Today I am on the blog tour for The Devil’s Bridge Affair, a book that is compelling and not what you might expect in a crime fiction novel. It is full of surprises. It is written by an author who is known for screenwriting Eastenders, Casualty and much more. Thanks to the publisher – Hobeck Books for inviting me to review. Follow below for the blurb and my review.
Lightning splits the sky, night somersaulting into day
And in that moment, a life is lost…
The name of the Devil’s Bridge derives from a local legend, telling the story behind a bridge that was built centuries before for the town, built by the devil himself. But there was a price. The devil vowed to return at different times and in different guises with dark consequences for those who live in the bridge’s shadow.
Most in the town believe it to be just a colourful local story; a flight of fancy. Dark deeds can happen anywhere – and there’s no such thing as the devil.
Then a massive scandal, involving a schoolboy and his English teacher, hits the community, and even the most die-hard of sceptics begin to wonder if a devil-like figure is walking in their midst.
The Devil’s Bridge Affair is a thriller with a little bit of the supernatural. The name of the bridge is enough to send spine-chilling tingles down the spine. It becomes more than that. The bridge has a legend attached it. This legend is that it was built by the devil as part of a deal that a promise is kept. It is also said that the devil will return at different points in time..
The book goes back and forth in time, with various points of view. Ethan is a main person. He is a teenager with separated parents. His dad has even moved in with the school teacher! Relationships are complex amongst the characters but well-written.
Nia – Ethan’s mum has noticed a change in behaviour in her son and wants to know what is going on. The revelations are startling, putting the teacher a bit more into the plot, which thickens with criminal misdemeanours, which brings events at Devil’s Bridge more into the fore.
The paranormal doesn’t often attract me to a book of any sort, even as a sub-genre, but occasionally I’ll foray into such territories and this is actually rather compelling. The fact is that this is a tightly knitted thriller. There are many twists and turns and the end throws in the biggest twist ever!
The Moose Paradox is a quirky Scandi-Noir book with dark humour and crime, set in a theme park. It is a great, intriguing book to cosy up with on these darker autumnal nights. Find out more about this book in the blurb and the rest of my review below. Thanks to Orenda Books and Random T Tours for inviting me to review.
Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen has finally restored ordersbothtohis lifeandtoYouMeFun,the adventure park he now owns,when a man fromthe pastappears–and turns everything upsidedownagain.More problems arise when the park’s equipment supplier
is taken over by a shady trio,with confusing demands.Whywon’tToy ofFinlandLtd sellthe newMooseChuteto
Henriwhenheneedsitasthe park’s main attraction?!!
Meanwhile,Henri’srelationship with artistLaura has reached breaking point,and,in orderto survive thisnew chaotic world,he must push everycalculation to its limits,before it’s too late.
The Moose Paradox is a great second book in this series. The first is The Rabbit Factor, soon to be a major movie starring Steve Carrell. Whilst you wait for that, it is the perfect time to catch up with everyone’s favourite actuary – Henri Koskinen.
Henri Koskinen was running his life by mathematics in The Rabbit Factor and also inherited a theme park – YouMeFun. He finally has everything in order, just as he likes it and in a way that makes sense to him, when someone from his past unexpectedly turns up and something shady is going on, especially with the company Toy of Finland Ltd. His relationship is also in trouble and he feels the need for order to be restored and the certainty in maths to go into overdrive to create a more comfortable normality.
The book is quirky with dark humour mixed in with suspense and unpredictability. It is this that makes this series, that is very different from the usual type of Scandi-Noir, compelling. There is so much that sits at juxtapositions, from the positive and light, fun energy generated by the theme park, which is in contrast to the falling of Henri’s life and both are in complete contrast to the even darker under currents at play. It is a very engaging and compelling book to read.
A Dark Steel Death A Tom Harper Mystery By Chris Nickson
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
A fire at the munitions factory may not be all it first seems, there is murder, a glimpse of politics, history and intriguing characters all bound together in a compelling story. Find out more in the blurb and then the rest of my thoughts in my review below. Thanks to Chris Nickson and Severn House for the opportunity to review A Dark Steel Death, a historical crime novel.
Tom Harper must catch a traitor intent on disrupting the war effort and bringing terror to the streets of Leeds in this page-turning mystery.
Leeds. December, 1916. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a munitions factory supplying war materials, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A month later, matches and paper to start a fire are found in an army clothing depot. It’s a chilling discovery: there’s a saboteur running loose on the streets of Leeds.
As so many give their lives in the trenches, Harper and his men are working harder than ever – and their investigation takes a dark twist with two shootings, at the local steelworks and a hospital. With his back against the wall and the war effort at stake, Harper can’t afford to fail. But can he catch the traitor intent on bringing terror to Leeds?
This is a book with atmosphere, right from the foreboding cover, onwards and steeped with history and policing. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is based in Leeds, Yorkshire and with the time being December, 1916, the book shines a light on this era during war times. Within it, there is also mention of Chesterfield in Nottinghamshire and other places have links in various ways.
It’s interesting as, recently there has been lots on tv showing Yorkshire in many ways in present times, so this is a way to delve into its past, as well as readers getting a compelling historical police procedural.
From the first page, it oozes a dark atmosphere out with flames from a large fire at the munitions factory. Time naturally progresses to January 1917 and the investigation gets off to a quick start and Tom Harper also has Brigadier Fox working with him on the case. As well as the investigation, there are nuggets of the way things work that were brought in then, such as the government bringing in summer time for the clocks, that continues and works for present times. Nickson gives good insight into historical detail that generally isn’t in the day to day knowledge or thinking of people, which adds an extra layer of interest, heritage and grounding, as well as an authenticity to the characters stories being told and the timeline used. There are also small moments of poignancy that give pause for thought.
A soldier had been murdered and as for other people in the midst of the war, grieving, there is a sense of what they are going through and the views, especially from Tom Harper. There’s a sense of community and of people doing their job with people knowing each other and especially Miss Cliff, since she knows everyone. There are also other intriguing characters to discover their positions in the war and their involvement and how sinister they can become. There are many truths and lies to be unpicked along the paths readers are led down as many people are met.
The mystery itself is interesting, but so are all the strands and people that weave through it, making it a very compelling read, and in time, a very involving page turner.
Anthony Horowitz started off with a huge confession to make… It took him ages to finally say yes to appearing at Bloody Scotland. Finally on the 10th Anniversaries of this crime festival in Stirling, he said yes and this incredibly fast talking author did not disappoint as he went from his young adult books to adult books to screen and theatre.
The Alex Rider series, that have has proven to be very popular with young teenagers and those almost hitting that milestone. For those who don’t know, Alex Rider is a teenage spy and there is lots of action to be had to feed these young minds and imaginations. Anthony Horowitz talked about the importance of young people reading and being engaged in books. Having worked in and currently volunteer in a library and in education, I couldn’t agree more…
He talked about his writing and how he just kept trying and how his publisher gave him the opportunity to, even though initially his books weren’t selling many, until his fortunes changed in 1999. He shared his concerns for new writers and how they may not have the same opportunities to be kept on with their publishers as he was, even though, initially he didn’t have huge success, or that big hit.
Anthony Horowitz got a lot of praise for this book. It seems that he took inspiration from Ian Fleming’s books and set it around the era of 1950-1966. It was interesting to hear that Ian Fleming initially got criticised for The Man With The Golden Gun at times for poor writing and more, especially a book he had written, whilst unwell, but reckoned the atmosphere her created was good. He based this book on that very book and reimagined the initial creation and became quite reflective as he set it just a year after Ian Fleming died. Everyone has their favourite James Bond, he divulged Sean Connery was his favourite, but also liked Rodger Moor.
The Twist of a Knife is the latest book in the Detective Daniel Hawthorn series.
Anthony Horowitz talked about how he, in fictional form, is in this series and takes up the part of the side kick. He informed the audience that it wasn’t about him. He described it as he being “Watson to Hawthorn’s Holmes”, which gives an idea of what the characters are like.
He talked about “Meta-Fiction” and how Agatha Christie was a master of this, of the real and unreal, of the laying down the clues to be fair to readers.
Turns out that Anthony Horowitz has also written plays, not necessarily to critical acclaim, more that divided opinion of the critics, such as his play – Mind Game. He reckons it is exciting to write for the theatre and sees it as an opportunity to stretch himself.
Anthony Horowitz has 3 projects on the go at the time of writing this from novels to tv:
The 14th Alex Rider book, A new Hawthorn novel and a new tv project. He currently has The Magpie Murders on Brit Box and more on the way, possibly into 2023.
Advice he would give to writers is to read and write and have adventures as well as believing in yourselves.
The Rising Tide – James Grieve in conversation with Ann Cleeves
James Grieve is a forensic pathologist, usually working behind the scenes and assists Ann Cleeves. Her latest book is The Rising Tide.
It was a fascinating talk about her books and tv, especially about the forensics and the hour passed by very quickly.
This is the latest in the Vera Stanhope series. There’s secrets, friendships and reunions, and a death.
She talked fondly of Brenda Blethyn reading her books and truly respecting and embodying the character she created. She also talked about Vera as a character and how she grew out of a certain era Ann Cleeves knows much about, with formidably spinsters, deciding not to marry, working and not being too fussy about appearance, when this wasn’t quite seen as any society norm yet, it was at a time when it was on the cusp of change.
Ann Cleeves talked about the book being based around reunions and was essentially her lockdown book, as she wrote then and thought about all the Zoom meetings and reunions that happened during this time, which seemed to give inspiration.
She actually began this talk by addressing the Shetland novels and saying there is a crime festival up there called Shetland Noir. She sees Shetland as a bit of a sanctuary, although has finished writing this series now. She brought some dark humour to her talk about birdwatchers. She talked more about starting her writing on an isolated island.
The Two Rivers series where the main character is Matthew Venn is set here. She talked about interesting tensions between existing residents, incomers and especially the second home-owners, something that has been talked and debated over for decades.
She talked of geographical places in general when she writes and thinks writers, when basing a series somewhere, needs to know a place really well, and these are the places she knows and is getting to know more of, it would seem. She talked about how this could be different for a short story, to know less about a place, she said about it being about something, perhaps, like that first hit when you enter a place for a first time, that sort of thing.
James Grieve was very interesting on this subject, since this is what he specialises in. He talked about taking samples from a body and giving it to a forensic scientist to examine and how certain practices have changed, with more being done at the scene to minimise contamination of DNA.
He touched upon the “CSI Effect”, something I have heard forensic pathologists talk of before. In short, they talk about how CSI brought forensics to the fore of tv, but how the realities of actually working in this field are different, but sparked off inspiration for some people to work in this. So, he says the reality is different from books and tv, but for fiction, writers shouldn’t be too carried away with the minute details. It was fascinating when he said that you can’t actually accurately predict the exact time of death, just that it was between this and that time. This seemed to be something that Ann Cleeves was conscious of whilst writing her books.
Ann Cleeves talked about alternating between her Vera and Matthew Venn books. There is another Matthew Venn book on its way.
Harriet Tyce took the audience through conversations about the books, the authors, the locations, their influences, dual timelines and what’s coming up next. All 3 books featured are available now! I have written this up as it was fascinating and insightful.
Jane Corry – Tell Me Your Secrets is her latest novel. Kate Evans – Wake of Crows and Drowning Not Waving are her latest. Trevor Wood Dead End Street is his latest in his series.
The Books and Their Authors
Jane Corry is a Bestselling author. Tell Me Your Secrets is her latest novel (book 7). She talked interestingly about her love of writing unreliable narrators in her books; that love of not quite knowing whether the narrator is telling the truth or not. One is running, one is hiding, both are lying…
Kate Evans has been writing for 30 years or more. Her latest book – Wake of Crows and Drowning Not Waving introduces her inspector – Donna Morris. She talked interestingly about her character, Donna and recalled a time in Krakow when someone asked to borrow a camping mallet to help with putting up a tent. This conversation then led to other things and she became interested in East Germany and then thought about that time and the secrets there may have been during a particularly period of time in its history, which led her to write these books.
Trevor Wood sets his books in and around Newcastle and he volunteers in a kitchen for the homeless. His debut novel – The Man On The Street won many awards and his latest is Dead End Street. He talked candidly about Newcastle and his books being set around the homeless community. He talked about, in his latest book, about a homeless people being attacked and how Gage doesn’t want to get involved and the secrets there. He talked of having characters who re-invent themselves and how their characters may not be telling the truth.
Jane Corry talked about the sea and also working in a prison and started writing about the families, changed because of the crimes someone within has committed. This, I thought was an interesting angle and intrigued to one day read We All Have Secrets. She also talked about the sea and how it becomes a character within itself. She had some amusing stories about her observations whilst being in the sea.
Kate Evans also likes the sea and talked about how she loves its changing moods and talked of Scarborough being an interesting geographical place being around the sea and moors and then the juxtapositions of old and new architecture.
Trevor Wood talked about the Newcastle being seen as a small party city and talked about it being ideal for having his homeless characters to be watching on, whilst people went about their lives.
They talked too about small places and now people all know each other or think they do. This is a theme I’ve seen crop up in previous talks.
Jane Corry talked about her life going through a period of change and worked in prisons teaching prisoners how to write letters, stories, poetry etc. You could tell that what she experienced and saw whilst doing this, doesn’t really leave her as she talked about fairly high security categories of prison, the behaviours, but without divulging anything confidential.
Kate Evans worked in a non-governmental organisation tackling extreme poverty and trying to change policy. She talked a little about how this affected her as her life was comparably comfortable. She also talked a bit about a bout of depression and perimenopause, trained to work in this field and then decided she wanted to write her characters with psychological depth.
Trevor Wood joined the Navy in 1977 and talked about being a writer there. He also talked a bit about the shock of the Falklands War and how his friends, who fought out there changed forever.
They each put a bit of themselves in, as experiences in their lives emerge, although Trevor Wood, less so.
Jane Corry talked intently about how we all carry history and has a theory about us all inhabiting many feelings from the generations. She also thinks previous generations, older people and what they’ve lived through is fascinating.
Kate Evans loved history, the stories and connections and her book touches upon a lesser known part of history.
Trevor Wood talked about The Man On The Street being originally a stand alone book, but is now a series. He uses a dual timeline to demonstrate the many reasons why people end up on the streets.
Books Coming Soon
Coming To Find You by Jane Corry – about 2 people, one in WW2 and another going through ‘silent sentence’ – when a member of the family has committed a crime.
Kate Evans – No Justice about human trafficking
Trevor Wood – You Can Run – a stand alone book featuring mercenaries.