Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver #BookReview Q&A #BlogTour

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow. Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.

Making them steal.

Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

I'm absolutely delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Hinton Hollow Death Trip today. As well as my review I'm also thrilled to also be featuring a FABULOUS Readers' Q&A with Will Carver. Huge thanks to Will, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

The first thing you should know about Hinton Hollow Death Trip is that some of you will hate it. It will make you upset or angry; the language is explicit, people commit heinous acts that inflict cruel pain on others, children and animals die in shocking circumstances. It's not just me who is warning you, the omniscient narrator says so right at the beginning, advising readers to leave now, without even bothering to finish the page. And the narrator knows everything because the narrator is Evil. That's not my opinion either, this is actually Evil with a capital E in person. If, however, you love reading something different then stick around because there is nobody better than Will Carver when it comes to writing original, no holds barred fiction.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is the third book to feature Sergeant Pace although he is only a minor character in Good Samaritans, and though his role in Nothing Important Happened Today is more significant, it isn't necessary to have read either before this one. That said, there are moments which will resonate more with returning readers and I'd highly recommend both as they are outstanding novels. Pace returns to his home town after the devastating events in his most recent case and could be excused for thinking things would be a little more settled there. Hinton Hollow is a small town between London and Oxford and is the sort of place where everybody walks rather than taking the car and where everybody seems to claim to know everybody, although perhaps only town matriarch, Mrs Beaufort can really say that. The townsfolk are soon indelibly linked however and the population of 5,120 is going to fall over the next five days because Evil has a plan.
We often hear perpetrators of horrific acts described in shocked terms as being 'just an ordinary man' and it's an Ordinary Man who brings death to Hinton Hollow. Sergeant Pace needs to find a killer but he will strike again and Evil soon ensures that almost everybody in the town is behaving differently. Meanwhile, Pace has been seeing black flames and looking over his shoulder for a long time and there's a reason why Evil has followed him. I've always been fascinated by the complex, tormented detective and he reaches both his nadir and the climax of his story so far here.
I've read Hinton Hollow Death Trip twice now and enjoyed it as much, if not more the second time even though I knew what happened because I noticed things I missed initially. The gradual revelations, the encroaching terror, the sheer weight of the tragedy all make this an intriguing read but it is so much more besides. For a start, there's that compelling, strangely likeable narrator, Evil who describes what is happening in Hinton Hollow but also explains why; as we get worse, as our average becomes good and our bad becomes terrible, the need for balance means that despite really wanting a quiet life, Evil has to become...well, more evil. It may be a bold move having Evil narrate the book but this isn't the only risk Will Carver takes and the provocative audacity of the novel means it is so much more than a straightforward crime thriller.
The structure of the book is perfect; this isn't just a linear story and Evil often interrupts the flow of the narrative with an aside about the nature of evil, a hint filled with foreboding about what is still to come, an observation on humankind or to exhort readers to examine our responses to what happens. We are shown the same event from different perspectives and even left not ever learning the full truth about certain events. The short, staccato sentences are like a finger prodding at our shoulders, no matter how uncomfortable we become, it's impossible to ignore and so we're forced to consider our own hypocrisies amidst this often damning indictment of our self-centred, contradictory, increasingly fragmented society. 
The language is almost playful yet sharply perceptive with certain words  -
 l i e s,  f e a r,  h o n e s t y,  g o s s i p,  t r u t h,  h o p e   
- written with extra spaces, informing us that these small, seemingly insignificant words are where Evil is perhaps most able to present itself. The writing is beautiful, Will Carver has a wonderfully descriptive turn of phrase, bringing the town and its inhabitants vividly to life but although the story is utterly engrossing, this isn't meant to be an easy read. It does require the reader to think, to look within themselves, to assess their responses candidly and to accept they may not always like what they discover. It's not entirely bleak however, and despite the undeniably dark themes explored it still suggests that with the right will, change is achievable. It also made me cry which I wasn't expecting. This is an magnificent novel - I love it when authors take risks, I love fiction that challenges me and asks difficult questions and I love really feeling a book. Hinton Hollow Death Trip is a masterpiece.

I know I'm not the only reader who loves Will's books so as well as my own questions I asked in a few Facebook groups if anybody wanted to ask him anything. Read on to find out more...

You’ve used a variant on the phrase “nothing important happened today” in all your books and there are more Easter Eggs for returning readers in Hinton Hollow Death Trip so how long have you had this book and trilogy in your head?

Pace and Hinton Hollow have been around since 2013. 
So, the third book in the January David series was originally a book called NINE LIVES. It was about nine people who jump off Chelsea Bridge after receiving a letter in the post. Sounds familiar, right? 
Anyway, I then wrote a fourth book called FINAL 4, which was essentially a follow-on from GIRL 4, with the same characters and was supposed to be the fourth book in the January David series - I was hoping for a new deal. 
Once this book was submitted, the publisher scrapped NINE LIVES and opted for FINAL 4 as my third book. But, get this, they didn’t want that title because it made it sound like it was the last book in the series. They published it as DEAD SET and ditched me, effectively ensuring it was the last book in that series. 
I then wrote a book called TAKE ME FIRST, about mothers having to choose between their children. I had a new detective, DS PACE. He was dark and brooding and I hoped another publisher would pick it up. 
They didn’t. It was ‘too clever’. Yawn. 
So, I had these two books. They were alright, one was apparently publishable, but I wasn’t getting the interest. Then my agent disappeared and I dropped into a black hole for a few years. 
I wrote my way out with a couple of books that nobody wanted but then came up with an idea for a story about a dysfunctional marriage. This book became GOOD SAMARITANS. I injected DS PACE knowing that I had a book that would be his story, at some point. 
GOOD SAMARITANS was picked up and everything changed for me. I was back. I didn’t want to make the same mistake I had before where I didn’t follow a good book with another good book. It had to be strong. I scrapped NINE LIVES completely and rewrote the entire thing, getting Pace involved and interspersing things with the cult manifesto, which was not a  part of the original book at all. It turned into NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY. 
I wanted to tell Pace’s story. I had TAKE ME FIRST but it wasn’t right. I did what I did with the second book and scrapped it entirely, instead making my narrator EVIL. It made it SO MUCH FUN to write. (And it needed to be fun because I had deleted 98k words. Eek!) 
Pace has been around for ages, but I feel like I have honed my craft so much more since GOOD SAMARITANS so the Pace you see now is so much more than he ever was. 
I’m not finished with him. And I’m not finished with January David, either. 

The whole Easter Egg thing is something I love doing. Any fan of Twin Peaks or X Files will pick up on the fact that I love those shows and dot them around my books in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. 
It’s also great to write these books so they work as standalones for new readers but rewards the readers who have stuck it out from the start. 

Who would you pick to play Evil in a film of the book? And who would be Sergeant Pace?

This is really tricky, I was asked this recently. 
I’ve always thought of Pace as a Michael Fassbender type. However, since writing the character of Evil, I think Fassbender would make the best Evil.  So now I am stuck on Pace. I really like someone like Tom Hiddlestone or maybe Jude Law but, to be honest, if some film producer wanted to make a film of my book, I’d be so happy about it that they could cast Gilbert Gottfried or Bobcat Goldthwait and I say it was fine. 
I’d be interested to hear what readers think on this…

What’s the most evil advice you’ve been given - and what’s the best?

I had some great advice from Sophie Hannah when I was told that TAKE ME FIRST was ‘too clever’. I was so desperate for a new deal that I chose to dumb things down and it really made the story worse. She said to me, ‘You don’t need to make your story less clever, you need to find a smarter editor’. 
I didn’t take that advice at the time but it has been in my head ever since - and now I’m with Orenda. 
I’m not really sure about evil advice. I guess I went with some advice on my second book, THE TWO, to add a love story element and make it ‘thicker’ for summer holiday readers and it worked out horribly. I have some weird inability to think commercially, though. (Ha!) 

Do you listen to music when you’re writing, and if so, what?

I can’t. If I do, it can’t have lyrics so it would be instrumental stuff. (I love Gershwin.)
When I wrote NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY, I would listen to Eminem’s Kamikaze album and it would fire me up with the anger needed to write that book in the way that I did. But I tend not to listen to music while I write. 
When I edit, I listen to the soundtrack of Cinema Paradiso. Ennio Morricone is amazing and there’s something so magical about that music that it helps me through what is the worst part of the process for me. 
I also listen to The Weight by The Band when I finish a book. This is also accompanied by a very large whisky. 

Lucy V. Hay:  Oooh great, please ask Will Carver what his writing routine is

My routine has changed. 
When I was writing full time, I used to get up with my newborn daughter - do all of those parenty things you have to do in the morning, maybe nap when she did, then write 2000 words. 
I don’t do that now. I find that writing 1000 words really hones the focus. you have to make every word count, they have to be there for a reason. (This is probably why my chapters are often very short.) 
Now, I run a fitness business with my partner and we have five kids between us, so there’s always someone small around. This means that I end up starting my writing once everything is settled at night. And that means typing the first word nearer midnight than most people would like. 
The only thing I have always done is to dedicate Tuesdays to writing. I’ve always done it because it just fit my life at the time but now I have made my life fit that routine. 

Penny Carter- Francis: Ask Will..... Good Samaritans is one of my favourite books... will we see Maeve again, as she had a rather dark side. And I liked it ..... 😳 I know she was Pace’s GF but as she binned him off.... was wondering if that meant she’s set her sights on someone else more pliable?

Indeed. I love Maeve. With Pace, he hasn’t really been my main character in any of the books - even HHDT, Evil takes the lead. But Maeve has been around in all three so far and I would like to tell her story at some point, too. I’m just not entirely sure what that is just yet. 
I know that this is currently billed as the DS PACE series but it really isn’t, it is a very loose series and I want all the stories to tie in together and have a reader be able to read the books in any order. There are characters in all three books so far that have their own stories that will link and overlap but I certainly have plans for Maeve. Psychologically, she is too interesting to leave behind. 

Mark Tilbury: Hinton Hollow Death Trip is narrated by evil. What preparations did you make to step into Evil's shoes whilst writing the book?

The beauty of Evil in HHDT is that ‘His’ heart is in the right place. He doesn’t want to be evil, he wants people to be better so that ‘He’ can be better, too. So, I got to be very playful with certain things in order to have this come across to the reader, to somehow make them *kinda* like Evil. 
Of course, a lot of research does go into this but, unlike in NIHT, it had to really remain unseen. So I reread a few religious texts including The Bible and The Satanic Bible to get a feel for ‘His’voice, because that was going to be incredibly important - I had to hit the right tone so that it was more like advice from somebody who had experienced everything rather than being preached at. 
As a vegan, I don’t like to proselytise but there are things that are important to me and I do research these things, too. It was important to me to get this into the book because one of the themes of HHDT is the value placed on life and I wanted to get the reader to think about this in all its guises. 

Kate Eveleigh: What goes on in your brain? 😀

Haha. Great question. Often, it’s despair. Mostly at how social media has killed the art of communication. How the next generation has a limited attention span because information is delivered in soundbites and tiny chunks. How everyone has been given a voice and they think that means it should be used. And how this means people are no longer listening. Also, that they talk AT other people rather than TO them. ‘This is what I’ve eaten, here’s a picture. This is what I did. This is my happy family. This is the haircut I’ve just had after four months in lockdown.’ Nobody cares. Before social media, nobody took a picture of their bolognese, got it developed then posted it to a friend. 
Nobody cares. 
I find it frustrating. But I also find it interesting. Why do people pretend their marriage is amazing? Why do they try to show that their kids are always beautifully behaved? Why can’t they just think about a dead grandparent rather than writing to them on Facebook to wish them a happy birthday that they aren’t having. 
It’s fascinating. 
Why do people post something about how awful it is that a dog has been beaten or an elephant has been poached, then post a picture of the barbecue they are having with charred, dead animals and potato salad? 
Why do people post one of those motivational posters saying how we should be positive and forgiving then forget it for twenty minutes and write a status that bitches about someone? 
These are the things that go around in my brain. And I think, ‘How can I show people this? How can I get us talking about these things?’ 
That’s a snippet of what happens in my brain. i can’t go on because people have already stopped reading. 
But it is largely despair. I just think we could and should be better. 

Wendy Clarke: I’ll add my question that I always ask Crime and thriller writers! 
Q. If you had your computer confiscated by the police what would be the most incriminating evidence on your google history? 

I’m currently writing something and a character does a Google search for ‘Best ways to get rid of a dead body’. I needed to see what the top hits were. 
Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 
*There’s a second search on how to dissolve flesh

Kaisha Holloway: Do you ever worry about your state of mind when writing, or do you just think 'eff it' and hope your characters end up as outlandish as you? 😉😃

Never! The trick is to observe people closely, to listen and understand. Then it’s a case of not being afraid to get that down on the page because readers don’t always want to confront the fact that they are like a certain character. 
It’s also in the mundane details of reality, getting down those small things that we all do. That is what makes a character real. It’s what can make you love or hate them. 
I always think, ‘fuck it’. You can’t please everyone. You have to write the story and the characters truly and in the way they deserve to be written. 
However, while writing Nothing important Happened Today, I did find it difficult sometimes to switch off from the anger immediately. 

Linda Hill: How is Will’s future writing affected by the reviews and comments readers make about his previous books? 

I learned from my first series that you can not get caught up in the reviews. It is fabulous when you receive a rave review, of course, especially when it seems as though the reader has really understood what you are trying to say. 
In that first series, we changed how the second book was laid out because of a few bad reviews regarding the non-linear timeline. Less than 1% of people didn’t like it. But I felt it was changed for those readers who were never going to read the second book, anyway. 
It was a harsh lesson but now I don’t let it affect me. 
With the things I am writing now, I find that the really negative reviews are more of a statement about the reader than me or my book so I tend to smile. 
The things I write are ‘controversial’ and divisive but they get people talking and that can only be a good thing. 
In short, nothing that reviews say - good or bad - will affect a future Carver novel. I will write the story in the way that it needs to be written. 

Kate Eveleigh: If you were Evil, who would you visit first and why?

That is difficult. If I was Evil from my book, I would be visiting to make someone fulfil their most inner evil desires and workings. I, personally, wouldn’t want that. So there is no point in visiting a Hitler or a Trump because I would make them worse. It would only be worthwhile if I was their as that ghost-of-Christmas-yet-to-come type of Evil where I could show them the error of their ways and make them change. 
So, if I were the Evil from Hinton Hollow Death Trip, I would visit someone who was fundamentally ‘good’ but maybe enjoyed chocolate a little too much. I wouldn’t want to cause the damage. 

Steph Warren: What's the one thing you would want a potential reader to know before opening your book?

Well, if I had a fiver for every time somebody said, ‘This is like nothing I’ve read before’, I wouldn’t be worrying about my rent each month. So I guess that’s what they need to know. It’s not fluffy. It will make you think. I don’t want a reader to get caught up in the story, I like to keep them at a distance so that they can remain critical. Essentially, if you read a lot of crime or thriller fiction, there’s a chance that you probably haven’t read something like this. 

Lorna Cole: What sort of TV shows and films do you enjoy watching? 

My film collection is pretty staggering. I still have over 2,000 videos in my mum’s loft that she asks me about moving every week, without fail. 
Films from ’69-’79 are my bag. Easy Rider to Raging Bull (technically 1980). I love foreign cinema. The French are the best, then I like Japanese films. 
When it comes to TV I watch a lot of documentaries. Sports documentaries open up something passionate in me but crime ones, too, of course. 
I write a lot of dark stuff but I watch a LOT of comedy and, strangely, anything to do with antiques. I think that everything is so ‘new’ now and has a crazily short shelf-life that it’s fascinating to see items that have stood the test of time. 
My two favourite shows are X Files and Twin Peaks. A lot of that shows up in my writing. 

Thank you so much for such detailed, thoughtful responses, Will and thank you to everybody who submitted questions. If anybody does have any suggestions for who to play Pace, let us know below! (In my head he's Jamie Dornan or Rupert Friend).

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is published by Orenda Books. It is available now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 13th August 2020. Purchasing links can be found here but please consider buying from independent bookstores whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.


  1. This is amazing! Thanks so much for the blog tour support xx

    1. Always thrilled to share the book love for Will's books! xx

  2. Love this! Thanks so much for including my question, and thank you Will, for answering it! X

    1. It's fabulous, isn't it? Thanks so much for your question xx


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