Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Former Russian spy fears for his life ...
The man who co-authored a book with poisoned Russian former spy Alexander Litvinenko has cancelled a planned trip to London after being advised by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that his safety may be at risk, the Financial Times has reported.
Yuri Felshtinsky, a US-based Russian historian, was due to attend the launch of the new edition of Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within-- the book he penned with Litvinenko -- in London, with an accompanying press conference and interviews.
His British publisher said, however, that the event had been postponed indefinitely after receiving an e-mail from Felshtinsky mentioning the FBI’s advice.
The book argues that the Federal Security Services (FSB) -- a successor to the KGB -- co-ordinated a series of blasts in Moscow and other Russian cities in 1999.
"When the book was first written, everyone thought Litvinenko's claims were ludicrous," Martin Rynja, the book's publisher, was quoted as saying by the business daily.
"Now people want to know what he stood for, which is why we are publishing it. It does seem now that if you are opposed to the KGB or its successors you are in trouble."
The explosions, which took place over a two-month period, are thought to have killed more than 300 people.
Russian authorities blamed Chechen separatists and allegedly used the blasts as an excuse for a renewed offensive against the breakaway former Soviet republic of Chechnya.
The book also claims that the Russian secret services organised a number of assassinations and kidnappings.
It rose to prominence following Litvinenko's murder -- he was poisoned with the radioactive substance polonium-210 in November -- with copies of the book selling for up to 30 times their original price over the Internet.
Litvinenko accused Russia of being behind his murder in a deathbed letter, a charge the Kremlin has denied.
Hat tip: LONDON (AFP)
Val McDermid on the Radio
What could be more fun on a winter Sunday afternoon than to gather round the wireless with the family to listen to the BBC? Especially when it's Radio 4 Book Club featuring our very own Val McDermid?
Yes, at 4pm on Sunday February 4th (repeated on Thursday February 6th at 4pm) Val will be talking to host Jim Naughtie and an audience in Manchester about her landmark Gold Dagger-winning novel, The Mermaids Singing. If you can't pick up Radio 4, you can listen live at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/. And if you want to listen to it at a later date, it's available for a month via the Listen Again facility at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/bookclub/.
Val said, 'I was thrilled to be asked to take part in Book Club. I'm a great admirer of the show and of James Naughtie as an interviewer. I was a bit nervous beforehand, because you never know what sort of questions a live audience will throw at you. But we had great fun on the day, and I found it very interesting to revisit a book I wrote a dozen years ago. I hope you get the chance to listen to it, and that you will enjoy it.'
Hatip: Val McDermid Newsletter
Monday, 29 January 2007
Crime writer set to make waves with latest Marine Mystery
Pauline Rowson and her marine mysteries are fast becoming a household name and her third thriller In For The Kill is set to establish her as one of the up and coming crime writers in the UK. (Publication date 5 February 2007). Top UK booksellers have hailed Hampshire crime writer Pauline Rowson as ‘the crime writer to watch,’ and ‘one who is clearly going places’. Her writing has been described as ‘sharp as a punch in the ribs,’ ‘attention-grabbing’ and ‘compulsive’.
In For The Kill is a fast-paced, atmospheric novel and the third in Pauline’s Marine Mystery series that was launched in February 2006 with her first two novels Tide of Death, and In Cold Daylight both of which are set in the Solent area. Tide of Death has been chosen by Amazon as one of the Best Reads of 2006 crime fiction alongside big named authors like Ian Rankin.
In For The Kill is being featured in a Borders, Books etc. and Waterstones promotion throughout February and March, and Pauline is undertaking a number of book signings and talks. Translation rights have been sold to Indonesia and In For The Kill is also on sale in South Africa and South East Asia. Interest has already been expressed in this and her other marine mysteries by film and television and overseas publishers.
Pauline lives on Hayling Island with her ex fire fighter husband, Bob, and enjoys thinking out the plots to her novels when she is sailing with her husband on their small yacht.
In For The Kill is published on 5 February 2007 by Fathom in paperback and retails in the UK at £6.99.
Friday, 26 January 2007
REBUS and I - Ian Rankin reveals all (well, for the sake of decency not quite all)
There will be one detective it will be hard to escape in 2007.
From a brand new edition of his first recorded case in March to the publication of his final case in October, there will be television shows, exhibitions, new reading guides to the backlist and even, appropriately, special edition beer and whisky.
The detective is of course Inspector John Rebus of Lothian and Borders CID.
Rebus has reached retiral age and, despite the attempts of Scottish Parliament MP Helen Eadie to extend the serving age of police officers to guarantee more books, it is time to hang up his handcuffs.
2007 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Rebus novel, "Knots and Crosses", and author Ian Rankin has made long-standing promise to himself to finish the series in its 20th year.
"I think I’m just going to treat it as another book. I don’t think I’m going to tie up loose ends like his relationship with Big Ger Cafferty (the Edinburgh gangster who is Rebus’s long-standing nemesis)," Ian revealed.
As for Rebus, Ian suspects at the end of the book he will just walk away without a "Reichenbach Falls moment" — as when fellow Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle killed off his detective, if only temporarily as it turned out.
Before they discover whether Rebus retires from the scene gracefully and otherwise, and whether the incorrigible Fifer manages to cope with the ban on smoking now in force in Scottish pubs - even his beloved Oxford Bar, there is one penultimate Rebus book to enjoy and it is a good one.
Scottish novelist and critic Alan Massie, Ian's former tutor at Edinburgh University, has even gone as far as to suggest it is his best book yet and certainly events in Scotland's capital last year presented Rankin with an irresistible backdrop to the 16th Rebus novel, "The Naming of the Dead."
Thursday, 25 January 2007
INSPECTOR STEINE on BBC radio 4
Tune into BBC RADIO 4 (available on the net as well) as publishing sensation Lynne Truss returns to her first love – radio – with this irresistible comedy-drama series set in her home city of Brighton at a time when both piers were still standing. The cast includes Michael Fenton Stevens as Inspector Steine (pronounce it Steen) and Jan Ravens as Mrs Groynes, with Matt Green (Twitten) and John Ramm (Brunswick)..
Brighton in the Fifties was a place of knickerbocker glories, theatrical landladies, end-of-the-pier shows, seaside photographers and an enormous number of unsolved crimes. And just why were so many crimes unsolved in Brighton during the Fifties? Step forward celebrity policeman Inspector Steine.
Steine believed there wasn't a crime problem in Brighton because he'd wiped all the villains out at a single stroke on 12 June 1951, the day of the so-called Middle Street Massacre, when 17 local hoodlums met in Middle Street and gunned each other to death.
A film was made of the massacre which turned Inspector Steine into an overnight sensation; thousands tuned into his radio broadcasts. However, Steine's long-suffering sergeant, Brunswick, remembers things differently. He recalls that it wasn't Steine who arranged the shoot-out because, at the time, he was with him eating knickerbocker glories in the local ice-cream parlour. But then if it wasn't Steine, who was it?
The cast throughout the series also includes Carla Mendonca, David Holt, Michael Roberts, Allan Corduner, Carolyn Backhouse, Jason Hughes, Kim Wall, Janet Ellis and Ewan Bailey. Producer is Karen Rose. With music by Anthony May.
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
John Connolly News
VOICES FROM THE DARK 2
Taken from the John Connolly Newsletter. Sign up for more news on John’s upcoming tours, news and more.
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
MICHAEL CAINE TO WRITE A THRILLER - not a lot of people know that
He says, "I am writing a contemporary thriller about terrorism and I wrote my autobiography a while back. I so enjoyed it I've been doing it ever since. Everybody is supposed to have one book in them and I thought I would see if I've got two."
Born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in Rotherithe, South London in 1933, The former Billingsgate fish market worker turned actor came to fame for his portrayal as the eponymous Alfie. And don’t forget that immortal line from the Italian Job: “You were only supposed to blow the bloody DOORS off”.
It was a dodgy start for the young blond-haired Cockney. He went to Joan Littlewood's left-wing Theatre Workshop in the East End, attempting to win a part in their Christmas production of Dickens' The Chimes. Littlewood urged him to immerse himself in his character, to use the Stanislavsky Method, but eventually gave up on him, dismissing him with a withering "Piss off to Shaftesbury Avenue. You will only ever be a star".
Monday, 22 January 2007
MWA 2007 EDGAR NOMINATIONS
The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (HarperCollins)
The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Dead Hour by Denise Mina (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company)
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Random House – Ballantine Books)
The Liberation Movements by Olen Steinhauer (St. Martin's Minotaur)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson (Random House)
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Crown - Shaye Areheart Books)
King of Lies by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur – Thomas Dunne Books)
Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith (St. Martin's Minotaur)
A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (Warner Books – Mysterious Press)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto (Europa Editions)
The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson (Coffee House Press)
Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara (Bantam Dell Publishing – Delta Books)
The Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine (Bantam Dell Publishing – Bantam Books)
City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate (Penguin Group – Riverhead Books)
BEST FACT CRIME
Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger (W.W. Norton and Co.)
Finding Amy: A True Story of Murder in Maine by Capt. Joseph K. Loughlin & Kate Clark Flora (University Press of New England)
Ripperology: A Study of the World's First Serial Killer by Robin Odell (The Kent State University Press)
The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower (Dutton)
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir by John T. Irwin (Johns Hopkins University Press)
The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear by E.J. Wagner (John Wiley & Sons)
BEST SHORT STORY
"The Home Front" – Death Do Us Part by Charles Ardai (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)
"Rain" – Manhattan Noir by Thomas H. Cook (Akashic Books)
"Cranked" – Damn Near Dead by Bill Crider (Busted Flush Press)
"White Trash Noir" – Murder at the Foul Line by Michael Malone (Hachette Book Group – Mysterious Press)
"Building" – Manhattan Noir by S.J. Rozan (Akashic Books)
Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison (Penguin Young Readers – Sleuth/Dutton)
The Stolen Sapphire: A Samantha Mystery by Sarah Masters Buckey (American Girl Publishing)
Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
The Bloodwater Mysteries: Snatched by Pete Hautman & Mary Logue (Penguin Young Readers – Sleuth/Putnam)
The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer (Penguin Young Readers – Philomel/Sleuth)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks (Scholastic – The Chicken House)
The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson (Penguin YR – Sleuth/Viking)
Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks (Simon & Schuster – Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum)
Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready (Penguin YR – Dutton Children's Books)
The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci (Harcourt Children's Books)
Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Steven Dietz (Arizona Theatre Company)
Curtains by Rupert Holmes (Ahmanson Theatre)
Ghosts of Ocean House by Michael Kimball (The Players' Ring)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
The Closer – "Blue Blood", Teleplay by James Duff & Mike Berchem (Turner Network Television)
Dexter – "Crocodile", Teleplay by Clyde Phillips (Showtime)
House – "Clueless", Teleplay by Thomas L. Moran (Fox/NBC Universal)
Life on Mars – Episode 1, Teleplay by Matthew Graham (BBC America)
Monk – "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink", Teleplay by Hy Conrad (USA Network/NBC Universal)
BEST TELEVISION FEATURE/MINI-SERIES TELEPLAY
Conviction, Teleplay by Bill Gallagher (BBC America)
Cracker: A New Terror, Teleplay by Jimmy McGovern (BBC America)
Messiah: The Harrowing, Teleplay by Terry Cafolla (BBC America)
Secret Smile, Teleplay by Kate Brooke, based on the book by Nicci French (BBC America)
The Wire, Season 4, Teleplays by Ed Burns, Kia Corthron, Dennis Lehane, David Mills, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon & William F. Zorzi (Home Box Office)
BEST MOTION PICTURE SCREENPLAY
Casino Royale, Screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Paul Haggis, based on novel by Ian Fleming (MGM)
Children of Men, Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, based on a novel by P.D. James (Universal Pictures
The Departed, Screenplay by William Monahan (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Good Shepherd, Teleplay by Eric Roth (Universal Pictures)
Notes on a Scandal, Screenplay by Patrick Marber (Scott Rudin Productions)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
William Dylan Powell
"Evening Gold" – EQMM November 2006 (Dell Magazines)
Books & Books (Mitchell Kaplan, owner)
Mystery Loves Company Bookstore (Kathy & Tom Harig, owners)
Mike Ripley's GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER
2007 looks like being a successful year for one of the most popular people in the crime writing biz, handsome hunk Sven Martyn Waites. You've got to check out our cheeky chappie at GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER
Woolworths becomes a big book player
This week, via its Entertainment UK division (EUK), it bought the renowned wholesaler and library supplier Bertrams. Founded by Elsie Bertram from her garden shed in the 1960s, Bertrams revolutionised the supply chain, enabling booksellers to order an unmatchable range of titles for next-day delivery.
The Norwich-based business has been through rocky patches, but this £29m deal sees it join former rival THE to form a group supplying Tesco, Sainsbury's and numerous websites - as well as thousands of independents. Publishers will be concerned: although such consolidation was inevitable, this will pile yet more pressure on trading terms.
Death of Diana - now comes the book
In July, the month before the 10th anniversary of the Paris crash, Transworld will publish The Accident Man by Tom Cain (the pseudonym of a "well-known investigative journalist"). The book stars an assassin who ordinarily targets "bad people", but who realises, after engineering a car accident, that he has been set up to murder the royal. The branch of Waterstone's at Harrods - the store owned by Dodi Fayed's father, Mohamed Al Fayed - has not yet decided whether to stock the book.
I really wish we could get over this obsession with Princess Diana. !0 years on and the media still keeps her in the public eye. Okay, I felt sad when she died, it was a big loss; not just of a member of the Royal family but primarily of a wife and mother. But being a cynical old bugger, I remember at the time wondering who would be first to write a conspiracy-based factional account. There is even a website devoted to the conspiracy.
And as the enquiry finally reports that is was an accident, four million pounds of tax payer’s money wasted, what can we expect next? The film of the book? And don’t talk about bad taste. We’ve had adaptations of the crucifixion of Christ, the last days of Hilter, the atrocities in Rwanda, and both World Wars filmed from everyone’s perspective. Let her Rest in Peace.
Thursday, 18 January 2007
25,000 Free Books Flood Edinburgh In February
One Book - One Edinburgh aims to get as many Edinburgh citizens as possible reading this exciting adventure story – on their own initiative, or through libraries, schools and book groups. The campaign is supported by more than 30 partner organisations from across the city with a large public programme of events backing up the reading campaign in February.
Three new editions of Stevenson's great adventure story have been created - a paperback, a fantastic new graphic novel and a simplified version. Of the 25,000, there will be 10,000 copies of the original text with a preface by Louise Welsh in a beautiful new paperback edition from Canongate. In a major coup for Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature there will also be 7,500 copies of a specially commissioned graphic novel by internationally renowned comic book artists, author Alan Grant and illustrator Cam Kennedy, who between them have created classics of the genre such as Judge Dredd, Batman Legends of the Dark Knight and two series of Star Wars graphics. Finally there are 7,500 copies of a simplified retold edition created especially for a younger audience.
Free copies of the three editions of the book will be distributed across the city in February to every primary and secondary school, to every public library and to partner organisations. From 1st February, members of the public can drop into their local library to claim a free copy while stocks last.
Ali Bowden, Manager of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, said “Kidnapped, the epic adventure of young David Balfour, is a fantastic story set in one of the most dramatic periods of Scotland’s history and !Stevenson is a great Edinburgh author. We are very excited to be bringing this wonderful book to an Edinburgh readership in these new formats. The different editions will appeal to different readers, and will enable us to reach the widest possible audience.”
Gavin Wallace, Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council, said “We are absolutely delighted to be funding this exciting campaign through the National Lottery. It is the first of its kind in Scotland and is a totally collaborative project with one single aim – to get Edinburgh reading.”
Barclay Price, Director of Arts & Business Scotland, said “This is a terrific project and I am delighted that Arts & Business has been able to match the sponsorship of Third Eye Design with a Scottish Executive New Arts Sponsorship Award to enable the commissioning of the graphic novel version.”The public programme totals more than 30 events, including exhibitions, a literary walking tour following in Stevenson’s footsteps and a series of readings in conjunction with the National Library of Scotland, the first of which will take place on 1st February when Ian Rankin joins others to discuss the gothic, the criminal and Stevenson. For a younger audience, Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, has scripted an irreverent and cheeky take on the Kidnapped story – When Kilts Were Banned – storytelling theatre with the bare essentials wit, humour, falling out, friendship and growing up – but no kilts. The 1971 classic film of the story, starring Michael Caine and Donald Pleasence, will be shown at the Filmhouse on 24th February. The full programme of events can be found on the City of Literature website (http://www.cityofliterature.com/) or on the leaflet which will be distributed throughout the city from January.
Wot no free Rebus giveaways, then?
The Costa book awards (formerly the Whitbread book awards)
Winner of the Costa Award for Best First Novel
One author of interest to the crime genre is Stef Penny, published by the young Turks at Quercus. Stef was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She studied at Bristol University before turning to script writing and film-making. She was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. The characters in The Tenderness of Wolves originally started life in a screenplay and during a period of unemployment, Stef decided that they had become something much more complex than a screenplay format could cope with and so decided to write a novel – which she did in secret.
On leaving university, Stef became agoraphobic and could barely travel. She couldn’t fly and has never been to Canada. This inability to visit far flung countries made her all the more fascinated by them. She researched all the places mentioned in the book at The British Library – using information from the Hudson Bay Company employees that goes back a couple of centuries. Through the central character in the book, Mrs Ross, Stef explores what it would have been like to have been agoraphobic in the past when there would have been no treatment available. Happily, Stef has now recovered from her own agoraphobia.
If you missed The Tenderness of Wolves in hardback, then buy the paperback out this March Quercus, £7.99
Restless by William BoydJudges: "Beautifully crafted. Boyd gives us a page-turner, despite the story's complex wartime intrigue. Restless is packed with riveting detail: it is a novel reeking of authenticity."
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef PenneyJudges: "The Tenderness of Wolves is atmospheric, gripping and compassionate and perfectly evokes the snowy wastes of 19th century Canada."
Keeping Mum by Brian Thompson Judges: "From a loveless wartime childhood comes a generous and loveable memoir written from a child's-eye view. Utterly lacking in self-pity, it's laugh-out-loud funny."
Letter to Patience by John HaynesJudges: "A vivid, thoughtful and multi-faceted verse-letter, which moves skilfully between life in post-colonial Nigeria and England."
Set in Stone by Linda Newbery Judges: "A novel of intrigue and deception. Newbery's landscape is a joy to walk into."
Saving Caravaggio by Neil Griffiths Judges: "A powerful and discomforting story of one man's obsession and its consequences. A thriller with real momentum and atmospheric force."
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon Judges: "An absolute pleasure to read, with a lightness of touch overlaying real insight into chaotic family life."
Black Swan Green by David Mitchell Judges: "A telling and touching account of a vanishing childhood, with all its impossibilities and its comedies."
First novel award
The Meaning of Night by Michael CoxJudges: "Michael Cox's recreation of the underbelly of Victorian high society brings a great revenge tale to life. It is a powerful achievement of research, style and plotting."
Cloth Girl by Marilyn Heward MillsJudges: "Cloth Girl is remarkably self-assured for a first novel. It brings the gold coast of Africa and the pre-war colonial world to life - it is warm, vibrant and moving."
The Amnesia Clinic by James ScudamoreJudges: "This delightful book about the friendship between two boys in Ecuador is full of tall tales and fantasy. The line between reality and bizarre fiction is always blurred, always mesmerising."
George Mackay Brown : The Life by Maggie Fergusson Judges: "Maggie Fergusson's extraordinary biography illuminates the life of a neglected genius and the place that inspired him. Even if you're unfamiliar with George Mackay Brown, it's a captivating read."
Donne: A Reformed Soul by John Stubbs Judges: "A vivid portrait of John Donne and his world: the religious turmoil, political intrigues, the sex and the violence. A majestic read and everything you want from a literary biography."
Nabeel's Song by Jo Tatchell Judges: "After the most dramatic opening of any of the books on the shortlist, Nabeel's Song evokes the lost world of Iraq before Saddam, as well as the terrors that ensued. This beautifully-written book reminds us that poetry is stronger than tyranny."
The Book of Blood by Vicki FeaverJudges: "Fierce poems with striking imagery and fine control ofpace and tone."
District and Circle by Seamus HeaneyJudges: "Elegiac and contemporary - haunting and haunted poems of immense intelligence and freshness."
Dear Room by Hugo WilliamsJudges: "Elegantly crafted poems which have an emotional narrative that is both wistful and raw."
Children's book award
Clay by David Almond Judges: "Clay is a powerful, moving and unusual story which works on every level. It is beautifully and plainly written, and comes straight from the heart."
The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding Judges: "A rollicking 18th century theatrical romp with a fantastically feisty heroine."
Just In Case by Meg Rosoff Judges: "A razor-sharp portrait of a teenage boy and his relationship with his image, his inner life and fate itself."
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
HITCHCOCK TO STAR IN NEW FILM
Then I got to thinking why hasn’t there been a film with Hitchcock as a character? Some biopic on the lad from Leytonstone, East London making good would be of great interest. But then, lo and behold, I found out that there is a film about to go into production with Hitchcock as a character set in 1922 at the time he was making Number 13, a rare film in that he did not complete it.
First time feature filmmaker Chase Palmer, who also penned the script, gathers an impressive cast including Dan Fogler, Ewan McGregor, Ben Kingsley, and Emily Mortimer for this fictional thriller about a torrid murder mystery in which the prime suspect is director Alfred Hitchcock (Fogler).
As Hitchcock struggles to keep the production on his latest film "Number Thirteen" afloat, he becomes inexorably involved in a love triangle involving two key crew members. When the male lead of the film turns up dead and the editor suspects that the director was involved in the murder, the race is on to solve the crime before the killer can strike again.
The film will be financed by Union Square Entertainment, whose principals, Jason Berk and Matt Lane, will produce with Gail Mutrux. Shooting begins in February 2007..
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK REVIEW?
Today I am going to tell you how to write a book review.
I am constantly surprised by the number of people I meet who have never written a book review, or, if they have, did not realise they were doing it at the time.
It is different with novels.
All of you, of course, will have written a novel by now.
Some of you may even have had it published and remaindered.
So you will know all about the art of fiction, which consists in telling the reader about your characters.
But what is book reviewing about?
Book review writing is very much the same, except that instead of telling people about characters, the idea is to tell the reader all about YOU.
But surely, I hear you protest, the idea of writing a book review is to tell the reader all about the book under review, and the writer.
Oh, please. This is no time for naivete.
When you sit down to write a book review, you have five vital things to communicate.
a) How it represents a falling off from the author's previous book or books. (eg. "For reasons best known to herself, she has abandoned her hitherto successful family studies...")
b) How it reminds you of other writers, usually better. (eg. "We are in Zadie Smith country here, with a dash of Martin Amis...")
c) How you would have written the book differently if it had been up to you. ("There must have been times when she had severe doubts about having three separate narrators...")
d) What is wrong with the cover. ("The jacket design would look good on a history of Venice. This book, however, is meant to be a study of the psychology of art theft...")
e) How, despite everything, the book is well worth reading. ("But despite everything, I think the book is worth reading...")
That sounds as if you are writing about the book.
You are not.
You are writing about yourself.
What you are saying is:-
a) YOU have dutifully read other stuff by the same author.
b)You have read stuff by other authors.
c) You are a better author than this author.
d) And a better artist.
e) But you are filled with good-hearted generosity.
Evelyn Waugh once said that the golden rule of book reviewing is that you should never give a bad review to a book you have not read. This is now seen as rather old-fashioned and romantic. No book reviewer ever has time to read the whole book, not for the money they are paying you. The vital thing is to give the impression that you HAVE read the whole book.
This can easily be done by only quoting from near the end of the book.
And by pointing out an error.
"Proof reading is not what it used to be, and too many basic errors have crept in. The Battle of Lepanto was, of course, in 1571, not 1471, as the author would have us believe."
You have to find an error first, of course. If you can't, don't worry; make one up. I knew a reviewer who wrote "Jerome K Jerome's middle name was, of course, Klapka, not Kafka" in at least twenty different reviews of books which had never once mentioned Jerome K Jerome, till he was finally rumbled.
P.D. JAMES novelist and screenwriters win award for CHILDREN OF MEN
Clive Owen and Michael Caine star in the story of a world where women have become infertile. The acclaimed Universal Pictures has earned £11 million pounds to date at the North American box office.
For more film and DVD news check out Peter Guttridge’s monthly column SCREEN CRIME
KENT AT THE DOUBLE
The father and son team, the latter a military historian, and classicist will also write two novels set during the reign of Alexander the Great, about an exiled Athenian aristocrat who leads a small band of Greek mercenaries who join a group of Scythians led by a beautiful warrior princess, and eventually engage in battle with Alexander, again opttioned by Bill Massey at Orion, for publication beginning in 2008,
Cameron previously wrote Washington and Caesar which was Inspired by a little-known historical fact—that American slaves fought alongside the British in the Revolutionary War—this epic novel tells of a Mount Vernon slave who joins a Loyalist black regiment charged with defeating his former master on the battlefield.
I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE ...
Film rights to Alan Cowell's SASHA'S STORY: The Life and Death of a Russian Spy have been snapped up by Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil producing alongside Warner Bros. Warners paid an unspecified sum
The movie about the death of Litvinenko, who was murdered in November after being slipped a fatal dose of polonium-210. has Depp on board to produce and possibly star.
Alan Cowell is the New York Times London bureau chief. He has been on the Litvinenko beat since the story broke just before Thanksgiving. He is expected to take a leave of absence from the Times to write about how the former secret agent for Russia's FSB—the successor to the Soviet Union's infamous KGB—became disenchanted with the Kremlin and turned into one of the country's most outspoken critics, living in the U.K., where he suffered a painful, baffling demise at the hands of unknown assassins.
But hot on Warners' heels is Sony's Columbia Pictures, which outbid Warners for the rights to a competing book about the headline-grabbing crime—possibly the most intriguing spy mystery since the end of the Cold War—for Michael Mann to adapt and helm.
The radiation poisoning, which Litvinenko blamed on Russian president Putin from his deathbed (an allegation fiercely denied by Moscow), triggered an ongoing probe by British counterterrorism officials that has spread to a handful of countries in Europe where traces of the polonium have been found.
Mann, who teamed with Columbia to snatch the film rights to Death of a Dissident, a book being written by Litvinenko's close friend and spokesman Alex Goldfarb and his widow, Marina Litvinenko. So don’t get that confused with the one written by Stuart M. Kaminsky. Columbia beat Warners, Universal and Paramount during an auction, paying $500,000 upfront and promising another $1.5 million once the production begins, based on little more than a four-page proposal and sample chapter.
Mann will write the screenplay for the real-life spy caper and is slated to direct and produce through his Forward Pass shingle in association with producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher at Red Wagon. Death of a Dissident is expected to focus heavily on Litvinenko's private life as well as his dealings with the increasingly powerful FSB, Putin's ascension to Kremlin boss and the sketchy interplay of Russian oligarchs and the country's mafia.
Other books on the case are also in the works. Random House is releasing Polonium, by Wall Street Journal scribe Steve LeVine (who was once reporting partners with the late Daniel Pearl in Pakistan) and Litvinenko's 2002 memoir, Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plan to Bring Back KGB Terror, is slated to be reissued later this year.
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
Announcing the London Book Fair
Ali, Ayo Onatade and myself went to the fair last year and had a good time. Even getting to pose with The Hoff (well, I pushed my way into the background in the photo, that's my claim to fame).
It’s a great place to meet everyone in the industry, knock back a couple of beers and generally shoot the breeze with others who are as enthusiastic as we are. Check out the report from 2006. If you get the chance, go along. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Plus there are plenty of freebies to be had.
Monday, 15 January 2007
On the Small Screen
Starring Olivia Colman (That Mitchell & Webb Look, Green Wing), Daisy Donovan (Daisy Does America), Billy Murray (EastEnders) and Daniel Ryan (The Government Inspector) and directed by Declan O'Dwyer (Robin Hood) it tells the story of a man driven to an extreme course of action as he attempts to escape the humdrum of his respectable but boring life.
The Grey Man was originally a Quick Read written by McNab as part of the BBC's RAW (Reading and Writing Campaign) and will be shown on World Book Day, 1 March 2007.
Quick Reads was launched on World Book Day, 2 March 2006, with the aim of reaching out to the millions of adults in the UK with reading difficulties and the one-third of the British population that never picks up a book. They are specially written, many of them by best-selling authors and popular personalities, for both reluctant readers and for avid readers wanting a short, fast-paced read.
Coming Spring 2007 BBC 2
Viewers are transported back to Seventies London, the age of the supergrass – and the men who "ran" them – in this feature-length docu-drama.
With insight from real-life major players, Supergrass illuminates a world that seems a million miles away, yet is in fact near history.
It explores the grey area that existed between the underworld and Scotland Yard, where supergrasses were the only way to crack the gangs who were causing havoc in Sweeney London.
From 1972, through its heyday years, to the chaos that ensued when the system fell foul of different agendas, Supergrass tells the stories of dramatic crimes and outrageous criminals.
It features figures such as Bertie Smalls and Maurice O'Maloney, as well as the detectives who "ran" the grasses, such as Tony Lundy – the supergrass master who kept grasses under control but was always under suspicion of having a too cosy relationship with the villains.
Supergrass is the story of policing at a time when rules were sketchy and frequently broken.
There IS Life on Mars!
COMING SOON: BBC ONE - FIVE DAYS
US TV gave us 24 and now BBC TV returns the favour with Five Days (transmission date to be confirmed). This gripping, multi-stranded thriller, by Gwyneth Hughes, tracks five 24-hour periods following the abduction of an attractive young mother.
Saturday, 13 January 2007
Last Week's Lovereading.co.uk Top Ten Downloads
2. The Venus Fix by M.J. Rose
3. Restless by William Boyd
4. Saving Caravaggio by Neil Griffiths
5. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
6. Keeping Mum by Brian Thompson
7. The Amnesia Clinic by James Scudamore
8. The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
9. The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
10. Cloth Girl by Marilyn Heward Mills
Jack Getze is finally published
Here’s a short synopsis of BIG NUMBERS:
Three weeks ago, stockbroker Austin Carr's home was a truck-mounted camper. Behind in alimony and child-support payments, Carr was desperate to earn his children back and escape the Jersey Shore 's third-rate stock and bond trade.
But life has gotten worse. Now he's about to be murdered, tied to a live, six-hundred-pound Giant Bluefin tuna.
For more information about Jack Getze and his novel, visit:
For Jack’s full bio, visit:
James Twining's third Tom Kirk Thriller
New crime buy for Quercus
Publisher Sue Freestone has taken on Elena Forbes, a former investment banker whose debut Die With Me will introduce readers to DI Mark Tartaglia and pathologist Fiona Blake. The novel is set in the London suburb of Barnes, which in Forbes’ hands is “as vivid as Morse’s Oxford”, while Tartaglia has “the charisma and complexity of a Rebus or Wexford”. The book is part of “a very decent” two-book deal, and independent TV production company Windfall, which is pitching a documentary about the making of a bestseller, is filming Forbes as she goes through the editorial process.
Alex Gray's debut, THE RIVERMAN has been likened to Ian Rankin: "Brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evoked Edinburgh," says the Daily Mail.
The novel features a dynamic new Scottish detective named DCI Lorimer who is drawn into an investigation that encompasses Glasgow to New York and rural America. It is published this April from Sphere books in the UK complete with the Rankin-esque cover.
Allan Guthrie emailed me to point out an error in my post on Alex Gray. He said,
“Just thought I'd mention that Alex Gray and DCI Lorimer debuted in 2003! This one may well be the first with her new publisher (previously she was at Allison & Busby and, before that, Canongate).”
Thanks for putting me right, Allan. So I had to investigate this and found out that Alex had written about DCI Lorimer in Never Somewhere Else (Canongate) 2003, A Small Weeping (A&B) 2004 and Shadow of Sounds (A&B) May 2006. The Riverman is being published by Sphere.
And the conclusion? Never wholly trust publicity handouts.
Marcus Barr's debuts with HAGGARD HAWK
Pen Press are the same outfit who publish Colin Campbell.
Friday, 12 January 2007
The myth of the 'unfilmable' novel
With 'Perfume' finally making it to the big screen, Will Gore considers other supposedly unfilmmable novels.
Will Gore Jan 10 2007 © Time Out
With the recent arrival of 'Perfume: The Story of a Murderer' in cinemas, perhaps the myth of the 'unfilmable' novel can finally be laid to rest.
David Shelley promoted at Little, Brown
CRIME WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION 2007 CARTIER DIAMOND DAGGER WINNER
The presentation of the award, made for sustained excellence in the genre of crime writing, will be made by M. Arnaud Bamberger of Cartier and will take place at a champagne reception at the Savoy Hotel in early May 2007.
JOHN HARVEY has been described as "one of the masters of British crime fiction" by the Sunday Telegraph, and "one of the leading writers of crime fiction alive today" by Le Monde. He was born in 1938 in north London, where, after several lengthy sojourns in Nottingham, he continues to live. Like many successful writers, he learned his trade writing pulp fiction - including many westerns. He has close to one hundred published titles to his credit and his latest, ‘Gone to Ground’ will be published by in February 2007 by William Heinemann.
Harvey is best known for his critically-acclaimed sequence of Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, ‘Lonely Hearts’, was named by The Times as one of the Hundred Best Crime Novels of the Last Century. The second novel, ‘Rough Treatment’, was shortlisted for the CWA Gold and Silver Dagger for Fiction, and the final book in the series, ‘Last Rites’, won the first ever Sherlock Award for Best Detective Created by a British Author.
In April 2000, ‘Cold Light’ was awarded the Grand Prix du Roman Noir Étranger at the Cognac International Festival. More recently, ‘Flesh and Blood’, the first of a new series of novels featuring retired police detective Frank Elder, won the CWA Silver Dagger for Fiction and, in the United States, the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel of 2004. His work has also been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the CWA Dagger in the Library, and the French CWA Award for Best Foreign Novel.
John Harvey wins the Cartier Diamond Dagger in its twenty-second year. Previous winners include Elmore Leonard, Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Colin Dexter, Ed McBain, Reginald Hill, Ellis Peters, Leslie Charteris, Ruth Rendell, Dick Francis, John Le Carré, and PD James.
When told of his win, Mr Harvey said: "My reaction to hearing I was to be the recipient of the next Diamond Dagger? Gobsmacked. Absolutely, totally taken by surprise. And then, of course, delight. It was all I could do not to waltz out into the street and accost any stray passers-by with the news. Instead, I calmed myself down with a strong cup of coffee, phoned my editor at Random House, and relaxed under a small tide of congratulatory e-mails and phone calls. It is a terrific honour, coming, as it does, from my fellow scribblers and scriveners, whose judgement I value perhaps above all others - and to see my name added to a list which includes so many leading exponents of the craft."
In addition to being a novelist, Harvey is also a scriptwriter, poet, and occasional broadcaster. In 1992, Harvey’s screenplay for 'Resnick: Lonely Hearts’, won a Bronze Medal in the Best TV Drama Series section at The New York Festivals and in 1999, his dramatisation of Graham Greene’s ‘The End of The Affair’, was runner-up in the Sony Radio Drama Awards. In addition to his own Resnick stories, his work for radio includes dramatisations of Graham Greene’s ‘The Heart of the Matter’, ‘The Frederica Quartet’ by A. S. Byatt, and, most recently, the dramatisation, with Shelley Silas, of Paul Scott’s ‘The Raj Quartet.’
For further information on John Harvey, to discuss publicity, or to request an interview, please contact Aislinn Casey, Publicity Manager at William Heinemann on: 020 7840 8616 or e-mail:
Forbes Releases List of Top-Earning Authors for 2006
Old news but still of interest:
Forbes Magazine released its annual list of top-earning authors. Heading the group in sales this year is Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. With 20 million copies in print in the U.S. alone, the title is now the best-selling book of the decade. Brown banked $88 million last year, ranking him first among top-earning authors and 10th on the overall Forbes’s most influential entertainment list, the “Celebrity 100” (which also includes motion picture stars and celebrities). To be included among these most powerful names in business, however, takes more than a fat paycheck. It is also based on what Hollywood calls “sizzle.” So, not all top-earning authors are on the Celebrity list. All sales are for the 12 month period ending in July 2006.J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, earned $75 million last year from book sales, film royalties and merchandising, placing her as number two among authors and number 19 on the Celebrity list. Forbes says that Rowling is the world’s first author billionaire. Author James Patterson ranked number three among top authors and number 66 on the Celebrity, earning $28 million this year. His last 16 books have been bestsellers and he has grossed more than $1 billion in sales on all titles with more than 100 million books in print, according to Forbes. Several of his books have been adapted for film. Bestselling novelist John Grisham published his first ever non-fiction title this year, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, which has occupied nonfiction bestseller lists since its release in October. Film rights have already been optioned by George Clooney. Grisham’s books earned him $21 million this year.For a detailed list of authors, visit Forbes Magazine at www.forbes.com
On the Film Front
Touting Mel Brooks as the creator, the big-screen version of the classic 1960s TV series GET SMART is planned to start shooting in Spring 2007. Ann Hathaway plays Agent 99 and Steve Carrell as Maxwell Smart (and also produces). At the helm is Peter Segal who gave us The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management and Nutty Professor II. Thank God he didn’t inflict Ben Stiller on us in the role of Maxwell. Don Adams himself starred in first "Get Smart" movie, 1980's The Nude Bomb, which was nothing but a bomb at the box office. Adams died on Sept. 25 2005.
And here’s something to look forward to
Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra
The plotline: John Rambo has been living a secluded lifestyle in Bangkok and salvaging old boats and tanks for scrap for twelve years. But when a group of volunteer aid workers bringing supplies into Burma disappear, a relative of one of the missing missionaries begs Rambo to find them. He heads off with a small team of aspiring heroes to locate and rescue them. Sly is back as John Rambo and directs, the screenplay is by Art Monterastelli based on David Morrell’s characters.
Boston Teran’s award-winning GOD IS A BULLET is being made into a film. All that is known so far is that Nick (son of John) Cassavetes will direct and has written the screenplay. Previously directed films include Alpha Dog and Unhook the Stars. We won’t mention his foray into porn films, eh?
DONE DEALS ROUND UP
Michael Genelin's LADY OF THE WATERS and BLACK DREAMS, featuring a female commander of the Slovak police force who has lived through great conflict -- including a regime change, and an ill-fated marriage to a revolutionary -- in order to become a legendary homicide investigator, to Soho Press.
Putman (US) has picked up Luis Miguel Rocha's THE LAST POPE, classed as a thriller is about the suspicious death of Pope John Paul I and the many secrets of the Vatican.
Did you know that Gyles Brandreth is an expert on Oscar Wilde? No, nor did I. But he is and he has written the first book in the Oscar Wilde Mystery series entitled Oscar Wilde and the Candlelight Murders, to be published by John Murray. Gyles is better known in the UK as a game show host and an after dinner speaker.
Murdered former spy Alexander Litvinenko's BLOWING UP RUSSIA: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror, written with Yuri Felshtinsky, has been sold to Martin Rynja at Gibson Square, for publication in January 2007.
Author of THE COLLABORATOR OF BETHLEHEM Matt Beynon Rees's A GRAVE IN GAZA, the second in a series featuring Palestinian investigator Omar Yussef, who learns firsthand that "every crime in Gaza is connected to every other crime" as he navigates amongst various corrupt political factions for the release of his kidnapped colleague, has been snapped up by Soho Press.
Andrew Taylor coming to the small screen
Martin Edwards' new Harry Devlin title announced
In at the Deep End
With one deep intake of air, hold it - jump in.
This is the very first blog I'm writing for SHOTSMAG CONFIDENTIAL. I know I said that I wouldn't do it but hell, I can change my mind. This essentially replaces the monthly newsletter I'd be sending out via our website, to be more current and amongst the "in crowd".but it will still be sent for the next month or so to reflect changes on the website.
Just in case you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ is the UK's premier website for those lovers of the crime and thriller genre, and well-respected throughout the community. The site, on average, has 1500 hits per day and growing. It primarily covers the UK publishing scene although we do feature authors and books published around the world. 2007 sees the ezene enter its 6th year. So without further ado let me get on with it.
And bear with me with this new blogging thingie technology.