Today I’m delighted to feature author Alison Bruce. Alison is the author of nine crime novels, two true crime books, and a selection of short stories. Her first novel, Cambridge Blue (2008), was described by Publishers Weekly as an ‘assured debut’ and introduced both detective, DC Gary Goodhew, and her trademark Cambridge setting (this is a series I love). She went on to write six further novels in the DC Goodhew series before writing the psychological thriller I Did It for Us (2018) and her 2020 publication, The Moment Before Impact.
Her work has attracted both critical acclaim and a loyal readership. In 2013 and 2016 Alison was short-listed for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library Award.
Alison was awarded a first in BSc (Hons) in Crime and Investigation at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge which included subject areas such as: crime scene investigation, policing practice, major investigations, mass fatality incidents, fire investigation, forensic pathology and forensic archeology. Alison is currently working on the UK’s largest policing professionalism contract which will, in July 2021, begin to deliver a policing degree to 7 police forces including Cambridgeshire.
Alison’s motivation for study was to introduce great accuracy and up-to-date techniques into her writing. She never underestimates her readers and aims to challenge them with expertly crafted plots, vivid characters and the kind of realism which will put them in the mindset of those facing the latest developments in crime and using the latest technology to fight it.
Over to Alison,
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Only 5? That makes it tough because I love music. I often write to music and in my Gary Goodhew series each book had a ‘soundtrack’. I will often find a song that inspires me to write a particular scene or section, this often results in me playing the same song on repeat for many days on end, and, therefore, I always associate that song with that novel, and the most played songs became the soundtrack to that book. Of course, like many people I have considered what my Desert Island Discs would be. And here is my top five featuring songs from both my books and my ‘castaway’ choice.
Gee by The Crows – An all-time favourite of mine. It gives me goosebumps every time. There’s a great clip on YouTube of them singing it live on the sidewalk.
It was a tight race between Goodnight and I Drove All Night by Roy Orbison – On the face of I Drove All Night, is not totally my taste in music, but Roy Orbison songs fill me with so much emotion and this has a cracking video too. All kinds of ideas just spill into my head when I listen to Roy.
Such a Night by Elvis comes from the album Elvis is Back which is my favourite Elvis album. It has great energy and reminds me of dancing and DJing – both things I am missing very much right now.
Virtually all the music I love is from the 1950s, or by bands who are heavily influenced by rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, doo-wop and so on. Sometimes I like to write to a driving piece of music, and I usually go for rockabilly, my shortlist included the Johnny Burnette Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio, The Jiants, Sonny Burgess and Ice Cold by Restless. But in the end I settled for F***ing’Sweet by Hot Boogie Chillun. I have written through the night to these tracks… committed some of my deadliest crimes with these playing…
And finally… Copycat Clone by Lana Bruce – Lana is my daughter and this was a project from sixth form. Lana is often my sounding board for ideas and hearing her music projects come together is exciting to be around – hearing the tracks afterwards always brings back happy memories. She’s recording at the moment and I can’t wait to hear the final result.
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Freddie’s jeans (I am not kidding)
And a favourite pen
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Don’t sell your first car
Don’t doubt, just do
Be selective with your friends
It’s okay to make mistakes
Don’t get distracted with things that don’t matter (fun things matter!)
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
I was first published with a poem in Pony Club Annual when I was 16.
I enjoy writing lyrics
I prefer flat Pepsi to fizzy Coke
I wanted to be a pathologist throughout junior school.
My first car was a 1960 Ford Zodiac.
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
I’d like to see one of my books published in another language
I’d like to secretly be published under a pseudonym and in another genre
I’d like to plant a wood – I’ve wanted to do this since childhood
I’d like to do jury service
I want to buy my car back.
Many thanks for joining me and sharing today Alison, it was great discovering more about you. You certainly introduced me to a couple of new music tracks and lovely to see your daughter included – we’ll be looking out for Lana in future. Great advice to your self, and mostly still relevant as an adult. Sorry about the car, hopefully one day you’ll get another to replace it in your heart. Here’s hoping for the jury service, I was chosen as a student, but it was during the holidays so I missed my chance. I’ve never been called since. But there’s still time for both of us yet. Congratulations on your debut publication, I assume you kept the Annual? Flat Pepsi vs fizzy Coke, that could start an interesting debate, I’m happy to pass on both so I won’t be coming down on either side this time. Good luck with The Moment Before Impact, it’s been added to my ‘to read’ list.
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The Moment Before Impact
A terrible car accident – or calculated murder?
An evening out for five students ends in tragedy, with two dead and one critically injured. Nicci Waldock survives, but her life is left in tatters. Years later, a sighting of Jack Bailey, the brother of her dead friend, leaves her with a shocking realisation about the night of the accident.
Helped by former journalist Celia Henry, Nicci sets out to learn the truth about what really happened, and discovers a series of lies and dangerous secrets that have distorted everything she thinks she knows.
In uncovering the tangled truth of what happened that night three years ago, Nicci must decide who she can trust, and who is about to kill again. And she realises that everything can be saved or lost in the moment before impact.
I Did It For Us
From the first time I saw them together I knew it felt wrong. I didn’t like the way he touched her or the self-conscious way he played with Molly and Luke. Joanne saw none of it of course. So I did it to prove to her that she was wrong. I did it for us.
Emily’s instincts tell her that best friend Joanne’s new boyfriend is bad news. Emily fears for Joanne. Fears for Joanne’s children. But Joanne won’t listen because she’s in love. So Emily watches, and waits . . . and then she makes a choice.
But Emily has a past, and secrets too. And is she really as good a friend to Joanne as she claims?
DC Mayhew Series
Cambridge Blue (Book 1)
DC Gary Goodhew is intelligent, intuitive and the youngest detective at Cambridge’s Parkside Station. He is the first on the scene when the body of a young woman is discovered on Midsummer Common and for the first time in his career is given the chance to work on a murder investigation.
Soon there is an identity for the victim: Lorna Spence. Richard Moran, her boyfriend and employer, has reported her missing and is distraught to discover that she has been killed. He claims she was loved by his staff and his sisters, reserved Alice and vulnerable Jackie. He says she had no enemies but it isn’t long before Goodhew discovers plenty, including her high maintenance colleague Victoria and Goodhew’s reckless former classmate Bryn.
They both swear that they have nothing to do with Lorna’s death but Goodhew knows someone is lying. Then there is another brutal murder and Goodhew knows it is time to use his own initiative to flush out the killer, even though it means risking his job and discovering the truth about the one person he hopes will be innocent.
The Siren (Book 2)
All it took was one small item on the regional news for Kimberly Guyver and Rachel Golinski to know that their old life was catching up with them. They wondered how they’d been naïve enough to think it wouldn’t. They hoped they still had a chance to leave it behind – just one more time – but within hours, Rachel’s home is burning and Kimberly’s young son, Riley, is missing.
As DC Goodhew begins to sift through their lives, he starts to uncover an unsettling picture of deceit, murder and accelerating danger. Kimberly seems distraught but also defensive and uncooperative. Is it fear and mistrust of the police which are putting her son at risk, or darker motivations?
With Riley’s life in peril, Goodhew needs Kimberly to make choices, but she has to understand, the one thing she cannot afford is another mistake.
The Calling (Book 3)
Kaye Whiting went to buy a birthday present and didn’t come back. She isn’t dead, or physically injured. But she is alone and very, very scared.
Fifty miles away in Cambridge town centre a deeply disturbed young woman is standing by a payphone. She knows she often feels compelled to do harmful things and is driven by a desire to make a call.
DC Gary Goodhew is one of the detectives assigned to find Kaye and when her body is discovered the only clue to the potential murderer is a woman’s voice on his answerphone saying, ‘Kaye isn’t the first and won’t be the last…’
The Silence (Book 4)
Joey McCarthy is stabbed to death in a pub car park in a random act of violence. Shortly afterwards Charlotte Stone’s terminally ill mother dies and then, within weeks, two of her teenage friends commit suicide. With her home life disintegrating and both her father and brother racing towards self-destruction Charlotte realises that her own personal nightmare may not be over yet.
When DC Gary Goodhew finds the body of another suicide victim he is forced to recall some deeply buried memories of an earlier death; memories which lead him to Charlotte Stone and the events in her life.
From their individual points of view they both begin to wonder whether all these tragedies are somehow linked to a bigger picture.
And if they are right, then who will be the next victim?
The Backs (Book 5)
A fresh start in a place you hate. Even tougher with a killer watching…
Jane Osborne left Cambridge and vowed she’d never return. An unexpected twist of fortune results in DC Goodhew bringing her back to the remnants of her old life and a confrontation with the man who killed her sister.
Meanwhile a burning car on the outskirts of Cambridge leads to the discovery of the body of its owner, Paul Marshall. There seems nothing to connect it to either a recent assault, or to Jane Osborne, until a shocking discovery rips Goodhew’s investigation apart.
The Promise (Book 6)
The promise seemed simple. The scars would last a lifetime.
In a single night, Kyle Phipps’s life is derailed. His relationship is over, he is denied access to his young son and everything important to him is at risk.
His thoughts stumble between fear and revenge. Kyle Phipps has a choice to make.
Meanwhile, after the tragic end to a previous case, DC Gary Goodhew finds himself questioning his reasons for returning to work until the badly beaten body of a homeless man is found on Market Hill. Having known the homeless man for several years Goodhew feels compelled to be part of the investigation – but routine lines of enquiry soon take a dark and unexpected turn…
Suddenly the Cambridge back streets hold deadly secrets for Goodhew and the only person who has the answers is planning one final, desperate act.
Cambridge Black (Book 7)
A cold case waits to be solved . . . and a killer waits in the wings.
Amy was seven years old when her father was arrested for murder. His subsequent trial and conviction scarred her childhood and cast a shadow over her life until, twenty-two years later, new evidence suggests he was innocent and Amy sets out to clear his name.
But Amy is not the only person troubled by the past. DC Gary Goodhew is haunted by the day his grandfather was murdered and is still searching for answers, determined to uncover the truth about his grandfather’s death and find his killer.
But, right now, someone is about to die. Someone who has secrets and who once kept quiet but is now living on borrowed time. Someone who will be murdered because disturbing the past has woken a killer.