Category Archives: Book news

Framed! At the Penguin Crime Evening.

It’s always wise to tread carefully when invited to Crime Fiction gatherings and events.

DSCF6326You never know when that dagger will be drawn in a dark corner of a room, when your drink might be switched, or worst of all – you get framed in some dodgy photographs.

DSCF6334Such was the case at the otherwise very enjoyable Penguin Crime Evening held recently in London to celebrate their authors and their upcoming titles.

With this solid canon of writers, there’s a lot to look forward from in Penguin Crime books this year:
Nicci Gerrard and Sean French (aka Nicci French)
James Oswald
Felix Francis
Meg Gardiner
Paul Perry and Karen Gillece (aka Karen Perry)
Matthew Frank
Alastair Gunn
Jake Woodhouse

Keith

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Exclusive: Prologue to THE COLD NOWHERE by Brian Freeman

untitledDue out in hardback from Quercus on 9th May, The Cold Nowhere has already been described as ‘As brilliant as Harlan Coben'(Daily Mail), ‘A great read from a rising star in the crime genre’ (Crimesquad) and, of its author, Lisa Gardner describes Freeman as ‘A master of psychological suspense’.

So, with just a matter of days before you can get to read what all the fuss is about in full, here’s your first taster with the prologue from The Cold Nowhere:

brian freeman hi-res cropPrologue
Despite the ribbons of blood on his face, which were as angry as war paint, the man on the bed was still breathing. She hadn’t killed him.
He lay on his back, sprawled in a tangle of bedsheets. His unbuttoned dress shirt exposed a flat chest, winter-pale and hairless. His pants puddled around his ankles. He smelled of cigar smoke and cologne. The whiskey bottle he’d opened lay tipped on the floor of the old stateroom, dripping Lagavulin onto the emerald carpet. He still clutched a crystal tumbler in his hand. Her blow had come by surprise, knocking him off his feet.
Cat slid a flowery cocktail dress over her nude body. She wanted to be gone before he woke up. She grabbed one of her cowboy boots from the floor. Its heel was slick with blood where she’d swung it into the man’s temple. She shoved her foot inside, and the leather nestled her calf. Her legs were lithe and smooth; young legs for a young girl. She reached into the toe of her other boot, retrieved the chain that held her father’s ring and slipped it over her head. She fluffed her nut-brown hair. Reaching into the boot again, she curled her fingers around the onyx handle of a knife.
Wherever she went, whatever she did, Cat always carried a knife. She felt a wave of desire – as tall and powerful as a tsunami –to unsheathe the blade and plunge it into the torso of the man on the bed, slicing through skin, tissue, organs and bone. Up and down. Over and over. Thirty times. Forty times. A frenzy. She knew what he would look like when she was done, butchered and dead, a slaughtered pig. She could picture herself spray-painted with his blood, like graffiti art in a graveyard.
She’d seen that painting before. She knew what knives did. Cat hid the blade in her boot and left him there, unconscious. He wasn’t worth killing. She felt sick from the images popping in her brain like fireworks. She headed for the bathroom, sank to her bare knees on the cold tile, and vomited into the toilet. She flushed down the puke. When she felt steady on her feet, she hurried down the steps and escaped outside, where the elements assaulted her immediately.
She stood on the deck of the giant ore boat Charles Frederick, but she wasn’t at sea. This ship didn’t go to sea anymore. It was a museum showpiece, locked away from the open waters of Lake Superior on a narrow channel in the heart of Duluth’s tourist district. The long, flat deck, like two football fields of red steel, swayed under her heels. The ship groaned like a living thing. Wind off the lake made a tornado of her hair and sneaked under her dress with cold fingers. It was early April, but in Duluth, April meant winter when the sun went down.
Dots of frigid moisture beaded on her skin from the flurries whipping through the night air. She hugged herself tightly, shivering, wishing she had a coat. Her heels clanged on the deck as, feeling alone and small, she picked her way beside a rope railing sixty feet over the water. When she looked down, she felt dizzy. Her eyes darted with the quickness of a bird, alert to the shadows and hiding places around her. She was never safe.
Cat located a hatch, where steep wet steps descended to an interior room that was like a prison of grey metal, with huge rivets dotting the walls. The room was dark and empty. On the far wall, snow blew inside through an open exit door. She exhaled in sharp relief; all she had to do was hurry to the ground and run. She bolted for the door but at the gangway she stopped and nervously studied the deserted street below the ship. Her boots were on metal landing in the water of the snowmelt. She wiped wet flakes from her eyes and squinted to see better.
Then, with her heart in her mouth, she froze. Even in the bitter cold, sweat gathered on her neck like a film of fear. She backed into the shadows, making herself invisible, but it was too late.
He’d seen her.
He’d found her again.
For days, she’d stayed a step ahead of him, like a game of hopscotch. Now he was back and she was trapped. She pricked up her ears and listened. Footsteps crunched across the gravel and ice, coming closer. She ran to a steel door that led to the mammoth cargo holds in the guts of the ship. She tugged on the door – it was heavy – and slipped through it, closing it behind her. Looking down, she saw only blackness; she couldn’t see the bottom of the steps. The interior was cold and vast, like she’d been swallowed down into a whale’s belly. She was blind as she descended. The air got colder on her wet skin, and the wind made muffled shrieks outside the hull.
When she finally felt the bottom of the ship under her feet, she inched forward, expecting open space. Instead, she bumped against walls, and wire netting scraped her face. Her fingers found grease and peeling paint. With no frame of reference, she lost her sense of direction. Her eyes saw things that weren’t there, mirages in the shadows. Objects moved. Colors floated in the air. Vertigo made her head spin, as if she were on a catwalk instead of safely on the ground.
Something real skittered over her foot – a rat. Cat flailed and couldn’t stifle her cry. She collided with a stack of paint cans that clattered to the floor and rolled like squeaky bicycles. The noise bounced around the walls, rippling to the high ceiling in ghastly echoes. She dropped to her knees, tightened into a ball, and slid her knife out of her boot and clutched it in front of her.
The door high above her swung open. He was here. A flashlight scoured the floor like a dazzling white eye. The light, passing over her head, helped her see where she was. She was crouched behind
a yellow forklift in a maze of makeshift plywood walls. Twenty feet away, a corridor beside the hull led from the cargo hold where she was hiding. That was the way out.
Cat waited. She heard the bang of footfalls. He was on the floor with her now. His light explored every crevice, patiently clearing every hiding place as he hunted her. She heard his footsteps; she heard his breathing. He was on the other side of the forklift, no more than six feet away, and he stopped, as if his senses told him that she was near. She rubbed her fingers on the knife; her sweat made it slippery. She aimed her blade at his throat. His light spilled across the dusty floor in front of her. He took a step closer, until he was a dark shape beside the wheels of the machine.
She saw the light glinting on his hand. He held a gun. Cat’s breath shot into her chest, loud and scared. She sprang up, slashing with the knife, but as she lurched toward him her wrist collided with the cage and the blade dropped to the floor. Helpless, she charged, taking them both to the ground, landing on dirt and scrap wood. The gun fell, and the flashlight rolled. Cat jabbed with her fingers and found his eyes. She poked hard, and when he screamed she squirmed away, scooped up the flashlight and ran.
With the light bouncing in front of her, she sprinted down a narrow passage. He scrambled to follow, but she heard him lose his footing and fall. She widened the gap between them. The passage opened into a second cargo hold, and she saw another set of steps, which she climbed two at a time. Her mouth hung open, gulping air. At the top, she bolted back onto the ship’s deck.
She was out of time. She took off the way she’d come, beside the rope railing with the water far below her. The metal was wet, and she skidded, trying to stay on her feet. He was already closing on her again. She heard his running footsteps behind her, but she didn’t look back. She sprinted on the slippery steel like a clumsy dancer, until she reached the end of the boat and had nowhere else to run. She stood at the stern, with the massive anchor chain beside her and the wind and flurries stinging her face from the midnight sky. The steel floor thundered, reverberating with his heavy footfalls. He was almost here. He almost had her.
Cat clasped her fists in front of her face and stared in despair at the harbour below her. Then she did the only thing she could do.
She flung herself off the ship into the ice-strewn water.

Keith

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World Book Night 2013 is almost here!

Just today I received an email to advise me that very soon I’ll be able to go and collect my choice of book to give this coming World Book Night – Little Face by Sophie Hannah.

And then, with a resounding second excitable ‘ping’ the following press release arrived – it’s all shaping up to be another great night of celebration of the written word and the chance to once again share the joy of reading.

image004A record year and rising – more authors, poets, libraries, prisons, shelters, schools, nurses, care homes, teenagers, parents and general public, than ever before…

…World Book Night events deliver on 23rd April 2013

On 23rd April 2013 something magical will take place across the country, as the ‘World Book Night Experience’ plays out. Complete strangers will become friends, colleagues will pause and reflect, libraries and bookshops will go the extra mile to ‘stay up late’, and authors of all genres will share their writings and love of the written word with audiences of all ages.

Now in its third year, World Book Night is a celebration of generosity, passion, participation and inclusion, known as the ‘World Book Night Experience’. On 23rd April – UNESCO’s International Day of the Book – many experiences will unfold simultaneously across the UK, the USA and Ireland. With major UK events in Liverpool, London, Edinburgh and beyond, a host of world-renowned writers have given their time – and their books – to inspire regular readers to harness their role as World Book Night ‘Givers’ and help spread a love of reading.

World Book Night’s flagship event will this year be held in Liverpool, where bestselling authors Frank Cottrell Boyce, Jasper Fforde, Philippa Gregory, Jackie Kay, Patrick Ness and Jeanette Winterson take part in a series of free, themed literary sessions at St George’s Hall and the brand new Liverpool Central Library, in association with Liverpool City Council and the BBC. The event features an impromptu Speakers’ Corner, a Book Exchange, Poetry Waiters, a Literary-themed Café and much more.

The second major event will be held at London’s Southbank Centre where World Book Night host Hardeep Singh Kohli will present a glorious night of readings designed to enlighten and entertain, by authors, poets and performers including Sebastian Barry, Tracy Chevalier, Charles Dance, Sarah Dunant, Victoria Hislop, Andrew Motion, Jojo Moyes, Alice Oswald, Elif Shafak, Lemn Sissay, Rupert Thomson and Rose Tremain.

And at Edinburgh Central Library, guests will be treated to thrilling thoughts on writing with No.1 Ladies Detective Agency author Alexander McCall Smith, and a reading by BAFTA-nominated novelist and playwright Lesley Glaister, in conversation with Peggy Hughes (City of Literature).

Jackie Kay, performing in Liverpool, comments: “World Book night strips everything away to the bare essential: the good hearted feeling of a book in your hand, a companion by your side, the best of friends on your road through life.”

Rose Tremain, taking part in London, says: “Lev, the protagonist of THE ROAD HOME, (my novel chosen to join the list of World Book Night titles), has read very few books in his arduous life as a sawmill worker in Eastern Europe. When he comes to England, he’s given a copy of Hamlet by his friend Lydia, whose pedagogical instincts dictate that she work to ‘improve’ his mind. Hamlet is of course way too difficult for a man who has difficulty distinguishing ‘to be or not to be’ from ‘B & B’, but he struggles on with it and eventually finds some affinity with the anguished prince of Denmark. The reading plays a part in opening up and transforming Lev’s life. And this we know from voices around the world: books can transform lives. So let’s hope World Book Night will act as a kind of benign Ponzi scheme for the mighty word.”
Alexander McCall Smith, appearing in Edinburgh, says: “In a world that sometimes seems over-burdened with conflict, World Book Night stands out as a precious beacon. It has two messages: one is that reading is sheer joy and the other is that the act of giving is intrinsically good. I hope this tradition goes on as long as books are made and read.”
World Book Night partner, The Reading Agency, is delighted with the huge efforts libraries have made to be involved again this year, with many authors supporting libraries in hundreds of locations around the country.

Independent charity The Reading Agency has coordinated the input of 2176 libraries across the UK, and supported the creation of a fantastic range of events, including supermarket visits by Amanda Smyth and Mez Parker with Coventry Mobile Library; Jessica Fox supporting Dumfries and Galloway’s Libraries Hit the High Street event; and Miranda Dickinson in Dudley.

Other major library events include Sophie Hannah in Cambridge; Melvin Burgess in Bristol as part of the city’s Britain Writing: Bristol Writing programme; Blake Morrison at a newly refurbished Lewisham Library; an evening of exclusive talks, book giveaways and live music for BookAid featuring Beverley Naidoo, James Mayhew, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst and comedian Natalie Haynes at Canada Water Library Southwark; an Evening of Crime with S J Bolton in Peterborough; Ann Cleeves’ Murder Mystery Evening in Maidstone; Treasure Island themed fun in Gloucestershire; a World Book Night ‘20 books’ inspired pop-up film festival in Tameside; and in the Outer Hebrides books will be transported by Mail Bus, Aeroplane and Ferry to the furthest reaches of the islands, thanks to the dedicated efforts of staff at Lionacleit Library.

Giver applications for World Book Night 2013 hit an all-time high: 23,655 people volunteered to be part of the Experience on April 23rd and from the 20,000 people confirmed as Givers, 54% chose to be involved for the first time. 58% of Givers have chosen to collect their books from a local library.
Also a first this year, World Book Night introduced an application strand for charitable giving enabling more than 2,500 organisations to get books to the hardest to reach sections of society, including 90% of the prison network. 100,000 of the 500,000 books allocated have been ring-fenced for charitable and institutional giving and will be distributed in a host of venues including hospitals, shelters, care homes, community centres and prisons.
World Book Night CEO, Julia Kingsford comments: “From the smallest communities in the Highlands to those in our largest metropolitan centres, World Book Night has an incredible power to unite people from across society. It is amazing to see the passion of the people who come together to share in World Book Night and spread their love of reading.”

Director of The Reading Agency, Miranda McKearney, says: “Where better than your library to celebrate the awesome power of books to connect us to each other? Libraries’ precious presence at the heart of our communities makes us a civilised society and we’re working hard to make sure local people get the chance to experience the excitement of World Book Night in their library.”

This year’s titles are more varied than ever. Prize winners, bestsellers, classic tales, contemporary crime, quick reads and even a graphic novel – there is something for everyone, no matter what their interest or reading ability.

· The twenty World Book Night 2013 titles are:
1. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (Faber)
2. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (RHCB)
3. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (HarperCollins)
4. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Hodder)
5. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming (Vintage)
6. A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich (Yale)
7. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (Simon & Schuster)
8. Little Face by Sophie Hannah (Hodder)
9. Damage by Josephine Hart (Virago)
10. The Island by Victoria Hislop (Headline)
11. Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay (Picador)
12. Last Night Another Soldier… by Andy McNab (Transworld)
13. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Penguin)
14. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Walker)
15. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (Orion)
16. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Little, Brown)
17. Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson (Penguin)
18. The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Vintage)
19. Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges by John Wagner (Rebellion)
20. Why be Happy When You Could be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (Vintage)

Keith

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Wentworth Miller to adapt Richard Parker’s novel Scare Me for Relativity Media

Exhibit A, the new crime fiction imprint of award-winning publisher Angry Robot, is delighted to announce that, in a deal brokered by The Gotham Group and ICM Partners, major Hollywood studio Relativity Media has acquired the film rights to Richard Parker’s psychological thriller Scare Me and has signed Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller to adapt the novel for screen.

Miller’s debut screenplay Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Chan-wook Park, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently released to wide critical acclaim.

Scare Me tells the story of a wealthy businessman who receives a phone call in the middle of the night asking him, ‘When did you last google yourself?’ He discovers a website with photos of the inside of his own home, along with six other houses he’s never seen before, inside one of which a gruesome murder has already taken place.

Author Richard Parker said, “Relativity is the perfect home for this project and Wentworth Miller has the sort of dark sensibility that makes him the perfect screenwriter to adapt it.”

Exhibit A acquired dramatic rights to Scare Me as part of a two book deal with Richard Parker last year. Scare Me will be published in the UK and US in paperback and eBook this May.

Keith

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Exhibit A Signs Terry Irving for Two Faster than Hell Political Crime Thrillers

Exhibit A, the new crime fiction imprint of award-winning publisher Angry Robot, has signed 4-time Emmy award-winning writer and producer, Terry Irving, for two novels

Exhibit A Commissioning Editor Emlyn Rees, bought World English, translation and dramatisation rights in Courier, plus an as-yet unnamed sequel, from Dean Krystek at Word Link USA.

Courier is the first in the Freelancer series of breakneck-paced thrillers, featuring Rick Putnam, a Vietnam veteran and motorcycle courier for one of Washington’s leading TV networks.

In addition to 4 Emmys, the author, Terry Irving, has also won 3 Peabody Awards and 3 DuPont Awards. He has been a producer, editor or writer with ABC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC.

Terry Irving commented: “I started my career racing through Washington on a motorcycle and getting published by Exhibit A is damn near the most exciting thing to happen since.”

Exhibit A Commissioning Editor Emlyn Rees said: “Courier is a super fast thriller, set in 1970s America, with a lead as cool as Easy Rider playing detective against a host of rogue US government elements determined to bury the truth.”

Exhibit A will publish Courier in May 2014 simultaneously in the UK and US in paperback and major ebook formats.

For more information on Terry Irving, visit his website at http://www.terryirving.com or follow him on Twitter @terryirving.

Keith

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CRIME SPREE FOR HARROGATE ANNOUNCED

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Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing has announced its headline Special Guest authors, revealing a strong female line-up.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, which recently hit the big screen starring Tom Cruise.

The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is hosted at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate, where Agatha Christie was famously found in 1926 after her disappearance sparked a national manhunt.  Attendees are invited to join over 80 of the world’s most celebrated crime authors ‘in conversation, in action and in the bar’ from 18 to 21 July.

Val McDermid said: “When I was ‘persuaded’ to chair the Programming Committee for the first festival all those years ago, what tempted me to take it on was the prospect of helping to showcase the range and quality of contemporary crime writing. I know that my passion for this genre is shared by the thousands of readers who have attended our events over the years, and we’ve all had some memorable encounters with those writers who have given us so much delicious, disturbing terror over the years. 2013 will be no different.”

The full programme will be announced over the coming weeks, and individual tickets and rovers will go on sale in the spring. You can secure your place at the Festival now by booking a Weekend Break Package, which includes 3 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation and a weekend rover ticket, giving you access to all Festival events. To book your Weekend Package call the Festival Office on 01423 562303.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and programme announcements at www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime and on Twitter @TheakstonsCrime

The Festival will be releasing details of participating authors every day on their website and through Twitter in the run up to the full programme being announced.

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Jane Casey on her new book ‘How to Fall’

Jane Casey is already well-known to crime fiction fans for her excellent books to date, but she was kind enough to drop by to tell Books and Writers a little about her latest book ‘How to Fall’ which is certain to gain her yet more readers and fans through the fast growing YA market.

imagesIt was probably inevitable that I would try to write a YA novel at some stage, but like all the best twists, I didn’t see it coming.

I read a lot of teen novels; I always have. I love it for the page-turning, gut-wrenching, heart-warming stories so many great writers tell.

I worked as a children’s books editor before becoming a full-time writer and I specialised in YA because that was where my heart lay. I edited some famous, talented, successful and award-winning writers. I acquired some bestselling books for my list. It was rewarding, and challenging, and fun.

But that was work.

Writing was my addiction.

It was the thing that got me out of bed at 5.30 in the morning so I could get a couple of hours in before getting ready to go to the office. It was how I spent my weekends and bank holidays. It was my escape from the day-to-day round of admin and meetings and contracts – the bits of the job I found hard work. I was never going to spend my spare time writing the kind of book I was editing, because it was too close to my everyday work.

I wrote my first crime novel because the idea wouldn’t let me go, and because I read crime novels for fun when I wasn’t submerged in children’s manuscripts, and because I live with the ultimate author’s guide to crime and the law (my husband is a criminal barrister).

After years of storing up bad karma by rejecting thousands of would-be authors (but always nicely!) I was picked off the United Agents slush pile and given a chance. That chance became The Missing, and I got a new career. I’ve just delivered my fifth adult crime novel, and I already know what I’m going to write for the sixth, because that’s my wonderful job.

New readers keep getting in touch to tell me that they like what I’m doing, and that I should do more. It’s a dream come true, literally. And yet, this time last year there was something missing. There was another story I wanted to tell, for a different readership.

images-1I can’t help writing any more than I can help blinking, and I know I would have written How to Fall even if no one had wanted to publish it. I was fortunate that somebody did want me to write it, so once again I’ve had the joy of seeing an idea become a book. There aren’t many better feelings in the world.

How to Fall is about a teenage girl named Jess who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her cousin Freya, a sweet-natured artist who fell off a cliff and died. My editor described it as ‘Mean Girls with murder’, and that’s pretty accurate – everyone has a secret or two to hide and one of them is prepared to kill to prevent the truth from getting out. It’s a book I loved writing, with characters I can’t wait to revisit in the sequel. For all that, it feels like a big risk to be coming out with something new for a different readership.

I have no idea whether How to Fall will do well or disappear without a trace. I don’t know what my current readers will make of it, if any of them buy it. I don’t know what the YA fans will think of me. But I do know this: in writing it, I followed my own best advice.

Despite my background as a commercially minded editor, it’s to trust your instincts. Write the story you want to read, and worry about what happens to it later. Whether the book gets published or not, let your characters live and act out their tale, for your own satisfaction. That’s how I’ve always worked, and how I will probably continue to work. Even if I don’t know where it will take me, I know it will make me happy along the way.

A very big thank you to Jane for stopping by and, thanks to Random House, we have copies of ‘How to Fall’ to give away to three lucky winners – just leave a comment below and your twitter name or email address, changing ‘@’ to ‘AT’ to avoid those pesky spambots – good luck !

Keith 

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