Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reading Challenges 2011

Here are a few reading challenges for 2011 which might appeal to fans of British and other European crime fiction.

1. Dorte has set up the Global Reading Challenge for 2011 which has an easy, medium and expert level. In a slight change to last year there is a "seventh continent" category (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it).

Sign up on the blog.

2. Amy of The Black Sheep Dances is following 2010's Scandinavian Reading Challenge with the Eastern European Reading Challenge:

Regions: Choose titles about or by an author from any of the following regions: Croatia, Ukraine, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Hungary, Belarus, Estonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Rep., Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Moldova, and Kosovo.

Titles: Can be any genre: crime, poetry, literary fiction, history, historical fiction, memoirs, etc.

tourist: 4 books over the 12 months
ambassador: 8 books over 12 months
scholar: 12 books over 12 months

Sign up on the blog where there are already some suggestions as to titles to try. Crime wise, I have short pages for authors born in Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and the catch-all of Eastern Europe. Non European authors setting their books in Eastern Europe include Michael Genelin (Slovakia), Olen Steinhauer (fictional Eastern Europe country) and Dan Fesperman's Vlado Petric series (Sarajevo).

3. There is also an Ireland Reading Challenge, run by Books and Movies:
Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, counts for the challenge – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply.

~ Choose your commitment level:

Shamrock level: 2 books
Luck o’ the Irish level: 4 books
Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 6 books

I have lists of Irish and Northern Irish crime writers.

Sign up on the blog.

4. Or you could sign up for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge at My Reader's Block:

All books must have been written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

*No matter what level you choose, please try at least two different vintage authors.

Challenge Levels:

In a Murderous Mood: 4-6 Books
Get a Clue: 7-9 Books
Hot on the Trail: 10-12 Books
Capture the Criminal: 13-15 Books
Take 'Em to Trial: 16+ Books


The Golden Age Girls*: Read 5-7 books from female authors from the vintage years

Cherchez Le Homme: Read 5-7 books from male authors from the vintage years

Sign up on the blog.

5. Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge over at Austenprose which involves reading various numbers of Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series. (hat tip Maxine)

6. Becky at The Bookette is hosting the British Books Challenge 2011:

So what is the British Books Challenge?
The BBC (hee hee) is a reading challenge where bloggers sign up to read books by British writers throughout 2011.

The books can be in print or out. Old or new titles. They can be from any genre and for any age. My blog is obviously focused on YA and children's literature but you are welcome to read adult novels if you wish.

There are two entry categories for the challenge:

Home Grown
This is for British bloggers who have access to many British books via their public libraries, fit-to-bursting bookshelves at home etc. The target is to read 12 novels. Thanks to The Story Siren for creating a formula with the Debut Author Challenge that really works - one British book a month should be easy peasy!

International Friend
For any wonderful bloggers living overseas who wish to support British writers.
You can choose to between:
Winston Churchill - Read 6 books by British authors in 2011
The Royal Family - Read 12 books by British authors in 2011

There will also be the chance to earn yourselves a Crown if you manage to read 50 books by British writers in the year. This is open to everyone because I want to give special treats to people who love to support British talent. You don't need to decide now if you are aiming to meet this target. I'll post about this much later in 2011.
I have separate lists for crime authors born in : England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The instructions on how to enter are on the blog.

7. There is also the Nordic Challenge at Notes from the North:

There will be 5 levels. The levels are
Huginn and Muninn: Read 2 books
Freya: Read 3-5 books
Tor: Read 6-10 books
Odin: Read 11-20 books
Valhalla: Read 20+ books

The Rules
There is no need to make a list before hand. Any book by any author born in a Nordic country (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and/or Sweden) or a book set in a Nordic country.
They can be from any genre (I will be reading a mixture of classics, children’s books, YA and mystery).
Sign up at the blog.

8. Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has set up the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Her intention "is to read her books in order, so that I can get some idea of what she is doing, problems she is attempting to solve, and her development as a writer".

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wallander on BBC4 (Pyramid)

The BBC4 Wallander series featuring Rolf Lassgard continues with Pyramid next Saturday at 9pm.

Detective Wallander is haunted by the spectre of a murder he was unable to prevent as a young policeman. Years after the event the daughter of the murder victim, now a heroin addict, dies of an overdose.

A distressed Wallander is assigned to investigate the crash of a light airplane and a detonated armour piercing shell is found in the wreckage. A few days later, two elderly sisters are killed in an explosion in a sewing supplies shop. Traces of an advanced explosive are found in the burnt-out shop and evidence soon mounts to indicate that both events are tied to a showdown between two rival narcotics gangs.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

OT: Icicle Icicle

The house behind ours has icicles covering the whole of their upstairs windows.

Lounge Window:

Upstairs Window:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas & Thank You

Happy Christmas to the much appreciated readers of this blog and the sister Euro Crime website. Plus a big thank you to the Euro Crime review team and the publishers who send out the review books. Thank you to those who've commented on the blog and to those who've sent comments, information and Christmas cards directly to me. I wish you all the best for 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Handy II (cover theme non crime fiction)

There are loads of these hand-cupping covers nowadays but these two (non crime) are very similar...

I thought the Lisa Kleypas cover looked familiar:

My mum has just read this one over Christmas.

Picture Perfect is in my first Handy post.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir tr. Bernard Scudder and Anna Yates (April 2010, Hodder Paperbacks, ISBN: 0340920661)

My Soul to Take is the second book to feature lawyer Thora and also sees the reappearance of German ex-policeman Matthew from Last Rituals.

Despite the wintry cover, this book takes place over a few days in June, which though not the height of the Icelandic summer, it isn't snowy!

Thora is called out to a recently opened New Age hotel to help the new owner sue the previous owners for not telling him that the site was haunted.

Thora sends her children to her ex-husband's and prepares to stay the weekend. But the particularly nasty murder of the hotel's architect means that Thora's detective instincts are re-awakened and she has a legitimate reason to investigate when her client is under suspicion and close to being arrested.

There are several guests and employees to be interviewed but Thora believes the answer to the present day murder lies in the past. Thora is joined by Matthew and their charming banter from Last Rituals is resumed.

My Soul to Take is 450 pages long and I was hooked to the end. I had no idea who the killer was. I think it's fair to say that if the right question had been asked of the right person when they first met then this book would have been much shorter but I'm glad it wasn't. The length gives the reader background on Icelandic legends and Iceland's more recent past. I love spending time with the capable, intelligent Thora and the fastidious, willing Matthew and I wonder how their relationship will work out.

This is almost a closed location mystery, with various roadworks and bottlenecks limiting the suspects and poor mobile phone reception. It's not quite a traditional cosy though - a sex-therapist is available for consultation at the hotel!

Though not as gruesome as Last Rituals, there is an unpleasant prologue involving a child which, though there is no on-page violence, is one that lingers.

If the speed of my reading is related to the quality of the translation then this was very well done indeed and leaves me eager to read the next in the series Ashes to Dust.

Read more reviews of Yrsa's books at the Euro Crime website.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New-to-Me Authors in 2010

Currently I read less crime fiction than I used to, so my list of new-to-me authors read in 2010 is fairly short compared to some. The authors/books I have read in this category are listed below with links to my reviews where available. I would say that all of these books are worth a read for different reasons: unusual plot, different setting, etc. Badfellas, The Darkest Room and Thursday Night Widows are my favourites with an honourable mention to Dark Matter. (I've not included any North American authors or non-crime authors. I've left in translated authors from outside the EU!)
Tonino Benacquista - Badfellas
Roberto Bolano - The Skating Rink
Adam Creed - Willing Flesh
Pablo de Santis - Voltaire's Calligrapher
Michele Giuttari - The Death of a Mafia Don
Ernesto Mallo - Needle in a Haystack
Patricia Melo - Lost World
Claudia Pineiro - Thursday Night Widows
Linda Regan - Behind You!
Santiago Roncagliolo - Red April
Andrea Maria Schenkel - Ice Cold
Gunnar Staalesen - The Consorts of Death
Cath Staincliffe - The Kindest Thing
Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room
Valerio Varesi - River of Shadows
Juli Zeh - Dark Matter (apa In Free Fall)

Snowy Covers

Here are a few snowy covers. Only Snow Angels is set in Scandinavia. The last two covers are for books due out in 2011.

Some more snowy covers can be found here and here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snow Joke

When I left for work we'd has less than 1cm. When I got back 6.5 hours later we'd had 25cm. You can see the piles on top of the feeders. I managed to give the birds some food before it got dark but it was still snowing. All libraries in Birmingham closed at 12 today because of the difficulty for staff to get home and the gesture was much appreciated.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Review: The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg (audiobook)

The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg tr. Steven T Murray, read by Eamonn Riley (Oakhill Publishing, March 2010, 13 CDs, ISBN: 978-1-84648-884-9)

The Stonecutter is the third in the Patrik and Erica series set in the real-life summer getaway of Fjallbacka. As with The Preacher, The Stonecutter has Patrik investigating a crime with Erica more to the background, having not long given birth to their daughter and suffering from post-natal depression.

The body of a young girl is found in the sea by a fisherman. When Patrik is called to the scene, he recognises the girl as the daughter of Erica's new friend Charlotte. Initially the death is thought to have been an accident but it's soon clear that it was murder. Such a motiveless crime has Patrick and his team making slow progress. Charlotte and her husband Niclas are living with her mum, Lilian and her sick husband Stig. Lilian has been feuding with her neighbour and soon points the finger of blame at him and also his son who has Asperger's Syndrome. In addition Niklas is estranged from his parents who live in the same town. All the investigating and interrogating opens a huge can of worms and all the families involved will never be the same again.

Interspersed in the current day activities is the historical tale of a local stonecutter and his wife, told in short segments which eventually ties up with the present day.

The Stonecutter is a lengthy listen - 16 hours - but I enjoyed it very much. It's my favourite of the three so far. However it has to be said that Patrik's team, including himself, are not the most efficient set of police officers you'll come across. I think their slightly bumbling nature and their humorous banter adds to the cosy feel of these books - at least to me - even though the crimes are horrific. It feels removed from reality. I'd worked out quite a lot of what was going on before Patrik, who needed a US crime tv-show to point him in the right direction. I am especially looking forward to The Gallows Bird as there's a humdinger of a penultimate sentence in The Stonecutter.

Eamonn Riley's narration was very pleasant to listen to and it's very useful to hear the correct pronunciations for the Swedish names and places.

More reviews of Camilla Lackberg's books can be found on the Euro Crime website.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

January's Books to TV shows

The tv version of Michael Dibdin's Zen series will begin on 2 January on BBC One at 9pm. It starts with the second book in the series, Vendetta, and stars Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen. Cabal will be shown on 9 January. Read an interview with the stars, Rufus Sewell and Caterina Murino on the BBC website.

In Vendetta, Zen is called upon by the Ministry to re-investigate a multiple murder. Flamboyant millionaire and Government construction magnate Oscar Faso and his guests have been shot dead at his lavish villa. Prime suspect and friend of Faso, Renato Favelloni, has "found God" in prison and is retracting his confession, a move which stands to send shockwaves through Government – so Zen must intervene. All the evidence points towards Favelloni's guilt but Zen is convinced he is innocent. Zen heads into the mountains to investigate, reluctant to leave the promise of romance with Tania Moretti, the Chief's new assistant.

As he leaves, news breaks of another murder: Judge Bertolini, an anonymous figure in the Italian judicial system, is shot dead in his car. What Zen doesn't realise is that this unconnected murder is part of a vendetta carried out by a man wrongly imprisoned by Bertolini years earlier. More importantly, Zen's involvement in the case means he is next on the hit-list.

As he struggles between doing the right thing and saving his career, Zen must contend with hostile locals, an attempted kidnapping and a chase through a maze of underground tunnels while the killers draw ever closer to him.

The tv adaptation of the fourth book in the Anna Travis series, Deadly Intent, by Lynda La Plante is being shown in January. The first of the three-parter will be on 3 January at 9pm on ITV1.

DI Anna Travis (Kelly Reilly) is back after her promotion, reunited with DCS James Langton (Ciarán Hinds) and DCI Mike Lewis (Shaun Dingwall), who is also promoted to head up his first murder case, a fatal shooting in a notorious drug dealer’s squat. The victim is Frank Brandon (Callum Sutherland), disgraced ex-police officer and friend of Langton’s. The team discover that Frank has recently married Julia Larson (Stine Stengade), a glamorous, wealthy woman, after working as her driver. It’s an incongruous set-up, and Travis digs deeper into the not-so-grieving widow’s story.

You can read more about the plot and also "Lynda La Plante explains why her latest protagonists in Above Suspicion work so well" at the ITV website.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Speak No Evil - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Martyn Waites' Speak No Evil.

So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Martyn Waites?

If you have read it, how well do the covers match the story?

Here are the Euro Crime reviews by Michelle and Laura.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Reviews: Duns, Gowers, Marrinan, Peace, Schenkel, Waites

These are the last reviews I'll upload this year but I am aiming to post a new set on 2 January 2011. I'll soon be collating the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2010 and will post the result as soon as it's complete.

Terry Halligan reviews the paperback release of Free Agent by Jeremy Duns the first in a spy-thriller trilogy;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Twisted Heart by Rebecca Gowers which contains both a literary mystery and a love story;

Terry also reviews, and praises highly, Patrick Marrinan's legal thriller Degrees of Guilt;

Amanda Gillies reviews the Quercus hardback release of David Peace's 1977 the second part of the Red Riding Quartet;

Maxine Clarke reviews Bunker by Andrea Maria Schenkel, tr. Anthea Bell

and Laura Root reviews the US hardback release of Martyn Waites' Speak No Evil which she calls "quality British noir".
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

OT: It's Cat-urday (cat on pc 2)

Yesterday, one of the cats managed to lock me out of my machine, but fortunately a reboot sorted the matter. If you look closely you'll see that Foxy is trying to send a tweet!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Publishing Deal - Michael Ridpath

From today's Bookseller:
Corvus has extended deals with two of its big name authors, Michael Ridpath and Mario Reading.

The third and fourth instalments in Ridpath's Fire and Ice series were acquired by Cheetham, with the first title of the series, Where the Shadows Lie, to be published in February in paperback, and the second, 66 North, coming in hardback in June.
Read the Euro Crime review by Maxine of Where the Shadows Lie.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Publishing Deal - Ariana Franklin

News of the next book from Ariana Franklin, which is not an Adelia book. Not sure if it's a crime or a straight historical novel from this small snippet in today's Publishers Lunch Weekly email:
Mistress of the Art of Death series author Ariana Franklin's stand-alone medieval novel set during the chaotic and horrifying years of the war between Stephen and Matilda for the governance of England, to Putnam, for publication in 2012.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

BBC4 - Nordic & Italian Noir

I pored over the new Christmas tv-guide on my way home from work to see what delights are on over the 'festive' period and I spotted these two programmes and before I knew it, two emails from different people involved in them had arrived. As it's too early for the BBC4 website to have the information, here's what I've been sent:


Draw the curtains and dim the lights for a chilling trip north as Timeshift investigates the success of Scandinavian crime fiction – and why it exerts such a powerful hold on our imagination.

‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is a literary blockbuster that has introduced millions of readers to the phenomenon that is Scandinavian crime fiction – yet author Stieg Larsson spent his life in the shadows and didn’t live to see any of his books published. It’s one of the many mysteries this programme investigates as it travels to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in search of the genre’s most acclaimed writers and memorable characters.

The programme looks at Henning Mankell’s brooding Wallander series, with actor Krister Henriksson describing the challenge of bringing the character to the screen, and it asks why so many stories have a political subtext. Nordic Noir finds out how Stieg Larsson based the bestselling ‘Millennium’ trilogy on his work as an investigative journalist and it reveals the unlikely source of inspiration for his most striking character, Lisbeth Salander. The programme also meets Jo Nesbo, the Norwegian rock star turned writer tipped to inherit Larsson’s mantle, and Karin Fossum, an author whose personal experience of murder has had a profound effect on her writing.


Producer/Director: ROBERT MURPHY


Timeshift profiles a new wave of Italian crime fiction that has emerged to challenge the conventions of the detective novel. There are no happy endings in these noir tales only revelations about Italy’s dark heart – a world of corruption, unsolved murders and the mafia.

Italian Noir features exclusive interviews with the leading writers from this new wave of noir including Andrea Camilleri (Inspector Montablano Mysteries) and serving Judge Giancarlo De Cataldo (Romanzo Criminale) who explains how his work as a real life investigating judge inspired his work. From the other side of the law, Massimo Carlotto talks about how his novels were shaped by his wrongful conviction for murder and years spent on the run from the police.

The film also looks at the roots of this new wave. First Carlo Emilio Gadda (That Awful Mess) used the detective novel to expose the corruption that existed during Mussolini’s fascist regime and then after the Second World War Leonardo Sciascia’s crime novels (The Day of The Owl) tackled the rise of the Sicilian mafia. They established the rules of a new kind of noir that draws on real events and offers no neat endings.

Shot on location in Rome, Bologna and Florence, the film also features Italian writers Carlo Lucarelli and Barbara Baraldi and uses rarely seen archive from Italian television.

Produced and Directed by Francis Welch

There will be a website for the Italian Noir programme which I'll mention when I know what it is.

More about Christmas tv to follow in another post.

Bloodprint - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Kitty Sewell's Bloodprint.

So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Kitty Sewell?

If you have read it, how well do the covers match the story?

Here are the Euro Crime reviews by Maxine and Amanda.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Agatha Christie's Verdict - on tour

Agatha Christie's play Verdict will be touring the UK next year. Verdict will be showing at the following venues/times, taken from

11 - 22 JanTheatre Royal
01753 853 888Book Online
24 -29 JanTheatre Royal
01225 448844Book Online
31 Jan- 5 FebEveryman Theatre
01242 572573Book Online
7- 12 FebTheatre Royal
01752 230440Book Online
15 - 19 FebNew Theatre
029 2087 8889Book Online
21 - 26 FebGrand Theatre
01902 429212Book Online
28 Feb - 5 MarQueen's Theatre
01272 324242Book Online
7 - 12 MarPalace Theatre
01702 351135Book Online
14 - 19 MarSwan Theatre
High Wycombe
01494 512 000Book Online
21 - 26 MarFestival Theatre
01684 892277Book Online
28 Mar - 2 AprChurchill Theatre
08448 717 620Book Online
4 - 9 AprDerby Theatre
01332 255800Book Online
25 - 30 AprRichmond Theatre
0844 871 7651Book Online
Please note casting is not confirmed for the following venues
16 - 21 MayAssembly Hall
Tunbridge Wells
01892 530613Book Online
23 - 28 MayFloral Pavilion
New Brighton
0151 666 0000Book Online
30 May - 4 JunYvonne Arnaud Theatre
01483 44 00 00Book Online

Following the huge success of The Hollow, The Unexpected Guest, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, and most recently Witness For The Prosecution, the Agatha Christie Theatre Company, now in its sixth outstanding year, is proud to present Verdict, the most riveting and compelling drama by the undisputed ‘Queen of Crime.’

An all-star cast is led by Dawn Steele, best known for playing Lexie MacDonald in the hit BBC drama Monarch of the Glen and recently starring as Alice Collins in the popular ITV series Wild at Heart, which continues for its sixth season in 2011. She is joined by Robert Duncan (Gus Hedges in the multi award-winning comedy Drop the Dead Donkey) and Ali Bastian who shot to fame as Becca Dean in Hollyoaks and PC Sally Armstrong in The Bill, and reached the semi-finals in the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing in 2009. The cast also includes Peter Byrne (Dixon of Dock Green), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the hugely successful Harry Potter film series), Elizabeth Power (Eastenders) and 60’s pop idol Mark Wynter.

Having been forced to flee persecution in his home country, the brilliant and idealistic Professor Karl Hendryk leads a content and morally upstanding life, but his world is turned upside-down when the prospect of life-saving treatment for his invalid wife persuades him to take on a new pupil against his better judgement; the spoilt, conniving minx Helen who will stop at nothing to get her way. With murderous intentions afoot, it only remains to be seen what verdict will be delivered, and if justice will prevail...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Reviews: Cain, Holt, Sewell, Seymour, Williams, Winslow

Here are this week's reviews:
Terry Halligan reviews the paperback release of Assassin by Tom Cain the third in the "Accident Man" series;

Maxine Clarke reviews 1222 by Anne Holt, tr. Marlaine Delargy, an Agatha Christie style homage;

Amanda Gillies reviews the paperback release of Bloodprint by Kitty Sewell which she says is "superb";

Terry also reviews the paperback release of The Collaborator by Gerald Seymour about the Mafia;

Laura Root reviews Conrad Williams debut crime novel, Blonde on a Stick a gritty, noir thriller set in both Liverpool and London

and Michelle Peckham reviews Emily Winslow's The Whole World set in Cambridge.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

OT: It's Cat-urday (cat on pc)

Pippa Jones trying the keyboard for size...

Wallander on BBC4

I mentioned recently that BBC4 will be showing some of the Swedish Wallander episodes starring Rolf Lassgard. Well the first one, The Man Who Smiled, is now scheduled for 11 December at 9.30pm:
Thriller based on Henning Mankell's novel. Detective Superintendent Kurt Wallander receives a plea for help from an old friend, who suspects that the death of his father might have involved foul play. But Wallander doesn't believe him until it's too late.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Jane Austen Related Crime

Jane Austen's adventures as sleuth have been documented for a while by Stephanie Barron and recently Lynn Shepherd rewrote Mansfield Park as a crime story with Murder at Mansfield Park and next May, there's to be a crime novel investigating her death. From Jane Austen champion, Lindsay Ashford and published by Honno:

No one has ever been able to provide a satisfactory explanation for the tragically early death of Jane Austen. This intriguing novel delves into the private lives of the Austen family and comes up with a new and shocking possibility...

Miss Anne Sharp holds the position of governess at the Godmersham home of Edward Austen. She becomes friendly with his literary sister, Jane, when the latter arrives for an extended stay. Also a frequent visitor is a younger Austen brother, the maverick Henry. Anne becomes convinced that Henry is having an illicit affair with her employer’s wife and Jane too has her suspicions on this account.

When Jane Austen dies at the age of just 41, Anne is devastated. She begins to suspect that someone wanted her out of the way because she knew too much. Her fears are heightened by the death of yet another family member soon after.

The story opens with two letters establishing that Anne has sought to confirm her suspicions now that medical science has progressed sufficiently to assess the evidence presented by a tainted lock of Jane Austen’s hair. Natural causes or murder? Even after more than twenty years, Miss Sharp is determined to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the acclaimed Miss Austen ...

A speculative exploration of the circumstances that might have precipitated the tragically early death of one of history’s greatest writers.

Details of Austen’s life and illness taken from her own and relatives’ correspondence.

Incidentally, earlier this year I read a teenage novel providing some insight into Jane's early years: I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend written by another crime writer, Cora Harrison.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Whispers of the Dead - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Simon Beckett's Whispers of the Dead.

So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Simon Beckett?

If you have read it, how well does the cover match the story?

Here is Michelle Peckham's Euro Crime review of Whispers of the Dead.

You can read an extract from Chapter 1 on the Barnes and Noble website.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Murder on the Orient Express

Christmas Day tv's looking good in the UK: Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol (update: 6pm UK, BBC America at 9pm ET) and Murder on the Orient Express on ITV at 9pm.

From the ITV press release:
World-famous sleuth Hercule Poirot has just solved a complex case in Istanbul for the British Army, when he witnesses an act of brutal injustice on the streets. Relieved when a new case calls him back to London, Poirot’s old acquaintance Xavier Bouc (Serge Hazanavicius), secures him a last minute ticket on the luxurious Orient Express.

Among the eclectic range of passengers are Princess Dragomiroff (Dame Eileen Atkins) and her nervous maid Hildegard Schmidt (Susanne Lothar), English Governess Mary Debenham (Jessica Chastain) and Swedish missionary Greta Ohlsson (Marie-Josée Croze).

Whilst aboard the train Poirot is approached by ruthless American businessman Samuel Ratchett (Toby Jones) who offers him $10,000 to watch his back. Could Ratchett be fearful of the Italian Antonio Foscarelli (Joseph Mawle), English Colonel John Arbuthnott (David Morrissey), pushy American Mrs Hubbard (Barbara Hershey) or Hungarian diplomat Count Andrenyi (Stanley Weber) and his wife, Countess Andrenyi (Elena Satine)? Poirot awakes the following morning to find the train stuck in a snowdrift and Ratchett dead in his compartment

With nothing but a scrap of paper to go on, Poirot must piece together Ratchett’s identity before he can establish which of his fellow passengers murdered him and their motive.

David Suchet says: “It's an honour to have such a wonderful international cast on board for this world famous murder mystery. Writer, Stewart Harcourt, has created an exquisite script. His attention to detail is impeccable.”

Producer Karen Thrussell says: “We’re all incredibly delighted that 21 years after David Suchet first played Hercule Poirot he is now starring in arguably the most ingenious and best loved Agatha Christie title of all time.”

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Reviews: Bruce, de Santis, Ellis, Lawrence, McCarthy, Puzo

One competition for November and it is open to UK & Europe residents and closes on 30th November:
Win the Ellis Peters Award shortlist (6 books)

Here are this week's reviews:
Maxine Clarke reviews The Siren by Alison Bruce the second in her Cambridge set DC Gary Goodhew series;

I review Pablo de Santis's Voltaire's Calligrapher, tr. Lisa Carter which I enjoyed very much but it is not a traditional crime novel;

Don't let the cover put you off this fine first novel from Joy Ellis, Mask Wars set in the Fens, and reviewed here by Michelle Peckham;

Terry Halligan was impressed with Paul Lawrence's A Plague of Sinners the second in the Harry Lytle series and Terry shares some interesting facts about the Plague in his review;

Laura Root reviews Kevin McCarthy's debut novel, Peeler set in 1920s Ireland concluding that it "should appeal to fans of Philip Kerr or C J Sansom"

and Rik Shepherd reviews Mario Puzo's "long lost" revenge thriller, Six Graves to Munich.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock (audio book)

Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles by Michael Moorcock, read by Clive Mantle (AudioGO, October 2010, 9 CDs, ISBN: 140846814X)

My experience of Doctor Who audio books has been limited mostly to the abridged 3 CD versions of the range of 'new' Who books, which are fairly easy reads aimed at teenagers/adults. This offering from well known science fiction author, Michael Moorcock is quite a different kettle of fish.

The Coming of the Terraphiles features the eleventh Doctor and Amy (but no Rory). The Doctor receives a garbled message from a familiar voice which leads to him joining a group of Terraphiles (Earth lovers) who are playing in a tournament of 'classic' old, old Earth games. It's important to the continued life of the universe that the team he joins wins the ultimate prize of the Silver Arrow of Artemis.

The Doctor and Amy meet the Terraphiles on the planet Peers and then have to make their way to the final on Flynn, in the Miggea system in the centre of the galaxy. Along their journey they stay in a stately home and meet characters out of a P G Wodehouse novel, go on a ship captained by a centaur, make a trip to the Second Aether, encounter General Frank/Freddie Force and his Anti-Matter Men who want to destroy the universe and meet allies such as Captain Abberley and the Bubbly Boys and also, an unknown quantity in the shape of the pirate Captain Cornelius.

Though the underlying plot is fairly straightforward: the Doctor must get from A to B, fight off enemies, win the Arrow and put the balance of the universe back to rights, this was quite a difficult listen at times. There was a lot of detail about the characters and places and most confoundingly for me - the science of space-time, which went mostly over my head. It does take a while for the Doctor and Amy to become the focus of the story but there are enjoyable chapters on Peers to compensate.

This is a novel with a scope hugely outside the normal tv episodes or Doctor Who books; there is a large cast, about fifty-percent non-human which would be impossible to portray outside of a feature film, as well as multiple universes, gigantic (Babylon-5 style) space-ships and numerous planets. The tale is not without humour though: the descriptions of the games are very funny; the Doctor's speciality is Cracking the Nut (with a sledgehammer) as are the customs that have survived, though modified over 50,000 years and the Wodehouse characters: Bingo Loxesley and Mr and Mrs Banning-Cannon (so well portrayed by Clive Mantle) are a hoot. Indeed Clive Mantle does a sterling job with the narration. He has to provide many voices, both human and alien and even has to sing from time to time. His Doctor and Amy are immediately recognisable even though he's not imitating the tv actors.

In conclusion, thought it's always great to read about the unseen adventures of the Doctor, its more complex ideas and language may mean that The Coming of the Terraphiles is not for everyone, and though I enjoyed the audio version, for once I think I'd probably have got on better with the print version.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

OT: And the winner is...Miss Spell

We went to see Harry Potter 7.1 the other night and this poster cracked me up!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Anne Holt on Woman's Hour

Author Anne Holt was interviewed on today's Woman's Hour on Radio 4. You can listen again or download the podcast (the interview's about 10 minutes in).
Anne Holt worked in the Oslo Police Department before becoming a lawyer and setting up her own law firm. Then she saw an advert for a crime writing competition. She set to work, wrote her first novel, but missed the deadline. However the novel did get published, and became an immediate bestseller. She has since written many more books and the latest one, called ‘1222’ is about to be published in Britain. She talks to Jane about the book, which is set in a snowbound hotel where hundreds of people, including at least one murderer, are marooned following a train crash.

Publishing Deal - Victor del Arbol

From today's Publishers Lunch Weekly email:
Spanish novelist Víctor del Arbol's THE SAMARAI'S GRIEF, about multiple betrayals, personal and political, pitched as evocative of Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, and set alternately in the pro-Nazi Spain of 1941 -- when an aristocrat becomes involved in a plot to kill her Fascist husband, only to be betrayed by her lover -- and during the attempted Fascist coup of 1981, when a young lawyer is accused of plotting the prison escape of the man she successfully prosecuted for attempted murder five years earlier; with the Japanese sword of the title providing -- and ultimately severing -- the link between the two women's lives, to Holt, for publication in February 2011.

The Dove of Death - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Peter Tremayne's The Dove of Death. The US hardback edition came out in October and the UK paperback edition came out last February.

So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Peter Tremayne?

If you have read it, how well does the cover match the story?

Here is Amanda Gillies' Euro Crime review of The Dove of Death.

You can read an extract from Chapter 1 on the US Macmillan website.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

OSS 117 on BBC4

The French comedy-spy thriller, OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies is to be shown on BBC4 on Saturday night at 9pm and will be repeated on Tuesday at 11.30pm:

The city of Cairo, Egypt, in 1955 is a veritable den of spies. Everyone distrusts everyone, everyone plots against everyone: the British, the French, the Soviets, the family of the deposed King Farouk struggling to regain his throne, and the Eagles of Cheops, a religious sect thirsting for power.

The President of France, René Coty, dispatches his master weapon to bring order to this bedlam before all hell breaks loose. Its name: Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath, alias Agent OSS 117.

Monday, November 22, 2010

News: Denise Mina's next books

If you'd been worrying about the remaining books in Denise Mina's Paddy Meehan series and when they'd see the light of day then the following from a Publishers Weekly interview should be reassuring:
I switched publishers in the U.K., and my new publisher wanted a new series. They didn't want any more Paddy books because they didn't own them, but this summer they bought them from my old publisher. I'm doing a new Alex Morrow book now, after The End of the Wasp Season, and then I'm going back to Paddy to finish the last two. It's not that I got fed up with Paddy or I abandoned her. It was just a technical reason.
Read the whole interview here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trailer - London Boulevard

The film based on Ken Bruen's London Boulevard will be released on 26 November in the UK. Here's the trailer:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BBC4 does it again (Wallander & Montalbano)

One of this blog's regular readers has tipped me off about a letter in the Radio Times revealing that this Christmas will be something to look forward to at least for BBC4 viewers:
BBC4 will be showing four Wallander films starring Rolf Lassgård over the Christmas period: 'The Man Who Smiled', 'One Step Behind', 'Firewall' and 'The Pyramid'. Plus there will be an unspecified number of Montalbano episodes. The second series of Wallander with Krister Henriksson will be repeated next year
Joy, joy, joy...

The Chalk Circle Man - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Fred Vargas's The Chalk Circle Man tr. Sian Reynolds.

So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Fred Vargas?

If you have read it, how well does the cover match the story?

Here are the Euro Crime reviews by Fiona and Michelle.

UK paperback:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Waking the Dead - news

A snippet in today's TV & Satellite Week has the following news about a spin-off from Waking the Dead:
Tara Fitzgerald will appear in a BBC1 Waking the Dead spin-off centred on her forensic pathologist character Eve Lockhart. The final series of Waking the Dead will air next year.

Sherlock Holmes for Younger Readers

Over on my teenage blog, I've posted a mini write-up of the first book discussion at my work's children's reading group, for which I'd chosen a Sherlock Holmes theme, and the specific title of The Case of the Captive Clairvoyant by Anthony Read. I've also listed a few Holmes-related series that are suitable for 9-12 year olds.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Website updates - November

It's been a while since I refreshed the bibliography pages on the website and as I've recently added lots more titles to the upcoming releases pages I thought I'd better get on and do it.

State of play at 15.11.10:
  • The Author Websites page now lists 852 sites.

  • The New & Upcoming Releases pages have been updated.

  • In Bibliographies there are now bibliographies for 1617 authors (8301 titles with links to 1856 reviews):

  • I've added new bibliographies for: Esmahan Aykol, Quentin Bates, Carol K Carr, Sam Christer, Alfredo Colitto, James Craig, Adrian Dawson, Sam Fisher, Claudie Galley, Sissel-Jo Gazan, Richard Godwin, Oliver Harris, Casey Hill, Jeremy Hughes, Chris Morgan Jones, Shy Keenan, Graeme Kent, Adam Kolczynski, Torquil MacLeod, Philip McCormac, M J McGrath, Danny Miller, Harri Nykanen, Alessandro Perissinotto, Barbara Corrado Pope, Gordon Reece, Pierre Siniac, Anna Smith, Piers Vemnore-Rowland, Marco Vichi, Peter Walker, Douglas Watt and Tom Wood.

    I've updated the bibliographies (ie added new titles) for: Susanne Alleyn, Ray Banks, Patti Battison, James Becker, Helen Black, S J Bolton, Rhys Bowen, Frances Brody, Karen Campbell, Tania Carver, Clem Chambers, Jean Chapman, Cassandra Clark, Lesley Cookman, Natasha/N J Cooper, Colin Cotterill, Adam Creed, Neil Cross, Judith Cutler, Tim Davys, Carola Dunn, Steven Dunne, Martin Edwards, Roger Jon/R J Ellory, Geraldine Evans, Chris Ewan, Duncan Falconer, Giorgio Faletti, Gordon Ferris, Charles Finch, Sebastian Fitzek, Conor Fitzgerald, Karin Fossum, Matthew Glass, Robert Goddard, Juan Gomez-Jurado, Jason Goodwin, Ann Granger, Susanna Gregory, J M Gregson, Raymond Haigh, Cora Harrison, Mo Hayder, Suzette A Hill, Lis Howell, Graham Ison, Lee/L M Jackson, Maxim Jakubowski, Bill James, Diane Janes, Quintin Jardine, Tobias Jones, Morag Joss, Mari Jungstedt, Erin Kelly, Bill Kitson, Bernard Knight, Tom Knox, Lynda La Plante, Camilla Lackberg, Donna Leon, Simon Lewis, Peter Lovesey, Adrian Magson, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Edward Marston, Andrew Martin, Faith Martin, Priscilla Masters, Peter May, Keith McCarthy, James McCreet, Andy McDermott, Sophia McDougall, Brian McGilloway, Pat McIntosh, Adrian McKinty, Mark Mills, Susan Moody, Keith Moray, Roger/R N Morris, Amy Myers, Martin O'Brien, Niamh O'Connor, Gerard O'Donovan, Andrew Pepper, Ann Purser, Deanna Raybourn, Danuta Reah, Ruth Rendell, Phil Rickman, Stella Rimington, Jean Rowden, Betty Rowlands, Ian Sansom, Kate Sedley, Claire Seeber, Zoe Sharp, Jeffrey Siger, Roger Silverwood, Alexander McCall Smith, Cath Staincliffe, Nick Stone, Frank Tallis, Peter Taylor, Kerry Tombs, Fred Vargas, Jan Costin Wagner, Shirley Wells, Neil White, Emily Winslow, Jacqueline Winspear and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
    If you spot any errors or omissions do let me know.

    Don't forget to enter the competition or read the latest reviews.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    New Reviews: Baraldi, Black, James, Kerr, Martin, Rubenfeld & New Competition

    One competition for November and it is open to UK & Europe residents and closes on 30th November:
    Win the Ellis Peters Award shortlist (6 books)

    Here are this week's reviews:
    Maxine Clarke reviews Barbara Baraldi's The Girl with the Crystal Eyes, tr. Judith Forshaw which unfortunately wasn't to her taste;

    Amanda Gillies reviews the third in the Gus Drury series by Tony Black which is available in paperback now: Loss calling it a "storming success";

    Terry Halligan reviews the paperback release of Peter James's newest Roy Grace book, Dead Like You;

    Laura Root reviews the recently released 'Bernie Gunther' outing from Philip Kerr: Field Grey concluding that it is "an outstanding addition to a very impressive series";

    Rik Shepherd reviews Andrew Martin's Death on a Branch Line which is the fifth in this "excellent but not flashy series" which is soon to number seven

    and Michelle Peckham reviews Jed Rubenfeld's follow-up to The Interpretation of Murder - The Death Instinct.
    Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

    New Competition - Win the Ellis Peters Award Shortlist

    Euro Crime has a set of the CWA Ellis Peters Award 2010 shortlist (6 books) to giveaway. Just answer the simple question and include your details in the form below.

    This competition is open UK & Europe and will close on 30 November 2010.
    Only 1 entry per person/per household please.
    (All entries will be deleted once the winner has been notified.)


  • Revenger by Rory Clements
  • Washington Shadow by Aly Monroe
  • Heresy by S.J. Parris
  • Heartstone by C. J. Sansom
  • The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
  • To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams

  • Read more about each book and discover who was the eventual winner at the CWA website

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    The Devil's Disciple

    I've just stumbled across this title, published this month by Hesperus Press. I've added it to the lengthening list of International Dagger Candidates!

    'Prosecutor Tsuchida, I am being held here as a murderer. But the truth is that I am probably not that murderer. That's right. Probably.' While Shimaura Eizo sits in jail awaiting trial for the murder of a beautiful young woman, his erstwhile lover and initiator into a sinister, restless existence has risen in the ranks of the legal profession and is now the prosecutor on the case. Spinning a complex web of events and influences in this chilling murder mystery, Hamao probes the notion of guilt - both psychological and legal. The Devil's Disciple is here published alongside 'Did He Kill Them?', a haunting tale of a love affair turned sour.

    The Devil's Disciple by Shiro Hamao (only 112 pages long)

    OT: It's Cat-urday (picture of innocence)

    Butter wouldn't melt..but there is a squirrel tail (only!) under the bush outside. Hmmm.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Man in the snow - cover theme

    If it's Scandinavian, it must be snowy:

    OT: Bought for the Cover Alone (Cats & Crime) II

    I don't get the chance to indulge my cozy reading much but one day I'd like to read this one as it features a librarian and (magic) cats! It's published next year: February (US) and May (UK).

    When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there's something more to these felines.

    When murder interrupts Mayville's Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she's relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    The Last Fix - Cover Opinions

    This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for K O Dahl's The Last Fix tr. Don Bartlett. The US paperback edition will come out on 29 March 2011 (cover unknown at this point).

    So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with K O Dahl?

    If you have read it, how well does the cover match the story?

    Here is the Petrona review by Maxine of The Last Fix.

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    New Reviews: Cooper, Cottam, Dahl, Duns, Griffiths, Hayder, Kitson, Lewis, Seymour

    Here are this week's reviews, a bumper bundle of 9:
    Michelle Peckham reviews Glenn Cooper's The Tenth Chamber set in France and revolving around a secret method of longevity;

    Amanda Gillies reviews F G Cottam's ghostly The Magdalena Curse;

    Maxine Clarke reviews The Man in the Window by K O Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (we're anticipating a new Dahl in translation in 2011);

    Laura Root reviews Jeremy Duns's 1960s set spy thriller Free Country;

    Rik Shepherd reviews the paperback edition of Elly Griffiths's The Janus Stone;

    Amanda Brown reviews the paperback edition of Mo Hayder's Ritual;

    Paul Blackburn reviews Minds that Hate by Bill Kitson, the latest in his DI Mike Nash series;

    Geoff Jones reviews Kevin Lewis's Scent of a Killer which is the second outing for DI Stacey Collins;

    and Terry Halligan reviews EV Seymour's latest Paul Tallis thriller: Land of Ghosts in which he's sent to Russia.
    Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found by author or date, here.

    Saturday, November 06, 2010

    OT: It's Cat-urday (feet in the air)

    Yes, I know, more cat piccies. Lots of new reviews tomorrow though:

    Tickled me when I came down to see all paws in the air:

    CrimeFest attendees will recognise Foxy's bed:

    The boys hoping for chicken:

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2010 - Winner

    Our man on the ground, Ali Karim has twittered that Revenger by Rory Clements has won this year's Ellis Peters Award. Many congratulations to him. The poll I ran for which title ought to win showed a slightly different story, the number of votes are in brackets:

    Revenger by Rory Clements (1)
    Washington Shadow by Aly Monroe (10)
    Heresy by S.J. Parris (3)
    Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (10)
    The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
    To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams (2)

    Wednesday, November 03, 2010

    Complicit - Cover Opinions

    This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US, UK hardback and UK paperback covers for Nicci French's Complicit also known as The Other Side of the Door in the US. (The UK paperback is out in March 2011.)

    So what are you thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with Nicci French?

    If you have read it, how well does the cover match the story? And which title suits it best?

    Here is the Euro Crime review by Maxine of Complicit.