#Review #TheBoyInThePark by @GraysonForReal @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #CrimeFiction 4.5*

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The Boy In The Park by AJ Grayson
Synopsis:

The Psychological Thriller that everyone is going to be talking about – once you’ve read it, it will haunt you for weeks!

Dylan goes to the same park every day. He starts to notice a young boy who comes down to the small boating lake and soon realises that all is not right with the child; he seems troubled and unhappy and when bruises start to appear on the boy’s arms, Dylan realises that he has to take action. As Dylan’s obsession with the boy takes hold, he embarks on dark, intense and powerful journey, where nothing is what it seems…

My review:

Wow, what a whopper! What an ending! I had recently finished two very emotive novels and was seeking something more gripping/psychological/darker! This novel was very unique, I got to 300 pages in, I had no idea what was going on! It’s one of those weird/bizarre novels that ‘reveals itself to you’!
But I mean this in a completely positive way!

The novel opens with loner and slightly oddball Dylan Aaronsen sitting on a park bench on his lunch break. Dylan sits here every day, his bench (in memory of Margaret Hoss) Margaret’s bench is his escape from his dull menial job. Dylan has routine life, one of insomnia, loneliness and being a tortured poet. Part of this routine is the young boy in the park that he notices every day!
A young boy, as seemingly lost as Dylan himself………….

The little boy wears worn and dirty overalls, with a dirty t-shirt underneath. He appears unkempt and sad looking. Dylan gathers he is around 4/5 years old. However, when he starts to appear featuring new injuries, daily. Dylan becomes concerned for his safety. Then one day the boy is gone! Dylan attempts to report this to the police but he has little to report, having never spoken to the child.
He begins his own investigations and what he uncovers is shocking………

There are intermittent chapters of a taped interview between forensic psychologist Pauline Lavrentis and a man named Joseph. Joseph makes repeated false claims of committing a murder. His memory is fragmented and his speech often appears confused and inconsistent. He continues to repeat that he has murdered his wife, suffocating her with a pillow over her face. But he has no wife and this is a mere delusion. But when Pauline points out there was no wife, no pillow but there was a boy. I began to realise this was a complex and mysterious novel.
“What you remember about the boy?”

Between Dylan’s investigations and the interviews, I knew there was the making for an epic ending. It did not disappoint, one bit! This novel is very tough to review without leaving spoilers or ruining the plot for other readers. It doesn’t all come together, until the very last few pages but when it does, it is mind-blowing! The novel has a very strong theme of mental health. Which is portrayed with a detailed accuracy. I should know, I worked for 10 years in adult mental health. The topic of how far we would go, to convince others of what we saw. Dylan’s obsession with the boy’s whereabouts, plunging Dylan into crisis after crisis. The writing style is very unique. I hope this not deter readers, who are used to a standard police procedural read. I was constantly questioning Dylan’s actions and behaviour; I began to suspect maybe the boy was just a mere delusion. Does the boy exist? Who is the boy? What is happening to the boy? Why is he so sad?
The boy does exist and all will be revealed. But the thing with delusional people is that they are utterly convincing! I shall finish this review with Dylan’s early thoughts on seeing the boy in such obvious distress.

“Every boy deserves soothing words when he’s done himself harm”

4.5*

Q&A with @anthonynsmith #Author of #CastleDanger #WomanOnIce #NewSeries #CrimeFiction

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Castle Danger by Anthony Neil Smith
Synopsis:

“Hey, Manny here. I’m a cop in Duluth, Minnesota. Vacation paradise in the summer, but some of the longest, coldest winters in the USA, with more snow and ice in one blizzard than most people see in a lifetime. And we all know what happens to people during long, cold winters. They die. They commit suicide or start fights out of pure boredom or because they’re depressed, worried that the sun will never return. Or they get killed. If you want to make sure the person you’ve killed won’t be found, just drop them under the ice of Lake Superior. Not much ever floats up from its depths again. Well, except this one morning …”

When a dead woman is fished out of Lake Superior, Manny Jahnke is there to discover the baffling truth: The “woman” in the ice is biologically a man. Before he can learn more, the corpse sinks back into the water, pulling Manny’s partner along with it. Both disappear under the ice, never to be seen again. Now Manny has a missing victim, a new partner he likes even less than the old one, and a case no one wants solved. Or so it seems. Manny grows obsessed with the “woman on ice” whose secrets prove to be as vast as the Great Lake itself – and whose enemies turn out to be powerful enough to keep those secrets hidden. Only one thing is certain: if Manny survives, he’ll never be the same man again.

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, stayed long enough to get a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi, then moved to Minnesota, where I’m a Creative Writing professor. But I’ve always loved the crime genre first.

CASTLE DANGER: WOMAN ON ICE follows a young cop named Manny as he pursues the truth about a frozen transwoman found in Lake Superior. It seems no one wants him to find out who she is, and they’re willing to deal him some serious damage to keep him off the case. His obsession is also due to some personal issues, as he has already begun to question his own gender identity.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) It always starts with a character. In this case, Manny, an angry cop sitting at his computer fuming over porn. But what took a long time to figure out was why? I knew he was going to find a transwoman on the iced-over lake, but what was it that got to him? My editor and I discussed possibilities, and he suggested that Manny had injured his genitals somehow, which led to me thinking he did it to himself “accidentally”, or maybe not so much, because he wasn’t sure he should be a man.

I told my editor at the time, and he was interested, but thought it wasn’t necessarily a “commercial” novel, but it kept his attention enough to ask to see the pitch again to show it to the folks at BE Ebooks. They loved it, and that led to two books (so far) about Manny and his partner Joel.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I read so much, all the time, and the list is pretty long. My “big three” are James Ellroy, Flannery O’Connor, and Chester Himes (although James Crumley is as close a fourth as possible). They really bring the “gonzo” (absurdity). White Jazz was the first crime novel I really saw as art. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Parker’s Back” are brutal and funny simultaneously. And any of the Coffin Ed and Gravedigger novels open up a world that feels barely hang on to sanity.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Very early on, I discovered The Hardy Boys, but then quickly found the even better Three Investigators series, which featured Alfred Hitchcock, for some reason (who gave the boys a free limo service), and Jupiter Jones, former child star turned boy detective. These guys had a clubhouse in a junkyard.

I also really like Encyclopedia Brown, even though I could never actually solve those goddamned mysteries.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) I was invited to Italy for a conference! Back in 2011, my novel YELLOW MEDICINE was translated into Italian, and I attended a festival in Northern Italy—Piacenza—that combined blues music and crime fiction. It was really wonderful. I also got to meet Tim Willocks, RJ Ellory, and Joe Lansdale, in addition to the owners of Dust to Digital record label, the Ledbetters, who do some really neat work.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) In addition to my wife, Brandy, who loves my work but thinks all my endings are terrible, my core “crew” has been longtime friends Victor Gischler and Sean Doolittle, who I’ve known for nearly twenty years. We share the good times and the shitty times in our writing lives. I also would not be where I am today without Allan Guthrie, who has been, at various points, my agent, my publisher, and my editor (and friend, of course) for over ten years now. He’s the one person in publishing who has championed and believed in my work more than anyone else.

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Anthony Neil Smith
Authors links:
Twitter: @anthonynsmith
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/650597.Anthony_Neil_Smith
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Neil-Smith/e/B004FRQDDW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.