HIGH-RISE: Everything you need to know about my next thriller
To say I have a new book on the way is very true – Andromache Between Worlds is out in January, followed by The Lodger and, at some point mid-year, by The Lecter Variations. In totality, it’s looking to be a pretty big 2024.
But for those who don’t read middle grade or listen to audiobooks or read lengthy non-fiction books about fictional cannibals, the main thing you’ll be concerned with is my next adult thriller, and I’m very excited to announce that it’s underway, with a view to releasing in 2025.
Like most of my books, High Rise is a standalone story but one that takes place in a larger universe with crossover characters. And this time, taking centre stage is Jack Carlin, the rogue ex-cop who helped Maggie out in The Inheritance and got his own short adventure in my first Audible Original The Consequence.
High Rise finds Jack in a tricky situation – his troubled daughter Morgan is suspected of money counterfeiting, and the police are after her. Knowing that her priors mean a lengthy jail sentence, Jack is desperate to get her out of dodge, and is willing to brutalise his way through every underworld contact he has to track her down.
And track her down he does – living on the top floor of a rundown old housing estate. The only problem is that Jack’s rough methods of garnering information have left him with a price on his head. And what’s more, the entire criminal underworld knows exactly where he is going to be on this one night.
So, despite years of resentment and mutual hurt, father and daughter are going to have to trust each other to get the hell out of what has just become a multi-storey death trap teeming with enemies.
Think The Raid, think Dredd, think Die Hard, but with a distinctly Melbourne flavour. High Rise in some ways marks a return to the kind of brutal, one-location-one-night, desperate-fight-for-survival mode of storytelling of The Hunted. I can’t wait to be reunited with Jack and to dive into this savage new yarn.
Oh, and I might as well give you the heads up now – Jack isn’t the only recurring character who’ll make an appearance in this book. Caretaker readers – you might remember a certain Swedish hitman who, after copping quite a bit of damage on a mountaintop, will be looking for a big payday to get himself out of the criminal lifestyle. And for all those Maggie fans asking when you’ll see her next, consider this – in such a deadly situation, who else would Jack Carlin call on when he needs backup?
It’s still a while away, but I can promise it’s going to be a wild one.
Check out this incredible ad for my novels!
My regular collaborator John Erasmus (we made The Retirement Plan together, coming soon), recently filmed this little ad for my novels, completely off his own back. Quite apart from being one of the best things anyone has ever done for me, I couldn’t have asked for a more darkly funny, clever, inventive little promo for my books.
I’ll be up in Sydney on November 5 for the Bad Crime Writer’s Festival, joining Michelle Prak, Tim Ayliffe and Candice Fox on a panel discussing our latest books. It’s pretty exhilarating to be included in company like that and I’m really looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic weekend. Grab your tickets here!
And then on November 16 I’ll be over in Ballarat for an In Conversation event at the Mechanic’s Institute – grab your tickets here!
I’m finally emerging from the whirlwind that has been The Caretaker’s release, shifting my focus back to the many other projects I have ticking along. A lot of time has been spent this month editing The Lecter Variations and, to my immense annoyance, referencing everything in it too, something I did not anticipate but absolutely should have given it’s a non-fiction book that draws from a lot of sources. Anyway, it’s done and delivered now, so next step is notes from the publisher then hopefully I’ll have an idea on publication dates.
Speaking of notes, I’ve got my first round back on The Lodger from Audible, who have thankfully not declared it atrocious rubbish unfit to lick the boots of The Hitchhiker. I’m really looking forward to diving back into this one, as I’m quite proud of it and think it’s a lot of fun – plus it will give you a Maggie/Jack Carlin reunion ahead of High Rise.
Andromache Between Worlds is getting closer and closer to its release date, with the full cover finalised (check out the stunning artwork below). I can also now confirm that it will be getting an audiobook release as well.
Finally The Retirement Plan is a step closer to being seen, as the final reshoots on the film are done. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s in great shape and I’m really excited.
Words and Nerds Interview
I always love my chats with Dani Vee for Words and Nerds, and this latest one about The Caretaker was no exception. As usual we covered a lot of ground, in particular discussing how the book is at its core about paranoia and learning to cope even when your worst fears turn out to be true. Check it out wherever you get your podcasts!
I’ve got a few big recommendations this month so I’ll try to keep them fairly brief even though in some cases I’m feeling effusive.
Most pertinently, towards Jack Heath’s upcoming book Kill Your Husbands, which hits shelves in November. I’ve always loved Jack’s work and I’ve had the PDF of this sitting on my computer for months, but work plus a grim reading slump kept me from getting to it. The other day, taking a bus to the country, I decided to dive in. I spent the bus trip glued to my computer and the next couple of days itching to get back to the book whenever I could. I even had moments where I sat down to work and then decided not to because I wanted to read more.
God, I’ve missed that feeling. Of just being so entirely enraptured by a book that my main priority is to read more. Kill Your Husbands is a layered, deviously clever and highly entertaining locked room mystery that demonstrates everything Jack does so very well and left me in awe of his intricate plotting. Do not miss it.
I also caught Blackberry at the movies recently, figuring I hadn’t been in a while and wanted to see something that sat in the increasingly rare spot of being fun to watch but also for adults. Look, the truth is that this film is kind of just The Social Network without the distinctive crackle of a Sorkin script or Fincher direction, but it’s very engaging and has some compelling things to say about the danger of not just hubris, but the distinct hubris of believing that just because you’re the first to have a strong idea, you’ll by default do it best. Plus Glenn Howerton, whose work in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia I adore, absolutely wrenches the film away from everyone else with the kind of barnstorming performance that makes you miss him when he isn’t on screen. It’s not the kind of movie that will set your world on fire, but it is the kind of movie that is very worth seeing.
The last thing that I want to throw into the mix is The Drift by Cj Tudor, which came highly recommended by a writer friend. Effectively it’s three dystopian locked room mysteries that gradually reveal just how intimately they’re connected. A group of students come to in a crashed bus only to realise the exits have been sealed and the driver is missing. Several strangers wake up in a cable car with a dead body. And a group of subjects living in a remote research facility discover one of their number has gone missing.
It’s the kind of book that drops big cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, cliffhangers you then have to wait to see resolved due to the alternating storylines. It also has a remarkable way of delivering game changing twists with alarming regularity, including one that had me gasping out loud. The book is pretty bleak and violent, but it’s a lot of fun if you like that sort of thing, which obviously I do.
I’m not entirely sure when The Lodger is coming out – I think it’s around February, which will make for a pretty strange double-bill with Andromache Between Worlds. But for now, here’s a little taster of a book that takes a slightly different approach to its predecessor, but hopefully pays off the story begun in The Hitchhiker in a satisfying way. Let’s see.
Sometimes, lying awake at night, staring at the roof or the stars or whatever was above him, he would say her name. Again and again, repeating it, picturing her as he did. The dark hair hanging around her pinched face. The three scars circling her left eye, one above, two below. The wide, watching, barely-blinking eyes. The corded muscles in her arms, belied by her slim, slight stature. Waifish at a glimpse. A panther at a stare.
He loved saying her name. Pursed lips on the M, resisting before the A broke through only to be caught by the two Gs, the I and the E escaping out the other side.
He’d met a lot of interesting people over the last couple of years. A lot of colourful characters. Some he’d helped. The ones he couldn’t, he’d put out of their misery. Some he’d thought could be friends. Jesse, the twitchy, fearful hitchhiker. Luck – and Maggie – had saved Jesse. But he was actualised now and there was not much point visiting him again.
And Charlotte. Dear little Charlotte. So sad. So alone. So guilty. She wasn’t in pain anymore, though. He was proud of that.
And others. That flabby, stagnant judge. The wannabe musician in that nothing town, acting like he was a Bee Gee or something. The last farmer he’d met. Drunks in bars and drifters in roadhouses and all those interesting people who were never quite interesting enough.
That was the problem with his purpose. His cross to bear, he supposed. He chuckled a little. Sounded like he had tickets on himself – cross to bear. What a doofus. But there was something to that. He helped people. Made them better. If they survived, they went on to their lives without him. More power to them.
Maggie was different. She liked hurting people. Big deal, who didn’t? But she found excuses to only target the ones who ‘deserved’ it, whatever that meant. And he could see how miserable it made her. How constrained, how frustrated.
How much happier so many would be if they were just honest with themselves. He’d tried to tell Maggie that. And was met with denial.
What, she had said, you think going on about society and self-help bullshit will make you interesting to me? You’re not special. You’re another boring little bully directing his self-hatred on to everybody around him. Sure, I’ve killed. Never anyone who didn’t deserve it, or who wasn’t trying to kill me. That’s not the same.
He wasn’t upset by that. The words said more about her than about him. He just had to make her see. So he’d told her.
Except it is. In the end, there’s still a body in the ground and blood on your hands.
She hadn’t had a reply to that. Of course she hadn’t. People never did when you were right. But being right wasn’t enough. Not when somebody was so very determined to bury their head in the sand. In which case you were left with a choice. Let them keep it there until the scavengers closed in. Or help them see the truth.