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Author of the Month

Name: Sharon Bolton

First Novel: Sacrifice

Most Recent Book: Daisy in Chains

'I am incredibly jealous of ‘Daisy in Chains’ as I wish I'd written it myself.'

Synopsis:
Famous killers have fan clubs and Hamish Wolfe is no different. In prison serving a life sentence for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He's handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he's innocent, and that he's the man of their dreams.

Maggie Rose is different: reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer with a track record of getting prisoners released and bestselling true-crime writer. She only takes on cases she thinks she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer. He wants her to change his fate. She thinks she is immune to the charms of a man like this - maybe not this time...

Review:
I knew within the first few pages that I was reading a book that would take over my life until it was finished. I am incredibly jealous of ‘Daisy in Chains’ as I wish I'd written it myself. Sharon Bolton has delivered a first rate psychological thriller of the highest standard and has presented it in a unique and entertaining way.

The story of a lawyer taking on the case of a convicted killer is bound to have a lot of information to cover with victims and the lengthy trial and psychological reports into the killer. While all of this is interesting, the detail can get in the way of the story. However, Bolton has presented all of this information through newspaper reports, magazine articles, emails, letters and drafts of a true-crime book which lends the story an added dimension, giving the reader the impartial information to make up their own mind as to Hamish Wolfe's innocence or guilt.

Sharon Bolton has created lead characters you want to hate but end up liking and ones you like but don't know why. The short chapters and fast pace narrative make this novel impossible to put down. It is easily my favourite novel of the year so far.

Bolton is an exceptional writer. I love her Lacey Flint series. However she is carving out a career as a writer of psychological standalone novels that can be ranked among some of the best on the British crime scene.

Sharon, you're rapidly becoming one of my favourite crime writers!

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) This is a highly unique and original thriller, where did the story come from?
Growing up in the Lancashire Pennines I was very much aware of the legacy left by the Moors Murderers, and then later, the reign of terror of the Yorkshire Ripper. What intrigued me about the cases, though, wasn’t so much the actions of the men as of the two women involved. What possessed a normal young woman like Hindley to commit crimes so vile for the sake of the man she loved? Why has Sonia Sutcliffe remained loyal to her psychopath husband for so many years? Once I’d hit upon the idea of writing about a woman in love with a convicted killer, I started looking for evidence that my idea wasn’t far-fetched. I found it in spades. Around the world, it seems, wherever there is an incarcerated murderer, there’ll be a small army of women determined to adore him.
2) You use book extracts, letters, emails, newspaper and magazine articles very well to tell the story. Are you a fan of breaking up the prose in this way or was this the best possible way to tell your story?
I’ve long been a huge fan of Wilkie Collins, who uses a very similar technique in many of his books, and have often wanted to try it for myself. Offering different perspectives certainly helped my task of keeping the reader guessing about the motives of the main characters. There is a tendency to trust information presented in an official way – reports, newspaper articles, etc. – but, of course, they are as vulnerable to personal bias as any other piece of writing. I suppose, in the end, breaking the narrative and offering different takes on the action was another fun way for me to play with my readers’ heads.
3) ‘Daisy in Chains’ is a thoroughly researched novel, did you learn anything that didn't fit your fictional world and cause you to change direction?
Not in a major way. I had to rethink quite a lot of what I had planned originally in regard to the Cheddar caves. In the end though, we can always make stuff up!
4) Do you prefer writing police procedural or psychological thrillers?
I’m genuinely not conscious of writing either. I suppose my Lacey Flint stories could be considered police procedurals, but Lacey is such a quirky character, and my plots are usually a little outlandish, so I doubt they come across as classic police procedurals in the style of, say, Ian Rankin. On the other hand, I do like a bit of action in my books, a bit of tunnelling underground or scaling tall buildings, the odd high-speed boat chase on the Thames, so I’m not sure they can really be described as psychological. What it boils down to I think, is that I have an idea for a story and then tell it the best way I can.
5) Have we seen the last of Lacey Flint?
Oh, I doubt it. I’m asked just about every day when she’s coming back, as though I have a ten year plan and the next Lacey book is scheduled for 2019. Not that simple, I’m afraid. When the next Big Idea is perfect for Lacey and her mates, I’ll unlock the chest, pull out the puppets and give them a dust off. Until then, my stories will have to be told by others.
6) Your debut novel, ‘Sacrifice’ was adapted and shown on TV last week. Were you happy with the adaptation and which of your other books would you like to see on screen?
Seeing one’s novel dramatized is tremendously exciting and exceptionally nerve-wracking at the same time. Of course, there are things that I might have done differently but for the most part I thought Peter Dowling and his team did a very good job of capturing the spirit of the book. I thought the cast, Radha Mitchell in particular, were brilliant and the cinematography exceptionally good. By coincidence, I’m due to watch it for the second time this evening with friends and it’ll be interesting to see what they make of it. As to other books – well, all of them, but I’d particularly love to see a dramatization of ‘Little Black Lies’, especially if its filmed in the Falkland Islands and I get a chance to visit.
7) For writers who are just starting out on their ‘novel journey’, what one piece of advice would you give?
Picture yourself walking into the perfect library. Walnut bookshelves stretch to a distant ceiling. Dust sparkles in the sunlight and the smell of old paper fills the air. Thousands of books surround you, ancient texts and the latest young adult novel. Books without count, and yet somewhere in this library is the story you’ve been waiting your whole life to read, the story that will end all other stories for you. It’s there, in the gold leather cover, on that shelf, beckoning. You walk over, you take it down, you open it. The pages are empty. The story is yours to write.
8) What would you say are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you and would take with you to a desert island?
'The Woman In White' by Wilkie Collins, 'The Silence of the Lambs' by Thomas Harris and 'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt.