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The Promise Book Tour – Extract

The PromiseEnjoy an extract from Katerina Diamond’s latest chilling tale called ‘The Promise’.

Imogen put her hands on her hips and looked around the room some more. It was a small space and they were on the verge of being in the way, so she signalled to Adrian who stepped out of the room first. She followed him, nodding to the technicians, and they headed down the corridor, peering into the bathroom.

Another technician was in there taking swabs and samples. They would have to come back when it had been properly processed; there simply wasn’t enough room for everyone. This initial assessment would have to do for now.

DCI Mira Kapoor was standing in the lounge when they got downstairs. She had a suitably sombre expression on her face. She always behaved the way she was supposed to behave, said what she was supposed to say when in public. At the same time, she was quite rebellious, at least on the sly, in her office where it mattered.

She listened when she needed to listen and she never took any action that wasn’t carefully considered. Imogen was quite taken with her, although she still reserved some judgement; she had been burned by her superiors before.

‘Poor girl. I want you two to speak to the neighbours and work colleagues, see if you can get a picture of who she was. Later on, you can speak to the sister, she was pretty inconsolable by all accounts and the hospital have admitted her. She’s sleeping now apparently.’

‘OK, Ma’am,’ Imogen said.

As they went to leave, the DCI spoke again.

‘Grey, can I have a private word?’

Imogen nodded to Adrian who carried on outside. The DCI gestured to Imogen to come closer and jerked her head at Adrian’s fast retreating back.

‘How is he doing?’

‘OK, quiet. He’s OK though.’

‘Do you know if he’s been to see the bereavement counsellor?’

‘He hasn’t mentioned it, but I’m going to guess not.’

‘See if you can get him to, please. Last thing I need is him cracking up.’

You can buy The Promise from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

What makes us root for the good bad guy? By Jacqui Rose

Jacqui Rose. Pic by Koobunt PhotographyAfter a two week break, I’m back with the book tour for Jacqui Rose’s new book called ‘Toxic’. Today, Jacqui talks about why we root for the good, bad guy.

Having just re-read ‘Wuthering Heights’ recently, I was struck by how much I was rooting – as always – for Heathcliff, albeit he is downright mean and abusive at times. But no matter, each time I read the book I re-fall in love with him!

So, it got me thinking what is it exactly that makes a good bad guy? I call them, good bad guys because I like to put the villains in two different categories. There’s the bad bad guy where he has no redeeming qualities and the reader is relieved to see him caught in the end, and then there’s the good bad guy, where even though he may live his life outside the law and at times be harsh and cruel, we still want him to escape capture or even sweep us off our feet!

My books are full of good bad guys and even though they do terrible things and treat people badly at times, most of my readers are rooting for them, myself included which is a strange phenomenon when we think of what they have done. In an extreme example you only have to look at Dr. Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs’, a monstrous person who’d committed horrific crimes, yet the whole way through the book, we’re still rooting for him!

I think to root for a good bad guy certainly isn’t about what they look like, though it doesn’t hurt for them to be chiselled and taut! but like all characters it’s about the emotional depth of them, and especially the emotional torment they’re suffering or have suffered.

To create a great bad guy, it’s important from the beginning the readers are behind them. He must have a level of emotional depth above and behind the hero in the story because it’s vital that readers can connect to the reason why he’s acting so badly and what it is which is driving them to such extreme behaviour.

I think this is an essential ingredient so even though the reader might be conflicted by the fact that they’re cheering on the villain of the piece, what will over-ride this moral dilemma will be the emotional connection and the sympathy through the understanding of the character as well as the sense that the bad guy is only in this position for reasons beyond their control rather than by choice.

Toxic

By me making the good bad guy complex, where on the surface it just seems like they have a desire to be bad, but at the same time creating a under the surface narrative where the nature of the behaviour is driven by love, passion or desperation – all emotions that readers can relate to – rather than the readers seeing my good bad guy as completely evil, readers will see him as merely flawed with a possibility of redemption, hopefully they will continue to root for him throughout.

In my latest book ‘Toxic’, the character of Alfie Jennings returns and he very much fits into the good bad guy category. Alfie often seems and behaves like he’s just a tough guy; ruthless and at times out and out uncaring with a driving ambition just to get and stay on top no matter who he hurts. But right at the heart of Alfie there’s a vulnerability, a softness, a man who was damaged by his upbringing, a man when he does love, loves with passion and intensity and as such, Alfie is one of my readers favourite characters which is just great, because it’s always so much more fun to write the good bad guys rather than the hero. We all love a villain!

You can buy Toxic from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Best Of Villains; The Worst Of Villains By Marnie Riches

Born BadToday on the book tour for Marnie Riches thrilling new book ‘Born Bad’, Marnie talks about the best and bad villians.

There really is nothing better in fiction than a good baddy. Me and good baddies go back a long way. At the tender age of five or six, I fell in love with Darth Vader. And I mean, in love. I had the blanket; the bedding; the curtains. Hans Solo was okay, but Vader was the star attraction. The black-clad, helmeted ‘Star Wars’ anti-hero sported that perfect mix of effortless cool and evil, with an unexpected vulnerability and sliver of remaining conscience lurking beneath the hardened exterior of a sociopath.

Out of all the crime fiction I’ve read over the years, the villains who really captured my heart and imagination have been cut from similar cloth. The most charismatic who springs to mind is Hannibal Lecter from Thomas Harris’ ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. He’s suave, sophisticated, super-intelligent, witty…but he kills and eats his victims with the (now-proverbial) fava beans and a nice chianti. Years later, I read ‘Hannibal Rising’, which gives Lecter’s tragic backstory. It was revealing yet unsurprising. The prodigious young Hannibal’s boyhood is haunted by a tragedy of the worst kind. And it is his backstory that endears him to me even more, because as a reader, I can empathise with him and go some way to understanding why he does the terrible things he does. He even has his own twisted moral code, punishing his victims for some perceived wrong-doing; loyally supporting Clarice Starling whom he lovingly deems to be unimpeachable.

So the best baddies, like Vader and Lecter, have tragedy in their pasts that sets them a-stalking down the wrong road in life. It was essential, in devising my own baddies in Born Bad, that I also should give a great deal of thought to my characters’ backstories and reasoning.

Paddy O’Brien, king of the south-side of Manchester, endured a childhood that had been overshadowed by his father – a violent drunk – who showed a clear preference for his sister, Katrina – now a nun who heads up a convent and nursing home. The favouritism and beatings have left Paddy feeling helpless and have dented his self-esteem forever. Conky McFadden, Paddy’s right hand man, is paid muscle who completed an Open University degree in literature, whilst in prison. His is a shady past, sullied by the troubles in Northern Ireland and boyhood peer-pressure to take part in politically-motivated, violent scuffles. But he’s erudite, loyal and a hopeless romantic with appalling self-esteem. He’s perhaps a good man who fell into a bad line of work, fighting for a bad man who was never given a chance to be good.

In the north, we have the Boddlington gang. What would my good baddies be like there? Well, the men that head up a people trafficking, drug-dealing, brothel-keeping and counterfeiting operation are Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies. Rather than the two childhood friends being purely psychopathic, they are savvy entrepreneurs who block out the moral wrong of their business endeavours, wherever possible. Tariq, an Oxford-educated law graduate, is desperate to avoid the life of poverty that his father, Youssuf endured when he came over from Pakistan, swapping an architect’s life for that of a machinist in a clothing factory, working round the clock in sweatshops. Similarly, Jonny Margulies kids himself that he is a pillar of the Jewish community, giving generously to charity whilst he earns a magnificent crust from selling pregnant Eastern European brides to immigrants, threatened with deportation, in order to guarantee their right to remain in the UK. These are men who fear poverty and who have become trapped by their own material ambition. Nothing pays like crime, after all.

Perhaps the most interesting true psychopath in ‘Born Bad’ is Asaf Smolensky, aka the Fish Man. Hiding in plain sight as a Hassidic fishmonger in north Manchester, he is an ex-Mossad soldier, discharged from active duty under a cloud and suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. He too, has a painful story of loss, though his military trials have left him pursuing a career as a hired hit man who guts his victims and leaves them dressed with cucumber pieces like a side of salmon. Is he a good baddy? I think so. He’s a well-trained machine but utterly idiosyncratic with it.

But, looking back at the books I’ve enjoyed, I think about Lionel Shriver’s Kevin in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’. He exemplifies the notion of a child who has been born bad – a product of nature, rather than nurture. I loved the vulnerability that lurked beneath his obstinate, malevolent exterior. Does anyone from ‘Born Bad’ compare with Kevin? I’d say Paddy is the closest to him in terms of having been bad from childhood. With such harsh beginnings, it’s easy to see why, among the three O’Brien siblings – Paddy, Frank and Katrina – the eldest, picked-upon boy might turn out to be a bully and a thug himself, always trying to control his weaker, softer younger brother Frank and compete with his positively godly older sister, Katrina. Paddy isn’t articulate enough to speak his frustrations aloud, so he uses his fists, his gun and his penis to punish those around him.

In my George McKenzie books, I have a number of serial killers and multiple murderers. You can’t beat a good serial killer in a book. ‘The Snowman’ by Jo Nesbo is a case in point, as is his Leopard. More recently, I read Graeme Cameron’s ‘Normal’ and adored his killer, who managed to be a grim psycho and highly entertaining all at the same time. But ‘Born Bad’ is different. It’s about good people who have resorted to doing bad things for a living. It’s about the morally grey areas that we all inhabit sometimes, even if our transgressions are merely uncharitable thoughts, not acted out. That requires a different kind of a villain. Why don’t you read ‘Born Bad’ and let me know who your favourite good baddies are?

You can buy Born Bad from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book News – Amanda Robson Reveals New Book Obsession

ObsessionIf you’re a fan of Paula Hawkins and BA Paris, then the new book by Amanda Robson called ‘Obsession’ is just the book for you.

What the back cover says

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Obsession is a dark, twisting thriller about how quickly our lives can fall apart when we act on our desires.

I don’t know about you, but this is a book I’m definitely looking forward to reading!

You can pre-order the ebook of Obsession from Amazon from 4th May 2017 and the paperback will be available to buy from 1st June 2017.

Lindsey Kelk Reveals New Book – We Were On A Break

We Were On A BreakLindsey Kelk has revealed her latest book and it seems that she is taking a break from her Tess Brookes series with her new book called ‘We Were On A Break’.

The story of ‘We Were On A Break’ is –

‘You’ve just had a holiday,’ I pointed out, trying not to yawn. ‘Wasn’t that enough of a break?’

‘I don’t mean that kind of break.’

There’s nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is. When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out.

Friends and family all think they’re crazy; Liv throws herself into work – animals are so much simpler than humans – and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug. But as the short break becomes a chasm, can they find a way back to each other?

More importantly, do they want to?

Another heartwarming and hilarious new romantic comedy from the Sunday Times bestselling author, I can’t wait to be snuggled up this funny tale.

You can pre-order We Were On a Break from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 6th October 2016.