Sunday, 29 May 2016

Observations from Crimefest 2016

 Photos © 2016 A Karim, Peter Rozovsky & Jo Evans

“A good writer possesses not only his own spirit, but also the spirit of his friends.” 
Friedrich Nietzsche

Prior to a full report of the Crimefest 2016 event, which will appear in due course at the CWA Member Publication Red Herrings Magazine, [as well as in Jeff Peirce’s The Rap Sheet]; I thought I’d share some of my observations of this wonderful weekend.

Jeff Peirce kindly posted an array of photos I took earlier here, as well as the results from the 2016 CWA Dagger Longlist Nominations here and the Crimefest Awards from the Gala Dinner here.

I have compiled these series of video observations [and a few photos] from the Crimefest weekend for our readers, and those unable to make the event, to get a flavour of what went on.

Like many of us in the world of Crime, Mystery and Thrillers, I just love reading the dark side of Literature and have many colleagues, and friends within publishing, writing, editing, promotion, reading and reviewing, many scattered around the world.

I find great enjoyment in discovering insightful and page-turning fiction, in a world that appears to get dumber by the day, it provides me insight and escape from our existence. I also find the atmosphere within the Crime, Mystery and Thriller community to be collegiate, hence my use of the Nietzsche quote [above], as we all support one another in a business that is getting tougher and tougher by the day, due the economy, technological change, our shortening attention spans, dwindling time, and the distractions that circle us like vultures in a Mike Stotter western.

These videos are captured using my Iphone as well as my trusty Canon Camera, and were not planned. They are short clips, filmed in gonzo style and purely for fun. Please bear in mind there was a great deal of good natured banter, socialising, laughter and drinking going on.

L- R Clockwise : Mike Stotter,,Scott Turner, Mason Cross, Mike Stotter, Mark Billingham, Ali Karim and Peter Rozovsky [with camera]

The Presentation of the 2016 CWA Dagger Longlists occurred on Friday Night, and managed by the Chair of the Crime Writers Association, Len L.C. Tyler, assisted by judging chairs / judges.

So after the Longlists were announced, there was a surprise for writer / critic & Crimefest’s official quiz-master Peter Guttridge who after presenting the John Creasy New Blood Dagger Longlist for best Debut, was caught by surprise by being presented with the CWA Margery Allingham Award from former Dr Who, Peter Davison [who also played Allingham’s Albert Campion on TV] for his short story Heart Shaped Box. The Judging panel described Guttridge’s story as -

A clever and unusual story where Margery Allingham’s definition of a mystery – ‘box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge’ – is explored by the narrator. It becomes rather more than the fascinating intellectual exercise the reader first takes it for, as a man aims to murder his wife and her lover in such an extraordinary way that his obvious motive won’t be enough to incriminate him.”

Another highlight was catching up with 2009 CWA Diamond Dagger awarded writer Andrew Taylor in conversation with the 2016 CWA Diamond Dagger awarded writer Peter James. The event understandably was standing room only as both Taylor and James are not only bestselling writers but have won numerous awards and accolades due to their narrative skill; with Peter James holding the current No 1 position in the UK hardcover charts with Love You Dead.

At the Gala Dinner on Saturday, Peter James was presented with his Diamond Dagger, and he gave a very amusing, though poignant speech which should give a boost to writers everywhere, who dream of a career as a novelist.

Earlier in the afternoon, Crimefest Special Guest, Ian Rankin was interviewed by The Telegraph’s Crime Fiction Critic Jake Kerridge. During their exchange Ian discussed the role of the author in trying to make sense of the reality that surrounds him/her and the reader - via the detective. Because when it comes to making sense of the reality we find ourselves in, we are the Detective, piecing together what is really going on, and perhaps why?

Ian also was asked by the audience about how he comes up with character names, including Malcolm Fox, John Rebus as well as the names from charity auctions.

And Ian Rankin also talked about the link between the reality and the fictional portrayal of the changing face of law enforcement in Scotland.

Later at the Gala Dinner, Ian Rankin gave a very interesting and amusing speech, balancing the reality of the judicial process against the fictional one, indicating the surreal nature of life.

Another surprise was Martin Edwards receiving the HRF Keating Award for his Mystery Writers of America [MWA] Edgar Awarded ‘The Golden Age of Murder’

A real-life detective story, investigating how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction, writing books casting new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets.

This is the first book about the Detection Club, the world’s most famous and most mysterious social network of crime writers. Drawing on years of in-depth research, it reveals the astonishing story of how members such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers reinvented detective fiction.

Other highlights included a rare appearance from writer / critic and Shots ‘Getting Away With Murder’ columnist The Talented Mr Mike Ripley to Bristol, where he participated in a panel discussion chaired by Journalist and Award-Winning Crime Writer Ruth Dudley Edwards on the Comic Crime Novel, with James Runcie, Nev Fountain and Douglas Lindsay.

We present some short amusing clips from that panel -

It was apt that Adrian Muller and Myles Allfrey closed Crimefest 2016, with Mike Ripley’s “Sorry I haven’t a Cluedo” aided by Peter Guttridge, where two teams battled in an amusing quiz related to Crime Fiction. Laura Wilson captained the Female Crime-Writers with her colleagues Susan Moody and Alison Bruce, while Ian Rankin captained the Male Crime-Writers Andrew Taylor and Thomas Mogford

Shots Blog will feature the full video of Mike Ripley’s “Sorry I haven’t a Cluedo” as well as an edited video of Ian Rankin in conversation with Jake, with The Rap Sheet Report to follow in due course.

The Shots Team hope to see you at 2017’s Crimefest, with full details available from

L-R TOP : Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade, Mike Ripley, Mike Ripley & Ian Rankin, 
L-R BOTTOM : Mike Ripley, Peter Guttridge and Ali Karim

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Five Rare Jazz Records to Die For by Andrew Cartmel

Andrew Cartmel is a screenwriter and script editor.  His work on television includes Midsomer Murders and Torchwood. He enjoys looking for rare records in charity shops.

The thing you have to try and remember is that it’s all about the music, not the money. I say, “try” because it isn’t always easy… The two things tend to get pretty tangled up, pretty quickly.

I guess the first question someone would ask is why would anyone want an expensive — sometimes eye-wateringly expensive — rare original slab of vinyl for several thousand pounds when you can buy walk into a record store and buy a modern day replica of exactly the same album for less than twenty quid?

Well, it’s the same reason you wouldn’t want to buy this music on CD or download it for free. The original is going to sound better. Sometimes so much better that it’s scary.

If you can get hold of an undamaged first pressing of a record and hear it on a state of the art sound system, it’s going to sound like you’re in the same room with the guys who are playing those instruments. But that state of the art sound system isn’t going to come cheap, and the first pressing sure as hell won’t either…

Which brings us to five great, rare jazz records…

© Blue Note
Hank Mobley by Hank Mobley (Blue Note 1568): Mobley was a great tenor sax player — so great he even gets name-checked in a David Sedaris comedy routine. Also featuring Sonny Clark on piano, this 1957 release is musically a terrific album and the first edition was manufactured (“pressed”) in tiny numbers, so an original copy will cost a small fortune. Copies are currently changing hands for north of $5,000.

Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clark (Blue Note 1588): Pianist Sonny Clark died terribly young, in 1963, just five years after the release of this classic. All of Clark’s albums are sought after, but this one is the Holy Grail. Japanese enthusiasts with deep pockets have pushed up the price of Sonny Clark originals, and you certainly won’t get any change out of $4,000 for a fine specimen of this one. The second most valuable Blue Note release, after the Mobley.

Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins (Prestige 7079): On the appropriately prestigious Prestige label, this is a 1956 classic featuring another towering tenor sax master — although unlike the other greats discussed so far, Rollins is, thankfully, still alive and playing. Judged by many to be his masterpiece, a first American pressing of this is a snip at just under $3,000.

Dexter Blows Hot and Cool by Dexter Gordon (Dootone 207): Weighing in at just over $3,000 this was an early milestone by yet another world-class tenor saxophone player. Released on the obscure Dootone label in 1955, it features a wonderful black and white cover photo which did a disservice to an entire generation of young people by making smoking a cigarette look so damned sexy. There are numerous variant editions of this record. Personally I’m after the original one on red vinyl.

After Lights Out by Tubby Hayes (Temp TAP 6). Yup, another tenor sax player, but unlike the American luminaries detailed above, this guy was a Brit. And once upon a time that would have been enough to keep the price of his records down. But xenophobia and snobbery couldn’t prevail against the brilliance of Tubby’s playing. An original 1956 copy of this little beauty on the super rare Tempo label will currently cost you close to $3,000.

Now, I don’t think any record is worth killing — or dying — for. But with the sums of money changing hand for these discs, you can see why some people are drawn to larceny, or perhaps even homicide.

You certainly might consider murder if you were swindled out of your life savings, or if you lost way more money than you could afford when what was supposed to be a blue-chip investment turned out to be a ruthless fraud…

And this is what happened in 2009 when a previously reputable record seller on eBay went rogue… Or maybe the “reputable” thing was all just a careful build up to a meticulously planned crime — in other words, the long con.

The culprit was apparently a German national use the pseudonym “Nautiluso”. Pretending to be operating out of Brazil he launched a gala auction of the most amazing collection of rare jazz records ever witnessed. It seemed too good to be true.

It was. This crook got away with over $130,000 of money from bidders, for records that never existed. This was by no means a victimless crime back in those days, because eBay and PayPal didn’t have all the safeguards and guarantees for customers that are in place now. For a while it looked that the poor buyers had lost every penny.

Eventually eBay refunded them, and tightened up its regulations. But the police are still looking for the slippery Nautiluso. (The name is an anagram for “Nail us out”, which must be what his customers felt he did.)

Hmm… A six-figure scam? Phantom records? A vengeful victim? An ingenious, meticulous, faceless criminal?

It sounds like a case for the Vinyl Detective…

The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax by Andrew Cartmel is published by Titan Books (£7.99) 
He is a record collector - a connoisseur of vinyl, hunting out rare and elusive LPs. His business card describes him as the "Vinyl Detective" and some people take this more literally than others. Like the beautiful, mysterious woman who wants to pay him a large sum of money to find a priceless lost recording on behalf of an extremely wealthy, yet shadowy, client. So begins a painful and dangerous odyssey in search of the rarest jazz record of them all...

You can find more information about Andrew Cartmel on his blog.
Follow him on Twitter @andrewcartmel
Find him on Facebook.