Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Getting Away With Murder has it right...

I shouldn't, really, but heck, I know it's already out there and there's only a few hours to go.

I'm talking about the release in hardback of 'CLOSE QUARTERS', the second Marc Portman spy thriller, which comes out tomorrow, 30th April, from Severn House.

The lovely thing for me is, with exquisite timing and completely unknown to me, Mike Ripley, the supremo, big daddy and moustachioed grand fromage of review column Getting Away With Murder has given it a lovely mention.

For those new to this excellent column - and I guess there are probably a couple - if you want to find out about crime novels and spy thrillers past and present - especially new ones coming out - then this is the column to read.

It's packed full of wisdom, background knowledge and experience, and a deep understanding of all that is good in crime and spy fiction.

(Well, I would say that, wouldn't I?)

Who knows - you might find something there to surprise or interest you.

Just don't get too carried away reading about all the other books.

'CLOSE QUARTERS' - (Severn House in H/B) - available from all good sources and, no doubt, a few less reputable.

Best of all try Goldsboro Books here
Amazon here

Thank you, Mr Ripley, for the mention. You'll find payment in a brown envelope under a bench in Green Park.


Monday, 20 April 2015

My review of 'Killing Time' by Marcus Dalrymple

It's not often I'm asked to review a book with the tag line 'True Fiction', but 'Killing Time' by Marcus Dalrymple was intriguing enough to kick-start my curiosity.

Maybe that was the plan.

You can read my review right here in Shots Magazine.

The interesting point about this book is that it brought to mind a number of high-profile books reviewed recently where the main protagonist was not the most sympathetic type, or even downright unlikeable. Which always seems at odds to me.

In this case it's a young British back-packer named James Cooper-Brown, whom I found incredibly irritating and na├»ve beyond redemption for putting himself in the situation where others get killed because of him. I suppose I've always enjoyed books with central characters that, while they might do some unpleasant or inexplicable things, at least have some redeeming features.

However, that aside (and my comment on this character is only a personal opinion), if you want to get into the heart of what it must be like to be part of a community where life - and death - is at the call of brutal drug gangs and where human life is cheap-to-unimportant, then this book offers a useful example. The description of life for those at the bottom of the pile, and the casual way they are disposed of, is chilling and well-painted.


Thursday, 16 April 2015

Now that's what I call promotion!

In an age when whatever you shout as an author about your latest book can so easily get lost in the daily blizzard of promo pieces, previews and ads for bigger, brighter and louder (ie - bigger marketing budgets), it came as quite a shock this morning over my marmite soldiers when I saw the following pic on Twitter. Thanks to Severn House for arranging it! (Mind-worm: I must pick up the soldier I dropped behind the sofa before the cat gets the blame).

I'm so pleased by this excellent mention, which is on the front of London Show Daily (from the London Book Fair 2015, in case I leave you in any doubt), here's a snip of the photo as well, in case anything gets missed!

Believe me, when promo pieces like this come along, it's not to be taken lightly and I don't. And won't. In fact, I might just have a tattoo done-

Or maybe not. Going too far? Shame.

Anyway, very cleverly, the publishers (Severn House - did I mention them?) managed to slip in not just one but TWO titles in one hit: 'The Watchman' and 'Close Quarters' (books one and two of the Marc Portman spy thriller series).

Now that's what I call neat.

Of course, the new book (out on 30th April in hardback), is 'Close Quarters', but I appreciate that there are people out there who like to read series in order. (And no, that's not OCD or anything like it. As it happens, I like to write them in order, too. It makes life a little easier). But just in case, 'The Watchman' is still available.

Just saying...

'CLOSE QUARTERS' - in hardback, available soon. Signed and dated copies available from Goldsboro Books, London. (They ship everywhere).


Sunday, 5 April 2015

My latest 'Beginners' article in Writing Magazine

My latest ‘Beginners’ article in Writing Magazine is called ‘Words – it’s a numbers game.’ It came to mind when, not for the first time, I came across a writer recently who told me that he’d written a novella and was going to see how it went before writing another one… but in the meantime he was hoping it would get him noticed.

Trouble is, it's rarely that simple with writing. 99.9% of writers have to write a lot before they get anywhere. So the only way to progress - and get yourself noticed - is by doing it over and over. That way you’ll not only stand a better chance of getting published - because hopefully you’ll get better at it - but you’ll also find out what you’re good at and what you enjoy. And what we all know is, that's a major part of any job, let alone being a writer.

As the saying goes, the more you do, the luckier you’ll be.

You can read the article in full on-line if you subscribe at or buy the print magazine.

Of course, if you don’t want to do that, you could just get writing. Again.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Thriller writing - it's a crime!

Have just discovered over my lunchtime muffin (not a euphemism), that, in the words of a well-known British crime writer, crime writers are left-wing whereas thriller writers are right-wing.

At first I was confused, because if this supposition is true, I'm straddling the two extremes; I write crime novels and spy thrillers (and other stuff besides). So what does that make me? Still, on further investigation, the article had appeared in the Guardian, which is hardly known for it's right-wing leanings, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

What intrigued me, however, was that the piece appeared to lean rather heavily towards the suggestion that of the two, crime writers (as it happens, the genre of its author) possess the greater social conscience. This because they 'give voice to the poor, sex workers, the old, immigrants... the dispossessed, in other words. Thrillers, on the other hand, seemed to be dismissed  as 'tend(ing) towards conservative'. (I thought this rather hinted at the larger - and damning - 'C' in conservative than had been written, but maybe I was feeling suspicious already and misinterpreted it).

Odd, though, that many crime novels feature victims who are from the same ranks of the dispossessed, so I'm not sure whether that's giving them voice or using them as handy fodder for writing about serial killers.

On reflexion, though, this lofty idea doesn't matter; we all have our views (and there is the election looming, so there's another pointer). But my writing view has always been that works of fiction are meant to entertain... and maybe educate a little, although that has never been my prime motivation.

However, as I do write both genres, I will henceforth try to do one in a more open, socially-conscious manner, to show what a thoroughly decent and caring egg I am. The other I will pursue under cover, just in case I'm spotted by some right-on do-right who wants to burn me at the stake for being a thriller writer and therefore a socially uncaring git.