Tuesday 29 September 2009

The Connolly & Billingham Double Act Hits London - Thursday!

Two remarkable thriller writers who write very dark, thought provoking crime-fiction; but who also happen to be two of the funniest scribes in the genre have a surprise London visit this Thursday.

I have followed John Connolly’s work for many years, and have been especially excited about his latest 'THE GATES', which he recently discussed at The Rap Sheet. While Mark Billingham’s London based Tom Thorne series is required reading for enthusiasts. His latest 'Bloodline' is exceptional. Last year at Bouchercon Baltimore, one of the funniest panels was the Connolly & Bilingham in conversation [pictured], where they revealed an amusing insight into the workings of a crime fiction writer. The conversation was webcast live and is archived at The Rap Sheet - Here

So if you’re in London and free Thursday evening, why not meet John Connolly and Mark Billingham who will be doing an event at Waterstone’s, Piccadilly, at 7.00pm on Thursday 1 October. John will be introducing his wonderful new novel THE GATES, talking about THE LOVERS and looking forward to THE WHISPERERS, and Mark will be talking about BLOOD LINE.
After the event there will be plenty of time to get your books signed and don’t forget to tell them that Shots sent you!
Information on getting to Waterstone’s, Piccadilly [click on link]

Friday 25 September 2009

The Shadow Line for BBC2 and other stuff

Hugo Blick is to move away from comedy and into fully blown crime drama with a major series for BBC2.
He will write and direct The Shadow Line, a cliffhanger-laden drama that BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow described as having the same scope and ambition as such BBC2 landmarks as Our Friends in the North, Smiley’s People and Edge of Darkness.
Hadlow told Media Guardian: “The narrative takes place partly in the world of the police, who are investigating a murder. There is a parallel story … in the criminal world.”
It is understood that the drama will not follow the usual conventions of the genre, though Hadlow declined to unveil further details.
The Shadow Line is planned as a 6 x 60-minute series and is earmarked for a 9pm weekday slot. It will not tx until at least 2011.

Meanwhile Doctor Who and Torchwood writer James Moran is to make his directorial debut with a web-only crime thriller.
Girl Number 9 stars Joe Absolom as a man arrested for the brutal murder of seven girls. But the police team have limited time to uncover his guilt, and become embroiled in his sick mind-games.
The series plays out over 6 x five-minute episodes. Moran, who has also written for Spooks and penned the movie Severance, wrote the screenplay and is directing parts four to six, with Dan Turner directing the first half.
The series was produced by Martin Baker and Pete Coogan, veterans of the Jim Henson Company, who set up their own indie, Baker Coogan Productions, in 2006 and subsequently produced Disney’s first large-scale international production, Bunnytown.
The indie self-funded production of Girl Number 9 with Elstree Film Studios. It will be launched online at www.canyousaveher.com at the end of October.

Step up, Anne Cleeves.
Crime writer Ann Cleeves’ novel Hidden Depths is to be made into an ITV murder mystery starring Brenda Blethyn.
The drama is set in modern day Northumberland and 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.
Adrian Shergold, who has worked on He Kills Coppers and Dirty Filthy Love, will direct the drama, while Paul Rutman, who has written for Marple and Lewis, will adapt the series. Elwen Rowlands has been named as producer and while controller of drama Kate Bartlett will work as executive producer of the series at ITV Studios.
ITV director of drama Laura Mackie said: “Ann Cleeves’s skilfully crafted mystery is a real page-turner, full of intrigue and emotion, and I’m thrilled we’re bringing it to ITV, especially with Brenda Blethyn taking on the central role. It is a great addition to our strong slate of crime drama.”
ITV Studios controller of drama Kate Bartlett said: “We’re delighted to be in production on a new character-driven crime drama, set in the North East. It is also wonderful to be working with the exciting new writer Paul Rutman on his first original commission.”

Cracker star Robbie Coltrane is to return to ITV crime drama in a new thriller told from three different perspectives.
Written by David Pirie (Murder Rooms, Woman in White) and produced by RDF Media's Touchpaper Scotland, each episode of the 3 x 60-minute Murderland will be dominated by a different character.
The first focuses on the victim's 13-year-old daughter Carrie and the second on Coltrane's detective, Hain. The third episode will return to the same characters in the present day, a decade after the murder, and will offer the point of view of the victim through a series of flashbacks.
Producer Kate Croft said: “It's as much a ‘whydunnit' as a whodunnit and is not a conventional police procedural. Each episode peels the onion further. It is an intelligent but emotional thriller that, a bit like Unforgiven or Place of Execution, is about extraordinary events that happen to ordinary people.”
The drama will also examine the relationship between Hain and Carrie, who grow close in the aftermath of her mother's death, and will ask how “terrible, unexplained events” that happen to a child can affect them as an adult.
TX is planned for 2010.

Official Release: Ellis Peters Historical Award 2009

The Crime Writers’ Association has announced the shortlists for this year’s prestigious Ellis Peters Historical Award.
Established for the best historical crime novel (set in any period up to 35 years prior to the year in which the award will be made) by an author of any nationality, the award commemorates the life and work of Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter) (1913-1995), a prolific author perhaps best known as the creator of Brother Cadfael.
CWA chair Margaret Murphy said: “The Ellis Peters judges have again identified a terrifically strong list for the Historical Award. Each historical period, from the sixteenth century to World War II, is wonderfully evoked by these talented writers.”
The winner will be announced on Thursday 29th October.
The shortlist for the Ellis Peters Historical Award Prize £3,000 (Sponsors: The Estate of Ellis Peters, Headline Book Publishing Company and Little, Brown Book Group) is:

Judges’ comments: Patient detection unravels the seemingly motiveless murder of a Polish girl in1944 London, a crime that reaches back to Paris on the brink of invasion and forwards to a stunning conclusion. A beautifully paced and carefully-drawn evocation of a war-weary society, and a police force dependent on over-retirement age detectives pitched against a pitiless criminal.
Publisher: Macmillan

Judges’ comments: Bernard Gunther, ex-Berlin cop, now house detective in the first-class Hotel Adlon as Nazi power becomes unstoppable, grapples with murder, corruption and the politics involved with Berlin’s 1936 hosting of the Olympic Games. Nearly twenty years later Bernie faces echoes of that time in pre-Castro Cuba, where he once more becomes involved with murder, corruption and politics. A tightly controlled plot twists and turns in a wryly witty narrative and the historical settings breathe reality.
Published by: Quercus

Judges’ comments: Early seventeenth-century Scotland: murder and religious prejudice, witch hunts, disgrace, loyalties, betrayal, love and redemption all combine in a beautifully told story that brings to life the struggles of a complex young man as he strives to expose the murder of a friend he failed. The writing is fresh, interesting issues are raised and the book builds a subtle picture of the times and the people.
Publisher: Quercus

Judges’ comments: In the summer of 1942 Malta is on the brink of invasion. Mark Mills combines the stresses of this perilous situation on Maltese society with a murder investigation that exposes treachery and betrayal. The volatile atmosphere of the constantly-bombed tiny island, the complex relationships that exist between the Maltese and the Allied servicemen who attempt to make merry knowing life could be brutally short, build into an engrossing mystery.
Publisher: HarperCollins

Judges’ comments: An unusual crime novel that centres on an investigation during the Second World War into whether Allied codes have been broken. The investigation is carried out – against orders – by an interrogator of German naval prisoners of war. A highly suspicious death occurs amongst the prisoners. The gradual growth of a relationship between the interrogator and a female signals officer working in the Admiralty’s Operational Intelligence Centre parallels those which develop between interrogator and interrogated, and between the prisoners themselves. Betrayal results on all sides. This complex and well-written book offers a fascinating insight into a little-explored area of the conduct of war.
Publisher: John Murray

Judges’ comments: Another compelling look at wartime London exploring the stresses and strains of four years living under bombing, rationing, and the threat of invasion. An intricate plot switches between a murder investigation by Inspector Stratton, a campaign by a sinister figure without medical qualifications to turn himself into a doctor, and the struggles of Stratton’s wife and her sister to cope with a psychotic survivor of bombing as well as wartime deprivations. The nature of trust is explored. Small details of civil and police life after four years of war build up to a shattering climax.
Publishers: Orion Publishing Group

The CWA Ellis Peters judging panel has also asked for the following books from their long list to be published in recognition of their merit.
Rory Clements MARTYR
Publisher: John Murray
Marjorie Eccles BROKEN MUSIC
Publisher: Allison & Busby

Sunday 20 September 2009

Agatha Christie a celebration

Agatha Christie week (13 to 20 September) has sadly just finished and a wide range of events were organised to celebrate the life of the Queen of Crime. Highlights included new radio productions; unpublished short stories; plays and debates. And of course a reading and discussion of Murder on the Orient Express in the book club.

Of all the events that took place during the week long celebration I managed to attend two of the events. The first event took place at Southbank Centre in London on Wednesday 16 September In front of an audience of over 100 fans best-selling authors and Christie aficionados Kate Mosse, Val McDermid and Jasper Fforde debated her work and discussed their favourite Christie novels. Simon Brett chaired the panel. The audience at this event was wide ranging not only in age but also in gender. It is quite clear that despite the fact that it is said that a lot of men refuse to read books written by women this is not the case when it comes to Agatha Christie. Her fan base is clearly covered by both sexes.

The discussion about the Queen of Crime ranged from why she still has such phenomenal sales figures, to the influence of Agatha Christie on their own writing; her ability to reach such a wide audience. However, it was fairly noticeable that only one member of the audience dared raise a point of criticism about Agatha Christie and her works. The point in question was the fact that at times she did not play fair with her readers. This criticism was highly defended by all the members of the panel. As the various panellist’s pointed out not only did the writing do what it set out to do but also her dialogue was often brilliant, her characters reflected a good grasp of human nature and she was not in the least bit snobbish. The age old question of the genre being snubbed by the more literary types was also discussed not only in relation to her own work but also in general. The panel also took questions from the audience where amongst the questions they were asked was if they had to write a story featuring a Agatha Christie character which one would it be and why. Amongst the responses received from the panel members was that of Kate Mosse who declared that she would not be able to do so and Val McDermid who declared that she would like to write a prequel to The Mysterious Affair at Styles where she could write about Hercule Poirot and why he left the Belgian Police Force. It was also unanimously agreed that Joan Hickson was the archetypal Miss Marple while David Suchet of course was considered to be the best screen version of Hercule Poirot.

It was a lively, good natured panel, which was clearly enjoyed by all in attendance.

The second event that I managed to attend was the book launch of John Curran’s highly anticipated Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making. This took place on 17 September at Goldsboro books in Cecil Court. Present at the launch were not only the author but also Agatha Christie’s grandson Matthew Pritchard. It was in 2004 that the discovery was made of 73 notebooks at her home Greenway House. The notebooks not only contained secrets about her novels but two unpublished Poirot stories were also found. The two stories are also re-produced in the book. John Curran is not only a Christie expert but also a friend of the estate. In the Secret Notebooks Curran answers a number of questions in the book relating to Agatha Christie and her stories.

Earlier during the week John Curran had picked in the Guardian his top ten novels by Agatha Christie. This can be found here. Author Val McDermid also wrote an essay on the parallels that her writing has with that of Agatha Christie.

Next year will mark the 90th anniversary of Hercule Poirot and the 80th anniversary of the appearance of Miss Marple in a novel. Miss Marple first appeared in a short story whose published appearance was in issue 350 of The Royal Magazine for December 1927 with the first printing of the short story The Tuesday Night Club. This later became the first chapter of The Thirteen Problems in 1932.

For someone whose first crime novel was Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles I hope that next year they will bring out all the stops to ensure that the 90th anniversary of Poirot and the 80th anniversary of Miss Marple are well celebrated.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

First Chiswick Book Festival

Shots is happy to announce first Chiswick Book Festival which is happening from 25th – 27th September, and there’s going to be a fantastic crime panel on Sunday 27th September at 4pm. All events are being held at St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Road , W4 (close to Turnham Green Tube) – the Church is opposite the Tabard pub.

This event is called The Perfect Crime: from Book to Screen

  • Crime writers, Sophie Hannah (The Other Half Lives-Hodder), Roy Mitchell (Creator of ‘New Tricks’ on BBC1), Stav Sherez (The Black Monastery-Faber) & Dan Waddell (Blood Atonement-Penguin) are on a panel at 4pm in the Michael Room .

All tickets are available from Waterstone’s Booksellers, Chiswick W4 1PD. Tel: 020 8995 3559. Or the Chiswick Festival website

Tuesday 1 September 2009



London, 1st September, 2009—Specsavers, Cactus TV and ITV3 in partnership with the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) are pleased to announce they will join forces to celebrate the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2009. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event on ITV3, the 2009 event will be merged with the Crime Writers’ Association Daggers and the new combined “Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards on ITV3” will take place on Wednesday, 21st October, 2009.

The exciting new partnership is a 3 year deal between the four parties. The initiative has the support of leading publishers and highstreet retailers and will have posters and stickered books in shops and supermarkets and coverage in the press, reinforcing the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards as a major industry event.

The culmination of a six-week season of ITV3 crime and drama programming, the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards (“Daggers”) will be a glittering occasion at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. The awards ceremony will celebrate the crème de la crème of Crime & Thriller fiction with awards focusing on the best of British and International crime thriller novels.

Literary Awards presented will include the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller, the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for a new author of note, and the Hall Of Fame Dagger, which honours the achievements of the genre’s greatest exponents, past and present. In addition, the evening will introduce a brand new award – the ITV3 Bestseller Dagger, sponsored by Specsavers – voted for by ITV3 viewers.

The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards will also celebrate crime fiction off the page with awards focusing on the greatest crime and thriller films and TV dramas of the year – along with the actors who brought the characters to life. Each award of the evening will be presented by celebrity faces with a connection to the world of crime fiction – last year’s presenter’s included Dame Helen Mirren and Ricky Gervais.

Crime Writers’ Association Chair Margaret Murphy comments: “The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over fifty years. This exciting partnership with Cactus TV and ITV3 will enable us to create a mass media platform for the Crime Writers’ Association’s proud heritage in recognising great crime writing talent. We are delighted that the CWA Gold Dagger, Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, and John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger will benefit from this increased exposure and we look forward to reaching a new audience for what is already publishing’s most popular genre.”

Specsavers have been appointed as event sponsor and are keen to pursue an involvement with the audience for crime writing, whether it be readers, TV viewers or film goers. The 3 year partnership between Specsavers, Cactus TV, ITV3 and the Crime Writers’ Association represents a serious move into entertainment and arts sponsorship for the UK’s market-leading optician.

Specsavers marketing director, Richard Holmes, says: “The Specsavers brand has a wonderful fit with both reading and books. To have an association married so neatly through the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards is a great opportunity not just for Spescavers but also the publishing and book retail industries as we work together to lift the profile of the awards.”

In the run-up to the glittering awards, ITV3 will broadcast weekly documentaries, profiling six of the greatest crime writers working today: Colin Dexter, Ian Rankin, P D James, Lynda La Plante, Val McDermid and Ruth Rendell. In 2008, the series reached 3.12m viewers. These documentaries will also highlight the shortlists for the new literary awards as well as interviews with the shortlisted writers for the the ITV3 Bestseller Dagger, sponsored by Specsavers.

The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards are commissioned by Claire Zolkwer, Commissioning Editor, Entertainment on behalf of Emma Tennant, Controller ITV Digital Channels. The Executive Producer for Cactus TV is Amanda Ross.

Claire Zolkwer said: “Last year’s Crime Thriller Season showcased the wonderful assets we have in crime and thriller drama while also giving us the opportunity to introduce the author talent behind some of the best loved series on television. ITV3 is delighted to be working with Cactus TV once again on this popular project and playing our part in bringing the illustrious ‘Daggers’ into the nation’s sitting rooms.”

Amanda Ross, Managing Director Cactus TV, adds: “We are delighted to have a new 3-year partnership with the Crime Writers’ Association to ensure the future of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards and to establish it as a major event in the awards calendar. This is an extremely popular fiction genre and we will ensure that its creators and performers get the recognition they richly deserve.”

The televised ceremony which will transmit on ITV3 later in October will combine the Crime Writers’ Association’s most prestigious awards with the major categories featured in 2009’s Crime Thriller Awards:

· The CWA Gold Dagger for the best Crime Novel of the year.

· The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger – for first books by previously unpublished writers, awarded in memory of CWA founder John Creasey.

· The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger – for the year’s best thriller.

· The ITV3 Bestseller Dagger, sponsored by Specsavers – voted for by ITV3 viewers.

· The Hall of Fame – honouring the achievements of the genre’s greatest exponents, past and present.

· The Film Dagger – for the best big-screen crime thriller story.

· The TV Dagger – for the best small-screen crime thriller drama.

· The International TV Dagger – for the best TV crime thriller drama from around the world.

· The Best Actress Dagger – for the female star of a crime thriller drama.

· The Best Actor Dagger - for the male star of a crime thriller drama.

The shortlists for each of these award categories will be announced to the public on 4th September, 2009.