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, 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


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 Malmsj√∂. ‘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 Carr√©, 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.