Friday, 4 September 2015

Books to Look Forward to From Severn House

In this fascinating psychological neo-noir mystery, a notorious late 19th-century photograph provides the key to a contemporary murder. In 1882, the young Lou Andreas-Salome, writer, psychoanalyst and femme fatale, appears with Friedrich Nietzche and another man in a bizarre photograph taken in Luzern, Switzerland. Over thirty years later, an intense art student in Freud's Vienna presents Lou Salome with his own drawing based on the infamous photograph. In the present day, Tess Berenson, a brilliant performance artist, moves into an art deco loft in downtown Oakland, California. Her new apartment, she learns, was vacated in a hurry by a professional dominatrix who used the name Chantal Desforges. Tess's curiosity about Chantal intensifies when her body is discovered in the trunk of a stolen car at Oakland airport. Embarking on an obsessive investigation into the murder, Tess discovers a link to the original Luzern photograph and the 1913 drawing - but as she gets closer to the shocking truth, Tess finds that she too is in jeopardy.  The Luzern Photograph is by William Bayer and is due to be published in September 2015.

The Blood That Touched is by Peter Helton and is due to be published in December 2015.  A seemingly open-and-shut case becomes increasingly complicated for Detective Inspector Liam McLusky in this intriguing police procedural. It all seemed so simple: a murder; an obvious suspect; a shaky alibi: DI McLusky never had it so good. Until a second killing challenges all his earlier assumptions. With every new piece of evidence McLusky brings to light, the case becomes more complicated. Does it have its roots in a disappearance eighteen years earlier, or is it firmly based in the present? Meanwhile, DI Kat Fairfield and DS Jack Sorbie are tasked with finding the daughter of a prominent Italian politician, who has disappeared while on a student exchange programme at Bristol University. Neither is overjoyed to be lumbered with a routine missing person's case while McLusky heads a high-profile murder investigation. Until they find a dead body of their own...

A routine flight descends into terror in this spine-tingling tale of supernatural suspense As Oceans Airways flight 582 takes off from LAX Airport, Los Angeles, headed for Sydney, Australia, passengers and crew prepare themselves for the 14-hour flight, among them flight attendants Sharlene Their and Aaron Drake, who have recently started dating. But suddenly communication and navigation systems in the cockpit start malfunctioning: just the start of a series of inexplicable and terrifying events about to engulf these airborne travellers. The Boeing 747 has entered strange airways, inhabited by something malicious - a presence that holds sway over the aircraft. And Sharlene may be the only one to understand the true nature of the threat...  Zone is by Jack Lance and is due to be published in November 2015.

Lights, Camera, Action is by Marie Celine and is due to be published in September 2015. Gourmet Pet Chef Kitty Karlyle must draw on more than her TV presenting skills when the producer of a new cooking show is found stabbed to death. Pet chef Kitty serves gourmet meals to pampered canines, cats, birds, snakes (ugh), Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and most any other pet belonging to her wealthy and quirky LA clientele. This is a town where pets have their own psychologists, psychics and masseuses, so why shouldn't they have their own chefs, right? Kitty finds herself somewhat reluctantly hosting a new cooking show called 'The Pampered Pet' on CuisineTV. While shooting the pilot, the show's producer is found in her office with a knife in her back - one of Kitty's knives, to be exact. The list of suspects is long and time is short. If Kitty can't find the killer soon, her own goose might be cooked...

When a major drugs dealer seeks vengeance for the death of his family, policemen Harpur and Iles must do all they can to prevent a bloodbath. Following the murder of his wife and son, tycoon drugs dealer Mansel Shale is determined to get vengeance - and he wants another drugs baron, Ralph Ember, to help him. Having heard of the movie Strangers on a Train, in which two men agree to undertake each other's murders as a way of preventing detection, Shale suggests he and Ralph should have a similar arrangement - and Ralph is in no position to refuse. When he learns of the plan, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles fears that if things go wrong, the hard-won peace he and Harpur have established in the city will be seriously threatened. The two top policemen find they have their work cut out to limit the damage and restore tranquillity.  First You Fix Your Alibi is by Bill James and is due to be published in December 2015.

The Herald of Hell is by Paul Doherty and is due to be published in September 2015.  May,
1381. The Great Revolt draws ever nearer. The Upright Men openly roam the streets of London, waiting for the violence to begin. Their mysterious envoy, the Herald of Hell, appears at night all over the city, striking terror into the hearts of those who oppose them. But who is he? When his chancery clerk is found hanged in a notorious Southwark brothel, the ruthless Thibault, John of Gaunt's Master of Secrets, summons Brother Athelstan to investigate. Did Amaury Whitfield really kill himself following a visit from the terrifying Herald of Hell? Athelstan is unconvinced. In the dead man's possession was a manuscript containing a great secret which he had been striving to decipher. If he could only unlock the cipher and interpret the messages being carried to the so-called Herald of Hell, Athelstan would be one step closer to catching the killer. But can he crack the code before the Great Revolt begins?

Cold Florida is by Phillip Depoy and is due to be published in November 2015.  Introducing former car thief and amateur sleuth Foggy Moskowitz in the first of a brand-new noir mystery series. It's 1974. Foggy Moskowitz, a Jewish car thief on the run from the Brooklyn authorities, ends up in Florida working for the first office of Child Protective Service. For personal reasons. An unlikely, but tenacious, child protection officer, he takes on an investigation to find a missing infant, taken from the hospital by her addict mother. But the case takes several unexpected turns as Foggy makes his way from seedy Fry's Bay to Indian Seminole swampland, undertaking a vision quest, a rite of passage in some Native American cultures, in the process. Along the way he encounters more than a few interesting characters, including John Horse, an Indian mystic, and works to foil a vast land-grab scam by an uber-rich felon. 

Skeleton Blues is by Paul Johnston and is due to be published in December 2015.  Ex-cop Quint Dalrymple discovers there is something very rotten in the independent city-state of Edinburgh in this near-future dystopian thriller. Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather's balmy, there's a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up - and a tourist is found strangled. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians' dirty work. For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body - and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found. Can Quint and his sidekick, Guard commander Davie, put a stop to the killings before the city erupts into open violence? Are the leaders of other Scottish states planning to take over Edinburgh, or is the source of unrest much closer to home? Quint must race to pull the threads together before he becomes one of the numerous skeletons on display...

This is a darkly humorous noir mystery featuring laidback, guitar-playing private investigator Rolly Waters. Rolly Waters has many reasons to regret going out for Mexican food at 2.30 in the morning. Not least because then he would never have met dance-club DJ Macy Starr - possibly the most infuriatingly unpredictable and secretive client he has ever taken on. Macy Starr wants Rolly to find out what happened to the young woman she knew as Aunt Betty, the woman who rescued her as a child and who then disappeared without trace. The only clue she has to go on is a curious one-stringed guitar. Rolly's investigation leads to a weird world of alien-obsessed cults, a strange desert hideaway known as Slab City - and to a 20-year-old unsolved murder case. But how can he solve the mystery if he can't even trust his own client?  Desert City Diva is by Corey Lynn Fayman and is due to be published in September 2015.

Skin Like Silver is by Chris Nickerson and is due to be published in November 2015.  The third intriguing historical mystery to feature Detective Inspector Tom Harper Leeds, England. October, 1891. An unclaimed parcel at the Central Post Office is discovered to contain the decomposing body of a baby boy. It's a gruesome case for DI Tom Harper. Then a fire during the night destroys half the railway station. The next day a woman's body is found in the rubble. But Catherine Carr didn't die in the blaze: she'd been stabbed to death - and Harper has to find her killer. The estranged wife of a wealthy industrialist, Catherine had been involved with the Leeds Suffragist Society, demanding votes for women, the same organization for which Harper's wife Annabelle has just become a speaker. Were Catherine's politics the cause of her death? Or is the husband she abandoned behind it? But when her brother escapes from the asylum and steals a shotgun, Harper has to race to find the answers.

Fatal Catch is by Pauline Rowson and is due to be published in September 2015.  Trust no one. Believe nothing...DI Andy Horton is called out to examine a gruesome catch by two fishermen: a human hand. Is it that of missing violent criminal, Alfie Wright - or is he the killer? And where is the rest of the corpse? Soon Horton finds himself immersed in a complex case where everyone has a reason to lie and no one is who they seem. Assailed by doubts both in his personal and professional life, Horton desperately tries to keep his emotional feelings under control and his focus on his work. His instincts tell him to trust no one and believe nothing; he's not sure, though, whether this time he'll succeed...

Bitter Poison is by Margaret Mayhew and is due to be published in December 2015.  The Colonel turns reluctant sleuth once more when tragedy strikes at a Christmas party, in Margaret Mayhew's latest atmospheric village mystery Frog End, that most quintessential of English villages, is preparing for its annual Christmas pantomime. This year, it's Hans Christian Andersen's dark fairytale The Snow Queen. Local busybody Marjorie Cuthbertson is on the hunt for her leading lady - and who better to play the icy queen than beautiful new resident, ex-model Joan Dryden. But as interested as they are in their new neighbours, the residents of Frog End remain wary of the Dryden family, considering them aloof Londoners. Mystery is about to engulf the village however when a cast member collapses and dies at a Christmas party, having consumed a rogue mince pie. Was the death an accident - or was it a malicious revenge strategy masked as an allergic reaction? The Colonel makes it his business to find out.

The Killing in the Café is by Simon Brett and is due to be published in November 2015. The
wickedly entertaining new Fethering mystery featuring chalk-and-cheese detective duo Carole and Jude. Polly's Cake Shop has been a feature of the shopping parade for many years, but when its owner announces her retirement, the Fethering residents start to worry about the loss of this popular amenity. Alarmed by rumours that the cafe might become a Starbucks, a group clubs together to form the Save Polly's Cake Shop Action Committee. The plan is that Polly's should become a community venture, managed and run by volunteers from the village. Roped in to help, Jude finds the committee meetings fraught with petty power struggles, clashing personalities and monstrous egos. Matters take a turn for the worse when she and Carole come across a badly-decomposed body on Fethering beach - and uncover a link to Polly's. Not only do the two neighbours have to find out whodunit, they are also faced with the thorny question: is it possible to run a business on that most volatile of commodities - goodwill?

1940s, Washington DC. Government girl Louise gets her big chance, when she is tasked with recruiting German POWs for a secret mission inside Nazi Germany Government girl Louise Pearlie has a new job inside the OSS - the Office of Strategic Services: recruiting German prisoners-of-war for a secret mission inside Nazi Germany. It's a big chance for her, and Louise hopes she can finally escape her filing and typing duties. With the job come two new colleagues: Alice Osborne, a propaganda expert, and Merle Ellison, a forger from Texas who just happens to speak fluent German. But when the three arrive at Fort Meade camp, to interview the first German POWs to arrive there, their mission is beset by complications. Only one of the prisoners speaks English, the army officer in charge of the camp is an alcoholic and two prisoners disappeared on the ship bringing the Germans to the states. Were their deaths suicide? Officially, yes. But Louise can't help but have her doubts...  Louise’s Chance is by Sarah R Saber and is due to be published in September 2015.

Mara, Brehon of the Burren, must battle superstitious beliefs and fears as she sets out to solve a brutal murder. When a woman's body is discovered, strangled and bound with rope to the stone torso of Far Breige, the ancient stone god which stands sentinel above the haunted caves and ancient fortifications of the Atlantic cliffs, the locals believe it was the god who killed her. In life, Clodagh O'Lochlainn had been a disgrace to her clan, tormenting her former priestly lover, jeering at her husband, robbing her relatives: but could she really have been slaughtered by a vengeful god, as the local population believes? Abandoning preparations for the celebration of her fiftieth birthday, Mara, Brehon of the Burren, with the assistance of Fachtman and her scholars, takes up the task of solving the murder. Ignoring the ancient legends, she concentrates instead on bringing a mortal killer to justice. But it's only when Fachtman's small daughter is lost in the labyrinth of passages among the caves that the horrifying truth begins to emerge.  A Fatal Inheritance is by Caro Harrison and is due to be published in November 2015.

Onslaught by Nick Oldham and is due to be published in December 2015. Introducing tough-as-nails former Royal Marine, ex-cop and sport fishing skipper Steve Flynn in the first of a brand-new series of exciting action thrillers. When he is accused of murdering his boss, sport fishing captain Steve Flynn finds that his idyllic life in the Canary Islands has suddenly lost its charm. Arrested by a tenacious - and corrupt - Spanish detective, Flynn knows he is facing a grim future unless he can somehow prove his innocence. Matters take a turn for the worse however when Flynn's ex-girlfriend is kidnapped and her life used as a bargaining chip. The only way Flynn can save her is to pull out all the stops, re-hone his old policing and military skills, and put himself in the firing line against a murderous gang for whom violent death is a way of life.

Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series. Three figures, shadowy against the light. That's all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city - and I am a cat. The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon's dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love. The Ninth Life is by Clea Simon and is due to be published in November 2015.

The Case of The Missing Morris Dancer is by Cathy Ace and is due to be published in October 2015 The Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency are back in a witty and intriguing new mystery. The Anwen Morris Dancers are to play a pivotal role in the imminent nuptials of Henry, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth. But it looks as though the wedding plans might go awry unless Mavis, Annie, Carol and Christine can help Althea, the Dowager Duchess, by finding a missing Morris man and a set of ancient and valuable artefacts in time for her son's wedding. Anwen-by-Wye might look like an idyllic Welsh village where family values reign and traditions still mean something in a modern world, but what will the WISE women find when they peer behind the respectable net curtains?

DCI Peach and DS Northcott investigate a murder at an exclusive tennis club Detective Sergeant Clyde Northcott - DCI Peach's tall, black, powerful protege - has no interest in joining the snooty Birch Lane Tennis Club. So it is unfortunate for him when committee member Olive Crawshaw decides he would be the perfect talisman for the club's new, and controversial, policy to recruit members from a wider ethnic and social background. Clyde soon finds himself thrust into an exclusive community where his rusty tennis skills are the least of his concerns: for 'exclusive' does not mean moral, and while some of the club's members sail very near the law, one or two of them go far beyond it. So when a distinguished club member is murdered, a problem arises: how can he and Peach unveil the killer, when almost everyone seemed to want the victim dead?  Backhand Smash is by J M Gregson and is due to be published in November 2015.

American Anglophile Dorothy Martin tackles a tricky puzzle in the historic university town of Cambridge Dorothy Martin isn't overly enthusiastic when her husband, retired police detective Alan Nesbitt, invites her to accompany him to a conference in Cambridge, picturing cramped student accommodation. But St Stephen's turns out to be recently renovated, and, bolstered by en suite facilities, Dorothy is looking forward to exploring the historic and beautiful city. It is not long, though, before disaster strikes: lost in the maze of college buildings, Dorothy stumbles into a laboratory...and is shocked to find what looks like a pool of blood on the floor. She flees, to fetch help, but when Alan checks it out, there is nothing to be found. Was she mistaken? Or has a terrible crime been committed? Dorothy, who can never resist a puzzle, determines to find out.  Blood Will Tell is by Jeanne M Dams and is due to be published in October 2015.

Introducing private investigator Tess Grey and Southern renegade ex-con Nicolas 'Po'
Villere in the first of a brand-new series of fast-paced action thrillers. When her local District Attorney offers her a considerable sum of money to track down state witness Crawford Wynne, private investigator Tess Grey is in no position to refuse. Wynne is one of the few men still alive who can help the State nail vicious drug lord Albert Suarez. But Tess is not the only one trying to track Wynne down. Suarez's psychotic brother Hector has been hunting and butchering anyone who is a danger to his brother. Tess needs help and there's only one man she can turn to: Southern renegade ex-con Nicolas Villere, known to all as Po. Po always gets his man, but he has never been teamed with a woman before. Both have their own agenda for taking on this case, and neither fully trusts the other. But of one thing they are sure: if they don't cover each other's backs, they are both going to die.  Blood Tracks is by Matt Hilton and is due to be published in November 2015.

One Under is by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and is due to be published in October 25. For a policeman, there are some questions that have to be asked even if you don't want to know the answers...A middle-aged man jumps under a tube train at Shepherd's Bush station, and a teenage girl is killed in a hit-and-run, in a country lane puzzlingly far from her home on the White City Estate: two unrelated incidents which occupy DCI Bill Slider and his team during a slack period. At least it's a change of speed after the grind of domestics, burglaries and Community Liaison. But links to a cold case - another dead teenager, pulled out of the River Thames - create doubts as to whether they are indeed unrelated. And slowly a trail of corruption and betrayal is uncovered, leading Slider and his firm ever deeper into a morass of horror.

Detective Inspector Hardcastle ruffles feathers in a sleepy Hampshire village, when he investigates the murder of a local girl August 1917. The head of the CID at Scotland Yard sends Divisional Detective Inspector Ernest Hardcastle and Detective Sergeant Charles Marriott of the Whitehall Division of the Metropolitan Police to a small Hampshire village, to investigate the murder of a local girl. For once, Hardcastle has plenty of suspects. Was the murderer one of Daisy Salter's many suitors? Was it the shifty individual who left the local pub and disappeared the moment he saw Hardcastle? Or could it have been Daisy's own father? In an entirely different world from London, Hardcastle is forced to adapt to the slower pace of country life, and he soon finds he is ruffling feathers as he carries out his investigations in his own inimitable fashion.  Hardcastle’s Collector is by Graham Ison and is due to be published in October 2015.

The Bell Tower is by Sarah Rayne and is due to be published in October 2015.  A 400-year-old crime continues to menace the present in this spine-chilling tale of supernatural suspense. When Nell West starts extending her Oxford antiques shop, she is not expecting to uncover strange fragments of its past: fragments that include a frightened message scribbled on old plasterwork, dated 1850 and referring to someone called Thaisa. She also uncovers a mysterious link with a village on the Dorset coast - a village with an ancient bell tower and dark memories of a piece of music known locally as Thaisa's Song. The sea is gradually encroaching on the derelict tower, but the old Glaum Bell still hangs in the lonely bell chamber and although it was silenced after an act of appalling brutality during the reign of Henry VIII, local people whisper that its chime is still occasionally heard. As Nell and Michael Flint discover, the tower is mysteriously entangled with the story of Thaisa and a 400-year-old tragedy that has echoed down the centuries.

In Vino Veritas is by Peter Turnbull and is due to be published in November 2015.  A tip-off leading to the discovery of a young woman's body throws Harry Vicary and his team into another perplexing murder investigation. 'Big Andy' Cragg's drunken disclosure to an undercover police officer in a West London pub that he was once party to the disposal of the body of a murder victim sets a sinister and disturbing chain of events in motion for Harry Vicary and his team. A body is found exactly where Cragg said it would be, and the consequent investigation plunges Vicary into a labyrinth world of contract killings, witness intimidation and large-scale money laundering. Can he piece together the clues to uncover why a young woman was so brutally murdered?

Carl Burns returns to his hometown to uncover a viper's nest of corruption and dark secrets in this tense and twisting novel of suspense: first in a brand-new series. After ten years' absence and a spell in prison, Carl Burns has returned to his hometown of Rose City to offer support to his estranged daughter Kate, currently one of four witnesses testifying against former Mayor Joseph Sanderson III, who stands accused of multiple counts of underage rape. Carl is determined to get justice for Kate, whatever it takes. But with his former sister-in-law Frances his only ally, he finds himself incurring the wrath of powerful enemies as he attempts to uncover the shocking truth beneath the layers of corruption and lies which engulf the town.  Rough Justice is by Brad Smith and is due to be published in October 2015.

Thicker Than Water is by Sally Spencer and is due to be published in October 2015.  DCI Monika Paniatowski investigates a case that could be the making - or, more likely, breaking - of her career DCI Monika Paniatowski has only been back from maternity leave for three days when she is called in to investigate a nightmare of a case. Not only is the murder victim a mother of three small children, but her husband is a wealthy politician. Monika knows that if she can't make a quick arrest her career is on the line. It's lucky, then, that within minutes of meeting Councillor Danbury, she has a bruised face - and a prime suspect. But then the case takes a nasty twist, and suddenly the investigation is national news. Monika's sure she has the right man - but how to prove it? Particularly when she's under pressure from her superiors to arrest anyone other than Councillor Danbury, president of the golf club and friend of her chief constable...

A medieval mystery featuring disgraced knight Crispin Guest London, 1388. When the mythical Stone of Destiny disappears from the throne of England during mass in Westminster Abbey, the populace takes it as a sign to side with King Richard II's rebellious barons. The last thing the king needs is for his authority to be put in question, especially after his army suffers a crushing defeat against a Scottish uprising. Desperate, Richard calls in Crispin Guest to find the missing stone. And to ensure that he will do the deed, the king imprisons Jack Tucker and orders Crispin to find the stone before Parliament convenes in a week's time - or Jack will hang for treason.  The Silence of Stones is by Jeri Westerton and is due to be published in October 2015.

This lively cozy, set in small town California, is the second in the Mary McGill dog mystery series. Preparations for Santa Louisa's annual spring rummage sale are thrown into chaos when organiser Mary McGill and her devoted cocker spaniel Millie come across a dead body on the premises. Still wearing her pink nightdress and slippers, what on earth was Miss Emilie Plym doing in a locked church hall in the dead of night? And who on earth would want to harm a sweet-natured but confused elderly lady who wouldn't hurt a fly? As Mary questions the victim's nearest and dearest, she discovers that not everyone had Miss Plym's best interests at heart, and that at least one of those who should have been caring for her is hiding a shocking secret.  Curtains for Miss Plym is by Kathleen Delaney and is due to be published in November 2015.

The intriguing, witty and irreverent new mystery featuring Ancient Roman sleuth Marcus Corvinus. May, AD 41. The emperor Claudius has acceded to the throne, and the citizens of Rome look forward to an era of peace and stability. Not so Marcus Corvinus however, who finds himself embroiled in not one but two investigations. A friend of his wife has asked him to look into the murder of her brother, found stabbed to death at the Shrine of Melobosis. A wily businessman and notorious womaniser, no one seems to have a good word to say about Gaius Tullius, not even his less-than-grieving widow. But who would have a good enough reason to want him dead? At the same time, Corvinus's daughter comes across a dead body in the Pollio Gardens, and urges her father to investigate. At first Marcus refuses to get involved - but when his enquiries lead him to Ostia, Rome's busy trading port, he uncovers a disturbing connection between the two deaths.  Trade Secrets is by David Wishart and is due to be published in October 2015.

The murder of a student re-opens a series of cold cases in this intriguing mystery. A young student is found brutally murdered in her room, killed while her flatmates slept nearby. The police soon recognize that this is frighteningly similar to a crime committed fifteen years before. A crime investigated by the now discredited Detective Inspector Joe Jackson, but never solved. Other deaths, linked to the same modus operandi and stretching back more than twenty years, have also remained unsolved. No link has been found between the victims - but it seems Joe Jackson had a perpetrator in mind. He had however been unable to prove his guilt. Can the new investigation trust the judgement of a man who was himself a killer? Or did that give Naomi Blake's one-time friend and mentor an insight his colleagues did not have?  A Murderous Mind is by Jane A Adams and is due to be published in November 2015.

Private investigator Patrick de Courvoisier unearths a shocking wartime secret in this stylish Cannes-based mystery series. Brother Robert from the abbey on St Honorat, a picturesque island off the French coast, has requested Patrick de Courvoisier's help in locating a valuable painting which has disappeared from the monastery's vaults. At the same time, an old enemy from Patrick's past has arrived in Cannes in search of a different stolen painting. As it becomes increasingly clear that the two investigations are linked, Patrick's enquiries lead him to uncover a shocking wartime secret: a secret the British Royal family would prefer to keep hidden...  The case of the Missing Madonna is by Lin Anderson and is due to be published in September 2015.

Next of Kin is by Maureen Carter and is due to be published in November 2015.  Ice-cool Detective Inspector Sarah Quinn and fiery reporter Caroline King lock horns once again in this latest intriguing mystery. When the body of a teenage girl is found in a local park, it is assumed she is the latest victim of a serial sex offender who has been plaguing the area. But when it transpires that the dead girl's best friend is missing, DI Sarah Quinn is drawn into a complex murder investigation where nothing is as it seems. With the investigation heading nowhere - not helped by the hostility of the victim's distraught father, nor by Sarah's unsympathetic new Chief Superintendent who seems determined to undermine her - a shocking turn of events leads Sarah to question her own judgement. And that's before she encounters her old foe, calculating journalist Caroline King...

False Wall is by Veronica Heley and is due to be published in December 2015.  Bea Abbot discovers that at least one of her neighbours is hiding a shocking secret in the latest intriguing Abbot Agency mystery When the party wall dividing the gardens of Bea Abbot and her fiance Leon collapses, amongst the ensuing chaos a human skeleton is unearthed in Leon's garden. Having only just purchased the property, Leon and Bea set out to discover more about the house's previous owners. Before they can proceed in their investigation however, the pair fall victim to an elaborately-laid trap. With her home, livelihood and the agency under threat, Bea appears to be the subject of a meticulously-planned vendetta. But why? And why is Leon becoming strangely distant?


Monday, 31 August 2015

2015 Davitt Awards


The 2015 Davitt Awards were announced on Saturday 15th August in Melbourne.  The Awards are now in their 15th year and author Sophie Hannah presented the Awards at the gala dinner.

Adult Fiction
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Young Adult Fiction
Every Word by Ellie Marney (Allen & Unwin)

Children’s Novels
Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell (HarperCollins Australia)

Non Fiction
Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington (HarperCollins Australia)

Debut Novel
Intruder by Christine Bongers (Woolshed Press – a Random House imprint)

The awards are named in honour of Ellen Davitt (1812-1879) who wrote Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865.

The shortlist of all the nominated books can be found here.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Noir in the North

Noir in the North
16-17 November 2016
University of Iceland


The Killing, WallanderThe Girl with the Dragon TattooMiss Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Nordic Noir has been a dominant part of global detective fiction, film and television in the past two decades. But what are the parameters of this genre, both historically and geographically? What is noirish and what is northern about Nordic Noir? This conference invites proposals which either investigate the specifics of noir in a particular text or which interrogate more broadly the notion of Nordic Noir.

Can Nordic Noir be used to identify, for example, some aspects of the work of other Nordic authors, such as Halldór Laxness, Isak Dinesen or Vilhem Moberg? What is the relationship between earlier Scandinavian crime fiction, such as that by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, and Nordic Noir? How does work like the Shetland novels by Ann Cleeves fit within the parameters of Nordic Noir?  What part has translation played in the history and global circulation of Nordic Noir?

More broadly, the conference will address the following questions: How does Nordic Noir challenge the traditional critical histories of noir? What new genealogies of noir can complicate the Anglo-American dominance of noir? Are there geographical limitations to noir and how does it function transnationally? Where does the north begin for noir? What are the peripheral boundaries in the East and West? Does noir complicate traditional literary histories modelled on geographical boundaries? What specific images of the north are associated with Nordic Noir? How do sex and gender operate in Nordic Noir? What is Nordic noir’s relationship with particular national pasts, identities, or collective and cultural memory? What connections are there be, for example, between Nordic Noir and Continental existentialism, European Romanticisms, or fin-de-siècle literatures?

This major international conference will consolidate work to date on Nordic Noir and seek to deepen our understanding of the genre, both in relation to traditional histories, but also in drawing on new theoretical and geographical understandings.

The Crime Studies Network, in collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Memory and Literature at the University of Iceland and with the University of Newcastle, will host Noir in the North in Reykjavik in November 2016. This conference is held in conjunction with the Iceland Noir Crime Fiction Festival (17-19 November).

Individual proposals for 20-minute papers/3 x 20 minute paper panels are invited.  We welcome proposals on novels, films, television series, graphic novels and other forms.  Send a short title, a 250-word proposal, and a 100-word biographical note to noirinthenorth@gmail.com by 15 November 2015. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by 15 January 2016.

Keynote Speakers
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Bruce Robbins (Columbia University)
Mary Evans (London School of Economics)



Conference Organisers
Stacy Gillis (University of Newcastle)
Gunnþórunn Guðmundsdóttir (University of Iceland)



Saturday, 29 August 2015

A Partnership with the Reader

Today’s guest blog is by author Edward Wilson.  He is the author of 5 novels the most recent being A Very British Ending.

The great thing about crime fiction is that it involves the reader. The classic English murder mystery provides a taunting list of red herrings and cryptic clues that test the reader’s powers of perception and attention to detail. The reader becomes a sleuth.

As a writer of spy fiction, I want to involve the reader at every level. At the end of The Murder at the Vicarage we know who killed Colonel Protheroe. But at the end of my books, I want the reader to still be guessing who was or was not a Soviet mole – a mystery, by the way, still much debated by non-fiction writers. The fictionalised ghost of Kim Philby weaves in and out of my books like a malevolent grinning imp. Was he a double agent betraying Britain or a triple agent betraying Moscow? Why was he still on MI6’s payroll years after he had been uncovered as ‘The Third Man’? And why was he finally allowed to slip away to Moscow just as the pincers were closing? Was, perhaps, Philby a genuine Soviet agent after all – and was MI6’s continued apparent trust in him a double bluff to convince the Sovs that their prize agent had been turned and tripled? The legendary CIA spy chief, James Jesus Angleton, described the world of espionage as ‘a wilderness of mirrors’. In the end, Angleton succumbed to clinical paranoia and had to be removed from post. I don’t want that to happen to my readers, but I do want to stretch their imaginations.

Crime fiction isn’t just about who did it, but why they did it. And so is spy fiction. The first thing they teach you at spy school is MICE. The acronym represents the four ways to recruit an agent: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Excitement. (Excitement also covers ego needs and sex; the honey-trap will always be one of the secret agent’s most important tools.)  In many ways, what motivates a person’s action is more interesting than the action itself. Everyone knows that Jack Kennedy was killed by a bullet to the head, but why? That is the question that has kept conspiracy theorists going for the past fifty years.  Applying MICE – was it I or E? Spy fiction is not just about why individuals do things, but also why governments and intelligence agencies do them. One of my books, The Midnight Swimmer, asks why Khrushchev deployed nuclear missiles to Cuba – and then asks why he withdrew them. I suggest answers, but also leave readers to come to their own conclusions. And why, you may ask, do I use fiction to pose these questions? Try finding out the truth from ‘official’ histories and sanitised files.

The most important thing a writer can do is create characters that enter and grip the readers’ imagination. Who can remember in detail a single one of Raymond Chandler’s plots? But who can forget Philip Marlowe? I think the best way to create a character, and I hope Chandler would have agreed, is from what the character says and thinks aloud. But aside from that, I think the reader should be the casting director. The reader’s own imagination should determine what the character looks like, smells like, walks like and sounds like. When characters are shown on my book jackets, they are only seen from the back. In terms of motivation, I want my characters to have an air of mystery about them which is the job of the reader to discern. One of my recurring characters, the MI6 spy chief Henry Bone, even remains an enigma to me. I know that he was a one time lover of Anthony Blunt, but was Bone ever a Soviet spy? Or did he cover up for those who were? Don’t ask me; that’s for you to decide.

My first rule as a writer is to respect my readers as thinking persons with brains of their own. I will never dumb down. My books are often complex and require concentration – and I make no apology for that.  On one occasion, however, I was too subtle – and this is an exclusive for Shots Mag readers only! If you’ve got a copy of The Whitehall Mandarin, re-read page 356. Now go back and re-read pages 25 and 26. Your call, what really happened?  Likewise, I didn’t solve two mysteries in my latest, A Very British Ending, until after the book was printed and launched. The mysteries are:

1 Why did the Army throw a ring of steel around Heathrow Airport in 1974?
   Was it in response to a terrorist threat? Or something more sinister?

2 Why were there no further military exercises at Heathrow after February,
   1975?

Am I a spy writer lost in my own Wilderness of Mirrors? It doesn’t matter. Books only come alive in the creative mind of the reader.

More information about Edward Wilson can be found on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter @EfwilsonEdward

A Very British Ending by Edward Wilson
A British Prime Minister is targeted by the CIA as a threat to American interests. A secret plot unfolds on both sides of the Atlantic to remove him from power. An MI6 officer, haunted by the ghosts of an SS atrocity, kills a Nazi war criminal in the ruins of a U-boot bunker. The German turns out to be a CIA asset being rat-lined to South America. As a hungry Britain freezes in the winter of 1947, a young cabinet minister negotiates a deal with Moscow trading Rolls-Royce jet engines for cattle fodder and wood. Both have made powerful enemies with long memories. The fates of the two men become entwined as one rises through MI6 and the other to Downing Street. It is the mid-1970s and a coup d état is imminent.  A Very British Ending is the Wolf Hall of power games in modern Britain. Senior MI6 officers, Catesby and Bone, try to outwit a cabal of plotters trying to overthrow the Prime Minister.

A Very British Ending by Edward Wilson is out now (£14.99, Arcadia Books)