Monthly Archives: May 2012

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes

Out on 7th June from Mulholland Books

Ray and Marie Benson killed 13 women before they were caught, tried and imprisoned. Five of their victims were never found.

Six years later, psychologist Alice Quentin discovers a woman’s body on the waste ground at Crossbones Yard. The wounds are horrifyingly similar to the Bensons’ signature style. But who would want to copy their crimes?

When Alice is called in to consult, her first instinct is to say no. She wants to focus on treating her patients, not analysing the mind of a murderer.

But the body at Crossbones Yard is just the start, and the killer may already be closer than Alice knows.

As the first debut UK author to be added to the excellent Mulholland Books imprint from Hodder, Kate Rhodes is in fine company and more than proves she’s up to the mark in this first novel.

With a wonderful and endearing central character in the form of psychologist Alice Quentin, a cast of interesting and unique characters as her supporting cast and areas of London you probably never knew existed playing great supporting role as addition characters along the way, Crossbones Yard is a great way to launch a crime fiction career.

Alice’s life is a bit of a mess, she already has her drug-addled brother, Will, to intend with, living as he does in a van on the street outside her home, and the memories and mental scars of a violent father in their past, and all this is before she stumbles upon a dead prostitute at Crossbones Yard. The location would have been a great piece of fiction, but sadly it’s a real place and you can see photos and comments about a tour Kate had for her book here.

Asked by the police to create a profile of the killer and to see if what they have is a copycat of the Benson crimes, Alice finds herself torn between the case and her rapidly unravelling own life.

With all the trappings of great contemporary crime fiction, a potential serial killer at large (in the form of the haunting Morris Cley, recently released from prison), great police procedural work from DCI Burns and Detective Alvarez (who provides Alice with hope of romance) and interviewing past serial killers to seek clues into current crimes, Crossbones Yard has all you could want and wish for.

Atmosphere, pace, character and brooding tension – all in spades.

Highly recommended.

You can order the book here.

And you can meet Kate Rhodes at Harrogate this July.

Keith

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A New Stephen King novel ! JOYLAND coming from Hard Case Crime.

New Stephen King Novel Coming from Hard Case Crime

JOYLAND

to be published in June 2013

Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels published by Titan Books, today announced it will publish JOYLAND, a new novel by Stephen King, in June 2013. Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, JOYLAND tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. JOYLAND is a brand-new book and has never previously been published. One of the most beloved storytellers of all time, Stephen King is the world’s best-selling novelist, with more than 300 million books in print.

Called “the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade” by Neal Pollack in The Stranger, Hard Case Crime revives the storytelling and visual style of the pulp paperbacks of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. The line features an exciting mix of lost pulp masterpieces from some of the most acclaimed crime writers of all time and gripping new novels from the next generation of great hardboiled authors, all with new painted covers in the grand pulp style. Authors range from modern-day bestsellers such as Pete Hamill, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block and Ed McBain to Golden Age stars like Mickey Spillane (creator of “Mike Hammer”), Erle Stanley Gardner (creator of “Perry Mason”), Wade Miller (author of Touch of Evil), and Cornell Woolrich (author of Rear Window).

Stephen King commented, “I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”

King’s previous Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, became a national bestseller and inspired the television series “Haven,” now going into its third season on SyFy. “Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book,” said Charles Ardai, Edgar- and Shamus Award-winning editor of Hard Case Crime. “It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ ” Nick Landau, Titan Publisher, added: “Stephen King is one of the fiction greats, and I am tremendously proud and excited to be publishing a brand-new book of his under the Hard Case Crime imprint.” 
JOYLAND will feature new painted cover art by the legendary Robert McGinnis, the artist behind the posters for the original Sean Connery James Bond movies and “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” and by Glen Orbik, the painter of more than a dozen of Hard Case Crime’s most popular covers, including the cover for The Colorado Kid.

Since its debut in 2004, Hard Case Crime has been the subject of enthusiastic coverage by a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Time, Playboy, U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Houston Chronicle, New York magazine, the New York Post and Daily News, Salon, Reader’s Digest, Parade and USA Weekend, as well as numerous other magazines, newspapers, and online media outlets.

The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “Hard Case Crime is doing a wonderful job publishing both classic and contemporary ‘pulp’ novels in a crisp new format with beautiful, period-style covers. These modern ‘penny dreadfuls’ are worth every dime.” Playboy praised Hard Case Crime’s “lost masterpieces,” writing “They put to shame the work of modern mystery writers whose plots rely on cell phones and terrorists.”

And the Philadelphia City Paper wrote, “Tired of overblown, doorstop-sized thrillers…? You’ve come to the right place. Hard Case novels are as spare and as honest as a sock in the jaw.”

Other upcoming Hard Case Crime titles include The Cocktail Waitress, a never-before-published novel by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Mildred Pierce, and Double Indemnity, and an epic first novel called The Twenty-Year Death by Ariel S. Winter that has won advance raves from authors such as Peter Straub, James Frey, Alice Sebold, John Banville, David Morrell and Stephen King.

For information about these and other forthcoming titles, visit http://www.HardCaseCrime.com.

About Hard Case Crime:

Founded in 2004 by award-winning novelists Charles Ardai and Max Phillips, Hard Case Crime has been nominated for or won numerous honors since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award. The series’ books have been adapted for television and film, with two features currently in development at Universal Pictures and the TV series “Haven” going into its third season this fall on SyFy. Hard Case Crime is published through a collaboration between Winterfall LLC and Titan Publishing Group.

About Titan Publishing Group:

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981, comprising three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. Titan Books, recently nominated as Independent Publisher of the Year 2011, has a rapidly growing fiction list encompassing original fiction and reissues, primarily in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk and crime. Recent crime and thriller acquisitions include Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins’ all-new Mike Hammer novels, the Matt Helm series by Donald Hamilton and the entire backlist of the Queen of Spy Writers, Helen MacInnes. Titan Books also has an extensive line of media and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US and Canada being handled by Random House. http://www.titanbooks.com

I. CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Keith

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Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadavar by Shamini Flint

Published by Piatkus

Inspector Singh returns in the fifth chapter of his trademark series, where he journeys throughout Asia busting crimes!

Stop No. 5: India . . .

Inspector Singh is sick of sick leave, so when Mrs Singh suggests they attend a family wedding in Mumbai, he grudgingly agrees – hoping that the spicy Indian curries will make up for extended exposure to his wife’s relatives.

Unfortunately, the beautiful bride to be disappears on the eve of her wedding – did she run away to avoid an arranged marriage, or is there something more sinister afoot? When a corpse is found, the fat inspector is soon dragged into a curious murder investigation with very firm instructions from Mrs Singh to exonerate her family. But as he uncovers layer upon layer of deceit, he knows it isn’t going to be that easy…

I really did not think this would be my cup of Chai – but was very very pleasantly surprised.  Jumping in with a book number five in a series, about an investigator who sounded like he would be all too ‘cosy’ for my tastes, inhabiting a world I know next to nothing about and sounding for all the world like a comic caper about a wheezing overweight troubled ted’ stumbling his way through an investigation.

But, hey! – Did I learn the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ adage in a BIG way with this one – I thoroughly enjoyed it. Singh is a great creation; yes he stumbles, yes he’s overweight, he wheezes, he sweats and he looks like he just happens to be in the wrong place at the right time if this is anything to go on. But, for all of that, this book is far darker than I was expecting, with little of the slapstick criminal comedy I was expecting from the jolly cover.  The suspected murder, or is it a suicide, or is it something even more sinister, could be linked to the fact that the marriage was pre-arranged, or could be linked to something sinister that the young bride to be or her family were working on, an honour killing, or a trust fund that she had in place?  The plot crackles along and the heat of the Indian setting is just perfect for a summer day’s read in the garden. Admittedly towards the end of the book there is a ‘Poirot-like’ moment with a cast of characters assembled to hear the crime and the plot described, but that goes totally forgiven as overall the book is a unique and enjoyable read.

Pour yourself a nice cold beverage and settle in a really hot place, sit back and enjoy this warm and exotic crime read.

You can get your copy right here.

Keith

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My mini-Crime-themed day in London

Sadly I wasn’t able to get along to Crimefest in Bristol this weekend, so I made up for it as follows:

On Thursday I had the day off work so, once Mrs W and the hobbits were away to school, I grabbed a train up to London for a ‘me’ day.

Starting off with a breakfast in Leicester Square, after marvelling at just how so much money has been wasted there (a reported 18 million pounds) over such  a long period of time (over 18 months) to fail at the April launching of the ‘new’  Leicester Square which didn’t open until this week (end of May) and unveiled well, a big disappointing bit of grass and some paving and railings which I think Alan Titchmarsh and his Ground Force team could have knocked up over a long weekend for a couple of grand.

Image11am saw me buying a ticket and going into the lovely Curzon Soho cinema to see the absolutely fantastic action-packed new movie THE RAID – stunning!  Hollywood should leave this well alone, and anyone who cannot be doing with subtitled movies – well they just don’t deserve to see such an exciting piece of cinema anyway. Bruce Willis et al can continue to ‘Try Hard’ but THE RAID stomps on the ashes of all action movies that have gone before and was probably the most exciting 2 hours I have ever spent in the comfort of a cinema.

ImageAfter a quick bite to eat for lunch and a bit of DVD and book shopping (it would be rude not to), and a pop in to the lovely Goldsboro Bookshop in Cecil Court, oh and a haircut (this was a packed day after all and very hot out), I went to catch Jo Nesbo’s HEADHUNTERS at the Prince Charles cinema – yes, two subtitled movies in one day – and both excellent.  If you only see one movie this year with a guy covered in shit, driving a tractor with a dog impaled on the front, then make it this one 🙂

ImageCoffee break and then it was time to be at Waterstones Piccadilly to see the fantastic Mr Jeffrey Deaver who read from his exciting new Kathyrn Dance novel (due next month) ‘XO’.  For the novel, Deaver wrote a whole album of lyrics which is available on iTunes or as a CD to accompany the book – songs, he told us, which feature clues to the storyline along the way. The discussion was very entertaining, although I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking that the author had lost the plot a little when constant comparisons were made between his ‘product’ – books – and the product of ‘liver flavoured toothpaste’ when describing the way he works to produce the books his readers expect and want from him.

Deaver alluded to a new standalone novella of around 55,000 words – of which he could say no more, a new selection of short stories coming up ‘Troubled in Mind’ and a new Lincoln Rhyme novel ‘The Kill Room’. A great evening to wind up a great day’s mini – Crimefest for me in London.

Keith

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Tony Parsons on ‘Catching the Sun’, writing, and the promise of a crime novel !

I was recently very impressed with the perfect summer read ‘Catching the Sun’ by Tony Parsons.

You can read my review here.

And Tony was kind enough to drop by to answer a few questions I had after reading the book:

I loved the book and can only assume that you are a regular visitor to the area of Phuket ? Can you tell me what drew you to set the book there?

I had been going to Thailand for over 20 years – I first went there for a wedding – but I had never been to Phuket until a few years ago. I was staying on Hat Nai Yang, where CATCHING THE SUN is set, and I had never seen anywhere so unspoilt and beautiful and calm. I fell in love with the place, and I knew there was story – that this beautiful sea was where the Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004 came out of, and that this tropical paradise was where generations of Chinese immigrants came to work in the tin mines. So the more I saw of it, and found myself coming back to Phuket, the more I felt that I would like to write a book about this place.

Where do you write? Can you write anywhere and did you spend time there whilst writing it, or make many research trips?

I spent a lot of time in Phuket, maybe made a dozen trips there over the last three or four years, almost always alone, although I know people there – mates from Hong Kong, one who has a holiday home there, and one who has lived on Phuket for 20 years. But I quite like being alone when I am researching a book – and makes you think, makes you meet people, gives you lots of long lonely moments where a book has a chance to grow. So while I am out on the road I am writing, sort of, although really it is more of gathering information and letting the book grow inside me.

I write at the top of my house in Hampstead. It is the smallest room I have ever worked in but there best. It is stuffed with books and exercise equipment. It looks west, towards Wembley, and it has the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen anywhere in the world.

Was the burglary/assault based on anything that you or someone close had experienced or inspired by the press and our failed justice system in general when it comes to defending own family/property?

The burglary was based on the feeling that there is too much sympathy for the criminal and not enough for the victim. My family were burgled 10 years ago, when my wife was pregnant with our daughter. I woke up about 5 am and found a huge bamboo pole coming through our letterbox with a fishing hook on the end – and my car and front door keys on the hook!! I went fighting mad and chased a couple of terrified junkies down the street – so it was not quite as dramatic as what happens in CATCHING THE SUN.

Do you have a strict writing regime or any special quirks/rituals tied to your writing work?

If I am in London, then my life is very ordered and simple – it revolves totally around work, my family and the gym. I walk my daughter to school with our dog Stan in the morning, then I come home and write 1,000 thousands – that’s my goal every day, 1,000 words. For about 4 hours a week I box – heavy bag, speed bag, pad work, a lot of abdominal work and stretching, and once a week full contact sparring with my trainer. I have also just taken up Yoga as I am such an old git and I think my muscles need to be lengthened and toned and stretched – I believe that Yoga will be a nice complement to the boxing. I try to keep fit as writing doesn’t use your body as much as it needs to be used. So my days and my life is very strict and I find that works for the life of a writer.

Are there any plans for a movie of Catching the Sun? – I think it would make a great film – with the shattered idyllic lifestyle it made me think of The Mosquito Coast as times.

You are right to suggest The Mosquito Coast – it is definitely inhabited by the spirit of that book. No plans yet – but then it doesn’t come out until 7th June so who knows?

What can we look forward to next from you ?

CATCHING THE SUN is the direction I am heading in – I think of it as a thriller with heart. That’s what I want to right – next I will write a straight crime novel. I admire writers like Ian Fleming and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who invented characters that lasted for 100 years. I would like to come up with a detective who will stick around that long, and that is what I will be trying next. I am not sure if anyone will be interested, but I am going to do it anyway. You have to follow your instincts – in writing and in life.

With many thanks to Tony Parsons for his time, and for a great read.

Keith

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Lady, Go Die ! – The Lost Mike Hammer Novel by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Published by Titan Books

The lost 1940s Mike Hammer novel, written between I, the Jury and My Gun Is Quick.

Hammer and Velda go on vacation to a Long Island beach town.

Hammer becomes embroiled in the mystery of a missing well-known New York party girl who lives nearby.

When the woman turns up naked and dead astride the statue of a horse in the town square, Hammer feels compelled to investigate.

Mickey Spillane is the legendary crime writer credited with igniting the explosion of paperback publishing after World War II as a result of the unprecedented success of his Mike Hammer novels, feeding the public’s appetite for sexy, violent, straight-talking crime stories. He also starred as Mike Hammer in The Girl Hunters. Mickey Spillane died at the age of 88 in 2006.

Max Allan Collins has been honoured by and has more than risen to the challenge of being executor of the lost and unfinished works of Spillane’s estate and provides a seamlessly finished novel which is beautifully put together by Titan Books.

I was blown away by the dust jacket, a powerful and stark graphic statement which does in graphics what Mike Hammer does on the pages in between – he’s all about big bold statements and he just doesn’t mess about . Inside the jacket we’re treated to a great photo of Mickey Spillane and his signature engraved and filled in green into the black cover – a beautiful, monumental event of a book.

The story itself had me gripped from the get-go, with Mike Hammer supposedly taking a break from New York with his secretary, but just happening upon a beating being dished out in an alleyway by what appear to be a bunch of less than honest cops.  From that point on, he and Velda have to put their vacation on a back seat as Hammer takes on the local cops, the mystery of a naked woman’s body found draped on a statue of a horse (Lady Godiva – style), and the investigation into other killings which may or may not be connected.

It’s impossible to see the joins in the book, Max Allan Collins picks up the Spillane flow so well and the novel powers along, propelled by some great action pieces and the unmistakable Hammer-style of  justice being served at every available opportunity.  With a great tale with barely a spare word and a great twist along the way, this is like Raymond Chandler having sunk a case of Red Bull – fast, action filled, witty and thoroughly enjoyable hardboiled crime fiction at its best.

And you can get yourself some law here.

Keith

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Catching the Sun by Tony Parsons

Published by HarperCollins

Just how badly do you want to find paradise?

When taxi driver Tom Finn is almost jailed for confronting two burglars in his own home, he leaves broken Britain and takes his wife and children to live on the tropical island of Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket is all the Finn family dreamed of – a tropical paradise where the children swim with elephants, the gibbons sing love songs in the jungle, the Andaman Sea is like turquoise glass and this young family is free to grow.

But both man-made disaster and the unleashed forces of nature shatter this tropical idyll.

CATCHING THE SUN is a gripping, moving story of a family who go in search of Paradise – and end up discovering themselves.

Not a crime book, so not my usual read (as regular readers of this blog will know) but the perfect summer read for those of us wanting to escape the gloom and grey of England, either to sunnier climes or simply to switch off and relax with a great escapist read at home.

The author of seven previous novels, including the much celebrated and winner of book of the year prize in 1999 ‘Man and Boy’, Tony Parsons writes families, relationships and men so well, that you can’t help but get caught up in the story and literally get washed away by the tale. In Catching the Sun he writes from the perspective of taxi driver Tom Finn, a husband and father, keen to take his family away from the broken Britain we read of in every day’s newspapers, and to provide them a more idyllic life in Phuket.

The nicknamed ‘Travis Bickle of Barnsbury’ (after De Niro’s character in ‘Taxi Driver’) is desperate to escape his past and to improve the future for himself and for those he loves.

But, as with home in England, even in Phuket the family are troubled by outside forces, both from other people, including the employment within a real estate company into which Tom has placed himself, and to the brute force of nature which threatens to destroy everything they have built up when a savage Tsunami strikes the coast. No husband or father reading this will fail to recognise themselves in the struggles that Tom faces to protect and help his family grow in their new home, and it’s that strength of narrative that will keep the reader hooked. That and the perfect beach paradise which he describes – you will feel the sand beneath your toes, you will hear the waves crashing, you will hear the chatter and song of gibbons in the trees.

A heartfelt love-letter to Thailand, which although doesn’t shy away from the sad reality of what some visit the location, makes clear that there is much to be enjoyed and loved there.  And whether through the descriptions of gibbons in the trees or turtles on the beach, the importance of family and striving to do the best possible for those you love rings loud and clear throughout.

A perfect summer getaway read.

Keith

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