Saturday, 22 November 2014

Escaping with David Baldacci


Today's guest blog post is by David Baldacci and to celebrate the launch of David Baldacci’s latest novel, The Escape, as well as the paperback publication of his fourth Will Robie novel, The Target, we’re very pleased to welcome the author to Shotsblog as part of his blog tour. David Baldacci is the author of 28 novels all of which have been international bestsellers with many of them adapted for television.  He was recently inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame.

John Puller is back in The Escape. As the title clearly reveals, there is an escape by someone from somewhere. In this case it’s Puller’s brother, Robert, convicted and imprisoned for treason against his country, who escapes from what was the inescapable United States Disciplinary Barracks, where the most dangerous military prisoners are sent. So the story is really one brother hunting down another. But it’s not nearly so simple, otherwise it would be a very short book! John Puller is a reluctant hunter in this story. He’s not simply trying to find his brother; he’s trying to find the truth, which is far more important, whether it proves his brother absolutely guilty or not.

When I first started thinking about creating a series that has at its heart a soldier, I knew that I needed to immerse myself in that world. So I jumped on a plane and flew down to Fort Benning, Georgia, with a buddy of mine who was a retired lieutenant colonel and former Army Ranger, as is John Puller. I spent a lot of time there doing some of the things that the military do: jumping off parachute towers, exercising my aim on the sniper range, firing at targets so far away they are not visible to the naked eye. I was rolled over in Humvees and then had to evacuate them as quickly as possible. I got rather sore and beat up doing the Army’s functional fitness training, which tries to mirror, in a gym setting, the sorts of tasks that soldiers perform in the field. By the end of my trip, I was indeed worn out.  

 I also interviewed scores of men and women who wear the uniform – everyone from privates to generals – to try to find out why they do what they do. Their reasons for serving were as plentiful and diverse as they were. It’s not innately human to choose a career where one of the principal challenges that you will face is someone trying to kill you. Most of the soldiers I interviewed were young, barely twenty, who could have done lots of things with their lives. However, they chose to wear the uniform, stand in the line of fire and serve their country. Keep in mind that when I was writing this book the United States was heavily engaged in the war in the Middle East. At the all-infantry Fort Benning, none of these newly minted recruits were going to spend their time stateside. Instead, they would complete their training and then be on a plane to the Middle East, where lots of people would do their best to make sure they never went home except in a flag-draped coffin.

Spending time at Fort Benning doing this research allowed me to write a much deeper and better novel than I otherwise would have been able to. You simply can’t get the same level of nuance or emotion from Googling the subject; it just doesn’t work that way. Writers have to get up from behind their desks, get out there in the field and get a firsthand look at what it is they will be writing about.



Interested in a copy of The Escape?  There is a copy of The Escape up for grabs!  To get your hands on a copy please send your name, email address and postal address to shotscomp@yahoo.co.uk. Don’t forget to put The Escape Competition in the subject line!  Closing date is 6 November 2014.

The Escape is by David Baldacci is out now £18.99 (Macmillan)

More information about David Baldacci and his books can be found on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter @davidbaldacci

Friday, 21 November 2014

Let's talk about “Giallo”!

Stefano Tura in conversation
with Maurizio De Giovanni

Italian Cultural Institute
39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX

Crime fiction is all the rage, seemingly immune to crisis and recession, and gaining new readers every day.
Camilleri’s  Commissario Montalbano to mention just one, is now a household name on both sides of the Atlantic, with the eponymous TV series commanding peak audiences at every re-run….it’s even credited with a boost to tourism in Sicily!  Crime writers Maurizio De Giovanni and Stefano Tura will talk about the enduring success of this literary genre.
Stefano Tura,  journalist and writer, is London correspondent for RAI TV since 2006.
After several years working for RAI as a reporter on current affairs in Italy, in 1999 he became a war correspondent from Kosovo, then Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan.
He has written several thrillers, including Il killer delle ballerine, set in his home region of Emilia Romagna, Non spegnere la luceArriveranno I fiori del sangue (set in war-torn Kosovo), Delitti per le feste. He has also recounted his experiences in Afghanistan in Le caramelle di Super Osama – Viaggio a Kandahar di un inviato di Guerra. His latest book is Tu sei il prossimo (published by Fazi Editore).

Maurizio De Giovanni lives and works in Naples. In 2005, he won a writing competition for unpublished authors with a short story set in the thirties and featuring Commissario Ricciardi, which was then turned into the first novel of the series. The Crocodile, another best-seller, marks the beginning of a new crime-series set in present-day Naples and featuring Inspector Lojacono.  His books have been successfully translated into French, Spanish and German, and are now available in English for the first time, published by Europa Editions. A television series is under way in Italy. 

WEDNESDAY 26 NOVEMBER, 6.30pm


Book Online at www.icilondon.esteri.it


Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Burning Mind with M G Gardiner

M. G. Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She's a former collegiate cross-country runner and a three time Jeopardy! champion. She lives in Austin Texas and is the author of the Jo Beckett series and the Evan Delayne series.  She has won many awards for her writing, including the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel and the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense audiobook of the year.  Her latest novel is The Burning Mind (aka Phantom Instinct) is out today.

The Burning Mind is about perception.  A catastrophic shootout leaves two damaged survivors who must work together to stop a killer.  Hunting him down, and coming out alive, depends on accurate perception—by the survivors, the cops, and the people the killer has in his sights.  Because almost nobody believes he exists.

And things may literally not be what they seem.

Perception involves a balance of vision, insight, memory, and judgment.  And that balance can be skewed—by darkness, bias, lies, and bad neural wiring.  In The Burning Mind, perception can’t be trusted.  How do you tell truth from lies when you can’t believe what you see?

A shootout in a trendy L.A. club leaves bartender Harper Flynn’s boyfriend dead, Sheriff’s Deputy Aiden Garrison shattered, and two gunmen engulfed in flames.  But if the case is closed, why is Harper still afraid?

Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting survivors, Harper pins her last hope on the only person willing to listen.  But a traumatic brain injury has left Aiden with a rare and terrifying disorder: a delusion that random people are actually the same person in disguise.

Fregoli syndrome is a kind of face blindness—a glitch in perception—that can cause Aiden to think his worst enemy is coming at him, camouflaged as a friend, family, or stranger.  So the authorities no longer believe anything he says.  He himself hardly believes anything he says anymore.  Because his own eyes deceive him. 

As Harper and Aiden dig deeper into the case, Harper fears that the attack might have deliberately targeted her.  And now her only ally is unstable, paranoid, and mistrustful because he sees the same enemy everywhere he looks.

Worse, Aiden starts to fear that Harper is an enemy too.  She’s an ex-thief.  The cops don’t care that she’s gone straight, or that she’s a Navy veteran with security clearance.  They don’t trust her.  When Aiden learns about her past, he doesn’t either.

The story is about trust, betrayal, and fatal secrets.  Harper and Aiden are wounded warriors, broken and drawn to one another.  But their wounds make them dangerous.  They have to choose whether to risk trusting their hearts and their instincts.  The killer is closing in.  And he’ll turn every one of their faults against them, to put Harper, Aiden, and those they love in the line of fire.

You can find out more information about M.G Gardiner and her books on her website.  You can also follow her on Twitter at @MegGardiner1 and find her on Facebook.  You can also read her blog.


The Burning Mind by M G Gardiner is out now £6.99 (Penguin)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Books to look forward to from Orion Publishing

On the night of 22 December 1980 a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames.  168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly.  The miraculous sole survivor is a newborn baby girl.  Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking a private investigation that will last for almost two decades.  Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?  On the eve of the girl’s eighteenth birthday, Detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing his account of the investigation in the girl’s hands.  But as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything – then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone. . . After the Crash is by Michel Bussi and is due to be published in March 2015.

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer. A year has passed since she survived the ordeal, but Dana is still physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred, racked with bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss. In an attempt to put herself back together after surviving the unthinkable, Dana returns to her hometown. But it doesn't provide the comfort she expects: she struggles to recognise family and childhood friends and begins experiencing dark flashbacks. But she's not sure if they're truly memories or side effects of her brain injury. Dana decides to use her investigative skills to piece together her past and learns of the event that made her become a reporter in the first place: the disappearance of her best friend, Casey Grant, the summer after high school graduation. Looking at her past and the unsolved mystery through the dark filter of her shattered psyche, old friends seem to be suspects, authority figures part of a cover-up. Dana begins to question everything she knows. What is real? What is imagined? Are we defined by what happens to us? And is the truth really something too terrible to be believed?  Cold, Cold Heart is by Tami Hoag and is due to be published in January 2015.

Woman of the Dead is by Bernhard Aichner and is due to be published in April 2015.  Blum seems to have it all: the perfect husband, police detective Mark, two daughters, and a thriving undertaking business. But when Mark is killed in a hit and run, Blum stumbles across one of his investigations and realises there is far more to his death than meets the eye. And, as she discovers, the line between investigating and avenging is an easy one to cross.

London, January 2014. In the space of 32 hours, in a well-planned and highly organized operation, six billionaires' children are taken off the streets of London in a series of slickly well-executed kidnaps. The gang demands GBP25 million per hostage for 'expenses' - not ransom. And when your child goes missing, you need Charles Boxer: a man with little left to lose who'll stop at nothing to save families suffering what he has. The wealthy parents of the missing children know that Boxer will do more than police can - but that doesn't mean the law will leave it to him. Intelligence agencies are all interested in the kidnaps because in each case the parents are related to people in power in the various countries involved. Soon the investigation goes beyond the corridors of power and the boardrooms of big corporations - and to far darker corners. Even more worryingly for Boxer, and his ex-wife Mercy, it threatens to lead back to their own lives, too. But still nobody knows what this mysterious kidnap gang ultimately want and, if they have a cause, what the hell is it?  Stealing People is by Robert Wilson and is due to be published in February 2015.

When the two strangers turn up at Rowena Cooper's isolated Colorado farmhouse, she knows instantly that it's the end of everything. For the two haunted and driven men, on the other hand, it's just another stop on a long and bloody journey. And they still have many miles to go, and victims to sacrifice, before their work is done. For San Francisco homicide detective Valerie Hart, their trail of corpses - women abducted, tortured and left with a seemingly random series of objects inside them - has brought her from obsession to the edge of physical and psychological destruction. And she's losing hope of making a breakthrough before that happens. But the slaughter at the Cooper farmhouse didn't quite go according to plan. There was a survivor, Rowena's 10-year-old daughter Nell, who now holds the key to the killings. Injured, half-frozen, terrified, Nell has only one place to go. And that place could be even more terrifying than what she's running from.  The Killing Lessons is the debut novel by Saul Black and is due to be published in May 2015.

Ashleigh and Danny Orchard are twins, not that you'd ever tell by looking at them - Danny distant and shy, Ash beautiful and accomplished. But there's a secret in the Orchard house: Ash is a monster, a psychopath who can feel only through bringing others pain. When Ash and Danny are caught in a fire on their 16th birthday, both of them die. But only Danny comes back. Since then, Ash has haunted Danny, denying him any form of normal life ...or love. When Danny meets Willa and her son Eddie he glimpses the life he could have without Ash. To stop her from ruining his new-found happiness, Danny must venture into the frightening underworld of Detroit, where he will unearth the mystery of the night his and Ash's fates changed for ever. Dark and compelling, The Damned is by Andrew Pyper and is a story of how heaven and hell aren't about death, but about the decisions we make in life.  The Damned is due to be published in March 2015.

A collection of stories, mostly gritty low-level crime stories set on Washington DC's mean streets. The Martini Shot itself is set in the world of TV, featuring a scriptwriter on a popular cop show. When a member of the crew is murdered, the screenwriter decides to track down the perpetrators himself, to see if as a writer he can do more than just talk the talk. The Martini Shot and Other Stories is by George Pelecanos and is due to be published in January 2015.

Fear the Darkness is by Becky Masterman and is due to be published in February 21015. Ex-FBI Agent Brigid Quinn thinks she has a second chance at life. After too many years spent in the company of evil, she's quit the Feds and is working out what normal is meant to feel like. She's swapped serial killers, stakeouts and interrogation for a husband, friends and free time. But when you've walked in darkness for so long, can you stand the light? When a local teenager dies in a tragic drowning accident, the community thinks Brigid might be able to help comfort the family. But when she does so, something doesn't add up. And it's no easier at home: after a bereavement in the family, Brigid has reluctantly taken in her niece to give her a break before she starts college. Brigid's ever-patient husband Carlo tells her they must go easy on Gemma-Kate, the grieving youngster. Which is fine, until she starts taking an unhealthy interest in dissecting the local wildlife. For Brigid, death still seems to be wherever she turns. But as she herself starts to feel unwell, it's her own mortality that is the most troubling. And as she tries to get to the bottom of a series of allegedly accidental deaths and increasingly gruesome occurrences at home, she slowly realises that maybe this time, she's let the darkness inside the only place she ever felt safe. Sometimes, death is closer than you think.

Mockingbird is by R J Ellory and is due to be published in May 2015.  Prison changes a man. Sometimes in ways you can see. Usually in ways you can't. The only reason Henry Quinn survived three years inside was because of Evan Riggs, a one-time country singer, one-time killer, now serving a life sentence. No parole. On the day he gets out, Henry promises Evan he will find his daughter, the daughter he never met, and deliver a letter. A free man, Henry heads to the small Texan town where Evan grew up and where his brother Carson now resides as sheriff. There's no sign of the girl and her uncle claims to know nothing of her whereabouts. But Henry isn't about to give up. He made a promise and, no matter what, he's going to find Evan's daughter. As Carson's behaviour towards him becomes ever more threatening, Henry realises that there are dark secrets buried at the heart of this quiet town. What terrible thing drove the brothers apart and what happened to the missing girl?

Robert Ludlum’s The Geneva Strategy is by Jamie Freveletti and is due to be published in March 2015.  One evening in Washington, DC, several high-ranking members of government disappear in a mass kidnapping. Among the kidnapped is Nick Rendel, a computer software coding expert in charge of drone programming and strategy. He is the victim with the most dangerous knowledge, including confidential passwords and codes that are used to program the drones. If revealed, his kidnappers could reprogram the drones to strike targets within the United States. Jon Smith and the Covert-One team begin a worldwide search to recover the officials, but as the first kidnapping victims are rescued, they show disturbing signs of brainwashing or mind-altering drugs. Smith's investigation leads him to Fort Detrick, where a researcher, Dr Laura Taylor, had been attempting to create a drug to wipe memory from soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. But Dr Taylor's research was suspended almost a year ago, when she was placed in a mental institution. Now, if Smith doesn't figure out the brainwashing drug, and track down the kidnapped Nick Rendel, the kidnappers will soon have the power to carry out drone strikes anywhere in the world..

The Samaritan is by Mason Cross and is due to be published in June 2015. When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows this isn't the work of a first-time killer. She's seen this MO before - two and a half years ago on the other side of the country. Allen begins to dig deeper and soon uncovers a terrifying truth. A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for the past decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer 'the Samaritan', but with no leads and a killer who leaves no traces, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt. That's when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He's a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan's next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they're tracking. But as the Samaritan takes his slaughter to the next level, Blake is forced to reveal that the similarities between the two men are closer than even Allen suspects. With time running out and an opponent who knows all of his tricks, Blake must find a way to stop the Samaritan ...even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him.

Following the death of Duke Cadogan, talented young rider Duncan Claymore inherits his large estate. Duncan is finally riding high. He's put his demons behind him and is well on his way to achieving his dream of becoming Champion Jockey. However, Cadogan's wealth proves to be illusory, with a manor house and grounds mortgaged to the hilt and a list of creditors who include the formidable George Pleasance. And Duncan's rival on the field, Sandy Sanderson, looks set to shatter his ambitions. Events take a dark turn when it appears someone has been sabotaging the horses on Duncan's trainer's yard. Down on his luck, out of favour and broke, Duncan has to try to engineer a return to good fortune, restore his reputation and bring down his father's enemy of old, William Osborne.  Narrowing the Field is by A P McCoy and is due to be published in February 2015.

The truth has no place in a courtroom.  The truth doesn't matter in a trial.  The only thing that matters is what the prosecution can prove.  Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist.  Then he became a lawyer.  Turned out the two weren't that different.  It's been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again.  But now he doesn't have a choice.  Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie's back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter Amy.  Eddie only has 48 hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial - and win - if wants to save his daughter.  Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his 'client' and ensure Amy's safety.  With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible?  Lose this case and he loses everything.  The Defence is by Steve Cavanagh and is due to be published in March 2015.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is by Alan Bradley and it is due to be published in April 2015.  It all began with that awful business about my mother, Harriet...Following the dramatic events at the conclusion of The Dead In Their Vaulted Arches and the shocking revelations about her mother, Flavia de Luce finds herself expelled from the familiar confines of Bishop's Lacey and her beloved family home, Buckshaw, and 'packed off', as she puts it, to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada. With its forbidding headmistress and bizarre rules, adapting to Miss Bodycote's is quite a challenge. But Flavia is soon on familiar ground, when, on her first night, a mummified body is dislodged from a chimney, and she is presented with a gruesome puzzle to solve. And the mystery of the withered corpse is only the beginning. Girls have been disappearing from Miss Bodycote's with alarming regularity, leading Flavia to wonder not only how and why, but what exactly is the academy's true purpose, and why were they so keen that she enrol? If Flavia is to avoid the same fate as the missing girls, she must enter a shadowy world where truth and lies seem interchangeable and no one can be trusted. And ultimately she must discover what it means to be her mother's daughter.

The Great Zoo of China is by Matthew Reilly and is due to be published in February 2015.  It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for 40 years.  They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed.  It will amaze the world.  Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed.  A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time.  Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane 'CJ' Cameron, a writer for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and an expert on reptiles.  The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong...

This Thing of Darkness is by Harry Bingham and is due to be published in July 2015.  A marine engineer who tumbles off a cliff path on a windy night. A burglary where everything taken was returned by the thief. The suicide of a man in love with life. An accident, a mystery, an unexplained tragedy. And nothing at all to connect them. Until, that is, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, searching for something - anything - to take her mind off the tedious job of evidence-cataloguing she's been assigned to, starts to wonder if all three incidents are not quite what they seem. It could just be her imagination. After all, she'd be the first to admit that she isn't exactly in the prime of psychological health right now, the darkness she's held at bay ever since she joined the police force now lapping dangerously at her door. But something tells her there are invisible threads linking the crimes, and as she investigates further, she starts to see the outlines of a conspiracy so unlikely and on such a vast scale, that it takes her breath away. And that's when they come for her.

Blood, Salt, Water is by Denise Mina and is due to be published in April 2015. DI Alex Morrow and her team have been shadowing a woman suspected of being involved in a large drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. Roxanna Fuentecilla recently moved from London to Glasgow in suspicious circumstances and Morrow's bosses want all the glory when she's finally arrested. But then Roxanna disappears. She's left her partner and her two children and something about the situation, and the children's evasive attitude, leads Morrow to question what's really going on. In the nearby picturesque town of Helensburgh, Iain Fraser is struggling to live with his overwhelming guilt. Under orders from the infamous Mark Barratt he's just killed a woman and now he's left with blood on his hands. Meanwhile Miss Grierson, a former scout leader who left the sleepy seaside town decades ago, has returned. Allegedly she's here to sort out her recently deceased mother's estate, but Iain knows her mother died over two years ago and suspects she has an ulterior motive.

Strange things happen in the countryside. And for bisexual private detective Duffy, this is his strangest case yet. Summoned to a country mansion following an unusual murder, Duffy finds the house awash with potential suspects. Does Vic Crowther, the man who called on Duffy in the first place, have a far more sinister motive up his sleeve? Or perhaps his wife, the ex-page three model, knows more than she's letting on ...  Going to the Dogs is by Dan Kavanagh and is due to be published in May 2015.

The Stranger walked into the bar and, with just a few words, shattered Adam’s entire life. His wife’s pregnancy three years ago – the one that saved their marriage but ended in a tragic miscarriage . . . it never existed. The whole thing was faked using a website set up for just that purpose. Hannah lied to him, and has been lying ever since. Thus begins Harlan Coben’s shocking new thriller. Someone out there knows all your secrets, all your affairs, all those lies that, thanks to the Internet, are so easy to create. And now he wants the truth to come out. But for Adam, the chaos this causes is only the beginning. When Hannah disappears, things go to a whole other level. What’s really going on here, and just who is pulling the strings? The Stranger will change your life for ever.  The Stranger is due to be published in April 2015.

Charlie Matheson died two years ago in a car accident. Now a woman who bears a startling resemblance to her claims to be back from the dead. Detective Mark Nelson is called in to investigate her account of what she endured in the ‘afterlife’.  Detective David Groves is determined to bring his son’s killers to justice. But the search will mean facing someone with a more ruthless approach to right and wrong.  Former Detective John Mercer is slowly recovering from the case that nearly destroyed his life, but deep down he knows that he still has demons to face.  At the centre of it all: two brothers with a macabre secret. They’ve been  waiting, they’ve been planning, they’ve been killing. And for Nelson, Groves and Mercer they’re about to release hell on earth.  The currently untitled Steve Mosby novel is due to be published in June 2015.


Also due to be published in June 2015 is The Ice House by John Connor and in July 2015 The Echoes of Their Passing by Michael Marshall.