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Books Reviews

The First Cut

As soon as I saw this title, I thought of this song:

and I couldn’t help singing it as I read the novel.

Beautiful as it is, I’m not here to talk about the song or Rod Stewart, but about the novel, The First Cut by Val Penny, published by Darkstroke Books and officially launched today. Like all Val’s novels, it’s crime fiction and this is the first of a new series. Jane Renwick has appeared in previous novels, but she now has her own series and we discover her roots.

Jane’s unfortunate early years are related so poignantly that the reader can’t help being drawn in and touched by the story. On top of that, there’s a dangerous killer at loose, and the police are working hard to find out who the killer is, but sometimes they’re misled.

There are stages in the process of writing a novel:

  • Formulate ideas.
  • Plot the story.
  • Write the first draft.
  • Write more drafts.
  • Edit.

Each of those stages contains various steps. Clearly, the author put a lot of laborious work into most of them. That’s what made the novel so easy and quick to read. And enjoyable, too. There must have been a lot of thought about how much information to reveal and when to reveal it. The hints at facts unknown to the police make this story a thrilling one to read, as the reader watches the police following the wrong paths.

There’s a lot involved in editing, too, and unfortunately it feels as if, for this novel, that stage was rushed. In particular, I was bothered by one sentence I didn’t understand. I’m not sure whether that was because of a typo, but I didn’t follow why it caused Jane to burst out crying and then decide she had to explain her tears by relating part of her childhood. Very possibly, I’m to blame for that. Also, there were places where I didn’t understand the use of italics, first/third person, tense and repetition.

But I want to stress that most of the novel is excellent, and probably other readers wouldn’t notice these small things. So do read it; it is what it promises: “fast-paced, gripping police procedural…set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland.”

About the Book

Sometimes it’s hard to escape a brutal past. That’s the case for DS Jane Renwick, who learns via DNA a serial killer could be a family member.

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh’s high society. But Jane is banished to the side-lines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up, because the Murder Investigation Team believes the killer is related to her.

Has someone from Jane’s estranged birth family returned to haunt her? Could one of her relatives be involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This exciting novel is the first in Val Penny’s new series of Scottish thrillers.

About the Author

This is the first in the new series of novels, The Jane Renwick Thrillers. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Author Links

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Bookbub

Links to Val Penny’s Books

Hunter’s Chase / Hunter’s Revenge / Hunter’s Force / Hunter’s Blood / Hunter’s Secret / Let’s Get Published / Dark Scotland / The First Cut

Categories
Books Letters from Elsewhere

Letters from Elsewhere: Hunter

Letters from Elsewhere

Welcome readers and welcome to my guest today. He’s called DI Hunter Wilson and that sounds to me a fitting name for a detective. Hunter has come all the way from Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and he’s told me how much he loves his city and is devoted to solving its crimes. I’ll always remember visiting Edinburgh many years ago and being shown a group of shiny, new, stationary police cars by a tour guide who told us that showed there was no crime in Edinburgh!

Hunter has brought a letter to his daughter, Alison, who lives in Shetland. In it Hunter tells Alison about the death of his friend and his determination to get revenge for this evil act.

Dear Alison,

I hope you are well and that your job is going well. I hope you will manage to visit me in August so that we can go to some events at The Edinburgh International Festival. I have been thinking about you and your brother, Cameron so much because yesterday, I was reminded very clearly how important friends and family are to us all.

I was called to the scene of a murder with that young DC Tim Myerscough. You know what a diverse city Edinburgh is and we had to drive from Fettes in the North passing pretty part known as Dean Village and the high residential tenements in Comely Bank to get to the Gilmerton in the South-East. The area of Gilmerton we had to go to has wide streets and the homes are mostly the four in a block flats that the Edinburgh Council built to rent out. Many of these were sold off in Margaret Thatcher’s era.

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, with its castle, the palace and the grand St. Giles Cathedral where the tourists join the great and the good to worship. Here the children can swim in an Olympic sized pool, learn in art galleries and museums of International standards, follow the national rugby team and cheer on either of the city’s football teams. It breaks my heart when I witness an evil act. 

You know when I am twittering like this, I am trying to avoid telling you something awful. And that is exactly the case here. 

When Tim and I got to the flat in Gilmerton, I went over to look at the body. Imagine how awful it was to see the corpse of my friend, George Reinbold. He died alone and was clearly scared about something. Alison, I was so shocked! He was such a polite, thoughtful man. Who on earth would want to kill him?

That is what I will find out. Whoever did this must face the full force of the law.
Dad

Hunter is the hero of Hunter’s Chase, by Val Penny and published by Crooked Cat Books, and Hunter’s Revenge, which will be published by Crooked Cat Books in September.

About Hunter’s Chase

Hunter'sChaseCover (Val Penny)Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course.

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough.

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

You can buy Hunter’s Chase on Amazon.

About Val Penny

Val PennyVal Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels.

Val is available on Twitter, Facebook and on her website.