The Safe Word
Published January 14th 2014
Genre: Mystery / thriller / crime
Eleanor Raven Series: Book 1
There are rules that every player of every game must abide by, no matter how dangerous the sport.
Toronto has become the backdrop to a macabre set of artistic installations: women kidnapped, tortured and horrifically displayed by a killer with a vision.
Only someone capable of understanding the killer’s creative desire will be able to stop the murders and D I Eleanor Raven is uniquely qualified. Driven by a complex personality she pursues only the facts, only the things she can see, but never casts a judgement.
But she also has a dark and dangerous secret – one that will threaten her very survival.
PRAISE FOR THE SAFE WORD
Just read The Safe Word by Karen Long – an unputdownable serial killer tale. James Purefoy
For DS Eleanor Raven It’s not so much who, what or when but ‘why’ that leads this powerful read to its conclusion and Karen Long reminds us that a brutal, vicious and destructive act is not something inherently ‘Evil’ or derived from Satan but is a rational choice made by a human being. The quirky, offbeat and endearing relationship between Eleanor and her partner Laurence Whitefoot shines a light on this dark compelling world of sexual intrigue and mystery. My imagination was certainly held captive! Robson Green
Most fictional detectives these days have to have a ‘thing’ to set them apart from the others, and Raven’s is one of the most original for a long time. The plot moves in some unexpected directions, and builds to a genuinely exciting climax. The Safe Word is an impressive, confident debut. Convincing characters and some nice twists make for a compelling, satisfying thriller, and I look forward to seeing what’s next for Eleanor Raven. Killing Time
Karen’s top five recommended reads for crime writers.
I love to read about forensic science. It is the backbone of modern crime fiction and your audience is knowledgeable and critical of duff science. That is not to say that you can’t manipulate time factors to push on a narrative but not understanding the physical world and modern techniques of evidence collection means you are writing science fiction not crime fiction.
The books listed below have enabled me to acquire a solid grounding in how a crime scene is worked, how to kill someone, how to cover your tracks and why that is so difficult in the light of modern forensics.
The Forensic Casebook: N.E. Genge
This is my favourite book on the subject of, well pretty much every aspect of forensics. It begins by defining what the differences are between the ‘scene of crime’ and the ‘crime scene’, a seemingly dry semantic debate. However, Genge’s style is pithy and well illustrated, using television, film and real life cases to expand and clarify concepts. The presentation is varied and invites a ‘dip in’ approach to reading. Bullet points, different fonts and highlighted sections break the material down into appetising segments. I loved the incidental job adverts and the well-edited interviews with crime scene workers.
Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson
Frances Larson works as a curator at the wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, where there is an extensive shrunken head display. The book focuses on the human head as a trophy, an object of morbid curiosity and as an artistic expression. I found it particularly useful, while writing the third book in the Eleanor Raven series, as it covers the psychological foundation of taking body parts as trophies during military conflicts. Difficult subject matter, deftly analysed.
Forensic Entomology: Dorothy E. Gennard
I wouldn’t say this was an easy, or accessible read…at all. It is a serious, well-documented degree level textbook. There are some photographs but nowhere near enough for the lay reader. If I’m going to dip in, this is not a linear read by the way, I either access images on the internet or have an identifier open. I find insects astonishingly beautiful and alien, their life cycles and behaviour, which when combined with temperature, can pinpoint the time of death, is something I am particularly interested in.
Postmortem: Dr Steven A. Koehler and Dr. Cyril H. Wecht
This book has lots of glossy photographs and thoughtfully presented diagrams. The material is compact but it’s designed as a quick introduction to the study of forensics and, as such, is a great writer’s help. The photographs don’t pull their punches and the case notes are relevant, if a little rushed. There is an excellent chart on p75, which measures the visual changes of different bruises over a time period of 15 days. If it’s an exciting introduction to the discipline you’re after, then this book is the one for you.
Molecules of Murder: John Emsley
I am happy to recommend any of John Emsley’s books. They are well written, well researched and don’t skimp on the science. Each chapter has selected a poison and exemplifies its usage in numerous crimes both historical and contemporary. There is a helpful glossary, which gives further information on highlighted words. I confess to being particularly intrigued by the use of poisons and loved the way that Emsley’s conversational and enthusiastic style jumps out of the narrative, on occasion, and sweeps the reader off on an anecdotal journey.
I believe that books make books. You read, absorb and mold information into narratives. Fact, however seemingly dry and inconsequential, is the basis of all crime fiction. Without a working knowledge of how forensics is applied in a contemporary, or even an historic setting, there will be gaps in your plot, or opportunities missed. I am not advocating that fiction should be determined solely by fact, you are not writing a textbook but to omit or fudge modern criminalistics is to deny richness and depth to your story.
ABOUT KAREN LONG
Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.
She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.
Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.
The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, soon to be joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault. Karen is working on the third novel in the series.
All author or review enquires please contact Karen Long’s Personal Assistant J.B. Johnston – firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Book 2 – The Vault – http://amzn.to/1WSnlDn
Did you know that Eleanor Raven is also online?
1ST PRIZE – SIGNED PAPERBACK OF THE SAFE WORD – OPEN INTERNATIONALLY
2ND PRIZE – ECOPY OF THE SAFE WORD – OPEN INTERNATIONALLY