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It’s with great delight that I welcome you to today’s “Celebrating Indie Publishing” post, today I am opening the wonderful Claire MacLeary’s blog tour for her latest mystery thriller.  I had the privilege of reading Claire’s first novel to feature Maggie and Big Wilma in Aberdeen and utterly loved it, so when offered the chance to read the second book I jumped at it!

Burnout is published by Contraband, which is part of Saraband and is available to pre order now, publication date is 29th March.

 


Book Feature:

Description:

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My husband is trying to kill me : a new client gets straight to the point.

This is a whole new ball game for Maggie Laird, who is trying to rebuild her late husband s detective agency and clear his name.

Her partner, Big Wilma, sees the case as a non-starter, but Maggie is drawn in. With her client’s life on the line, Maggie must get to the ugly truth that lies behind Aberdeen’s closed doors.

But who knows what really goes on between husbands and wives?
And will the agency’s reputation and Maggie and Wilma’s friendship remain intact?

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit, when a book is set in the city I grew up in I feel some pull towards it.  I love discovering Aberdeen through the eyes of others, through the characters and their writers and so seeing how Claire MacLeary brings it alive with her wonderful writing is a must read for me.

Burnout sees the return of Maggie Laird and Wilma Harcus, two women in Aberdeen brought together through less than brilliant circumstances but nonetheless, a wonderful friendship blossomed between the two and since their adventures in Cross Purpose, the women have successfully kept their private investigation business going and even thriving on the cases they have brought in.

Having met Claire recently at Granite Noir, I can confirm that she is absolutely lovely and so to think that she can write these incredibly gritty and compelling books is mind boggling.
She has a wonderful way with words, and can set the scene so vividly, her characters come to life from the pages so realistically that the menace and danger that pose seems to escape from the pages.  I do particular love the way that she’s given a true authenticity to the dialogue in places with the use of Doric phrases.  For those not familiar with Doric, it’s the dialect spoken in Aberdeen (and Shire), and if you do find it hard to fathom then there is the helpful “Doric Dictionary” that can help translate for you.

The characters in this are so complex and three dimensional, the personalities of Maggie and Wilma leap off the pages at you whilst reading and it’s hard not to take these two women into your heart.  If you’ve read Cross Purpose which was Claire’s previous novel, then it’s almost like catching up with old friends when you read about them.  Equally, the supporting characters are so multifaceted and complex, trying to work out their motivations keeps the reader on their toes.

Just when I thought the book couldn’t get any better, Claire MacLeary sneaks some absolutely superb writing in right under my nose and catches me off guard entirely!  I hate when people state “I didn’t see that twist coming” or “that ending was so unexpected” but in this case, for fear of giving anything away, I shall have to use a a non committal phrase and say that this book was bloody brilliant and I NEEEEEEED another one to find out what happens next for Maggie and Wilma!!!

You can buy a copy of Burnout via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author:

Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose, has been longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017. She is now working on Burnout, the sequel to Cross Purpose.

 

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*** My thanks to the amazingly lovely people at First Monday Crime for my copy of this book and for asking me to be part of their review panel ***

 

Description:

She can’t prove he did it. But she might die trying…

From the Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series, comes a standalone spinoff featuring DS Roberta Steel.

Revenge is a dangerous thing…

Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steel got caught fitting up Jack Wallace – that’s why they demoted her and quashed his sentence. Now he’s back on the streets and women are being attacked again. Wallace has to be responsible, but if Detective Sergeant Steel goes anywhere near him, his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good.

The Powers That Be won’t listen to her, not after what happened last time. According to them, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy. Perhaps she could try solving a few instead of harassing an innocent man?

Steel knows Wallace is guilty. And the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer. The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him?

My Thoughts & Review:

Firstly, apologies to my dad for rubbing it in that I got to read this before he did…..usually he buys Stuart MacBride’s books the minute they’re released and lords it over me that he’ll have read it before me, but revenge is sweet….I gloated that I knew the book was coming out before him, I got a copy before him and most importantly I read the whole thing before publication day (insert smug daughter face here).

Right, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me talk about this book.  For fans of Stuart MacBride’s books, you are in for a treat.  Anyone that loves his books will no doubt have a soft spot for Roberta Steel and her unique ways, her morale boosting techniques and ever so delicately eloquent phrases.  I was so excited to hear that this book would feature Steel, there’s something about this character that I’ve watched develop over the many books that she’s appeared in.  That’s not to say that you can’t pick this book up without having read any of the previous books, this is a stand alone book from the Logan McRae series and there is more than enough detail to confidently understand what has transpired previously to result in our leading lady’s demotion from DCI to DS.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the plot, mainly because I don’t want to give anything away.  But you are guaranteed laughter from the very opening pages with MacBride’s wonderful descriptive writing – who else would describe their leading character in such a way as:

…..grey hair sticking out in all directions like a

demented ferret. Face set in a grimace. Probably hadn’t done
any serious running since she was a kid – trying not to get
eaten by dinosaurs.

If you know the various colourful descriptions of Roberta Steel from previous books then you can be sure that nothing has been lost at all with her having her own book – the spotlight hasn’t gone to her head and made her all glamorous that’s for sure!

It was also nice to see DC Quirrel, a.k.a. Tufty who first appeared in the Logan McRae books.  His unique brand of humour works perfectly alongside Steel’s brusque manner, but there’s definitely an excellent pairing with these two.  I think Tufty helps to bring out Steel’s softer side, dragging her caring side kicking and screaming into the light.  She acts as a good mentor to him (in her own unique way), and there’s definitely a genuine air of care towards her young DC.  Tufty is one of those characters that you cannot help but love, he’s funny, caring and embarrassingly shy at times, something that Steel abuses when it comes to a certain colleague (PC Kate Mackintosh).

Dark humour is a trademark of MacBride’s novels and this one has it in spades.  This coupled with the local dialect, Doric just means this book scores highly with me.  Seeing “aye aye” and “hoy” in the narrative just made me smile, always nice to see a little bit of home in a book.  The great descriptions of Aberdeen and surrounding areas felt really authentic, and I found I was recalling the layout of Union Street etc from memory as the story played out in my head.  The plot is superb, despite being very dark and somewhat disturbing at times, the humour woven throughout provides light relief.  But Stuart, how could you, that poor wee wifie Mrs Galloway….

If you get the chance to read this I would highly recommend it, it’s sharp, it’s witty and it’s everything you love about Stuart MacBride’s writing.  Oh and check out Tufty’s super secret map of Aberdeen, it’s pretty spot on (comes with this Aberdonian’s seal of approval).

I could probably blether on more about this book but I’ll stop while the going is good and before I start mentioning things I shouldn’t (there are so many bits I’ve deleted from this review because they hint towards stuff, and it’s taken me over a week to get this review done!)

You can order a copy of Now We Are Dead via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author

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Image and bio courtesy of HarperCollins

Stuart MacBride was born in Dumbarton, near Glasgow and moved to Aberdeen at the age of two. After dropping out of university to work offshore he went to work for himself as a graphic designer, eventually becoming studio manager for a nationwide marketing company. He gave it all up to have a go at becoming an actor, until it became clear to him that he was never going to be good enough to make a decent living out of it.

Whilst progressing through a whole new career in the IT sector, ending up as project manager for a global IT company, Stuart also wrote in his spare time. He is now the No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series and the Ash Henderson series.

His novels have won him the CWA Dagger in the Library, the Barry Award for Best Debut Novel, and Best Breakthrough Author at the ITV3 Crime Thriller awards. In 2012 Stuart was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Hall of Fame.

Stuart’s other works include Halfhead, a near-future thriller, Sawbones, a novella aimed at adult emergent readers, and several short stories.

He lives in the north-east of Scotland with his wife, Fiona and cats Grendel, Gherkin, Onion, and Beetroot, some hens, horses, and a vast collection of assorted weeds..

Social Media links:  Twitter | Facebook | Website

 

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Published: 23 February 2017

 

Description:

Longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017

When Maggie Laird’s disgraced ex-cop husband suddenly dies, her humdrum suburban life is turned upside down. With the bills mounting, she takes on his struggling detective agency, enlisting the help of neighbour ‘Big Wilma’. And so an unlikely partnership is born.

But the discovery of a crudely mutilated body soon raises the stakes… and Maggie and Wilma are drawn into an unknown world of Aberdeen’s sink estates, clandestine childminding and dodgy dealers.

Cross Purpose is surprising, gritty, sometimes darkly humorous – a tale combining police corruption, gangs and murder with a paean to friendship, loyalty and how ‘women of a certain age’ can beat the odds.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

When I saw that this crime thriller was set in my home town of Aberdeen I knew I had to read it, there’s something about books being set in a place that you know that immediately makes them jump out.  Equally, when a respected blogger recommends a book to you then you know you’re on to a winner, and I can honestly say that it was worth listening to Gordon on this one!

Maggie Laird’s life is thrown into turmoil when her husband suddenly dies, she seeks out the help of her nextdoor neighbour to get to the mortuary to identify the body of her husband not realising that this simple act of kindness would lead to a great friendship and business relationship between the two.
George Laird was a police officer, who was “forced” into early retirement because of disgrace, investigation was what he knew best so he set up his own detective agency, and following his death, Maggie decides to take a gamble on running the business with the help of Wilma to try and pay the bills that are mounting up.  But Maggie also has an ulterior motive for running the detective agency, she wants to exonerate George’s good name.

Maggie then walks a tightrope of increasing danger when she becomes entangled with some of the Granite City’s finest (or perhaps most dastardly) criminals.  Keen to show no weakness, Maggie puts up a strong facade and comes across perfectly businesslike when she needs to, but underneath it all she is fragile and trying to balance her grief whilst keeping things together for the sake of her grown children.
Her sidekick in all of this, “Big Wilma” on the other hand is as fearless as they come.  She definitely reminds me of many an Aberdonian woman in her ways.  She’s down to earth, no airs and graces but would loan you her last fiver if she thought it would help you out.  Both  Maggie and Wilma bring something different to the partnership, and it’s true about opposites attracting, where Maggie is reserved and quiet, Wilma is sharp tongued and spirited.  The dialogue between the two is fantastic, many of their exchanges felt absolutely authentic to the point I could hear the accents of the parts of town they were from (even with doric, we like to mix things up so folk fae Kincorth spik diff’rint frae ‘he folk fae Northfield).  And I have to say that the geography of the book felt pretty authentic to me, even down to the mentions of the layout at Castlegate with the Mercat Cross and the shops.

The development of the characters in this was well done, it was nice to see focus was shared between more than just the female sleuths, seeing the story from the perspective of the police detectives and being able to share their frustrations that they could not move their investigation added depth.  Some characters in this will definitely make you feel a bit uncomfortable and that is down to the skill of the author.  It takes great skill to create a character that makes the skin crawl and that’s exactly what Claire MacCleary does here.  For a debut novel I was very impressed, it felt that a lot of work had gone into laying the foundations for a solid plot that could be expanded upon throughout the book as well as leaving ample opportunity for future books.

Wee word of caution for those not familiar with doric, a handy link to help you translate any words you might get stuck with is The Doric Dictionary – it’ll save you getting crabbit fan yeh cannae understan’ fit ‘he quine is spikin aboot!

My thanks to Gordon McGhie and Sara Hunt at Saraband/Contraband for the opportunity to read and review Cross Purpose and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of Cross Purpose via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

 

Follow the blog tour:

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