-Harper Lee

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An ode to love, loss and new beginnings, poignant and cuttingly insightful, Love Loss and Awakening will leave no heart untouched.

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Love, Loss and Awakening

By John Reese, Feb 17 2017 03:14PM


Classic whodunits revolve around the mystery that shrouds the murderer's identity and how the crime was committed. Their popularity has been an enduring genre presence in Crime Fiction but over time, they’ve become increasingly cliché ridden which sadly, more often than not, limits the element of surprise on the part of the reader, particularly when it comes to the reveal and the identity of the murderer.


Few Crime Fiction authors genuinely excel at successfully misleading their readers and revealing an unlikely suspect as the real villain of the story and those that do can invariably be found at the very top of Whodunit Bestseller lists. Of course, all genres evolve, conventions change and these days many Crime Writers lean towards the dysfunctional human relationships that orbit the murder victim. Playing to our fascination with serial killers, scalpel-wielding blood splatter pathologists, and cutting social commentary. Solving the Whodunit Mystery is still the heart of a detective story but authors are ever cognizant of the realities and uncertainties that plague the world around us and this creates an edgier sense of realism that comes through strongly in modern crime fiction.


Draw up a list of Best Whodunit Novels and you’ll be hard pressed not to include the likes of On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré or Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. They certainly set the bar for emerging authors and those who have their sights set on a Whodunit Bestseller need to do their homework before putting pen to paper. There’s no doubt that V L Towler did hers. Selected by Attorney General Janet Reno as an Atlantic Fellow in Public Policy, conducting research at the University of London Institute of Advanced Legal Studies on Nigerian organized crime, her first novel, Severed, was ten years in the writing. Hands down one of the best Mystery & Forensic Crime Novels you will ever read,it has to be in contention for the ultimate Whodunit. You can read our review HERE.

The greats certainly have a lot to teach us about writing Whodunits and probably none better known than Raymond Chandler whose Ten Commandments still stand the test of time.


1) It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.

2) It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.

3) It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.

4) It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.

5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.

6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.

7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.

8) It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.

9) It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law…. If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.

10) It must be honest with the reader.


Following Chandlers guidelines will certainly get you off to a good start and help develop a compelling story and we hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE





By John Reese, Feb 16 2017 06:30PM


Love Lies Within Original Painting By Stephan J Myers
Love Lies Within Original Painting By Stephan J Myers

One thing that Bestselling Romance Authors have in common is an innate ability to sustain romantic tension page after page but how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Especially with the continuing boom in self-publishing where eye-catching cover designs have never been more accessible and far too often are the silk purse that hides a pig's ear inside.


Now, readers come to the genre for differing reasons. Some looking for a little escapism from the daily grind, others wanting something a little deeper on which they can reflect and of course opinions will always be divided as to how good a book really was. Fifty Shades Of Grey being an ever enduring example! But let’s be clear, writing great Romantic Fiction is an art. For readers coming to the genre for the first time the choice can be quite overwhelming whilst new authors often face a steep learning curve as they hone their craft.


Thankfully we live in a more enlightened world and have come a long way from the generic girl meets boy romantic fiction that once dominated the genre but the foundations of great romantic fiction remain the same. Those foundations are imbedded in the psyche of every author and reader. We've all had first loves, relationships that have turned sour and we’ve all experienced the gamut of emotions that true romance enflames. On this level, romantic fiction authors have the edge over other genres because they are writing in a genre that most of us, to some degree, can readily relate to through experience. This, however, is a double-edged sword for authors of romantic fiction because most readers have actually met facsimiles of the characters found in romantic fiction novels and therefore have strong ideas about how a character might look or behave.


Scarlett and Rhett – Gone With he Wind, Cathy and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy – Pride and Prejudice, Jane and Mr Rochester – Jane Eyre These and other notable bestsellers in the genre rose on the backs of their characters. Readers expect great characters and to deliver anything less is not only disappointing for the reader but a sure way to ensure a romantic fiction novel flounders in the also-rans. Always remember that word of mouth works both ways!



At BookViral great characterization is the first thing we look for when considering Romantic Fiction novels for review with titles like Another Summer from British Author Sue Lilley readily springing to mind. Few authors pitch it perfectly in a debut novel but Sue’s characters are so well crafted they all but leap from the page with snappy dialogue and just the right blend of internal and external emotional conflict. A YA Romance novel that will leave you breathless from an exciting new voice in contemporary romance, you can check out our review here


Romance novels are fun, sexy and have never been more popular. Emotionally driven and taut it’s not hard to see why the genre commands the Lion’s share of the publishing market but what separates the Bestsellers in Romantic Fiction from the lacklustre offerings that invariably make their way to print?




Of course, great characters alone don’t make a bestselling romance novel. It would be nigh on impossible to have a bestseller with weak, poorly imagined characters with whom readers can’t empathise but there are other elements too that can’t be ignored. We’ll return to them in a later post but as always we hope we have given you something to reflect on and welcome your thoughts. Finally, if you are an author looking for reviews in the Romantic Fiction genre you can find out a bit more about our submissions process here.





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