Monday 31 August 2009

Chuffed Of Glasgow

Well, how excited am I? I have my US cover for OLD DOGS and I LOVE it! So here it is. Click the cover to see a wonderful blurb from the lovely Chris Ewan. Since he's not really my son, it's not technically nepotism. But when his old mum sees him next, she's going to give him a big hug.

And here, also, is the original picture it's based on - painted especially! Can you believe that? Can you also please excuse all the exclamation marks in this post, while you are at it? Thank you). It will wrap around the book. The painting is by a very talented artist called Julie Zarate. If I could hug her I would too. The wonderful David Thompson of Busted Flush Press is also getting a hug. For publishing OLD DOGS and for coming up with such a great cover. In fact, I'm so happy, everyone can have a hug.

"Now, that's all very smashing and that, but quite enough of you, Donna," I hear you say. "Where is our scheduled news about Scottish crime fiction?" Well, I'm sorry, dad, but I have just arrived up in Aberdeen for a couple of days and haven't had time to do a proper post. Here, in the meantime, is a piece of nonsense, which just serves to give me the salutary lesson that I should never, ever try my hand at historical fiction.


It was 124 BC, and I was on my fourth dead body of the week.
The first three were routine Christians thrown to the lions,
but this one was different - the death of a young man wearing
the purple robes of a senator would need to be investigated
carefully and the obvious solution of poisoning by this year's
mad Emperor covered up as usual.

I sighed as my sergeant rushed up excitedly, his toga looking
as though it hadn't seen the Tiber's washerwomen for a month
or two, and his sandals incorrectly laced in his hurry to get
to the crime scene. I'd obviously roused him from the dual
pleasures of a jug of Falernian wine and the scented arms
of the Greek snake charmer Athenia.

"Hail Clavdivs!" he saluted breathlessly.

I sighed. "Soggidubnus," I reprimanded him, "How many times
do I have to tell you - it's Claudius. We Ancient Romans only
SPELL it Clavdivs because we don't yet have writing implements
that do curved letters easily. Now, get down to Headquarters
and get the forensics team up here PDQ".

I bent down and picked up the calfskin wallet lying by the body.
I needn't worry about fingerprints – after all, they hadn't been
invented yet. I pulled out the Chariot Driving Licence and
studied the charcoal drawing that looked remarkably like the
dead man. Charltonius Hestonius.

At that moment, the Medical Examiner arrived. "Dr Hannibalis
Lectorus," I shook his hand "this is a nasty one. We'll have to
get the full might of the CSIus Laboratorius on this one.
How do you think he was killed?"

Dr Lectorus licked his lips and surveyed the dead Senator.
"Do you see the wheel marks and hoof prints?" he said. It
looks to me as though someone drove over him and then just
to make sure, reversed the horse and drove over him backwards.
We've seen a few of these recently."

"You're thinking a Chariot Rage incident?" I said. "What with
these and the ram raids, this is getting tedious."

"Ram raids?" asked Lectorus. "That's a new one on me."

"You must have seen the reports in the Papyrii." I said.
"Some young rams have been raiding shops in the High Street.
Walmarticus has been hit twice. The new spring season togas
were abominably munched by the marauding rams."

Sunday 30 August 2009

Sunday, Sunday

As Ian Rankin's new book, THE COMPLAINTS comes out, here are a couple of articles and reviews.

Hugh Andrew and Denise Mina on James Kelman's snide comments on crime fiction. If only Kelman had expressed himself as well as Hugh Andrew... And more here. And here he is on youtube wondering when you last saw a 'proper writer' on television.

Somehow, I don't think John Nicholson of The Mirror liked the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Catriona McPherson takes up ballroom dancing at the Wigtown Book Festival.

The Independent reviews Iain Banks' TRANSITION. And The Edinburgh Evening News interviews Christopher Brookmyre.

Friday 28 August 2009

Short and Sweet Snippets For a Friday

The launch of the Amnesty International short story collection.

Juri Nummelin reviews Allan Guthrie's SAVAGE NIGHT.

Here's Iain Levison on video, (it is in English, although it's a French site. Despite the American accent, he was actually born in Scotland, that's how I can include him here. So there.

An interesting interview with Charles Maclean.

If anyone is visiting Biggar (about 30 miles from Edinburgh), take a trip to the John Buchan Centre.

Iain Banks on no-holes-barred sex scenes.

Robert Downey Jr on his role as Sherlcok Holmes, saying he and Watson are "two men who happen to be roommates who wrestle a lot."

Thursday 27 August 2009

In Which Your Usually Laid Back Blogger Gets Irate

Today I was sitting waiting for my mammogram (wasn't that a song by the Velvet Underground?) and I picked up the Glasgow Herald. Well, if I wasn't already stressed out enough at the thought of having my breasts clamped in a vice, what I read just sent me over the edge. Here's Scottish writer James Kelman on "f****** detective fiction'. (The asterisks are the Herald's, not mine). He goes on to talk about how Scottish literature is sneered at by the Scottish literary establishment. Well, I'm sorry, Mr Kelman, but you've just done the very same sneering at crime fiction. Ya bampot. I threw the paper across the room and the way I felt afterwards, I would rather have had one of my boobs slammed in the fridge door than read anything by Kelman. In fact, make that both of them.

Presumably he won't be attending the Stirling Off The Page Book Festival, which starts on September 12th.

And in more book festival news, just in case anyone reading this is in New Zealand, or nipping over for the weekend, Liam McIlvanney will be appearing in Dunedin.

Closer to home, here's how to win tickets for crime fiction events at the Warwick literary festival.

The Skinny has a chat with Christopher Brookmyre about his new novel, PANDAEMONIUM.

Simon Pegg to play Burke and Hare - well, one of them, anyway.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

A Fictional Interlude

Well, late home from work and I appear to have run out of time this evening, so, unfortunately, no links or news today. Instead, I will call upon my store of nonsense. Thomas Harris did it with Hannibal Lecter, so here are imagined prequels for Miss Marple and Philip Marlowe:

Agatha Christie's Ten Little Exam Cheats.

Jane Marple pursed her lips as she read the school noticeboard. The exam results for her class had been posted and there was something decidedly strange about them. How had Arthur Creep managed to get an A in Woodwork when the boy obviously did not know his Ash from his Elbow? Young Arthur reminded Jane of the Vicar's brother's cook's niece's son, who was once arrested by PC Evans for scrumping apples from Lord Stuffingley's orchard. They both had that sly sideways look, and one long eyebrow instead of the usual two. these attributes, in Jane's 12 year old experience, signified the criminal intent of the lower classes. And then there was Primula Hedge's B+ in Cookery. Why, Primmy could not boil water without burning it. Something very odd was going on at St Mary Mead Girls Academy, and Jane Marple was going to get to the bottom of it, if it was the last thing she did.

At that moment, Wilhelmina Shufflebottom tapped her on the shoulder. "Jane, do be a jolly good sport and make up a team for lacrosse with us will you? Geranium House are falling behind Lavender House in points and we're abso-posi-lutely desp to win the tournament. DO say yes old gel. That would be spiffing. And remember, the winning House gets to go to tea with the Rugger team from the Boys Grammar and I have such a pash on Lancelot Smythe."

Jane pursed her lips. "Oh, I don't think so, thank you, dear. I have some knitting to finish. And really, you ought not set any store in young Smythe, you know. He reminds me of the grocer's nephew, who behaved so oddly during the Crimean War when he dressed as a nurse and disappeared with all that silk underwear."

Wilhelmina pouted. "Oh really, Jane. You're such an old stick in the mud. If you're not careful, you're going to end up an old maid and spend the rest of your life in St Mary Mead sticking your nose into everyone else's business." She turned on her heel and stormed off, swatting the air with her lacrosse stick, as if imagining she had JaneMarple's neat bun in her sights.

Jane simply nodded tightly and set off for the Common Room. That girl would come to no good, she was sure of it. She had that same glint in her eye that Jane saw in Lady Fillatelly's daughter Maud, as she came out of the potting shed adjusting her bloomers, followed swiftly by the gardener. Jane had often wondered why Maud's bloomers would need adjusting after an afternoon spent potting dahlias.

As Jane Marple entered the Common Room, Arthur Creep, Primula Hedge and three other pupils guiltilystopped talking and turned around to face her."Just as I thought," said Jane. "I'd like to see you all, in thelibrary, at 11am."

Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep-Over.

She was a strawberry blonde, and I knew she was trouble. When she walked into my room that day, she had a bottle in her hand and mischief in her eye.

"Hey sister," I said, opening my desk drawer. I pulled out my own bottle from my desk and took a thirsty swig. I was like a dying man in the desert. The Coke hit my throat and went down with a burn. I looked at the dimpled knees of the babe in front of me. "What's new sister?"

"Goo," she said, smacking her building block down on my desk without aby-your-leave.

My Mom walked in at that precise moment. "Philip dear", she said "I do wish you wouldn't call your sister 'sister'. She does have a name, you know. And will you get a glass. I hate to see you drinking soda from a bottle - it's so uncouth."

I looked at my watch. "Sorry to love you and leave you like this, ladies. I gotta hit the streets. There's a hot lead I gotta follow and I may not be in for tea." I shrugged into the raincoat hanging on the back of my bedroom door.

"Philip - you're not wearing that old thing. I've thrown it away twice. There's that lovely anorak that Grandma bought you for Christmas in the hall cupboard."

I narrowed my eyes. "The raincoat suits my mood, lady. Now where's my fedora?"

Mom sighed. "For God's sake Philip. You don't have a fedora. You don't even know what a damn fedora is. And don't squint like that. The wind will change and your face will stay like that."

I picked up my toy revolver from the toybox and turned to the door.

"And you're going to get downstairs and get your homework done, young man, so you won't be needing that gun."

I knew one thing: as soon as anyone said you didn't need a gun, you'd better take one along that worked.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

'More Asbos Than Yer Maw'

GUTTER - A new literary magazine for Scotland. Excellent news - I hope it does really well - I have just subscribed, so will let you know if there is any crime fiction content.

William McIlvanney at the Edinburgh Book Festival.

Aren't there a lot of literary festivals these days? Here's one at the University of East Anglia at the end of September, with Alexander McCall Smith along with some other illustrious names.

A very nice review of Ray Banks' SATURDAY'S CHILD by The Thriller Guy.

Jay Stringer with an excellent double review of Al Guthrie's SLAMMER and KILLING MUM.

Russel McLean reveals the cover of his forthcoming book - THE LOST SISTER. I love that cover. Not sure if that's the Forth Bridge, but if it is I'm supposed to be abseiling off that in October (Dad, don't tell Mum).

And I'm sure Russel didn't have anything to do with this, but his local police force's website was hacked and...well...covered in graffiti by the 'Paisley Young Team' who, apparently, have 'more asbos than yer maw'.

Monday 24 August 2009

Keeping It In The Family - Number 1 - AN EYE FOR AN EYE - Frank Muir

Well, here is the first in an occasional series where Mum, Dad and I will all comment on the same book. Since we all like different things, here's a quick reference guide to the reading habits of the Moore Family (like the Addams Family but not as rich and twice as scary).

LIKES: cosies, historicals, puzzles, police procedurals where there is not a lot of gore, no sex and definitely no swearing.
DISLIKES: gore, sex, swearing, romance, science fiction. She once tried a Martina Cole (The Ladykiller) and rang me up whispering (god alone knows why she felt the need to whisper, she was sitting in her own living room at the time) to tell me she'd just read part of a pornographic book, and she was shocked. "It had 'lady' in the title, but they weren't, dear." And, apparently, after she read mine, she had to have a small glass of sherry, and then spent the next hour wandering around the house shaking her head and muttering "Weird. My daughter is weird, weird weird." Guess that'll be the blurb for the next one then.
PREFERS: Miss Marple to Philip Marlowe, Inspector Morse to Homicide (and don't even ask about The Wire).

LIKES: thrillers, spy novels, war stories and books with elves in (the elves can swear their heads off as far as he's concerned). Oh, and maps. He bloody loves maps. If you ever meet him, for goodness' sake don't ask him for directions. Not even to the bathroom.
DISLIKES: romance, books that have too much swearing in (I guess that's my Dad not going to read my next book either, then - I thought it was just my Mum I had to keep away from it). Also doesn't like horror, and books with vampires, pterodactyls and the living dead in them. Also, something called an ungoliant. No, I have no idea either - I think my Dad has been at the sherry too.
PREFERS: Philip Marlowe to Miss Marple, Inspector Morse to Homicide.

LIKES: noir, hard-boiled, capers, PI novels, police procedurals, warped, quirky and funny books.
DISLIKES: cosies - especially those where the protagonist has a heavily featured hobby (I once got a gluten allergy from reading a book where the heroine made bread every three pages), or books where an animal solves the crime. Unless it's a dinosaur (as in Eric Garcia's wonderful series about basil addicted Vincent Rubio).

I'm not a big fan of serial killer books (and I'm not talking books that just happen to have a serial killer IN (I love books by Steve Mosby, Mark Billingham etc)), I mean books where it's all about the quirks. The more patterns or quirks the killer has, the more blood is spilled and body parts mutilated, the more good writing, character development and a decent plot seem to go out of the window. The ones I don't like are where the author seems to think that making their killer a murderer of blue eyed women with one arm (the women, not the murderer), who drowns his victims in an increasingly violent way in a vat of hot chocolate, while narrating The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner, drawing a picture of a squirrel on the wall and scattering rose petals around the bathroom is all the character development and justification the avid reader needs. A-ha - the serial killer was burned by a scalding mug of hot chocolate as a baby, force-fed him by his mother Rose, a blue-eyed ex-Womens Royal Navy sailor who lost an arm in a bizarre accident involving a rabid squirrel.

I'm also not big on spy thrillers and medical thrillers. If I see a jacket blurb which mentions the White House, and the words 'explosive' and 'conspiracy' and which has a shadowy picture of someone rappelling down a big building, carrying a large knife dripping blood, or an enormous syringe, then I'm more likely to put it down in a hurry than slap in into my shopping basket with glee. I have the same reaction to 'Knights Templar' and 'Illuminati'.

I don't like gratuitous anything - but then, one person's gratuitous is another person's prerequisite. My Mum would definitely find most of the books I read have gratuitous sex, violence and swearing. I find the books she likes have gratuitous cats. And butlers. And people being poisoned with rare poison from the Three Kneed Scarlet Guatemalan Tree Frog. And gentility. As for the sex, well, if it fits (oo-er missus) then it's fine. But again, one person's unnecessary may not be another person's. I have read crime fiction where it seems to be put in for titillation purposes (as though someone has said to the author "There's not enough heaving bosoms. Spice it up a bit. Page 58's a bit dull, stick a sex scene in there." And, since I do a lot of my reading on public transport, I don't particularly want to be titillated at 8am on a wet Monday morning while sitting on the bus next to a drooling bloke who's oozing curry and beer from every pore. Call me straight-laced, but... And sometimes, sex scenes can be funny without meaning to be. I read a mystery a few years ago where the woman was asleep and the man slid one hand between her thighs and the other into her mouth. And this was supposed to be erotic. I'm sorry, but if anyone slides anything in my mouth while I'm sleeping, then I'm probably going to dream it's a chocolate eclair and chomp down hard. On the other hand, there are plenty of books that do it well, but I'm not going to mention any of them just in case you tell my Mum.

PREFERS: Raymond Chandler to Miss Marple, Homicide to Inspector Morse.

Whoops, sorry about that. Got carried away there. I'm not even sure that any of the above is useful. The only area where we all agree is the romance category (none of that icky luuuuurve stuff for the cold-hearted Moores thank you very much). As far as all of our dislikes are concerned, there are, of course, exceptions to every rule - I was going to say I didn't like vampires until I remembered that I love Charlie Huston's books.

I shall shut up now and leave you with the reviewlets - in order of how popular the book was with us.

Frank Muir - EYE FOR AN EYE
Publisher: Luath Press 2007
Published: 2009

Dad's Comments:

The story tells of the investigation into eight deaths by DI Andy Gilchrist, who due to a jealous or incompetent DCI is suspended from the force and decides to go it alone. The murders of men who habitually abused their wives were carried out in a gruesome and unique way, and part of the investigation concentrates on locating the source of the murder weapon.

This was an easy book to read, though I was not sure about the Anglo Saxon words used. The ones that referred to bodily functions were, in the main, used in context. it was rather like hitting your thumb with a hammer, strong language sounds better than "Oh bother". I thought that the references to reproduction were a little overdone.

There are quite a number of false leads or suspects which are relevant to the story, and the twist at the end is bizarre to say the least. It was a story that I enjoyed reading, I look forward to HAND FOR A HAND, the next in the series about Andy Gilchrist.

My Comments:

The premise of AN EYE FOR AN EYE is that there is a serial killer called The Stabber terrorising Saint Andrews. The victims are all men who abuse women, they are all attacked during storms, and they are all stabbed in the left eye. Anyone who has a copy of the Moore Family checklist in hand is by now licking the tip of their pencil and saying "Hmmmmmm, this one won't go down very well with the annoyingly verbose one." Well, in one way, you would be correct. I sighed when I read the prologue - why must serial killers always write in italics? I mused to myself, twisting the legs off a wasp. However, there was a lot about this book that I liked - particularly the main character - DI Andy Gilchrist, and a couple of the supporting cast. There were things he did that I didn't agree with, but I found him an easy and interesting character to read about.

The dialogue is excellent and it's very well paced. I also enjoyed the St Andrews setting - traditionally the home of golf and where princes go to university. I will be interested to read the next one, but hope that there's no serial killer next time.

Mum's Comments:
Eeee, our Donna, why did you give me that book? I only read a page or two - not even a whole chapter. It's not my sort of book - you know that. I like a nice story with a nice beginning, a middle and an end and with no language in. I didn't read enough to see whether I liked it. Not my cup of tea. You can have a nice story that's down to earth without all that in it.

So there you have it. Was that remotely useful? Interesting? To be repeated, or never again?

Sunday 23 August 2009

Sunday Scattershot

Kate Atkinson at the Edinburgh BookFestival. And, more from the Festival the lovely Bookwitch on Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina. And more on Ian Rankin and Neil Gaiman. And Ian Rankin in the dark. What am I going to do after the book festival has finished? I will be stuck for words.

And more Ian Rankin - this time on films. I love his answer to number 10.

Writer's block hits empty office. What a brilliant idea.

The Glasgow Herald on killing off favourite characters.

Dundee author Russel McLean will be talking with top selling true crime writer Alexander McGregor. Fact, fiction and everything in between will be being discussed at 7pm on 24 September at the Tower Building at the University of Dundee. Tickets can be bought from Waterstones, 35 Commercial Street, Dundee for £3. Call 01382 200322 for tickets. Here's an interview with Russel on his writing habits.

William MacIlvanney turns down an OBE.

And finally, my Dad wants you all to know that "I have just finished reading the second of my library books, just to show you that I do not limit my reading to books that contain dwarves and elves." I think the subtext there is that he feels I am maligning him and that if I do not stop he will tell my moter Bad Things about me. But maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Anyway, the book in question was SAIL by James Patterson. It sounds like a plot and a half from what he says, but he concludes that, although there were a lot of unexplained happenings, he still thought it was a good read. With no elves. Happy now, pater?

Friday 21 August 2009

People Are Lovely

First of all, I want to say a HUGE thank you to whoever nominated me for the Book Blogger Appreciation Awards. I was shocked, stunned, gobsmacked and thrilled to discover that I have 3 nominations! The categories are Best Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Crime Blog, Best New Blog, and Best Writing (no, honestly!). I don't know who the person nominating me was, so I can't hug you - but a heartfelt thank you - not only for thinking of nominating me, but also for enjoying my blog. Whoever you are, a big virtual kiss for you.

Courtesy of Claire - what sounds like a fantastic event.

Waterstone's Crime Time @ Eastwood Park Theatre
Denise Mina, Louise Welsh, Karen Campbell

Eastwood Park Theatre, Rouken Glen Road, Giffnock, Glasgow, G46 6UG Box Office; 0141 577 4970
Sunday, 13 September 2009, 6:30PM - 10:30PM
Tickets £8 available from the shop and from Eastwood Park Theatre Box Office

Featuring the cream of Scotland's crime writers, telling stories, reading from their novels and answering your questions. Meet Denise Mina, Louise Welsh, Karen Campbell, Helen FitzGerald and Harry 'The Polis' Morris in this crime writing extravaganza in the lovely surroundings of Eastwood Park Theatre. Not to be missed!

Further details: 0141 616 3933

There will, apparently, be sneak previews from Louise Welsh's forthcoming book due out in March 2010, a collaboration between Louise Welsh and Denise Mina for Victim Support Scotland titled 'Shattered' and Helen Fitzgerald will have her newest novel 'Bloody Women' out and on sale. Also, according to Claire, there are rumours of another Crime Time with Christopher Brookmyre, Alex Gray and newcomer Gordon J. Brown (author of FALLING - a book I definitely need to get my hands on) in October.

An authorised biography of Ian Rankin is coming out from John Blake publishing. And, as if we didn't already know it, Ian Rankin is, officially, A Lovely Man. And here is the full list of authors.

Is the new Sherlock Holmes film the start of a franchise?

Irvine Welsh in an interview with The Big Issue. Incidentally, I got a kiss from a Big Issue seller today!

And finally, I love this - from The Guardian, some excellent one-star reviews from Amazon.

Thursday 20 August 2009

A Hotch Potch of Links

Off to see Teenage Fanclub this evening so here's a link-y melange.

The Guardian on the Hard Case Crime Arthur Conan Doyle forthcoming THE VALLEY OF FEAR.

Part 2 of Christopher Brookmyre's football article. And, continuing the football theme, Val McDermid sponsors a stand at Raith Rovers.

An excellent and thought-provoking article on the drug deaths of the Trainspotting generation.

The split personality of Iain Banks - his next book TRANSITION, will be published in the UK under the Iain Banks name, and in the US under his more sci-fi Iain M Banks name. And, talking of Iain Banks, the Mirror blogger enjoyed his appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival, but doesn't mince his words on another event he went to see!

Good news for Ian Rankin and Orion on the sales front.

More news on the new Sherlock Holmes film.

A brief review of Christopher Brookmyre's PANDAEMONIUM - which is described as 'shoot 'em up science fiction'. Hmmmm

Wednesday 19 August 2009

A Plethora of Interviews

BBC Radio's Front Row programme last night featured three crime writers who set their books in Glasgow - Denise Mina, Caro Ramsay and Craig Russell - interviewed by the always excellent Mark Lawson. You can listen to the programme here and hear their reasons for loving writing about Glasgow, how they're not worried about ever running out of ideas (Glasgow has around 60 murders a year, compared to Edinburgh's 3, according to Denise Mina), and how Glaswegians seem to be pedantic and obsessive about their city being described correctly (Caro talks about a reader who drives around the locations in her books and lets her know if she gets it wrong!)

Ian Rankin's Book Festival event gets a fair amount of press as he talks about his new detective, Malcolm Fox, in THE COMPLAINTS. And there is good news for fans of Siobhan.

An interview with Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Publishing - the mastermind behind the marvellous Crime Express series.

The Scotsman has an interview with Clio Gray.

A great article about Philip Kerr's 1930s Berlin set Bernie Gunther series, including an audio piece.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Review - DON'T CALL ME A CROOK! - Bob Moore

Publisher: Dissident Books
Published: 2009

DON'T CALL ME A CROOK! A Scotsman's Tale of World Travel, Whisky and Crime was originally published in 1935 and, apparently, very few copies exist today. Fortunately, Nick Towasser of Dissident Books (a wonderful independent publisher who offer "independent visions and accounts to those who have grown tired of adult lullabies.") discovered the book and decided that it begged to be read by a new generation. And I'm very glad he did.

"It is a pity there are getting to be so many places that I can never go back to, but all the same, I do not think it is much fun a man being respectable all his life."

So begins the autobiography of Glaswegian Bob Moore - sailor, adventurer, engineer, world traveller. He's also racist, sexist, violent and, more often than not, pickled in alcohol. Breaker of almost every law imaginable, he's also a thoroughly charming rapscallion. He keeps telling us he's not a crook, and you almost believe him. He doesn't steal things - he borrows things and just doesn't return them. And besides, usually it's the owner's fault he doesn't give them back - they should have been more careful shouldn't they? He also has a callous disregard for human life, sometimes breathtakingly so.

Moore travels the world in the 1920s and 30s - America, South America, Europe, China - partly because he has a real sense of adventure and seems to revel in danger - but partly because towns, cities, countries and even whole continents often end up a little hot for him because he's...well, let's face it...he is a crook. His story often reads like a work of fiction - Moore crammed so much into the relatively short part of his life he is recounting, and it's hard to believe that any one person could have had quite so many adventures, or survived being shot at by bandits, being shipwrecked three times, evading numerous angry females, and drinking enough alcohol to destroy several livers. He could cause trouble in an empty house, but is endearingly shocked when it happens.

Bob Moore is a mass of contradictions. He's sociopathic in his lack of emotion and doesn't seem to care much for anyone at all, yet he can be extraordinarily brave at times. He packs his new wife and child back off home to Scotland when they start cramping his style and never seems to think of them again, yet he puts himself in mortal danger to help almost complete strangers. He's horrendously racist at times, and the most hideous crimes are talked about with a shrug, yet he shows touching moments of real empathy. He swings between being in the lap of luxury, to the direst of straits with the same good humour. In person, I think he would be insufferable; as a character he's hugely entertaining.

Despite his insistence that he's not a crook, he's actually very honest about the things he does - although we are always treated to his own quirky spin. Open any page and you will find his justifications for his actions. Here's one where he has taken up with a married woman and she stupidly reveals to him that she keeps a drawer full of cash. Having managed to arrange some alone time in the same room as the drawer, Bob manages to relieve it of the cash. Then what does he do? He takes his lady friend away to spend the money:

"She thought I was taking her for a holiday on my money, and that will show you what a funny woman she was. For why should I have taken her for a holiday with my money, when she was not really young anymore and she had a house where I could go without spending any money at all? But I think really I was not so bad taking her for that holiday because after all I need not have taken her at all, but I could have gone away and spent all that money on myself. But instead I took her to London and we stayed at a smart hotel. And as she was a woman who liked to go to smart places we went to all the restaurants and night clubs that generally you only read about in the newspapers, so you cannot say that I did not do my best to give her a good time. I did my best to give her a good time so much that sometimes in the morning I would be feeling quite faint with fatigue, and I would not be fit for anything until I had been massaged on my temples and over the heart with a electro-vibrant machine that she had to send away her wrinkles. Only I think it was more use for reviving me in the morning really."

Moore tells his story a little like an enthusiastic puppy. He's not the world's most accomplished writer, and you don't get to know many of the other characters very well, but his glee and enthusiasm is infectious as he says "Wait until I tell you what happened next". His conversational style is perfect for the book. There is no social or political commentary, no philosophising, but we see history through Moore's eyes - from the speakeasies and high society orgies of 1920s America, to the callous everyday cruelty of life along the Yangtze Kiang.

Bob Moore wouldn't know a scruple if it jumped up and bit him, but he knows how to spin a great yarn. Love it - thank you, Dissident Books, for this delicious slice of swashbuckling adventure with a great dollop of fun.

Monday 17 August 2009

It's all about the Edinburgh Book Festival

A lovely, enthusiastic, funny article about the joys of the Edinburgh Book Festival, and of books in general.

If you're at a loose end during the Book Festival, you could do worse than to get yourself along to Underword, where there is a free spoken word event each evening. Two events look particularly interesting - Newbie Night on Wednesday 19th - I don't know whether any of the performances are crime fiction related, I only know that Andy Jamieson who is reading from his recently completed fantasy/SF novel aimed at teens upwards. None of them have read their work in public before - should be nervewracking. The other event is Word Dogs (which is normally based in Glasgow) on Friday 21st where Alastair Sim (whose Victorian detective novel THE UNBELIEVERS is set in Edinburgh) is performing.

Ian Rankin is twittering (tweeting?) the Edinburgh Festival - @Beathhigh. Excellent stuff.

A round-up of several book festival events including Kate Atkinson.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoon Round-Up

William McIlvanney's son, Liam, publishes his debut novel ALL THE COLOURS OF THE TOWN - a thriller about sectarianism, set in Glasgow and Belfast. Looks interesting

The List asks Helen Fitzgerald Five Questions, and also reminds me that she and Karen Campbell are appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 22nd August. Hmmmmm...I might actually make that event, assuming it's not sold out. And for those of a gentler disposition than me, The Mulgray Twins and Alanna Knight are appearing the next day. This article will tell you everything you need to know about the Mulgray Twins brand of crime fiction.

And, talking of the Edinburgh Book Festival, it seems that Scottish authors are a big draw. While the BBC reports that more than a third of the 700 events are sold out.

A new Scotland on Sunday anthology called HEADSHOOK, which challenged 24 Scottish writers to write stories on the theme of Scotland's future.

Edinburgh band St Jude's Infirmary release their second album This Has Been The Death Of Us on August 22nd, and it features vocals from Ian Rankin. I'm excited to hear the new one as I really loved their first album Happy Healthy Lucky Month. I usually like faster, punkier stuff, but they are an excellent band. Check this one out. Or this one, which is slightly more upbeat.

And, finally, the whole 'a family that reviews together, stays together' thing might be oot the windae - my Mum rang me earlier to tell me off for 'making' her read all of two pages of one of the books I sent her for review. Whoops.

Friday 14 August 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books - WALK THE DARK STREETS - William Krasner

Here's my second offering for the Friday's Forgotten Books series masterminded by Patti Abbott and The Rap Sheet.

I have a little pile of ancient Gold Medal and Bantam books with titles like SWAMP BRAT, THE CORPSE THAT REFUSED TO STAY DEAD, and SWING THE BIG EYED RABBIT. They have great back cover copy, such as "...Then one fine morning someone smothered the soprano, and a red-headed old lady who was as batty as a bird sang some fantastic lyrics for the cops...She called the tune on another killing - which happened to be her own." Irresistible. And they all have that wonderful fusty, musty, dusty old book smell when you crack them open. And some of them even have squashed spiders between pages 94 and 95. That's one's strangely resistible.

So here's one of them - a great little book which feels as though you're reading the script of a noir film.

WALK THE DARK STREETS - William Krasner - first published in 1949

Captain Sam Birge is a dedicated and overworked homicide detective. His latest case is the brutal murder of night club hostess Janice Morel - or, as the front of the book describes her "blackmailer, hostess-entertainer, a lady of no virtue. Somebody wanted her dead." Janice lived in a sleazy residential hotel and when Birge and his partner, Lieutenant Charley Hagen, start their investigations, they interview a number of colourful characters, including Janice's co-workers and friends, an embittered blind musician, the frosty and dried-up manageress of the hotel, an elderly housemaid who seems to care about the guests, Janice's corrupt 'agent', and the dodgy owner of the club where Janice worked. Most of the characters have mysterious pasts, or tortured presents, and Krasner brings them all to life with a few deft touches. I really loved the character of one of the suspects and his story touched me. We get to know Janice herself through fragments of diaries she has left which chart her downward spiral from hopeful, naive small town girl with ambitions of fame and fortune, to used-up, old before her time good time girl.

This is an excellent, noir-feeling book. I could really picture Birge walking the dark streets in his fedora and raincoat, going above and beyond the call of duty to solve the crime. The book has a wonderfully seedy atmosphere. Highly recommended for lovers of noir or hard-boiled or TV series like Dragnet.

Here's an excellent article on Krasner from Ed Gorman's blog.

Thursday 13 August 2009

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

I've added a few new authors to the list of links recently. Some of them - Frank Muir , C David Ingram, Clio Gray were added too late to be featured in my alphabet posts (of which I have posted up to M - the rest to follow).

My mum has been getting grumpy about my dad's new reviewing gig (I believe her exact words were "Patrick, anyone would think you've been asked to review for The Times. It's only our Donna's daft Blob (sic), you know"), so, in order to promote marital bliss - 50 years in September (assuming my dad makes it) - I'm going to do a new occasional feature - tentatively called Keeping It In The Family - where Mum, Dad and I will all review the same book. This should be fun. My mum likes cosies, historicals and a few police procedurals where there is not a lot of gore, no sex and definitely no swearing; my dad likes thrillers, spy novels and books with elves in (the elves can swear their heads off as far as he's concerned); and I like noir, warped and funny books. I think the chances of us all enjoying the same book are slim-to-youmustbekidding.

Our first book is going to be Frank Muir's AN EYE FOR AN EYE. Since the premise is that six wife abusers have been stabbed to death through the left eye, I'm assuming it's not a cosy. I had a quick look and found an empty eye socket on page 4, some pretty close to the bone sexual references (double entendre intentional) on pages 7 and 8, and some Really Bad Words on pages 11, 12 and 14. And no elves. I think it will go down well...

In the meantime...

Irvine Welsh blamed for rise in Scottish drug deaths...sort of.

Ian Rankin talks about Fred "The Shred" Goodwin as well as his new book, THE COMPLAINTS. And, talking of Ian Rankin, he and Ian Banks will be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival as part of Amnesty International's Imprisoned Writers programme.

An interview with debut author Grant McKenzie.

Good news for fans of Val McDermid's WIRE IN THE BLOOD series, which was cancelled by ITV this year.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

We Are Family - A Duet of Reviews

My Dad is fairly getting into this reviewing lark, although I'm slightly concerned that he's soon going to be demanding payment. So, while I still have his services free of charge, here is my Dad's review of Ken McClure's WHITE DEATH, and my review of Karen Campbell's THE TWILIGHT TIME (just to prove that I'm not a lazy blogger).

Publisher: Polygon
Published: 2009

This book should come with a government health warning. Do not read if you are a hypochondriac or are of a nervous disposition. For someone who can count the number of times he has visited the doctor on one hand, and still have enough fingers left to give a victory sign, the first few chapters were way above my head. When the investigation started I felt the book got going, however, and I could see that the medical terms and background were necessary for the development of the story.

WHITE DEATH tells the story of Dr Steven Dunbar - an ex-special forces soldier and Sci-Med investigator - following through an investigation into the reasons why a group of schoolchildren were vaccinated with a modified drug, and the subsequent deaths of two of the people involved with them. The story was chilling and believable, and kept me enthralled to the end which was in part surprise, and in part predictable. I will certainly look out for more of Ken McClure's novels.

Reviewed by: Donna's Dad.

Karen Campbell - THE TWILIGHT TIME
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 2008

Karen Campbell is an ex-police officer, and that definitely shows in THE TWILIGHT TIME, her first novel. When Sergeant Anna Cameron arrives at Glasgow's Stewart Street police station to take charge of the Flexi Unit she shows a very confident front - composed, successful, and more than a little frosty. Her personal life, however, is anything but composed and successful. She's having an affair with a married senior officer, she has few friends, and she discovers that a member of her new squad is an ex-lover who dumped her unceremoniously back in police training college. It's a small squad, and the team are assigned to deal with street offences, car crime, shoplifting, and policing the prostitutes along The Drag - a stretch of Glasgow a few blocks long. Prostitutes are being viciously attacked and Anna's team is tasked with solving the crimes - a task made much more difficult by the often suspicious and sometimes downright unhelpful nature of the victims. And, in a lot of ways, the prostitutes are right to be suspicious of the police. Several are insensitive, boorish and uncaring. And not only to the prostitutes. In addition, Anna gets involved in the case of an elderly Polish man who is the target of racial abuse. He gets under her skin and the reader is shown the softer, more caring side to her character.

One of the strengths of the book for me is Anna's relationships - with her ex-lover, her police colleagues, the working girls and the elderly Polish man. The reader is shown several facets of Anna - not all of which sit comfortably together. She's a really interesting character - sometimes frustrating, sometimes cold, often very likeable, but above all, never dull. All the characters are very well drawn and some of them are surprisingly touching, without being cloying and melodramatic. In places the book is very dark and not for the squeamis..There are some warts-and-all examples of police procedure and after one such example I gained a new respect for the boys and girls in blue and decided that I never wanted to shake hands with one, let alone be one! Along with the darkness there are also some great touches of black humour which mean that it's not a depressing read.

The setting is one of the best depictions of Glasgow I've read, and it's shown as the schizophrenic, gritty, in-your-face, characterful city it is. On top of all that, there's a gripping plot that is full of twists and turns. But this is not a bog standard police procedural. It's an insight into real peoples' lives - police, victims and criminals - who all come across in shades of grey.

Reviewed by: Your humble blogger.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Holy Mortarbards, Batman!

Glasgow crime writer Alex Gray does some detective work to uncover the 'bible of Scottish cuisine'. "Though controversial recipes such as sheep's head broth have been relegated to the introduction because of changes to health and safety laws, and shifting public taste, the editors promise that fans of the original will not be disappointed." Presumably that means that sheep's head broth has been replaced by deep fried Mars Bar.

Iain Banks TRANSITION will be serialised internationally on iTunes as a free podcast, starting on September 3rd. *UPDATE* (the comments section at the link to the Bookseller article talks about TRANSITION not being the first - thanks to Mack for the link).

An interview with Robert Downey Jr, Rachel McAdams, Joel Silver and Susan Downey about the new Sherlock Holmes film.

Tom Morton's SERPENTINE reviewed in the Highland News.

An audio interview with Denise Mina.

I don't know how close this is to completion but Johnny Borrell of Razorlight, Robert Carlyle and somebody called Colin (reports vary as to whether it's Firth or Farrell - which makes me even more dubious about the whole thing) will apparently star in Irvine Welsh's film THE MEAT TRADE. I won't hold my breath.

Edinburgh Napier University is to include graphic novels in its Masters Degree, and the University of Dundee will teach comics as part of its English degree. Guest lecturers will include Ian Rankin.

Monday 10 August 2009

Hey Ho, Let's Go...

In a previous post I mentioned Shetland's Wordplay Book Festival. The full line-up and schedule is now available. Two events from Messrs Allan Guthrie and Stuart MacBride (and no, I'm not talking about 'The Gruffalo' and 'The Grumpy Sailor').

And more news of the Off The Page festival.

Denise Mina on how real events inspire her.

A review of Christopher Brookmyre's new book PANDAEMONIUM and Craig Russell's THE VALKYRIE SONG

An Edinburgh Festival production of Irvine Welsh's TRAINSPOTTING.

And finally, I'm very chuffed to hear that Busted Flush Press will be bringing out a sequel to DAMN NEAR DEAD. I loved being part of the first one, but, more importantly, all the stories were excellent and the anthology was obviously a labour of love and great fun. Busted Flush do great anthologies and this new one will be no exception, with Bill Crider at the helm. I'm looking forward to finding out who the contributors are and reading the stories.

I enjoy themed anthologies a lot - I'm still hoping for that Ramones themed one. So, what about you? Any themed anthologies you'd like to see?

Sunday 9 August 2009

Sleepy Sunday Summary

Well, it has been a very pleasant weekend which included good friends, good food, a spate of music buying and discovering from the young sales guy in the music store that I still have street cred, and watching a couple of excellent films (Gran Torino and Milk - both of which made me cry, big sap that I am - this tough broad exterior fools only my mother, you know). On the topic of films - has anyone got any good recommendations for my Lovefilm list? Quirky is good. Character is important. Romantic comedies and horror are probably both out, as are vampires and any science fiction where the aliens have computers that have Windows. Funny is good, but not "we went to Las Vegas and this is what happened when we got drunk" type funny. One of my favourite films is LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, one of Ewan's is BARTON FINK. All suggestions gratefully accepted. Thank you :o)

And now, book news...

Courtesy of the lovely Russel McLean, a couple of events from Waterstones, Dundee. On August 20, Chris Longmuir, author of Dundee Book Award winning Dead Wood (which is a book I definitely need to get my hands on) will be appearing at the Lecture Theatre, University of Dundee. Time 7pm, tickets available from Waterstones in Dundee, priced at £3. And on September 11, Ian Rankin will be appearing at the same place. Tickets will be available from Waterstones, Dundee in the weeks before the event, again for the ultracheap price of £3.

Val McDermid in a stellar line up for the Ilkley Literature Festival.

Alexander McCall Smith says he's no Renaissance Man.

Iain Banks on BBC Radio Scotland on 13th August, at 13.15.

Via Bill Crider, Hard Case Crime news of a new Arthur Conan Doyle story.

Christopher Brookmyre is one of a number of new ambassadors for the Edinburgh festivals, as the Fringe is warned to 'modernise or die'.

Friday 7 August 2009

I Came, I Saw, I Trampled

First things first - Dad, if you're reading this, for goodness' sake, don't tell Mum. My Mum's first reaction if she hears a prisoner has escaped from jail in Timbuktu is to tell my Dad to lock all the doors, so this story would make her freak out. So, after yesterday's Snakes On A Bus episode I thought today might be a tad more peaceful. (When I told people about this episode, by the way, the reaction of all the females was a variation on the theme of "Ewwwwwwwww"; the reaction of more than one of the males was "What type of snake?" I had to confess that I did not ask it for its family tree.)

But I digress. This morning, hoping for slightly less wildlife in my day, I went to catch my bus, only to discover that the bus shelter was already full. With about 6 police, and a bloke and a woman both looking slightly the worse for wear. So, rather than interrupt this cosy little chat, I stood next to the bus stop, waiting for my bus, while wondering what this guy had done. Maybe he'd dropped some litter? Daubed some badly spelled slogans on a wall? Been drunk in charge of a bus shelter?

Just before my bus arrived, one of the policemen came around the side of the bus shelter, looked at me funny, and bent over to pick something up. I looked down. There, 2 inches away from my feet was a saw (Girls - I know! Ewwwwwwwwwwww. Lads - it was a crosscut handsaw with a steel blade - happy now?) Apparently the guy had tried to cut his girlfriend's head off with the saw while she was sleeping. Luckily, she had woken up before he could get very far, realised that he wasn't holding the saw in order to put up a couple of shelves and had run out of the house, with him chasing her, still wielding the saw. Obviously sensing that this was not your normal DIY episode, a passer-by had called the police, who arrived mob-handed in double quick time, complete with riot gear. Enter your humble narrator to trample all over the evidence.

Anyway, I apologise for all the personal asides in recent posts. I will try to refrain in future but, really, you couldn't make this stuff up.

And now back to Scottish crime fiction.

Karen Campbell has signed a new two book deal with Hodder and Stoughton. This is news I'm very glad to hear as I'm currently reading, and loving, her first book THE TWILIGHT TIME - a police procedural with humour, warmth, and a fair bit of darkness.

An article about football from Christopher Brookmyre, whose latest novel Pandemonium will be launched at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow on Friday August 14th.

Alexander McCall Smith says hands off Scotland's haggis.

Gordon Brown the author, as opposed to the other one.

A review of Denise Mina's STILL MIDNIGHT.

Thursday 6 August 2009

"Sorry hen, it's just ma wee snake."

Anyone who knows me is aware that THINGS HAPPEN on the Number 62 bus. Tonight I was quite late coming home. Buses in Glasgow after about 7pm are a bit of a minefield. This evening there were three young girls who were soaking wet from head to toe sitting near the front of the bus, so I decided that near the back of the bus - usually a place to be avoided at all costs - was the place to be. I dug out my book and lost myself in Karen Campbell's THE TWILIGHT TIME until I felt this tickling on the back of my neck. I shook my head, thinking it was my hair and that stopped it...for a minute or so. And then the tickling started again. 'Hello', I thought, 'your luck's in, Donna.'

I turned round, brushing my hand down the back of my head as I did so, and came face to scaly little face with a huge ginormous snake. I let out what can only be described as a pathetic girly whimper. The scaly little face was attached to a scaly well-fed body, which was coiled around the thick neck of a guy who was busily texting away. He looked up and saw the look on my face. "Aw sorry hen, it's just ma wee snake." Wee snake. It was about 100 feet long and looked as though it could swallow a herd of cows and still have room for a plump redhead.

This is not the first time I've come face to face with wildlife on the bus. I once found myself inches away from the bleary pink eyes and twitching whiskers of a rat. Sitting on the shoulder of a man who also had bleary pink eyes and twitching whiskers.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled crime fiction blog.

There are authors, authors everywhere at the moment it seems, so here's some festival news.

Richmond Walking and Book Festival. I would fall over.

Crime writers Allan Guthrie, Stuart MacBride, Ann Cleeves and Tom Morton will be appearing at Shetland's Wordplay Book Festival. Good stuff. And there's an event with forensics expert Helen Pepper that looks fascinating. I attended an event whe was at once before and it was excellent (even if I did have to go for a lie down afterwards).

Val McDermid appears along with Kate Mosse and Jasper Fforde at the Southbank Centre in London on 16th September.

What an intriguing idea - Tony Black answers questions from readers . I'm going to be checking out this site more often. With thanks to the Rap Sheet.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Sex and Crime in the Library. Well, that's MY day sorted.

A 91 year old Scottish woman is the most prolific library book reader in Britain. At 91 she's still reading Mills and Boon. I'm quite relieved to hear that romance is still important at that age. Good on her.

And in other library news, Kate Atkinson's WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS is one of the most borrowed library books in York. And three of the top four are crime fiction. Excellent.

The lovely Bill Crider reviews Allan Guthrie's KILLING MUM.

Publishers Weekly talks to Stuart MacBride.

'Robert Downey Jr, who plays Holmes, has revealed the crimebuster will sleep with and have sweaty grappling scenes with Watson, played by Jude Law, in "Sherlock Holmes," due out Christmas Day. "We're two men who happen to be roommates, wrestle a lot and share a bed. It's bad-ass," Downey told Britain's News of the World. Added much-in-the-news Law: "Guy wanted to make this about the relationship between Watson and Holmes. They're both mean and complicated."'

Tuesday 4 August 2009

In Which Your Lazy Blogger Enlists Family Members To Do The Work

This is my Dad. My Dad likes thrillers, spy novels and war stories. (He also likes books about dwarves and elves, but that's irrelevant for the purposes of this blog post.) When the very nice people at John Murray Publishers sent me a copy of THE INTERROGATOR by Andrew Williams (who is either from Edinburgh, or lives there - I cannot find a website, unfortunately) I took one look at the back and thought "My Dad would love this." It's set in 1941, and is partially about the cracking of the Enigma Code. My Dad was born in 1935 and in 1941 he lived about 8 miles away from Bletchley Park where the code was cracked.

"Donna," I said to myself. "What is it, now?" I answered, "You're always such a pest." "Alright, alright, no need to be quite so stroppy. I've got an idea that will mean you can do less work on this blog thing of yours." "Really?" I said, suddenly interested...

Anyway, I thought I would get my Dad to review the book, because he would do it far more justice than I would. This has, of course, left me in a bit of a pickle with my Mum. (That's my Mum, on the left. She wouldn't let me use a proper picture "I don't like being on blogs, you get all those funny people on blogs...What is a blog anyway?) "What about me?" she said. "Am I not good enough to review books?" Now, my Mum as a reviewer would also work well, since I enjoy dark, warped books with lots of swearing, violence and bodily fluids. And my Mum...well, she doesn't. At all. At Crimefest in Bristol she met the charming Chris Ewan. He was so charming that she bought one of his books. Well, she got my Dad to buy it for her. My Mum is like the Queen, she doesn't carry cash. After she'd read it she rang me up. "Our Donna, why can't you write nice books like that nice Chris Ewan?" she said. "He doesn't need all that swearing and not nice stuff you go in for." The subtext was "I wish that nice Chris Ewan was my daughter."

So, I decided that any nice books I get, I will send to my Mum to review. Any thriller-y, spy-y, war-y sort of stuff, I will send to my Dad. So here, without further ado (since there has been far too much ado already) is my Dad's review of Andrew Williams' THE INTERROGATOR.

THE INTERROGATOR is part fictional, but based on facts about naval operations both at sea and on land. It tells the story of a naval interrogator questioning German submariners about their operations at sea, and whether the powers that be have knowledge of the codes in use by the British navy at that time. It also deals with the distrust of the so called intelligence forces, many of whom are based on actual people, though the story is fiction. The main character is of dual nationality, having a German Mother, and is not fully trusted by some of the people he works with. His friendship with some of the Germans grows, which also alienates some of his comrades, and he does maintain contact with them after hostilities have ceased.

A very enjoyable story, I was captivated from beginning to end. The heroes and villians were so lifelike, and in the end the villians turn out to be heroes, or so it seemed. I found it difficult to differentiate truth from fiction, as part of it was fact, the rest being of the author's imagination. The love interest part was believable as I understand this an acceptable part of life during wartime. Station X was mentioned a few times, a secret so well kept that it was not publicised until the 90s. Many residents of Bletchley were not aware that it existed until much later.

Thank you pater.

Monday 3 August 2009

Royalty, Celebrity and Dodgy Politicans

Scotland is set to get a literacy tsar to try and encourage more young people to read. Let's hope none of them turns out to be Rasputin.

A review of Ian Rankin's comic book DARK ENTRIES - "an intriguing mix of pulp mystery, supernatural suspense, and celebrity culture parody"- it's about the supernatural murder of a contestant on a Big Brother-like reality TV gameshow.

In these troubled times when you can't trust a politician not to use your hard earned cash to clean out his moat or put up a chandelier in the loo, I think I'll pick my next MP by the book he reads on his summer holidays. Crime fiction features in the form of Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Reginald Hill and Stieg Larsson. Nobody mentioned Jeffrey Archer's HONOUR AMONG THIEVES. I wonder why.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Sleepy Sunday Summary

An excellent and hilarious interview with Allan Guthrie and Ray Banks in Pulp Pusher. And a top-notch review of Mr Guthrie's SLAMMER from The Drowning Man.

Fleshmarket Close gets an unattractive makeover - Edinburgh's streets are teeming with rubbish and the festival hasn't even started yet. Maybe Ian Rankin could use his new position as judge for the Sunday Times Scotland essay writing competition (which aims to promote political debate amongst young people and improve political accountability) could come up with some ideas to resolve the rubbish crisis. And when he's not dipping his toes into politics, he's being a rock star. And, talking of the marvellous Mr Rankin - a review of the short story collection CRIMESPOTTING, set in Edinburgh.

William McIlvanney makes Newsweek's 10 Favourite Crime novels. And he joins a campaign to save the Johnnie Walker whisky plant in Kilmarnock.

David Peace, who will be appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival, talks to The Scotsman. And you can win tickets from The Big Issue to see David Peace, Irvine Welsh and others.

A great interview with Robert Downey Jr and Rachel McAdams on the forthcoming Sherlock Holmes film.

And finally, in true crime news, a new Tesco Express supermarket has opened up near me. This is great news as it means I can now get fresh fruit and veg from 6am until midnight. What do you mean "Come off it, tubby"? OK, OK, I can now get cake and chocolate from 6am until midnight. Happy now? Anyway, I was in there today buying...errrrr...cherries and blackberries (encased in chocolate cake) and enthusing over the fact that they were now in the neighbouhood. The checkout guy raised his eyebrows and said "Yeah, you and the junkies and the neds. They think it's Christmas. We're losing vast amounts of steak, cheese and washing powder." He nodded casually towards the door. "And there goes one now." I turned to see a ned running out of the door with a big box of Daz tucked into his shell suit top. From his awkward gait, I can only assume that his shell suit bottoms contained a couple of T-Bones and half a pound of brie.