Saturday, 30 July 2016

Julia Heaberlin and the Black Eyed Susans


L-R Craig Sisterson, Julia Heaberlin and Ali Karim [Theakstons Crime-Writing Festival, Harrogate 2016]

One of the darkest gothic thrillers of recent memory is the remarkable Black Eyed Susans by journalist Julia Heaberlin from the Michael Joseph imprint at Penguin Random House.

With film rights sold, huge critical acclaim including being longlisted for the 2016 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award; Shots Magazine’s Assistant Editor Ali Karim was delighted to meet up with the author at Theakstons Crime-Writing Festival in Harrogate, and discuss this phenomenal crime mystery novel.

Joining us was Kiwi Crime’s Craig Sisterson, who had been equally startled at this very dark and thought provoking thriller, and interviewed Julia here in one his renowned 9mm Interviews.

So for those unfamiliar with the author and this stunning book –

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a "Black-Eyed Susan" by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped put a dangerous criminal behind bars - or so she thought.
Now, decades later, the case has been reopened and the Black-Eyed Susans planted outside Tessa's bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.
Tessa agrees to help with the investigation, but she is haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter's safety. Can she unlock the truth about the killer before it's too late?


Julia Heaberlin is an award-winning journalist who, before launching her career as an author, worked at several national newspapers. She has edited numerous real-life thriller stories, including a series on the perplexing and tragic murders of girls buried in the Mexican desert and another on domestic violence. She lives with her husband and son in Texas.

I had to ask Julia about the significance of the title, as well as the powerful cover imagery. Julia indicated that the novel came to her as an image, a woman lying on a bed of the eponymous American wild-flower, though she indicated that it was her British Publishers [Penguin Random House] that came up with the stunning cover design first, and one that was adopted for American Release at Random House US, as well as many other territories.

Self-depreciating and very modest, she lays down huge thanks to those who helped her in her research, especially the forensic background; though the image of the Flower, the Black Eyed Susans is the image that haunted her, and was pivotal in the evolution of the story.
Though it would be a visit to the outside of a Texan Penitentiary where Death Row prisoners are housed that would lead to her narrative taking shape, which she details in this essay for our readers. 

As part of her research for Black-Eyed Susans, Julia Heaberlin stood outside the Death House in Texas during an execution. Here, she relates her experience.
        
Everything quivers. The trees, the grass, the birds. The ribs in my chest, the balls of my feet.  The air, brittle with chill and death even before the thundering noise began. I feel like I am about to explode from the inside out.
         
When people ask me what it is like to stand outside the Texas death chamber while a prisoner is being executed, this is what I remember first.  The man executed that particular night was Edgar Tamayo, a Mexican national who shot a Houston cop three times in the back of the head. The terrible sound was the revving of motorcycles from the nearly two dozen retired police officers parked as close to Edgar Tamayo as they could get. They demanded that he hear the guttural protest of their motors through the walls as the needle was going in. Kill him, roared the motorcycles. Kill him.
       
And make no mistake, Edgar Tamayo, his family, and the witnesses he chose, could hear.
       
It is easy to stand only yards away from the tiny, nondescript room in Huntsville, Texas, that is the busiest execution factory in the United States. Since 1982, my state has killed more than 525 prisoners. The death chamber is housed on the corner of  “The Walls,” a historic, friendly looking prison with a green area and a clock tower. In Texas, executions have been performed by rope, poison and electricity for almost 200 years. The Walls unit sits in the middle of town a few blocks off the quaint square. There is a barbecue grill on the front porch of the white frame house next door, and an old neighborhood stretches out beyond it. Within sight of the walls, while men die, people are munching on pie and chicken fried steak at the best restaurant in town. They don’t mean anything by it; it’s a matter of routine. Back when the electric chair was used, the lights of the whole town used to shiver when the executioner flipped the switch. If the town folks who live here don’t work for the prison system—seven sprawling units in all— their parents probably did or their grandparents.
      
Sometimes, I take my mind back to the night of Edgar Tamayo’s death. Survey the scene. On that night, and most execution nights, the screaming politicians and social media fanatics are far from the town of about 40,000 in the piney woods of East Texas. The crowd I’m with is small, mostly Hispanic. Two beautiful Mexican TV reporters are brilliant stars in the dark, illuminated by camera lights, one in a brand-new purple tie, another in bright red lipstick. Mexico, despite its ongoing battle with corruption and brutal cartels, is anti-death penalty. The government is vigorously protesting the execution of one of its own on our soil.
         
A group of mourners kneel by Edgar’s picture and sing, their mouths opening and closing like birds. Gloria, who runs a straggly group of regular, vocal protesters, chants through her bullhorn that an innocent man is about to die even though he is not innocent at all. Some of them hold signs that declare Rick Perry a serial killer (279 people were executed during his time as governor). Another group of five men and women, all white, all older, weigh down a street corner. Most of them make the drive from Houston to as many executions as they can. They come not to yell but to be present for the family of the executed. On the coldest nights, the most stalwart, a criminal justice professor in Huntsville, stands by the Stop sign alone with his battery-operated Christmas candle until the family of the executed walks out the door. He is tired and cynical and understandably does not want to talk much. He has been talking to tourists like me forever.
         
The whole thing is so banal. So efficient. Everyone here knows where to be. The pros are on one side of the building, the cons on the other. The Texas troopers wandering around don’t expect trouble. The execution process usually starts at six, is done by seven, although tonight is going long. Legendary Texas death penalty lawyer David Dow says he doesn’t mean to be flip when he speaks a truth: “Killing people is like most anything else; the more you do it, the better you get. If killing people were like playing the violin, Texas would have been selling out Carnegie Hall years ago.”
         
Ice starts to fall. I re-examine why I am here and why I have not been here before. I am writing a novel, a story meant to entertain. I showed up out of convenience, curiosity and a desire to be authentic in my book. I had casually Googled the Texas execution schedule two months before: Should I pick the woman who helped a group torture and murder a mentally ill man for his life insurance? The man who ate the doughnuts and breakfast tacos that he ordered after beating the delivery woman with a baseball bat? A boyfriend who repeatedly stabbed and killed the married woman he was sleeping with and her daughter and three-year-old grandson? A guy who kidnapped a young Houston couple, raped the woman and then killed them both?
         
In the end, I picked Edgar, and so we were united. The day of his death fit into my schedule. I asked a friend to come with me. We chattered and ate sour gummies and red licorice on the three-hour ride from Dallas to East Texas. We booked at a lovely bed and breakfast only a few blocks from the Death House.


I am horrified as I write that last paragraph.
        
I was raised by a woman who gave spiders a free ride out of the kitchen on a newspaper. There was no death penalty in our house. I was a sensitive kid who didn’t believe my God would send anyone to hell. I couldn’t stomach violent movies, much less the barbaric concept of it being legal to kill someone. As I grew older, I was further shaped by intellectual reasoning—that the death penalty is part of a racist and unfair system. I protested by voting for candidates who believed as I did.
          
Then came Edgar Tamayo. The roar of motorcycles. The victim, Guy Gaddis, a 24-year-old police officer, two-and-a-half years on the job. He left an expectant wife behind.
          
 When I arrived back home, the experience began to shape my story, my characters, in ways I didn’t plan. I poured out a chapter I feared my editor would cut entirely. She never touched a word.  
          
 The lawyer, so important to this part of the story, sprang to life.
           
Tessa, my heroine, would not cooperate. She was conflicted about the death penalty no matter how much I tried to convince her otherwise.
            
How can you know how I feel, she asked me, if you’ve never experienced something this terrible? If evil hasn’t ripped out a staggering piece of who you are?
          
 Don’t preach, she told me. Let me be who I am.

[This essay is an updated version of a feature that originally appeared as extra content in a Waterstones special edition of Black-Eyed Susans]

© 2016 Julia Heaberlin

Shots Ezine wish to thank Gaby Young [of Penguin Random House] and Ann Chadwick [of Cause UK / Harrogate International Festivals] for arranging and facilitating the meeting with Julia Heaberlin at the 2016 Theakstons Crime-Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

Shots have discounted paperback copies of Black Eyed Susans for sale at £3.99 from the Shots Bookstore – click here

And read the Shots Review Here
A 9mm Interview with Kiwi Crime’s Craig Sisterson is here
More information about the work of Julia Hearberlin is available here

Friday, 29 July 2016

2016 Ned Kelly Award Shortlists

BEST FICTION
R&R by Mark Dapin (Penguin Random House)
The Heat by Garry Disher, (Text Publishing)
Fall by Candice Fox,  (Penguin Random House)
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty, (Allen & Unwin)
Ash Island by Barry Maitland, (Text Publishing)
Before it Breaks by Dave Warner, (Fremantle Press)

BEST TRUE CRIME
Certain Admissions by Gideon Haigh, (Penguin Random House)
The Sting by Kate Kyriacou, (Echo Publishing)
A Murder Without Motive by Martin McKenzie-Murray, (Scribe)
Killing Love by Rebecca Poulson, (Simon & Schuster)
Kidnapped by Mark Tedeschi, (Simon & Schuster)

BEST FIRST FICTION
Please Don't Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler, (Scribe)
Good Money by J M Green, (Scribe)
Amplify by Mark Hollands, (Self-Published)
Skin Deep by Gary Kemble, (Echo Publishing)
Four Days by Iain Ryan, (Broken River Books)
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic, (Echo Publishing)

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This year the Australian Crimewriters Association will honour Carmel Shute with a Lifetime Achievement Award. As a founder and national co-convener of Sisters in Crime Australia, Carmel has spent 25 years supporting and nurturing Australian women crime writers.


This year’s NED KELLY AWARDS will be presented during the Melbourne Writers Festival at a free event including live music, storytelling and door prizes on Sunday August 28 at 4.00 p.m. at TOFF IN THE TOWN, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Thursday, 28 July 2016

2016 CWA Dagger Short Lists

The Goldsboro Gold Dagger
Dodgers by Bill Beverly (No Exit Press)
Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
Real Tigers by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Blood, Salt, Water by Denise Mina (Orion)


 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger
Make Me by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
Real Tigers by Mick Herron (John Murray)
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tale)
The English Spy by Daniel Silva (Harper Collins)
The Cartel by John Winslow (William Heinemann)


John Creasey (New Blood)
Fever City by Tim Baker (Faber & Faber)
Dodgers by Bill Beverly (No Exit Press)
Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller (Harper Collins)
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle (Viking)
Eileen by Ottesa Moshfegh


CWA International Dagger
The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango, tr Imogen Taylor (Simon & Schuster)
The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître, tr Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press)
Icarus Deon Meyer, tr K L Seegers( Hodder & Stoughton)
The Murderer in Ruins by Cay Rademacher, tr Peter Millar (Arcadia)
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, tr Jonathon Lloyd-Jones (Quercus)


 CWA Non-Fiction Dagger
The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (Harper Colins)
SexyBeasts: The Hatton Garden Mob by Wensley Glarkson  (Quercus)
You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life (you are Raoul Moat) by Andrew Hankinson (Scribe)
A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding (Faber & Faber)
Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories by Thomas Grant (John Murray)
John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman (Bloomsbury)

CWA Dagger in the Library
Tony Black
Alison Bruce
Elly Griffiths
Quintin Jardine


Short Story Dagger
As Alice Did by Andrea Camilleri (Pan Macmillan)
On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier By John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
Holmes on the Range: A Tale of the Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository By John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton)
Bryant and May and the Nameless Women by Christopher Fowler (Bantam)
Stray Bullets by Alberto Barrera Tyszka (MacLehose Press)
Rosenlaui by Conrad Wilson (Constable and Robinson)

Debut Dagger
A Reconstructed Man by Graham Brack
Wimmera by Mark Brandi
A State of Grace by Rita Catching
Dark Valley by John Kennedy
The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger
The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby (Pan Books)
The Otherside of Silence by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
A Book of Scars by William Shaw (Riverrun)
The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith (Lion Fiction)
Striking Murder by A J Wright (Allison &Busby)
Stasi Child by David Young (Twenty7Books)

2016 Ngaio Marsh Awards finalists revealed


A FADING All Black, a teen runaway, a cop in witness protection, and a robotic private eye are among the memorable characters at the heart of novels named today as finalists for the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Awards. 

“We had a record number of entrants this year, which gave several headaches to our international judging panel,” says awards founder and Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “Not only are our local authors producing novels of exceptional international quality, they are breaking the shackles of convention and stretching the boundaries of genre to explore crime storytelling in unique and exciting ways. We were comparing apples with feijoas.” 

An extended judging process has led to two very strong shortlists, says Sisterson. This year, not only will the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, established in 2010, be presented at the Great New Zealand Crime Debate at WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival on 27 August, but also a new Best First Novel prize for debuts. 

The finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel are:

• INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE by Ray Berard (Mary Egan Publishing);

• MADE TO KILL by Adam Christopher (Titan Books);

• TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press);

• THE LEGEND OF WINSTONE BLACKHAT by Tanya Moir (RHNZ Vintage); and

• AMERICAN BLOOD by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin).


The finalists for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel are:

• INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE by Ray Berard (Mary Egan Publishing);

• THE FIXER by John Daniell (Upstart Press);

• THE GENTLEMEN’S CLUB by Jen Shieff (Mary Egan Publishing); and

• TWISTER by Jane Woodham (Makaro Press).

“I’d like to thank all our entrants for making our job so tough,” says Sisterson, “along with all our judges and WORD Christchurch for their ongoing support of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. Local crime writing is in fine fettle.”

Friday, 22 July 2016

Books to Look Forward to from Head of Zeus

July 2016

Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbroke Lane is by Paul Thomas Murphy. In April 1871, a constable walking a beat near Greenwich found a girl dying in the mud - her face cruelly slashed and her brains protruding from her skull. The girl was Maria Jane Clouson, a maid for the respectable Pook family, and who was pregnant at the time of her death. When the blood-spattered clothes of the 20-year-old Edmund Pook, alleged father of the dead girl's unborn child, were discovered, the matter seemed open and shut. Yet there followed a remarkable legal odyssey full of unexpected twists as the police struggled to build a case. 

Meet Liz Lyon: respected TV producer, stressed-out executive, guilty single mother...woman of the hour. StoryWorld is the nation's favourite morning show, and producer Liz Lyon wants to keep it that way. Her job is to turn real-life stories into thrilling TV - and keep a lid on the scandals and backbiting that happen off-stage. But then simmering tensions erupt at the station, trapping Liz in a game of one-upmanship where she doesn't know the rules. As the power struggle intensifies, can Liz keep her cool and keep her job? Does she even want to? Woman of the Hour is by Jane Lythell.

August 2016

Any Minute Now is by Eric Van Lustbader. Red Rover, the blakest of black ops teams, is finished - betrayed on a mission to capture and interrogate a mysterious Saudi deep in Pakistan. One of the team was killed, the remaining two barely escaped alive. Now, the unit has been shut down and Greg Whitman and Felix Orteno are left adrift, wondering what went wrong. Into their midst comes Charlize Daou, a brilliant, wildly talented arms expert, who becomes the reason - and supplies the means - to resurrect their mission. Disobeying orders, they secretly set out to find the Saudi - the first step in a perilous journey that will lead them to the dark heart of a terrifying conspiracy that threatens to change the balance of power across the globe.


September 2016

The girl who teetered out of the doorway was exactly who they were looking for...It's
Hallowe'en, and the people of Cork are partying. At half past two in the morning, a girl with green hair and sad eyes stumbles out of a club. She never makes it home. DS Katie Maguire and her team are stretched to their limit. A gang of dognappers are terrorising the kennel owners of Cork. The city's drug trade is at an all-time high. Now they have a missing girl to find too - and all in the glare of the media spotlight. As Katie closes in on the truth, she realises that the three cases might be connected. And that with every second she spends investigating, the clock ticks on for the missing girl, trapped in a living death...  Living Death is by Graham Masterton.

The Borrowed is by Chan Ho-Kei.  Six interlocking stories. One spellbinding novel. The year is 2013, and Hong Kong's greatest detective is dying. For fifty years, Inspector Kwan quietly solved cases while the world changed around him. Now his partner Detective Lok has come to his deathbed for help with one final case. Where there is murder, there is humanity. This bold and intricate crime novel spans five decades of love, honour, race, class, jealousy and revenge in one of the most intriguing nations in the world. This is the story of a man who let justice shine in the space between black and white. This is the story of Hong Kong.

A controversial, right-wing, German politician is due to speak at the Oxford Union. Following a series of murders linked to a violent anarchist group, the city is on high alert. DCI Hanlon has been partnered with DI Huss to ensure the speech goes smoothly and put an end to the killing. The murders soon reveal a chilling alliance between the anarchists and European Jihadis. And when Hanlon traces the killer she soon realises that the truth has a terrible price. Is Hanlon willing to meet the cost?  An Incidental Death is by Alex Howard.

November 2016

Celcius Daly is investigating the abduction of a boy by a group of travellers already under investigation for smuggling and organised crime. As he digs into the child's background, he discovers a family secret linked to an unsolved crime during the Troubles - the disappearance of a young woman and her baby. Daly's investigation shakes loose some harrowing truths about the past treatment of travellers and the present day lawlessness of Northern Ireland's border country. Undergoing an internal investigation over his handling of the search for IRA spy Daniel Hegarty, Daly realises that he has much in common with the beleaguered and outcast travellers and soon finds himself entangled in a vigilante mission, discovering just how far a group of outsiders will go to find their own justice.  Trespass is by Anthony J Quinn

Jack the Ripper is edited by Otto Penzler.  The predatory ritual, the escalating savagery of the crimes, the grisly trophies taken from his victim's bodies, the games played with his pursuers, the cannibalism: Jack the Ripper's reign of terror in London's East End during the autumn of 1888 casts a long shadow. Many have murdered more, but few have killed so brutally and none have forged such an enduring legend. For a century and a quarter the Ripper's crimes have appalled and fascinated in equal measure, inspiring over one hundred theories about this prototypical serial killer's identity and spawning thousands of works of fiction. This collection is the ultimate exploration of the Ripper legend. It sifts through Jack's legacy, blending the true story (told via contemporary reports and a century's worth of the best analysis) with the best crime and horror fiction his depraved deeds have inspired.

UN covert negotiator, Yael Azoulay, has been sent to Reykjavik to broker a secret meeting between US President Freshwater and the Iranian president. Both parties want the violence to stop, but Yael soon realises that powerful enemies are pulling the strings. Enemies for whom peace means an end to their lucrative profit streams. The Reykjavik Assignment is by AdamLebor.

December 2016

Germany, October 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre - a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table. Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gomez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.  Finisterre is by Graham Hurley.

Road Rage is by Hanna Jameson. A new thriller set in the nowhereland between New York and LA. Eli and Ronnie are two British ex-cons on the road in America. Their mission is to find Trent, a guy who screwed them over and disappeared. But now, after forty hours driving through yellow desert, eating at lonely motels, what seemed real is no longer certain. Where did Trent stay? What did he do? Did he even exist at all? Leaving violent killings in their wake, Ronnie and Eli can do nothing except keep travelling. Now, trapped in a nightmarish road trip together, these two men must confront their own personal demons before they can come home.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Madeleine Milburn’s Summer Writing Competition: Make Us Scared


Madeleine Milburn’s are thrilled to open entries for their Madeleine Milburn Summer Writing Competition, 2016. A world-renowned literary agency based in the heart of Mayfair, London, they represent a dynamic and award-winning list of authors published in the UK, US and international markets. The agency offers the highest level of care to a boutique list of authors, working together editorially and developing their work across all media.  They are dedicated to each talented author we represent, managing their writing careers with passion, skill and ambition.

Now they are keen to find a great new unpublished writer who can amaze them with an incredible voice, writing and premise. The Summer Writing Competition is open for adult novels with the theme of ‘Make Us Scared’. That can be anything from gritty crime and suspenseful thrillers to dark narratives, it’s completely open to your interpretation and can even cross genres.

They want it to be a book they cannot help but tell people about, a book that draws us back to reading when they take a break and a book which leaves them with a lot to think about.

JUDGES:
This year’s judges of the Madeleine Milburn Summer Writing competition are two of our Sunday Times bestselling authors Fiona Barton, The Widow and C.L. Taylor, The Accident, The Lie and The Missing.

Fiona Barton was discovered from a writing competition herself after being shortlisted for the Richard and Judy Search for A Bestseller in 2014, and The Widow is still the bestselling hardback debut of the year in the UK. C.L. Taylor is a two -time Sunday Times Bestselling author, with over half a million copies of her books sold. Her books are consistently featured on the top 10 eBooks on Amazon.

PRIZE:
The top five entries will be selected by the Madeleine Milburn agency for the shortlist. A winner will be chosen by Madeleine Milburn and our guest judges, and they will receive a prize of £500 and an offer of representation by the agency. All five shortlisted entries will receive comprehensive written feedback from the agency. They will offer representation to entrants whose writing they love. If you are offered representation by another agency while the competition is running, please let them know and we will withdraw your entry.

ELIGIBILITY

To enter, you must be un-agented and the work submitted must be unpublished (work from which an extract has been published in a literary magazine is fine). The prize is open to writers from anywhere in the world, but the work must be written in English.

HOW TO ENTER:
Entries are open from Friday 22nd July and the closing date is 1st September 2016. The shortlist will be announced on 8th September with the winner to be revealed on 6th October 2016.

They ask for a cover letter including a brief author bio with contact details, one-page synopsis, and a full manuscript to be submitted (or a minimum of 30,000 words if the novel is nearing completion).

To find out what they are looking for and for more tips on your writing and submission, head to Writer’s Corner on their website, and when you’re ready to enter submit your manuscript to competition@madeleinemilburn.com

 

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Debbie Howells Top 5 Crime Novels

Today's guest blog is by Debbie Howells as part of her The Beauty and The End Blog Tour. She lives in West Sussex with her family. Having worked as cabin crew and a flying instructor, she spent years running a very successful wedding flower business, whilst also writing and self-publishing three novels. The Bones of You was her first novel published by Pan Macmillan.   Her latest novel is The Beauty and The End.

Rosamund Lupton – Afterwards is her second novel and one of my all-time favourites, not just for the characters and the story, which is heartbreaking, but for the writing.  Her writing is beautiful.

Clare Mackintosh – I Let You Go.  This is another beautifully written book, with a twist I hadn’t seen coming.  The landscape is vivid, the characters so real.  It’s a disturbing read that stayed with me. 

Agatha Christie – Sparkling Cyanide.  Agatha Christie’s novels were the first crime novels I read, Sparkling Cyanide the very first. I’d race through, needing to find out who the murderer was, before starting on her next book.

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca.  So beautifully written.  Manderley is unforgettable, as is the naivety of the second Mrs de Winter and the hostility of Mrs Danvers.   A timeless classic.


Frederick Forsyth – The Day of the Jackal.  I first read my Dad’s copy of this as a teenager, and it was like nothing I’d ever read before.  The plot, the suspense, had me rushing to the library to find more of the same.   

The Beauty of The End by Debbie Howells is published by Pan, priced £7.99


April is on life-support and the only murder suspect. Noah is a reclusive ex-lawyer attempting to ignore his sadness and write crime novels. April is also the love of Noah’s life and, though he has never recovered from her rejection, he returns to their hometown to prove April’s innocence. Meanwhile, Ella has her own secrets, but no one will listen to her. She is the same age that April was when Noah first met her, and what Ella knows is key to finding the murderer.  Following the story of April and Noah’s tragic and flawed relationship and Ella’s determination to uncover the truth.



You can find more information about Debbie Howells on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @debbie__howells.