blog tour

Blog Tour: Show Stopper – Hayley Barker

Release Date: 1st June 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Set in a near-future England where the poorest people in the land are forced to sell their children to a tra

velling circus – to perform at the mercy of hungry lions, sabotaged high wires and a demonic ringmaster. The ruling class visit the circus as an escape from their structured, high-achieving lives – pure entertainment with a bloodthirsty edge. Ben, the teenage son of a draconian government minister, visits the circus for the first time and falls instantly in love with Hoshiko, a young performer. They come from harshly different worlds – but must join together to escape the circus and put an end to its brutal sport.


This book caught my eye when I heard people talking about it on Twitter. The premise combined with the gorgeous cover art really sucked me in and I was really desperate to read it. Even though I’d read the description and a few blogger reviews, this book was still completely unlike what I thought it would be. It’s a dark and brutal story about a future England in which ‘pure’ English people are the ruling elite, and everyone not completely English is a ‘dreg’ and forced to live in service to them. This idea is topical at the moment with all that’s been going on recently, and I think it was a really fascinating take on the subject. It’s handled very well and makes for a really gripping read.

The book is split into alternating points of view, between Ben one of the pures, who’s mother is actually the Minister for dreg control and Hoshiko, a young girl forced to perform in the dreg circus, which pures flock to every night in order to watch them before dangerous stunts and die. I really loved the way it was split between the two characters, because not only does it give you two points of view to the story, but it’s really interesting to see how they are both trapped by their lives – Hoshiko because she’s forced to perform for people every night with very little food, doesn’t get to see her family and is treated horribly. While Ben lives in a nice house and has things much better off, he’s also trapped and isn’t allowed to express how he feels, or suggest that what his mother is doing is horrific.

There are plenty of shocking moments in this book, and it kept me hooked for hours on end. My other half remarked on several occasions that it must be a bloody good book because I hadn’t moved for long stretches of time because I was utterly desperate to know what happens next. Hoshiko and Ben are both brilliant characters, they’re complex and flawed people, but they’re deeply likeable and you definitely root for them the whole way through. They’re joined by a whole host of really interesting characters, and I was particularly intrigued by Silvio – the ringmaster of the circus. He has a very dark past and Barker uses this to really show how it affects him as an adult.

The other thing I really loved was the way in which the Circus were like a family, despite the horrible conditions forced upon them. They look after each other, help each other when they’re injured and share a hope that things will get better in the future. It’s a really beautiful subplot in the story, showing the importance of family even in the toughest of situations.

Along with all these fabulous characters the glittering circus is a great setting, and it really comes alive in Barker’s prose. There’s lots of action and a fair bit of gore to keep you hooked and wanting more. This book is a really fantastic example of dystopian YA and I loved it from beginning to end. If  you’re looking for the next big YA book this summer, this is definitely the one.

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Show Stopper blog tour, be sure to check the other stops listed here! ->

Blog Tour: The Things We Thought We Knew – Mahsuda Snaith

33791604Release Date: June 15th 2017
Pages: 304
Publisher: Transworld Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads. 
Source: Transworld kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.


Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced slugs, and looked up at the stars and imagined their own constellations. And then, one day, Marianne disappeared.

Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed in her mother’s council flat, plagued by chronic pain syndrome, writing down the things we remembers. As her words fill page after page, she begins to understand that the only way to conquer her pain is to confront the horrors of her past.

Heartbreaking, seductive and utterly unforgettable, The Things We Thought We Knew is a rich and powerful novel about the things we remember and the things we wish we could forget.


Welcome to my stop on The Things We Thought We Knew blog tour! This is stunning and powerful novel, and it completely blew me away. The really stunning thing about it is the writing, which is crisp and evocative. It really drew me in straight away with it’s magnificent writing style. I was completely hooked as Ravine tells you her story.

I really liked the way that the story alternated between the current day and Ravine’s past, telling you stories from her childhood. It really gave you the opportunity to get to know the character. Sometimes with alternating times the story can be a little clunky, but the two time frames flow seamlessly in The Things We Thought We Knew. Ravine is a really well fleshed out character (as are all the others in the book) she’s complex and realistic and makes for a fascinating protagonist. It was really interesting to learn about the chronic pain syndrome that Ravine has to deal with every day, as well as coping with the disappearance of her best friend Marianne. I also really loved Amma, Ravine’s mum. She’s a strong and fascinating character, getting on with things despite all that she’s been through, and it’s really lovely to see her continually providing love and support to Ravine.

This story is a powerful and heartbreaking one, and really captures life in council estate Britain. The setting is vivid and realistic, and captures the sense that everyone knows exactly what is going on with their neighbours and those that live around them. The Things We Thought We Knew is a really stunning debut novel, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more from Mahsuda Snaith. If you’re looking for a striking and compelling read (one with beautiful prose and a rather gorgeous cover) this book is definitely one for you!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops listed below!

Blog Tour: Being Simon Haines – Tom Vaughan MacAulay

34620431Release Date: June 22nd 2017
Publisher: Red Door Publishing
Pages: 356
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was sent a copy of the book by Red Door in exchange for an honest review.


Meet Simon Haines.

For a decade he’s been chasing his dream: partnership at the legendary, family-run law firm of Fiennes & Plunkett. The grueling hours and manic intensity of his job have come close to breaking him, but he has made it through the years and is now within a whisker of his millions: in less than two weeks, he will know the outcome of the partnership vote. He decides to spend the wait in Cuba in an attempt to rediscover his youthful enthusiasm and curiosity, and to clear his mind before the arrival of the news that might change his life forever. But alone in Havana he becomes lost in nostalgia and begins to relive his past…

Set against the backdrop of an uncertain world, and charged with emotion, Being Simon Haines is a searching story about contemporary London and aspiration, values and love. Painting a picture of a generation of young professionals, it asks the most universal of questions: are we strong enough to know who we are?


Welcome to my stop on the Being Simon Haines blog tour!  Being Simon Haines is certainly a fascinating story. Everything in his life has been garnered towards chasing his ultimate goal – being made a partner at Fiennes & Plunkett. Escaping to Havana while he waits to find out if he’s got the job, Simon starts to question whether barely seeing his family and spending all that time in the office was really worth it.

One of the things that really struck me about this book is the way that it is written. It’s very realistic, and reads almost like an autobiography or non-fiction piece. It really brought Simon and the other characters to life with the memoir style and the bits of humour thrown in to make it even more enjoyable. Simon is fascinating, he’s intelligent, driven and in someways admirable for being so determined to reach his goals. I really loved the way this book takes you on the journey of his whole life, from his time as a school boy to his current time in Havana. It really allows you to see Simon grow and become the person that he is – as well as highlighting just what he has sacrificed to get there.

I think that Being Simon Haines is a particularly refreshing book, looking at the problems and sacrifices a person has to face in order to make it in the big city. A lot of the time books focus on the wonderful journey a person takes to reach their life goal, but this is a different sort of story altogether. It is certainly a very thought provoking book, and I was completely captivated by the story, reading it over one weekend. Being Simon Haines is one stunning debut, and I’m certainly looking forward to reading what Tom Vaughan MacAulay writes next!

Blog Tour: Block 46 – Johanna Gustawsson

Release Date: October 1st 2017
Pages: 300
Publisher: Orenda Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Orenda Books kindly sent me a copy of the book to review.


In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.


Welcome to my stop on the Block 46 blog tour! Block 46 absolutely blew me away. Johanna Gustawsson has created a taught and gripping thriller, that refuses to let the reader go. The writing in this book is sublime, as readers we are instantly transported between Sweden, London and the Buchenwald Concentration Camps in 1944. It was this aspect that I enjoyed most about Block 46. The different locations and time frames are very visually depicted, and the reader becomes completely engrossed in this compelling story.

This book is a dark one, and tackles a very difficult subject in the holocaust. The plot is well paced, giving the reader time to come up with theories and suggestions for what is going on, only to refute them guessing again. There are times when the book is scary and a little uncomfortable – the horrors of medical experimentation in Buchenwald is one such example. The other thing I really loved about this book is the way that the multiple threads and narrative start off seeming completely unconnected, but then begin to join together as the story progresses, it really helped to heighten the tension, and made me very eager to know what was going to happen next.

I also thought the characters were really excellently portrayed in Block 46. Some were likeable and some weren’t – I particularly liked French crime writer Alexis – but each one was skillfully written and displayed Gustawsson’s talent for creating complex and interesting characters. I won’t say much about the conclusion of the story, other than saying that it definitely makes you think, and stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. Block 46 is a very impressive crime thriller, and I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Block 46 blog tour, check out the tour poster below for all the other fabulous stops!

Blog Tour: Not the Only Sky – Alyssa Warren

Release Date: April 27th 2017
Publisher: Black & White Publishing
Pages: 336
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was sent a free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Big Bend, population 500. South Dakota, 1988. Eight-year-old Tiny Mite lives in a ramshackle farmhouse next to her grandfather’s crashed airplane and the pine tree where she trains as a spy. Goddamn is her favourite word. Taking pictures with a homemade camera is her new big thing. She lives with Bee, her apocalypse-obsessed grandmother and Luvie, her hard-drinking great-aunt. And then there’s her mother, Velvet – beautiful, heartbroken, desperate, impulsive. One night, Tiny Mite goes to the basement and hears a cry, but it’s not what she imagines and nothing will ever be the same.

Six years later, Clea won’t let anyone call her Tiny Mite anymore. Luvie is sober and Bee’s health is failing. Velvet has been gone for years, and nobody except Bee will even mention her name. Alone, angry and dressed in her grandfather’s old hunting clothes, Clea mopes through ditches and fields taking photographs until she hatches a plan with another loner, a boy with an unspeakable past.

This is a story of mothers and daughters. Of people tied by blood and home. Of moments captured and lifetimes lost. And of things never quite turning out as expected.


Welcome to my stop on the Not the Only Sky blog tour! This book is a story of family, and particularly the relationship between a mother and daughter. It was completely not what I expected, and I absolutely loved reading it. The book is set in South Dakota in a small village where most people know each other, and stay in the same village their whole life, It’s a really interesting setting, and one that really comes to life in Warren’s prose.

The thing I loved most about Not the Only Sky was the cleverly written characters. Clea (or Tiny Mite) is fascinating. She’s a quirky child, but she’s also clever and has a pretty vivid imagination. I loved her from the outset and she’s a character that has stuck with me long after I finished reading the book. The rest of the characters are also well written and memorable – Bee and Luvie are interesting ladies, and Clea’s mother Velvet is a particularly complex and mult-layered character. This book is very much focused on relationships, and it’s really a fantastic story – following the story and seeing their relationships adapt and change over time.

I read this book really quickly, mainly because I was so absorbed in the story and the characters. One of the things that I thought were particularly well done was the transition between a young Tiny Mite to a more mature Clea. I think this can often be quite difficult to do, but Warren provides a seamless transition between the perspectives, and this makes for a really rich and enjoyable story. The cover art is also absolutely beautiful, and I for one cannot wait to see what Alyssa Warren writes next – this is a thoroughly enjoyable read!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Not the Only Sky blog tour, be sure to stop by the other bloggers listed below!

Book Review: Sleeper – J D Fennell

Release Date: April 28th 2017
Publisher: The Dome Press
Pages: 228
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it. As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing? Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.


This is one action packed story! Sleeper follows sixteen year old Will Starling who is anything but ordinary. I really loved this book. I was sucked in almost straight away. Sleeper is written in short punchy chapters, that always leave you wanting more. I found myself often saying ‘oh the chapter is short, I’ll just read another one’ and still being there an hour later. Sleeper is a well-spun narrative, and one that fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider will just adore.

I really loved the setting. London during the blitz is an already action-packed setting, and it really comes alive in Fennell’s story. Couple this with the high body count and loads of fast-paced scenes and you’re in for one wild ride of a story. The story blends the historical setting and contemporary narrative in a seamless way, and the two elements make for a very compelling story.

I loved Will. He’s such a fascinating character, and I really enjoyed following his story. It’s really interesting to see how Will reacts in different situations, as he discovers the skills he’s got.  I also really liked Anna Wilder, an MI5 agent who helps Will along the way. Combining the fast action of the plot with the fascinating characters (and that stunning cover!) makes Sleeper a really gripping read, and one that people of all ages will enjoy. Sleeper is one hell of a debut – I guarantee you’ll be hooked from start to finish.

Thanks so much for checking out my stop on the Sleeper blog tour. You can read my interview with J D Fennell here, and make sure you check out the rest of the stops!

Blog Tour: Sleeper – J D Fennell



Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it. As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

Now read an interview with Sleeper author J D Fennell!

1. For those that haven’t read Sleeper, can you tell us a little about it?

Sleeper is a pacey thriller that follows the journey of sixteen-year old Will Starling in 1941, who is pulled from the sea with no memory of the past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. The notebook is Will’s only way of uncovering who he is. But other people also want the notebook. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor.

2. Congratulations on your debut novel! How does it feel to finally have it out there?

It has still not really sunk in. When I first held a printed copy, it was the most extraordinary feeling. I sat down, opened the pages and without realising it, read it as if it was not my book. It was strange but nice at the same time.

3. The book reminded me a little of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, what was your inspiration for writing Sleeper?

Well, first up I love the 1940s period, the fashion, cars and basic technology. I am also a fan of fast paced thrillers and the dramatic setting of the blitz just seemed such a perfectly treacherous location to drop my characters into.

4. Did you always have plans to write the story as a trilogy?

I thought it might be a series. Of what length I was never quite sure. A trilogy seems about right, for now, at least.

5. As a newly published author, what advice would you give those looking to get their book published?

Work on your craft and always try to write the best book you possibly can. Get to know the agents you want to submit to, look at their other titles and ensure they are right for you. If possible, attend literary events and meet agents and other industry professionals; networking is nice, however, if you have written a great book, it will be picked up sooner or later.

6. I really love the cover for Sleeper. Did you have any input on the cover design?

Yes I did, which is quite unusual for a debut writer. My publisher and I sat down and reviewed the four proposed designs. We both agreed on our favourite, but wanted a few more changes, including the addition of the sniper scope, which finished it off beautifully. I could not be happier with the cover.

7. Now that Sleeper is released, what are you working on next?

I am working on the follow up to Sleeper. There is more to come for Will Starling.

8. And finally, what are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading Spellslinger by Sebastian De Castell, a YA fantasy with a western theme. I am doing an event with Sebastian in Waterstones Newcastle on 3rd May, to talk about our books. I am loving the world he has created. It is really terrific.

Thanks goes to J D Fennell for answering my questions. Sleeper is available now from Dome Press.

Blog Tour: The Second Sister – Claire Kendal


Release Date: May 4th 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 467
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.
Source: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


It is ten years since Ella’s sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him?

At thirty, Miranda’s age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims.

Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew’s longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth – no matter how dangerous…


Today we’re kicking off the blog tour for the magnificent The Second Sister. Claire Kendal’s new novel follows Miranda as she attempts to discover the reasons for her sister’s disappearance ten years ago. This book is such a wild ride – it hooks you in from the very first page and absolutely does not let you go. I loved The Second Sister, and it definitely shoots right to the top as one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.

Part of the reason I really enjoyed this book so much was the wonderfully written characters. They’re depicted very realistically, and Kendal really gives you the opportunity to delve deep and get to know her characters. I loved Ella’s little boy Luke, he’s such a clever and interesting character. Likewise Ella is a really interesting character, and I really enjoyed watching the story play out as she attempts to discover what happened all those years ago. You really begin to root for her, hoping she finds the answers that she needs.

There is some love interest in the story too – I didn’t enjoy this aspect as much as the creepy mystery elements, but it adds another layer to an already complex and fascinating plot. This book isn’t a fast action type thriller, it’s much more slow burning and atmospheric. There’s plenty of twists along the way, and the plot will keep you guessing right until the very end. I always feel slightly let down when I figure out the mystery well before the reveal, but that definitely wasn’t the case with The Second Sister. The second half of the book is particularly intriguing – I won’t say too much so I don’t spoil it for anyone! – but this really is the perfect book for thriller fans. A creepy mystery, a plot that keeps you guessing and some fantastically written characters – what more do you need?

Thanks for checking out my stop on The Second Sister Blog Tour! Be sure to check out the other stops below!

Blog Tour: We All Begin As Strangers – Harriet Cummings

Release Date: 20th April 2017
Publisher: Orion
Find It On: Amazon. Goodreads.


It’s 1984, and summer is scorching the ordinary village of Heathcote.

What’s more, a mysterious figure is slipping into homes through back doors and open windows. Dubbed ‘the Fox’, he knows everything about everyone – leaving curious objects in their homes, or taking things from them.

When beloved Anna goes missing, the whole community believes the Fox is responsible.

For the worried residents, finding Anna will be difficult – but stopping the Fox from exposing their darkest secrets might just be impossible…


Welcome to my stop on the We All Begin As Strangers blog tour!  This title is very loosely based on a true story, and that definitely piqued my interest straight away. This book is beautifully written, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.

The story is centred on a small country village, and the depiction of the setting is absolutely excellent. As someone who has never lived in small village, the atmosphere and writing really transported me into the setting, and it was really easy to delve into. The writing throughout the novel is very detailed and excellently described, it was very easy to vividly picture the scenes and characters. The characters are particularly well written, each one is well fleshed out – Deloris is my favourite – and you definitely start to empathise with them along the way.

The story is told from the point of view of four of the different village residents, and I really liked the idea of seeing things from different people’s perspectives. The plot is quite a slow building one, but the descriptive nature of the story really helps to build that sense of atmosphere and place. I did find it a little slow in some places, but overall I think this is a beautifully crafted novel.

I won’t say too much about the ending because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone, but I did guess who The Fox was. This didn’t take away my enjoyment of the story though, there’s still plenty of little surprises along the way, and the ending is executed perfectly. This book is ultimately about relationships and the value of human interaction. I think the title is a particularly fitting one, and that cover art is absolutely stunning.

Overall, We All Begin As Strangers is just a lovely read. It is at times witty and clever, and other times devastating and sad. It’s the sort of book I want my friends and family to read, just so I can spend hours discussing it with someone – this is definitely one I recommend.

Blog Tour: Fatal Music – Peter Morfoot


Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is called to a potential crime scene – an elderly woman found dead in her hot tub. At first it is thought that she died of natural causes, but a surprising link with Darac’s own life leads him to dig deeper. In doing so he uncovers disturbing proof that there may have been a motive to kill the woman, and there is no shortage of suspects…

Release Date: April 4th 2017
Pages: 352
Publisher: Titan Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads

Now read an interview with author Peter Morfoot!

1. For those that haven’t read Fatal Music, could you tell us a little about it?

Following Impure Blood, (Titan Books April, 2016) Fatal Music is the second novel in my series featuring the jazz-playing, quick-thinking, warm-hearted but combustible Captain Paul Darac of Nice’s Serious Crimes Squad, the Brigade Criminelle. Opening on the anniversary of the ban on smoking in public places in France, themes of change, loss and new beginnings run through the story which spans the full width of Nice’s social spectrum.

It begins with the discovery of the remains of a 71 year-old woman in her hot tub. When it is found that she had suffered from a heart condition and other maladies, death by natural causes seems the obvious conclusion. Although the death initially offers little of interest to Darac and his team, the dead woman herself comes to fascinate the detective. And then a series of anomalies starts to gnaw at him.

The case is complicated by a number of personal factors for Darac. But he must leave aside allegiances past and present to disentangle a story of greed, deception and escalating murder – murder in which Darac himself becomes a target.

2. Had you always planned to write more than one Darac novel?

Absolutely. I’ve said elsewhere that one of the things I enjoy most about reading crime series – Jim Kelly’s impressive D.I. Peter Shaw novels, for instance – is following the lives of its central character and supporting players as they develop over time. The same applies to writing series. Having created Darac, his team and his world, I can’t wait to see what will happen to them next.

3. What inspired you to write a dark crime series?

I’ve always loved reading crime fiction but for years I wrote nothing but comedy. And scripted comedy for broadcast, at that. It wasn’t until I’d written a successful comic novel that I realised I could tackle full-length prose work. I thought that the vibrant light of the South of France seemed the perfect backdrop for venturing into the dark.

4. Who are the authors that have inspired you most?

What writer wouldn’t be inspired by the 60-year career of Broadway playwright and Hollywood screenwriter Ben Hecht? Gifted as well as prolific, he wrote everything from tense thrillers such as Alfred Hitchock’s Notorious and Spellbound to fabulous laugh-out-loud comedies like The Front Page and Monkey Business. In terms of prose, I still get a buzz from reading the American hard-boiled trio of Chandler, Hammett and Ross Macdonald. And two contemporary writers make my starting line-up of inspirers: the peerless John Le Carré; and the quirkily brilliant Fred Var
gas. And see question 7 for a newcomer to my team.

5. With Fatal Music about to be released, what are you working on next?

Having already completed the third Darac story, Box of Bones, (Titan Books, April 2018) I’m excited at how the fourth in the series is progressing. In this new story… but that would be telling.

6. Was there lots of research involved in writing gritty and realistic fiction?

“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is something of a cliché but researching adequately is an essential part of the process of writing anything. Like any crime fan, I’m fascinated by forensics and pathology so it’s no hardship to settle down with tomes such as Stevens and Bannon’s Book of Posions, (Writer’s Digest Books, 2007), and similar works.

though – initially in having to get to grips with a legal, penal and policing system that is very different from ours in the UK. In terms of the local situation, it’s been invaluable to talk to both beat and senior officers in Nice. As for the setting itself, I’ve got to know the city and its environs well over the years,
certainly well enough for it to feature as a character in its own right in the stories. And I hope that comes across. At times, the French setting of the Darac series has presented a challenge,

7. Finally, what’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Adam Mars-Jones is best known for his penetrating, sometimes lacerating, literary criticism. I discovered only recently that he writes novels, too. And he does so brilliantly. Pilcrow and Cedilla (Faber, 2008, and 2011, respectively) centre on the young life of John Cromer, a boy who suffers from a crippling form of arthritis. Physically tiny, immobile and vulnerable, the character nevertheless struts through his life with a chirpy confidence that is touching, funny and utterly compelling. Disarmingly, Mars-Jones has said that nothing much happens in the two novels and what does happen happens slowly. Every page, though, offers reading pleasures aplenty and having devoured Pilcrow more or less at one sitting, I got stuck into Cedilla immediately. It provided an equally delicious experience. Mars-Jones puts the reader so surely into the head and world of John Cromer that many readers assume the writer himself must have suffered from the disease as a child. He didn’t. That’s genius.