Last week this book was doing well on the Amazon bestseller lists particularly in the "Horror" category and was being discussed in an on-line forum that I visit from time to time. I read the free sample on the Amazon site and thought I would give it a go even though I don't often read horror. In fact I can only think of Stephen King, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker as authors of horror novels I've ever read unless you count Daphne Du Maurier The Birds and Don't Look Now which I think are really scary.
On balance The Cupboard Under the Stairs is just as much a psychological crime thriller as a horror story. That's not to say that there isn't some horrible, gory crime in this novel and some seriously spooky carved wooden figures; and you're left with a couple of loose ends that might have a psychological explanation but then again ….. who knows? Harry Tompkin the central character is a loner and social mis-fit but also a brilliant woodcarver. Unfortunately when his latest creation is finished, things begin to go seriously wrong. DI Jack Hogg and DS Peter Edwards are called in to sort out the mess and they are in a race against time to get the situation under control.
Author Roger Knowles has put together a well constructed murder thriller. His police detective characters are plausible and you are sympathetic to the challenges of their task; his evil protagonist is mad, bad and dangerous but incredibly sad and that is my remaining thought - how very sad. I don't want to spoil the ending but it could be that it's not sad at all - just seriously scary.
I was interested by the book cover that Roger Knowles has used for this novel. He has gone 100% against the prevailing wisdom that an artwork book cover is an essential selling point: this is just chalk board with school teacher handwriting of title and author's name. That's all there is. I belong to the generation that spent its formative years looking at the spines of books in libraries and book shops - long before the use of display tables - just the odd display board with metal holders for a handful of front facing books. Therefore I'm not particularly bothered about cover art and am far more influenced when choosing books by an intriguing or catchy title, the familiarity of the author and the blurb. So it was interesting to see that a book without cover artwork could do so well.
The author is donating part of the proceeds of the sales of this book to the UK Chronic Fatigue Syndrome charity which has a web site at http://www.chronicfatiguesyndrome.me.uk/ I enjoyed reading The Cupboard Under the Stairs which is still doing well on the Amazon bestseller ranking and at the moment is 10th in the Fiction / Thriller / Horror category.
I was talking to a couple of people yesterday who were interested in reading Michael's novel but they didn't have a Kindle. They had no idea that you can download a free Kindle app from amazon to use on a PC, ipad, ipod, android etc. Also they didn't know that in the Kindle store on the amazon site you can read a free sample of whatever book you're interested in before you decide to download it. So in the event that anyone reading this blog didn't know either here is the link:
The main character in the Ganesha Keystone is Fran, a twenty something young woman with an interesting family heritage that she decides to explore while on her holiday in India. She meets Lili, an old friend of her Indian grandfather, who in re-counting her life story to Fran explains the circumstances of Fran's family history too. As Fran listens to Lili's story of love, loss and hope she starts to reflect on her own life and questions exactly what love means. I really enjoyed reading this novel which I downloaded as a freebie several weeks ago. The main characters are well developed and as the story unfolds you feel that you are really getting to know them. Not wishing in any way to spoil the story but author Laurie Maitland has created in Fran's boyfriend Simon one of the most obnoxious male characters I have met in a novel for quite a while. The juxtaposition of Lili's story, which is set mainly in the 1940's, with Fran's contemporary life of work, family, friends and Simon produces an interesting tale with plenty of variety and contrast. I thought the writing was strongest in Lili's voice where at times it was sad and emotional and at other times, feisty and direct. Never having visited India myself, I thought the travelogue writing contained some interesting descriptions and explanations about Indian history, life and culture from a tourist perspective that enhanced the novel and made Lili's story more plausible. In a few places there is a need for further proof reading and checking of punctuation but this doesn't in any way spoil the story or detract from one's enjoyment of it. The Ganesha Keystone is a light, easy to read novel that would be ideal for a holiday read whether in India or any other destination. Author Laurie Maitland has also published "Hailstones in May" which sounds like another unusual story and I am looking forward to reading it when time allows.
A few weeks ago I read Nihilist 5.0 by this author and found it made interesting reading so when I saw MachineWash Warm, Tumble Dry available for free I didn't hesitate to download it. Although similar in tone and content to Nihilist 5.0 I thought this was a much better book: the story was more controlled, the characterisation more rounded and the writing style more focussed and precise. The novel is once again set in L.A and the protagonist is a "20-something nerd named Leonard" who has an interest in making his fantasy life a reality. However unlike Nihilist 5.0, this fantasy life doesn't overwhelm the novel and it is written about in a lively and often very funny style. The novel explores the dark and depressing side of life but Leonard is an endearing character despite his excessive need to indulge his sexual fantasies as he yearns for romance and true love. Subsidiary characters are well developed and although they are in the novel for a serious purpose, at times they are hilarious. Some of the name-calling may cause offense but what appears at times to challenge political correctness is, I think, being used to make points about society at large. The author is cynical about contemporary life and its effect on the mass of the population but this novel is less bleak than Nihilist 5.0 and might even be pointing towards a happier ending than that experienced by Frank. Overall MachineWash Warm, Tumble Dry is well written, entertaining, provocative and relevant. I enjoyed reading this ebook and having now had two of GP Grewal's novels as freebies decided to complete the set and pay for the third one.
I read this novel a few months ago but read it again recently and enjoyed it even more than I did the first time. I was really pleased when author CK Collins agreed to an author interview (see below).
The Godling: A Novel of Masalay is a well crafted and highly readable novel which presents two stories that gradually come together in a powerful and moving climax. The Godling is a fantastic story that is beautifully written; an absorbing, multi-layered, page-turning novel which is hard to put down with a supporting web-site that enhances and extends the reading experience.
I think a lot of the time, novels get written because there’s a story the author really wants to read but no one else has written it yet. Obviously, the story of carrying a divine child has been done once or twice. But not in a manner that really interested me. I wanted it to be mysterious and sensual and told in a textured, realistic way. The image I had was of a completely ordinary woman – not radiant, not special, not pure; just a normal human being – and she’s all alone and trying to make sense of these overwhelming things. I wanted to know what it would be like, and I wanted to know what would happen to her. But no one had written the story, so I had to write it myself.
I've always enjoyed reading crime novels with strong police detective characters and over the years have read a good few Inspector Morse, Jack Frost and Rebus novels. More recently I've read a couple of Anne Cleeves' DCI Vera Stanhopeand Laura Wilson's Inspector Stratton novels and enjoyed reading them all. I first encountered Linda Gruchy's DI Hedley and DS Connor in her short story Burden of Proof which gives some of the background to these characters and I was looking forward to reading her full length novel Death in Spigg's Wood featuring this detective team.