Monday, December 31, 2007

Ken to play Shardlake

I missed this in the Observer a few weeks ago. Apparently the BBC are in talks to film C J Sansom's Tudor series with Kenneth Branagh as the main character:
Branagh, 46, plans to take the role of a hunchback lawyer named Shardlake who works for the key power brokers of the Tudor court, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer. Negotiations to bring Shardlake, the idiosyncratic character at the centre of a series of mystery novels by CJ Sansom, to the small screen are believed to be in their final stages.
Read the Euro Crime review of the latest in the series, Sovereign.

Competition for UK residents - closing today...

Last chance to win a copy of Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (UK residents only)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Website update

I've just updated the 'News' page over on the website. There aren't many new links at this time of year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Just a taster...

I'm not back yet in total but I have now finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which is excellent as reported already by Ali. Here's the first paragraph from the prologue:
It happened every year, was almost a ritual. And this was his eighty-second birthday. When, as usual, the flower was delivered, he took off the wrapping paper and then picked up the telephone to call Detective Superintendent Morell who, when he retired, had moved to Lake Siljan in Dalarna. They were not only the same age, they had been born on the same day - which was something of an irony given the circumstances. The old policeman was sitting with his coffee, waiting, expecting the call.
It's out on the 10th January and amazon have it at half price. It would still be excellent value at full price. I suppose (sniffle) it's now a year's wait until #2...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas!

(from AllPosters)

Move over Trivial Pursuit (last minute present idea)

I don't know how the passed me by but I just found a mention in the Bath Literature Festival programme of a new board game called 'Bookchase'.

From the official site:

"Bookchase® is a board game about books. Important books & trivial books. Classic works and wonderful ideas for children. If it has been written & has any kind of relevance, you might find it in Bookchase®. Questions can be about anything - what pencil someone used to write with, to the name of an author's cat. From Homer to Horowitz, Proust to Pilkey, Dahl to Dickens, Nursery Rhymes to Crime fiction - all kinds of books and writing are here.

Who's qualified to play? Anyone! Never read a book - you could still win. Read all the best books in the world - you could still lose. Where's the fun if you knew who would win at the start and who's to say what might happen in the new, classic, fun, board game of chance and skill.

Bookchase® draws on the huge diversity of thought and ideas since human beings first figured out how to write and think - ...but at the end of the day -it is still just a board game. Have fun. We have making it. The Bookchase® Team"

Also there are "1200 multiple-choice questions in 6 exciting categories - Children & Fun, Crime & Thrillers, Plays & Poetry, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Travel Adventure, Classics & Modern".

And from next year you'll be able to submit your own questions online.

RRP is c. £30.

Friday, December 21, 2007

R J Ellory hits the big time

The new Richard and Judy book club list for 2008 has been announced and it's good news for R J Ellory whose 'A Quiet Belief in Angels' has been selected. His appears to be the only crime title chosen. The full list, from Publishing News is here:
9 January A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury)

16 January Random Acts of Heroic Love, Danny Scheinmann (Black Swan)

23 January The Rose of Sebastopol, Katharine McMahon (W&N)

30 January A Quiet Belief in Angels, RJ Ellory (Orion)

6 February Notes From an Exhibition, Patrick Gale (Fourth Estate)

13 February Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris (Viking)

20 February The Visible World, Mark Slouka (Portobello)

27 February Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones (John Murray)

5 March Blood River, Tim Butcher (Chatto)

12 March The Welsh Girl, Peter Ho Davies (Sceptre)
Regular readers of this blog might remember that R J Ellory gave a talk at Mere Green Library earlier this year and read an exclusive extract from said book.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

For the Crime Fan who has everything...

$8.95 on Shakespeare's Den. You can also get Edgar Allan Poe and several other literary figures.

Hat Tip: Oline Cogdill's blog.

It's Christmas Crime (6) - Anne Perry (again)

Another year, another Christmas novella from Anne Perry:

Synopsis: The fifth in "Anne Perry's" series of charming Christmas novellas. Runcorn, Monk's ex-boss and a bachelor, travels to Anglesey hoping to stave off the loneliness of the Christmas season and the memories of Melisande, the woman he fell desperately in love with in "Dark Assassin". His efforts are in vain as he immediately meets Melisande's brother, John Barclay, and learns of Melisand's presence in Anglesey.
Although a widow, Runcorn believes that Melisande is too far above him in society for him to win her heart and then fate intervenes. The vicar of Anglesey's sister is discovered murdered and Barclay is implicated in the crime. Melisande, mindful of Runcorn's experience, asks him to help clear her brother's name, even though the official head of the investigation is Chief Constable Faraday, her soon-to-be fiance. As Runcorn investigates, he learns that life for an upper class woman is hard especially when you are considered unmarriageable. Could this be a reason for murder? And will Runcorn be able to solve the case, and in doing so perhaps win Melisande's heart, or will his efforts be in vain?

Read an excerpt from A Christmas Beginning on the Random House site.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Publishing News - Markaris and Maitland

From The Bookseller:
As part of its EuroCrime series, Arcadia has also paid a good four-figure sum for UK and Commonwealth rights in The Major Shareholder and Che Killed Himself by Greek writer Petros Markaris. Rights were obtained from Susanne Bauknecht at Diogenes Verlag, Zurich, with publication slated for 2009.

UK rights to Barry Maitland's forthcoming novel No Trace, in the same genre, have also been acquired by Arcadia from David Higham on behalf of Wenona Byrne at Australian Literary Management, with a four-figure sum once more changing hands. The book will appear in 2008.
No Trace has already been published in Australia and the US.

The column also has details of a new book by Emma Tennant which has Princess Di coming back from the dead to minister to Prince Harry...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Scandinavian Crime/Mystery novels coming out in 2008

Currently there's quite a bit of buzz on the mailing lists I'm on about my current read - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. By all accounts so far, it could be a rival for Vargas for the International Dagger.

I've put a couple of lists together on amazon for new Scandinavian crime novels coming out in 2008. One is for and one for They are slightly different due to books coming out earlier in one country than another.

New Scandinavian Crime/Mystery Novels (

Forthcoming Scandinavian Crime Novels (

Monday, December 17, 2007

Make your reservations for Harrogate...

I've just seen the list of authors attending 2008 Harrogate Crime writing festival. My cat was looking at me quite strangely as I squeaked when I saw who was signed up...Euro Crime's crime writing hero...Jo Nesbo. Now I was all set to go to just Crime Fest as Karin Fossum and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir are attending that but now what shall I do. The main problem I have is that I work most Saturdays and can only take 3 off in a year so I'll have to beg some favours to swap my Saturdays off.

The list of authors attending can be found here.

Bargains on

Here's a very good deal - are listing Reasonable Doubts by Gianrico Carofiglio at £4.99.

Need some convincing to splash out? Read Euro Crime reviews 1 and 2.

Then browse amazon's list of nearly 300 crime paperbacks at up to 50% off which includes other such gems like the paperback of The Coroner's Lunch.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

New Reviews

Here are this week's new reviews, website updates and a competition reminder:

Latest Reviews:

Laura Root reviews The Officer's Prey by Armand Cabasson from newish publisher, Gallic Books;

Maxine Clarke reviews the Dagger winning Raven Black by Ann Cleeves set at New Year, which she feels is very atmospheric but a bit lacking in the detecting department at times;

I had to stifle my giggles on the train whilst listening to Back to Bologna by the late and much lamented Michael Dibdin. This tenth entry finds Zen in a French (well Italian) farce and is brilliantly narrated by Michael Tudor Barnes;

Terry Halligan is impressed by the latest Roy Grace book, now in paperback, by Peter James - Not Dead Enough

and Maxine recommends sticking with Adrian McKinty's Dead I Well May Be as later events "move the book into a post-Godfather odyssey".

Other Website Updates:

The News page has been updated.

Current Competition (closing date 31 December):

Win a copy of Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (UK only)

(geographical restrictions are in brackets)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's Christmas Crime (5) - R D Wingfield

Frost at Christmas is the first in the six-book series featuring DI Jack Frost. The final part, Killing Frost, will be published posthumously in April 2008.


Ten days to Christmas and Tracey Uphill, aged eight, hasn't come home from Sunday school. Her mother, a pretty young prostitute, is desperate. Enter Detective Inspector Jack Frost, sloppy, scruffy and insubordinate. To help him investigate the case of the missing child, Frost has been assigned a new sidekick, the Chief Constable's nephew. Fresh to provincial Denton in an oversmart suit, Detective Constable Clive Barnard is an easy target for Frost's withering satire. Assisted and annoyed by Barnard, Frost, complete with a store of tasteless anecdotes to fit every occasion, proceeds with the investigation in typically unorthodox style. After he's consulted a local witch, Dead Man's Hollow yields up a skeleton. Frost finds himself drawn into an unsolved crime from the past and risks not only his career, but also his life...

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Short Story

Nury Vittachi, author of The Shanghai Union of Industrial Mystics (which I'm still waiting for my library to cough up) has written a special Christmas short story which is available to read on the Birlinn website: The Christmas Meltdown.

It's Christmas Crime (4) - Brian Battison

The Christmas Bow Murder was first published in 1994 and is the first in the eight book DCI Jim Ashworth series. Brian Battison died in 1998.


Blonde, attractive and promiscuous Stella Carway is found murdered, a scarf around her neck tied in a bow, her near naked body displayed like a bizarre gift. Her stormy marriage immediately puts her shifty husband Steven in the frame as her killer. But Chief Inspector Jim Ashworth, swimming against the tide of his colleagues' opinions, thinks this too obvious a solution. Blackmail, the cover-up of a fatal hit-and-run accident, a passionate lesbian relationship - Ashworth opens up a can so full of worms it would give a crow a coronary.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Christmas Crime (3) - Cyril Hare

The US title of An English Murder is, The Christmas Murder (1951):

Synopsis from

What would an English murder be? Why, it must be a murder of a kind entirely peculiar to England, such as are the murders related in this particularly ingenious novel. And, naturally, it takes a foreigner to savour the full Englishness of a specifically English crime. Such a foreigner is Dr. Bottwink who plays a very important part in the shocking events at Christmastide in Warbeck Hall. The setting seems, at first, to be more conventional than is usual in Mr. Hare's detective stories. The dying and impoverished peer, the family party, the snow-bound castle, the faithful butler and his ambitious daughter. But this is all part of Mr. Hare's ingenious plan, and there is nothing at all conventional about the murders themselves and the manner of their detection. In short, this is a peculiarly enjoyable dish of murder.

Read more about Cyril Hare and his crime novels, here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Terry Pratchett news

The papers today report that Terry Pratchett "is suffering from a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's":
The author has published a statement on a website calling the diagnosis "an embuggerance". Pratchett, who is 59, says that he is taking the news "fairly philosophically" and "possibly with mild optimism". He adds that the statement, posted yesterday on the website of his illustrator Paul Kidby, "should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'" and says that he expects to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments.
Terry Pratchett's statement can be read here.

Terry Pratchett is one of the few non-crime authors that I read. I do tend to stockpile the latest books by my favourite authors especially when they look like they may stop writing soon, for whatever reason, so as to have a cache.

It's Christmas Crime (2) - M C Beaton (b)

M C Beaton's Hamish Macbeth series is one of my favourites. I first started buying them when Murder One was in Denmark Street. After the success of the Agatha Raisin series, Constable and Robinson are printing the newest Hamish next year along with reprints of the earlier titles. I'm currently on a Hamish binge to get myself up to date in time for the new hardback, 'Death of a Gentle Lady'.

A Highland Christmas is a novella length mystery, the 16th entry in the soon to be 24 book series and the only one I think to not include any murders.

Synopsis (from

Christmas is an ancient Roman festival, not to be celebrated by decent folk in the Scottish Highlands. Police Constable Hamish Macbeth has always loved the festivities, but this year he is stuck with the long, lonely Christmas shift in freezing Lochdubh. A cranky old lady kicks off the holidays by reporting her cat missing. Then the Christmas lights and tree in a nearby village disappear soon after the local council voted to allow decorations. As Hamish finds a way to bring Christmas to the Highlands and make a little girl's dreams come true, he finds, to his delight, that he has the best Christmas ever.

You can read an excerpt on the page.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Christmas Crime (again) (1) - M C Beaton (a)

Last year I posted synopses of a few books set at Christmas and New Year time and I propose to add a few more to the list this year.

Starting with Agatha Raisin and Kissing Christmas Goodbye.

Synopsis (from
Agatha is dreaming of a white Christmas, with plenty of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts in an open fire - but who will be joining her under the mistletoe? During the dark, grey days of early December Agatha is obsessed by only two things - Christmas, and her ex, James Lacey. Although she says she feels nothing for James now, she feels sure that planning the perfect Dickensian Christmas for all her friends will somehow reanimate her love. Even the murder of a Mrs Tamworthy, poisoned with hemlock at the local manor house, does little to distract Agatha from organising her perfect yuletide celebrations. And yet it should do, as Mrs Tamworthy had written to Agatha, telling her that one of her family wanted to see her dead before the year was out. Slightly guiltily (and belatedly), Agatha sets out to solve the case with the help of her new recruit, young Toni Gilmour.

You can read an excerpt here and also my review on Euro Crime.

Monday, December 10, 2007

All Grown Up and definitely off topic!

From this:

and this

to this in 7 months:

We found him exactly 7 months ago. Thank goodness for blog entries acting as a diary!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

New Reviews and Website Updates

Here are this week's new reviews, website updates and a competition reminder:

Latest Reviews:

Fiona Walker reviews Benjamin Black aka John Banville's second crime novel, The Silver Swan writing that "It's possible that Banville is the best writer at work in the genre at the moment";

Maxine Clarke reviews Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill which though lighter on the mystery side than The Coroner's Lunch, provides much to think about;

Maxine also reviews the latest in the 'only honest lawyer in Bari' series Reasonable Doubts by Gianrico Carofiglio calling it an "unpretentious, shiningly true book";

I review the debut book by author L C Tyler - the intriguingly entitled The Herring Seller's Apprentice, which is a very amusing and page-turning read

and Pat Austin is disappointed with Sue Walker's latest book, after the excellence of The Reckoning, she finds The Dead Pool slightly implausible and full of unlikeable characters.

Other Website Updates:

The Authors (599 homepages) page has been updated.

The New Releases pages have been updated.

In Books there are now bibliographies for 1170 authors.

I've added bibliographies for:
Wendy Burgess, Armand Cabasson, Jacques Chessex, Titania Hardie, Yves Jego & Denis Lepee, Simon Lewis, Bill Liversidge, Felicity McCall, Jessica Mann, Grace Monroe, Caro Peacock, Mark Radford, Jack Ross, Leigh Russell, Teresa Solana, Lesley Thomson and Shirley Worrall.

and updated the bibliographies for:
Kate Atkinson, Rhys Bowen, Simon Brett, Ken Bruen, Tom Cain, John Connolly, Colin Cotterill, Leif Davidsen, Ruth/R S Downie, Carola Dunn, Gavin Esler, Duncan Falconer, Jane Finnis, Philip Gooden, Peter Helton, Mick/M Herron, Suzette A Hill, Arnaldur Indridason, Claude Izner, Peter James, Peter Kerr, Clare Littleford, Stuart MacBride, Edward/A E Marston, Peter May, Pat McIntosh, Mark Mills, Hakan Nesser, Jean-Francois Parot, Michael Robotham, Graeme Roe, Sally Spencer, Shirley Wells, Kate Westbrook and Stella Whitelaw.

Current Competition (closing date 31 December):

Win a copy of Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (UK only)

(geographical restrictions are in brackets)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

November's Euro Crime Competition Winners

Here are the winners of November's Euro Crime competition (and the correct answer):

Prize=A copy of A Mysterious Affair of Style by Gilbert Adair

Which one of these titles was written by Agatha Christie?

b) The Murder of Roger Ackroyd


Sarah Laycock,
Liz Mellett (USA)
Dawn Taylor
John Teece
Ian Youngman

Enter this month's competition here.

There's always next year...

I regret that I've not had time to read this yet and it's had such good reviews that I know I'm missing out... I'll get to it one day!

On the Orion website for God's Spy, there's a trailer which is one of the more informative (and least cheesy) one's that I've seen.

You can also download a twelve page extract here.

A certain giant online website has the trade paperback priced at a bargain £5.99. The mass market paperback is due out in April.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Best Crime Fiction Books of 2007 (

Crime Fiction Dossier has a post on's 'Top 10 Editors' Picks: Mystery & Thrillers'. The list only includes one European title - In the Woods by Tana French.

The equivalent list on is quite different and again, the Euro Crime team has reviewed all the European ones:

Bad Luck and Trouble - Lee Child
Hurting Distance - Sophie Hannah
The Savage Garden - Mark Mills
Exit Music - Ian Rankin
Friend of the Devil - Peter Robinson

Still a month to go but if anyone wants to offer up their top British and (other) European reads for 2007, please feel free to list them in the comments...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New authors for Bitter Lemon Press

Yet again from The Bookseller:
Bitter Lemon Press has made two additions to its European list. François von Hurter bought world English-language rights in Catalan writer Teresa Solana's The Not So Perfect Crime from the Balcells agency.

World English-language rights to Goncourt Prize-winning French novelist Jacques Chessex's Le Vampire de Ropraz were also acquired direct from the author. Both novels are due in autumn 2008.
From Teresa Solana's webpage:
Teresa Solana has a degree in Philosophy from the University of Barcelona where she also studied Classical Philology. She is a literary translator and author of articles and essays about translation and has directed the Translators’ House in Tarazona. An Imperfect Crime (Edicions 62, 2006) is her first book. With this generic novel she has begun a series centered around two very different twins who team up to create a curious consulting company and end up becoming detectives. Short Cut to Paradise (Edicinos 62, 2007), the second novel of the series, builds a caustic and amusing satire about writers and the literary world.

Publishing Deal - Gavin Esler

Gavin Esler, the BBC correspondent, has already got three thrillers under his belt dating from the 1990s, but has a new one out next year as part of a two book-deal. 'A Scandalous Man' will be out next May, according to The Bookseller:
HarperCollins has signed up BBC correspondent Gavin Esler to a two-book fiction deal. The first novel, a political thriller entitled A Scandalous Man, will be published in May 2008. The deal for British Commonwealth rights in the two books was struck with Toby Eady Associates.

Publishing director Susan Watt said: "I have been looking for a strong political novel for some time-it's such a naturally rich background for character and drama-and here at last is one. It makes you understand completely the all-consuming adrenalin of political power. All of us here are enormously excited to be publishing this and look forward to a highly stimulating publication."

Esler was the chief America correspondent for the BBC, and is now one the main presenters of BBC Newsnight. He said: "We have never lived in a more political age-from Iraq and Afghanistan to recycling and global warming. And yet we have never been so suspicious of politicians. A Scandalous Man attempts to explain how we got here."

Quercus books to be optioned for filming?

From The Bookseller:

Quercus has signed a three-year first look deal with UK-based production company MARV Films, founded by "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" producer Matthew Vaughn. Under the agreement, MARV will have an exclusive window to review all of Quercus's fiction with a view to working with the publisher and its authors to option film rights.

MARV was founded by Vaughn in 2003, with marketer Kris Thykier becoming a partner in 2007. The company has produced the gangster film "Layer Cake" and the recent "Stardust", adapted from a Neil Gaiman novel.

Thykier said the deal marked a "new approach to working with British publishing houses." He added: "Anthony Cheetham, Mark Smith and Wayne Davis have quickly established Quercus as the most exciting publisher in the UK, with particular emphasis on the kind of strong thriller and crime genre material that we believe have a significant opportunity to translate to commercial, quality movies."

Anthony Cheetham, Quercus chairman, said: "In crime fiction there have always been strong links between book and film. Our new relationship with MARV will, I hope, allow Quercus to play a part in bringing some of the best new talent in crime writing to the attention of an exceptional team of film makers."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Caro Peacock=Gillian Linscott

Just to complete the story, I listened to the relevant part of Phil the Shelf last night and it was confirmed that Gillian Linscott is now writing as Caro Peacock. Despite her being an award winner, her last two books under her real name didn't sell well enough.

Here's the blurb for the first, of a projected three, in the Liberty Lane series:

Duelling, derring-do, and dastardly deeds are all in a day's work for Liberty Lane: a new heroine for fans of Matthew Hawkwood and Sarah Waters's Victorian novels. June 1837. She should have remained in the care of her sour aunt in Chalke Bissett, but Liberty Lane was never one to obey instructions. Eager to be reunited with her beloved father, she heads for Dover. But her hopes of surprising him as he steps off the boat are dashed by an anonymous note informing her that he has been killed in a duel at Calais, and commanding her to remain where she is and speak to no one. Thomas Jacques Lane -- radical, romantic, scholar, republican, gambler and devoted father -had led an unconventional life. His movements in the days leading up to his death are a mystery, but of one thing Liberty is certain: he would never have taken part in a duel, for it went against everything he believed in. And if the author of the anonymous note expected her to swallow this lie and meekly obey his command to stay put, he had severely underestimated Liberty Lane. With no resources bar her own wits, she immediately sets sail for Calais in pursuit of the truth - and her father's killer. And as the nation prepares to celebrate the coronation of young Queen Victoria, Liberty uncovers a treasonable plot which could lead to another vicious civil war!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

New Reviews and a New Competition

Here are this week's new reviews, website updates and a new competition:

Latest Reviews:

In Mike Ripley's latest Crime File, he reviews ''Losing Ground' by Catherine Aird, 'Swansea Terminal' by Robert Lewis and 'Cop Killer' and 'The Terrorists' by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo;

Maxine Clarke reviews the most recent Brunetti novel by long-term Venice resident Donna Leon: Suffer the Little Children;

Terry Halligan reviews the unusual The Mystery Writer which has the author, Jessica Mann, as one of the main characters;

Laura Root reviews the long awaited Charlie Priest novel, Grief Encounters by Stuart Pawson which should appeal to fans of Dalziel and Pascoe and Inspector Banks

and Maxine has no trouble keeping up with the characters in her first but the author's sixteenth entry in the series - Sins of the Fathers by Sally Spencer.

Other Website Updates:

The New Releases pages have been updated.

NEW Competition (closing date 31 December 2007):

Win a copy of Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill (UK only)

(geographical restrictions are in brackets)

Phil Rickman's radio show

Maybe the mystery of Caro Peacock will be revealed on Phil Rickman's radio show on BBC Radio Wales, later this evening...

17:32 Phil the Shelf

5/7. Phil Rickman talks to writers Ariana Franklin, Caro Peacock and Robert Goddard. The Shelf Starter comes from Sarah Hollins from Aberdare.

The show is "Phil Rickman's round-up of the best in new books, including the Shelf Starter slot where listeners' manuscripts get the big novel treatment."

More information on the programme is on Phil Rickman's website and you can listen again online here.

Phil Rickman writes the Merrily Watkins series, now published by the nice people at Quercus.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Let the countdown begin...

It's been a long day at work today so not much blogging tonight. The new reviews will go as usual tomorrow. I did spot that the cover for the next Jo Nesbo is now up on

Publication date is 6th March 2008. If you've not yet begun reading the Harry Hole series, though this is a serious oversight which should be rectified immediately, you do have the chance to read them in the original publication order viz: The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil's Star which are #3,#4 and #5 in the series.