Thursday, August 31, 2006

Next Updates

I'm off on holiday tomorrow for a week and as I'm unlikely to get to an internet cafe the Euro Crime blog and website won't be updated again until next weekend. I have Carla McKay's reviews to upload to the website on my return. Version 2 of the Euro Crime website should go live soon after my break (fingers crossed).

Holiday book choices...

The day before the holiday has dawned and the final decisions over which books to take have been reached. The idea is that we pick books the other will want to read as the space and weight restrictions inherent in a cycling-camping holiday mean we can only fit in two books. I've chosen 'Murder at the Old Vicarage' (cue much rolling of eyes from partner) aka 'Redemption' by Jill McGown. This is the second (of thirteen) in the cosy-police procedural Lloyd and Hill series, set around a fictionalised Corby. This is off my tbr pile and is also yahoo group 4MA's series read for September.

I usually shy away from taking library books on holiday since we had to pay for a hardback copy of 'Dune' which ironically ended up in the Pacific Ocean along with things like passports when a rogue wave struck, but the second book we're taking is a brand new library paperback of 'Grey Souls' by Philippe Claudel. The short description on amazon is: "A literary detective story about the murder of a young girl in a small town in Northern France in 1917."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New episodes of Dalziel & Pascoe and Rebus next week on UK tv

Dalziel & Pascoe return for a short series of two parters on BBC1 3rd and 4th Sep. The first is Cave Woman featuring guest star Denis Lawson (most recently seen in Bleak House) and the second is Fallen Angel.

On Friday, (8th) Rebus returns on ITV1, in the first of four feature length episodes. The original 'Adam Dalgleish', Roy Marsden, is one of the guest stars.

Midsomer Murders also returns on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

New book from Carol Smith

Carol Smith's latest book came out on the 3rd August and is entitled 'Without Warning'. It's the first crime book I've seen to (apparently) incorporate the 7/7 bombings in the story. Incendiary (Chris Cleave) and The Passenger (Chris Petit) deal with the aftermath of terrorist attacks (fictional London and Lockerbie respectively) but are there any others about the London incident?

"Rush hour on the underground and a killer is at large in London, striking apparently haphazardly in a series of vicious attacks. Andy Brewster, ex-SAS, on sick leave from active service in Iraq, works undercover for the Metropolitan police with his bomb expert partner, Burgess. Together they must find the killer before he strikes again. So far the victims have all been women with no apparent connection. Beth Hardy, former caterer who now runs a gourmet food shop; her daughter Imogen, dancing at the National; sad Celeste with her terrible secret; widowed Margaret, in to shop; and American tourist, Ellie, stranded there alone. Each of them regularly travels by tube not knowing they could be potential victims. When the July 7 bombs go off and public awareness is raised, Brewster and Burgess have a race against time to apprehend the stalker. But danger comes not just from knives and bombs. Murder is deadlier when the heart is involved." (from

Monday, August 28, 2006

What I'm Reading - M C Beaton

When I'm all of a dither as to what to read next or need a filler book or a palate cleanser I turn to M C Beaton. I began on the Hamish MacBeth books back when Murder One was in Denmark Street. I picked them up as I was going through a regency romance phase and I enjoyed the works of Marion Chesney, aka M C Beaton. It took me ages to start on the Agatha Raisin books as I'd heard a few discouraging remarks but eventually I did and enjoyed them. Agatha Raisin is a former PR executive who sold her firm and took early retirement in the Cotswolds. She and her on-off-on boyfriend/neighbour James solve the many murders that occur in their mostly genteel village of Carsely. For me the Agatha-James relationship began to pall after a few books but I'm pleased to say the one I'm reading now, the 11th - 'Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell' - is a return to form. It's set in Carsely - a plus point, and there's not much of James - another plus point (in my opinion :-)). I've found the books set out of Carsely to be less interesting. The cover on the left is the US cover and it's from my enormous to be read pile. The cover on the right is from the Constable and Robinson UK version published on 24th August. This series is now extremely popular with library patrons, at least where I work :-) .

Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Review on Euro Crime

I've just uploaded Karen Chisholm's review of 'Spider Trap' by Barry Maitland. This series is now published first in Australia. The previous book in the series, 'No Trace' is due out in the US in October. Not sure about a date for a UK release though.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

News Update to Euro Crime Website & Christian Jungersen

I've added a few links for recent newspaper reviews and articles to the 'news' section of the Euro Crime Website.

The book getting favourable attention this week is 'The Exception' by Danish author, Christian Jungersen.

Four women work at the Danish Centre for Genocide Studies. When two of them start receiving death threats, they suspect they are being stalked by Mirko Zigic, a Bosnian torturer and war criminal. But perhaps he is not the person behind the threats - it could be someone in their very midst. Much of the drama created revolves not only around the scary sense of a killer prowling in the shadows but also around the manipulative games being played between the women in the office as they come under pressure and turn on each other. The irony is that these betrayals and persecutions are taking place amongst professionals who daily analyse cases of appalling cruelty. Now and again, the narrative is broken with extracts from 'articles' dealing with crimes against humanity and the pyschology of evil. Whilst the women apply this to their work with genocide (and the killer), there are parallels to their own behaviour. It's a fabulous pacy read - a real page-turner that resonates with deeper questions. (from

Susanna Yager reviewed it in The Telegraph calling it ..."a powerful yet disquieting study of the psychology of evil, and a tense thriller" and the Independent describes it as "a horribly vivid and fiendishly clever novel".

Orion New Blood - Richard Burke

Richard Burke is the next author on the list for me to do a quick, 'what are they up to now' post.

Richard kindly dropped me an email recently to say that he now has a website. He is the author of two psychological thrillers : Frozen (2003) and Redemption (2006), both published by Orion.

When Matthew's wife Charlotte is kidnapped, his world is thrown into chaos. Who has taken her - and why? There are no demands made for her release, just a threat that if he calls the police, Charlotte will lose the baby she is carrying - and then Matthew will lose her. Matthew is paralysed, haunted by the gloating phonecalls of her captor. As a prison governor, Matthew is convinced that Charlotte's abduction may be related to his job. Unable to talk to anyone in authority, he resorts to the only help he can find - Monk, an ex-prisoner who appears to have gone straight since his release, but has underworld contacts Matthew can only guess at. It's a devil's pact, but time is running out...

When his childhood friend, Verity, is found at the foot of Beachy Head, barely alive, Harry's life is thrown into turmoil. He can't accept that the happy-go-lucky girl he grew up with would try to kill herself. He should know. He was closer to her than anyone, wasn't he? As Verity lies in a coma, damaged beyond repair, Harry is haunted by memories of their childhood and by the knowledge that what they once shared is lost for ever. With the help of his friend Adam and Verity's business partner Sam, Harry begins piecing together the last few weeks of Verity's life. Sam is as baffled as Harry, but Adam thinks Verity's suicide attempt was the inevitable consequence of a life which was clearly spiralling out of control. The deeper Harry gets, the more questions remain unanswered. Why was Verity's flat burgled? Why was she secretly seeing a psychiatrist? And, for Harry, the most haunting question of all: why did Verity kiss him, all those years ago, and then banish him from her life? If Harry can't find the answers, he may have to face the fact that perhaps he never really knew Verity at all...

(synopses from

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mark Billingham blogs

Mark Billingham author of the DI Tom Thorne series, is the guest blogger over on Sarah Weinman's site tomorrow (Friday).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What I'm Reading - Anne Holt

The latest book by Norwegian author Anne Holt, is called 'Punishment' in the UK and 'What is Mine' in the US. I'm reading the UK edition which has an excellent British translation by Kari Dickson. I don't know whether the US version has the same translation or whether it's been de-anglicised.

From the back cover :

"A serial killer is on the loose in Norway - a killer of the worst kind. He is abducting children and murdering them - in an undetectable way that confounds the police. He then returns the child's body to the mother with a desperately cruel note: You Got What You Deserved.

It is a perplexing and terrible case, and Police Superintendent Adam Stubo is the unlucky man in charge of finding the killer. In desperation he recruits former FBI profiler Johanne Vik, a woman with an extensive knowledge and understanding of criminal history. So far the killer has abducted three children, but one child has not yet been returned to her mother. Is there a chance she is still alive...?

This suspenseful and sophisticated crime novel is the first in a brand new series, which has already been a huge bestseller in Europe."

I'm about 3/4 through it now and a paragraph at the beginning of chapter 8 (p25) caught my attention:

"A child doesn't know when it's going to die. It has no concept of death. Instinctively it fights for life, like a lizard that's willing to give up its tail when threatened with extermination. All beings are genetically programmed to fight for survival. Children as well. But they have no concept of death. A child is frightened of real things. The dark. Strangers, perhaps, being separated from their family, pain, scary noises and the loss of objects. Death, on the other hand, is incomprehensible for a mind that is not yet mature.

A child does not know that it is going to die."

From what I've read, both titles are appropriate but I think the US cover (which is similar to the Spanish cover listed on better reflects the content. It's certainly a reasonable representation of an early scene in the book. The UK cover, on the other hand - it's hard to make out the age of the figure and no-one has been blindfolded (so far). It makes the book seem much darker than it actually is. It's a distressing theme but there is little actual violence.

Full review to appear on the Euro Crime Website in a few days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kafka's Soup

Full article in The Sydney Morning Herald.

"Invite Jane Austen and Geoffrey Chaucer for dinner and serve them Raymond Chandler's lamb with dill sauce.

The brainchild of London photographer and bookish foodie Mark Crick, the recipes in Kafka's Soup - A Complete History of World Literature in 14 Recipes are written in the style of famous authors, from Jane Austen ("It is a truth universally acknowledged that eggs, kept for too long, go off," begins her tarragon eggs recipe) to Irvine Welsh. "

(The recipe for Raymond Chandler's lamb with dill sauce is supplied and begins :)

"I sipped on my whisky sour, ground out my cigarette on the chopping board and watched a bug trying to crawl out of the basin. I needed a table at Maxim's, a hundred bucks and a gorgeous blonde; what I had was a leg of lamb and no clues.

I took hold of the joint. It felt cold and damp, like a coroner's handshake. I took out a knife and cut the lamb into pieces. Feeling the blade in my hand I sliced an onion, and before I knew what I was doing a carrot lay in pieces on the slab. None of them moved."

Guardian's Digested Read

This week's 'digested read' is Secret Asset by Stella Rimington. I'm a bit wary of reading these summaries if I'm going to read the book but if it's not on my wish list then then I'll plunge in. Full (!) summary in The Guardian.

The Observer reviewed it on Sunday.

I've still got 'At Risk' on my to be read book shelves...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Observer Article on European Literature

There's a whole world of literature out there - in Europe, writes Ruaridh Nicoll.

After attending a talk on German translations at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last week, Nicoll reports :

"Michael Kruger, a hugely respected German publisher, said that 50 per cent of the books he takes on are translated from other languages. In Britain however, only 2 or 3 per cent of the novels in the shops are originally written in languages other than English, and this despite many publishers being owned by German conglomerate Bertelsmann. Given how close we are to Europe, this is not only disappointing, it's disturbing; it means we don't really know what the neighbours are thinking.

As the discussion went on, it grew depressing. 'One million British people go to France every year, but they never read any contemporary French authors,' said Kruger. If Britons holidaying in Greece opened a Greek book, he said, it was more likely to be Homer than anything written in the past few years.The nadir was reached when discussing Imre Kertesz, who had only one book translated into English (badly) by the University of Indiana when he won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2002."

Full article in the Observer

One of the comments rightly points out how Britain is in Europe and that the title says it all!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

New Review on Euro Crime Website

I've just uploaded my review of the audio book of 'A Season for the Dead' by David Hewson.

C J Sansom - Sovereign

The long(ish) wait is now over for the latest instalment of the Matthew Shardlake series. 'Sovereign' came out on Friday and the first review I've seen is in today's Sunday Times which begins :

"Don’t open this book if you have anything urgent pending. Its grip is so compulsive that, until you reach its final page, you’ll have to be almost physically prised away from it. The latest in CJ Sansom’s increasingly thrilling series of 16th-century crime mysteries, it pulls you, like its predecessors, into a tortuous world of Tudor terror."

and concludes :

"Exceptionally gifted at re-creating the look, sound and smell of the period, Sansom also excels at capturing its moral and intellectual climate. Collisions of ideology and collusions of religion and politics fascinate him. Winter in Madrid, his fictional foray into civil war Spain, published earlier this year, further testified to this. But it’s in his Tudor novels — of which Sovereign is so intensely imagined an example — that his remarkable talents really blaze out."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

News page updated on Euro Crime website & Kit Whitfield

I've added a few links for new reviews and an article on Margery Allingham to the 'news' section of Euro Crime.

One review caught my eye in particular. In The Telegraph, Susanna Yager reviews 'Bareback' by Kit Whitfield - set in a world where 99 per cent of the population are werewolves - concluding "Her intriguing story is narrated by Lola, a DORLA solicitor, whose investigation into the death of a colleague provides the vehicle for a provocative if not particularly subtle commentary on medical ethics, civil rights and the rule of law in a society whose survival relies on class discrimination."

Biology is destiny. For those born feet-first, life is normal. Civil rights are enshrined in law, the world is a comfortable place, and every full moon night, you lock yourself in a secure room to fur up in peace. But for those born head-first, the damage done is more than just physical. For a non, locked in his or her human skin, is first and foremost a conscript, drafted at eighteen into DORLA, the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity. For a DORLA agent, insultingly referred to as a 'bareback', full moon creates a battle zone, where they patrol the silent night in search of citizens breaking the curfew. The rest of the month is a civil service nightmare, mopping up the after-effects of the trespasses, the fights and the maulings. DORLA has lasted centuries, since the Inquisition first set it up, and it's no less hated now than it was then. Lola Galley, twenty-eight and already a scarred veteran, is assigned to defend a curfew-breaker who mutilated a good friend of hers. She doesn't want the case, but she's used to doing things she doesn't want. Only something happens: her maimed friend is murdered before her client can be tried. Lola wants justice. She'll settle for the truth. But in a divided world, asking for the truth may bring answers that you don't want to hear. (from

Kit Whitfield's website, includes a blog and an answer as to why the US edition is called 'Benighted'.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Elizabeth Corley

After a gap of 6 years, Elizabeth Corley's third book came out this week. Her first two books featured DCI Andrew Fenwick but the latest, 'Grave Doubts' is a standalone or the start of a new series.

"Sergeant Louise Nightingale is the model police officer; calm, composed and always in control. All that changes when she takes part in a police sing to trap the prime suspect in a series of killings. The killer has been preying on young women and Nightingale is the perfect bait, but nothing goes according to plan as she finds herself alone with the killer when her colleagues struggle to get to her in time, and she is attacked. Suddenly, Nightingale is in the very nightmare world she tries to protect others from, and her worst fears are about to come true."


Unfortunately I haven't been able to track down a website for her. I look forward to trying 'Grave Doubts' in the future.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

One Book Meme

I'm new to this blogging game and I'm a bit unsure about what memes and tags are but I'll try and answer some of the questions as Petrona's kindly 'tagged' me :-).

1. One book that changed your life
Probably the first adult crime novel I read as my life now seems to revolve around books and crime fiction in particular.

2. One book you have read more than once?
I can't recall having ever re-read an adult fiction book. I used to re-read my books when I was a child. I read so fast then I had to read it twice to get value for money. I'd finish the book and go straight back to the beginning and start again.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Lord of the Rings has defeated me twice so I'd have to get through it if it was all I had to read!

4. One book that made you cry?
Tricky. I agree with crimefic reader about The Dispossesed. There is a very upsetting scene. I'm sure another one will come to mind later.

5. One book that made you laugh?
The audio books of Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May books make me laugh. eg. from The Water Room:

"I hate getting into this vehicle with you", admitted May, eyeing the rusted
yellow Mini Cooper with alarm. "I don't know why you had to get rid of your
old Rover".
"It was starting to steer itself," Bryant said mysteriously. "The man in the
garage said he'd never had a car fail every single item on its MOT before.
He was quite excited. I had to go back to Victor here." The Mini had been
purchased at the height of flower power, and still bore a painted chain of
vermillion daisies around its roof. Its noxious colour-scheme was enough to
make it stand out from the other vehicles in the police car park at
Mornington Crescent. Bryant unwedged the driver's door with the pronged end
of a cheese-knife, which he kept about him for the purpose.
"That's an offensive weapon, you know".
"What am I going to do with it?" asked Bryant. Threaten someone with a slice
of dolcelatte?" He held open the car door. "Come on, it's quite safe."
"No thanks. You nearly killed us the other day, going round Vauxhall
"They'd changed the one-way system without telling any-one."
"I seem to recall that you were on the pavement."
"Sometimes it's hard to tell where the pavement begins these days."
"It's usually the bit with the shoppers on it. No, Arthur. Today we're
taking my car." May bipped his graphite-sleek BMW.
"Wonderful, now we'll look like Camden drug-dealers."

6. One book you wish had been written?
Unsure but I hope Elizabeth Peters lives forever and continues writing Amelia Peabodys and while she's at it what about a Jacqueline Kirby book...

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
One book that deserved better proof reading was 'The Yeare's Midnight' by Ed O'Connor. It had some merits but contained some howlers.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Punishment by Anne Holt (more to come on that soon).

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason.

Denise Mina Blogs

Don't forget that Denise Mina, author of the Garnethill trilogy and now the Paddy Meehan series, is the guest blogger over on Sarah Weinman's splendid site tomorrow (Friday).

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Orion New Blood - Alafair Burke

Not Euro Crime, but seems only fair to cover every author. A former deputy district attorney in Portland, Alafair Burke now teaches criminal law at Hofstra School of Law and lives in New York City. She is the daughter of acclaimed crime writer James Lee Burke. So far Orion have published three books featuring Portland based deputy DA Samantha Kincaid. The next book, also published by Orion, is due out in April 2007 and is a standalone featuring Ellie Hatcher, an NYPD detective haunted by her father's murder.

#1 (Apr 2007) Exactly a year after Caroline Hunter was killed, another New Yorker using the same internet dating service is lured to a meeting and strangled. Homicide detective Flann McIlroy drafts in Ellie Hatcher, currently working street crime, who joined the police when she became convinced her cop father was murdered by an infamous Kansas serial killer. Flann has made the connection to the online dating agency and Ellie joins up undercover - but finds herself drawn into emails with one of the potential dates. As Flann and Ellie gather more evidence, they find themselves hindered by higher powers who want for some reason to keep the FirstDate agency out of the investigation. The head of the company, Mark Stern, is obviously influential and refuses to believe that the murders have anything to do with his agency. But Ellie unearths plenty of reasons and won't back down - and soon she's in danger of sharing her father's fate...

#3 (July 2005) When Officer Geoff Hamilton shoots Delores Tompkins, an African American woman, during what should have been a routine traffic stop - all hell breaks loose on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Hamilton claims justified force, but the community want him prosecuted. After a day of intense rioting, things really start to spiral when a local investigative reporter, Percy Crenshaw, is found beaten to death at his home. Crenshaw was loved in the black community and with tensions running high, the DA's Office wants someone on the case from the very start - Samantha gets the job. To begin with, it looks like an open-and-shut case. The night of the riots, two young men went on a massive crime spree near Crenshaw's home. Their baseball bat is found smeared with Crenshaw's blood. But a few details just don't fit - Crenshaw's phone has been tapped and his notes suggest he was in the middle of an investigation into police corruption. When another community activist winds up dead, Sam begins to think there might be a connection. The trail leads back to the North Precinct, where cops operate under a code of secrecy and where DAs are anything but welcome. Samantha is forced to question the behaviour of the local police, which puts her cop-boyfriend in an impossible situation. But Sam can't walk away from a fight, anymore than he can walk away from the force. She must battle to solve a case that seems more dangerous at every turn before the man she loves decides she's more enemy than friend.

#2 (November 2004) In the second entry in this exciting new series, the search for a missing judge leads Samantha Kincaid into Portland politics and a labyrinth of crime, corruption and cover-ups. Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid is back to work after an attempt on her life and a promotion into the Major Crimes Unit. When the husband of Portland judge Clarissa Easterbrook reports her missing and Samantha is called out on the case, she assumes her only job is to make the district attorney look good until the judge reappears none the worse. When the police discover evidence of foul play, however, Samantha finds herself unearthing secrets that Clarissa had wanted to stay hidden, the lingering personal tolls of a crime that occurred decades ago, and corruption at the highest levels of the city's power structure. Her quest for justice could cost her not only her job, but her life.

#1 (December 2003) Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid walks into her office in Portland's Drug and Vice Division one Monday morning to find three police officers waiting for her. A thirteen-year-old girl has been brutally attacked and left for dead on the city's outskirts. Given the lack of evidence, most lawyers would settle for an assault charge; Samantha, unnerved by the viciousness of the crime, decides to go for attempted murder. As Sam prepares for the trial, she uncovers a dangerous trail leading to an earlier high-profile death penalty case, a prostitution ring of underage girls, and a possible serial killer. And she finds her judgement - not only in matters of the law but in her personal life - called into question...

(Synopses from

Georgette Heyer

A contributor to DorothyL pointed out it was/is Georgette Heyer's birthday today. She was born in 1902, died in 1974. Whilst at university my flatmates and I pooled and devoured Heyer's regency romances. I've still a few left to read. I did try one of her crime novels, 'A Blunt Instrument', but found the culprint very obvious and was rather disappointed. However a couple of years ago, my reading group 'did' classic crime one month and that included 'Behold, Here's Poison' which I absolutely loved. It was very amusing, a good whodunnit and the hero in it reminded me of her regency heroes. I still haven't read anymore but am willing to try them. The Heyer books have been given spiffy new covers recently, including the crime novels.

When Gregory Matthews, patriarch of the Poplars is found dead one morning, imperious Aunt Harriet blames it on the roast duck he ate for supper, after all, she had warned him about his blood pressure. But a post-mortem determines that the cause of death is much more sinister. Murder by poison. Suspicion falls immediately amongst his bitter, quarrelsome family. Each has a motive; each, opportunity. It falls to Superintendent Hannasyde to sift through all the secrets and lies and discover just who killed Gregory Matthews, before the killer strikes again...(from

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Return of Miss Marple

Geraldine McEwan's Miss Marple is to return, so reports Digital Spy.

ITV has greenlit a new four-part adaptation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple dramas.

The first, Towards Zero, sees Geraldine McEwan reprise the title role alongside an all-star cast including Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Julie Graham (William & Mary), Paul Nicholls (EastEnders), Julian Sands (24), Alan Davies (Jonathan Creek) and Dame Eileen Atkins.

Towards Zero wasn't a Miss Marple story originally. I've got it as the last of the Superintendent Battle trilogy.

Sam Bourne - a righteous man?

Belatedly spotted this in the Observer about the Richard and Judy effect.

"Three of the pair's six 'Summer Reads', the recommendations that Richard Madeley and his wife Judy Finnigan discuss on their Channel 4 programme, have taken the top three places in this week's top 50 book bestsellers. Such a dominance linked to one programme is unheard of in this country.

Victoria Hislop's The Island; The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne, the nom de plume of Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland; and Dorothy Koomson's My Best Friend's Girl, have claimed the top three positions in the chart."

and further down :

"Freedland's book shot to success in the charts after Madeley labelled the thriller 'better written and a better story' than Dan Brown's worldwide smash The Da Vinci Code, and the columnist's novel has now sold some 115,000 copies."

Who'd have thought it would do so well after several less than kind reviews in the press including this from Michael Dibdin in The Times:

"Still, you read on, if only out of morbid curiosity about which bit of kabbalistic hokum you’re expected to swallow next, and since Dan Brown — a name curiously similar to this pseudonym — has done all right, there must be a market for this sort of stuff.

At least really bad writing can be relied upon to throw up those great lines that you don't find anywhere else — like this reflection on the healing issues of a man who has blown his dad’s head apart with a pistol: “Whatever Freud said about Oedipal fantasies, killing one’s own father shook the psyche to its foundations.” How true."

HarperCollins Competition

Has anyone been able to make any sense of or formulate plausible theories for the crimes committed in HarperCollins' competition, advertised in the Guardian? I've now had a look at three scenarios (I don't know how many there's been over the weeks as I don't check it that frequently) and they've all left me stumped. I, like readers of this blog, read loads of crime fiction but have no clue...

HarperCollins/Guardian Competition - the prize is a weekend in Bologna.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Orion New Blood - Victoria Blake

Victoria Blake was one of the original 9 authors promoted by Orion's New Blood Campaign at the end of 2003/early 2004. I'll be having a quick look at how each author has fared since.

Victoria Blake's third book from Orion will be out in November 2006. She writes a series featuring PI Sam Falconer and all have an Oxford connection.

#3 (November 2006). When a student is found dead in his rooms at St Barnabas College, Oxford, it looks nothing more than an unfortunate suicide. A week later, when Sam Falconer's brother disappears, Sam begins to see a disturbing connection between the events. Then her mother receives a Catholic mass card, announcing that a funeral mass is to be said for their son. Sam begins desperately trying to trace her brother's last movements, attempting to locate the mysterious man he'd spent time with in the days before his disappearance. Behind it all is the nagging fear it could be connected to her father and the murders he committed in Northern Ireland in the seventies. As the trail leads from Oxford to Iraq and back to the troubles in Ireland, Sam learns just how strong blood ties can be ...

#2 (March 2005). The year hasn't got off to the best of starts for PI Sam Falconer. London is frozen in a January blizzard, and everywhere she goes, Sam has the creeping feeling of being watched. When she's asked to investigate the disappearance of a talented young rower from Oxford University, she hopes it will take her mind off her increasing paranoia. Harry was a stunning athlete, one of the most naturally gifted rowers the Oxford coach had ever seen. Then, just as the trials for the Boat Race were beginning, Harry literally vanished into the snow. Following the treacherous, icy waters of the Thames from Putney to Oxford, Sam uncovers the reality of competitive rowing, a world simmering with jealousy and resentment. Then a body surfaces in the water - and it's not Harry's. In discovering the truth about his disappearance, Sam must open a Pandora's Box of secrets, with deadly consequences...

#1 (December 2003). Sam Falconer is pretty good at taking care of herself. Four times world judo champion, she now runs the Gentle Way investigation agency in London. But when her brother Mark asks her to return to Oxford to investigate the disappearance of a young woman, Sam finds herself confronting a past she hoped she'd left behind. Oxford is full of ghosts and Sam has never quite recovered from finding the body of a murdered 4-year-old girl there. To this day, she has no idea what led her to the scene and she dreads being back in the city. As Sam begins to investigate the woman's disappearance, she finds the trail leads back to the university. But the closed academic world is unwilling to share its secrets with a stranger. Soon it becomes clear that someone is determined to frighten her off the case, and then, out of the blue, Sam receives a letter from a man who's been dead for twenty-eight years - her father...Intricately woven and ingeniously plotted, Victoria Blake's debut novel marks her as an exciting new voice in British crime-writing.

(Synopses from

A year on, MPs are still reading Da Vinci Code

In today's Guardian, it appears MPs are taking their time to read TDC (disclaimer - I haven't read it either) but I was surprised to see this other title - underlined below - on their reading list (I've corrected the title!):

"This year showed a trend among MPs and peers to read doom-laden non-fiction on current affairs, such as their fellow MP Michael Gove's Celsius 7/7, about the threat of Islam, or Michael Scheuer's Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. Two other titles appealed to the deeper fears of members with uncertain electoral futures: All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye, by Christopher Brookmyre, and This Book Will Save Your Life, by AM Holmes."

See full article in The Guardian.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Reviews on Euro Crime

This week's new reviews are 'A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil' by Christopher Brookmyre and 'City of Shadows' by Ariana Franklin.

How to Read a Novel

Full article in The Guardian but these paragraphs caught my eye. Copious recommendations from the Internet mean I have a long list of books I want so I rarely buy on spec anymore. But I'll have to try the following suggestions :-).

"The privilege of browsing is, however, still allowed, if less comfortably than it used to be. This relates to the unique feature of the bookshop: you can sample before you buy (or not). A large proportion of walk-in customers do not know what they want precisely, and will have bought nothing when they leave. They will, none the less, have fingered and sampled the produce, and taken their time doing it. A bite here, a bite there. Despite a growing pressure to make bookshops more like In-N-Out Burger, it is still possible to browse. Dust jackets, blurbs, shoutlines, critics' commendations ("quote whores", as they are called in the video/DVD business) all jostle for the browser's attention. But I recommend ignoring the hucksters' shouts and applying instead the McLuhan test.

Marshall McLuhan, the guru of The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), recommends that the browser turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works. Rule One, then: browse powerfully and read page 69. If maps are useful, so are charts. Bestseller lists weed down the mass of available novels to the 20 or so that everybody is reading - but almost certainly will not be reading in a few months' time. The trick is not to get into the game late, but to pick the rising titles near the bottom, or to check out what is on the list of the other major English-speaking country before they arrive on your shores.

This is an edited extract from John Sutherland's How to Read a Novel: A User's Guide, published this week by Profile"

Friday, August 11, 2006

Michelle Spring

After a 5 year hiatus, Michelle Spring has a new book out in the Autumn. 'The Night Lawyer' is to be published in November by Ballantine. It doesn't feature Cambridge PI Laura Principal but is a 'suspense' stand alone.

Here's the blurb from M1's catalogue: "Set in contemporary London. The trials of a young woman who has just accepted a new job with a daily tabloid housed in a sleek dockside skyscraper. She arrives each evening to vet the morning edition while most employees disappear for the night. By day, the offices and docks along the Thames bustle with activity. But as Ellie soon learns, and her menacing stalker knows all too well, nighttime is a different matter."

Michelle is part of The Unusual Suspects group which provide a very entertaining show and Michelle reveals how a stalker inspired her first book, 'Every Breath You Take'.

100 Greatest Books?

To celebrate its 60th anniversary Penguin Classics has compiled a list of the 100 greatest books. And in the crime category:

The Best Crimes

Maigret and the Ghost - Georges Simenon
The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan

Full list in The Times. Categories include, The Best Crazies and The Best Minxes!

You can also post your comment about the choices on The Times website.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Dictator and the Hammock by Daniel Pennac

Continuing the French connection...'The Dictator and the Hammock' by Daniel Pennac was released today (according to It's not obvious that this one's a crime novel, unlike the other books that have been translated, but it looks fun anyway.

"Manuel Pereira da Ponte Martins, beloved dictator of Teresina, in the Brazilian sertao, becomes agoraphobic the day a fortune-teller predicts he will die torn to pieces by an angry mob. From then on, his life turns out to be so unbearable that he decides to hire a double to replace him while he will be enjoying himself in Europe. A few years later, the barber turned dictator also grows tired of running the country and uses the same trick as his predecessor to leave for Hollywood. On the boat there, he introduces himself as Charlie Chaplin but everyone is convinced that he is none other than Rudolph Valentino disguised as Chaplin. When he arrives in New York, the two real actors are waiting for him...Back in Teresina, the doubles follow one another, easily fooling the people until Pereira comes back. He is astonished to discover that his stand-in doesn't look like him at all and reacts in a way that can only precipitate his meeting with Fate. Pennac's new novel is witty, wildly original and extremely funny." (from

Spiral on BBC4

Don't miss this welcome rerun of the classy French crime drama Spiral. It's repeated at a rate of two episodes per night from Sunday (13th) for four nights at around 11pm. Be warned it is quite graphic, much more so than CSI. One crime runs through all the episodes plus there are smaller cases involving different team members.

The BBC4 website has a trailer and series information and if your French is ok, there is an official website. I believe a second series has been commissioned.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Orion 'New Blood' Authors

Here's the full list of first time authors launched as part of the 'New Blood' campaign in 2004:

Victoria Blake - Bloodless Shadow
Alafair Burke - Judgement Calls
Richard Burke - Frozen *
Massimo Carlotto - The Colombian Mule**
Stuart Archer Cohen - The Stone Angels
John Connor - Phoenix **
David Corbett - The Devil's Redhead
Denise Hamilton - The Jasmine Trade
Steve Mosby - Third Person

**= read and reviewed on Euro Crime.

More to follow on these authors over the next few days.

Euro Crime website

So what's over on the Euro Crime website? As mentioned below, it covers crime in translation from Europe and work by British authors. A major portion is bibliographies and series orders ('Books'), plus a list of author homepages ('Authors'). 'News' covers recent reviews and interviews in the press. 'New Releases' for what's coming out in the months ahead. The 'Reviews' page is updated weekly. There are pages for awards, specialist shops, events, discussion books for various yahoo lists and links.

The site is to be restructed shortly, I'm still testing the revised version. The content will be similar but those darned frames will be removed so linking, searching, bookmarking will become easier. A further reshuffle is planned later in the year for the 'Books' pages.

What's in a Name?

Eagle eyed viewers may have noticed, I've slipped in an 'Other' in the subtitle of this blog. As Petrona's blog rightly pointed out Britain is part of Europe. When I first started the Euro Crime website, it began with translated crime from Europe and British authors. However when I referred to it as Euro Crime for the European Crime Scene - I wanted a snappy tagline (best I could come up with!) - the fact that it covered Britain too, became a bit lost. So I then said it was for the British and European Crime Scene - a belt and braces approach, if slightly teeth grinding for those of us who see Britain as part of Europe. I haven't come up with a more elegant snappy summary yet. British and other European Countries Crime Scene doesn't quite scan so maybe I need to come up with something completely different. Ideas welcomed...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Alexander McCall Smith No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series

According to the 8th book in the series will be out in April 2007 : 'The Good Husband of Zebra Drive'.

Remember Orion's 'New Blood' Campaign?

So last night I was travelling home on the train, full of pizza and pudding, musing about topics for this blog and one thing and another. Suddenly a thought popped into my head. Whatever happened to the Orion 'New Blood' authors launched in a fanfare in January 2004? But first off though...who were the authors? I racked my brain and managed seven author names plus the setting of the book by another author. His identity came to me this morning. So that made eight. Hmm, I though that's not very good marks out of ten but there were in fact nine authors so I was only missing one. So here's a small challenge. Without using the internet or looking at your book collection, how many can you name?

Answers and an update on the authors, to follow....

Monday, August 07, 2006

New reviews on Euro Crime

Nearly every Sunday, the reviews page is updated with at least two more reviews. Last night, the new reviews were, 'The Innocent' by Magdalen Nabb and 'Lang' by Kjell Westo.

What's this blog for?

The Euro Crime blog will be for highlighting what's new on the Euro Crime website but also I want to include bits of news that don't fit on the website and pick out those books which are less mainstream (crime naturally) but have had a good review in the press. I'll be including what I'm reading at various times and hopefully accompanied by a choice quote. Cats in Crime may also figure....

Saturday, August 05, 2006

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson

The Guardian reviews Kate Atkinson's second novel to feature PI Jackson Brodie.

"Once best known for her Whitbread award-winning first novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson followed up three playful, picaresque family sagas with her hugely successful crime sortie, Case Histories. A masterly orchestration of random violence and domestic heartbreak, it featured the requisite grizzled private eye with a troubled private life and a taste for country singers; in a combination of critic and text intriguing enough to well deserve its place among the back-cover blurbs, Stephen King considered it "the best mystery of the decade"."

Read the rest of the review.

CWA to charge shortlisted publishers

So reports Book 2 Book:

"The Crime Writers' Association has announced that it is to start charging publishers for any of their books that are shortlisted for its annual Dagger Awards.

The charges for each shortlisted title will be £500 per title for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger, £200 for the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger and Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and £100 for the New Blood and Non Fiction Daggers. As previously, there is no entry fee for books submitted for the Dagger Awards.

CWA Chair Robert Richardson said: "This is not a money-making move, but a way to reduce the considerable financial costs we face in organising and promoting the Dagger Awards. We are not a wealthy organisation and it is an increasing burden on our limited finances. Authors and publishers benefit from being shortlisted - and especially winning - while there is no gain to the CWA. The income these charges generate will not cover the full costs of the operation, but will leave us with a balance that we can afford. This is solely a CWA committee decision."

Higher profile prizes such as the Booker and Orange prizes charge as much as £2000 per shortlisted title.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What I'm Reading

Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan
(Vintage paperback, 3 Aug 2006)

"Oh Paul! It can't be! Here! On a Sunday! A body! In the freezer!" she exclaimed, her voice rising steadily in C major.

She had just realised that the freezer would have to be replaced. (page 89)

Jane Jakeman reviews the newest book from Pierre Magnan 'The Messenger of Death' in the Independent.