This is the seventh in the series of crime thrillers featuring the husband and wife team of DI Phil Brennan and criminal psychologist Marina Esposito. I’ll say that again: the seventh. As such it’s more difficult to get readers interested in it if they haven’t been following the series from the start. But that’s something I’m always aware of. I try very hard to make all the novels in the series books that could be read separately if so desired, but also benefitting more from being read in the correct order. It is a difficult juggling act to do, but one I hope I get right more often that getting wrong.

The thing is, I still have stories for the series. The kinds of stories that, I think, would only be – or at least best be – suited for me to tell in the Brennan/Esposito series. This one concerns a killer who targets victims of domestic abuse. He also cuts out and keeps their hearts. Hence the title. The killer is callous, deranged and violent but the book is not (I hope) gratuitous in any way. I think a writer has to be honest when depicting violence but not revel in it.

But it’s hopefully about more than just that. I wanted to look at the issue of domestic violence but in a way that wouldn’t come out as worthy or preachy. That would form an integral part of the story. I also felt that as a man writing about a subject that mainly but not exclusively affects women and doing so under a female name I had even more of a duty to get my facts straight and treat the subject matter with respect. I hope I have. As always, it’s up to the reader to decide.

I also always believe in the heart (no pun intended) of any novel, crime or other, as being the characters. That’s what interests me as a writer and also as a reader. And it’s those characters that keep me coming back to a series, again as both writer and reader. So hopefully people will still want to read about the continuing saga of Brennan and Esposito. Unless they think that book seven is a good starting point, in which case welcome aboard. Hope you enjoy it.

Heartbreaker – the new Tania Carver novel – is published by Little, Brown

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