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Degrees Of Guilt By HS Fields

Degrees Of Guilt‘Degrees of Guilt’ is HS Fields debut novel.

Maria is on trial for attempted murder. She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead. Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate. She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out. You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent. You will be wrong.

I’ve really come to enjoy Helen Fields writing over the years, with her DI Callanach series, so when a new book was released called ‘Degrees Of Guilt’ by Orion Publishing, I was curious to see what this court room drama had to offer. I started reading it on Saturday morning and didn’t put down until it was finished, as it was a bloody brilliant book.

The story is seen from two perspectives. It starts with Maria Bloxham phoning the police to tell them that she has killed her husband. Her husband, Dr Edward Bloxhom is a highly regarded consultant on environmental issues with a huge following, but he survived her attack with life changing injuries and Maria has been charged with attempted murder. The perspective is from Lottie, a young married mother who has been called for jury service on this complex case. She’s looking for more in her life than to be recognised as a mother and wife and finds herself relating to Maria in some ways. But as the story develops and Maria’s life is revealed, the jury finds themselves conflicted with their emotions and morals and unable to agree on their verdicts. It’s within this jury that Lottie meets Cameron, a passionate and outspoken man who brings out a new side in Lottie and has left her questioning the life that she’s currently leading.

Maria was a character that I felt a huge amount of empathy and sympathy towards. A deeply unhappy woman who thought she had found her Prince Charming over twenty years ago and instead was subject to years of emotional and psychological abuse with no one to confide in and reach out to. When she finally thought she was free from his grasp, she felt relief but instead was then subject to intense interrogation questioning her sanity in a crowded court where people are judging her.

There are so many reasons that I enjoyed this book, the story is cleverly weaved with two very different women, one the defendant and the other in the jury but both ultimately looking are for the same things in life. I loved Maria, she’s a strong woman, a voice for the people out there who have been subject to abuse and finally decided this was her time and she didn’t really matter what her future held as long as it didn’t feature Edward.

An addictive story of revenge and justice, ‘Degrees Of Guilt’, is a deeply dark and thrilling story that grips the reader from the very first sentence.

You can buy ‘Degrees Of Guilt’ from Amazon as an ebook and will be available from good bookshops from 5th September 2019.

Perfect Crime By Helen Fields

Perfect Crime‘Perfect Crime’ is the latest book Helen Fields’ DI Luc Callanach series.

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed. As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be. Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…
For me, I found this to be a sad tale as vulnerable people are preyed upon by an evil killer. People who thought they had finally found peace with life are tragically killed.

It’s a great return to DC Callanch and his partner Ava and in this book, we see a shift in the dynamics of the relationship which makes for interesting and humorous reading as the two detectives deal with new, unexpected feelings as well as stay professional.

The brutal killings of the people does make for unsettling reading, especially with knowing the earlier suffering that the victims have already dealt with. As per Helen’s previous, she has delivered another cleverly written and fast paced story that is riddled with drama and suspicious characters, that really keeps the reader on their toes.

With nail biting twists and turns throughout, ‘Perfect Crime’ sees the return of the dramatic duo who are on the countdown to finding the killer before another life is taken. Undoubtedly, one of the best crime series in a while, I can’t wait to see more cases with DI Callanch.

You can buy ‘Perfect Crime’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Perfect Silence By Helen Fields

Perfect Silence‘Perfect Silence’ is the latest book by Helen Fields.

The body of a young girl is found dumped on the roadside on the outskirts of Edinburgh. When pathologists examine the remains, they make a gruesome discovery: the silhouette of a doll carved in the victim’s skin. DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are struggling to find leads in the case, until a doll made of skin is found nestled beside an abandoned baby. After another young woman is found butchered, Luc and Ava realise the babydoll killer is playing a horrifying game. And it’s only a matter of time before he strikes again. Can they stop another victim from being silenced forever – or is it already too late?

‘Perfect Silence’ is the latest instalment in the D.C.I. Callanach series and for me, it was the most disturbing as himself and his partner DCI Ava Turner battle against the clock from preventing the next woman to fall victim to the ‘Babydoll Killer’.

The story flows at a fast pace and is seen through the narrative of both the detectives as they try to piece the clues together but the killer that they are chasing is extremely smart and rarely leaves clues, only a handmade doll pieced together by their victims skins. Another perspective from the story is from the insight of the victim as the minutes go by and they pray to be saved.

This book has to be the darkest book in the series and is extremely gory in parts that does make for unsettling reading, so this book is not for the faint hearted.

What’s surprising about the story, which is gripping and chilling, is the element of humour which does catch the reader off guard, as Ava battles with her boss, a strong willed Scottish woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and her relationship with the French detective, D.C.I. Luc Callanach which had its own share of complications.

Gritty from the first page, ‘Perfect Silence’ is an incredible page turner that will have the reader hooked. With disturbing scenes and plenty of twists to catch the killer before they get the next victim, you will be racing through the pages until you reach the climatic end.

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

The Dangers of Jumping the Shark (and the Risks of Staying on Dry Land) By Helen Fields

Perfect Silence On the book tour for the latest book in Helen Fields’ D.I. Callanach series called ‘Perfect Silence’, Helen talks about writing and jumping the shark.

Rarely is a TV episode so bad that it coins a phrase denoting the point at which all credibility has been lost, but many years ago a show called ‘Happy Days’ did just that when the lead character “The Fonz” decided to water-ski over a shark. From that moment on the show died a creative death, and the phrase “jumping the shark” was born. It’s rather sad for a show that a whole generation loved, but it serves as a lesson to everyone in the writing industry – books, theatre or screen writing – not to overstep the mark.

That may be more true in crime writing than in any other genre. You can get away with a lot more in sci-fi, and to an extent in dystopian fiction, but broadly speaking the same rules apply. Last week I watched ‘Sicario 2’ at the cinema. It’s high budget, the cinematography is impressive and the acting is good. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the entire film, but *spoiler alert* at one point the lead character is shot in the head. Fortunately for the audience all is not lost because we later find out that the bullet passes through one cheek and out the other, leaving our hero free to continue the story. The bullet holes are clean and his teeth seem relatively unaffected. Now I would pay good money to sit down for a coffee with that particular hero (Benicio Del Toro is a heart-throb of mine) but for me – perhaps not for others – the writer had jumped the shark.

Keeping credibility with you audience is vital. Keeping credibility with your audience whilst creating an engaging, thrilling story line, with the necessary twists and red herrings, now that’s an art form in itself. The story has to be believable. If it’s not, and your reader hits that “Really?” moment, you’ve lost them. Honestly, as a writer, it’s a minefield. Some years ago I stopped reading a crime series when it all got too far fetched. These days, as a writer, I’ve a lot more sympathy. There is a demand to produce the most gripping story line you can. Every reader (including me) wants that one special book you literally “can’t put down.” But the cost in terms of credibility can be high. As can playing it too safe. Real life is rarely as exciting as the fiction we love. The stakes are rarely as high. The ticking clock syndrome (portrayed so brilliantly in the series 24) almost never happens. But keep it too real, make it too believable, worry too much about proper procedure and what the police would actually do in any given scenario, and bangs goes your pulse-racing read.

I wish I had answers. I think credibility has as much to do with how you write as what you write. Your characters have to be fully engaged. your dialogue has to be honest and real. If you’re introducing an incredible element, it has to have a credible reason for existing. But the truth is, this is the hardest element of thriller writing to get right. We all slip sometimes. I’m hoping readers will be understanding and a little forgiving. For me, I end each book by inserting an additional editing phrase, which consists of me asking myself the question, “Did I jump the shark?” As and when I do, I’m sure readers won’t hesitate to let me know!

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