Wednesday Windback with Tony J Forder @TonyJForder

Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Tony J Forder which was first posted in Nov 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Tony’s latest publications. Tony is the author of the bestselling DI Bliss crime thriller series. In addition he has written two action-adventure novels featuring Mike Lynch, and two standalone novels. Last year he published The Huntsmen , the first book in a new crime series. Set in Wiltshire it features DS Royston Chase, DC Claire Laney, and PCSO Alison May. For DI Bliss fans, The Lightning Rod, No 10 in the series is due later this year.

Over to Tony:

Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

The first is an easy one. At a time when both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones seemed to be everyone’s favourites, I took a shine to The Kinks. The first record I ever bought with my own pocket money was Waterloo Sunset, and I love the song to this day.


The next is perhaps another example of my tendency to swim upstream at times. Like many kids my age I was into all the glam-rock bands like Slade, Sweet, Mud and T-Rex. But I also reached out beyond those, and in 1972 I was banging on to my friends about an American band called Steely Dan who were going to be huge. When I first heard Reelin’ In The Years I was absolutely blown away by it. Oddly enough it became one of my dad’s favourites, too, and I chose it for his cremation ceremony a few years ago.


I was a huge fan of English pop band 10CC, and in 1975 they released I’m Not In Love, from ‘The Original Soundtrack’ album. It was a song far ahead of its time in terms of production and technical know how, but it was also a beautiful track about how overuse of the words ‘I love you’ somehow dilute their impact. One of the great ballads.


I can’t do a list like this without including a track from my favourite band, Toto. Although Africa was huge in the early 80s and in recent years has become so again, for me the song Rosanna from the same Toto IV album changed the way I thought about music. Suddenly I was hearing time and rhythm changes, a different structure, clear and musically complex instrumental parts, together with close harmonies. As a musician myself, I learned so much about songwriting from that one track, and it also taught me that you could make a complex song commercial and appealing.


Aware that I have used up 4 songs and I’ve only reached 1982, I’m going to shift a little bit closer to today and choose the track Superman by Five For Fighting. It’s a beautiful song, and the best way to describe it is in the writer’s own words. ‘This song about trying to fit in was written from Superman’s point of view. The superhero is portrayed as misunderstood and not as powerful as people see him: “I’m only a man in a funny red sheet.” Superman may be invincible, but he has feelings too, and while he’s off saving the world he sometimes wonders if anyone thinks about what he is going through.’


What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.

Books – that’s a given. I read every single day, and have done since I was a little kid who took Ian Fleming’s Thunderball into my infants school as my reading project.

Music – I love listening to music, and although as an amateur and enthusiastic musician the guitar is my main choice of weapon, I have also played bass, keys and drums. I write songs as well, and became lead vocalist of a band by default.

Writing – I can’t think of a time when I didn’t write, whether it was short stories, reports for work, blogs, and now novels. I often live trapped inside my own mind, and if I were unable to exorcise some of what I imagine and put it down on paper or on screen, then I genuinely think the voices inside my head would drive me insane.

Chelsea Football Club – I no longer like the game itself very much, and I no longer get to games, but I followed my club through some very bad times in order to bask in the glory of the better ones that came around in the early noughties. I once described the love someone has for their team as the one that lasts the longest in their entire life – which is often the case.

My computer(s) – having worked in the IT business for 23 years, plus my writing, research, social media access required for the writing, I’m not sure how I would cope. It’s become almost like an appendage. Sadly.

Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?

Believe in yourself more.

Be more patient.

Be more tolerant.

Life is a cycle of peaks and troughs – don’t sweat the small stuff.

Take better care of yourself.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you

I taught Business Studies and IT in a secondary school for three terms without being a qualified teacher – I was actually the Network Manager and IT trainer at the time.

My first job was as a commercial artist, and I designed wrappers for both Opal Fruits and Maltesers.

I was also a stonemason for a while, and I loved recreating old and worn pieces of stone such as gargoyles, etc.

It has been my enormous pleasure to have jammed with three great musicians: Dennis D’ell, once of 60’s band The Honeycombs, who had a smash hit called Have I The Right; Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, when we were both still at school; and the late Alan Murphy, who played for Kate Bush, Level 42 and Go West.

When I was in my early 20s, the owner of a local café I frequented in Walthamstow, east-London, was so convinced that I was the actor Ray Winstone, that in the end I gave in, told her I was, and I then got my breakfasts for free!

Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.

I would only have 5 in total:

Play the first solo of Rosanna live on stage with Toto.

Have a number 1 best-selling book.

See the Northern Lights.

Attend my daughter’s wedding in Hawaii. (I can confirm that Tony successfully ticked this off the list)

Spend my last day at Pinecrest in California.

Tony’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

DI Jimmy Bliss series – Books 1-9)

Bad to the Bone

First published in 2017. Republished in February 2022.

When two retired police officers are murdered shortly after human remains are discovered in woodland, a connection between the three events leads to an investigation unlike any the city of Peterborough has seen before.

As DI Jimmy Bliss and his Major Crimes team delve deeper into the murders, evidence points towards the involvement of other officers. And when he and his colleagues receive targeted warnings, Bliss has to decide whether those responsible might be too powerful and too dangerous to pursue.

Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact, or will he fight no matter what the cost?
And is the killer closer to home than any of them could have imagined?

The Scent of Guilt

First published in 2018. Republished February 2022.

A dozen years after leaving Peterborough under a cloud, DI Jimmy Bliss returns to the city and is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation. DS Penny Chandler notices a possible connection between Bliss’s case and a series of rapes. Could the same man be responsible?

With both operations on the verge of stalling, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA, each with an MO similar to their own. Desperate for answers, Bliss and Chandler travel to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly have known.

But when Bliss starts piecing things together, he has no idea how quickly events will start to unravel back home. The closer they come to their suspect, the more they lure the monster into the open. A monster looking for a way out, and one final bid for notoriety…

If fear Wins

First published in 2018. Republished 2022.

When the charred remains of a body are found in a country lane, the victim’s identity suggests the murder might be the result of a terrorist attack. MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help with the case. But are they on the right track?

DI Bliss does not believe so, and follows his own investigation. Meanwhile, someone from his past needs his help, and Bliss has to juggle his personal life with the demanding case. The complex operation takes another turn when the team learn of a potential organised crime connection.

Bliss and Chandler soon realise they are in an unexpected race against time, and lives may be at stake…

The Reach of the Shadows

First published in 2019. Republished 2022.

The vicious stabbing and murder of a young woman in her own home looks to be the work of a stalker. But when DI Bliss and his team investigate, several other people close to the victim are quickly added to their suspect list.

Bliss also finds himself being questioned at the highest level about his own past, and has to battle to defend himself while continuing to investigate the murder.

With the team under intense pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up dead? Or will the shadows of his own past reach out to drag him under before he can succeed?

The Death of Justice

First published in 2019. Republished 2022.

Two separate shootings in a single night leave the Peterborough Major Crimes Unit with two murder victims on their hands. But one of the bodies has been decapitated, the head nowhere to be found.

When a second headless corpse is discovered the following day, DI Bliss and his team realise they are hunting a spree killer. Worse still, these murders are not the first in the series, and more potential victims are on the killer’s list.

In a race against time to save further loss of life, Bliss knows he has to flush out the hired assassin. And in doing so, he and his team put their own lives at risk. But will everyone survive?

DI Bliss Boxset Books 1-5

The first five books in the acclaimed UK crime series set in the East of England featuring Detective Inspector Jimmy Bliss.

First published in 2019.

Bad to the Bone (#01)
Following the discovery of a young woman’s remains in the woods of Peterborough, DI Jimmy Bliss and DC Penny Chandler suspect senior officers may have been involved in the murder.

The Scent of Guilt (#02)
When DI Bliss returns to Peterborough’s major crimes team, he is plunged straight into the heart of a grisly serial murder investigation.

If Fear Wins (#03)
When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and DS Chandler discover evidence to suggest the murder may have been linked to a terrorist attack.

The Reach of Shadows (#04)
DI Bliss and the team investigate the murder of a woman who had recently reported being stalked, while Bliss himself is also being investigated.

The Death of Justice (#05)
Bliss investigates a series of vicious murders that appear to be the work of a hired assassin whose kill list is far from complete.

First published in 2019, these books have undergone minor editorial changes prior to republication.

Endless Silent Scream

He saved her life once. Can he do it again?

When DI Bliss prevents fifteen-year-old Molly from jumping off the roof of a tall building, he has no idea how deeply she will impact on his life. After learning that the girl is a drugs courier, Bliss realises she is in great danger. As he struggles to have Molly relocated, a local drug dealer and an enforcer sent by the supplier, have other plans for her.

After the remains of a freelance journalist are discovered, an old flame comes back into Bliss’s life. With the clock ticking down, he realises it’s only a matter of time before reports emerge linking the murdered journalist with the police, putting added pressure on the Major Crimes team to find the killer – even if it’s one of their own.

With Bliss torn between the two investigations, he becomes increasingly desperate to move Molly to safety before she can be silenced. But with his focus on saving the girl for a second time, Bliss is blinded to other dangers…

Slow Slicing

WHEN DEATH BECOMES THE KINDEST CUT OF ALL
When slices of flesh and body parts are discovered in different areas of the country, DI Bliss and his team are tasked with running the operation. After Bliss realises the victims have been subjected to a specific form of torture, it leads him to a cold case involving the brutal and bloody murder of a woman in London twenty-six years earlier.

As the team discover links between their victims, the murdered woman, and gangland crime, they begin a dangerous investigation into both the past and the present. But Bliss is stumped, unable to decide if the current spate of mutilations are acts of revenge or the result of ageing criminals seeking to hide their despicable actions. Following a leak to the media, Bliss’s reaction may have dire consequences.

With the hunt for the victims at fever point, Bliss uncovers evidence steering him in the direction of one particular individual. The only problem being, his prime suspect is the one person it cannot possibly be. When Bliss orders a sting operation, the astonishing truth is revealed. And that’s when things really start to go wrong…

The Autumn Tree

When dark desires have no limitations, anything is fair game.

After a young woman is found strangled to death, Bliss is called to the scene. When he learns that one of his business cards was found among the victim’s clothing, and he is told what was written on the back of it, Bliss is immediately troubled. The card was one of five he handed out to trafficked young women he and his team had previously rescued from a shipping container.

When he sees the victim, Bliss realises she was not one of those saved that day. So whose card does she have? And why? And is it connected to her murder?

The murder investigation proves to be more complex and challenging than the team could possibly have imagined. But just as they think they have it figured out, they learn that depravity has no boundaries…

DI Bliss Boxset Books 6-8 plus novella

This boxset continues the DI Bliss crime series, including the following books:
Endless Silent Scream (Book #6)
Slow Slicing (Book #7)
The Autumn Tree (Book #8)
Bliss Uncovered (Book #0 – prequel novella)

Whether Jimmy Bliss is already one of your favourite detectives, or you are looking for a new favourite UK crime series, these compelling and thrilling books represent great value.

Darker Days to Come

DI Bliss and his team absorb two new cases which don’t initially present as major crimes.

But who is the man who stepped in front of an express train? Did he willingly commit suicide or was he coerced? And what, if any, connection is there to an abandoned vehicle whose owner cannot be traced?

As Bliss and his team dig deeper they soon realise there are three people now missing – a journalist, a mother, and her young daughter. But as the investigations continue, the team struggle with too many unanswered questions. What they do know is that lives are at risk, and the chances of finding all three still alive decrease with each passing hour…

Bliss Uncovered – prequel novella

A double life – a single truth.

Fresh out of uniform, DC Jimmy Bliss finds himself at the centre of an undercover sting. Enlisted by a crew of villains to crack a safe, he fears his cover is blown when he’s seen in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But on the night of the job, things run smoothly enough until the gang leader changes the location of the heist. As the job spirals out of control, Bliss has to trust his instincts and buy some time. There’s just one problem: he has no idea if his team know what has become of him.

As the situation escalates, Bliss finds himself at the mercy of a violent criminal who will do anything not to be caught.

Royston Chase series

The Huntsmen

When DS Royston Chase is called to the scene of a fatal road collision, his task is to identify the girl who died alongside the ex-Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police. Paired with the bold and strident DC Claire Laney, Chase is given the task of closing the case quickly and quietly.

But when the girl’s DNA provides a familial link to a child who vanished from her home twenty years earlier, Chase and Laney refuse to accept the coincidence. The pair start looking harder at the ex-cop’s life, at which point they encounter serious opposition. Perhaps deadly serious.

Because the establishment looks after its own, and soon it’s not only their bosses getting in the way of a thorough investigation. Chase and Laney find themselves seemingly at odds with everyone, fighting to save their own reputations as well as the case. But neither will rest until they identify their young victim, no matter what the cost…

Mike Lynch series

Scream Blue Murder

After witnessing a murder in a lay-by, Mike Lynch snatches the victim’s car in order to get away. But having evaded his pursuer, Mike soon makes a shocking discovery – the victim’s young daughter and her nanny are hiding in the rear footwell.

Only after agreeing to help the woman and the child does Mike learn who the  murdered man was. And when he discovers who pulled the trigger he realises how much danger they are all in.

Mike has to fight for his life to protect a woman and a child he doesn’t know. And when the death count rises, he discovers who his friends are and what kind of man he really is…

FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2017 – REPUBLISHED IN APRIL 2021.

Cold Winter Sun

When Mike Lynch’s ex-wife tells him about her new husband’s missing nephew, he offers to trace the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.

Before long, the pair find themselves in New Mexico after the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a desert road. Meanwhile, a county Sheriff and a Native American fixer find themselves drawn into the same mystery.

When two fake police officers cross their path, Mike and Terry know there is more to the missing man than meets the eye. Soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for, and who is looking for them…

FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2018. REPUBLISHED IN APRIL 2021.

Mike Lynch Boxset Books 1-2

Books #1 and #2 in the Mike Lynch action-adventure series… two thrilling ripping yarns.

Scream Blue Murder

After witnessing a murder in a lay-by, Mike Lynch snatches the victim’s car in order to get away. But having evaded his pursuer, Mike soon makes a shocking discovery – the victim’s young daughter and her nanny are hiding in the rear footwell.

Only after agreeing to help the woman and the child does Mike learn who the murdered man was. And when he discovers who pulled the trigger he realises how much danger they are all in.

Mike has to fight for his life to protect a woman and a child he doesn’t know. And when the death count rises, he discovers who his friends are and what kind of man he really is…

Cold Winter Sun

When Mike Lynch’s ex-wife tells him about her new husband’s missing nephew, he offers to trace the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.

Before long, the pair find themselves in New Mexico after the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a desert road. Meanwhile, a county Sheriff and a Native American fixer find themselves drawn into the same mystery.

When two fake police officers cross their path, Mike and Terry know there is more to the missing man than meets the eye. Soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for, and who is looking for them…

Standalones

Fifteen Coffins

The truth can set you free – or bury you.

When FBI Agent Sydney Merlot returns to her home town in northern California to wind down her late father’s PI business, she soon finds herself on the wrong side of the aftermath of a high school shooting.

Sydney’s childhood friend – who is now county sheriff – plus the local PD, the mayor’s office, and most of the town’s inhabitants, are convinced the horror ended when the gunman was killed. Now they just want to be left alone to mourn. But Sydney has other ideas – and she is not alone.

While having to work through her own personal grief, Sydney is openly intimidated and receives anonymous threats. After discovering she is under surveillance, she begins to fear for her life. During her investigation she gains several allies, but as the days pass, Sydney doesn’t know who to trust, and which new friends might actually turn out to be foes…

Degrees of Darkness

Nothing is ever entirely black or white.

Pre-teen girls are being abducted from their homes and their families murdered. When Frank Rogers, ex-DI with the Metropolitan Police, is told that his own daughter is missing, his son a victim, he sets aside his grief to help old colleagues investigate the case. 

Soon Frank’s face is all over the news. And in an unexpected turn of events, the killer contacts the police to say he is willing to talk. But only to Frank.

When the body of the first abducted girl is discovered, Frank realises the investigation has become a race against time to save his daughter’s life. 

In order to solve the case, Frank must work out how the killer is choosing his victims. To do that, he must first enter the killer’s mind. But is Frank able to drag himself into its darker reaches? And if so, will he be able to pull himself back?

First published in 2017, now republished in 2021.

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