Friday, 1 March 2019

Monthly Post: March 2019
Taking back control over Twitter

The Bridge of Dead Things (The Involuntary Medium, #1)The Bridge of Dead Things (The Involuntary Medium, #1) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.15 of 5 stars

“I went out for beer and when I got back I found a hundred new notifications waiting for me,” as one account put it. If you’ve ever been tagged in a popular, ongoing conversation with 36 others taking part, you will know how overwhelming this can feel. The Friday follow (#FF) trains on which the writing community thrives are a prime example of this. There’s not much you can do once the notifications are there, but you can certainly nip it in the bud—by muting the conversation. Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of The Bridge of Dead Things. Murky Victorian London. When 13-year-old Lizzie starts having fits, the people around her begin to realize that she may have unusual powers. Offer ends on March 31st 2019.

“I have got to say, these books are unlike any other I have read...almost impossible to put down.”—Helene Gårdsvold, Amazon.com Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!
Michael

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Sirens

SirensSirens by Joseph Knox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Full disclosure in the interests of fairness: I read this for my Crimes & Thrillers reading group, and I am not a fan of the Noir sub-genre.
We’re in present day Manchester. The name of the city is never once mentioned, but some of the locations are so specific, it can be nowhere else (see accompanying photo of Beetham Tower, a nightmarish skyscraper that provides one of the book’s main settings). Our hard-boiled, first-person narrator is Aiden Waits, a disgraced yet still active police constable in his late twenties. Aiden’s moral compass is both murky and complex. He’s happy to lie about the drugs he snorts, yet, like knights of old, he is the epitome of chivalry. (view spoiler) This gallant behaviour repeats itself with nearly every woman he comes into contact with. Aiden only wishes to save them, and thereby save himself.

As far as the writing style goes, there is some interesting and effective repetition of paragraphs that gives a nice sense of deja vu, though I personally could have done with a little less “the-city-at-night-is-a-sparkling-but-treacherous-mistress” type mise-en-scene. Then again, it is the mainstay of noir. Also the editor might have highlighted a couple of issues. There’s a character whom we are told speaks for the first time, when in fact he has already spoken on the previous page; the fight at the climax is described in only the sketchiest of terms, so it feels like a rather big let down.
Having said that, it’s not at all bad. Aiden is a great main character, and if I enjoyed this genre I’m sure I would devour the whole series. I can’t imagine Knox losing any sleep over my review. He’ll be too busy signing his option with ITV.


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Friday, 1 February 2019

Monthly Post: February 2019
Further thoughts about Twitter

Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3)Big Bona Ogles, Boy! (Send for Octavius Guy, #3) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.67 of 5 stars

Hello February! Last month I talked about my resolutions regarding Twitter and how I use it. The sentiments seemed to resonate with a good number of my Twitter folks, who kindly tweeted back to me their concerns, and, around the same time, some rather serious issues started being raised within the #amwriting community, so this month I thought I’d take a look at some of these. Read on…

This month’s special offer is a free download of Big Bona Ogles, Boy!: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Mendacious Medium (#3). This time young Gooseberry investigates a shadowy Spiritualist medium, only to discover that somebody wants her dead. Offer ends on February 28th 2019.

“Thank you so much for writing these books, and for bringing these characters to life. I have a feeling they'll always be lurking around in my head. Excellent, excellent, excellent!”—Laura Brook LibraryThing Early Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!
Michael

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

Friday, 25 January 2019

Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell (Amory Ames Mystery, #1)Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the early 1930s, and upper-class occasional socialite Amory Ames, trapped in a failing marriage, agrees to help an old flame to dissuade his sister from wedding the wrong kind of man. Together they decamp to the Brightwell Hotel on the south coast of England, where the sister is holidaying with her fiancé and numerous friends, and where eventually one of the party will die.

This is Weaver’s first novel and the beginning of a series of mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Amory Ames. It is as much a romance as a whodunnit, and at times my attention waned when it roamed into the romantic. The sound-bite review which the publishers have chosen for the cover (“An elegant Christie-esque romp”) may help with sales, but it does the author no favours. While it may be set in the 1930s, neither the plot, nor the characters, nor the style of writing mirror Agatha Christie’s in any sense. By setting up expectations in the reader’s mind, comparisons are inevitable—and that seems remarkably unfair to the author, whose writing style is quieter and more reflective.

There is a great red herring which Weaver develops extremely well, which any Crimes & Thrillers enthusiast will recognize and enjoy from the start, though for my money I would have welcomed a few more motives scattered about amongst the suspects, and a sight more insight from our sleuth. But who knows? That may come with Book II.

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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Monthly Post: January 2019
My New Year’s resolutions regarding Twitter!

Octopus (Send for Octavius Guy, #2)Octopus (Send for Octavius Guy, #2) by Michael Gallagher
Current average rating: 4.23 of 5 stars

In 2018 I managed to come to terms with Twitter, mainly because I finally got myself a smartphone. I started off with something like 11 followers in March. Thanks mainly to the huge and highly supportive writing community, I’m now on my way to 3,000. I’ve had some brilliant conversations with some brilliant people along the way; I feel as if I have made some friends. Would you believe I even hooked up with two of my favourite authors, Steven Saylor and M. R. C. Kasasian? And yet, as great as this undoubtedly is, not everything is peaches in the Twitterverse. Read on…

This month’s giveaway is a free download of Octopus: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Throttled Tragedienne (#2). When the leading actress dies in mysterious circumstances during a performance of The Duchess of Malfi, Gooseberry feels duty-bound to investigate. It is, after all, a great deal more exciting than the last case he was assigned to: the tracking down of a rich old lady’s errant cat! Offer ends on January 31st 2019, and no, there are no strings attached and no review is required. Phew!

“Historical fact is deftly combined with fiction that makes Octavius’s world a new form of old London that I am eager to visit again. Pour some tea or a wee dram, put your feet up, and enjoy cover to cover.”—Gladread LibraryThing Early Reviewer (5 stars)

Happy investigating!
Michael

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

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.

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