28 Aug 2013

New Release: John Dolan Hungry Ghosts

1 Comment Book Reviews

 

130727 3D-Book-TemplateHungry Ghosts, the much-anticipated second book in the Time, Blood and Karma series comes out this week. It is available as a paperback or in Kindle format. Author John Dolan promises more thrills, more mystery and more Thailand as his detective, David Braddock, grapples with some new puzzles.

To celebrate the release, the first novel in the series – entitled Everyone Burns – is being offered for a limited period at 99 cents (or 77p if you’re in the UK).

 

My Review:

“Hungry Ghosts” by John Dolan is the second in the David Braddock series about the private investigator operating on the Thai island of Samui.
The womanizing man with a weakness for drinks and a talent for finding his way through the corrupt world around him confides in his diary. Full of self deprivation, honesty and great sense of humour the diary however also serves a different purpose: Through this perspective the reader is allowed some deeper insights into his mind and gets a glimpse of someone actually caring more than he lets on.

 

Although a recent wave of burning murders has ended, Braddock has his hands full with mostly slightly unusual missions for a private detective. And then there is the matter of his complicated love life. Since losing his wife there have been several affairs but nothing with lasting prospects. Quite the opposite, his love life adds more complications to his life than should be worth it.

 

It is credit to Dolan’s great talent for characterisation that Braddock and the women around him become more than mere stereotypes in a genre that otherwise so loves them. They manage to remain fun and great assets to the plot, but there is some serious note to them that to this reader is most welcome and that does not distract much from the mystery plot and the suspense at all.

 

With great knowledge of local customs, culture and philosophy from his own travelling life Dolan gives an authentic flair of Asia in his writing and also adds a subtle moral or ethical undertone. The opening scene features a man being followed by the ghost of his recently deceased brother and the prologue alerts us to the many differing incarnations of ‘Hungry Ghosts’ in various Asian cultures.
The characters in Hungry Ghosts are almost all haunted by their own metaphorical ghosts, which adds colour to the story.

 

On a more simple and straight forward note the story is a cleverly written and very entertaining murder mystery with great understated humour and enough added elements to distinguish itself from the more generic and one dimensional helpings in the genre.

 

A most enjoyable read.

For my review of Everyone Burns and an interview with John follow this link

 

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 Everyone Burns Amazon US http://ow.ly/okzD1 

Everyone Burns Amazon UK http://ow.ly/okzDT

Hungry Ghosts Amazon US http://ow.ly/okzEu

Hungry Ghosts Amazon UK http://ow.ly/okzF2

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18340991-hungry-ghosts

 

15 Aug 2013

Duncan Whitehead: The Gordonston Ladies Walking Club

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The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

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2013 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Finalist!

Something is not quite right in the leafy Savannah neighborhood of Gordonston. 

As the friends and fellow members of her afternoon cocktail club gather to mourn the death and lament the life of their neighbor, Thelma Miller, not all is what it seems.

When old friends vie for the attention of widower, Alderman and mayoral candidate Elliott, jealousies surface and friendships are strained. An old woman with a dark secret and an infamous uncle plots her revenge for a perceived wrong done over thirty years before, a once successful children’s writer with his own secret is haunted by memories of the past and aspiring model Kelly Hudd has just won the trip of a lifetime.

As secrets are revealed and history, both old and recent unravel, and an intertwined web of deceits and lies surfaces in the middle class neighborhood, a killer lurks and is anyone really who they seem to be? 

An enigmatic European gentleman in South America, a young Italian count parading the streets of Paris and a charitable and kindhearted nephew recently arrived from India add to the remarkable assortment of characters in this story of intrigue, deceit and revenge. 

What is the secret a recently retired accountant is trying to hide and just why did the former showgirl and attractive sixty two year old widow Carla Zipp really have plastic surgery?

A mysterious organization with links to organized crime, a handsome fire fighter who can do no wrong and a trio of widows with deep hidden agendas compound a story of simplistic complexity. As twists and turns lead the reader to a conclusion that they will not see coming and a sucker punch ending that will leave you breathless, the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club’s top priority remains the need to chastise the culprit who refuses to ‘scoop’ after his dog walking sessions in their treasured park.

“The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club” by Duncan Whitehead is a very enjoyable and often hilarious book about a group of women who meet in the park with their dog to gossip about the neighbours and complain. Whitehead gives them elaborate backgrounds and distinct and colourful characters.
This is very much a comic murder mystery with a lot of societal satire of well off Southern widows and upper class society.
I enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting. It is rich in plot, well written and the murder part is cleverer than I would have anticipated in a humorous book as this. Well done.

FINALIST IN THE 2013 READER’S FAVORITE ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL AWARD CONTEST IN THE HUMOR CATEGORY – WINNER ANNOUNCED SEPTEMBER 2013.

Interview with Duncan:

Duncan how did you come to writing? 6589431

I began writing spoof news articles initially and the short stories, it just developed from there. I have always been interested in creative writing – and I enjoy it.

What did you do before?

I was in the military for a long time (20 years) and also worked in British embassies across the world.  I then became a superyacht purser before becoming a security and safety consultant for private superyachts.

 Have you always been an entertainer or are you quite different in your private life? 

I am very different.  Not many people who know me realize I write.

What made you write a thriller?

It is more of a dark comedy mystery – I love twists and books that make you think “ah….of course!’ and my book, I believe, is like that.

How comfortable do you feel writing in the genre?

Humor – very comfortable – mystery was a new genre for me so I think I will let you know about that later.

Would you ever write something else?

Yes, comedies and of course a sequel to this book.

When did you first have the idea for the Dog Walking Club?

About 6 years ago, when I moved to Savannah.

Did you have it all planned out before you wrote it or did the characters and story surprise you?

I had it all planned out – as there are multiple twists and red herrings, flashbacks and flashforwards I had to know exactly what each character would do and how they would interact with other characters.

Did you have any actors or people in mind when writing your characters?

I try not to!

What aspects of the story or which characters do you like to write about the most?

I love setting up the twists and red herrings…..that is so much fun.

What would your main character say about you?

Handsome.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

I have never thought about that.  Rolling in the Deep by Adele would be apt……for the conclusion…

Are you like any of your characters?

Heck no! They are awful people!

 How long did it take you to write the book?

From 1st draft to publication – roughly 4 years!

 Will there be a series?

I expect there will be two more books in this story….

Who are your editors and how do you quality control your books?

I had three editors.  And to be honest I wish I had more!

How have you found the experience of self-publishing?

The most difficult thing is marketing – it is extremely time consuming and hard work.

What’s your least favourite thing?

Brocoli.

What is your advice to new writers?

Ignore those who belittle you, ignore those who tell you you can’t do it and NEVER give up.

Who are your favourite independent writers?

I like many – there are a lot out there and I think that most of them are talented and individual in their own right.

Who are your favourite authors?

Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens.

What is your favourite book?

A Confederacy of Dunces

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?

I am reading several books right now – all e-books.

Who would play your characters in a movie?

I am not sure, it would need good actors/actresses as the characters are so two faced! I think Morgan Freeman would make a great Ignatius.

Links: 

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16174821-the-gordonston-ladies-dog-walking-club

 http://www.amazon.com/Gordonston-Ladies-Walking-Club-ebook/dp/B00AHHODH2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375203238&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gordonston-Ladies-Walking-Club-ebook/dp/B00AHHODH2/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375203266&sr=1-1

 

Duncan was born in England in 1967. After a successful career in the Royal Navy where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser onboard some of the world’s largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world’s most luxurious and exotic places.

Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote THE GORDONSTON LADIES WALKING CLUB, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment. The book, a thriller, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, is set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived.

His passion for comedy saw submissions to many online satire news sites and a stint performing as a stand- up comedian.

He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children’s soccer coach.

In 2011 Duncan returned to South America, spending six months in Brazil and a few months in Paraguay before travelling to the Middle-East and Europe before returning to the United States to settle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and lists his hobbies and passions as cooking, the Israeli self defense art of Krav Maga and the pressure point martial art Dim- Mak.

Duncan has written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for an assortment of web sites both in the US and UK.

 

05 Aug 2013

Malla Duncan: Fat Chance

4 Comments Book Reviews

 fat-chance2“Fat Chance” by Malla Duncan was recommended to me by a friend. Not usually a friend of humorous crime fiction I reluctantly followed her recommendation and was pleasantly surprised to find a book that made me laugh a lot.
We are in Italy and are following the investigation of a serial murder of fat women. Besides the police detectives there are a group of colourful fat women doing their own snooping amongst the suspects
The sense of humour really worked for me, I thought those characters were brilliantly chosen and the solving of the murder was cleverer than I had anticipated.
This is a great beach read, highly amusing.

“This delightful, witty story moves at a spirited pace, with Malla Duncan’s talent for description transporting the reader not only to the warmth and beauty of the Amalfi Coast, but into the middle of a great mystery.”

“I absolutely adore this book! It’s witty, intelligent, humorous (I laughed out loud often), suspenseful, has twists and turns, is set in Italy (who doesn’t love the Amalfi Coast?), and is without a doubt well-written. The details, the setting, the characters, the story – all  fantastic.”

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What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

 

Writing began for me at the age of seven when I wrote a poem because it popped into my head. Once I had discovered the joy of creativity and power words can give you, I was hooked. I wrote screeds of poetry after that – inspired oddly enough by the great war poets of the 1st World War – Sassoon, Brooke, Owen. I eventually wrote my first short story at the age of seventeen and achieved publication in a local magazine when I was nineteen.

 

I think one desires to become a writer rather than decides. They say writing is a drive that shows itself at a very young age. Often it’s a hankering for something you’re not quite sure of – then gradually this feeling hones to a compulsion that sees you spending chunks of time by yourself with the people in your head. You don’t always see an end – you just want to conquer the characters – to bring them out whole and vibrant on paper in a way that makes them seem real and memorable.

 

How did you come up with the idea for Fat Chance?

 

Fat Chance grew out of desperation. I had written children’s books, horror, women’s thrillers – and struggled for years with agents and rejection. Finally I thought I was writing the wrong thing. I needed to try a new genre. Friends told me: ‘Write something funny. You can do funny.’ So I chewed that over. Then I thought that people also like recipe books. Imagine combining funny and food! What a combination! (Been done before, I know, but I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of my idea.)

 

Then I expanded possibility by adding murder as a factor – this book was going to spoof all those formulaic thriller novels out there. Yes! Once I got to this point I knew I would combine murder and recipes. Couldn’t be better. Then Marsha pushed into view: one of those rather overpowering characters who nurse all sorts of secret doubts about themselves. When Milly joined her, equally large but rather timid, I knew I had a novel.

 

I lined up a recipe designer and we were off! Except the designer was never able to get around to those puddings – so the recipe part was ditched and ‘Fat Chance’ was born as a comedy murder mystery laced through with the universally identifiable problems of food and fatness.

 

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

 

Characters are like babies – once you’ve brought them out they’re pretty much with you for the rest of your life. I’ve always believed that your characters shouldn’t be anything like you as the author – they should be entirely different. The writer is simply the vehicle through which people and situations are brought to the reader’s attention.

 

If I had to choose a favourite character from one of my books, I would choose Ilsa Joubert from ‘Deep As Bone’ – my first psychological thriller. Ilsa is a dark little number, somewhat sly and underhand, a plotter and manipulator who doesn’t really let you know much about her – it’s only looking back over the book that the pieces fit together. And yet the great thing about Ilsa is that you can’t help liking her. I liked her in the beginning when she seemed good, then I liked her when she got bad, and when she got really, really bad – liked her even more. I’m probably as puzzled by this as the reader.

 

Tell us about your other books.

 

‘Deep As Bone’ was my first adult book of any substance that I actually completed. A London agent loved it but was unable to sell it. Many new writers don’t realize that just cracking an agent is not the end of the story – the agent then has to sell your book to a publisher and goes through all the difficulties that a writer experiences in trying to attract an agent in the first instance. Most publishers are wary of unknown names and wary of books that are too ‘unique’ – books that don’t have what they consider follow-up value. Many publishers will say that they want ‘something different’ but not so different that the writer cannot write at least six others in the same in look, feel and tone.

 

‘Dark Sanctuary’ became my next offering but was – as everybody had feared – completely different in feel and tone. I deliberately cut the writing to short and snappy, a modern thriller tone because I thought that way I would be more engaging and acceptable – but I was still unsuccessful because by the time I had finished with the rewrites the agent requested, I had a different book altogether – and nobody was happy.

 

‘Catchee Monkey’ was my third offering – an ambitious book that wanted to capture a sense of neurosis in the main character, a touch of paranoia which would add beautifully to the mystery: is she right about her husband trying to kill her – or is she just plain nuts? But now the agent didn’t like the characters – who granted were somewhat dark and irritable, but to my mind very much reflections of real life. So at this point agent and author parted ways, a tad distressed.

 

Since then, I have gone on to write humorous books for African children – the Miki series. There are few books out there for African children at affordable prices. I also began a fantasy series for children The Shadow Garden series and Book I is on all sites as ‘The Vampire Castle’. I also wrote in 2012 what I consider my last thriller offering: ‘One Night’ written exactly the way I wanted to do it and a book that I was happy to publish straight to the Net.

 

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

 

Self-publishing has been an exhilarating experience. I absolutely loved it – loved being able to write without interference, enjoyed the learning curve on formatting, thoroughly adored deciding on my own covers. That said, for any kind of success you have work at marketing continually – otherwise your book is going to hang like a lightless star in cyber space. It’s all about keeping traction on social media – and of course, writing the right kind of material that is popular on the Net. I would never advise people not to self-publish – it’s one of the great joys afforded to writers – but be prepared for disappointment. Not many people make money with ebooks. Those that do are lucky. I don’t think there’s a secret magic formula – but what I do know is that any clever person who comes up with a way for self-published writers to connect more successfully with readers, should be dipped in gold.

 

What is your advice to new writers?

 

If I had to mention all the things I’ve learnt over many years of writing, I’d fill a book! So I’ll just offer a couple of pointers on key aspects I’ve struggled to master:

 

1) Your point of beginning is key. Where in the story will you begin? How much back story are you leaving yourself to write? How will you get that across without spending pages talking about the past? Really good writers always have an intriguing beginning. They also manage to lay scene and character and back story neatly in about three pages or less. Or they cleverly interlace the back elements into the current text. This was for me, the most difficult part of novel writing to get to grips with. Often I would be at chapter four and suddenly realize that the beginning was entirely wrong and needed to be redone from a different point in time or point of view. It’s nothing to panic about – but as you gain experience and confidence, you will develop a ‘nose’ for this and it will get easier. Eventually, I found the prologue structure extremely helpful in laying out a snippet of back story that would ‘lead’ the rest of the book without cumbersome explanations.

 

2) Your reader is not stupid. Readers pick up the elements of the story, scene and tone very quickly – so don’t tell them the same thing twice. Every page should introduce new information that takes the story forward. That goes for dialogue as well. There is nothing worse than pedestrian conversation – kills a novel stone dead. Everything your characters say must be relevant to the story. If you don’t keep tight control here, your characters can wander off into idle talk and it’s really difficult to bring them back. Don’t waste space on the page. Add behaviour and description into conversation – this develops characters as they speak – ie: He wasn’t smiling but there was a cheeky glint in his eye.

 

3) Writing is always about the re-writing. Get to like editing because initially it’s going to be about two thirds of your work.

 

How do you handle criticism of your work?

 

Fortunately, most of the feedback I’ve had so far on my writing has been positive. But there’s hardly a writer out there that doesn’t get the nasty little one star from time to time. I got a one star on one of my books because it wasn’t for free! So no matter what you do there’s always someone who might not like your story or your style – or who, for that matter, may just want to hurt you because you have written something really good.

 

As a copywriter, I learnt to take criticism in my stride otherwise I couldn’t have done my job. But criticism is also good. If I do feel a reader has a point, or enough readers come back with the same complaint, I will always look at my work again and try to rectify the problem. All writers should only have one aim – and that is to continually improve. Readers who take the time to connect can be very helpful. I for one, am very grateful to those who take the time to give feedback.

 

What are you working on now?

 

Several things fill my head at any one time. At the moment I’m considering Book II of The Shadow Garden series as Book I ‘The Vampire Castle’ is selling so well. I’m also in the middle of a paranormal murder mystery that I might continue soon. And of course, I’m looking at a sequel to ‘Fat Chance’.

 

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

 

I can tell you that in one statement: Table Mountain. I live in its shadow. The weird thing is that I never get used to it. I look at it in wonder every day. It has been an inspiration to much of my writing in all sorts of ways: moody under cloud it’s good for mystery; draped in misty wraiths it’s good for dark fantasy; and clear-cut against the sunset just makes the imagination soar!

 

 

About this author

Malla Duncan lives in Cape Town and writes across a range of genres from women’s thrillers ‘women-in-jeopardy’ to children’s fantasy, romantic adventure and humor for African children. Her thrillers focus on ordinary, flawed women in extraordinary circumstances. Fast-paced for intrigue and tension, her novels are geared for readers who enjoy mystery and suspense.

You can find Malla at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/vi… 
You can join Malla on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malla-D…
Follow on Twitter: @MallaDuncan
Find on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/tshiyw

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024398&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024427&sr=1-2

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4955686.Malla_Duncan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13595927-fat-chance

 

 

 

28 Jul 2013

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan

1 Comment Book Reviews

130720 EVERYONE BURNS REVISED EBOOK COVER

 

Everyone Burns by John Dolan

It is January 2005 and the charred remains of two Europeans have been discovered on the Thai island of Samui.

Local Police Chief Charoenkul, sidelined by his superiors, enlists the reluctant David Braddock, a burnt-out private detective, to assist in an ‘unofficial’ investigation.

But Braddock has problems of his own, including an affair with the same Police Chief’s wife …

Peppered with irreverent humour and some pithy comments on everyday life in the Land of Smiles, ‘Everyone Burns’ is much more than a crime novel. It is also a carefully-crafted psychological study of an anti-hero for our time

My review:

“Everyone Burns” by John Dolan was recommended to me by several friends.
The story is about a British Private Investigator and counsellor David Braddock who lives in Thailand to make his money stretch further. Braddock is a very interesting, washed out and overall really great character whom to follow is hugely entertaining. Although he has marital problems and a lot of depth there is a dubious and not so serious side to him.
Braddock gets asked by the police to assist in the investigation of a series of murders. At the same time he is being sent anonymous notes, suggesting blackmail, pointing at his affair with the wife of a colleague.
I can picture a film made from this book and I would ideally cast a Humphrey Bogard in B&W in it but fans of the genre will probably have better suggestions.
What I liked most about the book is Dolan’s writing. He is clever, perceptive and very witty. Each chapter has literary or philosophical quotations as headings and they are apt to the chapters as they bear witness to a very well read and educated writer, almost “wasted” in a crime story. I am certain that I missed lots of great references and in-jokes that pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes and other famous crime fiction but I really enjoyed the book even without catching all of them.
This book should do very well.

 

For an interview please go to my blog

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com

 

http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/john-dolan-everyone-burns/

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