Saturday, 1 December 2018

Monthly Post: December 2018
A round-up of my favourite reads over the past year

Gooseberry (Send for Octavius Guy, #1)Gooseberry (Send for Octavius Guy, #1) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.13 of 5 stars

Hello, dear readers, and welcome! With the holiday season almost upon us, what better time than now to share with you some of my favourite reads over the past year! Most of them are titles that the Canada Water Crimes & Thrillers Reading Group tackled. Some are quite old; others less so—though even a number of the more modern ones have a period feel. They’ve nearly all got a link to Agatha Christie, too, in one small way or another. Read on…

This month’s offer is a free download of Gooseberry: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Thieving Maharajah (#1). Fourteen-year-old Gooseberry once helped solve the mystery of the Moonstone. Now fate is about to throw him a new case, sending him sleuthing round the Victorian capital once more. Offer ends on December 31st 2018. Perfect for the holiday season!
“Sometimes you see a book and just know you’re going to love it…An absolute treat for fans of Collins’ novel and a successful novel in its own right.”—Emma Hamilton, LibraryThing Early Reviewer (5 stars)
Happy investigating and happy holidays to you all! Michael
Find me on my website Michael Gallagher Writes on Facebook follow me on Twitter @seventh7rainbow and visit Murder Most Cozy for a round up of the coziest Crimes & Thrillers reviews

Friday, 16 November 2018

The Death of Mrs Westaway

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A highly principled young woman in her late teens is left alone in the world when her mother is killed in a hit-and-run. Having been left destitute, she drops out of school and takes over her mother’s fortune-telling booth on a Brighton pier to make ends meet. Even so, she falls prey to a loan shark, who is now demanding repayment. And that’s where this book starts, with a letter from a solicitor informing her that her grandmother has died leaving a substantial estate. The trouble is, even though it’s addressed to her, they’ve clearly mistaken her for somebody else.

I took to this almost immediately. Ruth Ware’s prose is easy on the eye, and the book is very different from what I usually read, so it acted as a great palate cleanser. This is no cozy mystery; it’s a thriller—though truth be told it’s really a Gothic. With the ancient, rundown house set in some desolate part of Cornwall, the sprawling grounds infested with magpies, and the unwelcoming, equally-as-ancient housekeeper, it certainly has all the trappings.

View all my reviews

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Monthly Post: November 2018
Top tips for writers - but will they actually improve your writing?

The Scarab Heart (The Involuntary Medium, #2)The Scarab Heart (The Involuntary Medium, #2) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.39 of 5 stars

We’ve all seen them, haven’t we? “Ten Top Tips to Improve Your Writing”. While I’m not about to make a list of my own, I will happily distil for you what these generally include:

1. Write in the active voice and avoid the passive.
2. Use fewer adjectives.
3. Avoid adverbs; choose verbs instead that describe the action.
4. Vary the lengths of your sentences.
5. Vary your sentence constructions.
6. Show, don’t tell.

If you follow this advice, your writing will almost certainly improve. It will cut out the flab. It may even turn you into the next Stephen King. Why? Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of The Scarab Heart. The Valley of the Kings, 1885. Lizzie Blaylock has sworn not to use her powers, but her powers have other things in mind. Offer ends on November 30th 2018.

“The imagery is fabulous, the characters are likeable, and the story is believably enthralling.”—Nightwing, Goodreads Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!

Find me on my website Michael Gallagher Writes, on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @seventh7rainbow

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Clock Strikes Twelve

The Clock Strikes Twelve (Miss Silver, #7)The Clock Strikes Twelve by Patricia Wentworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When this was written in the 1940s Patricia Wentworth was as popular with readers as Agatha Christie was, and it’s easy to see why, for it belongs to the needle-clicking spinster who runs rings around the police trope.

On New Year’s Eve 1940 the head of a large, well-to-do English family announces at dinner that one of their number has betrayed them. He doesn’t say who or how, but he proposes to sit in his study till midnight, waiting for the guilty party to come and confess. I expect you can guess what happens. As luck would have it, Miss Maud Silver is staying in town with her niece. She agrees to investigate at the family’s request—though not everyone is happy with this.

So what can you expect? It’s a densely-written narrative in the third person, with different people’s emotions on show as we move through a single scene. In a lesser writer’s hands this could be a mess, but Wentworth makes it work for her, and the overall effect has a film-like quality, like a camera moving slowly round a room.

Where this doesn’t work well is at the beginning of the book. The family is large, and it feels like you’ve been dumped at a party where you know no one at all. Even if you manage to learn the odd name, you’re never given the chance to see how these people relate to each other. Though it seems to come right by chapter six, a family tree at the beginning of the book would have been a very welcome addition.

The plot is really rather good, and you’ll be delighted to know that Wentworth sets traps for people like me, who vainly consider themselves to be hardened armchair detectives. The characters are enjoyable enough, though their dialogue does tend to err on the side of Noel Coward. Miss Silver’s continual coughing worried me terribly. I’m a very heavy smoker and it was even worse than mine. And what awful sexist drivel they come out with at times! “No man can really believe how irrelevant a woman’s mind can be”! Hmmm.

So, is Miss Silver another Miss Marple? Well, yes and no. Miss Marple is an observer of human nature, and her logic is nearly always quite simple. When she coughs, it’s to point something out. Miss Silver, on the other hand, may be an observer of human nature, but her logic, though good, is complex in the extreme. When she coughs, it’s to announce she’s going to speak. Nearly every single time, in fact.

On the whole I still quite enjoyed this book. But what did you think?

View all my reviews

Monday, 1 October 2018

Monthly Post: October 2018
Publishing – is there any future in it?

The Bridge of Dead Things (The Involuntary Medium, #1)The Bridge of Dead Things (The Involuntary Medium, #1) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.12 of 5 stars

I started this series of posts by reflecting on the current state of publishing. We are mired in a marketplace that is grossly oversaturated, and—given humankind’s desire to express itself, combined with tools that make it ever easier to do just that—we are probably going to remain that way for some years to come. Along with the other two million authors to publish this year, you’ll be struggling to get your book noticed at all. In such circumstances you are unlikely to have a best-selling title on your hands without a huge amount of luck, a huge amount of help, and massive support for you on social media. But then there’s that nagging voice at the back of your head always whispering, “But it might just happen, mightn’t it?” Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of The Bridge of Dead Things. A working-class Victorian girl discovers she has a unique if unwanted power and is soon drawn into a world of seances, ghost grabbers…and murderers. Offer ends on October 31st 2018.

“A fantastically detailed historical fiction novel ~ rich with period details, colorful characters, AND a very gripping ghostly tale. Read this book, you will not be disappointed.”—Paula Fetty-King Smashwords Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!

Find me on my website Michael Gallagher Writes, on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @seventh7rainbow

Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Mangle Street Murders

The Mangle Street Murders (The Gower Street Detective, #1)The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s the London of 1882. When Mrs Dillinger approaches Mr Sidney Grice—Britain’s foremost personal detective—with a plea that he exonerate her son-in-law, an ironmonger accused of murdering her daughter, he refuses outright. It is only when Miss March Middleton—his new ward who has only recently arrived in the metropolis—agrees to pay for his services that he accepts…with disastrous results for everyone concerned.

This wonderful, fast-paced Penny Dreadful is the first in a deservedly well-loved series, one that I came to when by chance I happened to pick up one of the later books, and it was a pleasure to meet all the regular characters again, this time on their very first outing.

So what can you expect? Well, there are a number of grisly murders, with the murder scenes described in gory, vivid detail. There’s a generous dollop of humour, most of it black. There’s a fair amount of indignation at the position of women in Victorian society. There are plenty of twists. And there is an excellent narrative voice in the form of March Middleton, a very modern young woman, who provides the perfect counterfoil to her cantankerous guardian. I can honestly say it was right up my street.

View all my reviews

Friday, 31 August 2018

Monthly Post: September 2018
The shocking truth about SEO…it’s so easy!

Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3)Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.73 of 5 stars

Hello newly published author! If you (like I do) have a very common name and aren’t famed for anything in particular (either in a good way or a bad way), the chances are if you Google yourself, you’ll have an awful lot of wading to do before you end up finding your listing. Six years ago, I doubt I even could have. I had no digital footprint. Now I only have to wade through nine pages to see me there. Hmmm. Note to self: probably could do better.

What I couldn’t improve on, however, is the ranking for my article about Maria B. Hayden, the Victorian medium who provided the inspiration for Mrs Harmon in Octavius Guy & The Case of the Mendacious Medium. You’ll find it in the number one slot…and on the very first page!—though it does help that there’s no Wikipedia entry, and only 2 million similar results. My article about Florence Cook (inspiration for a very different character of mine) ranks sixth in a search for her, but there are two Wikipedia entries above it and this time a hefty 7.4 million results. As you may have guessed, this month we’re looking at ways to improve your ranking—and therefore your discoverability.

A lot is written about SEO (Search Engine Optimization to make your website—and online presence—search-engine friendly), as it helps to determine your rankings. People even do it as a job. Most of what they say is very techie. It needn’t be. It basically boils down to this: what is it those cute little crawler-bots are looking for? Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of Big Bona Ogles, Boy!: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Mendacious Medium (#3). This time everyone’s favourite Victorian boy detective and his ragtag bunch of friends investigate a shadowy spiritualist medium (as inspired by the good Maria), recently arrived from Massachusetts, only to discover that somebody desperately wants her dead. Offer ends on September 30th 2018.

“In a locked room, everyone is a suspect…Once again Michael Gallagher creates a vivid, almost tangible reality in Victorian England. That, with his rich character development, and engaging plot makes this book incredibly enjoyable and downright fun!”—Devon Lewis (The Pinkaholic) Goodreads Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!

Find me on my website, on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @seventh7rainbow