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Harrogate Crime Festival programme is launched !

Last night at the British Library, within the setting of the current A-Z of Crime Writing exhibition, the ‘H is for Hardboiled’ was ignored for one night, replaced by the phrase ‘H is for Harrogate!’.

The full programme and line up for this year’s festival is now up on line – so, go check it out, book loads of tickets and enjoy.

Here’s where to go.

Keith

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Exhibit A Signs Matteo Strukul in Two Book Crime Fiction Deal

Exhibit A, the new crime fiction imprint of award-winning publisher Angry Robot, has signed award-winning Italian author Matteo Strukul for two novels.

Exhibit A’s Commissioning Editor, Emlyn Rees, bought World English rights in The Ballad of Mila and Black Queen: The Justice of Mila from Allan Guthrie at Jenny Brown Associates.

The Ballad of Mila tells the story of female Italian Bounty Hunter, Mila Zago, a.k.a. Red Dread. Abandoned by her mother and violated by a gang of criminals just after they slaughtered her father, Mila is a cold-blooded killer, a deadly assassin. Brought up by her grandfather on the Sette Comuni plateau under a rigid martial code, she returns home to seek her revenge, conspiring to create a spectacular showdown reminiscent of A Fistful of Dollars.

Exhibit A’s Commissioning Editor Emlyn Rees said: “This is concise and thrilling storytelling of the highest order. Imagine Elmore Leonard behind the wheel of a car in Grand Theft Auto. Only twice as brutal and fast.”

Exhibit A will publish The Ballad of Mila in June 2014 simultaneously in the UK and US in paperback and eBook.

The author, Matteo Strukul, is also a well-known graphic novel writer. Together with international artist Alessandro Vitti (MARVEL and DC), he created Red Dread, a comic book series with Mila Zago as protagonist, which was awarded the Premio Leone di Narnia as “Best Italian comic book series of the year”. Matteo is also the artistic director of the Sugarpulp Festival and line editor of Revolver, a crime fiction imprint of Edizioni BD.

For more information on Matteo Strukul, visit http://www.matteostrukul.com, follow him on Twitter @MatteoStrukul, or see his Facebook page.

Keith

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HARVILL SECKER BUY TWO MORE BOOKS IN THE SWEDISH SERIES SET TO BECOME THE NEW THE KILLING FOR THE BBC

Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, has bought the next two books in Arne Dahl’s award winning crime series, adaptations of which the BBC will be broadcasting in the same Saturday night slot that turned The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge into household names. Hennessey bought UK & Commonwealth (ex. Canada) rights from Tor Jonasson at the Salomonsson Agency.

Alison Hennessey, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker says: ‘We knew when we acquired the first two books in Arne Dahl’s crime series that he would go on to become one of the leading lights of our crime fiction list, and I’m delighted to have signed up the next two installments in this gripping, intelligent series. Arne’s books are perfect for fans of Henning Mankell and upmarket, international crime so we couldn’t be more delighted that the BBC will be screening the Swedish tv series.’

To the Top of the Mountain, the book that won Arne the prestigious German Crime Prize, sees Detective Paul Hjelm and his team coming back together after the traumatic events at the end of Bad Blood to investigate a series of crimes – a man killed in a random attack in a restaurant, another blown up in high security prison, rumours of a forthcoming terrorist attack. In Europa Blues, winner of the Best International Thriller at the Dutch Book Awards, the team try and establish links between the execution of a man at Stockholm zoo, the abduction of 8 Eastern European women from a refugee centre and the horrifying murder of a professor at the Jewish cemetery in a case that will extend across Europe and back through time.

Arne Dahl is an award-winning Swedish crime novelist and literary critic whose books have been translated into over twenty languages. He will be attending Cuirt, Bloody Scotland and Edinburgh International Book festivals this year. The first book in the series, The Blinded Man, was published straight into Vintage paperback in July 2012 with Bad Blood coming from Harvill Secker this July.

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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Win a Kindle Fire in the ‘ALL FALL DOWN’ Treasure Hunt – The final clue is here….

Treasure Hunt Large

To celebrate the release of ‘All Fall Down’ by Mark Edwards and Louise Voss, here’s your chance to win a kindle fire thanks to Harper Collins.

Firstly, to whet your appetite for the book, click here for an exciting extract.

And here, Louise and Mark talk about their latest book, read on for the question you’ll need to answer and then click here to get in the game and submit your treasure hunt entry.

You’ll need the answers from the other blog tour locations, the previous one you can find here, for all the clues you can go to the Voss and Edwards Facebook page, and make sure you get your entry sent in to killer reads by 28th February. Good luck.

075145-FC3DWriting ALL FALL DOWN:

Louise:   Years ago, I came up with the idea of setting a novel at the now-defunct Common Cold Unit (CCU) – a scientific research facility that used to be based in Salisbury.   This was a real feature of my youth, a place where  cash-strapped students used to volunteer to be given a cold in return for a bit of money. I thought it would make a really original setting for a novel. When I first told Mark about it, I had in mind a sort of gentle love story about two volunteers meeting and bonding over Kleenex,   Mark, however, had other ideas.

Mark: I have always been fascinated by pandemics – when SARS and bird flu broke out in the noughties, I read all the news reports with a mixture of fear and excitement.  When Louise told me her idea for a book set at the CCU, I immediately thought it was a great setting for a thriller. I had just read The Da Vinci Code, and wanted to write something with that book’s pace, and a conspiracy, and I knew that Bird Flu was heading our way so thought it was great timing.

LOUISE:  Why not?  I thought.  Mark’s plot ideas about rogue scientists manufacturing deadly viruses with which to hold the world to ransom sounded a lot more exciting than what I’d envisaged, anyway.  And as soon as he came up with the title Catch Your Death, I was completely sold.

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MARK: When we wrote Catch Your Death, it was never intended to be the start of a series. We saw it as a standalone novel. So we were surprised when we received a number of reviews that stated that we had obviously left things open for a sequel. As far as we were concerned, we had told Kate Maddox’s story and wrapped it up but with a hint at the end that the story might continue, though we intended it to carry on only in the reader’s imagination.

However, when Catch Your Death became a hit, we started to think that perhaps there should be a sequel after all. Inspiration hit me one morning on a crowded commuter train, while I was squashed between an armpit and a briefcase. Somebody in the carriage sneezed, and I started to think about how rapidly a virus would spread through the train.  I whipped out my iPhone and tapped out a rough idea for a new Kate Maddox book. By the time I reached my destination, I had an outline for a story, which I emailed to Louise so we could start fleshing it out.

LOUISE:   We knew we wanted to ramp up the drama in All Fall Down, and develop the three main characters (Kate Maddox, her partner Paul, and Kate’s young son Jack) to make them all a lot more proactive than before.  They all, in different ways, take control of their own destinies – although not without various sets of disastrous consequences.   I particularly enjoyed writing the sub-plot of eight-year old Jack stowing away in an Airstream with his buddy Tyler, and embarking on a perilous road-trip across America with Tyler’s older brother at the wheel.

MARK: We were also determined to have more science in this book – but written in an exciting and easy-to-understand way. We wanted to show how Kate and her team would go about researching the virus and trying to find a cure. As neither of us have any kind of scientific background (we both failed science at school) we sought help in the form of Dr Jennifer Rohn, who runs a site called Lablit.com. She helped us create our deadly virus, explained what might happen in the lab, and eventually read the manuscript and pointed out all the bits that were wrong and needed to change. Importantly, she also helped us dream up various ways in which someone could maim or kill someone else in a lab-based fight scene…

LOUISE:  Even though we only wrote it last year, I actually struggle to remember which of us wrote which parts – I know that Mark wrote the scientific bits and I wrote the Jack/road trip chapters, but we wrote it so fast that quite a lot of the rest is a bit of a blur!  I’m pleased that the pace turned out to be as fast as we’d hoped.

MARK: We set it in California because we wanted the book to be a big, bold adventure story painted on the broadest, most cinematic canvas possible. After what was already a high-stakes adventure in Catch Your Death, we wanted to up the ante with a bigger threat to the world – because this time the virus is already out there – plus nastier villains, more frantic action and even more peril for Kate, Paul and Jack. We like to think of it as Catch Your Death turned up to eleven.

Early reviews have been fantastic, with one reviewer describing it as “Outbreak meets Die Hard” which, come to think of it, is what we were aiming for!  We’re really proud of this book and hope that people like it. We love hearing from readers and you can contact us through our Facebook page: facebook.com/vossandedwards.

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And here’s your question – answer it and the others preceding it for a chance to win a kindle fire:

How have early reviewers described All Fall Down?

Good luck, and don’t forget to keep up with Mark and Louise via their website or twitter: @mredwards @LouiseVoss1

Keith

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Aric Davis…on writing.

If you haven’t yet caught Aric Davis, then you have missed a treat.

You can check out a couple of my reviews of his books here:

A Good and Useful Hurt  &   Rough Men

And, I’m really pleased and honoured that Aric has taken the time to write this exclusive piece about his writing for Books and Writers – many thanks, Aric, you’re a gent.

imagesThe biggest influence on my writing, without question, has been Stephen King. First and foremost for his work as a storyteller, but also because of his wonderful book, “On Writing.”

I have no way of knowing exactly how many authors found their inner-muse because of Mr. King’s brilliant little guide, but I can say for certain that this one would never have been published had that book not seen the light of day.

It may seem odd to attach such a tremendous debt to a man I’ve never met, but I’m serious in saying that if it weren’t for my editor, Terry, and the work of Mr. King, I would never have become a published author. Because of this influence, I find two common themes in my writing. There is the more obvious one which is influenced by Mr. King: storylines and characters that jump from novel to novel, but there is another more secretive one as well. That narrative finds its soul in the work of another phenomenal author, Andrew Vachss. Just like the aforementioned Mr. King, Andrew Vachss and his incredible Burke series need no further introduction. That said, if you like noir and have missed out on Burke, get your butt to Amazon and order “Flood.” Don’t worry, the rest of us can wait.

Back?

Great.

In any case, one of the most important themes in the Burke books is that family has nothing to do with blood. Even though I grew up comfortably in a family with two well-adjusted parents who have yet to divorce, that idea caught me in the guts like a hook to the liver. It was such a pure message, and such a well-meaning one.

images-1At the risk of alienating some potential readers-and to be perfectly honest, in this case I don’t give a shit if I do-there is nothing that bothers me more than someone trying to decide for someone else what the word, “family” means. Family can be the bond between an adopted African child and her European parents, it can be the relationship between two homosexual men in an American red state, and it could be a football team that still meets every year to celebrate a championship victory from fifty years prior. The bond is what matters, not the way it is defined by a stranger. It’s a theme and a torch that I’m proud to help carry, though there are people with far more on the line than myself carrying this idea in a much more dangerous manner. After all, I’m a white male who was born in one of the world’s most privileged countries, so it’s easy for me to champion the rights of those who must fight a judgmental public every day of their lives. But it’s still something I believe in strongly.

images-3This perspective was what formed the nucleus of my new novel, “Rough Men.” I don’t want to give too much away, but some of the familial bonds revealed in “Rough Men” aren’t as they appear at face value. In the end it doesn’t matter. Family is family, whether from blood, marriage, or acquired by other means. I have no right to tell a stranger what defines a consensual relationship or not. This, more than anything else, is the root of my intention when writing about this stuff, from the love between my doomed characters in “A Good and Useful Hurt,” to the strange bond between Nickel of “Nickel Plated” and his father, the mystery man who trains his illegally adopted son how to be a monster with a conscience.

images-2Even in my first novel, the self-published and poorly edited “From Ashes Rise,” the meat of the story is about violence, but the undercurrent is about the bonds forged between men, and with their estranged families, during a time of war.

I don’t know if my writing will ever change any minds, and I’m ok with that. A success to me would be if in some small way my work was a reminder for us to remain vigilant towards those who stand against the basic rights of humanity. It is very easy right now to affiliate oneself with one political party or another, or to judge someone else based solely on what you don’t understand about them.

I try to let my writing draw on familiar themes, be they crime, horror, or love, but let non-traditional elements play within, and I love that I have a platform to share them with my readers.

You guys are the best!

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Breaking News!

 

Paula Daly at the festival on Saturday…….Read more:

 

Transworld Publishers are delighted to announce the acquisition of two novels by UK debut author Paula Daly.

 

Rachel Rayner, Commissioning Editor, bought Just What Kind of Mother Are You? and The Day Before You Came from agent Jane Gregory at a lively auction involving six major publishers.

 

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is a novel that plays on one of your greatest fears – what would you do if your best friend’s daughter went missing on your watch? That’s what happens to Lisa Kallisto – an overwhelmed working mother of three – one freezing December day in the Lake District. Not only is thirteen-year-old Lucinda missing and it’s all Lisa’s fault, but she’s the second teenage girl to go missing from the area in the last fortnight. But, as she peels away the layers surrounding Lucinda’s disappearance, Lisa learns that all is not quite as it first appears to be.

 

“I’m incredibly excited to be working with Paula Daly at the beginning of what I’m sure will be a brilliant career. Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, with its terrifying premise, distinctive voice and cracking plot, has that instant word-of-mouth quality, evidenced by the enthusiastic in-house reads and immediate buzz from my colleagues across all departments here,” said Rachel Rayner.

 

“It has been an exciting auction and I’m thrilled that Transworld are publishing,” said Jane Gregory.

 

Paula Daly said: “I am absolutely delighted to be published by Transworld. It’s a real honour to be in the company of such incredibly talented authors as Kate Atkinson, SJ Watson and Belinda Bauer.”

 

Just What Kind of Mother Are You? will be published in Bantam Press hardcover and ebook in Spring 2013, with Paula’s second novel The Day Before You Came to come a year later. Transworld Publishers hold UK & Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights for both books. Internationally, rights have already been sold in Germany (Goldmann Verlag), Italy (Longanesi), Holland (De Fontein (De Kern)) and Israel (Kinneret-Zmora-Dvir Publishing).

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Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – The Opening Night

Ten years on and the festival is showing no signs of flagging – quite the opposite, it’s growing in popularity and attendance if tonight’s (Thursday’s) opening night was anything to go by.

A fantastic who’s who of the greatest names in crime fiction from across the globe have begun their takeover of The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for another long weekend of criminal activities.

The festival kicked off in style with the Crime Novel of the Year Award and a special Lifetime Achievement Award. In the latter the happy recipient, Colin Dexter, gave a lovely moving, funny and heartfelt speech and thanked the ‘happy band of crime writers’

We may be using #TOPcrime2012 as our hashtag this year with the ‘TOP’ being for ‘Theakstons Old Peculier’, but this festival is ‘TOP’ in many more ways than just the acronym. 

 

THE END OF THE WASP SEASON BY DENISE MINA WINS THEAKSTONS OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD

COLIN DEXTER COLLECTS OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO CRIME FICTION AWARD

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Scottish author Denise Mina has tonight scooped the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award with her ninth book The End of the Wasp Season.  One of the most prestigious crime writing prizes in the country, the Glaswegian writer was presented the award by title sponsor Simon Theakston, at the opening night party of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

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Beating off stiff competition from a shortlist that included SJ Watson’s smash hit debut Before I Go To Sleep; veteran crime writer John Connolly’s The Burning Soul; and Steve Mosby’s acclaimed Black Flowers; this is the first time that Mina has been awarded the coveted accolade. Collecting a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade oak cask provided by Theakstons Old Peculier, Mina expressed her shock at her win:

 

“I’m only here to prove I’m a good sport! I’ve lost a tenner in a bet! There’s something lovely about the collegiate attitude of crime writers and together it makes us ball-sier! I’m a bit blown away to be honest. I was really blown away by being on the shortlist. I’m so astonished I can’t even swear!”

 

Born in Glasgow in 1966, Mina grew up in various locations in Europe thanks to her father’s work as an engineer.  Having left school at sixteen she tried her hand at a number of jobs including meat factory worker, kitchen porter and cook, before returning to education to study Law at Glasgow University followed by a PhD at Strathclyde University.  She wrote her debut novel, Garnethill when she was supposed to be studying!  In addition to writing crime fiction novels, Mina also writes comics, short stories, stage plays and even a graphic novel. Her latest book isGods and Beasts.

 

Now in its eighth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, in partnership with Asda – who is promoting the shortlisted titles in stores nationwide – and in association with the Daily Mirror, was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing and is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1st June 2011 to 31st May 2012.

 

The overall winner was decided by a public vote and a panel of experts which this year was comprised of DI Tom Thorne actor David Morrissey; Festival chair Mark BillinghamDaily Mirror Literary Editor and crime novelistHenry Sutton; Asda Fiction Buyer Ruth Lewis; and Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston Ltd.

 

Tonight too, a special presentation was made to the winner of the third Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, which this year was awarded to Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.

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Born in Lincolnshire in 1930, Dexter won a scholarship to the local grammar school and, after completing his National Service, went on to study at Cambridge. Since 1966 he has lived in Oxford with his wife, with whom he has two children. After retiring from a 13-year teaching career, he began writing mysteries in 1973 while on a family holiday. His debut novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1975 and introduced the world to Inspector Morse for the first time. One of the most iconic detectives ever to have been created, Morse’s crime-solving talents found a whole new audience in the successful TV series, bringing further acclaim for Dexter. Inspector Morse has appeared in 13 novels and numerous short stories. Dexter has won many awards for his novels, including the CWA Silver Dagger twice and the CWA Gold Dagger for both The Wench is Dead and The Way Through the Woods. In 1997, he was presented with the CWA Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature and, in 2000, was awarded the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours.

 

Dexter said: “Never had I thought that the gods would be kindly enough to give me such a huge honour so late in my life. Yet here I am, in my early eighties, feeling a profound and heartfelt gratitude for the great honour bestowed on me.”

 

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of T&R Theakston, said:

“Denise Mina is a fantastically talented writer and The End of the Wasp Season is a thoroughly deserving winner and a great example of ‘tartan noir’. It was a very tough decision this year as all the books on the shortlist were outstanding in different ways but I’m delighted to be able to hand the trophy to Denise, the first woman to have woman since 2008, for this hugely atmospheric and haunting book.

 

“I’m also delighted and privileged to welcome Colin Dexter to Harrogate to collect his much- deserved Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award. Few writers are as prolific as Colin has been over his long and varied career and even fewer create a character as iconic and well-loved as Morse. This award acknowledges Colin’s huge contribution not only to crime fiction and to British culture, but also to real ale. Few detectives enjoy a pint better than Morse!”

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Harrogate Hitlist: Mark Edwards & Louise Voss on their favourite crime fiction

Very pleased to have Mark Edwards drop by today on the blog to tell us a little about his first Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival appearance and to reveal his favourite crime fiction reads along with those of his writing partner, Louise Voss.

Many thanks to both for their time:

This year will be my first year at Harrogate and over the last few weeks I have been watching festival veterans work themselves into a foaming frenzy of anticipation. There has been a lot of talk about boozing, lots of promises of meet-ups; everybody tells me it’s the best thing ever. I can’t wait!

My writing partner Louise Voss and I will be appearing alongside Mari Hannah, who has already appeared on this blog so I won’t repeat what she said. But, like Mari, Louise and I had a long, hard slog – with more ups and down’s and emotional highs and lows than an X Factor winner’s ‘journey’ – to get to the point where we are now.

Most people know that we had a self-published No.1 on Kindle. That opened doors for us which led to our deal with HarperCollins. But before that there were many years of trying and never-quite-getting-there. You can read the whole journey, from my perspective, here: From being left on the shelf, to being on the shelf.

The panel we are taking part in at Harrogate is called Success Stories. That’s great, and when you are a struggling writer, trying to get that deal, you become so fixated on finding a publisher that you often don’t see beyond that except in misty fantasies of CWA Gold Dagger acceptance speeches and moving in next door to JK Rowling.

But finding a publisher is only one step on the way towards success. I still feel like we have a very long way to go – to establish ourselves, to find readers, to be able to relax and enjoy it. The most important part of that is to build up a body of work that you are proud of and that people want to read. That’s what it’s all about – not being a flash in the pan or a one-hit wonder; it’s about having a backlist that can compete with the best.

Catch Your Death and Killing Cupid – our stalker novel; the first novel Louise and I wrote together, that finally comes out in paperback on August 2nd, ten years after we started writing it – are just the first steps in what will hopefully be a proper success story.

If you’re going to Harrogate, especially Creative Thursday, hopefully we’ll see you there. Please come and say hello. We want the opportunity to hand out some of the pretty business cards we’ve had made specially!

In the meantime, in honour of the theme of success stories, we have chosen our ten favourite crime novels – five each. Books that have inspired us and made us want to be better writers. Maybe you could leave a comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our choices.

Mark’s top five

Mo Hayder – The Treatment Easily the most terrifying book I’ve ever read, made even more intensely scary by the fact that it’s set near where I used to live, and I’d see the flats where the killer lived every morning on my way to work. A psychopath takes a family prisoner and does unspeakable things to them. Then there’s the sub-plot featuring the brother of the hero, Jack Caffrey. The ending is perhaps the cruelest ever written. Read it if you dare. Just don’t expect to sleep much afterwards.

Michael Connelly – The Concrete Blonde Connelly’s Harry Bosch books must be the most consistently-brilliant series out there. Bosch is such a great character, the Clint Eastwood of the LAPD. It’s hard to choose a favourite but this was the one that made me most breathless with excitement. You know when you are so immersed in a book that it feels like you are inhaling the words? That’s what it feels like reading The Concrete Blonde.

Natsuo Kirino – Out  Another darkly disturbing shocker, this one. A downtrodden Japanese factory worker accidentally kills her husband, then enlists some of her friends to help cover it up. I used to live in Japan and this book perfectly captures the side of that country you don’t usually see. It’s not all neon and Hello Kitty. This is a cold, chilling read and utterly gripping.

Jason Starr – The Follower  Jason Starr deserves to be far, far more famous than he is. He has written a series of standalone novels, most of which feature a guy who makes a stupid mistake, then more stupid mistakes, and watches his life spin completely out of control. The Follower is slightly different – it’s about a woman and her stalker. And as well as being extremely fast-paced it’s very funny. Starr is now writing werewolf novels which are also great, but his earlier crime books are all, without exception, brilliant.

George Pelecanos – Drama City  Another American writer, which makes me feel a bit guilty, as I haven’t mentioned some of my favourite British authors like Peter James and Val McDermid. But Pelecanos is the master. If I met him I would have to do that whole ‘I’m not worthy’ thing and lie at his feet. He is a genius. As with Connelly and Starr, it’s so hard to pick a favourite but Drama City has it all. The central character is the US equivalent of an RSPCA officer, trying to go straight while caught up in DC’s drug wars. If you like The Wire you will love this. The fact this got a 1 star review on Amazon renders all Amazon reviews meaningless. Over to Louise for her top five:

Kate Atkinson – Case Histories (or any of her Jackson Brodie novels).  I’ve loved KA since Behind the Scenes at the Museum in 1995. Jackson is a British version of Jack Reacher, and the sexiest fictional detective I can think of. I fancy him something rotten!

Tana French – The Likeness I really enjoy French’s robust characters and unexpectedly poetic narrative. The premise of this book is ludicrously far-fetched, yet I was able to suspend my disbelief entirely. It reminded me a bit of A Secret History (which I bet is on Mark’s list! No, I decided it’s not strictly a crime novel, though it is the best book ever written – Mark)

Peter James – Dead Like You  A consummate storyteller, I think James’s strength lies in the way he uses a third person narrative so effectively- all his characters, even the fairly minor ones, are so brilliantly drawn. I could have picked any of the Roy Grace novels but this one really stuck in my mind (it’s ‘the one with the shoes’!).

Emlyn Rees – The Hunted  A masterclass (am typing this on my phone and four times my predictive text has insisted that says ‘master lass’) in writing pace and tension – such a page-turner.

Elizabeth Haynes – Into the Darkest Corner  The crime novels I enjoy most are those that can combine a cracking pace with complex, believable characters in extreme or unusual situations. I’m not a big fan of extremely violent books in which people get imaginatively tortured. Mark writes all those bits in ours! I think the characterisation in ITDC is great.

Killing Cupid (which Peter James called “astonishingly good”) will be published in paperback on August 2nd and is already available as on eBook. Catch Your Death is also available as a paperback and ebook. Both will be available in shops from August 2nd as a Buy One Get One Free bundle. Visit www.vossandedwards.com for more, or like our Facebook page for news of an online book club chat about Killing Cupid www.facebook.com/vossandedwards

Many thanks to Mark and Louise for some top selections there and for their time to drop by.

Keith

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Harrogate Hitlist: Mel Sherratt’s thoughts on the festival

Fresh from a recent feature in the Daily Mirror and a swarm of tweeted accolades (including great praise from Tony Parsons) following her runaway success with her first crime ebook ‘Taunting the Dead’, Mel Sherratt drops by to Books and Writers to share her experiences of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

This time last year I was getting ready to attend Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – and not only in terms of which shoes I’d be wearing! It was the first time I’d attended and from the moment I stepped from the train and saw the ‘chalk’ outline of a dead body, I was excited. And, boy did it live up to my expectations. Fun, fun, fun and more fun.

This year, I feel like a child counting down to Christmas Day. I think someone on Dragon’s Den should make ‘Countdown to Harrogate’ calendars, I’m sure they’d be on to a winner. In fact, several of us have been counting down not just the days, but the weeks.

And because of last year’s crime festival, I’ve had a remarkable twelve months.

Here are a few reasons why:

I met so many authors and, because of social media such as Twitter and blogging, I’ve been able to keep in contact with most of them. Over the year, I’ve met up with several of them at different events and I can’t wait to catch up again. I listened to some fabulous talks, lots of intriguing topics, lots of interesting authors. The atmosphere was electric. There were so many interesting authors on the panels and something for everyone.

For networking, a festival where readers, authors and publishing folk come together in one place is just fantastic – and inspiring. You can chat to people you’ve only met online, put faces to names as well as rub shoulders with the likes of the biggies. You can get books signed. You can chat in general. You can even get star struck when you’re in the queue for the toilets! Ok, maybe that might just be me…

More importantly, I met friends. I call them my Harrogate five. It initially started last year when we met, all for the first time, just before the festival started and ended up staying together for the whole weekend. Throughout the past year we’ve met up at a central point, several times, for long lunches where we just talk crime for hours – pure bliss and immensely enjoyable. Somehow, I think the Harrogate five is more likely to be the Harrogate fifty this year as more and more people have said they are coming too. It’s going to be one big tweet up.

Yet, I suppose the biggest thing to happen to me since last year is that I’ve published two ebooks. The elusive book deal has evaded me but TAUNTING THE DEAD was released in December 2011 and has done quite well. SOMEWHERE TO HIDE, the first in a new series, THE ESTATE, has just been released at the beginning of July.

When I was at Harrogate, I chatted about SOMEWHERE TO HIDE because some of the talks brought up the subject of violence towards women, women in jeopardy, and that’s what I like to write about – fear and emotion. I don’t think I’ll ever give up the dream of sitting on a panel at Harrogate, deal or no deal, but I know just being there around people I admire, enjoy chatting to, who inspire me, with my friends is a dream come true anyway.

Countdown to Harrogate – 9 days to go!

A big thanks for Mel for taking the time to drop by here.

Keith

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