Thursday, 28 November 2019

What She Saw Last Night - UK paperback out now

It's paperback day in the UK! What She Saw Last Night is out in paperback now from all good bookshops, as well as ebook and audio.

If you like it, I'd love it if you would write a short review on Amazon or Goodreads (on the other hand, if you hate it, I'm okay with you not doing that).

It's had some great reviews from readers, bloggers and the press. Scroll down to find out more, and you can buy from the links below.




UK paperback
Waterstones
Amazon
WHSmith
Hive
Big Cartel (signed copies)
UK audio

A secret that could kill her.

A truth no one believes...


Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten-hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin ... but there's no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don't believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn't the truth.

***

"If you like your thrillers fast-paced, with lots of surprises along the way, this is
definitely for you." - Heat


"A chase thriller that begins as a locked-room puzzle" - Morning Star

"A truly original thriller, reminiscent of Hitchcock and Christie. " - Woman's Way 

"A taut, emotional thriller that rolls along at speed before derailing you several times - this is gut-punchingly good." - SJI Holliday 

"A killer premise combined with page-turning, pulse-pounding suspense - this brilliant psychological thriller is a real must read!" - Stephanie Marland 

"A pacy, high-octane thriller with shades of John Buchan and Alfred Hitchcock and a brilliant premise." - Paddy Magrane 

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

What She Saw Last Night - blog tour and reviews


Excitingly, I have a blog tour for the first time, ahead of UK paperback publication of What She Saw Last Night on Thursday. It's a mammoth tour with over 40 blogs involved, coordinated by the indefatigable Tracy Fenton of compulsivereaders.com 


The first batch are already up, and I'll be sharing as they're posted. It's fantastic to see so many passionate book bloggers enjoying the book and telling people about it.

There's been a flurry of press reviews too, including...

Heat, who I'm pleased caught the Lady Vanishes influence...



Woman's Way, who called it "A truly original thriller, reminiscent of Hitchcock and Christie." Which I'll definitely take.



The Crack, who said "the author keeps a cracking pace up and this tall tale more or less on the tracks."


...and finally the Morning Star, where Mat Coward accurately calls it "a chase thriller that begins as a locked-room puzzle", and puts me in flattering company with Jessica Eames, Jenny Blackhurst, and The Boss himself:

 

What She Saw Last Night is out in paperback in the UK this Thursday, but to be honest it'll most likely turn up tomorrow if you order it right now.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

What She Saw Last Night - paperback tour




What She Saw Last Night is published in paperback in the UK later this month (either on the 26th or 28th, depending on whether you believe Amazon or Waterstones).

To celebrate, I'm doing three Train Noir events with Susi Holliday, of which more here, and two solo library events for Book Week Scotland.


18 November - Aberdeen (with SJI Holliday)
Central Library, 6pm

19 November - Glasgow
Dennistoun Library, 6:30pm

21 November - Kilbirnie
Kilbirnie Library, 6:30pm

22 November - Oban (with SJI Holliday)
Waterstones Oban, 7pm

25 November - Edinburgh (with SJI Holliday)
Waterstones Princes Street, 6:30pm

As far as I'm aware, all of these are free but ticketed, so get in touch with the venue for more details. Hope to see you on the trail!


What She Saw Last Night is available in ebook and audio now, and UK paperback from November 2019: click here to buy

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Train Noir tour


Delighted to be doing three events next month with the amazing SJI Holliday!

I think her latest book Violet is her best yet. It opens with two strangers meeting on the Trans-Siberian Express. Since my new book What She Saw Last Night also prominently features an iconic train, we thought it would be a great idea to join forces for a tour.

Here's where we'll be:


18 November - Aberdeen
Central Library, 6pm


22 November - Oban
Waterstones Oban, 7pm


25 November - Edinburgh
Waterstones Princes Street, 6:30pm

I believe tickets are free for all events - contact the venue for more details if you're planning to come along.


Friday, 11 October 2019

Why I wrote What She Saw Last Night

What She Saw Last Night is published in paperback in the UK on 26 November. To whet your appetite, here's a piece I wrote for the Suze Reviews blog earlier this year.




Why I Wrote What She Saw Last Night

I’ve always loved reading and watching thrillers set on trains – from The 39 Steps, Murder on the Orient Express, From Russia With Love, right up to Girl on the Train, there’s something very appealing about a train-set mystery.

I had already dipped my toe in the Train Mystery subgenre with The Time to Kill, part of which takes place aboard the Empire Builder train from Seattle to Chicago, but when I read an article about the planned launch of the new Caledonian Sleeper train, I got the idea for a standalone mystery that opens aboard the train. It opens with a woman discovering a dead body, and realising a young child she saw last night is missing… except that all the evidence says there never was a child.

The Caledonian Sleeper is one of only two sleeper services in the UK, and it connects one of the world’s biggest cities to the sparsely populated and rural Scottish Highlands. We think of Britain as pretty small in comparison to America or mainland Europe, but if you go north and south, there’s a lot of ground to cover. I was sure somebody would have had the idea to set a book on this particular sleeper train before me, but was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t seem to have been done.

That juxtaposition between the bustle of London and the wide open spaces of the Highlands was a big appeal for me. I love both areas. I’m definitely a city guy at heart, so I’m always at home in London, but sometimes it’s nice to be the only person for miles around. The sheer scale of the Highlands, the beauty of the landscape, gives you such a fantastic canvas. It’s similar to why I write about America, that sense of enormous space and isolation.

I had always wanted to travel on a night train, and the book gave me a great excuse to take the trip a few times for research. The people at Caledonian Sleeper were really helpful, answering all of my obscure questions and even giving me a tour of one of the trains.


The old sleeper carriages that they’re phasing out date from the 1980s, which means there’s no wifi, no air conditioning, and very importantly, no onboard CCTV cameras. And, of course, the other bonus for a crime writer is when you get far enough north, you lose phone signal too.

I really enjoyed starting with a completely blank slate on this book, and particularly getting to create an entirely new hero. Jenny, the protagonist of What She Saw Last Night, is an interesting character, because she’s not an action hero, nor is she an unbalanced, unreliable narrator. She’s a normal person flung into an extraordinary situation, and has to come up with a way to deal with it.





ebook

Audio

Paperback (preorder)
Waterstones
Amazon
WHSmith
Hive


A secret that could kill her.
A truth no one believes...

Jenny Bowen is going home. Boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, all she wants to do is forget about her upcoming divorce and relax on the ten-hour journey through the night.

In her search for her cabin, Jenny helps a panicked woman with a young girl she assumes to be her daughter. Then she finds her compartment and falls straight to sleep.

Waking in the night, Jenny discovers the woman dead in her cabin ... but there's no sign of the little girl. The train company have no record of a child being booked on the train, and CCTV shows the dead woman boarding alone.

The police don't believe Jenny, and soon she tries to put the incident out of her head and tells herself that everyone else is right: she must have imagined the little girl.

But deep down, she knows that isn't the truth.



Monday, 16 September 2019

Author Confessions - Scottish Book Trust

I will have actual new book news soon, I promise! I can't tell you much about 2020's book but here's a clue as to where it's set...



In the meantime, here's another Q&A from the archives. This one is from Scottish Book Trust, who grilled me on some author confessions...

Do you ever mentally edit someone else’s work while you read?

Yes, I can’t help it. Not just while reading books, either. I’m always thinking about how I would have handled a particular film, TV show, song lyric or commercial differently, despite not knowing the first thing about directing, songwriting or advertising. Basically I’m just an incorrigible back-seat driver.

What’s your opinion on reading in the bath?

I’m very much in favour. In fact a nice hot bath or a nice quiet train carriage are the two best places for reading a book, because there are no interruptions.

How do you react to bad reviews?

With surprise. Just kidding. I probably have the same initial reaction as most people – I get huffy and defensive. I do genuinely appreciate constructive criticism, though. If a negative review hits on some points that ring true, I try to take it on board for the next piece of work. I’m fairly harsh on myself as an editor, so I’m usually not too surprised by the specific things people don’t like so much about my work. Especially if I’ve already had my wife’s feedback, because she is brutal.

Where do you stand on spinebreaking?

I’m relaxed about it – books are for reading. Water damage from reading in the bath is a bigger risk for any books in my possession. Break the spines on any of my comics though, and I’ll rip your head off. I’m a man of contradictions.

Which author or fictional character would you most like to party with?

Jay Gatsby is the obvious answer – not just because he throws lavish Jazz Age parties in his sumptuous Long Island mansion, but because I’m the type of guy who likes to stay on the fringes of a party having a conversation with somebody interesting… and Gatsby certainly fits the bill.

Author-wise, I’d have to say Neil Gaiman. I’m a huge Sandman fanboy, and Neil seems like he knows how to have a good time.

How do you arrange your bookshelf?

Pretty randomly, although I make a half-hearted effort to group books into genres and authors. A shockingly large proportion of my books are nowhere near the shelves, and are instead arranged in stacks beside the bed waiting for me to get to them.

Do you judge books by their covers?

I think everyone does, to some extent. A great cover means I’m far more likely to pick up a book by someone I’ve never heard of, just as a terrible cover makes it less likely. Having said that, if the book has other things going for it (an interesting title or endorsement, for example), I’ll give it a chance regardless of the jacket.

Have you ever pretended to have read a book to impress someone?

No, but I have pretended to like a book that I didn’t.

Do you ever turn to the back of a book and read the end first? If not, what would you say to such people?

Actually yes, all the time, but never to spoil the ending. I just love to read the first and last lines of a novel. I think you can learn a lot about an author from their first and last lines.

Is there a book by someone else that you wish you’d written?

No, because I’d have written a different book, and the book I like would no longer exist. Occasionally I read something where they’ve started with a fantastic idea and I haven’t liked the execution, so I guess in those cases I might like to have a stab at it.

What’s the worst/trashiest book you secretly love?

I don’t really believe in ‘guilty pleasures’, and if a book’s enjoyable on any level then to me it isn’t a bad book. To paraphrase Duke Ellington, there’s only two kinds of books: good books and the other kind.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Five Underappreciated Classics - Scottish Book Trust

Another blog from the archive - this one was written for the Scottish Book Trust, who asked me to pick 5 underappreciated thriller gems.

***



Like many crime writers, I'm also a music lover. As any music lover will tell you, while it's sometimes nice to enjoy a massive stadium act along with everyone else, it's even more gratifying to be into a more obscure band that feels like your little secret.

Books are like that too. Every once in a while you'll pick up an interesting-looking thriller in a charity shop because the cover looks intriguing. Sometimes you’ll try a new author because someone else you admire once namechecked them in an interview. If you’re lucky, you discover an underrated gem.

Some of the books on my list of forgotten crime classics are like that. A couple of them inspired films that went on to eclipse their literary source in the public consciousness. Others are the kind of books that have been well-kept secrets for so long that they're probably not really secrets, or forgotten. But it's safe to say you probably won't find any of these in your average airport bookshop.

So while it's great to read the Rebus series or LA Confidential or Gone Girl and appreciate them with the rest of crowd, here are some alternative picks that are a little off the beaten path, but no less rewarding for that.

And you'll be able to impress people at parties with your offbeat tastes. As long as the parties you go to are populated with people who read thrillers, that is. But let's face it – aren't they the best people to party with?

1) John D. MacDonald - The Lonely Silver Rain

2) Geoffrey Household - Rogue Male

3) Ira Levin - A Kiss Before Dying

4) William Hjortsberg - Falling Angel

5) Walter Wager - 58 Minutes