Blog tour review: In the Shadows by Tara Lyons

By | March 17, 2016

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London – and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify. 

Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity. 

How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer? 

I’m not sure it’s actually possible, but I think I’m almost as excited as author Tara Lyons to be starting off her blog tour on the release day of her debut, In the Shadows, now available through Amazon in the UK and US

I really enjoyed it, and my review follows below, but first I’m really delighted to welcome author Tara Lyons to Being Anne… 

Welcome to Being Anne, Tara – I’m delighted you’re joining me on such a special day!  Would you like to introduce yourself?

Thanks for having me, Anne. I’m thrilled that you are kicking off my very first blog tour. I am an indie author, an avid reader and a single mum. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but the opportunity never presented itself. That is until last year. My life was turned upside at the beginning of 2015, but it had a knock-on effect and everything to do with my writing career just fell into place; the story was there, I was connecting with the right people and I finally had the time to devote to my writing.

So, In the Shadows, and the big day has come… we’ve all seen that lovely cover, we’ve read the cover description – tell me what inspired the story…

You’ll know from the blurb that Grace Murphy loses her grandfather to cancer – well, I was in that position at the beginning of last year. It was a very difficult time for me and I immersed myself in books, they were an escape for me. I started reading a lot of crime and thriller novels and I loved the buzz they gave me. I think the combination of my grief and my new found favourite genres sparked the story inside of me. 

How would you describe In the Shadows? Is it crime, police procedural, a thriller – or something else?

In the Shadows is not a strict police procedural in terms of it just following the main Detective Inspector and his team. It couples the criminal act of a serial killer with the psychological elements of how the other characters are affected by that. So I would describe In the Shadows as a crime/psychological thriller novel.

Planning, writing, editing, getting ready for launch – what’s been your favourite part of the whole process? And the most difficult?

As it’s my debut novel, the whole experience has been awesome. For me, the writing process became something I had to and needed to do. The story was rattling around in my mind for ages, the characters were speaking to me and telling me where to take them. It became very therapeutic to write In the Shadows. Preparing for the launch has been lots of fun, it’s great interacting with you amazing bloggers, the fantastic online books clubs and enticing the readers to order a copy of my novel. 

I don’t know about the most difficult, but definitely the most eye-opening was the editing process.  Having worked on a magazine for eight years, I was used to editing articles. Editing a novel is a completely different ball game – the size of it, for one, but also the switching of chapters to make it flow better, introducing new characters or storylines. I think I could edit In the Shadows every time I read it, so you have to be strict and know when you’ve done the absolute best you can.

I must mention that cover again – it’s really striking, and would definitely make me reach for it on a shelf. Where did it come from? 

Yay, I love to hear that! Well, I knew I wanted an image to invoke suspense and make the reader wonder what In the Shadows was all about; and I think the cover does just that. I found an image, explained what I wanted to achieve to my cover artist and voila! She nailed it in one, she’s extremely talented. 

When you were writing In the Shadows, did you have anyone in mind as your reader? A certain background, or age group maybe? Were they female? 

Well, I knew the reader had to be over 18 – I think even the cover implies that – there are definitely thrilling scenes of murder. I thought of my group of friends who encouraged me to write, readers I interact with online and in books clubs and as they’re mixed gender, I knew I had to cater for both male and female readers. So I hope I’ve accomplished that. 

Many readers will already know your name from Web of Deceit, the novella you co-wrote with Mel Comley. How did that collaboration come about?

I am extremely lucky to have met Mel online via THE Book Club on Facebook. A mutual friend of ours explained to Mel that I was writing a book and how excited I was to be following my dream. Mel, being the wonderfully thoughtful person she is, got in touch and said she’d be happy to help wherever she could. Over the following months we became good friends and met up when Mel visited the UK, and so Web of Deceit was born. I was already a huge fan of Mel’s books and had read all of the Justice series and Sally Parker series, and they are in my top reads of 2015. We started talking about a joint venture and bounced ideas back and forth. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

And did I hear you’re going to be working together again?

You have heard right, Anne and I’m sure by now you’ve seen some of the teasers Mel and I have been tempting you all with on Facebook. We’re really excited about our new crime series… I can’t give too much away right now, but all will be revealed very soon.

Was writing fiction something you’d always wanted to do? And when the moment came, did you just sit at your keyboard and write?

Yes, and yes! As a child I was either telling a story or writing one down in my little red book. I actually gave that book to my mum one year as a birthday present… sorry, mum! I love where the imagination can take you, or how a small event or conversation can spark an idea in your mind. The time came for me last year, my 30th birthday, when my friends clubbed together and bought me a super high-spec laptop. “Write your story,” they said. So, after months of it busying away in my head, I sat down and typed and typed and typed. 

And how do you write – are you writing full time, or fitting it round a busy life?

My writing does fit into my lifestyle now, and that’s what I meant about everything falling into place. My son, Leo, is three and started part-time nursery in January. So, while he’s at school, and in bed, my time is devoted to writing. All the other hours I have are his – and he takes them gladly, he’s my ball of energy. 

As well as writing, I know you’re an avid reader and write excellent reviews. What writers do you admire? if someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you like them to mention?

Thank you, Anne! I’m delighted to say I’ve always left reviews for the books I read, they’re so important to authors. Reading has always been a passion of mine and I don’t want to miss out on some awesome books because I’m writing. I want them to go hand in hand. I think if I listed all the authors I admire we’d surpass the word count on you blog! The huge list has a lot to do with expanding my network and reading habits. I think being traditional published is a huge achievement, but this past year has really opened my eyes in terms of the work indie authors put into the entire journey of their book, and I admire them all for that. 

Eek! I really don’t know who I would compare my writing too… can I pass that question back to you, as a reader? (I’m awful at this – maybe Rachel Abbott? Perhaps other readers can help…)

And what’s next? Will we be seeing more books with only your name on the cover?

Definitely! I’ve opened the gate now and the ideas are flowing. I’m thrilled with the new crime series I’m working on with Mel and my priority is to successfully launch that. However, I’m always making notes and creating new ideas, so a cover with only my name on it is one hundred per cent in the pipe-line.

Huge thank you to Anne for featuring In the Shadows on her blog, I feel very honoured to have so much encouragement and support behind me. 

It’s been an absolute pleasure Tara – and I wish you every success with In the Shadows, and everything that follows. Do follow the tour over the next couple of weeks everyone – and I know Tara would love to you to join her at her Facebook launch party tonight (follow the link), from 8pm to 10pm. 

My review

So, what did I think of In the Shadows? I’m delighted to tell you that I really, really enjoyed it. Tara’s right – it’s not really right to describe it as a police procedural, although there’s plenty of excellent content about how an investigating team set about the hunt for a serial killer. The team itself has immense promise as the focus for more books – just enough detail about their lives and personalities, with much more to be revealed. 

The psychological thriller side is thoroughly excellent – Grace is central to the story, her grief over the loss of her grandfather extremely well portrayed, and as you read you really feel for her as she tries and fails repeatedly to come to terms with it. I really liked her relationship with her long-suffering mother – there are some beautifully crafted exchanges, both characters handling their grief and loss in their own ways, and some of the mother-daughter clashes felt very real, as did the love you could feel underlying them. She’s faced with a reality where her friends seem to be picked off by a sadistic killer, and wondering if and how they may be linked to her nightmares – its no surprise her emotions run pretty close to the surface, or that she chooses to try and numb them. 

She works in a theatre where they are putting on a production with a surreal link to one of the earlier murders – and that closed environment works really well as the setting for a lot of the interactions between characters, as the action moves closer and closer. The characters were good too – Michael the theatre director always a bit of an enigma, Eric the archetypal actor playing on his fame and looks, and I loved Grace’s friend with her personal take on a moral code. 

In the Shadows is a really gripping read – I didn’t want to put it down until my suspicions about how it ended were confirmed. Although there were times when I wanted to shake her, I liked Grace – I think you will too – and it was awful to see how the growing tension and the finger of suspicion landing on people close to her affected her. Of course, I was wrong about the outcome – I was convinced I had it sussed, but I was entirely wrong (as I so often am…).

This was a really good read by a debut novelist who I’m absolutely sure has a great future and dedicated readership just waiting for her. Give this one a try – you won’t be disappointed. And when her books are selling in the same numbers as Martina Cole you’ll be able to say you were in at the very start…

About Tara Lyons

At the age of 30, I decided to fulfil my life long dream of becoming a writer. Thanks to some amazing people in my life, I’ve had the chance to make that a reality. My debut novel, In the Shadows, is available now.

I am excited to be working with NY Times and USA Today best selling author, Mel Comley. Our novella, Web of Deceit is available now, and we are currently creating a new crime series together. 

When I’m not writing you’ll find me in a near-by Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with my son. I have a love of chocolate peanuts and reading – and prefer to enjoy them both with a strong cuppa.

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