When your life is a lie, who can you trust?
When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.
But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.
When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?
She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her.
I’m absolutely thrilled today to be the first post on the blog tour – on publication day – for the launch of Rachel Abbott’s new thriller, Kill Me Again. Way back in May 2013, I reviewed Rachel’s second book, The Back Road – you’ll find my review here. I really enjoyed it very much, but haven’t – until now – read another of her books. There’s been no real reason why – maybe, for a while, there were just too many intriguing new thrillers and not enough time to read them all. But in the intervening time, things have changed really dramatically for Rachel – now the UK’s number one bestselling independent author, 14th bestselling author of the last five years on Amazon’s Kindle, with 1.7 million sales worldwide.
My review follows below, along with news about how to win a signed paperback copy of Kill Me Again (sorry, now closed). But first, I’m really delighted to welcome Rachel Abbott as my guest on Being Anne.
Welcome to Being Anne, Rachel – I’ve read your books before, but for anyone who perhaps hasn’t, would you like to introduce yourself?
Thank you so much for inviting me to chat to you – and I’m delighted that you’ve read my books. I write thrillers, but I only started to write quite late on in life as I previously had a busy and demanding job. I live on the beautiful island of Alderney in the Channel Islands, having discovered the island only three years ago – I had never heard of it before I came here and it was love at first sight.
I understand you’re now the UK’s number one best-selling independent author – 300,000 copies sold of Stranger Child, over 1000 five star reviews. Did you ever think that would happen when you were toiling over Only The Innocent?
No – I certainly didn’t. As I mentioned, I had been working all my adult life and then I decided to give up work and take things easy when I was in my early 50s. I had always wanted to write a novel, but I had no intention of trying to get published. I wrote for my own satisfaction. When Only the Innocent was complete, I was persuaded by family to try to find an agent, but after a small number of submissions – the feedback to which was fairly positive, but not quite positive enough – I decided I might as well self-publish. But I did it without any particular hope or expectation.
“Edge-of your-seat page turners”. A fair description of your writing, or do you have a better one?
I certainly hope they fulfil that description, but I also think they are about dilemmas. One of the tag lines for Only the Innocent was ‘What set of circumstances could be so bad that a woman would have to murder a man?’ and so I like to think of ideas in which my protagonists are faced with choices, but incredibly difficult ones that usually involve somebody being killed along the way.
Who do you have in mind as your reader as you write? A certain background, or age group? Is your reader female?
Surprisingly, my readers are diverse. I think when I started that I imagined women as the readers, because my protagonists are always women. But then there’s my detective, Tom Douglas, so perhaps he evens things out a bit. There is a fair bit of emotion in the books, though – nobody ever kills for money or status. The books and dilemmas are always relationship based, and so I am delighted that so many men seem to enjoy my novels.
Is there one of your books that you’re especially pleased with and proud of, or is it always your latest book?
They are all different, so it’s hard to say. I will always have a soft spot for Only the Innocent, as my first book and I did love writing about Tasha – a young girl who had been abducted as a child and brought up in a gangland family in Stranger Child, but in general each book wins me over and becomes my favourite.
When I reviewed The Back Road back in 2013, I joked that my decision to pick up the book was influenced by your prolific tweets urging followers to buy. It must be so difficult getting yourself “out there” as an independent author. Looking back, are you happy with how you went about things? It certainly worked…!
I’m very happy indeed with how I went about things. There are lots of misconceptions about Twitter in relation to books and publishing. The biggest one is that if you keep tweeting the same thing, people will switch you off. That is only true of the small minority of users who are never off Twitter, or are frequent users who put their favourite people into lists. The average person looks at Twitter for about 6 minutes per day and follow 150 people, so the chances of them seeing even one of my tweets, let alone a whole stream of them, is actually quite remote. The big marketing gurus suggest posting the same tweet (you have to change one character) every 20 minutes!
Was writing fiction something you’d always wanted to do? And when the moment came, did you just sit at your keyboard and write?
I had wanted to write a book for about ten years before I started, and I had this idea about a woman murderer in my head. My journey to work each day just outside Manchester wasn’t long in terms of miles, but it used to take me about an hour each morning because of traffic. I used that time to plot my murder – and it made the journey pass quickly. Then, as soon as I had the chance, I sat down and built it into a story.
What writers do you admire? if someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you like them to mention?
I do tend to read a lot of thrillers. One agent told me that my writing reminded her of early Minette Walters and I was thrilled. I always enjoy books by Sharon Bolton, Val McDermid, Harlan Coben – but I would love to write like Gillian Flynn.
Always writing? Next book already underway?
Yes – I love to write, and while I’m in the final stages of preparing one book for launch I always feel that I urgently want to get on with the next one. I have two ideas for the next book, and really can’t decide which way to go. So I will end up writing a couple of synopses and sending them off to various people, including my agent, for feedback.
It’s an exciting time, though – I really enjoy the start, when I wonder if there is enough to make into a decent novel and knowing in the back of my mind that I will end up having to cut a lot out to get it back to a sensible length.
I can’t wait.
Thank you Rachel – I’m so pleased you could join me on publication day, and I wish you every success with Kill Me Again.
My thoughts on Kill Me Again
I don’t know what others think are the characteristics of a great thriller. For me it’s a book that you just can’t set aside – to eat, to do housework, to sleep… This one had me awake into the early hours, only setting it aside when my eyes became too gritty to continue, only to pick it up and read to its conclusion as soon as I woke the next morning.
It’s really quite a story. Two series of murders, twelve years apart, with the same characteristics – with DCI Tom Douglas and DI Becky Robinson trying to uncover the truth, racing against time, with the added complication that Tom’s girlfriend Leo is missing, and looks remarkably like the first girl found murdered. Then there’s Maggie Robinson, a defence lawyer recently arrived in Manchester, wrestling with the defence of a criminal who repels her – and whose husband suddenly disappears, leaving her children unattended. And that’s just for starters. Then the menacing phone calls start, and Maggie realises that she really doesn’t know her husband at all…
I’d forgotten how much I loved Rachel’s writing. The plotting in Kill Me Again is really complex, but her writing draws you in effortlessly, and keeps you turning the pages – there’s the multiple murder storyline past and present, the issue of Leo’s disappearance and its impact on Tom, and the twists and turns of Maggie’s story as she uncovers layer after layer of secrets.
The characters are excellent. I remember Tom from The Back Road – I liked him very much then, and even more now. Becky is an endearing sidekick, astute, intelligent, hardworking, and there’s enough detail about her personal life that I really got to know and like her. Maggie is wonderful, you feel her fear and confusion, sometimes her anger, as you follow her discoveries step-by-step and wonder if you’d make the same choices if you faced a similar situation. Subsidiary characters are really well drawn too – with a particular commendation for Maggie’s eight year old son Josh, one of the most real and convincing children I’ve come across in a while. And the setting – much of it a part of Manchester that I know quite well (I once worked there) – was vividly drawn, real in its detail.
The twists and turns of the story absolutely gripped me – the pace is relentless, the timing perfect – and at no point did I second guess the unexpected and shocking conclusion. “Edge-of your-seat page turner” certainly captures it for me. This was one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a while – I’m sorry I deserted you Rachel, but I’d forgotten how very good your books are. I’m once again an unashamed fan.
With thanks to Katie Brown PR and the author, I was delighted to be able to offer the chance to win a signed paperback copy of Kill Me Again by retweeting a post. The winner was @hhunter31 – just waiting for a postal address and it’s yours… congratulations!
My thanks to the author and Katie Brown PR for providing my advance reading e-copy, for the tour materials, and for the offer of a signed copy for my readers.
About Rachel Abbott:
Rachel Abbott, who was born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.
She has since written The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child and a novella, Nowhere Child. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.
Follow Rachel on Twitter or via her Facebook author page: she also has an excellent website.