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Today on The Quiet Knitter I am so pleased to share a book from the brilliant Urbane Publications, a publisher who puts wonderful books into the hands and hearts of readers.  Today the book in the spotlight is The Trouble Boys, and I am honoured to have a short interview with the author E.R. Fallon to share with you too.


Book Feature:

Description:

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The Godfather meets Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, but with Gaelic complications, in E.R.Fallon’s thrilling new novel.

Trouble Boys is an historical crime novel about the Irish mob in New York City from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The story opens in pre-WWII Europe when young Irish immigrant Colin O’Brien settles with his family in New York City. There Colin befriends a Cuban-American boy named Johnny Garcia. Life in America isn’t what Colin’s family expects and he experiences a shocking tragedy that alters his life. As Johnny and Colin grow into men, their friendship changes.

They begin working for different crime syndicates, with Colin joining the ranks of charismatic Tom McPhalen’s Irish mob and Johnny becoming a member of debonair Tito Bernal’s Cuban gang. As Colin’s rise in the ranks of organized crime becomes increasingly more brutal and demeaning and his friendship with Johnny deteriorates, he begins to question his place in the seductive yet violent world he’s found himself in.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve been sticking to local settings with my crime reading lately, but this book sounded too good not to read.  There’s just something that grabs my attention with a mob setting, perhaps it harks back to the days of reading The Godfather and other works of Mario Puzo, but I just had a feeling that I needed to pick this book up and read it.

The book opens with young Colin O’Brien and his family in Ireland, but the O’Brien family are soon on their travels and emigrate to America, the land of opportunity….the land of the free….or so they think.  Life isn’t as grand as Colin and his siblings had hoped, and certainly there seems to be less happiness and joy than there was back home.  One thing’s for sure though, Colin makes a friend in Johnny, another outsider in the immigrant community and it is this friendship that proves to be one of the stable factors in Colin’s life when things begin to go wrong.
The friendship between Colin and Johnny is so important, their shared adolescence in the grim setting is one that sets the tone for their later lives, each of them has to decide on showing loyalty to their own kind or being loyal to their family.

The mob connections that run through the plot of this book are so tantalisingly thrilling, the danger that emanates from characters pulses from the pages, the uncertainty of the danger posed by some characters makes this such an atmospheric read and when coupled with the wonderfully descriptive settings this becomes such an immersive read.

You can buy a copy of The Trouble Boys via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

Author Feature:

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ER Fallon spent a lot of her life in and around NYC and knows well the gritty city streets of which she write, with first-hand knowledge of the localized crime world through family. She studied criminology in college and was mentored by a leading advocate for the family members of homicide victims. She has been the recipient of writing awards and has published several stories with crime elements, including two Amazon bestselling novels. The New York Times bestselling author Da Chen has said the author writes the kind of stories that ‘we stay up all night to finish.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

Hearing that someone enjoyed reading my book.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?  

Self-editing a first draft of a manuscript.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

The Remains of the Day because of its lyrical writing and intelligent storyline.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible when I’m not working.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I like to write in the evenings, as that is usually when I have the most time, sometimes with music, sometimes without, but always with a cup of coffee close by.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

I’m making progress on another historical gangland book that takes place in a very different setting. I hope to finish it in 2018.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

The only thing you need to accomplish something is belief in yourself.

 

My thanks to E.R. Fallon for taking some time out to join me today and share a little about herself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Trouble Boys and am looking forward to finding out more about her current project.

 

 

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** My thanks to the lovely Lina at Black and White Publishing for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Billy Nelson is back home in battle-scarred Belfast. But the Troubles have cut this ex-Army Loyalist hard man deep – and now that his city’s allegiances have shifted, nothing is quite the same.

An outbreak of gang violence forces Billy to move on. This time to Edinburgh, where he muscles in on the capital’s drug trade and the family who run it. As the balance of power tips, underworld rivalries between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast spill out onto the streets.

With a spate of horrific incidents and a trail of victims, the pressure is mounting for Grace Macallan, new superintendent of the Crime & Counter Terrorism Directorate. Troubled by her own demons and with everyone baying for the blood of Billy Nelson and his old paramilitary contacts, can Grace hold her nerve?

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I think it’s fairly obvious to anyone reading my reviews that I have a soft spot for Scottish crime fiction, and so when I saw this series I knew that I just had to read it and see what it was all about.

In the spirit of discovering a series properly I got hold of the first book, Cause Of Death and devoured it within days before moving on to Evidence of Death.
In this series readers are faced with a protagonist who has such a troubled past, one that has seen her face the dangers known and unknown before transferring to Scotland to head up a new task force.

Macallan’s days in Belfast are a distant memory so when a known Loyalist from the Northern Irish capital descends upon Edinburgh bringing a reign of terror with him, Macallan and her team have no idea what madness is about to ensue.  Billy Nelson returned from fighting with the Army to find a changed Ulster.  The peace process talks underway meant that opposing sides are no longer at war with each other, caches of arms were surrendered and those once embroiled in fighting turning to new ways.  However for Nelson, one enemy is replaced with another, his unprovoked attacks on innocent victims causing alarm enough to have the once leaders of the UVF to question his presence.  With that he is shipped off to Edinburgh to start up the Scottish arm of their drugs empire.

The great thing about this series is the characters, they are strong and so wonderfully detailed that you cannot help but feel that you get to know them through reading these books.  I would heartily recommend reading the series in order so that you can get a good understanding of Grace Macallan and those connected with her.  The relationships surrounding her are complex, and there are few who she takes into her complete trust.  The way that her mind works is fascinating, the mental leaps that she makes leave a reader almost breathless at times trying to keep up which makes for a thrilling read.
Billy Nelson on the other hand is a dangerous and dark character that will have readers racing through the pages to find out just what he might do next.  I always find it exciting when an author can create a character that both excites and horrifies me and it’s fair to say that Peter Ritchie has done just that with the Ulsterman.

Explosive action and thrilling plotting make this a gripping read and one that I cannot recommend highly enough.  Now the impatient wait for the third installment…..

You can buy a copy of Evidence of Death via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

 

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Author: Jo Spain

Published 22 September 2016
Reviewed: 8 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review

 

Description:

From top-ten Irish bestselling author Jo Spain comes the second novel in the Inspector Tom Reynolds series

Did I know it would come to this? That I was playing Russian Roulette? I would give anything to turn back time and to be with my girls. There is no shot at redemption. I am going to die. The gun is in my eye-line as the second bullet is fired. That’s the one that kills me.

Late at night, two powerful men meet in a secret location to discuss a long nurtured plan about to come to fruition. One is desperate to know there is nothing standing in their way – the other assures him everything is taken care of. Hours later, a high-ranking government official called Ryan Finnegan is brutally slain in the most secure building in Ireland – Leinster House, the seat of parliament. Inspector Tom Reynolds and his team are called in to uncover the truth behind the murder.

At first, all the evidence hints at a politically motivated crime, until a surprise discovery takes the investigation in a dramatically different direction. Suddenly the motive for murder has got a lot more personal. . . but who benefits the most from Ryan’s death?

My Thoughts & Review:

Beneath The Surface is the second book by Jo Spain to feature Inspector Tom Reynolds, the first being With Our Blessing and can be read as a standalone.

The horrific murder of a government official in the parliament building, the most secure building in Ireland leads to an investigation headed up by DI Reynolds and his team.  Discovering a compromising photograph under the body of the victim opens up the investigation to realms of political skulduggery, corruption and scandal.

The development of Tom Reynolds in this book is great, the reader gets to know more about this character and his team.  The dynamic of home life and work life made for interesting reading and gave the characters a more realistic feel. There seemed to be so much going on in this book, with so many characters involved it must have taken the author some serious homework to keep track of them all, which in turn means that the reader has to pay some attention to who’s who and what their story is in order to keep up, not a book you can drift in and out of.
The story itself is interesting enough, but for me the political angle just wasn’t for me.

Jo Spain’s knowledge of working within Leinster House shows through the detail written in to this book, it adds an authenticity to it all.  The writing is enjoyable, the story flows well and the tantalising epilogue opens up the possibility of a third instalment in the Tom Reynolds series.

You can buy a copy of Beneath the Surface here.

 

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I’m very excited to welcome you to my stop on Paul Finch’s #Strangers blog tour.  It was published by Avon Books (part of the HarperCollins family) on 22nd September and is available in both electronic and paperback formats from Amazon.

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Description:

Unknown, alone, and fearing for your life.

As PC Lucy Clayburn is about to find out, going undercover is the most dangerous work there is. 

But, on the trail of a prolific female serial killer, there’s no other option – and these murders are as brutal as they come. 

Lucy must step into the line of fire – a stranger in a criminal underworld that butchers anyone who crosses the line. 

And, unknown to Lucy, she’s already treading it…

Always gripping. Always gruesome. Paul Finch will leave fans of Rachel Abbott and MJ Arlidge gasping for more.

My Thoughts & Review:

Shockingly, Strangers is the first book by Paul Finch that I have read, something I will be looking to remedy in the very near future – I’ve looked up the Detective Heckenburg series and will be downloading them at the weekend!

The reader is introduced to Lucy Clayburn, who has served 10 years as a uniform police officer and is keen to get into CID.  However the path to promotion is not as direct as she would have hoped after a mistake she made earlier in her career left her with a huge black mark against her name.  Seeing Operation Clearway as a way to prove her worth to her superiors, Lucy signs up despite the dangers involved.  She is determined to help catch the serial killer before she strikes again.

Refreshingly, the lead character in this crime fiction novel is a young and determined female officer.  It’s nice to deviate from the tried and tested formula of a middle aged male detective, who has issues with alcohol abuse and/or smokes like a chimney, and Lucy’s character works well in this novel.  Her maverick approach makes for a thrilling read, whilst leading her into some of the most dangerous settings.  She is a very determined police officer, but sometimes her enthusiasm can be interpreted as feckless or irresponsible, there are instances where she takes action before being in full possession of the facts.  That said, having a character that acts in this way makes the story more intense for the reader, avidly reading on to see how perilous the situation will become, utterly hooked to find out what will happen next but more importantly, if her cover will be blown.

The clever plotting of the storyline means this is a fast paced and thrilling read.  It’s the sort of book you will find keeps you reading well past bedtime – don’t make the mistake I did, thinking it would be possible to read a few chapters before bed……yes, I ended up reading into the wee hours of the next day!
The violent scenes in the narrative are well written, providing powerful detail about the criminal underworld and it’s hierarchy.  The characters involved in this were all incredibly fascinating (especially the villains), the misdirections in the plot make this a brilliant read – there is so much to keep the reader guessing and all the while Finch sneakily keeps the serial killer well hidden.

I really hope we see more of Lucy Clayburn, we need to know if she ever gets back into CID…..

You can buy a copy of Strangers here.

About The Author:

Paul Finch studied History at Goldsmiths, London, before becoming a cop in the north west of England. He then let his passion for writing allow him to follow a career in journalism. Now a full time writer, he first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, THE BILL, and has written extensively in the field of children’s animation. However, he is probably best known for his work in thrillers and horrors.

His crime debut novel, STALKERS, was a no 1 ebook best seller in 2013 and introduced DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg. This was followed last July 2013 by the sequel, SACRIFICE, and May 2014 by the third in the series, THE KILLING CLUB. The fourth, DEAD MAN WALKING, will follow in November 2014, with the fifth, HUNTED, in February 2015. The Heck series is also to be published in Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, and Japan.

In addition to his Heck novels, Paul has had twelve books and nearly 300 stories and novellas published on both sides of the Atlantic. His first collection, AFTER SHOCKS (Ash-Tree Press), won the British Fantasy Award in 2002, while he won the award again in 2007 for his novella, KID. Later in 2007, he won the International Horror Guild Award for his mid-length story, THE OLD NORTH ROAD. His short novel, CAPE WRATH (Telos), was short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award in 2002, and several other collections of his stories and novellas have been published since, all of them well received by fans and readers. His horror novel, STRONGHOLD, was published by Abaddon Books in 2010, and the same year Pendragon Press published his highly rated festive terror tale, SPARROWHAWK. Paul has also written three DR WHO audio dramas for Big Finish – LEVIATHAN, SENTINELS OF THE NEW DAWN and HEXAGORA, and THRESHOLD, the pilot episode for the DR WHO spin-off series, COUNTER MEASURES. Paul’s DR WHO novel, HUNTER’S MOON was published by BBC Books in 2011.

Paul is no stranger to film either, having written scripts for several horror movies. Two of these, SPIRIT TRAP and THE DEVIL’S ROCK, were released in 2005 and 2011 respectively, while his short story THE BELFRIES, is currently being adapted in Hollywood, and his movie script WAR WOLF is under development by Amber Entertainment.

Wearing an editor’s hat, Paul is also responsible for the TERROR TALES series from Gray Friar Press, a collection of ghost and horror anthologies exploring the folklore, history and geography of the various regions of Britain.

Paul Finch lives in Lancashire, UK, with his wife Cathy and his children, Eleanor and Harry.

For Paul’s blog go to www.paulfinch-author.blogspot.co.uk
For twitter follow Paul – @paulfinchauthor

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for some interesting posts by Paul as well as more about #Strangers

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Author: Val McDermid

Published 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 31 August 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group in return for an honest review

 

Description:

There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Out of Bounds is the 30th novel written by Val McDermid, yes, 30th and despite being an accomplished author with an impressive back catalogue, the writing in this is as fresh as it was back when I was knee high to a grasshopper in the late 1980s.  Having discovered McDermid’s books in my teenage years (thanks to my parent’s extensive book collection), I have been an avid fan ever since and it’s nice to see the master continue writing phenomenal books.

Even though this is the  second book to feature DCI Karen Pirie of Police Scotland’s Historical Crime Unit, it is possible to read this as a standalone, enough detail is given to understand the character and her back story.

After the loss of her partner and colleague Phil, Karen Pirie returns to work and has lost none of her curiosity or abilities,  but sleep evades her.  And just when she needs it most, the distraction of a case comes at the right time.
In Dundee some joyriders cause a tragic accident which reveals new evidence by way of routine blood tests on the drunk driver, evidence that could help with a 20 year old cold case from Glasgow.  Whilst the evidence turns out not to be the case breaker she’d have hoped, she and Jason ‘The Mint’  Murray  investigate in their own unconventional way. During the investigations  Karen’s curiosity is piqued by another case, the death of a man named Gabriel Abbot – a current case that is out of her remit and one she should be nowhere near, but Karen isn’t about to be put off by such a slight technicality.

Karen Pirie is an exceptionally well created character, fiesty, strong and incredibly intelligent.  She picks fights that she knows she will win, especially with her boss.  The way in which  McDermid writes Karen’s grief seems to seep from the pages so that the reader can almost feel it, her actions and thoughts whilst she struggles to adjust to life without Phil are very real.
Jason ‘The Mint’ Murray is a character that the reader cannot fail to like, the partnership between Murray and Pirie is unconventional but it works.  He is her opposite in so many ways but he has a heart of gold.

The plot is clever and complex, whilst not as action packed as some of her previous books, this novel still packs a fair punch.  The slow build up works really well in this, each time Karen (and the reader) have an idea what’s happening, McDermid quickly throws in a well timed twist and it’s back to square one.
The Scottish pop culture and expressions added an authenticity to the writing and were as always a joy to to read.

A very original police procedural, which is nice as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find stories that are different to others but this one breaks the mould.

You can buy a copy of  Out of Bounds here.

About the  Author

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Author Image & Information via http://www.valmcdermid.com/

Val comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford (where she is now an Honorary Fellow). She was the first ever student from a state school in Scotland. Following graduation she became a journalist, and worked briefly as a dramatist.
Her first success as a novelist came with Report for Murder The first Lindsay Gordon Mystery, first published in 1987.

Among her many awards are the Portico Prize for Fiction, the LA Times Book Prize, the Lambda Literary Pioneer Award and the Cartier Diamond Dagger. She has published 27 novels, short stories, non-fiction and a prize-winning children’s book. She is a regular broadcaster for BBC radio and lives in Edinburgh.

For more information about Val McDermid’s books check out her website http://www.valmcdermid.com or follow her on Twitter @valmcdermid

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