Thriller of the Month – The Darkest Lies, by Barbara Copperthwaite

Like the famous Echo & The Bunnymen song, “The Darkest Lies” revolves around a killing moon. On brightly moonlit nights, two young girls are brutally attacked. Fobbed off by police and betrayed by friends, Melanie, mother of one of the victims, turns detective to find out who’s responsible for the awful crime.

At thirty-three, Melanie is a housewife and journalist manqué who has lived in the same Fenland village all her life. She thinks she knows everybody’s secrets, including her daughter’s. After all, Beth is an only child, and both Melanie and her loving husband have a close relationship with her. Nevertheless, as Melanie unpeels the surface of her neighbours’ lives, unpleasant truths are revealed. Melanie finds herself in danger, too, but willingly embraces it in her quest to avenge her daughter.

The strain on Melanie’s mental health and her marriage are too apparent. It’s impossible not to sympathise with her despite the poor choices she makes in her desperation to cope. This maintains suspense, as do the tantalising glimpses of the killer’s thoughts that punctuate the narrative.

“The Darkest Lies” is Barbara Copperthwaite’s third thriller. As ever, the pages keep turning right up until the nail-biting conclusion – on a moonlit night, of course…


Like Barbara, I’m a British crime thriller writer. With other authors, I’ll be taking part in a big online thriller giveaway in June – sign up for my newsletter to find out more, and receive a free e-book of short stories.

Living in a Box – Why Crime Thrillers are my Genre

I describe myself as a British crime thriller writer. While strictly truthful – I’m British, and I write books containing lots of thrills and crime – it’s not the whole story. My full-length thrillers also sizzle with suspense, sex and romance. There’s often a dose of office politics, as corporate emperors play games with each other.

Why, then, be pigeonholed in a box labelled “crime thriller”? There are four reasons why I believe choosing a genre is important:

#1. Readers know what to expect. It’s true of any genre, whether it’s sci-fi, horror or even divisions of non-fiction like biographies. An avid crime thriller fan can accept a little romance creeping into the plot. It may even be the motive for the crime (in After The Interview, a single adulterous incident has far-reaching consequences). On the other hand, a reader of romantic fiction might balk at a murder or two.

#2. It’s hard for readers who love blockbuster-style thrillers (or any other niche for that matter) to find them at random in the packed General Fiction shelves of bookstores.

#3. It makes comparisons easy. I’m not Kate Atkinson, Ruth Rendell or John Grisham, but my books are a little like each of them – and If you love any of them, you’re likely to enjoy my fiction too.

#4. The book trade – the mighty Amazon, bookstores and wholesalers – prefer it.

I give myself more latitude when I write short stories. Some, like 5 minute crime thriller The Gap, available free here, slot naturally into the crime fiction genre. Others delve into the realms of horror, romance and the supernatural. If you haven’t read my free e-book, Something In The City, yet, click here to receive a copy, and see for yourself.

Thriller of the Month – The Tree of Hands, by Ruth Rendell

When I first began to write grown-up fiction, I went to evening classes in creative writing. My teacher was a glowing fan of Ruth Rendell’s crime stories. Soon, I was addicted to them too, especially the darker thrillers that Ms Rendell wrote using the name Barbara Vine.

Although The Tree of Hands was published under Ms Rendell’s own name, it sits firmly within the genre of dark psychological thrillers. Cosy Inspector Wexford is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we are introduced to Benet, who has written a blockbuster and lives comfortably in Hampstead as the single mother of a toddler. Adulthood has brought about an uneasy truce with Benet’s mother Mopsa, victim to a mental illness that produces sudden episodes of psychosis. Visiting from Spain, Mopsa at last appears to be cured – until, driving through a rather less salubrious area of London, she steals an abandoned child.

I hesitate to say much more because I want you to enjoy all the surprises on offer in The Tree of Hands for yourself! Suffice to say, the aftermath of the crime throws a spotlight on love, loss and nastier aspects of human relationships. Ms Rendell understood too well how rumour and paranoia could turn a whole community against an individual. The tale is also told through an excellent cast of supporting characters: a young carpenter impossibly starry-eyed about his feckless lover, a neurotic conman, a gangster, a kindly doctor.

As always with Ruth Rendell’s work, although the characters may be hard to love, they’re written sympathetically. The reader has access to Benet’s innermost thoughts, as well as gaining insight into other individuals we might not want as neighbours…

Following her sad death a few months ago, Ms Rendell will be sorely missed. If you haven’t read The Tree of Hands, do track it down!


I also write psychological crime thrillers laced with twists and suspense. If you like Ruth Rendell’s style, I bet you’ll love my latest crime thriller, The Bride’s Trail, too! Take a look at the reviews and peek inside the book on Amazon.