Wednesday 23 December 2009

Newsy Stuff inc 100 Best Selling authors of the decade?

So how did crime writers fare in the list of 100 Best Selling authors of the decade? Not bad actually. There are three in the top ten. Unsurprisingly the top man is of course Dan Brown at number 3, followed by John Grisham at number 6 and James Patterson at number 9. It wasn’t solely American authors however because Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and Martina Cole also make the list. The full list can be found here.

Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol appears to have broken the camels back of celebrity autobiographies to take the Christmas number one slot. It is not the first time that Dan Brown has done so. In 2004 The Da Vinci Code was also the Christmas number one. Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came in at number 5.

According to The Bookseller Swedish Crime Writer Henning Mankell has been signed to write a TV series on the life of iconic director Ingmar Bergman. More information can be found here.

The Stieg Larsson train moves on with Sony Pictures preparing to make the Millennium trilogy into films starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. See here for further information. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has already been turned into a Swedish language film with English subtitles.

Laura Wilson reviews books by Catriona McPherson, C J Box, and Tonino Benacquista amongst others at the Guardian.

Sarah Weinman lists her best crime fiction books of the decade and I must admit that I am very impressed with the list and I can quite proudly say that out of her excellent list there are only two of them that I have not got and read. The list is an excellent selection covering a wide selection of the genre.

Whilst the awards are not due to be given until 29 April the Mystery Writers of America have announced the Grandmaster, Raven and Ellery Queen Award Winners. The Grandmaster is Dorothy Gilman the author of the Mrs Polifax novels. The Raven Award is being given to Zev Buffman, a Broadway producer and the man behind the International Mystery Writers Festival and Mary Alice Gorman & Richard Goldman, proprietors of the Mystery Lovers Bookshop. The Ellery Queen Award goes to (and is well deserved) Barbara Peters & Robert Rosenwald of the Poisoned Pen Bookstore and Press.

In an excellent article for the Guardian CJ Box has written about his top 10 US crime novelists that “own” the area that the write about. The article can be found here. For aficionados of the genre the names on the list will come as no surprise. If you want to live vicariously in any of these cities then reading these books are a good place to start.

Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers Journal publishes a selection of the best Mystery Lists of 2009. Part one can be found here and part two here.

Continuing with the above theme The Hungry Detective blog has also listed its best crime fiction of the decade. Part one can be found here and part two here.

Finally, Slashfilm.com has an early review of Shutter Island one of the most anticipated films due to come out next year. The review can be found here. The film is due out in the UK in February 2010.

Thursday 17 December 2009

SHOTS OF THE YEAR 2009

From Mike Ripley's December GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER Column: (or GAWM as we affectionately know it in the trade)

"It’s that time again, when I dish out those most-misheard of awards the Shots of the Year for 2009; the only awards in crime fiction which come with absolutely no financial reward, no glitzy ceremony, no photo opportunities and a total lack of regard for democracy in the selection process.
It was a very good year for thrillers, especially thrillers with an historical background (a large number of them set in or around WWII) and just to confuse matters, several books qualified in multiple categories."


• Shots Thriller of the Year: The Information Officer by Mark Mills [HarperCollins].
• Crime Shot of the Year: At The City's Edge by Marcus Sakey [Penguin].
• Historical Shot: The Interrogator by Andrew Williams [John Murray].
• Shot in Translation: Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura [Bitter Lemon].
• First Shot (debut novel): The Twelve (US title: The Ghosts of Belfast) by Stuart Neville [Harvill Secker].
• Comic Shot: Mystery Man by Colin Bateman [Headline]

Monday 7 December 2009

Quigley's Road to Hell

Sheila Quigley burst onto the literary scene a few years ago with her dark tales sent against the tough North East of England; so after 4 novels in the bag she changed publisher with her latest novel The Road to Hell. I seem to have been bumping into Sheila Quigley a great deal recently, and she kindly agreed to let Shots know a little about her work, following her first appearance at Shots, why she enjoys the writing life and why the North East of England features so prominently in her gritty thrillers -

I first started writing stories as soon as I learned how to read and write. I suppose though, I was writing them in my head long before then. Not content with one imaginary friend I had half a dozen. I soon cottoned on to the fact that it was so much easier when asked who I was talking too, to say with a smile, “The dog.” It still works to this day.

Writing was a hidden dream, how could some one like me, from a council estate without a grammar school education dare to dream that they could ever write a book! Trust me I have met up with this school of thought, more than once. But I had an even bigger dream. Mountains, I wanted to climb mountains. Well there was no way that was ever going to happen, living in a small pit village, where did you go in the sixties to learn how to climb a mountain?

So back to the writing dream, I was sending stuff off on a regular basis for thirty years and just as regularly it came back, I learned to recognise the thud as it dropped through the letter box, there is nothing like the echoing sound of rejection. So much for an overnight sensation, there’s no such thing in my opinion. People try and try, some give up but I was blessed, or cursed with a mile long stubborn streak. Finally it happened. In 2004
Run For Home was published. It was a fantastic time, at last I had achieved my dream, the very first time I saw Run For Home in the bookshop window I cried.

A year later
Bad Moon Rising followed, then Living On A Prayer, and in 2007 Every Breath You Take. I loved writing the books, Lorraine Hunt, her sidekick Luke Daniels and the rest of the Seahills mob, took up residence in my head and refuse to move out. The Seahills is set on a huge empty field opposite the estate where I used to live I only left because they were pulling it down around me.

Everything was going great then half way through
The Road To Hell. I went blind and found I was on my very own road to hell. Terrified to have the operation I put off and off until I was walking into walls and apologising. Faced with no other option but to have the operation I went, or was dragged there, can’t really remember I was so terrified. I do vividly remember four hours later when my son Michael took the bandage off and I screamed, the worst had happened, I could see nothing. Then he said in a matter of fact voice. ‘It would help mam if you opened your eye.’

We prised it open, and the world, thanks to the marvelous surgeons at Sunderland eye infirmary, was back so bright and beautiful. A few weeks later the other eye was done, again a fantastic success. And with it - returned the dream. I finished The Road To Hell but by this time most of the publishing people I knew had moved on, so I went with a new Northern publisher Tonto Books. It was a risk, but it has turned out brilliantly we are on a fantastic ride together. I am so proud of the beautiful book Stuart Wheatman has produced, and because of his faith, and that of my large print publisher Diane Allen at Magna, who insisted in the darkest of times that The Road To Hell was a truly great book the
Seahills saga continues.

(c) 2009 Sheila Quigley

Sunday 6 December 2009

Three Englishmen Doing Rather Well Abroad

In these economically challenging times for publishing, we are very pleased to report that three top British crime / thriller writers are doing rather well overseas. It also comes as no surprise that these quintessential English gentleman have become Shots favourites, due to their generosity and supportive nature toward the crime / thriller genre so if you haven’t explored their work, you should do so poste-haste, and here’s why -

Andrew Taylor
I have been a huge follower of the work of Taylor's multi-award winning work for over a decade now. But it looks as if CWA Diamond Dagger winner Andrew Taylor will need to make more room on his display cabinet as his tremendous novel ‘Bleeding Heart Square’ has won Sweden's Martin Beck Award for best translated crime novel. The Swedish publisher is Forum, and the translator is Jan Malmsjö. ‘Bleeding Heart Square’ was also nominated for the Historical Dagger in the UK and Deadly Pleasures’ Barry Award in the US. I can’t recommend Taylor’s work highly enough; and Shots' passes congratulations for winning the highest award from Sweden for crime-fiction.

I learned today that the prolific Andrew Taylor has just finished a new novel, The Anatomy of Ghosts, which is set in 18th-century Cambridge. Penguin will publish in the UK in September 2010.

Peter James
It comes as no surprise that Peter James is one of Britain’s biggest crime writers, with his Roy Grace Police Procedural series. In Britain last week, James debuted with the Paperback release of Dead Tomorrow at #3 in the Sunday Times book charts. The popularity of Peter James’ work is not restricted to Britain as his agent Carole Blake reports that James is translated into well over 30 languages. Now we all know James has many strings to his bow, with his background in film production as well as working as an internet pioneer, so it comes as little surprise as to see him launching an iPhone App edition of Dead Tomorrow with special and exclusive content.

Meanwhile Dead Simple, the first of the Roy Grace series, is bundled in as a free ebook. The app will also have a coverflow feature allowing users to browse and buy the other titles in the Roy Grace series.

The Peter James app provides many extra features, including -

# A situation call from DS Roy Grace himself
# Peter James’s research notes and colour photographs
# An extensive author interview
# Previously unseen edited (by Maria Rejt) manuscript pages from Dead Tomorrow showing how the book has evolved from first draft


Coinciding with the paperback publication of Dead Tomorrow, advertising tagging the Peter James app is running on London buses, with posters across buses in the West End, the City and central London.

Produced in collaboration with Missing Ink Studios and Things Made Out of Other Things, the app will be updated with the new Peter James novel, Dead Like You, in 2010.

Charles Cumming
Charles Cumming is probably the tallest espionage writer working the field today, and he can literally hold his head high, following the US reception for his blistering novel Typhoon which the New York Times described as –

As a thriller, “Typhoon” is easy to like. The plot is tight and complex, and the local details are accurate about the three main cities where it is set: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing. The questions and tensions set up in the first 300 or so pages are resolved in a multifront action scene through the final 100 pages, as characters converge from around the country to create or thwart terrorist violence. I think of spy fiction set in Europe — by John le Carré, Alan Furst, Charles ­­McCarry — as being dark in ambiance and mood: twilight scenes, drizzle, disappointed chara­cters with their best years and opportunities behind them. Cumming’s tone is correspondingly bright, partly thanks to the pep of urban China, partly because the characters are young and on the make.

It therefoere comes as no surprise that Cumming’s Typhoon makes the New York Times 100 notable books of 2009 in their gift guide.

So congratulations Charlie – Typhoon is Tremendous! Even though you beat me at Chess


If your looking for Christmas Presents, then books from these three superlative writers would make anyone smile on Christmas morning.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

The Queen of Crime: Maj Sjöwall


There is an excellent article in the Observer on Sunday (22 November 2009) 0n Maj Sjöwall the co-author of the excellent Martin Beck detective series set in Sweden. The article can be found here.

Monday 23 November 2009

Murder Is Everywhere

Dan Waddell emialed me to mention a new blog that he is part of, with an international feel: Yrsa Siguroardottir, Leighton Gage, 'Michael Stanley', Cara Black and myself blog each week on different days from our different corners of the globe. An original initiative (the group thinks) and one that will hopefully appeal crime fans of many hues.

Here's the link http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com/

Thursday 19 November 2009

Mike Ripley - he writes, he publishes...


Crime-writer, critic and SHOTS columnist Mike Ripley – in a poacher-turned-gamekeeper move – has become a publisher!

Mike had been appointed Series Editor for Top Notch Thrillers, an imprint of print-on-demand Ostara Publishing, with a remit to “revive Great British thrillers which do not deserve to be forgotten, each title to be chosen not just for its plot or sense of adventure but for the distinctiveness and quality of the writing.”

Top Notch Thrillers will be drawn in the main from the 1960s and 70s, a period, says Mike, when British thriller writers reigned supreme, not just in the bestseller lists but in a wide range of writing styles. The first four titles, out this month, attempt to show the range and versatility of the writing on offer in what is being increasingly seen as a Golden Age for British thrillers.

TNT has launched with: Snake Water by Alan Williams, a rip-roaring treasure hunt adventure in a South American banana republic, first published in 1965 (Williams, a journalist and much-travelled foreign correspondent, went on to international fame as a spy writer, possibly the first to have real life traitor Kim Philby as a character in fiction); The Terrible Door an atmospheric 1964 debut novel by the late George Sims, a well-known rare book dealer, who went on to be elected to the famous Detection Club; Night Of Glass, a neglected gem form 1968 by Philip Purser in which four students engineer an escape attempt from Dachau concentration camp in 1938; and Geoffrey Rose’s 1973 fantastical and slightly surreal chase thriller A Clear Road To Archangel, set in the wintry wastes of Russia in 1917.

“We are using the latest print-on-demand technology to revive thrillers – and thriller writers – who do not deserve to be forgotten,” says Ripley, “bringing back fond memories for some readers and hopefully enthusing a new generation. The response to the concept so far has been very encouraging. Even before our first titles appeared – and they look really good – I was being lobbied by fan about writers such as Desmond Bagley, Andrew Garve, Francis Clifford and Geoffrey Household

“For me, it is a pure pleasure, and an honour, to be reissuing the books of some great authors – and getting to meet some of them. Everyone knows and respects the history and traditions of British crime novels and detective stories, but thrillers have somehow got sidelined, yet we have a rich and very varied heritage.

“People still remember the big names like Alistair Maclean, Hammond Innes and Gavin Lyall, but many of their titles are now out-of-print and in danger of slipping from popular memory, which would be a terrible shame.”

Wednesday 18 November 2009

CWA unveils Crime Week for 2010

The Crime Writers Association (CWA) is to hold a National Crime Week in 2010 to celebrate crime writing. During the week, which runs from 14th June, members of the CWA will take part in readings, discussions, readers' group events and workshops all over the country.
The winner of the Young Crime Writers Competition will also be announced. Taking place from 18th January—19th February 2010, the competition, which is organised by the CWA in partnership with nationwide library authorities, will be judged by members of the CWA.
CWA chair Margaret Murphy said: "Building on the success of our partnership with Oxfam Bookfest in 2009, the CWA is looking forward to promoting crime fiction through a variety of events.
"The crime genre is very broad, ranging from spine-tingling suspense, through historical, to edge-of-seat thrillers. Add to that non-fiction—increasingly popular with readers fascinated by forensic aspects of crime—and events organisers can create a programme of events that will tempt the most fastidious palate."
The shortlists for some of the 2010 CWA Daggers will be announced in May as part of the Bristol-based convention, Crimefest.

Otto Penzler joins Cheetham at Atlantic
Atlantic has expanded its publishing outfit once again, with Otto Penzler joining to create his own imprint under the Corvus division in January. Otto Penzler Books will publish six-to-10 new crime fiction, spy and thriller titles a year.
The move reunites Penzler with Atlantic's director and associate publisher of Corvus Anthony Cheetham, with whom he worked at Random House and Quercus. Cheetham said: "Otto helped to found the Quercus trade list, and was the first to champion Stieg Larsson. But we’re definitely saving the best for our third collaboration."
Penzler will kick off with a debut novel by Lou Manfredo, entitled Rizzo's War. The publisher described the book as the most exciting discovery of the last decade. Set in a Brooklyn police precinct, the novel explores, through the lives of veteran detective Joe Rizzo and his ambitious young partner, the byzantine procedures and grubby politics, the trading of favours, and the grey areas between practice and malpractice, which form the real basis of modern police work.
Scheduled for next Christmas is Agents of Treachery, a 400-page anthology of stories from the world of espionage, edited by Penzler himself. The contributors include Charles McCarry, Lee Child, Stella Rimington, Dan Fesperman and Robert Wilson. A number of the stories are of novella length, and none has been previously published elsewhere.
Penzler is the founder/ owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan, recipient of an Edgar Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Mystery Writers of America. In the US, Otto Penzler Books is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Monday 16 November 2009

Newsy stuff





Italian author Giorgio Faletti's first two books Io uccido (I Kill) and Io Sono Dio (I am God) have been bought in a two booked deal by Constable. The English rights were bought for an undisclosed 5 figure sum. I Kill which has sold over 5 million copies has been translated into 25 different languages and will be published in June 2010. I am God which will be published in 2011 has so far sold over 700,000 copies. Faletti is a former lawyer, advertising agent and race car drive based in Italy. I Kill was previously published in the United States in June 2008.



Dead Simple the Roy Grace series by Peter James has been sold to a Macedonian publisher. The first book in the series it brings the number of translations of the crimes series up to 32 different languages. The newest edition to the series Dead Like You will be published by Macmillan in the UK in June 2010. Peter James is a best-selling and much published author whose distinguished writing career was initially with mysteries that had an element of the supernatural, most recently he has been a writer of mainstream thriller. He is also the winner of numerous international awards. The film and television rights to the Roy Grace series have been optioned by ITV.

Transworld has acquired a the UK and Commonwealth rights to the historical novel The Confessions of Mrs Lightfoot, with some advice for Women in General by Hallie Rubenhold which is the first in a trilogy. Set in the 18th century it features Henrietta Lightfoot a courtesan, adventuress, spy and former murderess. Billed as a female Flashman the series is set in one of the most interesting and striking periods in history. The Confessions of Mrs Lightfoot, with some advice for Women in General will be published in the Spring of 2011. The author is an authority on 18th Century history.


The Hard Life of Patricia Cornwell

I have to admit to enjoying the first five novels of Patricia Cornwell, especially 1990’s Post Mortem which came out under the shadow’s of Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs stampede. Publishers were looking for anything that could match the success of Harris’ work – so it was little surprise that Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta debut work was grabbed and found itself in print. Due to the sheer volume of books and dissapointment in her 6th novel, I have not returned to her work since those post-Silence of the Lambs days.

Today The Guardian has an excellent feature length interview with Ms. Cornwell by Nigel Farndale.

Reading the article made me realize how sad a life she has led despite her wealth, and even that seems to have halved –

Well, it’s a stressful business being the biggest-selling crime writer in the world (and the second biggest-selling female writer in any genre, after J K Rowling). It is estimated that Cornwell is worth just over £60 million although, as I am to discover, she has just launched a legal action against her financial management company in New York, suing them for alleged negligence. Since 2005, according to one source, they may have lost her as much as £25 million, almost half her fortune. The case is ongoing and she is not sure of the exact figures yet.
We shall come to that. For now it is worth reminding ourselves of her USP as a crime writer: that she knows whereof she writes, having spent six years working in a chief medical examiner’s office in Virginia, one that dealt with murder cases, usually ones involving sexual assault. There she watched many an autopsy being performed. And this is another reason why her readers often confuse her with her heroine, Dr Scarpetta.

But Cornwell’s back-story is more interesting than Scarpetta’s. More Gothic. And one she wouldn’t get away with in fiction.

She was five when her father, a lawyer, walked out on the family, on Christmas morning. She clung on to his leg as he left, pleading with him not to go. Soon after this she was molested by a security guard, a case that ended with her giving evidence in court.

Her mother by now was spiralling into chronic depression. This meant that Cornwell had to be sent to live with foster parents. Sadistic foster parents. She became anorexic in her teens and recovered only to succumb to depression herself, in her twenties. This has come and gone over the years.

When I ask how her own depression compares with her mother’s she answers in an accent that combines briskness with a Southern drawl, like someone driving with her foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time.

'Hers was much worse than mine because she was admitted to hospital. Mine has never been that dark or debilitating. I think mine has got better as I’ve got older. And it is the only good thing about getting older, by the way. I’m bipolar but my moods are more stable. I don’t take medication for it,’ Cornwell says.

In her twenties she married her professor (male) who was 17 years older than her. Now, as of three years ago, she is married to a professor (female) who is 10 years younger. Her name is Staci Gruber and she is associate director of Harvard’s McLean psychiatric hospital. They met when Cornwell was researching sociopaths for a novel. Cornwell says with a laugh that Gruber’s first impression of her was that she was a narcissist.

Read the complete piece here

I think I should read one of her newer books to see if the promise of her early work has held up.

Edward Woodward Dies

Today we hear about the passing of English actor, Edward Woodward. Best known as the eponimous Callan and The Equalizer. Tributes have been pouring in from all quarters and here are just a few of the links:
I remember the opening credits to the 1960s TV series Callan quite vividly, and you can see it here again. British spy writers James Mitchell created the series and the books are fairly hard to find nowadays. He produced four titles from 1969 to 2002: Magnum for Schneider (1969) aka A Red File For Callan Death and Bright Water (1974) Smear Job (1975)Bonfire Night (2002)
A sad day for all who enjoyed his work.
RIP Edward Woodward

Friday 13 November 2009

SKY 1 drops THE SEARCH with MARTINA COLE and Drama round up






News has reached me that Sky 1 had commissioned The Search With Martina Cole, which was scheduled for transmission in early 2010. The documentary planned to search for the remains of Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett but has now been dropped after his mother confirmed she was not prepared to take part.
Martina had been lined up to front the show, which would have investigated the whereabouts of Keith Bennett’s remains by revisiting existing evidence and interviewing new witnesses as well as those who were involved in the case.
A Sky 1 spokeswoman said: “The goal of this programme was to help Winifred Johnson conclude the search for her son, Keith Bennett. However, Mrs Johnson has made it clear that she prefers to pursue that search separately. There was never any question of going ahead without her full support, so we decided immediately to end the project.”


Other Small Screen Drama News


The Secret Life Of The Novel - BBC2 Documentary series presented by Sebastian Faulks. Explores the history of the novel through its characters, focusing on a different archetype and looking at the development over the centuries of The Hero, The Lover, The Snob and The Villain. Transmission date Spring 2010


The original ITV1 series Whitechapel, featured DI Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones), an obsessive compulsive inspector who had to solve a series of Jack the Ripper copy cat killings. The second series ( Whitechapel II) looks at the gangster culture of the Krays and the faded glamour of the East End overlords, which haunted the East End, with plenty of maiming and murder thrown in the mix. It will be as sharp, intense and as visually distinctive as Whitechapel I with the gangster culture the Krays instilled never far away. Produced by Carnival Films, the new story will broadcast in mid 2010 as three episodes.



An adaptation of crime writer Ann Cleeves’ novel Hidden Depths is set in modern day Northumberland and Brenda Blethyn, star of Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Secrets and Lies, will play the role of a lonely detective inspector investigating the murder of two young people found in the water. This will be a one-off two hour drama for ITV1 scheduled for 2010



Neil Cross - a writer on Spooks and The Fixer has penned Luther (working title), which will show detective John Luther struggling with his personal demons while attempting to track down a killer each week. In a twist on the traditional format, the killer’s identity will be known to the audience. The BBC series is set for transmission in 2010 and runs for 6 x 60 minute episodes.

Sherlock is a contemporary take on the classic stories, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Dr John Watson. Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London.
3 x 90 minute episodes for BBC1 in 2010 .
Benedict Cumberbatch -










24 returns for its eighth, and possibly final, season in January 2010.
The real-time action drama impressed with its seventh outing, reaching a shock-filled finale. Turncoat Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) revealed his motives for heading up the terrorist campaign: he wanted to get close to and exact revenge on the man responsible for killing wife Michelle and their unborn child. Meanwhile, Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) came to a pathogen-infected Jack’s (Kiefer Sutherland) rescue, volunteering to undergo a stem cell procedure.
Day 8 relocates from Washington DC to the mean streets of New York City where Bauer’s services are required to prevent an assassination plot against a visiting foreign leader (Slumdog Millionaire’s Anil Kapoor). 24’s return will also be bolstered by the turns of Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff as brainy bombshell Dana Walsh and Freddie Prinze Jr’s CTU field agent Cole Ortiz. Returning cast members include Annie Wersching (Renee Walker), Mary-Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brian) and Elisha Cuthbert.
Promising an explosive eighth day, 24 delivers high-impact television packing plenty of twists.
Transmittance is currently planned for January 2010

Bestseller Peter James on the trail....


Bestselling crime author Peter James is on the promo trail visiting libraries in Bristol, Newport and Cardiff to talk about his latest novel Dead Tomorrow.
Schedule and contact details are as follows:
1st December @ 7.30pmBristol Central Library, College Green in association with Borders, Bristol.
Tickets £2. To reserve tickets please call: 0117 903 250

2nd December @ 2.30pmNewport Central Library, John Frost Square, Newport.
Tickets are free but must be reserved. To reserve tickets please call: 01633 656 656

2nd December @ 6.30pm Cardiff Central Library, The Hayes, Cardiff.
Tickets £2. To reserve tickets please call: 02920 780920

Monday 9 November 2009

Men on a Mission

Many younger thriller readers may not be familiar with the work of Alistair MacLean, but many of us owe a huge debt to this tremendous Scottish writer for his wonderful novels and screenplays that hit the bestseller and box office charts in the 1970’s. Over the years I’ve interviewed many of today’s bestselling thriller writers such as Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais, Brett Battles and many others who all credit MacLean as a major influence on their desire to write thriller fiction.

Thanks to Harper Collins UK, much of his backlist which has been criminally out of print for over a decade, is back on the shelves.

The Bookseller reports even more are coming to our shelves –

HarperCollins will reissue a series of novels about an international crimefighting organisation by the author of Where Eagles Dare next spring.

Publication of the series by Alistair MacLean will complete HarperCollins’ repackaging of his backlist. The publisher has already reissued 29 MacLean novels, including The Guns of Navarone, and Ice Station Zebra.

Five titles will be reissued in paperback in March 2010, with the remaining five to follow in the autumn. The series was originally published in the 1980s and 90s and follows the United Nations Anti-Crime Organisation (Unaco), a team of crimefighters combating terrorism.

The first book, Hostage Tower, is about a criminal who kidnaps the mother of the US president and holds her to ransom on top of the Eiffel Tower. Tasked with rescuing her is Unaco, comprising a weapons expert, a cat burglar and a man blessed with extraordinary strength and cunning.

The series and the characters were created by MacLean but the books were developed and written by three authors: John Denis, Alistair MacNeil and Hugh Miller.
David Brawn, publishing director for estates, said: “Because of his [MacLean’s] film success, he was writing a lot of screenplays. It became much easier for him to write a film treatment and for other people to turn them into screenplays.”

Read more

Many people reported that MacLean’s later work became formulaic once he settled in Switzerland and his drinking habit took hold, but my word, what a formulae!
My personal favourites from his work include Breakheart Pass, Circus, Fear is the Key, Night Without End, Guns of Navarone and of course the deeply disturbing tale of interpol agents battling the Heroin trade in Amsterdam - Puppet on a Chain [pictured above in the original Pan Paperback Edition and the newly re-issued Harper Collins paperback]

Thursday 29 October 2009

Jeffery Deaver, Lisa Scottoline and Lee Child contribute to new ‘direct-to-digital’ thriller


Sixteen thriller writers. Three continents. One incredible story.
Sixteen of the world’s greatest thriller writers - including Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline and David Hewson – have collaborated on The Copper Bracelet, the standalone sequel to the The Chopin Manuscript, winner of the 2007 ‘Audiobook of the Year’ Award.
Published only as a direct-to-digital audiobook download, The Copper Bracelet is a collaboration devised by crime writer Jeffery Deaver who - in the most daring game of consequences - outlined the plot and wrote the first chapter, before passing the story on to each successive bestselling author. The story was finally returned it to Deaver to complete this thrilling sequel to The Chopin Manuscript.
"I can't think of a more enjoyable writing experience in my 25 years of being a fiction author than writing The Copper Bracelet and its predecessor, The Chopin Manuscript. We writers spend way too much time by ourselves in dark rooms, and it was a delight to emerge from the cave and hang out, so to speak, with my peers," said bestselling crime author Jeffery Deaver.
"This was like playing on an all-star team, and all the hits were home runs ... we were really up for it," added Lee Child.
Exclusively available as an audiobook from audible.co.uk and iTunes – and read by Alfred Molina - The Copper Bracelet will be published on 29th October and the first chapter is available to download free here.
A peaceful picnic in the French countryside explodes in violence. A mysterious assassin hisses a deadly threat. And events are set in motion that could propel India and Pakistan down the road to nuclear confrontation. Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton and his volunteers return to once again must crack a secretive conspiracy that not only threatens their lives, but the stability of the world. Their race against time will take them from London to the U.S. to Russia and beyond. And at the heart of it all is one question: what is the secret of the Copper Bracelet?
The Copper Bracelet is written by Jeffery Deaver, Gayle Lynds, David Hewson, Jim Fusilli, John Gilstrap, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, David Corbett, Linda Barnes, Jenny Siler, David Liss, P.J. Parrish, Brett Battles, Lee Child, Jon Land and James Phelan, and narrated by Alfred Molina. The Copper Bracelet is available on 29th October 2009 from http://www.audible.co.uk/, launch price £6.99.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards part 2

Further to the earlier post on the results on the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009. Attached are some further pictures from that indomitable photographer Ali Karim. The first photograph is of Harlan Coben and his son Will who is evidently as overjoyed as his father was to win the ITV3 Bestseller Dagger beating off some very stiff competition from the likes of Martina Cole, Alexander McCall Smith, Nicci French and Dick Francis.



Ian Rankin, who along with Val McDermid, Lynda La Plante and Colin Dexter were inducted into the Hall of Fame in recognition of their outstanding careers and huge contribution to the genre.

Author Simon Kernick congratulating John Hart who won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2009 for the best thriller novel along with Shots Mag editor Mike Stotter.

Shots Editor Mike Stotter along with Ashes to Ashes star Philip Glenister and Ali Karim after the awards had been given out.














Hall of famers Val McDermid and Colin Dexter at the award ceremony.

The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009

The Suspense Is Over:
The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009 Unmask the Winners


London, Wednesday, 21st October, 2009—Cactus TV and ITV3 in partnership with the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) are pleased to announce the winners of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009, celebrating the crème de la crème of Crime & Thriller fiction.

The evening boasted an array of famous faces from the worlds of screen and books, and was hosted by comedian Alan Davies at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The culmination of a six-week season of ITV3 crime and drama programming, the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009 will be televised on ITV3 on Tuesday, 27th October at 9PM.

A highlight of the evening was the brand new award - the ITV3 Bestseller Dagger, sponsored by Specsavers. Following a 6 week TV and online campaign, it was revealed that ITV3 viewers voted for Harlan Coben as their favourite crime genre author, beating Dick Francis, Alexander McCall Smith, Nicci French and Martina Cole.

The best crime novel of the year went to international best-selling author William Brodrick who won the CWA Gold Dagger 2009, sponsored by BooksDirect, for A Whispered Name (Little, Brown).

HBO’s The Wire on BBC2 hit two home-runs, winning the International TV Dagger 2009 for the best TV crime thriller drama from around the world, as well as earning Dominic West the Best Actor Dagger 2009 for male star of a crime thriller drama. The Wire star, Jamie Hector flew in from New York to collect the award on behalf of West.

Juliet Stevenson won the Best Actress Dagger (for the female star of a crime thriller drama)
for Place of Execution by Coastal Productions (ITV1)

The year’s best thriller is The Last Child by John Hart (John Murray), which won the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2009, sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd.

The Film Dagger 2009 for the best big-screen crime thriller story went to Gran Torino (Warner Bros.), while the TV Dagger 2009 for the best small-screen crime thriller drama went to Channel 4 Films’ Red Riding.

Johan Theorin’s Echoes From The Dead (Doubleday) won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2009, sponsored by Louise Penny and Michael Whitehead, as a first book by a previously unpublished writer, awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey.

In recognition of their outstanding careers, Colin Dexter, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid collected trophies to commemorate their inaguration into the Hall of Fame.

The 2009 black carpet event attracted stars from page and screens big and small - including Emilia Fox, Rupert Penry-Jones, Julia McKenzie, Phil Davis, Danny Dyer, Tamer Hassan, Jamie Bamber, Dervla Kirwan, Bill Paterson, Keeley Hawes, Harlan Coben, Philip Glenister, Juliet Stevenson, Lucy Speed, Chris Simmons, Hugh Bonneville, Colin Dexter, Ian Rankin, Ashley Walters, Lynda La Plante, Val McDermid, Joe McFadden, Dean Andrews, Martine McCutcheon, Gemma Jones, Wil Johnson, Denis Lawson, Nathaniel Parker, Sarah Smart, John Hart, William Gaminara, Martina Cole, Alexander McCall Smith, Mark Billingham, Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber - and awards were also presented by celebrity faces with a connection to the world of crime fiction.

Amanda Ross, Managing Director Cactus TV, said: "It’s amazing to have secured the future of this event through our partnership with Specsavers and the CWA. We’ll be able to build on the event year on year."

Click here to see photos of the evening from The Bookseller.

Watch the Youtube clip from Midas Public relations

Sunday 18 October 2009

Anthony Awards

The results of the Anthony Awards are in! Congratulations to all the winners.

Best Novel - The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly [Little, Brown and Company]
Best First Novel - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
Best Paperback Original - State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy [Berkley]
Best Short Story - "A Sleep Not Unlike Death" by Sean Chercover, Hardcore Hardboiled
[Kensington]
Best Critical Nonfiction Work - Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography by Jeffrey Mark [McFarland]
Best Children's / Young Adult Novel - The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein [Random House]
Best Cover Art - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Peter Mendelsund by Stieg Larsson
[Knopf]
Special Service Award - Jon and Ruth Jordan

Saturday 17 October 2009

Shamus Awards

More awards have been given out. This time it was the turn of the Shamus Awards. My thanks go to the Rapsheet for the information.

The Awards which are sponsored by the Private Eye Writer's of America were given out at the Shamus Awards banquet which was held at Indianapolis' Slippery Noodle Bar. The winners were as follows:-
The Eye (Lifetime Achievement) Award to Robert J. Randisi, author and founder of the PWA
Best Hardcover: Empty Ever After (Bleak House Books), by Reed Farrel Coleman
Best First P.I. Novel: In the Heat, (St. Martin’s Minotaur) by Ian Vasquez
Best Paperback Original: Snow Blind, (Medallion) by Lori Armstrong
Best Short Story:Family Values,” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine [AHMM], June 2008) by Mitch Alderman
Hammer Award for best Character - Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder
Winner of the 2009 PWA/St Martin's Best First Private Eye Novel Contest- Michael Ayoob's Shot's on Goal

Friday 16 October 2009

Bouchercon 2009 - Indianapolis - Elementary dear Indy!

Some awards have already been given out at Bouchercon 2009 on Thursday night and they are as follows:-

Derringer: Edward D. Hoch Memorial Award for short story lifetime achievement -- Clark Howard

Crimespree Awards

Crimespree Awards: Jack Reacher Award -- William Kent Krueger
Crimespree Contributor of the Year -- Jeremy Lynch
Best Paperback Original -- Money Shot by Christa Faust
Favorite Novel -- Trigger City by Sean Chercover
Favorite in an Ongoing Series -- Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais
Favorite graphic novel writer -- Brian Azzarello

Macavity Awards

Best Historical Mystery -- A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
Best short story -- "The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron in Wolfsbane & Mistletoe
Best non-fiction/critical -- African American Mystery Writers by Frankie Bailey Best first mystery -- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Best mystery novel -- Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie


Barry Awards

Lifetime achievement in mystery fandom -- Art Scott
Best short story -- "The Drought" by James O. Born from The Blue Religion (edited by Michael Connelly)
Best paperback original -- State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
Best British novel -- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Best thriller -- The Deceived by Brett Battles
Best first novel -- Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
Best novel -- The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Get involved in the CWA Dagger Awards!

We reported recently about the new sponsorship deal that The Crime Writers Association have agreed with Specsavers, ITV3, and Cactus TV over at The Rap Sheet. Now that the nominations for the CWA Daggers have been announced - the excitement is building.

Photo from 2008 ITV-3 Thriller Awards (c) 2009 A Karim [Clockwise from top] Mark Billingham, Sharon Canaver, Lee Child, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Mark Smith, Jeff Deaver & Mike Stotter

Midas PR have provided a ‘red-carpet’ video from the 2008 ITV-3 Crime Thriller Awards to get you in the mood for the event later this month.


I have my ticket, though I am going to be rather jet-lagged as I am only back from Bouchercon Indianapolis the day before the event which is taking place on Wednesday 21st October at Grosvenor House, London. The ceremony will be aired on Tuesday 27th October at 9pm on ITV3.
Here's the Runners & Riders -

CWA Gold Dagger
When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson
In the Dark by Mark Billingham
Hit and Run by Lawrence Block
A Whispered Name by William Brodrick
The Coroner by MR Hall
Dark Times In The City by Gene Kerrigan
More information on the CWA Gold Dagger here

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Last Child by John Hart
Calumet City by Charlie Newton
Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva
The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
The Interrogator by Andrew Williams
More information on the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger here.

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
Bad Catholics by James Green
No Way To Say Goodbye by Rod Madocks
Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg
Echoes from The Dead by Johan Theorin
The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell
More information on the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger here.

I recall the ITV3 Thriller Awards 2008 [a precursor to this new venture with The CWA] which were also held in Grosvenor House with fondness. Stieg Larsson’s father accepted the International Thriller Award for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. That night I managed to interview both Erland Larsson [Stieg Larsson’s father] who accepted the award posthumously on behalf of his son. I also managed to share a few words with legendary publisher - Christopher MacLehose.

Members of the public have the chance to vote for one of 5 shortlisted authors for the ‘Bestseller Dagger’ - Dick Francis, Alexander McCall Smith, Nicci French, Harlan Coben and Martina ColeWhy not cast your vote here

Shots Competition
Without any favoritism to any of the shortlisted authors - Shots Ezine have organized a competition thanks to Julia Walker of Midas PR to encourage all of you to vote. We have 3 books from one of the shortlisted authors to give away – all you have to do is to put your name and email address in the Comments Box at the end of this blog post mentioning –
[a] Which author you voted for from the 5 shortlisted ‘Bestseller Dagger’
[b] The date you voted [Bestseller Dagger]
[c] Why your selected author is your favourite [in less than 20 words]

The three best responses* to question [c] will be selected Tuesday 22nd October and contacted for a mailing address for their winning book.

Cast your vote here & Good Luck!
*Note entries from UK & Ireland only I'm afraid and the editors decison is final

The Other Award Nominations in contest at The CWA Dagger Awards are –

The Film Dagger 2009 for the best big-screen crime thriller story:
Gran Torino (Warner Bros.)
Quantum of Solace (Sony Pictures)
Changeling (Universal)
Public Enemies (Universal)
State of Play (Universal)

The TV Dagger 2009 - for the best small-screen crime thriller drama:
Wallander (Left Bank Pictures; BBC One)
Red Riding (Channel 4 Films; Channel 4)
Spooks (Kudos; BBC One)
Place of Execution (Coastal Productions; ITV1)
Ashes to Ashes (Kudos; BBC One)

The International TV Dagger - for the best TV crime thriller drama from around the world:
The Wire (HBO; BBC Two)
Dexter (Clyde Phillips Production; FX)
Wallander, Swedish version (Yellow Bird Films; BBC Four)
The Mentalist (Warner Bros.; FIVE)

The Best Actress Dagger - for the female star of a crime thriller drama:
Juliet Stevenson for Place of Execution (Coastal Productions; ITV1)
Keeley Hawes for Ashes to Ashes (Kudos; BBC One)
Hermione Norris for Spooks (Kudos; BBC One)
Emilia Fox for Silent Witness (BBC; BBC One)

The Best Actor Dagger - for the male star of a crime thriller drama:
Dominic West for The Wire (HBO; BBC Two)
Kenneth Branagh for Wallander (Left Bank Pictures; BBC One)
Tom Hardy for The Take (Company; SKY1)
Philip Glenister for Ashes to Ashes (Kudos; BBC One)
Paddy Considine for Red Riding (Channel 4 Films; Channel 4)

I recall the ITV3 Thriller Awards 2008 [which was a precursor to this new venture with The CWA] held in Grosvenor House with fondness as Stieg Larsson’s father accepted the International Thriller Award for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. That night I managed to interview both Erland Larsson [Stieg Larsson’s father] who accepted the award posthumously on behalf of his son. I also managed to share a few words with legendary publisher - Christopher MacLehose.

Is it any wonder that Crime Thrillers have such appeal? Why not go out and buy a few of the books on the shortlist and discover the wonders of the genre. It might take your mind off the pervasive gloom that cloaks our economic reality - Ali Karim