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Author of the Month

Name: Lee Weeks

First Novel: The Trophy Taker

Most Recent Book: Dead of Winter

'By the end of this book I was literally gasping for breath.'

Synopsis:
Thirteen years ago two women and a young child were found murdered in the idyllic setting of Rose Cottage. A scene of beauty now turned to a landscape of butchery. The only survivor was one of the women’s newborn son. The husband of one of the victims was a policeman himself, Callum Carmichael. All these years later after the force promised him results and delivered nothing and without any convictions, the pariah of suspicion still hangs over him.

Thirteen years later, just a few weeks before the Christmas holidays, a woman’s body is found under a patio at a large secluded house in North London. What is concrete evidence is a fingerprint found inside the house – a match with an unknown fingerprint found at Rose Cottage all those years ago. So, is the killer back after all these years?

Ebony Willis is sent to talk to Carmichael about thirteen years ago, but the MET failed him before, he won’t sit around and watch them let him down a second time. Carmichael has different ideas and is soon making his own way down to London to fit the pieces together and have his revenge and within days there is much blood spilt as Ebony Willis fits together the pieces of what happened thirteen years ago and why the bloodshed has started all over again. Or has blood been spilt for years and nobody realised?

Review:
On the cover of ‘Dead of Winter’ a quote makes similarities to Martina Cole and Jessie Keane. Now, I have read both ladies, especially Cole over the years and I wouldn’t necessarily put Weeks in with this category. There are a few gangsters but that hardly means it is in the same vein. Having read ‘Dead of Winter’ I would liken Weeks’ novel to an early Lynda La Plante where you knew the author had deep connections with the police and respected the dedication of it’s officers as well as realising the bureaucracy within its walls.

What Weeks delivers is a stand-out, first rate thriller that has many threads. With precision Weeks presents her story, flipping from Callum Carmichael who is a force of nature and vengeance. There are no brakes where this man is concerned and he is a juggernaut full of anger. The main of the story follows Ebony Willis of mixed race, dubious background herself and a mother inside, residing at her majesty’s pleasure. It is her story that is fascinating and who shows promise that despite only being a constable, Ebony can carry a story on her own shoulders and I look forward to seeing Ebony Willis develop in future novels. Many of Weeks’ characters stood out for me and she is smart at characterisation as well as plotting.

With short, sharp chapters Weeks continues the pace at a gallop until near the end where some chapters are no longer than a page and you can feel she has pushed her foot flat on the accelerator and careering, her reader alongside, to a cataclysmic and very messy pile up. And you would be hard pushed to be disappointed. By the end of this book I was literally gasping for breath! Totally gripping.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) What made you decide to focus on new characters for your latest book, ‘Dead of Winter’?
I really wanted to create a series where I could have a bank of characters to call on. My new Murder Squad will remain constant but sometimes one will come to the fore, sometimes another. The reader will gradually get to know their different personalities and, to a certain extent, their private lives. But, overridingly, I wanted to write a new series where the story is king.
2) Why did you choose a Detective Constable to be your main focus of the novel and why did you make her mixed race as well as ungainly physically?
I wanted the reader to see my new murder squad through the eyes of someone who was also seeing it as a newcomer, to share the experience. I made her mixed race because I wanted to present a modern London woman. Her looks are strong and athletic rather than traditionally pretty but it is a beauty that just needs working on. As she grows as a personality she will find it.
3) DC Ebony Willis has a troubled past of her own despite working in the police force. Are we going to find out more about Ebony as the books progress?
Yes definitely. There might also be a short story, between books, about Ebony’s life.
4) You use a lot of acronyms in your book. How much research do you have to do for your books and do you have contacts within the police force?
Researching thoroughly is paramount to me. I would hate to be pulled up about something and crime readers are a clever breed. I am lucky that my dad was a copper. That gives me a foot in the door and contacts.
5) The subject of human trafficking has been highlighted many times in the newspapers and TV. What was it about this subject that made you want to include it in ‘Dead of Winter’?
It’s a subject that has affected me personally as I was a hair’s breadth away from being trafficked when I was younger. I understand what it feels like for your life to mean nothing but the price someone can get for you. I feel very much that the moral issue of human trafficking is not being addressed adequately and that we should all feel responsible for the fate of another human being.
6) Out of all the genres why did you choose to write crime fiction?
Crime fiction chose me. I loosely wrote a story about my time in Hong Kong when I was sold as part of a triad debt. I threw in a few fight scenes for good measure because that’s the type of film I like to watch: action adventure/thriller. I asked for someone’s opinion and was told that the character they liked best was the detective I had thrown into chapter three as a love interest. That detective was based on a policeman, tall, Eurasian looking, that told me to go home to Devon and that Hong Kong was not the place for me. The woman also said: ‘by the way – you’ve written a crime thriller’.
7) What advice do you have for budding writers?
Know your market, study your genre. Don’t be a dreamer. You can make it happen with hard work.
8) Do you have any daily rituals when writing a novel?
I try not to have any. Basically I work from about seven or eight in the morning. I walk the dogs when I can’t ignore them any more and then work again until something else stops me like my son or my need to go to the gym. I work all the time because it isn’t really work is it?;-)
9) Can you give us a little taster of your next novel?
My new book revolves around the daughter, Danielle, who Tracey had when she was fifteen and gave up for adoption. Twenty-three years later Danielle comes to find her birth mother then disappears, leaving Tracy to look after her young son Charlie. The murder squad believes Danielle has become the latest victim of a serial killer preying on single mothers. Ebony Willis goes undercover and faces becoming the next victim as Charlie begins to speak about what he saw and the murderer plays a sadistic game with Danielle’s life.
10) What three crime novels have made a lasting impression on you?
Carl Hiaasen - 'Skin Tight' because he writes with such ease and humour. He has a wonderful ability to sum up someone’s character with a misplaced freckle.

Val McDermid - 'The Mermaids Singing'. Effortlessly fast paced.

Elmore Leonard – ‘Get Shorty’. A great style: so precise, each line exactly where he wants it. Genius.