Thursday 2 August 2018

Playing with Death by Simon Scarrow & Lee Francis @SimonScarrow @_LeeFrancis #BlogTour @headlinepg #RandomThingsTours

The discovery of a horribly mutilated corpse launches FBI Agent Rose Blake into a puzzling investigation. The victim was alone at home with no signs of forced entry. Who - or what - burnt him to death?
Strips of rubber melted to the body emerge as evidence that the victim was wearing The Skin, an innovation that takes users deep into a virtual world.
When a body with identical wounds is discovered, Rose realises that in the darkest corners of the Dark Web, a brutal killer is playing a deadly game. A game with no rules - and no mercy. To stop it, Rose must play too...

Playing With Death by Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis was published in paperback on 26 July 2018 by Headline. As part of the Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome both authors here to Random Things today. They are talking about the books that are special to them in My Life In Books.

My Life in Books - Simon Scarrow

The Happy Return, by C.S. Forester. The first of the Hornblower series to be written, it still ranks as one of the best historical fiction novels I have read in terms of great characters, great action, a great plot and plenty of warm-hearted humour. And no-one creates an historical setting as well as Forester does.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. THE great dystopian novel. It opens in an unsettling manner and creates a relentlessly grim and oppressive world where Fake News is the only news and the truth has been beaten to a pulp so that it no longer matters. There’s some wonderful narrative within a narrative as well, which is eventually undercut and yet still retains its punch. That’s quite a trick for a writer to pull off.

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. A rites of passage novel about a young man coming to terms with race, prejudice and politics in the USA. Step by step, his sense of identity is eroded by the ideological prisms he is seen through and sees through. 

The Watchmen, by Alan Moore. Graphic novels (or any novels come to that) don’t come more densely layered and intricately plotted than this. What is most surprising, though, is just how easy it is to empathise with his extraordinary  cast of super heroes and costumed adventurers and be genuinely moved by their plight. It is without doubt a work of genius.

The Once and Future King, by T. H. White. One of the most beautifully written and realised recreations of the Arthurian legend, it follows the youth of the Wart, the child who will one day be Arthur. The later sections are equally finely written and sensitively portray Lancelot’s struggle to restrain his innate savagery and the final section, The Book of Merlyn, is a perceptive presentation of political systems amid the tragic fall of the Round Table.

Simon Scarrow - July 2018 

My Life in Books - Lee Francis

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Yes, somewhat of a cliched favourite book to have on an author's list but its true. Shelley's remarkable tale is written with such verve and talent by a young woman who was only 19 at the time! Its incredibly detailed style and the doctor's obsession with creating life sucks you in and doesn't let go. The theme of a man-made creation going wrong and destroying its creator is still very relevant today... (Watch out for the reference in PLAYING WITH DEATH).

Animal Farm, by George Orwell. A short, brisk novel that hammers you with its clever themes and horrifying revelations dressed in a deceptively simple child's farmyard tale. The line 'All animals are born equal, but some are more equal than others' still haunts me, just as much as the final last scene of the book. It hits you in the face and leaves an uneasy feeling... Fantastic!

Flowers for Algernon,
 by Daniel Keyes. A powerful tale of how a simpleton becomes very intelligent via special treatments. I read this during my bachelors degree and was absolutely devastated by its emotional ending. If you're not crying at the end, you're the one who needs treatment!
Interview With The Vampire
, by Anne Rice. A sumptuous Gothic feast that somehow manages to make immortality a painful concept, it's also a powerful reading experience that lingers long after. Rice draws on Stoker's vampire figure template, but adds real depth with fascinating and conflicted characters. The film based on the book is also superb.
The Woman in Black 
by Susan Hill. This a doubly special one. I read this during my college years, proposing with youthful arrogance to adapt it into a film one day. The novel actually sent chills down my spine, and I kept looking up between pages to make sure she wasn't in the room with me! Then it gets weirder still. Around 10 years later, I ended up working as director's assistant on the film adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe! Spooky, huh?..

Lee Francis - July 2018 

A regular on the Sunday Times bestseller list with his historical novels, Simon Scarrow launches an exciting new strand to his writing with PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with Lee Francis: both an edge-of-your-seat thriller and a terrifying exploration of the dangers of the modern world.
Simon's Eagles of the Empire novels are legendary amongst readers of historical fiction, and all his novels, have been acclaimed by reviewers and readers alike. Prior to writing fiction Simon worked as a teacher and lecturer; he is now a full-time writer.
Lee Francis worked for several years in the world of film, TV and advertising as a script reader and assistant director. PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with his former lecturer Simon Scarrow, is his first novel.

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