GIVEAWAY – Please LIKE and COMMENT for a chance to WIN a digital copy of #TheWaitingRooms by @evecsmith @OrendaBooks

THE WAITING ROOMS, published by the brilliant Orenda Books, and thanks to Anne Cater for the tour invite!

GIVEAWAY for a digital copy of ‘The Waiting Rooms’ – I will pick a winner at RANDOM on Monday, all you need to is LIKE and COMMENT, if you’d like to FOLLOW me that would be AMAZING, but not a requirement of the GIVEAWAY. Do keep reading for info about the book, and the other brilliant bloggers reviewing this new novel.

The Blurb

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

The Author

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues. Set 20 years after an antibiotic crisis, her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places.

BLOG TOUR

#blogtour #ThirtyOneBones by @GoJaBrown @PolygonBooks @RandomTTours

It’s lovely to be able to share an extract from ‘Thirty One Bones’ today as part of the Random Things Blog Tour for Morgan Cry’s new novel. With thanks, as always, to Anne for the invite. Please keep scrolling…

The Blurb…

When Daniella Coulstoun’s estranged mother Effie dies in Spain under suspicious circumstances, she feels it’s her duty to fly out for the funeral.

On arrival, Daniella is confronted by a dangerous group of expat misfits who claim that Effie stole huge sums of cash from them in a multi-million property scam. They want the money back and Daniella is on the hook for it.

When a suspicious Spanish detective begins to probe Effie’s death and a London gangster hears about the missing money, Daniella faces threats on every front. With no idea where the cash is and facing a seemingly impossible deadline, she quickly finds herself out of her depth and fighting for survival in a strange and terrifying world.

Extract – Thirty-One Bones

At right angles to the bar sits a pool table that can be wheeled away to provide room to play darts on an ageing dartboard. In older days it also allowed a band or a DJ to set up. Not any more. The rest of the pub’s furniture is a job lot of chairs and tables that Effie picked up when the Carnes Frías restaurant in the old town had gone tits up. It was the first replacement furni- ture the bar had seen in twenty years. The regulars had been stunned into silence. Not so much by the surprise of the change. More by the lurid pink colour that both the tables and chairs were painted in. The colour scheme choice of the owner of Carnes Frías going some way to shortening the restaurant’s lifespan. Effie reckoned the colour added some brightness to her place. The regulars thought it looked like shit, but still came in for drink.

Beneath her feet the wooden floor, a decade out from its last polish, is seven parts wood and three parts alcohol. The air conditioning is the same ratio on the working to not working axis.

To her right she looks on a row of booths, the last one occu- pied by the young investor. She returns to the booth, dropping the beer glass on the table before heaving her bulk into the chair opposite Paul. She eyes him up. If he chooses to reject her offer to invest he will pay for the two beers and the packet of cheese and onion crisps she’s already given him. But she doesn’t expect him to have to pay.

‘How was the apartment?’ Effie asks.
‘Stunning,’ Paul replies.
‘The new ones will be even better.’
Paul sweeps at the long hair cascading over his face. Effie thinks

the shoulder-length mane, scruffy goatee and flea-bitten Afghan coat a crock of crap. It marks Paul out as a prick. But a prick with twenty grand in his account. Twenty grand earmarked for Effie’s bank.

‘When do you break ground?’ Paul says.
Effie smiles.
The dick is trying to use building-developer terminology. Good luck with that. I’m right in the mood for this.

‘We need full planning first,’ she says, winding up the well- practised pitch. ‘But that’s not proving to be straightforward.’

‘Oh?’

‘Nothing to worry about,’ she replies. ‘It’s just, since the Gürtel scandal, in Spain the local authorities are a lot warier over approving developments.’

‘I read something about that,’ Paul says. ‘A massive issue here. Bribery, wasn’t it?’

‘And the rest,’ says Effie. ‘And it’ll rumble on for years. It’s changed the whole political landscape in Spain. It’s why we have to show the Ayuntamiento that half of our investors are not connected to us.’

As if.

‘They want to ensure we don’t have any controlling interest. Especially when we are talking a couple of million per property. It’s a pity because we’d love to put all the cash in ourselves. It’s such a sweet deal – but rules are rules.’

Paul rubs his nose, ‘I have to say I couldn’t find anything about any fifty per cent rule.’

That’s because it doesn’t exist, dickwad. Let’s get this done soon. I’m up for another pill.

‘It’s new,’ Effie says. ‘George Laidlaw can explain it. He’s the legal beagle on this. But it’s good news from your end. You only have to front up twenty k as a deposit. The rest would normally be payable when we complete – but, by then, we’ll have sold out, be a lot richer and you won’t have had to fork out the balance. Twenty k for a million plus – how can that not be the deal of the century? This is better than a lottery win for you.’

Like hell it is.

Paul scrubs at his forehead. ‘Why so little cash up front? Seems too good to be true.’

Effie smiles, a crooked beast at best. ‘The new rule requires us to deposit a hundredth of the estimated final sale price with the Ayuntamiento on application. We’re not allowed to take any more than twenty thousand per investor until planning is approved, at which time, before any more money is needed, we will sell it on to a bigger developer.’

Take it easy, Effie, take it easy. Now for the tricky part.

The Author

Morgan Cry

Gordon has seven crime and thriller books published to date, along with a number of short stories. His latest novel, Highest Lives, published by Strident Publishing, is the fourth in the Craig McIntyre series.

Under a new name, Morgan Cry, Polygon will be publishing Gordon’s new crime thriller, set in Spain. Called ‘Thirty-One Bones’ it will be available in July 2020.

Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival (see http://www.bloodyscotland.com), is a DJ on local radio (www.pulseonair.co.uk) and runs a strategic planning consultancy. He lives in Scotland and is married with two children.

In a former life Gordon delivered pizzas in Toronto, sold non-alcoholic beer in the Middle East, launched a creativity training business, floated a high tech company on the London Stock Exchange, compered the main stage at a two-day music festival and was once booed by 49,000 people while on the pitch at a major football Cup Final.

Blog Tour Dates:

#BlogTour #TheCurator @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault @BethWright26

With thanks to Beth for the tour invite. This is the third book in the Washington Poe crime thriller series, and to find out more do keep reading…

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

The Blurb

A serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria.
A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetised, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier? And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.
And nothing will ever be the same again . . .

My Thoughts

Don’t you just love that moment when a new book arrives from one of your favourite series; it’s like meeting up with old, and missed, friends. M. W. Craven’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series is one of those books, and ‘The Curator’ is the latest adventure into the crime thriller world, and what a crime fighting team! The SCAS (Serious Crime Analysis Section) are back and headed by D.I Stephanie Flynn, who is now heavily pregnant. Poe and Bradshaw are soon working with her again on an unusual and macabre case. All the books work easily as stand-alone, so don’t hesitate to pick up this book if you’re new to the series.

‘The Curator’ – I love the title – is a tightly plotted and tense puzzle, where a series of crimes is being orchestrated from the shadows. It’s up to Poe and Bradshaw to unravel the threads of some rather gruesome crimes and capture the villain. For me, the highlight of these books are the characters and their interplay, there are lovely personal relationships continuing to develop, and an intense dedication to hunting down the culprits. I loved the plot in this book; the idea of a ‘Curator’ controlling the ‘players’ was fun to watch develop.

A twisty, puzzling and satisfying read, placing Craven’s cerebral dexterity firmly in centre stage position. Disturbingly dark, sharply plotted with a dash of panache!

A highly recommended read: I can’t wait to see what Craven comes up with next!

#blogtour #TheGlassHouse @EvePollyChase @MichaelJBooks @GabyYoung

I am thrilled to join the blog tour for Eve Chase’s novel, ‘The Glass House’, with huge thanks to Gaby for the invite. This is my first book by Eve Chase, and if her others are anything like this, then I’ve been seriously missing out. See below for the book blurb and more bookish chat about ‘The Glass House’, and… wow what a stunning cover design – who could leave this behind in a book shop!

The truth will shatter everything…

A remote manor house.

An idyllic wood

An abandoned baby.

A shocking discovery deep in the forest.

One summer will change a family’s life for ever.

Step through the door of Foxcote Manor, and discover its darkest secrets.

My thoughts

I read this book on a beautiful summer’s day in my garden: the perfect setting and time to read this absolutely absorbing story of events at Foxcote Manor one summer, and, for me, at the heart of the story is a woman known by those close to her as ‘Big Rita’.

There are three central voices in this book and an alternating time frame of 1971 and the present day. It’s a female story told via the voices of Rita, Sylvie and Hera. I am a sucker for a remote household setting; here we have the rather neglected and solitary Foxcote Manor, a ‘wreaked beauty’ of a house, with ‘mullioned windows’ that ‘blink drunkenly’ and set within a sprawling natural forest. The house is cocooned by the woodlands and provides an isolated setting for the central story to play-out.

This is a story of secrets, and I loved the slow unfolding of the mystery. What I loved the most is the character of Big Rita (named because of her height) and her self-sacrifice and sense of duty for the family she works for. Rita is hired by the Harrington family to look after their children, five year old Teddy, twelve year old Hera and the new baby on its way. I loved Rita’s character, her determination, compassion and dedication to the family she works for and her resilience in protecting and nurturing them. Set alongside this early part of Rita’s story is the present day narrative of Sylvie, a woman newly divorced and struggling with her teenage daughter to begin again, particularly after receiving traumatic news.

Chase’s writing is truly lovely, she has a beautiful way with words that manoeuvres the reader into the minds of her characters and leaves little snippets of the mystery to be pieced together. I became emotionally entangled in this story of secrets, desires, hopes and needs. Yes there is a murder, and you’ll soon work out who it’s the most likely to be, however there is a rather large stone to turn to find the whole truth.

A beautifully entwined mystery read with heart. Highly recommended read.

#BlogTour THE MURDER GAME by @RachelAbbott #RandomThingsTour #BookReview with thanks to @Wildfirebks @headlinepg

A thank you to Anne Cater and Wildfire Books for the invite to the blog tour for #TheMurderGame by Rachel Abbott. Welcome to some bookish chat…

A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’ wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea.
But no one was married that day.
Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin?
He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin.
What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?

My thoughts

I had such a great time reading this book! I hadn’t realised it was the second in the Stephanie King series, but it didn’t matter one bit. Abbott’s narrative places the central characters at the heart of the story, so King arrives later, when the police become involved, to lead the investigative aspect of this psychological thriller.

This is one of those books that has shades of an Agatha Christie novel. The careful line up of characters, from the charming to the acerbic, the desperate to the fragile. I loved the backdrop of lazy summer living at Polskirren, a beautiful manor house next to the Cornish coastline; a house where a group of friends meet, and where tragic events quickly unfold. It’s a joy to be introduced to all the players and the set-up is a delicious mash of furtive glances, eye gestures, huddled conversation and ambiguous comments.

The narrative is split between several of the female voices, so the perspectives change, which is a great way the book plays with the reader. I absolutely loved trying to work out the puzzle Abbott provides in this thriller story: the drip feeding of information; the slow unfurling of the central characters; the introduction of the ‘game’ in the prologue, and the female voices all slowly building the jigsaw pieces from the past. It is genuinely hard to put this book down!

This is a highly recommended psychological thriller read where an old mystery has woken up, as past friends meet on the cusp of a new wedding. Memories are stirred and questions answered, questions that some people desperately want to remain buried. With themes of trauma, forgiveness, friendships, secrets and love, this is an immersive read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Check out the other fabulous bloggers on this tour:

The author

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks.
Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 3 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages.
Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.

#BlogTour for CONJURE WOMEN by Afia Atakora @4thEstateBooks

I was delighted to be asked to join this blog tour for ‘Conjure Women’ by 4th Estate books. Welcome to more bookish chat…

Blurb

The pale-skinned, black-eyed baby is a bad omen. That’s one thing the people on the old plantation are sure of. The other is that Miss Rue midwife, healer, crafter of curses – will know what to do.
But for once Rue doesn’t know. Times have changed since her mother Miss May Belle held the power to influence the life and death of her fellow slaves. Freedom has come. The master’s Big House lies in ruins. But this new world brings new dangers, and Rue’s old magic may be no match for them.
When sickness sweeps across her tight-knit community, Rue finds herself the focus of suspicion. What secrets does she keep amidst the charred remains of the Big House? Which spells has she conjured to threaten their children? And why is she so wary of the charismatic preacher man who promises to save them all?
Rue understands fear. It has shaped her life and her mother’s before her. And now she knows she must face her fears – and her ghosts – to find a new way forward for herself and her people.

Conjure Women

My thoughts

This is a debut novel from the pen of Afia Atakora and it’s a brilliant but challenging read set around the American Civil War. The focus of the story is through three generations of women on a plantation: Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue and the daughter of their plantation owner/master, Varina.


Atakora is a beautiful writer, her skill with prose weaves the reader into the lives of these women: it’s an immersive journey back into the past. It is about the women, their roles based on their gender and skin colour. It’s about loss, hope, friendship, society, cruelty, violence, lust and magic.
This is a challenging book to read, it’s emotional and uncomfortable at times but Atakora’s writing craft balances this well. Slavery and oppression are always difficult to digest, but it’s such an important read, speaking out beautifully about womanhood, motherhood and the bonds created between people.

A thought-provoking, beautifully crafted novel of the female and enslavement.

The Author

Afia Atakora was born in the United Kingdom and raised in New Jersey, where she now lives. She graduated from New York University and has an MFA from Columbia University, where she was the recipient of the De Alba Fellowship. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers

I AM DUST by @LouiseWriter published by @OrendaBooks #BlogTour

I’m super pleased to be on the blog tour for Louise Beech’s ‘I Am Dust’ – with thanks to Karen Sullivan/Orenda Books and Anne Cater for the lovely invite.

Blurb

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the
leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of
eerie events haunts the new cast…
The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead
actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for
her killer…
Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But
who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess
Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in
her dressing room?
Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the
new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past,
everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage
real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?
Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic,
obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in
the theatre shadows, you see everything.
And Chloe has been watching…

Thoughts…

Immediately I regretted reading this book late at night: a creepy rhyme; the haunted theatre setting; the cursed Scottish play ‘Macbeth’ mentioned in the opening paragraph, and I was straight away seeing shadows in the corner of my room! I trained in a Repertory Theatre when I first started my theatre career, and this book took me back into the past. Backstage, props, the wings, the fly floor, actor companies, dressing rooms, corridors, front-of-house and superstitions. We had a resident ghost called the Grey Lady, and pretty much everyone working at the theatre had a creepy story to tell. I remember working backstage during the ‘Woman in Black’, I had to cover stage-right (essentially, a tiny dark corridor, with access to the even creepier sub-stage) by myself; there were many times I saw shadows ‘move’ and often felt watched. This is probably as the show was incredibly creepy to work on, where I had to create the Woman in Black’s ghostly effects… I’ve goose bumps writing this! Great memories…anyway, I’m digressing, back to what’s important, and that’s Louise Beech’s novel ‘I am Dust’.

I genuinely had a great time reading this, and if I hadn’t had to wait until the light of day to keep reading, it would have been a one sitting read. Without repeating the ‘blurb’ above this is essentially a murder mystery ghost story with depth. It’s intense, suspenseful and has a strong ‘I see dead people vibe’ from the cinematic world of ‘The Sixth Sense’. Beech provides a haunting narrative for the reader that wraps you up in the central protagonist’s story. Chloe Dee is our narrator, the theatre usher and, like many, dreams of being on the stage, but is fighting the confidence to push herself. We do connect with her fragility, and the damage she inflicts upon herself pulls in our concern. There’s certainly heartbreak in this story, and I really appreciated the emotional depth Beech provides.

With themes of obsession, desire, greed, shallowness and unrequited love this book is packed full of energy via its thoroughly entertaining storytelling – that’s what all good books should be: passionate storytelling! Louise Beech certainly can tell a great story. Fun, creepy, suspenseful escapism with heart – just what’s needed right now.

Many thanks to both the author and publisher for ‘I Am Dust’. From your reader! 🙂

Author Bio:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To
Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The
Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her
previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely
reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The
Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic
Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the
Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her
husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House
Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Check out the amazing bloggers on this tour below for more book chat:

#BlogTour BURIED by Lynda La Plante with thanks to @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders

I’m really happy to be on the blog tour for ‘Buried’ by Lynda La Plante; it’s great to be helping to introduce detective Jack Warr to the book crime scene.

Some things should remain BURIED…

Blurb

The gripping first book in a brand-new thriller series by the Queen of Crime Drama, Lynda La Plante.

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes. Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating.

But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?

In Buried, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .

My thoughts

I love the Jane Tennant book series and following TV adaptation, so was super excited to be invited on the blog tour for La Plante’s new crime series, starting with ‘Buried’. This book introduces her new protagonist, detective Jack Warr and he is certainly a complex character. I moved from general annoyance, to likeability, back to frustration and annoyance…AND back to liking again. At the close of the book, I’d be up for reading more of Jack Warr, now that his nature/nurture debate-fed character really came to life in the last chapters of the book. He’s a man of contradictions, and the developing complexities of his actions build great character for this type of crime series protagonist.

So, the book links in with the ‘Widows’ books from La Plante. I’ve not read these, or watched the television adaptations, so Dolly Rawlins and her gang was not familiar. However, this didn’t matter, as La Plante’s plotting is very tight, and enough is embedded into the story of the past events for it to work without glitch. The root of this story is a past crime coming back into the police radar after a burnt body is found, with a rather large sum of money! This draws the investigation back to an unsolved train robbery, where millions of pounds were stolen, and the criminal gang (and money) disappeared without trace. This cold case enables La Plante to draw in, link and introduce Jack Warr.

I really enjoyed so many of the characters in this novel, there’s some great depth, humour, sadness and conflict, both private and professional. I loved the connections to the crime underworld, and how Jack is drawn into the past in a pretty personal way. There’s a lovely backdrop theme of adoption and this really hooked me into Jack’s story.

So, a brilliant beginning to what I hope will be a successful series. It’s a crime thriller read that hooks you in from page one and comes highly recommended from me.

Check out the other fabulous book bloggers on this tour for more opinions:

Available now – buy independent if you can!

MAYBE ONE DAY by Debbie Johnson – Blog tour with Orion Fiction

It’s lovely to be on this blog tour, with thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou for the invite. Please do have a read; this book comes highly recommended!

Book Blurb

What if you had the chance to find a lost love?

Jess still thinks about the man who disappeared from her life seventeen years ago, and the tragedy that tore them apart. So, when she discovers a hidden box of letters in her mother’s attic, Jess realises that the truth about why he walked away has been kept from her all this time.

Jess sets out to follow the faded postmarks across the country, determined that her journey will bring her closer to him. As each clue falls into place, Jess discovers new things about herself – and the man who once broke her heart. Maybe she can find him. Maybe their love story isn’t over.

Maybe one day, they will be together again…

My thoughts

Well, this book certainly hooked me in! I loved the story of Jess and her search for the truth as she uncovers hidden aspects of her past. This is the overall hook, as we follow her emotional journey to uncover the truth. After her mother’s funeral a hidden box is found, and inside are old letters for Jess from Joe, the father of her daughter, who Jess believes walked out of her life; these are particularly emotive moments as their story is revealed.

It’s a study of trauma, grief, lies, love and redemption. There is an awful tragedy at the core of this book, so it’s upsetting at times, but as we know, terribly sad events are the ‘way of the world’, and the important path to healing is handled beautifully. This is a book where friendships shine, and forgiveness is the way to healing and re-building.

Read this book if you’d like to go travelling with Jess to learn her story, and find out the truth about why Jess’s true love left her, and if she’ll ever get the chance to see him again: maybe one day is the question at the centre of this story. It comes highly recommended from me, a surprisingly addictive read.

The Author – Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson is an award-winning author who lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework.

She writes feel-good emotional women’s fiction, and has sold more than 750,000 books worldwide. She is published in the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey and the Ukraine. Her best-sellers include the Comfort Food Cafe series, Cold Feet at Christmas and The A-Z of Everything.

‘Are Snakes Necessary?’ by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman.

A huge thanks to @TitanBooks and @HardCaseCrime for sending me a copy to read and chat about. For those that don’t know who Brian De Palma is, he’s the world-famous director of more than 30 films! These include ‘Carrie’, ‘Scarface’, ‘The Untouchables’ and the original ‘Mission: Impossible.’ He is considered to be one of the most accomplished filmmakers of the last fifty-years, a peer to Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese.

Susan Lehman is a former editor of the New York Times and author whose writing has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, The New Yorker, and Spy magazine. An attorney by training, she also served as communications director at the Brennan Center for Justice.

‘Are Snakes Necessary?’ is their first novel.

Hard Case Crime ‘brings you the best in hard-boiled crime fiction, from lost pulp classics to new work by today’s most powerful writers.’

The Blurb

When the beautiful young videographer offered to join his campaign, Senator Lee Rogers should’ve known better. But saying no would have taken a stronger man than Rogers, with his ailing wife and his robust libido. Enter Barton Brock, the senator’s fixer. He’s already gotten rid of one troublesome young woman – how hard could this new one turn out to be?

Pursued from Washington D.C. to the streets of Paris, 18 year-old Fanny Cours knows her reputation and budding career are on the line. But what she doesn’t realise is that her life might be as well…

My thoughts

I was genuinely excited to receive a copy of ‘Are Snakes Necessary?’, particularly with a recommendation from Martin Scorsese on the cover (lots of Scorsese fans in my house). We’re a film watching household, and my daughter is studying film for A’Level, so there’s lots of talk of directors, and in particular auteurs. This made a new Hard Case Crime read co-written by Brian De Palma something to look forward to.

Firstly, I read a lot, so I had to adjust myself to the narrative style of this book – it’s very tell and not show. This inevitably leads to surface level characterisations, or types. It that sense, I often felt the book was a little like a ‘pitch’ at times. The characters are introduced, justified and then pulled along as plot devices, rather than being developed. They have ‘through-lines’ but they all seems subservient to the action and plot structure. But with the style of this book, it seems to work.

I found it generally fun, and like the sub-plots feeding the main narrative; the link to Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ (and other film references) was great, and really was full on towards the end. It absolutely reads like a film, I did find it a little unbalanced at times, and much preferred the last 40% of the story – but it is really readable.

It’s a thriller; a dark comedy; a cynicism of human nature, with an intense murder plot orchestrated by a cast of Film Noir-fed caricatures. I think it’s a fitting addition to the Hard Case Crime collection.