Wednesday 30 June 2010

Fancy A Scottish Crime Festival?

Several reviews of Scottish authors/books today. First of all, Shirley McKay's FATE AND FORTUNE, one of Christopher Brookmyre's A SNOWBALL IN HELL which concludes that it might be style over substance but it's hard to dislike, and a very positive review of Alice Thompson's THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE.

Time Out's Edinburgh Festival Guide has an interview with Ian Rankin. The Guide can be downloaded here. And, talking of festivals, here's more on the new Unbound strand at the Edinburgh Book Festival. In addition, Christopher Brookmyre will be appearing at the SeptembAyr festival. And I've mentioned this before but just a reminder that my lovely wee son, and the apple of his granny's eye, Chris Ewan will be appearing at the Lowdham Book Festival tomorrow.

And I have it on good authority that the Wigtown Book Festival will have a big crime fiction element, which is great news - a Scottish crime fiction convention sounds great. It's due to be held at the end of September/beginning of October 2011. So, dear reader, who would you like to see there?

Crimewatch has an interview with Stuart MacBride.

Paul Johnston's latest Matt Wells book - MAPS OF HELL - is due out in the UK in August. I do wish he'd bring back near-future Edinburgh PI Quintilian Dalrymple - I loved that series.

The 'psychic painting' owned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that I mentioned in an earlier post fetches AU$72,000.

Alexander McCall Smith and Tilda Swinton have been asked to inspire pupils.

And, finally, joyriding art installation is a target for thieves and vandals.

Monday 28 June 2010

If You Ask Me, We Need More Donkeys

An interview with Stuart MacBride over at HorrorScope.

Ian Rankin says that he wants a more hands-on role in film/TV casting in the future.

An in-depth look at Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series.

A Sherlock Holmes conference - if you missed it, you need to wait 16 years for the next one.

Craig Russell is one of this year's Waterstone's Fresh Blood campaign.

A reminder of the book launch for Tony Black's new book LONG TIME DEAD, this Thursday.

A review of Alexander McCall Smith's DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARI CLUB, while the Botswanan MmegiOnline finds his author photo 'a bit jarring'.

Canongate and the University of Dundee create a living archive.

The cover of Allan Guthrie's SLAMMER wins an award. And the words inside should get one too, in my opinion.

The List reviews Alice Thompson's THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE.

Today brought a nice wee haul of books - Ken Bruen's SANCTUARY, Angela Choi's HELLO KITTY MUST DIE (which starts with the wonderful first line "It all started with my missing hymen") and REQUIEMS FOR THE DEPARTED a collection of short stories inspired by Irish mythology and featuring such luminaries as Ken Bruen, Stuart Neville, Tony Black, Adrian McKinty, Maxim Jakubowski and Brian McGilloway. It's edited by Gerard Brennan and Mike Stone and looks great. Ah, isn't it wonderful to have such a decision to make about what to read next?

And, finally, apparently submitting a crime novel for the Booker is seen as akin to "putting a donkey into the Grand National". Harrrrummmmmph. Bring on the donkeys, I say.

And here's a gratuitous picture of a couple of donkeys.


Thursday 24 June 2010

Reviews and Ranting

A couple of very nice reviews - firstly for Helen Fitzgerald's MY LAST CONFESSION, and another for Ray Banks' NO MORE HEROES.

A very detailed (maybe too detailed) and scholarly review of Louise Welsh's NAMING THE BONES (it's a pdf file). And Touching From A Distance looks at Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series, concluding that it would be a good vehicle for Kiefer Sutherland

And, finally, a question for those of you who blog. What do you do when you receive spam comments that pretend to be a proper comment? Do you leave them, or just delete them? I had a good laugh when, in a post entitled The Plumber Reviews... in which I talked about my Dad giving a book to the electrician who came to fix the lights in the hall, and saying he would maybe get him to review it for me, I got a comment from Daniel the plumber who said "Thank you so much for sharing it. There are number of disasters which can be avoided if you have good plumbing infrastructure in your house."

However, today I had a comment on a post about the Edinburgh Book Festival - a post which clearly stated that the events are in the future - that said "Wow, sounds like it was a lot of fun. Sad that I missed it. ...I was too emeshed in a new book, Blah Blah Blah, to go anywhere." Obviously, that wasn't what the book was called but I don't really want to give the title - for a couple of pretty obvious reasons. On following the link, I found myself at a page for an AuthorHouse book (I've only ever heard bad things about AuthorHouse). And the poor author had hired some 'marketing company' who have decided that the best way of earning their keep is to spam blogs. Now, I am all for championing authors - leave a comment on the blog, send me an e-mail, stand outside my window and dance naked - I look forward to and relish it all. If you've got a vaguely Scottish connection then you'll definitely find yourself promoted here at Badsville. If you're not Scottish but I read and enjoy your book then you'll at the very least get a reviewlet in my monthly reads summary.

But this person (I'm assuming she was from the marketing company, since it was a different name from the author) didn't bother even reading the post she was spamming, but tried to pretend that she had (and that was the bit that really bugged me - be an honest spammer at least). So, Unnamed Author, your marketing company sucks - all they did for your money was annoy me. And, by the way, the money would have been better spent on an editor. On the page I visited, the main character's name was spelled two different ways, the grammar is shocking, and the synopsis was utterly confusing. It was no better in the excerpt I read (I know - five minutes of my life I will never get back).It did make me laugh in places, but that wasn't the intention.

So I deleted the comment. What do you think? Is that OK?

And finally finally...the mysterious horse-boy of Aberdeen.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Book Launches and Big Lunches

Iain Banks and Neil Forsyth at the Dundee Literary Festival this week, while Chris Ewan is at the Lowdham Book Festival on July 1st. And I've mentioned this event before but here's another reminder for the launch of Tony Black's new Gus Dury book on Thursday 1st July. I just received this book and am itching to get stuck into it.

A report from Fife Council on their ladykillers events last week.

Alexander McCall Smith opens a cancer service in the Scottish Highlands.

STB's Weekly Blog looks at Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther novels, and a transcript of the NPR audio review of IF THE DEAD RISE NOT.

A review of Alice Thompson's THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE. This one sounds fascinating. And she'll be at Blackwells in Edinburgh on June 29th.

A long-missing painting of ghostly soldiers, once owned by Arthur Conan Doyle goes on sale this week.

Caroline Dunford will be appearing at Edinburgh's Portobello Library on June 30th.

And, finally, anyone for some f-f-f-f-fava beans? (Thanks (I think) to @stevemosby for the link).

Sunday 20 June 2010

Summery Sunday Summary

Some of my favourite books get some excellent reviews - first of all Russel McLean's THE GOOD SON, then Sea Minor really enjoys Ray Banks' DONKEY PUNCH, and Helen Fitzgerald's MY LAST CONFESSION is pronounced to be uncomfortable, witty and warm-hearted.

The Independent visits Alexander McCall Smith, while the Sunday Star Times reviews THE DOG WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, and Mattie Rawson enjoyed THE DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARI CLUB.

More on the Tony Black and Allan Guthrie double act.

Ian Rankin talks about books and music at the Galway Arts Festival on July 20th. And, talking of Ian Rankin, I'm not sure how old this interview is but it popped up in my google alert for Ian today.

Yet more reviews for Scottish crime fiction- Webbweaver calls Craig Robertson's RANDOM "deliciously disturbing", a reviewlet of Kate Atkinson's ONE GOOD TURN, Creative Loafing recommends Denise Mina as a great summer read, and an audiobook review of Peter May's THE RUNNER.

Lin Anderson becomes plot advisor for Brocken Spectre - a film based on the myth of the Big Grey Man of Ben McDhui, which is being made by a youth-run, non-profit, independent film company in the Scottish Highlands.

And finally, I'm a bit late with this one, and he's not Scottish, but here's an article on the demise of midlist authors, using as an example one of my favourite authors, Charlie Williams, and his brilliant Royston Blake series.

Friday 18 June 2010

Festivals, Fiction and Funeral Feasters

Lots of news on the Edinburgh Book Festival, of course. One of the exciting things they're doing this year is to hold events where authors read out short stories especially commissioned for the Festival, on the subject of 'ELSEWHERE'. They have quite a stellar line-up of authors involved, with a total of fifty altogether. Amongst the crime fiction related authors announced so far are:
Denise Mina

Karen Campbell

Doug Johnstone

Louise Welsh

Five of the stories are already up, including this one from Louise Welsh. It's not a crime story but it's brilliant and very touching. Amongst the other stories up so far there's a quirky crime fiction/science fiction one from Michel Faber here. I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out as the stories so far are all definitely worth a read.

Dear Scotland features an interview with the lovely Ray Banks, by the equally lovely Radgepacket lads.

NPR reviews Philip Kerr's IF THE DEAD RISE NOT. A mini review of Craig Russell's THE VALKYRIE'S SONG. And ShelfLove reviews the audio version of Kate Atkinson's CASE HISTORIES.

A few reviews for Ian Rankin, first of all The Fiction Garden with a reviewlet of the Jack Harvey thriller BLOOD HUNT, BooksPlease reviews SET IN DARKNESS, and Parry Sound Books reviews THE HANGING GARDEN.

Quintin Jardine thrilled his audience in Kelso, while Helen Fitzgerald and Karen Campbell star in Aberdeen. And a couple of upcoming events in Edinburgh for the diary - the marvellous Tony Black with the launch of LONG TIME DEAD on 1st July, and Alice Thompson launching THE EXISTENTIAL DETECTIVE on 29th June.

Well done Dr Brookmyre.

Finally, I received an e-mail from someone who is looking for a book. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

"I am trying to find the title of a book I read in the mid-1970’s. Mystery/romance set in current day Scotland. A young woman is sent to an estate associated with her family by an editor to find a manuscript that documents the relationship between Queen Victoria and John Brown. Estate inhabited by 2 brothers and a woman, all in their 20’s, all cousins to the protagonist. While she is there, there are several attempts on her life. The mystery is who is trying to kill her and does the Victoria/John Brown document exist. Old mysteries get uncovered including an attempt at arsenic poisoning, a faked death, and the fact that not one of the subjects is legitimate."

And, even more finally, the Grim Eater. Brilliant.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Crime Fiction at Edinburgh Book Festival

The programme for the Edinburgh International Book Festival is now available.

From an initial look through, the crime fiction related events are as follows:

Saturday 14th August - 18.45 - Lin Anderson and Aline Templeton - Dark mysteries from two of Tartan Noir’s finest

Sunday 15th August - 20.00 - Tess Gerritsen - Taking the thriller genre into chilling territory

Monday 16th August - 11.00 - Writing Workshop - A Web of Characters - with Lin Anderson
Monday 16th August - 14.00 - The Writing Business - with Lin Anderson and Caroline Dunford
Monday 16th August - 18.45 - Alex Gray and G J Moffat - Glasgow is the scene of two tense tales of city crime
Monday 16th August - 20.00 - Iain Banks

Tuesday 17th August - 11.00 - Writing Workshop - Creating A Fictional Series - with Caroline Dunford
Tuesday 17th August - 16.30 - Reggie Nadelson and Ian Rankin - Two crime writers discuss one brilliantly believable detective
Tuesday 17th August - 19.00 - Reginald Hill - Dalziel & Pascoe writer delivers a pacy psycho-thriller
Tuesday 17th August - 20.00 - Christopher Brookmyre
Tuesday 17th August - 20.30 - Tony Black and Gillian Galbraith - Edinburgh’s mean streets keep bringing out their dead

Thursday 19th August - 15.00 - Quintin Jardine - Edinburgh streets continue to be paved with bodies
Thursday 19th August - 18.30 - Ian Rankin

Friday 20th August - 11.00 - Writing Workshop with Aline Templeton - Crime Writing: Getting Away with Murder
Friday 20th August - 15.30 - Denise Mina - plus Amy Bloom and Alan Warner - with readings of short stories
Friday 20th August - 18.45 - Denise Mina and Stuart MacBride - Glasgow and the Granite City offer up perfect settings for blood-sodden books

Saturday 21st August - 15.30 - Declan Hughes and Stuart Neville - Modern crime novels given an Irish twist

Sunday 22nd August - 18.00 - Karen Campbell and Simon Lelic - Two novelists stretching the boundaries of crime fiction
Sunday 22nd August - 18.30 - Jasper Fforde - A Pythonesque world of glorious technicolour
Sunday 22nd August - 19.00 - Louise Doughty (with Blake Morrison)

Monday - 23rd August - 14.00 - The Writing Business - Making Crime Pay - with Aline Templeton, Lin Anderson and Caroline Dunford
Monday 23rd August - 18.30 - Ian Rankin

Tuesday 24th August - 18.00 - Craig Russell - Digging into Glasgow’s past for a new noir hero
Tuesday 24th August - 20.00 - Alexander McCall Smith - in conversation with Andrew Sachs

Wednesday 25th August - 15.00 - Mark Billingham - Award-winning crime writing from former stand-up comic
Wednesday 25th August - 16.00 - Shona MacLean and Shirley McKay - Two bright new voices in historical fiction
Wednesday 25th August - 19.30 - Alice Thompson (plus Paolo Giordano) - Haunted by a loved one who's gone missing

Thursday 26th August - 16.30 - M J Hyland - A profound and moving portrait of a singular man
Thursday 26th August - 18.45 - Alexander McCall Smith - Sampling the flavours of the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (about food)

Friday 27th August - 11.30 - Joanne Harris - An Audacious Thriller for the Internet Age
Friday 27th August - 13.30 - Alexander McCall Smith - New perspectives on the beloved author’s popular characters
Friday 27th August - 18.45 - Philip Kerr - A detective novel that crosses boundaries

Saturday 28th August - 12.00 - Alexander McCall Smith (for children)
Saturday 28th August - 18.30 - Alexander McCall Smith
Saturday 28th August - 18.45 - Michael Ridpath and Martin Walker - Exposing Fictional Scams in a Corrupt Modern France

Monday 30th August - 10.15 - Louise Welsh - Glasgow writer with a tale of literature, sex and black magic
Monday 30th August - 15.00 - Ian Rankin (talking to Antonia Fraser about her relationship with Harold Pinter)
Monday 30th August - 16.30 - Frederick Forsyth - The war on drugs just got bookish

Wednesday 16 June 2010

My Dad Reviews...The Last Temptation - Val McDermid

Embarrassingly, I was caught singing in the park this morning. I was over for a walk at 7am, ipod on, The Cramps' HUMAN FLY making my ears feel joyous. So I started to sing in my best Lux Interior voice: 'Well I'm a human fly, It's spelt F-L-Y, And I say buzz, buzz, buzz, and it's just because. I'm a human fly and I don't know why, I got ninety six tears in my ninety six eyes.' And then I couldn't resist, I started to do the chicken strut psychobilly style. And then I rounded a big hedge. And came face to face with two elderly gents out walking their dogs.

Anyway, on to the review. My Dad is on a real Val McDermid kick at the moment - watch out Caro Ramsay, your position as my Dad's favourite Scottish author may have been usurped. First of all, the usual reminder of his tastes:

DISLIKES: romance, books that have too much swearing in - I heard a lot of harrumphing when he was reading OLD DOGS. 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.

Publisher: St Martins
Published: 2003
First Lines: '
Blue is one colour the Danube never manages. Slate-grey, muddy brown, dirty rust, sweat-stained khaki; all of those and most of the intermediate shades sabotage the dreams of any romantic who stands on her banks.'

As you can see, most of the action takes place in Germany. The book has two threads involving Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan.Carol is working undercover, and enlists the aid of Tony to give her support. However he gets embroiled in profiling for a German police woman and her Dutch colleague the murderer of a number of psychiatrists.

The case involving Carol is to gather evidence on a German trafficker of people, drugs, and anything he thinks will make him a profit. This is a story that I enjoyed reading, it is rather involved and you will be pleased to hear that Tony and Carol almost manage to get rid of their frustrations.

The characters of Petra, the German girl, and Marijka, the Dutch girl are very well described and likeable. The criminals are scary and once again very well written. The story was well told in a logical fashion and very enjoyable. The descriptions of the places were in keeping with what I remember of Cologne, the only Large city that I visited when in Germany (apart from Hanover that is, and travelling through Hamburg).

There you go - don't say that you don't get good value from my Dad's reviews - not only crime fiction but tales of my Dad's travels too (I did warn you not to let him anywhere near a map, didn't I? It should further be noted that the only German my Dad speaks is 'Zwei Bier bitte."

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Mackerels to the Shovel

Tim reminds me that the Edinburgh Book Festival programme is announced on Thursday (thanks Tim!).

L'Express parle avec Philip Kerr. Which means that I get to experience the joys of Babelfish again, which tells me that "Of book in book, one will have known all during this attractive plunged in the middle of the system national-Socialist: rise of the Nazism, preparation of the OJ of Berlin, agreements of Munich and the Night of crystal, Heydrich, Himmler and Goering, Berlin in ruin and occupied Vienna, but also of voluptuous prostitutes, mackerels to the shovel, the mafiosi, the spies, the dispensers of justice… and Bernhard Gunther, of course." Mackerels to the shovel? How lovely. Sadly, I do believe it means, instead "pimps by the shedload" Much less intriguing.

Karen Campbell's SHADOWPLAY is Books From Scotland's Book of the Month. Nice one Karen!

Earth Times looks at a new book about the locations that inspired Sherlock Holmes.

Louise Welsh will be chatting to Laura Marney (author of the wonderful NOBODY LOVES A GINGER BABY) on 17th September

The always excellent Barry Forshaw reviews Christopher Brookmyre's PANDAEMONIUM, while Mystica reviews Peter Turnbull's INFORMED CONSENT and Brandy Purdy looks at Louise Welsh's TAMBURLAINE MUST DIE.

And the lovely Lisa-Marie Ferla, guest-posting over at Do Some Damage has very nice things to say about the brilliant Helen Fitzgerald, as well as some old dog who is in great company. Thank you Lis.

Monday 14 June 2010

National Crime Fiction Week

It's National Crime Fiction Week from 14th to 20th June. Here are the crime fiction events with a Scottish connection. Contact details at the site.

Monday - 14th June

7.00 pm
Alex Gray at Falkirk Library, Hope Street, Falkirk, FK1 5AU
Tickets £2, available from Falkirk Council Libraries.
7.30 pm
'Lady Killers' - Aline Templeton Glenwood Library, Glenrothes, Fife
Tickets cost £2.50 (£2 for super and premier fifestyle cardholders) which includes refreshments. Booking advisable.

7.30 pm

Book Group Social Evening: Read any book in the series by Jo Nesbø and join in our evening discussion at the Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB; (their blog)
Tickets are £2 (includes refreshments), available from Carnegie Library.

Tuesday - 15th June

2.00 pm
Round Old Ayr Crime Walk Led by Tom Barclay: Meet at the Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB; (their blog)
Come with local history librarian Tom Barclay on a walking tour of town centre sites associated with the rebels, smugglers, body-snatchers, common criminals and thief-takers who have all played dramatic parts in the town's colourful past.
Tickets are £2 (includes refreshments), available from Carnegie Library.
7.00 pm
G J Moffat will discuss his writing, read from his new thriller Fallout and answer questions from the audience at the Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB
For information about ticket pricing, and to book, please contact Carnegie Library.

7.30 pm

Tony Black, Karen Campbell and Helen Fitzgerald at Soutar Theatre, AK Bell Library, York Place, Perth, PH2 8EP
Tickets costing £5.00 are available from the AK Bell Library. Booking is advisable.

Wednesday - 16th June

6.00 pm
Quintin Jardine, Alex Dryden and Barbara Nadel at Idea Store, Canary Wharf, Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5RB
Capital Crimes - Crime scene - books from around the World
No need to book.

7.00 pm

Murder Mystery Night 'A Body in the Library' at Troon Library, 5 South Beach, Troon, KA10 6EF; (their blog)
Written by members of Ayr Writers' Club and performed by willing volunteers.
Tickets £3 (including refreshments), available from Troon Library.

7.30 pm

'Lady Killers' - Karen Campbell Glenwood Library, Glenrothes, Fife
Tickets cost £2.50 (£2 for super and premier fifestyle cardholders) which includes refreshments. Booking advisable.

Thursday - 17th June

7.00 pm
Round Old Ayr Crime Walk Led by Tom Barclay: Meet at the Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB; (their blog)
Come with local history librarian Tom Barclay on a walking tour of town centre sites associated with the rebels, smugglers, body-snatchers, common criminals and thief-takers who have all played dramatic parts in the town's colourful past.
Tickets are £2 (includes refreshments), available from Carnegie Library.
7.30 pm
'Lady Killers' - Gillian Galbraith Glenwood Library, Glenrothes, Fife
Tickets cost £2.50 (£2 for super and premier fifestyle cardholders) which includes refreshments. Booking advisable.

Friday - 18th June

7.00 pm
Murder Mystery Night 'A Body in the Library' at Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB; (their blog)
Written by members of Ayr Writers' Club and performed by the staff of Carnegie Library.
Tickets are £3 (includes refreshments), available from Carnegie Library.

Saturday 19th June

10.00 am - 4.00 pm
Crime writing workshop with Sue Walker Guildford Library, 77 North Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4AL
How to write a crime novel in one day. Investigative television journalist and novelist Sue Walker explains what makes a good crime story and how to keep your readers hooked and guessing from gripping opening to breathtaking denouement. Be prepared to undertake writing exercises. Suitable for everyone.
Tickets £15 (not including lunch) available six weeks before the event from Guildford Library in person or by e-mail or telephone.

2.30 pm - 4.00 pm
'Help ma Bob - there's been a MURDER!' - Forensic Science Crafts for Kids at at Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr, KA8 8EB; (their blog)
Qualify as a South Ayrshire Crime Scene Investigator and get your badge to prove it. Discover how CSI investigators interpret paper chromatography, dust for fingerprints, handwriting analysis and blood splatter evidence. Suitable for ages 8 - 11 years
Entry is FREE, but booking is essential - sign up at Carnegie Library before the event.

Sunday 13 June 2010

A Slew of News, Reviews and Interviews

Dear Scotland has an interesting interview with Christopher Brookmyre. And there's a fun one with Denise Mina at Powells Books, and a conversation with Alexander McCall Smith at The Atlantic. And Ian Rankin on youtube as part of the Edinburgh Reads programme.

Karen Campbell's SHADOWPLAY gets a nice - and well-deserved - review in The Times. And AFTER THE FIRE gets a rave review over at Eurocrime.

Stuart MacBride's DARK BLOOD is reviewed in the Huddersfield Examiner. Talking of Stuart MacBride he's appearing with Mark Billingham in Manchester onAugust 19th.

The Curious Book Fans Blog very much enjoyed Val McDermid's FEVER OF THE BONE. And Falcata Times loved Craig Robertson's RANDOM.

The Quintin Jardine literary tour around Edinburgh.

The Independent looks at the early years of Sherlock Holmes.

Some Scottish authors on the shortlists for the Barry awards. Congratulations to everyone on the lists.

And, finally, thank you to Library Journal and Shelf Awareness. Goodness me. I'm totally stunned, and well chuffed. What a lovely weekend. In celebration, we bought tickets to see Grinderman at the Barrowlands in September and the very funny Micky Flanagan at the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Life is good.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Hotels, heckles and hamsters...oh, and some crime fiction

This sounds great - Writing Your Crime Novel - Seven Steps To Success - a crime writing workshop hosted by Tony Black with a special guest appearance from Allan Guthrie. I wonder if he'll be doing his usual turn with the... errrr...self-pleasuring hamster (it's a true story - ask him when you see him)

Quintin Jardine at Kelso Library on June 10th talking about his new book, RUSH OF BLOOD (which, I suppose, brings us back to that hamster).

Building plans for Arthur Conan Doyle's former home. Wouldn't it be good to have it developed as a themed hotel?

Aly Monroe on the Philip Kerr and Alan Massie Reviewgate.

I'm not convinced that Denise Mina and Allan Guthrie will be talking about the crisis in Sudan (despite what the article seems to suggest), but I'm sure they'll be talking about writing at the Nairn Book and Arts Festival this weekend.

For those who like to keep up with what's happening at the various Edinburgh Festivals, there's a Festival Blog.

Eurocrime reviews Alex Gray's FIVE WAYS TO KILL A MAN.

And, finally, this is what always happens to my luggage too.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

What I Read in April and May

Yes, I'm a tad behind in posting my monthly reads, due to my trip to Alaska. However, better late than never. Unlike previous themed months, most of April and May was taken up with preparing for my CrimeFest panels.

Published: 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Setting: Aberystwyth, Wales and Hughesovka, Russia
Protagonist: Louie Knight
Series?: 5th
First Lines: ' For a while He just sat there and hovered, taking it one step at a time.'
Welsh PI Louie Knight is sitting in his office one sweltering August morning when a Russian wearing a curator's uniform - specifically the Museum of Our Forefathers' Suffering in Hughesovka - walks in and puts a sock on his desk. The Russian introduces himself as Uncle Vanya and tells Louie the strange, sad tale of his daughter Ninotchka and her imaginary friend Gethsemane Walters. Oh, and the sock belonged to Yuri Gagarin. So far, so normal. Suffice to say, it just gets stranger from there in a tale of snuff philatelists, Transylvanian castles, and spinning wheel salesmen. Quirky, gothic and absurd. Louie Knight is an engaging hero, and one who you can't help but like. Malcolm Pryce's alternate universe Aberystwyth is peopled with larger than life characters such as Sospan the ice-cream selling philosopher, Louie's dad Eeyore (who is in charge of donkey rides along the prom) and soap opera star Rwpert Valentino.

IN A LONELY PLACE - Dorothy B Hughes
Published: 2010 (originally 1947)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Setting: Los Angeles
Protagonist: Dix Steele
Series?: Standalone
First Lines: 'It was good standing there on the promontory overlooking the evening sea, the fog lifting itself like gauzy veils to touch his face.'
Wartime pilot Dix Steele is living in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time stalking women at night (not a spoiler - you find that out on the first page). He renews his friendship with an old airforce pal - who has since become a policeman, and who is investigating a series of brutal murders. Dix falls in love (or perhaps falls in obsession would be a better description) with Laurel Grey, a woman who lives in his apartment building. The book is extremely well told from the point of view of the misogynistic and thoroughly nasty Dix. A creepy psychological thriller. This is one case where I love the film (starring Humphrey Bogart) as much as the book even though they are totally different.

Published: 2001
Publisher: Piatkus (but being re-released by Busted Flush very soon!)
Setting: Morecambe
Protagonist: Charlie Fox
Series?: 1st
First Lines: 'I suppose I ought to state for the record that I don't make a habit of frequenting places like the New Adelphi Club, which is where this whole sorry mess began.'
In this first book in the Charlie Fox series, Charlie is teaching self-defence to vulnerable women. She's been thrown out of the army and is still in some distress about what happened to her there - although you would never know that from the hard shell she encases herself in. When Charlie agrees to accompany a friend to the New Adelphi Club she inadvertently becomes involved in the murder of Susie Hollins - a girl who Charlie had a bit of a set-to with in the Club, and who is later found murdered. Charlie is a wonderful, multi-faceted character. As the book (and, indeed, the series) progresses, we gradually find out about Charlie and her past and what has made her the person she is. She prefers to use her wit and brains to get herself out of awkward situations, but she's more than capable of using any means or weapon that presents itself. I first read this book when it was published in 2001. It's long been nigh on impossible to get hold of, but I'm pleased to say that it's now back out thanks to the lovely people at Busted Flush Press.

Published: 2008
Publisher: Allison and Busby
Setting: New York
Protagonist: Charlie Fox
Series?: 7th
First Lines: 'I was running when I saw my father kill himself.'
Six books later and Charlie is now living in New York, working for an exclusive close-protection agency, in a relationship, and recovering from a gunshot wound. She's working out, trying to prove she's back to full fitness, when she sees her father's face on the news, over the headline 'Disgraced British Doctor Faces Questions'. What follows is a fast-paced, high-action thriller, but one in which we also get to see more of the personal side of Charlie, and her relationships with her partner and her parents. Charlie has grown a lot since the days of KILLER INSTINCT and it was fascinating to read the two books back to back. There's also a real 'oh my god' moment at the end of the book that has me itching to get the next one in the series.

Published: 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books
Setting: Las Vegas
Protagonist: Charlie Howard
Series?: 3rd
First Lines: 'Stealing a man's wallet is easier than you might think.'
Crime-writing thief Charlie Howard is having a not entirely enjoyable holiday in Las Vegas. He's lost at poker, and Victoria - his literary agent - is under the spell of the Fifty-Fifty Casino's superstar magician and illusionist, Josh Masters. Charlie's a bit miffed, not to mention a tad jealous. So he decides to pick Josh Masters' pocket and steal his wallet. And then use his keycard to break into his room. Which turns out to be an unwise move - mostly due to the nasty surprise he finds in the bathroom. This series just gets better and better with each book. It's funny, entertaining, exceedingly well-plotted and full of fascinating atmosphere. Charlie is a great character - Raffles meets Cary Grant meets The Saint meets Raymond Chandler. He's disarming, has his own - slightly offbeat - moral code, and is definitely someone you would want on your side. Of course, he's just as liable to get you into trouble as out of it - but he's so charming you wouldn't care. In fact, you'd relish the fact.

BONE IDLE - Suzette Hill
Published: 2009
Publisher: Constable and Robinson
Setting: 1950s Surrey
Protagonist: Reverend Francis Oughterard
Series?: 3rd
First Lines: 'When Detective Sergeant Sidney Samson appeared on my doorstep to announce the reopening of the Elizabeth Fotherington murder enquiry I thought at first that I was hallucinating.'
This one was read for my CrimeFest Last Laugh Award panel. The Reverend Francis Oughterard is being blackmailed and forced to steal a valuable prancing pig figurine. The reason he's being blackmailed is that he was previously involved in the accidental murder of a parishioner. Oughterard's cat - Maurice, and his dog - Bouncer, are called upon to save their master from jail. Told from the alternating points of view of the vicar, Maurice and Bouncer, this is one for cosy lovers. My Mum would approve.

Published: 2009
Setting: Mostly a French hotel
Protagonist: Elsie Thirkettle and Ethelred Tressider
Series?: 2nd
First Lines: 'The only strange thing about my telephone conversation with Ethelred was that he had been dead for almost a year.'
Ethelred Tressider is a crime fiction writer and Elsie Thirkettle is his agent. At the start of the book Elsie is house-sitting for the missing-declared-dead-but-only-by-Elsie Ethelred. She's had the bright idea of flushing him out by cancelling his credit cards. It works - Ethelred calls from a hotel in France which has been hosting a philatelists' convention. Elsie travels to France to bring him back, but they are hindered by the murder of one of the attendees. Told in alternating chapters by Elsie and Ethelred there's a lot of banter between the two. Another one which I will be recommending to my Mum.

Published: 2009
Publisher: Penguin
Setting: UK
Protagonist: David Raker
Series?: 1st
First Lines: 'Sometimes, towards the end, she would wake me by tugging at the cusp of my shirt, her eyes moving like marbles in a jar, her voice begging me to pull her to the surface.'
A mother sees her son in the street - six years after he went missing, and a year after he apparently died in a car crash. Missing-persons investigator - a man with his own troubles - agrees to look for him. A fast-paced thriller unlike my normal fare. I read this for a book discussion and didn't think I would enjoy it. As it is, I'm torn. It's a violent (sometimes too graphic) and creepy tale which has to outdo itself in gruesomeness as it progresses, but it's definitely a page turner and I wanted to see how it turned out. I'd definitely try another one by the author, but only if he turned the violence down a few notches and the characterisation up.

In June I'm catching up on a few things I've been looking forward to reading - for Helen, likely reads are:
Zygmunt Miloszewski - ENTANGLEMENT
Tonino Benaquista - BADFELLAS
Cathi Unsworth - BAD PENNY BLUES

Monday 7 June 2010

Making Hay

Colin Bateman's absolutely right - it's no crime to be funny.

The Nairn Book and Arts Festival is on until 13th June.

How to get Ian Rankin on your iPhone. And The Daily Kos with a feature on Ian.

Alexander McCall Smith on the Sky Arts Book Show, talking to Minnesota Public Radio about his latest book, and being asked awkward questions by the Guardian at the Hay Festival.

Talking of the Hay Festival, Val McDermid is given a tenner to visit a second-hand bookshop, and here she is on the Sky Arts Book Show.

A review of Allan Guthrie's SLAMMER, in which the reviewer praises Allan for "grossing me out yet again."

Iain Banks on Israel, being environmentally friendly and refusing an OBE.

Thursday 3 June 2010

I WILL Catch Up Eventually

Karen Campbell's Anna Cameron series could be coming to TV and she wants it to be more like The Wire than Taggart.

A review of Philip Kerr's IF THE DEAD RISE NOT and more on Reviewgate.

There's an extra-special Rebus Tour in Edinburgh this Friday to mark the 10th Anniversary of the tour and to raise money for charity. Ian Rankin points out on Twitter that he's not actually leading the tour. It looks from the article as though he will be in the pub afterwards though to talk to fans. And Maxine over at Petrona reviews Ian Rankin's THE COMPLAINTS.

And in Fife, as part of National Crime Fiction Week, you can meet Aline Templeton, Karen Campbell and Gillian Galbraith.

I'm still catching up with my favourite blogs after Alaska, so here's a great post on modern noir from Heath Lowrance over at Psycho-Noir. And Russel McLean has a round-up of some very mouthwatering books for the summer at Crime Scene Scotland. Colin Cotterill is one of the funniest men on the planet, and here are two posts over at International Crime Authors to read if you are feeling any shade of blue.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

The Plumber Reviews...

My Dad has now decided to open my blog up further on the reviewing front. In the comments section of the previous post he says "The Mermaids Singing I passed on to the Electrician who came to fit a new light in the hall. 'Oh!' he said 'I haven't read that one, I like Val McDermid' so maybe I will get him to do a review sometime." So there you go. That blog feature will no longer be called My Dad Reviews, but My Dad's Electrician Reviews.

A review of Alexander McCall Smith's No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. And he's appearing at the Vancouver International Writers' Festival in August.

Alex Gray talks to the Glasgow Herald about her health. While Suite 101 reviews GLASGOW KISS.

Louise Welsh is appearing at the Mitchell Library on 17th June as part of Refugee Week.

A few reviews for this round-up - Pat McIntosh's HARPER'S QUINE, Alexander McCall Smith's DOUBLE COMFORT SAFARI CLUB, and Lin Anderson's FINAL CUT and a lovely review of OLD DOGS over at Crimesquad. Thank you guys!

Whoops - Philip Kerr bites back after receiving bad reviews from Scottish writer Allan Massie. And here he is talking to German TV about his books.

And finally, a report from Aberdeen's Word Festival. And on a (fruitless) search of the Internet for William McIlvanney's Frankenstein's monster meets drunk Glaswegian poem, I found this interesting article on the roots of Scottish noir.