Wednesday 31 August 2016

Reviewed: Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael

TITLE: Nice Day for a White Wedding
AUTHOR: A.L. Michael

PUBLICATION DATE: August 22, 2016

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Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins…

Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.

These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts of herself behind?

Nice Day for a White Wedding is the second book in the House on Camden Square series, and this time tells the story of Chelsea and her boyfriend Kit. I really loved what I’d read from both these characters in the first book of the series and Chelsea’s past was already something I was intrigued by so this book ticked quite a few boxes for me. Nice Day for a White Wedding realistically draws upon the ways many people feel about their past and their upbringing and how no matter how hard you try to avoid thinking and talking about it, secrets from the past never stay hidden for long.

I found Goodbye Ruby Tuesday took me a little time to get into and it was the same here with this book, but the thing I love about A.L. Michael’s books is that her characters are so vibrant and interesting, they never fail to engross me in her stories and turn her novels into one-sitting kind of reads. Here, at the beginning of the book Kit and Chelsea feel really happy and content with each other. In fact, Kit has very romantic plans in place for the two of them but unfortunately that means Chelsea meeting his parents for the first time, and everything goes severely downhill for them from then on.

The life Kit’s family have makes Chelsea feel very uncomfortable and I could understand why. His mum, Jemima, was an absolute nightmare, probably close to the worst potential mother-in-law you could imagine. She was nasty and judgemental and took any opportunity to criticise Chelsea and interfere in her relationship. The whole family lived a very expensive lifestyle and it was so different to everything Chelsea knew. I could really feel for Chelsea and her struggle throughout their visit to Kit’s family, and I’m not sure there were any better ways to cope with it than she did. Kit’s family weren’t all bad though, and I really loved his younger sister and the way she handled everything. Alistair, though, who worked for Kit’s family was my absolute favourite.

Nice Day for a White Wedding’s conflict revolved around Kit and Chelsea discovering how little they knew about each other’s lives. Whilst this was true, I loved how A.L. Michael explored both their lives and the things from their pasts. Getting to know both characters had me hooked and there were surprising things to learn about both of them. I think because we’d already seen how good they could be together that this made me root for them even more, and even when they both did questionable things, I still found myself wanting to bang their heads together and find their happy ending!

The further I got into this book, the more I loved it. One of my favourite parts was the flashbacks to Chelsea’s youth, and the time she spent with Ruby Tuesday. In both books of this series, I love how we really get to know Ruby even though she’s no longer alive – her character is just as big a part of the series as Chelsea, Evie and Mollie. Briefly seeing some of the characters reunited from the previous book was a highlight for me too as The House on Camden Square series is blessed with great characters. Nice Day for a White Wedding is a very entertaining read full of the highs and lows of family life – and it is a story I really didn’t want to put down, or see come to an end, but then again I did love that ending!

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Reviewed: End of the Roadie by Elizabeth Flynn

TITLE: End of the Roadie
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Flynn
PUBLISHER: Lion Fiction


Amazon - Goodreads

Brendan Phelan, rock star, is playing the Apollo, Hammersmith. The stage show includes guns and whips: as it reaches its climax a shot rings out. The body of Oliver Joplin, one of the road crew, lies lifeless outside the stage door. DI Angela Costello and her team investigate, but they quickly discover that several stage hands, and Phelan himself, are adept with firearms – and that Joplin was widely disliked and distrusted. So why had Phelan kept him on, despite the reservations of his crew? Joplin’s emails reveal the presence of a shadowy figure stalking the dead man. Who might profit from Joplin’s death? Little by little Angela unpicks the web of lies. But unless one person opens up, she can’t crack the case. And that is not going to happen.

End of the Roadie is the third book in the D.I. Costello mystery series and I’ve really enjoyed reading all three books so far – each creative and engaging with surprising twists along the way.

Whilst this book will most likely appeal to fans of cosy crime, it does present a serious outlook on a relevant crime which we’ve heard a lot about recently in the media. I found this aspect to be developed really well and though it’s quite a gritty and sensitive subject, I thought the author handled the crime and particular attitudes and motives towards the crime well, whilst adding her own twist to it.

Brendan Phelan is a rock star performing at the Apollo, Hammersmith – a concert attended by D.C. Gary Houseman and his girlfriend. The night soon turns into something different than expected for Gary, as at the end of the gig he discovers Oliver Joplin, Brendan’s roadie, has been murdered.

I loved the investigation into this crime. Though I found it a bit of a slow-burner, once it got going I couldn’t put the book down. There were many twists and red herrings and things which weren’t always what they seemed – this had me really engrossed in the book and eager to discover who had killed Olly, and why. I really liked Brendan’s character too. He was quite charming but there were always some doubts about whether he could be trusted, but either way I enjoyed the deeper look into his character and how life wasn’t as rosy for him as one might expect given his rock star status.

I also loved Angela and Gary in End of the Roadie but actually I liked all of the inspecting team. The dynamics between each one of them was refreshing to read and I enjoyed the banter between them as well as their relationships on both a personal and professional platform. An aspect of the team I really liked was how we get to see their thought processes so clearly, when required, that it makes the reader feel in the know too and how we are working out the mystery at the same time and pace as they are. Angela’s ideas especially were conversed to the reader in a way that we know the things she’s picking up on but not dealing with straight away, or the things that have struck her and the potential links she’s found. Yet at the same time, there is an element of surprise in the way they handle what they’ve found or discovered, and suspense is wonderfully weaved into the story at times where I was waiting with bated breath to see what Angela, Gary and the rest of the force had uncovered.

Overall I found End of the Roadie to be an entertaining and satisfying read. There were a few loose ends that when thinking about the book a little while after finishing it I would have liked to have seen cleared up. But the story itself had me hooked and this was another mystery novel by Elizabeth Flynn that had me gripped and unsure of who the culprit was. I had guessed correctly at one point but changed my mind before reaching the end. There were so many little hints and suggestions and then things which altered everything and that’s what I really loved about this book – how easy it was to get involved in the mystery and how fun it was trying to figure it all out.

Monday 29 August 2016

Exclusive Extract: Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas

TITLE: Late Summer in the Vineyard
AUTHOR: Jo Thomas

PUBLICATION DATE: August 11, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it's time to put down roots of her own.

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.

There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air...

Today I'm kicking off the blog tour for the glorious Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas! You can read Chapter One below to whet your appetite - but be warned - you'll want to read more!

Late Summer in the Vineyard was published by Headline on August 11. Buy your copy here.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Guest Post: Tasmina Perry's Favourite Books and Movies on First Love

TITLE: The House on Sunset Lake
AUTHOR: Tasmina Perry

PUBLICATION DATE: August 25, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

Casa D'Or, the mysterious plantation house on Sunset Lake, has been in the Wyatt family for over fifty years. Jennifer Wyatt returns there from university full of hope, as summer by the lake stretches ahead of her. Yet by the time it is over her heart will be broken, her family in tatters, her dreams long gone.

Twenty years later, Casa D'Or stands neglected, a victim of tragic events. Jennifer has closed the door on her past. Then Jim, the man she met and fell in love with that magical summer, comes back into her life, with a plan to return Casa D'Or to its former glory. Their reunion will stir up old ghosts for both of them, and reveal the dark secrets the house still holds close...

Books and Movies on First Love

A love story is at the heart of my new book, The House on Sunset Lake but it’s not just a first love story – it’s one that tracks down the two lovers twenty years after they met as college students and slowly reveals why their love affair did not work out despite their deep passion. The idea of ‘First Love’ is such a powerful one, and some of my favourite books and movies have it as a theme.

Here are some of my favourites:

• One of my all-time favourite films is When Harry Met Sally. It teaches us all a truth that successful relationships are not just about emotions, they are also about timing. And it’s just a brilliant script too – I can watch it again and again and quote most of it by heart!

• The older I get, the more I realize that something isn’t necessarily a guilty pleasure – it’s just a pleasure. I am not ashamed to admit that Can’t Buy Me Love, an early Patrick Dempsey movie is one of favourite films. Dempsey has never been more McDreamy than as the geeky guy who pays the most popular girl in high school a thousand dollars to go out with him. A fun and fantastic 80’s rom-com.

• A friend gave me a copy of One Day after he’d just come off a 22 hour plane ride to Australia and said it was so great he’d forgotten about how long the flight was! I love the fact that it’s about a deep friendship rather than first love, but also has this powerful undercurrent message that if you love someone, you should tell them as soon as you can.

Vince and Joy by Lisa Jewell is such a lovely will-they-won’t book, following two characters Vince and Joy from a meeting in a caravan park aged 18, to finally meeting each other again in their thirties. Lisa has always written about affairs of the heart so well, but Vince and Joy is particularly good – following their lives for twenty years you feel as if they are friends of yours by the end of the book and as such you really root for them to get together.

• I love every single movie John Hughes ever made but I have a particular soft spot for Sixteen Candles. On the surface it’s a sweet rom-com but I think it captures the angst of first love so brilliantly. When I first watched this movie as a teenager I had a major crush on the actor who plays Jake!

Some Kind of Wonderful is another John Hughes film (he wrote this one) but it’s less well-known. Nerdy guy Keith is in love with the high school beauty but his tomboy best mate is in love with him. A classic movie about unrequited love. I remember getting a poster of the movie from my local video shop and putting it on my bedroom wall!

The House on Sunset Lake is published in hardback and ebook today. Buy a copy here.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Reviewed: Before You by Kathryn Freeman

TITLE: Before You
AUTHOR: Kathryn Freeman


Amazon - Goodreads

When life in the fast lane threatens to implode …

Melanie Hunt’s job working for the Delta racing team means she is constantly rubbing shoulders with Formula One superstars in glamorous locations like Monte Carlo. But she has already learned that keeping a professional distance is crucial if she doesn’t want to get hurt.

New Delta team driver Aiden Foster lives his life like he drives his cars – fast and hard. But, no matter how successful he is, it seems he always falls short of his championship-winning father’s legacy. If he could just stay focused, he could finally make that win.

Resolve begins to slip as Melanie and Aiden find themselves drawn to each other –with nowhere to hide as racing season begins. But when a troubled young boy goes missing, everything is thrown into turmoil, including Aiden’s championship dream.

I pre-ordered this book back in May and as it happened the moment I chose to read it coincided with the Formula One summer break, which was perfect timing as Before You is a contemporary romance set in the F1 world and reading this book was a great way to spend a weekend sadly lacking in real-life F1 race action.

I really loved this book. It had all the components of a brilliant romance novel for me – characters you could truly believe in, realistic conflict, idealistic locations and a romance you cannot help but root for. And yes, fictional F1 driver Aiden Foster was a little bit dreamy, which helped, and I did fall for him a bit more than is probably normal whilst reading this book..! I loved the way his character was crafted and despite getting to know more than just the media representation of an actual F1 driver is near impossible in reality, I found his story and his background came across very realistically and I could easily picture him and imagine him racing alongside my favourite real-life drivers (Button, Alonso and Vettel, I’m looking at you…) I was that involved in the story I’ll probably be a bit disappointed once the F1 returns and there is no Aiden in sight…

Mel is press officer for the Delta F1 team. The media are really interested in new driver Aiden Foster because his dad, who died during a race when Aiden was a child, was extremely successful, winning lots of titles, something Aiden has yet to emulate. Mel notices that Aiden holds back a lot in his interviews, never opening up in them. But Aiden finds it easy to be honest with Mel and there’s a connection there. Things happen that I really want to talk about but can’t! But I was so engrossed in this book and really enjoyed watching everything play out.

I really liked the premise to this story. I liked how both characters had an equal share of conflicted emotions and things from their past coming back to haunt them. This is a bit different to many other romance novels where the guy doesn’t do relationships or the woman is simply too scared of getting hurt. Though Aiden wasn’t exactly known for his relationships and Mel had been hurt in a relationship before, this didn’t really define either character – they were multi-layered with so much more to them than that. I really, almost instantly, liked both Mel and Aiden and the further I got into the story, the more I liked them.

My favourite bit about this book was the way Kathryn represents life on the F1 circuit. Though you don’t need to be a fan of the motorsport to enjoy this book, it’s doubly good if you’re a fan of Formula One because Kathryn makes you feel like you’re there for every single race. The descriptions of the location for each individual race were divine, as well as all the mentions of tyres and team radio and pit stops etc. The author builds the perfect picture of a race weekend and all the pressure and emotion that comes with them for everybody involved.

Before You was a warm and hugely satisfying novel which I didn’t want to see come to an end. It’s much more than your typical romance novel with the various locations and the added atmosphere of the F1. It’s a current and extremely refreshing read and I’m definitely excited to read more from this author in future.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Guest Post: Tessa Harris on the medical misadventure of 18th century England

TITLE: Secrets in the Stones
AUTHOR: Tessa Harris
PUBLISHER: Constable

PUBLICATION DATE: August 11, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

Newly released from the notorious asylum known as Bedlam, Lady Lydia Farrell finds herself in an equally terrifying position - as a murder suspect - when she stumbles upon the mutilated body of Sir Montagu Malthus in his study at Boughton Hall.

Meanwhile Dr. Thomas Silkstone has been injured in a duel with a man who may or may not have committed the grisly deed of which Lydia is accused. Despite his injury, Thomas hopes to clear his beloved's good name by conducting a postmortem on the victim. With a bit of detective work, he learns that Montagu's throat was slit by no ordinary blade, but a ceremonial Sikh dagger from India - a clue that may be connected to the fabled lost mines of Golconda.

From the mysterious disappearance of a cursed diamond buried with Lydia's dead husband, to the undying legend of a hidden treasure map, Thomas must follow a trail of foreign dignitaries, royal agents - and even more victims - to unveil the sinister and shocking secrets in the stones...

Tessa Harris takes us from cradle to grave on a journey of medical misadventure in 18th century England

If I were to tell you that a woman in Godalming claimed to have given birth to rabbits and that she was believed by the top physicians in the land, you’d probably tell me to go and lie down in a darkened room. But I kid you not. Mary Toft, aka The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, is just one in a gallery of rogues, mountebanks and quacks to populate the history of this extraordinarily colourful and outlandish period of English history. And that’s precisely why I set my series of medical mysteries in this period. It was a time of enormous change. Superstition was still rife among the populace, but old beliefs were finally being challenged by enlightened men of science. The hero of my murder mystery series is one such. Dr Thomas Silkstone, an American anatomist, comes to London to find the Establishment needs shaking up a little. He eschews the past in favour of new and pioneering scientific methods and in so doing makes enemies among the rich and privileged classes, exposing injustices and deceptions all the way.

Promises of superior ecstasy

There are many more examples of quackery, flummery and all scams in between in the medical mayhem that existed in the 18th century. Take, for example, James Graham, the enterprising ‘doctor’ behind the infamous Temple of Health and Hymen in London’s Pall Mall. Giant porters dressed in chain mail greeted those who paid good money to hear the Scottish charlatan urge his listeners to “Be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.” Wires were attached to the underside of ‘students’’ chairs and small electric shocks were administered. The lecture climaxed in the appearance, through a trap door in the floor – of “Hebe Vestina, the Rosy Goddess of Health and Hymen” to distribute bottles of Dr. Graham’s ‘ethereal’ balm. At one time this ritual was conducted by none other than Lady Hamilton, Nelson’s mistress, who was, in her former life, a prostitute. But the highlight of the temple had to be the massive ‘Celestial Bed’ draped in blue satin. At the slightest movement from those positioned on it, the springs would oscillate to the music that was being played by unseen musicians, promising ‘superior ecstasy’ to its occupants, as well as healthy children. And the price for this privilege? A mere one hundred guineas per couple, with breakfast thrown in. That’s around £8,000 in today’s money.

Other extraordinary delights concocted for the entertainment of a gullible public at the time included the chance of seeing insects through a solar microscope or watching a Mr. Breslaw commanding “a fresh egg to dance upon a stick in the middle of the Room, by itself.” All this paled by comparison, however, with the showing of giants in London. During the latter half of the 18th century England couldn’t get enough of ‘tall men’, most of whom came from Ireland. Perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most tragic, of these was Charles Byrne. Measuring, according to some accounts, eight feet and two inches, Byrne was feted by royalty and become very famous. However, he also attracted unwanted attention from anatomists eager to dissect his corpse on his death. His premature death from tuberculosis led to a scramble for his corpse. His huge skeleton is ignominiously displayed in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London to this very day.

The man responsible for the giant’s dissection was John Hunter, the man hailed by many as the father of modern surgery. It’s true he was a genius and a pioneer, but some of his methods certainly offend our modern-day sensibilities. In his pursuit of a cure for the scourge of the rampant venereal disease that plagued so many, he injected himself with pus from a diseased corpse. He kept a detailed diary of his own symptoms, but unfortunately did not see fit to inform his wife. Only two of their four children survived infancy, possibly because they were infected.

Grave robbing galore

In order to continue his research Hunter and many other of his fellow anatomists relied heavily on the supply of corpses. Such was the demand for bodies that there was no guarantee that when a cadaver was laid to rest it would remain that way. Grave robbing was a lucrative trade. Anatomists would be charged ‘by the foot’ for a corpse – an adult male in good condition fetching at least four guineas - and many criminals became rich. Such practices did not, however, endear anatomists to the wider public. When the renowned surgeon Joshua Brookes refused to pay some resurrectionists, as they were known, for their nefarious services, a rotting corpse was dumped on his front doorstep. So outraged were his neighbours that Brookes barely escaped with his life.

There were a few, however, who would prefer their loved ones to be embalmed rather than buried. On the death of his wife, a dentist called Martin Van Butchell asked our friend John Hunter to embalm her body. Hunter injected her corpse with preservatives, replaced her eyes with glass ones and had her dressed in a lace gown. The corpse was then put on display in a glass-topped coffin. Those who wished to view it were, of course, charged a fee by her grieving husband.

But, for me, the ultimate medical mishap has to be the case of William Duell, a sixteen year-old hanged for rape and murder. He lost consciousness on the gallows and was taken for dead. A few hours later whilst being prepared for dissection, he came round. The authorities took pity on him and reduced his sentence to one exile to North America. Duell could consider himself very fortunate. A German criminal, hanged at around the same time, and found to be breathing on the dissection table, was not afforded such treatment. The chief surgeon exhorted his colleagues to proceed in view of the fact that the criminal may commit more heinous crimes if allowed to live. The hapless villain was dispatched forthwith.

Secrets in the Stones, the sixth book in Tessa Harris’s Dr. Thomas Silkstone mystery series, published by Constable, is out now.

Monday 8 August 2016

Guest Post: Rachel Crowther on Writers and their Dogs

TITLE: The Things You Do For Love
AUTHOR: Rachel Crowther

PUBLICATION DATE: August 11, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

An elite surgeon with a brilliant but philandering husband, Flora Macintyre has always defined herself by her success in juggling her career and her marriage. Until, all at once, she finds herself with neither.

Retired and widowed in the space of a few months, Flora is left untethered. In a moment of madness, she realises there's nothing to stop her running away to France.

But back home her two daughters - the family she's always loved, but never had the time to nurture - are struggling. Lou is balancing pregnancy with a crumbling relationship, while her younger sister, Kitty, begins to realise she may have to choose between love and her growing passion for music.

And even as the family try to pull together, one dark secret could still tear them all apart...

Writers and their dogs

Everyone knows that every great writer has a dog (apart from the ones who have cats, of course, but I am not one of that camp). Most of us can probably name one or two – Virginia Woolf’s Pinka, perhaps, or Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Flush, or even Gertrude Stein’s sequence of poodles called Basket – and if we can’t, a quick Google search yields several delightful examples, complete with photographs of Irascible Literary Figure and Indulged Canine Companion.

My canine companions are two lunatic labradoodle litter-mates, the doggy equivalent of those human twins who speak their own secret language and don’t have much idea how to relate to other people – but even they seem also to understand the duties of the Writer’s Dog.

One of those, of course, is companionship. Writing can be a lonely business, and as much as we all love being left alone to get on with it, not being QUITE alone is even better. Having a dog at your feet, or sprawled contentedly nearby, is a comfort – even if having a scented candle always to hand is a sensible precaution if you’re planning to share a confined space with a couple of dogs for any length of time. Guarding is another key skill, warning the engrossed writer of imminent interruptions, and perhaps even seeing some of them off. Trixie has a special place half way up the stairs from which she can survey the approach to the house, while Barnabas prefers to lie either just inside or just outside the door, rather like one of those faithful hounds that grace the tombs of Crusader knights. And dogs are good at providing diversion too: cavorting round the garden playing hunt and chase by way of idle spectator sport, and of course justifying the temptation to desert the writing desk for half an hour, any time you like, on the grounds that they absolutely need another walk.

But the Writer’s Dog does more than that, as any of them can tell you. They provide a listening ear: ask them a question and they will instantly lift their head, cock their ear, flap their tail in pleasure at the prospect of being useful. Better still, they understand perfectly well – as no human companion does – that if you ask them a question, it’s because you want to answer it yourself. So they raise their trusting brown eyes to yours to say ‘you know best’, rather than offering helpful advice. ‘Yes,’ you say, after a few moments of meaningful communion, ‘thanks, you’re absolutely right,’ and the tail flaps again, pleased to have discharged another duty satisfactorily.

But putting words into the mouth of a dog isn’t the same as talking to yourself. It’s more than that: it’s a dialogue of the kind you can’t have satisfactorily on your own, and only with the very best trained friend or spouse. It’s a way of talking things out, or talking your way through things; of exploring or testing or explaining or discovering. It’s almost like communicating with that thing of mirage and shadows, the Ideal Reader. I’m sure Flush and Pinka understood that perfectly well, and I’d be prepared to bet that any writer’s dog worth its salt could rise to the challenges of assisting in the great venture of Literature. If not, Barnabas and Trixie would be happy to offer help and advice on the proper place to lie, and the right moment to stir hopefully and suggest a break.

The Things You Do For Love will be published by Zaffre on August 11. You can pre-order here.

Saturday 6 August 2016

Guest Post: Zygmunt Miloszewski on why he wrote Rage.

AUTHOR: Zygmunt Miloszewski
PUBLISHER: Amazon Crossing

PUBLICATION DATE: August 1, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

All eyes are on famous prosecutor Teodor Szacki when he investigates a skeleton discovered at a construction site in the idyllic Polish city of Olsztyn. Old bones come as no shock to anyone in this part of Poland, but it turns out these remains are fresh, the flesh chemically removed.

Szacki questions the dead man’s wife, only to be left with a suspicion she’s hiding something. Then another victim surfaces—a violent husband, alive but maimed—giving rise to a theory: someone’s targeting domestic abusers. And as new clues bring the murderer closer to those Szacki holds dear, he begins to understand the terrible rage that drives people to murder.

From acclaimed Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski comes a gritty, atmospheric page-turner that poses the question, what drives a sane man to kill?

Why did you decide to write Rage?

What inspired you? What themes did you want to explore? What would you like readers to take away from the book?

I didn’t want to write Rage. The truth is, I never wanted to write crime fiction at all.

My debut novel was a horror story, because I thought becoming the Polish Stephen King would bring me fame and fortune in no time. Of course it didn’t. Then I wanted to write “real” fiction, so when my publisher asked me to consider writing a crime story, I pompously turned her down. I wanted to write a great epic novel, I wanted to paint a rich social landscape, to become the Hugo or the Dickens of the twenty-first century. Yep, I was young. But then I discovered Henning Mankell’s novels. And I was stunned. They were amazing police procedurals, keeping you on the edge of your seat, but at the same time they were well written, and they provided a rich social commentary – they were both crime novels and in-depth depictions of Swedish society, especially the dark side of it. I liked what I read, and then I wrote Entanglement, which tackles an issue that affects the countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain, where the communist past still has repercussions many years after the fall of the wall. Then I wrote A Grain of Truth, a story about xenophobia and anti-Semitism. And finally Rage.

I knew I wanted to set it in a Polish city that had belonged to Germany before the Second World War. My original idea was to present the “history game”, a popular European form of entertainment. The rules are simple: use every possible trick and lie to make your nation look like a knight in shining armor and your neighbors like comic-book villains. But I usually think about the details of my plots while I’m doing the research. So there I was, sitting in a library browsing through the local papers, looking for ideas. And something caught my eye, a short article about domestic abuse. I made a note to myself to consider using it for a detail, but then I started talking to people about the topic and discovered, to my great astonishment and shame, that in fact I knew absolutely nothing about violence against women. Though I consider myself a leftist, my wife’s a feminist, and I publicly oppose various forms of discrimination. Yet I realized that I knew nothing about this particular form of discrimination, one that affects half the world’s population. So I decided to write about it, to show how it’s woven into our everyday lives, how we stop noticing it and learn to treat it as one of those things that simply happen and cannot be changed. Well, I don’t believe that’s true.

Rage by Zygmunt Miłoszewski translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones is published on 1st August (Paperback £8.99, Amazon Crossing). You can order the book here.

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