Double Identity awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion!

B.R.A.G. logoThe Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) are a tough lot. When my first book, INCEPTIO, went forward in September 2013 for their consideration, they were rejecting 90% of submissions.

Luckily, I didn’t know that at the time or I might have been a GREAT deal more nervous. But Carina would have told me to ‘gather up my grit.’ And I have no reason to think they’ve changed from that. So, despite all six full-length Roma Nova novels having won the medallion, when I submitted Double Identity to them, I did chew my lips more than a little.

Double Identity‘s Mel is both so different and so similar to Roma Nova’s Carina and Aurelia. Would the readers take to her? This is what they said about her first adventure:

Title: Intriguing, forceful, appropriate to the story   5
Cover: Striking, professional looking, appropriate to the story   5
Plot: Original, compelling, engaging, coherent   4
Characters: Interesting, appealing, believable   5
Dialogue: Authentic, quotable, advances the story   5
Writing Style: Distinctive voice, pleasing rhythm, evocative   5
Chapters: Logical flow, advance the story, build momentum   5
Copy Editing: Grammar, punctuation, spelling, word choice   5
Content (Developmental) Editing: Structure, coherence, continuity, accuracy   4
Formatting: Front matter, layout, font   5

Additional Comments
“I have read three of this author’s Roma Nova series, all of which I loved. The author is clearly a very prolific and talented writer; however, while I enjoyed this book, I did not like it as much as the others I have read. The main criticism I have is that I found the story overly expository. Although the author has an admirable history of military service, it seemed to me that she was trying too hard to demonstrate this experience and knowledge through the action and dialogue. Having said that I liked Mel and felt she was believable. In conclusion, this is a very good book and certainly deserving of the B.R.A.G. Medallion, but in my estimation, it falls a bit short of the usually high caliber of the author’s work.”

“Truly superb writing! Characters, dialogue, the building of tension, all are handled masterfully by author Alison Morton. Her detailed knowledge of military matters in both England and France is very impressive. And the richness of her imagination in producing twists of plot is breath taking. Some American readers may find her use of English slang daunting, but Morton captures an authenticity of tone that places this work into the realms of literary reality with the very best of mystery writers.”

“Excellent thriller! Exciting, well written, memorable characters, no plot holes, minimal typos.”

I think I can live with this! 😉

This is a high honour in the world of indie publishing.The time and trouble IndieBRAG readers devote to the process is self-evident. And Geri Clouston leads them with professionalism, friendliness and deep understanding of the book world. I am honoured to belong again to a select group of authors and delighted for Double Identity to be featured on their website.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Thriller, mystery, action adventure, suspense, or what?

What’s in a genre? More precisely, what’s the difference between the genres in the title? Are there any hard lines between them?

And what do we, as readers, get from each of them?

Action stories feature a lot of movement-heavy exciting scenes including but not limited to fights, shootouts, car chases, foot chases, explosions, fast flying helicopters – you name it – and more than one. Sometimes they feature one character, but more often an ensemble each with different functions or expertise.

However, these stories and films tend to have simple, obvious or sometimes hardly any plot, even huge plot holes and lack of continuity. The fun is in the fast and furious pace and in films, heart-stopping CGI sequences. such as Mission Impossible.

Adventure stories are essentially about an exciting experience or mission/quest at the centre of the tale and sometimes have old-fashioned tone as H. Rider Haggard’s classic stories, spy stories such as by John Buchan, Ian Fleming and Eric Ambler, or an epic one as in space opera  such as the Vatta’s War series by Elizabeth Moon.

Such stories often feature exotic locales and several puzzles/riddles/challenges that may or may not be physical. A good supporting team  of trusty locals, comrades, experts and ‘elder statesperson’/guru is in the mix. The ‘good guys’ usually win, although there may be bitter loss or sacrifice along the way.  Confusion arises these days with the label if books are called ‘adventure’ when they may only be a day out or a family road trip; these are really dramas, I’d say.

Action-adventure is a hybrid in which both action scenes and puzzling challenges are combined. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a good example of an action-adventure film since it contains both strong physical action scenes as well as a defined quest. Raiders includes fights, stunts and shootouts along with period settings, travel, historical puzzles and death-defying challenges.

Suspense stories have danger but not necessarily action. Much of the danger and tension come from the unknown or apprehension of potential danger. The protagonist acts in a state of excitement, misplaced hope, anxiety and/or uncertainty about what is about to happen. Readers often know something the characters don’t and hold their breath as the characters’ dread increases. Should a vulnerable, young character venture upstairs to find out what’s making those noises in the attic? We know they shouldn’t and we have a pretty good idea why they shouldn’t.  We may possibly know EXACTLY what’s waiting for them up there…

Mysteries have, er, mysteries, a puzzle or sometimes a seemingly impossible quandary to understand or explain. It often relates to a crime like murder, and includes hidden elements, a cover-up and a sleuth/detective, and the answer is revealed only at the end. Agatha Christie specialised in this. Traditional authors like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett mixed mystery and suspense. The best mystery stories often explore people’s unique capacity for deceit—especially self-deceit. This is usually considered the most cerebral (and least violent) of the crime/mystery/thriller genres.

Thriller stories are more nuanced than action stories and build more on tension and complexity of plot. Traditionally, the plot appears more important than the characters, but the best thriller writers develop both equally fully. Often, something bad happens to the protagonist externally, e.g.they are mistaken for a criminal, kidnapped, attacked by ‘persons unknown’ or are betrayed by the authorities or seeming colleagues – anything to ramp up the tension. Equally often the only solution is for the protagonist to act alone at great personal risk or in certain danger. Internal conflict, illness and psychological pressure and self-doubt add to the tension.

Thrillers use plot twists and devices to create excitement, while action and adventure stories use their action scenes and risky situations. In crime thrillers, the central characters are involved in crime, either in its investigation, as the perpetrator.

According to International Thriller Writers (and who am I to argue?), a thriller is characterized by “the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace.”

A few types of thrillers and some examples
Classics: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and The Count of Monte Cristo, both strip away civilisation and reveal cruelty of people to others, the first more of a psychological thriller, the second a story of vengeance and redemption.

Legal thrillers: Anything by John Grisham who has made the sub-genre his own.

Intellectual or pseudo-intellectual thrillers: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is a prime example. Using a professor as protagonist gives an essence of credibility (but not much), but it does attract readers by delving into a mystery most people would love to know about, and moves very fast.

Epic/high-concept thrillers: These deal with terrorism, trained assassins or space opera. A ‘pull out all the stops’, ‘save the world’ genre. Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders would be a good example of this.

Socio-political thrillers: Frederic Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal is one of my favourites!

Espionage thrillers: Le Carré is, of course, the master here with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold as an excellent place to start. Mick Herron is another terrific spy story writer, with anarchic insight into his cynical protagonist Jackson Lamb and team of competent incompetents of Slow Horses.

Techno-thrillers: Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger. Both are fast-paced and with sympathetic and complex main characters.

Historical: My favourite is Lindsey Davis’s Roman detective Falco and the spin-off series featuring Flavia Albia. Ellis Peters’ 12th century Brother Cadfael series is a a well-loved classic.

What ifs: Fatherland by Robert Harris remains my favourite alternative history, although there are many more here. Oh, and there’s the Roma Nova thriller series with stories set in a Roman society in the 20th and 21st centuries full of betrayal, rebellion and ‘tough gals’… 😉

And my own new contemporary thriller (if I may mention it 🙂 ) Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy thriller with a Franco-British ex-special forces solder, Mélisende, a dead body and grumpy British cop, McCracken.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers.

Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

Double authors turn to crime

Off on tour! Well, a virtual one. And it’s a double one shared with renowned historical fiction writer, Helen Hollick!

So far, so normal… Or is it?

The backstory

You know me as the author of the Roma Nova thrillers featuring heroines Carina and Aurelia in four books each. Basically, what if an Ancient Roman society had survived  into the 20th and 21st centuries? Of course, the twist was that now women ran it. But all the stories had very firm Roman roots. Although thrillers, they were in the historical fiction genre, specifically the sub-genre alternative history.
So publishing Double Identity on 7 January, a contemporary thriller in the ‘real world’ (whatever that is in a work of fiction!) was a departure.

Little did I know that Helen was plotting a similar departure.

She confessed that she’d decided to have a change from her Saxon, Conquest and pirate fiction and write a murder mystery novella. She’d also wanted to write something where she could use her more than a decade of experience working as a library assistant. The two ideas gelled together and materialised as a ‘cosy mystery’ (more Midsomer Murders rather than Morse). A Mirror Murder was published 13 January.

What’s A Mirror Murder about?

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?

A couple of lovely reviews also give a good idea of what the story is about:

A delightful read about an unexpected murder in North East London. Told from the viewpoint of a young library assistant, the author draws on her own experience to weave an intriguing tale” Richard Ashen (South Chingford Community Library)

Lots of nostalgic, well-researched, detail about life in the 1970s, which readers of a certain age will lap up; plus some wonderful, and occasionally hilarious, ‘behind the counter’ scenes of working in a public library, which any previous or present-day library assistant will recognise!” Reader Review

What’s Double Identity about?

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 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?

We’d love you to join us on our tour!

We’ll be explaining a lot more about our new books – and why and how we both turned to crime without losing the plot!
And any Tweets (#DoubleMirrorTour) or sharing of posts on Facebook would be most welcome!


2nd      Tony Riches with Alison
3rd       Tony Riches with Helen
4th        Clare Flynn with both of us 
5th        Derek Birks with both of us
6th        Graham Brack with Helen
7th        Elizabeth St John with both of us
8th        Lucienne Boyce with both of us
9th        Anna Belfrage with Alison
10th      Pam Lecky with both of us
11th      Jacqui Brown with Alison Morton – Review
11th      Kathryn Gauci will feature both of us  in her newsletter
……… (Sign up for it here: )

12th      Jo Barton with both of us
13th      A A Abbott reviewing Double Identity
14th      Cryssa Bazos with both of us
15th      Chris Longmuir with both of us
16th      Anna Belfrage with Helen
17th      A A Abbott with Helen
18th     Jacqui Brown with Alison Morton – ‘From the writing desk’



Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series.

Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.