Day One – All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda

all_missing_girls_e_cards15-replacement

all-the-missing-girls-cover

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

So, here we are. Day 1 of the upside-down blog tour for All The Missing Girls. It’s a very… unusual book. The story is told in reverse, starting at the end then skipping backwards a day at a time. It reminded me a little of the film Memento (which, if you’ve not seen it, is awesome – go check it out!) which has a similar structure – you follow the events of the moment, but then jump back to what happened before and get a whole new spin on what you’ve just experienced, shedding a new glimmer of light onto the unfolding mystery of what happened to Corinne and her friends on that fateful night so long ago.

It’s a small town thriller with a splendid cast of characters. Everyone thinks they know everyone else, and it’s only when an outsider comes along that things start to unravel. I’m a huge fan of books with a great sense of place, and Megan has captured the claustrophobic small-town America perfectly.

This is a book which absolutely demands that you pay attention – more than once I had to skip back a chapter (but forwards in time) to double check what had happened to a person or a thing – had she spoken to that person? What did she say again? Did she still have that item at that point? It’s meticulously organised and beautifully constructed. If you like your crime dark and twisty, this one is most definitely for you. Highly recommended.

Follow @MeganLMiranda on Twitter
or at her website meganmiranda.com. All The Missing Girls is published by Corvus and is out now.

ecard_blog_tour_v7-replaceent

Behind the Book – a guest post by Wendy Walker

Today I’m delighted to host a guest post by Wendy Walker, author of All is Not Forgotten. Today Wendy talks about what went into the writing of her book.

Without further ado, over to Wendy.
~~~~~

As a writer, I’m always looking for real life events that would make a good story. Back in 2010, I came across an article in the New York Times about the use of morphine to treat PTSD, and how its use might spread from soldiers wounded in the field to victims of other traumas, like rape. When I finally decided to use this in a novel, I knew it would make an intriguing psychological thriller.

I wrote All is Not Forgotten in the spring of 2015, and by that time the research into memory reconsolidation had exploded. At the core of this research was the finding that memories are like files on a computer – they can be recalled and then altered, or perhaps even erased entirely.

Now, a range of PTSD therapies are being developed which utilize this new understanding about how memory works. Within the first few hours after an event, drugs can be administered to try and block the memory entirely. By interrupting the stabilization process which turns a short term memory into a long term memory, the short term memory can (possibly) be erased. Alternatively, pain medication like morphine or propofol can be administered so the emotional attachment to the memory is lessened. Theoretically, a victim could remember the event but not have any emotional reaction. For victims whose traumas have already been stabilized into long term memory, the same treatments are given in an attempt to reconsolidate that memory either factually, or by lessening the emotional attachment. As the person recalls the painful memory, the drug or other method is used so that the memory becomes altered before it is re-filed – just like changing a computer file before hitting the save button.

When I thought about using this in a novel, I was drawn not only to the science, but to the moral and legal implications if these treatments were to be used on victims of crime. The choice between justice and emotional pain, for example, fascinated me. I also wondered about the ability to truly erase the emotional implications of a traumatic event. As a mother, I had come across information about brain development in children and how early traumas can cause lasting emotional issues even if the child had no factual memory of a painful event (because the brain was not mature enough to store the memory). In those cases, the child can have unusual fears or phobias that do not have any causal relationship to the triggers. That made me wonder – even if we can pull out a painful memory, uncouple it from the emotional element and then return it to storage, does that emotional element really go away? Or does it live inside us, looking for a home, and provoking us at times or for reasons that make no logical sense?

Combining all of these theories and questions, I came up with the story of Jenny Kramer.

There can be no doubt that the next decade will bring groundbreaking changes to the way we see our memories, and the treatments available for PTSD, addiction and other disorders like anxiety and OCD. And like most scientific advancements, we will be faced with the legal and moral implications that arise.

When I tell people about this story, I always go back to the question that was in my mind back in 2010 – what would I choose, for myself or a loved one? Would I choose to remember? Or would I choose to forget?

All-is-not-Forgotten

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

All is Not Forgotten is published by @HQStories on 12th July. You can also read a review by Gordon over at Grab This Book.

The 3rd Woman – Jonathan Freedland

The 3rd Woman - paperback cover

SHE CAN’T SAVE HER SISTER

Journalist Madison Webb is obsessed with exposing lies and corruption. But she never thought she would be investigating her own sister’s murder.

SHE CAN’T TRUST THE POLICE

Madison refuses to accept the official line that Abigail’s death was an isolated crime. She uncovers evidence that suggests Abi was the third victim in a series of killings hushed up as part of a major conspiracy.

SHE CAN EXPOSE THE TRUTH

In a United States that now bows to the People’s Republic of China, corruption is rife – the government dictates what the ‘truth’ is. With her life on the line, Madison must give up her quest for justice, or face the consequences…

This is Jonathan Freedland’s first novel published under his real name, having already had a successful career with five novels under his pen-name of Sam Bourne.

The 3rd Woman has a fascinating premise, the familiarity of the backdrop of LA jarringly set against the premise that Beijing has taken control after America has defaulted on its national debt. Part crime thriller whodunnit, part political conspiracy, the story plays out under a confident hand, tautly plotted and rattles along to be devoured in a couple of sittings. The plot twists and turns in a most satisfactory manner as truths are revealed and Madison digs deeper into her sister’s murder, which turns out to not be the first…

Madison Webb is a fantastic, well-realised heroine and feels fully fleshed-out, as does the family dynamic between her and her sisters. I loved her sheer bloody mindedness in getting to the truth behind her sister’s murder, going up against some seriously heavy hitters. There’s a real sense of danger and peril as Madison upsets the wrong people, with unpleasant consequences.

It’s crying out to made into a movie. The Chinese-dominated smoggy LA would make a brilliant backdrop to a series… Netflix, are you listening?

Now, who would play Madison…

Here’s an extract from chapter 7:

~~~~

Leo could see the mayor was on his last question. Quick check of the phone before take-off. He scrolled through his messages. One from an old friend.

Just heard. Can’t believe it.

Just heard what? He couldn’t stand it when people played enigmatic. Total power trip, lording over you the fact they had caught some nugget of knowledge that you lacked. He would not succumb. He would not send the words his pal wanted to hear: ‘Can’t believe what?’

It was bound to be about the food export story. There were new figures showing Californians were exporting so many of their staples – oranges, strawberries and avocados among others – they were running short themselves. He checked his watch. Yep, this was about the time the numbers were due for release.

But he checked Weibo to be sure. He scrolled through, but stopped short.

Tragic news about @maddywebbnews’s sister. Thoughts and prayers are with her family.

And then:

What a senseless waste of precious life. Hearts go out to @maddywebbnews #tragedy

That came with a link to an LA Times story:

Abigail Webb, 22, an elementary school teacher from North Hollywood, was found dead early Monday in what police now believe was a likely homicide. An LAPD spokesperson would give few details, but sources indicate the cause of death was a heroin overdose. Despite an initial examination of the dead woman’s apartment which could find no confirmed signs of forced entry, detectives say a later probe of the scene found damage suggesting a break-in. Ms Webb is the younger sister of the award-winning LA Times reporter, Madison Webb.

Leo read the words several times over, believing it less and less each time. He and Madison had been together for just short of a year, but he had seen Abigail at least a dozen times. She was the first member of her family Madison had let him meet. He liked her: she had all the fizzing energy of Madison and none of the taidu, the attitude. Perhaps a bit too wide-eyed for his tastes, but her enthusiasm was contagious. He and Maddy had been to see a show at the Hollywood Bowl on a double date with Abigail and a short-lived boyfriend, dropped soon afterwards. But once those two were up and dancing, Maddy and even Leo – usually too shy and world-weary for such things – had felt compelled to follow.

Now he thought about it, Madison was different around Abigail. The cynicism receded; she was gentle. She smiled more. In their moments together, the older looking out for the younger, he realized he had caught a glimpse of the mother Maddy might one day be – a thought which he had never articulated at the time and whose tenderness shocked him.

He read the weibs again. He was scrolling further down, as if he might see a message voiding the others, announcing a mistake. He kept scrolling.

‘Leo, you better shut that down. Take-off.’

He said nothing, but turned off the phone all the same and stared right ahead.

They were fully airborne, the plane straightened, before the mayor spoke. ‘You mind telling me what this is about? You look like shit.’ Getting no answer, he pushed on. ‘You’ve seen some numbers and you don’t know how to break it to me, is that it? This that Santa Ana focus group? I’m not worried. Wait till we’re on the air in—’

‘It’s nothing to do with the campaign.’

‘You don’t care about anything but the campaign, so tell me: what’s the problem?’

Leo turned his face to look at his boss for the first time. ‘There’s been a murder. Woman, early twenties, found dead in her apartment in North Hollywood. Suspected heroin over­dose.’

Berger hesitated, letting his eye linger, as if he were assessing a job applicant rather than his most trusted advisor. ‘OK.’

‘We need to get out ahead of this one, Mr Mayor. We have to make sure that this is investigated with the utmost thor­oughness.’ His own voice sounded strange to him, too formal.

‘We always do that, Leo.’

He tried to steady himself, took a sip from the water glass on the tray in front of him, which appeared to have arrived by magic: he had no memory of anyone giving it to him. He told himself to get a grip. Focus.

‘LAPD are only calling it a “likely” homicide. Which means they’ve got some doubts. But the victim’s sister’s a journalist. She’s going to be demanding answers. High-profile, award-winner, big following on Weibo. That means this case is going to be noticed. People are going to be watching the Department, the DA, to see how they handle it.’

‘Sure.’

‘And they’ll be watching you. You don’t want to be going into the summer with a big, unsolved murder on the books.’

‘So what’s your advice?’

‘I think that when we land your first call should be to the Chief of Police, ensure this case is a priority.’

‘As soon as we land, huh? That urgent.’

‘I think so, yes.’

‘Anything else you want to tell me?’

Leo turned back towards the window, the city below now little more than a blur. He pictured Abigail and then he pictured Madison. He shook his head.

‘Anything else you ought to tell me, Leo?’

‘No.’ He paused. ‘Like what?’

‘You sure you don’t have a conflict of interest here?’

Leo hesitated, so Berger spoke again. ‘I know who the victim of this murder is, Leo. The police department of this city – sorry, of the area – do still talk to me. I know her sister is your ex, so there’s no need to bullshit me, OK?’ His gaze lingered into a stare until eventually he looked away, towards the window, watching the earth below swallowed up by clouds. When he turned back, he was wearing an expression Leo had not seen before, one that unnerved him. ‘As it happens, I agree with your advice,’ the mayor said. ‘We need to get out in front on this one. In fact, I’d go further. You need to make this story go away. And, most important of all, you need to keep me out of it.’

~~~~

The 3rd Woman is out now in paperback from HarperCollins.
JFBLOGTOURBANNER

disclaimer: Many thanks to @fictionpubteam from HarperCollins for the advance copy of Jonathan’s book for review. The opinions in the review are mine.

Follow You Home – Mark Edwards

follow_you_home-blogtour

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down.

After a perfect start, Daniel and Laura’s travels end abruptly when they are thrown off a night train in the middle of nowhere. To find their way back to civilisation, they must hike along the tracks through a forest…a haunting journey that ends in unimaginable terror.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what they saw that night. But as they try to fit back into their old lives, it becomes clear that their nightmare is just beginning…

Follow You Home is a chilling tale of secrets, lies and deadly consequences from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.

Follow You Home is a deliciously twisty and nicely paced psychological thriller. It starts out with our young couple on a night train from Hungary to Romania. They meet another young couple on the train and end up getting kicked off in the middle of nowhere.

Then the fun begins.

Something… bad happens. It changes them. Mark drops hints as their lives unravel and you’re drawn deep into their story. What exactly happened on that fateful night?

The pages turn, the chapters speed by. The events in Romania were bad enough, but someone has followed them home. The suspense never lets up and the twists and turns keep coming.

Loved it. Rattled through it in a couple of sittings. This is the first of Mark’s books that I’ve read, but I’ve added him to my list. If you like dark, tense, psychological thrillers, I’d recommend you add him to yours!

disclaimer: Many thanks to Liz for helping to organise the blog tour. I received an advance copy of Mark’s book for review from Netgalley.