Thrilled to bits to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Secret today! Huge thanks to Chris Curran for inviting me on the tour and Harper Collins for my advanced copy, which I received via Netgalley. Chris Curran has provided me with a wonderful guest post talking about ten books that have inspired her writing. And I will also be sharing my thoughts on Her Deadly Secret.
Author : Chris Curran
Title : Her Deadly Secret
Publisher : Killer Reads / Harper Collins UK
Publication date : July 21, 2017
A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.
Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.
Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.
This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything.
Ten Novels That Have Inspired My Writing
Like all writers, I am first and foremost a reader and there are books I return to time and again. I do so mainly because I love them so much, but I’ve also learned from them and they have helped to influence the stories I want to tell and to shape my writing.
Tom’s Midnight Garden
by Philippa Pearce is not only my favourite children’s books, but has to be one of my all-time best reads. Whenever I come back to it I find new layers of meaning. That’s particularly appropriate because the novel is about the mysterious way that an adult carries the child they were within them. Two lonely children, Tom and Hattie, meet in the midnight garden, one who seems to be a ghost from the past and one a ghost from the future. I’ve still to read anything more poignant than the final scenes. And the way that the past sends powerful ripples down to the present has been a central theme in all my novels so far.
Pride and Prejudice
As well as being great literature, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a delightfully life-affirming story and, amongst the books many joys, it’s Austen’s powerful use of dialogue that stands out for me. I was an awkward young girl when I first read the novel and I found Elizabeth Bennet’s readiness to stand up for herself against the insults of people who think they are better than her totally thrilling. Although written so long ago, every conversation crackles with vitality. I know it almost by heart, but I can never get enough of Elizabeth’s magnificent trouncing of Darcy after his arrogant marriage proposal.
The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins is sometimes called the first detective story. Collins introduced many of the techniques that are now standard in crime fiction and no one has used them better. There is the brilliant first scene, the amateur detective, Walter, who is emotionally invested in thwarting the villains, the use of multiple narrators and above all the wonderfully vivid and distinctive characters. Count Fosco is surely one of the most charismatic villains in all literature and then there’s the marvellous Marion Halcombe. Walter says she is ugly, but her bravery and intelligence make her so attractive that even Fosco is entranced.
Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca is the psychological suspense novel that still tops them all. Despite her obvious borrowings from Jane Eyre, Du Maurier has fashioned something original and mesmerising in this story of a mousy second wife struggling in the shadow of her glamorous predecessor. Du Maurier’s decision to use the first wife’s name as her title is a masterstroke because Rebecca seems to manipulate the situation from beyond the grave as cunningly as she did when alive. The book might nowadays be classed as domestic noir and would still no doubt be a bestseller.
I have to confess that I am not the greatest fan of Agatha Christie’s Poirot or Miss Marple (except on TV!). However Christie’s standalones are a different matter and I absolutely love Endless Night. Nothing could be further from the cosy whodunits people often associate with Christie than this piercing psychological character study. The hints at something paranormal, in this tale of a mismatched young couple who build their dream house, make the book even more chilling. Christie is famous for her unreliable narrators and she excels herself here.
The Walking Stick
Winston Graham’s crime novels are less well-known than his Poldark saga, but for me they are so much more interesting and my favourite is The Walking Stick. This is as much a character study as it is a crime story. Deborah Dainton uses a walking stick because of childhood polio and on the surface she is resigned to a life without romance, but in reality she longs for love and seems to have found it with an unsuccessful young artist. The crime scenes, when they come, are nail-biting, but what Graham shows most vividly is something that fascinates me: how love can be a catalyst for crime and how criminals are mostly just like us.
Wildfire at Midnight
Mary Stewart’s books are often referred to as romantic suspense and they were my perfect introduction to crime fiction as a teenager. Stewart’s heroines are normal young women of their time who face danger with a bravery that is totally believable. The books are perfectly paced reads and Stewart’s use of atmospheric settings and beautifully described locations make novels like Wildfire At Midnight, which is set on the Isle of Skye, absolutely captivating. The heroine in Wildfire is a fashion model and I borrowed the idea for my second novel, Her Turn To Cry!
A Dark Adapted Eye
Ruth Rendell found fame with her policeman, Wexford, but it’s A Dark Adapted Eye by her alter ego, Barbara Vine, that does it for me. This is where the psychological crime novel comes of age. The superb beginning, as a family waits to hear the news on the morning a relative is hung for murder, can’t be bettered. As with all Vine novels, the intricate plotting is unparalleled as the story moves smoothly back and forth in time.
Strangers on a Train
by Patricia Highsmith has such a brilliant premise that I’m sure it would be referred to nowadays as a USP – unique selling point. I first encountered the story via the Hitchcock film, which I loved, but the book is so much better. When upstanding architect, Guy, meets jolly psychopath, Bruno, on a train it is the start of a nightmare that will lead weak and conflicted Guy to disaster.
Sarah Waters is a superb writer and I’ve devoured all her books since I first came across Affinity in my local library. Then I moved on to Fingersmith, which tells of Sue, a petty thief in Victorian London, who joins with a man known as Gentleman to swindle a rich young woman out of her fortune. But absolutely nothing is what it seems and Waters catches the reader off guard over and again with a series of jaw-dropping twists that nevertheless make complete sense in the context of the story.
Thank you so much, Chris! Looks like I’ll be adding a few books to my never-ending TBR!
Read on for my thoughts on Her Deadly Secret!
This was my first introduction to this author and I can safely say it won’t be my last. Her Deadly Secret had me hooked right from the start as I found myself thrown straight into the thick of things.
The story begins with Joe who has just returned from doing a television appeal for his missing daughter, fourteen year old Lily. Joe and his wife Hannah are consumed by grief but Family Liaison Officer Loretta soon realises there is more at play and thinks Hannah is hiding something.
The chapters alternate between Joe, Loretta and Rosie. Rosie’s sister Alice was found dead when she was sixteen. Their father was convicted of her murder and has only recently been released. Could these events, fifteen years apart and miles away from each other, in any way be connected?
I loved getting to know these characters and immensely enjoyed Loretta’s chapters. I must admit at the start I thought they would be too distracting and take away from the actual mystery but in fact, they provided a brilliant balance as Loretta struggles to combine her demanding job and boss with her private life.
Her Deadly Secret is incredibly gripping and absorbing. With a superbly executed plot and a great pace, it had me glued to the pages. Of course, there are secrets and skeletons in closets. Some people turn out to be quite different from what they seem but it was trying to figure out the who/what/why that kept me utterly engrossed. Plenty of twists, turns and some red herrings had me continuously guessing at the outcome as the author quite deftly leads the story to a most satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend you pick up a copy!
Her Deadly Secret was published in July.