Four dead bodies. One missing person. Let the game begin.
When an anonymous tip-off leads Detective Nikki Parekh and DS Sajid Malik to the sprawling Salinger estate, Nikki’s senses are on high alert. The brutal murder of all four members of the Salinger family has shocked the sleepy Bradford village to the core.
A mother, father, daughter, and son. . . all killed in exactly the same way – whilst sat around the coffee table, playing a game of monopoly.
But Nikki notices that there are five pieces on the board. One of the players is missing… Did they manage to escape the killer, or was the killer part of the game?
End Game is number 6 in the Detective Nikki Parekh crime series and is published by HQ Digital in ebook and audio (14 April 2023) with the paperback following on 22 June. My thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite. I wasn’t able to fit in a review which I would have liked but for my turn on the tour, I’m delighted to share a guest post from Liz.
How reading crime fiction influences my writing by Liz Mistry
My main aim as a crime fiction writer is to write a damn good story. However, writing also offers me the chance to make sense of the things that trouble me. Through my writing I can explore dark themes and illuminate issues that I feel drawn to write about. In some ways it is a form of exorcism for me. Writing is part of my personal self-care package because it allows me to explore my demons and purge them. I always feel that the books I enjoy reading most are those where the Crime Fiction novelist offers insight, humanity and hope whilst exploring disturbing, yet realist themes and that spills over into the kind of dark gritty novels I write.
Crime Fiction offers a nuanced exploration of human emotion, responses and motivations in the darkest of times. For some, engaging with Crime fiction allows them to explore motivations and ‘get inside the head of the villain,’ whilst for others it allows them to empathise and understand how violent acts can occur because of a series of events rather than from pure evil. They are privy to the workings of the human mind and this allows them to question their responses in relation to those of the different characters. The genre tests our ability to forgive, our desire for vengeance, our ability to empathise, and often puts our own gut responses into perspective from a safe place.
Both readers and authors can make sense of the world through engaging with it in a vicarious way through Crime Fiction. The genre offers the opportunity to connect with victims, detectives and perpetrators as three-dimensional characters and allows insights into their motivations, influences, backstories, and experiences. In doing so, an emotional connection is forged between reader, author and characters, thus allowing author and reader to explore the complexities of the problem while connecting to the players in the novel. Each theme is explored in a variety of ways and through the viewpoints of different characters with unique experiences, motivations, and options.
It is the author’s responsibility to weave a complex narrative which connects the readers with protagonists. Each protagonist presents as a three-dimensional being with baggage, flaws, strengths and frailties which combine to bring them to life. Protagonists vary as much as we do and through the choices they make, we learn more about ourselves by questioning their conduct.
So that’s how and why I write what I do in the way I do, but then it all gets put to the ‘reader’ test (YIKES!) After I’ve written, nurtured and teased my baby into a (hopefully) gripping novel, I release it into the wild. It flies the nest, without a backward glance, and lands in the laps of the readers. At that point, it is up to them (you) to make what you will of it and take what you can from the story. EEEK! The novel I’m currently releasing into the wild is End Game, Detective Nikki Parekh book 6.
In engaging with a Crime Fiction novel, the reader is given access into the world of the author as they link arms with them and stroll (or gallop) through the twists and turns of the story and into the lives, motivations, fears and joys of the characters. Hopefully the reader will emotionally connect with End Game as they embark on a journey that necessarily encourages scrutiny and which allows them to interrogate their own responses to the themes and characters in the story. End Game implores the reader to ask probing questions such as; which circumstances might influence a change in a character’s behaviour? What triggers could change a person’s moral perspective? What would make a good person do a bad thing or a bad person do a good thing?
It prompts introspection and critical self-analysis, with readers bringing experiences, opinions, strengths, fears and prejudices that colour their instinctive response to the story.
Within the crime novel the author holds their characters (criminals, victims, investigators, observers, and inadvertent participants) up to inspection against the values held by society. They unpack conceivable causal events leading to crime and, in exploring the characters’ subsequent reactions, they consider the consequences of these actions.
Born in Scotland made in Bradford sums up LIZ MISTRY’s life. Over thirty-five years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things: curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city… and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, Scumpy, the cat, and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’, whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.
Having struggled with severe clinical depression and anxiety for many years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Liz’s PhD research contributes significantly to debates concerning issues of inclusion and diversity of representation within the most socially engaged genre of contemporary crime fiction Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real.
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