Monday, 20 May 2019

Karin Slaughter In Conversation With Mark Billingham


Join us for a stimulating evening with #1 internationally bestselling author KARIN SLAUGHTER and MARK BILLINGHAM, who has just recorded his eighteenth consecutive Top Ten bestseller in the UK.

Karin will be talking with Mark about her forthcoming book The Last Widow, a gripping new crime thriller that sees the reunion of popular characters Will Trent and Sara Linton, after a three-year hiatus. 

Mark's book, Their Little Secret is the brand new thriller in the Sunday Times bestselling Tom Thorne series, which was made into an acclaimed TV series in 2010, starring David Morrissey. 

The event will last one hour and involve a Q&A along with the discussion. Once the event commences, copies of both authors' books will be available to 
purchase and have signed.

Date:- 12 June 2019
Time:- 6:30pm to 7:30pm
*The £5 ticket cost is redeemable against the cost of a book*
More information about buying tickets can be found here.

Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Townand in the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels Pretty GirlsThe Good Daughter, and Pieces of HerThe Good Daughter and Cop Townare in development for film and television and Pieces of Heris soon to be an eight-part Netflix adaption. Karin is also the founder of Save the Librarians project - a non-profit organisation established to support libraries and library programming. 

Mark Billingham's book sales now top 5 million copies and he is published in over 25 countries. Each thriller in his series featuring London-based detective Tom Thorne has been a Sunday Times bestseller. His debut, Sleepyhead(published in 2001), was singled out by The Times as one of the novels that shaped the decade and has gone on to sell over 750,000 copies. Two of his novels, Lazybonesand Death Messageboth won the Theakstons Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year. Mark began his career as an actor before writing for a variety of shows and then branching out into stand-up comedy. He has gone on to present, host and contribute widely on TV and radio. 

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Cain, Higashino, Lapena, Lemaitre and Mankell shortlisted for the 2019 Iceland Noir Award for translated crime fiction

The authors and Icelandic translators of the following five novels are shortlisted for the 2019 Iceland Noir Award for translated crime fiction: 
James M. Cain: Double Indemnity (Translated by Þórdís Bachmann)
Keigo Higashino: The Devotion of Suspect X (Translated by Ásta S. Guðbjartsdóttir)
Shari Lapena: A Stranger in the House (Translated by Ingunn Snædal)
Pierre Lemaitre: Three Days and a Life (Translated by Friðrik Rafnsson)
Henning Mankell: After the Fire (Translated by Hilmar Hilmarsson)

The winning book will be announced in November. 

The jury for the award is composed of Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir journalist and literary critic, and Ragnar Jónasson, crime writer.

H/T CrimeTime for the information.


The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.

The shortlist in full:
Snap by Belinda Bauer
Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
London Rules by Mick Herron
Broken Ground by Val McDermid
The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney
East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman

The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles. The prize, now in its 15th year, was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction.

Belinda Bauer, a previous winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for her novel Rubbernecker in 2014, is shortlisted with her 2018 Man Booker long-listed, Snap

Snap, which is inspired by the murder of a pregnant woman, Marie Wilks, on the M50 in 1988 (the real-life crime remains unsolved), became one of the very few crime-genre novels ever to be considered for the Man Booker prize. The judges described it as “an acute, stylish, intelligent novel about how we survive trauma.”
Bauer battles courtroom drama, Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh, hailed by Ian Rankin for “plotting that takes the breath away.” Cavanagh is an Irish lawyer and author born and raised in Belfast. Thirteen offers an original twist on the courtroom thriller, where the serial killer isn’t on trial - he’s on the jury.

Both Mick Herron and Val McDermid were shortlisted for the 2018 Theakston Old Peculier Novel of the Year - the title went to Stav Sherez with The Intrusions

McDermid last won Novel of the Year in 2006. The No.1 bestseller and ‘queen of crime’ could reclaim the title with her latest, Broken Ground. The Karen Pirie thriller digs up a secret buried for 70 years in a Highland peat bog and has been praised for its ‘masterly handling of pace and plot.’

Her novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold over 15 million copies. McDermid has won many awards including in 2016 the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Mick Herron’s widely acclaimed Jackson Lamb novels have been shortlisted twice for the Crime Novel of the Year and London Rules puts him back in the running. London Rules is the fifth outing for the misfit disgraced band of spies at Slough House with the backdrop of Brexit Britain and a terror plot. Dubbed ‘the UK’s new spy master’ by the Sunday Times, Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for, “the spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.

The Quaker by Liam McIllvanney has already scooped the 2018 McIlvanney Prize which was named to honour his father, the late ‘godfather of tartan noir’, William McIlvanney. Liam, an author and a professor of Scottish studies in New Zealand, set The Quaker in Glasgow in 1969 drawing on the real-life, never-caught serial murderer Bible John.

The only debut author on the list is that of Senior IT Officer turned novelist, Khurrum Rahman, with his first novel, East of Hounslow.  Mixing edgy humour and pulse-racing tension, Khurrum was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award 2018. East of Hounslow follows his young hero Jay, a dope dealer who ends up reluctantly working undercover for MI5 while undergoing radical Islamist training. Khurrum lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons.

Shortlist titles will feature in a dedicated online campaign with WHSmith and a nationwide library promotion.

The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “All shortlisted authors are deserving of the title, but there’s only one Novel of the Year. The public vote will be invaluable, readers have real power, so I’d encourage everyone to make their voice heard - it’s free and simple to vote online. It will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails, all are simply outstanding.

The winner is announced on the opening night of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, on 18 July.

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

The awards ceremony, hosted by Mark Lawson, will also reveal the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, who will join a roll-call of crime writing giants. Past recipients include Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, PD James, Ruth Rendell, Lynda La Plante, Sara Paretsky, Val McDermid, Lee Child and John Grisham.

The award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.

For further media information please contact Ann Chadwick at Cause UK 07534892715

Friday, 17 May 2019

An Evening With Ben Aaronovitch - 11 June 2019

Ben Aaronovitch will be hosting an hour-long discussion, in the famous Browns courtrooms, where he will be discussing The October Man, the new novella in the Rivers of London series.

The talk with last for one hour, including a Q&A. Afterwards, copies of The October Man will be available to purchase and have signed by the author. 

*The £5 ticket cost is redeemable against the cost of a book*

The October Man by Ben Aaronvitch (Published by Gollancz)
Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany's oldest city. So when a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot only found on grapes, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.  Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.   Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with minimum fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic cop Vanessa Sommer, he's quick to link the first victim to a 'drinking-and-improvement society', created by a group of entirely ordinary middle-aged men - who may have somehow accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.  The rot is still spreading, literally, and the list of victims and suspects ever increasing. Solving the case may mean unearthing the city's secret magical history. So long as that history doesn't kill them first.

Information about buying tickets can be found here.

Born on the Bayou: Bouchercon 2021 New Orleans

It’s been a bit of a surreal week for me, firstly after a month of sitting on my hands, I have finally been able to speak about a Crime Novel, a Thriller that has rocked me, namely the release of Thomas Harris’ sixth novel Cari Mora.

I reviewed it HERE, though my excitement is visible HERE, HERE and HERE.

Then, I heard that I am required to attend the World Crime and Mystery Convention, Bouchercon 52, Chaired by the Award Winning and Bestselling Author Heather Graham with her Colleague the amazing Connie Perry – and the team they are assembling.

Bouchercon 52, runs August 25 – 29 2021 and you can get more information HERE but bookmark that link, as more information will appear as the clock ticks toward the event.

I am most humbled, as I will be joining Jo Nesbo travelling from Europe to celebrate with our colleagues in America, the darkest edge of Literature, the Crime, Mystery and Thriller Genre.

As a former member of the Board of Bouchercon, the last event I attended was Bouchercon 2016, which was a memorable time for all who attended, and one of the biggest events that celebrated the genre. You can see what happened from the links via writer / editor Jeff Pierce HERE, HERE and from Mike Stotter HERE

It was a great time, especially as I worked very hard with the Boucheron Board co-chairing the programming for Bouchercon 2015, in Raleigh North Carolina – click HERE for memories of days now passed, and these videos HERE from The Rap Sheet.

Due to the popularity of the 2016 Bouchercon in the wonderfully weird city of New Orleans, I’d start planning soon despite it being held in 2021 as I hope to see many of my friends, colleagues and contacts down on that Bayou.

But don’t forget the prior World Crime & Mystery Events, Bouchercon 50 hosted in Dallas in 2019 more info HERE, and Bouchercon 51 in 2020 hosted in Sacramento more info HERE.  

Let me leave you with a piece of music that I am playing a great deal currently, because I love New Orleans, and my love for Dennis and Heather Graham, and Connie Perry knows no perimeter. I am privileged to have them as friends for so many years now, sharing our time and drinks on both sides of the Atlantic, first meeting at the inaugural International Thriller Writers THRILLFEST Convention held in Phoenix Arizona in 2006. My recollections of that time, a fragment torn from my memory, like Dr Hannibal Lecter’s memory palace is still online HERE

And for the couple of people seated at the back of the auditorium, here’s some information about the prolific and life-affirming Author Heather Graham HERE

And now for some Southern Comfort

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Anthony Award Nominations

Bouchercon 2019 — “Denim, Diamonds, and Death” — will present this year’s Anthony® Awards in five categories at the 50th annual Bouchercon® World Mystery Convention to be held in Dallas, October 31 to November 3. The Anthony Awards will be voted on by attendees at the convention and presented on Saturday, November 2.

The Anthony Award nominees, for works published in 2018, have just been selected by vote of the Bouchercon membership, and we are delighted to announce the nominees:

Best Novel
Give Me Your Handby Megan Abbott (Little, Brown and Company)
November Roadby Lou Berney (William Morrow)
Jar of Heartsby Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur Books)
Sunburnby Laura Lippman (William Morrow)
Blackoutby Alex Segura (Polis Books)

Best First Novel
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)
Broken Places by Tracy Clark (Kensington)
Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver (Pegasus Books)
What Doesn’t Kill You by Aimee Hix (Midnight Ink)
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (Ecco)

Best Paperback Original Novel
Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow Paperbacks)
A Stone’s Throw by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Best Short Story
The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough (blogazine, August 20, 2018)
Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (November/December 2018)
Cold Beer No Flies” by Greg Herren, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press
English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor, in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July/August 2018)
The Best Laid Plans” by Holly West, in Florida Happens (Three Rooms Press)

Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work
Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin (William Morrow Paperbacks)
Mastering Plot Twists: How To Use Suspense, Targeted Storytelling Strategies, and Structure To Captivate Your Readers by Jane K. Cleland (Writer’s Digest Books)
Pulp According to David Goodis by Jay A. Gertzman (Down & Out Books)
Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (Ecco)

The Anthony® Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (rhymes with “voucher”), a well-known California writer and critic who wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times Book Review, and also helped found Mystery Writers of America. First presented in 1986, the Anthony Awards are among the most prestigious and coveted literary awards.

Bouchercon®, the World Mystery Convention founded in 1970, is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization celebrating the mystery genre. It is the largest annual meeting in the world for readers, writers, fans, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, and other lovers of crime fiction. For more information, please visit

The honoured guests this year at Bouchercon in Dallas are Peter Lovesey (Lifetime Achievement), Hank Phillippi Ryan (American Guest of Honor), Felix Francis (International Guest of Honor), James Patterson (Distinguished Contribution to the Genre), Deborah Crombie (Local Guest of Honor), Harry Hunsicker (Toastmaster), McKenna Jordan (Fan Guest of Honor), and Charlaine Harris and Sandra Brown (Special Guests).

Cari Mora by Thomas Harris

Finally, the book reviewers can speak, for the world-wide launch of the 6th novel by Thomas Harris was hosted by Goldsboro books, in London on Tuesday 14th of May, a few days ahead of the UK and Irish release today Thursday 16th of May 2019, by William Heinemann. It is released a few days later on 21st of May in US and Canada from Grand Central Publishing. 

I was joined by Ayo Onatade and Barry Forshaw [among many others] to celebrate the release of this long-awaited book. The event was managed by Charlotte Bush with Jason Arthur of that iconic PenguinRandomHouse imprint.

Part of the launch included details of a nationwide Treasure Hunt, for Gold Bullion, mirroring the narrative of Cari Mora – the prize being a unique ‘Gold’ Edition of the Thomas Harris novel – details from The Bookseller HERE

So we were welcomed by wine and nibbles as Publisher Jason Arthur took to the microphone, which we recorded HERE and embedded below in a six-minute clip filmed in angular gonzo-vision –

And after writing peripheral information, such as this HERE, the few literary critics who were sent the book for an opinion are now able to publish their thoughts, as the embargo was lifted, today the 16th of May 2019.

So, what were my thoughts?

And presented with no spoilers -

Despite this eagerly anticipated novel being unusually concise, as it would take no more than an afternoon curled up on a sofa to consume - it cannot be labelled with that axiom “one-sitting-read”. Like a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella (that has been aged at least ten years), it needs to be sipped slowly, as the arrangement of words to tell a story (to paint pictures in the reader’s mind) is extraordinary. However, the horrors revealed as this narrative unfurls are troubling. The story cuts jaggedly into the mind like the obsidian-edged scalpel wielded by Hans-Peter Schneider; leaving a scar, one that reverberates inside the mind like an echo, one that doesn’t decay like the ones we screamed into those caves we explored as children. The cries and horrors from this book will remain contained within the caverns of our mind, troubling us from time to time, whenever we recall being exposed to this narrative.

Read the full review from Shots Magazine HERE

I found myself shocked at many of the events that unfold, and repelled at some actions of the antagonists but it is written so well, so adroitly edited that as a reading experience it is as exceptional, as it is hypnotic.

Though dark, and very scary it has moments of great insight, but at its core it is a thriller, one that made my pulse pound and I would urge readers to look out for it, because it is so damned fine.

Though, at times I was scared as it is so very dark.

During the reading, at moments I wondered why some of us are attracted to read of such terrible things, of humans pushed into the darkest of situations. I thought of the magnetic attraction of the car crash. Sometimes we view the hidden terrors contained in existence to be thankful; other times it’s because we wish to be at the epicentre of vicarious thrills, viewed safely, existentially, from the mind.

A line from Thomas Harris’ 1999 thriller, HANNIBAL is apt.

“The exposition of Atrocious Torture Instruments could not fail to appeal to a connoisseur of the worst in mankind. But the essence of the worst, the true asafoetida of the human spirit, is not found in the Iron Maiden or the whetted edge; Elemental Ugliness is found in the faces of the crowd.”

As Dr Hannibal Lecter when visiting the exhibition in his Dr Fell disguise gained his pleasure not from viewing the exhibits, but derived it from the faces in the crowd.

I have admiration for Thomas Harris, for what he wrote in the last paragraph of his acknowledgements, his thanks to others, for when you read Cari Mora, you will understand 

“Most of all, my thanks to this place – Miami – savory and beautiful, an intensely American City built and maintained by people who came from somewhere else, often on foot.”

We present a few photographs from the launch, and would pass our thanks to David Headley and his team at Goldsboro Books for hosting the launch party, as well as Charlotte Bush for allowing us an early read, and her colleagues for fronting the launch party.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Cari Mora Treasure Hunt - Thomas Harris

To celebrate publication of Thomas Harris's #CariMora, @PenguinUKBooks have launched a treasure hunt for a priceless copy of the book containing over a thousand pounds of gold bullion. 

Here's the first clue! 

The story begins with ruthless men on the trail of Pablo Esobar’s buried money - $25 million in cartel gold.

They’ve been tracking it for years.  But now they’re moving in on the exact location.

See if you can find it:
Join Cari Mora Gold Book Treasure Hunt

The Silence of the Book Reviewer

It’s been unbearable.

Anyone that knows me, understands my talkative nature but there is a book I am not able to publish a review until Thursday 16th of May, due an embargo reinforced by punitive legal restrictions.

The book is Cari Mora by my favourite novelist, the former journalist with the Associated Press, Mr Thomas Harris.

It’s been unbearable not being able to discuss this book, but tomorrow the restriction is lifted, and so I will be publishing my review, and seeing the opinions of others.

Last week, while walking in the rain in Covent Garden, my mind would not give me peace, as my cognition constantly revolved around the exposure to that manuscript, Cari Mora, the 6th novel by Thomas Harris. I got a fright when I walked, lost in thought - which I wrote about HERE

Last weekend’s Crimefest was hard for me, as I was only able to relay the information made public by Wm Heinemann HERE and the extract made public via Charlotte Bush of PenguinRandomHouse, which can be read HERE while all the while I wanted to discuss the book with others, but was unable to do so, due to the ‘Non-Disclosure-Agreement’ in place – the silence of the reviewers.

During the weekend in Bristol, I enjoyed the company many but of particular joy was chatting to the awarding writer, biographer and journalist Ruth Dudley-Edwards and the wonderful, and equally well-read Kathryn Kennison. I am fortunate to have known these two important figures in the Crime Fiction Genre for many years. We even shared a table during the Crimefest Awards Gala Dinner. It was amusing that when I got talking about my love of the work of Thomas Harris, Kathryn thought I was referring to Robert Harris. Which made both of us laugh. It was somewhat surreal that the three of us found we were all wearing Green, on the close of Crimefest on Sunday. Coordinated by fluke.

Anyway, I digress, as ever.

While making my way to Goldsboro Books, in Covent Garden for the world launch of Thomas Harris’ Cari Mora – I was again lost in thought, contemplating the book that lay heavy on my mind when again - I found my name being shouted on the street, which again startled me. This time I noticed that it was from a group of women who called me over from a pavement cafe. Surreally it was from Ruth and Kathryn who had spotted me. They were seated outside a café, sipping coffee on a very sunny London evening, with friends when they noticed me walking by.

I stopped to talk to the group, though Thomas Harris was heavy on my mind. I reminded Kathryn about us confusing Robert and Thomas Harris at Crimefest, and said mischievously that all it would take now, is for Ruth to think we were talking about Irishman Richard Harris, at which point we all laughed and sang the chorus to this song.

I had to say my farewells quicker than I would have liked, for I needed to make my way to the launch of Cari Mora, and I didn’t wish to be late.

As I walked, I thought of my love of this former journalist’s work, and how the writers with the darkest imaginations make the nicest of people.

Age and Reflection

I’m coming up to 56, and revelling in a very rare moment. The release of a novel by a writer who marks my life.

Thomas Harris is a writer who combines a very dark imagination with such an amazing ability in terms of story-telling. Thomas Harris uses words so carefully selected, configured in such a manner weaving a narrative that deploys such economy, sheer elegance. I spoke with his British Publisher Jason Arthur and his Publicity Director Charlotte Bush, telling them that as he’s aged, he cuts back the words. Cari Mora is his Sixth novel, but what a book.

Each of his novels, in my opinion have got better, sharper and more disturbing. Or perhaps a better word would be distressing.

But, more on Thursday.

“Reading his prose is like running a slow hand down cold silk.”
Stephen King in 2019

"The best popular novel published since The Godfather"
Stephen King in 1981

I have pre-ordered the abridged reading as my May download from Audible. Jason Arthur of William Heinemann (PenguinRandomHouse UK) told me an amusing anecdote about Mr Harris getting his voice into character for Cari Mora.

Of all my audiobooks, the abridged readings by the author rank as my favourites, he’s a great narrator that acts as he reads. He uses accents just a tad above his native American South, Mississippi twang.

I know in vivid detail, these moments in my life, the release of a book by Thomas Harris decorates my memory, making everything vivid, and marked into retrievable memory; moments to return too, to think back at who I was at that time.

The clueless 17-year-old kid in 1981 buying Red Dragon in Hardcover purely on Stephen King’s recommendation, of all places SPCK, Chester. Surreally a Christian Book Store.

I was aged 25, a marine chemicals surveyor in 1988, and nearly screaming at London Heathrow, spotting an ‘early / advance’ copy of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS in the airport bookstore. It was my second trip to the Arabian Gulf (for a six-week tour of duty), it made the flight memorable as well as that Six Weeks. I read the novel four times, back to back. I remember that time like it was yesterday.

I was 36 and a senior executive in a German Chemical Engineering company. I queued at Maxim Jakubowski’s MurderOne in Charing Cross, London on 7-8th June 1999, with a hotel Room Booked, and a bottle of Amarone waiting for HANNIBAL, and the first in the queue, for this book.

In 2006, I was 43 and under a huge burden setting up a complex business that was in its infancy, those difficult years. Thankfully after 15 years, it all came good. And my reading of HANNIBAL RISING helped me cope with the adverse camber of setting up a business, and watching it so very closely, because a business is like a flower, it can be crushed or wilt without close, close management especially in those early days.

I’m now 55, and CARI MORA arrives tomorrow, which I cannot publish a review until then, Thursday 16th May, 2019, so I will be keen to see what others make of this writer’s 6th novel.

My review is written, and I have photos from last night, as well as video – which I will upload tomorrow when the embargo and legal restrictions are lifted – and my silence [and that of others] will be broken, because Thomas Harris’ narratives have decorated my mind, and the minds of others.

And thanks to Wm Heineman’s Charlotte Bush, there is an extraordinary competition, for which details are available from The Bookseller HERE  to coincide with this books launch, and Goldsboro Books have special slip-cased signed first editions on sale now. 

Speak tomorrow, the 'Avid Fan'

Ali Karim 15 / 5 / 2019

A Funny Thing Happened en route to Black Thorn

I am rarely surprised at the coincidences and weird happenings in life; though a voracious appetite for reading crime and thriller fiction can make one rather paranoid, as I found to my amusement (and that of Linwood Barclay and Kate Mills of HarperCollins UK) last week.
I found myself in London last Thursday, walking toward Covent Garden. I was deep in thought, my mind still contemplating my recent exposure to a particular novel, one that I am not allowed to talk about until the 16th of May 2019. It is a highly anticipated thriller, one that I had concerns over, namely in trying to rein in my expectations as my anticipation was high, so very high.

Though since reading it, I have to say, this book has left shards of glass in my mind, sharp edges I feel from time to time, all due to being exposed to the manuscript. 

A line from Thomas Harris’ 1999 thriller, HANNIBAL is apt.

“The exposition of Atrocious Torture Instruments could not fail to appeal to a connoisseur of the worst in mankind. But the essence of the worst, the true asafoetida of the human spirit, is not found in the Iron Maiden or the whetted edge; Elemental Ugliness is found in the faces of the crowd.”

You can read an excerpt HERE of the book that has me excited, so excited 
Anyway, as ever I digress.
I was walking to a literary function organised by Midas PR and Canongate Publishing in Covent Garden, London. It was the launch of the new crime fiction imprint Black Thorn and hosted by Waterstones Covent Garden – CLICK HERE for background on the genesis of this exciting new initiative.
The heavens opened; rain fell; it was like a scene from Blade Runner. But I was thinking about Thomas Harris’ Cari Mora, specifically the villains that decorate the narrative.
Then I heard my name being shouted.
At first, I ignored the shouting ‘Ali’ but as it grew more urgent, the chanting ‘Ali’ became unnerving, I stopped to look around, but all I heard was ‘Ali’ again and again. I started to get worried as I couldn’t see who was shouting my name in the rain. This is the problem when I read so many thrillers – Paranoia and the latest Thomas Harris book keeps circling my mind, controlling my imagination like a nightmare, a lucid dream.
Then a car pulled up to the kerb (sidewalk) beside me. A window rolled down, and as I backed away from the car, my imagination was now a scream telling me to “run”. I was ready to escape - but then as the blacked-out windows rolled down, I saw inside - it was Publisher Kate Mills of HarperCollins UK [HQ] with Linwood Barclay.
I laughed and they laughed, phew! I took a photo as is my habit, a method to decorate my memory, not unlike Dr Hannibal Lecter who created a memory palace in which to escape while incarcerated in solitary confinement in Baltimore.
I was relieved that neither of the villains, that the Thomas Harris character Hans-Peter Schneider works for in Cari Mora, were the ones shouting my name, despite them constantly creeping into my nightmares. Instead it was Linwood Barclay who spotted me from the back of the limousine he shared with publisher Kate Mills, following a day preparing the UK launch of his next book, his first with HarperCollins UK – another thriller that I am highly excited about, ELEVATOR PITCH.

The last time I was with Linwood and Kate, was back when they both worked for Orion Publishing and treated me to an extraordinary dinner, in Baltimore during Bouchercon 2008. Though it was now a sad memory as it was the last time I had dinner with Cathy and Edward Wright.
I waved Kate and Linwood off, delighted that some weird Thomas Harris villains (torn from my vivid imagination) hadn’t tracked me down to London. I continued my journey through sheets of monsoon-like rain, finding myself in the company of the equally drenched Scottish Crime Writer Caro Ramsay at the venue for the Black Thorn party, Waterstones Covent Garden.

I’d just finished her last novel, the ninth in her Glasgow based police procedural series, and one of the first to be released under the new Canongate imprint Black Thorn.
I mentioned to Caro that the series has come a long way from Absolution, and The Suffering of Strangers is an extremely disturbing book. Caro laughed, and so did I even though her last work was dark, very dark.
Like Thomas Harris, and Harlan Coben like Linwood Barclay; Caro Ramsay is a very funny and life-affirming person, again proving that axiom, that the writers with the darkest imaginations (from my experience) are the nicest, and most generous as well as the funniest of people.
I shook off the rain from my jacket, and the wet smears that coated, and decorated my grey hair and joined the lively throng at Waterstones, Covent Garden.
We had gathered, out of the rain to celebrate the release of the first four novels from Black Thorn. It was great to meet and talk with the authors again, especially Catherine O’Connell who had flown in from America to make the launch.
The first offerings from Black Thorn, are -
Catherine O’Connell for ‘The Last Night Out’ (May)
David Hewson for ‘The Savage Shore’ (May)
Simon Brett for ‘The Liar in The Library’ (June)
Caro Ramsay for ‘The Suffering of Strangers’ (June)

The Bookseller reported last year -

Canongate is to launch a new crime fiction imprint called Black Thorn in May 2019, following its acquisition of fiction publisher Severn House in 2017.

Publishing a wide range of titles from Severn House’s list into paperback for the first time, Black Thorn will release two of the list's paperbacks each month and simultaneously around the world. This will be the first time that many of these Severn House titles have been available to the trade. The imprint will be managed by publishing coordinator Holly Domney, who has moved from her role within Severn House.
Read More HERE

I was delighted to hear that Kate Lyall-Grant would continue as Commissioning Editor, as her experience and keen eye has always provided readers with high-quality crime and thriller fiction, both from Severn House, and in her previous positions within publishing; and it was great to see Kate attend the launch party. I was delighted to meet up with my old colleague Simon Thorogood as it had been a while since we last met, back when worked at Random House, but is now well-settled with Jamie Byng and an integral facet of the Canongate editorial team. 

Soon it was time to put down our glasses of wine and slivers of cake, as Jamie Byng welcomed us, and his speech is recorded in my usual gonzo fashion HERE and embedded below

We present an array of photographs of the event.

For more information about Black Thorn, the new initiative in crime fiction via Canongate Publishing CLICK HERE and for the media launch via MIDAS CLICK HERE

And finally, a big thank you to Sophie Ransom and Jason Bartholomew of Midas for the invitation to the party, as well as a tip of the hat to Linwood Barclay and Kate Mills for giving me a fright, as I walked in the rain, lost in my thoughts about the characters Thomas Harris decorates his 6th novel Cari Mora with.

Photos © 2019 A Karim