Guest post- author Martin Lee

Many thanks to Martin Lee for agreeing to do a guest post for my blog!

About the author~ (via Goodreads)

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.


Seven novels that killed me.

And inspired me.

 

I’ve always loved crime.

 

Murder. Larceny. Blackmail. Arson. Kidnapping. Burglary. Serial killings. Extortion. Gang violence. It doesn’t matter what sort of crime, I’m up for it.

 

Luckily, it hasn’t landed me in jail yet, but it has given me a love of one of the most popular genres of writing.

 

The Crime Novel.

Here are seven books that inspired me to write about crime.

 

And then there were none.

From the Queen of Crime herself. I remember reading this when I was eleven. It was called something terribly non-PC then. Having finished it, I went back to the beginning and started over again. All the clues were there, I just hadn’t seen them. Fiendishly well plotted, even for Agatha Christie

 

The Daughters of Time

Again, something I read when I was young. Beautifully constructed, it made me revisit the history of the period and re-evaluate all that I believed about Richard III. Great title too. I read it again this year. It stands the test of time which is always the sign of a great novel.

 

 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

 

The series of works that gave rise to the modern crime novel. An eccentric detective, a fumbling sidekick and stories that blew readers away with their sheer brilliance. Every other crime novel is measured against the master.

The Name of the Rose
Every once in a while, a book comes along that shows the crime novel can be far more than a series of gory killings. This has wit, erudition, an understanding of philosophy and, at its heart, a plea for more laughter in the world. Who could ask for more?

 

The Remorseful Day

 

A great central character with enough quirks to sink the Titanic. A sidekick with a love of the Full Monty. Great plots, intriguing stories, palpable intelligence, and the most wonderful sense of place: Oxford in the Eighties. Colin Dexter created a cult classic that went on to become some of the finest crime dramas on television.

 

L A Confidential

 

I could have chosen any of James Ellroy’s books. Once I start them, I can’t put them down. They have such a pace, style and sheer pizzazz, that is quintessentially American. Ellroy leaves out the bits other authors keep in. I’d love to have those bits.

 

 

The Talented Mr Ripley

 

Vastly underrated, Patricia Highsmith for me was the writer’s writer. Beautiful sentences, crisp characterisation and an understanding of human psychology go hand in hand for a wonderful series of crime novels. Even better, she created an anti-hero that we could all love. Brilliant.
 

So those are my choices.

 

I can hear you all shouting and screaming now. How could you leave out Mario Puzo, Val McDermid, Stieg Larssen, Peter James, Ellis Peters, Dashiell Hammett, P D James,Thomas Harris, C J Sansom and Stephen King?

 

Nobody said choosing seven novels was easy, You have to murder some you love. But that’s the job of a crime writer after all.

 

What would be your seven most inspirational crime novels?

 

 

Massive thanks again to Martin for doing this guest post! 🙂

 

M J Lee is the author of ‘Death in Shanghai’, the first in the Inspector Danilov series, set in the city in the 1920s from Carina/Harper Collins and available on Amazon. He loves to chat about crime, real or imagined, and can be found at his website, writermjlee.com, Facebook or Twitter under the same handle.

 

 

 

Dead Eyed by Matt Brolly

I’ve had Dead Eyed on my Netgalley TBR for a while now and some blogger friends of mine, Noelle over at Crimebookjunkie Book Blog and Joseph at Relax and Read Book Reviews had reviewed it so my interest was piqued!

By pure coincidence, Matt emailed me a couple of weeks ago asking would I like to read and review Dead Eyed. Of course my answer was yes, happy that I had a copy of it on my kindle!
Goodreads description:

DCI Michael Lambert thought he’d closed his last case…

Yet when he’s passed a file detailing a particularly gruesome murder, Michael knows that this is no ordinary killer at work.
The removal of the victim’s eyes and the Latin inscription carved into the chest is the chilling calling-card of the ‘soul jacker’: a cold-blooded murderer who struck close to Michael once before, twenty-five years ago.
Now the long-buried case is being re-opened, and Michael is determined to use his inside knowledge to finally bring the killer to justice. But as the body count rises, Michael realises that his own links to the victims could mean that he is next on the killer’s list…

There are so many crime books out there now that it can be difficult to separate them from each other. Not the case with Dead Eyed. With a serial killer called Souljacker, you know it’s going to be good! And this is a debut! I honestly couldn’t believe that this book was a debut, it seems so accomplished that I would have expected it to be well into a series at least!

Souljacker goes around killing people, taking their eyes out, and carving a Latin phrase into their bodies. Insane, but chillingly good as a killer.

Lambert is great as a character, he has his weaknesses and demons in his past, but he’s just so easy to like as a protagonist. Sarah May proves to be a strong female character in Dead Eyed too, adept and intelligent. Together they work the case simultaneously, leading to interesting developments in the investigation.

I don’t like going to far into plots as I think it takes away from the readers experience if they know too much. Sufficed to say, Dead Eyed is an astonishing debut novel. Matt Brolly’s writing style is clear, concise and vivid. The action is relentless, there are so many twists and “I know who”  moments (I was wrong, consistently, by the way!!!) that all add up to it being a brilliant storyline, with excellent characterisation, and a truly deranged sociopathic killer.

The Dolls House by Louise Phillips

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I started reading this in December 2014, having heard high praise for Louise Phillips. I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading it, but to be honest, I wasn’t a fan from the outset. I found it very slow going, and also about a quarter of the way in, I went into labour with my baby girl on December 15th, so I left the book on my nightstand and didn’t pick it up again until 3 weeks after she was born.

I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy this book, even after the mid book break, I just couldn’t get into it. The blurb from Amazon is as follows:

“People say that the truth can set you free. But what if the truth is not something you want to hear? Thirty-five years ago Adrian Hamilton drowned. At the time his death was reported as a tragic accident but the exact circumstances remained a mystery. Now his daughter Clodagh, trying to come to terms with her past, visits a hypnotherapist who unleashes disturbing childhood memories of her father’s death. And as Clodagh delves deeper into her subconscious, memories of another tragedy come to light – the death of her baby sister. Meanwhile criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is called in to help in the investigation of a murder after a body is found in a Dublin canal. When Kate digs beneath the surface of the killing, she discovers a sinister connection to the Hamilton family. What terrible events took place in the Hamilton house all those years ago? And what connects them to the recent murder? Time is running out for Clodagh and Kate. And the killer has already chosen his next victim . . .” 

Personal preference is everything when it comes to books, so I’m sure many of you would enjoy this. Perhaps had I read it at a different time I may have enjoyed it, but as it stands, I was glad to see the back of it!!

Quick Review : The Nightmare by Lars Kepler *Spoilers*

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I was flipping through a newspaper at the weekend when there was a mention of the new Lars Kepler book (The Sandman) , needless to say I went googling immediately!

If you have read my previous posts, if I find a series/author I like, I tend to want to get ALL the books, yesterday!!! Back in 2012, I joined Cold Water Book Club on Twitter, and The Hypnotist was one of the books we read! I wasn’t gripped by the book, but I didn’t dislike it, so when I saw the snippet in the paper I decided now was as good as any to go back to the Lars Kepler books!

The blurb from Amazon for The Nightmare is as follows:

From the bestselling author of The Hypnotist comes the second high-octane thriller featuring Detective Inspector Joona Linna

Stockholm, Sweden: the lifeless body of a young woman is discovered on an abandoned boat. Later, a man is found hanging alone in his apartment.

Should the deaths be treated as suicide or murder? Only four people know the answer. And one man wants them dead.

Can Detective Inspector Joona Linna keep them alive long enough to find out the truth?

I didn’t know what to expect when I started, as it’s been a while since I’d read Kepler! I have to be honest though, I found the book a bit slow to start! I like to be gripped within the first few chapters, and although I wasn’t totally enthralled by the beginning, I still wanted to keep reading to see how the events would unfold!

Joona Linna is still cool and charismatic, with little to faze him, and he’s still quite a likeable character. The supporting characters are fairly well written and support his character easily!
The plot of the book takes a while to come through, but essentially is is about smuggling weapons and the race to silence the people who know about the deal! There are some adrenalin filled scenes and chases throughout the book, which do well to ramp up the tension as you find yourself willing the detectives (or whoever is in the scene) on in their efforts. I can’t say much more without discussing the actual events in the book, and I am not prone to big spoilers so I won’t mention them!

What it will say about The Nightmare is that it is a tense, edgy thriller with a good plot and fleshed out characters. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to reading the next two books; The Fire witness and The Sandman!

Happy reading 🙂

Currently Reading…

I had a book called The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter on my Amazon Wish List for a while so when I popped into Easons for a look recently I was surprised to see it there as I hadn’t expected it!

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Even better, it was in a buy one get one free deal! So I managed to get four of Chris Carter’s books at a really decent price!

I find that I get wrapped up in authors and decide I have to read as many of their books as possible in order!
Examples of these are –
Lee Child
Jeffrey Deaver
Patricia Cornwell
Jack Kerley
Michael Connolly

I’m now onto The Executioner and so far so good! Will definitely be reading all of Chris Carter’s books as soon as possible!

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