P. D. James- 1920-2014- A BBC Retrospective

PD James- 1920 – 2014

Like many, many crime readers across the globe, I was saddened to hear of the death of P. D. James today- a consistently entertaining and hugely influential crime writer whose books have been a constant source of pleasure for readers and fellow authors alike. I can offer no better tribute to this remarkable writer than this selection of her finest moments broadcast across the BBC that perfectly illustrate her talent, integrity and  the wonderful feistiness that defined her character. She will be greatly missed.

P D JAMES at the BBC

Famous for her detective Adam Dalgliesh, James penned more than 20 books which sold millions around the world, with many adapted for film and TV. Her best known novels include The Children of Men, The Murder Room and her Pride and Prejudice continuation Death Comes to Pemberley. BBC Arts presents a selection of PD James highlights from the archive.

From the archive

PD James (Getty)

About the author

PD James always rejected the notion that detective novels were not proper literature. She proved her point with a string of well-researched and beautifully constructed crime stories.

Read more

Born in Oxford on 3 August, 1920, from her early days at Cambridge High School for Girls, Phyllis Dorothy James nurtured an ambition to write.

The daughter of a civil servant, she was forced by her family’s financial circumstances to leave school at 16 and find a job as a filing clerk.

Baroness James of Holland Park, as she was latterly known, began writing seriously in the mid-1950s, composing parts of her first novel during her commute to work.

The resulting book Cover My Face, published in 1962, introduced readers to Adam Dalgliesh, the intellectual, poetry-writing senior officer of the Metropolitan Police who would feature in most of her crime novels.

Dalgliesh was the latest incarnation of that bastion of English crime writing, the gentleman detective, epitomised by Lord Peter Wimsey and Albert Campion. However, unlike them, Dalgleish was a serving police officer – as was Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, who would follow a decade later.

But it was not until 1980, with the publication of her eighth book Innocent Blood, that her small but loyal following exploded into mass international popularity.

Her books were not cosy in the style of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Her victims died in brutal and often shocking ways and the perpetrator was not always brought to justice.

Speaking to the BBC in November 2013, the author said she was hard at work on a new detective novel.

Credit: Simon Richardson, BBC Readings Unit

Blog Tour-Guest Post- David Baldacci + Giveaway- The Escape

daveTo celebrate the launch of David Baldacci’s latest novel, The Escape, as well as the paperback publication of his fourth Will Robie novel, The Target,  I am  pleased to welcome the author to Raven Crime Reads as part of his blog tour. In this special blog post David discusses the roles of heroes and villains in his writing…

“For a writer who didn’t start out crafting thrillers, I have certainly written a lot of them. And they’re fun and fast and people seem to really love them. But along the way I’ve tried my hand at other genres and enjoyed them all. Whether it be a family drama, a light-hearted mystery on a train over Christmas or a YA fantasy title, for me the story is the thing. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’ll get the same result. That’s why I strive mightily to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do things differently. I like to create different series with very diverse characters inhabiting each, to throw off complacency by tackling subject matters that force me to go out and learn, and then write, about a totally new world. Fear is a great antidote to complacency and fear is a great thing for a writer. Otherwise, you become formulaic.

I think readers enjoy crime fiction for a variety of reasons, aside from the obvious fact that it tends to be exciting and fast-paced. As children we loved (and hated) to be scared by the boogeyman. We wanted to look under the bed or in the dark closet, but at the same time we were terrified to do so. Adults retain this childlike wonder about being scared. We like to be scared from a safe distance, and that’s what crime fiction provides. It also allows readers to root for heroes, which we always need, both in real life and between the pages. And it allows us to root against, even if we find them curiously fascinating, the villains. After this battle is concluded and one side (usually good) wins out, we have closure, which people also like, but sometimes, maybe oftentimes, do not find in real life.

In that way, a good crime story can be perfect for what ails us!

Among my favorite villains in my own books is Jackson from The Winner. That book is fifteen years old and I still get fan letters asking if Jackson is going to come back. Chung-Cha from The Target was probably the most sympathetic villain I ever created. Sam Quarry from First Family is a close second on that score. I tend to favor villains who live in the gray area, doing the wrong thing for what they believe are the right reasons. Knights in shining armor are scarce if even nonexistent. Good people do bad things for what they believe are the right reasons. Robie and Reel are prime examples of that. Conversely, villains who are simply purely evil are boring. The gray in life is what fascinates me.”

David Baldacci is a worldwide bestselling novelist. With his books published in over 45 different languages and in more than 80 countries, and with over 110 million copies in print, he is one of the world’s favourite storytellers. David is also the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, a non-profit organization, dedicated to eliminating illiteracy across America. Visit his website here .

GIVEAWAY

Military CID investigator John Puller has returned from his latest case to learn that his brother, Robert, once a major in the United States Air Force and an expert in nuclear weaponry and cyber-security, has escaped from the Army’s most secure prison. Preliminary investigations show that Robert – convicted of treason – may have had help in his breakout. Now he’s on the run, and he’s the military’s number one target.John Puller has a dilemma. Which comes first: loyalty to his country, or to his brother? Blood is thicker than water, but Robert has state secrets which certain people will kill for. John does not know for sure the true nature of Robert’s crimes, nor if he’s even guilty. It quickly becomes clear, however, that his brother’s responsibilities were powerful and far-reaching.With the help of US intelligence officer Veronica Knox, both brothers move closer to the truth from their opposing directions. As the case begins to force John Puller into a place he thought he’d never be – on the other side of the law – even his skills as an investigator, and his strength as a warrior, might not be enough to save him. Or his brother…

I have a copy of The Escape  up for grabs as an early Christmas gift! For a chance to win just head over to Twitter and tweet me @ravencrime with the message ‘Escape with Baldacci’ and I will randomly select one lucky winner. The closing date is 3rd December and giveaway open to UK entrants only. Good luck!

 

Nadia Dalbuono- The Few

few

I have recently posted this review at  Crimefictionlover.com  as part of the New Talent November month of features. As this is a very strong contender for my book of the month I feel that the repetition is justified!  

This is the intriguing debut from an author who is originally from the UK but now lives in Italy, where The Few is set. The story focuses on Detective Leone Scamarcio, the son of a once powerful mafia figure. Scamarcio has turned his back on the family business and is on the Rome police force. He is handed a file containing compromising photographs of the Italian foreign secretary Giorgio Ganza with male prostitutes.

Scamarcio’s boss Garramone is a confidante of the country’s prime minister, and sends him to deal with the possible fallout, including the suspicious deaths of Ganza’s companions. As his investigation begins, a young American girl is spirited away from her parents on the beach in Elba, and Scamarcio finds himself drawn into her disappearance and possible links to his primary case. It turns out he has to call on his family’s mafia connections to navigate his way into the darkest currents of Italian society to uncover corruption and conspiracy.

Nicely sitting alongside the ranks of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Tobias Jones, Nadia Dalbuono has crafted an engaging thriller with a fascinating and likeable police protagonist. Scamarcio is a multi-layered man, who on more than one occasion fulfils others’ perception of him as a brilliant maverick. He is a composite of dedicated detective counterbalanced with the strong roots of his family in the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, and is not shy of using his former connections to get to the bottom of this sordid case. He is persistent, clear-thinking (despite his occasional use of marijuana), and perhaps, echoing my favourite line in the book, unafraid to engage in more physical methods of extracting information. “I’m a busy man- places to go, people to mutilate,” he says.

In terms of plot, it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel, so cleverly does Dalbuono weave the various strands of the story together, unveiling a few surprises along the way. Running parallel to the main investigations are a series of cutaways to another stream of consciousness where it’s not initially clear who’s speaking. As the book progresses these come into focus for an unsettling denouement, reinforcing how far the sexual deviance and violence of those in power has spread in Italy. I enjoyed the way that Dalbuono provided an insight into the Roma immigrant community as the story played out. The rum doings of various branches of the branches of organised crime are described with relish.

As the action pivots between Rome, Elba and Naples, the rendition of location and local knowledge shines through every scene. The sights, sounds and atmosphere of each setting will invade your senses. Particularly sentient were the scenes where Scarmacio, in the course of his investigation, is dispatched to a coastal fortress prison housing a sex offender dubbed The Priest. Only accessible by boat, Dalbuono totally captures the forbidding atmosphere of this sinister location, and the inherent sense of fear that each visit produces. Likewise, Rome and its inhabitants are ripe in detail, bringing to the fore the vibrant and well known sights of the city, and the scenes in the seeming idyll of Elba’s tourist community take on a whole character of their own.

It is a delight to encounter a protagonist who I would be keen to meet again, and given such a promising beginning to a potential series, I very much hope this will be the case in subsequent books. The Few is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking debut.

This is the intriguing debut from an author who is originally from the UK but now lives in Italy, where The Few is set. The story focuses on Detective Leone Scamarcio, the son of a once powerful mafia figure. Scamarcio has turned his back on the family business and is on the Rome police force. He is handed a file containing compromising photographs of the Italian foreign secretary Giorgio Ganza with male prostitutes.

Scamarcio’s boss Garramone is a confidante of the country’s prime minister, and sends him to deal with the possible fallout, including the suspicious deaths of Ganza’s companions. As his investigation begins, a young American girl is spirited away from her parents on the beach in Elba, and Scamarcio finds himself drawn into her disappearance and possible links to his primary case. It turns out he has to call on his family’s mafia connections to navigate his way into the darkest currents of Italian society to uncover corruption and conspiracy.

Nicely sitting alongside the ranks of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Tobias Jones, Nadia Dalbuono has crafted an engaging thriller with a fascinating and likeable police protagonist. Scamarcio is a multi-layered man, who on more than one occasion fulfils others’ perception of him as a brilliant maverick. He is a composite of dedicated detective counterbalanced with the strong roots of his family in the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, and is not shy of using his former connections to get to the bottom of this sordid case. He is persistent, clear-thinking (despite his occasional use of marijuana), and perhaps, echoing my favourite line in the book, unafraid to engage in more physical methods of extracting information. “I’m a busy man- places to go, people to mutilate,” he says.

In terms of plot, it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel, so cleverly does Dalbuono weave the various strands of the story together, unveiling a few surprises along the way. Running parallel to the main investigations are a series of cutaways to another stream of consciousness where it’s not initially clear who’s speaking. As the book progresses these come into focus for an unsettling denouement, reinforcing how far the sexual deviance and violence of those in power has spread in Italy. I enjoyed the way that Dalbuono provided an insight into the Roma immigrant community as the story played out. The rum doings of various branches of the branches of organised crime are described with relish.

As the action pivots between Rome, Elba and Naples, the rendition of location and local knowledge shines through every scene. The sights, sounds and atmosphere of each setting will invade your senses. Particularly sentient were the scenes where Scarmacio, in the course of his investigation, is dispatched to a coastal fortress prison housing a sex offender dubbed The Priest. Only accessible by boat, Dalbuono totally captures the forbidding atmosphere of this sinister location, and the inherent sense of fear that each visit produces. Likewise, Rome and its inhabitants are ripe in detail, bringing to the fore the vibrant and well known sights of the city, and the scenes in the seeming idyll of Elba’s tourist community take on a whole character of their own.

It is a delight to encounter a protagonist who I would be keen to meet again, and given such a promising beginning to a potential series, I very much hope this will be the case in subsequent books. The Few is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking debut.

(With thanks to Scribe for the ARC)

A quick thriller round-up- Tammy Cohen- Dying For Christmas/ J. G. Jurado- The Tipping Point

tammyWhen Dominic – a stranger in the crowd – first approaches Jess during her Christmas shop, she finds him attractive in a tragic sort of way. Jess is gratified by the interest Dominic shows in her. He says she reminds him of his wife, whom he hasn’t seen in months…

The sinister truth is only revealed once Jess goes back to Dominic’s house, where there is a painting of his wife that doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to herself. There is also a Christmas tree with twelve opulently wrapped presents underneath. “You can open one every day,” he says, “over the 12 days of Christmas.” This is the moment when Jess realises two things. First, Dominic doesn’t intend to let her leave. Second, he’s quite, quite mad…

There are two things to say at about this book. One: there is very little chance that you will predict how things will turn out, and two, I laughed uproariously at several points with the dark humour contained within its pages. These two factors, along with Cohen’s control of the pace, plotting and characterisation, are reasons enough to immerse you in this criminally entertaining Yuletide read.

As the plight of mousey Jess, incarcerated by the totally debonair, but insane Dominic unfolds, you will be visited by equal feelings of perplexity and shock- there are some wonderfully inventive torture methods- and if you’re a vegetarian (like me) prepare yourself for the visitation of one of Scotland’s prized delicacies, and the consequent effects on your stomach! I loved the slightly ‘out-there’ feel of the first half of the book as the claustrophobic and dangerous tension between Jess and Dominic increases over the twelve days of Christmas, and the effects on her disappearance on Jess’  lacklustre boyfriend and her family. As you progress into the second part of the book, well, there are more than a few clever surprises in store that will have you racing to the final page. I hate the use of the word ‘page-turner’, but this totally is a… page-turner! A fun, quick thriller and a source of delight and horror in equal measure…

(With thanks to Transworld for the ARC)

 

tipDr David Evans, a top neurosurgeon at a hospital in Washington, faces the ultimate dilemma: if his next patient leaves the operating theatre alive, his daughter will die at the hands of a psychopath. He has 55 hours to save her.

But Evans’ patient is no ordinary man; he’s the most important person in the US and what happens on the operating table may well change the course of history…

Closely following in the footsteps of the ‘race-against-time’ thrillers of Linwood Barclay and Harlan Coben comes The Tipping Point, originally published in Spanish as ‘El Paciente’. You know the score- kidnapped child whose fate rests on the actions of distressed parent and so on, and to be honest my tipping point, “every human being has a boundary between the comfort zone of their hopes and fears, and the quicksand of their wishes and needs,” arrived quite early on, despite an intriguing enough opening. The pace of the plot is satisfying enough and the grand puppet-master, the mysterious Mr White, who is pulling all the strings for our hapless neurologist, works well enough as a typical baddie. There is a slightly ludicrous side-story involving the professional rivalry of David and a former colleague that did irritate me somewhat, but the general medical details of the mystery of neuroscience was engaging enough. However, maybe due to my having read several similar books, I did find my concentration wandering afar, and unusually, for a book dubbed as a gripping thriller, it was all too easy to move away from it and be reluctant to return. It’s one of those books that would make a pleasing enough film thriller with a stolid male lead, but generally I was a little underwhelmed. Having said that, however,  if your enthusiasm for the Barclay/Coben niche is still intact, this thriller may tick all the right boxes for you…

(With thanks to Orion for the ARC)

 

 

Chris Ewan- Dark Tides

ceI’m a confirmed fan of Chris Ewan’s crime writing to date and Dark Tides does not disappoint! Beginning with one of the creepiest opening chapters it has ever been my pleasure to read- lone female Claire Cooper- a scary deserted cottage- Halloween 2014 (or Hop-tu-naa as it is dubbed on the Isle of Man) and the scene is set for a slowly escalating tension filled read. Cleverly, throughout the course of book Ewan takes us through a succession of Halloween nights, flipping backwards and forwards between timelines. Consequently, we trace the events in Claire’s life from her younger years, and the traumatic events that have followed her over each Halloween, beginning with the unsolved disappearance of her mother, possibly at the hands of her sinister employer Edward Caine, who I kept picturing as Mr Burns from The Simpsons (insert Homer Simpson shudder here) and his equally weird son Morgan. Following the disappearance of her mother on that fateful Halloween night, Claire grows up slightly introverted until her acceptance by the ‘cool’ gang comprising of Rachel, Callum, David, Mark and Scott, whose increasingly dangerous Hop-tu-naa stunts over the years prove to be their undoing. Particularly when in a dangerous prank they turn their attentions on Edward Caine to avenge Claire’s mother’s disappearance, which ends in extreme violence and find themselves in a killer’s sights…

Thanks to the skilful manipulation and presentation of each timeline, culminating in the present day with Claire now employed as a police officer, Ewan never loses the reader’s concentration. So many authors fall at the first hurdle with time shifts, either confusing when the action is taking place, or not placing enough points of interest in each timeline to hold the reader’s interest. I positively relished entering each different Halloween so see who would perish next, and loved the disparate and, at times, wonderfully gruesome ways in which Claire’s cohorts are despatched to the other side. Equally, the identity of the avenging angel is well-concealed and a few of my theories fell by the wayside as the book progressed, as Ewan twists the plot into another direction and chain of guilt.

Another real strength of the book is the control of the characterisation, and I liked the way that the gradual ageing of the characters was completely authentic as they progressed from impulsive teenagers to twenty-somethings, with the inherent responsibilities or foolhardy actions that many of us experience in our journey from teenage years to adulthood. Claire is wonderfully understated as a central character but her incredible ordinariness is a continual pull for our emotional engagement with her right the way through the book. You find yourself genuinely rooting for her as she balances the demands of her professional life with the haunting demons of her past. As her circle of friends decreases, these vying tensions in her life come to the fore, ratcheting up our fears on her behalf, while she attempts to identify the killer.

I must confess that my only knowledge of the Isle of Man has pretty much been accrued from watching coverage of the TT Race and reading Ewan’s previous books, and to be honest I love the way that Ewan employs his setting as an additional creepy character in the book. The locations of each Halloween prank are beautifully sinister and darkly realised, and I loved the sense of menace that he attributes to the more desolate areas of the island, in much the same way as Peter May’s atmospheric rendition of the Hebrides. Top tip. Don’t go and live on an island. It’s dangerous. (Well, if crime writers are to be believed!)

So I’m pleased to report that Ewan has come up trumps again following the equally compelling Safe House and Dead Line. Dark Tides is tense, engaging, spooky and at times purely terrifying. A nice little chiller- thriller for the long winter nights. Recommended.

(With thanks to Faber & Faber for the ARC)

Elly Griffiths- The Zig Zag Girl

ellyBrighton 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stevens finds himself thinking of a magic trick that he saw as a boy: the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s, having served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Gang. Hence, the story pivots back to their wartime activities, when they were based in Scotland working on plans to thwart a possible German invasion through illusion and subterfuge. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, swordswallowers, dancing girls and third rate comics- including another wartime acquaintance of theirs, Tony Mulholland, who dabbles in mesmerism as well. Changing times means that variety is not what it once was, but Max is reluctant to leave this showbiz world to help Edgar investigate, and is only coerced into action when the dead girl turns out to be known to him. Edgar and Max become convinced that the murder is linked to their army service, and when Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick- The Wolf Trap- he knows that they are all in danger…

I always think it’s a brave decision by an established series author such as Griffiths with her hugely popular Ruth Galloway novels, to step outside of the familiar and tackle a standalone (or opener to a possible new series). I had similar fears with Belinda Bauer, on the publication of Rubbernecker, but Griffiths like Bauer has succeeded admirably in my opinion. Having said that, I would partly put my enjoyment of The Zig Zag Girl down to my own fascination with the world of magic, particularly of this period and earlier, so many of the little nods and references to magic resonated very well with me- Hugh D. Nee indeed! However, where I think Griffiths succeeds so well in this book, is the underlying sense of fun that she seems to be having, and that we can participate in, along the way. There are a host of great little comic interludes and one-liners, that add another dimension to what is essentially a more graphic and souped-up classic Golden Age mystery, including the trusty use of tea cup and poison, transported into 1950’s Brighton. The unerring sense of darkness, and the slight seediness and desperation of the world which Max in particular resides in, is set against the lighter comic tone with great effect, reminding me strongly of the brilliant Bryant & May mysteries by Christopher Fowler. Add into the plot the pivoting timeline, charting the beginnings of the less confident Edgar’s and uber confident Max’s friendship, with their undercover and top secret wartime mission, and The Zig Zag Girl, draws us into its own little illusionist’s trick where nothing is quite as it appears…

I am a self confessed fan of Griffiths, and what I enjoy most about her writing is her characterisation, and this book does not disappoint. Every character is incredibly well-delineated, no matter how small or large part they play in the plot. I’ve already identified the essential difference between policeman Edgar and showman Max in terms of confidence, but it’s incredibly interesting to see how this chalk-and-cheese combo, and their understated loyalty to each other, join forces to catch a killer. Likewise, the character of Mulholland is joyous- in common parlance he would be a total **** – and I enjoyed the acerbic mocking by Max of Mulholland’s purported mesmerist skills and comic talent. He has none. There is also a wonderfully credible female character with Ruby, harbouring designs on being a world famous female magician in her own right, who enthrals Edgar, but strangely manages to resist the obvious appeal of the suave and cool Max. These characters draw you in completely, and I genuinely cared about the peril each faces as the story unfolds. So in conclusion, I was rather keen on The Zig Zag Girl, with its terrific blend of light and dark mood, the strength of the characters, the use of the shabby seaside locations, and the careful balance of historic period detail. All in all it’s fun, a jolly good murder mystery, with a few unexpected shocks along the way to jolt the reader. Magic…

(With thanks to Quercus for the ARC, the dinky playing cards and entertaining fridge magnets!)

Matthew Pritchard- Werewolf

werewolfWerewolf is the second book from Matthew Pritchard and quickly proved itself a bit of a hit with this reader. Set in Germany at the close of World War II, the story focusses on the discovery of two corpses, one of them a former Waffen SS soldier, in the basement of a house requisitioned by British troops. Detective Silas Payne of Scotland Yard has been seconded to Germany to assist with the Allied policy of denazification, and finds himself drawn into the investigation, which quickly spirals into a hunt for a ruthless serial killer.

A very simple analogy for this book would be Foyle’s War with added ‘grrr’, as Payne is quickly revealed as a determined, but curiously passive and empathetic character, who carries the weight of his role in the book with a wonderfully understated air, despite the horrors that await him. I found him a very enjoyable protagonist, with his sure and steady character beautifully juxtaposed with the more testosterone fuelled characters in evidence amongst the British Army protagonists. As the book progresses, Pritchard carefully interweaves the corruption of some soldiers as the Allied troops stake their claim on German properties and possessions, skilfully interwoven with truly heartfelt diversions into the mental state of some others as a result of their combat service and witnessing the death camps. As Payne’s investigation starts to jangle some nerves amongst the less than honest protagonists, Pritchard carefully uses this to bring into the story some fascinating historical detail of the period, and the behaviour- both good and bad- of the Allied forces in the context of denazification on the German citizenry, and the avid hunt for the worst perpetrators of war crimes amongst the German military echelons. This was genuinely eye-opening for me, as so much is written about the turning points, and major confrontations during the theatre of war itself, but I quickly realised how little I knew about the fate of Germany in peacetime, and Pritchard provides a balanced and truthful interpretation of the effects on the ordinary German populace, along with the more familiar hunt for Nazi war criminals. Pritchard also incorporates the story of a young German woman, Ilse, formerly married to a high ranking Nazi, who now finds herself living a life of subterfuge to conceal her former links with the enemy, and the way she uses her manipulative feminine wiles to evade punishment. With the arrival back into her life of her callous brother, with his plans for escape from Germany, all her resourcefulness is called on to save her own skin, but will she succeed? Thrown into the already gripping mix is Payne’s hunt for a serial killer, and Pritchard carefully inserts small vignettes from the killer’s point of view, which consistently beguile the reader as to his true identity, and instilling in us a grudging admiration for how he has remained undetected for so long, despite a few close calls. With the impetus of the book not solely focussed on this storyline, this worked really well, with the sense of danger slowly growing as the other storylines ebbed and flowed around this. I didn’t feel, as I usually do when this structure is employed, a bigger compunction to get from one storyline back to another, as all of them melded seamlessly together, with definite and cohesive points of interest in each.

I enjoyed the path of Payne’s investigation immensely, and the attendant barricades he faces, and with Pritchard’s control of the other multifarious storylines remaining constant throughout, there was no decrease in my overall engagement with the book. I learnt a few things I didn’t know along the way, as well as being shocked and entertained in equal measure. It’s always a delight to discover a new author, and having missed the first book from Matthew Pritchard, Scarecrow, I will be back-tracking to read this as well. Overall Werewolf proved itself an intelligent and well-conceived thriller, and a thoroughly good read.

(With thanks to Salt Publishing for the ARC)

Check Out New Talent November 2014 at Crime Fiction Lover.com

NTN-2014-logo-courier-300

Attention crime readers! Feast your eyes on this great crop of New Talent at Crime Fiction Lover running right the way through November, sponsored by 280 Steps, Blasted Heath, Caffeine Nights, ThunderPoint and Britain’s Next Bestseller. What new talent will you discover?

 Crime Fiction Lover says,

There’s nothing like discovering a new voice on the crime fiction scene, is there? That’s why each November, our team aims to bring  you some of the year’s hottest new talent.

We don’t only look at writers that have come through the traditional publishing stables either. During New Talent November, we feature debuts and second novels, but we also look at self-published and indie authors. You never know what kind of quality you’ll discover when you look into all the nooks and crannies of today’s publishing world and rather than look down our noses at the self-published author – as many do – we prefer to celebrate their potential.

MaskSome highlights to look out for include our favourite debuts of the year, and a look at some of the brightest new writers coming out of Scandinavia at the moment. We’ll be interviewing new author Phil Lecomber who wrote Mask of the Verdoy, and also William Girardi whose Alaskan chiller Hold the Dark is tearing up trees in America.

There will be reviews galore as well, including Toxic by Jackie McLean, The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgeson and The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin. We’ve got crime fiction from as far away as New Zealand, and we even have a book scheduled in called Maybe I Should Just Shoot You in the Face. It has to be the most direct title for a pulp publication we’ve come across in a while.

This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve run New Talent November, and for the first time it’s being supported by sponsors in the publishing industry. So we’re sending out a thank you to our backers who include:

280 Steps

Blasted Heath

Caffeine Nights

ThunderPoint

Britain’s Next Bestseller

These indie publishers are all trying new things with the technology, discovering interesting new authors and getting them out there. We’d urge you to check out books from these publishers during November – just keep coming back during the month and we’ll tell you more.

Here are some links to previous New Talent November events – just click the year – 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Find out more : Crime Fiction Lover- New Talent November

October Round-Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)

It was wonderful to host an exclusive Q&A with Dwayne Alexander Smith and to take part in the blog tour for the release of Luca Veste’s The Dying Place, but a month of total frustration reading-wise which saw my normal list of 10 or more severely curtailed! Due to the time pressures of reading and reviewing, I now have ‘the 40 page rule’.  So if a book has not piqued my interest, be it with characterisation, location, the writing style or other random points of interest that I look for, it gets consigned to the slush pile. Some people have questioned me on the wisdom of this, but having seen other reviews of books I’ve abandoned, some people have suffered excruciating mental torment in their dogged determination to read to the end. Sadly, the axe fell on six books this month which didn’t make the grade in terms of what hooks me in- a well-crafted writing style, a-smack-between-the-eyes plotline, or an endearing or likeably dislikeable protagonist. It also means that I have more time now to unearth some real gems, and as I am participating in Crime Fiction Lover.com  New Talent November features, (see next post) a chance to discover some cracking new authors. Fear not though, I have already read three incredibly strong books for release in November, and looking at the to-be-read pile they will have good company I’m sure…

Raven reviewed:

Val McDermid- Forensics: The Anatomy Of Crime

Ryan David Jahn- The Gentle Assassin

Steffen Jacobsen- Trophy

Marco Malvaldi- Three Card Monte (www.crimefictionlover.com)

Luca Veste- The Dying Place

 

Book of the Month

jahnRyan David Jahn- The Gentle Assassin:

Seems a tad unfair to only have 5 to choose from this month, but having waited a good while for a new one from the exceptionally talented Mr Jahn, I could not award this to anyone else. Once again, Jahn lifts the ordinary crime thriller to join the ranks of the best contemporary American fiction writers, with this thoughtful, emotional and genuinely engaging novel. With its careful interweaving of two timelines, and two central characters that effortlessly carry the emotional weight of this compelling thriller, this may well feature in my end of year Top 5. Watch this space…

 

Happy reading everyone!