Posts Tagged ‘Police’

I read this book in a day, it’s a real page turner.

Peter May is the author of three crime series including The Lewis Trilogy set on the Western Isles of Scotland. Coffin Road is a stand-alone eco-thriller featuring three lead characters each with their own problems with a quest to pursue as a result.

The interesting opening draws you in as a man finds he has been washed up on a beach. With no idea of who he is or what he’s doing there he is searching for an identity. Then there is the detective searching for the killer of a man bludgeoned to death on a remote island, and finally a rebellious teenage girl desperately trying to find why her father took his own life and if she was responsible.

The suspense develops as the lives of these three individuals start to interweave and races towards the reveals of what connects them. I liked the eco-theme of the survival of bees and learnt more about this important topic as I read on. Then there are the descriptions of the remote Scottish Islands which enhance the mystery of the plot and have some of the nuances of one of my favourite crime TV programmes Shetland recently broadcast. I shall have to wait another year for more of Shetland, but I can now fill that gap by reading the rest of Peter May’s novels.

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‘The Lies Within ‘opens dramatically with grieving mother Grace Daniels in the dock being tried for murder. The novel goes on to tell how she became a suspect and ends with what happens next. It is the third book in the series featuring Jane Isaac’s DI Will Jackman and it is good to be in his company again. The core of the book is about how Jackman and Grace’s stories interrelate. He is the SIO investigating the murder of her daughter, and it makes for a clever plot with some really good twists which I didn’t see coming.

The story is told alternatively from Will Jackman and Grace Daniels points of view and it is the emotional resonance of Grace’s sections that make this book so compelling. Jane Isaac’s writing captures all Grace’s roller coaster of emotions: her shock, despair, guilt, anger and isolation verging on mental breakdown in a realistic and empathetic way. Will Jackman is a sympathetic police detective with problems of his own and you want him to solve the case and not be let down. But it is Grace’s story and her characterisation in the heartbreaking situation of being the mother of a murdered daughter that make this crime novel different and cause the reader to reflect on what they would do in Grace’s situation.

Having said that, I did find the first part of the novel rather slow to get going, but once the plot moves in a different and unexpected direction and the pace speeds up the need to read on is compulsive and I read the book in one sitting.

‘The Lies Within’ is a satisfying read and I look forward to DI Will Jackman book four.
With thanks to Legend Press for providing an advance copy to review.

Today is my stop on the ‘Beneath the Ashes’ blog tour and I’m delighted to be able to share not only my review of the book but also a some insights into Jane Isaac’s writing in an author Q & A.

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When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house had been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

Review
‘Beneath the Ashes’ opens with a prologue which sets the tone for the story to come. A woman is frantically running towards a graveyard. We have no idea who she is or what she will do next but it draws you in.

We go back a week and follow the story through the voices of DI Will Jackman, a likeable well balanced police officer with a family life restricted somewhat by his disabled wife, and Nancy a young shop assistant who wakes up on her boyfriend’s kitchen floor covered in blood but with no idea of how she got there. There is a good working relationship between DI Jackman and his Sergeant Annie Davies and together they go down a series of blind alleys to try and find out the mystery behind Nancy’s attack and the murder of her boyfriend. I particularly liked Nancy. She is feisty and independent and doesn’t always do the right thing. As the three characters delve more deeply, things are not what they seem. Surprising new themes emerge as Nancy struggles to stay safe and make sense of what is happening to her.

The pace quickens towards an unmissable dramatic crescendo when the truth about what has really happened to Nancy’s boyfriend starts to emerge and you are compelled to read to the end to find out why.

This is the second book in the DI Will Jackman series but ‘Beneath the Ashes’ sets the scene and introduces the main characters with clarity and enough background information to create  a satisfying and enjoyable read whether you are meeting DI Will Jackman for the first time or as an old friend.

Many thanks to Lucy at Legend Press who sent me a copy to review

Q & A with Jane
Who was your favourite character to write in ‘Beneath the Ashes’?

I really like Jackman’s sidekick, DS Annie Davies. She’s sharp, intelligent and witty, and has the ability to find the humour in almost any situation, but balances this with bucketloads of compassion. Some of her thoughts and comments made me laugh out loud as the story progressed.

‘Beneath the Ashes’ is a whistle stop read, how long did it take you to write it?
Thank you. The story had been in my head for a quite a while, so it didn’t take too long to write a detailed plan of how I expected the narrative to unfold. Once that was done, I concentrated on the first 10,000 words which really set the foundations in place. The rest of it flowed well, only broken by bouts of research, as I went along. It was about a year from recording the initial idea to actually typing ‘The End’.

Who did you prefer writing, DCI Helen Lavery from your first novel or DI Jackman, and why?

Ooh, that’s a toughie. I enjoy working with them both, for different reasons!

How important is the setting of Stratford upon Avon to ‘Beneath the Ashes and what made you base your novel there?

When I decided to embark on the Will Jackman series, I wanted to set it somewhere that people might know even if they haven’t visited themselves. Stratford upon Avon is known the world over, and also a very beautiful place to visit for research purposes (my family and I have spent many a happy weekend there during the past two years), so it ticked all the boxes!

Whose novels do you read and do you read while you’re working on a novel?
As I’m constantly planning, writing or researching, I do read throughout the process. I tend to read a lot of different novels, mostly crime and psychological thrillers, but I also like travel memoirs too.

Most recently, I’ve been discovering a lot of new writers. There’s something special about debuts that draws me to them. The last book I read was Rubicon by Ian Patrick, a finely crafted debut which is now out for submission and I have everything crossed for him for a book deal. That book really deserves to be published!

How much do you plan your narrative in advance?

I write a detailed outline, usually 4-5 pages, before I start. Things do change as the story unfolds, but I change my outline too so that when I finish my first draft and do my initial read through, I can check back and ensure that everything weaves together.

Where and when do you write?

As I still have a day job, a family and a very demanding Labrador, I tend to fit my writing into the gaps in my day. I can often be seen writing notes on my phone while standing in the supermarket queue, or typing on my laptop at the side of the pool while my daughter is swimming. I have notebooks all over the house, so if an idea comes to me I can record it before I forget!
I suppose my favourite time to write is sitting up in bed with my laptop, late at night when the house is quiet.

How do you get under the skin of your characters?
For me, it’s essential to get to know a character, especially a lead, so that they come to life on the page. Writing through the eyes of DCI Helen Lavery in my first two novels was like second nature. While Helen is very different from me, she is a working mother who juggles her home and work life balance. I could relate to that and build her character on that basis.

Creating the male lead of DI Will Jackman for my new series was much more challenging and took me back to basics. I pulled on my favourite male fictional characters and analysed their behaviour; writing down the elements I liked and that fitted with what I was trying to achieve, disregarding the ones that didn’t. I considered the male influences in my own life: my father, my brothers, my husband and my friends. I spoke to a lot of serving police officers and detectives to see what their working/home life was like. And slowly the foundations of Jackman’s character were laid. But even then, as I was writing I was constantly saying to my husband, “How would you react to … What would you say to…” for validation that I’d got him somewhere near.

What was your first job and has it influenced your writing?

Ironically, my first job (apart from delivering newspapers in my early teens) was as a receptionist for a small marketing newspaper. At the time, I had no inclination to become a writer and was in awe of the journalists there. I was in my forties before I discovered my own love of the pen!

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m just starting the edits for The Lies Within, the third book in the DI Will Jackman series, which is scheduled to be released on 2nd May 2017.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a crime author?
Read voraciously in and around the genre you intend to work with and try to write something every day, no matter how short. When your script is complete, send it to people you trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, then rework until it is the best you can do before you submit.

It can be difficult to find a home for a novel and publishers reject submissions for many reasons which are not necessarily anything to do with your writing: It may not fit with a publisher’s list, they may have something similar, they may not be looking for submissions in your genre at this time. So, if you receive a rejection, don’t give up; take heed of any advice, rework your script if necessary, and submit elsewhere.

Thank you so much for interviewing me Chris. I really enjoyed answering your questions!

Follow the blog tour

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Ladram Bay, Sidmouth - site of Ladram Heights New Town in Revenge Ritual

Ladram Heights New Town in Revenge Ritual  – another beach where bad things happen

Linda Huber’s is an accomplished author of psychological thrillers whose faultless narrative voice takes you right inside the heads of her characters as she creates stories that keep you on the edge of your seat with suspense. She’s also a lovely person who helped me out when I was researching for a workshop on getting published that I was gave at The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School earlier this month.

‘The Cold, Cold Sea’ is Linda’s second novel. It is set in Cornwall and in a month where the West Country has experienced a number of tragic deaths by drowning on beaches the title drew me in and made me shiver. The story opens with a child going missing from a holiday beach and takes you through a turmoil of emotions as you share the anguish and guilt of the little girl’s parents. The mother, Maggie’s experience is skilfully woven through a parallel story about another family who have lost a child. The multiple viewpoints are written with great skill and finesse as the pace quickens, building up the nail biting tension as you start to realise what has happened to the two families. A novel you have to read in one sitting. Brilliant.

I can’t wait to read her next psychological thriller ‘The Attic Room’.

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I was given a review copy of this crime novel by the publishers prior to publication. It’s always interesting to read a novel from a debut writer, especially one that was shortlisted for the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in 2014 and hotly contested in auctions around the world.

‘The Widow’ has been described as the next ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Girl on a Train’. A description I disagree with, it hasn’t got the pace or depth of characters, but it is nevertheless a fascinating read.

It has an unusual take on the crime genre because it tells the story of an unsolved crime from the viewpoint of the widow of the suspect. The story starts with her husband’s death which of course releases his widow to reveal what she knows to both the police and journalists, if she chooses to do so.

The crime her husband is suspected off is abhorrent, the abduction with a likely rape and murder of a small child. Never an easy thing to live with.

The novel vividly brings to life what it must be like to partner and love someone suspected of such a crime. It is told from the viewpoint of the widow, Joan and also from the investigating detective and the journalist’s. The multiple points of view are woven together seamlessly and the story is very well constructed. The narrative moves between the present time after the death of her husband and four years ago when the child abduction occurred as well as the period immediately afterwards.

I particularly enjoyed reading a story about a suspect’s wife. As a probation officer, I spent a number of hours with offender’s partners helping them to understand what was happening and sometimes keeping the clamouring press at bay. The offender’s family are often a further victim of a crime, especially one like this and it was good to gain an insight into that world. However, I did find the pace flagged a bit at times and although a very good novel, it didn’t have that edge of your seat enjoyment factor that would promote this book to a five star read.

 

Mark Walsh (back) and a Youth Court USA style

Mark Walsh (back) and a Youth Court USA style

I was delighted to see police officer, Mark Walsh appear on BBC Breakfast this Friday to talk about Hampshire Police Force’s ground breaking use of Community Youth Courts. I’d been impressed by the way they worked back in 1995 when I’d visited them as part of my Churchill Fellowship. As I munched my cereal, I wasn’t surprised to hear Mark say how well these courts, administered by young people volunteers, were working to stop young first time offenders’ further involvement in crime. What did surprise and please me was when Mark told the programme how he’d developed the idea after his own Churchill Fellowship to the USA in 2013. It reminded me what a brilliant opportunity Churchill Fellowships provide. My Fellowship was about communities working with police, businesses and local councils to make their streets safer places to live in and my research, like Mark’s, was used to set up a new approach to community policing.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fund the Fellowships for UK citizens to investigate such ground-breaking practice in other countries and return with innovative ideas to benefit their community or profession. The categories for Fellowships for 2016 include ‘Mental health – Community Based Innovation’; ‘Environment, Sustainable Living and Horticulture’ and ‘Crafts and Makers – and the deadline for applications is the 22nd of September. For more information check out the link below:

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I was delighted to hear about a new police and mental health project on this morning’s news. Leicestershire police have partnered up with mental health professionals to run the ‘Leicestershire and Rutland mental health triage car scheme’. As a result the number of people with mental illness detained in custody has fallen by two thirds in the last two years.

Mental health practioner, Emma McCann and PC Alex Crisp, part of the triage team

Mental health practioner, Emma McCann and PC Alex Crisp, part of the triage team

Mental health nurses, like Emma McCann, accompany police officers to attend incidents or advise them over the phone. This has reduced inappropriate detention and distress for both mentally ill people and officers but it has saved police time, reducing the average time spent on detaining people from 8 hours to 5. The mental health professionals are also available in custody suites for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and provide specialist support for children and young people.

 

CAPSWhen more police time than ever is spent dealing with people with mental illness and HM Inspectors of Constabulary and Prisons are concerned about the large and increasing numbers detained in police cells – this is a brilliant idea. I am not surprised Leicestershire police have been piloting this groundbreaking project. When I was Regional Advisor for the Home Office in the East Midlands, it was Leicestershire police who piloted the ‘Problem Oriented Policing’ programme that I researched in Chicago (CAPS), bringing police officers and local residents together to solve local policing problems. A programme which was later rolled out around the UK. So let’s hope this initiative is here to stay and doesn’t disappear like so many other successful short term projects.