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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

CrimeFest - Starts tomorrow in Bristol - Wiil you be there?

19-22 May 2016

Don't miss

Ian Rankin 

being interviewed by Jake Kerridge

Saturday 21 May 

13.40- 14.30

‘A Brilliant Death’ by Robin Yocum

Published by Seventh Street Books,
5 April 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-63388-128-0 (PB)

From the publisher:  Amanda Baron died in a boating accident on the Ohio River in 1953.  Or, did she?  While it was generally accepted that she had died when a coal barge rammed the pleasure boat she was sharing with her lover, her body was never found.  Travis Baron was an infant when his mother disappeared.  After the accident and the subsequent publicity, Travis’ father scoured the house of all evidence that Amanda Baron had ever lived, and her name was never to be uttered around him.  Now in high school, Travis yearns to know more about his mother.  With the help of his best friend, Mitch Malone, Travis begins a search for the truth about the mother he never knew.  The two boys find an unlikely ally: an alcoholic former detective who served time for falsifying evidence.  Although his reputation is in tatters, the information the detective provides about the death of Amanda Baron is indisputable - - and dangerous.  Nearly two decades after her death, Travis and Mitch piece together a puzzle lost to the dark waters of the Ohio River.  They know how Amanda Baron died, and why.  Now what do they do with the information?

The writing is terrific.  Mitch Malone, the protagonist, in the book’s Prologue talks about his maternal grandfather, who died at 42.  The local doctor said it was from a massive heart attack, but “my father said that anyone who knew my grandfather realized he died of acute estrogen exposure.”
The family had settled in the coal mining community west of the Ohio River Valley.  He had a wife and nine daughters, including a set of triplets.  Mitch relates the story, which begins in the summer of 1953 in the town of Brilliant, Ohio (from whence comes the title) and continues, for the most part, through June of 1971.  His best friend, Travis, was the only child of Francis “Big Frank” Baron, a violent man, abusive, physically and emotionally, to his son, and his wife, Amanda, whose death starts the tale.

Big Frank was “an old man whose best days had been lost to time and alcohol . . . big, mean, paranoid, hateful . . . who sleeps with a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol on his nightstand.”  But beyond this singular character, the novel is peopled with a wide variety of colorful folks with colorful names, e.g., “Turkeyman” Melman, “a muttering, squatty little man in constant need of a shave and a bath.”  Then there is the sheriff, Beaumont T. Bonecutter.

The fascinating plot is one whose outcome the reader, or this one at least, could never have guessed.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I had the author’s debut novel, “Favorite Sons,” and this one as well is recommended.
Reviewer: by Gloria Feit

Robin Yocum was born in 1955 in Steubenville, Ohio, and grew up in the in the Eastern Ohio. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Favorite Sons and The Essay. Favorite Sons was named the 2011 USA Book News’ Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense. It was selected for the Choose to Read Ohio program for 2013-14 and was a featured book of the 2012 Ohioana Book Festival. Yocum is also the author of Dead Before Deadline . . . and Other Tales from the Police Beat and Insured for Murder (with Catherine Candisky). He is the president of Yocum Communications, a public relations and marketing firm in Westerville, Ohio. He is well known for his work as a crime and investigative reporter with the Columbus Dispatch from 1980-1991. He was the recipient of more than thirty local, state, and national journalism awards in categories ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

‘Murder Ring’ by Leigh Russell

Published by No Exit Press,
26 May 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-84344-677-4

To all appearances, David Lester is an ordinary, decent man who makes one tragic mistake. He drinks too much on a night out with colleagues and talks too freely about the valuable, diamond engagement ring he has in his pocket, having just had it reset for his wife. Minutes later, David Lester is shot dead in an alley in Central London. Despite the likelihood that the assailant was a mugger, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel and her CID colleagues have to explore all options, including examining David Lester's relationship with his family and friends.

It is a particularly difficult time for Geraldine: she is still mourning a colleague who was killed quite recently and she has to deal with a new senior officer who is so anxious to get a quick result that he is inclined to grab at convenient solutions. Also there is stress in Geraldine's personal life, with an unexpected development regarding the birth mother whom she has never met.

The police have a suspect under arrest and the new DCI believes the case is more or less over, although Geraldine is less convinced it is as simple as that. Then another man is killed with the same weapon and the investigation recommences with the police even more desperate to bring the case to a successful conclusion before the killer strikes again.

Murder Ring is the eighth book in the series featuring Geraldine Steel. In it the author shows the reader both the police investigation and the lives of the suspects, weaving the strands together to create a clever and complex whole. It is a fascinating and intricate book with police protagonists who are likeable and convincing both as individuals and as a team. Murder Ring is an excellent read and one which I would recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. Formerly a secondary school English teacher, with the success of her Geraldine Steel series, Leigh now writes full-time. Her debut novel, Cut Short, was published in 2009 by No Exit Press in the UK, followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act and Killer Plan, all featuring detective Geraldine Steel, and Murder Ring will be published in 2016. Leigh also writes a spinoff series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson. Cold Sacrifice and Race to Death are already published, to be followed by Blood Axe in late 2015. Leigh recently signed a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer for a new series featuring Lucy Hall. The first two titles in this series will be published in 2016. Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

‘Insurrectio’ by Alison Morton

Published by SilverWood Books, 
12 April 2016.
ISBN: 978-1781325094

The premise behind these books is one of alternative history where the Roman Empire survived as an influential colony. Unlike the surrounding countries, Roma Nova has never fallen under patriarchal rule and is governed by female heads of the foremost houses who advise the over-all ruler, the Imperatrix. The first book featuring Aurelia Mitela is set in the 1960s. Aurelia is a young woman who loves her career as a Praetorian officer but she has to leave the army when her mother, the Head of the Mitela family, falls ill and dies. However Aurelia is called upon to serve her country by investigating the silver smuggling ring that is severely damaging Roma Nova's finances and political standing. At great danger to herself and her young daughter, Aurelia succeeds in defeating the man behind the smuggling. Caius Tellus is a member of another of Roma Nova's ruling families, a charming but vicious psychopath, whom Aurelia has hated and feared since childhood.

Insurrectio opens thirteen years after the conclusion of the story told in the first book. Aurelia is now Assistant Foreign Minister, continually striving to keep her promise to the last Imperatrix and guide and protect her daughter, the weak and foolish Imperatrix Severina, a woman swayed by flattery and persuasion, who resents the powers that her late mother had begged Aurelia to accept and will always act upon the last advice given to her rather than wise and proven counsel. Aurelia's worst fears become reality when Caius Tellus is released from prison, having served his sentence. Soon he manipulates and charms his way into a position of power and, with the terrible speed and unrelenting force of a land-slide, order breaks down in Roma Nova. In one of the first serious mob rampages Aurelia's daughter, Marina, is viciously attacked and Aurelia knows she has been targeted by Caius. Soon the traditional but stable and fair government of Roma Nova is under attack from all sides, and Aurelia is in danger of losing all she cares about: her daughter, her lover, her reputation and her life, and, above all, she fears the destruction of the country that she loves and has pledged herself to defend.

Insurrectio is an exceptionally powerful book. Aurelia is a strong, honourable and engaging character and the desperation of her struggle to save her family and her country is intensely moving. The book is also a fascinating and chilling study of the balance of political power and how a weak ruler and a ruthless would-be dictator, with the backing of mob-rule, can destroy a civilised country.
I would advise readers to read Aurelia first but to then go straight on to Insurrectio. It is a page-turner and I recommend it.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Alison Morton Even before she pulled on her first set of combats, Alison Morton was fascinated by the idea of women soldiers. Brought up by a feminist mother and an ex-military father, it never occurred to her that women couldn’t serve their country in the armed forces. Everybody in her family had done time in uniform and in theatre – regular and reserve Army, RAF, WRNS, WRAF – all over the globe. So busy in her day job, Alison joined the Territorial Army in a special communications regiment and left as a captain, having done all sorts of interesting and exciting things no civilian would ever know or see. Or that she can talk about, even now…
But something else fuels her writing… Fascinated by the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain), at their creation by the complex, power and value-driven Roman civilisation she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women…
Now, she writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with tough heroines:

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

‘The Poison Artist’ by Jonathan Moore

Published by Orion,
10 March 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-5973-5

Caleb’s girlfried has just walked out on him, and he’s roaming the streets of San Francisco. He goes into a bar and meets a beautiful woman in a black silk dress. Soon he’s obsessed by her. Then his friend Henry asks him to run tests on a series of bodies fished out of the harbor. What he finds suggests the work of a deranged serial killer – and it seems each man was linked to a bar where he met the mysterious woman…

This psychological thriller is told in the third person, from Caleb’s point of view. We sympathise with him straight away, as he tries to come to terms with Bridget’s departure, and feel his fascination with the woman in black with a mixture of hope and foreboding. Henry, who’s known him since they were at school together, shares our concern at the way his life’s unravelling. Once Henry enlists his help, we see Caleb at work as a toxicologist, and the interest of the puzzle he’s solving draws him back into his professional world. His two women, the mysterious woman and Bridget, are both vividly drawn, his potential dark and light angels, and we gradually learn more about them. As the hunt for the killers intensifies, so does Caleb’s obsession, and he meets the woman in an empty bar and a Gothic house, both atmospherically described. There’s some fairly gruesome autopsy detail, but the story centres on Caleb’s journey towards darkness. The final sequence is tense, horrifying and ultimately pitiful. The writing is atmospheric and elegant, whispering across the pages as softly as the woman’s silk dress.

A gripping, original and elegantly-written journey into the mind of a killer. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Jonathan Moore is an attorney with the Honolulu firm of Kobayashi, Sugita & Goda. Before completing law school in New Orleans, he was an English teacher, the owner of Taiwan’s first Mexican restaurant, and an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington D.C. He is the author of two previous novels, Close Reach and Redheads, which was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.