COVER REVEAL: A LINE OF BLOOD by Ben McPherson

Category: Uncategorized

 

Today we are revealing the final cover of A LINE OF BLOOD, hitting the shops on March 26th in glorious hardback (and the digital world in glorious ebook). It is a chilling psychological thriller about family – the ties that bind us, and the lies that destroy us, perfect for fans of GONE GIRL.

 

You find your neighbour dead in his bath.

Your son is with you. He sees everything.

 

You discover your wife has been in the man’s house.

It seems she knew him.

 

Now the police need to speak to you.

 

One night turns Alex Mercer’s life upside down. He loves his family and he wants to protect them, but there is too much he doesn’t know.

 

He doesn’t know how the cracks in his and Millicent’s marriage have affected their son, Max. Or how Millicent’s bracelet came to be under the neighbour’s bed. He doesn’t know how to be a father to Max when his own world is shattering into pieces.

 

Then the murder investigation begins…

 

Pre-order the hardback here: http://ow.ly/HWZjy

Follow author Ben McPherson on twitter here: https://twitter.com/thebenmcpherson

And let us know what you thought on #LineofBlood

 

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Inspiration for The Apostle- J. A. Kerley

Category: Uncategorized

God Translators: Inspiration for The Apostle

The apostle packshot

It was 1978. I was down with the flu, sneezing into tissues and – my brain liquified by viral entities – watching daytime soaps. A news bulletin arrived, saying California Congressman Leo Ryan had just been viciously murdered in Jonestown, Guyana, there to investigate human-rights abuses at ‘The People’s Temple’, the home of a religious sect headed by the Reverend Jim Jones.

After his special squad of enforcers – the ‘Red Brigade’ – killed Ryan and four others, Reverend Jones convinced over 900 loyal followers to commit suicide by drinking cyanide, over 300 of them children. Those demurring were forced to drink the poison.

Homebound, I had little to do but fixate on the unfolding story over the next few days, fascinated that so many human beings had traded their freedom – and ultimately their lives – for  a self-professed ‘Man of God’ who was clearly unbalanced, paranoiac and violent, particularly toward the final days of his tragic journey.

Fast-forward to 2005: I’m pulling out of Jackson, Mississippi, and heading home to Kentucky. It’s Sunday morning in the Deep South and a cultural requisite to tune to hellfire-and-brimstone fundamentalist radio. I happened upon a preacher adamant about a passage in the Bible ‘that God wants you to understand, needs you to understand.’ It’s further explained that the true meaning of God’s crucial communiqué is available from the preacher for ‘only forty dollars’.

The salesman of this revelation was the infamous Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, a pentecostal preacher and televangelist disgraced by sex-related scandals in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It seemed that the omnipotent creator of time and space and vast whirling galaxies couldn’t communicate in plain language and had to rely on translation by a defrocked minister.

It’s religibiquitous: Jim Bakker’s sexual and financial pecadilloes paved the way for his fall from grace, yet he’s currently begging for money in the name of The Almighty. Benny Hinn has been exposed for false healings and a lavish lifestyle, yet retains a broad following and reaps millions annually. And let’s not forget Oral Roberts, who blubbered to his tele-congregation that unless they donated a fast eight million bills to his ministry, God would kill him.

The money poured in.

The newest wrinkle in religio-fundraising is the’“Prosperity Gospel’, a premise holding that Jesus’s caring for the poor was overblown and what Christ truly wanted was everyone materially rich beyond measure. You board this high-yield glory train by giving money that will – through faith – return a hundredfold.

But, of course, the prosperity preacher gets his palm fed first.

The above events and ideas share a commonality: Their practitioners misinterpret religious texts and dogma to benefit their causes, then convince others to buy into the lies. It’s con artistry, pure and simple. And sometimes with disastrous consequences.

These concepts and consequences have been tumbling in my head since I was captive to the flu and beholding the Jonestown horror, finally emerging as The Apostle. The story details grim happenings and heroic ones, and – as in any enterprise where larcenous religionists necessarily lie to themselves – some amusing ones.

The Apostle is not anti-religion. It’s anti-hypocrite, anti-charlatan, anti-lunatic. And to help lead the charge against false idols, Harry Nautilus has returned to the fold, Carson’s right-hand, left-hand, hand-you-never-knew-you-had-nor-needed man.

Brother Harry’s singing in the choir once again.

Halle-freaking-lujah!

Get your copy now http://bit.ly/1r29pHX

Sophie Hannah talks about Agatha Christie’s influence on her writing

Category: Book club

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This month’s Killer Reads Book of the Month is the first Poirot mystery, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES.

You can join the debate on GoodReads here: http://bit.ly/1wWAv3F

When my agent first suggested to me that I ought to write a new Hercule Poirot novel for Agatha Christie’s publishers, I knew two things straight away: that this might be the most exciting creative challenge I could ever undertake, and that I would not want to write a continuation novel for any other writer, not even one that I loved.  I’ve always been a huge fan of Iris Murdoch, for example, but to try to write a novel featuring one of her characters wouldn’t have worked for me at all.  It would have been too contrived.  I’d have felt like an actor playing one half of a pantomime horse, out of synch with the other half and in an ill-fitting costume.

The idea of writing a Poirot novel did not feel like that at all – which, if you think about it, is rather odd.  Why didn’t it?  Why did it feel so natural and possible?  I think it’s because Agatha Christie’s influence is such an integral part of my writerly DNA, and always has been.  She was my main influence, and the writer who made me fall in love with mysteries.  I discovered her early – at twelve – and I’d read every word she’d published by the time I was fourteen.  I was hooked.  And a pattern had been firmly set up in my mind, the blueprint for what I believed an ideal detective story ought to be: an intriguing, structurally ambitious mystery – far more interesting and puzzling than simply ‘Here’s a corpse – who killed it?’; a super-clever detective who reliably and brilliantly solves every last puzzle at the end; an abundance of clues, indecipherable when we first encounter them, but making perfect sense once we’ve heard the detective’s explanation; the apparently impossible being shown to be possible; the combination of a fun, hooky read with psychological insight and an awareness of the depths of darkness in every human psyche.

When I set out to write crime fiction, I didn’t think to myself, ‘I’m going to model myself on Agatha Christie’ or ‘I am going to be a crime writer in the Christie tradition’.  Nevertheless, the Queen of Crime’s example must have been strong in my mind, because I wrote mystery novel after mystery novel that opened with what I thought of as ‘an Agatha-ish beginning’.  What I meant by this was: something so puzzling appears to be happening that readers cannot begin to speculate what might be going on, and fear that the only way the idea can be made to work is by resorting to the supernatural.  So, in my novel The Dead Lie Down (which is called The Other Half Lives in England), a man confesses to the murder of a woman who isn’t dead.  No matter how hard the police try to convince him that he can’t possibly have killed her because, look, there she is, alive and well and claiming never to have heard of him, this man continues to insist that she can’t possibly be still alive, because he killed her – yes, that very same woman – several years earlier.  My novel Kind of Cruel starts with a woman arrested for murder because she uttered the words ‘Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel’ in a confidential hypnotherapy session and those same words were the only clue found at the scene of a brutal murder – but how could detectives have known that the heroine said these words to her therapist in a private therapy session overheard by nobody?

The trick is to show, slowly and logically, how what appears to be impossible is in fact eminently possible.  Agatha Christie pulls it off brilliantly in Sleeping Murder, Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, Sparkling Cyanide and many other of her novels, and I try to do it in the crime fiction that I write.  I didn’t realise until I was asked to write a new Hercule Poirot novel that, from my very first attempt at crime fiction when I was a teenager, I had been trying to write like Agatha Christie in so many ways.  Being asked to do so openly and officially, and taking up that challenge, felt like a sort of literary coming out of the closet – a closet full of old paperback editions of Agatha Christie novels, the ones I collected as a teenager.  After coming out of it, I wanted to crawl back in and reread all those wonderful books!

Follow Christie on @queenofcrime and Sophie @sophiehannahCB1