Wednesday 17 October 2012

Betrayal Blog Tour: Author Gregg Olsen talks Top Ten Books!

I'm delighted to welcomer Gregg Olsen to the blog today as part of the blog tour for his book Betrayal, the second in the Empty Coffin series.

Betrayal takes its inspiration from the notorious Amanda Knox case, and it's one I'm going to be reading very soon. Can't wait!

In the meantime, please enjoy this great guest post from Gregg in which he discusses his top ten favourite books! Pleased to see that one of my all time favourites, White Oleander, made the list!


Betrayal (Empty Coffin #2) by Gregg Olsen
Publisher: Splinter
Release date: September 2012
Ages: 12+

In this action-packed thriller sequel to Envy, foreign exchange student Olivia Grant is stabbed to death after a party--and the prime suspect is her best friend. As twins Hayley and Taylor Ryan get pulled into the aftermath of this Amanda Knox-like crime, they realize nothing is what it seems. Could it be betrayal of the ultimate kind? 

Betrayal features real-life crime-solving techniques, heart-stopping suspense, plenty of red herrings, hard-hitting ethical questions, and information about the Amanda Knox case that inspired the novel. As the crime unravels, so does the twins' past…and they must face off against a family member who may unexpectedly have carried out the worst betrayal of all.

Guest Post: Author Gregg Olsen talks Top Ten Books! 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Every so often a book comes out that transcends a given genre and unites readers of all ages into the total immersion of an author’s creation. J.K. Rowling, of course, did that with her Potter series. But I think Suzanne Collins did it one better. (I say that because, I’m not a fantasy type person) and I think the world she created for Katniss and the rest rings true.

Carrie by Stephen King
It wasn’t YA, but it was the kind of book that I loved reading when I was growing up. In many ways, I think that Carrie White stood in for any of us teens who viewed ourselves as outsiders of one kind or another. King’s brilliant ability to make us care about her – feel sorry for her – even when she literally brings down the house on her high school prom – was a sign of even more great work to come. Loved The Shining too.

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
I’m including this because I had the pleasure of doing an event with Smith earlier this year in Philadelphia. Writers often support each other by exchanging books at such things. I didn’t expect to LOVE his book as much as I did (even though he was a wonderfully charming guy). I was riveted. Literally in lockdown myself until I finished. I can’t wait to read his next book.

The Fault of our Stars by John Green
A brilliant book by the best writer in YA. There, I said it. The story Green spins is at once tragic and laugh-inducing. Is cancer funny? No, but people facing tragedy can be very funny. Humor is healing. While women authors rule the YA genre there’s a man named John Green who doesn’t do vampires and such – but is writing books with words that sparkle on the page. Instead of vampire skin in the sunlight. You know what I mean.

Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell
This is the book that made me want to try my hand at crime fiction. Patsy Cornwell’s first half dozen books featuring Kay Scarpetta are wonders of plot and characterization. She was able to bring us right into the autopsy suite and focus our unflinching eyes on things we never could have imagined. TV has sort of stolen the forensic examiner’s thunder (CSI and all that crap) but Post Mortem took us there first.

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
I think I was about 12 when I read the story of two kids trying to figure out if a sculpture of an angel is a real Michelangelo while hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. I loved the mix of a detective story with a brother and sister trying to do what adults had missed. After all, this was a Michelangelo? Or was it? Sure they were running away from home, but in that escape, they found a purpose. The book is as good today as it was when I was a kid.

Son by Jack Olsen
Two books shaped my career as a true crime writer. This one is the first. Son tells the story of a notorious serial rapist in Spokane, Washington. Nothing ever happens in Spokane – the idea of bad things happening in benign places are a theme of mine in my YA series, Empty Coffin – until Kevin Coe terrorizes the community. As Jack Olsen (no relation, but later a mentor) writes the story, it is more about a family. You see, Kevin’s clan is ruled by his over-the-top mother, Ruth Coe. Ruth could not have been invented by a novelist – or at least she wouldn’t have been believed. To secure her son’s freedom, Mommie Worst puts out a hit on the judge who oversaw her son’s trial.

Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule
Here’s the second true crime classic that is a must read. Ann Rule wrote a tale of Diane Downs, a psychopath who wanted to bed down with her boyfriend so much (and one who didn’t want kids) that she pulled over one dark night in a rural part of Oregon and shot her son and two daughters. One girl died, the boy was paralyzed, and Diane became a true crime megastar. I interviewed her in prison long after her murders. She was miffed about Farrah Fawcett playing her in a TV movie. Said she wasn’t pretty enough. 

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Yes, I loved an Oprah book. Why not? I’ve always thought of the kids who are abandoned by their parent’s crimes. In White Oleander, Janet Fitch gave us Astrid, a teenager, who loved and hated her mother for the life she’d created for her. Nothing feels more lost than feeling as if you never mattered. This was 1999, before the YA boom, but I think the heart of the book is great YA.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The perfect American novel. Harper Lee only wrote one book (though some now say she wrote In Cold Blood by that friend of hers, Truman Whatshisname) and she knew that she should quit while was ahead. Writers today are on publication treadmill, but that’s another story


Many thanks to Gregg for the great guest post! The Betrayal blog tour continues tomorrow at Serendipity Reviews.


  1. Definitely nodding my head that THG gets the top spot (although I must disagree, HP will always have done it one better for me! Potterhead until I die :D). I've heard a LOT of fantastic things about Alexander Gordon Smith's novels, I hope to read one soon. TFIOS was my first John Green book and oh, I loved it SO much.

    I think To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the few books I read in High School that I actually enjoyed... despite my initial reluctance!

    Fantastic picks, and some I'm very intrigued to check out. Especially Gregg's own Empty Coffin series. They sound creepy good and I love the cover art!!

  2. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Love the cover art of The Empty Coffin series too. I really need to get started on those books soon! Brodie, can you believe I still haven't read THG?! Shame on me or what!!

  4. Fab list - though I have to admit to not having read quite a few of them - I really need to read The Fault of our Stars, I have it on my pile calling me :)

  5. To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely something EVERYONE should read. It's one of my favourites!

  6. Great list! And I am totally excited to see some of my own faves - To Kill A Mockingbird, Carrie, The Hunger Games! Definitely fantastic picks from Gregg. 

    -Megan @ Book Brats 

  7. Great post!
    I am gutted I never read The Hunger Games and just watched the movie, I can't read a book after watching the movie =(

  8.  That's why I haven't seen the movie yet. Refuse to watch it before reading the book! :)

  9. The evidence against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is overwhelming. They gave completely different accounts of where they were, who they were with and what they were doing on the night of the murder. Neither Knox nor Sollecito have credible alibis despite three attempts each. All the other people who were questioned had one credible alibi that could be verified. Innocent people don't give multiple conflicting alibis and lie repeatedly to the police. 

    The DNA didn't miraculously deposit itself in the most incriminating of places. 

    An abundant amount of Raffaele Sollecito's DNA was found on Meredith's bra clasp. His DNA was identified by two separate DNA tests. Of the 17 loci tested in the sample, Sollecito’s profile matched 17 out of 17. Professor Novelli pointed out there's more likelihood of meteorite striking the courtroom in Perguia than there is of the bra clasp being contaminated by dust.

    According to Sollecito's forensic expert, Professor Vinci, Knox's DNA was also on Meredith's bra.

    Amanda Knox's DNA was found on the handle of the double DNA knife and a number of independent forensic experts - Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Giuesppe Novelli, Professor Francesca Torricelli and Luciano Garofano - categorically stated that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade. Sollecito knew that Meredith’s DNA was on the blade which is why he lied about accidentally pricking her hand whilst cooking.

    According to the prosecution's experts, there were five instances of Knox's DNA or blood with Meredith's blood in three different locations in the cottage. Even Amanda Knox's lawyers conceded that her blood had mingled with Meredith's blood. In other words, Meredith and Amanda Knox were both bleeding at the same time.

    Knox tracked Meredith's blood into the bathroom, the hallway, her room and Filomena's room, where the break-in was staged. Knox's DNA and Meredith's blood was found mixed together in Filomena's room, in a bare bloody footprint in the hallway and in three places in the bathroom. 

    Rudy Guede's bloody footprints led straight out of Meredith's room and out of the house. This means that he didn't stage the break-in in Filomena's room or go into the blood-spattered bathroom after Meredith had been stabbed.

    Sollecito left a visible bloody footprint on the blue bathmat in the bathroom. Knox's and Sollecito's bare bloody footprints were revealed by luminol in the hallway. 

    It's not a coincidence that the three people - Knox, Sollecito and Guede - who kept telling the police a pack of lies are all implicated by the DNA and forensic evidence.

    Amanda Knox voluntarily admitted that she was involved in Meredith's murder in her handwritten note to the police on 6 November 2007.

    Knox accused an innocent man, Diya Lumumba, of murdering Meredith despite the fact she knew he was completely innocent. She didn't recant her false and malicious allegation against Lumumba the whole time he was in prison. She admitted that it was her fault that Lumumba was in prison in an intercepted conversation with her mother on 10 November 2007.


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