murder mystery novel

All posts tagged murder mystery novel

Stasi Child (Karin Müller #1) – David Young

Published March 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

East Berlin, 1975

When Oberleutnant Karin Müller is called to investigate a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the wall, she imagines she’s seen it all before. But when she arrives she realises this is a death like no other: the girl was trying to escape – but from the West.

Müller is a member of the national police, but the case has Stasi written all over it. Karin is tasked with uncovering the identity of the girl, but her Stasi handlers assure her that the perpetrators are from the West ­- and strongly discourage her asking questions.

The evidence doesn’t add up, and Muller soon realises the crime scene has been staged. But this is not a regime that tolerates a curious mind, and Muller doesn’t realise that the trail she’s following will lead her dangerously close to home . . .

Stasi Child is David Young’s brilliant and page-turning debut novel.

What did I think?:

This exciting debut novel from David Young ticks so many boxes for me before I even started it! Historical fiction, crime, mystery, thriller, Germany during the horrific period when it was divided into East and West Germany by means of the Berlin Wall – so many things that compelled me to pick this book up and, best of all, it was a highly entertaining and well written novel in the start of what I’m sure will be a very successful series for the author. I actually lived in Germany for a period of about thirteen years off and on when my father was there in the British Forces and my mother was in Berlin that night when the Berlin Wall was finally torn down so I have a special interest in this difficult time period of Germany’s history and we have a piece of the infamous Wall in my mother’s cabinet to prove it!

The story follows Karin Müller, an Oberleutnant (the highest lieutenant officer rank in the German armed forces) in the national police force in East Germany who is called to a case of a body near to the East side of the Wall. The Stasi secret police for East Germany have taken over the investigation and Karin is ordered to keep her findings top secret. Moreover, she must only be involved in finding out the identity of the dead young girl, most definitely not the perpetrator or be worried about bringing him/her to justice. Karin finds a lot of things that don’t tally up at the crime scene and point to links elsewhere in Germany including a hideous reform school for young people that houses many dark secrets. Karin must be incredibly careful and clever in how she proceeds with her investigation as the danger to her personally becomes greater and greater.

I was lucky enough to go and watch the author, David Young, speak about Stasi Child and his new novel in the series, Stasi Wolf at Guildford Library recently (more on that in tomorrow’s post!). It was obvious that although he is a British author and didn’t speak very much German, he has carried out some meticulous research and has really captured the atmosphere, fear and horror of a country divided by two completely different ideals – communism and capitalism. It’s a fast-paced, exciting read that blends the world of crime and subterfuge with historical events perfectly and not only did I enjoy the thrilling plot but I also loved the characters that the author created. He got the woman’s voice spot on which was lovely to read from a male author and I really enjoyed the characters of the children from the reform school that are integral to the proceedings. This is a series I’ll definitely be following and eagerly anticipating and I look forward to reading the second book, Stasi Wolf very soon!

Look out for my post tomorrow where I’ll be focusing on the fabulous David Young talk at Guildford Library.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Blog Tour – The Dry by Jane Harper

Published January 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Luke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…

What did I think?:

Welcome to my post on the blog tour for this fantastic piece of crime fiction The Dry, set amongst a small community in Australia. A huge thank you to the publishers Little, Brown for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for sending me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. This is Jane Harper’s debut novel and after the strength of this thrilling story, I’m hoping for amazing things from her in the future.

Our main character is Aaron Falk, who escaped from his hometown Kiewarra to live in the city after a frightening incident that involved one of his best friends. I don’t want to say too much about that for fear of spoilers but let me tell you there are a lot of secrets in this novel for many different characters not just our protagonist and the way they are gradually uncovered are thrilling. He comes back to Kiewarra to attend his old best friend’s funeral after a shocking occurrence where two members of Luke’s family were brutally shot and then Luke himself appears to have committed suicide, also with the gun.

Aaron promises Luke’s father that he will look into the mystery and try to clear his friend’s name as it was assumed that Luke was the perpetrator of the crime. Furthermore, if it was the case that Luke did kill two of his family – what were his possible motives for doing such a terrible thing? There is much more going on in this little town than previously assumed however so be prepared for several shocks and surprises. Nothing or no-one is what it seems and the connection to events in Falk’s past is paramount and incredibly murky.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I thought this was a fantastic debut novel with lots of twists and turns – just how I like my crime fiction. I liked that it was set in Australia, I loved the variety of characters that we were given and I enjoyed that it wasn’t just about one event. Many things are linked in this story and there are lots of different aspects to be discovered and savoured, the latter of which I certainly did. Jane Harper has a real gift for spinning an exciting narrative and I can’t wait to see what she does next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Visit Jane at her website: http://janeharper.com.au/

or on Twitter: @janeharperautho

A huge thank you again to Little, Brown Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. The Dry was released on 12th January in the UK and is available from all good bookshops NOW. If you’re interested, why not check out the other stops on the blog tour?

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Talking About The Widow by Fiona Barton with Chrissi Reads

Published September 21, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

‘The ultimate psychological thriller’ Lisa Gardner

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Du Maurier’s REBECCA meets WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and GONE GIRL in this intimate tale of a terrible crime.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: Discuss the interaction between Kate and Jean and the ethical limits of investigative journalism.

BETH: First of all, I loved how we got to hear the story of The Widow through a number of different viewpoints i.e. The Reporter (Kate), The Widow (Jean) but also The Detective and The Husband so there were a lot of individual voices with their own particular clues as to what was going on. The interactions between Kate and Jean were among the most interesting – Kate is not a terrible person in her own right but she is hell-bent on getting the story she feels she deserves and is very good at manipulating people, especially those who may be slightly weaker than herself so that she gets what she wants. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Jean or her feelings but she realises that she cannot get too emotionally involved as it may cost her the story and at the end of the day, she’s there to do her job. Journalists can often be thought of as vultures, especially in more emotive cases when vulnerable people are hounded and I think, in a way they have to switch off from the more “human” aspects to be able to get a story.

BETH: This is Fiona Barton’s debut novel. How do you think it compares to other debut novels you have read recently?

CHRISSI: Ooh good question. I have read some very good debuts so far this year. I do think Fiona Barton’s stands out as a decent debut. I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers now, as you know, some of which have been debuts. I feel like it stands up well to other debuts. It’s definitely memorable. It’s made me want to read more from the author.

CHRISSI: Fiona Barton is a former journalist. Do you think that has influenced her writing style?

BETH: I hadn’t realised this previously but looking back on The Widow, I believe it can only have been an advantage for the novel. It is told in short, snappy, very readable chapters that certainly made me want to read “just one more” before closing the book for the night! The style of writing itself was thrilling and although I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters they were all fascinating enough to keep me reading until the end.

BETH: What are your opinions on the character of Jean? Did you feel sorry for her?

CHRISSI: Another interesting question Beth, you’re rolling them out today. I was very confused with the character of Jean. At times I wondered what she had gone through with Glen. I knew there was something more to the story than first met the eye. During some points of the story, I thought Jean was quite a weak character. I felt like Glen had some sort of hold over her. Then I started to doubt her. I felt sorry for her in some ways but towards the end of the story my feelings began to change towards her. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything else. She really was a mixed bag character for me.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: I’m not sure whether predictable would be the right word. I don’t think the author is deliberately keeping anything from us, everything seems to be somewhat out in the open and fairly easy to interpret. I guessed quite early on which character(s) had done wrong, it was just exactly what they did and to what extent that was hidden until the end.

BETH: Do you believe that Glen really loved Jean?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t feel we really ever hear much from his perspective. I would hope he did love Jean, but there’s no real evidence to show this. He certainly doesn’t act like someone madly in love. He comes across as very controlling.

CHRISSI: We read widely in the genre, how does The Widow compare to books in the genre?

BETH: Ooh, yes we do love a good psychological thriller! For me, it holds its own against other books in the genre, I loved the plot-line, the way it was written from multiple viewpoints, the jumping back and forward in time, the characterisation and the exciting final reveal. It’s everything I look for in a thriller and I look forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I would. I loved the short and snappy chapters and the overall plot.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

Those We Left Behind – Stuart Neville

Published August 5, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

For two brothers, a debt of violence will be paid over a lifetime.

Ciaran Devine, who made Belfast headlines seven years ago as the “schoolboy killer,” is about to walk free. At the age of twelve, he confessed to the brutal murder of his foster father; his testimony mitigated the sentence of his older brother, Thomas, who was also found at the crime scene, covered in blood. But DCI Serena Flanagan, the only officer who could convince a young, frightened Ciaran to speak, has silently harbored doubts about his confession all this time.

Ciaran’s release means several things: a long-anticipated reunion with Thomas, who still wields a dangerous influence over his younger brother; the call-to-action of a man bent on revenge for his father’s death; and major trouble for Ciaran’s assigned probation officer. Meanwhile, Serena Flanagan has just returned to the force from her battle with breast cancer, only to endure the pitying looks of her coworkers and a mountain of open case files. She will soon discover that even closed cases can unleash terror on the streets of Belfast.

What did I think?:

I’m not familiar with any of Stuart Neville’s previous works but after this cracking good read and the first offering in the DCI Flanagan series, I’m certain I’m going to be continuing with it and checking out his other books too! Crime fiction actually used to be one of my favourite things to read and is such a popular genre nowadays that it can often spawn many, many books in the genre that have the potential risk of getting a bit “samey,” which is one of the reasons why I broadened by horizons slightly in what I read – just seeking out the ones that were really good or a bit different from the rest. Well, I’m glad to report back that this was one of the really good ones and it has everything going for it including a strong plot line, interesting characters and continuous drama and action throughout.

Our main character, Serena Flanagan, is back at work after an enforced period of absence as she battled breast cancer. Straight away she is dropped back in, supposedly at the easy end by being given a case that she is extremely familiar with – that of two young brothers, Ciaran and Thomas Devine, the former having admitted to brutally killing his foster father when he was just twelve in order to protect his brother from alleged abuse. However, the case was never as clear cut as all that and Serena has her suspicions. She spent a lot of time with Ciaran before he was convicted and what she saw of his relationship with his brother made her incredibly concerned. Thomas seems to hold an odd power over his younger brother that cannot be denied and, in fact, he seems the more violent and out of control of the two boys, yet Ciaran is adamant that it was he who “did the deed” and that he acted alone and in Thomas’ best interests.

Ciaran has just been released from a young offenders institution and is now a young man but unfortunately with the mind of a child who still desperately relies on his brother who served just five years as an accessory to the murder. It is the job of probation officer Paula Cunningham to ease Ciaran back into society but it is clear that he is still very fragile and not up to the perils of the big bad world, especially when Thomas is still such a large and necessary influence in his life. Things get a bit more complicated still when the son of the murdered man appears to be monitoring both Ciaran and Thomas’ activities and is hell-bent on answers (and possibly revenge?) for what happened to his father all those years ago. Then terrible things start happening as Paula and Serena begin working together that make the two women wonder what actually happened on that fateful night, questions over who was really to blame, worries for Ciaran’s safety and indeed, their own as someone decides that certain things should not be meddled with.

As I mentioned previously, I believe this novel is a fantastic addition to the crime genre and certainly stands on its own in terms of content, tension and the excitement factor. I loved that it was set in Belfast as I can’t remember if I’ve read any crime set in Ireland before and it was nice for a bit of a change from the tartan noir, English or American crime that I’m used to. I also really appreciated the strong female characters that headed the story and although I may have struggled with Serena’s decisions (and occasionally shouted “No, don’t DO that!”) at parts of the narrative, she came across as such a normal, interesting individual and I’m excited to learn more about her in the future. Be warned, nothing is as it seems in this book and although you may think you have everything figured out, this author has the potential and the talent to surprise you in the end, he certainly did for me!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Blog Tour – Random Acts Of Unkindness – Jacqueline Ward

Published July 19, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

How far would you go to find your child?

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.

Jan uses Bessy’s information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones.

Random Acts of Unkindness is the first in the DS Jan Pearce series of novels.

What did I think?:

First of all, huge thanks to Faye Rogers for organising this blog tour and asking me to be a part of it and to the author and publisher, Kindle Press for providing me with a copy of Jacqueline’s first crime novel in exchange for an honest review. I’m a big fan of crime fiction and it used to be all I read before I broadened my horizons slightly but I still always appreciate a well written, exciting and dark piece of crime fiction and I got this all and much more besides with Random Acts Of Unkindness.

We are introduced to our main character, a police detective Jan Pearce in quite a shocking way as she has entered a house after reports of a suspicious smell to find an old woman dead in what she believes could be suspicious circumstances. We then find out that Jan has an ulterior motive in entering the property and this is because she is pursuing a link between the man who owns the house, the mysterious criminal mastermind Mr Connelly and the disappearance of her own beloved teenage son Aiden some time ago. What she isn’t expecting is to find so many parallels between her own private tragedy and the disappearance of the old woman Bessy’s own son, Thomas many years ago in the 1960’s when the horrific crimes of the notorious Moors Murderers were rife.

Jan manages to find a notebook of Bessy’s, written in the form of a journal, which contains vital information about her son’s case and provides many links to Jan’s current situation. It brings her both comfort and a sense of dogged determination that only makes her more desperate to find out exactly what happened to both boys. Defying the advice of her superior officer, her work partner and her ex-husband, Jan is certain that she will solve the mysteries of disappearing children that have plagued the county for decades. Things are about to get very dangerous as Jan receives terrifying threats, risks her livelihood and indeed, her life just to uncover the truth at any cost.

When I first began this novel, I have to admit to not being quite sure where the author was going with the story. The pace at the beginning I found quite slow but believe me, the build-up was totally worth it as when the action got going, the whole mystery and excitement really picked up a gear. I really enjoyed the way Jacqueline Ward has presented the story, in that we get to hear Jan’s voice in the present time and pieces from Bessy’s journal as she struggles to cope with never knowing what has happened to her son. I can only imagine the research that the author has had to carry out, on the Moors Murderers in particular and more than one passage sent a shiver down my spine, perhaps it was all the more chilling knowing that it is based on real-life people who actually carried out these atrocities. Random Acts Of Unkindness promises to be the first novel in a DS Jan Pearce series and I’ll certainly be checking out further books from this author in the future based on the strength of this particular novel.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Random Acts Banner

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Jacqueline Ward

Jacqueline Ward writes short stories, novels and screenplays. She has been writing seriously since 2007 and has had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Jacqueline won Kindle Scout in 2016 and her crime novel, Random Acts of Unkindness, will be published by Amazon Publishing imprint Kindle Press. Her novel SmartYellowTM was published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 and was nominated for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2016. Jacqueline is a Chartered psychologist who specializes in narrative psychology, gaining a PhD in narrative and storytelling in 2007. She lives in Oldham, near Manchester, with her partner and their dog.

Website: http://www.jacquelineward.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JacquiAnnC

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JACauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8426429.Jacqueline_Ward

A huge thank you to everyone involved in this blog tour, I’ve had a great time doing it. Why not check out the rest of the stops on the tour where you’ll find some fantastic reviews from my fellow bloggers? Random Acts Of Unkindness was released on June 21st 2016 by Kindle Press and is available in both paperback and e-book format from all good bookshops now!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30363250-random-acts-of-unkindness

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Random-Acts-Unkindness-Jacqueline-Ward-ebook/dp/B01EVK2AZM/

Random Acts Tour

The Bones Of You – Debbie Howells

Published June 26, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Bones of You is a gripping psychological thriller from author Debbie Howells; a story of full of dark secrets, obsession and suspense.

I have a gardener’s inherent belief in the natural order of things. Soft-petalled flowers that go to seed. The resolute passage of the seasons. Swallows that fly thousands of miles to follow the eternal summer.

Children who don’t die before their parents.

A community in shock

When eighteen-year-old Rosie Anderson disappears, the idyllic village where she lived will never be the same again. Local gardener Kate is struck with guilt. She’d come to know Rosie well, and thought she understood her – perhaps better even than Rosie’s own mother.

A family torn apart

Rosie was beautiful, kind and gentle. She came from a loving family and she had her whole life ahead of her. Who could possibly want to harm her? And why?

A keeper of secrets

Kate is convinced the police are missing something. She’s certain that someone in the village knows more than they’re letting on. As the investigation deepens, so does Kate’s obsession with solving the mystery of what happened to Rosie.

What did I think?:

The Bones Of You was the last book on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list here in the UK and after reading the intriguing GoodReads synopsis above, I was looking forward to getting stuck in, although I was a little wary about the comparisons being made to the excellent Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Why is it that most psychological thrillers nowadays always seem to bear this comparison by the way? I find it quite unnecessary but I refused to let that tiny little sticking point cloud my judgement before beginning and I was determined to judge the book on its own merits. By and large, this book did not disappoint although unfortunately I did figure out who the killer was quite early on which was a shame. However, the author does a great job of attempting to mis-direct the reader with a host of suspicious characters who all had the potential to be the murderer of eighteen year old Rosie Anderson.

Rosie comes from a well-to-do family and after she is brutally killed, her family goes into meltdown. Her mother, Jo, a fascinating character with a lot of skeletons in her closet, is devastated and the ramifications of her grief affect her relationship with her husband (a frightening character in his own right) and Rosie’s younger sister Delphine who becomes neglected and pushed aside under the shadow of Rosie’s death. Kate, whose daughter Grace was friendly with Rosie and who knew Rosie well herself as she often used to escape to Kate’s to help her take care of some horses is also deeply moved and saddened by what has occurred and she befriends the family to try and help them with their extensive grief. Things start to get a lot stranger however when Kate begins to receive anonymous notes through her letterbox that suggests something a lot murkier and nastier going on surrounding the reasons behind Rosie’s premature death.

There were some hugely enjoyable parts of this novel that I really loved. The characters for one were extremely readable and endlessly fascinating. I particularly enjoyed trying to figure out the volatile and slightly toxic relationship that appeared to exist between Jo and her husband and my heart broke for Delphine, the little sister who misses Rosie so terribly and appears to be nurturing some dark secrets of her own. What was most incredible for me though is that interspersed between chapters we hear from Rosie herself, who is aware of what has happened to her and we see flashbacks of her life from her point of view before her murder – where crucial events occur that give us little clues into the mind and reasoning of her killer. It reminded me a bit of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold in this way and was written in such beautiful and lyrical prose that at times, I felt close to tears. For her debut thriller novel, this author has proved herself a force to be reckoned with and I am eagerly anticipating anything she comes to write next, I have a strong suspicion she’s just going to get better and better.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

 

Author Interview – Helen Grant on her Forbidden Spaces YA trilogy

Published January 20, 2016 by bibliobeth

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HELEN GRANT – A BIOGRAPHY

Helen Grant was born in London. She read Classics at St.Hugh’s College, Oxford, and then worked in Marketing for ten years in order to fund her love of travelling. In 2001 she and her family moved to Bad Münstereifel in Germany, and it was exploring the legends of this beautiful town that inspired her to write her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. She then moved to Brussels for three years, and now lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and two cats. Her most recent published novel is Urban Legends, an urbex-themed thriller set in Flanders.

Click on the books to get to the link to GoodReads!

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For my review of Silent Saturday, please click HERE.

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For my review of Demons Of Ghent, please click HERE.

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For my review of Urban Legends, please click HERE.

Why not check out some of Helen’s back catalogue too? Here are the next two on my must read list:

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Helen’s debut novel The Vanishing of Katharina Linden was published in April 2009 and was short-listed for both the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal.

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Helen’s second novel, The Glass Demon was published in May 2010 and short-listed for the ITW Awards Best Paperback Original category.

INTERVIEW WITH HELEN GRANT

I’d like to welcome Helen to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview.

1.) Your Forbidden Spaces novels are set in the beautiful country of Belgium. What inspired you so much about this country to use it as a setting for your trilogy?

We actually lived in Flanders in Belgium for three years, and much of the trilogy is inspired by things I experienced there (not the serial killing bit though, I’m glad to say!). When we moved to Belgium I was still working on my third book set in Germany (where we lived before that) but I was looking around for ideas for whatever I would write next. The area we had moved to was Dutch speaking so I started Dutch evening classes, and the teacher used to tell us snippets of local culture and traditions. Apparently in Flanders the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is called “Silent Saturday” because none of the church bells ring that day. Children are told that this is because the bells have flown away to Rome to collect Easter eggs from the Pope! When I heard this story, the first thing I thought was that if I had been a little Flemish kid I would have been dying to get into the church bell tower on Silent Saturday and see if the bells really had flown away! And that was what inspired the very first scene of the first book in the trilogy. The heroine, Veerle, who is only seven years old at the time, climbs the tower of the village church with her friend Kris. They are a bit disgusted to discover that the bells are still there, i.e. the grown ups have lied to them. Then they look out of the window and see something terrible happening in the village below. That crime reverberates through the entire trilogy.

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The author, Helen Grant in Tervuren, the town where Veerle goes to school in the first novel, Silent Saturday.

Photo courtesy of author

The locations in the books – Tervuren park, the Gravensteen castle and Saint Baaf’s cathedral in Ghent, the abandoned factory, the Brussels sewers – are all real ones and I visited most of them for my book research. I really enjoyed visiting the sewers! Sewer systems are one of the most dangerous urban exploration environments of all – there are flash floods, posionous gases, the risk of getting lost and never getting out, not to mention rats and creepy crawlies. It’s all there. A very inspiring setting if you are writing a gritty thriller!

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The Brussels sewer system – the perfect place for a show-down!

Photo courtesy of author

2.) In Silent Saturday, we are introduced to one of the most frightening villains that I think I’ve ever read about. Did you find it difficult to get inside the head of someone so innately wicked?

Does it sound weird if I say no? I actually enjoyed writing the scenes with De Jager (the villain) in them. That’s not because I like the things he does. He’s a monster. It’s more that I wanted to take the gloves off and create a really horrific villain. Someone extreme. In my earlier books, it tends to be all about the nasty discoveries after the crime has taken place; this time I wanted to create a real feeling of direct threat. My other villains also tended to have their reasons for killing, even if they were very twisted ones, but De Jager just enjoys hunting down other people. He doesn’t want to relate to his victims as human beings with feelings and motives at all, and one of the things I relished was his dismay when he is forced to start thinking about Veerle and Kris and what they may do.

3.) Our heroine Veerle loves taking risks and in the second novel, Demons of Ghent we see her exploring the rooftops of the city. How much of yourself do you see in our main character?

Ha! Quite a lot. I’m more law-abiding than she is, and I definitely don’t have her head for heights(!), but I totally “get” her interest in urban exploration. I enjoyed writing the Forbidden Spaces trilogy more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. It was partly because I loved doing the research trips but also because I think Veerle’s life is incredibly cool, even with the problems she has.
The other thing is Veerle’s relationship with her mother. I based Claudine on my own grandmother, who also suffered very badly from anxiety. It’s very tough supporting someone who has those kind of issues. You can love them to death but still be exhausted with trying to support them. I really empathise with Veerle’s struggle to do the right thing for everyone including herself.

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The beautiful St Baaf’s Cathedral in Ghent seen from the Belfort Tower, both of which feature in the opening scene of the second novel, Demons Of Ghent.

Photo courtesy of author

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Gravensteen Castle, Ghent where Veerle and Bram spend a night, also in the second novel, Demons Of Ghent.

Photo courtesy of author

4.) In the final book of the trilogy, Urban Legends, old ghosts return to haunt Veerle and her family is put under the spotlight like never before. Was it important for you to write about family dynamics in a real and honest way? Do you see a happy future for Veerle?

Yes, it was very important to me. I think a huge part of writing a successful thriller is to make the characters come alive. You have to care about them and believe in them for the story to be exciting and convincing. Plus the plot of the book wouldn’t happen in a vacuum – everyone has family or relationship stuff going on in their lives.
I do see a happy future for Veerle. She has had to be self sufficient at a very early stage in her life and she can be quite spiky and also impulsive. But she is brave too and she is actually a very caring person in spite of her impetuous side. There’s a moment in Demons of Ghent where she is asked to do a favour for someone she doesn’t like, who is in desperate straits, and Veerle does it even though she knows it is going to get her in a lot of trouble. I think she deserves some happiness, and I think she is going to get it in the future – I think bravery and empathy are a great combination.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, I’m working on a new book unrelated to the Forbidden Spaces books. It’s set in Scotland, where I live now. I’m actually doing a lot of planning and thinking at the moment about where I want the story to go. I think it’s safe to say that it is a mystery and it has some Gothic elements to it. The part of Scotland where I live, Perthshire, is just crying out to have stories written about it. The countryside is full of history – ancient castles, ruined churches, mysterious standing stones. I want to try to make the most of that!

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

Real book. I read in the bath! An eReader would be wrecked the first time I dropped it.

Series or stand alone?

Hmmm. Both. The one thing I don’t like though, is a series which is one story hacked into chunks. I like each book to have a satisfying conclusion.

Fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction.

Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Both, but mainly online – not because I don’t want to support bookshops but because the nearest one is about 17 miles away!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Mostly dog-earing, except for old or rare books.

Once again, a HUGE thank you to the lovely Helen Grant for giving up her time to do this interview (and for the fab photographs!). I’m very excited now to explore some of her back catalogue and will probably start with her debut novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. Look out for a review of this and her second novel, The Glass Demon on bibliobeth soon.

Urban Legends completes The Forbidden Spaces trilogy and was published by Corgi on 26th March 2015. This series and of course Helen’s other novels, are available to buy from all good book retailers now!