CUT SHORT “gritty and totally addictive debut novel” New York Journal of Books (Sam Millar)
‘Simply awesome! This debut novel by Leigh Russell will take your breath away' CUT SHORT is listed as a Top Read for 2009 on Eurocrime
How I read it: I own the book
What attracted me to the book: I had heard many good things about this book. This genre is the type of genre I write so I'm interested in reading the same. I prefer to read series with strong detectives and I was hopeful that DI Geraldine Steel would continue for many books.
Summary (from amazon): D.S. Geraldine Steel expects the quiet town of Woolsmarsh to be dull. She quickly discovers she is wrong. The park is a place where children play, friends sit and gossip, people walk their dogs, or take a short cut to avoid the streets. But in the shadows a predator prowls, hunting for victims. A woman sees the killer and comes forward as a witness-someone whom the killer must stop at all costs. For D.S. Geraldine Steel, it is a race against time to find the killer before he strikes again, as public pressure mounts with the growing death toll.
My thoughts:I was looking for a wonderful series to start and I found it! Leigh says that character is interesting to her and you can really see that in the way she delves into the lives of each one. One thing I liked about the book was that each chapter was short - there are sixty-five of them, but they are each short. We are introduced to the killer from the beginning of the book but even then, the information keeps us guessing who he really is, how will he be caught, and for me, who is Miss Elsie? It's a real twist when we find out...
Also, what made the novel great is that we live, not only in our detective's shoes, but also in our victim's shoes and the killers. Each time a victim is taken, we feel not only for them but, because we know the killer and his motives, we feel for the killer as well. Leigh Russell does not tell us too much about the detectives in the series and that's great because it leaves us with something to discover in the next book which I'm eagerly awaiting.
Interview With The Author: I am so honored to be interviewing Leigh Russell today. Her writing, her books I'm sure are going to be joining the ranks with the likes of Val McDermid and Ruth Rendell very soon.
(1) What made you decide to write crime fiction? What authors inspired you?
I started writing one day almost by chance. It took a second for an idea to grab me and I’ve been writing compulsively ever since!
I was walking through my local park one rainy day when a man appeared around a bend in the path walking towards me. I wondered what I would do if I passed him and saw a body in the bushes beside the path. I walked on, there was no body in the bushes, but the idea stayed with me and when I went home I began to write the story. Who was the victim? What was she doing in the park? Why did this man kill her? How would the police find him? Within six weeks I had written the draft for a novel. I sent this off to a publisher who specialises in crime fiction. Two weeks later they phoned me and shortly after that signed me up for three books. I wrote somewhere that I fell into writing like Alice down the rabbit hole.
I admire many authors. I am a huge fan of Jeffery Deaver and am thrilled to have him as a fan in return. He described CUT SHORT as “a stylish, top-of-the-line crime tale, a seamless blending of psychological sophistication and gritty police procedure. And you're just plain going to love DI Geraldine Steel.” I read Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Lee Child, Simon Beckett… it’s a long list. But sadly, since I started writing, I have very little time for reading.
As for inspiration – I find that in real life, just walking around. I’m constantly on the look out for places where a dead body could be concealed. Who is it? How did he or she arrive there? Who was the killer?... and off I go, writing another book.
(2) You introduce us to DI Geraldine Steel - a strong female heroine. She also appears in the next book ROAD CLOSED. Do you plan to keep the series alive for while?
The draft for the third book in the series, DEAD END, has already been delivered to my publisher and I am about a quarter of the way through the next one. So the answer is YES! As the series is becoming so popular, I think it will continue for quite a while and I have lots of ideas – I’m already working on ideas for books five and six… and Geraldine is the detective throughout.
(3) Recently, I heard your name was read out as one of eight authors shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award for Best First Novel. What an honor! It's every writer's dream that their first book does as well as yours, did it shock you how well yours did?
I was astounded and excited. It is a great honour. Being shortlisted for such a major award gives you a huge boost as a writer. I had a wonderful day at Harrogate, chatting to Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham and attending a brilliant panel on forensics. This kind of recognition gives you real credibility as an author.
(4) I love that you switched multiple point of views in your novel. You even have the point of view of a child. What made you decide to write from that POV?
The Times of London described my books as “well-written, soundly plotted and psychologically acute.” My books are plot driven – you read on because you have to find out what happens next. The Star magazine called ROAD CLOSED “a gripping page-turner from the start” and this is a view that is repeated throughout the many reviews of my work. But what really interests me is character. I have to see the world from inside my characters’ heads before I can create them and make their world seem real. I wrote one scene from the point of view of a child because that was the character the narrative focused in that scene.
(5) You also write from the POV of the killer. The reason I think this is gaining popularity in crime fiction is because the reader can delve into the mind of the killer - we gain an understanding of the motives. Did it ever bother you to write those scenes? Did it leave you haunted?
I wrote somewhere that my killer crawled off my pen onto the page. I have no idea where he came from but I felt I understood him right from the start. He haunted me in the way many of my characters haunt me, because they fascinate me. Exploring the mind of my killer wasn’t disturbing because I found him so interesting! In some ways, he is as much a victim as the people he kills. Because I have to understand my characters, it is difficult to create a character who is purely ‘evil’ and, in real life, many killers seem outwardly quite normal. Neighbours and acquaintances are often shocked and surprised to learn that someone they thought they knew is in fact a killer. Exploring the evil potential in man is one of the issues that interests me. Are we all capable of killing? I don’t think so - but if your life was threatened and you had a gun in your hand, what would you do? These are huge and dangerous questions to raise and all crime fiction has a moral dimension because we are talking about life and death. That also raises the stakes and makes it very exciting, of course.
(6) Last question, I love the cover of Cut Short. One thing that puzzles me, what does the writing on the cover signify? Are they real words?
I love the cover of CUT SHORT too! The writing on the cover is ambiguous, but I like the fact that readers can draw their own conclusions about it. Not everything in life is clear cut. I think that is one of the reasons for the enduring appeal of crime fiction, because the moral issues are clear and the villains are caught by the good guys in the end. Although, as I said, the villain in CUT SHORT is also a victim. So you have to draw your own conclusions about the book as well.
Wow. I can't believe that two weeks after finishing the draft, you were picked up for three books. That's amazing! But, you can see what all the excitement was about when you read the book. I'm sure the publisher knew the potential the series would have. I'm looking forward to the day when I can watch your books come alive on BBC or ITV with the new DI Geraldine Steel series.
Thank you so much for interviewing with me. I hope to be able to ask you a few questions about your next book.
Bottom Line on this Book: I know many of my readers enjoy Val McDermid, Ruth Rendell and Martin Edwards. You will not be disappointed with Cut Short or any works by Leigh Russell.
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