Friday 28 January 2011


1934 – 2011

Historical mystery writer dies at the age of 77.
Ariana Franklin (Diana Norman) the author of the Mistress of the Art of Death Series featuring the fictional medieval pathologist Adelia Aguilar has died at the age of 77. Diana was the wife of the well-known and well-regarded film critic Barry Norman.

As Ariana Franklin she wrote four books in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. The first book in the series The Mistress of the Art of Death was published in 2007 and won the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger. It was also awarded the Flint Axe Award in Sweden. In 2008 it won the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery (Macavity Award).

The Death Maze (US: The Serpent’s Tale) 2008 the second book in the series was shortlisted for the 2008 Ellis Peters Award.

Relics of the Dead (US: Grave Goods) the third book in the series was published in 2009.

The Assassins Prayer (US: The Murderous Possession) 2010 is the fourth book in the series.

Her 2006 novel City of Shadows was shortlisted for a Barry Award for Best novel in 2007.

Under the name Diana Norman she wrote a number of acclaimed historical novels.

More information can be found on the BBC website.

A 2008 interview with Ariana Franklin for Shotsmag can be found here.

C J Box interview on BBC Radio 5

C.J. Box will be appearing in the main books interview on BBC Radio 5 Live Up All Night at 4.30am tomorrow. (11:30am Eastern Time, 10:30am Central Standard Time, 9:30am Mountain Standard Time, 8:30am Pacific Time)

You can listen to it here

C.J Box will be talking about Open Season', the first book in the Joe Pickett series and the UK launch of the entire Joe Pickett series and life in Wyoming.

The Talented Mr. Smith

This morning while getting ready to face the day, I was delighted to hear Mark Smith, on BBC Radio 4 being interviewed by the Morning Crew. I have enjoyed the disturbing work such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Roslund Hellstrom’s Three Seconds published by Quercus.

Then I read this press release, and raised my morning coffee to Mark, because as a fellow businessman myself, I know how hard [and nerve-shredding] it is starting a large company from scratch - so here's the reward -

Mark Smith, co-founder and Chief Executive of Quercus Publishing Plc, the independent print and digital publishing company, was named last night as Entrepreneur of the Year at the Grant Thornton Growth Company Awards.

Mr.Smith, aged 41, founded Quercus in 2004 with Wayne Davies. Both men were colleagues at Orion Books, a subsidiary of the Hachette group. Over the past six years they have grown the company into a business with over £30m annual revenues and operations in the USA and Australia in addition to its UK base.

‘Winning this award is a terrific compliment to the whole Quercus team,’ Mr.Smith said. ‘Creating a substantial and profitable business from scratch in a highly competitive sector like publishing is challenging, and we have had our problems along the way. But we have always stuck to our original vision – a business which combines the best aspects of new technology publishing with the key elements of more traditional publishing.’

Quercus listed on the PLUS market in 2006, and has a current market capitalization of c. £24m. In the six months to June 2010 it made £3.3m pre-tax profit on revenues of £15m. Last month it launched a US-based joint venture company, Silver Oak, in partnership with Barnes & Noble, the world’s biggest bookseller. The first book to be published by Silver Oak, Three Seconds, is currently No 9 in the New York Times Top Ten Bestsellers list.

Photo of Mark Smith with Eva Gedin [Stieg Larsson’s Editor] at the Swedish Embassy in London © 2009 Ali Karim

Thursday 27 January 2011


Sky Atlantic, Tuesday, 1 February, 9pm

It’s here at last – HBO’s much heralded Prohibition drama that will leave most British TV execs feeling they need a drink.
Because when they contemplate commissioning the umpteenth job lot of Midsomer Murders or Silent Witness, Boardwalk Empire will remind them just how good a crime series can be when it has this much talent and ambition behind it.
And of course it had much more cash behind it than any British series – the 90-minute opener, directed by Martin Scorsese, is rumoured to have cost $20-odd million. For that we get a sweeping, epic drama about power, delving into the wild 1920s, the dawn of the modern American gangster, all told with lavish sets, chilling violence and terrific storytelling.
It’s 1920, the eve of Prohibition and Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson (Steve Buscemi), Treasurer of Atlantic City, is meeting some serious mobsters from New York – Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and a young, trigger-happy thug called Al Capone (British actor Stephen Graham).
While nightclub revellers celebrate the new booze ban by cracking open the champagne, Nucky is pledging to keep the booze flowing. But we soon see that problems are looming for this politician who wants to play with the gangsters.
His protégé and driver, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), a veteran of the Great War who wants to get rich in peacetime, teams up with Capone to hijack Nucky’s booze consignment for New York. The heist goes wrong, four men are shot, and Nucky gains an enemy in the menacing Arnold Rothstein.
Nucky, a widower, also encounters Irish immigrant and battered wife Margaret Schroeder (played by another Brit, the Scottish Kelly Macdonald), who at first is timid but as she mingles with the power-brokers and hustlers surrounding Nucky, we sense that she is no fool, and that Nucky is slowly being drawn to her.
It’s a charismatic performance by Buscemi, who won a Golden Globe in January, as did the series for best dramatic series.
Boardwalk Empire, based on a book about Atlantic City’s corrupt past by Nelson Johnson and overseen by Sopranos scriptwriter Terence Winter, brings alive again an astonishing period that was once fashionable in classic movies such as James Cagney’s The Roaring Twenties. But the series is in many ways more vivid – from the ragtime, to the spectacle of boxing dwarves and other mad stunts of the time.
But make no mistake – Broadwalk Empire’s magic is not just down to budget. The Americans, particularly those hired by HBO, just think bigger and produce better television. The series brilliantly weaves true events with the dramas of complex, believable characters.
It’s a wild period. And then, of course, there is Scorsese’s skill at rubbing out dirty rats in brilliant set-piece sequences. Unmissable.

Sky Atlantic, Tuesday, 1 February, 10.30pm

The other new crime series helping to launch Sky Atlantic on its first night immediately follows Boardwalk Empire.
Blue Bloods stars Tom Selleck as a New York police commissioner in a series that is part family drama, part cop show. In a rather contrived premise, the Reagans are virtually a multi-generational family police force.
In addition to Frank (Selleck), there’s his father, Henry (Lou Cariou), a former police chief; eldest son and detective Danny (Donnie Wahlberg); daughter Linda (Bridget Moynahan, an assistant DA; and youngest son, Jamie (Will Estes), a Harvard law grad who couldn’t resist joining New York’s finest despite his qualifications. Oh, and Frank’s other son, Joe, was killed in the line of duty.
You can see where this is going. Plenty of opportunities arise for family conflicts and arguments round the dinner table. So, when Danny batters a suspected child kidnapper in the opening episode, sis Linda is on his case because the guy could now go free on a technicality.
Blue Bloods certainly has blue blood in its veins, so that it favours Danny doing what a cop’s gotta do. And though Linda sticks up for the rights of the individual for a while, by the end she and Danny can bond over the news that a suspect is being shipped to Florida – where, happily, they have the death penalty.

The opener is bulging with plot exposition to set up the whole series, so that the first time we see family together they all clunkily introduce themselves and their professions to us and each other. We then get a stream plot cliffhangers in quick succession. Is the widower Frank having an affair? Should Jamie join an undercover operation investigating his brother’s death? And was Joe the victim of police criminality?
Where the HBO-produced Boardwalk Empire is ambitious and exceptional, Blue Bloods (CBS) is standard cop-show fare. Still, filmed on New York’s streets, the show looks sharp, and it’s good to see Selleck back again.

Radio 4, Saturday, 5 February, 2.30pm

Listen out for insolent tones of Philip Marlowe as the first of Radio 4’s Raymond Chandler adaptations, The Big Sleep, hits the air in February. Toby Stephens plays the private eye in Chandler’s classic tale about Marlowe being hired by the rich General Sternwood to deal with a blackmailer. The other plays in this and the next series include: Farewell My Lovely (1940); The High Window (1942); The Lady in the Lake (1943); The Little Sister (1949); The Long Goodbye (1953); and two lesser-known novels, Playback (1958) and Poodle Springs, unfinished at the time of Chandler's death in 1959. The second series completing the Classic Chandler collection will be broadcast in the autumn.

Robin Jarossi is a TV jounalist and editor of

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Nominations! Nominations and more nominations!

Left Coast Crime Nominations

The nominations for the awards due to be given out at the 2011 Left Coast Crime Convention have been announced. This year the 22nd annual Left Coast Crime Convention will take place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, March 24-27, 2011

The Lefty is awarded to the best humorous mystery novel. The nominees are:

Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews (Minotaur Books)
Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne Books) Old Dogs by Donna Moore (Busted Flush Press)
Revenge for Old Times' Sake by Kris Neri (Cherokee McGhee)
The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein by J. Michael Orenduff (Oak Tree Press)
The Lefty has been awarded since 1996.

The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award, is given for mystery novels covering events before 1950. It was first awarded in 2004. The nominees are:

A Night of Long Knives by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge Books)
Murder for Greenhorns by Robert Kresge (ABQ Press)
City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur Books)
The Demon’s Parchment by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur Books)
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear (HarperCollins)

The Hillerman Sky Award is a special award given this year, in honour of the convention’s New Mexico location and is given to the mystery that best captures the landscape of the Southwest. The nominations are:

Wild Penance by Sandi Ault (Berkley Hardcover)
The Bone Fire by Christine Barber (Minotaur Books)
The Spider's Web by Margaret Coel (Berkley Hardcover)
Snare by Deborah J Ledford (Second Wind Publishing)

The Watson is another special award given this year to the mystery novel with the best sidekick. The nominees are:

Wild Penance by Sandi Ault (Berkley Hardcover)
Dead Lift by Rachel Brady(Poisoned Pen Press)
Rolling Thunder by Chris Grabenstein (Pegasus)
Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson (Viking)
To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn (Atria)

Dilys Award Nominations:

The nominees for the Dilys Award, which is given by the Independent Mystery Booksellers to the book booksellers most enjoyed selling are:
Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
Once a Spy by Keith Thomson
Savages by Don Winslow.
The winner will be announced in March at Left Coast Crime in Santa Fe.

Hammett Prize Nominees:-

The North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers have announced the nominees for their annual Hammett Prize for a work of literary excellence in the field of crime writing by a US or Canadian author.

The nominees are:-

Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster)
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by Tom Franklin (William Morrow)
Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker (Dutton)
The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer, (St. Martin's/Minotaur

The winner of the Hammett Prize will be announced on September 20 during the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) Fall Conference.
Congratulations to all the nominees!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Diamond Dagger Awarded to Lindsey Davis

(photograph credit- Michael Trevillion)

Huge congratulations go to Lindsey Davis who has been awarded the 2011 CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger.

According to the CWA the Press Release -

The award from the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA), which is sponsored by Cartier, honours outstanding achievement in the field of crime writing.

The award, the 26th time the Dagger has been presented, will be presented by Cartier UK’s Executive Chairman Arnaud Bamberger at a date and venue yet to be arranged.

Lindsey Davis was born and brought up in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, then joined the civil service, which she left in 1985. Her first novel, The Silver Pigs, published in 1989, introduced her hero Marcus Didius Falco and his long-suffering partner Helena Justina. Starting as a spoof using a Roman 'informer' as a classic, metropolitan private eye, the series has developed into a set of adventures in various styles which take place throughout the Roman world. 2009 saw the publication of Rebels and Traitors, set in the English Civil War and Commonwealth. Nemesis, the 20th Falco novel, and Falco: The Official Companion were published in June 2010.

The Cartier Diamond Dagger is the latest award for Lindsey. The Silver Pigs won the Authors' Club Best First Novel award in 1989, and she has also won the CWA Dagger in the Library and the inaugural Ellis Peters Historical Dagger. Her hero Falco has won the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective. Her books are published in the UK and US, and translated into many other languages. Audio readings and Large Print versions are made. BBC Radio 4 has produced successful drama serials of the early books, dramatised by Mary Cutler and starring Anton Lesser as Falco and Anna Madeley as Helena.

She has been Chair of the UK Crime Writers' Association and Honorary President of the Classical Association. In 2009 the city of Zaragoza awarded her its International Prize for a career of writing historical novels, the Premio de Honor de Novela Histo rica Ciudad de Zaragoza. In 2010 the city of Rome honoured her with the Premio Colosseo for ‘enhancing the image of Rome’.

Lindsey said: “When I heard about this I had just been awarded the Premio Colosseo, so I was already reeling. The Diamond Dagger is the ultimate accolade for a crime author, because it is given by fellow-writers and is not just for one book but your work as a whole over the years. I am absolutely delighted and honoured to receive the Cartier award."

Tom Harper, Chair of the CWA, said: “This is the highest award the CWA can bestow and Lindsey Davis is a worthy winner. Her novels have long delighted her worldwide band of followers and the Dagger is a fitting recognition of her achievements.“

Monday 24 January 2011

Bucking the Trend

With all the woes of the Publishing Industry, it was welcome to see that in some quarters, business remains brisk as reported by The Bookseller this morning –

Quercus, Penguin and Simon & Schuster had record years through Nielsen BookScan’s Total Consumer Market (TCM) in 2010, bucking the downward trend of the entire UK books market. The gains, revealed in The Bookseller’s exclusive annual round-up of publisher performance and market share, come against a background of an overall contraction of the TCM, which fell 3% by value last year to £1.695m.

Stieg Larsson’s publisher Quercus saw its TCM revenue rise by 100% year on year to £23.3m, of which £18.6m (78%) was generated by the late Swede. It was Quercus’ second straight year of triple-digit growth, and the largest ever increase through the TCM by a publisher with revenue of £10m or above. Quercus’ performance helped the Independent Alliance score its fifth straight year of double-digit growth, up 14%.

Penguin was the only one of the top four publishing groups, which collectively account for 47.6% of the UK market, to have positive year-on-year growth. It rose 14% to £195.1m, increasing its market share from 10% in 2009 to 11.5%. The Penguin division, excluding Dorling Kindersley and Rough Guides, at £163.3m had its biggest year since TCM records began.

Read more

Speaking of Quercus we are delighted see that Jane Wood has signed up Barbara Nadel to write a new crime series in which the author returns to her East End roots. The series will feature a white ex-policeman (and ex-soldier), now a PI, and an Asian Muslim woman who assists him. The London Borough of Newham is one of the most ethnically complex urban districts in the world, with a high rate of violent crime, gang culture and racism. To signal this change of direction, Barbara will write the books under the name B J Nadel. Quercus will publish the first book in the series in summer 2012.

Jane Wood said “I’m delighted that Barbara is joining Quercus. As a daughter of Newham she is uniquely qualified to write about this richly diverse borough of our sprawling capital city, an area undergoing immense change with the coming Olympics.”

Barbara Nadel said “I am very happy to take this opportunity to explore a new and exciting crime series”

Sunday 23 January 2011

Books to look forward to from Constable and Robinson

David Dickinson’s Death in a Scarlet Coat is due to be published in January 2011. Master of the Hunt, the fifteenth Earl of Candlesby, has come to lead his riders once again. But this time he comes as a corpse, wrapped in blankets across his horse, a corner of his scarlet coat visible in the morning mist. Only three people see the body. One dies. Another vanishes. Now only one man knows how he was killed. Lord Francis Powerscourt is summoned to investigate murder in a crumbling house where the paper is peeling off the walls and the stuffed owls each only have one leg. The estate is virtually bankrupt as Powerscourt uncovers a world of jealousy, revenge and hatred, where the sons are as dissolute and dangerous as the father. The fifteenth earl had left a trail of duels, theft and adultery across the flatlands of Lincolnshire. It takes another death and a deadly chase under the crumbling estate before Powerscourt unlocks the secret of death in a scarlet coat.

Death of a Sweep is by M C Beaton and is due to be published in February 2011. In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one

day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn't believe that the affable chi

mney sweep is capable of committing murder. Then Pete's body is found on the Scottish moors, and the mystery deepens. Once again, it’s up to Hamish to discover who’s responsible for the dirty deed — and this time, the murderer may be closer than he realizes.

Stormtide is a Webb Carrick murder mystery. Webb Carrick of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Service latest adventure takes him on a North Atlantic shark hunt in the waters of the storm-tossed Hebrides. Webb Carrick finds he has inadvertently strayed right into the middle of a smouldering feud between a renegade band of shark hunters and some vengeful local fishermen, angered by the drowning of a young girl – a feud which threatens to ignite when he boards a wrecked fishing boat and finds her skipper dead on deck. As furious charges and counter charges are hurled, murder and arson come to the islands with stealthy suddenness. But when the final stormtide breaks even Webb Carrick is staggered to discover how much is at stake in terms of life and death. Stormtide is by Bill Knox and is due to be published in February 2011.

Murder at the Villa Byzantine is the sixth crime novel to feature amateur sleuths Antonia Darcy and Major Payne. What role does the mysterious Miss Hope, former governess to the Bulgarian royal family, play in the bizarre murder at the Villa Byzantine? And does she in fact actually exist? Antonia Darcy and Major Hugh Payne attend a birthday party for one of their Hampstead neighbours, little knowing they will end up investigating the grisly death of one of Melisa

nde Chevret’s other guests. The ageing actress becomes a natural suspect when her love rival is killed. But after that first murder, another murder takes place at the Villa Byzantine. The owner of the exotically styled house is royal biographer Tancred Vane, but he swears he is innocent. And surely his new friend Catherine Hope, an elderly lady helping him with his research, can have nothing to do with it? It looks as though the victim’s daughter is to blame – but how likely is it that a teenage girl should have a dainty silk handkerchief bearing her monogram? And would she drop it so conveniently beside her mother’s dead body? Murder at the Villa Byzantine is by R T Raichev and is due to be published in February 2011.

Why Don’t You Come For Me is by Diane Janes and will be published in March 2011. Sometimes Jo still wakes suddenly, thinking she can hear Lauren’s cry. Although twelve years have passed since her baby daughter was abducted, photos of the child continue to arrive by post with the words, I Still Have Her, scrawled across the back. The police think it’s the work of a hoaxer but Jo has always believed them to be genuine – and until there is some hard evidence to the contrary, she will always hold on to the belief that Lauren is still alive. But if the pictures really do come from the kidnapper it means that they have been keeping track of Jo’s movements all these years – and recently Jo has begun to feel as if she is being watched – and that whoever has her daughter is getting closer. Is Jo’s husband right to dismiss her fears as paranoia, or might Jo herself be in danger? As her life begins to unravel Jo fears that the truth may lie in older events; in a half-forgotten childhood world, scarred by rumours of insanity and murder.

The Calling by Alison Bruce and is the third in the DC Goodhew series and is due to be published in July 2011. Kaye Whiting went to buy a birthday present and didn’t come back. She isn’t dead, or physically injured. But she is alone and very, very scared. Fifty miles away in Cambridge town centre a deeply disturbed young woman is standing by a payphone. She kno

ws she often feels compelled to do harmful things and is driven by a desire to make a call. DC Goodhew is

one of the detectives assigned to find Kaye and when her body is discovered the only clue to the potential murderer is a woman’s voice on his answerphone saying, ‘K

aye isn’t the first and won’t be the last…’

The Witness is by Cath Staincliffe. A senseless crime, a community in fear, would you dare stand up and be counted? Would you bear witness knowing how high the cost might be? Four bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time. Witnesses to the shocking shooting of a teenage boy. A moment that changes their lives forever. Fiona, a midwife, is plagued by panic attacks and unable to work. Has she the strength to testify? Mike, a delivery driver and family man, faces an impossible decision when his frightened wife forces him to choose – us or the court case. Cheryl, a single-mother, doesn’t want her child to grow up in the same climate of fear. Dare she speak out and risk her own life? Zak, a homeless man, offers to talk in exchange for witness protection and the chance of a new start. Ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. Will the witnesses stand firm or be prevented from giving evidence? How will they cope with the emotional trauma of reliving the murder under pitiless cross-examination? A compassionate, suspenseful and illuminating story exploring the real human cost of bearing witness. The Witness is due to be published in April 2011.

Death’s Other Kingdom is the third Inspector Max Romero mystery. 23rd February 1981 – an attempted military coup in Spain. Thirty years later, young journalist Mariana Mora learns that her father’s death that day was suicide. She doesn’t believe it. As Granada moves through its winter cycle of pageants and rituals, Inspector Max Romero investigates assaults on two young women. Both had received threatening notes. And then Mariana is found dead. The police are convinced they are dealing with a serial assailant but Max discovers a link to the death of Mariana’s father. The ghosts of the coup are still powerful and deadly. Death’s Other Kingdom is by P J Brooke and is due to be published in July 2011.

Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera is by Simon Brett. There is consternation at Tawcester Towers! While giving a guided tour of the house’s Long Gallery Blotto is stunned to discover that two of the family portraits – a Gainsborough and a Reynolds – are missing. Tawcester Towers has been the victim of art thieves! Blotto is forced to summon his brilliantly intelligent sister Twinks who instantly deduces that a gang of international art thieves based in Paris has stolen the paintings. So Blotto and Twinks instantly set off in the former’s Lagonda for France! Their investigations in Paris bring them into contact with the absinthe-soaked art community of the Rive Gauche, but after an attempt on his life at the Folies Bergere, Blotto is persuaded by Twinks that it is to Nice they must travel, as the criminal mastermind La Puce runs his evil empire from there, funded by the proceeds of many European art collections – including those from Tawcester Towers. The French Riviera is a gay old place, and following various lead, Twinks makes contacts with many expatriates and Americans all leading the good life, including the famous silent movie star Mimsy La Pim, who Blotto finds himself curiously drawn to. But after a particularly decadent party it is discovered that La Puce has kidnapped Mimsy – and so it is up to Blotto and Twinks to save the starlet from many fates worse than death and restore the fortunes of Tawcester Towers to boot! Blotto, Twinks and the Rodents of the Riviera is due to be published in July 2011.

Warsaw Anagrams is a chilling mystery set in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. Autumn 1940. The Nazis seal 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik Cohen, an elderly psychiatrist, is forced to move into a tiny apartment with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam. One bitterly coldwinter’s day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding the ghetto. The boy’s leg has been cut off, and a tiny piece of string has been left in his mouth. Soon, another body turns up – this time a girl’s, and one of her hands has been taken. Evidence begins to point to a Jewish traitor luring children to their death. The Warsaw Anagrams is by Richard Zimler and is due to be published in February 2011.

In A Bedlam of Bones there is more blackmail, mayhem and murder for the humbug-crunching vicar, his dog, and the cat. After the unsettling exploits in the Auvergne the vicar and his companions try to resume a life of moderate respectability. But the recent events cast a long

shadow and they are soon in the grip of sinister repercussions. Who is the menacing blackmailer stalking the previous blackmailer and the bishop? Can the bishop survive the threat of being ‘outed’? Why is there a body in the polyanthus bed and can Lavinia Birtle-Figgins really be as dippy as she seems? These and other imponderables immerse the Reverend Francis Oughterard in a fresh web of danger and subterfuge while his animal ‘minders’, Maurice and Bouncer, try their best to make sense of all this human bedlam. A Bedlam of Bones is by Suzette Hill and is due to be published in May 2011.

In the international bestseller Roma, Steven Saylor told the story of the first thousand years of Rome by following the descendants of a single bloodline. Now, in Empire, Saylor charts the destinies of five more generations of the Pinarius family, from the reign of the first emperor, Augustus, to the glorious height of Rome’s empire under Hadrian. Through the eyes of the Pinarii, we witness the machinations of Tiberius, the madness of Caligula, the cruel escapades of Nero, and the chaos of the Year of Four Emperors in 69 A.D. The deadly paranoia of Domitian is followed by the Golden Age of Trajan and Hadrian—but even the most enlightened emperors wield the power to inflict death and destruction on a whim. But at the novel’s heart are the wrenching choices and seductive temptations faced by each new generation of the Pinarii. One unwittingly becomes the sexual plaything of the notorious Messalina. One enters into a clandestine affair with a Vestal virgin. One falls under the charismatic spell of Nero, while another is drawn into the strange new cult of those who deny the gods and call themselves Christians. However diverse their destinies and desires, all the Pinarii are united by one thing: the mysterious golden talisman called the fascinum handed down from a time before Rome existed. As it passes from generation to generation, the fascinum seems to exercise a power not only over those who wear it, but over the very fate of the empire. Empire is by Steven Saylor and is due to be published in May 2011.

A serial killer holds New York in his grip. He does not choose his victims. Nor does he watch them die. But then there are too many of them for that. The explosion of a twenty-two storey

building, followed by the casual discovery of a letter, lead the police to face up to a dreadful reality: some of New York’s buildings were mined at the time of their construction. But which ones? And how many? A young female detective hiding her personal demons behind a tough appearance, and a former press photographer with a past he’d rather forget, and for which he still seeks forgiveness, are the only hope of stopping this psychopath. A man who does not even claim responsibility for his actions.

A man who believes himself to be God. I am God is by Giorgio Faletti and is due to be published in June 2011.

The Counterfeit Madam by Pat McIntosh is due to be published in June 2011. Gil Cunningham had hoped that the first time he set foot in the brothel on the Drygate it would also be his last, but by the time all was settled he felt quite at home within its artfully painted chambers. The bawdy house, along with the neighbouring property and two more in Strathblane, are all part of a deal offered to Gil and his wife Alys by the forceful Dame Isabella. Her proposal also involves Gil’s young ward, and matters are further confused by an outbreak of counterfeit coins in Glasgow, which Gil has been ordered to investigate. Then Dame Isabella is found dead in strange circumstances, and the more Gil pursues the cause of her death, the more false coins he finds. And then the bawd-mistress, the enigmatic Madam Xanthe, gets involved and rumours circulate that the Devil is abroad in Strathblane. By the time Gil and Alys have untangled matters, some very surprising – and sinister – thing have come to light.

Devil-Devil by G W Kent is an exotic crime series set in the Solomon Islands featuring Sergeant Kella and Sister Conchita. It’s 1960 and Sergeant Ben Kella of the Solomon Islands police force is only a few days into a routine patrol of the most beautiful yet dangerous and primitive areas of the South Pacific. Yet, already, he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cult uprising and failed to find an American anthropologist who has been scouring the mountainous jungle in search of a priceless erotic icon. To complicate matters further, at a local mission station, Kella discovers the redoubtable Sister Conchita secretly trying to bury a skeleton, before a mysterious gunman tries to kill her. Mission-educated yet an aofia – the traditional peacemaker of the islands – Kella is forced to link up with Sister Conchita, an independent and rebellious young American nun, in order to track down the perpetrators of a series of bizarre murders. Devil-Devil is due to be published in June 2011.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Books to look forward to from Penguin and Michael Joseph

Death Toll is by CWA Dagger in the Library winner Jim Kelly. Bodies are being exhumed at King's Lynn's cemetery, the bones moved to higher ground to avoid flooding. But when the coffin of murdered pub landlady Nora Tilden is hauled up into the light there's a grim discovery: the twisted corpse of a young black man, killed by a billhook blow to the head, and dumped in the grave on the night Nora was buried twenty-eight years earlier. The police are baffled by a bewildering and brutal murder. Who was this young man? Was he the victim of a racist crime? When DI Peter Shaw, DS George Valentine and their team are put on the case their investigation first leads them to The Flask, Nora's pub just along the riverbank, where her family hides more than one dark secret and it's soon clear no one can be trusted. Will Shaw and Valentine be able to get to the shocking truth behind the murder before it's too late and the ghosts from the past claim another victim? Death Toll is due to be published in January 2011.

The Papal Decree is by Luis Miguel Rocha and is due to be published in July 2011. The Catholic Church's best-kept secret. The ancient scrolls which threaten that secret. And a journalist prepared to discover the truth at any cost. 1947, the Qumran Valley. Ancient scrolls are discovered that the Vatican desperately tries to suppress. Only five men know of their existence. But now four of the men have been found dead . . . Priest and double agent, Rafael, is sent to investigate. The evidence he discovers may implicate journalist Sarah Monteiro, who already knows too many of the Church’s secrets. Finding themselves dangerously entangled in a life-threatening conspiracy that the church will go to any length to protect, Rafael and Sarah must uncover the truth before the killers do .

The Dead Tracks is the second David Raker novel. A serial killer more terrifying than you could ever imagine … Seventeen-year-old Megan Carver was an unlikely runaway. A straight-A student from a happy home, she studied hard and rarely got into trouble. Six months on, she's never been found. Missing persons investigator David Raker knows what it's like to grieve. He knows the shadowy world of the lost too. So, when he's hired by Megan's parents to find out what happened, he recognizes their pain - but knows that the darkest secrets can be buried deep. And Megan's secrets could cost him his life. Because as Raker investigates her disappearance, he realizes everything is a lie. People close to her are dead. Others are too terrified to talk. And soon the conspiracy of silence leads Raker towards a forest on the edge of the city. A place with a horrifying history - which was once the hunting ground for a brutal, twisted serial killer. A place known as the Dead Tracks. The Dead Tracks is by Tim Weaver and is due to be published in February 2011.

The Sword of the Templars is by Paul Christopher and is due to be published in March 2011. After a lifetime on the front lines, Army Ranger John Holliday has resigned himself to ending his career teaching at West Point Military Academy. But when his uncle passes away, Holliday discovers a medieval sword among his things - sinisterly wrapped in Adolf Hitler's personal battle standard. Then someone viciously burns down his uncle's house and Holliday's secret fears about the mysterious sword ring alarmingly true. Holliday must delve into the past and piece together the puzzle that was his uncle's life - his involvement with the enigmatic warriors known as the Knights Templar. But his search for answers soon becomes a race against a ruthless and cunning opponent, willing to die for their cause. Can Holliday live long enough to reveal the treacherous but critical truth?

Ruso and the River of Darkness by R S Downie is the fourth book in the series. Gaius Petreius Ruso and his newlywed wife Tilla have moved back to Britannia, where Ruso's old friend and colleague Valens has promised to help him find work. But it isn't the kind of work he'd had in mind - Ruso's tasked to hunt down a missing taxman named Julius Asper. Of course there's something else missing: money. And the Council of the town of Verulamium is bickering over what's become of it. Compelled to delve deeper by a threat from his old sparring-partner Metellus, Ruso discovers that the good townsfolk may not be as loyal to Rome as they like to appear. While Tilla tries to comfort Asper's wife, an anonymous well-wisher warns the couple to flee before they get hurt. But it doesn't take long until Ruso and Tilla find themselves trapped at the heart of an increasingly treacherous conspiracy. Ruso and the River of Darkness is due to be published in March 2011.

An aspiring artist. A high-school senior. A stripper. Three women who seemed to have nothing in common except their sudden disappearance. But one man knew them all. Wealthy, privileged Craig Thornton even claimed to love them. And for that, they paid the ultimate price. NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU- When Adrianna Barrington receives an anniversary card from her husband Craig, she assumes it's a sick joke. After all, Craig is dead. But then come the whispered phone calls and beautiful flowers, all reminding her how much Craig misses her. While Adrianna begins to doubt her sanity, grisly remains are found on the Thornton estate. Detective Gage Hudson is convinced the bodies are linked to Craig. But the biggest shocks are yet to come. NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU -
A psychopath has taken up his chilling work again, each death a prelude to the moment when Adrianna is under his control at last. And the only way for Gage and Adrianna to stop him is to uncover the truth about a family's dark past and a twisted love that someone will kill for again and 
again … Dying Scream is by Mary Burton and is due to be published in May 2011.

The Templar Cross is also by Paul Christopher. Retired Army Ranger Lt. Col. John Holliday has reluctantly settled into his teaching position at West Point when young Israeli archaeologist Rafi Wanounou comes to him with desperate news. Holliday's niece - and Rafi's fiancé - Peggy has been kidnapped. Holliday sets out with Rafi to find the only family he has left. But their search for Peggy will lead them to a trail of clues that spans across the globe, and into the heart of a conspiracy involving an ancient Egyptian legend and the darkest secrets of the Order of Templar Knights. Secrets that, once known, cannot be survived … The Templar Cross is due for publication in July 2011.

The Cutting i

s one of the scariest debuts of the year. And the first in a great new series by James Hayman. It is due to be published in January 2011. Someone is stealing the hearts of beautiful women … Portland, Maine. A missing high-school athlete's mutilated body is found in a scrap metal yard. Her heart has been surgically removed. The same day a young businesswoman is abducted … Former NYPD detective Michael McCabe believes both crimes are the work of one man. A k

iller with surgical expertise who is targeting young women. Now McCabe and his team face a race against time to rescue the missing woman and unmask this sadistic killer - before it is too late.

The Chill of the Night is also by James Hayman. Glamorous young Portland attorney Lainie Goff thought she had it all. Brains. Beauty. And a fast-track to a partnership in a top-ranked firm. But then one cold winter night she pushed things too far. And very soon her nude and frozen body is found in the sub-zero temperatures at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.

 The only witness to the crime? A mentally disturbed young woman named Abby Quinn who mysteriously goes missing the very same night. 

With the discovery of Lainie Goff's frozen body and the disappearance of Abby Quinn, Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe finds himself, once again, on the trail of a relentless and clever killer. A killer he must find before another life is lost. The Chill of the Night is by June 2011.

The Temple Mount Code is by Charles Brokaw. One of the world's holiest sites holds a secret that once discovered will set our life as we know it in complete turmoil … When Thomas Lourds, the world's foremost scholar of ancient languages, is contacted by his old friend Dr Lev Strauss about the findings of a long lost ancient scripture, Lourds rushes immediately to Jerusalem to meet with Strauss. The document holds the key to one of the world's biggest treasures, which is hidden under the legendary Temple Mount. But when Lourds arrives in Israel, his friend has been murdered and the book has vanished. Deeply infuriated by Strauss'

death he is determined to seek the truth behind the murder and track down the manuscript before others can decipher the code it contains. The hunt forone of the best-kept secrets begins but will Lourds make it in time before his dangerous opponents close in? The legends promise the code's owner the power to rule over mankind … The Temple Mount Code is due to be published in June 2011.

When everything has been taken from you … 
There's nothing left to lose. Martin Harris has been in a coma for three days … when he wakes up, otherwise unharmed, he is shocked to discover that no one knows who he is - he no longer exists. Worse still, another man is living Martin's life. His identity, his home, even his wife have been stolen. He has lost everything. Except his memory …will anyone believe that he is the real Martin Harris? If not, is he mad? Or is there a far darker explanation? Out of my Head is by Didier van Cauwelaert and due to be published in February 2011

The Set Up is the debut novel by Felix Riley. In three days time it will all be too late … New York City - present day. Mike Byrne wants to know who framed him for murder. The New York Police Department 
Want Byrne locked up. The United States Secret Service 
Want Byrne dead. Detective Jenni Martinez 
Wants her gun and her badge back. Thing is, you don't always get what you want. 
So begins a life or death race against time to prevent an attack on the heart of the United States of America. Only one man can stop it - and he's just been set up. The Set Up is due to be

published in April 2011

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen is due to be published in May 2011. On a beautiful winter's day the young, ambitious politician Merete Lynggaard

disappears without a trace. The media are all over the story with their headlines suggesting everything from murder and suicide to a planned voluntary disappearance. The police immediately commence a large-scale investigation - alas with no result. Merete Lynggaard has vanished from the face of the earth. Years later, Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Mørck, who is known for his unconventional work practices, is put in charge of the new Department Q, which deals with 'cases of special focus'. Soon Carl and his assistant Assad stumble over new evidence in Merete's case and end up tracing a reckless criminal who, driven by hate, has set up an insane scheme.

It is 1210 and a black force is sweeping England. For a vengeful King John has seized control other Church, leaving corpses to lie in unconsecrated ground, babies unbaptized in their cradles

and th
e people terrified of dying in sin. And in the village of Gastmere, the consequences grow darker still when Elena, a servant girl, is dragged into a conspiracy to absolve the sins of the lord of the manor. As the terrors that soon begin to plague Elena's sleep grow darker, in desperation she visits the

cunning woman, who has been waiting for just such an opportunity to


il an ancient curse co

njured at the gallows. Elena, haunted by this curse and threatened with death for a crime she didn't commit, flees the village … only to find her nightmare has barely begun. For treachery lurks in every shadow as King John's brutal reign makes enemies of brothers, murderers of virgins and sinners of us all.The Gallows Curse is by Karen Maitland and is due to be published in March 2011.

Blue Monday by Nicci French is the first in a new series featuring Freida Klein. Psychotherapist Frieda Klein is facing a moral dilemma. One of her patients has revealed disturbing dreams in which he abducts a child, whose appearance he can describe in minute detail. And when Matthew, a five-year-old boy who matches that description, goes missing Frieda experiences a shudder of unease and contacts the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn't take her seriously, but when a link emerges to an abduction going back twenty years, he brings Frieda in to interview the victim's sister. And so she becomes ensnared in a desperate hunt to find Matthew's kidnapper … but Frieda's chase isn't physical: she must race through the dark paths of a psychopath's mind to unearth the answers that lie within. Your darkest thoughts. Your secret desires. Your murderous impulses. Frieda Klein can see them all. Blue Monday is due to be published in June 2011.

Lost Empire by Clive Cussler (with Grant Blackwood) is the second book in the Fargo series. While scuba diving in Tanzania, Sam and Remi Fargo come upon a relic belonging to a long-lost Confederate ship. An anomaly about the relic sets them off chasing a mystery - but unknown to them, a much more powerful force is engaged in the same chase. Mexico's ruling party, the ultranationalist Mexica Tenochca, is intent on finding that artefact as well, because it contains a secret that could destroy the party utterly. 

Through Tanzania and Zanzibar, into the rainforests of Madagascar, and across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia and the legendary site of the 1883 Krakatoa explosion, the Fargos and their ruthless opponents pursue the hunt - but only one can win. Lost Empire is due to be published in January 2011.

The Kingdom is another installment in the Fargo Series by Clive Cussler (with Grant Blackwood) The husband-and-wife team of Sam and Remi Fargo are used to hunting for treasure, but they aren't used to hunting for people — until an investigator friend of theirs goes missing, and they promise to search for him. What they find, however, will be beyond anything they could have imagined. 

On a journey that will take them to Tibet, Nepal, China, Venice, and Siberia, the Fargos will find themselves embroiled with black market fossils, an ancient Tibetan kingdom, a lost landmass in the North Sea, stone-age ostrich egg shards inscribed in a cryptic language, a pair of battles separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years…and a skeleton that could just turn the history of human evolution on its head. The Kingdom is due to be published in June 2011.

Clive Cussler (with Jack Du Brul) also return with another novel in The Oregon Files. A devastating new weapon unleashed in thirteenth-century China; a daring rescue mission in the snowbound mountains along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border; a woman gone missing in the jungles of northern Thailand and Myanmar. For Juan Cabrillo, intrepid captain of state-of-the-art fighting ship Oregon, all of the above will come together and lead to the discovery of the greatest threat against US security that the world has ever known. and all that stands between this threat and terrible destruction are Cabrillo and The Oregon. The Jungle is due to be published in March 2011.