Monday, October 15, 2018

Angela Wren and the third novel in the Messandrierre series: "Montbel"

click image to buy
Welcome, Angela and congratulations on your new novel, "Montbel" which comes out in November. Let's take a look at the blurb:

A clear-cut case? 
A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.
When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques' case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.
Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Here comes a few questions about it. Are you comfy? Off we go, then:

Sue: I know "Montbel" is the third in the series starring delightful investigator Jacques Forêt. I described him in my review of the first book in the series, Messandrierre, asenjoyable, attractive character, with all the features that's expected of a French policeman: humour, determination, quirks.” Did I get him right, or is there more to him than that?

Angela: Yes, you did get him right and it's great to be able to say thank you in person for that lovely review too.  Jacques - what can I say about him?  I think  he's a great guy, he's honest and principled, but he still needs to settle down in his personal life.  And then there are those quirks - his grudging acceptance of computers, his dislike of lifts, and his repulsion of blood - which for an investigator handling murders can be a bit of a problem.  When I started thinking about what kind of man he would be I made some instant decisions - he had to have good manners, patience and be very astute. The rest of his character was built in the same as I build the characters I play on stage.  That means asking myself a lot of questions starting with the shoes.

Sue: What made you want to set your novels in France?

Angela: I don't recollect there being a conscious and deliberate decision to set my books in France.  But, I was travelling in the Cévennes (south central France) in September in 2007 when the weather dramatically changed overnight.  I woke up to freezing temperatures and a stunningly beautiful mountainous landscape covered in snow.  It got me thinking about how remote the area was and how easy it would be to use snow to cover someone's misdeeds.  I just jotted down some notes at the time.  About 4 years later, I was in Charente and having tea and cakes with some people I'd met in the local supermarket.  It was a chance remark during an innocent conversation that got me thinking about murder.  Some months after that I realised I had my crime and my location and that was when I started planning Messandrierre and the following three books in detail.  I've maintained the location, because it works and it is one of my favourite areas of France to visit, so I know it well.

Sue: I see in your reviews of “Merle”, the second in the series, that one reviewer said: “The BBC has given us a wide selection of tv detective dramas over the last few years - on BBC4 - and the career of Jacques Forêt would make a great addition to them. Producers please take note!” That’s wonderful. Who would you cast for your main characters?

Angela: Yes, that is a truly amazing accolade and I'm very grateful to that particular reviewer for saying so.  I'm still waiting for the call, though!  As for my cast - I haven't the least idea, but I would insist on the actor playing Jacques, having the right physicality.  He's tall and lean and he has a soft timber to his voice.  So Gerard Depardieu is absolutely out of the question.  Obviously, all the French characters would have to be French actors and little Pierre Mancelle would have to have a cheeky smile.  So, BBC, if you are reading this and want to make me an offer, just acknowledge up front that I will be doing the casting - OK

Sue: No, I don't think I can envision Gerard Depardieu. Let's give the BBC a shout-out! Tell us about your third novel, “Montbel” – perhaps a little excerpt?

What appears to be an open and shut case actually turns out to be something much more sinister and here's the opening section : 

la lettre

…families fracture, Monsieur Forêt. No one desires it or intends it, but it happens. A harsh, unforgiving word begets a rash and revengeful action, and a sliver of ice takes hold in a dark corner of the hearts of those at odds with each other. And there it wedges itself, the frost gradually deepening and destroying. One of us has to stop the cold, as this impasse can continue no longer.
I have to put things right with my son, Monsieur…

june 3rd, 2011

Sue: Wow, that's beautiful prose. Finally, would you recommend your new readers to take the books in order, or can they be standalone novels?

Angela: Each story is a specific crime but there are themes that run through from one story to the next.  Where there is reference to something that happened in a previous story it is briefly explained.  And of course, the villagers in Messandrierre crop up on the other books too as Jacques frequently visits the village.  It's not essential to read them in order, but it linkages between the stories will be clearer if you do.

Thank you, Angela. I’m really looking forward to reading Montbel and I wish you every success.  

It's a pleasure, Sue, and thank you very much for inviting me to your blog today.

If you’d like to know more about the novels and author, here are her social media links:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren
Contact an author : Angela Wren

Thursday, October 04, 2018

All about Me!

Susan Roebuck latest interview by AllAuthor Born and bred in the soft south of the UK, author Susan Roebuck wrote a book for a school project and won a prize for it when she was fourteen.
The author lives in Portugal and knows most of the country.
She thinks the only impact teaching English as a foreign language had on her is that her grammar improved. The author writes whatever comes to her mind.
Her last two books have been set in Portugal: "Rising Tide" set in a fishing village in the Alentejo and "Forest Dancer" set in the woodlands outside Sintra, near Lisbon. In October 2018 "Joseph Barnaby" will be published and this is set in Madeira. Read full interview...

Monday, August 27, 2018

Book Review - Dormund Hibernate by C.J. Sutton

You don't hear me say this very often, but I've just read a dark (noir?) psychological thriller. Yes, me, the avid reader of romance and fantasy books.

I think it's due to the professional and talented writing of C.J. Sutton that kept me enthralled.

First, though, here's my review:

I'll be honest - this book scared the living daylights out of me, but I couldn't put it down! You can get the gist from the blurb already given, but it doesn't do the book justice. As I read I kept thinking that it was a different view of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' - Jasper making me think of McMurphy. Yet there were no redeeming or cosy characters here. I doubt you'd find a more insane group of people in one place at the same time. Even the doctor didn't seem to be "all there". I can't fault the quality of the writing, the way the author kept me glued to the pages, wanting to know more (and me a rom-com addict!), the depth of the characters - yes, you get into the most warped minds that you're unlikely to forget easily. What a book - it deserves to be listed amongst the best of psychological thrillers. Oh - and watch for the twists.

The author's blog states that "Dortmund Hibernate" is 'Silence of the Lambs meets Shutter Island' and I don't doubt that one little bit. What a great read and I can't wait for another one from this author, who has a degree in journalism and creative writing, because he certainly knows how to capture his reader.

Here's the blurb to the book:

Psychologist Dr Magnus Paul is tasked with the patients of Dortmund Asylum; nine criminally insane individuals hidden from the world due to the extremity of their cases. Magnus has six weeks to prove them sane for transfer to a maximum-security prison, or label them as incurable and recommend a death sentence under a new government act. The small rural town of Dortmund and its inhabitants are the backdrop to the mayhem on the hill. As Magnus delves into the darkness of the incarcerated minds, his own sanity is challenged. Secrets squeeze through the cracks of the Asylum, blurring the line between reality and nightmare. And the most notorious man of all is strapped to the floor of his cell, urging Magnus towards a new life of desire…

C.J. Sutton, who can be found on his blog here , has a new book coming next year (also published by Crooked Cat Books): 

I'll be first in the queue for it!

Buy link:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hunter's Revenge (The second in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries) by Val Penny

Please welcome today fellow author who is published by Crooked Cat Books - Val Penny.
She is an up-and-coming crime author (it's been said that her first book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries is "Up There with Ian Rankin").

Her first book, Hunter's Chase, was published this year and is receiving rave reviews.  

Now she has the second one in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries about to be published: Hunter's Revenge. Let's have a look at it:

Hunter's Revenge Blurb

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until his friend's death is revenged.

DI Hunter Wilson is called to the scene of a murder. He is shocked to find the victim is his friend and colleague, George Reinbold. Who would want to harm the quiet, old man? Why was a book worth £23,000 delivered to him that morning? Why is the security in George's home so intense? Hunter must investigate his friend's past as well as the present to identify the killer and identify George's killer. Hunter also finds a new supply of cocaine from Peru flooding HMP Edinburgh and the city. The courier leads Hunter to the criminal gang but Hunter requires the help of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable, Sir Peter Myerscough and local gangster Ian Thomson to make his case. Hunter's perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller. 


East Germany, January 1968

            The last thing Georg did on his eighteenth birthday was kill a man.
            He really hadn’t meant to kill the Stasi officer in front of him, but it was him or Georg – and Georg did not want to die. It was the first time he’d seen a corpse. The streets were slick with ice. The man lost his balance and cracked his head on the pavement. Georg stared down at the body: there was blood and brains all over the pavement. He looked into the officer’s eyes. They stared blindly to heaven, but Georg knew there wasn’t a Stasi officer on earth who was going there. He looked away from death and towards his friends in horror, but when they saw what had happened, they scattered. Georg picked up the officer’s gun and began to run.  More Stasi officers appeared as the boys fled.
            Georg was out of breath when he got home.
            “What’s the rush, son?” his father asked.
            “Shit, Dad! It’s bad.”
            “You’re drunk! No language in this house, boy,” said his grandmother.
            “Dad, the boys and me were leaving the bar to come home and we saw a Stasi officer”
            “We were laughing and having fun.”
            “For a laugh I knocked his hat off.”
            “Idiot! You know Stasi have no sense of humour. Ever. So what next?”
            “He pulled his gun and told us to stand silently against the wall.”
            “And you apologised and complied, I hope.”
            “I panicked and punched him. He slipped on the ice and fell over. He hit his head on the ground, and when I checked him, he wasn’t breathing. He was dead. I just took his gun and ran.”
            The silence in the room was deafening.
            “You did what? You fucking idiot! Did you really punch a Stasi officer? Are you mad? You know we don’t even have to openly engage in resistance to draw the attention of the Stasi and incur its retribution. Just failing to conform with mainstream society can be enough. Shit! I sired a fool.” Georg’s father’s red face reflected his rage.
            “And now you are here,” his grandmother added. “You ran home, leading them straight to us. We will all die now. Thank you.”
            “What is all the noise?” Georg’s mother came through from the kitchen, drying her hands on her apron. His twin sister Ingrid and younger brother Wilhelm followed her. They looked bewildered. Their father rarely raised his voice, especially not to Georg.
            As his father explained the issues, Georg’s mother burst into tears.
            “They will kill him,” she whispered.
            “They’ll kill him?” his father shrieked “Fuck, the rest of us will be lucky if all they do is kill us too! Have you any idea the danger you have put this whole family in, you young imbecile?”
            “God, that’s true!” his mother sobbed. “Georg has to leave. He must escape right away. Maybe, when they come and find him gone, they will believe we had no part of it.”
            “You and I both know that is not going to happen,” his father said. “They know everybody in the town, and even if they don’t already know it was Georg, one of their informers will turn him in for reward or to save their own skin. They will soon find out where he lives.”
            His wife nodded.
            “Mum, where do I go?” Georg pleaded. “Dad, what will you do? I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just fooling around.”
            “Then you are more of a fool than I ever thought,” his father said. “It’s a bit fucking late to worry about us. We will cope, but we must deny you and any knowledge of this atrocity. I love you always, but you must leave, son. Now. There is no choice, and you must be quick because they will be here all too soon. Make a start on your escape tonight. It’s your only hope, and ours.”
            “Quick, Wilhelm, fetch him my savings and your grandfather Georg’s book,” said his grandmother. “Georg will need the money, and he can always sell the book.”
            “I’ll pack a meal,” his mother said. She gathered up the family Bible, along with some bread, ham, cheese and apples.
            “Don’t give him too much, it will slow him down,” said Ingrid.
            “Pack everything in a rucksack. You can put it on your back, Georg, and still run,” said Wilhelm as he handed their grandmother’s meagre treasures to George.
            “I am so sorry, Father. Where do I go? Where am I running to? What will happen to you?” Georg’s voice raised to a scream.
            His mother held him and kissed his head, but his father grabbed his arm, pulled him from her and shook him.
            “You got yourself into this; we will get you out of it. No point in worrying about us. Get out of this country. Don’t look back. Just run. Go west, go to Britain. Stay alive. Get out of this house, get out of my sight and never come back. Do you hear me, Georg?”

Thank you Val. As you've already gathered, her books are set in Edinburgh.


The Author Bio for Hunter's Revenge

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, 'Hunter's Chase' and Hunter's Revenge are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The third book in the series, Hunter's Force, follows shortly.


Author contact details