the extent that she is emulating the man who kept her in a cage?

At the moment Cameron doesn’t get the attention he deserves as a crime fiction writer. He has a natural instinct for creating suspense and tension. At times he makes you want look over your shoulder, just to make sure there isn’t anyone lurking in the shadows. In fact I might just stop using my rear view mirror, just saying.

It is a complex, twisted and fast-paced story. It will keep you on your toes and perhaps make you doubt what you know to be true. One of the most important characters controls everything like a Master of puppets without ever being present at all. I just love the whole premise of this series. it’s a stroke of genius.

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

Publisher Harper Collins UK, Pub. date 31 May 2018

Read my review of Normal by Graeme Cameron

#BlogTour The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings

It’s an absolute delight to be taking part in the BlogTour for The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings. When grief turns into obsession, two families are in danger of being torn apart and destroyed. The premise seems so innocent you just might not see the wave of emotional destruction coming.

About the Author

Amanda Jennings lives in Oxfordshire with her husband, three daughters, and a menagerie of animals. She studied History of Art at Cambridge and before writing her first book, was a researcher at the BBC.

With a deep fascination on the far-reaching effects of trauma, her books focus on the different ways people find to cope with loss, as well as the moral struggles her protagonists face. Her favourite place to be is up a mountain or beside the Cornish sea.

Follow @MandaJJennings  @HQStories

Visit amandajennings.co.uk

Buy The Cliff House

About the book

From the bestselling author of In Her Wake, Amanda Jennings, comes a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline.

Cornwall, summer of 1986.

The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house

overlooking the sea. If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home. If only her life was as perfect as theirs. If only Edie Davenport would be her friend. If only she lived at The Cliff House…

Review

The Cliff House is so many things, it isn’t just a psychological thriller, it is a coming-of-age meets a family coping with grief and the hard realities of living below the breadline story. When you put all those components together and add a layer or difference of socioeconomic status between two friends, that’s when you can see the cracks start to appear in the seemingly innocent story of a young lonely girl.

A girl almost consumed with grief after the death of her father, despite the fact it has already been many years since his death. Tamsyn focuses her obsession on any place she visited with her father and even on any object he may have touched at one point. When anyone invades those memories she becomes irrational and antagonistic.

One of the places she obsesses about is a house her father told her would one day be theirs. The Cliff House and its inhabitants are the objects of her daily routine. She watches, she imagines and she becomes part of the family, if only in her head.

One day her routine is disrupted and her fantasy threatened when the daughter of the house discovers Tamsyn trespassing. The ensuing relationship or what she perceives to be a relationship is the beginning of a downward spiral for everyone in both families. Her reaction when someone encroaches upon her territory is indicative of a dark side of her personality.

Jennings plays around with the alleged innocence of youth, the divide between rich and poor, and the invisibility each girl suffers from in their own family settings. Every family has problems regardless of their economic status.

Jennings underplays the importance of the obsession, so it becomes a subtle undertone in the background. It buzzes around like a persistent reminder, but not enough to think it might be an actual threat. It’s a sublime well-plotted story.

Buy The Cliff House by Amanda Jennings at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy Hardback  Paperback release 6th September 2018 Publisher Harper Collins UK

#BlogTour Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon

Let’s kick off the BlogTour for Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon. It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tip of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

About  the Author

Jonathan Lyon was born in 1991 in London. He studied at Oxford University, graduating in 2013 with the Gibbs Prize. He moved to Berlin in the same year. He has had a chronic illness for over a decade. He is a self-made demon. His debut novel, Carnivore, was published by HQ (HarperCollins) in August 2017.

Follow @jonathan_lyon @HQStories on Twitter & jonathan_lyon on Instagram

Buy Carnivore


About the book

Meet Leander: lover, fighter, liar.

He learnt a long time ago that nothing is as intoxicating as blood. But whether it’s his or someone else’s doesn’t matter any more. There’s a mysterious pain in every muscle of his body – and it’s got so bad that he’ll do anything to escape it.

Up to now, it’s been his secret. But it’s hard to remain invisible when you leave a trail of destruction everywhere you go. So, when he comes to the attention of one of London’s most infamous criminals, Leander decides to put his appetite for violence to the ultimate test.

Let the villain win.

Extract of Carnivore

‘What’s your fantasy?’

All sex and storytelling starts with this, of course. Sometimes the question’s self-directed, sometimes it’s only implied. But here, obviously, I was supposed to reply ‘being dominated,’ so that’s what I said.

I was actually fantasising about eating a satsuma, slowly, slice by slice, on the edge of a rooftop, or perhaps on a hilltop, watching a building below me burn in a fire I’d started. But this would be too long to say aloud, and probably wouldn’t arouse a man in the prime of his mid-life crisis as easily as a boy begging for a beating.

So now that my victim thought that I was his victim, he could breathe more heavily, and began struggling to unbutton his shirt.‘No, no you should be doing this,’ he said, fluttering his fingers. ‘I mean, undress me, boy!’

Unsuited to the dominant role, he recoiled at his own orders. Clearly, he was a submissive – if I’d had the energy, I could’ve had him on all fours in a few minutes. But energy is not one of my vices. ‘Of course, sir,’ I said instead, my mouth twitching into a smile I had to hide by lowering my head.

Beneath his shirt was a paunch of greying hairs. As I removed the rest of his clothes, he hovered awkwardly between sitting and standing, his hands just above my back, not yet confident enough to touch me.

‘Now, now… you!’ I took off my tracksuit – the uniform he’d requested – delivered my finest doe eyed simper, and knelt down. But he rejected this arrangement and instead dragged me upwards onto the bed. ‘No time for that… boy. Let’s get to the point.’ He forced my face into the pillow and I began to moan in a way that would make him hard. Perhaps he hoped I’d feel a kind of shame in this, but ‘this’ meant nothing.

‘This’ was merely boring.

Review

Leander is like a ticking time bomb with a propensity for violence and a tendency to bury any emotional response, which may appear to the mere human eye to be a humane reaction or at least one deemed suitable by society. He hides behind the games. Fighting pain with more pain, regardless of whether it is inflicted upon others or done unto him.

To be completely frank I think Lyon has carved out a large piece of his soul and woven it straight into this story.

Leander may describe himself as a psychopath, but perhaps his coping mechanisms are just a little more extreme than those of other people. His physical pain has become the demon wailing inside him and battling to take over. To combat the demon he must distract it by any means necessary. Which means hurting those who purport to love him, destroy and play mind games with the shallow ones merely craving his physical appearance.

It’s a riveting combination of literary fiction meets noir, which brutally kicks the characters aside on occasion to allow for some brash contemporary reality. It is marmite toast served with a chilled glass of champagne. It is the kind of read that ends up on the tips of wagging tongues and achieving cult status.

Jonathan Lyon devours himself, his desires, his fears and his pain whole in this ode to the black hole and Shakespearean play of millennialism. Carnivore is perfused with the wealth of an intellectual mind in constant battle with itself, refusing to be taken prisoner by the borders and boundaries of society or literature.

Are you a carnivore, am I? Are we all destined to be devoured by the hidden insanity and self-destructive tendencies of others or ourselves, whilst sailing along in the interim in our self-inflicted state of stasis, coping and yet barely living.

Yes, it is that kind of read.

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

Out in Paperback 5th April 2018

If You Go Down to the Woods by Seth C. Adams

woodsThe Outsiders’ Club, that is exactly what Joey, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara are, outsiders in their own way. Joey is the new kid on the block, Bobby is the fat kid who gets beaten on a daily basis, Jim is the black kid in the midst of a predominantly racist town and Tara just finds it difficult to belong.

A band of misfits, who find themselves accidentally drawn into a violent confrontation with The Collector. A killer with no remorse, a killer who enjoys the pain and the kill. The fact the four of them are teenagers and innocent of any wrongdoing, well perhaps they are a wee bit guilty of a few things, is of no interest to him at all.

The way Joey reacts to any threat or bully reminds me of what I have instilled in my own children. You stand up for those being bullied, show no fear and give as good as you get. This is how his relationship with Bobby starts. I enjoyed the way the author presents the inner dilemma Joey has with Bobby. His gut says protect him, his heart feels sympathy for his situation and yet his mind questions why Bobby doesn’t stand up for himself.

It describes a typical, and yet very alarming, common scenario in a small town run by a hick sheriff and his violent son. Violence, bullying and racism are a daily occurrence, child abuse and neglect are commonplace, and the authorities are part of the problem of course.

It is a refreshing unexpected slap in the face kind of read. I have to hand it to Adams, he lulls the reader in with his nostalgic Stand by Me coming-of-age intro, which then melds into a combination of Pulp Fiction meets Deliverance with a pinch of Noir plot, which all takes place in the woods of a rural town. It is an unpredictable, brutal and take no prisoners kind of read. There is one thing for certain in If You go Down To the Woods, there aren’t any teddy bears with picnics waiting for them or for you.

Pre-order/Buy If You Go Down to the Woods at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Kindle Pub. Date  6 April 2018

Paperback Pub. Date 14 June 2018

Follow @SethCAdams @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUk

#BlogTour The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins


It’s my turn on the BlogTour for The Devils Dice by Roz Watkins. The author combines her deathly scenarios with a controversial topic to create debate and a compelling read.

About the Author

Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series, which is set in the Peak District where she lives with her partner and a menagerie of demanding animals. Her first book, THE DEVIL’S DICE, will be published by HQ (HarperCollins) in March 2018. It was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and has been optioned by ITV Studios.

Roz originally studied engineering and natural sciences at Cambridge, before studying patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first book. In her spare time, Roz clicker-trains her dog and horse, and likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations.

Follow @RozWatkins @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK

Visit rozwatkins.co.uk

Buy The Devil’s Dice

About the book

Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently returned to her Peak District roots, when a man’s body is found near The Devil’s Dice – a vast network of caves and well-known local suicide spot. The man’s initials and a figure of the Grim Reaper are carved into the cave wall behind his corpse, but bizarrely, the carvings have existed for over one hundred years.

The locals talk about a mysterious family curse that started in the times of the witch trials, and Meg finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. Even her own mother may be implicated.

For Meg, the case is a chance to prove herself in a police force dominated by men, one of whom knows a lot more about her past than she’d like, and is convinced she’s not fit for the role. In a race against time, Meg finds her own life at risk as she fights to stop the murderer from killing again.

Guest Post by Roz Watkins

My inspiration behind DI Meg Dalton

People talk about strong female characters, but I just wanted my main character, Meg, to be like my female friends – principled and tough when challenged, but likely to choose a nice cuppa and a digestive biscuit over a fight with a deranged killer if given the choice. Of course, Meg isn’t always given the choice.

I knew that as a woman in a male-dominated profession, Meg would need to be pretty tough, but on the inside she’s suffering from imposter syndrome, like a lot of women. Although she sometimes lacks confidence, I tried to inject her with a wry sense of humour that will hopefully appeal to both sexes. The friends I’ve made in the Derbyshire police force often deal with grim and horrific scenes, and when you have to shake maggots out of your turn-ups on a regular basis, I guess you either see the funny side or fall apart.

Meg is a bit of a crusader at heart, and is often forced by the plot to champion causes that are close to me. My partner once described her as a younger, more kick-ass version of me with DM boots and a badge. I’m not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult! She’s actually not naturally very kick-ass – and she’s a bit fat and has a limp – but she has a habit of getting into situations where she has no choice. (Her writer is a sadist.)

I was encouraged not to give Meg dependents, because readers get horribly stressed wondering who is looking after the dog or the children when the hero’s off slaying villains. But Meg loves animals so I gave her a relatively independent, overweight cat called Hamlet, who can now never die. Other authors have warned me never to kill a cat, and I don’t think I could bear to do it anyway, although I have no trouble killing off people. (Most of my victims to far seem to be middle-aged men. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I get a bit fed up of all the beautiful, dead young women that crop up in some crime fiction.)

One of my big annoyances with some TV police dramas is the necessity for their female characters to chase villains around in the latest pair of 3 inch Jimmy Choos, so I knew I didn’t want to make Meg into some super-glamorous detective. Hopefully she is a more realistic interpretation of a female police officer. I did want her to be bright, and was delighted when one reviewer described her as a “Geek Warrior Queen”. I couldn’t have wished for a better description.

Review

I was amused by the juxtaposition of a crime committed in a cave in the middle of the Peak District in a solitary environment, and the weapon of choice being death by cake. Oh the sweet irony. If you’re going to die then cake is the way to go.

Watkins tackles a controversial issue in The Devil’s Dice, and when I say controversial it’s because it is generating a lot of discussion, even though it should probably go without saying. In the UK there is a campaign called Dignity in Dying, and they and their supporters, have been advocating for a change in the law.

People and/or patients who are terminally ill or suffering from an incurable degenerative disease should be allowed to choose to end their pain and suffering with the help of medical institutions and doctors. Euthanasia, assisted suicide or physician assisted suicide. Instead they are forced to go overseas to countries where it has been made legal, and die alone in strange surroundings without the comfort of home or family members.

On top of the costs of a foreign assisted suicide any person travelling with the patient has to adhere to certain rules and regulations, so they are not charged with assisted manslaughter when they return to their home country. It is tragic, especially when you take into consideration how many countries have already worked assisted dying into their legal system.

DI Meg Dalton  is forced to consider this very question in her own family. Her mother is caring for her grandmother, and both of them struggle with the care and the fact her grandmother would rather die than be kept in a state of constant misery and pain.

Watkins explores both sides of this contentious issue, which includes the religious argument of it being against God’s will. Suicide is a sin. It weakens society’s view on the sanctity of life, aids the slippery slope towards involuntary euthanasia and getting rid of undesirables or the fact  it might not be in the patient’s best interests. Valid points of view, but none of them take the lucid arguments of people into consideration, who are quite capable of making decisions for themselves.

Watkins presents a main character who is vulnerable, actually pretty darn accident prone and always in the middle of some kind of violent altercation. She is driven by anxiety and fears, and has to deal with sexism and harassment at work on a daily basis. Overall more of an anti-heroine, which makes her more meaty.

It will be interesting to see where the author takes Meg, given a little more direction. Eventually those anxieties and her past will have to be dealt with. The lone wolf with flaws combined with unusual scenarios and deaths, what’s not to like?

Buy The Devil’s Dice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

 

If you haven’t heard any whispers about this book or come across it somewhere then it is my pleasure to introduce you to It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell. I am also thrilled to host a brilliant Q&A with Michele Campbell today. Enjoy!

About the Author

Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

Follow @MCampbellBooks @HQStories Visit michelecampbellbooks.com

Buy It’s Always the Husband

About the book

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump. How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Q&A

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know). I’ll answer with the book I’m currently reading, because it’s SO good that I can’t think of anything else at the moment.  The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, which is the story of two sisters in occupied France, and so vivid that I feel I’m living it. I am toying with the idea of writing historical fiction. It’s inspiring to see an author make the past come alive so completely.

Books or authors who have inspired you to put pen to paper? The best way to learn to write is to read, so why not read the greats? I have always drawn inspiration from the classic authors I studied in high school and college, authors like Edith Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Henry James. Not because they wrote great “literature”, but because their stories were compelling and accessible and always featured the best, most nuanced characters.  Their work thrills, inspires, elevates, educates — but also can’t be put down. In more recent times, you see this in the writing of authors like Margaret Atwood, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and many more.  I’m not by any means trying to compare my writing to theirs, but you asked who inspired me, so….

The last book you read which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? Lol, wallet-wise, it’s definitely the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  I love a rollicking time-travel romance — who doesn’t?  I read all the books, then when I heard the tv series was coming I had to subscribe to the cable network that was showing it just to watch that one show.  A pretty penny, but worth it.

Are you more of a movie night or series-binger kind of person?  A series-binger, utterly.  When there’s a great film out there I will make an effort to get out and see it, but in recent times I feel that the most interesting, suspenseful, character-driven stories, and the ones that most speak to me as a female reader, are to be found on television.  Film has become very focused on super-heroes, hardware and special effects. In the past year I have devoured quite a few wonderful series from tv, including Big Little Lies, The Crown, Stranger Things, Outlander (a favorite book series of mine as well), Game of Thrones and others.

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet ?Henry the VIII or any of his wives, so I can pick up plot tips for a sequel to It’s Always the Husband. 😉

You explore the depth of friendship and loyalty in your story. A topic, which I think will resonate with many readers.

In relation to that and the events in the book I think the most obvious question is whether Kate, Aubrey and Jenny really are friends or are they just acquaintances of convenience? Both.  They came together at a very intense and vulnerable moment in their lives, when they’d just started at university.  Each girl has her own issues and problems that come to the forefront in the first year.  Because of this, they bonded in a way they never would at any other time.  That friendship, and co-dependency (your term, but a very accurate one), was real.  They turned to each other, and there were moments when they genuinely loved one another.  But the glue that comes from shared values and experiences was lacking.  They were always susceptible to turn on one another in a pinch, and, well, you see the results.

I am really interested in the inspiration for this story. Is it based on personal experiences, life in general or just a fictional war of friendships and betrayal? I took inspiration from my own college days, and also from the fact that I was living in a college town at the time I began writing the book.  I knew I wanted to write about female friendship gone very, very wrong.  I needed a setting that would explain why three extremely different women, who have little in common and are clearly bad influences on one another, might form an intense friendship.  I found the answer in memories of my own freshman year of college.  You leave home for the first time and are suddenly surrounded by kids your own age, who may be smarter, prettier, richer, and, yes, nastier than you. That moment is incredibly intense, fraught with drama and peril as well as learning and growth.  I think it makes for a very compelling read!

Would you agree that there is an element of co-dependency between Aubrey and Kate? Absolutely, and with Jenny, too.  Aubrey and Kate are both damaged by their childhoods.  Kate has lost her mother at an early age, and had difficult relationships with her father and — as she tells it — a succession of wicked step-mothers.  She has the means to indulge her sorrows in bad behavior without ever paying the price.  But she needs acolytes, as well as loyal retainers to clean up after her.  Aubrey adores and worships her, and Jenny keeps order.  Kate needs them, but they both need something from her.  Maybe it’s access to her glittering social world, or the stamp of approval that comes from her great name.  Aubrey is extremely intelligent but simply not equipped emotionally to navigate the world of Carlisle College.  She grabs onto Kate like a life preserver, much to her disadvantage.  And over and over again, Jenny cleans up the mess.  Why? Jenny is worth paying attention to.  She’s not the splashiest of the three main characters, but she’s perhaps the cleverest, and always has an ulterior motive.

Is it always the husband, unless it’s the best friend. The two people, aside from family, who tend to be closest to a person. Was exploring the aspect of betrayal being so close to loyalty and love being so close to hatred, intentional on your part?Yes, completely intentional.  Suspense and psychological thrillers by nature explore the dark impulses that exist in the hearts of normal people. Those impulses are most likely to be awakened when our most intimate relationships go wrong.  I’m much more interested in that dynamic than I am in the motives of psychopaths or serial killers.  There are two unnatural deaths in this book, either or both of which could be called a murder.  Both deaths are the result of slow-burn emotions by people who would never think of themselves as criminals.  My goal is to get the reader sufficiently inside the heads of these “killers” to understand and even empathize with their actions.  Maybe we’re all capable of murder, given the right circumstances.  That’s what scares me.

Throughout the book Kate makes decisions which make it appear as if her intent is to harm or upset the apple cart. Are these the actions of a traumatised young girl/woman or is she a narcissist? Great question.  To me, the answer is, both.  But the reason I’ve given each of the three main characters her own chapters is to allow the reader to get inside her head. Each reader can then answer this question for herself.

Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odd ones. Thank you for the fantastic questions.  They are all so interesting, and really made me think.  A very enjoyable interview.

Review

Loyalty and friendship play a major role in this story, especially the friendships between women. The friendship between Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny is forged during their college years. The three of them are from different walks of life and are thrown together when they become roommates, which is the beginning of this tale of betrayal and secrets.

Kate returns to the roost, and her friends, after many years of hiding from the truth. Well that isn’t really true, Kate is only interested in the here and now, and herself. So nothing has really changed except maybe that her friends are now no longer as willing to put up with her narcissistic ways. Friends can become enemies in a heartbeat.

Campbell examines the boundaries of the friendship between the women. How would you define loyalty between your best friend and yourself? Is there really any such thing as complete and utter loyalty or true friendship? Personally I think you have to go through your absolute worst times to find out just how tight your friendships are.  Count the people still stood there after the walls have come tumbling down around you, and the majority of your so-called friends have suddenly forgotten you exist, there is no better eye-opener.

The other element of the story the author explores is whether or not we are all killers at heart. In some of us the urge just sleeps more deeply than in others. Also whether the still developing brain of a young person makes them as culpable as an adult committing the same crime. A rash decision, a gut reaction with fatal consequences. It could happen to anyone, unless of course it isn’t an accident at all.

Kudos to Campbell for the ending, it’s sneaky and done in an almost nonchalant way. You sort of think it’s that person, then get diverted by a few red herrings, and end up being surprised.

It’s Always the Husband is an in depth look at our closest relationships and if they can weather the darkest of secrets. It also examines the thin line between love and hate in friendships. Is there really any such thing as loyalty when your own survival is at stake?

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