Tag Archives: Book Review

Positive Reviews for The Bluebell Informant

One of the first things people want to know when they go to buy a book is:

How do I know this is going to be any good?

For most readers, the author name provides the best insight. If you’ve read a Tony Parsons or a John Grisham or an Agatha Christie or a Susan Hill before, then those names will automatically give you an indication of whether you’re going to enjoy the next book they release or not.

For some readers, the characters are what sells them the book. Maybe your a fan of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series, or Ian Rankin’s Rebus series or Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series. If you are, then you will almost certainly be scrambling to get the most recent book.

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 12.09.54But where does that leave the debut authors like myself? If you’ve just released your first novel then your name won’t have that kudos with your readers just yet, and they won’t know if they love your series or not…

And this is where reviews and experience come in…Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 12.00.59

I guess I’m slightly luckier than most debut authors. By going down the ghostwriting road early on in my career, I’ve ended up receiving my fair share of positive reviews (although for obvious reasons I can’t take credit for those). I’ve learnt what people enjoy and what certain audiences love about my writing – best yet, I’ve learnt there are readers out there who actually do love my writing – something that all authors are terrified will never happen…

It’s only been a few days since I released The Bluebell Informant, but already the reviews are starting to filter in. Well – I say starting to filter in. In reality I already had a few reviews under my belt from my beta readers, but it’s always nice to know that there are people out there who are loving the book. It gives Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 11.44.22
me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

And it will only help persuade other readers to invest their time in reading it as well…

The Bluebell Informant is now available as a free download from Nook Books and Kobo. To receive a free Kindle download, take part in my giveaway here for a limited time only! 


It’s Release Day!

It’s been a long time in the planning, but the day is finally here. The Bluebell Informant has finally been officially released to download!! Check it out at Nook and Kobo to get it for free! (If you’re a Kindle reader, here’s the Amazon link – but read on if you want to get it for free!)

That’s right – after nearly two years of work, I’ve finally got the first chapter of the DS Evelyn Giles series out into the world, and so far the response has been awesome.

How do you catch a killer who is already dead?

One year ago, the Bluebell Killer killed his last victim. He was shot and killed, leaving behind a legacy of twenty corpses and a name that people will fear for years to come…

A year later, a man is shot in the back of the head and left in a field of bluebells.
Is it a mugging gone wrong? A copycat killer? Or is the Bluebell Killer still out there, waiting to pounce on his next victim?

For DS Evelyn Giles the solution is simple – it’s just another dirty politician caught committing an unforgiveable crime. But with the evidence stacking up against him, Giles’ suspect has one more surprise in store for her…
And his words will throw everything she knows into question…

‘It’s not over yet.’

The past is coming back to haunt DS Giles. She’s already sacrificed much for the lie. The only question is how much more will she suffer for the truth?

Add on top of that – the first Giles Case is coming to its conclusion today. If you haven’t been following the case so far, check it out now. There is a chance to win some nice little goodies if you can guess the identity of the killer and the motive for murder – perfect for all you crime fiction buffs out there. The competition closes on the 14th April, so make sure you get your entries in by then. It’s free to enter and should be quite fun.

And – as if that wasn’t enough for today – I am delighted to announce that I am currently elbow deep in sorting out a paperback version of The Bluebell Informant, which should be released in the coming months. As some of you may know, I wanted to give the Bluebell Informant away, but a large portion of my readers are keen to have a physical copy even if it will cost them a bit to get it…

What was that rule about giving the people what they want…?

Anyway, more updates on that to follow.

Oh – and on the subject of cost…

Despite their price matching promise, Amazon are still charging for the Kindle version of The Bluebell Informant – for the time being at least. Sure it’s only £0.99 (or $1.23) but that’s still £0.99 more than I wanted to give it away for.

So – being a man of my word – I have set up my own giveaway so that the Kindle readers amongst you can still get a free copy to read. Just follow the link and you will be able to download a copy that you can then send to your Kindle address…

Just follow this link. 

Check it out and – if you get a chance – please take a few moment to leave a review as well. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A New Format of Blog

There have been a few changes to my blog in recent weeks. I’ve been experimenting with some new post types and -generally speaking – I’ve been giving my blog a bit of a make-over. Well, at least in terms of my posts that it.

Up until now, I’ve been blogging a little haphazardly – only creating content when I felt like there was some news that I wanted to pass on to my readers. But I want my blog to be so much more than that – I want people to know what they are expecting every time they see one of my posts appear and I want you guys – my loyal readers – to help.

But we’ll get to that bit later.

First let’s talk about the new style that you may have already seen creeping into my posts:

As of now, my blog will consist of two parts: regular segments that will appear week-in week-out, and the slightly more irregular parts (reviews, musings, updates on my writing and latest news) that will fill in many of the gaps.

The regular segments consist of:

Monday: What I’ve been listening to this week… – a run down of whatever music I’ve been writing to over the past week. 

Wednesday: Sneaky Snippets – short extracts from whatever project I have been working on during the week. 

Saturday: First Lines – analysis of opening lines of books from various different genres 

Whilst the more irregular segments will consist of:

Reviews – book reviews from whatever crime/mystery/thriller books I have been reading lately (although there are occasional exceptions to this genre) as well as regular updates to my Book Review Rankings

Occasional Thoughts – short posts, usually musing in nature, about things that have been going on in my life – sometimes it’s books, sometimes it’s my writing, sometimes it’s politics. 

Writing Updates – more in depth than the Occasional Thoughts, these posts tend to focus on my writing – what inspires me, how I tackle a particular problem etc – more suitable for writers and those intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes in my life.

The hope is that I will have a blog that will be able to deliver quality material on a regular basis and to regular deadlines.

And this brings me back to you guys, the people reading this post. I need your help.

Because it is all well and good me creating valuable content for people to read and rearranging my blog site to make it more approachable, but it will all be for nothing if people don’t get involved.

So, here’s what I want you to do.

If you like what you’ve read (and if you’ve reached this far, I would assume you have) like it by clicking the ‘Like’ button at the end of each post you read. If there was something about it you didn’t like, give me a quick one or two lines in the comments to tell me what bothered you about it. Share it on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and whatever else you share this type of stuff on. Get the conversation going…

This blog has developed and the readership has grown so much since those early days two years ago – let’s spread it even further.

All the best,



The War of the Worlds – H G Wells

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own…

I had never read H. G. Well’s The War of the Worlds before, but to say that I wasn’t familiar with its opening sentence would be completely wrong.

Celebrated as the quintessential and original science-fiction story, The War of the Worlds is not only a story that is well known, but has also been adapted into numerous films, radio programmes and even a musical (definitely worth a listen if you haven’t heard it before) along with various spin-offs and sequels. Wells’ work defined a genre and yet, to my regret, I hadn’t ever spent the time to sit down and actually read it.

Until now.

Set in the nineteenth century – Wells’ time –  the story follows an unnamed narrator, a journalist who recounts his personal experiences of an invasion from several Martian capsules that land in Surrey and start to move towards London. Written from the narrator’s perspective, the reader is treated to first hand accounts of how the first capsule landed, the local buzz that it generated and the terrifying slaughter that occurred once the Martians were ready to attack.

He also, with a little help by recounting his city-dwelling brother’s experiences, is able to give a very detailed account of what life is like fleeing these beasts as well as life under their occupation.

As a piece of literature it was unique for its time and it isn’t hard to see how it influenced writers who followed.

However, as a piece of written work, the story is quite difficult to read – particularly if you are already fairly abreast of all the intricacies of the story. As it is written from the point of view of a journalist, the story is told – in many ways – like a newspaper report. There is very little dialogue and Wells opts to interrupt his own narrative on various occasions to explain things that – whilst interesting – are not necessarily pertinent to the dramatic events at hand.

That being said, the story does have wonderful moments that make it well worth a read. The descriptions of the Martians and their fighting machines, as well as the desolation of the English towns that our narrator comes across, are so immaculately detailed that the imagination can run wild. The scenes where panicking civilians are running from the Martians are written with such authority that the chaos of the moment practically jumps off the page. And, although I do have a problem with the sparsity of the dialogue, there are moments of pure brilliance – particularly during the interchanges between our narrator and an artilleryman as the latter attempts to explain his plan to live in the sewers rather than fight the Martians.

Generally speaking, I couldn’t say that I enjoyed this book – it’s not really the kind of book that you can enjoy unless you really enjoy your science-fiction – but I had to admire the way it was constructed.

For that reason, I would rate it as a 3/5 – definitely worth a read, but not the most engaging book I’ve ever read.

The Book Review Rankings

Although not a mystery/crime/thriller read, The War of the Worlds does bear many of the hallmarks of what I find interesting in a story. Aside from the actual invasion itself and the effects thereof, Wells makes a clear point of talking about the selfish panic that grips each individual that our narrator encounters as well as the reasons that the Martians themselves have for invading Earth – something that is often overlooked in the numerous adaptions.

For those reasons, The War of the Worlds is eligible to be included on my book review rankings. However, on this occasion, it didn’t quite make the top ten, slotting in between The House of Silk and The Private Patient to make number 13.

As such, the top ten stays the same:

  1. The Devil’s Detective – Simon Kurt Unsworth
  2. Time and Time Again – Ben Elton
  3. The Cinderella Murder – Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
  4. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  5. The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons
  6. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  7. The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
  8. A Cool Head – Ian Rankin
  9. The Slaughter Man – Tony Parsons
  10. You – Caroline Kepnes

If you have a suggestion for books that might make my Top Ten Mystery/Crime/Thriller reads, please feel free to comment below or use the contact page and I will see what takes my fancy…



A Cool Head – Ian Rankin

I am really beginning to love short reads. I read a couple earlier on in the year but hadn’t really touched upon anything new for quite a while.

That is until I found A Cool Head one day when I was browsing the book section of my local charity shop.

And, as a work of little over 100 pages, I devoured it in a single night.

The premise is quite simple:

A young man called Gravy finds himself embroiled in a scheme to murder a woman in witness protection after his friend turns up at his place of work – a graveyard – with a bullet in his chest, a gun in his bag and a car filled with money and a balaclava.

There are several things that make this story utterly brilliant. In the first instance, the story actually deals with two crimes at the same time: one man’s attempt to stop a woman from testifying against him and another man’s attempt to steal the first man’s money.  For a novella this short, one might be led to suspect that such an undertaking could make the whole story a little convoluted and difficult to follow but the way Rankin deals with it gives the story that little bit of extra magic…

Which leads me to the second thing that really makes this story. Whilst the story is billed as being one that follows the main character – Gravy – it would actually be fairer to describe this as a brilliantly conceived ensemble piece. In fact, Gravy – for all his importance in the story – actually appears in about a third of the whole text. The rest of the story follows both the gangsters who are trying to hunt Gravy down and the police who are chasing after the gangsters and the reader actually learns more about what is going on through their actions than they do through Gravy’s – more on that later.

This wonderful flip of points of view throughout this story not only helps to keep the reader utterly engaged, but also gives them a great thrill ride whilst the character of Gravy does (comparatively) very little of interest at all…

This is brings us smartly to the final thing that I think makes this story: the character of Gravy himself.

From the outset, we are shown that Gravy isn’t all there. It’s never fully explained whether he has learning difficulties or whether he is just a monumental idiot and – to be honest – it doesn’t really have to. As a reader, we are treated to moving in and out of a fast paced story whilst experiencing it from the point of view of someone who really hasn’t got a clue about what’s going on – even as the final words of the last chapter close, we are left wondering whether Gravy ever really understood that there was some large-scale crime going on around him.

And that, to me at least, is wonderfully refreshing. Something about Gravy’s innocence in the story makes you want to see him through, even though – as a personality – he is actually quite dull.

A Cool Head is a fantastic little story and well worth a read for any crime or thriller fans – 5/5.

The Book Review Rankings

A Cool Head is a fairly standard crime romp, but a well-conceived one. For such a short piece, the characters are well imagined and the introduction of two crimes almost simultaneous keeps the reader gripped from the first couple of pages.


However, what it lacks is a bit more exploration of history – particularly of the main character. We know very little about him (largely down to the short length of the story) and – whilst this still allows the story to work – it would be nice to know a little more about him.

A Cool Head therefore slots into number 8, just being The Crossing Places, knocking Death on the Nile out of the top ten.

Here are the latest rankings:

  1. The Devil’s Detective – Simon Kurt Unsworth
  2. Time and Time Again – Ben Elton
  3. The Cinderella Murder – Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
  4. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  5. The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons
  6. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  7. The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
  8. A Cool Head – Ian Rankin
  9. The Slaughter Man – Tony Parsons
  10. You – Caroline Kepnes

If you have a suggestion for books that might make my Top Ten Mystery/Crime/Thriller reads, please feel free to comment below and I will see what takes my fancy…


The Cinderella Murder – Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed any crime fiction. If truth be told, I’ve been struggling a lot for time and I’ve found it increasingly difficult to get into any of the stories I’ve been reading (since my last review I’ve tried reading four different stories and failed to complete three of them – although I will be going back to try again).

So, The Cinderella Murder represents a big step for me as this is the book that broke the trend. And what a book to do that with.

The premise of the story is simple.

A television producer who created a pilot documentary show called Under Suspicion, decides to investigate the cold, Cinderella Murder case as part of her next show. During the course of the story, we follow the producer as she attempts to convince all the key witnesses and suspects of the murder to take part in the show before finally rounding revealing who the mysterious killer was in a breathtaking and thrilling finale.

Now, for those who are interested in intricate murders, I’m afraid this may not be the story for you. The murder is quite a simple affair – we don’t have the overwhelming amount of evidence that you would usually find in a classic whodunnit story, and the crime itself is actually fairly run-of-the-mill, with nothing about it that really stands out.

But, in all other aspects, this story hits the nail on the head. The characterisation is brilliant: every character from the main lead to those with minor parts to play, are bursting with realism and good character traits – although, on occasion, some of the characters do appear rather cliched.

The pace is well judged – it doesn’t seem too rushed or drawn out.

But the thing that really makes this story is the concept itself. For the vast majority of the story, the reader isn’t subjected to the witness stories and the usual run around of who is lying about whom. In fact, the vast majority of the story is about how the producer tries to convince each person to participate in the show and their reasonings for doing so.

In my eyes, at least, this makes this story something a little bit different. Whilst the main characters are trying to solve the murder, we are also thrilled with a story of how they are attempting to make the suspects co-operate with them – something that you don’t tend to see in most whodunnit stories, at least not on this scale.

Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke have really done a great job with this story and I am certainly looking forwards to tucking into the next of the series…

But first, I think I should give those other stories a second try…

Great stuff – 5/5

The Book Review Rankings

The Cinderella Murder is not only different, but it brings something completely new to the table. It addresses an aspect of crime solving that rarely gets looked at in so much detail and the great mix of crime fiction and media drama really add to the story.

For that reason, it jumps straight in at number 3, knocking And Then There Were None out of the top 3 spot and shoving The House of Silk out of the top ten.

Here are the latest rankings:

  1. The Devil’s Detective – Simon Kurt Unsworth
  2. Time and Time Again – Ben Elton
  3. The Cinderella Murder – Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke
  4. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  5. The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons
  6. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  7. The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
  8. The Slaughter Man – Tony Parsons
  9. You – Caroline Kepnes
  10. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

If you have a suggestion for books that might make my Top Ten Mystery/Crime reads, please feel free to comment below and I will see what takes my fancy…


Read The Bluebell Informant Today – For Free


That’s right.

Today, I am releasing the latest version of The Bluebell Informant to be read online for free for a limited time only.

Yes. For free.

As of right now, The Bluebell Informant is live on Inkitt.com (some of you may remember that this was the site that first propelled me into the limelight when I won a competition with Dressed to Deceive) and you can read it right here.

But why this sudden desire to get The Bluebell Informant out there? The release date is still a long way off, so why am I suddenly allowing people to see it?

The answer to that is two-fold.

First off, I received some awesome news from Inkitt regarding the publication of my short story, Dressed to Deceive. After a year of back-and-forthing, I have finally seen the cover design for the book and, with any luck, I will be sharing that with you in the next post or two.

This means that the long promised copies of Dressed to Deceive will soon be on their way to me, which means I, in turn, will finally be able to offer some signed copies up as competition prizes.

In addition to this, Inkitt recently informed me that they wanted to offer some free plugging for an early draft of The Bluebell Informant that I had up on their servers. So I figured, why not? Let’s put the latest version up and get some good solid Beta testing done – it’s about time that I stopped talking about this book and starting giving something back to you lovely people who have been following my work.

So here it is. If you wish, you can read The Bluebell Informant for free with no strings attached (provided you finish it before I take it down – but I will give you prior warning of that happening).

But for those of you who are really in to what I write, I would really appreciate some feedback on what I have so far. Reviews and comments – good and bad – are welcome. And, if you so wish, please also share the book to as many people as possible. Anyone and everyone who may enjoy this book is welcome to read it so please get the word out.

Anyone who reviews, comments or shares this book will be entered into a prize draw. Prizes up for grabs include:

A signed copy of Dressed to Deceive

Original copies of early The Bluebell Informant concept art

And a mystery prize…

With more prizes that may be added later…

To enter, simply leave a review on Inkitt (or, if you have a blog or social media, that will do fine as well), leave a comment below this post or share the story on Facebook and Twitter and what have you…

Just remember to leave a little comment on my Facebook page to let me know where to find it so that all entries can be verified.

Thank you everyone and I hope you enjoy The Bluebell Informant. I know I enjoyed writing it…