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Thursday, 14 January 2021

Helen and Alison Tour 15th February

Alison Morton and Helen Hollick talk about their latest novels, Double Identity and A Mirror Murder.

It was with great delight that I met up with authors Alison Morton and Helen Hollick at CrimeFest in Bristol a couple of years ago. The three of us chatted over coffee (or was it wine?) about our future projects, and to our surprise both Alison and Helen, by pure coincidence, expressed their interest in branching out into writing something different to their usual novels. Ideas are all very well, but they do not always go further than a mere idea. However, I’m delighted to welcome Alison and Helen here to talk about ‘what happened next’...


Mel shivered. A cold breeze drifted over her bare backside. Dieu, the window must be open. Stupid in late November in London. But windows had been the last things on Mel’s mind last night.

Still drugged with sleep, she stretched out her hand towards Gérard’s face. His eyes were closed, the lashes resting on his pale cheeks. Too much time indoors, Mel thought and smiled. In his early morning relaxed state, Gérard looked more like a boy of seventeen than a man of thirty-seven.

Her eyelids were so heavy. She closed them. After a few seconds, she realised she wasn’t tired, just thick-headed. Opening her eyes again, she blinked hard then tugged on the duvet to cover them both against the too fresh air, but it was trapped under Gérard’s body. Never mind, she could think of a much more pleasurable way to warm up than hiding under the bedclothes. She stroked his skin with the tips of her fingers sliding over the fine brown hairs on his shoulder, then down his chest and over his stomach towards…

He didn’t stir.

He was cold. Stone cold.


“Thank you, Chris ... How’s that for an intriguing opening?” says Alison about the first of her new thriller series, Double Identity. “As I mentioned when we sat and talked, I knew I wanted to build on the success of my Roma Nova series, but what? Then it hit me. The new book would be  about a heroine with a strong connection to Poitou in France, which is where I live.”

She adds, “My Roma Nova thrillers are about an alternative society run by people descended from Romans who run their modern-day lives on Roman lines. Double Identity is a contemporary thriller  in the ‘real world’ featuring a tough and courageous heroine who has a dual nationality, which gives  some lovely internal conflict, especially with her British co-protagonist, DS McCracken, who is as prickly as his name sounds! My six years in army uniform left me a lot of useful background information, but I pored over French Ministry of Defence and armed services sites for hours to be certain of the French version! The most intriguing was researching French military voice procedure when using walkie-talkies! I also had to get other details right:  whether you can find a garage open on Sundays in rural France (you can’t!), the close community of  French rural life and the contrast with Brussels  and London big city life.

DS McCracken and Mel investigate in Double Identity

“We are both established and experienced writers,” Helen says, “I’ve known Alison for a long time now, particularly through our mutual interest in promoting good indie and self-published writers. I was first published in 1994 with my Arthurian Trilogy and Saxon historical novels, but when self-publishing started to become widely available around 2007, I went ‘solo’ with an idea I had for a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series. Being independent also means I can diversify when I want to, write to please myself and my readers, not adhere to a rigid mainstream contract. For A Mirror Murder, I wanted to write something where I could use my thirteen years of experience working as a library assistant during the 1970s – all those anecdotes I have stored in my memory – although I hasten to add I have never been involved in murder or serious police procedures!”



Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.


But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram,  a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered... Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into  murder?



Amazon Author Page (Universal Link)


Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.


It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.


Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.


But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover with the European Investigation and Regulation Service and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.


Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?


A good read for fans of Daniel Silva, Stella Rimington or Chris Pavone. 



Kindle:    (ASIN: B08P5YD3CN)  

For all ebook and paperback retailers:




Alison writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.


"Grips like a vice - a writer to watch out for" says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices.  AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.


Alison now lives in Poitou in France, where part of Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series.



On her thriller site:

Facebook author page:

Twitter: @alison_morton




Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.


First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.


Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction. She is currently writing more Voyages for the Sea Witch series and the next in the Jan Christopher Mysteries series. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!





Twitter: @HelenHollick


Alison Morton said...

Thank you so much, Chris, for hosting us today. Ir seems a while since that chat at Bristol !
Look forward to the next time we can meet. Perhaps at a CrimeFest?

Helen Hollick said...

Echoing Alison - thank you Chris for hosting us here on your blog ... I also recall (after the wine at the hotel where the conference was being held) that we shared a taxi to the station the next day and continued our discussions at the seating area on a very draughty platform... Happy pre-lockdown Covid days eh? The phrase 'when shall we three meet again' springs to mind of course! (Soon I hope!)

Chris Longmuir said...

Alison and Helen. Very happy to post this blog. I've read both your books and enjoyed them immensely. Any reader buying them won't be disappointed. and roll on the next crimefest, whenever that will be, when we can have another chat and maybe provide the impetus for more books.

Helen Hollick said...

I'll drink to that Chris! :-)