Published by Bonnier Zaffre on August 25th 2016
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Vividly imagined and ingeniously plotted, LIE IN WAIT is GJ Minett's stunning follow-up to the bestselling and acclaimed THE HIDDEN LEGACY
Owen Hall has always been different. A big man with an unusual fixation, one who prefers to put his trust in number patterns rather than in people, it's unsurprising that he'd draw the attention of a bully.
Or a murder investigation.
And, in the storm of emotions and accusations that erupts when a violent killing affects a small community, it soon becomes clear that a particularly clever murderer might just get away with it.
All they'd need is a likely suspect . . .
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In August, I reviewed the first novel from a new writer, G.J.Minett, who’s making great waves on the crime and thriller scene. His second novel ‘Lie In Wait’ was published in ebook form on August 25th, and I review that below. Minett also discusses how he broke into publishing, and the support he’s received from Bonnier Zaffre.
Firstly, over to Graham.
I don’t consider myself to be a superstitious person. I may touch wood in jest from time to time but it’s not because I imagine for one moment that failing to do so will bring Sod’s Law into play. Furthermore I’ve never seen any reason why Friday 13th should be regarded with greater suspicion than any other date on the calendar and if I had any doubts on that score, they would surely have been put to bed back in February of last year as that was the day I heard about my two-book deal with Bonnier. I was about to become a published author. Some misfortune!
As overnight successes go, mine has been somewhat protracted. I’d been trying to get a publishing deal for more years than I’m ever going to confess to here and when the day finally arrived it was difficult to see just why things had changed so dramatically all of a sudden. I wish I had a fiver for every time in the past 18 months that I’ve been asked what it was that made the difference. Was it because you improved as a writer? What part did luck play in all of it? Or was it just down to perseverance?
Well, a bit of all three, I suppose. I’m sure I’m a better writer than I was even as recently as 10 years ago. I have pieces tucked away in drawers that will never be inflicted on an unsuspecting world and even if some first drafts still make me wince and I need several drafts to get things right I can at least console myself that there’s a major publishing house, a highly respected agent and an experienced body of reviewers and bloggers who appreciate the finished product.
Luck? Probably. There are so many ways in which things might have turned out differently if I’d taken a different path at various times along the way. But if life is that random and that’s all there is to it, I could have made things a lot easier for myself by just sitting back and waiting for the wheel to turn in my favour. The truth is, good fortune is often heavily dependent on sheer hard graft and of the three factors I identified just now I’m sure perseverance has been the most influential. Working hard doesn’t guarantee success but half-hearted dalliance is unlikely to get you anywhere. Gary Player famously said that it was strange how the harder he practised, the luckier he became and there’s nothing in my experience that gives the lie to that.
So . . . I now have a deal with Bonnier Zaffre, a company with an interesting background and an original business plan that has created something of a stir in the publishing world. The Bonnier Group has been hugely influential for several years in other parts of the world but it’s only recently that they decided to turn their attention to Adult Fiction in the UK. They set up a publishing arm called Twenty7 and set themselves the task of finding that number of new authors who would all have their debut novels published within the space of a couple of years before moving on to Zaffre, another Bonnier imprint, for any subsequent books. Their business plan calls for the books to appear first of all as eBooks, followed 3-6 months later by a paperback. The idea behind this is that the eBook will bring the writer to the attention of bloggers, reviewers and readers so that when the paperback version comes out it will already have caused something of a stir, generating the level of publicity any new author will need.
I can only speak with any authority from my own experience, but The Hidden Legacy has 140 reviews on Amazon and nearly 350 on Goodreads, has been favourably reviewed by some of the more influential and highly-respected bloggers and has helped massively to boost my profile on social media . . . and the paperback doesn’t even come out until August 25th. On the same date my second novel, Lie In Wait, will make its first appearance as an eBook with the paperback version to follow in February, which means the whole process will start again. This time however I will hopefully have some sort of presence out there that will increase the visibility of Lie In Wait and any other books that will follow.
I say will follow, although I’m aware that mine was a two-book deal and that there will be a lot of hard work, analysis of sales figures and negotiations to come. But then again Gary Player didn’t get anywhere by standing over a 20-foot putt and assuming it was going to miss. And if all else fails Friday 13th is bound to come around again sometime soon.
If you were impressed by the intricately woven plots in Minett’s début novel ‘The Hidden Legacy‘ then you’re going to love what he’s done with his second tale ‘Lie In Wait’! Told over three timelines, with at least five different character points of view, you’d be forgiven for thinking this thriller would be a busy mess; but one of Minett’s qualities as a writer is he has a crisp, concise tone to his narratives that enables the reader to keep a clear head while reading.
At first glance, the plot seems a simple one – unpopular man is murdered, and a man with learning difficulties and extremely obsessive nature is the prime suspect. It’s clear from the outset how this story is going to end up, but it’s how Minett gets there that forms the meat of the novel. Owen Hall is a ‘vulnerable adult’, who’s possessive mother and distant father did little to aid his childhood bullying issues. As an adult, Owen clearly has trouble reading the signals people give off, often misinterpreting them with disastrous consequences, particularly with childhood friend Abi. Her marriage to wide-boy Callum (who was also Owen’s bully at school) is in trouble, and Owen thinks he’s the one to help.
When matters get taken out of Owen’s hands it’s left to others to get to the bottom of the situation. Holloway, a detective who’s overly cautious about dealing with vulnerable adults, and Callum’s father Phil, a former cop who stepped away from the force to become a security guard, are great provisional characters with enough background to grab your attention when it’s their turn in the story. However, it’s the central character of Owen that really stands out. He’s nuanced, with a fully realised range of emotions that underlie each situation he finds himself in. Whether it’s arguing with the mysterious ‘Willie’, or falling over himself to please Abi, Owen’s actions never fail to move you – even if it’s more often towards anger rather than sympathy.
One of my favourite parts of ‘The Hidden Legacy’ was the way Minett used the setting as a character in it’s own right, and there’s less of that here, where it’s more about the characters physical selves, rather than where they are literally. There’s little mention of weather or location, with far more emphasis placed on the character’s mindset as an aid to the atmosphere. While this works wonderfully with the central characters, there are times (mainly with Phil and his co-worker Anna) where this dependence solely on conversation causes some flat spots in the narrative.
With ‘Lie In Wait’, Minett has again shown that he can craft a clever tale that will keep even die-hard fans of the genre guessing.
Buy The Book
Lie In Wait is currently available in ebook form only, with a paperback release scheduled for February 2017. Priced at 98p, it’s too good an opportunity to miss!
(price correct at time of publication)
Many thanks to Graham for his guest article, and to Bonnier Zaffre, and their imprint Twenty7 for the opportunity to not only discover another great author, but to share their work.