Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Synopsis: Former State Department expert Louis Morgon finds a murdered body on the doorstep of his charming little house in France, and he and the local gendarme team up to solve the murder.
Synopsis: From the critically acclaimed author of Le Crime, published in hardcover as A French Country Murder, comes this electrifying sequel featuring former CIA operative Louis Morgon and his partner-in-crime-solving, Jean Renard, the gendarme of their small French village.
Louis Morgon is living a quiet life of good food, good wine, and good friends. When his house is burglarized, he thinks nothing of it. But the burglar and the motive for the burglary are not as simple as they seem. And the consequences of the seemingly trivial break-in will lead Louis and his loved ones to the end of the earth---and quite possibly to the end of their lives.
The UK release date is September, when I hope to give one of them a try.
From the BBC press release:
The year is 2013. Thames House is gone and regional MI5 Field Offices have sprung up in its place. Are six young new recruits tough, moral and clever enough to protect Britain's future...?
London has been evacuated following a nuclear bomb and the country's power base has shifted north. In the wake of the attack, MI5 must completely restructure and establish field offices across the UK, working to gather intelligence from the very heart of local communities.
They need young, new officers on the ground – and fast. Luckily, Britain's youth is more than up to the challenge and is fighting back from the attack with a new sense of patriotism, combined with the hedonism that comes from being face to face with their own mortality. It is members of this new generation of patriots who help make up MI5's new Field Office 19.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
For over 900 years Trinity has been an elite playground solely for the über-rich and powerful. But for the first time in its long and illustrious history, Trinity is about to throw open its doors to students from, well, the lower social classes.Trinity is expected to air later this year.
Two weeks before Charlotte Arc is due to go to University to study medicine, her father is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Formerly a professor at Trinity, he left the institution suddenly and with no explanation. Convinced he was a changed man, and certain his death is linked to his abrupt departure, she enrols, determined to uncover the truth.
As Charlotte and her fellow students settle in, they begin to realise that all is not what it seems at Trinity. Beneath the glossy, glamorous veneer of wealth and privilege lurks a darker world, one governed by strict codes of conduct, secret societies such as the mysterious Dandelion Club, and the whims of a select group of over-privileged students used to getting their own way.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Norman Price reviews Ariana Franklin's follow-up to her prize winning Mistress and the Art of Death - Death Maze (aka The Serpent's Tale) and finds it good but not as good as the first in the series;
Mike Ripley reviews the latest excellent espionage thriller from Alan Furst - The Spies of Warsaw;
Terry Halligan reviews Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner, set during the Universal Exhibition of 1889;
Maxine Clarke reviews the newest from Peter James: Dead Man's Footsteps, a story that encompasses 9/11 in "a realistic, exciting yet dignified way";
Geoff Jones reviews E V Seymour's The Last Exile and his advice is to stick with it as it gets much better
and I review the latest available on audio book in the Marjory Fleming series by Aline Templeton: Lying Dead - it's a fine police procedural series coupled with a brilliant narrator in the shape of Cathleen McCarron.
Win a copy of The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin*
* no restrictions on entrants (ends 31 July)
Which one of the following authors does not write a series set in Istanbul?
a) Barbara Nadel
b) Craig Russell
c) Mehmet Murat Somer
[All emails will be deleted after the closing date, once the winners have been notified.]
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Jason Goodwin's series features Yashim the Eunuch. Read the Euro Crime reviews of: The Snake Stone and The Bellini Card and enter this month's competition to win a copy of The Bellini Card (no geographical restrictions).
Synopsis: On August 22, 1911, the world was shocked by an audacious crime: Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. Although some people suspected subversive artists like Picasso or Apollinaire of perpetrating the theft, no arrests were made. Two years later, an Italian named Vincenzo Perugia was detained after attempting to sell the Mona Lisa to an antiques dealer in Florence -- but the mystery of the theft itself was never satisfactorily resolved.
In his spellbinding novel Valfierno, Martín Caparrós tackles this enigma, presenting us with a fascinating criminal unable to go to his grave without divulging the details of his outrageous heist. In tantalizing conversations with an American journalist, the Marqués de Valfierno sheds light on his past secrets, including his sordid origins as Bollino, son of a Buenos Aires servant woman, a man ultimately transformed into the most notorious con artist in the world. A sly and consummate entertainer, Valfierno reveals the shifting identities of the anonymous Argentine boy who has gone on to become a veritable artist, creating for himself the perfect role of wealthy aristocrat in Belle Époque Paris as he prepares for his crime.
Featuring an engaging cat-and-mouse drama and unforgettable characters, Valfierno is a brilliant fictionalisation of the greatest theft of the twentieth century, as well as a compelling psychological portrait of a true mastermind. Valfierno, Caparrós's eighth novel, won the prestigious Premio Planeta award in 2004.Read an excerpt here. The UK publication date is 15 September.
Friday, July 25, 2008
25-27 SeptemberThe literary events include appearances by Stella Rimington, Peter James, Christopher Fowler, Anne Perry and the popular Foul Play event by Simon Brett and co which has decamped from Harrogate to Crime Scene. There's also a preview of the new Poirot, Mrs McGinty's Dead, with the possible attendance of David Suchet and I quite fancy going to see OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.
A film and literature festival devoted to the world's most popular fiction genre, TCM Crime Scene is screening at the ICA for the first time this year. We have international previews from around the globe, a Bertrand Tavernier retrospective and special TV events including an evening dedicated to Spooks. The literature section of the festival is based up the road at the rather elegant Waterstone's Piccadilly.
From Publishers Weekly:
Amanda Murray at S&S has acquired U.S. rights to the first two books in a mystery series set in New Delhi and described as the Indian answer to Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling series set in Botswana. The books feature a fastidious sleuth named Vish Puri, and the first book is titled Vish Puri: The Case of the Missing Servant. Emma Parry made the deal, and rights have already been sold to McClelland & Stewart in Canada and to Hutchinson in the U.K. (via auction); to Record in Brazil and to Mondadori in Italy (via preempt). Author Tarquin Hall, who divides his time between England and India, is the author of three works of nonfiction, Salaam Brick Lane, To the Elephant Graveyard and Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits. S&S will publish the first book in spring 2009.Another comparison to Alexander McCall Smith...
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Synopsis: Reserved, honourable Mr Malik. You wouldn’t notice him in a Nairobi street – except, perhaps, to comment on his carefully sculpted comb over – but beneath his unprepossessing exterior lies a warm heart and a secret passion. Not even his friends at the Asadi Club know it, but Mr Malik is head-over-heels in love with the leader of the Tuesday morning bird walk of the East African Ornithological Society, Rose Mbikwa.
While Mr Malik hesitantly plans how he will ask Rose to the annual Hunt Ball, flashy Harry Kahn arrives in town and makes it clear that he too has Rose in his sights. When Mr Malik blurts out his feelings at the Club a wager is set - whoever sees the most birds in a week will ask Rose to the ball.
With boats, planes and guides to get him to the choicest bird-watching spots in Kenya, Harry Kahn's soon noting down everything from pearl-breasted swallows to spur-winged plovers. But Mr Malik's not so easily beaten and with unorthodox methods and far-flung adventures of his own, he's determined to stay in the game.
Read the first chapter online.
Zoe Ferraris's PILGRIMAGE, a sequel to the recently published literary mystery FINDING NOUF, following a Muslim detective into the Saudi desert as he helps an American woman find her missing husband, and continues to manage the conflict between his religious beliefs and his desire for a family, to Anjali Singh at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, by Julie Barer at Barer Literary (NA).
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Jonas Bechmann, a defense attorney, is a man of the system. Until the day he himself is accused of murder. Taking matters into his own hands, he throws himself into the hunt for a group of blackmailers who threaten to expose him as the killer. But nothing is what it appears to be, and the blackmail links back to his father's death under mysterious circumstances a year and a half earlier.Watch the trailer on the Twitch site.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
But I do know that fictional crime east of Germany time and again beats fictional Eurocrime.Read the rest of the review on the Stacked blog.
Blurb from amazon.co.uk:
A cutting-edge international thriller set in the world of hackers, techno-thieves and inside traders for fans of John Grisham. Henrietta 'Harry' Martinez lost her investment banker father, Sal, at a young age. He taught her everything he knew - about taking risks and calculating odds. But Sal made a bad gamble when he went into business with 'The Prophet', an anonymous trader who claims Harry owes him now her father's jailed for fraud. It's twelve million euros. Or her life. With no money and little time, Harry must track down Sal's crooked partners and escape the people on her trail -- journalists, police and hired killers. But Harry has her own skills, honed by her father, skills her enemies haven't anticipated. Now, from the London Stock Exchange to the casinos of the Bahamas, the chase is on. The stakes are high. And the bets are off!
Patrick Janson-Smith, now happily installed at HarperCollins and back from being fêted in New York, has made his first buys for his Blue Door imprint. He has secured WEL rights from Judith Murdoch to Anne Berry's debut The Hungry Ghosts, a novel set mostly in 1960s Hong Kong and telling the story of Alice Safford, the unloved and unwanted third girl in a family of four siblings who becomes possessed by the angry ghost of a Chinese rape victim. Janson-Smith describes it as "an absolute stunner of a novel: a family saga with magical-realist overlays, beautifully written and compulsively readable”. Berry, who was born in Aden and grew up in Hong Kong, now lives in Surrey.
He has also bought EDS Dylan Thomas Prize-winner Rachel Trezise's novel Shades of Crazy, which will "do for Cardiff what Trainspotting did for Edinburgh". Hers is "a beguilingly original voice” and she writes about "the underbelly of society with both insight and humour”. Broo Doherty of Wade & Doherty was the agent, and the deal was for UK/Commonwealth.
Finally, Janson-Smith has acquired Dead Spy Running, "one of the classiest thrillers I've read in ages”. Bought from Claire Paterson of Janklow & Nesbit, it is the first of a series written by the Daily Telegraph's Jon Stock.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Also, from the Guardian:
Speaking to the Guardian earlier today, the chairman of the judges, Val McDermid, was keen to claim Penny's novel for the crime fiction genre. "This is a book about a murder and its consequences," she said, "and that's a crime novel almost by definition."
According to McDermid, the distinction between crime and literary fiction is becoming increasingly blurred and irrelevant. She described the decision as a straightforward judgment on the quality of the books in front of the panel: "The consensus was that this was the outstanding book."
The judges had no intention to shift the public's perception of crime fiction, she said, adding that crime writers have been writing quality fiction for years. "If it changes people's attitude to crime fiction that's a bonus," she continued, "but it wasn't the judges' motivation."
ITV1 director of television Peter Fincham has commissioned a new "event" drama based around a car crash.
The serial of five hour-long instalments will feature "the largest collision ever shot in the UK" and centre on a group of people thrown together by the smash.
Collision is penned by Foyle's War writer Anthony Horowitz, with Mike Walker (Does God Play Football?), and is scheduled to air in February.
"Beyond the crumpled cars and the beleaguered emergency services are a series of invisible dramas that are rarely told, from Government cover-ups and smuggling, to embezzlement and murder," said an ITV preview.
"The serial ends with a devastating twist that will show all this death and mayhem was caused by the tiniest and most insignificant detail."
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Ann (Cleeves) started off by asking people how they'd found the Mari Jungstedt books Unseen and Unspoken. The poor quality of the translation was commented on which lead to Ron Beard from Quercus commenting on a similar problem with Helene Tursten's The Torso which also has an American translation. Ann then moved on to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson which Maxine Clarke and I enthused about.
Also sitting in with the session was Johan Theorin who explained about some of the Swedish crime fiction prizes including The Sherlock which was cancelled in 1987 due to lack of suitable entries. The genre was kick-started by Henning Mankell in the 1990s.
Ann mentioned that Mankell's books always start with a vivid scene eg a chair in the middle of an empty road - a technique she has nicked - and hopes that the Kenneth Branagh tv series will brings his books back to prominence.
Maxine spoke more about Helene Tursten and the debt owed to the masters, Sjowall and Wahloo the husband and wife team who wrote ten books starring Martin Beck, after whom a prize has been named.
Ann then went round the other Nordic countries beginning with Norway; Karin Fossum's work was touched on, in particular Black Seconds and Don't Look Back and then (my personal favourite) Jo Nesbo including my plea for people to read The Redbreast first.
Then representing Denmark - Leif Davidsen. Lime's Photograph was praised and I mentioned the excellent The Serbian Dane.
For Iceland, of course Arnaldur Indridason and there was some discussion of the Dagger winning Silence of the Grave.
And for Finland, Maxine spoke up for Ice Moon by Jan Costin Wagner a haunting book written by a German author who spends half the year in Finland.
A general discussion of recommendations brought up the Eric Winter series by Ake Edwardson and The Beast by Roslund-Hellstrom.
Many more authors can be found on the Euro Crime website, by country: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In the meantime, you can enter the competition, browse the bibliography section, read the reviews or have a look at what's coming out this month and beyond.
On TV Scoop in June, writer Ashley Pharaoh had this to say about the next series:
"We've just handed in episode one. It's set in 1982, so the Falklands have just happened. We're taking it slightly darker this time, now the characters have been established. The first episode is about a murder in a strip club in Soho, and there's a lot of the 80s left and it's a good excuse to get the music off iTunes. I'd like to do another series after this one too; Matthew and I have a big story we want to tell when the whole thing ends."There's a longer interview with the writers of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes on the Manchester Evening News site.
An Italian prosecutor is awarded for his fiction portraying the Italian style of justiceCarofiglio is a firm favourite of the Euro Crime team. Do read our reviews of the Guido Guerrieri series: Involuntary Witness, A Walk in the Dark, Reasonable Doubts and the standalone The Past is a Foreign Country.
Bremen -- An Italian prosecutor who writes books part-time is to receive a German literature prize for the best detective fiction this September in the northern city of Bremen.
The panel of judges picked Gianrico Carofiglio as winner of the Radio Bremen Krimipreis, an annual award worth 2,500 euros, noting his skill at describing the complexities of justice Italian style.
His recent international successes include the novel A Walk in the Dark.
He will be handed the award on September 24th at Prime Time Crime Time, a festival for lovers of crime-solving fiction.
Carofiglio is a public prosecutor and adviser to Italy's anti-Mafia commission.
The prize, backed by public broadcaster Radio Bremen, alternates year by year between a German author and a non-German author.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
HarperCollins has acquired Jack Higgins’ new novel A Darker Place. Wayne Brookes, who acquired UK and Commonwealth rights excluding Canada for a high six-figure sum from Ed Victor, said the novel was Higgins’ take on the case of former Russian security official Alexander Litvinenko.Hat tip to Petrona!
Monday, July 14, 2008
The two books, Everyone Says Hello by Dan Abnett and Hidden by Steven Savile are exclusive to audio and couldn't be more opposite.
Everyone Says Hello begins with unexplained rift activity and Owen being called to the Hub. On his way in he notices that everyone is being particularly friendly and offering up interminable family history and preferences. He jokingly asks Jack if that's the reason they've been called in and it soon turns out to be true. Tosh and Ianto stay behind at the Hub to find the source of the disruption whilst Jack, Owen and Gwen, complete with protective wristbands, head out. They discover that most of the local population have turned into 'greeters' with some exceptions including PC Pratt who joins them. Unfortunately for Jack, he cracks his wristband and begins to succumb to the 'infection'. Can the team stop him going over to the friendly side and can they stay alive themselves? Paying homage to classic Trek, Jack pulls a Captain Kirk on the aliens to save the day.
Whilst the plot of Everyone Says Hello is fairly straightforward, Hidden is anything but simple and indeed the answers and details of what's occured remained hidden, at least to me. It begins with the crash of an Environment Agency helicopter with the loss of the pilot and passengers (I was a bit distracted by this as I used to work for the EA) which is shortly followed by two other accidents. Jack is upset when he hears about the deaths and strides out of the Hub leaving the rest of the Torchwood gang puzzled and unable to contact him. Ianto is sent out to a fertility clinic and Owen and Gwen off to an archaelogical find - the tomb of an alchemist who was working on having eternal life. The action then steps up with Ianto being chased in a car and later Owen and Gwen being shot at. Quite exciting stuff but the reasons behind it all do not make much sense in the final analysis.
Burn Gorman nails the accents of his fellow human team members and does a variety of Welsh accents credibly but he cannot or does not attempt to mimic Jack as played by John Barrowman. There's only an occasional hint of an American accent. Meanwhile Naoko Mori is able to capture Owen and does a very good Captain Jack but struggles with Gwen and Ianto and in a conversation between Gwen and Owen I couldn't tell who was speaking.
In conclusion, Everyone Says Hello is well narrated, easy to follow and amusing in parts. Hidden is convoluted, a mess of a story and the narration quality is a bit variable.
And now this news from Digital Spy:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer will return in video game form for an exclusive Nintendo DS title.How much longer can I hold out? And should I give in now?
Publisher 505 Games will launch Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Sacrifice for the handheld console this November.
The game, penned by TV series writer Rob Deshotel, will be similar in style to the 2002 third-person Xbox Buffy game. The story is thought to take place after the events of the hit show's final season.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
A big welcome to Amanda Brown whom I met at CrimeFest and who has agreed to review for Euro Crime! In her first review she takes on Simon Hall's The Death Pictures which she writes is "a compelling thriller";
Fiona Walker reviews There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union by Reginald Hill - a collection of six short stories which has just been republished;
I enjoyed The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg but I think other people have enjoyed it more. I found it quite cosy in spite of the nature of some of the crimes that have occurred;
Kerrie Smith reviews Ladies of Class by Marjorie Owen, a traditional village mystery set in the 1960s;
Terry Halligan reviews Timebomb by Gerald Seymour and finds that Seymour's books get better and better
and Maxine continues her Scandinavian crime fiction odyssey with Helene Tursten's The Torso calling it one of the "best police-procedurals I have ever read".
Win a copy of The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin*
* no restrictions on entrants (ends 31 July)
Friday, July 11, 2008
I'm eagerly awaiting My Soul to Take which is out in January:
A grisly murder is committed at a new age health resort situated in a recently renovated farmhouse, which turns out to be notorious for being haunted. The attorney Thora Gudmundsdottir, the protagonist of Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s bestseller, Last Rituals, is called upon by the owner of the resort, who is the prime suspect in the case, to represent him. Thora’s investigation reveals horrible occurrences at the farm some decades ago – things that had not seen the light of day …
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Duncan Lawrie Dagger: Frances Fyfield for Blood From Stone
The International Duncan Lawrie Dagger: Dominique Manotti for Lorraine Connection, (translated from the French by Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz)
Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: Tom Rob Smith for Child 44
Non-Fiction Dagger: Kester Aspden for Nationality: Wog - The Hounding of David Oluwale
John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: Matt Rees for The Bethlehem Murders
Dagger in the Library: Craig Russell
Short Story Award: Martin Edwards for The Bookbinder's Apprentice
Debut Dagger: Amer Anwar for Western Fringes
Catherine O'Flynn - What Was LostAnd a couple of audio books I can strongly recommend are:
Yrsa Sigurdardottor - Last Rituals (review to follow)
Fred Vargas - This Night's Foul Work
Minette Walters - The Chameleon's Shadow
R D Wingfield - A Killing Frost (reviewed by Fiona Walker)
With the exception of Deon Meyer, all the authors are European. I rarely have time to read anything non European or non crime, though recently I have made a few exceptions for Doctor Who and Torchwood books/audio books as well as non crime author Xiaolu Guo.
On van de Wetering
Dutch crime writer Janwillem van de Wetering, 77, died on July 4, 2008, following a struggle with cancer. Best-known for his Amsterdam Cops series, Soho Press will be reissuing all 14 of van de Wetering's Soho Crime novels in paperback, beginning this fall.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Faber has acquired a début crime series by Adam Creed, who runs prison project Free to Write. The three-book deal was struck with Patrick Walsh at Conville and Walsh, with foreign rights also sold to Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The books will all feature London policeman Detective Inspector Wagstaffe. The series kicks off with Suffer the Children, in which it appears that child abuse victims are enacting their own retribution and murdering known paedophiles.
As Wagstaffe investigates the case, figures from his own past start emerging.
Julia Wisdom at HarperCollins has bought British Commonwealth rights in a period crime trilogy from journalist and reviewer Mark Sanderson, who writes the Sunday Telegraph’s Literary Life column.
The deal was done through Jonny Geller at Curtis Brown, who said that HC “snapped up” the books on the basis of a partial manuscript in a six-figure deal. HC is understood to have paid £100,000 for the trilogy.
The novels are set in 1930s London around Fleet Street and the City, and feature a court reporter, John Steadman, and Matt Turner, a policeman from Snow Hill police station. “The books are based on research Sanderson did into rumours and scandals that came out of that station in the 1930s,” Geller said.
The first novel, with a working title of Snow Hill, is to be published in trade paperback in August 2009, with the other books following at annual intervals.
Thanks go to Petrona for the link.
Transworld publisher Selina Walker has bought three new novels from crime writer Simon Kernick, whose Relentless was a “Richard & Judy” Summer Read last year.
Walker bought British Commonwealth rights (including Canada) from Amanda Preston at Luigi Bonomi Associates for a six-figure sum.
Headline has won UK and Commonwealth rights in Imogen Robertson’s début novel, Instruments of Darkness.
The book—a historical murder mystery set against the backdrop of 1780s London and the American War of Independence—was signed by Headline deputy m.d. Jane Morpeth in a “very substantial” pre-empt bid from Annette Green at the Annette Green Agency.
Green called the book “powerful, compelling, mysterious, grotesque and brutal; an utterly enthralling read”. The book grew out of an entry Robertson submitted to the Daily Telegraph’s “Novel in a Year” writing feature and competition.
Her 1,000-word submission and synopsis was one of five winning entries chosen last summer by a panel of judges including novelist Louise Doughty, author of the newspaper’s feature. Robertson is a TV director.
Morpeth said it was “an extremely impressive first novel” and a rare signing for her since she became deputy m.d. at Headline in 2006. “I have a very small list of authors that I work with and rarely commission, but I couldn’t resist Imogen’s novel.”
Headline will release it in 2009.
Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's BARQUE CATS, like sailing ships of old, spaceships have cats but in space they are rare and valuable; what humans do not know is that the cats are plotting to take over the universe, to Sue Moe at Del Rey, in a two-book deal, by Donald Maass at Donald Maass Literary Agency, in association with Diana Tyler at MBA Literary Agents in London (NA).
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
The Dutch writer Janwillem van de Wetering, famous for the Grijpstra & de Gier series of crime novels, has died at the age of 77.
His crime novels featuring the detectives Grijpstra and De Gier were based on Mr Van de Wetering's own experiences as a police officer in Amsterdam between 1966 and 1975.
The Grijpstra & de Gier novels later became the basis for a successful film and television series. He also wrote a trilogy based on the time he spent at a Japanese Zen Buddhist monastery.
Most of Mr Van de Wetering's novels were based on his own experiences in various parts of the world. He also lived and worked in South Africa, Colombo, Peru and Australia. At the time of his death, he was living in the US state of Maine.
Watch the trailer below:
There's plenty more material at the official website.
Stars including Richard E. Grant, Alan Davies and Amanda Burton are to appear in the final two Miss Marple dramas with Geraldine McEwan.The ITV press release has further cast details and an episode guide. (Towards Zero also stars Tom Baker...)
ITV has released details of Nemesis and Towards Zero, the last instalments filmed with McEwan before her retirement.
Nemesis, which will air in August, sees Miss Marple sent on a coach tour in a message from a recently deceased man named Mr Rafiel. Stars will include Grant, Johnny Briggs, Burton and Will Mellor.
Towards Zero, in which Marple investigates a murder at a sexually-charged party held by an aristocrat, features Dame Eileen Atkins, Tom Baker, Julie Graham and Paul Nicholls.
Julia McKenzie will take up the role of Miss Marple in a new series next year.
NB Towards Zero was filmed in Salcombe.
Wetworld begins with the TARDIS landing on the swamp planet of Sunday. It only takes a few minutes for the TARDIS to be submerged in deep water with Martha still inside. Martha is kidnapped by an underwater creature and the Doctor goes for help to recover the TARDIS. He quickly discovers a group of humans who are the advance party, making the world suitable for Earth's overspill population. Martha is soon recovered but why is she desperate to return to the water and why are the otters, captured by the settlers, changing from aggressive and stupid to friendly and clever?
The Last Dodo sees Martha and the Doctor aiming for Mauritius so that Martha can see a real life dodo. Unfortunately the 'automatic dodo detector' sends the TARDIS to MOTLO, the Museum of the Last Ones, where Eve and her team capture the very last specimen of a species so as to keep the species 'alive' - the specimen is kept in stasis. The duo's arrival sets off a chain of events which leads to sabre tooth tigers back on Earth (and in the high street!) and culminates in the truth behind the creation of MOTLO.
Freema Agyeman's narration is eminently listenable to and she captures the Doctor's cadence and speech pattern well. She uses a number of accents to discriminate between the characters and I was impressed enough to pre-order The Pirate Loop.
Storywise though, it's hard to say how much the abridgement is to blame. Wetworld seemed particularly choppy, if you'll forgive the pun, with the action jumping from one scene to the next, in particular Martha's rescue. The Last Dodo seemed much smoother.
The dialogue in Wetworld is also not as good as in The Last Dodo. The Doctor referring to the monster as "Slimey" and using a phrase such as "That's a bummer' didn't feel right. On the other hand, the dialogue in The Last Dodo appears much more like the tv series and includes the Doctor's excruciable jokes.
The Last Dodo is told mainly from Martha's point of view and in parts is told directly by her to the listener as if they were a friend on the end of the phone and thus it is especially suitable for narration by Freema Agyeman.
Both stories have a common underlying theme of green issues; the Doctor's abhorrence of cages for animals; his anger at the settlers using a heavily polluting fusion reactor on their new planet.
Coming soon, my random thoughts on the new(ish) Torchwood audio books: Everyone Say Hello and Hidden.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Here are this week's new reviews and details of the current competition:
In Mike Ripley's latest crime file he reviews, Typhoon by Charles Cumming, The Paper Moon by Andrea Camilleri and Home Before Dark by Charles Maclean;
Maxine Clarke reviews Colin Campbell's Through the Ruins of Midnight. The author is a former policeman and Maxine calls the story "exciting, tense and authentic";
Norman Price reviews this month's competition prize (see details below on how to enter): The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin saying that it's "top quality well written crime fiction";
Laura Root reviews the intriguingly named The Man with the Lead Stomach by Jean-Francois Parot, which is the second in the series and she recommends it to "those readers who enjoy a gripping but intelligent yarn";
Amanda Gillies gives her opinion of The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel, writing that "at the same time as being repulsed, you are drawn to finish it"
and Maxine has found another stunning Scandinavian crime writer in the shape of Johan Theorin, whose debut, Echoes from the Dead is the one crime novel you must read this year.
Win a copy of The Bellini Card by Jason Goodwin*
* no restrictions on entrants (ends 31 July)
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Martin Shaw is back as George Gently. The first of two new episodes is on at 8pm on Sunday. From the BBC press release:
Following the success of his first television outing last year, George Gently is back with two gripping new cases for BBC One, adapted for the screen by Peter Flannery (Our Friends In The North) and Mick Ford (William And Mary) from the George Gently series of novels by Alan Hunter.
Martin Shaw reprises his role as Inspector George Gently, whose impassioned investigations reveal the dark underbelly of a society on the cusp of change. The dramas are set in 1964 Northumberland.
Martin Shaw is joined once again by Lee Ingleby (Wind In The Willows) who stars as the ambitious Detective Sergeant John Bacchus. Guest stars Tim Healy (Auf Wiedersehen Pet) and Robert Glenister (Hustle) complete the stellar cast.
The first of the two self-contained dramas is Bomber's Moon, which sees Gently and Bacchus investigating the death of Gunter Schmeikel, a returning German POW whose body is found in the harbour of a small fishing village.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
There's always been an audience for foreign fiction, a willing readership who want to discover the world through different voices. But the perception is that translated works are literary and difficult - fine if you like that sort of thing, a bit off-putting if not. Harvill, who specialise in precisely this kind of fiction, recognised that Murakami potentially had a wider appeal.
The Murakami effect has obviously benefited other Japanese writers such as Ryu Murakami (no relation), Hitomi Kanehara and Natsuo Kirino, but it's also helped people cast off negative preconceptions. Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadows of the Wind was a number-one bestseller, proving sales and translations are not mutually exclusive. This is especially true of crime writing, with more and more foreign novels appearing in translation. Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, Anne Elliot, Boris Akunin and the irresistible Fred Vargas deliver unusual and compelling novels and are valued as highly as their English-writing contemporaries.
Excellent original novels, combined with publishers who believe in them and good translators, mean it's now as commercially viable to publish and promote novels in translation as it's ever been. Hopefully the days of waiting 18 years for your debut collection to appear in English are well and truly over, and fiction as superlative as Ogawa's won't be lost to English language readers anymore.