Saturday, 17 August 2019

St Hilda's Crime Fiction Weekend Part 2

As can be expected the drinks reception and the dinner was of course a lovely affair. The drinks reception was held in the South Foyer due to the weather but that did not put a damper on the event and the buzz and chatter made one realise that St Hilda’s Crime Fiction weekend has well and truly started. It is always enjoyable to meet up in the SCR
(Senior Common Room), as it is becomes the meeting place or us all during the weekend.

The after dinner speech was given by Val McDermid, which was entitled ‘From Victims, Vixens and Vamps to Valkyries, Vanquishers and Victors’. Unsurprisingly Val had everyone in fits of laughter as she spoke about “Gamechangers of the genre”.  Certainly a brilliant start to the weekend.  

After the dinner and a brief word from Natasha Cooper who is the Chair for the weekend we duly retired to the SCR where more conversation took place and a chance to mingle with the other attendees.

One always gets the feeling when attending St Hilda’s that you are in a calm and restful place. Once you walk through the gates you tend to forget that the Oxford town centre is less than 10 minutes walk away as you really can’t hear any traffic.  It is also lovely to wake up such magnificent views. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

St Hilda's Crime Fiction Weekend!

So it is Friday and for so many of us at this time of the year it is time for our annual pilgrimage down to Oxford for the St Hilda’s Crime Fiction weekend.  If you have never been then you are missing a treat.   This year the theme is Gamechangers: Writers Who Have Transformed the Genre and the weekend is due to be chaired by Natasha Cooper.  The guest of Honour is Denise Mina.

The only downside at the moment is that it is raining but that does not hide the brilliant view from my usual room.  I love where they have put me as it allows me to look out over the River Cherwell.  

The weekend is due to start properly at 6:45pm when we all gather for a drinks reception.  Normally it would take place on the South Lawn but looking at the weather I think this year it is going to be in the South Foyer.  No matter where it is held the start of St Hilda’s is always enjoyable as you catch up with various friends and introduce the new attendees to
the weekend and for those that feel like it dress up!

This evening the guest speaker is going to be Val McDermid who is a long standing attendee of this weekend and who is also an alumna of St Hilda’s.  Her after dinner speech is entitled ‘From Victims, Vixens and Vamps to Valkyries, Vanquishers and Victors’. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Crime Fiction: A Reader's Guide by Barry Forshaw

Are you a lover of crime fiction looking for new discoveries or hoping to rediscover old favourites?  Look no further.

There are few contemporary guides that cover everything from the golden age to current bestselling writers from America, Britain and all across the world, but the award-winning Barry Forshaw, one of the UK’s leading experts in the field, has provided a truly comprehensive survey with definitive coverage.

Every major writer is included, along with many other more esoteric choices. Focusing on a key book (or books) by each writer, and with essays on key crime genres, Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide (with a foreword by Ian Rankin) is designed to be both a crime fan’s shopping list and a pithy, opinionated but unstuffy reference tool and history. Most judgements are generous (though not uncritical), and there is a host of entertaining, informed entries on related films and TV.

Currently available for pre-order from Amazon!  This is a book that should be on everyone’s bookshelf!

Monday, 12 August 2019

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon to take the Stage with Ian Rankin at Bloody Scotland

Bloody Scotland is delighted to reveal that the ‘special guest’ interviewing Ian Rankin on Saturday 21 September will be First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

A self-confessed crime fiction fan, the First Minister was last seen at the Harrogate Crime Festival singing backing vocals with the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers hot from their appearance at Glastonbury.

We can’t promise any singing but can promise a fascinating conversation between two of the most iconic figures in Scotland. Ian Rankin is the man who led the Tartan Noir charge to the top of international bestseller charts. At the last count he had sold some 30 million books that have been translated into thirty-six languages and have been bestsellers around the world. As a contemporary social commentator – and thrilling storyteller – Ian Rankin has few rivals.

The First Minister said:
 “Ian Rankin is one of Scotland’s most celebrated crime writers, world-renowned for his page-turning thrillers - so it’s a real pleasure for me to interview him at the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival."

Now in its eighth year, Bloody Scotland is attracting writers and audiences from around the world with its excellent programme - and I look forward to attending this year’s festival.”

Ian Rankin said:
I’ve probably done hundreds of events during my time as an author but this is a first for me. I’ve no idea what the First Minister will ask or where our conversation will lead. I just know she’s one of the best-read politicians currently gracing the world stage - and she definitely knows her crime fiction!

Tickets are selling fast. 430 tickets had already been sold for the event prior to this announcement. Capacity for the Albert Halls in Stirling is 700. The event will take place at 8pm. They are in good company, also on the bill at the Albert Halls that day are Dr David Wilson with Lin Anderson, Chris Brookmyre and Michael Robotham, Alexander McCall Smith with Alex Gray, Denise Mina and Louise Welsh and Richard Osman with Mark Billingham which has already sold out.
For further information, to request press tickets or an interview with any authors appearing at the Festival please contact fiona@brownleedonald.com07767 431 846 @brownlee_donald @bloodyscotland

Thursday, 8 August 2019

John Parker in conversation with John Connolly

We are delighted to present this exclusive feature, from writer / reviewer and Shots Magazine’s Spanish representative - John Parker, in conversation with John Connolly; so after many, many years reviewing his work, the two Johns’ finally met up.

From Spain -

Celsius 232 is a festival of literature, a festival of fantasy, horror and science-fiction. Fortunately, a lot of crime fiction can be found in these genres.  Since 2012 when George R.R. Martin visited Avilés, the festival has grown in size and stature. This year, among many others, the festival was visited by the likes of Sarah Pinborough, Hanna Jameson and John Connolly. Shots correspondent in Spain, John Parker, happens to live in Avilés, the small town where the festival takes place. He was able to interview John Connolly on Friday, 19th of July.

John Parker: You are here promoting El Frio de la Muerte which over in the UK is known as A Game of Ghosts that we Parker fans all read a couple of years ago. How are the Spanish taking to this book? I believe you sold out in Gijon at the Semana Negra?

John Connolly: I did! That was quite lovely. I assume it’s going ok. I know that Tusquets haven’t thrown me out on the street yet. That’s the main thing! Tusquets have been an incredibly supportive publisher from the beginning and have found ways to publish books that aren’t part of the Parker series simply because they are important to me as a writer and my development as a writer so they’ve been wonderful. And it’s quite nice here in Spain. Genre is taken with a degree of seriousness, I think.

John Parker: The readers of SHOTS are probably a bit more up to date than over here in Spain. You and I have done a number of online interviews but you were very busy when THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS came out (laughs out loud). You travel an awful lot!!

John Connolly: I do! Yeah, I travel more than I would like to, to be perfectly honest. I’ve been trying to travel a little bit less but that hasn’t worked out this year, certainly.

John Parker: You have South Africa to come and Australia?

John Connolly: Yeah, Australia and the Far East and then probably the States in October. So yeah, I miss my dogs and my kids.

John Parker: Sorry to hear about the death of your dog…

John Connolly: ………Poor old Coco! Yes, my other half still breaks up in tears. She really misses him.

John Parker: Ok, moving on to THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS… one of the characters, Holly tells an invented fairy-tale to her son called “The woman in the Woods” which I think worked fantastically well. Can you comment on where this story came from? Its origins? Was it something you came up with yourself or was it based on some other fairy-tale?

John Connolly: No, no but I suppose I’ve spent so long fascinated by fairy-tales and they have become such a part of the novels. It’s not just, you know books like The Book of Lost Things or the stories in the Nocturnes collections but, you know, the Americans write perfectly good crime fiction by themselves. They don’t really need some Irish bloke coming in to write imitation crime fiction and I’ve kind of come to realise over the years that I do bring something slightly European to these novels and one of them is that fascination with fairy tales and folk tales.  And so the woods in my novels are not really the Maine woods at all. They are, I realise, the woods of the fairy tales I read as a child. Because, you know, the Americans have a very practical view of the woods. You know, bad things can happen but only if you wander off the trail and you get a bit lost and you didn’t bring enough food and you forget to stay in one place so that the Rangers can find you.   Whereas I am more fascinated by the metaphoric possibilities and the mythic possibilities of fairy tales so there are things like those elements in THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS that arise quite naturally in the context of what I am writing, I suppose, because of that fascination with that history from my childhood.

John Parker: Yes, I read very recently in your second collection of short stories NOCTURNES  2, the story called The Hollow King which was originally to do with the theme of Blood, Sweat and Tears which had a real fairy-tale feel to it. I loved it.

John Connolly: Yeah, yeah! I’ve never written a … I can’t write short crime short stories. I am unable to do it. For me, crime fiction works best in the long form and supernatural fiction works best in the short form.

John Parker: Yes, you have spoken about that before..

John Connolly: Yeah, so when Mark (Billingham) asked me to do that, I said that all I can offer you is something that is going to be a fairy story or a ghost story. And at that point I think I was revising The Book of Lost Things for the tenth anniversary and so I was thinking along those lines and… ( a loud crashing noise from outside interrupts us)… Blimey!!

John Parker: You recently announced that The Book of Lost Things is being made into an animated film.

John Connolly: There is a studio that seems very intent on doing it and I agreed to, well, I offered to write the script. I think they were quite surprised. I don’t think they had conceived of me doing it. It had been, as I understood it, in the past it had been through a couple of iterations that hadn’t worked. And when I met them, I thought, actually I kind of understand what you’re trying to do and I think I can probably do it. And so they were very open to that possibility.

John Parker:  Speaking of the film genre, you had a story adapted into a film starring Kevin Costner. Over here it was called La Otra Hija or The Other Daughter whereas in English it was The New Daughter.

John Connolly: Yeah, The New Daughter after the story and with a whole lot of Spanish involvement.

John Parker: Yes, it was directed by Luis Berdejo. Were you happy enough with the adaptation?

John Connolly: You know, one of the things about a short story is that you are giving someone the seeds to go and adapt it. You know, a novel is a work of contraction. If you are going to adapt it, you tend to have to excise an awful lot of material but the short stories work for expansion. So they essentially took this idea and went in the wrong direction with it. I was very flattered that they did it.

John Parker: Now, a question which you may not be able to answer but with the growth of platforms like Netflix and HBO and Disney taking over the world, now more than ever the possibility exists that we may yet see Charlie Parker on the small screen.

John Connolly: There is a script. I’ve read the script for the adaptation of the first novel. Or at least the first part of the first novel. And they have been working on this for two years. So, the company that has it is quite serious about it and is now shopping it around. And you are right. It has changed. Previously your options were that it was going to be a two-hour movie and even if it was a book you loved, two hours or two hours and ten minutes was about the limit on it.  So they didn’t tend to be very satisfactory experiences and now you have ten or twelve hours potentially in which to explore a novel. And you know the model is something like the Bosch series which is essentially a book a series. The difficulty is that now there is so much stuff being made, so much content being thrown up on the wall that I am not sure that a lot of stuff gets time to develop as it would in the past, where the space is allowed for it to maybe have its little ups or downs at the beginning before it goes on … but, we shall see. I personally think they are quite difficult books to adapt so I don’t envy them the task. 

John Parker: You said at the weekend at Semana Negra, “It’s difficult to be Catholic and completely rational”. (Laughter) Can you expand on that?

John Connolly: Yeah, well, it was that discussion about the combination of genres that I suppose I have been doing for a while and I had dinner with Otto Penzler, who I get on very well with, in New York about four or five months ago and Otto still seemed to take the view that you can create these combinations. You probably shouldn’t but you can do it but he still, after all these years, still didn’t quite approve of it. He’s from that school, you know, it’s that post-enlightenment belief in that human beings and the universe can be so understood by approaching the process of rationalism and yet people in the world are a lot stranger than that and, you know, I come from a Catholic background…

John Parker: You were brought up by the Christian Brothers as was I.

John Connolly: Yes, I was brought up by the Christian Brothers. I was an altar boy! So, I bring all of this baggage with me so I find it very difficult to accept that as the final position on human motivation, I suppose. So, you know, my novels, a bit like (James Lee) Burke who was a huge influence on me, are just suffused with Catholicism, you know, suffused with expiation and guilt. All crime fiction has redemption and possible redemption running through it but if you come from that Catholic or Christian background, that word redemption is weighted with a very different kind of baggage and we bring a different conception to it.

John Parker: OK. Going back to The Woman in the Woods and the character Pallida Mors who I think is quite a chilling creation…..did you come up with the idea for the character through readings of the Odes of Horace or were you listening to the death metal band Damned by the Pope?
(Raucous laughter)  

John Connolly: I can’t say that I listened to the death metal band. It’s not one of my favourite genres. Yeah, you know, you’re always looking for… you always have an ear out, just as you have an eye out for shiny things; you have an ear for names and details that catch you. I came across Palida Mors and I thought, well, that’ll be good, it gets put in the little list of things that might prove useful and it eventually did.

John Parker: Your latest book, A Book of Bones is enormous!

John Connolly: It is enormous! Sorry!

John Parker: Well, I love these long books. I’m a big fan of novels like The Stand by Stephen King, Ghost Story by Peter Straub, The Ceremonies by T.E.D Kline and I thought the structure of this novel was beautiful. Let’s be honest, some critics didn’t like it but for me, the structure and the way it contains stories within stories was a pure delight.

John Connolly: You know it’s very much influenced and makes a lot of nods towards (Charles Dickens’) Bleak House which I think is the greatest novel in the English language. So, I’ve been reading a lot of 19th century fiction and what I liked was that space to create a world for people to lose themselves in it and to have all those narrative cul-de-sacs that don’t necessarily contribute hugely to the progression of the plot but have those little moments of pleasure. One of the things Dickens is great at doing, particularly in the more picaresque novels like The Pickwick Papers, is that he will have a character tell you a story just for the pleasure of telling you a story and I love that. And also it seems to reflect an element of the narrative which is that this book has been buried in other books and so you come across fragments of it in other volumes and so the idea that the reader would come across unmediated short stories… nobody says that now I’m going to tell you a short story, you get this fragment of the book and so I thought it was almost like a physical demonstration of a metaphor running through it.

John Parker: The Fractured Atlas…. It’s quite a thing NOW, I’d like to tell you something that some may find hard to believe but quite late on in the book when Parker is talking to Kevin Moon, the father of the first victim, I literally cried. I mean, I have daughters
John Connolly: Uh huh, sure, yeah, I have sons

John Parker: It was such a beautifully moving piece of writing and I thought you did it wonderfully I just wanted to mention it…

John Connolly: Thank you. It’s very nice of you to say so.

John Parker: So, I wonder where are we going to go with Charlie next?  I understand you are going to do a prequel, for want of a better word? 

John Connolly: Yes, people call it a prequel and I don’t really think of it in those terms but I’ve been saying in a lot of these Spanish interviews that every book has to be an experiment.  And every book has to try something new and I had an idea for a book that simply didn’t work in the context of the series as it stands.  And also, it seemed nice that A Book of Bones marks the full stop and an end of a sequence of six novels that kind of intertwine and come full circle. And it seemed almost like a palate cleanser as it was so different and it gives everybody a chance to draw breath, and I live in fear of becoming Season 8 of The X-Files. You have to be so tied up with the mythology of what’s gone before to enjoy the books that the idea of giving people something that doesn’t have any of this baggage, that has no supernatural elements and has a very different philosophy to it was appealing to me.

Kind of what happens to me is that halfway through the writing of one book, you get that spark of the next book and it’s just a spark, it’s nothing more than that. Once that spark happens, I am committed to it. It doesn’t become a very conscious thing of, “Well, now I’m going to sit down and write a prequel”. This is just the appropriate thing to do, the right thing to do and I’ve learnt to go along with it by this stage.

John Parker: Right. Remind us of the title.

John Connolly: The Dirty South

John Parker: Well, we had better start finishing off….

John Connolly: No, no, it’s quite all right. It’s a pleasure.

John Parker: Some years ago, Ali Karim interviewed you and asked you what you were reading and you were reading “Under The Dome” by Stephen King. What are you reading now? Any recommendations?

John Connolly: I’ve just finished a novella “To Be Taught, If Fortunate” by American SF writer, Becky Chambers which is out in August. It’s just extraordinary. I just think as a writer she is extraordinarily gifted and extraordinarily humane and I just love her books. Now I’m about to start Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” which I’ve never read.

John Parker: I must mention your radio show From ABC to XTC which I was listening to earlier today.

…….Laughter……I’ve got Living By Numbers stuck in my head

John Connolly: That’s a great song! It’s fantastic! New Musik!

John Parker: It’s just stuck there, lodged in my head, It just won’t go away.

John Connolly:……Yeah, yeah, yeah (laughs)….

John Parker: It’s like an earworm, yeah? But are you listening to anything new? Or are you still listening to older stuff? I listen to a lot of 60s, 70s and 80s stuff.

John Connolly: I suppose because of the show, I do listen to an awful lot of older stuff and I have become very conscious, as with my reading, of the gaps in my knowledge. There is just so much new stuff. You go to a book store on a Thursday in England and the shelves… the whole table’s just changed again. And part of me thinks, I haven’t even read all the old books I’m supposed to have read yet, hence ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. So, most of my listening now is older music. I don’t know enough about classical music, I don´t know enough about jazz… With the radio show what I found is that even though I grew up in that era, all the stuff missed me. I lived in Dublin. We had a couple of pirate radio stations but even then they were pretty mainstream. I didn’t really listen to John Peel. I was probably a little bit young at that stage for it and so an awful lot of peculiar little cul-de sacs of indie music passed me by so I’m engaged in a kind of process of deep excavation of the 80s.

John Parker: The last thing I read of yours was the essay “I Live Here” which is at the end of Night Music: Nocturnes Volume 2; I loved it and I thought why can’t John do his own “Danse Macabre” like Stephen King ?........Laughter......You talk about anecdotes. I mean there are a lot of anecdotes about your feelings on Herbert Van Thal, on Doctor Who, Jekyll and Hyde and I am convinced there is a whole new audience waiting to read this book.  Would it interest you to do that?

John Connolly: I suppose I wrote Horror Express for kind of the same reasons, to explore that idea of nostalgia and those formative influences on me when I was a teenager particularly so , yeah Horror Express came but . you know the problem with Horror Express, it was supposed to be 15 or 20,000 words long but 42,000 words later and six months of research, I suddenly thought, my God, this has got a little bit out of hand. So down the line, very possibly but I still think Danse Macabre may be the final word. I think it’s such a lovely book.

John Parker: Oh yeah, I love it.

John Connolly:  Yeah, it really is. It was a pleasure to read.  

John Parker: Ok, John, that’s all we’ve got time for

John Connolly: Well, thank you. It was my pleasure.  It was really great to put a face on you after all these years.

John Parker: Well, yes, indeed …at last, at last Thank you very much.

John Connolly: You are welcome. And why did you end up in Avilés ….?

John Parker: It’s a long story….laughing……

And the two Johns' head to the bar……

Shots Magazine pass thanks to Tusquets, John Connolly’s Spanish publisher and the organisers of the festival, particularly Jorge Iván Argiz who made Celsius 232 happen.      
And to Shots reviewer and our Spanish representative John Parker, who is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain John is a voracious reader, and has loved horror fiction for many, many years.

Remember to book your seat for this year’s inaugural Capital Crime Convention, to be hosted in London  26 – 28TH September as John Connolly is one of the guests at the event – more information HERE

A listing of John’s book reviews and features at Shots Magazine is available HERE and a final thanks to Kerry Hood and the team at John’s British Publisher Hodder and Stoughton, because they are a fine group of people, and we miss Kerry so much.

Photos (c) 2019 John Parker, Ali Karim, Ayo Ontade and Hodder & Stoughton 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

The CWA Announces a New Annual Dagger Award for Publishers

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers, which honours the very best in crime writing, has created a new Dagger category for the first time in over a decade.

The new prestigious Dagger will be awarded annually to the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year. The CWA is one of the UK’s most prominent organisations for the promotion of crime writing, founded in 1953 by John Creasey.

Publishers and specific imprints are being nominated by a representative group of leading book reviewers, booksellers, festival organisers, bloggers, literary agents and journalists, with the eventual winner to be designated from the shortlist by the CWA Board.

The Daggers are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.

Maxim Jakubowski, Honorary Vice-Chair of the CWA, said: “As part of the ongoing process of keeping the CWA in the forefront when it comes to crime writing and crime publishing, we felt this was an overdue category in our Daggers, and it becomes the first new Dagger to be created in well over a decade. Publishing houses and imprints are very important to the genre and are instrumental in keeping crime, mystery and thriller writing at the forefront of the reading public's consciousness, and fully deserve the recognition.

The award criteria is primarily for excellence and diversity in a crime publishing programme. Factors such as developing careers, a focus on new authors, sustaining existing authors and the quality of promotional efforts will be judged. The award will also look at support for authors, proactive collaboration with the book trade (booksellers, agents, festivals) and general positivity of involvement with the crime and mystery writing field.

Synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century, the Daggers started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark.

The new Dagger follows news of the CWA refreshing its Dagger judging panels for 2019/20. New judges feature respected names including the author and former Guardian journalist Duncan Campbell, the Emeritus Professor of Medieval Literature Edward James, broadcaster Angela Rippon, and Head Reviewer at LoveReading, Liz Robinson. 

The shortlist for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year will be announced later this summer.

The winner be announced at the Dagger awards ceremony, alongside the winners of the existing Dagger categories, on October 24. Widely considered as the crime writing event of the year, the ceremony will take place at the Grange City Hotel, London.  Booking is now open for the Dagger awards ceremony. Details available here:

Monday, 5 August 2019

Books to Look Forward to from Simon & Schuster

September 2019

It is said that everyone over a certain age can remember distinctly what they were doing when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, or that Princess Diana had been killed in a Paris car crash, but I, for one, could recall all too clearly where I was standing when a policeman told me that my wife had been murdered. Bill Russell is acting as a volunteer steward at Warwick races when he confronts his worst nightmare - the violent death of his much-loved wife. But worse is to come when he is accused of killing her and hounded mercilessly by the media. His life begins to unravel completely as he loses his job and his home. Even his best friends turn against him, believing him guilty of the heinous crime in spite of the lack of compelling evidence.  Bill sets out to clear his name but finds that proving one's innocence is not easy - one has to find the true culprit, and Bill believes he knows whom it is. But can he prove it before he becomes another victim of the murderer.  Guilty Not Guilty is by Felix Francis.

October 2019

The Lying Room is by Nicci French.  Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man.  She doesn't call the police. 'You know, it's funny,' Detective Inspector Hitching said. `Whoever I see, they keep saying, talk to Neve Connolly, she'll know. She's the one people talk to, she's the one people confide in.’ A trusted colleague and friend. A mother. A wife. Neve Connolly is all these things.  She has also made mistakes; some small, some unconsciously done, some large, some deliberate. She is only human, after all. But now one mistake is spiralling out of control and Neve is bringing those around her into immense danger. She can't tell the truth. So how far is she prepared to go to protect those she loves? And whom does she really know? And whom can she trust?  A liar. A cheat. A threat. Neve Connolly is all these things.

In the next Mitch Rapp thriller, a bioterrorist threat threatens an America already weakened by internal divisions.  The head of ISIS, Sayid Halabi, survived Mitch Rapp's attack on him, but while he convalesced, he plotted. Once healed, Halabi kidnaps a brilliant Yemeni microbiologist and forces him to produce anthrax. ISIS releases videos of his progress and uses them to stir up hysteria in the States in the midst of an extremely divisive presidential election.  ISIS contracts with a Mexican drug cartel to smuggle the anthrax into the US, but the anthrax is really just a feint. Unknown to anyone but Halabi's team, he also kidnapped people infected with the virus with the plan to use the drug cartels' human trafficking capability to smuggle these infected people into the US. If he succeeds, it would trigger a pandemic that would kill untold millions. Mitch and Irene Kennedy are, of course, on the case. But their ability to act is weakened by the fact that the man who is likely to be the next president despises them. When the DEA stumbles upon a shipment of anthrax coming into California, though, the current president has no choice but to give Mitch Carte blanche to go after both the smugglers and ISIS.  Mitch must infiltrate the drug cartel that has partnered with Halabi in a black ops mission compromised by political manoeuvres and threatened by an unprecedented bioterrorism attack.  Lethal Agent is by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills

Virgil Flowers will have to watch his back--and his mouth--as he investigates a college culture war turned deadly in Bloody Genius by John Sandsford.  At the local state university, two feuding departments have faced off on the battleground of PC culture. Each carries their views to extremes that may seem absurd, but highly educated people of sound mind and good intentions can reasonably disagree, right?   Then someone winds up dead, and Virgil Flowers is brought in to investigate . . . and he soon comes to realise he's dealing with people who, on this one particular issue, are functionally crazy. Among this group of wildly impassioned, diametrically opposed zealots lurks a killer, and it will be up to Virgil to sort the murderer from the mere maniacs.

A man, wearing his daughter's wedding ring, is found in front of his fireplace, a bullet hole in his chest. A funeral director searches desperately for his brother - a man who doesn't seem to be missed. A woman struggles to protect her children and her life as her husband turns ever more dangerous.  Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht believe that these three cases are totally unrelated... until they uncover a connection between these three people that changes everything. Soon Bergman and Recht are pulled into an escalating series of events where old sins return to haunt all involved. And someone is leaving them taunting messages... but who, and why?  Flood is by Kristina Ohlsson. 

November 2019

Seventeen years after the fall of the Third Reich, Max Weill has never forgotten the atrocities he saw as a prisoner at Auschwitz-nor the face of Dr Otto Schramm, a camp doctor who worked with Mengele on appalling experiments and who sent Max's family to the gas chambers. As the war came to a close, Schramm was one of the many high-ranking former-Nazi officers who managed to escape Germany for new lives in South America. There, leaders like Argentina's Juan Peron gave them safe harbour and new identities.  With his life nearing its end, Max asks his nephew Aaron Wiley-an American CIA desk analyst-to complete the task Max never could: to track down Otto in Argentina, capture him and bring him back to Germany to stand trial.  Unable to distinguish allies from enemies, Aaron will ultimately have to discover not only Otto, but the boundaries of his own personal morality, how far he is prepared to go to render justice. Accomplice is by Joseph Kanon.

The Siberian Dilemma is by Martin Cruz Smith.  Journalist Tatiana Petrovna has disappeared. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator and Tatiana's on-off lover, hasn't seen her since she left on a case over a month ago. No one else thinks Renko should be worried - Tatiana is known to disappear during deep assignments - but he knows her enemies all too well and the criminal lengths they will go to keep her quiet. Given the opportunity to interrogate a suspected assassin in Irkutsk, Renko embarks on a dangerous journey to Siberia to find Tatiana and bring her back. Renko finds Siberia to be a land of shamans and brutally cold nights, oligarchs wealthy on northern oil and sea monsters that are said to prowl the deepest lake in the world. With these forces at work against him, Renko will need all his wits about him to get Tatiana out alive.

Kiss the Girls and Makes Them Cry is by Mary Higgins Clark.  When talented journalist Penelope "Casey" Harrison starts to research a piece about the #MeToo movement that includes an incident in her own life that she has been trying to put out of her mind for years, she does not realise that the young man who drugged and assaulted her at a fraternity house party in college is now a wealthy, powerful industrialist on the eve of a merger which will make him a billionaire-and who will do anything, even murder, to cover his tracks.

December 2019

Mister Wolf is by Chris Petit.  Germany, 1944. On the 10th anniversary of the Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler and his private secretary Bormann return for a dinner to the lakeside resort hotel where Hitler arrested his old friend Ro hm. Hitler's erratic behaviour is losing him support in the Nazi party; Bormann is the puppet master. They both believe an assassination attempt on the Fuhrer to be imminent.  Hitler is remembering his niece, Geli; she was his closest confidante until her `suicide' in 1931. Rumours of a scandalous affair still swirl; as well as claims of obscene drawings being passed around Munich, alleged to be of Geli by Hitler - political dynamite in the wrong hands . . . But as Hitler announces he wants to retrieve the pictures from the safe, Bormann finds they aren't there. Their whereabouts become a matter of urgency. As Bormann uses whatever means necessary to keep the Fuhrer in power, August Schlegel, now employed by the Gestapo, is still trying to piece together his own family's role in the Nazi party. His curiosity is piqued by an item of interest in an auction that relates to his missing father. But curiosity can be a very dangerous thing.   As a shift in power looms, and losing the war seems a genuine possibility, panic begins to set in; will anyone make it out of Berlin alive?

Six friends trapped by one dark secret.  It was supposed to be our last weekend away as friends, before marriage and respectability beckoned. But what happened that Saturday changed everything.  In the middle of the night, someone died. The six of us promised each other we would not tell anyone about the body we buried. But now the pact has been broken. And the killing has started again …  Who knows what we did? And what price will we pay? The Six is by Luca Veste.