Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner is the first instalment in the DS Manon Series. It focuses in the investigation into a missing woman, Edith Hind, and how the police are dealing with this investigation with little leads and personal circumstances. This book features a police preocedural storyline however the characters are explored and can be seen as the main focus of the book. I agree that the character development is important in this book and seeing how the different characters deal with every situation is both intriguing and engaging. I like how the book isn’t necessarily set out in chapters but rather in character based sections. Each section is from a different characters viewpoint throughout the investigation which I feel was a great way to structure this book as each characters experience is important to the way the story is portrayed.

I find that character development is one of the most important things to me when reading a book. If the characters are not realistic or explored I feel as though the book is less engaging and enjoyable and I am glad this book features good characters with depth with likable and realistic characters.

DS Manon was the most developed character and I found her very likeable as a character and police officer. I think she is a strong character and she is realistically portrayed. She has realistic qualities which is relevant and relatable. She is affected by her job whilst dealing with her own personal circumstances and relationships. She is a strong character however she does show a vulnerable side which I think also makes her relatable and likeable as a character. Davy is also a likable character and seeing him through Manon section and viewpoint was good as you could see their relationship and friendship as he can see through her hard and negative exterior.

Even although I loved this book and would totally recommend it to anyone who is interested in police procedural novels that also features great characters. I do feel as though the ending was slightly rushed and not explored in a way that gave me a satisfying conclusion. The book explores the investigation and characters a lot throughout the majority of the book which I love whilst exploring new leads and twists however I feel that the concluding sections were as if the ending was not fully developed and I was slightly confused on first reading. I personally would have preferred for the book to be slightly longer to allow for further development of the ending sections as I loved the book and feel as though another section would strengthen my opinion.

Overall, I would say that this book is excellent at providing a book that features a police procedural storyline whilst giving a character development on multiple people. I would highly recommend this book and I am excited to continue reading the further books in the series and further books by Susie Steiner.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment if you have read this series or one that heavily features police procedure and character development)

Douglas Skelton Q&A

Douglas Skelton is a Scottish crime writer who writes both fiction and non-fiction that look at the darker side of things. He is known for his Davie McCall series and the Dominic Queste books. I have previously written about his book ‘Tag – You’re Dead’ whohc I found was very enaging and enjoyable to read. His books are mainly based in Scotland and I think this makes me like them further as I am Scottish.

Douglas Skelton has kindly offered to answer a few questions which I greatly appreciate and I am thankful.

Q&A

  1. What made you become an author?

I think the yen to write was always there. I can recall at age seven or eight lying on the floor of our flat in Springburn in Glasgow, writing a crime story called ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ about the murder of a TV presenter on camera. Years later I discovered Ed McBain had made a far better job of the same idea. In school I wrote plays and in English class what they called compositions always became some kind of horror or crime story. Then, after a spotty employment career, I drifted into journalism and made stuff up for a living.

 

  1. Were you influenced by any specific author or book?

I’ve already mentioned Ed McBain. His 87th Precinct novels were – and still are – an incredible influence on my approach to storytelling. He threaded humour through his work and I do the same. He also liked dialogue and so do I. He introduced tiny little characters who sprang off the page, full-blown, and I attempt that, too. I think also his economy, he didn’t mess around, and I like that in a crime novel or thriller.

 

  1. Why did you choose to write in the crime/mystery genre?

I’ll do anything if they pay me! Seriously, I think it’s just something that’s in me. A dark side, if you like. I’m a storyteller and that kind of story attracts me. I’d also like to try my hand at a western, though.

Crime is the genre I read more than any others, beginning with Ed McBain. Horror has long since become less interesting to me. I could never get into fantasy. Sci fi was a passing fad for me. Literary novels bore me to tears (sorry, literary folk, but they do). But crime and mystery covers such a wide platform that there’s always something of interest for me.

 

  1. Regarding the Dominic Queste books, what made you decide to make the main character of Dominic Queste have a comedic/smartaspect to his personality?

I had just come off the four Davie McCall novels – Blood City, Crow Bait, Devil’s Knock and Open Wounds – and they were pretty dark. They still had humour in them, of course, but the overall tone was dark. Also, Davie was hard to write because everything about him was internal. Most of the other characters in the series thought he was one thing – tough, dangerous, not someone you’d invite to tea – but the reader knew that he was pretty vulnerable. He was taciturn to the point of being monosyllabic at times and I like dialogue. So Dominic Queste was the antidote. He runs off at the mouth, that engine is running even when his brain isn’t in gear, and it gets him into trouble. I also put a lot of myself into him. Like me, he’s a big movie fan and he listens to film scores. And not all of his jokes work. But also, it’s an extension of the traditional private eye – even though he calls himself an odd job man. Smart mouthed, often cynical, heart of mush.

 

  1. Why did you decide to set your books in Scotland?

Well, I am Scottish, simple as that. I know the place. And when I started writing non-fiction, the so-called Tartan Noir explosion hadn’t taken place. Yes, William McIlvanney had given us Laidlaw, Peter Turnbull (who is English) had created the P Division series and Ian Rankin and Val McDermid were being published but that was more or less it. When I belatedly turned to fiction, I used all I’d learned through true crime and actually investigating it for Glasgow solicitors to hopefully make it seem as real as I needed it to be. Then I threw it all out for Dominic Queste! However, my next book – The Janus Run, out in September – is set in New York. It’s a gamble.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite book that you have ever written?

Each book I write is my favourite, certainly until I start the next one. I’m proud of just about every book I’ve written (not them all, there is one I despise. It was written at a bad time in my life and it’s the only one I’ve ever done purely for cash). I do have a particular affection for the Davie McCall series, particularly ‘Open Wounds’, which was longlisted for the first McIlvanney Prize for a Scottish crime book. I’m very, very proud that it was selected. I like the mixture of darkness and light – my Celtic blood is drawn to the darkness, I think. I’d like to return to Davie’s world some day.

 

  1. What process do you go through when writing a new book? Does that differ between fiction and non-fiction?

My process for fiction is this – I have a notion, I start writing. Sometimes I see it through to the end, sometimes I lose interest and give up. I have a number of projects I’ve started and then given up. I don’t plan. I don’t work anything out in detail. I might have an idea for an ending, but not always. I usually have an opening, perhaps a couple of points I want to hit, but beyond that I simply free the rabbit and see which way it jumps.

The non-fiction was different because I was guided by the facts. Yes, I lathered a sheen of storytelling on top but in the end I knew which way things were going to go because they had already happened.

 

  1. Do you have a favourite ever author/book?

I have a lot of favourite authors – Ed McBain (surprise! Bet you didn’t see that coming), Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, John Connolly, William Goldman. There are, of course, lot of Scottish authors who are very good, too many to mention and not all of them are friends of mine (in case you wondered).

As for a favourite book, this varies. I used to say ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ but there are others, so many others, that I hold in high regard, some by the authors I mentioned above, some not.

 

  1. Do you have any recommendations on what to read in the crime/mystery genre?

Yes – anything by me. I’m wonderful. I’m kidding (no, I’m not).

I swear by the authors I’ve already mentioned but there are so many other good books out there.

My friends Caro Ramsay, Michael J. Malone, Neil Broadfoot, Theresa Talbot, Mark Leggatt, Denzil Meyrick, Mason Cross all produce fabulous work. Far too good, if you ask me. But the list goes on – Quintin Jardine, Alex Gray, Lin Anderson, Craig Robertson, Gordon ‘GJ’ Brown, TF Muir, James Oswald – all great writers. I’ll have forgotten someone, I’m sure…

 

  1. Finally, what advice do you have for aspiring writers and/or avid readers of crime fiction? Do you have any tips?

To be a writer you need a number of qualities.

Perseverance – you need to learn to keep at it, no matter what.

The ability to take criticism – I know you think your work is perfect but really, it isn’t. Listen to constructive criticism, act on it.

The ability to take advice – you don’t always know best.

The ability to roll with the punches – you’ll be rejected. Not everyone will like what you write. People will be mean, especially on line. Don’t let the latter get to you.

For readers, please remember that no one sets out to write a bad book. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, it’s just not to your taste. Also remember that authors have feelings, too. The author has been labouring with this story for upwards of a year in one way or another. By all means post a review – we not only welcome them but we need them – but please don’t be vicious. Be constructive in your criticism. Although we much prefer being told how wonderful we are.

And if you do post a review, please read the book first. I saw a review recently of a book (not one of mine) that the reviewer admitted not reading! Strange, but true.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment whether you enjoyed this blog post)

TAG – YOU’RE DEAD

By Douglas Skelton

tag youre dead

Tag- You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton is a book that surrounds the character of Dominic Queste who is a private investigator of sorts. As he is looking for a butcher by the name of Sam Price he realises that everything is much more dangerous that first thought and he is brought into a killers game. A simple favour has turned into his nightmare very quickly and he must play by the killers rules or be killed himself.

When I first started reading this book I was unsure if I was going to like it as the initial blurb didn’t necessarily catch my attention but upon reading it I have found that I in fact liked it a lot. The book is well  structures which always helps as it is laid out in short chapters. I prefer this structure when it comes to books as it shows constant progress and allows me to set goals whilst reading. The story itself is well thought out and portrayed well. The storyline has a lot of factors which you would assume to be quite a confusing read however I didn’t see this as the case. I do however feel as though the story was rushed. I didn’t get the time to fully understand the characters and be aware of their part in the book and in each others life before the action began. I would have preferred a longer book and further exploration of the characters and why the are the way they are. Even though I have said this it is the second in a series and I have read them in the wrong order due to it being a gift but I think that the character should still be explores slightly more so those who come across this book first understand more.

Although the characters were not explored in as much depth as I would have preferred  I liked the main character. Dominic Queste is someone who goes through life using jokes and smart comments to get him by. This allows humour to be present in the book which I feel is one of the reasons the book is likeable. Even although this is the case he can be serious when necessary (even if that’s very little). This comedic personality allows for his interactions with the other characters, especially with those against him and the police, to be interesting and take a serious problem within the book and a light hearted aspect. The character has been written well and this allows him to be likable.

Overall, I would recommend this book to people who enjoy crime novels and to those who would like to start reading this genre as although there are serious events and deaths there is a comedic aspect within the characters which allows for a good balance. I enjoyed this book and would love to read another book by this author as I feel it is well written and well structured.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment if you have read this book or one similar)

Re-Design of Little Red Riding Hood Book Cover

As part of my higher art course at high school I decided to reinvent a book cover as part of my design folio. I choose Red Riding Hood as it is a classic book that is aimed at children and I wanted this opportunity to adapt it for an older audience adding a more sinister atmosphere.

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Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment which book cover you would like to redesign)

My Birthday Gifts

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As it as my birthday recently I was lucky to receive a number of gifts, many book related so I thought I would share them. I got 3 books, two gift cards and a piece of artwork.

Warlord by Chris Ryan

warlordWarlord by Chris Ryan is the 5th instalment in the Danny Black thriller series and is based around the dangerous world of drugs and cartels. Set on the US-Mexico border it looks at how the CIA and SAS will combat the drug epidemic and the cartels that are running it. Whilst doing this however Danny realises that the drugs from these cartels can reach far and will discover that people close to him are affected by them also. I have yet to start reading this book however I am excited to as it seems like something I would be interested in.

 

TAG- You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton

tag youre deadTag- You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton is a book that surrounds the character of Dominic Queste who is a private investigator of sorts. As he is looking for a butcher by the name of Sam Price he realises that everything is much more dangerous that first tgought and he is brought into a killers game. A simple favour has turned into his nightmare very quickly and he must play by the killers rules or be killed himself.  I have began to read this book and so far I am enjoying it and love the way it is written. I like the main character as although he can be series there is a comedic aspect to him which is likeable.

 

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner follows the disappearance of a girl by the name of Edith Hind. It is written from the viewpoint of multiple characters which allows you further insight into what everyone is dealing with. With the lead detective aware of how critical the first 72 hours of a disappearance is she works to try to find Edith alive whilst facing the severe pressure from the press. I have also yet to read this book but I look forward to delving into it.

 

Gift cards

img_20180615_1253203695135610765223753.jpgAs part of my birthday I also received two gift cards, one for Waterstone’s and the other a national book tokens card. I loved these gifts as it allows you to enjoy whatever book you choose as you have the choice of the book shop. I will get the chance to go look and explore knowing that someone gave this to be as a gift. I think gift cards are always a good choice for any gift and for anywhere as it shows that you are thoughtful to buy a gift but allows them to choose something they would like and not something you think they will like.

Artwork by Stevie Spiers

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This image is part of his ‘My Little People’ series and is a photograph I immediately fell in love with. I believe it suits me very well as I love to read and my favourite books to read and murder mysteries and crime books. I was given this by my sister and I love it. I would highly recommend visiting www.steviespiersphotography.com to look at this series and it is both comedic and tasteful.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please comment what books related-gifts you have ever received)

Le Petit Prince

As part of my advanced higher French course I had to study Le Petit Prince which is a short novel written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It was first published in 1943 and has since been translated and published into more than 250 languages and dialects. It is very well known all across the globe and it has become one of the bestselling books ever published.
It is a riveting story about a pilot stranded in the Sahara desert. After crashing, he meets a young boy from asteroid B-612, who tells him about his adventures. This story has captured the minds of all ages from all over the world with its inspiring messages and enchanting story. It deals with themes such as friendship and love and explores them throughout.

This book is said to have been based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences. The plane crash of the aviators at the beginning of the novel mirrors Saint-Exupéry own experience, as in1935 Saint-Exupéry crashed in the Sahara desert alongside his mechanic-navigator after 19 hours in the air. He quickly became severely dehydrated due to the heat and his lack of water and he was said to have hallucinated many things including a Fennec fox, which has many similarities with the illustrations of le renard in the book. The rose also is said to have links to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s own life. It is said to represent his wife, Consuelo Suncin, who wrote a memoir about their relationship, titled the Tale of the Rose published after Saint-Exupéry’s disappearance in 1944. It is believed that Saint-Exupéry drew inspiration for the prince off of his self when he was younger as his family would call him Le Roi-Soleil (the sun king) due to his golden curly hair, similar to the Prince’s.

It is a book that explored the themes of love and friendship throughout and often the words have deeper meaning than first thought. Due to this it can be enjoyed by people of all ages even although it is intended to be more of a children’s book. As part of the course I had to analyze the book and due to this I got to look into the deeper meanings of the book and see how powerful it really is.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has written a book that explored powerful themes whilst being a great story and has managed to create a children’s book that is actually suitable for all ages. He has written a story that seems regular on the surface but once you look deeper it is so much nore. I highly recommend taking the time to read this book and take the time to explore the themes as there is more than just love and friendship.

Many thanks, Caitlin x

(PS please feel free to comment your opinion on this book or one similar)