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Thursday, 19 December 2013


Title: Deadly Deceit (DCI Kate Daniel Series #3)
Author: Mari Hannah
Genre: Mystery/Detective
Publication Date: December 17, 2013
Published By: Witness Impulse an imprint of HarperCollins
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.


Four a.m. on a wet stretch of the highway: a driver skids out of control. Quickly arriving on the scene, detective Kate Daniels and her partner, Hank Gormley, witness a horrifying display of carnage and mayhem that proves to be one of the worst traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history. But as the casualties mount, they soon realize that not all of the deaths occurred as a result of the accident …
At the same time, on the other side of town, a house goes up in flames and its two inhabitants become charred corpses. Except for the timing, there is no evidence to connect this incident with the traffic accident. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and that Kate and her colleagues are always one step behind a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Note: Can be read as a stand-alone novel.

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Plotting – by Mari Hannah

As the author of the Kate Daniels series, I’m often asked about my writing regime, how (if) I plot out novels before I begin. I do, meticulously. I was taught structure by a screenwriter who was of the opinion that I should be able to describe an idea in a sentence or two. The reason being that if I ever got the opportunity to pitch to an industry professional, they would expect that of me.

For example, the premise for my novel Deadly Deceit was this: Two people crave a better lifestyle but only one is prepared to kill to get it. The idea posed a series of questions. Someone prepared to take another person’s life in order to enjoy a higher standard of living is evil, right? How evil? Is there a line over which they will not cross? Will they outwit Kate or get caught?

When I read crime I like to know from the get-go what type of book it is: cosy crime, police procedural, suspense or conspiracy thriller. I also adhere to the ten-page rule because I truly believe that if the story doesn’t grab a reader by then, chances are they won’t read on. So I try to drop my readers right into the action.

I don’t use software to organise research or help me visualise a book. I use a card system, the obvious advantage being that I can move them around, altering the position of scenes or even whole chapters. I end up with a murder wall like you would find in any police station as detectives puzzle over a serious offence. No surprise there then!

It took years to develop a model that works for me, one that lets me focus on storytelling. Through trial and error – a lot of error! – I now know how long it takes to introduce main characters, set up and grab my readers’ attention.

A magazine recently asked me for my five points for writing an edge-of-your-seat thriller. This is what I told them . . .

Let’s assume for one moment that an idea has legs. After that it’s as much to do with how I structure a book as it is about characterisation. In The Murder Wall I created Kate (1) a memorable and believable protagonist. Then I needed an antagonist (2) whose name I can’t divulge for obvious reasons, but who equals her in deviousness and cleverness as he wreaks havoc on victims. Once I’d completed the set up and hooked my readers – I try to do this in the first ten pages – I never let up (3). As the book progressed, I escalated complications with lots of plot twists to blindside the reader (4). Then, just as Kate looked like she was home and dry, I put more obstacles in her way until she was at crisis point, then created a false ending (5) before moving onto the climax and resolution. All that took me around a hundred thousand words, each one earning its place on the page.

I never want to write to formula but neither can I afford to ignore genre conventions. If I fail to deliver, readers would be disappointed and I’d hate that. As a recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award in 2010 for my second novel, Settled Blood, and shortlisted a couple of weeks ago for the Polari First Book Prize for The Murder Wall, I can’t see any reason to change the way I write any time soon.  

Witness Impulse, digital imprint of William Morrow/Harper Collins will publish The Murder Wall in the US on Tuesday, 15th October 2013 and two further titles in the coming months.

You can catch up with Mari at and on Twitter here: @mariwriter

About the Author

Mari Hannah was born in London and moved north as a child. Her career as a probation officer was cut short when she was injured while on duty, and thereafter she spent several years as a film/television screenwriter. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner, an ex-murder detective. She was the winner of the 2010 Northern Writers’ Award and is a nominee for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize.

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