Alexander McCall Smith on the etiquette of regifting. Of course, there is another alternative. I volunteer for a UK telephone helpline charity and if you got any unwanted gifts, or you have any books - signed or otherwise - that are looking for a good home, I'm helping to organise the annual conference in February, and those would make smashing raffle prizes, so please feel free to re-gift them my way and I will love you forever :o)
And now, we need to talk about Kevin... I haven't read any fiction since I started my Masters Degree in September but, coming back from my Mum and Dad's in the wilds of Mordor after Christmas, I fired up my Kindle and got stuck into K J Wignall (aka Lord Kevin of Wignall)'s BLOOD. It's not crime fiction (although there are crimes in it). It's Young Adult vampire fiction. No - definitely not my usual fare, but Kevin Wignall is one of my favourite writers (who deserves to be far better known than he is) so, since it's been far too long since he had some crime fiction out in English (come on publishers, am I really going to have to learn Finnish to read DARK FLAG? Sinun täytyy olla pilaa (that might be Finnish for 'you've got to be kidding'. Since I got it from an internet translation thingy, it is equally likely to mean 'I've just eaten your grandma's bullfrog')).
Anyway, back to vampires. My last (and probably only) enjoyable encounter with a vampire was with the brilliant Bela Lugosi's Dead by the equally brilliant Bauhaus. My least enjoyable encounter was with that self same Bela Lugosi's 1931 Dracula. I was 13 and babysitting for the Bysouths, who lived down the road. It was nearing midnight and I foolishly turned the TV over, only to discover Bela Lugosi saying "I bid you welcome." I was petrified. I had to phone my mum to get her to come and finish babysitting with me. She was not happy. When she arrived, I didn't
know whether to be more scared of her, or the creak of Dracula's coffin opening.
So...BLOOD. It's bloody brilliant. I'll do a proper review in January, but just in case you're looking for something a bit different, I thought I'd mention it as I absolutely loved it. It was totally captivating. Not your stereotypical vampire story - far from it, in fact. Great characters (I felt very sad for Will - the main character, who's been 16 for the last 750 years. There are also some wonderful wee snippets about how he got to where he is today, and the plot was deliciously twisty and turny. And it was as creepy as hell.
And now, on to Scottish crime fiction.
Our Michael Malone picks his top crime reads of 2011, including Tony Black's excellent TRUTH LIES BLEEDING. And the lovely Julie Morrigan interviews Tony (and look at that lovely snippet of news about a Blasted Heath publication).
Oooooh, doesn't the cover for Russel McLean's next book, FATHER CONFESSOR, look good?
Sherlock Holmes under investigation.
McDroll at I Meant To Read That loved Ray Banks' DEAD MONEY.
The Spectator reviews the Alexander McCall Smith writing machine.
James McAvoy talks about Irvine Welsh's FILTH.
Here's my latest Blasted Blog column at Blasted Heath.
This will probably be my last blog post until 2nd or 3rd of January as I will be partying Hogmanay away in the Lake District, so thanks everyone for being so supportive, and I hope that next year will be a brilliant year for all of you. And here's hoping that I get to hug at least some of you in 2012.