Blog Tour – The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

Apologies all – this should’ve been up yesterday, but the eye mask I wear to bed to black out light put an eyelash or something in my left eye, rendering it unusable – it just ran tears all day, which made reading impossible. I know, sounds like a ridiculous excuse, doesn’t it? However, it’s worth waiting for, as I have a Q & A with one of the Queens Of Crime, Karin Slaughter. I’d actually started reading her from her very first book, Blindsighted, but was so annoyed when she killed off one of my favourite characters I took a hiatus from reading her books. However, I’ve eased back in with her standalones and can definitely see me catching up with the series at some point.

Anyway, it’s not me you want to hear from, it’s Karin, so here we go…

Slaughter is your real name, a lucky twist of fate or something that may have shaped you as a writer?
I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t decide to write romances! It’s my real name, and I paid a heavy price for it as a kid. I was relentlessly teased in elementary school, and then I moved up to junior high and fortunately there were more important things to worry about. When I first got published, I never understood why people kept asking me if Slaughter was really my last name. I didn’t understand the connection they were making because it had just always been my name. Then, I was in the Piccadilly tube station going up one of those treacherous escalators and I saw this massive sign that said “SLAUGHTER” and I thought, “wow, that’s ominous,” and then I got closer and saw the tiny “Karin” above it and thought, “oohhhhh…”

What was your inspiration for The Good Daughter?
I really enjoyed writing about the sister relationship in Pretty Girls, my last standalone, and I wanted to do something more in that vein. I’m the youngest of three girls, and my parents loved me the most because I was the smartest and prettiest, but an author’s job is to get in the heads of every character they write about.

The point of writing a lot of books is to do something different each time, so when I thought of Charlie and Sam, it was almost in opposition to Claire and Lydia. I wanted Charlie to be a character I haven’t written about before. She’s highly competent, well-liked, and she makes mistakes, sometimes really stupid mistakes, but instead of trying to weasel around them, she owns them. Actually, she almost wears them as a badge of honor. That’s an interesting way to control the bad things that happen, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way. Sam, on the other hand, lives every single moment of her life in stark relief to the “what could have been.” She works very hard to define herself as having moved on, but everything she does is in opposition to that goal. Both sisters try to control things in their own way, and both fail in their own way, which is always fascinating to me. You know people by how they respond to adversity.

What does your writing day look like? Where do you write best?

When I’m ready to work on a story, I drive two hours outside of Atlanta to the Blue Ridge mountains, where I have a cabin that my father built for me. I wish I could say that I have a very balanced day when I’m working, but all I do is get up in the morning, start writing, then stop writing when I can’t see or think anymore. Sometimes, that can be 12 or 16 hours (with naps in between) and sometimes that can be four hours (with more naps) but I’ve always been better in isolation. I don’t understand how people can work in coffee shops or, worse, be in the middle of a chapter and just stop. I suppose part of it is my obsessive/compulsiveness. I’m completely incapable of not finishing something I start.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed that – look out for my review, which I’ll put up as soon as I’ve finished it, but from what I’ve read so far it’s non-stop action. Just fantastic!

Interview with Catriona McPherson

Dandy Gilver Blog Tour FINAL

At the moment, I’m reading Dandy Gilver And A Spot Of Toil And Trouble (review to come – but I’m loving it, as I anticipated!) I absolutely adore this series, and I also love Catriona’s one-off psychological thrillers. I urge you to read her as soon as you can if you haven’t yet done so – she’s incredibly witty, and creates wonderful characters and very clever plots. So when asked if I’d like to ask a few questions of one of my favourite authors, how could I refuse? I hope you enjoy my wee Q & A!


The Dandy Gilver books are a homage to Golden Age crime fiction. Are you a big fan of that period of crime writing, and, if so, which authors do you most admire?

Oh, a huge fan! Yes, indeed. The first curtsey has to be to Dame Agatha, of course. I’m pretty fierce about her because she gets sneered at so regularly. People sometimes forget how ground-breaking she was and, now that some of the plots have been often copied (The Moving Finger, anyone?), she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. At least some of it’s pure sexism, I reckon.

But I also love everything Dorothy L Sayers ever did. It was a great honour to be asked to write the introduction to one of the recent Hodder re-issues. And I got exactly the volume I would have chosen too: Striding Folly, the last collection of short stories.

I can’t say I love everything Ngaio Marsh and Michael Innes wrote, but A Surfeit of Lampreys and Appleby’s End are in my top five detective novels of all time.

The one I don’t quite get is Josephine Tey. The Franchise Affair always struck me as snobby in a sort of pinched way (unlike DLS’s glorious snootiness – that’s just funny) and The Daughter of Time is one of those books that everyone else seems to love and I keep quiet because . . . well, I keep quiet.

As well as enjoying your Dandy Gilver series, I’m also a huge fan of your psychological thrillers. Do you have any preference when it comes to writing them? And do you plan to continue writing both for the foreseeable future?

Thank you. I thoroughly enjoy both and they both have highs and lows, to be honest. I come at Dandy knowing some of the characters and knowing I’ve got the voice, but then I need to research some bit of the 30s and try to get it right. The standalones – being contemporary – don’t have that threat of anachronism hanging over them, but each one is a new world I need to kindle from scratch.

All that said, I’ve got no plans to stop either strand.

Personally, one of my favourite aspects of your writing is the quirkiness of your characters – it adds to their authenticity (like the “Hand Of Man”/”Hand Of Woman” – this is part of The Child Garden where the main character, who is a registrar, guesses with her colleague who dressed the babies who are in having their birth registered. It’s very funny.) I also feel you and Denise Mina are the most realistic writers of ordinary working class people, especially women, in Scotland. Does it ever feel difficult to get into that “Scottish voice” when you live in California? Or is it always there, buried in your mind?

Well, that is some high praise there. I adore Denise Mina, especially her characters. I did have someone once ask why I had given a modern character such a desperate life. I didn’t think her life was desperate at all! She had a job in Tesco (as an online-shop picker) and a house and pals.

As to the voice: because I didn’t move to California until I was forty four I think I’m probably going to be okay. And I make a conscious effort not to assimilate linguistically in between trips home every summer. Mind you, I did just have to ask the Facebook hive mind if Scots ever called tracky bums “sweatpants” because I couldn’t remember. Most of the responses came from American friends pledging to call them “tracky bums” from now on.

What have you got on the bedside table at the moment? And is there anything you’ve read recently that really impressed you?

Ha, I love this question. I’m taking my laptop through to my bedroom to catalogue the answer. Okay, the TBR piles (of imminent and current reading (not to be confused with four TBR shelves of maybe one day books) + two I keep by my bed always for comfort + talking books from the library in case of insomnia) left-to-right, top-to-bottom:

Audio book of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Kate Burton
Landscape with Dead Dons Robert Robinson
My Name is Lucy Barton Elizabeth Strout
The Captain’s Verses Pablo Neruda
A Place Called Winter Patrick Gale
Queen Bees Sian Evans
The Fortunes Peter Ho Davies
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
A Front Page Affair Radha Vatsal
Aunt Jane McPhipps and her Baby Blue Chips Frances V Rummel
The Other Sister Diane Dixon
Nutshell Ian McEwan
Rather be The Devil Ian Rankin
The Two-Family House Linda Cohen Loigman
All He ever Wanted Anita Shreve
Norah Webster Colm Toibin
Audiobook of A Spool of Blue Thread Anne Tyler

I’m reading the Vatsal right now and enjoying it very much. Recent crime fiction I’ve admired – keeping it to crime fiction for Crimeworm: I read my first Bill Crider novel (there are more than twenty) about Texas sheriff Dan Rhodes. Imagine Alexander McCall Smith writing about a small town in Texas. Marvellous stuff! Also, Deep Water by Christine Poulson was a great treat: a character-driven crime novel that was spot-on about the working of a science lab without the details ever derailing the story. And Ausma Zehannat Khan’s debut, The Unquiet Dead, set in Canada but dealing with the shadow of the break-up of Yugoslavia. It’s a punch to the gut but absolutely spell-binding too.

Thank you so much, Catriona. Can I just ask you what’s next on the agenda, book-wise, after Dandy Gilver And A Spot Of Toil Of Trouble?

Thank you. Today, after I send this interview back, I going to start editing Dandy Gilver No. 13. The working title is Dandy Gilver and The Supposedly Happy Occasion but who knows. Then I’m coming over to launch Toil and Trouble and, later in the summer, a modern book: The Weight of Angels (UK) House.Tree.Person (US). When I get back I’ll edit the modern book I’ve just written (no title yet) and collapse on the couch for Christmas.

Well, there’s plenty of books to add to the TBR pile there! I’m actually going to be reading The Unquiet Dead very soon, but many of the rest are new to me!

I’d like to thank the lovely Jenni at Hodder and Stoughton for giving me the opportunity to question Catriona, and of course Catriona herself for answering them. And look out for my review of Toil And Trouble coming up shortly!

Blog Tour – The Killer – Susan Wilkins

BLURB: A glossy and gripping crime thriller about survival and vengeance, it puts the pedal to the metal as it hurtles through contemporary London, from the glass towers of the super-rich to the down and dirty backstreets of organized crime and blackmail.

She was a woman, so they thought she’d be easy to kill . . .

Kaz Phelps is on the run – from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.

Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met’s best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she’s responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci’s biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.

Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

I was sort of disappointed that I’d somehow missed the first two Kaz Phelps novel not long after I started this (okay, dead giveaway, I enjoyed it.) It was only when I saw their covers I realised why – they were designed in that Marina Cole/Roberta Kray-fashion, and, to be entirely honest, they aren’t really my taste. (Although I would recommend Anna Smith’s Rosie Gilmour series, about a reporter, although my weakness for those may be because they’re set mainly in Glasgow…)

Anyway, my bad, because book 3 is a belter – which suggests 1 and 2 were as well. It begins with a shooting at a funeral, and the action doesn’t let up from there.

Now it isn’t essential to have read books 1 and 2, but it’d definitely help put things in clearer context. For example, we’re made aware that Kaz wants revenge for the death of her lover, Helen. But I’d love to know the full details of her death. There are other bits I’m also desperate to learn more about – Wilkins tells us enough so we can understand the plot, but curious enough to hopefully investigate the earlier books – a smart move, marketing-wise.

Post-funeral, Kaz Phelps ends up on the run. However, she’s fortunate enough to run into her late brother Joey’s business partner (and an early boyfriend), Paul Ackroyd. He claims he’s only wanting to help an old friend in need, but she’s aware that Joey had money –serious money – hidden away. And she knows when it comes to these sorts of amounts, she can trust absolutely no-one. No-one, that is, apart from ex-copper, now private security operative, Nicci Armstrong. But she was brought up with it drummed into her that coppers are the enemy – retired or not. She has some tough decisions to make…

As for the remaining members of the Phelps family, there’s the flaky mother, Ellie, Aunt Glynis, and Kaz’s sister, Natalie, who now has a son, Finlay. Natalie has had life deal her a pretty shitty hand, despite all the family’s money, and she’d rebelled by getting involved pretty deeply in the drug scene. But she’s clean now, determined to be a good mum…and there’s a big surprise in store for Kaz when she learns who Finlay’s father is.

Wilkins seems to know every level of London life exceptionally well – from the council estates, to the luxury Belgravia mansions, mostly owned by foreigners. From drug dealers all the way to MPs, she’s spins a convincing and hard-to-put-down tale. She also, when I compare her information with other nonfiction books I’ve read, has a good understanding of how the drugs business, money laundering, and the firearms business operate.

In total, it makes for a really enjoyable and compelling thriller, with Kaz left in a quandary over who she can and can’t trust. Joey may have had the brawn, but look where that’s left him? She definitely has the brains. She just needs to use them to make the right choices…but will she?

#Northern #Crime (, who’s a wonderful blogger and great friend – she started blogging at roughly the same time as me – did a cracking trio of reviews of all these novels, if you fancy a second opinion. In my humble opinion, the writing’s quite a bit superior to the majority of these “gangland” novels, and lumping Susan Wilkins in with them, with the similar covers, is doing her a disservice. This may be gritty, but it’s also intelligent, compelling, and would make a perfect holiday read. I intend to read the first two, and I’ll most definitely be looking out for what Susan Wilkins does next.

Highly recommended.

With thanks to MacMillan books for the review copy, and this impartial review is my thanks to them.