Friday 27 September 2013

Shurley, not £750.00 Mr. Bond?

Bentley Motors is best known for creating very high end automobiles and being somewhat of a status symbol on the road. The one thing they have never done is published a book, but that is all going to change. Bentley and Vintage have teamed up to capitalize on the 60 year anniversary of James Bond – Casino Royale and have released a limited edition print run that will run you $1200.00. Only 500 copies have been made and of course the 1933 Bentley was Bond's car of choice.
The book has been created by designers Kris Potter and Stephen Parker at Random House, who were inspired following a trip to the Bentley Motors HQ in Crewe. They comment: ‘We knew that any design we came up with would have to reflect the incredible craftsmanship and heritage we had seen in the Bentley cars at Crewe, the challenge for us was how we could combine this with the coolness and nostalgia of Bond… The inspiration was endless.’ The metal spine is inspired by Bentley’s steel tread plate, and it is illustrated by Damian Gascoigne.
Published on 13 April 1953 by Jonathan Cape, Casino Royale introduced James Bond to the world. The first print run of 4,728 copies sold out within a month. Following this initial success, Fleming went on to publish a Bond title every year until his death in 1964. It is in Casino Royale where 007 first utters the immortal line ‘Bond – James Bond’. The special edition Casino Royale will be available from 1st November, with orders taken through a dedicated phone line to international customers, excluding those in the US or Phillipines – 01206 255666.
hat tip:Good eReader

Tuesday 24 September 2013


Crime Night At Canada Water Library
7 October 2013 Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Location: Canada Water Library, 21 Surrey Quays Road, SE16 7AR
Cost: FREE, but booking is recommended
Top crime writers Jessie Keane, Laura Wilson, Elly Griffiths and William Shaw discuss their work and the state of the genre with the Telegraph's crime fiction critic Jake Kerridge. After the discussion there will be an audience Q&A and book signing.
There will be a pay bar in the lobby from 6pm. This adult event is for ages 16 and over.
How to book: Book your free places by contacting: Southwark Libraries (020 7525 1570)
Travel: Tube: Canada Water Bus: 1, 47, 188, 199, 225, 381, C10, P12
About the authors
Jessie Keane's debut novel Dirty Game went straight in at no 1 in the Bookseller's Heatseeker Charts. She is the author of a number of crime bestsellers featuring Annie Carter, head of a London gang family. Ruthless is the latest in the series and is set London and Ireland. As many reviewers have said - if you like Martina Cole, you'll love Jessie Keane.
Laura Wilson's novels have been shortlisted twice for the CWA Gold Dagger and her first novel in the DI Stratton series won the Ellis Peters Award. The Riot, the latest book featuring DI Stratton takes place in the powder-keg setting of Notting Hill, 1958. Laura is the Guardian's crime reviewer and lives in London.
William Shaw was offered his first job in music journalism by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys on Smash Hits in 1984. He wrote for over twenty years on music, popular culture and sub-culture for the Face, Arena, the Observer and the New York Times. A Song from Dead Lips is set in London at the height of the swinging sixties. It is his first crime novel and the start of a new series.
Elly Griffiths was born in London. She read English at King's College, London and worked in publishing for many years. Her crime novels feature Dr Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist. The series is in development with BBC TV. Elly lives near Brighton with her husband and two sons.

Monday 23 September 2013

In Memoriam Robert Barnard

Robert Barnard
23 November 1936 - 19 September 2013

Crime writer and 2003 Diamond Dagger recipient ROBERT BARNARD has died, aged 76, after several months in a nursing home in Leeds. Shots columnist Mike Ripley, who first met Bob Barnard twenty-five years ago, reminisces about one of the stalwarts of English crime fiction.

Robert Barnard was one of a quartet of writers born in 1936 – his contemporaries being Reginald Hill, Jonathan Gash and Peter Lovesey – who formed a solid backbone for traditional English crime writing of the highest order in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Unlike others of his generation, Robert Barnard’s zestful and witty novels did not benefit from television adaptations, nor indeed from large paperback runs in the UK. His books were often more easily available in America where he was probably better known as an exponent of the ‘cosy’ school of crime writing – a label he never denied or disparaged as he felt the main goal of a crime writer was simply ‘to entertain’. In this he tried to emulate Agatha Christie, for whom he had a great admiration, describing her as the writer “who has probably given more sheer pleasure than any other in this century” in his critical study A Talent To Deceive in 1980. He was no doubt proud of the fact that his first editor at the legendary Collins Crime Club was Elizabeth Walter, who was also Agatha Christie’s last editor and Robert was the obvious choice to give the oration at Elizabeth’s funeral in 2006.

One reason often given as to why Bob Barnard was not the household name he should have been, was that he never had a central series hero, whereas Hill had Dalziel and Pascoe, Gash had Lovejoy and Lovesey (initially) had Sergeant Cribb, all characters which attracted the interest of television producers. In fact, Barnard had several series heroes – among them policemen Perry Trethowan (perhaps the most successful), Idwal Meredith and Charlie Peace and, under the pen name Bernard Bastable, even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart! – but his series were never produced in concentrated bursts, Barnard preferring to employ a character when a plot or a central theme required it.

His early career was in academia. After reading English at Oxford and a brief stint working for the Fabian Society, he left England in 1961 for a lectureship at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales. In Australia he acquired a wife, Louise (they were married for fifty years), and the inspiration for his first crime novel Death of an Old Goat, which was published by Collins in 1974. A move to Norway, first as a lecturer at the University of Bergen and then as Professor (of English Literature) at Tromso, similarly supplied the background for his 1980 novel Death in a Cold Climate.

He returned to England in 1984, choosing to live in Leeds – he once said that after years in Norway, he found the local Leeds accent easier to understand than that of his native Essex! – becoming an active member of the Crime Writers Association and particularly its Northern Chapter. It was felt by many members that he was the ‘best Chairman the CWA never had’ and he was later to throw his energies into The Bronte Society, as vice-chairman then chairman, based around the famous parsonage at Haworth in Yorkshire. His devotion to the Bronte legend resulted in the illustrated biography Emily Bronte for The British Library in 2000 and A Bronte Encyclopedia, written with his wife Louise and published this year, as well as two crime novels: The Missing Bronte (1983) and the wonderfully titled The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori (1998).

In all, Robert Barnard produced over 40 crime novels and dozens of short stories (I even featured, rather unflatteringly, in one and we both contributed to the Crime Club’s Diamond Jubilee anthology A Suit of Diamonds) as well as respected critical works on Dickens and Agatha Christie. He was a popular speaker at conventions and conferences, especially at Malice Domestic in the USA (where he was Guest of Honour in 1998). On his return from one trip to North America, he presented me with a paperback crime novel bought on a whim at the airport.  He had, he told me, read it on the plane and found it ‘boisterous, rather crude and right up your street’. The book, then unpublished in the UK, was a Canadian paperback original of Frost At Christmas by R. D. (Rodney) Wingfield, and for that introduction as well as the pleasure provided by his own books, I am eternally grateful to Bob.

Whilst his crime writing was firmly of the traditional British detective story school (he himself often described his books as ‘deliberately old-fashioned’), his novels all contained a sharp streak of social satire, the result being on occasion hysterically funny. His targets included the Church, television soap operas, the class system, academic rivalries and politics and his aim was never more true than in Posthumous Papers (1979), Sheer Torture (1981) and Political Suicide (1986), a book still treasured by political journalists and lobbyists.

Not all his books came off, as he was usually the first to admit. I once saw him stun an audience of fellow crime writers into silence by saying he had, for a particular publisher, ‘written three good books, one so-so one and one bad one’. When I approached him in 2011 about the possibility of reissuing some of his early novels, whilst happy with the idea in principle, he had specific reservations, saying: ‘I don’t for example, think reprinting a slightly fusty title like A Little Local Murder is a good idea.’ I know of few (if any) crime writers who could be as dismissive of their own work as Robert could be when he felt a book hadn’t quite come together; though in the case of A Little Local Murder, I think he was wrong.

I met Bob in 1988 at what was my first meeting of the Crime Writers Association in The Groucho Club, where he as a member of ‘The Committee’ was acting as a meeter-and-greeter to welcome new members. To my surprise, and secret pride, he had read my debut novel Just Another Angel (I suspect our mutual editor Elizabeth Walter had sent him one) and had some frighteningly detailed questions for me which I doubt I answered to his satisfaction as I was somewhat in awe of him, having been a fan of his books for the previous decade.

I don’t think I disgraced myself, though, as we ended up going out to dinner in an Italian restaurant afterwards and I discovered that where I was a native Yorkshireman (born not far from Leeds) who had moved to live in Essex, Robert was an Essex boy who had ended up living in Yorkshire. In fact, he had been brought up in the small fishing port of Brightlingsea whereas I then lived in neighbouring Wivenhoe, just along the River Colne.

When he returned to Essex to visit his mother, I would collect him from Colchester station and provide a taxi service to Brightlingsea, as he did not drive; something which became a bit of a running joke between us, Bob taking a perverse pride in his ignorance of all things motoring and car related. He was slightly (only slightly) chastened by his appearance on the television quiz Mastermind. His ‘specialist subject’ round (on Mozart I think) went well enough, but when it came to the general knowledge section he was totally stumped by the very first question: “When applied to a car, what do the initials GT stand for?”

I don’t remember the subject of cars or driving ever came up after that…

In 2006 Robert won the CWA Short Story Dagger with his story Sins of Scarlet which was published in the CWA anthology ID: Crimes of Identity.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Stav Sherez talks about The Ten Best Crime Novels You've (Probably) Never Heard Of:

Today’s guest blog is by author and journalist Stav Sherez.  His first novel The Devil’s Playground was published in 2004 and was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award.  His third novel A Dark Redemption was shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award 2013.  Today he talks about his ten best crime novels we probably have never heard of.

"If you've ever bumped into me at a launch or a festival then I've probably told you about one of these books.  I probably bored you senseless enumerating the merits of a novel you'd never heard of and had already forgotten the title to.  And I'll keep on doing it, because these are the books that made me want to write crime fiction.  They fused everything I liked about the literary novel with the energy and hypnotic storytelling of the crime novel.  I didn't pick them because they're obscure.  I picked them because they are perfect novels in their own way.  I picked them because they make my brain fizz, pop and crackle with ideas and possibilities.  I read most of these in the mid to late 1990s, before I'd written The Devil's Playground, and they mapped for me what a crime novel could be and what a crime novel should be.  These books are written in blood and grief and stone.  They will haunt your dreams and crack your brain.  They may even change your life.  They certainly did mine."

1. Eye of the Beholder - Marc Behm (No Exit)
Possibly the greatest PI novel ever written, certainly the saddest, most lovelorn, and poetic.  An unnamed private detective spends decades hunting a female serial killer.  Unfortunately, he falls in love with her.  The novel spans years and roams across the great empty spaces of the American West.  An existential shudder of a book, a ghost story and murder mystery with a last paragraph that will leave you bawling and broken.

2. The Dogs of Winter - Kem Nunn (No Exit)
If Cormac McCarthy and Robert Stone decided to collaborate on a crime novel about surfers then Dogs of Winter would be it.  An unforgettable journey through the wilderness of northern California following a washed-up surfer and a failed photojournalist as they try to find a mythical, hidden beach.  Lost girls, crazed Indians, old hauntings and a malevolent sense of landscape make this a Deliverance for the stoner generation.

3. God is a Bullet - Boston Teran
If Cormac McCarthy had written a Satanist-cult crime novel...  (And maybe he has, because no one knows who Boston Teran really is).  Electric prose and one of the darkest descents into hell ever put on the page.  A Dantescan nightmare in the scorch & sizzle of the American Southwest.  A small-town cop who's lost his daughter to a Satanist cult gets together with a woman who's escaped from its clutches.  Together they cross the desert searching for the cult, unleashing hell and bullets as they step into an existential blood storm.

4. Cutter and Bone - Newton Thornburg (Serpent's Tail)
To Die in California may be an even better Thornburg novel but this is the place to start.  Easy Rider crossed with Chandler.  The dregs of the American dream, Vietnam and the counter-culture, collide in this elegiac portrayal of two outsiders who come face to face with the realisation of the dream in what must be one of the most nihilistic endings to any novel ever.

5. Cold Caller - Jason Starr (No Exit)
Jason Starr writes lean, demonically dark noirs that leave you breathless and brain reeling.  There is not a hint of pastiche in his books.  If the definition of noir is "You're fucked on page one and it only gets worse from there" then Starr's books are the best exemplars of this.

6. A Coffin for Dimitrios - Eric Ambler (Penguin)
The best Ambler and perhaps the greatest spy novel of the classical period.  A bored crime writer living in Istanbul gets obsessed with the death of a famous brigand and crosses pre-war Europe in search of the story behind the man.  A deft meta-fictional exploration of the gap between reality and its representations, between being a crime writer and crime itself, and a scorched-earth history of Europe’s genocidal heart.

7. Legends - Robert Littell (Duckworth)
If Philip K Dick had written a spy novel the results may have been close to this.  Ranging across continents and decades, dropping into civil wars and revolutions, from the chill of Stalin's Moscow to a meeting with Bin Laden in Paraguay, this is a profound meditation on identity and lies, reality, narrative and how we make sense of the world, cocooned in an incredibly gripping and experimental structure.

8. Love Remains - Glen Duncan (Granta)
Not strictly a crime novel but its heart is as black as the blackest noir.  Duncan is perhaps Britain's foremost prose stylist and this descent into the hell of relationships, responsibilities, and casual violence rushes towards its gloriously bleak and bitter ending with the electric raw energy of the best crime fiction.  The dark heart of a relationship, mapped out decades before Gone Girl.

9. Tomato Red - Daniel Woodrell (No Exit)
A striking and poignant look at busted lives and the inevitabilities that we all succumb to.  Woodrell writes like a demented angel and delivers a last page that will leave you shaking and screaming in your seat.

10. Southern Nights - Barry Gifford (Canongate)
An insanely surreal addictive and funny and wild and crazed baton race of evil, depravity, blood, and dark longing, this trilogy has it all and much much more.

Agree?  Don't agree?  Find me @stavsherez

You can also find out more about Stav and his work at

Tuesday 17 September 2013


That would be me. Almost on a whim and partly as a technical exercise I entered short pieces in the thriller and travel writing categories of this annual writing competition. Entrants were given an opening sentence (actually the opening line of Our Man In Havana) and had 750 words to continue it in whatever way they chose. I'm pleased (and surprised) to say I won in both categories. (I'm now wishing I'd entered in the third category too...)
If you're so inclined you can read my entries (God's Lonely Man and One Day In Caracas) on my website at Details of the festival, which takes place on the last weekend in September, are at Michael Carlson has reminded me of the famous occasion when Graham Greene entered anonymously a 'Graham Greene Writing Competition' in Argosy magazine in 1947 - and came second.

Monday 16 September 2013

Breaking News!!!! New novella to be written via Social Media


Crime thriller enthusiasts are being called upon to help co-create a brand new novella this autumn, using social media to assist three celebrated crime authors in a unique literary experiment.

In a partnership between Specsavers and Penguin, crime fans will contribute ideas through Facebook and Twitter including characters names and personalities, locations, crimes and other narrative details for bestselling writers Nicci French and Tim Weaver, and debut novelist Alistair Gunn, to turn into new works of fiction. With each author given with the framework suggested by fans, there will be three original stories published with very different takes on the same source material. A digital only ebook will be given away free from mid October, and fans will be also be able to suggest titles and cover designs.

The mass participation event, called #youdunnit, begins on 16th September, was created and project managed by Manning Gottlieb OMD. Contributors can find all information about the campaign by visiting The site will guide them through every step of the process, and all the details about the progress of the stories.

Nicci French said “We’re looking forward to seeing ideas from crime readers for the #Youdunnit experiment. To have much of the plotting taken out of our hands could be a blessing or a curse – time will tell!

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, said: ‘As autumn creeps in there’s nothing I like more than curling up with a good book, the more bloodcurdling the better. How exciting to think that fellow enthusiasts and I could help create a new story. The authors we have lined up are some of the best crime thriller writers in the business. That combined with the collective imagination of everyone contributing ideas means we are expecting great things from this.’

Penguin Marketing Manager Tim Broughton said: ‘Penguin is delighted to be partnering Specsavers for the #youdunnit experiment this autumn. Three outstanding writing talents have been selected to contribute to the venture. It will be fascinating to see them apply their own individual writing styles to the narrative framework created by the crime fiction community online.’

The authors:

NICCI FRENCH is the pseudonym for the hugely experienced writing partners Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their first novel together, The Memory Game, was published to great acclaim in 1997. They have since written over 15 novels together as well as continuing to pursue solo writing careers. The next Nicci French novel, Thursday’s Child, continues the series which features London-based psychoanalyst Frieda Klein, and publishes in January 2014.

TIM WEAVER is the critically-acclaimed author of the David Raker thriller series. His latest novel, Never Coming Back, published in August 2013 and is a Richard and Judy Book Club selection. His previous novels – Chasing the Dead, The Dead Tracks, and Vanished – have all been Sunday Times bestsellers which submerge the reader in the murky world of missing persons investigations.

ALISTAIR GUNN is a debut thriller writer. His first terrifying novel, The Advent Killer, introduces DCI Antonia Hawkins as the hero who is tasked with foiling the murderous escapades of a serial killer at Christmas. The Advent Killer publishes on the 21st November with a second novel in the series to be published in 2014.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Jo Nesbo Live on Dead Good Tomorrow

In a Dead Good FIRST they will be live streaming Jo Nesbo’s London event at the Coronet Cinema tomorrow night on the Dead Good website at 6pm. Join them from 6pm this Thursday 12th September to hear Jo in conversation with Emma Kennedy. If you've got a question you want Jo to answer just Tweet using #jonesbo and we'll put the best question to Jo at the event!

Monday 9 September 2013

An evening with Jo Nesbo


The Coronet Cinema, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LB
Thursday 12th September at 6:00PM
Tickets £10 available from the shop or

At this special event the internationally bestselling author will discuss his eagerly awaited new novel Police, his inspiration and incredible career, which has taken him from Stockbroker to rockstar to novelist and beyond.