Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Keep Her Silent by Theresa Talbot. My thanks also to Vicky Joss and publisher Aria for the opportunity to be part of the tour.
Ooonagh O’Neil is back with another dark and chilling investigation…
‘Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you’
That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…
When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?
Authentic and gritty, Keep Her Silent is a gripping and page-turning thriller that will leave you breathless. Perfect for fans of Susie Steiner, and Karin Slaughter, Patricia Gibney.
Theresa Talbot is a BBC broadcaster and freelance producer. A former radio news editor, she also hosted The Beechgrove Potting Shed on BBC Radio Scotland, but for many she will be most familiar as the voice of the station’s Traffic & Travel.
Late 2014 saw the publication of her first book, This Is What I Look Like, a humorous memoir covering everything from working with Andy Williams to rescuing chickens and discovering nuns hidden in gardens. She’s much in demand at book festivals, both as an author and as a chairperson.
Can you tell me a little bit about this novel? Why do we need to pick this one up?
I could be cheeky and say please pick up & buy Keep Her Silent as my roof leaks & I need new shoes! But seriously, Keep Her Silent has been such a labour of love for me. The second in the Oonagh O’Neil series, there are three strands running through the narrative; a cold case going back to the 1970s when three women were murdered by The Raphael Killer, a women incarcerated in a secure unit for the slaying of her husband and son, and the tainted blood scandal, where thousands of patients were infected with Hep C & HIV through contaminated blood products. The tainted blood scandal has been described as the ‘worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS’ (Sir Robert Winston) and although Keep Her Silent is a work of fiction, this part of the story is based on real characters and real life events. I’ve worked closely with one of the victims, and his story is one of nightmares. I’m a journalist and although, yes I was aware of the scandal, I had no idea of the actual effect it has had on the victims.
I’m always really fascinated by institutionalised crime, or crime by the establishment, and the fact that few, if any, perpetrators are ever brought to justice. That’s how I feel about the tainted blood scandal. Google it and you’ll be led down a wormhole that beggars belief. I made that the central theme to my book, for me it’s the biggest crime of the 20th century and beyond, yet all committed by the establishment with the backing of the law. Pharmaceutical giants were making millions from these infected blood products, yet they put profit before the suffering of mankind. Threading that through a crime novel seemed natural to me – readers invest in characters and themes in works of fiction that make them sit up and take notice. That said, I was really nervous about the whole thing – I felt such a huge responsibility to everyone affected to get it right. Thankfully, so far, it’s had a very positive response.
This is the second novel in a series. Can it be read as a standalone?
Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but there are obviously references to ‘The Lost Children’, and my characters behave in certain ways because of their past and their experiences. One of my pet hates in any work of fiction (especially soaps) is that something awful, wonderful or earth shattering can happen to a character. They’re then the central storyline for six weeks before it moves on to another plotline and their experience is hardly mentioned. I’ve tried to develop my characters, make them real flesh & blood human beings. They change and grow as time moves on. One of my characters, Tom, has undergone (on the surface) quite a dramatic change, but I felt that that was right thing to do. He’d made a decision in the last book to change his life and follow it through. I’ve got a whole lot of respect for Tom..then I realise he’s not real and I made him up! So although it’s not necessary to read The Lost Children first, it may explain some of the character traits and background, but I was careful to ensure that readers who pick up this as their first taste of my novels won’t be left scratching their heads… unless they just happen to have a random itch!
Who is one of your favourite detectives and why?
No contest, Inspector Salvo Montalbano. Written by Andrea Camilleri, the stories are set in Sicily. He’s decent, honest & hard working … just like all good Sicilian Detectives (!) and operates in a rather murky world – there’s loads of humour too. I watch Young Montalbano on DVD to drool over the scenery and practice my Italian. He’s my favourite this week as I’m heading off to Italy soon – in a few months time when I’m stuck indoors and the rain is battering off my window it might be John Shaft again!
What is your favourite method of murder?
I just read an online post saying a Tupperware lid would be the best ever murder weapon as no-one would ever be able to find it again! I’m wracking my brains here trying to think what my ‘favourite’ method is… I have to say, an old episode of ‘Tales of The Unexpected’ keeps coming back to mind. ‘Lambs to The Slaughter’ was an adaptation of a 1953 short story by Roald Dahl. Mary Marney – played by Susan George – whacks her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb when he announces that he’s leaving her. She calls the police, claiming it was an intruder, and subsequently feeds the murder weapon to the detective who’s all smitten with her. It’s hilarious – and black too. I’m not sure I’d need to go to all that trouble if I wanted to kill someone – I’d just cook the lamb and watch them slowly lose the will to live as they chewed endlessly on a piece of gristle.
What are you reading right now?
I have far too many books on my TBR pile, and I need to be honest I’ve had to take a break from reading as I had so much writing to do it was interfering with my brain! But I’ve just started The Janus Run by Douglas Skelton (I have a review copy – on the shelves by the time you read this) and I have to say this is one bloody great read!
What’s on the cards in the future?
Book 3 in the Ooagh O’Neil series in now underway (if my agent or publisher is reading this then it’s finished and at the final edit stage!) I’ve grown so fond of Oonagh, she’s flawed and troubled and sometimes gets it wrong – but she’ll fight with her last breath to stick up for the underdog. I’m giving Jim McVeigh (detective) a bit more to say and do in this book too.
Thank you Theresa for answering the questions and having me on the blog tour!
Thank you for having me – it’s been such a pleasure xx
*** Don’t forget to check the stops on the book tour ***