Anne Bonny #BookReview The Killing House by @inkstainsclaire #IrishCrimeFiction #CrimeFiction #PaulaMaguire #6 @headlinepg

The Killing House by Claire McGowan – Paula Maguire #6
Review Copy

When a puzzling missing persons’ case opens up in her hometown, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire can’t help but return once more.

Renovations at an abandoned farm have uncovered two bodies: a man known to be an IRA member missing since the nineties, and a young girl whose identity remains a mystery.

As Paula attempts to discover who the girl is and why no one is looking for her, an anonymous tip-off claims that her own long-lost mother is also buried on the farm.

When another girl is kidnapped, Paula must find the person responsible before more lives are destroyed. But there are explosive secrets still to surface. And even Paula can’t predict that the investigation will strike at the heart of all she holds dear.

My Review:

The Killing House is the ultimate novel in the Forensic Pathologist Paula Maguire series. It is the novel where Paula’s past will finally be revealed. The novel surrounds a case involving human remains found in Paula’s native Ireland. Remains that will link right into the heart of Paula’s past and the disappearance of her mother.
Due to the relevance of Paula’s mother there are various scenes from 1983; building up to her eventual disappearance.
You are in for a rollercoaster of a ride!!!!

‘No one’s going to touch your daughter, come on now. We don’t hurt weans in this organisation’

What becomes evident as we follow Margaret (Paula’s mother) is that she knew her fate. It makes for terrifying reading.

London 2014, Paula is currently working within missing persons and is jolted back to her life in Ballyterrin after a phone call about the uncovered remains.
It seems no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape Ballyterrin or her past.
‘She would have to go back’

The crime scene is located at the Wallace family farm. The Wallace family had previous strong ties to the IRA and were heavily involved in the troubles of Northern Ireland.

‘However far you ran, and however long for, Ballyterin had a way of sucking you back in’

I am rather embarrassed to admit, I am not very clued up on the factual side of the NI troubles or the details of the Good Friday Agreement. I know it is a pivotal piece of history, but it was never discussed when I was at school etc. I keep meaning to read some of my non-fiction books regarding this time in history. But due to blog/children demands, rarely get to read much non-fiction.
I love how the author explained the complexity of the GFA within the story. I felt I was learning from the characters perspective and not being ‘told’, if you get what I am trying to say.

Although the novel is based on the past, it is very much focused around Paula. She makes a fantastic protagonist. This is possibly the most emotional novel in the series, for Paula. There is an intense ending, which left me worried it would be the last we see of her. 4*

Claire McGowan (Eva Woods) 

Anne Bonny #Author Q&A Jailbird Detective by @helenjacey #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #WomenSleuths 1940’s #Noir @shedunnit

Jailbird Detective by Helen Jacey – Book 1
Review to follow

A female sleuth crime thriller set in the 1940s featuring edgy female protagonist Elvira Slate, a former criminal and gangster’s moll, who trades Holloway Prison to become a Hollywood Private Detective.

Former south London moll, Jemima Day (Elvira’s real identity) flees England as she’s released from Holloway Prison on VE Day. Her plans to make up for lost time are foiled when she confronts a sexual predator. Caught by a corrupt cop, she is given a choice – face the hangman in England or become his personal errand girl with a phony identity.

Jemima becomes Elvira Slate, but she has no intention of being controlled by any man for long. When she discovers foul play leading to the death of innocents and the law turning a blind eye, Elvira risks her life to investigate.

Ex-con and part vigilante, Elvira follows her own moral compass to put things right. Knowing what it’s like to be judged and live by patriarchal double standards, Elvira can read both motives and men like no other.

Jailbird Detective is feminist crime noir and the first in the Elvira Slate Investigations crime detective series. It follows one woman’s odyssey of reinvention and self-determination to become the most unlikely 1940s female detective.


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

A) After studying an MA in Screenwriting in 2001, I’ve written for TV, feature film, advertising, brands and radio drama. When I realised there weren’t any writing guides that discussed female characters and stereotypes, I wrote one myself! The Woman in the Story: Creating Memorable Female Characters 2010 became very popular in the film and TV industry, and I branched out into story consultancy, script editing and training. I run Shedunnit Productions which develops content across media with a female gaze.

My novel Jailbird Detective is what I’m calling vintage feminist crime noir genre, and it’s the first in the Elvira Slate Investigations series.

It follows the life of ex-convict and gangster’s moll Jemima Day who is released on probation from Holloway Prison on VE Day, 1945 and goes on the run to LA. Using a fake identity and determined to make up for lost time, things are looking up in LA until she is arrested. She becomes a corrupt cop’s undercover errand girl under the name of Elvira Slate, but she won’t be controlled by any man again, so she quickly develops a secret life – investigating a crime the law has ignored. Soon she’s immersed in a very female world, the little known side of old Hollywood.

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

A) In 2010 the PhD was finished, and The Woman in the Story was about to be published. I was sitting in the sunny south of France when the character of Elvira literally walked into my mind and wouldn’t leave! I was reading Raymond Chandler at the time and loving being back in 40s Hollywood, but somewhat put off by the extreme male gaze of Philip Marlowe. So maybe Elvira was my subconscious antidote.

Jailbird Detective was begun in 2010, and by early 2012 I was almost done. The completion of the novel entered a fits and starts phase for eight years! By 2018, I knew it was Jailbird Detective’s time. I had interest in the series from an agent and a publisher, but I eventually decided it should be Shedunnit Productions’ first project, as it is clearly a female gaze story and I want to develop it across media. Editing was complex and laborious – you can’t underestimate the work it takes!

My plan is to write one book a year in the series and the next in the Elvira Slate series will be out in 2019.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I love any kind of underdog and outsider fiction. Jean Rhys 1930s novels, such as Good Morning Midnight.

I love Tony Morrison, Beloved and Jazz are up there with my favourites. For the sheer warmth and humanity in the Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin is another much-loved author as is Zadie Smith for White Teeth.

I wouldn’t be a crime writer without some favourites. James Ellroy (LA Confidential, Black Dahlia), Walter Moseley (Devil in a Blue Dress). Edward Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce is a gripping exposure of a doomed criminal justice system which is neither restorative or rehabilitative. John Grisham’s Street Lawyer is another top book. On the female author front, I love anything by Lynda La Plante, PD James and Sara Paretsky.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

When I was very young, I was enthralled by rather strange doll Flora McFlimsey, who got in all sorts of antics. I loved the Worst Witch Series, was hooked on Blyton’s Mallory Towers. So you can see the theme – rebellious females who go on adventures. In my teens I became a Bronte, Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell fan. Francois Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse and Rosamund Lehmann’s Dusty Answer spoke to my teenage self. I discovered the female modernist poets, Gertrude Stein, HD, Marianne Moore and Mina Loy. I loved Dorothy Parker too for her witty cynicism.

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

A) I was invited by the Norwegian Film Institute to give a keynote tribute lecture at the inaugural Liv Ullman symposium. Liv Ullman was sitting in the front row and it was quite nerve-wracking dissecting some of her roles. She was really lovely about the one-hour lecture I gave and it was a privilege to meet her.

For Jailbird Detective, I have been touched by very talented author and screenwriter friends reading the book and telling me they can’t put it down. It’s an unbelievable feeling of validation.

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

A) My husband Patrick Altes, who makes every day special. He’s an artist himself, so understands the pain, frustration, sacrifice, dedication and single-mindedness demanded by the creative process. He makes me laugh when I’m stressed, takes over the cooking, reads every draft of Jailbird Detective (and there’s been quite a lot of those over the past 8 years). He’s also very literary-minded, and great at giving notes!

Helen color
Helen Jacey
Shedunnit productions – Twitter

Anne Bonny #Author Q&A with @Hollieannem #Sweetbriars #LeavingTheCity #YA #Equestrian

Sweetbriars – Book 1 – Leaving The City by Hollie Anne Marsh


Q) For the readers, can you provide a synopsis of your new novel?

Sweetbriars – Leaving The City
It tells the story of Cate Sullivan and her new friends Violet and Tabby, at the wonderful Sweetbriars horse farm in the English countryside. It is a ‘coming of age’ story which features ‘growing up’ themes around three fun, relatable, but also different twelve-year-old girls.

A Tale of Sweetbriars.
Welcome to the yard! Come and meet the girls… Cate, Tabby and Violet and their beautiful horses.

Cate is uprooted from life as she has known it. Along with her family and her gorgeous palomino show horse Odette, she moves to a charming farm deep in the English countryside.

Cate is torn. Upon moving to horse heaven, she had to leave behind her best friend Beth and her beloved horse-riding instructor Bridget. On the other hand, she has fallen in love with Sweetbriars, the farm her family has bought to make their dreams come true.

Setting up an equestrian centre at Sweetbriars is fun to Cate but settling into a new school and having a stern Pony Club riding instructor that teaches dressage is less so. At school, Cate makes friends with Violet, who is confident and wacky, and through Pony Club she gets to know Tabby, who is sweet and popular. The girls’ lives will be intertwined in ways they could never have imagined thanks to their shared passion for horses and Cate’s determination to make Sweetbriars a success.

Will Cate ever settle into living in the countryside?

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

A) I wrote the manuscript for Sweetbriars almost fifteen years ago in Australia. I remember sending the manuscript to a literary agency for an appraisal, and they wrote back to me encouraging me to take more writing classes! I was encouraged at school to pursue a career in writing as my teacher thought I had some talent – but school English is a little different to studying writing at University or through specialist courses.

My dream was to create a new Saddle Club series as I loved these types of books… books with fun, addictive characters that love horses, and evolve as the series progresses.

I did go on to study writing more formally… but as part of a business degree where I had some ‘free’ subjects and somehow was able to choose creative writing subjects. Which I enjoyed a lot and did well in. After finishing my studies, I went into a career in marketing working for international companies / brands.

A year and a half ago I had a baby and I hadn’t forgotten my book dream… so I dug out the manuscript and worked on it a few hours each day, whilst I was at home with my baby.

My last professional job was not creative at all, so doing something creative was enjoyable and a welcome change.

As I’d lived in England for almost ten years I changed the book to be set in the stunning countryside of Devon – where my Oldenburg foal was bred. The book is based on the many experiences I had whilst enjoying horse life in the UK – competing in dressage competitions, exploring bridleways and spectating at big horse shows. Also growing up riding ponies, going to Pony Club and having so many fun adventures with my friends.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Well there are a lot! I actual like to read a lot of motivational / spiritual books and find I can read the late Wayne W. Dwyer and Esther Hicks books over and over. For some time, I was loving Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, as at the time I was living a similar kind of life… taking a year off to travel and I had some unique and wonderful experiences. Since living in Barcelona I discovered The Cathedral Of The Sea by Ildefonso Falcones – a classic and what an incredible storyteller. For people that have visited Barcelona and loved it, I highly recommend this book. That was probably the best last book I read – although Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is almost as amazing. I have a wide and varied reading taste and I think enjoy most genres of books if they are good!

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) The Saddle Club followed by The Baby Sitters Club – I was totally addicted to these books… they were like T.V. in a book. I used to trade the books with my friends once we were finished and we would talk about the characters and stories for hours, finding common ground between our lives and theirs! Ha ha.

I also adored more classic books such as Flambards by K.M. Peyton and Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

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

A) Getting great reviews. That is an incredible feeling as a debut author. Totally surreal at first.

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

A) Our family of four – my partner, baby boy and horse Frieda. I’ve taken time out from my professional career and a good part of it has been spent finishing this book. My partner has been supportive, believing in me and my baby boy inspires me with his pure love of life. As for Frieda, the best way for me to clear my head and feel ‘at home’ is by sitting on a horse. Feeling that partnership with such a special animal, in nature, has always been grounding for me.

Hollie Anne Marsh