The Opticians wife

The Opticians wife written by Betsey Freeman Reavley is published by Bloodhound books, a publisher who you should really check out if you’re a fan of crime, I’ve read a few books published by Bloodhound and they are all enjoyable reads.

The Opticians wife is the second book I’ve read of Betsey’s and definitely my favourite of hers, the main character in the Story is Deborah a seemingly very shy retiring frumpy sort of girl who is pursued by the handsome Larry, she blossoms with Larry but you feel that he is very controlling. At times this novel feels very much like the Widow, a wife under the spell of a domineering husband is complicit in his crimes and you wonder how much if anything she knew or was involved in.

But much like Betsey’s other book it goes deeper than that and it is one of the things I love not only about this book but about a lot of the Bloodhound books. My favourite thing in a book is believable and well developed characters, the scary monsters in a novel are the people you wouldn’t give a second glance on the street and I feel like the characters in this novel are brought to life extremely well and to some extent deliver this. There are really clearly defined shades of grey to all the characters in this novel and they all feel very real because of that.

This is both a psychological thriller and a really great example of Domestic Noir, Although a lot of crime happens it doesn’t seem to be the main feature of the novel, the focus is more on the relationship between Deborah and Larry. I love this type of crime story as it focusses clearly on the interplay between characters and the reasons they have for doing the horrible things they do. This is a clear 5* read for me and I will be looking out for more of Betsey’s book I’m sure they won’t disappoint.


Top Crime Graphic Novels

I thought I should put out a blog post in honour of being nominated for a blog award, please vote for reading confessions here ( ). People who love to read often want to try a graphic novel but don’t know where to start and so they go for the most well known or obvious ones but just like any other books, there are some true gems out there that you might not have heard of. So I have compiled a list of the 10 best crime based graphic novels I have read (in no particular order), this list is not all encompassing, if I haven’t read it the book hasn’t made the list so if you think I’ve missed something amazing let me know in the comments below cos I’m always looking for new recommendations. I have tried to stay away from the more superhero/paranormal crime stories, but some may have snuck in anyway.

So without further ado lets get started:

1 And although I said no particular order possibly my favourite – Burke and Hare by Martin Conaghan and Will Pickering – This is a meticulously well researched graphic novel that tells the history of Burke and Hare the famous serial killers. The art work in this is beautiful and it covers the history well, if you are fascinated in true crime it’s a great read. The other reason this hits favourite status for me is because one of my ancestors was hung in the same place  as one of these gentlemen, for being a cross dressing highwayman.

2. Doubt – the first Manga on here, and this one is nominated by the husband, this is crime in the style of ‘and then there were none’. A series of novels about some young people abducted after they meet up to discuss their shared love of a game called rabbit doubt, and locked into a building where every few hours they have to make a decision about which member of the group should die, all members of the group have committed some wrongs in the past, this is full of tension and drama, a must read for fans of thrillers.

3. From Hell – Possibly the most famous graphic novel to grace this list and unusual in the fact that I am recommending a comic by Alan Moore. But this graphic retelling of the Jack the Ripper story which looks into the known evidence and suspects is a fantastic book. Again this is one for fans of true crime, it comes with extensive notes in the back about the killings and is named for the infamous notes the killer sent the police. Again the art work evokes the atmosphere of the time brilliantly.

4. A Treasury of victorian murder by Rick Geary – The book that made me dream up this blog, these are fantastic cheap little true crime graphic novels, he has written a number of them including the story of the Lindbergh baby amongst others. Completely black and white illustrations that are simply drawn bring to mind the illustrated non fiction books of childhood. These are good ways to discover some lesser known historical crimes if you are doing a little bit of research.

5. Road Rage by Stephen King and Joe Hill – A unique take by this father son collaboration that pays tribute to Richard Matheson’s work Duel about crime on the open road. Featuring Biker gangs and a mysterious truck that runs them down.  I am a big fan of Joe hill and this is one of the first things he wrote, revisited much later, From two master writers, you can’t go far wrong with this book.

6. Coward (Criminal Series)  – A whole series of different crime books starts with Coward a interesting take on a heist story and possibly the truest fictional graphic crime story on this list. With a distinctly Noirish feel this is a great read, quite short and accessible but there are a number of volumes so be warned only start this if you don’t mind a series.

7. HellBlazer – Ok this is paranormal crime, A whole series of graphic novels featuring John Constantine the original paranormal investigation, this has a nihilistic edge. With the main character being a chain smoking alcoholic con merchant who has in the past conned demons. Although he has found east end gangsters scarier than demons from Hell. A series that has had some incredible crime writers, produce some guest stories this is a fantastic read. I’m a big fan of Dark Entries (link below) Ian Rankins take on the constantine saga.

8. Punisher (Garth Ennis) – A more well known character again now following his guest appearance on Daredevil. Garth Ennis’s take on Punisher features some Dark humour and what you have come to expect from the Punisher, Horrible things happening to horrible people. This is again very much for people who like Vigilante style stories or who are big fans of thrillers. I love the character of the punisher as he brings up lots of talking points as a character, possibly a good book group read too.

9. Prophecy – The second manga on the list features Tokyo police’s high tech division dealing with a Media Savvy criminal who sends messages over the internet telling them crimes will happen at a certain location on a certain day. This is a great police procedural novel that retains a good pace throughout. Definitely ones for fans of the Bridge.

10.  Sherlock Bones. A Little light relief with the last book on the list. This is another Manga and my favourite version of some of the sherlock holmes stories. It features Sherlock holmes reincarnated as a dog in modern day japan, he is adopted by a young boy whose name sounds like Watson and when sherlock bones has a pipe in his mouth the pair can communicate. Lots of fun shenanigans ensue, this is a book for young and old alike.

All amazon links have been included in case you want to check any of the books out. Below are some honourable mentions that didn’t quite make the top 10. Mr Reading confessions recommends 100 bullets, a story about a mysterious man giving people the chance to take revenge on those who wronged them.

I also recommend checking out, A history of violence (very bloodthirsty but an excellent high octane read) and the comic version of Sin city perfect for fans of Noir fiction, and Liars Kiss another great noir detective story.







Interview with Maggie James

I had the great good fortune to Interview Maggie James author of some truly amazing Psychological thrillers, if you haven’t read them yet I recommend starting with Blackwater lake a free download. For her interesting answers to my strange questions keep reading:

On average, how many times a week do you hurt yourself trying to dance in the shower?

Lots of my showers take place at my gym and I think I’d scare anyone off if I danced in there! The flailing shower curtains might frighten those of a nervous disposition, which wouldn’t be good for business. I guess I do a sort of dance if the water comes out cold, which it does if nobody’s used that cubicle for a while. Perhaps I should try a quick rumba or salsa the next time I go, and report back! The only problem would be how to sneak a male partner into the female changing rooms…

What is your inspiration to write?

It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m very goal-orientated, which drives me forward. My aim is, to quote a well-worn phrase, is to live the breadth of my life as well as the length of it. When I die, I want to know I’ve fully explored my urge to create novels, done the very best I can, given that I procrastinated for decades about writing. There are lots of things I still want to accomplish with my fiction career, and it’s great to work at something where I don’t have to retire at a certain age!

Another inspiration is the wonderful writer friends I’m making. They motivate me to be the best I can be, and with any luck I can do the same for them.

What’s the most money you’ve ever drunkenly spent at McDonald’s? 

McDonald’s isn’t somewhere I’d visit, but I love eating out! Indian food is my favourite; I’ve been hooked since my first curry. Bristol has a great restaurant scene, with more exciting new venues to explore all the time. As for money, I’m happy to pay for great food and service, so the sky’s the limit!

Do you get complaints when singing in the shower.? 

I’d get complaints about my singing wherever I did it! I lack musical talent and my singing, should I be daft enough to croon a tune, would clear a room in two seconds. Yes, it’s that bad. I could give any of those deluded hopefuls in the first round of The X Factor a run for their money. A friend once told me, ‘Maggie, when you sing, you find a note you like and then you stick with it.’ The problem is I haven’t a clue what note that is, or even how I found it. Believe me, the world is better off if I don’t sing!

Who would you let punch you directly in the face? and why? 

Nobody human, that’s for sure! I adore anything with four legs, though, and I find it cute how cats often wake their humans with a gentle right hook to the jaw when they want their breakfast. Often at an ungodly hour, of course. (I am not a morning person!) Still, they’re so cute I don’t care. The only downside of loving to travel is that it means having a furry friend of my own isn’t feasible.

How old were you when you realised Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny probably never actually knew one another in real life? Did you feel cheated? 

Well, I never believed in Santa Claus anyway, so the Easter Bunny never stood a chance. Being very left-brained and logical even as a child, my childhood self realised that the notion of someone flying around the world in one night, reaching all the children whilst squeezing himself down chimneys, had to be a fabrication. My realisation was helped by the fact that Santa’s favourite drink and snack (wine and a mince pie) also happened to be something my father was partial to. Add to that every Christmas I woke up and caught Dad in the act of present giving, and poor old Santa didn’t stand a chance!

What drives you to continue writing.? 

I love writing and can’t think of a better job. Ever since I was a little girl, it’s all I’ve ever dreamed of doing. I love connecting with my loyal readers and spinning stories for them to read. Not many things can make me forget to eat, but writing’s one of them. Although that doesn’t often happen – I’m very much a foodie! I may diversify from pure writing into related areas in the future, but my focus will, I believe, remain on being a novelist.

How many bottles of wine have you finished without ever actually pouring any of the wine into a glass? 

None – I have always been hopeless with alcohol! I only need to sniff it before falling over drunk. There’s no way I could ever finish a bottle of wine by myself; I struggle to drink more than half a glass. A far cry from the stereotypical picture of a writer being a tortured soul who creates works of genius fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol!

Funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a job: ? 

Now that’s a tough one – I worked as an accountant for nearly three decades, and not many funny things happen in that profession! Now I’m a writer, I can’t think of anything specific either. Perhaps a rib-tickling moment will hit me today, who knows?

When will we be seeing another book from you?

I’m working on two books at present, both of which should be released during 2016. My publisher, Lake Union, will be republishing His Kidnapper’s Shoes, and to that end I’m working with one of their editing team to make the book as good as possible. This was my first novel, so it’s dear to my heart!  They will also be publishing the book I’m currently writing, Burning Obsession. That one needs a lot more work before it’s ready for my editor, but I’m getting there! I’m incredibly fortunate in being able to write full-time, which helps, although I always wish I could write faster. For me, though, it’s quite an intense process, and I need regular time off to recharge my creative juices.



My Author of the Month

For a well written gritty read based in the North of England you cannot go far wrong with Robin Roughley, my Author of the month.

I came across these books through a word of mouth recommendation and am 2 books into the series so far. The first the Needle house introduces us to DS Lasser an old fashioned cop, who works in Wigan, as he attempts to solve some quite gruesome murders. The first has a fantastic connection back to the history of the area and looks in depth at the affects of both wealthy and underprivileged dysfunctional families. What I liked about the first novel is the understanding view of some of the disaffected young people, who had real motivations for their choices of behaviour.

The second one, Introduces us to the character of Plymouth who is a recurring character in the Series. Plymouth is a career assassin who works for a particularly nasty drug dealer. However as bad as Plymouth is, he’s also really likeable due to his extreme moral code and he provides for some really memorable moments in the stories. This is a true sign of Robin’s talent as a writer, all the characters have real depth and are truly believable and like all the best writers the characters develop over the series of books, so that returning to one of the books feels like returning to old friends.

This is a new feature for me on the blog but I couldn’t think of a better author to start it with, One of my favourite things in a book is a well written novel with well developed believable characters and Robin’s books really deliver that. If you haven’t discovered him I thoroughly recommend downloading or buying the first one its called Needle house and the Amazon link is below.