Friday 18 April 2014

"A thief or thieves ate a piece of chocolate cake"

Some writers get all the fun: Allan Guthrie and Denise Mina in Trinidad and Tobago. It's a hard life. Although, if you prefer, you could just relax at home with a tribute to Ian Rankin - the Rebus Rob Roy cocktail. Although...whisky, cherry liqueur, martini and lager? When I was five and my parents had a New Year's Eve party, I apparently got up early on New Year's Day, quietly went downstairs to a scene of apocalyptic devastation, ate a few soggy crisps and dried out cheese, pineapple and pickled onion on sticks and poured a few dregs into a glass and downed them. I think I invented the Rebus Rob Roy over 45 years ago. I felt awfully sick. But that might have been the cheese, pineapple and pickled onions. /anyway, I wonder if Ian drank a Rebus Rob Roy in honour of Bonham's auction of THE FLOOD. And I wonder how much it ended up going for.

And, talking about crime fiction authors in exciting places, Alexander McCall Smith goes to the opening of a meerkat enclosure.  And a night out with Irvine Welsh and the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Charles Cumming on the cost of train tickets to Scotland for Edinburgh Spy Week.And on spying and writing.

Louise Welsh talks about all sorts of things, including the first in her dystopian crime thriller trilogy A LOVELY WAY TO BURN. And more from Louise here.And a review in the Independent.

More reviews - this time for Val McDermid's re-working of NORTHANGER ABBEY.And another one from girlwitherheadinabook.

Caro Ramsay on inventing an island.

Finally, man hijacks plane with a Toblerone. About as much use as a chocolate sword. And, in other sweet-toothed crime, methinks drugs were involved somewhere along the line.

Enjoy your Easter eggs, dear Reader.

Friday 4 April 2014

"We want to tax kittens"

No post last week, since I spent the week on a training course called Creative Reading? Why Not! in Lublin, Poland, where I met a lovely group of people from all over Europe, learned to juggle, went out and about in the streets of Lublin asking complete strangers to swap something they owned for a banana and ate far too many dumplings. Lovely.

First of all, the lovely people at Saraband - a smashing independent publisher based in Scotland - sent me debut novel FALLING FAST by Neil Broadfoot, which is due out in May. FALLING FAST is a deliciously twisty thriller that never lets up the pace.Edinburgh journalist, Doug McGregor, is on the trail of a particularly nasty ex-con - a convicted rapist who has been exposed for who he is and forced to go on the run. Meanwhile Doug's pal - and fount of much useful information - DS Susie Drummond is dealing with the case of a politician's daughter who has, apparently, killed herself by jumping from the Scott Monument. Thrills, spills, chills and kills. Good stuff.

Now, on to the Scottish crime fiction round-up. I'm guessing we're going to get quite a few Independence or not posts in the run up to the Referendum in September, so here are a couple to be going on with. Firstly, Lin Anderson on why English readers don't need independence from Scottish writers.And, then there's the always funny Douglas Lindsay whose Dr Ian Shackleton - senior lecturer at the Glasgow School of Politics and Football - is blogging for the Herald. Do read his first column. It's totally brilliant, but be aware that it is Mr Lindsay and not me who is responsible for images left in your brain of a bare chested Putin-esque Nick Clegg or Alex Salmond "swinging butt-naked on a wrecking ball." Cheers for that, Douglas.

Several pieces of Sherlock Holmes news today. More about the Conan Doyle home being turned into a school, and the newly discovered (on April 1st) Sherlock Holmes story. Then there's the strange connection between germs and Sherlock Holmes, a new exhibition in Sidmouth, and a slew of amateur sleuths caused by Sherlock.

You know you've arrived when your portrait is in a gallery. Ian Rankin looks happier to be outside the portrait than he does in it. And, if that's supposed to be Val, I doubt she's going to be best chuffed.

If you're in New Zealand, you can win an evening with Alexander McCall Smith.

An interview with my son Chris Ewan (grandma is proud, young Christopher)  about his new thriller Dead Line.

Finally - man breaks into a business using a flower pot, cooks macaroni cheese and passes out.

Friday 14 March 2014

Limp Allegations?

Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Stuart MacBride reveal their favourite books as children.

And a review of Stuart MacBride's A SONG FOR THE DYING, which, apparently, is not for those of delicate sensibilities. Heavens to Betsy.

Alexander McCall Smith is in Australia and talking about all sorts of things ,

Welcome home, Val McDermid.

While it pains me to link to the Daily Fail, I couldn't resist this tale of an Irvine Welsh fan with Trainspotting tattoos. Talking of Irvine Welsh, he unleashes some working class anger on the BAFTAs and is announced as Patron of Screen Education Edinburgh.

For those who are technically minded, a Sherlock Holmes interactive adventure.

Here's a lovely photography project called 100 Weeks of Scotland which, this week, features Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Sara Sheridan.

A great review for Michael Malone's BLOOD TEARS from EuroCrime. Nice one, our Michael.

A number of Scotland's literati, crime writers amongst them, oppose a new concrete confection in Edinburgh.

Just in time to let you know that Alex Gray will be launching her new book - THE BIRD THAT DID NOT SING - in Newton Mearns this evening. And here's a review of it from Crime Fiction Lover. For those who wonder where the title comes from, here's an explanation of Glasgow's Coat of Arms. At least, I assume that's where the title comes from. Perhaps Alex once had a budgie with a broken wing.

Two linked (in a bizarre way) news items, man enhances own artwork. I do love the 'limp allegations" comment from the lawyer. Clearly not the "rigid feminine pleasure device" of this article.

Finally, if you suffer from coulrophobia, do not click on this link. I have to say that the guy standing by the police van looks decidedly miserable, despite his painted on smile.

Friday 7 March 2014

"He was not dead, long story short"

Jose Ignacio Escribano over at The Game's Afoot reviews STRANGE LOYALTIES by William McIlvanney, The Spectator reviews Stuart MacBride's A SONG FOR THE DYING, the New York Times enjoys Denise Mina's THE RED ROAD and The Skinny reviews Christopher Brookmyre's BEDLAM.

Lots of Scotland's criminal luminaries (fictional, mostly) will be appearing at the Cromarty Crime and Thrillers Weekend between 25th and 27th April, including Ian Rankin, Lin Anderson, Alex Gray and Stuart MacBride, along with Ann Cleeves.

More appearances: first of all Val McDermid at the International Women's Festival in Dundee, and Denise Mina in Milwaukee on March 8th.

Here are Irvine Welsh's favourite albums. And what Ian Rankin has learned about writing.

The Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year award is now open for submissions.

The Sherlockians assess Benedict Cumberbatch. Or, as my man Ewan's mother misnamed him...Bernadette Cumberbitch.

Omnimystery News has a conversation with Alan Jones, author of Glasgow-set novel The Cabinetmaker. And I think Alan has set the standard for book launches: cabinet making and dancing. I hope you're taking notes, Michael Malone. I'm expecting a fancy set of drawers (of the wooden kind) and an Argentinian Tango at this.

This is my worst nightmare.

Finally, when I was a girl, Pippa Dee parties were never like this...

Thursday 27 February 2014

Is that a cucumber in your pocket or are you etc etc?

We've been finalising the programme for Crimefest in the last couple of weeks. So my job - trying to sort out panels for around 140 authors - is done. Panel assignments have mostly been sent to moderators and panellists, and now I just have to fine tune following the inevitable "Sorry, I can't make that date" e-mails. It's a great division of labour amongst the three co-hosts. Adrian does all the hard work, Myles is the technical genius, and I get the fun. The programme will soon be up online here. Looking forward to seeing some of you there!

Talking of programmes, the schedule for Glasgow's Aye Write is now available. Lots of good crime fiction related stuff, including a tribute to Iain Banks, Watching The Detectives: Serial Crime with Denise Mina, Sophie Hannah and Alex Gray, (Sophie Hannah also has an event called The Poetry of Sex which looks really good - her poetry is great fun and what's not to love about sex? Errrr...not sure that came out right...). Allan Massie and David Ashton talk about historical crime and Christopher Brookmyre pairs up with Barry Phillips in an event to talk about - amongst other things I'm sure - his science fiction thriller BEDLAM (if you go, do ask him about the roast chicken/Borders bookshop story). William McIlvanney, the Godfather of Tartan Noir will be speaking, and Stuart MacBride and Gordon Ferris have an event called Dark, Dark Noir. Louise Welsh talks about her new book A LOVELY WAY TO BURN, a thriller set in a dystopian future, and the first in a trilogy and Val McDermid is in conversation with comedian Susan Calman in what is sure to be a fun event. And I'm not sure if this is a crime novel or not, but Natalie Haynes will be talking about her new novel THE AMBER FURY, which sounds brilliant.

And, finally, an event about the fabulous 21 Revolutions book from Glasgow Women's Library.  I'm really excited to have a story in this gorgeous book, alongside such luminaries as Karen Campbell, Helen Fitzgerald, Zoe Strachan, Louise Welsh, Denise Mina, Laura Marney, A L Kennedy, Anne Donovan...The list of gloriousness is endless. Plus me. Unusually for me, mine is not a crime story, but a story about a suffragette on hunger strike in Glasgow's Duke Street prison. You can hear it here if remotely interested.

And now the non-festival news. Firstly, the ideal gift for the Sherlock Holmes fan in your life.And an article on Conan Doyle in fact and fiction. Mystery File reviews John Buchan's THE THREE HOSTAGES, and a review of Alexander McCall Smith's THE MINOR ADJUSTMENT BEAUTY SALON, who is also introducing Precious Ramotswe to younger readers.

A couple of nominations for Irvine Welsh's FILTH at the Empire film awards.

And, finally, I love the bloke's reaction to being arrested

Friday 21 February 2014

So THAT'S where my snake went...

 A short, sharp summary this week...

Fancy a trip to a Sherlock Holmes Theme Park? And more Sherlock Holmes - this time in court. Talking of Holmes, I have no idea why, but David Cameron thinks Conan Doyle's going to help him in the fight against Scottish independence. Really, Dave? 

Iain Banks' final book is to come out in 2015. Here's an interview with Irvine Welsh about Filth.

Alexander McCall Smith talks about beginnings. And the jet-setting Smith will be in Australia in March.

A Q&A with Aline Templeton.

An article on how difficult it is for authors to get rid of fictional heroes, including Ian Rankin's Rebus and Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther. And here's Ian Rankin being interviewed by Craig Ferguson.

Craig Russell on his characters' cars. And Val McDermid with her finger on the pulse.

Yes, I should say it is...

And, finally, Winnie The Pooh apparently lives up to his name. You might want to save this until after dinner.

Have a lovely weekend, dear Reader.

Friday 14 February 2014

Roses Are Red...

As if you hadn't already realised,  we in Scotland love our crime fiction. I'm not one of the top 20, but thank you to those who borrowed OLD DOGS I got a nice wee PLR payment and treated myself to lunch out. Well, it was a sandwich from Greggs, but, still...

On to the round-up...

First off, a book I missed out from last week's post on Scottish crime fiction to look out for: Michael Malone's THE GUILLOTINE CHOICE, due out in March - set on the Devil's Island penal Colony. Looks great, our Michael!

Watch out for Quintin Jardine in a Scottish library near you over the next few weeks.

This week, it was Murder on the London-Edinburgh Express for Ian Rankin.

A new book about John Buchan and his appointment as Governor General of Canada. And, talking of John Buchan, Col's Criminal Library reviews THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS.

Here's a review of Peter May's ENTRY ISLAND, set in Quebec;

A review of the film version of Irvine Welsh's FILTH, and here's a deleted scene featuring the author himself. And Welsh talks about FILTH here, as well as how annoyed he would be if he was English. And how about a SKAGBOYS TV series?

If you're in Newcastle on February 20th, you might want to drop in on Val McDermid in conversation with Denise Mina and Louise Welsh.And Christopher Brookmyre brings BEDLAM to Newton Mearns.

A very British tiff over the re-naming of a lake to honour Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with supporters enjoying a little bit of Morris dancing.

Finally, Happy Valentine's Day from Edinburgh city police.

Friday 7 February 2014

My Life Of Crime

This week, I have been spending my time in court. But fear not, I have not been up to anything untoward (at least, not any more untoward that usual). Au contraire, dear reader. I was being a pillar of the community, doing jury service. I don't think I have ever been so bored in my puff. I turned up five days running (it was the days that were running, not your humble, chubby correspondent with the dodgy knee, I hasten to add) and did very little other than sit around and teach myself Polish. Were I to write a legal thriller (in this case, a veritable oxymoron) about my experience, it would read thusly:

Chapter 1: Day 1: Sat around for five hours waiting for someone to find the defendant. Learned some Polish. Defendant remained unfound. Sixty potential jurors who had bothered to turn up went home a tad miffed.

Chapter 2: Day 2: Sat around for four hours. An actual case started. 15 jurors' names were pulled out of a hat. Me and 44 other jurors were not pulled out of the hat but still had to sit around for a while just in case (just in case of what, I am not quite sure). Learned some more Polish. 45 potential jurors went away a tad miffed.

Chapter 3: Day 3: Presence not required. Went to work unmiffed. Did not learn any Polish.

Chapter 4: Day 4: Sat around for 5 and a half hours, with various periods of huge excitement, interspersed with learning some Polish. Huge excitement number 1: a case was announced. 60 potential jurors waited with bated breath for their names to be pulled out of the hat. Defendant took one look at the faces of 60 people with bated breath and promptly pleaded guilty. Huge excitement number 2: news of another case was rumbling through the court. A defendant came and sat next to me. I moved away. Not because he was a defendant, but because he had bathed that morning in a vat of hideous 1980s aftershave and I felt quite nauseous. Huge excitement number 3: all jurors were taken to a room in the basement (presumably so they could fumigate the court room of Old Spice). The coffee machine was not working. Huge excitement number 4: The coffee machine was fixed, approximately 20 seconds before someone remembered us and 60 jurors were sent away a tad miffed and with caffeine withdrawal.

Chapter 5: Day 5: Sat around for 2 and a half hours, tantalised by tales of 3 potential cases. Learned some Polish (irregular verbs). The 3 potential cases melted away into nothingness and 60 potential jurors were sent away rejoicing that the dullest, most frustrating week of their lives was over.

Epilogue: Polish is very, very difficult. Might need several more periods of jury service to get my tongue around even the most basic phrases. Very aptly, for example, 'stop, thief!' Or, as we say in Polish 'zatrzymać złodzieja!'
Some forthcoming Scottish crime fiction books to look forward to:
James Oswald's THE HANGMAN'S SONG in February
Danielle Ramsay's BLIND ALLEY in February 
M C Beaton's DEATH OF A POLICEMAN in February
Louise Welsh's A LOVELY WAY TO BURN in March
Val McDermid's NORTHANGER ABBEY in March
Lin Anderson's THE CASE OF THE BLACK PEARL in March
Philip Kerr's WINTER HORSES in March
Tony Black's THE INGLORIOUS DEAD in March
Gillian Galbraith's THE GOOD PRIEST in April
Sara Sheridan's ENGLAND EXPECTS in April
Gordon Ferris' GALLOWGLASS in April
Craig Robertson's THE LAST REFUGE in May 
Doug Johnstone's THE DEAD BEAT in May
Caro Ramsay's THE NIGHT HUNTER in July
Catriona McPherson's THE REEK OF RED HERRINGS in July
Malcolm Mackay's THE NIGHT THE RICH MEN BURNED in August

Nomm nomm. And, in the meantime, why not treat your kindle to some free Allan Guthrie

And now, for a wee Scottish crime fiction round-up.

A review of Ian Rankin's SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE which has put The Saints Are Coming by The Skids firmly in my head. Which, by the way, is a Very Good Thing. And I Prefer Reading revisits Josephine Tey's MISS PYM DISPOSES.

A Dylan Thomas treatment of a Robert Louis Stevenson short story to be broadcast

William McIlvanney talks to Scotland Tonight, Aline Templeton talks to Female First, and Irvine Welsh talks about FILTH and Scottish Independence.  

Utterly brilliant Douglas Lindsay and Barney Thomson news

Finally, Sherlock Holmes' Curly Fu and Peanut? Or how about some animated versions - including Sherlock Doo and Sherlock Hound

Miłego weekendu, moje Nadobnisie (I have no idea if that last word is right, by the way. I might have called you all a bunch of sky-blue-pink jellyfish).

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Big Beat From Badsville Back From The Dead

Bless me blog, for I have sinned. It has been donkey's yonks since my last post, and I am now typing this blogpost to tumbleweed. However...

It is time to revive the old blog and post about all our wonderful Scottish crime writers. So, to start off, I have updated the author links on the right, adding a couple of new authors (such as Janet O'Kane, James Oswald, Jay Stringer, Marianne Wheelaghan and one Robert Galbraith (which just shows how long it has been since I updated). If you are a Scottish crime fiction author (born in, lived in, or not originally Scottish but live here now) and I don't have you listed, please let me know and I will add you to the list. If there is anything vaguely related to Scotland that might interest people (your latest book is set here, your protagonist is Scottish, your maternal grandmother once choked on a bite of haggis (you know, anything that would qualify you to play football for Scotland)) then let me know so I can post about it.

I will be re-commencing posting news and reviews of Scottish crime fiction authors and events. No doubt I will also be posting stuff and nonsense as it occurs to me (so I will apologise in advance for that - some things never change).

If there is anything you would like to see on this blog (including requests to disappear back into the ether), then please let me know.

I am looking forward to re-connecting with some lovely people and will hopefully see some of you at Crimefest this year.

Donna xxx