Monday 30 August 2010

Newsy Stuff

Newsy information that is crime fiction related!
The BBC is to make three more episodes of the hit programme of the updated version of Sherlock Holmes featuring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The inaugural series received rave reviews.

The Wire
star Idris Elba is to return in two two-hour specials of the programme Luther.

More information about Sherlock Holmes and Luther can be found here.

Sebastian Faulk’s World War 1 novel Birdsong will also be adapted for television in a two part series for the BBC.

The BBC has also announced that a conspiracy thriller co-created by novelist Ronan Bennett will be shown. The current working title for the project is called “Undisclosed” and is a taut and compelling mystery thriller revolving around Harry Venn, a small-time solicitor. Forced to delve into his murky past when asked to find a missing alibi witness, Venn soon finds himself caught up in a bigger and more complex conspiracy. Blurring the line between the political and the personal.

According to the finalists for the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award have been announced! The three finalists are:-
Cut & Run by Alix Bosco (Penguin);
Burial by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster); and
Containment by Vanda Symon (Penguin)
The award is made for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident, published in New Zealand during 2009.
More information can be found here.

According to the Washington Post the acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Richard Price is to write a series of detective thrillers under the pseudonym Jay Morris. The full article can be found in the Washington Post. The article also talks about the use of pseudonyms by authors.

There is an excellent article by Otto Penzler about Noir Fiction at Well worth reading for his views on what is Noir Fiction as opposed to what some readers think it is.

When the NPR asked its audience to nominate their favourite thriller novels it was a forgone conclusion that the nominations would cover a wide spectrum. Now all the votes have been calculated (over 17,000 were nominated) and the results are in. Unsurprisingly Stieg Larsson’s three books made the cut, but the overall favourite was Stephen King with six books in the list. I am pleased to see that some of my favourite novels made the list amongst them being - In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane, The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett, Gone Baby Gone, by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre, The Poet, by Michael Connelly, The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith, Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming, What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman and The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte to name a few!

Nick Sayer at Hodder has acquired three new crime novels from South African crime writer Deon Meyer along with a collection of his short stories. The article can be found here. Deon Meyer is due to be the translated Guest of Honour at Crimefest 2011.

According to Locus Online the 2009 World Fantasy Award nominees have been announced.
The full list can be found here. Congratulations to all nominees but especially to China MiĆ©ville who’s novel The City and The City has been nominated for Best Novel. The awards will be presented in Columbus OH, October 28-31, 2010.

Michael Faber’s novel The Crimson Petal and the White is to be made into a television drama and will be shown on the BBC.

is also a new drama series for BBC One. From the imagination of writer Danny Brocklehurst, this three-part drama is a tale of prodigal redemption, but also becomes an investigative crime story. The two investigations dovetail – the intimate story of a son returning to dissect the history of his family, and the digging into a mind blowing scandal two decades old, whose effects still live on.

To be shown on BBC Two over Christmas is “Whistle And I'll Come To You”, written by Neil Cross, who is not only a crime novelist but also the lead scriptwriter for Spooks. It is the thoroughly modern re-working of the evocative Edwardian ghost story "Oh, Whistle and I'll come to You, My Lad" by M.R. James and will be made by BBC Drama Production. Cross's adaptation delves into themes of ageing, hubris and the supernatural, whilst adding a terrifying psychological twist.

ITV have also got a number of crime fiction related programmes in the pipeline.

Injustice stars James Purefoy as William Travers, a criminal barrister who is recovering from a traumatic series of events that have shaken his belief in the legal system. James Purefoy is currently best known for playing Mark Anthony in the HBO/BBC original television series of “Rome”. Injustice is written by Anthony Horowitz. The central character, William Travers, is the opposite of what he seems - a successful criminal barrister still recovering from a traumatic series of events that have shaken his belief in the legal system. Reluctantly, he is drawn into a case that involves conspiracy and murder while at the same time being investigated by a vicious and vengeful detective. The five part series is a story of friendship, conspiracy, betrayal and murder as well as a critical look at the way the legal system operates. Injustice is due to be shown in 2011.

Suranne Jones (better known for playing Karen McDonald in Coronation Street) and Lesley Sharp (who played Joan Hunter in Channel Four’s acclaimed drama Red Riding) are due to play “Scott and Bailey” the title roles of two homicide detectives from Greater Manchester Police’s prestigious Major Incident Team. Filming is due to start in November 2010. Scott and Bailey will explore the personal and professional lives of DC Janet Scott (played by Lesley Sharp) and DC Cathy Bailey (played by Suranne Jones), both members of Greater Manchester Police's prestigious Major Incident Team. Cathy is 30, down-to-earth, noisy, argumentative and single whilst Janet is 40, a diplomat and a thinker, as well as being a wife and mother. Despite the obvious differences between them, the fact that they are often thrown together in difficult situations means they have developed a robust friendship. The series, which will be 6 x 60 minute episodes. Has been co-created by with ex-Detective Inspector Diane Taylor formerly of the Major Incident Team, Greater Manchester Police.

The Jury is a compelling series, which focuses on the everyday people who find themselves at the centre of one of the most controversial criminal re-trials of their time. Written by BAFTA winner and Oscar nominated Peter Morgan, the drama goes into production early next year (2011). The Jury is gripping, dark and emotionally charged and will deal with the story of a prisoner who has served five years of a sentence for a violent triple murder. New evidence has come to light, which calls his conviction into question, and the jurors are forced to face their prejudices as they come to grips with the complexities and unwanted attention of being a key player in such a high profile Old Bailey trial.

Peter Robinson’s Aftermath staring Stephen Tompkinson as Detective Chief Inspector Banks is due to be shown in the Autumn in a two part drama, adapted from the novel by award winning international crime writer, Peter Robinson, which tells the story of an ordinary house in an ordinary street which is about to become infamous. When two young police constables are sent to the house following a report of a domestic disturbance, they make a truly shocking discovery. Lying on the floor with a head wound and on the verge of death is Lucy Payne (Charlotte Riley). In the cellar her husband Terry (Samuel Roukin) is found crouching amid a scene of utterly appalling horror, which sears into the memories of the young officers, who realise that they have caught a serial killer. But his capture is only the beginning of a shocking investigation that will test DCI Banks to the absolute limit. Working alongside Banks is ambitious and pretty DS Annie Cabot (Andrea Lowe) - a recent and hard-working addition to his team.

Whitechapel, featuring Rupert Penry-Jones, which won rave reviews in 2009, is due to return this time focusing on a killer who is copying the crimes of the infamous Kray twins. After Jack the Ripper comes the gangster brutality of the Krays, and in Whitechapel the paranoia of this era and the faded glamour of the former East End overlords characterise the drama.

The Little House is a compelling two-part thriller which explores the psychological power struggles that takes place within one family and the lengths an obsessive mother will go to keep control of her son. The Little House drama stars BAFTA-winning actress Francesca Annis, alongside Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Evans and Lucy Griffiths.

The dramatisation of CWA Gold Dagger Winner Ann Cleeves Vera Stanhope series is also due to be shown in the Autumn/Winter on ITV. Vera will be four new self-contained stories. The first episode in the series is based on the Vera Stanhope story Hidden Depths. The other new episodes will be adapted from Ann's other novels, Telling Tales and The Crow Trap and the third will be an original story. Vera will be broadcast in early 2011.

ITV have also commissioned an adaptation of Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicion of Mr Whicher. More information from ITV can be found here.

On the cinema front – John Cusack is set to pay Edgar Allan Poe. The actor is set to play Poe in director James McTeigue's forthcoming "The Raven,". Not to be confused with the poem, it is a fictionalized account of Poe's mysterious last days chasing a serial killer.

Monday 23 August 2010

Edinburgh Festival 2nd Report from Peter Guttridge

Sitting here in the yurt in Edinburgh listening on my iPod to Terry Reid. Yeah, I know – who he? One of the great soul voices. Made two fantastic albums – River and Seed of Memory (produced by Graham Nash) – with five great, great ballads alongside some more forgettable rock tracks. I saw him in 1971 at Sheffield Uni, supported by a certain Rod Stewart and The Small Faces. I was carrying a dead chicken in a plastic carrier bag at the time. Let’s not go there. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, I saw him at the Isle of Wight Festival a year earlier with the great guitarist, David Lindley (Tiki Torches at Twilight anybody?) but I have no memory of him there.
However, don’t get me started on who I did see there because this is a crime writing blog. The reason I mention the music I’m listening to is that I’ve been talking to GEORGE PELECANOS today by email, and he’s a music nut. (I was asking if he’d read my second novel in the Brighton trilogy and, if he liked it, say nice things but he’s stopped doing that. Damn.) And then I had a chat with IAN RANKIN over lunch and he’s still rebuilding the vinyl collection he sacrificed to CD by buying it all on vinyl again. Interesting notion. Where did I put all those Betamax videos?
DENISE MINA and STUART MCBRIDE are about to do their thing – on stage, I mean. Denise is in a Michelin man coat and very fetching red Ugg boots – she looks great except that we’re in the middle of a heat wave in Edinburgh and she’s sweltering. Of course, she lives in Glasgow – a totally different climate zone even though it’s only a 20 minute train ride away.
At lunch I was with the Scottish chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association, at their kind invitation, in a room on Princes Street with a spectacular view across to the castle. ALEX GRAY and LIN ANDERSON were on fine form, as were the Scottish crime-writing twins I’ve entirely forgotten the last name of (it’s been a long day) although I spoke most to MORNA, the twin who was sitting beside me. Of course, they did both go off to the toilet at one point so when they came back I could have been talking to her sister thereafter.
Alex and Lin are planning a Scottish crime writing festival, possibly based in Stirling. Good luck to them. I’m changing my name to McGuttridge. Shameless? I don’t know the meaning of the word.
In many ways the Edinburgh festival is a Scottish crime writers’ festival as everybody is here. Although PAUL JOHNSTON has given it a miss this year to have a holiday with his family. Lightweight.
I missed my mate QUINTIN JARDINE yesterday afternoon because I had my own events but I saw IAN RANKIN being interviewed by the aforementioned LIN. They are both Tweeters and on-stage checked in to see if anyone was tweeting about the event. Four people in the audience were. Hilarious.
Ian popped by at the lunch today, as I said, and Tweeted from the table. Never thought I’d write that sentence in my life. Check it out. (His tweet that is, not my sentence.)
Had a bracing time the other evening not with a crime writer but with SIR IAN BLAIR, former Commissioner of the Met, whose run in charge of London policing was blighted by the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. I liked him. He didn’t shirk the tough questions about that shooting and other real-life controversies but showed he knew a fair bit about crime fiction too (not to mention the real identity of Jack the Ripper).
He didn’t like the violence in the first STIEG LARSSON. That bloody Scandinavian comes up almost as much as DANBROWN used to when crime writers gather and I’ve scarcely met one who understands his success. I’ve heard a rumour that a certain ALI KARIM is also puzzled now about the fuss he originally made about it. Sanity returns to the world of crime fiction. Well, for the moment.
TONY BLACK, creator of Gus Drury, and GILLIAN GALBRAITH, the Alice Rice creator, were both on fine fettle in their joint event. And CHRIS BROOKMYRE got the bit between his teeth so much he went to do a stand-up set in the late night Spiegeltent.
S J PARRIS (in real life Stephanie Merritt, who I knew for email years when she held down a desk as deputy books editor of the Observer but never actually met until this week) was droll in describing her Tudor mystery novel, Heresy. And honest when she said her false moniker deliberately had the sound of C J SANSOM, whose Tudor Shardlake series is so successful.
And here’s a real life mystery. NICHOLAS PARSONS wandered through, looking as miserable as sin, before his main theatre event. I’ve heard from the mouths of several horses involved with Just A Minute, on BBC Radio 4, that he’s not altogether popular there. Why has no enterprising crime writer figured out a way for such a character’s fictional demise…?

Thursday 19 August 2010

Our Man in Edinburgh or Peter Guttridge on the town.....

Peter Guttridge is our man in Edinburgh. As well has chairing panels, Peter has agreed to send us a blog so we can keep up with him and fellow authors attending the Festival. So here goes with the first one....

So I walk into the yurt that acts as the writers’ room for authors at the Edinburgh book festival and all around I see crimewriters – and, for me, ghosts of crimewriters. No, I’m not going doo-lally, it’s just that a place you visit each year for a number of years holds the instant reminder of those previous visits. So over there is where the late lamented MICHAEL DIBDIN quaffed whiskey with his chair, PAUL JOHNSTON, and snarled about the ignorance of a reviewer who’d given him a bad review of his latest Aurelio Zen. That reviewer would be me and later that day IAN RANKIN led a gaggle of crimewriters (a gaggle? Maybe that should be An Alibi of crimewriters - or A Clew?) to the Oxford Bar, the seedy drinking place of a certain copper called Rebus and Dibdin and I had a very pleasing, if drunken, conversation in which I did not mention (am I a coward or sensible?) that I was That Reviewer. I stand by my review – but not enough on that occasion to admit that I’d written it.

And over there by the sandwiches and wine and whiskey I see DAVID SIMON, creator of THE WIRE, and his wife, the beautiful and talented LAURA LIPPMAN, who were here last year (or was it the year before?) for David to talk Wire-related stuff with me. I probably saved his life by calming the audience when he committed the cardinal sin of discussing cricket as if it was (intake of breath) a Scottish sport not an English one…

Today, in reality, IAN RANKIN has just wafted out. CHRIS BROOKMYRE is just arriving, looking very cheery before his evening sell-out event. REG HILL is being wry as ever in the corner there where he’sbeing interviewed by an intense young journalist. (That used to be me.) ALEX GRAY is happy to be here though in mourning for her 15-year old cat, who died this morning. JAKE ARNOTT, not really a crime-writer but nearly, is in fine fettle discussing the need for a Brighton Rock sequel whilst bewailing the classic film’s new remake. And PHILIP BARUTH, author of the literary thriller THE BOSWELL BROTHERS, mentions in passing that he’s standing as senator in Vermont in a few day’s time…

And me? Well, I’m here to chair a raft of events but I’m also carrying around – like a stupidly precious cargo – the just-arrived early copy of my new novel, City of Dreadful Night and planning the marketing for its official publication in September.

Much more later.

Tuesday 17 August 2010

Welcome Mr. Blomkvist and Ms. Salander

Official News that David Fincher has cast the two leads for the upcoming US version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO as reported by Entertainment Weekly -

Fincher’s search for Lisbeth has drawn intense scrutiny over the last few weeks, especially over whether Sony will gamble on an unknown actress to carry such an important franchise. Insiders have long assured that an unfamiliar thesp would land the role but many in town suggested that it would make more sense to go with an experienced talent. And regardless of experience, Lisbeth Salander won’t be an easy role to play: The filmmaker’s current plan is to have all the players speak with Swedish accents, a decision that could potentially prove distracting. Should the accents not be delivered flawlessly, the film’s stars could also be a potential target for ridicule.

Read more

Thanks to Quercus publishing for photos of Daniel Craig © 2010 Greg Williams and Rooney Mara © 2010 Merrick Morton

Thursday 12 August 2010

The PWA & CWA award nominations 2010

As I gear up for Bouchercon 2010 in San Francisco, I have secured tickets for the Private Eye Writers of America Annual Shamus Awards. The Nominations have just been released – A tip of the Hat to our Pulpetti friend in Finland for the list - and Shots Pass congratulations to all the nominated authors and writers -

Best Hardcover PI Novel
The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta (Minotaur/St. Martin's)
Where the Dead Lay by David Levien (Doubleday)
Locked In by Marcia Muller (Grand Central)
Schemers by Bill Pronzini (Forge)
My Soul to Take by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (William Morrow)

Best First PI Novel
The Last Gig by Norman Green (Minotaur/St. Martin's)
The Good Son by Russel D. McLean (Minotaur/St. Martin's)
Faces of the Gone by Brad Parks (Minotaur/St. Martin's)
Chinatown Angel by A.E. Roman (Minotaur/St. Martin's)

Best Paperback Original PI Novel
Dark Side of the Morgue by Raymond Benson (Leisure Books)
Sinner’s Ball by Ira Berkowitz (Three Rivers Press)
Red Blooded Murder by Laura Caldwell (Mira)
Vengeance Road by Rick Mofina (Mira)
Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn)

Best PI Short Story
"The Dark Island" by Brendan DuBois, Boston Noir (Akashic)
"Deadline Edition" by S.L. Franklin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2009
“Blazin' on Broadway" by Gary Phillips, Phoenix Noir (Akashic)
"Suicide Bonds" by Tim L. Williams, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, March/April 2009
"Julius Katz" by Dave Zeltserman, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2009

Click Here for more information on Robert J Randisi and the PWA

While back in the UK, we have the final shortlists for the remaining CWA Daggers –

Blacklands by Belinda Bauer (Corgi/Transworld)
Blood Harvest by S J Bolton (Bantam Press/Transworld)
Shadowplay by Karen Campbell (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Way Home by George Pelecanos (Orion)

A Loyal Spy by Simon Conway (Hodder & Stoughton)
Innocent by Scott Turow (Mantle)
The Gentlemen's Hour by Don Winslow (Heinemann/Random House)

Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn (Macmillan New Writing)
Rupture by Simon Lelic (Picador)
The Holy Thief by William Ryan (Mantle)
The Pull of the Moon by Diane Janes (Constable & Robinson)

The announcement of these finalists coincides with the launch of the completely integrated Crime Thriller promotional period which will see posters and stickered books in shops and supermarkets, coverage in the press, and trailers on ITV1 and ITV3. The initiative has the support of leading publishers and highstreet retailers and is now well established as a major industry-wide event.

Forming the basis of the official Specsavers Crime Thriller Season, ITV3 will start a six-week run of brand new crime and thriller documentaries on Tuesday 31st August. These hour-long documentaries will focus on TV’s greatest detectives and showcase the shortlisted novels in the book award categories.

In this major new TV campaign, in the six weeks leading up to The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2010, the British public will get the chance to vote for their favourite TV detective of all time. Over the six-week season of documentaries on ITV3, twelve different fictional detectives will be profiled - each of them a nominee for ‘The People’s Detective’ Dagger, which will be presented at The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards.

The Holiday Starts with Reacher

As we toil away while most of the world seems on Holiday, one can look forward to our own breaks; and one treat I love in holiday preparation is the selection of my holiday reading. Sarah Crompton of the Telegraph is packing a few Lee Child novels for her holiday –

This is what thrillers have always been good at: they have their finger on the pulse of the times in a way their literary counterparts often fail to do. If you want to know what it is like living in Washington today, George Pelecanos is the man to tell you; Ian Rankin is as good on the state of Scotland as any living author.

It was this ability of popular fiction to reflect society's soul that lay behind George Orwell's essay Raffles and Miss Blandish. In it, he bemoaned the "cruelty and corruption" found in American "lowbrow fiction", which he saw as part of the debased moral atmosphere of an age in which "such things as mass bombings of civilians, the use of hostages, torture to obtain confessions, secret prisons, execution without trial, floggings with rubber truncheons, drownings in cesspools, systematic falsification of records and statistics, treachery, bribery and quislingism are normal and morally neutral, even admirable when they are done in a large and bold way." In contrast he pointed to the world of Raffles, where the hero is morally equivocal, but there is a clear line between right and wrong, good and evil.

The Reacher books combine the two genres. The novels are full of the sadistic violence of the type Orwell despised, and Child consciously describes an ethically uncertain society, where good things are done for the wrong reasons and bad ones for the right. Reacher, in adopting the role of a vigilante, sets himself on the side of right – but against the rule of law. On the other hand, because he is alone he is also the little man taking on the wrongful powers of the unwieldy state; he doesn't triumph because he is strong but because he is resourceful, gallant and good.

In this he is a new version of the righteous avenger, a Robin Hood for our troubled times, a man who protects the weak by being smarter than the strong. "In an adventure story," Orwell wrote "one can think of oneself as being at the centre of events." In a confusing world, we all want to be Jack Reacher.

Read More Here

Photo (c) 2009 Ali Karim with Lee Child at the Jack Reacher Party 2010 at The Slippery Noodle Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Tuesday 3 August 2010

P D James - A Brief Appreciation

Today 3 August 2010 Baroness James of Holland, better known as P D James celebrates her ninetieth birthday. Known also as the Mistress of Crime, P D James is the author of over 20 crime novels. She is considered to be one of this century’s foremost crime writers. Her novels explore amongst other things relationships, motivation and the meaning of justice. Her knowledge and powers of reflection and observation are aspect that constantly at the forefront of her work.

Her first novel Cover Her Face was published in 1962 this was followed by A Mind to Murder (1963) and Unnatural Causes (1967). They are the first three books in the series to feature the poet Chief Inspector (later on Commander) Adam Dalgliesh. PD James has written 14 books in the Adam Dalgliesh series the most latest being The Private Patient (2008).

She has also written two books featuring Private Investigator Cordelia Gray. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972) and The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982).

PD James has also written a number of non-fiction books –
The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811 (True crime)
Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography
Talking About Detective Fiction (Literary Criticism)

A number of the Adam Dalgliesh novels have been adapted for television. Her standalone novel The Children of Men was the basis for the feature film Children of Men which featured Clive Owen and Michael Caine.

In 2008 PD James was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame.

PD James and her work are admired all over the world and this can be seen by the number of prizes and awards that she has been given including –
Mystery Writers of America - Best Novel Award - Shroud for a Nightingale (1971), An Unsuitable Job for A Woman (1973) and A Taste for Death (1986)
CWA Silver Dagger Award – Shroud for a Nightingale (1971), The Black Tower (1975) and A Taste for Death (1986)

In 1987 PD James was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award. This was followed in 1999 when she was awarded the Grandmaster Award by the Mystery Writers of America.

Not one to shy away from controversy she quite famously took on the BBC’s Director General Mark Thompson when she was guest editor on BBC’s Radio 4’s Today Programme early on in the New Year (2010). There was a huge profound and welcomed response in the various newspapers to her guest editing on the Today Programme. The response from The Guardian can be found here, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph.

The Today Programme can be found here

Her work is distinguished not solely due to the consistency of plotting, setting and character but also due to the fact that she is not afraid to experiment with the genre. As one of the leading lights of not only the British crime fiction scene but also the world it is with great appreciation and celebration that we congratulate P D James on her ninetieth birthday.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Peter James’ International Appeal

I enjoyed meeting up with Peter James last weekend at The Theakstons’ Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival, in Harrogate. Peter’s novel DEAD TOMORROW, is one of his most disturbing Roy Grace Detective Thrillers, and was one of the nominated books in the Theakstons’ Best Crime Novel of the Year Award. Peter has been nominated many times for this award, as well as being lauded throughout the world by the top international critics of the crime and thriller genre.
I have enjoyed Peter James’ dark police procedurals for many years now, and delighted to see his domestic success spread throughout the world. So it was with little surprise to see Peter in the spotlight at International Thriller Writers with an in-depth feature interview.

One question that Andrew Peterson of ITW asked James was also discussed in the one of the Harrogate Panels that Peter was speaking at, and chaired by Barry Forshaw, discussing the most disturbing aspects of the crime-fiction genre’s edges –

You write crime novels and many criminal acts are quite violent and gruesome. Are there certain lines you won't cross when describing scenes in your books? Do you have an internal alarm that sounds off if you feel a scene goes too far?

I think that everything in a crime thriller should be there for the purposes of telling the story, not for the writer to show off how much research he has done, or how gory he can write a scene. But equally I don't believe in shirking away from the truly gruesome. During the course of their work, police - and other emergency services workers - are faced with sights and situations that many people just could not cope with, and I see my role to portray these accurately. In my second Roy Grace novel, LOOKING GOOD DEAD, I have a scene in which Roy Grace has to retrieve a severed head from a bathtub filled with sulphuric acid. It was inspired by a story told to me by a homicide detective who had done just this. I attempted in the scene to convey the horror he himself felt at what he had to do, without the scene becoming "gothic".

However in DEAD MAN'S FOOTSTEPS, I have several scenes during the immediate aftermath of the airplanes striking the twin towers. I put in graphic descriptions, given to me by two NYPD officers who were among the very first on the scene, and I found it necessary to tone these down as they were too horrific - far more than had ever been described in the press.

In the real word of policing I have attended some truly horrific sights. At one crime scene I saw a young woman pinned to the floor by a dagger through each eye. At a particularly horrific Road Traffic Accident I attended, I saw one traffic cop kneel down and scoop up a dead motorcyclist's eyeballs into a dustpan. The emergency service workers have a way of dealing with this through so-called gallows humor. When there is a single vehicle fatality, such as a motorcyclist going too fast and hitting a tree, the traffic cops describe it, privately, as a DODI. The letters stand for "Dead One Did It." Another particular example of gallows humor I like (although I guess I shouldn't) is a FUBAR BUNDY. It is what UK ambulance crews whisper to each other at the scene of an accident where the victim is alive but clearly not going to survive. It stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recovery - But Unfortunately Not Dead Yet.

I think the biggest censorship I find myself having to apply is when I am at dinner with friends. I sometimes forget their stomachs are not as strong as mine has become....!!!

Read The Full Exchange at International Thriller Writers - HERE

If you haven’t yet explored the dark world of Peter James / Roy Grace – Click here

Photo Peter James with Sponsor Simon Theakston © 2010 Ali Karim taken at Theakstons’ Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival