A gripping thriller, 6 Jun 2012
This review is from: SARCOPHAGUS (Kindle Edition)
The title of Tom Bryson's excellent crime novel, Sarcophagus, only hints at the dire events to come. One thinks of a sarcophagus as a receptacle for a human corpse. In this case, it refers to the cement enclosure built around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant after the meltdown there in 1986. Secrets, lies and betrayals followed. So it is in this gripping thriller.

In 1985 Greg Stevens was a bomb disposal expert for the UK Royal Engineers. Wounded by an IRA sniper, he almost died. Now he's a recently widowed businessman. Because he was born forty years ago in a village near Kiev, the UK government sends him there to evaluate a possible collaboration with Ukrainian businessmen. Greg's father accompanies him, hoping to repair a longstanding rift with his brother, who lives there with his widowed daughter Natasha. Bryson makes clear the devastating after-affects of the Chernobyl meltdown. His description of the wasteland near the nuclear power plant is chilling. Political corruption, betrayal and a diabolical plot by Ukrainian thugs lead to a tense standoff as Greg fights to save Natasha, the woman he's come to love. Highly recommended! -- Susan Fleet, author of DIVA, a New Orleans crime thriller

 Sarcophagus by Tom Bryson, 19 April 2012
Excellent, 15 Jun 2012
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This review is from: SARCOPHAGUS (Kindle Edition)
Very fast moving and exciting. Wasn't sure until the very end what the outcome would be. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended!

This review is from: SARCOPHAGUS (Kindle Edition)

Tom has created another believable hero in Greg Stevens,to follow Matt Proctor from - Too Smart To Die - by the same author. The up to date plot and sub plots, of greed and power, all inter mixed with terrorism, seamlessly unfold to keep the reader gripped and the pages turning. The setting in the Ukrain is superbly descibed, as are the main characters, especially crooked oligarch Bogdan Katchenko. The ending leaves the way open for Greg Stevens to appear again, but in what role? Looking forward to Tom`s next novel. 



Established crime writer Nick Oldham comments: 

'Welcome to the world of DCI Matt Proctor in Tom Bryson's first thriller, TOO SMART TO DIE. An under pressure Proctor has to deal not only with murder, but also police corruption - a discovery that leads to his ignominious suspension from the police. However, this opens new avenues for Proctor as he stumbles upon a deadly cyberworld cult that threatens Proctor and his family.

Set in the real world - a superbly described West Midlands, the Black Country - very appropriate - Bryson has created a flawed and very real character in Matt Proctor whose life is a mess professionally and personally. This is a great debut from Bryson, who is one to watch out for as is, I hope, Matt Proctor, a character who I think has the legs to front a whole series of novels.'

 A suspenseful thriller, 3 Aug 2011
This review is from: TOO SMART TO DIE (Matt Proctor novels) (Kindle Edition)
In Tom Bryson's thriller, Too Smart to Die, a killer is on the loose in Birmingham, England. Detective Chief Inspector Matt Proctor investigates a particularly gruesome murder. He's recently divorced and his 18-year-old daughter lives with him. Unbeknownst to Proctor, she and a woman friend are playing cyber-games with the killer and his creepy cyber-cult gang. In a series of suspenseful encounters, the killer threatens the lives of Proctor and his daughter. Thanks to Bryson's deft descriptions, Birmingham's landscape comes alive, and his portrayal of police corruption is spot on. Hopefully, the budding romance between Proctor and his alluring female assistant will come to fruition in Bryson's next book. DCI Proctor is a complex, well-developed character that deserves a series. I look forward to the next one. - Susan Fleet, author of Diva, a New Orleans crime thriller.

'...reminded me of a Raymond Chandler novel (maybe Farewell my Lovely) with its descriptions of the surrounding area.  I very much liked your main character, Matt Proctor, completely believable...the deaths were suitably horrible but I was relieved to read them without getting nightmares.  
I loved the portrayal of the girls, going out and getting wasted, unsuitable men & etc.  We've all been there when younger... Hall too is a completely believable nasty piece of work....your work is much more character based and we  have the realisation that the Nightwatchmen are not just a bunch of geeky, pathetic boys but serious about killing.  And the gaming (about which of course I know nothing) together with the brain sucking works well so that you make something incredible, credible.
I look forward to the next one,..

Too Smart To Die, 1 Aug 2011
This review is from: TOO SMART TO DIE (Matt Proctor novels) (Kindle Edition)
I`ve read "Too Smart To Die" and found it fast paced and to the point. It`s my kind of read with plots and sub plots and a bit of conspiracy. 
Having worked in B`ham for 5 years in the sixties, I watched the old part of Brum, from Stewarts and Lloyds drawing office, in the then new Lloyd House,be transformed to the new up beat thriving city it is now. Therefore I was able to follow the character Matt Proctor around the streets and especially to the old pubs around the Great Charles Street area. 
Perhaps the Old and New architecture and Modern Skyline is worthy of a few more descriptive words to promote Brum in the same way as Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf and other icons in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool do for their great cities. 
Also I found myself wanting to know more about Matt Proctor, his life, career and family to date. 
In all I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and particularly liked the clever way you brought the plots together, off centre of the main character Matt Proctor and let them evolve and revolve about his family. 

I`m looking forward to your next book, "In It For The money", it sounds like you have chosen an up to date subject with lots of avenues to explore. 

Will baddies Romney and his poodle Carpenter reappear in the future with a score to settle? I think it goes with out saying that Azzra Mukherjee will be about for a bit yet. 

Carry on writing.

Morgen Bailey's Blog interview no.26 with crime/thriller author and playwright Tom Bryson

Welcome to the twenty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found at

MB: Hello Tom. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.

TB: I was born and grew up in Northern – the North of – Ireland, in the historic city of Derry – Londonderry aptly coined ‘Stroke City’. (Ah, the subtleties of cultural identity). 

MB: I presume that’s more ‘oh dear’ than ‘ooh er missus’.

TB: I’ve lived and worked in the West Midlands of England in engineering, local government and public transport. My specialisms are HR, training consultancy and writing.

MB: Ah ha, ‘writing’.

TB: I live and write in the attractive village of Kinver in south Staffordshire.

MB: Not a county I’ve had much experience of (like a lot of people with mine) but it sounds nice.

TB: I write novels, plays and short stories. I’ve always enjoyed making up yarns, writing them, telling them, since I was at school. Then life and greater things came my way; a wonderful wife, a young family, chasing a career, paying a mortgage – you know, those kind of incredible life forming adventures.

MB: I do, except for the wife/family and the only career I’m chasing is this one. :)

TB: So, isn’t life just grand!

MB: You know Tom, actually yes it is.

TB: And I still kept on making up yarns, writing stories.

MB: Yay! What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?

TB: Mainly crime/thriller novels. My playwriting and short stories are more eclectic – or to put it another way; I write about what comes into my head at the time!

MB: That’s a good plan and I’d say that eclectic keeps it from being mundane. What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?

TB: My crime/mystery novel ‘TOO SMART TO DIE’ is now published in print (available from or as an e-book on amazon for the kindle and other e-readers. I’ve had short stories published in anthologies, some radio broadcasts and plays professionally directed and performed in English West Midlands theatre/arts venues. (Details are on my website

MB: Ah ha, that answers my next question as to whether your are books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?

TB: Available? Yes. On as an e-book and on as a print book. (Publisher TJB E-BOOKS). Check out Tom Bryson and TOO SMART TO DIE on both websites. The experience was good. However, you must work at the detail. Layout, margins, indents, fonts, formatting, decisions about HTML, Text, Word, RTF, pdf, epub, et al have to be thought through. If you don’t get this stuff at the start DON’T WORRY but you must be prepared to learn the SPECIFIC STUFF that applies in your case – not all of it does! In fairness it’s not high tech, but depending on what route you go you will have to face these nerdy terms – and take the learning curve. I’m no techie geek – but it’s doable.

MB: That’s good to hear. :) What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?

TB: Yes – an article in a magazine about negotiating pocket money with my kids. Thrills are forever.

MB: Ah that’s nice. ‘Nice’, sorry a bit insipid but ‘nice’ gets a raw deal sometimes so I’m going to use it. :) On the other side of the literary coin, have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?

TB: Many. Get over – get on.

MB: I love that. So I will. What are you working on at the moment / next?

TB: My latest novel is nearing completion – once again featuring Birmingham-based DCI Matt Proctor from ‘TOO SMART TO DIE’ – whose murder investigations now take him into the deadly world of sport’s spot-fixing gambling syndicates. Provisional title ‘IN IT FOR THE MONEY’. I’m also developing an e-book publishing venture with the support and encouragement of my (‘long-suffering writer’s’) wife Jane and various offspring expertise.

MB: Very, very important. My hound is 100% behind me (unless he’d rather play with a toy or go to the park).

TB: The support and encouragement I get from my beloved Wolves football team’s performances is another matter! (Mick McCarthy – talk to me, please – hey, Mick, I’ll sell you a copy of TOO SMART TO DIE for a player’s hourly rate!)

MB: I don’t follow football at all so I can’t help you but are you talking Wolves or Premier League (or are Wolves in the Premier League?). See, I did say I knew nothing about the sport, so back to what I know… Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?

TB: Try to, don’t always succeed. When in my novel writing schedule I aim for 1000 words a day. Best? 3000.

MB: What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?

TB: Don’t understand it. Just write. It’s like work – get on with it.

MB: Again succinct; something tells me you’re good at editing. :) Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?

TB: I get a nugget, a germ of an idea, expand that. I do a short synopsis, expand that. Then I try to focus on the central character and the other main characters, then I outline the story. The main bits – start, key scenes, climax, resolution, end. Then I write a short summary of the major scenes, a few sentences. But I leave a lot of gaps! I need that kind of structure and space to get me going – and I need the gaps – believe me, what happens then when I start to write doesn’t follow the ‘script’.

MB: Same with me, and I’d say most writers. Speaking of which, do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?

TB: Yes. Unless someone turns on the (day) light.

MB: Ha ha. Do you write comedy Tom? :) What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?

TB: Best: just flying.

MB: Ooh not me, I don’t like flying but it gets me to where… ah, you mean… sorry, too early in the morning. Yes, absolutely, get an idea and run with it.

TB: Worst: a) feeling guilty about being a selfish recluse; b) feeling proud about being an arrogant egotist.

MB: The recluse is the bit I like (see earlier references to no family / patient dog). Arrogant egotist? Presumably through your characters of course Tom. :)What advice would you give aspiring writers?

TB: Enjoy – and find your voice. Read.

MB: I think new writers worry too much about how to find their voice. Just write and it’ll come. We all speak differently don’t we? And you’re unlikely to copy anyone else unless you have their book in front of you and copy specific sections. Just have fun. What do you like to read Tom?

TB: Novels, some newspapers, well-argued social/political analyses, sports articles, arts/music/innovative ideas.

MB: A healthy mixture for a healthy brain. :)

TB: I avoid celeb books and cooks, their PR shit, war history (nobody learns).

MB: Some people like that stuff; we have a war window in the Red Cross shop every autumn and it’s hugely popular, as are celeb books but I’ve not seen the appeal either.

TB: I read a lot of other stuff as well.

MB: Me too. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?

TB: Yes, see my website. (

MB: And lists three other recommended websites. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?

TB: UK: It’s a great help living here in terms of writing – but UK publishers/agents need to rethink their approach. (I stand to be corrected, please step forward, guys).

MB: Hee hee. Let’s hope they’re reading this.

TB: Listen – the UK industry is sleepwalking into crisis with the explosion of e-books and the kindle and other e-readers. All hail the writer!

MB: I’m so glad you think that, some writers are worried (especially when they realise how many of us are trying to do the same thing).

TB: US: I envy US based crime writers who have so much more help and access than we do.

MB: I’d not thought of it like that but I guess being in a bigger country helps? Someone, feel free to correct me with specifics here. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?

TB: Interesting how you pose the question!

MB: You’re not the first person to say that, not sure why I said ‘invaluable’ rather than ‘valuable’ but glad I did now.

TB: Now what I find ‘invaluable’ (i.e. priceless, above value) is what brings me book readers first then buyers. I’m ‘goal focused’. Listen – there are sound reasons why people do social networking – I’m not knocking it. But ‘invaluable’? I’m on LinkedIn – good writer links there and discussions – good for professional people – but no great help yet in selling my book!

MB: Lots of people are there to tout so maybe people are too used to glazing over as soon as they see a link? I think the best thing for any writer to do is keep up with discussions and when asked, tout.

TB: Wary of Facebook – think it’s for the very young, but hey I may be wrong, how young is young and what’s it for anyway? Twitter – will it bring my books to a wider audience, sell them? You tell me – seems it’s for 140c celebs desperate for publicity and …well, perhaps that’s all they can manage. (Valuable – invaluable?).

MB: My site stats say about a tenth of my blog views are from Twitter and Facebook so not huge but for me I like the interactivity as well. Connections will be important when I have something to say but building the audience, for me certainly, is the important / fun bit.

TB: I’m a member of Bridgnorth Writers Group whose feedback and advice I much appreciate.

MB: Aren’t writing groups great? My Monday nighters and I have been together about six years and although they don’t hold back (which is vital) they explain where something’s going wrong or right as point out things I’d never either guess or thought about because I’m too close to the story. Where can we find out about you and your work?

TB: On my website,, amazonkindle,,

MB: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

TB: Probably…next time.

MB: Absolutely. Happy to have a re-match. :)