Blog Tour Angela Marsons Play Dead

IMG_0950It was great to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour for Angela Marsons new book Play Dead.

I’ve followed The DCI Kim Stones books since they were first published, is that really only just over a year ago.

Four Books in a year and every one of them a great read.

The first section of this blog is my initial review of the book, below that is a few questions Angela was kind enough to respond to, and a few of my thoughts on what makes her one of today’s stand out authors in Crime Fiction.

The Review of Play Dead

This book firmly places Angela Marsons right at the top of the Police Crime Thriller writers.

Detective Chief Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back in another Black Country crime thriller, and just like the 3 previous books this one is stunning.

Having just broken up a paedophile ring Stone and her team are sent to Westerly, a new research facility in Wall Heath. Its location and purpose have been kept a secret from the public for good reason. The West Midlands has a Body Farm.

The trip to the Body Farm is going well until Stone manages to find a body that should not be there. A woman has been killed in a horrific manner and left amongst the other corpses.

As Stones team start to investigate the murder another victim is found at the farm but this one has miraculously survived.

What links the victims and why are they being dumped at the Body Farm.

As the investigations continue one of Kate’s nemesis, the local reporter Tracy Frost, approaches Stone in an attempt to solve a cold case, a murder that has happened a few years before in the neighbouring area of Brierley Hill. The fingerless dead man recovered from a local reservoir has never been identified, nor has his murder been solved.

Why should Stone get involved in a case that’s not her own, why would she help Frost with anything at all, and why is Frost so interested in it. However; the case gets under Stones skin and as she concentrates on the murders at the farm she also looks into the murdered man in the reservoir.

When Stone cannot contact Frost she begins to worry. Is Frost deliberately avoiding her or has she become a victim.

Play Dead is a brilliant book. Once I started reading it I literally could not put it down.

Angela Marsons creates characters that are so real you cannot help but engage with them.

Each character in this book is there for a reason and has a some bearing on the story, although not as obvious as you might first think.

I have a feeling that Marsons has a file for each character and if we could ever read them we’d find a whole story for each.

The recurring characters of her team fit in excellently with Stones personality. The occasional characters which appear in more than one book are just as good. It seems right that a SIO should have a local reporter that is always trying to get one jump ahead and in Tracy Frost Marsons depicts this brilliantly.

Stones past is no secret. She was in the never ending circle of Social Service Children’s Homes and Foster parents. The story of her past is slowly being revealed in each book, but it doesn’t distract from the story, in fact it adds to it.

Another occasional character in the books makes a return in this one. Dr Daniel Bate is a Forensic Osteo-archeologist. He makes no bones, sorry no pun intended, of the fact he likes Stone. The awkwardness of her reaction is so realistic it almost made me blush.

Another recurring character is Dr A. This woman needs her own books. I don’t know if I’m supposed to chuckle every time she opens her mouth but I do.

One of the big stars is The Black Country. I live there. Stones Police Station is about a mile from my house. The way Angela Marsons describes the locations she uses in these books is so good I know exactly where she is talking about.

So I’m off to Find Westerley-The Body Farm, it has to be there Angela Marsons wrote about it.

I don’t do a 5 star ranking system but if I did this book would get 6.

My Conversation with Angela Marsons

 Ok, conversations a bit of a stretch, I submitted the questions through her publishers Bookouture and I have to say thank you to Kim for being the messenger. Having said that I have to say I have spoken to Angela several times via social media and she does seem like one of the nicest authors I’ve spoken to.

So what did I learn.

Q. You describe places around the Black Country very accurately. Accurate enough to be recognised by those of us that live here. But what comes first, the idea or the place. Do you think of the situation and then go and find somewhere to set it, or do you find somewhere and think that’s a great place to set the scenario?

A. The idea comes first. In my head I know the type of area I’m thinking of. For the site of Westerley I wanted it based on the outskirts of the Black Country in a semi-rural area that bordered another Police Force so I chose Wall Heath.  In Evil Games I knew the type of area that I wanted to base the final confrontation so chose an area of the canal that is close to where I live.

Q. Is there any likelihood Dr Alex Throne will make an appearance in future books. A great character and she got inside Kim Stones Head.

A. Yes, Dr Alex Thorne returns in book 5. She was such an interesting character that I had to bring her back. The scenes between Kim and Alex were some of my favourite ones to write.

Q. The care home in Rowley Regis in the first book. Was Angela aware of the home and the fire, if so what made her base her story around it.

A. Yes, I was aware of the care home.  It was very close to where I went to school but there was an air of mystery that surrounded the kids that were there. There seemed to be a general opinion they were there because they’d been bad in some way and I just didn’t believe that and it just stayed with me.

Q. You mentioned that you were aware of the care home and the rumours surrounding it. Have any local crimes influenced any of your stories if so which ones. If they haven’t would you ever research some and use the scenario for a modern investigation

A. Excellent question. I’ve not been influenced by local crimes although I have referred to some (notably Lesley Whittle).  I would like to base a book on historic crimes in the Black Country but I would probably not use recent cases to avoid causing any distress to family members.

Q. On a personal level how have you managed the transition from being employed elsewhere to becoming a full time author, and has the fact that you are now contracted to write future books put more pressure on you or taken any of the fun out of writing

A. The transition has been overwhelming and exciting. I still pinch myself every day and appreciate the fact that I now get to do something I love as my work.  Except it never feels like work because I used to do it every spare minute around a full time job anyway.  And the fun is definitely still there.  Once an idea bites my house could fall down and I wouldn’t notice and that feeling never goes away.

What do I really think of these books

I grew up in Birmingham but moved to the Black Country about 25 years ago. I live right in the middle of where Angela bases her books; in fact, Halesowen Police Station, Kim Stones base, is my local nick. If you have ever read my biography on this site you’ll know I am a Forensic Specialist and have worked with the Police on hundreds of cases and, I’m proud to say, my daughter now works with the Police in a specialist role.

I mention this, not to big myself up, but to add a bit of credence to what I say next.

These books are about as accurate as you can get in the fictional world.

The characters portrayed in the books; their professional and person relationships, their lifestyles and their interaction with each other, whether it be Police-Criminal, Police-Victim, Police-other professions, or visa-versa is very realistic.

She catches the mood of an investigation nicely. I love the way she includes the frustrations of working within guidelines, but also how DCI Stone always manages to have a foot either side of the line to get a result without a wild jump into fantasy.

I love the way that she uses real places to set her crimes, and I wouldn’t mind betting she bases her characters on people she knows or has met.

As you can see from one of the questions she used a notorious Children’s Home in Rowley Regis to set her first book. Everybody who lives by me has a story about that place, but nobody else has had the imagination to build a whole book storyline around it.

The introduction of Dr Alex Cross has given the storyline across the series an edge. Stone is not infallible, she has weaknesses and Cross is one person who can exploit them. I’m glad she’s coming back.

I think the best answer to my questions was the final one.

Angela’s obviously had a passion for her writing. I can only imagine the frustration she had writing all of these stories and having no one read them. I think I read in another blog that she used to write them and put them away in a draw. That in itself is criminal.

Somebody once told me that, “if you find a job that really interests you, you will never work another day in your life. Somebody will pay you to do your hobby” I’ve been lucky enough to experience that. Now it looks like Angela Marsons is too. Long may it last and may we have many more books to look forward to.

Just before I finish this happened this morning.

I was driving along the Grange Road in Halesowen when a large motorbike overtook me, it turned onto the Queensway and then into Laurel Lane. The driver was a young lady. It couldn’t have been, could it???????

 

Just in case you haven’t read them I’ve put links to my reviews of the previous books below

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/lost-girls-angela-marsons/

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Play Dead Angela Marsons

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Play Dead      Angela Marsons

This book firmly places Angela Marsons right at the top of the Police Crime Thriller writers.

Detective Chief Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back in another Black Country crime thriller, and just like the 3 previous books this one is stunning.

Having just broken up a paedophile ring Stone and her team are sent to Westerly, a new research facility in Wall Heath. Its location and purpose have been kept a secret from the public for good reason. The West Midlands has a Body Farm.

The trip to the Body Farm is going well until Stone manages to find a body that should not be there. A woman has been killed in a horrific manner and left amongst the other corpses.

As Stones team start to investigate the murder another victim is found at the farm but this one has miraculously survived.

What links the victims and why are they being dumped at the Body Farm.

As the investigations continue one of Kates nemesis, the local reporter Tracy Frost, approaches Stone in an attempt to solve a cold case, a murder that has happened a few years before in the neighbouring area of Brierley Hill. The fingerless dead man recovered from a local reservoir has never been identified, nor has his murder been solved.

Why should Stone get involved in a case that’s not her own, why would she help Frost with anything at all, and why is Frost so interested in it. However; the case gets under Stones skin and as she concentrates on the murders at the farm she also looks into the murdered man in the reservoir.

When Stone cannot contact Frost she begins to worry. Is Frost deliberately avoiding her or has she become a victim.

Play Dead is a brilliant book. Once I started reading it I literally could not put it down.

Angela Marsons creates characters that are so real you cannot help but engage with them.

Each character in this book is there for a reason and has a some bearing on the story, although not as obvious as you might first think.

I have a feeling that Marsons has a file for each character and if we could ever read them we’d find a whole story for each.

The recurring characters of her team fit in excellently with Stones personality. The occasional characters which appear in more than one book are just as good. It seems right that a SIO should have a local reporter that is always trying to get one jump ahead and in Tracy Frost Marsons depicts this brilliantly.

Stones past is no secret. She was in the never ending circle of Social Service Children’s Homes and Foster parents. The story of her past is slowly being revealed in each book, but it doesn’t distract from the story, in fact it adds to it.

Another occasional character in the books makes a return in this one. Dr Daniel Bate is a Forensic Osteo-archeologist. He makes no bones, sorry no pun intended, of the fact he likes Stone. The awkwardness of her reaction is so realistic it almost made me blush.

Another recurring character is Dr A. This woman needs her own books. I don’t know if I’m supposed to chuckle every time she opens her mouth but I do.

One of the big stars is The Black Country. I live there. Stones Police Station is about a mile from my house. The way Angela Marsons describes the locations she uses in these books is so good I know exactly where she is talking about.

So I’m off to Find Westerley-The Body Farm, it has to be there Angela Marsons wrote about it.

I don’t do a  5 star ranking system but if I did  this book would get 6.

Just in case you haven’t read the first 3 books in the series I’ve attached links to my reviews below.

Play Dead isn’t published till mid May so you have plenty of time to get your hands on the back catalogue and pre order Play Dead on Amazon

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/lost-girls-angela-marsons/

Lost Girls Angela Marsons

Lost Girls   Angela Marsons

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This is the latest instalment in the excellent DCI Kim Stone series. All of the previous books have been 10/10 thrillers. This is no exception as Angela Marsons ramps up the tension in her best book yet.

The story starts with a kidnapping, but this is a kidnapping where the ransom will raise moral dilemmas.

Stone is given the task of conducting the investigation into the disappearance of the two young girls who have been taken. The mother of one of the girls is Karen. Karen spent her childhood in care, moved between council run homes and foster parents. As did Stone, and they have met but have very different recollections of their previous encounters. Will this hinder the investigation?

The missing girls are good friends and so are the families. The two families are brought together in one home to wait for news, but secrets in the families are bubbling just below the surface introducing an interesting dynamic that affects both the families and the investigating team.

As the hunt for the girls gets under way it becomes apparent that whoever has the girls has carried out at least one other kidnapping, and that they like to play games.

With the arrival of a text, sent to both families, the game begins.

It is a horrible game. I thought that been the parent of a kidnapped child would be a terrible experience. It is one of the things every parent dreads every time their child leaves the house. But this game will turn each family against the other and the police. It will also turn family members against family members. This is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Can Stone and her team bring the girls home? It doesn’t help that a reporter from a local newspaper is in the middle of a feud with Stone, and seems to be on to the fact that two girls are missing, despite a press blackout.

The race against time that is a kidnap becomes accelerated by the race to solve the crime before the journalist publishes the news of the missing girls.

Marson’s main character, Stone, is backed up by her small team, each of who is a character in their own right. Although this book can be read as a stand alone to get the best out of it, get to know these characters from the start by reading the previous books in the series.

As well as her usual team Stone is given two specialist officers to help, Alison the behaviour analyst and Matt Ward the negotiator. Hopefully we will get to see more of these two characters in future books.

Stone is a Detective Inspector based in Halesowen in the West Midlands. Marsons describes the places and the people of the area brilliantly.

I loved the part of the book where Stone politely explains why she is not a Brummie. This will not mean much to most but it will endear the readers from the Black Country.

Another brilliant book from what I am proud to say, to me, is a local Author.

Killer-Lady-Writers

Things are changing, or is it just me?

Those of you who read my first blog will know a bit about my reading habits over the years, and about the types of book and the authors I read.

I honestly cannot think of a female writer whose books I read prior to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This was not out of choice, they just didn’t write what I wanted to read.

Was it a coincidence that Rowling chose to present herself as a man in the guise of Robert Galbraith, was she trying to completely disguise herself or was she trying to break into, what I thought was a male dominated genre.

People will be saying that there have been women writing detective/ mystery/ police procedural books for years. Agatha Christie being a shinning example.

But over the last 2 or 3 years has anybody else noticed the emergence of some fantastic, British, female, Crime Thriller writers, and wow do they pack a punch.

In no particular order here are some of the women I have discovered in the last year or two.

Mari Hannah

Mari writes the Kate Daniels series. She is a DI in the North East and heads up a squad in the Major Investigations Team. Her stories are gritty; the descriptions of the characters and crime scenes are second to none. The violence in some of the scenes is breath taking and there is a no holds barred approach for the reader; but its not there as a gimmick, every act helps tell the story.

As with all good series there are back-stories to the characters that are always relevant to the main story, but also flow through the series linking them all, yet they are so well written each can be read as a stand alone

If you haven’t read any of these books yet you have missed a treat.

Mari Hannah can be found on Amazon or her own web site www.marihannah.com

Marnie Riches

Marnie is the author of a series of books, only two so far but more to come, in the George McKenzie series.

When The Girl That Wouldn’t Die was released reviewer’s started to compare it favourably with Stig Larson’s Millennium series. Well that is quite something to live up to so I downloaded it to read on my holiday. I wasn’t disappointed the book starts with a bang, in more ways than one. The main character, George McKenzie is a Cambridge exchange student living in the red light district of Amsterdam. Following what appears to be a terrorist explosion in the City she teams up with a local Police Inspector. The unlikely team unravel an amazing plot which twists and turns all the way to the end.

I was lucky enough to get a pre release copy of the second book in the series, The Girl Who Broke The Rules. It was one of the best sequels I have ever read. I find that some authors struggle with the second book, but just like Mari Hannah, Marnie Riches just got even better.

In these two books Marnie Riches tackles prostitution, drug use, and the human trafficking in a no holds barred manner.

I look forward to the next The Girl Who……..book and hope this turns into a long series.

Marnie Riches can be found on Amazon and also on her own web site www.marnieriches.com

Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons has written 2 books so far in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone series.

These books are set close to home; in fact they are set exactly where I live and the surrounding area. The Police Station Kim Stone works from; Halesowen in the West Midlands is my local station. So if ever I was going to notice any flamboyant exaggerations, unrealistic events or characters it was gong to be in these books. I didn’t.

Angela depicts the places and the people of the Black Country perfectly. The crimes she uses in the stories are all too realistic, and unfortunately common. The first book Silent Scream revolves around Child abuse at a Local Authority Children’s Home. The second book Silent Scream deals with the phycology of victims and how their vulnerability can be manipulated.

Angela also uses her characters back stories to enhance the main story and in the second book manages to introduce a nemesis to throw against DI Stone that shows a vulnerability, in the Police Office, that many writers attempt but few manage to convey.

Angela Marsons can be found on Amazon and at her own web site www.angelamarsons-book.com

I have singled out 3 women here because they have written my favourite books over the last 2 years but there are others who have also written brilliantly.

I find myself reading more books written by British women now than by any others.

I think of these Killer-Lady-Writers as a new breed of writer. They manage to combine the personal side of a character with the devastation they encounter better than the men used to.

Or is it todays society, do we as readers need more blood and guts to keep us engaged, and is it just coincidence that there are a lot of female writers coming through at the moment.

Carry on ladies.

Silent Scream & Evil Games Angela Marsons

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Silent Scream & Evil Games     Angela Marsons

Two books one blog. There’s a reason for that. I read the last page of Silent Scream and immediately opened the first page of Evil Games.

I don’t like giving plots away so I’m not going to talk too much about the story line of each of these, I’ll just talk about the writing and main character.

I enjoyed these books more than most others I’ve read over the last few years. Angela Marsons has created a brilliantly complex character in Detective Inspector Kim Stone and hopefully we’ll have a few more outings with her and her team in the future.

Silent Scream introduces DI Stone in a tale centred on child abuse at a Local Authority Home. Are current day murders linked with abuse at the home? In todays society we are becoming more aware of these abuse cases and it makes the book relevant and up to date.

Stones own history mirrors that of the children who stayed at the home, and her back-story is slowly revealed as the book moves on.

The conclusion of the book is not as easy to predict as some stories of the same genre, and with twists and turn to the very end this book is a great read.

Evil Games follows on, but can be read separately, from Evil Games.

In this book Stone identifies the link between several serious crimes, including a murder. More of Stones back-story is revealed and the reader is given a greater insight into her psyche.

Along the way Stone comes into contact with her nemesis and an intellectual and psychological battle takes place that kept me enthralled right to the end of the book.

Twists and turns throughout show that Angela Marsons has a knack for complex plots without resorting to fanciful and unbelievable stories.

Angela Marsons has set these books close to where I live. Her descriptions of the places and people are perfect. It is a testament to her that at one time in the Evil Games I shouted out loud that she had something wrong, only to realise she was inventing a shop in which a suspect child abuser was working, maybe it is best to use a fictional premises in that case.

Further testament to her research skills is found in the derelict children’s home she uses in Silent Scream. It used to exist, it had a bad reputation amongst the locals, and it had a fire. I know this because I investigated it when I was still in the Fire Service.

I have a feeling that, like many other authors, Angela Marsons is only published locally.

One of the great things about e-books and companies like Amazon is it has allowed me to read books by people I would never have had access to by simply walking into my local shop.

So wherever you are in the world, get a copy of these books. Sit back and enjoy