Blog Tour

Last stop on the #BlogTour – The Short and The Long of It

Today is the very last stop on the #BlogTour for the latest standalone crime thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. Today I’m the guest of Sean Talbot at Sean’s Book Reviews. Short and sweet…and long. He makes an interesting comment about the length of the book. What are your feelings on the subject? Is there an optimum length for a crime novel, or does it depend on the type?

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This book was good and had a lot of intricacies in (the) plot. I like the main character and think it was well written.

(I was) concerned with only one thing and that’s the length of the book. It seems that more and more books have to be over 400 pages which to me is very long for a crime book. I prefer shorter reads where we get to the meat of the story right away.

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#BlogTour Day13 – LJ Roberts couldn’t put it down

Well, we’ve reached the antepenultimate day of the #BlogTour for DANCING ON THE GRAVE. It’s been a blast so far. And that continued when I read the following opinion from top reviewer LJ Roberts on It Is Purely My Opinion. Yet another call for this standalone to be the first in a new series…

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Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp

First Sentence:  It was a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.     

Newly-qualified crime scene investigator Grace (McColl) is trying to prove herself after making a disastrous mistake on a previous case. Detective Constable Nick Weston has just been transferred to the Lake District after nearly dying during an investigation in London.  Neither of them can understand why they’ve been called out on a dog having been shot except for the presence of a local (MEP)’s wife. Upon examining the dog, it’s clear the shooter wasn’t the local farmer. But why is there a trained sniper in the area, and who was the real target?

It is difficult to say much about this book without giving away spoilers. My best recommendation is to read it cold without having looked at any information about the plot, impossible as that may be. And so…

An excellent opening is one which compels one to continue reading. Zoë Sharp has accomplished that goal in spades with her new standalone which is a remarkable combination of police procedural and psychological thriller.

Read the rest of the review here.

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#BlogTour Day12 – Judith Baxter “strongly recommends”

Well, we’re on the home straight with the #BlogTour for the new standalone, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, and I’m delighted to be hosted, yet again, by gracious New Zealander, Judith Baxter, on her Books And More Books blog. I also did a Q&A with Judith over on her Growing Younger Each Day blog, on July 18.

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If you have read any of my blog posts in the past, you will be aware that I am a fan of Zoë Sharp and a stalker of Charlie Fox the protagonist in her series. If you haven’t made contact with Charlie, I strongly recommend you do so now.

And now I have been given an advance copy of Zoë’s latest novel, a standalone called Dancing on the Grave.

 “An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: ‘Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’” So says master storyteller, Stephen King.

And the opening line in Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp certainly does this. Her opening line? It is a bad day to die…a perfect one to kill.

Read the full review here.

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#BlogTour Day11 – What Makes Edith Tick?

For today’s stop on the #BlogTour, I’m with Anne Bonny Book Reviews for a Guest Post about one of the major characters in the book—that of the disturbed teenager, Edith Airey. She’s a prime example of a supporting player who totally stole every scene she was in, and eventually became one of the stars of the novel. And not in a good way…

Edith in Dancing On The Grave: a standalone crime thriller

I like conflicted characters. They make life interesting. When I started writing my latest standalone crime thriller, Dancing On The Grave, I originally envisaged that the story would centre around the two official characters, CSI Grace McColl (who I first wrote about in a short story called ‘Tell Me’) and DC Nick Weston. As is so often the case, however, the story changed direction in the telling.

Instead of being a straightforward police procedural, as soon as I introduced the ex-military sniper and PTSD sufferer, Patrick Bardwell, and the disturbed teenage girl, Edith Airey, who becomes his spotter, they owned the story. The sniper himself was a complicated mix of predator and victim, but Edith fascinated me.

For the rest of this article on Edith, click here.

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#BlogTour Day10 – Growing Younger Each Day

My thanks today go to Judith Baxter at Growing Younger Each Day, who has not one but two book blogs and has been a fan of the Charlie Fox books for some time. She’s keeping me in suspense as to what she thinks of DANCING ON THE GRAVE, though, which she will be reviewing on Books And More Books on July 20. Fingers crossed until then!

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Those of you who have followed my blog for some time, know that I am a fan of Zoë Sharp,  and particularly her protagonist Charlie Fox. Well, now Zoë has created and published a stand-alone novel, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. If you would like to read an excerpt from the book, click here.

I looked forward to reading this book and must thank Ayo Onatade for inviting me to join the tour and to Zoë for providing an advance copy of the book for review.

My review of the book will be available on July 20 my other site, Books & More Books.

Meantime, because I have a need to know, I asked Zoë a few questions about this book and some other things.

JB        Hello Zoë, and thanks for agreeing to answer my questions. I hope they are not too intrusive.

After the series on Charlie Fox, was it time to take a break and write another stand alone?

ZS        Well, this is not so much ‘after’ as ‘in between’. I’m currently writing the next Charlie Fox, which will be book #13 in the series. Plus, I have the prequel waiting in the wings, so Charlie Fox is still very much alive and kicking. But, it certainly makes you appreciate the familiar more when you take a break from it, I think. It’s been lovely getting back inside Charlie’s head. She has a dry, somewhat laconic sense of humour that makes her voice so distinctive for me as I’m writing.

All the Charlie Fox books, with the exception of a couple of the short stories, are told from first-person Point Of View. Being able to get inside the heads of other characters to tell the story from another perspective is very appealing at times. There are quite a few stories percolating through my brain that can’t be told within the framework of the series, so for those I need to step outside. I couldn’t have told Kelly Jacks’ story in THE BLOOD WHISPERER any other way than third-person POV, and although having a sniper on the loose might have worked very well as a threat for Charlie Fox to face in her capacity as a bodyguard, I would certainly not have been able to go into the mind-set of the peripheral characters as deeply as I’ve been able to do in DANCING ON THE GRAVE.

To read the rest of Judith’s extensive Q&A, please click here.

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#BlogTour Day9 – “Everything I’m looking for in an action thriller.”

Huge thanks to Karen Cole at Hair Past A Freckle for not only doing a great review, but also for letting me go through some of the genuine locations and settings for the book, with pictures to suit.

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It’s my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for DANCING ON THE GRAVE by Zoë Sharp today, many thanks to the author and Ayo Onatade for inviting me and for my e-copy of the novel. Zoë has very kindly written a guest post about why she chose to set Dancing On The Grave in the Lake District and included some beautiful photographs which I’ll share after my review.

I loved FOX HUNTER when I read it last year despite not having read any of the other books in Zoë Sharp’s Charlie Fox series and so I was intrigued to read her latest standalone thriller, DANCING ON THE GRAVE. The book opens with a sniper about to take a shot; seconds later his intended victim has been killedbut he didn’t pull the trigger. This quiet corner of England is about to be shattered by a murderous rampage but first Crime Scene Investigator, Grace McColl has been called to examine the scene of what at first appears to be a straightforward case when a German Shepherd Dog is shot after massacring a field of sheep. Farmers are well within their rights to shoot dogs which are worrying their animals but the owner of this flock claims it wasn’t him and the evidence backs him up. Detective Constable Nick Weston is dispatched to the scene of the crimeand as the new face in the office, his colleagues omit to mention that the victim has four legs and a tail. This first meeting between Grace and Nick doesn’t have an auspicious start; she is cool and detached, he is hungover and angry. However, the pair quickly grow to respect one another, they are both outsiders and though he relies on instinct while she prefers physical evidence, they are both determined characters with pasts which mean they have something to prove as others wait for them to slip up.

Read the rest of Karen Cole’s excellent review here. And also my article on the locations behind the book:

A Plot Leads To a Plot—why I chose the Lake District setting for Dancing On The Grave: a standalone crime thriller

I ended up living in the Lake District more by chance than anything else. We’d been looking for land to build our own house, and when a plot came up in Mallerstang, part of the Eden Valley bordering the Yorkshire Dales National Park on the eastern side of the Lakes, I couldn’t believe our luck.

Previously, we’d lived in Kendal and whilst building rented a flat in Appleby-in-Westmorland, so I spent quite a bit of time in the surrounding towns and villages. The more time I spent there, the more I really wanted to set a book in that lesser-known area of the Lakes.

Orton from Orton Scar

Orton Village from higher up Orton Scar, with the white church tower just visible.

After the Washington Sniper attacks took place in the States in 2002, I’d been mulling over the plot involving a similar incident in a rural location in the UK. The wild areas of Orton Scar (which is how it’s known locally—officially it’s the Great Asby Scar National Nature Reserve) and Orton village itself with its distinctive white-towered church, seemed to cry out for dramatisation.

Read the rest of the blog post article after the review here.

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#BlogTour Day8 – Liz Loves Books: “Highly compelling”

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Day8 of the #BlogTour for the new standalone, DANCING ON THE GRAVE, and yet another call for this to be the start of a new series, this time from Liz Barnsley at Liz Loves Books. This is giving me serious food for thought…

“A departure from the Charlie Fox series here in what I hope is the start of a new series from Zoë Sharp as I loved this and found the characters highly relatable.

“It is in trademark style an intriguing and pacy thriller, some emotive and socially relevant themes explored and a great mystery element with a headline feel.”

Read the rest of Liz’s review here.

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#BlogTour Day7: Jen Thinks I Lied…

…about DANCING ON THE GRAVE being a standalone novel. She’s rooting for this to be the first instalment in a series, and I keep saying I’m not ruling that out! Huge thanks to Jen Lucas for her thoughtful and thought-provoking review on Jen Med’s Book Reviews, which is Day7 of the #BlogTour.

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Now I love me a good action thriller and if there is one thing that Zoë Sharp knows how to do (and trust me there are actually many), it is how to write a bloody good action thriller. Her Charlie Fox series is fabulous and her sense of pace, energy, tension and plain old-fashioned, top-notch storytelling is superb. Dancing on the Grave is absolutely no exception.

Now if you are of a sensitive nature and don’t like crimes against animals then this may not be the book for you as it starts in a rather gruesome way. Gruesome yes, but also essential as it sets us up for everything that is to come. It is a very clever and very effective opening giving us a hint as to what is about to happen but also leaving some ambiguity over who the sniper’s target may be and leaving us completely clueless over what their motives are too. But the ending of that opening chapter…well I certainly wasn’t expecting that. Massive curveball. Loved it.

It’s a tough review to write as I don’t want to delve much into story. You need to go on this journey for yourselves. The action is fast paced, the story moving between target and between characters as needed, and, as always, the tension that Zoë Sharp produces on the pages is spot on. Those moments of eerie silence echoing the laser-sharp precision of the sniper’s aim, the calming of their heartbeat just as we see an escalation of our own. It had me gripped from the start, desperate to know more and to find out who what why where and when.

To read the whole of Jen’s in-depth review, click here.

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#BlogTour Day6 – CrimeBookJunkie demands a series!

The amazing Noelle Holten at CrimeBookJunkie is host to today’s stop on the DANCING ON THE GRAVE Blog Tour. I loved Noelle’s review for FOX HUNTER last year. Her enthusiasm is just a breath of fresh air. But, this is not a Charlie Fox book and rather different in tone from that series, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that she might like it just as much. Turns out I needn’t have worried…

 

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After finally reading my first#CharlieFox book last year, and hearing so much over the years about how awesome Zoë Sharp is, I knew I could not turn down the opportunity to read a#newseriesfrom this fantastic author! I’d like to thank Ayo Onatade and Zoë Sharp for the invite and ARC.

Ooooooh-eeeee! What an incredible treat it was to read this action-packed thriller! Set in Cumbria/the Lake District, the reader is taken on a whirlwind ride of retribution, fear, manipulation, vulnerability, conflict, truth, mental health issues, vengeance, lost souls and the search for the truth. I bloody LOVED it!

The opening…WOW…talk about taking no prisoners! But this is what you get when it comes to Zoë Sharp – sharp in name but also in writing! Told from various POVs, this was a fast-paced plot with a wonderfully believable and engaging narrative, interesting characters and descriptions that have you right in the heart of the Lake District. Tension-filled, addictive and compelling – it is no wonder that I found myself a new series to follow! (I know the blurb on Amazon describes it as a standalone…but OMFG…this NEEDS to be a series!

Read the rest of Noelle’s review here.

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#BlogTour Day5 – Q&A at Blue Book Balloon

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For the #BlogTour Day5 I’ve stopped by with David Harris at BlueBookBalloon for a great Q&A session where we discuss the dark and smiling countryside, researching CSI work, and the pros and cons of veering away from a series.

Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp

And now for something a little different – today we’re joining the blog tour for the fantastic Dancing on the Grave by Zoë Sharp.

Well known for her series featuring Charlotte (Charlie) Fox, Zoë has also written standalone fiction before and has now returned to this with Dancing on the Grave:

BBB: Your new book, Dancing on the Grave, is a standalone – coming after a long series of books featuring Charlie Fox. Is it easier or more difficult writing a standalone? (Is it “Yay! Freedom!” or “Where do I even start?”)

ZS: It was both those reactions, really. Writing standalones in third person and being able to use multiple viewpoints does give you a great sense of freedom. By using close-third, it was fascinating to be able to get right inside the heads of the characters rather than just Charlie Fox, which with the exception of a couple of the short stories, I’ve always written in first person, so I’m always telling the story from Charlie’s point of view and hers alone. With Dancing on the Grave, I limited it mostly to four POVs – the CSI, Grace McColl; the young detective, DC Nick Weston; and the other main players in this drama, Patrick Bardwell and Edith Airey.

This allowed me to really look at the motivations of the people involved – especially those you would consider to be the antagonists – and understand why they were carrying out such apparently monstrous acts. Crime fiction for me is more about the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’. After all, with this book you’re following the actions of the sniper almost from the start. This is not a whodunit where you have to work out his identity (although that comes into the story to a certain extent) but what his reasons are. And especially what drives Edith, the disturbed teenager who throws in her lot with the sniper.

Plus, it’s good occasionally to take a break from a long-running series – I’m just starting Charlie Fox book thirteen now – so you can return to it revitalised and refreshed. I have quite a few story ideas that simply wouldn’t work for Charlie. This gives me the opportunity to write them.

BBB: The book is set in the English Lake District, a traditionally peaceful area. What made you want to set a story of murder in such a place?

Read the rest of the Q&A session here.

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