Firstly, I’m announcing my Reader’s Club, which is basically a newsletter. It will be approximately quarterly, so won’t bung up your inbox and everyone who signs up will get a free short story from me and the chance to win a signed copy of To Catch A Rabbit. The blog will continue, in perhaps a more personal vein, while the newsletter will relate to publication dates, titles, and that sort of thing. If you’re currently signed up to the blog, you’ll need to subscribe separately to the newsletter, because I’m not allowed to steal your data, (even though I’m a crime writer. Unfair!) The first newsletter will come out in March, so get signed up, you’ll be asked to verify your email, then sit back for deferred gratification.

 

But now, drum roll, please! News about Sean Denton 3!!

I’m delighted to say I’ve submitted Sean Book 3 to my wonderful agent, Laura Longrigg, (third time lucky), and this time I think I may have cracked it. Her comments on the last draft, and our subsequent collaborative conversation, set in train a really positive set of ideas to get the plot right, and develop the right characters to carry it.

It’s also gone off to two beta readers, and I’ve had the pleasure this weekend of live feedback from one them, Alyson – friend, reader and crime fiction connoisseur. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to share my favourite message : ‘I’ve decided I want to slap Lizzie with the steak!’ Maybe it’s my theatre background, but it’s ace to get people’s reaction as the story unfolds, but so hard not to comment in a way that ruins the suspense. ‘Wait and see!’ is what we do as writers, especially in crime and thriller fiction.

The thrill of knowing what page Alyson was on, and even the sight of her cat, jealously occupying the manuscript, while she nipped off for a cup of tea, brought home to me that this book, which has been in my head for so long, is now on its way out into the world, to be read, which is, after all, the whole point.

 

Talking of reading, here are two recommendations in the domestic noir genre that I’ve really enjoyed recently.

Elizabeth Haynes Never Alone is a beautifully written story of a widowed woman living in rural isolation in North Yorkshire. The creeping sense of danger is exacerbated when the snow falls and she no longer knows who she can trust. The characters are beautifully delineated and the relationships utterly believable. Never Alone delivers a fantastic suspense plot, but doesn’t stint on the essential elements of a great story: emotion, character and the sense of empathy that leads the reader into the lives of others. All the stars! Read it.

 

Amy Engels The Roanoke Girls also delivers a great reading experience by taking you to a place that is so strange, the middle of Kansas, a rambling house in a huge ranch, a close family. But the daughters of the family either leave or die, so when Lane comes to her grandparents place for the first time, after her own mother kills herself, we wait and watch to see how and where the danger lies. A thriller with a good dose of coming of age novel, and a fantastic setting, it can be a disturbing read, but nevertheless, unputdownable. Thoroughly recommended.