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Sequels, eh? Never as good as the original.

So, how did I approach my literary equivalent of Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow? With gay abandon, gentle reader, it’s the only way…

In the first book, The Clown Service, I had established the work of Section 37, the UK’s most unloved intelligence department. I had also introduced its staff: ancient spy August Shining and his new officer Toby Greene. The book had been London-centric, had featured a thick vein of sixtes flashback courtesy of Shining and reminded readers that not all literary spy heroes have to be faultless action men: Toby suffered from panic attacks and terrible lapses in confidence.

So book two needed to build and ring changes. There’s no fun in repeating yourself.

My first rule was to get out of London, second was to show how Toby has grown in the space between the two books, third was to set the entirety of the book in the present day, no flashbacks.

Perhaps this sounds awfully like a shopping list but I always approach books in term of tone. I want to know how the book will feel, what sort of environment it will inhabit, what will be the emotional shape of things? Once that’s in place, the melody if you like, I start to worry about the lyrics.

The other thing I wanted to do was bring some eerier elements into the mix. I wanted the threat to be creepy rather than explosive. The Clown Service was action-led, the horrors Section 37 faced were big and apocalyptic. Trying to top an apocalypse is just dull. For book two I wanted to dial it back a little. Let the geography of the book open up but make the threat a little more personal. What feels weightier in the end, the death of a fictional world or people you’ve grown to like? The latter I hope.

I had left a small problem to solve at the end of The Clown Service. I shall be vague so as not to spoil it but, while the adventure was complete I left a few threads dangling so I could hit the ground running in book two. Hopefully, that’s exactly what I did in an extended, unlabelled, opening sequence that takes place before the book starts ‘proper’. If I add this first line: ‘From the other side of St. Isaac’s Square, a driver beats his horn twice in quick succession. It echoes like a musical sting from a trumpet, echoing around the buildings of St. Petersburg.’ I’m sure you’ll guess the mood I’m trying to create (I have been accused of everything but subtlety). If not I’ll also mention that Toby is wearing evening dress as he strolls into the Astoria Hotel, ready to do some damage before the opening credits roll.

From there we move to North Korea, back to London and then Warwick. Because Warwick is the most glamorous place on Earth.*

Originally I was going to use a foreign location but as the story developed, nothing fit quite like an old stately home so plans for a globe-trotting adventure were thrown out of the window (where they landed, conveniently in book three, ‘A Few Words for the Dead’, because nothing is ever lost).

I can’t deny the influence of Jacque Tourneur’s NIGHT OF THE DEMON so it’s no wonder the real location of Ragley Hall, where your noble word-botherer once earned a few quid performing Shakespeare to businessmen during corporate events (“Our revels now are ended…” “Too right, cock, so’s this wine, give the waitress a nudge would you?”) becomes Lufford Hall, where all the best children’s parties happen.

The South Korean conference that forms the novel’s backdrop was a gift. It was a perfect set up for me and, when looking into how realistic a notion it was, I discovered the UK had just concluded the diplomatic talks I had imagined. Moments like that are surprising for a fantasist. The world rarely — thankfully! — conforms to our imaginations.

I wanted a crowd for my climax so the nearby small town of Alcester is having it’s ‘Mop Fair’. A fairground that appears overnight in the streets of many Warwickshire towns for a few days a year. I lived in Stratford-upon-Avon for a while, working as an actor and ghost tour guide. The morning I woke up to find a Ghost Train a pavement’s width from my bedroom window was the moment the town took its revenge. Nothing quite prepares you for the surreal experience of having to share your living space with a carnival, the walls shaking with the thrum of its motor, the windows rattling with its klaxons. My curtains smelled of candy floss and fried onions by the time the street emptied,

Writing is cookery, folding in ingredient after ingredient until the stew is cooked.

Stir, season, stir once more.

All of this bubbles away in my head, usually while I’m working on something else. The hope is that by the time I really have to get on with writing, enough of it will feel clear that I have a fighting chance of joining the dots and making it work.

I don’t do breakdowns, I never plan on paper, it’s all just a mess that clarifies (or doesn’t) as I go.

I often try and cause myself problems, writing situations that I have no idea how to resolve, just to make myself stretch a little harder. Frequently, the exception to this rule is when I get to the climax. Usually I will have imagined it as convoluted, when I get there I realise it would better if I made it simpler. It’s personal taste but I think climaxes should be felt more than thought about. A clever, contorted finale forces the reader to work whereas a climax that suddenly breathes, the fog clearing to reveal simple, emotional beats, a solution that wasn’t predictable but seems obvious once presented, that’s perfect to my mind.

I always find the actual writing stressful and vaguely unpleasant. I’m a grumpy sod for the duration, only really happy at the beginning when I’m dreaming up new adventures for my characters to endure. That’s probably because I make it hard for myself. I work better when I’m wound-up.

Write quickly, be messy, take risks, run towards the interesting, even if you don’t know how you’ll make it fit. Then come back afterwards and clean up all the dead bodies.

Then comes the strange moment where you look at your completed book and decide if it’s quite the same thing you imagined it would be before you began. It never is. You start off cooking a curry and then present yourself with a roast dinner. That’s fine, as long as it’s still edible.

Bits of the book always end up surprising me, hopefully that means they’ll surprise the reader too. The Rain-Soaked Bride doesn’t end at all how I expected it would.

I’m never quite sure how I feel about a book once completed. I have a vague idea as to whether it’s successful or not but I’m too close to be objective. The editor will let me know of course, but even then it’s only when the book is released and people start reading it that I really know.

Which means it’s all down to you lot, doesn’t it?

*Not remotely true, though it is lovely.


Guy Adams
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When I start writing a book, I usually have the ending in mind. The Unquiet House was different: it eluded me in that way, making writing it more a process of discovery. It was a book that came into focus gradually, like developing a photograph. I think sometimes I work best like that, when I’m just a little uncertain, and the characters are free to surprise me; I think it allows for the subconscious to do its work. It can be especially useful when writing something frightening; if I don’t see it coming, hopefully the reader won’t either.

I can’t remember what came first with the novel, but like a lot of my stories, it was a matter of two elements colliding, snagging, and beginning to form something new. I knew I wanted to write a ghost story, where the reader would journey back through the past, with historical events shedding light on what was happening in the present and vice versa. The other element was something more concrete: seeing an old grey house with a ‘For sale’ board outside, and falling a little bit in love.

I didn’t buy that house – it was never on the cards, so I didn’t even go inside – but the quiet lonely grandeur of it stuck in my mind, and so in my imagination I did go in, wandering its corridors and looking out of those dusty windows. It became Mire House, and its setting, next to a rather pretty old church, found its way into the book too.

I often find places inspiring. Standing somewhere new, breathing in a different atmosphere, seeing what makes it unique, quite often leads to a story. My first novel, A Cold Season, wouldn’t have taken the form it did if I hadn’t been commuting across the Pennines during a particularly harsh winter. Path of Needles was shaped by the magical quality of the local woodland on a Spring day. The Unquiet House, perhaps unsurprisingly, was formed by various properties.

The name ‘Mire House’ was borrowed from a tumble-down place I saw in a rather bleak valley. Other places began to form the plot in unforeseen ways. A visit to an ancient graveyard in a little village named Tong revealed a bench carved with the words, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’, and it seemed so odd, it stuck in my mind. Who might have chosen a verse like that to carve into a bench? What would other people think of it? Who might I find sitting there, and what thoughts would be running through their mind? It was too rich a vein not to use.

Then, while on a house-hunt proper, I looked around an otherwise empty building to find a narrow cupboard with an old black suit hanging inside it. So the questions began again: Who might have owned such a suit? When would they have worn it, and why was it kept when everything else had been thrown away?

It’s an odd thing when elements you think of as background start to shape a story, but it’s one of the most satisfying when it starts to come together and you think ‘Ah, so that’s why it’s there.’ It’s a difficult thing sometimes, to let go a little; it can be more comfortable to write when the plot is all worked out in advance, and I can stick to the map, knowing exactly where I’m going. Leaving the path is scarier, but it’s good to let the imagination wander a little. The things you find along the way can be all the more rewarding.


Alison Littlewood
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Lady Gaga, meet Bill Gates.

When readers ask where I get the ideas for my books, they’re sometimes surprised by the answers. Sure, I’m inspired by true crimes or by dramatic set-pieces — like Jonathan Stride coming home to find a frightened teenage girl hiding in his bedroom closet in THE COLD NOWHERE.

But inspiration comes in odd places, too. When I was developing the plot for SPILLED BLOOD — which won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the 2013 Thriller Awards — I knew that I wanted the book to start with three girls coming together at midnight in a remote ghost town for an emotional, volatile confrontation. However, I didn’t know exactly what would be happening in that town until I heard a song by Lady Gaga on the radio. She sings about Russian roulette in the song “Poker Face” — and when I heard that line, I immediately knew that SPILLED BLOOD would start with a twisted game of Russian roulette.

In SEASON OF FEAR, the first kernel of inspiration for the plot actually started with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Everyone knows Mr. Gates is one of the richest men on the planet.He’s also intent on putting his financial resources to good use.Together with his wife, he created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work on charitable initiatives around the world. The Gates fortune is sizable enough on its own to create a huge nonprofit organization, but several years ago, another wealthy billionaire, Warren Buffett, announced plans to donate much of his estate to the Gates Foundation.


The result so far: a charitable organization with an endowment exceeding 40 billion dollars, more than the assets of some countries.

That’s all good. Isn’t it?!

Well, you have to think like a thriller writer. I have nothing but respect for the work of the Gates Foundation, but when I hear stories like this, my mind tends to dwell on unhealthy possibilities. Imagine an organization with almost limitless resources and essentially no accountability to the public — an organization capable of wielding huge amounts of money for its own ends.

Yes, those ends may be good — but at what point is there a temptation to believe that the ends justify the means? How far would such an organization be willing to go to get what it wants? And who could really stop it from crossing the line?

That’s the theme that led to SEASON OF FEAR.

In the new book, Florida detective Cab Bolton (who first appeared in THE BONE HOUSE) is hired by a wealthy political organization called the Common Way Foundation to investigate a brutal assassination that killed its third-party political candidate ten years earlier. The foundation is afraid that the same extremists who killed their leader in that assault are back — and that they are plotting a new wave of violence.

Cab knows the head of the foundation. Years earlier, they had a secret affair. That’s why he agrees to dig into the old murder to see if she’s in jeopardy. But he’s also dogged by the feeling that he is being manipulated at every step of the investigation. The Common Way Foundation says it wants to bring common-sense solutions to a broken political system, but its opponents see ruthless opportunists who will do anything to get power.

In that shadowy world, Cab doesn’t have anyone he can trust. The more he uncovers secrets about the assassination ten years earlier, the more he realizes that the motive was very different from what the police originally believed — which makes the present even more dangerous.

So SEASON OF FEAR started with the idea that power can be a scary thing, even in the hands of people with the best of intentions. 

After all, you may trust Bill Gates...but years from now, he’ll be gone, and the foundation will be richer than ever. Who will be running it then?

Sounds like a thriller.


Brian Freeman
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While I am writing at a time immediately following the release of the 2nd edition of Within Ruin, I suppose the story behind the story begins much earlier than the 1st edition—earlier than one might think. Oh, I should preface this with a spoiler warning. I’ll do my best to avoid them, but it’s incredibly difficult to go into any detail without touching parts of the story that are only disclosed to readers later on.

I cannot recall the precise moment it began, or who it was for, but sometime during my childhood I developed a great deal of sympathy for the villain. There was some curiosity, too: questions about morality and the frequency of demonizing antagonists. This didn’t all come at once, mind; it was a gradual process of answers that led to more questions. The crux of it was fairly simple, though. Must we despise antagonists?

There have been manifold sources that treated villains like humans, of course. Some of Batman’s portrayals come immediately to mind. But that’s a dell this discussion won’t be visiting—the scope is well beyond a single article. So why make a villain out of an antagonist? Well, the answer is both complicated and simple. It’s easiest to view an adversary as needlessly evil. It’s also easy for a person to find something to dislike and latch onto it, thereby sealing the fate of an antagonist. It’s a small thing for an author to hand that over to a reader (even unintentionally).

And while the role of villain is sometimes justified, it is often prone to plummeting into the common pitfall of black and white. We forget that they’re human (or at least have similar qualities in the case of non-humans). Maybe we’re swept up by the plight of the protagonist. Or we just aren’t open to other cultures or heterodox lifestyles. It takes an active, tenacious effort to avoid such a parochial view of affairs whether in fiction or reality.

So, one of the main goals of Within Ruin is to challenge the dominant role of a villain. I decided to achieve this chiefly through the growth of the main protagonist, Descarta. She begins the story with a perspective limited by isolation and a very narrow lens with which to learn of the world around her. Through her (mis)adventures, she comes to understand that the world isn’t all pears and panettone: sometimes you have to pop a pomegranate, like it or not. The deeds she once saw as expressly evil or good aren’t so neatly categorized by the end of her journey. More than that, Descarta discovers that her hands are just as bloodied as any tyrant—more than, even. Heck, that her friends and family are essentially all “bad guys”.

When told from that perspective, a sort of weaning into reality, I tried to show that the cast are all people first. Sure, they’ve done, and continue to do, bad things, but that doesn’t make them any less human (or demihuman as it were). It’s also meant to give the reader a chance to see that the acts aren’t always malicious or mean-spirited. And even if they are, it isn’t necessarily because of an innate evil or culpability on the part of the antagonist.

With that, let us return villainy to its roost and give love some affection. While an explanation is hardly necessary where ardor is concerned, it is a prevailing theme that would benefit from more than a glance. I’ve long felt that not enough fantasy novels really consider the doggedness of a beating heart. It’s powerful, consuming. It isn’t happening to travel at someone’s side, or giving thought to their safety only when the situation permits it. And it sure isn’t pretty. It’s dirty, sputtering, invigorating, demanding and drowning all at once. It isn’t a priority; it’s the priority. Not all love is so intense, but it does tend to dominate those in thrall to its will.

Love can be unorthodox in many ways, and several of which take center stage in Within Ruin. While I never really intended to make a statement by writing the book in such a way, I suppose it could be said that some contemporary issues are covered. They mainly fall under the broad category of perversity in that they’re largely considered wayward or not normal. This relates to the idea of an antagonist as a creature of cultural deviance or difference.

We’re coming around a bend here, where the article takes a turn from a discussion of themes to history. It’ll be a brief jaunt, but a jaunt nonetheless. Within Ruin didn’t begin as a novel. No, its early stages were founded in a more interactive medium: video games. Looking back, and reading the old files dedicated to that venture, a great deal has changed since then. More than I remember.

At the time, I didn’t have the team or knowhow to do what I wanted with the game. Fortunately, writing a book comes much easier to a writer than acquiring all the skills to make a video game. The transition was for the best, I think. It gave me the absolute freedom to explore the characters to their fullest and express them the same—they all evolved and became better. Still, those original ideas, character traits, names, places, bits and pieces of lore: they all persisted with the stubbornness that eventually made The Flameforged Saga. Perhaps one day it’ll go full circle, and The Flameforged Saga will become a video game.

I recently decided to put the fourth novel on the backburner in order to give Within Ruin the attention it’s been denied for years: a heavy enough revision to warrant a 2nd edition. The clear disparity between it and the rest of the series was unfair to both the later books and Descarta (as Within Ruin is very much her story). It’s been a long time coming, but Descarta can finally stand tall as the herald of The Flameforged Saga.


Darrell Drake
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We're rather excited about the publication of "The Seventh Miss Hatfield"! What can you tell us about it?

I’m super excited about it too!

The Seventh Miss Hatfield explores a series of firsts--first love, first loss, and the first realization that memories are fragile.

When a drop from the Fountain of Youth turns 11 year-old Cynthia immortal, she is forced to take on a new identity as Miss Rebecca Hatfield—the seventh Miss Hatfield to be exact. Sent on a mission to time travel back to 1904 to retrieve a secret painting, Rebecca uncovers more than what she bargains for: the turn of the century transitioning into the modern world, a man terrified of death, and a love that will leave her reeling.

Where the idea came from and what can you tell us about your writing process?

Even before I came up with the story, I came up with the character of Henley. After Henley, I dreamed up Miss Hatfield. I fell in love with these characters and built a story around them.

The concept of the story was largely inspired by my curiosity with why we as humans are always so equally fascinated and frightened by death. One interesting way to examine mortality is to write a story about immortality, and explore how the characters deal with such issues as identity, love, and loss. These are among the central issues of all stories, but by introducing immortality into the mix, I was able to have fun seeing what changed, and conversely, what is unchanging in all of us. I hope that I created an enjoyable story, but left the reader something to think about when it is all over.

My writing process frequently involves me staring blankly at a wall. Every so often, I’ll jot a note down in a notebook I keep on my desk, but I really look like a procrastinating teenager. I try to think through the story and imagine it playing out, writing down notes for crucial parts or scenes I can imagine clearly. I then take these notes and try to formulate an outline, so I feel I’m not going into the writing process completely blind. Once I start writing, I almost never follow my outline. The story seems to write itself and I just follow along.

Without succumbing to spoilers, Rebecca is a very feisty girl and I've really enjoyed following her adventures. What can you tell us about her and how much do you resemble her? If you were in her position would you behaved differently?

I think there’s a part of me in every character I write. I find it’s almost unavoidable when I try to make characters as realistic as possible. Each one carries a bit of my hopes, beliefs, and flaws.

If I were Rebecca, I think the book would have turned out every differently. For one, in the beginning, if someone told me all of a sudden that I was immortal, I would have panicked a lot more. I’m also known for being much more gullible and easily strung along than she is. I have a feeling that Miss Hatfield would have definitely used that to her advantage.

I've been especially impressed by the setting of the book and the seamless transition between different eras. How do you get to create something like that? Have you done a lot of research?

I did do a lot of research, but it was very fun, so I could hardly call it work! The more I learned about the turn of the century, the more I was enthralled by it. To me, the time traveling, along with the immortality, was a vehicle to further examine what it means to lose your childhood, your family, and your friends—everything that roots you to a particular time and place. I also wanted to examine a few relationships on a closer level, including romantic relationships, and the father-son relationship. To do all this, it was necessary for me to use enough historical detail to set the scene, but not so much that the modern reader could not connect with the characters.

I found it fascinating that you've finished this novel at the age of seventeen. Personally, I think that it is a great achievement. But since then I've discovered that you've actually written a dystopian novel "All That Is Red" even before. What made you want to start writing in the first place? How does your working day looks like and what motivates you keep on writing?

I’ve always loved to write. Of course, when I was little, that used to be extremely short stories often accompanied by crayon drawings. Ever since I could remember, I told myself that one-day, I was going to write a novel.

Another thing you should know about me is that I’m an only child, and normally every summer my dad does what most parents of only children do—sign their kid up for summer camp so they don’t spend their summer on the couch. One summer, to escape summer camp, I told my parents that I was going to write a novel. I loved to write short stories, and I had always meant to write a novel someday, so I decided that that was as good a time as any. Of course, my dad said what any parent in their right mind would say: “Yeah, right.” I ended up parking myself right in the middle of the dining room table all summer to write the first draft of what would later become my first novel, All That is Red.

A typical work day for me includes getting home from school to work on homework, before trying to squeeze in a little writing before the end of the day. In the summer, like most students, I have more time. I spend most of it indoors writing, which explains why I seem to be the only person in California without a tan.

My motivation comes from the fact that I love what I do. Writing is a cathartic experience for me. I love being able to explore, through my writing, the experiences I have growing up. I hope I get to continue to write about what I think is important. As I get older, I think the subjects on which I write will change. I just want to keep doing it!

So how did you feel when you eventually signed contracts with Gollancz?

It’s always such an amazing feeling when you find people who believe in you and the story you have to tell. I’m especially fortunate to have signed with Gollancz with a fantastic editor and an equally stellar team.

Who were the authors who originally inspired you to write and what recent titles would you recommend to our readers?

Francesca Lia Block's I Was a Teenage Fairy is one of the first truly shocking books I remember reading. Being no older than 11, I had originally picked up the book because of the word "fairy" in the title, but I soon discovered it was more than just about a tiny mythical girl with wings. Instead it was a metaphor for a young girl's painful encounter with an uncaring adult world that used her for its own ends. I think it was the first book that made me start thinking about using writing as a vehicle to explore difficult emotions.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley is another book that fostered some growth in me. It's a YA book in which the protagonist is dead and has to piece together her life and the circumstances of her death, through glowing objects in the afterlife, which turn out to be all the objects she lost while she was alive. She realizes that using these lost objects, she can re-experience and sometimes change the outcome of certain events from her life. It was fascinating for me to experience the afterlife Huntley created for her character and the importance she places on past memories.

More recently, I’ve read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which I think ranks as one of the best books on writing and life that I’ve ever read. Lamott keeps a fun voice, while imparting such wisdom. There’s so much in the book that I agree with, but have never found quite the right words to express. Lucky for me, Lamott does it with grace. I highly recommend this book to anyone who writes, wants to write, or wants to get an inside view into writing.

To conclude, what can we expect in the next books?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seventh Miss Hatfield. It’s definitely exciting to be working with some of the same characters again. It’s like meeting old friends again. As for the plot, I can’t say much, but I think this one might even be more exciting than the first. There’s more in store for Rebecca than she had planned for!

Thank you for talking to us and good luck with "The Seventh Miss Hatfield"!

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!


Anna Caltabiano
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The story behind my novel The Milkman simmers down to one word: Externality.  Funny how a single word, tossed out in a lecture, caught in the ear of a half-sleeping undergrad, can bounce and bounce in a head, never losing energy.  Gaining, in fact.  In total defiance of physics.  Not perpetual, but superpetual.  This word fascinated me.  I decided it needed a big, book-long examination.  Not some academic disquisition.  It needed the kind of rolling between the thumb and forefinger that comes from fiction.  

An externality is a cost or benefit you didn’t choose.  Maybe it’s a good thing – your neighbor gets the polio vaccine, thus reducing your chances of getting polio.  Maybe it’s not so good – a chemical company squirts toxic byproduct into the common water supply.  The cost will be paid by hundreds of unborn fetuses.  Externalities are frequently used by business as a way of shedding costs. 

I grew up in the shadow of Love Canal, a toxic waste dump hidden under a park, in the middle of a residential community. Hooker Chemical’s means of reducing costs. I also grew up in the shadow of Ronald Regan, the figurehead of a movement that puts business in the forefront of U.S. culture.  What’s good for GM is good for America.  Too big to fail.  In 1984 Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca was asked what he’d do if he was in charge of the federal government.  He said, “Sell.”  Over the last 30 years, the sense that the government should not just serve business, but be run like a business has swelled.

The idea is attractive at first, then crumbles.  In large part, because of externalities.

The U.S. government has no externalities.  It can’t dump waste on anything but itself.  It breathes the air it uses to burn coal.  Everything is inside, nothing is external.  The government can’t dispose of liabilities.  The Coast Guard didn’t make a profit this quarter?  Put it on the block.  That person can’t push a cart anymore?  Get rid of him.

The government can’t run like a business. 

So what if it did?  Or, rather, what if there was no government at all, and businesses ran everything the way they want.  Untethered.  Free.  What would that look like?  What if businesses had to contend with all of the stuff they profit from ditching?

In The Milkman nations are no more.  Companies have foreclosed on debt-ridden nations, taken over and gobbled each other up.  Now every person works for one the three mega-corporations left standing.  Healthcare, pollution, gun violence – it all became their problem.  Taken to its logical extreme, the Free World has no externalities.  To examine the word, I took it away.  I didn’t mean to, but, well, sometimes you appreciate something a bit more when it’s gone.


Michael Martineck
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Stay With Me by Sarah Pinborough will be published on December 26, 2014 by Gollancz

Synopsis:


A heart-breaking, heart-stopping tale of love, life and death which will take your breath away. This is an exceptional, contemporary, heart-breaking novel.

The Death House is a home where, in a world where people are safe against illness, children and teenagers who are susceptible to terminal conditions are sent to die.

Their fates are certain. Their lives are in their hands. The question is: what will they choose to do with them?


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Thanks to a series of recent publications by Faber Books, European readers finally have a chance to check out one of the most exciting American authors of detective thrillers with a legal twist, Alafair Burke. Her much loved Ellie Hatcher series, which is now up to its fifth installment, started in 2007 with “Dead Connection” has been especially great because despite her panache for writing a good, engaging story, Burke also managed to create very humane characters which are extremely easy to get attached to. Her legal background also means that her stories feel believable. It is this latest fifth installment, "All Day and a Night" which marks Faber's first foray into the world of Ellie Hatcher. Most importantly, despite being fifth entry in the series, All Day and a Night can be read as a standalone novel. It is also a particularly strong entry in the series so far and as such serves as a perfect jumping point for new readers.

"All Day and a Night" finds NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher on a investigation into Anthony Amaro, a convicted serial killer serving live sentence for murder of five women. When DA’s office is notified that the publicity hungry trial lawyer is looking into Amaro's trial, together with her partner her partner, JJ Rogan, she's brought to a case late into proceedings by Assistant District Attorney Max Donovan with a purpose to provide a fresh look into the investigation that led to Amaro's conviction. On the other hand, young defense lawyer Carrie Blank has a separate interest into Amaro's case. Carrie's sister Donna was murdered (allegedly by Amaro) and as the evidence comes to light suggesting Amaro has been wrongfully accused, Carrie decides to prove his innocence. She wants to force the government to catch her sister's real killer. It's a long-winded complicated case going back years and the amount of contradicting evidence is staggering but but as the trail of evidence leads the investigation to Carrie's hometown thing suddenly become more complicated. Carrie is brutally attacked. It is obvious that somehow she came too close to the truth and now it's up to Ellie to pick up the pieces.

If you've never read any of Alafair Burke's exciting thrillers, you notice straight away the cinematic quality of her work. It is all too easy to imagine any of her novels unfolding on the big screen and "All Day and a Night" is no different. The story moves with gut-wrenching precision and its many twists and turns have a tendency to leave breathless. As always, her characters are well developed well and I've particularly enjoyed the interplay between Ellie and Rogan. Another riveting read by Burke.


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Review copy provided by Faber Books.

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