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Mark Wilson (Edinburgh)

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The Eyes of the Accused (The Ben Whittle Investigation Series Book 2)
The Eyes of the Accused (The Ben Whittle Investigation Series Book 2)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with dark intent and shady motives, 7 Jun. 2017
Mark Tilbury is fast becoming one of the most exciting authors contributing to the Crime/Psychological Thriller genre today. I’m unashamedly a fanboy.
With Eyes of the Accused (follow-up to The Revelation Room), Mark utilises an easy flowing narrative, punch, often dark, humour, and no lack of technical skill. Mark effortlessly brings a new energy and perspective to an often formulaic genre, shattering any preconceived notions you held about what constitutes a fresh, invigorating, and thoroughly gripping read.
Riddled with dark intent and shady motives, Eyes of The Accused build on the previous novel in the series, develops the main characters (two excellent leads) and asks questions of the readers’ own morality, as Tilbury’s books often do.

If words were drugs, and Tilbury my local dealer, you'd find me shaking and sweating, awaiting my man on a street corner.


Brick: an action-packed crime thriller
Brick: an action-packed crime thriller
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An often dark, sometimes gruelling, and hugely-entertaining offering from a confident writer., 29 May 2017
Conrad jones has crafted a tightly-plotted, confident and solid offering with Brick. Several plotlines run throughout the book, the complexities of which this seasoned writer handles with ease. The dialogue is mostly excellent and moves the story along nicely at some crucial points.

At times I felt the novel suffered from large exposition dumps, particularly in Bryn’s early chapter, but this is a minor quibble, mostly a personal preference, and one that readers of this genre won’t find off-putting.

Jones’ strength, in this particular novel, is his ability to convey a very real sense of danger, horror, fear and conflict. His prose is descriptive, often graphic but never wantonly so. Each atrocious act or event is entirely justified and in keeping with the plot. Jones’ eye for detail is impressive, as is his descriptive skill, which aids in immersing the reader in the constantly-shifting, precarious world he presents them with.

It’s always nice to see social media utilised in a modern novel. Aside from making the story feel current…fresh, the use of social media is inspired in this case and a skilful tool for moving this story on, and for heightening the realism (ironically) and the urgency of the scenes.

An often dark, sometimes gruelling, and hugely-entertaining offering from a confident writer.


The Revelation Room (The Ben Whittle Investigation Series Book 1)
The Revelation Room (The Ben Whittle Investigation Series Book 1)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A confident, swaggering, unapologetic fiend of a novel from a writer to watch., 29 May 2017
Dark intent? Check. Religious irreverence, bordering on satire? Check. The blackest of humour tinged with biting dialogue? Check. I’m all in for the revelation Room.

Told in third person-past tense throughout, Tilbury’s Revelation Room is a hugely enjoyable slash across the veneer of decent society, exposing some of the grimmest and most graphic insights into the depths of the human soul and capacity for denial, cruelty and for goodness.

Our main protagonists, undercover in a cult, are beautifully-rendered, fully fleshed-out leads possessed of solid motivations and are the perfect creations to guide the reader through Tilbury’s tantalising and tightly plotted story.

In the Revelation Room, we find a writer who is absolutely on-point with his use of dialogue to expose intent and characterisation. Tilbury’s use of short, snappy sentences contrasted by longer monologues, succeeds in conveying the emotion or urgency of the particular scene. Excellent structure. The characterisation is a particularly strong element in this work.

At times the novel feels surreal, occasionally dangerous and often cutting in its darkly humorous moments and cutting observations.

A confident, swaggering, unapologetic fiend of a novel from a writer to watch.


Bad to the Bone
Bad to the Bone
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pacey, invigorating read that offers plenty of thrills and a solid entry into the genre., 29 April 2017
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This review is from: Bad to the Bone (Kindle Edition)
Bad to The Bone is a competent police procedural in the ilk of recent TV series ‘Unforgotten’. Written in third-person, past-tense (an inspired choice of narrative for this particular plot), the novel is pacey whilst managing to maintain a suspenseful edge throughout. Forder’s characters display some nicely-timed humour to bring a touch of lightness when it’s needed most. The dialogue in this novel is good, particularly from Bliss, who I liked immediately as a lead character,

Forder does, however, employ a little too much telling rather than showing for me. At times I felt the background relayed in chunks of exposition could’ve been conveyed more imaginatively but this didn’t detract from the flow of the novel, the quality of the writing, or the pace. The characterisation was unfailingly and consistently excellent, a particular strength for Forder actually, and there’s plenty of evidence of a writer who is developing a new skill-set by the novel’s end, which was particularly strong at it’s reveal.

A pacey, invigorating read that offers plenty of thrills and a solid entry into the genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 29, 2017 1:06 PM BST


The Girl on the Bus
The Girl on the Bus
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well planned and imaginative in its execution, 28 April 2017
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I’m not gonna lie I read the title to this book and went into the reading of it with little enthusiasm. Not another faded copy of a copy, trying to jump on a bandwagon.

The prologue disabused me of any notion that this fine novel lacked originality within two pages. The prologue, which is exceptional, is strong in emotions and embraces a deep sense of unease. Brown conveys the rising panic of losing a child vividly. As a result, the reader’s concern is genuine and deep. Very skilfully done.

Written in third-person, past tense throughout, Brown’s novel steps on every expectation you may have from its title. Strong writing unveils unflinching acts of violence that take place in confined settings which should be safe for the characters but aren’t, building the menace the book practically seeps. Descriptive, without being overly-flowery, details of settings and people elevate this work above its peers. Brown has succeeded in writing a wholly immersive plot that punches you in the gut whilst drawing concern, fear and very real emotion from his readers.

Anything but formulaic, the story is well planned and imaginative in its execution. It’s also riddled with believable characters whose actions are in keeping with the challenges and their personalities.

As is common in the genre, a little too much exposition at times for my tastes, but this is a minor complaint amongst an accomplished piece of fiction.

The finale was very good, but I particularly enjoyed the prologue which was first-rate.

Cheeky, humorous and displaying some superb foreshadowing all in one go, it was an unexpected nod to the readers and a high point in a book that whilst tightly plotted, did not take itself too seriously.


Firm
Firm
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that basks in the glow of old friendships and memories of times past., 27 April 2017
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This review is from: Firm (Kindle Edition)
Firm is Robert Cowan’s fourth work, following on from The Search for Ethan, Daydreams and Devils, and (my personal favourite) For All is Vanity.

In Firm we have a much less experimental approach than seen in ‘Vanity’ and what feels like a more melancholy Cowan than perhaps we’ve seen until now. The affection he feels for the lead characters in this work, as well as the locations and the people who inhabit the novel, is palpable and utterly endearing throughout.
Robert has written in third-person, past-tense throughout, a choice which feels right for a story that basks in the glow of old friendships and memories of times past.

Our main characters are likable, funny, and far from saints, but utterly believable and rather charming. What made this book for me, was Cowan’s skilful use of dialogue through the novel. Where many writers choose clumsy exposition, Cowan, quite literally in print, allows his characters to speak for themselves, stripping away their outside appearance to expose the very real versions of themselves in their deeds and words. Most notably, the boys’ friendship is demonstrated most ably by Cowan’s spot-on dialogue which is at times warm, very funny, scathing and cutting, as reflects the relationship between best friends.
Another step forward and a very, very good work from an ever developing writer who has grown comfortable in his skill and knows how to craft an appealing story.


Kill or Die
Kill or Die
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine display of skill and confidence from a seasoned writer, 18 April 2017
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This review is from: Kill or Die (Kindle Edition)
This book has been my surprise of the year so far.
A first in the genre from Evans, Kill or Die is nonetheless a fine display of skill and confidence from a seasoned writer who makes smart choices in her prose and choice of narrative. Evans’ immersive and descriptive prose excels in engaging the reader and in stimulating a cascade of very vivid images of the setting and her characters.
Well-crafted, and natural-feeling dialogue, utilising a mixture of long and short sentence structure, augment the already good characterisation. Combined with Evans use of Body language to covey intent and emotion, this elevates the characterisation to another level and places it amongst the most skilled I’ve read in a while.

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A third-person, past-tense narrative throughout suits the plot and propels the characters and their deeds along at a fair old clip. Kill or Die is seeped in suspense, eliciting a deep sense of unease and conflict throughout. The novel is permeated with a measured tension that I really enjoyed. With her choice to place Julia and her daughter front and centre, Evans appears to effortlessly tap into the subconscious fears all parents harbour and suppress and asks her readers to explore their own unease.
How far would you go to protect your child? Answer: As far as you had to.
A great new addition to the publisher’s catalogue and yet another declaration of Bloodhound’s intent to continue to develop quality books and writers.


YOU CAN'T TRUST WATER
YOU CAN'T TRUST WATER
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A very funny, clever and engaging story, 17 April 2017
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Des McAnulty has produced a rare treat with You Can't Trust Water. Scottish authors tend to fall into some pretty distinct categories. Either Irvine Welsh wannabe types or pseudo Brookmyre-ists with none of the wit, or talent of either. Not so in Des’s case.

Des manages to blend some entertaining and genuinely keen observational humour, in the mould of an early Billy Connelly sketch (full of inventive and insightful knowledge and love of his local people), with some relevant, modern and touching social issues. That he pulls this off without descending into rant or preach mode is to his credit and wouldn’t have happened at the hands of a lesser writer. This skill with “I’ll laugh even though I shouldn’t humour” and too-honest description and understanding of people’s behaviour and motives is impressive. Des takes human weakness, pride, love, joy, failure and triumph and creates an alternative world that is at once darkly humorous, exciting, frightening, to be pitied and envied and is also utterly believable.

His characters are well defined and allowed to develop, but unhindered by a plodding back-story which can be too frequently employed by other writers to fill pages with superfluous information.

Rather than spinning and stretching his tale Des has told exactly the story he wanted to with the entertaining concept of reversal of the “norms” of sexuality and not a page to spare.
Where other writers would have been tempted to force too many pages, Des has chosen instead to keep the story pacey, entertaining, and contemporary; page count be damned.
A very funny, clever and engaging story from an author who I’m sure has much more to come.


The Crying Boy
The Crying Boy
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeped in intrigue and threatening presence. It’s a book I know that I’ll revisit several times, 7 April 2017
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This review is from: The Crying Boy (Kindle Edition)
The Crying Boy is an excellent myth on which to base a novel and one that Jane James clearly has some in depth knowledge on. The opening section of the book – in first-person from the painting’s POV- really jolted me, hard. This was an excellent section, wholly immersive, tantalisingly creepy and pitch-perfect in the narrative choice. It also demonstrated a particular strong grasp and use of dialogue by James. All in, The Crying Boy has one of the strongest openings to any book I’ve read. Ever.
With such an accomplished opening, I had high expectations going into the rest of the book, which for the most part were met.
Utilising a third-person, present-tense throughout, Jane’s prose is accomplished and very descriptive, skilfully immersing the reader in the musty, opaque corridors of the world James exposes them to. I was slightly disappointed by the lack of dialogue present in parts of the book, mostly because the writer demonstrated a high degree of skill in writing the spoken word in the earliest scenes of the book, making me want more… a lot more. As a result of this reduction in dialogue, the prose felt a little exposition-heavy at times for my tastes, but perhaps, where dialogue is concerned, others will find that less is more in this case.
For me personally I’d like to have seen more interactions between the characters similar to those that took place in the prologue. Similarly, I’d have liked to have seen the painting’s ‘character’ pushed to the fore. This was a skilful use of characterisation, and an adept use of alternative viewpoint. For me, the novel would have benefited from a greater presence of this ‘character’. Perhaps even as the main protagonist throughout.
Despite a few minor quibbles, most of which are wholly subjective, I really enjoyed The Crying Boy. James’ novel is a fine example of an eerie, insular, tightly-cornered beast of a story; all threatening corners and complex emotions and characters. To read, it felt like watching an early John Carpenter movie, like The Thing. Seeped in intrigue and threatening presence. It’s a book I know that I’ll revisit several times, as it is one of those reads in which the reader finds something new to love or fear or recoil from on each visit.
A very accomplished story from a skilled author.


After Call Work: Gross Misconduct
After Call Work: Gross Misconduct
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another step forward in Bracha’s development, and quite simply a fantastically entertaining read., 7 April 2017
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This novel is a sequel to After Call Work: Verbal Warning which was one of my favourite books of 2016.
In This follow-up, subtitled ‘Gross Misconduct’, we once again encounter the insipid call centre introduced in Book 1. Rather than simply continue the story, utilising the same characters, and expanding on the previous events, Bracha has chosen to introduce a handful of new characters for his readers to love, as well as build on some familiar players from Book 1.
As is Bracha’s custom, he avoids the easy route and avoids giving his readers a simple sequel to the previous work, choosing instead to tell a story that runs parallel to the events in Book 1, with the plotlines overlapping, converging and diverging. This decision is exactly the type of work ethic and tight plotting that makes Bracha the standout Indie writer on the UK scene.
Bracha continues to grow as a writer, utilising a simple, unflashy, first-person, present-tense narrative, but peppering it with some lovely technical quirks, my favourite of which is the odd occasion where he breaks the fourth wall, slyly making the reader complicit In his character’s choices and self-justifications.
Despite this choice of narrative style, Bracha’s precise characterisation lends each of his players a distinct and unmistakable voice. It’s quite a feat.

Another step forward in Bracha’s development, and quite simply a fantastically entertaining read.


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