Daily Archives: July 17, 2011

Win Win Win ! – 3 sets of Great Comic Crime novels from L.C.Tyler.

Thanks to those oh so lovely people at Pan Macmillan, I’m able to give you the chance to win not one, not two, not three, BUT (you guessed it) four great novels from one of crime fiction’s greatest comic authors.

To celebrate the publication of the new hardback in the Elsie & Ethelred series, HERRING ON THE NILE – which I am currently reading and loving to death for all it’s poking fun at crime writing and the golden age of crime fiction, you have a chance to win one of three sets of the following:

HERRING ON THE NILE in Hardback.

Plus

THE HERRING IN THE LIBRARY

THE HERRING SELLER’S APPRENTICE

&

TEN LITTLE HERRINGS

in paperback.

But, I hear you ask, what hoops do I need to leap through to be in with a chance of such a fantastic prize in time for some serious (well, not that serious, in fact deadly funny) crime fiction reading over the summer?

Couldn’t be easier and, as the man says, you have to be in it to win it….so just leave a comment after this post telling along with your email address (with ‘AT’ replacing @ to fool those pesky spambots) or your twitter name and you’ll be in the draw.

If you’ve never read L.C.Tyler (like I hadn’t before) then you’ll love discovering him (like I have).

Good luck

Keith

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Backtracking…Harrogate Crime Writing Festival 2004.

As I still get asked from time to time, what’s Harrogate’s Crime Writing Festival actually like, I’ve flicked back through previous notes and reports and discovered this article I wrote for Ottakar’s then Crime Fiction fanzine ‘The Verdict’ in 2004.

This was only the second year of the festival, but it was already firmly established as a MUST in many peoples’ calendars for years to come:

Why every Crime Fiction reader and writer should attend the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival

On a Friday in July last year (2003) I set off from my home in Kent and made the long and lonely journey by car all the way to North Yorkshire.

I ran out of CDs to listen to, and the journey took me the best part of the day to complete, meaning that I unfortunately missed the first event I was booked to attend – New Blood – a discussion with a group of recently published new crime writers, and ran very close to missing the second event.

Lack of budget meant I was booked in a slightly cheaper hotel than where the festival was taking place and had only been able to book the one day, and overnight stay, and then the long drive home the following day.

I eventually found my hotel and parked the car .  I ran like a thing possessed into the reception and checked in, took the lift up to my room, threw my bag on the bed, changed my shirt , rushed back down and out of the hotel and ran up the road to the festival hotel.

Once there I just had time to collect my goodie bag and tickets, before sitting down in the main hall within seconds of Val McDermid taking to the stage.

But, I have to say, it was certainly worth all of the travelling and stress to be even a small part of such a great event.

I sat in on the first talk which was between McDermid and Professor Sue Black, the UK’s leading forensic anthropologist.  This was amazing stuff.  Sue assists McDermid on much of the nastier detail of her novels.  Some of the tales she told of war-torn countries she has had to work in, including Kosovo and Iraq were particularly harrowing, but the detail and procedures she described were, nonetheless, fascinating.  It will be a long time before I forget, if ever, her stories of carrying two human heads back and forth through customs in buckets fo forensic testing, or the information she gave about traces in the blood stream of all parts of the body if tattooed anywhere.

This was swiftly followed up by Capital Noir – in which Mark Billingham chaired a discussion with Christopher Brookmyre, Stella Duffy, Julie Parsons and John Williams about how the place they write about is a character of its own in their work.  This was both entertaining and informative, and opened my eyes to another group of interesting writers I had yet to read.

Karin Slaughter took to the stage shortly afterwards, joined and interviewed by fellow crime writer Laura Lippman.  This was an interesting, entertaining and, at times, laugh-out-loud humorous discussion between the two writers, much of their friendly banter about the exaggerated age difference between them.  Before this event I had read all of Slaughter’s Grant County series books, but again was introduced to the subject and themes of Lippman’s work as yet another crime writer to investigate further.

The first real break of the day, since setting off from home, allowed a very quick bite to eat and a change of clothes before joining the assembled writers and visitors once again for the evening’s entertainment.

Writer, TV and radio producer Simon Brett chaired a special Harrogate-themed version of his Radio 4 show, Foul Play, featuring Mark Billingham and Stella Duffy as multiple characters in a crime investigation play.

Both Billingham and Duffy have backgrounds in comedy and stand-up as well as their crime writing and they were hilarious as they transcended from one character to another under serious questioning from the panel and chief investigator.

So, was it worth it?

Damn right it was! – The single day I spent last year in the hospitable company of some of the best crime writers in the business will stay with me for a long time to come.

I promised myself I would have to take in the whole event in 2005 and, as soon as I saw the line-up on the website www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/crime  , ordered a set of tickets to all the events in the programme, with accommodation at the event hotel.

I would strongly recommend anyone with an interest in crime writing, or even if you are a reader whose interests currently are only for reading the work of a couple of the featured authors, that you take a further look into what’s happening in Harrogate this July and come along if you can.

So, whilst the cast may change from year to year and there are always new events/topics up for discussion, the one thing I found in reading back my report above was that, even back then, I was incredibly impressed with what a memorable and friendly time the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival has offered year after year.

Counting down the days and preparing for Thursday’s trip North.

Keith

 

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Flipbackbooks – Small but perfectly formed.

I was very intrigued when I heard about Flipbackbooks – some were saying even before the launch that this could be a serious contender to battle the kindle in terms of the perfect portable form for a book.

Portable they certainly are and beautifully formed – my copy of Stephen King’s MISERY (already one of my favourite novels) is now in a form I can take anywhere – it really is that teeny-tiny.  And I just love that cover image.

Here it is alongside my old NEL paperback edition – half the size and only half as thick too, due to the thin paper used which enables the pages to be slid back rather than turned in the old fashioned way.

I must confess, I’m struggling a bit with the whole holding a novel sideways thing and, whilst I am totally in love with the kindle now for all its storage and versality, these Flipbackbooks are a lovely thing and the perfect portable gift for holidays or commuting.

Priced at more than the average paperback (at £9.99 each) I think that might go against them being a huge hit, but with a pretty varied list for the first 12 books released in this format, go on and give one a go.

Thanks to Hodder for kindly providing me with the Stephen King Flipbackbook.

The other titles available in bookstores now are:

1. Chris Cleave,  The Other Hand.

2. Melvyn Bragg,  The Adventure of English.

3. John le Carre,  Tinke Tailor Soldier Spy.

4. Jasper Fforde,  Shades of Grey.

5. James Frey,  A Million Little Pieces.

6. Stephen King, Misery.

7. Michael Lewis,  Liar’s Poker.

8. David Mitchell,  Cloud Atlas.

9. David Nicholls, One Day.

10. Jodi Picoult,  My Sister’s Keeper.

11. Peter Robinson,  Piece of My Heart.

12. Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain

And you can visit their website and make suggestions for new titles at www.flipbackbooks.com

Keith

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Tess Gerritsen & S.J. Watson to appear ahead of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.

You don’t need me to tell you again to get over to www.harrogate-festival.org.uk/crime to get your tickets to see some of the biggest and best names in crime fiction on stage and at the bar, do you?

Well, just on the off-chance that you cannot make it along next week, and if you’re in the Nottingham area on Thursday, you do have the chance of seeing two of the heavy hitters from the crime fiction world ahead of their festival appearances.

Tess Gerritsen (The Silent Girl) and S.J.Watson (Before I Go to Sleep) will both be appearing in discussion about their books at Waterstones, 1-5 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham at 7pm and you can get tickets £5/£3 from Waterstones on Tel: 0843 290 8525.

Enjoy! – And tell ’em who sent you.

Keith

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Reacher’s back ! – Triple news for Lee Child fans.

Ahead of his appearance at this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, there’s exciting and some controversial news for Lee Child’s legion of Jack Reacher fans.

First up, and hitting bookstores with a bang on 4th August, the paperback of ‘Worth Dying For’ is released by Bantam Books.

And you’ll be pleased to hear that the paperback includes a bonus extra of an extract of the first three chapters of the next Jack Reacher hardback ‘The Affair’ which is due out on 29th September.

Six months before the events in ‘Killing Floor’, Major Jack Reacher of the US Military Police goes undercover in Mississippi, to investigate a murder…  

And, finally, there’s the controversial news bit, and sure to be a big discussion at Harrogate as it has already on twitter – Paramount Pictures are rumoured to have Tom Cruise signed up for playing Reacher in ‘One Shot’, the first of a series of Jack Reacher movies.

I’ll just leave you with that thought and look forward to hearing Lee’s discussion next week at Harrogate to hopefully fill in some more of the detail.

Keith

 

 

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The Radleys by Matt Haig

Out now from Canongate – a Specsavers TV Book Club 2011 Summer Read.

Never have I found the old adage ‘never judge a book by its cover’ more true than in the case of Matt Haig’s The Radleys.  As a test to this fact, the other evening I asked Mrs W what she thought the book I was reading might be like or might be about – this was greeted by the simple comment that she expected it was a boring book.  I think she was then as surprised as I was when I told her it was a tale of a family of vampires and was packed with action.

One of this year’s Summer Reads selection by TV Book Club, I was keen to get this one read early as I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to watch the recording of the show in which this book is discussed later this week.

It was nothing like I’d expected – and all in a good way.

The Radleys have a dark secret – that they are vampires – but they’re trying to keep that secret from their children as long as possible and go about their suburban lives as best they can, working and living by the rules as laid out in ‘The Abstainer’s Handbook (second edition)’ – a tome which is quoted in sections throughout the novel.

But, when daughter Clara is attacked one night she begins to discover in a very bad way just what she might be – she’d always wondered why the family had such high factor sun cream and had trouble sleeping.

Uncle Will arrives in town and sets up camp in his VW Campervan on the street opposite the Radley’s residence and Uncle Will seems to have even darker secrets than the fact he too is a blood-sucker.

The novel is peppered with really nice touches throughout, such as the fact that many famous people including Jimi Hendrix were apparently vampires and the club The VIB Room, where goths hang out to listen to Nick Cave and watch old black and white German horror movies.

There’s also a special police department that knows of and deals with vampire crime but they in turn have to deal with The Sheridan Society (named after the author Sheridan Le Fanu) who are an organisation who support vampires.  And I loved the fact that the vampires can find each other and seek out fresh blood online via ‘Neckbook’.

This is an everyday suburban tale with added bite.  It put me in mind of the movie Meet the Applegates (where a family of aliens are trying to blend in with the neighbours).

A very refreshing take on such a popular genre – but, fortunately, this isn’t the shiny vampires of certain teen romance books.

An entertaining and pleasant (if that word can be used in the context of a book filled with throats being ripped) surprise and I was very pleased to read that it’s getting the cinematic treatment by Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men).

Keith

 

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