Tuesday, March 31, 2009

OT: Star Trek: The Next Generation on Family Guy

Recently I mentioned that there's an episode of Family Guy which includes the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well it's now viewable online here.

Hell is a City - DVD

I'm afraid I hadn't heard of this until it got mentioned on a recent edition of Radio 4's The Film Programme. Made in 1960, Hell of a City, was set and filmed in Manchester and stars Stanley Baker as Inspector Harry Martineau. It came out on DVD in 2005.

Synopsis from IMDB: Committed but seen-it-all police inspector Martineau rightly guesses that after a violent jailbreak a local criminal will head home to Manchester to pick up the spoils from his last job. Martineau is soon investigating a murder during a street robbery which seems to lead back to the same villain. Concentrating on the case and using his local contacts to try and track the gang down, he is aware he is not keeping his own personal life together as well as he might.

Publishing Deal - Catherine O'Flynn

I thoroughly enjoyed Catherine O'Flynn's What Was Lost and I'm pleased to see that she's been signed up for two more books and that the first one at least, has a Birmingham connection. From BookBrunch:
Catherine O'Flynn, author of the Costa Award-winning What Was Lost (Tindal Street), is joining Viking in a significant, two-book deal. Kate Barker at Viking won the books ahead of rivals including Tindal Street, the Birmingham-based independent, which, in alliance with a leading publisher, had offered its largest ever bid in an effort to keep the author. "She's a special talent, with a special voice," Alan Mahar of Tindal Street told BookBrunch.

The Viking deal begins with the provisionally titled EVERGREEN (spring 2010), about a Birmingham TV presenter haunted by absences, including those of his predecessor and of the brutalist architecture created by his father.
Read the whole piece at BookBrunch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crime on BBC3 & BBC4 this week

Tonight on BBC3 at 7pm, is the frightfully spiffing episode of Doctor Who, The Unicorn and the Wasp, where the Doctor and Donna meet Agatha Christie.

Also tonight but on BBC4:

8.30pm The Book Quiz with one of the panellists (contestants?) being Mark Billingham author of the DI Tom Thorne series.

10.00pm Spiral. A repeat of the the first two episodes from Season 1 of the classy French crime drama.

The Book Quiz is repeated tomorrow and Thursday. Also on Thursday at 9pm on BBC4 is a repeat of New Town (aka Purves and Pekkala).

Hustle to be filmed in Birmingham

So far I've not watched Hustle but the news reported by Digital Spy that the next series is to be filmed in Birmingham (ie 12 miles up the road) might make me change my mind:
...Robert Vaughn at the Memorabilia convention in Brum, where he spilled the beans on the relocation. "I found out last night that all six shows are going to be done in Birmingham," he told me. "I think this is the first time Birmingham has ever had a top-notch show film here."

He added: "Apart from this convention, one of my other responsibilities coming here is my wife said 'you've got to find out where I'm going to live!' So tonight after the signings I'm going down to the Rotunda in the Bullring, which is apparently the best place for apartment-type living."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Reviews: Gentle, Hayder, Morris, Rees

Two separate competitions are running in March. The prizes are Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor and The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler.

The following reviews have been added to the review archive over on the main Euro Crime website:
New Reviews:

Amanda Gillies gives the thumbs up to Mary Gentle's historical-fantasy-adventure 1610: A Sundial In A Grave concluding her review "If you are looking for an absorbing read that will take you away to another place for a good long time, this is definitely the one for you";

Maxine Clarke reviews Skin by Mo Hayder which immediately follows on from Ritual starring Flea Marley and Jack Caffery;

Michelle Peckham is the third reviewer at Euro Crime to enjoy R N Morris's A Vengeful Longing, the second in this series featuring Crime and Punishment's Porfiry Petrovich

and Laura Root reviews the third in Matt Rees's Palestinian series, The Samaritan's Secret.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

More from August Heat

I posted the first page from Camilleri's August Heat (translated by Stephen Sartarelli) the other day. Here are a couple of quotes from later in the book:

[Montalbano] sat outside until eleven o'clock, reading a good detective novel by two Swedish authors who were husband and wife, in which there wasn't a page without a ferocious and justified attack on social democracy and the government. In his mind Montalbano dedicated the book to all those who did not deign to read mystery novels because, in their opinion, they were only entertaining puzzles.

Gaspare Micciche was a fortyish redhead who measured barely four feet eight inches tall. He had extremely long arms and bowed legs. He looked like a monkey. Surely Darwin, if he could have seen him, would have hugged him for joy.

(NB. Typed in from a proof of the US edition and may not represent the final version).

Friday, March 27, 2009

OT: Doctor Who - podcast

The Doctor Who panel at the Celtic Media Festival as described in this BBC article will be broadcast on Radio 7 at midnight Saturday and will then be available as a podcast:
The Story Of Doctor Who
A distinguished panel of television talent, including Executive Producer Julie Gardner and Director Euros Lyn, reveal how the popular sci-fi show is transferred from script to screen.
Saturday at 12 Midnight
Also available as a podcast
Sign up for the podcast, here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What I'm reading...August Heat

The US edition of Andrea Camilleri's tenth and latest Montalbano novel, August Heat, is now available. The UK edition will follow in June.


He was sleeping so soundly that not even cannon-fire could have woken him. Well, maybe not cannon-fire, but the ring of the telephone, yes.

Nowadays, if a man living in a civilized country (ha!) hears cannon-blasts in his sleep, he will, of course, mistake them for thunderclaps, gun salutes on the feast day of the local saint, or furniture being moved by the upstairs neighbours, and go on sleeping soundly. But the ring of the telephone, the triumphal march of the mobile, or the doorbell, no: those are sounds of summons to which the civilized man (ha-ha!) has no choice but to surface from the depths of slumber and answer.

So, Montalbano got out of bed, glanced at the clock, then at the window, from which he gathered that it was going to be a very hot day, and went into the dining room where the telephone was ringing wildly.

‘Salvo! Where were you? I’ve been trying to get hold of your for half an hour!’

‘I’m sorry, Livia. I was in the shower so I couldn’t hear the phone.’

First lie of the day.

Read more of the extract from the UK edition at the PanMacmillan site. Interestingly my American proof copy not only has "cell" for "mobile", which is to be expected, but also "slime-buckets living upstairs" for "upstairs neighbours". I wonder if the final US version has the slime-buckets comment?

Lynda La Plante's The Red Dahlia to be filmed

From the Stage:

ITV has commissioned a sequel to Lynda La Plante’s Above Suspicion, which will once again star Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds.

Above Suspicion: The Red Dahlia will be a three-part drama based on La Plante’s novel of the same name, which focuses on detective Anna Travis.

It will be produced by La Plante Productions, with filming starting later this year.

Reilly will once again take on the role of Travis, with Hinds playing her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Langton.

Read the whole article, here.

Read the euro crime review of The Red Dahlia.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Publishing Deals - Casey & Cardetti

A couple of recent publishing deals as reported by BookBrunch:
Gillian Green of Ebury has pre-empted UK/Commonwealth rights (with Europe exclusive) in PAST GRIEF (2010) and a second crime novel by debut author and Macmillan editor Jane Casey from agent Simon Trewin at United Agents, for an undisclosed sum. Past Grief tells the story of a young schoolteacher, Sarah Finch, who discovers the body of one of her young pupils lying in the woods. The shock and trauma of this event force her to confront feelings she has tried to suppress for many years about the disappearance of her own brother, Charlie, when she was only seven. Read more about it here.
Rowan Cope of Abacus has bought UK/Commonwealth rights in DEATH IN THE LATIN QUARTER by Raphaël Cardetti from Univers Poch, which published the novel in France last month. Cardetti is 35 and lives in Paris, where he is a professor of Italian Studies, specialising in the Renaissance.

Set in contemporary Paris, Cardetti's story about the pursuit of a rare medieval manuscript is "a literary adventure through the shadowy courtyards of the Sorbonne and the narrow streets and gloomily palatial mansions of the Latin Quarter. With a cast of engaging characters, including Valentine Savi, a spirited young restorer, and Elias Stern, an enigmatic art dealer and bibliophile, and several mysterious murders, Death in the Latin Quarter is a page-turning read," says Cope.

Sonia Soto, who has translated Arturo Perez-Reverte and Guillermo Martínez, has been commissioned to undertake the translation, and the novel will be published as an Abacus trade paperback original in May 2010.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Crime Fiction in recent podcasts

In the last Clauda Winkleman's Arts Show podcast there was a 5 - 10 minute interview with Alexander McCall Smith to coincide with the release of the newest in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. The podcast link is here though it seems the episode can only be obtained via iTunes or equivalent.

And, on last week's Book Reviews with Simon Mayo, one of the titles covered was Daniel Depp's Losers Town. The episode can be downloaded from here. Losers Town was described as a gumshoe mystery, the reviews were fairly positive though the book was thought to be not particularly original.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quantum of Solace on DVD

Quantum of Solace, James Bond's 22nd film adventure is now out on DVD. Amazon currently have it for £6.98, Tesco (bricks and mortar) for £7 for 3 days only.Details of the extras and a video can be found on the Play.com site. The official Bond website is here.

Scandinavian Crime Fiction survey - help needed

I've recently received an email asking for crime fiction fans' help:
I've been reading crime fiction for many years, and have carried this interest with me to my MA in Creative Writing, which I'm doing at the moment. Luckily, (as part of my course) I now have the opportunity to carry out some research into the publishing phenomenon of my choice, and I have opted to look at Scandinavian crime fiction.

.... I'm looking for readers to complete a shortish online questionnaire on their experiences of this sub-genre.
If you feel like contributing, and I'm sure she'd appreciate it, the survey is here. (You can do the survey anonymously if you wish and it is quite short!)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Reviews: Alvtegen, Hollington, McMenamin, Waites

Two competitions are running in March. The prizes are Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor and The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler.

The following reviews have been added to the review archive over on the main Euro Crime website:
New Reviews:

Maxine Clarke praises Shadow by Karin Alvtegen concluding with "I urge you to read it as soon as you can";

Amanda Brown makes one of Euro Crime's rare sorties into true-crime with Kris Hollington's How to Kill;

Paul Blackburn takes a look at The Same Cloth by Geraldine McMenamin

and Michelle Peckham reviews the fourth in Martyn Waites's Joe Donovan series: Speak No Evil
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Forthcoming titles from Bitter Lemon Press

Here are a couple of titles recently added to the Bitter Lemon website:
Three bodies lie at the bottom of a swimming pool in a gated country estate in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. It’s a Thursday night at the magnificent Scaglia house.
A post 9/11 novel about financial and moral decay. ‘An agile novel and a ruthless dissection of a fast decaying society.’ José Saramago
UK July 09 / US January 10
£7.99 • $14.95 • PB • 978-1904738-411

THE LIE • Petra Hammesfahr
Nadia and Susanne are doppelgangers: one is filthy rich and the other dirt poor. When Susanne is asked to spend the weekend with Nadia’s estranged husband how can she refuse the outrageous fee on offer? ‘Hammesfahr is gripping, full of psychological insight, and one of Germany’s most successful writers.’ Literary Review
UK October 09 / US March 10
£7.99 • $14.95 • PB • 978-1904738-428

Friday, March 20, 2009

Donna Leon - new books

Coinciding with the publication on 2 April of the latest in Donna Leon's Brunetti series, About Face, is a companion guide: Brunetti's Venice: Walks through Venice with the city's best-loved detective by Toni Sepeda.

From the publisher's page:

Visitors to Venice might hope to find a Venetian friend who will guide them through the narrow streets, explaining a bit of history here, a story from his youth there, perhaps grumbling about the tourists, occasionally stopping for a glass of prosecco or to gossip with friends…

Brunetti’s Venice does all these things as it moves through the famous city with Commissario Guido Brunetti, the much loved Venetian detective of Donna Leon’s bestselling novels. Presented as a series of walks through Venice and featuring atmospheric extracts from relevant parts of the novels, it is woven together by a commentary that links Brunetti’s emotional and visual responses to places he has known all his life with the inquisitiveness of the visitor.

The first walk starts at La Fenice Opera house – where the very first Brunetti novel began – and ends at the iconic Rialto Bridge. Each consequent route weaves interlinking paths through Venice and catches the secrets, sounds, sights and smells of Venice past and present. Along the way we visit Brunetti’s favourite eateries around the Rialto bridge, walk with him from his home in San Polo to the Questura in Castello where he works, cut through Piazza San Marco and accompany him on the vaporetti out to more remote parts of Venice. There are reflections on the art and architecture of Venice, as well as the impressions of writers from Shakespeare and Goethe to Thomas Mann and Jan Morris.

Enchanting and practically useful, Brunetti’s Venice is both a walking guide and an evocative narrative of the life of this most magical city for any Brunetti fan.

Harper's Island on BBC3 this year

The BBC have announced that Harper's Island, described as Scream meets Agatha Christie will be shown on BBC3 later this year:
A group of family and friends travel to a secluded island off the coast of Seattle to attend a week-long wedding celebration. As the festivities begin, friendships are tested and secrets exposed, as a murderer claims victims one by one, transforming the week into a terrifying struggle for survival.

Over 13 episodes, Harper's Island will unravel a twisted tale of murder and revenge as these wedding guests – each with their own motives, fears and desires – must find the killer (or killers) before they strike again.

By the end of the 13 episodes all questions will be answered, the killer will be revealed and there will be few survivors.
The cast includes Harry Hamlin (LA Law) and Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty). The US premiere date is 9th April.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Young Sherlock Holmes - Andrew Lane

From BookBrunch:
To Rebecca McNally at Macmillan Children's Books, three authorised adventures by Andrew Lane about the young Sherlock Holmes. Book one, THE COLOSSAL SCHEMES OF BARON MAUPERTIUS, is set in the 1860s, when the 14-year-old Sherlock is sent to spend the summer with eccentric relatives as his soldier father heads for India; the boy genius "is drawn into a sinister international plot with a brilliantly imagined villain at its heart". Lane, a lifelong Holmes fan, has written tie-ins to Torchwood and Doctor Who, as well as ghostwritten books. McNally says: "Andy's written a completely gripping thriller which takes the world's most famous detective and turns him into an utterly convincing, psychologically complex, flawed, clever 14-year-old boy."
Read more about the plot(s) in The Guardian.

Last year Hodder Children's Books published Tim Pigot-Smith's The Dragon Tattoo, the first of the Baker Street Mysteries in which Holmes has disappeared. The follow-up, The Shape of Evil, is due out in October.

There is also a children's series by Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin about Sherlock Holmes & the Baker Street Irregulars which currently has 3 titles (US publisher, but available here through amazon.co.uk etc).

Monday, March 16, 2009

What I'm reading...

I've just started the latest Hamish Macbeth mystery by M C Beaton, Death of a Witch which came out last month in both the UK and US. (The US cover is on the left, UK on the right). So far so usual, incomer moves to the sea-loch-side Highland village of Lochdubh and within 30 pages dies!

You can read the first few pages via Open Book.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Allison & Busby and Miss Dido Kent

The Allison & Busby website has recently been revamped and very nice it looks now. The blog is now contained within the website (rather than on blogger) and I particularly like the details of what's coming out each month.

I've linked to these gorgeous covers of two books by Anna Dean. The urls include the word draft but I hope these are the final results. A Moment of Silence is already available in hardback. The cover shown is for the paperback, due out in May which accompanies the hardback of A Gentleman of Fortune.

Apparently A Moment of Silence is "A must-read debut novel combining a Regency setting and murder mystery, for fans of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen". So please form an orderly queue to read this series.

New Reviews: Ammaniti, Clark, Hannah, Peace

Two competitions are running in March. The prizes are Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor and The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler.

The following reviews have been added to the review archive over on the main Euro Crime website:
New Reviews:

Norman Price has good things to say about The Crossroads by Niccolo Ammaniti;

Terry Halligan reviews The Red Velvet Turnshoe by Cassandra Clark which goes onto his "best of 2009" list;

Maxine Clarke has mixed views on The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah (nb. not a book about physics)

and Pat Austin concludes her reviews of the Red Riding Quartet by David Peace with 1983 recommending the series "without a doubt".
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Louise Anderson's next book

I may have used the above title before but...there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for those of us awaiting the follow-up to Perception of Death.

The US edition of Perception of Death came out a couple of weeks ago. (The UK edition came out in 2004 - that's how long a wait it's been!)

In a recent interview in the Evening Times, this slight hope was given:

"Louise said: "I love writing because I can just escape into it. The characters are real to me - I miss them when I'm not writing.

"We are hoping to have my second book out this year, but it will depend on the market. I want to finish the second one so I can get on with some more new ideas."

I listened to the audio book of Perception of Death narrated by the superb Cathleen McCarron and my review is here.

There's also an extract published here.

P D James - The Private Patient - on audio

I had to remark on this. This is an unabridged recording of P D James's The Private Patient - 12 CDs - and is only £7.49 at play.com. With The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg recently being released on audio at the same time as the print version, and at an affordable price, it seems that audio versions are being taken more seriously by publishers.

Synopsis: When notorious investigative journalist Rhoda Gradwyn booked into an exclusive clinic in Dorset for the removal of a disfiguring facial scar, she had every prospect of a successful operation by a distinguished surgeon, followed by a week's peaceful convalescence in one of Dorset's most beautiful manor houses and the beginning of a new life. She was never to leave Cheverell Manor alive.
Dalgliesh and his team are swiftly called in to investigate, but when a second death occurs, the situation raises an even more complicated problem than the question of innocence or guilt...

Read the Euro Crime review of The Private Patient, here.

OT: Comic Relief - Doctor Who bits

The first hour of Comic Relief last night not only was co-presented by David Tennant and Davina McCall but also included a 5 minute episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures (with Ronnie Corbett and contained some gags for viewers familiar with The Two Ronnies) which was then followed by a Mastermind challenge for David and Davina. Davina's specialised subject was Big Brother (all of them) and David's was Doctor Who (1963-2009). The programme can be rewatched on iplayer. The SJA bit is about 25 minutes in and Mastermind follows shortly on.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Camilla Lackberg's favourite Swedish crime novels

In yesterday's Guardian, Camilla Lackberg revealed ten of her favourite Swedish crime novels:
1. The Mind's Eye by Håkan Nesser
2. Blackwater by Kerstin Ekman
3. Missing by Karin Alvtegen
4. Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson
5. The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell
6. Unseen by Mari Jungstedt
7. Shame by Karin Alvtegen
8. Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
10. Midvinterblod by Mons Kallentoft (not yet translated)
The hyperlinks are to the Euro Crime review of the book. Read Camilla Lackberg's reasons behind each choice at the Guardian.

Investigate more Swedish crime fiction here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All the fun of the fair...

Several books recently have used the 'International Exhibition of Paris of 1889' as a backdrop to or integral part of their stories: Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner, The Paris Enigma by Pablo de Santis and now the debut novel from Carol McCleary, The Alchemy of Murder which is to be published by Hodder on 2 April. (It's a large book but thankfully for those of us with ageing eyes, the print is huge).


The Alchemist is how I’ve come to think of him; he has a passion for the dark side of knowledge, mixing murder and madness with science

Nellie Bly – reporter, feminist and amateur detective – is in Paris on the trail of an enigmatic killer.

The city is a dangerous place: an epidemic of Black Fever rages, anarchists plot to overthrow the government and a murderer preys on the prostitutes who haunt the streets of Montmartre. But it is also a city of culture, a magnet for artists and men of science and letters. Can the combined genius of Oscar Wilde, Jules Verne and Louis Pasteur help Nellie prove a match for Jack the Ripper?

I'm sure there must be more novels set during this exhibition...

Of course if it's Oscar Wilde as sleuth you're after then head on over to Gyles Brandreth's series.

Win books by Taylor & Tyler

Just a reminder of this month's competitions. You can win copies of Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor and The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler.
Details on how to enter the competitions are here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No1 Ladies' Detective Agency on BBC & HBO

She's back! Mma Ramotswe, Botswana's no1 lady detective will be back on tv screens here and abroad shortly. In the UK the new series begins on Sunday 15th March at 9pm. The first of six episodes; read about episode 1, The Big Bonanza on the BBC website. The pilot episode is being repeated on BBC4 on Saturday at 7.15pm

The same pilot is being shown in the US on HBO on the 29th March at 8pm.

An article in the new TV & Satellite Week magazine (no on-line link available) concludes: "With her first child due to be born next month, Scott is unsure whether she will return to the role of Precious for a second series 'A lot of things will determine what happens next. But I'd definitely like to be able to figure something out'."

The Return of Lewis

Kevin Whately was on Simon Mayo's show last week and though he was on promoting the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? naturally questions turned towards ITV1's Lewis. According to Whately, Lewis will return on 22 March for a series of four episodes. They were filmed during June - December 2008. He would be willing to do more and there are some scripts flying around however if just depends on the money available to do the filming, given the problems ITV are having.

Read a bit more about the interview in the Oxon Herald.

Monday, March 09, 2009

OT: Where do I sit?

Toffee, Foxy and Nimes hogging the settee tonight...

Watery Covers

Given the titles it's not surprising that these two covers are on a similar theme:

Brian Gruley's Starvation Lake was published this month in the US and Karin Fossum's The Water's Edge will be published in July in the UK.

More on Flame & Citron

Following on from yesterday's post about the newly released film Flame & Citron... today's Metro has a brief interview with one of the stars: Mads Mikkelsen, which can be read here. The article states that the DVD is out today however play.com has the release date for the R2 edition as 29 June.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Flame & Citron

The Danish film Flame & Citron was released here in the UK on 6 March. Not many cinemas will have it, so a wait for the DVD is probably in order.

Jonathan Ross reviewed it with high praise on the last edition of Film 2009. This can be watched via iplayer for 7 more days here. Flame & Citron is covered at about 22 minutes in.

Synopsis taken from the official website:
Copenhagen 1944. While the Danish population hopes for a swift end to the war, freedom fighters Bent Faurschou-Hviid (23), a.k.a. Flame and Jorgen Haagen Schmith (33), a.k.a. Citron, secretly put their lives at stake fighting for the Holger Danske resistance group.

The fearless and uncompromising Flame is a confirmed anti-fascist and dreams of the day when the group will assemble and openly launch an armed counterattack at the occupying power. The more sensitive family man, Citron, used to work primarily as a driver for Flame, but now finds himself becoming more deeply involved in the group's work.

When their immediate superior, Aksel Winther, orders them into action against two German Abwehr officers, events start to get out of hand. Flame engages in conversation with the talented and intelligent Colonel Gilbert and for first time, Flame calls the soundness of the order he is about to execute into question. Something feels terribly wrong.

Furthermore, when suspicion turns to his girlfriend, the beautiful and mysterious courier, Ketty, Flame begins to spot the outline of a different and mostly hidden agenda. Can Ketty be trusted? Can Winther? And who really works for whom? While their doubts gnaw at them, Flame and Citron come to feel that they are on shaky ground. Desperate, disillusioned and with a sense of having been betrayed by their superiors, they decide only to trust each other and concentrate their efforts on getting to the much hated and feared chief of the Gestapo, Hoffmann.

The film is based on actual events and eyewitness accounts from some of the people who experienced Bent Faurschou-Hviid ("Flame") and Jorgen Haagen Schmith ("Citron") at very close range.
Watch the trailer here.

New Reviews: Campbell, Gilbert, Martin, Monroe, Peace, Vargas

Two competitions are up and running. The prizes are Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor and The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler.

The following reviews have been added to the review archive over on the main Euro Crime website:
New Reviews:

Maxine Clarke is very impressed with Karen Campbell's debut novel, The Twilight Time, set in Glasgow and now out in paperback;

Amanda Brown finds that the stories in Paul D Gilbert's The Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes "add to the Holmes legacy";

Geoff Jones reviews Lee Martin's Gangsters Wives (the case of the missing apostrophe perhaps?) calling it "an easy read";

Terry Halligan gives an explanation for the (perceived) slow pace of Aly Monroe's The Maze of Cadiz which he enjoyed nonetheless;

Pat Austin continues her reviews of the Red Riding Quartet by David Peace, with part three, 1980 - "the writing is superb and I really couldn't put it down."

and Fiona Walker reviews the latest and in fact the first in the Adamsberg series by Fred Vargas to be translated into English - The Chalk Circle Man calling it a "condensed Vargas primer"
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Possible spoiler in the comments below if you haven't read White Nights by Ann Cleeves.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

More cover themes

A vague similarity between the covers of these two forthcoming books. This is the US cover of Adrian McKinty's Fifty Grand which will be published in April (July in the UK). Simon Kernick's Target will be published in the UK in June.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A new Cambridge University set crime novel

Here's one currently missing from my forthcoming books list: Ruth Newman's Twisted Wing, winner of the Long Barn Books first novel prize, which will be out later this month from Long Barn Books. A paperback from Simon & Schuster will follow at some point.

Synopsis: The claustrophobic environment of Ariel College, Cambridge, has become the hunting ground for a serial killer. For the students, a siege mentality has developed following weeks of media interest in the 'Cambridge Butcher'. College life has become not about surviving exams, but surviving full stop. Forensic psychiatrist Matthew Denison is sure that his traumatised patient, student Olivia Coscadden, has the killer's identity locked up in her memory. That within the little clique she belonged to lurks someone with a grudge. Someone who thought 'what's a little decapitation between friends?'. And that someone is just getting started.

Recent autobiographies

I don't think anyone could miss the fact that Roger Moore's autobiography (or memoir) was published (in time for Christmas) last year. But I'd missed the fact that a couple of other actors equally at home in tuxedos have recently had their autobiographies published: Robert Vaughn's (Hustle, Man from Uncle) was published in January and Robert Wagner's (Hart to Hart) came out yesterday.

Italian Crime Novels published in 2008/9 - list updated

I've recently updated my amazon.co.uk list of Italian crime novels published in 2008 and 2009. Visit the list, here.

Andrew Grant - Even - opening paragraphs

Lee Child's younger brother Andrew Grant will have his first novel, Even, published in May in the US and July in the UK. Proofs are circulating and here are the first paragraphs taken from a UK proof copy:


When I saw the body, my first thought was to just keep on walking.
This one had nothing to do with me.
There was no logical reason to get involved.

I managed two more steps. If the alleyway had been a little cleaner. there's a chance I might have kept on going. Or if the guy had been left with a little more dignity, the scene might not have bothered me so much. But the way he's been discarded - dumped like a piece of garbage - I couldn't let it pass.

Even's main protagonist is David Trevellyan, a Royal Navy intelligence operative. Andrew Grant's official website is here, the US publisher's page is here and the UK publisher's page is here.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Red Riding - tonight

The first part of the Red Riding trilogy of films is on tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. The official website is here. The trilogy is based on 1974, 1980 and 1983 by David Peace. The quartet of books also includes 1977.

Euro Crime reviews of (the books) 1974 and 1977 have been posted with 1980 and 1983 to follow over the next two weekends.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Rome Noir events in London

There are a couple of events coming up this month in London to promote Rome Noir. Rome Noir is one of the latest in the Noir series by Akashic.

Fri., March 6, 6:30pm
The Italian Bookshop (website)
7 Cecil Court
London, UK
*Featuring editor Maxim Jakubowski and contributor Enrico Franceschini in a reading and discussion about Italian crime fiction

Wed., March 18, 6:30pm
Italian Cultural Institute (UK) (website)
39 Belgrave Square
London, UK
*Featuring editor Maxim Jakubowski and contributor Enrico Franceschini, interviewed by Barry Forshaw (Rough Guide to Crime Fiction).

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies - now available on R2 DVD

I mentioned the French comedy-spy film OSS 117: Cario, Nest of Spies last year when it had a limited release in UK cinemas. It was released on R1 DVD last September and is now available on R2 DVD and costs around 8 pounds online.

A box-office sensation in France, comic star Jean Dujardin stars as secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, aka OSS 117 who in the tradition of Maxwell Smart and Inspector Clouseau somehow succeeds in spite of his ineptitude.

After a fellow agent and close friend is murdered, Hubert is ordered to take his place at the head of a poultry firm in Cairo. This is to be his cover while he investigates Jack's death, monitors the Suez Canal, checks up on the Brits and Soviets, burnishes France's reputation, quells a fundamentalist rebellion and brokers peace in the Middle East.

A blithe and witty send-up not only of spy films of that era and the suave secret agent figure but also neo-colonialism, ethnocentrism and the very idea of Western covert action in the Middle East.

The Metro review is here and it mentions a follow-up: OSS 117: Rio Isn't Answering Any More.

OT: I Made a Dalek

As part of the upcoming Doctor Who afternoon at the library where I work, there will be a craft session: make a Dalek. So with a trifle pot, pipe cleaners, a straw, some beads, stiff card, coloured paper, glue and sellotape... a prototype:

(Based on a 'classic' series Dalek :))

There'll also be a quiz and a fancy dress competition. I am slowing knitting a Tom Baker scarf for my costume!

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Herring Seller's Apprentice - Extract & Competition

The following is an extract from The Herring Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler which is now available in paperback. The Herring Seller's Apprentice is one of the prizes on offer in this month's Euro Crime competitions.

Read the Euro Crime reviews here and here.

Chapter One

I have always been a writer.

I wrote my first novel at the age of six. It was seven and a half pages long and concerned a penguin, who happened to have the same name as me, and a lady hedgehog, who happened to have the same name as my schoolteacher. After overcoming some minor difficulties and misunderstandings they became firm friends and lived happily ever after; but their relationship was, understandably, entirely platonic. At the age I was then, hedgehog-meets-penguin struck me as a plot with greater possibilities than boy-meets-girl.

Little has changed. Today I am three writers and none of us seems to be able to write about sex.

Perhaps for that reason, none of us is especially successful. Together, we just about make a living, but we do not appear on the best-seller lists in the Sunday Times. We do not give readings at Hay-on-Wye. The British Council does not ask us to undertake tours of sub-Saharan Africa or to be writer in residence at Odense University. We do not win the Costa Prize for anything.

I am not sure that I like any of me but, of the three choices available, I have always been most comfortable being Peter Fielding. Peter Fielding writes crime novels featuring the redoubtable Sergeant Fairfax of the Buckfordshire Police. Fairfax is in late middle age and much embittered by his lack of promotion and by my inability to write him sex of any kind. When I first invented him, sixteen years ago, he was fifty-eight and about to be prematurely retired. He is now fifty-eight and a half and has solved twelve almost impossible cases in the intervening six months. He is probably quite justified in believing that he has been unfairly passed over.

Under the pen-name of J. R. Elliot I also write historical crime novels. I am not sure of J. R. Elliot’s gender, but increasingly I think that I may be female. The books are all set in the reign of Richard II because I can no longer be bothered to research any other period. It is a well-established fact that nobody had sex between 1377 and 1399.

As Amanda Collins I produce an easily readable 150 pages of romantic fiction every eight months or so, to a set style and a set formula provided by the publisher. Miss Collins is popular with ladies of limited imagination and little experience of the real world. A short study of the genre had already revealed to me that doctors were the heroes of much romantic fiction – usually they were GPs or heart surgeons. I decided to choose the relatively obscure specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery for mine. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have a great deal of sex, occasionally with their own wives. But they do so very discreetly. My ladies prefer it that way, and so do I.

The three of us share an agent: Ms Elsie Thirkettle. She is the only person I have ever met, under the age of seventy, named Elsie. I once asked her, in view of the unfashionableness of her first name, and the fact that she clearly has no great love of it, why she didn’t use her second name.

She looked at me as if I were an idiot boy that she had been tricked into babysitting by unkind neighbours. ‘Do I look like a sodding Yvette?’

But why did your parents call you Elsie, Elsie?’

They never did like me. Tossers, the pair of them.’

My parents did not like me either. They called me Ethelred. My father’s assurance that I was named after King Ethelred I (866–871) and not Ethelred the Unready (978–1016), was little consolation to a seven-year-old whose friends all called him ‘Ethel’. I experimented with introducing myself as ‘Red’ for a while, but for some reason it never did catch on amongst my acquaintances. Oh, and my second name is Hengist, in case you were about to ask. Ethelred Hengist Tressider. It has never surprised anyone that I might prefer to be known as Amanda Collins.

It is possible that all agents despise authors, in the same way that school bursars despise headmasters, head waiters despise diners, chefs despise head waiters and shop assistants despise shoppers. Few agents despise authors quite so openly as Elsie, however.

Authors? Couldn’t fart without an agent to remind them where their arses are.’

I rarely try to contradict remarks of this sort. Based on Elsie’s other clients, this is fair comment. Many of them probably could not fart even given this thoughtful assistance.

Elsie does in fact represent quite a number of other authors as well as the three of me. Occasionally we ask each other why we have settled for this loud, plump, eccentrically dressed little woman, who claims to enjoy neither the company of writers nor literature of any kind. Has she deliberately gathered together a group of particularly weak-willed individuals who lack the spirit either to answer her back or to leave her? Or do we all secretly enjoy having our work and our characters abused? Neither answer is convincing. The real reason is painful but quite clear: none of us is terribly good and Elsie is very successful at selling our manuscripts. She is also very honest in her criticism of our work.

It’s crap.’

Would you like to be more specific?’

It’s dog’s crap.’

I see.’ I fingered the manuscript on the table between us. Just the first draft of the first few chapters, but I had rather hoped that it would be universally hailed as a masterpiece.

Leave the literary crime novel to Barbara sodding Vine. You can’t do it. She can. Or, to put it another way, she can, you can’t. Is that specific enough for you or would you like me to embroider it for you on a tea cosy in cross stitch?’

I’ve put a lot of work into this manuscript already.’

Not so that you’d notice, you haven’t,’ said Elsie kindly.

But I’ve just spent three weeks in France researching the damned thing.’

It won’t be wasted. Send Fairfax to France. He deserves a break, poor bugger. Is France the place for him, though? He doesn’t seem to have any interests beyond police work, Norman fonts and local history.’

He’s a crack addict, a drag artiste and he played for Germany in the ’66 World Cup. My gentle readers suspect nothing as yet, but it’s all in the next book.’

It had better not be. Your gentle readers take that loser Fairfax very seriously and do not appreciate irony in any form. Sergeant Fairfax is your bread and butter, and twelve-and-a-half per cent of your bread and butter is my bread and butter. If Fairfax starts hankering after fishnet tights, send him round to me and I’ll sort him out.’

This also was true. Elsie would sort him out. I once tried to give Fairfax an interest in Berlioz (I must have been reading too much Colin Dexter). Elsie had the blue pencil through that before you could say ‘Morse’. ‘Don’t bother to develop his character,’ she said. ‘Your readers aren’t interested in character. Your readers aren’t interested in atmosphere. Your readers aren’t interested in clever literary allusions. As for allegory, they won’t know whether to fry it in butter or rub it on their piles. They just want to guess who did it before they get to the last page. And don’t give them more than ten suspects, or they’ll have to take their shoes off to count them.’

Perhaps I should have said that if there’s one thing that Elsie despises more than her authors, it is anyone foolish enough to buy our work. But again, I would hesitate to contradict her.

To tell the truth, I rarely try to contradict Elsie on anything these days. That was why, sitting in my flat that evening, all those months ago, I knew that the first draft would remain for ever just that. But it was worth one more try.

You could take the manuscript back to London with you,’ I suggested, ‘and read it properly.’

The problem,’ she said tartly, ‘does not lie with my reading, and my waste-paper bin in London is already quite full enough, thank you. Do you know how many crap first novels there are out there?’

No,’ I said meekly, not having counted them.

Too many,’ said Elsie, not having counted either, but with a great deal more confidence in her opinions. ‘Now, how was France?’

I sighed. ‘Totally redundant from a literary point of view, apparently, but otherwise very pleasant. I stayed in a charming little hotel. I sat by the Loire and drank the local wine – Chinon mainly, but sometimes Bourgueil. I absorbed a great deal of extremely authentic atmosphere. The sun shone and the birds sang. I met nobody who had ever read one of my books. Bliss.’

Useful research.’

I sensed the irony in her voice – not a difficult achievement, since Elsie and subtlety are not even casual acquaintances. ‘My characters were going to spend a considerable amount of their time sitting by the Loire drinking wine,’ I said. ‘I pride myself on accuracy. I had to research it in depth.’

Bollocks. Did you have sex with anyone?’


I thought the French shagged anything that moved.’

Not in Châteauneuf-sur-Loire. Possibly all manner of depravities were practised in Plessis-les-Tours or Amboise, but I never went to either.’

Well then, next time, try Amboise. Hang loose. Get laid. Write it up in your next book.’

Not my next book. As you well know, I don’t do sex. And, though I cannot be absolutely certain in this matter, I don’t believe that I have ever hung loose.’

Is that why your wife left you?’

My ex-wife,’ I said. ‘To be pedantically accurate, my ex-wife. Geraldine and I were incompatible in a number of respects.’

The main way in which you were incompatible is that she was screwing your best mate.’

Ex-best mate,’ I said. ‘He is my ex-best mate.’

Then the cow walked out on you.’

You make it sound rather abrupt and uncaring. She stayed long enough to write me a very touching note.’

All right, she’s a literate cow,’ Elsie conceded generously. She’s a fair woman in some ways, though not many. ‘Is she still with the chinless wonder?’

Rupert? No, she left him a while ago.’

She narrowed her eyes. ‘You seem better informed than you should be, Tressider. Don’t tell me you’re still in touch with the old slag?’

I must have just heard it from somebody. Why should you think I’m still in contact with her?’

Because you’re a prat, that’s why. I’d like to think that you were too sensible to go within a hundred miles of her. Normal people in your position – not that I know many normal people in my line of work, of course – sever all ties with their ex. Making a wax effigy and sticking pins in it is also said to be good. I could get you some wax if you like. There’s this Nigerian bloke down the market. He does pins too.’

I think that it’s quite possible to be friends with a former spouse,’ I said. ‘Geraldine and I must have had something in common, after all. We had a number of happy years together, though admittedly she was simultaneously having a number of happy years with somebody else. Life’s too short to be bitter over these things.’

OK, Ethelred, stop just there, before I sick up. You’ve just never learned to hate properly, that’s your problem. Stop being nice and start wishing she was rotting in hell. Clearly I’m not saying that you should have to do it single-handed. Geraldine had a very special and remarkable talent for making enemies, and there’ll be lots of others wishing hard along with you for her early and preferably messy demise. But on frankly, if she ever turns up murdered, just remember that it is your absolute right to be considered the prime suspect.’

But that’s hardly likely to happen,’ I pointed out.

The doorbell rang.

It was a policeman.

He smiled apologetically.

I have some bad news, sir,’ he said. ‘It’s about your wife. May I come in?’

Patterson-Marklund collaboration

From Publisher's Lunch:
James Patterson is reaching across the ocean for his latest writing partner, working on a new thriller set primarily in Stockholm with Scandinavian crime writer Liza Marklund, best known for her Annika Bengtzon series. The book will be published in Sweden in 2010 with Marklund's regular publisher Piratförlaget (of which she is a part owner), but that is the only territory sold so far. It's a bilingual collaboration as well. Marklund will write in Swedish, which will then be translated for Patterson, who will work in English as usual.

Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly is representing rights for the US and the UK and has "a great deal of interest" from Patterson's existing publishers in both territories. Linda Michaels, who was the "driving force in brokering the collaboration," represents rights for the rest of the world for Barnett, except for Sweden where The Salomonsson Agency represented Marklund.

Barnett sees it as "another example of Jim being innovative" as well as "an opportunity to introduce him to a whole new area of fans [internationally] who might not be aware of him" while doing the same for Marklund.

Marklund says in a brief statement, "Writing this book is so much fun. The story is violent, emotional, and fast paced. It’s very exciting to work with such an intelligent and creative writer. James Patterson is not only exceptionally smart and funny, he is also incredibly humble."
Lets hope this leads to the rest of Liza Marklund's books being translated into English.

Elizabeth George reference in Star Trek Destiny

I mentioned the other day that I'm reading David Mack's Gods of Night, the first in the Star Trek Destiny trilogy. It seems that the author is a fan of Elizabeth George - either the books and/or the tv series.

Taken from p260:
"I trust you've assigned new watch commanders for the next two shifts?"

"Yes sir" Worf said. "Commander Lynley is on the bridge now, and Lieutenant Commander Havers will relieve him at 0800."
I have put together an amazon list of the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Titan and Voyager books that are set after the film Nemesis so I can keep track of them. I have several already on my tbr and the library has some others. For some reason, Articles of the Federation by Keith RA DeCandido is rather rare and is listed at £28 second hand. It does seem to be available as an e-book for US$6-10 so I may have to go down that route as I didn't buy it at the time of publication and neither did the libraries I belong to.

The Poisoning in the Pub - sneak preview

The tenth in the Fethering series by Simon Brett, The Poisoning in the Pub, will be published on 20 March. The author now has his own website at www.simonbrett.com.

Chapter One

One of the most inauspicious events for any restaurant is to have a customer vomiting on the premises. However distant the cause may be from the establishment's kitchens, whatever gastric bug may have triggered the attack, such a happening is never good for business. There is always an assumption on the part of the general public that blame must lie with the food served in the restaurant.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Reviews: Macken, Moore, Peace, Sigurdardottir & a New Competition

A new competition is up and running. The prize is a copy of Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor. A second competition for March may be added at a later date. Watch this space...

The following reviews have been added to the review archive over on the main Euro Crime website:
New Reviews:

Amanda Brown reviews the third in the GeneCrime series by John Macken, Breaking Point, and she writes that, "tense and violent, this is not a light book, but it makes gripping reading";

Maxine Clarke reviews Donna Moore's laugh out loud debut novel Go to Helena Handbasket calling it "one hundred and fifty pages of pure fun";

Pat Austin continues her reviews of the Red Riding Quartet by David Peace, with part two, 1977 - "an extraordinary and masterly piece of work"

and Michelle Peckham reviews the paperback edition of Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir a book that is a recent favourite of the euro crime review team.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Euro Crime Blog and Web value according to Stimator

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has come across an evaluator which estimates how much your blog/website is worth. So, as calculated by Stimator:

The blog:

The website:

I put twice (at least) the effort into the website as the blog yet it's 'worth' only half as much :).