Saturday, 30 June 2012

Bodies in the Bookshop - July 2012

Every year readers and fans of crime fiction look forward to Bodies in the Bookshop the annual event that takes place in Heffers Bookshop Cambridge.  It is an event that has been taking place for over 20 years now and is organised by the terrific Richard Reynolds and his colleagues.  Over the years, the event has expanded as more fans of crime and mystery fiction have learnt about this brilliant event.  It has grown so big that the event now spills out on to the sidewalk of the shop.

This year Bodies, as it is fondly known as is due to take place on Saturday 14 July 2012. However, and much to my delight instead of it taking place in the evening for a couple of hours, it will be a whole day events kicking off at 10:00.  Furthermore, Heffers will be moving to the distinguished surroundings of the Cambridge Union.  But don’t worry as they will be bringing their brilliant bookshop along with them.

This year Bodies is also having a different slant to it.  There will still be a wide range and large number of crime writers in attendance but there will also be some themed panels as well.

The panels and the participants are as follows –

   Crime Through Time I
   Jane Finnis (Ancient Rome)
   Ruth Downie (Ancient Rome)
   Rory Clements (Tudor)
   Ros Barber (Marlowe papers)
   Crime Trough Time II
   Chris Nickson - 1730s Leeds
   Robin Blake - 1740s Preston
   Peter Moore - True Crime (mysterious murders in 1800s)
   Comic Cuts
   Len Tyler
   Suzette Hill
   Traditional Mysteries - Poison in the Parish
   Ann Purser
   Veronica Heley
   Rebecca Tope
   Jayne Marie Barker - 1930s
   Scene of the Crime
   Jim Kelly - Norfolk, Ely
   Alison Bruce - Cambridge
   Death in a Cold Climate - what to read after Steig Larsson
   Barry Forshaw
   Quentin Bates
   International Intrigue
   Roger Morris - 19th century / 1914 spies
   Edward Wilson - Spies - cold war - 1950s
   Adrian Magson - 1940s series, 1960s - spies/ France
   Experts in Murder
   Nicola Upson - 1940s
   Catriona McPherson - 1920s Scotland
   Sally Spedding - 1940s rural Wales

The programme of the panels are as below.

Crime Through Time I
Experts in Murder
12 noon
Poison in the Parish
Break for Lunch
Crime Through Time II
Scene of the Crime
International Intrigue
Comic Cuts
Death in a Cold Climate

More information can be found on the Bodies in the Bookshop blog and also have a look at their Facebook page.

Tickets for the whole day are £10 for adults and £7 for concessions. Available in Heffers, by calling 01223 463 200 or by emailing
Bodies in the Bookshop is always such good fun and this year with the addition of panels then it is bound to be a brilliant event! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sharing a Head With Fiona Griffiths

Today’s guest blog is by Harry Bingham,  an ex-City trader who has worked for major British, American and Japanese firms but who now writes full-time.  He has written a number of novels prior to Talking to the Dead including two financial thrillers. Talking to the Dead is the first in a series of police procedurals featuring Detective Constable  Fiona Griffiths of the South Wales Police. 

I get home sometime after two. I walk up to my front door with kitten heels and ammo boxes in one hand, gun in the other.  For the first time in what feels like an eternity, I don’t feel frightened at all.”

I have been writing for my living for more than ten years now. Fiction, non-fiction, how-to books. Anything that pays the heating bills. And I love writing. I don’t think of it as work, but more like fell walking: arduous at times, but my goodness how rewarding!

But when I came to write Talking to the Dead, I found myself so completely possessed by my character that I – literally – dreamed her story. I don’t mean I had one flash of inspiration. The inspiration took perhaps two years to come together. Rather, I mean that as I wrote the book, I found myself dreaming each night the scene I would write the next day. Since plotting is usually a challenging process for me, I wrote this book at light speed: about two months, start to finish. (There was plenty of editing after that, of course: it’s the first draft I’m talking about here.)

Even now, I find it hard to explain to people why my character – a young detective constable, Fiona Griffiths – is so compelling to me. Indeed, part of the problem is that I can’t say much about either her or the book at all. Obviously all crime novels have a whodunit at their heart. And obviously, there are plenty of flawed, maverick detectives with troubled pasts. Only Talking to the Dead is two mystery stories in one. There’s the whodunit? And then there’s the whotheheckisthisdetective? Fiona Griffiths (who narrates the story) has a LOT of secrets and she isn’t particularly keen to share them with the reader.

Indeed, my US publisher suggested that I do a little fact sheet about Fiona on my blog. I did it, but a typical chunk of it reads like this:

Occupation: Detective Constable, South Wales Police

Interests: murder & anything relating to murder
Nationality: Welsh
Relationship status: single
Height: About 5' 2"
Hair colour: dark
Eye colour: don't know

You don't know her eye colour?  Well, sorry, no I don't. I'm just her author.  I write down whatever she does, says or thinks. But she hasn't yet made a big deal about her eyes, so I don't know what colour they are.  She might look something like the photo but she might not. I only know what she tells me. Any case, why are you concerned about her eyes?  There are WAY bigger issues to worry about.
Like what? Well, her health for one thing.
Health status: OK, this is where it starts to get complicated. She's technically fine.  No health issues at all. Only, you know, she was ill for a couple of years as a teenager, and those things leave their scars.
Nature of illness: Yeah, OK, I know the answer to that, but Fiona doesn't talk about it much.  In fact, she's never told anyone at all.  So, sorry, but I can't
really say.  It's kind of weird though.
Family background: Two parents, two sisters, the whole family is united, loving, alive and well. Only ...
Yes? Well, her Dad.  What he does for a living.  What he used to do.
Which is? And was? Shucks, sorry.  Can't say.  It's another one of those areas where Fiona's a little bit less than open.

And the thing is, Fiona is a very strange person indeed.  Lisbeth Salander famously comes over as a bit of a disturbed young woman.  Yet while Fiona presents a bit more normal on the whole, if it came to a weirdness competition, Fiona would win hands down.  (I also think she’d win a fight, by the way.  I’d certainly pay to see one.)  I should also say that the particular form of Fiona’s oddness isn’t something I’ve made up.  The condition genuinely exists and it is much, much weirder than anything you could invent. Who needs fiction when you’ve got reality?

I’ve said all this and I realise that I haven’t told you much about the book at all. Well, here goes. A young woman and occasional drug-user is found dead in a Cardiff squat.  Her young daughter lies dead beside her, her skull smashed in by a large belfast sink. Fiona Griffiths is part of the investigative team, but she’s also working on another, apparently routine, case, which starts to intersect disturbingly with this one.  Oh, and although I said the book has two mysteries embedded inside it, there are actually three. The last one explodes out at you in the final chapter and you won’t have seen it coming.  And if you guess the secret to the whotheheckisthisdetective?  Mystery – well, I’ll send you a personal message of congratulations.  But you won’t.  The twist is so strange (yet true), it’s unguessable.

The book was published last week and it’s already getting lovely reviews on Amazon.  Unsurprisingly, those reviews tend to focus hard on Fiona herself. Although (I hope!) I’ve dealt with the crimey aspects of the novel with proper professionalism, the book is ultimately memorable because of its protagonist.  As one lovely Amazon reviewer commented, ‘This is the most compelling and unusual crime novel I've read in a very long time (and I read a LOT). I felt like Fiona Griffiths was talking to me, too. I almost didn't care about the crime; such was the pull of her personality.’

Well – I hope you do care about the crime (Fiona does), but mostly I hope that Fiona invades your head as she invaded mine. She’s not a particularly easy house-sitter, if I’m honest.  She’s not one to follow rules.  She’s a little prone to violence.  She has some naughty habits and she can be hopelessly unpredictable. But will you like her?  I hope so. Me: I love her.

Harry Bingham is the author of Talking to the Dead, available on Amazon here. He also runs The Writers’ Workshop, a consultancy for new writers.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Forthcoming Books to Look forward to from Headline

Denver PD Homicide Detective Jake Hunter stands at the gates of the County Jail and watches as Chase Black, the man he is certain is guilty of the brutal serial murder of five families, walks free on a technicality.  Ignoring the directions of his superiors, and with the help of contacts at the FBI in Quantico, Hunter embarks on an investigation that leads him to the sleepy Colorado town of Dillon and the killing of a prominent local family.  The killer's methods bear an uncanny resemblance to the murders Black was accused of.  But Black is in London promoting the book he wrote while in prison.  So who is the copycat killer that Hunter and the local cops are chasing in Dillon?  After an assault at a book signing, Black's lawyer hires the UK's best bodyguards - Alex Cahill and Logan Finch.  Yet the more time Logan spends on the security detail with the charismatic Black, the less convinced he becomes of his guilt.  As the net closes on the killer in Dillon, it becomes clear that a violent psychopath is hunting Black and Logan finds himself caught between his duty to a client who may be a notorious serial killer and the instinct to survive the increasingly deranged individual that wants him dead.  Protection is by G J Moffat and is due to be published in July 2012.

Bestselling author Simon Scarrow brings the Great Siege of Malta to vivid and unforgettable life in this gripping standalone novel.  1565; In its hour of greatest need, Malta must rely upon the ancient Knights of the Order of St John for survival.  Bound by the strongest ties: of valour, of courage and of passion, the Knights must defend their island against ferocious and deadly Ottoman attack.  For Sir Thomas Barrett, summoned by the Order and compelled by loyalty - to the Knights, to his honour and to his Queen - returning to the besieged island means revisiting a past he had long since lain to rest.  As the beleaguered Knights grapple to retain control, decade-old feuds will be reawakened, intense passions rekindled and deadly secrets revealed. Sword and the Scimitar is due to be published in October 2012.
It began with A Discovery of Witches.  Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures.  When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew.  Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.  Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590.  But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven.  Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night.  Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.  Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers...Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew once more in this stunning, richly imagined, epic tale.  Shadow of Night is by Deborah Harkness and is due to be published in July 2012.

A Killing in the Hills is Pulitzer-prize winner, Julia Keller's first crime novel.  The first in a new series featuring prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins set in the beautiful crime-ridden town of Acker's Gap.  Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, visitors see only its stunning natural beauty.  But for those living there it's a different story.  The mountain roads harbour secret places, perfect for making the prescription drugs that tempt its desperately poor.  Bell Elkins left a broken teenager, savaged by a past she couldn't forget.  But, as prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, Bell is back and determined to help clean up the only home she has ever known.  As winter sets in and her daughter is witness to a shocking triple murder, Bell finds her family in danger.  Can she uncover the truth before her world is destroyed again?  A Killing in the Hills is due to be published in August 2012.

When notorious gangster 'Fat Sam' Mahood is murdered, the chief suspect is arrested nearby.  But he seems to have suffered a breakdown.  Incarcerated in a mental institution, he's known only as the Man in the White Suit.  The suspect remains an enigma until Nurse Brenda calls on Mystery Man, former patient and owner of No Alibis, Belfast's finest mystery bookshop, to bring his powers of investigation to bear...However, before our hero can even begin, the Man in the White Suit is arrested for the murder of a fellow patient.  But is he a double murderer or a helpless scapegoat?  Intrigue, conspiracy, and ancient Latin curses all combine to give the Small Bookseller with No Name his most difficult case to date.  The Prisoner of Brenda is by Colin Bateman and is due to be published in October 2012.

Keye Street, ex-FBI profiler and private detective, always looks out for those closest to her.  But sometimes looking after herself is quite enough to handle.  She's teetering on the brink, not quite sure if she's winning or losing in her battle with herself.  But when her cousin, Miki Ashton, sees a stranger inside her house, it's time for Keye to lend a hand.  Meanwhile, Keye's mentor, Lieutenant Aaron Rauser, is embroiled in a disturbing case.  When a dog returns alone from its walk, the hunt is on for the missing boy.  As the mystery deepens and the bodies pile up, Rauser needs Keye's expert profiling skills to unravel the killer's bizarre signature - tears.  Battling her demons takes up a lot of Keye's time.  But on top of that she's battling the bad guys.  If she can ignore the voice from her past, that is... Stranger in the Room is by Amanda Kyle Williams and is due to be published in August 2012.

Of course there is also the new Martina Cole to look forward to as well in September and the new Stephanie Plum book Notorious Nineteen  by Janet Evanovich in November 2012.

Held Up is by Christopher Radmann and is due to be published in July 2012.  How far do you go to rescue your child? Paul van Niekirk, a successful white South African is held up at gun-point when driving his new BMW. He's dragged out and his abductor drives off in his car. It's an everyday car jacking. Except his nine-month old daughter is in the back seat. As a pacifist, Paul is reluctant to carry a gun, but he descends into the heart of darkness of his country determined to find his child. He uncovers a criminal gang involved in people trafficking and discovers in himself a capacity for violence. When the trail goes cold, he is on the verge of losing everything but finds redemption in the most unlikely circumstances. Moving from the enclaves of Johannesburg's northern suburbs to the throbbing heart of Soweto's informal settlements, Paul is forced to confront the changing political and social landscape of the new South Africa, questioning his own values as his perfect life crumbles around him.

Origin is the debut novel by J T Brannan and is due to be published in October 2012.  The secret of humanity's origin has lain buried for millennia.  Now it threatens to destroy us all.  Scientist Evelyn Edwards and her team are researching ice caps in the Antarctic when they discover a body that must have been buried 40,000 years ago.  But it looks like nothing they've ever seen before - it's not a primal man, but something else.  While transporting the body back to America the entire team are killed but Evelyn manages to escape.  On the run and alone she turns to her ex-husband Matt Adams, a former member of an elite government unit, and together they find themselves caught up in a race against time that takes them from Area 51 to the Hadron Collider in Geneva where they uncover the biggest conspiracy of all time.

Karen Rose is back with her fourteenth pulse-pounding thriller.  Best be nimble, best be quick, I'm right here and you're my pick...The last thing Ford Elkhart remembers is walking his girlfriend back to her university dormitory.  Now he's lying tied and gagged on a cold, dark floor, with only one chance to escape before he ends up like the bones surrounding him...Assistant State's Attorney Daphne Montgomery is devastated by her son's disappearance, and is immediately convinced that his kidnapping is connected to the white supremacist she's just had jailed for murder.  FBI Special Agent Joseph Carter isn't so sure - especially when he learns that Ford's girlfriend is also missing.  Is Ford's abduction payback for Daphne's courtroom victory?  Or is he a pawn in an even more dangerous game? Did You Miss Me is due to be published in November 2012.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Vanity Game – Image is everything

Today’s guest blog is by novelist and screenwriter HJHampson whose e-book The Vanity Game is a "terrific black comedy" set against the world of English football and celebrity. Originally from Runcorn she now lives in London.  Her novel has garnered such high profile  fans and praise from authors such as Val McDermid and Megan Abbott.

Blasted Heath recently published my debut novel, The Vanity Game, as an e-book.

The Vanity Game is a noirish satire about a footballer called Beaumont Alexander whose A-list lifestyle spirals out of control after he does something stupid at a celebrity party. 

One of the themes that the novel explores is identity and image. At the start of the novel I use a quote from French Situationist Guy Debord, who wrote a book called The Society of the Spectacle. Whilst I would like to stress that the novel is much lighter in tone than this rather heavy-going slab of leftist philosophy, I do feel that in its own special way, The Vanity Game is a little bit situationist.

For those unfamiliar with Debord’s concept, he basically reckoned that in modern capitalist societies relations between commodities and images have replaced actual relations between people. It’s more than image-worship: the spectacle itself is the way relations between people have become mediated by images.  John Harris, writing in the Guardian, explains it better than I can.

I read the Society of the Spectacle when I was an angry, leftist philosophy student in the late 1990s and not long after that there was an explosion in ‘celebrity culture’. I remember getting a pilot edition of Heat free with Select magazine (long may it rest in peace), and thinking ‘well, this will never catch on’, but somehow it did, and it seemed to me that this was exactly what Debord was talking about.  I should have kept that pilot edition, it might be worth something now.

Anyway The Vanity Game satirises this celebrity culture which has burgeoned to an alarming degree in the last two decades and I guess what prompted me to write the novel was, in part, some sympathy with Debord’s ideas.  What came before all those magazines that scream stories of TV stars cellulite horrors from the supermarket checkout stands? I can’t even remember… oh yes, I suppose it was magazines like Select, or Melody Maker or Smash Hits.

Mass media, Debord says, is the most obvious manifestation of the spectacle, and look at how celebrity magazines and women’s magazines construct a fake reality:  the love affairs of the ‘famous’ are sensationalised – made out to be whimsical or agonizing in equal measure, everyone is breaking up and making up all the time; how many of these stories about Ms. So-and-so going through strife with Mr. So-and-so are actually true? Truth doesn’t matter.   The diets of the famous are impossible, the clothes on the fashion pages are too expensive for most readers to really be able to afford … and let’s not even get onto airbrushing!  It’s all just a representation of a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. 

All in all, I think it’s extremely sinister, and I guess it was the sinister aspect that inspired me to write about it.  If the images in the magazines are not real, who are the real people behind those fake images, and what are they getting away with?  These are the questions I hope The Vanity Game answers.

Debord suggested a fun way to battle the forceful surge of the spectacle: détournement – which sort of entails playing the spectacle at its own game and creating a (usually humorous) fake reality of the fake reality, so I hope he would have appreciated my novel if he were still with us.  He died from a (self-inflicted) stab wound to the stomach in 1994, and astute readers will note there is a little nod to this in The Vanity Game too.  

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Books to look forward to from Cornerstone (Century, Hutchinson, Random House Books, William Heinemann, Preface Publishing and Arrow)

The past will always find you.  A woman is found brutally murdered in a sordid Atlanta apartment.  Her blood-soaked body bears a startling similarity to a woman found dead almost 40 years earlier.  Soon Special Agent Will Trent finds himself returning to the home he grew up in.  And a past that could hold the clue to the killings.  Criminal is the latest book in the Georgia Series by Karin Slaughter and is due to be published in July 2012.

Bones are Forever is by Kathy Reichs and is due to be published in August 2012. A newborn baby is found wedged in a vanity cabinet in a rundown apartment near Montreal.  Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec, is brought in to investigate. While there, she discovers the mummified remains of two more babies within the same room.  Shocked and distressed, Tempe must use all her skills and inner strength to focus on the facts. But when the autopsies reveal that the children died of unnatural causes, the hunt for the mother - a young woman with a seedy past and at least three aliases - is on. The trail leads Tempe to Yellowknife, a cold, desolate diamond-mining town on the edge of the Arctic Circle, where her quest for the truth only throws up more questions, more secrets, and more dead bodies.  Taking risks and working alone, Tempe refuses to give up until she has discovered why the babies died. But in such a hostile environment, can she avoid being the next victim?

Francis Ackerman is back!  The terrifying serial killer has kept a low profile for the past year. Now he is ready to return to work – still as brutal, but more cunning, calculated and dangerous as ever.  Marcus Williams cannot shake Ackerman from his mind.  But now fully integrated into The Shepherd Organisation, Marcus has to focus on catching a new serial killer.  ‘The Anarchist’, who drugs and kidnaps young women before savagely disposing of them.  Marcus and his colleagues face a race against time: the Anarchist will strike again soon.  And Ackerman is still free.  Even worse than this is a mysterious figure, unknown to the authorities, who controls the actions of the Anarchist and many like him.  He is: The Prophet.  The Prophet is by Ethan Cross and is due to be published in October 2012.

Guilty Wives is by James Patterson and David Ellis and is due to be published in July 2012.  Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to.  Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne.  For four days, they're free to live someone else's life.  As the weekend moves into pulsating nightclubs, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.  In the morning's harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police.  Something awful has happened - something impossible, unthinkable.  Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable.  And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime - a fight for survival.  "Guilty Wives" is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of non-stop joy ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger. Also being published in August 2012 by James Patterson is Maximum Ride: Nevermore the final book in the Maximum Ride Series.  In the beginning, there was maximum ride...A girl.  A fighter.  A leader.  A superhuman with a mission to save the world.  She's gone to the ends of the earth seeking her destiny.  And now, the end isn't near...It's here.

When ten-year-old Rainey Teague disappears on his way home from school in idyllic Niceville, Detective Nick Kavanaugh traces the boy to his last sighting - staring into the window of old pawn shop in town.  CCTV shows Rainey there one minute and then gone the next.  In the days that follow, any hope Rainey's family has of finding him alive starts to fade but then Rainey is found - alive but in a coma, and there's no telling when, or if, he'll ever wake up...One year on, Kavanagh is still haunted by the case.  And now another member of the town - this time an elderly woman - has been reported missing.  It's as though she vanished into thin air.  Once again, Kavanagh's on the case and, as he starts to dig back through the town's history, he can't help but notice that Niceville has a much higher than average number of stranger abductions... Niceville is by Carsten Stroud and is due to be published in August 2012.

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken is by Tarquin Hall and is due to be published in July 2012.  Vish Puri is as fond of butter chicken as the next Punjabi.  And when there's plenty on offer at the Delhi Durbar hotel where he's attending an India Premier League cricket match dinner, he's the first to tuck in.  Irfan Khan, father of Pakistani star cricketer Kamran Khan, can't resist either.  But the creamy dish proves his undoing.  After a few mouthfuls, he collapses on the floor, dead.  Clearly, this isn't a case of Delhi Belly.  But who amongst the Bollywood stars, politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists poisoned Khan is a mystery.  And with the capital's police chief proving as incompetent as ever, it falls to Most Private Investigators to find out the truth.  Puri is soon able to link Khan to a bald bookie called Full Moon and all the clues point to the involvement of a gambling syndicate that controls the illegal X billion dollars betting industry.  The answers seem to lie in Surat, the diamond cutting and polishing capital of the world (where Puri's chief undercover operative Tubelight meets his match) and across the border in Pakistan, Puri's nemesis, the one country where he has sworn never to set foot.  Or do they? A certain determined, grey-haired lady with a unique insight into the murder believes that the portly detective is barking up 'a wrong tree'. Is Mummy-ji right? Is there more to the murder than meets the eye? And why, to make life even more complicated for Vish Puri, has someone tried to steal the longest moustache in the world - from right under the nose of its owner? Literally.
Free Alex Cross is by James Patterson and is due to be published in October 2012.  Detective Alex Cross arrests renowned plastic surgeon Elijah Creem for sleeping with teenage girls.  Now, his life ruined, Creem is out of jail, and he's made sure that no one will recognize him - by giving himself a new face.  A young woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window, and Alex is called to the scene.  The victim recently gave birth, but the baby is nowhere to be found.  Before Alex can begin searching for the missing newborn and killer, he's called to investigate a second crime.  All of Washington DC is in a panic, and when a third body is discovered, rumours of three serial killers send the city into an all-out frenzy.  Alex's investigations are going nowhere, and he's too focused on the cases to notice that someone has been watching him - and will stop at nothing until he's dead.  With white-hot speed, relentless drama, and hairpin turns, Free Alex Cross is an ultimate thrill ride.  The other Alex Cross book due to be published in November 2012 is Merry Christmas Alex Cross.  It’s Christmas Eve in Washington DC, Detective Alex Cross is at home with her family decorating the tree and enjoying a Cross family tradition, a big bowl of egg nog, when he receives a phone call that causes the festivities to be put on hold.  Across town in a mansion house, Henry Fowler, a hard-nosed corporate lawyer turned small-time drug hustler, is holding his children, his ex-wife, her new husband and a neighbour at gun point.  High on crystal meth and heavily armed, Fowler is refusing to speak with the negotiator.  As an expert in hostage situations, Alex has been called in to try and save a potential massacre.  But with Fowler crazed and irrational, will Alex be able to save the lives of these hostages, as well as coming out alive himself?  At the same time, international terrorist Hala al Dossari has been planning a devastating attack to strike at the heart of the Western world on the most important day of the year – Christmas Day!

An F-18 Navy fighter careens out of the blue sky above the Mojave desert. A TV cameraman, who grew up in a small town just miles away, can see what is going to happen next. Frantically, Wes Stewart races to the downed jet and tries to save the pilot's life. When the plane explodes, Wes escapes without harm - and plunges into a murderous conspiracy. It's been fifteen years since Wes has been back to the desolate landscape of his childhood. Now, he finds himself up against the US military, the local police and someone who is tracking his every move. In the moments he spent with the dying pilot, Wes discovered something that could get him killed. But while he tries to untangle a web of lies and secrets surrounding the crash, another danger is stalking him. And this one he will never see coming.  No Return is by Brett Battles and is due to be published in August 2012.

On a freezing October morning, Detective Inspector Frank Keane is called to the scene of a crime on Liverpool's shoreline. The body of what looks like a man, brutally tortured and burned, has been tied to a pole on the beach. With very little evidence to go on, Keane and his partner, DS Emily Harris, rely on their gut feeling that this murder is gang-related and their investigation takes them, once again, into the murky underworld of organised crime. Over in Australia, ex-Liverpool Police detective Menno Koopman - Frank's former boss - is enjoying his retirement. He has no plans to ever return to England but when the body on the beach turns out to be his son, Stevie - whom he only ever met once as a baby - he knows he has to go back and seek justice for his horrific murder. But there's a fine line between justice and revenge.  A Dark Place to Die is the debut crime novel by Ed Chatterton and is due to be published in September 2012.

The Saint Zita Society is by Ruth Rendell and is due to be published in July 2012.  'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria.  So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way.  Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour'.  Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich.  The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.  When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings.  These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother.  Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him.  And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits...Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.

The life of a young police officer is hard enough, yet Samantha Ryan is not only a member of the Boston PD but also a now defunct coven based in Salem.  So when two students are murdered in quick succession, pentagons smeared onto their foreheads, it becomes clear that Sam must delve into her terrifying past and go undercover to solve these occult-soaked crimes.  Through her head screams no, she must embrace her long forgotten magical powers in order to save the society who have rejected her.  But against such a powerful and sadistic coven in such a weakened state she will be lucky to make it out alive. The 13th Sacrifice is the first in the Witch Hunt Trilogy by Debbie Viguié and is due to be published in October 2012.

Spartacus Rebellion: is by Ben Kane and is due to be published in August 2012.   The mighty slave army, led by Spartacus, has carried all before it, scattering the legions of Rome. Three praetors, two consuls and one proconsul have been defeated. Spartacus seems invincible as he marches towards the Alps and freedom. But storm clouds are massing on the horizon. Crixus the Gaul defects, taking all his men with him. Crassus, the richest man in Rome, begins to raise a formidable army, tasked specifically with the defeat of Spartacus. And within the slave army itself, there are murmurings of dissent and rebellion. "Spartacus", on the brink of glory, must make a crucial decision - to go forward over the Alps to freedom, or back to face the might of Rome and try to break its stranglehold on power forever

Capital Crimes "tells the shifting story of crime and punishment in London through vivid recreations of a series of murders that stretch from the killing of the Lord Chancellor Roger Lyett during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381 through to the hanging of Syllou Christofi in 1953. Some of the murderers, such as the psychopath Neville Heath, are still remembered. Others, including the eighteenth-century throat-cutter Gerard Dromelius, are largely forgotten. But all their lives and fates have much to tell us -- about London's changing underworld, about the slow evolution of policing in the capital, and about the strange workings of the law (Elizabeth Lillyman, for example, who murdered her husband in 1675, was found guilty of 'petty treason'). Above all, they provide a fascinatingly sidewise view of London itself over the centuries -- from the crime-ridden alleyways of the Georgian capital to the supposedly respectable suburbs of Finchley, where the notorious 'baby-farmers' Amelia Sach and Annie Walters operated at the beginning of the twentieth century. Illustrated throughout with contemporary engravings and photographs, this is an essential read for all devotees of London -- and of crime.  Capital Crimes is by Max Décharné and is due to be published in September 2012.

Donnie Miller counts himself lucky. Living in a beautiful, spacious house in the wild and remote landscape of central Canada, he spends his days writing for the local newspaper, working on a film script, and acting as house-husband. After a troubled and impoverished upbringing in Scotland, he now has all he wants: a caring wife, a bright and happy son, a generous father-in-law. As the brutal northern winter begins to bite, he can sit back and enjoy life. But his peace is soon to be broken. There are noises in the nearby woods, signs of some mysterious watcher. When the family dog disappears, Donnie makes a horrifying discovery. Is it wolves, as the police suspect, or something far more dangerous, far darker? What secrets has Donnie been keeping? And why does he have the terrible sense that his dream was never going to last?   A taut, shocking and visceral thriller that will leave you gasping for breath, "Cold Hands" is the first in an exciting new series by John J. Niven and is due to be published in August 2012.

The Kings of Cool is the much awaited prequel to the bestseller Savages.   In Savages, Don Winslow introduced Ben and Chon, twenty-something best friends who risk everything to save the girl they both love, O.  Now in the high octane prequel, Winslow reaches back in time to tell the story of how Ben, Chon and O became the people they are.  Spanning fifty years, from 19602 Southern California to the recent past, it is a tale of family in all its forms – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers.  As the younger generation does battle with a cabal of drug dealers and crooked cops, they come to learn that their future is inextricably linked with their parents’ history.  A series of breakneck twists and turns puts the two generations on a collision course, culminating in a stunning showdown that will ultimately force Ben, Chon and O to choose between their real families, and their love for each other. The Kings of Cool is due to be published in August 2012.
The Splintered Kingdom is by James Aitcheson and is due to be published in September 2012. The story begins on the Welsh Marches, where Tancred has been given land by his new lord, Robert Malet, in return for his services in the battle for York. Now a lord in his own right, he has knights of his own to command and a manor to call home. But all is far from peaceful. The Welsh are joining forces with the English against the Normans and when skirmishes turn into a full scale battle at Shrewsbury, Tancred is betrayed by a rival border lord and taken prisoner by the Welsh. Meanwhile the woman he loves is taken hostage by enemy English forces and the Vikings invade the east coast. Never has Tancred faced a more impossible situation.

When journalist Mark Bretton is asked to write an article on Professor Abigail Marchant, who has been denounced by the American Psychology Association for her belief that rebirth is a genuine phenomenon, he’s more than a little sceptical about the assignment.  An ambitious journalist, Mark would much rather be writing  about current affairs but, once he meets the beautiful Professor and hears her theories, he can’t help but be won over.  Eventually persuaded to undergo regressive hypnosis himself, Mark is shocked and horrified by what he sees.  He is returned to the early 60s when he worked for the Kennedy administration and not only does he learn the truth about the conspiracy that led to JFK’s assassination but also his own murder.  Struggling to make sense of it all, Mark turns to Abi for help but someone is watching Mark’s every move and will stop at nothing to ensure that the truth about JFK’s murder never comes to light…. The Kennedy Conspiracy is by Michael White and is due to be published in October 2012

Confessions of a Murder Suspect is by James Patterson and is due to be published in September 2012.  On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, their daughter, Tandy, knows just three things: she was one of the last people to see her parents alive. She and her brothers are the only suspects. She can't trust anyone - maybe not even herself. Having grown up under their parents' intense perfectionist demands, none of the Angel children have come away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to solve the crime on her own, but digging deeper into her powerful parents' affairs is a dangerous game. As she uncovers haunting secrets and slowly begins to remember flashes of disturbing past events buried in her memory, Tandy is forced to ask: What is the Angel family truly capable of? Returning to the genre that made him the world's bestselling author, James Patterson introduces a teen detective on a mission to bring her parents' killer to justice, even if it means uncovering her family's darkest secrets - and confessing some of her own.