Monday 29 April 2013

Dagger in the Library Longlist!

The Dagger in the Library long list is out!

The nominees are –

Belinda Bauer

Alison Bruce

S J Bolton

Peter May

Gordon Ferris

Tania Carver

Elly Griffiths

Christopher Fowler

Michael Ridpath

Jane Casey

Phil Rickman

Alex Gray and

Frances Brody!

Congratulations to all those on the longlist!  The shortlist will be announced at Crimefest on 31 May 2013, with the eventual winner being revealed at the Daggers Gala Dinner on 15 July 2013.

Sunday 28 April 2013

Crime From the North

Crime expert Barry Forshaw will be chairing a fascinating panel event with crime authors Stuart Neville, Arne Dahl and Antti Tuomainen at Waterstones Piccadilly on 1 May 2013.  It will include a discussion on The Blinded Man: The First Intercrime Thriller.
Stuart Neville is the best-selling author whose  debut The Twelve was published to critical acclaim in 2009 and went on to win the LA Times Book Prize in its category. Collusion and Stolen Souls have followed closely in its tracks, each garnering increasingly widespread praise.  Harvill Secker have recently published Ratlines, an exciting standalone thriller following the trail of Nazis in Ireland in the wake of World War II. 
Arne Dahl is the pen name of Jan Arnald is a Swedish novelist and literary critic, who uses the name Arne Dahl when writing crime fiction. He is also a regular writer in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. The Blind Man based on his book is a Swedish crime thriller series about an elite team of detectives currently being shown on BBC4.

Antti Tuomainen is the award-winning author of The Healer (Parantaja) which won the Clue Award for Best Finnish Crime Novel 2011.  It was also shortlisted for the Glass Key Best Scandinavian Crime Novel 2012.

Barry Forshaw is an expert on Scandinavian crime fiction. His novels Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction and Nordic Noir: The Pocket Essential Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction, Film & TV have recently been published.  He is also the editor of The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia.

Time 6:30pm
£5/£3 Waterstones Cardholders

Official link for further information about the event.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Lauren Beukes on The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes is a South African novelist, short story writer, journalist and TV scriptwriter. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa.  Her novel Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Kitschies Red Tentacle. Her latest novel The Shining Girls about a time travelling serial killer is published today.

In South Africa, we have a great expression, “picking up stompies” (cigarette stubs) which means eavesdropping on snippets of a conversation and jumping to conclusions. I pick up a lot of stompies, from stuff I’ve read or seen or overheard or glanced from the car window. If I’m lucky, sometimes something sparks in my subconscious and sets a story alight.

The idea for a novel about a time-travelling serial killer was a happy accident on Twitter. I threw out the idea in the middle of some silly banter and immediately deleted the Tweet. I had to write that, right now, before someone else thought of it and because I knew I could do something really interesting with it.

I abandoned my work in progress and started writing The Shining Girls on the plane. I had the general form of it. An impossible mystery that could only be solved by an improbable survivor.

It’s about Harper, a mean, low-down killer from the 1930s who hunts young women through the decades and Kirby, the fiery young journalist who turns the hunt around in the 90s when Harper fails to kill her.

But more than that, it’s a story about obsessions that take over your life, free will and fate, how we have been shaped by the 20th Century, the loops and echoes of history.

All that meant it absolutely couldn’t be set in South Africa.

The ugly narrative of apartheid would have overwhelmed all the other things I wanted to talk about, like segregation in other places, women’s rights, protest culture, McCarthyism’s precedent for the War on Terror, economic depression, highways rewiring cities and the ripples violence sends out through society. So, I set it in Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper, and, conveniently, somewhere I’d lived for a while.

I still had to do a lot of research. I devoured books on the city, from the wonderfully salacious and seedy Chicago Confidential by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer published in 1950 to Jim deRogatis’s Milk It: Collected Musings on the Alternative Music Explosion of the 90s and Gang Leader for A Day by Sudhir Venkatesh, listened to Studs Terkel’s oral histories and true crime podcasts on serial killers, and hired two part-time researchers to dig up fascinating real snippets of history about a real-life burlesque dancer who painted herself up in radium, for example, or the underground women’s organization, Jane.

I went back to the city on a research trip and interviewed police detectives and sports
journalists and historians and inveigled my friends to take me around on location scouts, driving through Englewood, or prowling through the creepy back corridors of the Congress Hotel or choreographing a murder scene on Montrose Beach.

Keeping track of it all was something else. Because while Harper follows the typical serial killer’s trajectory – becoming more elaborate and more violent as he goes on, his MO is all over the place. He’s more violent in 1984 and less violent in 1993, for example. But he also leaves trophies on the bodies to connect his victims in a murder constellation through time, because he’s sick like that. I dealt with being in his head by hurting him whenever the opportunity presented itself: dog bite, torn tendon, broken jaw, which meant I had to keep an eye on his current state and how he was healing.

I ended up with three major timelines: the killer’s, the way the book plays out and the actual historical timeline from 1931 to 1993, which I charted over real events from specific baseballs games to the riots of the 1968 Democratic Convention.

I had to map it all out on the space above my desk with a murder wall: timelines and images, criss-crossed with red and black and yellow wool to link the objects and the killings across the years.

The Shining Girls is a departure from my previous novels. Fans of The Shining Girls may get a shock if they go back to read my earlier novels. Zoo City is a black magic noir set in the inner city slums of Johannesburg. Moxyland is a future political thriller that plays out in Cape Town in a neo-apartheid state. They’re all radically different.

But then, it’s not really up to me. I write the stories that occur to me, that are nagging to be told. I don’t know what spark will set my brain ablaze, I’m just the person who has to try to direct the fire and cordon it off with red wool if need be.

The trailer for The Shining Girls is below -

More information about Lauren and her work can be found on her website. Lauren can also be found on Twitter @laurenbeukes and on Facebook.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Two Soldiers in London

Quercus Publishing launched the tough thriller Two Soldiers in London last night with a rare visit by authors Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom, who make up the award winning Roslund Hellstrom.

We’ve been bumping into these two authors for some time now, as they have a huge international following, especially in America where their CWA International Dagger Awarded novel Three Seconds hit the NYT Bestseller lists - which was released at  Bouchercon San Francisco 2010

So what’s their latest, Two Soldiers all about?

José Pereira at the Organized Crime and Gang Section has a wall in his office covered with mug shots. Young boys who act like hardened criminals and are classified as severely dangerous. Twenty years ago, Pereira was convinced that gang criminality was the stuff of American movies. Now he knows better and he knows that he is dealing with an escalating problem; five thousand young Swedish boys on their way into criminal networks.

One day a new picture is tacked to Pereira’s wall. Eddie is a twelve-year-old boy from Råby who hides his gun in his school locker and his capsules of amphetamine under the freezer at the local grocery store. He will risk just about anything in order to one day feel that he belongs somewhere.

Meanwhile, Leon is incarcerated at the Aspsås prison forty kilometers away. From his prison cell, he composes a letter to his beloved brother Gabriel – the only person he trusts. The letter is the beginning of a plan that by way of aggression, violence and death will bring them to the very top of that wall of mug shots at the police station. The hunt begins when three inmates are sprung from the maximum-security prison. Leon and Gabriel cross paths with Chief Inspector Ewert Grens and José Pereira, who are searching for an assassin that Grens knows far more about than what he would like to.

Filled with drama and tough action it is as authentic as it is disturbing, taking a peek below the shadows that form what we term a civilized society.

If you've not explored these two internationally acclaimed authors, why not support Shots Ezine by clicking here

Photos © 2013 A Karim
Barry Forshaw with Dan of Goldsboro Books and Borge Hellstrom

Monday 22 April 2013

Liz Coley talks about Questions without answers

Today’s guest blog is by author Liz Coley who has travelled widely and visited over 13 different countries including the United Kingdom, Belize, Canada, Greece, Croatia, France and Italy.  She is the author of numerous short stories and seven novels, the most recent being Pretty Girl-13. 

The worst crimes of humankind take place behind closed doors, secretly and often unpunished. The victims are children, silenced by terror, threats, trauma, misplaced love or the refusal of others to hear and believe. The perpetrators are trusted friends, relations, parents, babysitters, priests—only infinitesimally rarely are they strangers. It is nearly inconceivable to the ordinary person that another human being could sexual abuse an infant or child. What kind of degenerate species are we? Don’t we have natural rules and conscience and a moral sense? Yet it happens daily to our innocents. The burden of their stories is too weighty to bear, the legacy of psychic scars too deep.

But this isn’t why I wrote Pretty Girl-13.

In the 1970’s, a sensational story erupted in print and television of a woman given the pseudonym Sybil. Perhaps exaggerated, perhaps dramatized, it nonetheless captured the imagination of a generation and brought into clear focus one of the most extreme reactions to childhood physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse—the splintering of the forming personality into self-protective chambers, alternate personalities. In the psychiatric community, a huge debate ensued about multiple personality disorder—real or pretend. Recovered memories or implanted memories? Created by trauma or suggestibility? The number of diagnoses multiplied exponentially in the United States (but not abroad). Was it a previously unrecognized or misdiagnosed condition or a psychiatric bandwagon? (Consider the contemporary debate about the rise in autism diagnoses.) Decades later, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) used by mental health professionals to classify physical and psychological conditions of the mind. Physical evidence abounds that early abuse causes changes in brain volume. In DID there is significant shrinkage specifically in the hippocampal region, which is the memory center of the brain, and the amygdala, which is involved in emotional learning and long-term memory processing. The neuroimaging work by several researchers, including Dr. A. A. T. Simone Reinders of Kings College London, shows actual changes in brain activity during personality switching and provides objective evidence of different mental states. Still, passionate skeptics exist.

But this isn’t why I wrote Pretty Girl-13.

In 2011, the United States went to war in the Middle East, sending hundreds of thousands of our young adults inadequately armored into harm’s way. Firsthand, they grasped the expression “shell-shocked” as sudden death and dismemberment from improvised explosive devices became the regular order of the day. The soldiers of WWI who waited helplessly in
trenches to be blown to bits were an unrecognized experiment in surviving post-traumatic stress syndrome. “Buck up, lad. That’s over now. Stiff upper lip,” was supposed to get them through. We see the terrible legacy of PTSD in the population of Vietnam veterans who couldn’t return to normality and found their lives spiraling downhill. The soldiers of our modern wars are returning to a mental health system inadequately staffed and prepared to deal with their psychic wounds. Too old to develop protective compartments in their memories, they look for ways to dampen and process the traumatic effects of helpless horror, bereavement, and guilt. There is one suicide a day.

But this isn’t why I wrote Pretty Girl-13.

Authors don’t write messages. They write stories to pose and possibly answer questions—but mostly to pose them. As a bit of a futurist, the questions I like to ask anticipate where we are going in science and medicine, things we will have to deal with eventually.

I had been reading in a scientific digest magazine an article about the new field of optogenetics, which has evolved in a decade from a futuristic speculation by famed Francis Crick (1999) to the “Method of the Year” and a “Breakthrough of the Decade” in 2010. When I wrote my story in 2009, the term “optogenetics” was only three years old. Some early successes in using laser light to switch modified genes on and off were being reported even in popular magazines. Reading the original scientific articles was somewhat heavy going, but with a background in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, I understood the implications and was dazzled by the progress. Animal models had already suggested optogenetics could work as a cure for forms of neural blindness, epilepsy, and Parkinson Disease. If memory and learning neurons could be isolated, could they also be controlled?

And that’s why I wrote Pretty Girl-13, to ask the question: if you could erase memories of the most terrible things that haunt you, should you do it? Would you still be you? Would you be better or worse, stronger or weaker? How does self-hood and identity depend on memory? Maybe the answer depends on who you were to begin with. My protagonist Angie tries it both ways. It is up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Monday 15 April 2013

Charlaine Harris Revealed!

Fans of Sookie Stackhouse, Lily Bard, Harper Connelly and Aurora Teagarden look out! 

International and No1 Sunday Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris will be at Harrogate Crime Writing Festival this year as a high profile guest.  Her attendance will coincide with the publication by Orion of her books in her Lily Bard, Aurora Teagarden series as well as her two debut crime novels.

For more information and to read extracts hop on over to the Shots website.

Charlaine Harris has won an Agatha Award for Best Novel and Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original.  She has also been nominated for a Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and a Dilys Award. In 2011 Charlaine Harris was American Guest of Honour at Bouchercon in St Louis.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Books to Look Forward to From Europa Editions

Ricciardi sees and hears the final seconds in the lives of victims of violent deaths.  It is both a gift and a curse.  It has helped him become one of the most acute and successful homicide detectives in Naples police force.  But it has taken an emotional toll on him.  He drinks too much and sleeps too little.  Other than his loyal friend Brigadier Maione, he has no friends.  Naples, 1931, in a dingy apartment in a poor neighbourhood the victim, Carmela Calise an elderly woman moonlighting as a fortune-teller and moneylender has been viciously beaten to death.  Then Ricciardi and his deputy Maione arrive at the scene and start asking questions no one wants to answer.  In her decrepit apartment, she would receive clients, among them, some of the city’s rich and powerful, predicting their futures in such a way as to manipulate and deceive.  She had many enemies, those who have been manipulated by her lies, disappointed by her prophecies or destroyed by her machinations.  Blood Curse: The Springtime of Commissario Ricciard is the second book in the Commissario Ricciard series by Maurizio de Giovanni and is due to be published in May 2013.

Garlic, Basil and Sweet Basil is by Jean-Claude Izzo and is due to be published in May 2013.  Available for the first time in English in Howard Curtis's brilliant translation this collection of personal essays shows Izzo at his most contemplative and insightful.  He writes beautifully about the city he loved, the sea to which he belonged, and the literary movement that made him famous.  A must-read for all lovers of Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy.

Giorgio Pellegrini, the unforgettable hero of The Goodbye Kiss, has been living an "honest" life for eleven 
years.  But that's about to change.  His lawyer has been deceiving him and now Giorgio is forced into service as an unwilling errand boy for an organised crime syndicate.  At one time, Giorgio wouldn't have thought twice about robbing, kidnapping and killing in order to get what he wanted, but these days he realises he's too old in the tooth to face his enemies head-on.  To return to his peaceful life as a successful businessman he's going to have to find another way to shake off the mob.  Fortunately, though Giorgio’s circumstances may have changed, deep down he’s still the ruthless killer he used to be.  At The End of a Dull Day is by Massimo Carlotto and is due to be published in May 2013.

Twenty-eight year old Jana is a Mapuche, one of those people of the earth who roamed the most fertile tracts of the South American pampas for over two thousand years before being transformed overnight into outlaws by the Argentinean constitution.  Long black hair, big almond-shaped eyes ravishing features, tall … but with small breasts, breasts that stopped growing following a violent attack by the Argentinean police when she was a child.  Jana is a sculptor who prostitutes herself down at the docks to make ends meet.  She is connected, as if by a blood bond, to Miguel, a.k.a. Paula, who also works in the docks.  When the emasculated corpse of a transvestite is found at the Port de la Boca, Jana turns for help and protection to private investigator Ruben Calderón.  Calderón.  Is a grizzled investigator who had been working tirelessly for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, searching for any trace of los desaparecidos and their odious tormentors.  Together, Jana and Ruben will plunge into the corrupt beating heart of the Argentinian political system on the hunt for a vicious murderer. Mapuche is by Caryl Férey and is due to be published in July 2013.

For the first time, Carlo Lucarelli's entire De Luca trilogy is gathered in one omnibus edition.  In 'Carte Blanche', it is April 1945 and a brutal murder on the good side of town lands Commissario De Luca in the middle of a hornet's nest during the final frenetic days of the Salo Republic where the rich and powerful mix drugs, sex, money and murder.  In 'The Damned Season', De Luca is on the run under an assumed identity to avoid reprisals for the role he played during the Fascist dictatorship.  Blackmailed by a member of the partisan police, De Luca must investigate a series of murders, becoming a reluctant player in Italy’s post-war power struggle.  In 'Via delle Oche’, the country’s fate is soon to be decided in bitterly contested national elections and a man is found dead in a brothel in 1948.  De Luca is unwilling to look the other way when evidence in the murder points to local politicians. The Trilogy is due to be published in June 2013.
It's the middle of a long hot summer on the French Mediterranean shore.  The town is full of tourists and at the Perpignan police headquarters, Sebag and Molina, two tired cops who are being slowly devoured by dull routine and family worries, deal with the day's misdemeanours and petty complaints.  But out of the blue, a young Dutch woman is brutally murdered on a beach at Argelès, and another disappears without a trace in the alleys of the city.  A serial killer obsessed with Dutch women?  Maybe.  The media goes wild.  Gilles Sebag finds himself thrust into the middle of a diabolical game.  To come out victorious, he will have to put aside his domestic cares, forget his suspicions of his wife’s unfaithfulness, ignore his heart murmur, and get over his existential angst.  Summertime All the Cats are Bored is by Philippe Georget and is due to be published in July 2013.

The report has just landed on Commissario Martusciello’s desk is unlike any other The lifeless body of  Neapolitan singer Jerry Vialdi has been found at the Naples football stadium; another corpse, this time an unidentified woman, has been discovered in the Bentegodi Stadium in Verona.  They were left with no signs of violence: the method and the madness point to a daring challenge for the police, who has no idea where to begin.  All except for Superintendent Blanca Occhiuzzi: beautiful, blind from birth, forced by the dark that envelopes to perceive the world through four senses, she feels the fear in people, their guilt and their innocence.  It is she who takes Martusciello by the hand guiding him into the mind of a murderer with her very female, very sensual intuition.  It is as if he were the blind one.  Three, Imperfect Number is by Patrizia Rinaldi and is due to be published in August 2013.

Europa Editions are also due to reissue Jean Claude Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy and Minotaur by Benjamin Tammuz in May 2013.

Thursday 11 April 2013

The Ides of April with Lindsey Davis

Today’s guest and exclusive blog post is by Lindsey Davis.  A former Chair of the CWA, Lindsey Davis was the inaugural winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger Award, she has also been awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work.  A former Honorary President of the Classical Society she has also won The Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective, The Premio Colosseo awarded by the city of Rome to someone who "has enhanced the image of Rome in the world and in 2011 the Cartier Diamond Dagger.

Best known for her series of books featuring Marcus Didius Falco she is also the author of The Course of Honour a novel about Vespasian and his lover Antonia Caenis, Rebels and Traitors which was set in the period of the English Civil War and Falco: The Official Companion which is considered to be the best author’s handbook on a series to be written. Her new series features Flavia Alba, Falco's British-born adopted daughter who is a private investigator in her own right. The first book in the new series The Ides of April is published today.  The Shots Magazine review of The Ides of April can be found here.

‘Will there really be no more Falcos?’ readers demand tearfully. I have to admit I am starting to feel tetchy, because I have written other things, which many people were surprised to find they liked – juicy standalones like Master and God and even Falco: the Official Companion, a series handbook like no other. What other series handbook contains both a Damart vest and an attempt to assassinate Bismarck?

I haven’t even said there will be no more Falcos; I don’t know.  I don’t want to be pushed into making a statement just to shut people up.  At the moment I want to do something different, so the quality of writing will be high because I am happy and refreshed.  I thought a new spin-off series would be reassuring – but I detect very strong hints of ‘You are being judged!’  I’ll say ‘hints’, not ‘threats’.  My readers always seem particularly nice. These are the people who tell me reluctantly ‘we know he is not real, really’.  They are sensible. Only one has ever sent me a birthday card for a character.

I believe they will become just as devoted to her. I think Flavia Albia is a rip-roaring heroine who will hold her own against even her papa.  I am certainly enjoying writing about her, and my standards for that are pretty high.  One thing slightly worries me: in Ides part of the plot revolves around the fact that it’s the date Albia has chosen as her ‘official’ birthday because she doesn’t know, and will never know, her real one.  I just want to remind everyone the Romans didn’t send cards.

This book is unusual in that I have used a murder plot that is probably real.  I won’t give it all away, but a historian mentions a weird series of killings, where people didn’t even know they had been attacked.  It may not be true, because he wants to illustrate public fear and hysteria during the paranoid Domitian years – a nicely grim period when the new series is set. I did not want a teenaged protagonist; I have always addressed adults, been satirical about sex and politics, felt free to make dark events feature heavily. I think an investigator needs to have experience, or how can they be any good? And trust me, Albia is good.  As a woman in a man’s world, she needs to be.

So I’ve moved on twelve years from Nemesis.  No, we are not having old Vesuvius erupt (though we may find out at some point what happened to the Falco clan when it did). There are familiar locations and characters for existing fans, but Albia explains them in her caustic style so new readers won’t feel left out or fazed.  And there will be plenty of new ‘regulars’.  I have such fun inventing them, and if readers will just give it a go, I think they will have fun too.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Harvill Secker buy more from Arne Dahl


Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, has bought the next two books in Arne Dahl’s award winning crime series, adaptations of which the BBC will be broadcasting in the same Saturday night slot that turned The KillingBorgen and The Bridge into household names. Hennessey bought UK & Commonwealth (ex. Canada) rights from Tor Jonasson at the Salomonsson Agency.

Alison Hennessey, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker says: ‘We knew when we acquired the first two books in Arne Dahl’s crime series that he would go on to become one of the leading lights of our crime fiction list, and I’m delighted to have signed up the next two installments in this gripping, intelligent series. Arne’s books are perfect for fans of Henning Mankell and upmarket, international crime so we couldn’t be more delighted that the BBC will be screening the Swedish tv series.’

To the Top of the Mountain, the book that won Arne the prestigious German Crime Prize, sees
Copyright Sara Arnald 2011
Detective Paul Hjelm and his team coming back together after the traumatic events at the end of Bad Blood to investigate a series of crimes – a man killed in a random attack in a restaurant, another blown up in high security prison, rumours of a forthcoming terrorist attack. In Europa Blues, winner of the Best International Thriller at the Dutch Book Awards, the team try and establish links between the execution of a man at Stockholm zoo, the abduction of 8 Eastern European women from a refugee centre and the horrifying murder of a professor at the Jewish cemetery in a case that will extend across Europe and back through time.

Arne Dahl is an award-winning Swedish crime novelist and literary critic whose books have been translated into over twenty languages. He will be attending Cuirt, Bloody Scotland and Edinburgh International Book festivals this year. The first book in the series, The Blinded Man, was published straight into Vintage paperback in July 2012 with Bad Blood coming from Harvill Secker this July.

For more information please contact:
Fiona Murphy, Publicity Manager, Harvill Secker
Tel: 020 7840 8592 / email: