Wednesday, 13 November 2019

ITV to Adapt Falco Novels for Television

©Lindsey Davis
Great news for lovers of historical crime fiction and specifically those who love their historical crime fiction set during the Roman Empire.

According to Lindsey Davis’s series of Falco novels are being adapted for television by Mammoth Screen who were the producers of “Victoria”.  

Originally pitched to the BBC the series has now been moved to ITV as is being overseen by the Polly Hill who is the head of drama.  More information can be found here.

Lindsey Davis is the author of 20 novels featuring fictional Roman private detective, reluctant imperial agent and sometime poet Marcus Didius Falco.   The first book in the series Silver Pigs was published 30 years ago in 1989.  The last book to (directly) feature Marcus Didius Falco is Nemesis which was published in 2010.   Falco does crop up in the new series Falco: The Next Generation which features Marcus Didius Falco's adopted daughter, Flavia Albia.  The first book in the series is The Ides of April which was published in 2013.

The 1983 film Age of Treason which featured Bryan Brown as Marcus Didius Falco was based on the first book Silver Pigs.  However it has been disowned by Lindsey Davis on her website as it  "It departed from everything that I think makes the books special."  It bore little relation to the book, jettisoning most of the plot and characters.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Contest

Peter Lovesey is the author of more than thirty highly praised mystery novels. He has been named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America and has been awarded the CWA Gold and Silver Daggers, the Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement, the Strand Magazine Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards, and many other honours.  It was fifty years ago that his first mystery novel was published.  This was Wobbled to Death and introduced readers to Sergeant Cribb who goes on to investigate sports-related deaths.  Wobbled to Death was published after Peter Lovesey won a first novel contest he stumbled across in an English newspaper. Over 40 novels (and a few television series) later, he has gone on to become one of the most respected mystery writers at work today. ​

To celebrate Peter Lovesey's incredible career and its unusual beginnings, Soho Crime is proud to present the Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Contest, in which one debut crime/mystery author will be awarded a publication contract with Soho Crime.*

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE CONTEST? Any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Novel (in any genre), as defined by the contest rules. Employees of Soho Press and members of their immediate families living in the same household (or a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate) are not eligible to enter.

WHAT TYPE OF NOVEL IS ELIGIBLE? For the purpose of this Contest, a “Crime Novel” means a work of fiction of at least 30,000 words that features any of the characteristics outlined in detail in the contest rules.

WHAT IS THE PRIZE? If a winner is selected, he or she will be offered the opportunity to enter into a publication agreement with Soho Press. After execution of the standard form author's agreement by both parties, the winner will receive an advance against future royalties of $10,000 (ten thousand US dollars).

WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRY? All submissions must be received by 11:59pm EST on April 1, 2020

WHO IS JUDGING THE ENTRIES? The editorial staff of Soho Crime will select a shortlist of two (2) or three (3) Finalists, and the winner will be selected from among the Finalists by Peter Lovesey.

HOW DO I ENTER? To enter into this contest, you must first read and agree to the complete contest rules, which contain the complete method of entry. Any entries that do not abide by entry rules are subject to disqualification.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Books to Look Forward to From Headline Publishing

November 2019

Someone is Lying is by Jenny Blackhurst.  One year after Erica Spencer trips and falls down a flight of stairs at a lavish Halloween party, the residents of the exclusive gated community where she lived have comes to terms with her death and moved on with their lives.  Until one day, a post on the school's website announces there will be a podcast to expose what really happened on the night of the accident. Six suspects are named, with the podcaster promising to reveal the murderer by the end of the series.  Everyone in this community has secrets to keep, and one of them is already a killer...

When Michael Rowland saves his younger brother Joshua from the clutches of his stepfather, he runs for his life with his brother in his arms. From his hiding place he sees the man who has made their lives a misery taken away in the trunk of a stranger's car, never to be seen again.  Doctor Dani Novak has been keeping soccer coach Diesel Kennedy at arm's length to protect him from her dark secrets. When they are brought together by the two young brothers who desperately need their help, it seems they might finally be able to leave their damaged pasts behind them.  But as the only witness to the man who kidnapped and murdered his stepfather, Michael is in danger. As Diesel and Dani do all that they can to protect him, their own investigation into the murder uncovers a much darker web of secrets than they could have imagined.  As more bodies start to appear it's clear that this killer wants vengeance. And will wipe out anything that gets in his way...  Into the Dark is by Karen Rose.

Twisted Twenty-Six is by Janet Evanovich.  Grandma Mazur has decided to get married again - this time to a local gangster named Jimmy Rosolli. If Stephanie has her doubts about this marriage, she doesn't have to worry for long, because the groom drops dead of a heart attack 45 minutes after saying, "I do."  A sad day for Grandma Mazur turns into something far more dangerous when Jimmy's former "business partners" are convinced that his new widow is keeping the keys to a financial windfall all to herself. But the one thing these wise guys didn't count on was the widow's bounty hunter granddaughter, who'll do anything to save her.

Traitors of the Rome by Simon Scarrow.  AD 56. Battle-hardened veterans of the Roman army Tribune Cato and Centurion Macro are garrisoned at the eastern border, aware that their movements are constantly monitored by spies from dangerous, mysterious Parthia. But the enemy within could be the deadliest threat to the Legion ... and the Empire.  There's a traitor in the ranks. Rome shows no mercy to those who betray their comrades, and the Empire. But first the guilty man must be discovered. Cato and Macro are in a race against time to expose the truth, while the powerful enemy over the border waits to exploit any weaknesses in the Legion. The traitor must die ... 

Woman on the Edge is by Samantha Bailey.  A moment on the platform changes two lives forever. But nothing is as it seems.  'Take my baby.'  The train is approaching at speed. Why is the stranger handing Morgan her baby? And how does she know Morgan's name?   When the mother then jumps in from of the train, Morgan is stunned. Now the police want to know why she is holding someone else's child. No one else saw what happened.   Desperate to clear her name, Morgan must discover who this woman was. What drove her to end her life? And why did she choose Morgan?  A trail of dark secrets leads to the truth about that moment on the platform. And to someone who is willing to kill to conceal it.

In the decades they spent at the DEA, Javier Pena and Steve Murphy risked their lives hunting large and small drug traffickers. But their biggest challenge was the hunt for Pablo Escobar in Colombia. The partners, who began their careers as small-town cops, have been immortalised in Netflix's Narcos, a fictional account of their hunt for Escobar. Now, for the first time ever, they tell the real story of how they brought down the world's first narco-terrorist, the challenges they faced, and the innovative strategies they employed to successfully end the reign of terror of the world's most wanted criminal.  Readers will go deep inside the inner workings of the Search Bloc, the joint Colombian-US task force that resulted in an intensive 18-month operation that tracked Escobar. Between July 1992 and December 1993, Steve and Javier lived on the edge, setting up camp in Medellin at the Carlos Holguin Military Academy. There, they lived and worked with the Colombian authorities, hunting down a man who was thought by many to be untouchable. Their first hand experience coupled with stories from the DEA's recently de-classified files on the search for Escobar forms the beating heart of Manhunters, an epic account of how agents risked everything to capture the world's most wanted man.  Manhunters: How we Took Down Pablo Escobar is by Javier F Peña and Stephen E Murphy.

January 2020

A homecoming marred by blood.  Journalist Martin Scarsden returns to Port Silver to make a fresh start with his partner Mandy. But he arrives to find his childhood friend murdered - and Mandy is the prime suspect. Desperate to clear her name, Martin goes searching for the truth.  A terrible crime.  The media descends on Port Silver, compelled by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity, and religion. Martin is chasing the biggest scoop of his career, and the most personal.   A past he can’t escape.  As Martin draws closer to a killer, the secrets of his traumatic childhood come to the surface, and he must decide what is more important - the story or his family...  Silver is by Chris Hammer.

February 2020

Bury Them Deep is by James Oswald.  When a member of the Police Scotland team fails to
clock-in for work, concern for her whereabouts is immediate... and the discovery of her burnt-out car in remote woodland to the south of Edinburgh sets off a desperate search for the missing woman.  Meanwhile, DCI Tony McLean and the team are preparing for a major anti-corruption operation - one which may raise the ire of more than a few powerful people in the city. Is Anya Renfrew's disappearance a co-incidence or related to the case? McLean's investigations suggest that perhaps that Anya isn't the first woman to have mysteriously vanished in these ancient hills. Once again, McLean can't shake the feeling that there is a far greater evil at work here...

March 2020

Stop at Nothing is by Michael Ledwidge.  When a private jet crashes into the Caribbean sea, diving instructor Michael Gannon is the only person on the scene. Finding six dead men and a suitcase full of cash and diamonds, Gannon assumes he's the beneficiary of a drug deal gone wrong.  However, it seems one of the passengers was the Director of the FBI - despite the official story that he died of natural causes in Italy. Suddenly pursued by a shadowy cabal of the world's most powerful and dangerous men, Gannon will only survive if he unravels a terrifying conspiracy.  But those determined to kill him will learn that Gannon's past holds its own deadly secrets...and the hunters soon become the prey.

After Dark is by Dominic Nolan.  A girl held captive her entire life.  After a shocking discovery, the police must unravel a mystery that horrifies the nation.  A detective condemned as a criminal.  Violently abducted while searching for a missing woman, D.S. Abigail Boone suffered retrograde amnesia - remembering nothing of her previous life. Defying the law to hunt those responsible, she now languishes behind bars.  A monster hiding in the shadows.  In desperation, police turn to Boone - who fears a connection to the disappearance of a child three decades earlier...and a mysterious underworld figure whose name is spoken only in whispers.  Freed from prison, what will Boone sacrifice - and who must she become - to uncover the terrifying truth?

April 2020

Framed is by S L McInnis.  It was all fine until she turned up...  Music teacher Beth and film producer Jay seem to have the perfect life together in LA.  When Cassie - Beth's old best friend and college wild child - turns up unexpectedly, everything changes. But what neither of them know is what Cassie is running from. And that it's going to have consequences for them all.  Something is about to go very wrong. And someone is going to lie about it.

A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas's wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea. But no one was married that day.  Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin?  He's told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin.  What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what's going to happen when this terrible game is over?  The Murder Game is by Rachel Abbott. 

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Q & A with Attica Locke

©Ayo Onatade
Attica Locke is the author of five award-wining novels.  Her first novel Black Water Rising (2009) was nominated and shortlisted for a number of awards including the Orange Prize, an Edgar Award, a NAACP Image, a Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Strand Magazine Critics Award to name a few.  The Cutting Season (2012) won the Ernest J Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright legacy Award, was long-listed for the Chautauqua Prize and was the honour book by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Pleasantville (2015) won the Harper Lee Prize for Fiction and was long-listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction.  Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) won an Edgar Award, Anthony Award and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award.

In addition, Attica Locke was a writer and a producer for the Fox drama Empire and more recently for Netflix’s When They See Us.  She recently received the Texas Writer of the Year Award  at the 2019 Texas Book Festival.

Q -
Your books have always had a political focus and many authors are now turning to crime fiction to explore the current political climate. Do you think this growing trend has come about because the general mood both in the UK and the US is that the crooks are in power? Do you feel crime fiction is the best lens to examine politics?

Attica -I don’t know about the “best lens,” but it’s a damn good one. Crime fiction takes the theoretical ideas and ideology behind politics and puts them into real character’s lives. And because crime fiction’s first responsibility is to be entertaining, and crime books are usually plot-heavy, writers can avoid being polemical, and readers can avoid feeling lectured to. It’s politics as a visceral experience.

Q -
You were screenwriter on one of the biggest and most critically acclaimed TV series of the year so far, When They See Us. Could you tell us about how that came about? As with your crime writing, are you more drawn to writing for shows that explore politics / injustice? 

Attica - Ava Duvernay knew of my books, and she knew that I also wrote for television, so she reached out to me. Our first meeting was by Skype. 

I don’t think it’s crime writing that draws me to stories of politics and injustices. It’s because I’m interested in politics and injustice that I was probably drawn to crime fiction in the first place. I grew up in a political family of former activists. My name is “Attica,” for goodness sake (named after the prison uprising at Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York). I grew up thinking about politics and issues of injustice all the time.

Q -
The response to When They See Us was phenomenal. Were you expecting it to be such a smash hit?

Attica - No. But I wasn’t really thinking about anything but telling those men’s stories. The idea of an audience having a positive or negative reaction seemed small compared to the responsibility we all felt to get the truth out – no matter what happened next.

Q -
Heaven, My Home is the second book in your Highway 59 trilogy. Without giving too much away, what can we expect from book three?  

Attica - Not giving anything away at all. It ends on another cliffhanger, like Bluebird, Bluebird. So there will definitely be a third book. I think four in all. A quartet.

Q -
And finally, what are you hopeful for?

Attica - Very little at the moment, sad to say. But it’s been an ugly few months—few years, really—in the United States. I suppose knowing that there will always be good books to read makes me happy and hopeful. And that my daughter might get into a good high school.

Heaven My Home by Attica Locke (Published by Profile Books) Out now
Nine-year-old Levi King knew he should have left for home sooner; instead he found himself all alone, adrift on the vastness of Caddo Lake. A sudden noise - and all goes dark. Ranger Darren Matthews is trying to emerge from another kind of darkness; his career and reputation lie in the hands of his mother, who's never exactly had his best interests at heart. Now she holds the key to his freedom, and she's not above a little blackmail to press her advantage. An unlikely possibility of rescue arrives in the form of a case down Highway 59, in a small lakeside town. With Texas already suffering a new wave of racial violence in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, a black man is a suspect in the possible murder of a missing white boy: the son of an Aryan Brotherhood captain. In deep country where the rule of law only goes so far, Darren has to battle centuries-old prejudices as he races to save not only Levi King, but himself.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Bella Ellis on The Vanished Bride

Copyright Rowan Coleman
I first visited the Bronte Parsonage Museum on a rainy day when I was about ten years old, and it made a lasting impact on me. That day I discovered a passion for the Brontë family, their novels and lives, that would never fade, playing an integral part in my journey to becoming an author myself. Their breath-taking talent, boundless imagination, determination and resilience has always been a constant inspiration to me. I love the combination of resourceful and fearless female characters with dark and often dangerous plots and settings that made the novels of all three sisters genuinely revolutionary at the time. Combine that with my love of a really good, old fashioned gothic mystery and it’s not too hard to see how The Vanished Bride came about in something of a lightbulb moment.

I was in the process of writing my latest Rowan Coleman novel, ‘The Girl At The Window’ - a haunting historical mystery spanning three centuries set in Brontë country. As was writing it I vaguely wondered if it would be possible to weave in cameos of my literary heroes, Charlotte, Emily and Anne investigating the mystery that the story is centred on. But the moment I had the idea I thought that it might be big enough to be a book in its own right. And so, The Vanished Bride, and with it the pen name Bella Ellis, was born.

I’m not naturally inclined to mess around with other author’s literary legacies, and to be honest knowing how very passionate Brontë fans are about the sisters and their novels, I was as petrified by the idea as I was excited about it. But then I realised, this isn’t about modernising their work, or retelling their novels. It’s about imaging an exciting, secret and brand-new adventure based around the true story of the Bronte family. It seems entirely possible to me that these three bright, curious and proactive young women would want to get to the bottom of a local mystery, given the opportunity.

The Vanished Bride is the first in a series of Victorian mystery novels, it imagines that before they were authors, Charlotte, Emily and Anne were also amateur sleuths, heading out across the moors to solve local crimes and misdemeanours, often with Branwell at their side. It opens in 1845 when the whole family are all reunited at the Parsonage for a long time, Charlotte is still in the grip of her unrequited passion for her former tutor Monsieur Héger, Branwell has brought scandal down on the whole family by having an affair with his employer’s wife, Mrs Robinson of Thorp Green which meant that Anne, who also worked there, was obliged to resign. The parsonage is a full and fractious house full to the brim with repressed emotion and discontent. It’s against this backdrop that and they receive news that a young wife and mother that has vanished, leaving behind a blood-soaked room. Realising this shocking crime happened at Chester Grange, where their friend is working as a governess, means they can’t resist the opportunity to find out more. What begins as a distraction soon becomes a mission and the three women realise that no one is really trying to find out what happened to Elizabeth Chester.

Using their letters, contemporary recollections of them, and a great deal of brilliant biographies from Mrs Gaskell up until the present day, I have woven biographical detail into the plot, including the fall-out from Thorp Green and Charlotte’s stay in Brussels. Also, I ‘reverse engineered’ their novels to speculate about what mysteries and experiences might have inspired them, opening up worlds of possibilities. My fictional versions of the family are created with love, humour and the deepest regard and writing The Vanished Bride really has been a labour of love, solid research, coupled with a flight of imagination and my hope is that I have written an entertaining, affectionate and satisfying novel that - with a bit of luck - will bring new readers to the works and lives of these three incredible women.  

So if you decide to enter the wild and windswept world of The Vanished Bride I sincerely hope you are thoroughly entertained by what you discover there.

The Vanished Bride: The Bronte Mysteries by Bella Ellis (Published by Hodder & Stoughton)  £14.99 Out Now

Yorkshire, 1845.  A young woman has gone missing from her home, Chester Grange, leaving no trace, save a large pool of blood in her bedroom and a slew of dark rumours about her marriage. A few miles away across the moors, the daughters of a humble parson, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte are horrified, yet intrigued.  Desperate to find out more, the sisters visit Chester Grange, where they notice several unsettling details about the crime scene: not least the absence of an investigation. Together, the young women realise that their resourcefulness, energy and boundless imaginations could help solve the mystery - and that if they don't attempt to find out what happened to Elizabeth Chester, no one else will.  The path to the truth is not an easy one, especially in a society which believes a woman's place to be in the home, not wandering the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril...

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Call for Papers: The Golden Age of Crime: A Re-Evaluation

The Golden Age of crime fiction, roughly defined as puzzle-based mystery fiction produced between the First and Second World Wars, is enjoying a renaissance both in the literary marketplace and in scholarship. This conference intervenes in emerging academic debates to define and negotiate the boundaries of Golden Age scholarship.

As well as interrogating the staples of ‘Golden Age’ crime (the work of Agatha Christie and/or Ellery Queen, the puzzle format, comparisons to ‘the psychological turn’), this conference will look at under-explored elements of the publishing phenomenon.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or panel presentations of one hour. Topics can include, but are by no means limited to, the following:

Defining the parameters of Golden Age crime
The Queens of Crime (Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Gladys Mitchell)
Significant male writers of the Golden Age (John Dickson Carr, Anthony Berkeley, Ellery Queen)
Lesser-known Golden Age practitioners
Collaborative and round robin novels
Continuation novels
The Detection Club
Parody, pastiche, and postmodernism
Psychology and psychoanalysis
Meta-fiction and self- or inter-referentiality
The language of crime fiction
The Golden Age and social value
Nostalgia and heritage
Writing the past
Gender, sexuality, and queerness
Clues and coding
Crime and the Gothic
Magic and the supernatural
Place, space, and psychogeography
Reissues and rediscovery
Archival finds and innovations
The ‘Second Golden Age’
The influence of Golden Age crime writers on subsequent and contemporary writers
Interdisciplinary perspectives
Teaching Golden Age crime fiction

Organisers: Dr J C Bernthal (University of Cambridge), Sarah Martin (University of Chester), Dr Stefano Serafini (Royal Holloway, University of London)

We welcome academic and creative paper proposals. Please email your 200-word proposal and short biographical note to no later than 15th December. Comments and queries should be directed to the same address.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

2019 Anthony Award Winners

The Anthony Award Winners were announced on Saturday night at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. 

Best Novel 
November Road by Lou Berney (William Morrow)

Best First Novel
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)

Best Paperback Original Novel 
Under a Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow Paperbacks)

Best Short Story 
The Grass Beneath My Feet” by S.A. Cosby, in Tough (blogazine, August 20, 2018)

Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work 
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (HarperCollins)

Congratulations to all!

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.

2019 Shamus Awards: Private Eye Writer of America

Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award winners for works published in 2018.

Best Private Eye Novel 
What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka (Minotaur Books)

Best First Private Eye Novel 
The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco (MCD Farrar, Straus, Giroux)

Best Original Private Eye Paperback                                                  
The Questionable Behavior of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone (Redhook Books)

Best Private Eye Short Story 
"Chin Yong-Yun Helps a Fool," by S.J. Rozan, EQMM

The awards were handed out at the PWA Shamus banquet that took place on Saturday 2nd November during the 50th Anniversary Bouchercon Convention that was held in Dallas.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The 2019 Barry Award Winners

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the Barry Award Winners of the Barry Awards at the Dallas Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies

Best Novel
November Road by Lou Berney (Morrow)  

Best First Novel
The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor (Crown)

Best Paperback Original 
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan (Penguin) 

Best Thriller
Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman, (Knopf)

Congratulations to all! 

Friday, 1 November 2019

2019 Macavity Award Winners

Best Novel:
November Road by Lou Berney  (William Morrow)*
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (William Morrow)
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Flat Iron Books)
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier (Minotaur Books)
Hiroshima Boy by Naomi Hirahara (Prospect Park Books)
Under My Skin by Lisa Unger (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

Best First Novel: 
Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver (Pegasus Books)*
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday)
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman (Ballantine)
The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (Crown)

Best Non-fiction: 
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (HarperCollins)*
The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction by Laird R. Blackwell (McFarland)
Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox (Random House)
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)
Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson (Pegasus Books)

Best Short Story:
English 398: Fiction Workshop” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Jul/Aug 2018)*
Race to Judgment” by Craig Faustus Buck (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
All God’s Sparrows” by Leslie Budewitz (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/Jun 2018)
Bug Appétit” by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
Three-Star Sushi” by Barry Lancet (Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol.1, No. 3)
The Cambodian Curse” by Gigi Pandian (The Cambodian Curse and Other Stories)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel:
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)*
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)
City of Ink by Elsa Hart (Minotaur)
Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King (Bantam)
A Dying Note by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen)
A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd (William Morrow)

Congratulations to all the winners and nominated authors.

*Denotes winner

Thursday, 31 October 2019

C M Ewan on Why I Wrote A Window Breaks

Chris Ewan is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of many mystery and thriller novels.  His is also the author of THE GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO …  a series of mystery novels set in Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin.  His first standalone thriller, Safe House was shortlisted for The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. He is also the author of three other thrillers Dead Line, Dark Tides and Long Time Lost

Stories of break-ins and home invasions have always fascinated me. As a kid, I had a recurring nightmare about a series of burglaries in the quiet suburb in Taunton where my family lived. I’m still not sure why. There never was a burglary in the area that I knew of. There were no stories of armed men in balaclavas going from house to house. But those were the visions that crammed my mind in the small hours of the night. And, I guess, like most childhood fears, they’ve lingered on ever since.

The first time I heard about a real-life home invasion actually happening to someone I knew was when I was studying Biology for my A-levels. A student in my class who lived in the countryside came into college shaken up one day. The previous afternoon, she’d been home alone when a stranger had broken into her parent’s place. She’d barricaded herself in her bedroom. The stranger had toured the house, pushed on her bedroom door, tried to get in. She’d pushed back and yelled at him to leave and, thankfully, he had. But the story left me chilled. Imagine being on the other side of the door from a total stranger. Imagine having nowhere to run for help.

Other incidents followed. There was the time when I was at law school in Nottingham and someone followed me into my student house without me knowing it. They swiped my housemate’s car keys and stole her car. It was found burned and abandoned the next day. Then there was the time that same housemate was sleeping over at a friend’s house some months later. She was crashed out on a sofa in the living room and thought it was pretty considerate of the other people in the house to use a torch when they walked by her to use the bathroom in the middle of the night – until she said hello and the burglar who’d broken in jumped in terror and fled the house.

Eventually, it happened to me. I was sharing a flat in London when I got home one evening to find the door to my apartment ajar. I guessed my housemate had forgotten to pull the door closed on its latch first thing that morning. I went in, saw her bedroom door closed ahead of me, thought nothing of it and went to take a shower. I was in the middle of singing a very bad version of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River when I heard a door slam. Embarrassing, I thought. My housemate must have got home and heard me singing. But when I came out of the bathroom, there was nobody there. Hours later, my housemate got home late from work. She knocked on my bedroom door and asked me if by any chance I’d been in her bedroom, ransacked her things, stolen all her jewellery? It wasn’t me (I swear) but it dawned on me pretty quickly that a burglar had been there when I’d come home. Lucky for me, I guess, that I’m such a bad singer, or they might have stuck around.

Just over a decade ago, I took all these stories and experiences and I channelled them into writing a series of comic mysteries about a globetrotting burglar (starting with The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam).

But I never explored my real fear at the heart of all these stories about burglaries and home invasions. Our homes are meant to be safe havens – but what if they’re not?

People are scared of all kinds of different things. There are entire spectrums of phobias. But I think there’s one fear we don’t just all share but we’ve all experienced, too. It’s that haunting moment, very late at night, when you’re fast asleep and then you’re woken by a strange noise in your home. What do you do? Do you get out of bed to investigate? Go room to room, flipping on the lights? Or do you lie in bed, crippled with fear, wondering if you should call someone for help?

That’s the question that led me to write A Window Breaks. The book is a fast, twisting and nerve-shredding exploration of how far one family will go to save themselves when they’re all alone at a remote lodge in the wilds of Scotland and they hear footsteps downstairs in the middle of the night.

What would you do in that situation? Would you run, or would you fight?

A Window Breaks by  C M Ewan (Published by PanMacmillan)
If your family was targeted in the middle of the night, what would you do?  You are asleep. A noise wakes you.  You stir, unsure why, and turn to your wife.  Then you hear it.  Glass. Crunching underfoot.  Your worst fears are about to be realized.  Someone is inside your home.  Your choices are limited. You can run. Or stay and fight. What would you do?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Bad Fire is coming

It’s hard to believe that Quintin Jardine’s Bob Skinner detective series reaches 31, in November.

Scotsman Jardine first introduced his Edinburgh Policeman in 1993, with Skinner’s Rules.

So what’s in store for Bob Skinner in THE BAD FIRE?

Nine years ago, divorcee Marcia Brown took her own life. A pillar of the community, she had been accused of theft, and it’s assumed that she was unable to live with the shame. Now her former husband wants the case reopened. Marcia was framed, he says, to prevent her exposing a scandal. He wants justice for Marcia. And Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate, and daughter of retired Chief Constable Sir Robert Skinner, has taken on the brief, aided by her investigator Carrie McDaniels.

When tragedy strikes and his daughter comes under threat, Skinner steps in. His quarry is about to discover that the road to hell is marked by bad intentions . . .

We’re delighted to provide Shots Reader’s an exclusive extract, the opening of THE BAD FIRE

EXTRACT: Chapter One

By Scottish standards, it was an unusual summer. It had survived the first fortnight in May, continued into June, and was threatening to extend into July. Edinburgh’s city-centre shoppers were sweltering, the nation’s golf courses were turning brown in spite of their automatic watering systems and beach car parks were earning a small fortune for local councils all around the country.

‘Get you,’ June Crampsey laughed, as Bob Skinner walked past the open door of her office on the way to his own, dressed in shorts, sandals and a close-fitting blue T-shirt. ‘Not even the directors of our parent company in Spain dress like that. Nice legs, by the way,’ she added. ‘I don’t recall ever seeing them before.’ He paused. ‘Don’t you start,’ he replied. ‘Trish, the kids’ carer, said I look like the guy from Baywatch.’
‘Which version? David Hasselhoff or Dwayne Johnson?’
‘I like to think she meant the younger one.’
‘Could you do me a selfie?’ the managing editor of the Saltire newspaper asked. ‘I’m thinking of doing a photo feature in the next Sunday edition on unusual office attire. ’‘This doesn’t count as an office day for me; I was here all day yesterday, remember, Sunday or not, talking to Spain about the UK expansion programme. Sarah’s car’s had a recall, so I drove her to work, then thought I’d come in to check my mail.’
She looked at him afresh. ‘I don’t see room for a phone in that skimpy outfit.’
‘Left it at home, didn’t I? The heat must be getting to me, for I’m finding that I quite like being out of touch, from time to time. I don’t think I have been in years, since even before we all started carrying mobiles, or had them wired into our cars.’
‘That explains why your daughter was up here looking for you half an hour back. She asked if you’d call in on her if you showed up.’
‘I thought she was due in the high court this morning.’
‘The trial’s been postponed, she said. The prosecution have offered her client a plea deal.’
Skinner chuckled. ‘Which means that the Crown Office doesn’t think it can get a conviction. Okay, I’ll go down and see her.’
‘Don’t forget that selfie,’ she called after him.

He stepped into his own office; unlike that of his colleague, it looked towards the morning sun. The high-rise block was faced in glass that was meant to be heat-reflecting. It seemed to be doing its job, although the air-conditioning system was working full blast, ruffling the correspondence in his in-tray. Skinner was a part-time executive director of InterMedia, a family-owned company that was the proprietor of the Saltire, as well as titles and radio stations across Spain and Italy. He had been doubtful about the post when it had been offered by his friend Xavi Aislado. After a career in the police service, it had been a radical departure, but he had been persuaded – not least by the substantial salary – to give it a go. To his surprise he had risen to the challenge, to the extent that while his contract specified one day a week, he spent at least three in his office, and had become effectively the managing director of the Saltire, as the board’s British presence.

He spent fifteen minutes reviewing his mail, physical and electronic, and acting on it where urgency was required, then headed for the stairs that led to the office suite he had secured for his daughter as her legal practice grew to the point where it could no longer be run from home or from a law library.
‘Bloody hell!’ Alexis Skinner laughed as her father appeared in her doorway. ‘Why didn’t you just put on budgie-smugglers and be done with it?’

Continue reading THE BAD FIRE by QUINTIN JARDINE from Headline Publishing [available 14th November 2019]

More information available HERE

Text Credit © 2019 Quintin Jardine
Photo Credit © 2019 Chris Close and © 2019 Headline Publishing

Shots Magazine pass thanks to Rosie Margesson of Headline Publishing for providing our readers an exclusive look at the latest Bob Skinner thriller.