Thursday 24 December 2009

My Dad Reviews...oh's OLD DOGS - by his daughter

So when a proof copy of OLD DOGS arrived my Mum and Dad fought over who was going to read it first. My Dad lost.

My Mum took a look at the cover and said "Oh look, that nice young man Chris Ewan (she became his surrogate Grandma when she met him at Crimefest earlier this year) has written something about your book on the cover." She read Chris' kind words, looked at me, and said "Well, no wonder he's written that, he's a friend of yours." Cheers, Mum.

So here is my Dad's review. I will forgo the usual 'what my Dad likes' stuff.

Our Donna said "Dad will you do a review for me? You can be as rude as you like."*

"Do you mean Rude or Rued? I may be sorry that I read it."
OK. It was an uncorrected pre-print proof, and I found many errors, with capitals where they should not have been, words repeated and no spaces where spaces should have occurred.**

The story appears to have been well thought out***, even though I could not recommend that Mother read it because of all the swear words. How does a well brought up young woman know all of those? I thought they were the province of squaddies, or people of lower intelligence.

The two old dogs in question are not the two elderly ladies with dubious credentials (ex-hookers turned con artists), but a pair of golden bejewelled model lapdogs loaned to a Glasgow museum.

Many people decide that they would be better in their keeping and decide to steal them. The foremost are the elderly ladies, who, through a previous scam are on the run from an Eastern European Australian hit man from whom they relieved a large sum of cash, a pair of Glaswegian low life losers, and a supposed Western Islands monk who wants to return the dogs to his master guru for reinstatement in his Tibetan monastery.

The story involves the fates of the museum curator, his assistant, and various bodies that get in the way. The twist at the end is both humourous and a surprise.
Even though I may be a little bit prejudiced****, I can recommend the story to those not of a nervous disposition, and those not averse to a bit of swearing. "Honestly Dad. It is not me swearing, it is the characters."*****

* That's my Dad, making up dialogue, now.
** That's my Dad, the editor and critic.
*** 'Appears to have been well thought out'? As in 'but wasn't really'? This has the same sting as my first swimming certificate, which said "Donna swam one width of the pool in shallow water", as though to say "we know she put her feet on the ground, but we can't actually prove it."
**** Not so's you'd notice.
***** There's my Dad and his imaginary conversations again.

My Mum, who has just started the book and put it down after about five pages, says "I worry about where you get your inspiration from as to the old ladies' occupations." My Mum thinks every female character I write, who's over 50 is based on her (sometimes, she's actually correct).

Then, dear merciful heavens, my little brother weighed in:

Brother: "I'd like to say how good the book is."

Mum: "No need to butter her up- she's already wrapped your Christmas presents."

Brother: "Obviously, not a lot of foul language."

Mum: "Exclamation mark."

Darren "That's all I have to say for now. Of course, I haven't finished reading it yet. Well...I haven't actually started."

Isn't it amazing how I turned out so normal?

And remember, you, too, can join in the rather dubious fun by winning a copy of the unedited OLD DOGS.

This will probably be my last post now until after the New Year although I will probably be able to pop in an answer any comments - at least until January 28th when I will be away for a few days.

So I just wanted to thank all those who have visited, left comments and sent me e-mails since I started this blog in May this year. I've had a lot of fun.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas, a lovely festive season, and that 2010 brings you everything you wish for yourselves and more.


Donna x

Wednesday 23 December 2009

More Sherlock Holmes Links Than You Can Shake A Stick At

Christopher Brookmyre in Pitlochry on January 31st. With strong language. Without my mother.

Aly Monroe's blog is always interesting and thought-provoking. Here are her thoughts on porn and publishing. And here's The Scotsman's review of WASHINGTON SHADOW.

A review in the Cotswold Journal of M C Beaton's THERE GOES THE BRIDE. And the FT reviews Catriona McPherson's DANDY GILVER AND THE PROPER TREATMENT OF BLOODSTAINS.

Listen to Denise Mina's IDA TAMSON at Insight Radio.

Vice Magazine interviews "belligerent Scotsman" Iain Banks.

The National Library of Scotland has a Conan Doyle manuscript on display until January 8th. And anyone would think there is a new Sherlock Holmes film.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Officially Weird

I think I have mentioned before that my Mum lent ...GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET to a neighbour of hers and that he thought I must be weird. Today I met him.

"Ah, so you're the one who thinks I'm weird?"

"Yes, I do."

"And why is that then?" Do you really want to know the answer to this question Donna?

"Because you are."

"Oh, OK, fair enough."

"Your book was really weird."

"Did you like it?"


"Righty-ho then."

I then threatened to let him have a copy of OLD DOGS which he seemed strangely happy about. And then he said "You don't look like I imagined you would." Uh-oh.

"And how did you think I'd look then?" Why did I ask this? Did I really want to know the answer?

"I thought you'd be a stout lady." Check. "Dressed in black." Check. This wasn't looking good - so far I was living up to my weird stereotype. "Wearing a black hat and green tights." Phew - saved by the lack of accessories. "No, you look almost normal, if you don't mind me saying."

"Not at all."

A very nice man. I promised to send him down some books he might actually like (political thrillers, out of interest).

And now, back to the regularly scheduled links.

The Age, with a humourous piece on cute books.

I missed this originally - the lovely Maddy Van Hertbruggen with an enthusiastic review of Iain Levison's HOW TO ROB AN ARMORED CAR. And a review of THE LINEUP which has authors talking about their famous characters.

The Telegraph with the 100 bestselling authors of the decade. Katie Price at number 59? Great British public, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Quintin Jardine appearing at Musselburgh Library on January 12th.

What would Sherlock Holmes have thought about the new film? Several more thoughts and an article on several books about Conan Doyle.

Taggart - 100 episodes and 251 murrrrrderrrrs.

It's expensive to get a pie and a pint in Edinburgh these days. Particularly if they come with company of top author.

And thanks again for your entries for a copy of OLD DOGS. The lovely David at Busted Flush is sending more copies, so I may even have two copies to get rid of...errrr...give away.

Monday 21 December 2009

Extremely Chuffed of Glasgow

First of all, the winners of Tony Black's LOSS (which is out in January) are Tim from Edinburgh (who left a comment) and Helen (who e-mailed me from the US). If you both e-mail me your address I shall send your copies as soon as I've bought them - which will be as soon as it's published next month.

And now, an offer you CAN refuse. Look at this which I received today! I hope I never lose this feeling of the first time I hold a proper copy of my book. Isn't it beautiful? How chuffed am I? I've been wandering around stroking it. It's the Uncorrected Proof of the US edition of OLD DOGS which is not out until June but the lovely David at Busted Flush Press has made up some ARCs. It's beautifully bound, shame about the writing.

As you can see from this second photo, I offered a copy to my Mum and Dad but, for some reason, they seem less than keen. I have no idea why. So what that means is that I have an ARC to give away to someone who's had too much sherry at Christmas and is foolish enough to request one. Remember, it's a VERY Uncorrected Proof, so if my old English teacher should win it, I'm very sorry Mr Browning - you did try and teach me spelling and grammar. When you wrote on my report card "Needs to talk less and listen more," you may find you have been proved right if you read this book (as an aside, if, by any chance, my PE teacher Mrs Griffin reads this, you, too, were right when you wrote "Donna needs to get off her fat bum more." To my biology teacher, Mrs Povey, I told you that was disgusting and I would never do it, no matter how much I loved someone...I lied. (As an aside to the aside - Dad - that bit was just a joke)).

Where was I? Ah, yes. So, if you would like an ARC, please leave me a comment in the comments bit, or send me an e-mail to the usual address telling me what my Mum or Dad are saying in the photo.

Incidentally, my little brother, whose arm is in the photo, has decided to vet the book for profanities, just to see whether it's suitable for my Mum. He's just given up at page three saying "I don't think people should write words like that in a book..." OK, so now I've alienated my whole family.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Sleepy, Snowy, Sunny Sunday Summary

Today I started the programming for Crimefest. It's always a bit daunting trying to work out how to fit 70 or so authors onto suitable panels (especially when there are still a couple to be confirmed), but it's great fun. Today I had to do it while my Dad was sitting in the corner with my Sony e-Reader, reading OLD DOGS which was even more daunting, since I worried about why he was not laughing. "I'm smiling...inside," he said. Oh, great. Still, it's good preparation for when my Mum reads it and I have to steel myself for a 'tut' at every swear word. She will sound like Machine Gun Kelly.

Anyway, here is the Sunday Summary.

The fabulous Nerd of Noir reviews Allan Guthrie's Slammer over at BSC Review. While Nathan Cain at Independent Crime calls it his 'book of the year'. The man has taste.

More reviews with the Aberdeen Press and Journal on Frank Muir's HAND FOR A HAND. And Russel McLean gets the approval of Rab C Nesbitt's Mary, Doll.

The always excellent Mystery Readers Journal publishes a selection of 'best crime fiction of 2009' lists.

Catriona McPherson on stately homes and writing. And Laura Wilson reviews THREE WEEKS TO SAY GOODBYE, calling McPherson 'a continuing delight'.

The Irish Herald on the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes.

And, finally, one of the Taggart stars and a prank involving a ghost at the home of Robert Louise Stevenson.

Friday 18 December 2009

Down In The Bosom...

Well, it was a 4am start for me this morning as I flew down to be spoiled by my mum and dad for Christmas. I was hoping that there would be a copy of OLD DOGS for them to fight over (and when I say 'fight over' I mean in a "You have it." "No, you have it - I don't want the bloody thing," sort of way) but sadly, it's not here yet.

My parents moved earlier this year to flats for elderly people. It's really nice, and my mum showed me around. "This is where Ada lives. She's 98. This is where Malcolm lives. This is where George lives - he's the one that thinks you're weird, our Donna."

"And why, exactly does he think I'm weird, mother?"

"Because I told him you were." Of course.

She also looked askance at my lovely French brothel Docs. "What are those?"


"Reeeeeaaaaaallllllyyyyyyy?" Luckily, when my brother turned up in a pair of bright turquoise skin tight jeans it took the heat off me. "Oh bloody hell - what are those?"

"Jeans." (As you can see, both my brother and I find it advisable to be precise, concise, and non-commital when faced with the "What are those?" question, since an answer is not actually required).

"Do you have any more trousers with you?"


"Good, then go and put a pair on because those are making me feel sick."

Then, when my brother left the room she said "I suppose I could dye them navy blue, couldn't I?"

Anyway, back to the links. First of all, a fun article about Sherlock Holmes. And a piece in the Times on the film. And Sherlockian societies in the Mercury News.

Helen Fitzgerald to appear at a crime writing workshop in South Yorkshire on January 30th. And Denise Mina will be discussing Muriel Spark at an event in Edinburgh on 13th January.

More on Alexander McCall Smith at the Essex Book Festival.

And, finally, Mystery Scene with a great review of Russel McLean's THE GOOD SON.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Linkage Gallimaufry

Russel McLean is put to the Page 69 Test.

Norman Price reviews Aly Monroe's WASHINGTON SHADOW over at Eurocrime. While Kerrie at Mysteries In Paradise reviews Philip Kerr's IF THE DEAD RISE NOT.

More on the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka.

Have a literary lunch with Zoe Strachan and Louise Welsh in Pitlochry on Friday 5th February.

Time Out New York reviews Sherlock Holmes. As does The New Yorker.

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the highest-selling authors of the last decade.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

My Dad Reviews...The Spanish Game - Charles Cumming

The usual reminder of my Dad's tastes:

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.

: thrillers, spy novels, war stories and books with elves in (the elves can swear their little 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.

PREFERS: Philip Marlowe to Miss Marple, Inspector Morse to Homicide.

THE SPANISH GAME - Charles Cumming
Publisher: Penguin
Published: January 2007
First Line: "The door leading into the hotel is already open and I walk through it into a low, wide lobby."

Alec Milius - ex MI5 and MI6 - is in voluntary exile in Madrid. He considers he is responsible for the deaths of two CIA operatives and is in fear for his life - of being pursued by that organisation in retaliation. He currently works for a British bank called Endimion and is having an affair with his boss's wife. His greatest fear is that one or both have connections with his former employers or the CIA and are in the plot to kill him.

His boss at Endimion, Julian, asks that he investigates the possibility of repercussions of separation within the Basque community by going to Bilbao and meeting with Mikel Arenza, a basque councillor. Arenza is later murdered so Milius sets out to find the group responsible. He is alone with no back up and soon finds himself facing supposed ETA terrorists.

Later he is approached by a person purporting to be from British Intelligence and is promised reinstatement to the intelligence services if he does a good job by reporting back his findings. There are more twists and turns than in a corkscrew towards the end and there is a devious twist to finalise the story which was entertaining throughout.

The characters were portrayed quite well. The main character came over as a bit of a wimp, his mistress as a temptress, Aranaza was a tough guy, and some of the others were very pushy.

Note from me: Having not read this book I just wanted to check with my Dad that he hadn't given too much of the plot away, as it seemed quite a lot of information. This is what he wrote back:

"The review as written gives the basics of the plot, however there is much more action and to find out what that is, you must read the book. I am not in the business of being a spoiler."

That's me told then...

Tuesday 15 December 2009

A Slew of Reviews

Denise Mina's STILL MIDNIGHT is reviewed by The Hamilton Spectator, The Scotsman reviews Aly Monroe's WASHINGTON SHADOW, Ken McClure's WHITE DEATH in The Independent, while the FT reviews Catriona MacPherson's latest Dandy Gilver novel.

An interesting post comparing Guy Ritchie's Holmes to the original. Plus Robert Downey Jr on playing "the first superhero".

A special Christmas "boady in thuh rivuh" Taggart.

I don't know how close you have to live to Tennessee, but if you want to review for the Decatur Daily...

And finally, a very tough books quiz in the Telegraph. I got one right. Thicko.

Monday 14 December 2009

What I Read In November

Yes, yes, I know it's already half way through December, but here (better late than never) is my summary of what I read in November. A great month in which I am chilled to the bone, learn a lot about sex, and spend time with some very nasty but thoroughly entertaining people .


Published: February 2010
Setting: A road trip across America
Protagonist: The driver
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: 'Tell me about the box they kept you in, he said'
Brrrrrrrrrr. A couple eat and eat and eat to forget. A man with a colander on his head stands out in the rain, arms outstretched. A woman comes to terms with the break-up of an affair. An impotent porn star flirts with a bank teller. This is a very original and intriguing book - it's like a set of interlinked short stories that take us into the past, the present and the future of the varied characters whose lives intersect with that of a man driving across America. Some stories are very loosely tied to the driver, others are inextricably linked - most are not good. Some are...really not good. Chilling, well-written and memorable. I found myself whimpering as I read it and I slept with the light on for about two weeks afterwards. So noir it's like stepping into a bottomless pit of tar while wearing a blindfold.

BOULEVARD - Stephen Jay Schwartz
Published: September 2009
Setting: Los Angeles
Protagonist: Detective Hayden Glass
Series?: Standalone or first of a series - not sure
First Lines: 'Detective Hayden Glass of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division drove his old Hollywood beat, crossing Fairfax, heading east on Sunset Boulevard.'
Hayden Glass is a Los Angeles homicide detective. He's also a sex addict. His police work brings him into contact with prostitutes and pimps, and he spends his work day cruising the same areas that attract him as part of his addiction. Needless to say, this is not an easy addiction to keep secret, and when several cases appear to be linked by Hayden himself, it seems as though his secret won't be a secret for much longer. An extremely flawed hero - sometimes I admired him, sometimes I despised him, most of the time I just didn't like him very much. Despite that, I still wanted to find out about him, and how this was all going to end. In fact, I was on a plane coming back from a business meeting in London and was the last person off the plane because I was on the last few pages and wanted to keep reading. Sometimes a bit over the top, it's intense, cinematic, memorable, and full of sex. I'm not letting my mum anywhere near this one.

Published: 2007
Setting: A small Greek island
Protagonist: Hermes Diaktoros
Series?: First
First Lines: 'It was the spring of the year; the air was light and bright, the alpines were all in bloom. It was a fine day to be out.''
A young woman's body is found - apparently after she has jumped off a cliff. The police are ready to close the case when a mysterious stranger called Hermes arrives from Athens. He asks questions of all the village's residents, while answering nothing himself. Hermes is an enigma and his methods are unorthodox. Suspicion, lust, secrecy, adultery, passion and savagery abound in a Greece that is totally unlike the Greece of the holiday brochures.

BLOODY WOMEN - Helen FitzGerald
Published: October 2009
Setting: Edinburgh and Italy
Protagonist: Catriona Marsden
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: '"I just need you to say if this is him," the man in the white coat said, lifting the sheet that covered the lump beneath..'
When Catriona Marsden is called in to identify an ex-boyfriend's severed penis, her reaction is to giggle. Needless to say, that does not look good, and she's promptly arrested for the murder of not one, but three ex-boyfriends. Cat is getting married and, like most brides, she has the pre-wedding jitters. However, unlike most brides, she decides that the way to put those jitters to bed is to meet up with each of her ex-boyfriends, and sleep with them. BLOODY WOMEN is delicious, ingenious, inventive and mordantly funny and Helen FitzGerald has a real skill for making the totally absurd and goofy, thoroughly logical and reasonable. She serves up plot twists and severed penises (penii?) alike with the same relish and glee as Bette Davis serving Joan Crawford a rat on a silver salver in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Warped, funny, and very well told.

- Short story collection
Published: 2009
Setting: Scotland
Protagonist: Various
Series?: Standalone collection
This is an anthology of crime stories focusing on the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators or the detectives. All the writers donated their royalties to Victim Support Scotland. An excellent collection – several of the stories are very touching, because they are written from the point of view of the victim and every writer has given a lot of thought to the impact of crime. A couple of the writers have had the same idea but treated it in a different way, others have done something totally unique. Stories from Karen Campbell, Ray Banks, Allan Guthrie, Louise Welsh, Lin Anderson, Stuart MacBride, Gillian Galbraith, Alex Gray, Christopher Brookmyre, G J Moffat.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Cramps, Crime and Christmas

Isn't Sunday a lovely day? Not only have I been Christmas shopping (not yours, Dad, so don't bother asking), done loads of writing, taught myself The Cramps' Human Fly on the guitar and had a nap, I've caught up on all the news and am finally up to date again. What a shame it's Monday tomorrow...

The Independent with the best crime books for Christmas. While Alexander McCall Smith talks about The Times WH SmithPaperback of the Year Award. And more McCall Smith as he tells us why we should believe in Father Christmas. Of course we should.

Reviewingtheevidence interviews Denise Mina, while Charles Cumming undergoes some therapy at the Telegraph and Catriona MacPherson chats to the Glasgow Herald.

Ian Rankin to appear at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka at the end of January. While I'm very much looking forward to Crimefest in Bristol, somehow, it doesn't sound quite as exotic.

The lovely Maxine over at Petrona summarises The Bookseller's books of the decade, giving us the crime fiction highlights.

And, finally, a thoughtful blog post from Crimespree's Jon Jordan about how to fix publishing.

Friday 11 December 2009

I Appear To Have Caught Up With Some Slightly Stale News

The Daily Telegraph held a live Q&A with Alexander McCall Smith. It is, of course, live no longer (the rigor mortis is just wearing off) but here it is.

Irvine Welsh is one of a great line-up at the Perth Writers Festival in February 2010. I got very excited about this, until I realised that it was Perth, Australia, rather than Perth, Scotland, just up the road.

A Sherlock Holmes themed tourism campaign.

The always interesting and thought-provoking Margot Kinberg on when sleuths get it wrong.

Innocent Bystander with a great review of Chris Ewan's GOOD THIEF'S GUIDE TO PARIS.

Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES to be filmed for TV.

And, finally, brilliant news for my lovely friends Christa Faust (OK, so she's not Scottish but she did visit in November) and Allan Guthrie (world's best agent). And the book sounds great. I'm looking forward to spending time with Angel Dare again.

Thursday 10 December 2009

If It's Thursday, It Must Be Ian Rankin Day

Ian Rankin suffers from gas. While Alexander McCall Smith has shelving problems.

And talking of Rankin and McCall Smith, you, too, can be their neighbour as a wee pied-a-terre in Writer's Row will become vacant when J K Rowling moves out. Maybe all that gas and banging was too much. And, if you can't afford to move in next door, how about an auction to win a pie and a pint with Ian Rankin in the Oxford Bar? All proceeds to charity. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Ian Rankin is a lovely man. He deserves an award and, as luck would have it, he's just won one. (And an off topic aside, I'm also glad to see that the wonderful Peter Capaldi also won one - Malcolm Tucker is one of the best characters on TV).

Ian Rankin on writing by typewriter, word processor, and hand. Val McDermid and Ian Rankin feature in the Independent's best audio books of 2009 list.

And the Ian Rankin 2010 World Tour.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

"It Took Them A While Because They Ran Out Of Breath"

Shocking figures as one in five Scottish children leave primary school with literacy problems. And is it any wonder, when you have Scottish politicians who think like this.


The List, with its best of a decade in Scottish culture and best of a decade in books. And The Times, with its crime fiction Christmas books.

The Telegraph in conversation with Alexander McCall Smith. And he's appearing at the Essex Book Festival next year.

Iain Banks at Edinburgh Central Library on December 16th.

An interview with Campbell Armstrong.

And finally, for those (hiya Mum!) who poo-poo the idea that two septuagenarian ex-hookers could mastermind a heist (the premise of OLD DOGS), here's proof that it may not be such an outlandish idea.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

"Tatty Seaside Town"

Points for anyone who knows who sang that :o)

This is a random catch up e-mail consisting of highlights from my weekend at the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival at Butlins Holiday Camp in Minehead, an amendment to my listing of books for 2010, a reminder, and a couple of snippets of newsworthiness.

First of all, the wonderfulness that was ATP - a weekend-long music festival where you get to sleep in a proper bed, and wee in a proper loo. OK, so Butlins in Minehead is slightly tacky, and a wee bit seedy but that just adds to the charm. ATP is a wonderfully friendly festival - no neds, great music, small enough to feel intimate, large enough to attract decent bands.

My weekend highlights:
Best Band: Sonic Youth
Most Fun: The Buzzcocks and The Membranes.
Most Disappointing: A Place To Bury Strangers (their new CD is excellent, but I didn't much care for them live - guitar was too loud, vocals too quiet and muffled, and the act was full of self-indulgent wankery (I can say that because my Dad's away this week, so he's not going to read it and tell me off)). A real shame as I was really looking forward to seeing them.
Best New Discovery: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - melodic, jangly, poppy, sweet with an edge indie. They had great fun on stage, obviously enjoyed themselves and were happy to be there and not ashamed of that, which was lovely to see. I wanted to adopt them all.
Loudest: My Bloody Valentine - we were given earplugs before going in. I felt like going back for a second pair.
Scariest: The worm on the floor of the chalet. It wasn't so much a worm as an enormous slimy serpent. I got up to go to the loo about 6am, nearly trod on it and screamed loudly. Ewan gallantly removed it as I stood by like Donna Doolittle, friend to all living things, saying "Kill it. Kill the slimy thing. Kill, kill." Ewan pointed out that it had probably died of a heart attack when I shrieked at it, as had half of Butlins, no doubt.
Most Surreal: As we went for a walk along the beach on a freezing cold Sunday morning, with the rain pouring down, wrapped up in about 17 layers of clothes, we met the utterly charming John Robb of The Membranes - hardened punk in a sleeveless t-shirt, his Mohican solid in the gale force wind - who stopped to chat and, in his gloriously gravelly voice, told us that the only way he had managed to stay up to watch all the bands the day before was by going back to his chalet for an afternoon nap. How rock and roll...
Cloud With A Silver Lining: We were promised an eight hour luxury coach trip with drinks, snacks and entertainment. We got a 12 hour nightmare which was freezing cold for the first two hours (so much so that we had to buy blankets at the first rest stop). No food, no drinks, no entertainment - except for the driver who insisted on saying "Is everyone here?" every time he was about to set off after a rest stop, much to the amusement of everyone on the coach (OK, so by that time we would have laughed at anything. On the plus side, I managed to get a whole load of writing done, and even when I had my eyes closed I was thinking of the next scene. The snoring? Errrrr...that's part of the thinking process.

I've added a new author to the list on the right (Sean Black - books set in America, born in Scotland) and, since he had a book out this year and has one out next, I've amended the relevant posts. Here's the blurb about his 2010 book:

Black - LOCK UP
Publisher: Bantam

Date: July 2010

From the author's website: 'The job facing Ryan Lock and his partner Ty Johnson should be straightforward enough: keeping one man alive for one week. But when that man is an inmate serving life without possibility of parole at Pelican Bay Supermax prison, who's about to testify against the leaders of America's most violent prison gang, Lock finds himself plunged into a deadly world where nothing is at it seems...'

Looks good to me.

And talking of looking good, here's the cover for Allan Guthrie's novella BYE BYE BABY, out next year. Nice.

BSC Review describes Helen Fitzgerald's THE DEVIL'S STAIRCASE as "like an All Guthrie novel with ovaries". Brilliant!

A diner in Kirkcaldy will have a role in the next Ian Rankin novel.

And, finally, a reminder. If you want to win Tony Black's LOSS, just leave a message in the comments, or send me an e-mail and let me know what you're looking forward to in 2010.

Monday 7 December 2009

2009 Scottish Crime Fiction Round-Up

A very delayed post today, since the coach from the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival took 12 hours, instead of the promised 8. So, rather than the usual news round-up which I will get back to tomorrow, here is a list of all the Scottish crime fiction books published in 2009 (well, as many as I could find, so if I have missed any off, please let me know). I'll catch up on comments tomorrow too. I'm now off to bed - shattered, but happy, having seen some great bands and had some good laughs.

Which were your favourites? I've highlighted mine in red, and I've marked in blue those I've got but haven't yet read.

Lin Anderson - FINAL CUT
Ray Banks - GUN (novella)
Sean Black - LOCKDOWN
Tony Black - GUTTED
Christopher Brookmyre - PANDAEMONIUM

Gordon Brown - FALLING
Helen Fitzgerald - BLOODY WOMEN
Helen Fitzgerald - MY LAST CONFESSION
Helen Fitzgerald - THE DEVIL'S STAIRCASE
Allan Guthrie - SLAMMER
Allan Guthrie - KILLING MUM (novella)

Gerald Hammond - WELL AND GOOD
Quintin Jardine - FATAL LAST WORDS
Quintin Jardine - INHUMAN REMAINS
Bill Kirton - THE DARKNESS
Douglas Lindsay - FINAL CUT
Chris Longmuir - DEAD WOOD
Stuart MacBride - HALFHEAD
Stuart MacBride - BLIND EYE
Iain McDowall - ENVY THE DEAD
Shiley McKay - HUE AND CRY
Grant McKenzie - SWITCH
Grace Monroe - BROKEN HEARTS
Ian Rankin - A COOL HEAD (novella)
Craig Russell - LENNOX
Alexander McCall Smith - THE LOST ART OF GRATITUDE
Aline Templeton - DEAD IN THE WATER
Sue Walker - THE BURNING

Friday 4 December 2009

My Dad Reviews...Singing To The Dead - Caro Ramsay

Just a reminder of my Dad's tastes:

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.

: thrillers, spy novels, war stories and books with elves in (the elves can swear their little 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.

PREFERS: Philip Marlowe to Miss Marple, Inspector Morse to Homicide.

Publisher: Penguin
Published: May 2009
First Lines: Detective Inspector Colin Anderson held a handkerchief to his nose, trying not to breathe, his eyes watering in the acrid smoke, and looked at the remains of the ground floor flat, 34 Lower Holburn Street.

This is an extremely well written story.It is mainly about two boys who go missing on the streets of Partick, just west of Glasgow city centre. The police, who are the remains of Alan McAlpine's team, (you can read about them, and what happens to Alan in Caro's book Absolution) so it is like old friends time. There are two new members of the team, DCI Rebecca Quinn who appears as a hard nosed *****(another name for a female dog) and DS Katherine Lewis who tries to charm everybody and doesn't quite make it - she even got up my nose. *

The story is quite involved and features two storylines, the second being a poisoner using a form of cyanide ( I say a form of cyanide as it was different to the one I used to test in the toolroom, which appeared to be more deadly**).

During the investigations many other characters are introduced and the son of one of the policemen also disappears, feared to be kidnapped by the same perp(s)***.

The reasons for the kidnappings are woven into the story. Whilst it is fairly easy to work out who did it, it is not easy to work out why. It is the same with the poisonings, even though the twist at the end came as a bit of a surprise. This was a very well written story, the characters developing as the tale progressed, most of them likeable.

Notes from me:

* Even I don't do that very often
** A note to the police - I had no idea that I am Dr Crippen's daughter.
*** Sometimes I think my dad watches too much CSI

Thursday 3 December 2009

Pre-Festival Round Up

A fairly short post today and a long weekend off for me as I'm off to this festival early on Friday morning to see Sonic Youth, Primal Scream, the Buzzcocks, The Pastels, Yo La Tengo, My BloodyValentine, The Membranes...and loads more. The great thing about this festival is that I get to sleep in a proper bed, and wee in a proper loo. Bliss.

So there'll be a review from my Dad tomorrow and then I'm back on Monday. Have a lovely weekend.

It's obviously Russel McLean Day today as my favourite Dundonian (admittedly, I don't know that many, but he'd still be my favourite) is all over the place. First of all, a review of THE GOOD SON at January Magazine. Next another great review - this time of THE LOST SISTER in the always excellent THE SKINNY. And finally, Russel himself on what books he's looking forward to in 2010, including Tony Black's LOSS, which I am very excited about myself.

Robert Downey Jr talks about Sherlock Holmes.

Philip Kerr interviewed in The Socialist Worker.

Alexander McCall Smith on Corduroy Mansions.

And, finally, lovely to read something about children getting excited about books.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

A Win LOSS Situation

Based on previous posts about what's coming up in Scottish crime fiction in 2010, here's a summary by month. Let me know if I've missed any out. And now, over to you. What are you looking forward to crime fiction wise (Scottish or otherwise) in 2010. Let me know either in the comments or via e-mail to the usual address and I'll draw two random lucky winners who will each receive a copy of Tony Black's LOSS, which is the one I'm most looking forward to in January. Of course, you'll have to wait until January to get your prize but if you've read the first two in the series, you know it will be worth waiting for.

Tony Black - LOSS
Quintin Jardine - BLOOD RED
Alanna Knight - QUEST FOR A KILLER
Manda Scott - THE FIRE OF ROME

Gerald Hammond - SILENT INTRUDER
Charles Maclean - NIGHT

Shona Maclean - A GAME OF SORROWS

Stuart MacBride - DARK BLOOD
G J Moffat - FALLOUT
Craig Robertson - RANDOM

Aline Templeton - THE ROAD TO NOWHERE

Karen Campbell - FADE TO GREY (or perhaps it's called SHADOWPLAY)

Allan Guthrie - BYE BYE BABY (novella)
Sean Black - LOCK UP

Helen Fitzgerald - HOT FLUSH - Autumn

So, over to you...

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Ideas, Sex and Comedy

Iain Banks banks on banks.

Val McDermid and Lindsey Davis on tomorrow's FOUL PLAY with Simon Brett. And for those not in the UK, there's usually a 'Listen Again' option after the show has aired.

The smallest library in Britain - what a great idea. I hope we see more of these, although in Glasgow it would smell of wee and have been taken over by a drunk.

And another idea - this time from the very funny Douglas Lindsay - a Barney Thomson story advent calendar style - "Told in 19 parts and finishing on Christmas Day, BARNEY THOMSON AND THE WESTMINSTER CHRISTMAS MASSACRE tells a heartwarming and festive tale of murder, greed, death, blood and mince pies."

The Indian Express on Ian Rankin's THE COMPLAINTS. Just to warn you, this one probably has an annoying pop-up, so my pop-up blocker tells me.

And more sex please, we're British.