Monday 24 June 2013

The Unquiet Grave by Steven Dunne with Q&A from the Author

If there are any crime thriller fans out there who have not yet been introduced to Steven Dunne's 'Reaper' series featuring the brooding maverick DI Damen Brooks, then you are in for a real treat.  In fact, I'm a tiny bit envious of anyone who still has all four of these incredible books to read.

The Unquiet Grave finds DI Brooks back at the station after his recent suspension and injury.  Brook has few friends and many enemies, and finds himself relegated to the cold case department.  In his morgue-like office, surrounded by yellowing files containing cases that many other Detectives have tried and failed to solve, Brook considers his own future at regular intervals.   His relationship with his daughter is strained, he's living on rice and cream cheese and has given up smoking.   Only his old partner, DS John Noble, still believes in him and the local newspaper reporter is determined to blacken his name even more.

Brook's only colleague in the cold case department is Copeland; an ex-cop who devoted his life and his career to trying to catch his sister Tilly's  murderer.  Copeland's life has been ruined by that one event so many years ago, and Tilly's case has been reviewed time and time again.

Brook begins to see a pattern in a series of murders that began back in 1963 and the deeper he digs, the more he discovers.  Wondering why these cases have remained unsolved for so long, Brook soon realises that he is uncovering not just the identity of the murderer, but also a web of lies and deceit from both inside and outside of the force.

Just like Steven Dunne's first three books; The Reaper, The Disciple and Deity, The Unquiet Grave kept me reading until the early hours.   This really is high-end crime writing, excellently constructed and throwing enough red herrings around to both challenge and thrill the reader.    DI Brook is a multi-layered character, and whilst there are a stock of flawed detective characters floating around the crime genre at the moment, Brook stands out from the rest with his intelligence, his emotional baggage and his determination to get to the bottom of a case, no matter what it takes.

The Unquiet Grave grips the reader from the first paragraph and doesn't let go until the very last word. The pace is perfect and the twists are genius.

The Unquiet Grave is published by Headline in hardback and in eBook on 4 July.   My thanks go to Sam Eades who sent my copy for review.

Steven Dunne has written for fun since attending Kent University.  After a brief and terrifying stint as a stand-up comic, he became a freelance journalist working for The Times and the Independent.  He is now a part-time teacher in Derby.  He is the author of the highly acclaimed thrillers THE REAPER, THE DISCIPLE and DEITY.  Follow Steven on Twitter @ReaperSteven or visit his website

I'm really thrilled that Steven Dunne has agreed to answer some questions here on my blog today:

Steven Dunne
What are you reading at the moment?    White Noise by Don DeLillo

Do you read reviews of your novels?    Absolutely, I think if someone takes the trouble to read your work you need to hear their reaction to it in the same way as I would listen to readers' thoughts at book signings or festivals.  Reviews are a good barometer for how your writing is being interpreted.

Do you take them seriously?  If reviews are well argued it would be churlish not to take notice.  I'm sure, like most writers, I won't be able to please everyone so accept that some readers are just wrong for your work.  And positive reviews are one of the things that inspire me to do my best.

How long does it take to write a novel?  It takes me as long as I'm allowed.  That sounds like an odd answer but I don't think writers are doing their job properly if they pronounce themselves satisfied with their work.  I will use every minute of every day to try and add value to my novels.  The trick is to budget the time you've been given and use it wisely.

Do you have any writing rituals?  Yes.  I drag myself into the office and force myself to re-enter the world I've created.  It gets easier to do this the more that world has been constructed.  Starting a new novel is the hardest time to avoid distractions.

What was your favourite childhood book?   Mmmm.  That's a long time ago.  I enjoyed many series of books. The Famous Five, Alastair MacLean, Agatha Christie.  I started attacking serious literature in 6th form.

Name one book that made you laugh?  Modern American satire has me squirming in amusement at the way some characters are skewered on their own pretensions.  Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections had me howling and I'm enjoying White Noise in the same way.

Name one book that made you cry?   Interestingly, I only get weepy about scenes I'm writing.  I often feel the lip wobble when winding up the desperations levels in the shattered lives of one of my characters, often the loneliness and despair at the heart of my central character DI Damen Brook.

Which fictional character would you like to meet?   Sherlock Holmes.  No explanation needed.

Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?  I try not to impose my taste on friends above a nudge in the right direction but if you forced me into a choice, I'd have to give Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, the book that highlights the insanity of war better than any other.

Are you inspired by any particular author or book?  Thomas Harris turned me onto the value of crime fiction as a genre with The Silence of the Lambs and it still serves as a standard to which all thrillers should aspire.

What is your guilty pleasure read?   With writing so all-consuming I never feel guilty about reading at any time.  It's the only activity which justifies time away from the laptop.

Who are your favourite authors?   In the crime genre that would be Harris, Michael Connolly, Henning Mankell, RJ Ellory and Steig Larson.  In all genres, Franzen, Norman Mailer, Gore Videl, John Fowles, Truman Capote, John LeCarre amongst many.

Which book have your re-read?  Funnily enough I usually don't get round to re-reading because of the number of books I have yet to experience.  However, I did re-read The Poet by Michael Connolly as light relief after finishing The Unquiet Grave.  It wasn't as good as I remember, though I think most thrillers lose much of their lustre once the solution is known.

Which book have you given up on?   I usually grind it out to the bitter end but I had to give up on Labyrinth by Kate Mosse for reasons too numerous to mention.  The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg was another.  It seemed to be a thriller about baby-rearing so either I got the wrong end of the stick or the publishers put the wrong cover on.

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