Have you noticed that every time a device comes along to make life easier someone always finds a way to us it against us?
Electronic banking was supposed to make moving money around easier and more secure. Now there’s more theft – and it’s not only money they’re stealing. Although, ultimately, it’s always money they’re after. It might not be your money but it could be your identity they want to use to get someone else’s money.
Relax. It’s not my intention to deter you from shopping online. There are plenty of safeguards in place. You know the drill – keep your internet security software up to date, shop on secure sites, and don’t click on links or open attachments from suspicious emails.
What I want to share, from a crime writing perspective, is an insight into the impact of computers on police work – an entry from the other side of the ledger.
Why would a man break out of prison the day before he was due to be released?
This is the question driving the story of Audie Palmer in Life or Death by Michael Robotham.
It’s certainly a question that kept me turning the pages in this well-constructed riddle, and I was a long way in before I picked up the clue that exposes the reason behind Audie’s apparently mindless act.
Life or Death is an intriguing story with an interesting cast of players, including Moss Webster, Audie’s only friend when he was in prison, who gets dragged into the hunt, and FBI Special Agent Desiree Furness, who wants to get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
Of course, there is another group of characters who only want Audie dead, so there is more than enough action to keep you wondering whether Audie is going to end up dead or not before you find out the answer to that initial question.
Whistleblower: someone who informs on a person or organisation engaging in unlawful or immoral acts.
We hear about the more sensational whistleblowers, like Edward Snowden, who take their stories to the media. Most public service whistleblowing is nothing like that. It’s routine and done behind closed doors far away from the media spotlight.
Whistleblower starts with the routine reporting of a suspicion that something is not quite right in the Office of State Supply. However, the whistleblower makes a mistake that alerts those involved and puts him in harm’s way.
The story explores a simple premise: the whistleblower has his own secret that leads to his death after he lifts the lid on the secret dealings of the Office of State Supply.
But, as anyone who’s read the other books in this series will know, it won’t be that simple. You will find several stories wrapped together in this tale of murder and intrigue. Continue reading “Reading Whistleblower”
Think you know a thing or two about the way the world is?
Ready to have some of your facts challenged?
How would you feel if I told you a chimpanzee choosing answers at random scores better than most of us when it comes to answering questions about the state of affairs in the world?
That’s a claim made by the authors of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We Are Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
The lead author is Hans Rosling, who spent a major part of his life studying data. Hans is supported by Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund, co-founders of Gapminder.
Take the Gapminder test and see if you do better than those chimpanzees.
After doing the test, buy yourself a copy of Factfulness to discover why we get things so wrong when we think we know the answers, and explore the tools and resources on Gapminder – where you’ll find a lot of useful information.
I think you’ll find this book is an eye-opener, and I’m happy to recommend it as a worthwhile read for anyone who wants to become aware of how good things are in the world today.
The initial thought behind the writing of Holy Death was imagining a victim of child sex abuse taking the law into his own hands and dealing out retribution, and wondering what would happen after that.
One complicating factor I decided to include was having two victims of the same perpetrator take action independently on the same night, using very different methodologies.
One takes direct action and murders the abuser priest. The other takes a more indirect approach and kills the abuser’s closest friend, another priest, hoping to inflict a sense of the loss he has suffered. Continue reading “Reading Holy Death”
Guest post from Scottish Crime Writer, Wendy H Jones, author of three very different crime mystery series.
Firstly, thank you, Peter, for inviting me onto your blog. It’s a real honour to be here.
When I think about writing a blog post, the first reaction is always panic. What on earth shall I write about? Obviously, I want to be interesting, valid, current, useful and every other adjective in between. Do I also want to be gritty and humorous?
In this case, the answer is yes. Most definitely so. At least I want to talk about my move from writing on the edge of your seat, gritty, Scottish Noir fiction, to writing laugh out loud, funny, detective fiction. That’s some change or is it?
I need to start with the fact I have always been a reader. An advanced reader, I joined the library at the age of three. An impossible task in those days.
I had read my way through the entire children’s section of the library by the age of ten via books such as Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Mystery was always my go to, although I read many different genres. At ten, I moved on to adult mysteries such as those by Agatha Christie.
As the years moved on, the crime I read became more and more gritty, although I’ve always had a penchant for the gentler side of crime fiction as well.
Reading Janet Evanovich’s books introduced me to laugh out loud crime. I was hooked.
My first series, The DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries, moved hurriedly into the Tartan Noir movement. The first book, Killer’s Countdown proved popular and was quickly followed by five more in the series, all with titles beginning with Killer’s.
The seventh in the series, Killer’s Curse, will be released later this year.
However, I still didn’t lose my desire to try my hand at comedic crime. Something that would make my readers laugh.
Brainstorming ideas for a main character, I came up with the most unlikely Private Detective imaginable. Cass (Cassandra) Claymore is a redheaded, motorbike riding, ex-ballerina who inherits a private detective agency.
Then she manages to hire an ex-con dwarf and an octogenarian. Who in their right minds would start a detective agency staffed by a ballerina, an ex-con, and a pensioner? Me of course.
I had an absolute ball writing it. I spent time laughing from start to finish. I read bits out to readers and writers, all of whom laughed. By this point, I knew I was on to a winner.
The first book in the series, Antiques and Alibis, was released on 1st August 2018. The next four will be called, Blood and Bone, A Cluster of Corpses, Dance of Death, and Evil and Ecstasy.
Will I make it to Z? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, I shall enjoy writing those four. I can assure you I will be laughing.
To all writers, follow your passion and see where it takes you. To all readers, try something different and you might discover a new reading passion. You can start with Antiques and Alibis, available from:
Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning Scottish Crime Writer who lives and sets her books in Dundee, Scotland. She is also an International Public Speaker talking about writing and marketing.
Killer’s Crew, the first book in her DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries was the Winner of the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2017. The Dagger’s Curse, the first book in her Young Adult mystery series, was a finalist in the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award 2017.
She has signed a publishing contract with Malcolm Down and Sarah Grace Publishing for the first book in a children’s picture book series, based on a true story about a little Buffalo in Scotland. The first, Bertie’s Great Escape will be released late October 2018.
When she’s not writing, Wendy spends her time travelling the world. She is President of the Scottish Association of Writers and co-founder of Crime at the Castle, a Scottish literary festival held at Glamis Castle Scotland
The Holiday came from me wondering what would happen if an old man and a young boy took off for the weekend without telling anyone, in the hope that their action would bring the boy’s parents back together, and then everything goes wrong.
To help things go wrong, I gave the old man, Kieran Moore, a dark history that puts his great-grandson, Toby, in danger through being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kieran gets killed. Toby gets kidnapped because he’s a kid and Kieran’s killers can’t bring themselves to kill a ten-year-old boy. This storyline ultimately leads to Clare’s story, which we will come back to in a minute.
Yes, it has a crime and a police investigation with complicating factors, and it’s a murder mystery with all the twists and turns you might expect. But, the police investigation plays second fiddle to the main story, which is Paul’s story.
While Inspector West and his team work on solving the mystery of Josie Ford’s murder, you’re taken into the world of Paul Ford to explore the impact an unexpected death has on the family of the victim. Continue reading “Reading After”
Stella Bruno Investigates is a series of six books telling seven stories.
Each title in the series is dedicated to a particular crime, but the seventh story, Stella’s story, is interwoven through the six stories that make up the series.
To fully appreciate the gradual unfolding of Stella’s story, you’ll need to read the series in book order.
Set in and around Adelaide, South Australia, the stories open a window into Australian life and policing that allows you to explore life down under, without making the long-haul flight required to get there. That has to be a bonus.
All of the places mentioned in the stories exist – you can look them up using your search engine of choice. And, you can enjoy a meal at any of the restaurants where Stella and Shaun eat – if you ever make that long-haul flight and come to Adelaide. You might even spot me at one of the tables.
Australians are fairly informal in their working relationships, even within the confines of the rigid hierarchy of a police force. Working relationships are built on trust, and it’s not uncommon for officers of differing ranks to treat each other as equals – as Stella and Brian do. Of course, there is also a place for respecting rank, which is why Stella has a different relationship with DI Frank Williams, who is still coming to terms with the reality of his most competent detective sergeant being a woman. He gets better as the series progresses.
The other man of interest across the series is Shaun Porter. He works for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions but that is secondary to his role as Stella’s new love interest. Yes, police officers have a life outside of investigating crime, and one of the joys of writing the series was witnessing the development of the relationship between Stella and Shaun. I hope you enjoy their story.
If you’re wondering what makes Australian crime stories different, Stella Bruno Investigates gives you the opportunity to find out in six quick reads.