Sunday, July 24, 2016

OT: Email Problems

Just a quick note to say that I am receiving emails but cannot send them at the moment. Not sure if it's the current BT problems which are the cause. It's been ongoing for a few days now. I have asked the inhouse IT expert to have a look at it :).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Man with Walking Cane - Copycat Covers

Sam Christer's The House of Smoke came out in March (UK) and Will Thomas's Anatomy of Evil will be out in September (US).


The House of Smoke blurb from Amazon:

Big Ben chimes in the first seconds of the first day of 1900, the start of a fresh century. Inside London's oldest gaol, preparations are afoot to hang Victorian England's deadliest assassin, a man wanted for two decades' worth of murders.

Cold-blooded killer Simeon Lynch has lived a brutal and glorious life in the employ of the House of Moriarty - the most feared criminal enterprise in the world. Now, as he faces the noose, Simeon learns dark truths about his master, about Sherlock Holmes and about his own past. Truths that make him determined to escape and kill again...

Follow Simeon's bloody footsteps through the capital's cobbled alleyways, wretched workhouses and flash taverns as he crosses swords with Sherlock Holmes and the villainous characters of Victorian London.

Anatomy of Evil blurb from Amazon:

Cyrus Barker is undoubtedly England's premiere private enquiry agent. With the help of his assistant Thomas Llewelyn, he's developed an enviable reputation for discreetly solving some of the toughest, most consequential cases in recent history. But one evening in 1888, Robert Anderson, the head of Scotland Yard's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), appears at Barker's office with an offer. A series of murders in the Whitechapel area of London are turning the city upside down, with tremendous pressure being brought to bear on Scotland Yard and the government itself.

Barker is to be named temporary envoy to the Royal Family with regard to the case while surreptitiously bringing his investigative skill to the case. With various elements of society, high and low, bringing their own agenda to increasingly shocking murders, Barker and Llewellyn must find and hunt down the century's most notorious killer. The Whitechapel Killer has managed to elude the finest minds of Scotland Yard and beyond he's never faced a mind as nimble and a man as skilled as Cyrus Barker. But even Barker's prodigious skills may not be enough to track down a killer in time."

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Queen of Mystery - Short Stories on Radio 4, Episode 2

The latest in a series of short stories set at Festivals/Events running on Radio 4 is by Sarah Hilary and is called The Getaway. It was on last night but you can listen again for the next 29 days via iplayer or the website. Next Sunday, the story is by Val McDermid.

From the BBC Radio 4 website:

It's often said that there is something different about crime writers - they flock together, they enjoy each other's company and freely interact with their fans. Next week, thousands of fiction fans will head to Yorkshire for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, and this new story series celebrates the very particular atmosphere of such festivals.

In this story, Sarah Hilary (who won last year's Crime Novel of the Year Award at Harrogate for her debut SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN), takes us to an imaginary festival and a character desperate to break free of the mainstream.

Read by Melody Grove
Writen by Sarah Hilary
Produced by Kirsteen Cameron

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Queen of Mystery - Short Stories on Radio 4

A series of short stories set at Festivals/Events are running over the next three weekends on Radio 4 whilst the first one of the four - this one written by Ann Cleeves - was on last Sunday. You can however listen again for the next 27 days via iplayer or the website. Next Sunday, the story is by Sarah Hilary.

From the BBC Radio 4 website:

In the month that thousands of fiction fans head to Yorkshire for the Harrogate Crime Festival, this new short story series celebrates the very particular atmosphere of such festivals. It's often said that there is something different about crime writers - they flock together, they enjoy each other's company and freely interact with their fans. Over the next four Sunday evenings, festival stalwarts Ann Cleeves, Sarah Hilary, Val McDermid and David Mark, will take us to events real and imagined in four original stories that will charm and intrigue.

In this first story, Ann Cleeves (bestselling author of the Vera and Shetland crime novel series) takes us to Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland - an annual crime convention for lovers of the traditional mystery novel. Her character, Stella Monkhouse, known to her fans as the "Queen of Mystery", is an award-winning crime writer who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that her literary star is beginning to wane...

Read by Joanna Tope.
Written by Ann Cleeves.
Produced by Kirsteen Cameron.

Monday, July 11, 2016

DVD News: Dicte Series 1

The first series of Dicte - Crime Reporter the Danish crime series based on Elsebeth Egholm's novels, which recently ran on More 4 is available on DVD from today.

Following her divorce, investigative journalist Dicte (Iben Hjejle) moves back to her home town of Aarhus, along with her teenage daughter Rose. Dicte soon tangles with local police detective Wagner played by Lars Brygmann (Unit One, Borgen) and by the end of the first couple of episodes he's hoping not to see her again but of course that's not going to be the case!

The two-disc box-set has the episodes in their original ten-episode format ie 5 stories in two parts.

[I'm half-way through the series so I may return to the subject later on but so far it's enjoyable if a little full of coincidences.]

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Looking Ahead to 2017

Three debut books/authors have been getting some press attention this week.

Out in January 2017 is Rattle by Fiona Cummins, published by Macmillan. My proof copy gives little away about the plot but does say: "If you only read one thriller this year make it this one".

I have found a bit of a synopsis;

Erdman Frith’s life is falling apart. His beloved son Jakey is suffering from a singularly cruel progressive disease, his wife is threatening divorce, and he’s in a dead end job. What Erdman doesn’t know is that someone is watching him and his son and they won’t stop at anything to get hold of what they want. Jakey Frith suffers from Stone Man Syndrome, his bones are fusing together and he is slowly becoming imprisoned by his own skeleton. The shadowy, threatening character of the Bone Collector has inherited a macabre and gruesome museum of medical oddities. He knows about Jakey’s condition and longs to possess his skeleton for his collection. When five year old Clara Foyle, who also suffers from an unusual medical condition goes missing the police, headed up by feisty Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy, embark on a hunt for what seems to be a sinister figure who has access to medical records. As the lives and the fates of all the characters become more desperately entangled, Erdman helps Fitzroy to track down the Bone Collector and restore his family. 

Out in November 2017 is Lara Dearman's debut, The Devil's Claw, published by Trapeze. This is the first in a series set on the Channel Islands. From The Bookseller:
Trapeze has signed a crime series set in the Channel Islands by debut author Lara Dearman.

Sam Eades, senior commissioning editor at Trapeze, struck a two-book deal ... The first book in the series The Devil's Claw will be published in November 2017.

The Devil's Claw follows journalist Jennifer Dorey and DCI Michael Gilbert, who pair up after the discovery of a drowned girl on a local beach and Dorey uncovers a pattern of similar deaths over the last 50 years. Together, their investigation will lead them to expose the island’s historical scars, and to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier, whose carefully constructed world is now crumbling because of Dorey.

Eades said: "Crime fiction fans love to be transported to different locations, from the wilds of Shetland to the brooding Scandinavian landscape. I cannot wait for readers to explore the island world Lara Dearman has created in her atmospheric debut The Devil's Claw. The Guernsey setting is both beautiful and deadly, and on this stunning backdrop unfolds an ambitious murder mystery interwoven with local tradition and folklore. Lara is a voracious reader of crime fiction and plays with the conventions of the genre, masterfully weaving together crimes from that past and the present told from three characters."

Dearman, a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at St Mary’s University, grew up on Guernsey before moving to the UK to study. Since graduating with a distinction in 2016, she now lives in New York with her husband and three children and is intending to write full-time.

She said: "I was born and raised on Guernsey and have always felt a deep-rooted connection, a longing even, for the familiarity of my island home. It was this feeling together with a desire to explore the darker side of the island’s history - Nazi occupation and folk tales of witchcraft and Devil worship - which led to the idea for The Devil's Claw. I wondered, what it would be like to return to this small, close-knit community after years away. What would happen if, having returned, those feelings of comfort and familiarity so many of us associate with home were shattered – if the island’s dark past caught up with its present and a body washed up on the beach with the driftwood? Sam’s enthusiasm for The Devil's Claw has been overwhelming and I am so excited to be starting my writing career as part of the Orion/Trapeze family."

The Devil's Claw will be published by Trapeze in November 2017 in paperback, e-book and audio with the second book following in Spring 2018.

And out in December 2017 is Jane Robins' Hitchcock-inspired debut, White Bodies, published by Harper Collins' new division HQ:

HQ are delighted to announce acquisition of UK and Commonwealth rights to White Bodies, a unique attention-grabbing debut novel by journalist and author of three non-fiction books Jane Robins. Cleverly reworking Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train for the internet age, White Bodies follows the story of an abusive relationship that tests the unbreakable ties that bind twin sisters.

White Bodies will be published on 28th December 2017 in hardback, ebook and audiobook.

Sally Williamson, Jane Robins’s editor at HQ, said: “Jane has written an utterly mesmerising book that I devoured in one sitting, gripped by every exquisite page. Unique, addictive and darkly twisted, this is going to be huge.” 

White Bodies follows bookseller, Callie, as she watches her beautiful, talented sister visibly shrink and diminish under the domineering love of her new boyfriend. Tilda has stopped working and pretty much stopped eating. Her flat is freakishly clean and tidy, with mugs wrapped in cling film and ominous syringes in the bathroom bin. So worried is Callie that she joins an internet support group – – for the victims and families of women enduring abuse from their partners. But when one of Callie’s new internet friends is murdered by her abusive partner both Tilda and Callie’s lives spiral out of control.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Review: Cara Massimina by Tim Parks

Cara Massimina by Tim Parks, November 2011, 288 pages, Vintage, ISBN: 0099572621

Reviewed by Rich Westwood.
(Read more of Rich's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Morris Arthur Duckworth is a down-at-heel English teacher in the Italian city of Verona. His life is financially precarious, always one step ahead of the gas being cut off in his flat, and largely reliant on providing additional private tutorials for his wealthier students. Morris simultaneously despises them and yearns to join them as an equal in wealth and lifestyle.

"He loved taking care of beautiful things... Normal things he was rather careless about (his scuffed shoes, for example) but with beautiful things it was different (and that was the mystery in the end, to have opened one's eyes in North Acton and yearned for class and style before he even knew they existed). And Morris thought that when one day he had finally got a good number of beautiful possessions together, he would spend a long time looking after them and get a great deal of pleasure from it."

His student Massimina seems to offer a step up. She is beautiful, biddable, and deluded enough to have fallen in love with Morris. She is the third daughter of a wealthy family. She is also, unfortunately, seventeen, which means he cannot marry her for several months.

Before you feel sorry for Morris, you should know that he is a liar, a petty thief, and an embryonic blackmailer, driven by an unjustified sense of self-pity. In many ways he is similar to Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley (a similarity heightened by the Italian setting). He flunks his crucial first meeting with Massimina's family by getting caught lying about his prospects.

"Morris then very casually mentioned the names of three Veronese companies he was working with closely at the moment... Names you saw on posters and local television commercials. There was a fair chance, of course, Verona being the tiny tight-knit place it was, that either the signora or Bobo would know people in these companies. By precisely the aplomb with which Morris took that risk should prove the clinching factor."

An elopement seems like the obvious next step. But is it an elopement or a kidnapping? Morris doesn't seem quite sure himself. And is the studiously asexual anti-hero actually falling for Massimina?

"Massimina was in a complete mess. Red in the freckled face, make-up all over the place, hair tousled, body apparently quite shapeless in a running outfit of all things. And out of breath to boot - nostrils flaring and eyes puffy. Rather horrible."

Maybe not, and yet....

CARA MASSIMINA is the first of three books featuring Morris Duckworth recently reissued by Vintage. The first two were originally published in the '90s and CARA MASSIMINA is a reminder of simpler times when kidnappers had to buy newspapers to compose their ransom demands and find out if the police were after them. The Italian setting (informed by Tim Parks' own time as an English teacher in Verona), inexorable plot, sort-of-likeable antihero, and relatively short length make this an ideal holiday book. Good fun.

Rich Westwood, July 2016