Friday 31 March 2017

CrimeFest Competition

Interested in wining a pair of full weekend passes to CrimeFest?

We have a pair of FULL Weekend Passes to give away for this year's CrimeFest held in Bristol, UK 18-21 May 2017. Accommodation and travel IS NOT included. Answer this simple question: In what city is CrimeFest held? 

Answers by April 14, 2017, to 

Thursday 30 March 2017

Events at London's BFI Southbank

Line of Duty


Line of Duty panel discussion


With writer Jed Mercurio and cast Thandie Newton, Adrian Dunbar and Craig Parkinson

Saturday 08 April 18:15 | BFI IMAX 
Part of the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival, join writer and cast as they reflect on the series so far and offer a glimpse behind the scenes of the hit drama, which follows AC-12’s investigations into police corruption.
Last few tickets available.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder


Arguably post-war Germany’s greatest filmmaker


The American Soldier


02 & 05 April
This glorious re-working of Hollywood noir opens with the return of Ricky (Karl Scheydt), a German-American Vietnam veteran and soon-to-be contract killer, to the Munich of his youth. Here cops and gangsters are indistinguishable and betrayal lurks around every corner. The film’s theme song, ‘So Much Loneliness, So Much Tenderness’ (co-written by Fassbinder), provides the background to an unforgettable climax.


2017 Petrona Award Shortlist

Outstanding crime fiction from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden shortlisted for the 2017 Petrona Award.

Six outstanding crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which is announced today.

They are:
THE EXILED by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
THE DYING DETECTIVE by Leif G.W. Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday; Sweden)
THE BIRD TRIBUNAL by Agnes Ravatn tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books, Norway)
WHY DID YOU LIE? by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton, Iceland)
WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books, Norway)THE WEDNESDAY CLUB by Kjell Westö tr. Neil Smith (MacLehose Press, Finland)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 20 May during the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 18-21 May 2017.

The award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his generous support of the 2017 Petrona Award.

The judges’ comments on the shortlist and the shortlisted titles:

It was difficult to choose just six crime novels for the Petrona Award shortlist this year, given the number of truly excellent submissions from around the Scandinavian world. Our 2017 Petrona Award shortlist testifies to the extremely high quality of translated Scandi crime, with authors from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden making expert use of police investigations, psychological thrillers, private eye novels and historical crime fiction both to entertain and to explore pertinent social, political and historical issues. We are extremely grateful to the translators for their skill and expertise in bringing us these outstanding examples of Scandinavian crime fiction.”

THE EXILED by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

Finnish police detective Anna Fekete returns to the Serbian village of her birth for a holiday, but is pulled into an investigation that throws up questions about her own father’s death decades earlier. As well as exploring the complexities of Fekete’s identity as a Hungarian Serb who has made her life in Finland, this accomplished novel looks with insight and compassion at the discrimination faced by Roma people, and the lot of refugees migrating through Europe.

THE DYING DETECTIVE by Leif G.W. Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday; Sweden)

Lars Martin Johansson, a retired Swedish Police Chief, suffers a stroke after a lifetime of unhealthy excess. Frustrated by his physical limitations and slow recovery, he is drawn into investigating a cold case, the murder of nine-year-old Yasmine Ermegan in 1985. Expertly plotted and highly gripping, The Dying Detective features characters from a number of other crime novels by the author, but succeeds brilliantly as a standalone in its own right.

THE BIRD TRIBUNAL by Agnes Ravatn tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books, Norway)

Former TV presenter Allis takes up the post of housekeeper and gardener at a house on a remote fjord. But her employer is not the old man she was expecting, and the whereabouts of his wife are tantalisingly unclear. Isolated from other villagers, Allis and Sigurd’s relationship becomes progressively more claustrophobic and tense. A haunting psychological thriller and study in obsession that is perfectly complemented by the author’s beautiful, spare prose.

WHY DID YOU LIE? by Yrsa Sigurđardóttir tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton, Iceland)

Yrsa Sigurđardóttir is as adroit a manufacturer of suspense as any writer in the Nordic Noir genre, as this standalone thriller comprehensively proves. Why Did You Lie? skilfully interweaves the stories of a policewoman whose husband has committed suicide, a work group stranded by hostile weather on a remote lighthouse, and a family whose American guests go missing. A compelling exploration of guilt and retribution, which builds to a nerve-jangling finale.

WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books, Norway)

Grieving private detective Varg Veum is pushed to his limits when he takes on a cold case involving the disappearance of a small girl in 1977. As the legal expiry date for the crime draws near, Veum’s investigation uncovers intriguing suburban secrets. In what may well be the most accomplished novel in a remarkable series, the author continues to work in a traditional US-style genre, but with abrasive Scandi-crime social commentary very much in evidence.

THE WEDNESDAY CLUB by Kjell Westö tr. Neil Smith (MacLehose Press, Finland)

This multilayered novel tells the story of how a crime is triggered following the chance meeting of two people in a lawyer’s office. While the narrative can be seen as a tragic individual story, it also takes on larger historical dimensions as it unfolds. Set in Helsinki in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, The Wednesday Club offers an insightful exploration into the legacy of the Finnish Civil War, and the rise of German and Finnish fascism in the present.

The judges are:

Barry Forshaw – Writer and journalist specialising in crime fiction and film; author of multiple books covering Scandinavian crime fiction, including NORDIC NOIR, DEATH IN A COLD CLIMATE, EURO NOIR, DETECTIVE: CRIME UNCOVERED and the first biography of Stieg Larsson.

Dr. Kat Hall – Editor of CRIME FICTION IN GERMAN: DER KRIMI for University of Wales Press; Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University; international crime fiction reviewer/blogger at MRS. PEABODY INVESTIGATES.

Sarah Ward – Crime novelist, author of IN BITTER CHILL and A DEADLY THAW (Faber and Faber), and crime fiction reviewer at CRIMEPIECES.

More information can be found on the Petrona Award website (

Wednesday 29 March 2017

A Reason to Write by Matt Johnson

I’ve spoken many times on how a form of therapy that included writing helped with my treatment for PTSD. And I’ve explained that it was a comment made by my counsellor that first planted the idea in my mind that I might write a book.

What I’ve never explained is why I agreed with the suggestion to the degree that I was sufficiently motivated to go along with the suggestion.

PC Blakelock
To explain, I need to take you back to 1985. I was a PC in those days, and had just passed the promotion examination to become a sergeant. I was posted to Tottenham and Hornsey police stations for a short period to work as an ‘acting sergeant’. I met a sergeant called David Pengelly. David introduced me to some of his community beat officers, we called them ‘homebeats’ in those days, including PCs Keith Blakelock and Richard Coombes.

I left Tottenham when my course started. As I did so, I was aware that trouble was brewing in the local area. Mobile car patrols had been stopped on certain estates and foot patrolling in those area was only being done by well-known local PCs and, even then, they were always in pairs. It seemed that the area was a powder keg just waiting to explode.

On 5th October 1985, the Broadwater Farm riots started. David Pengelly was deployed with several of his homebeat officers into the fray. They were ill-prepared, inadequately equipped and completely unaware of what they were going into.

That evening, in the darkness and confusion on an estate they were unfamiliar with, they
Police during rioting on the Broadwater Estate 
were stoned, petrol bombed and, eventually their position was over-run and they were isolated. Keith Blakelock fell to the ground and was set upon by the rioters. Armed with ridiculously inadequate wooden truncheons, PC Coombes and others attempted to rescue PC Blakelock while Sergeant Pengelly fought alone with the rioters to try and buy some time for his colleagues.

There were many other police officers at Broadwater Farm that night. They were also ill prepared for what they faced. Many were injured, all were traumatised.

In the aftermath of the riot, an enquiry team was set up and all officers who had been present were told to write statements including as much information as they could about what had happened to them, what they had seen and any evidence they could include to help bring rioters to justice.

In many cases, the statements produced by the officers were woefully inadequate. Often they said no more than “I went with my serial to an estate in Tottenham. We stood behind plastic shields while hundreds of people tried to kill us with petrol bombs, knives and rocks.”

I was given the job of obtaining better statements from these officers. It wasn’t easy. Many simply didn’t want to talk about it, let alone write a statement.

I remember one particular PC, I’ll call him Andy. Andy was in his early twenties. In the months that followed the riot, Andy steadfastly refused to write a full statement. He was interviewed by senior officers and even threatened with disciplinary action but nothing could persuade him. He had started drinking, often to excess and was regularly late turning up for work. He seemed to have an ‘attitude problem’ was insubordinate to senior officers and surly. One day, he was arrested for drink-driving. He was disciplined and sacked. Nobody missed him.

I forgot about Andy until many years later. I was undergoing counselling for PTSD and I began to realise that young Andy had been displaying similar symptoms to my own. I hadn’t recognised it. Nothing was done for them by way of counselling or post-trauma care. They were simply left to fend for themselves.

I promised myself then that I would do my level best to make amends for that failure.

But I knew I had neither the power or the influence to bring about change, to try and help bring about change. It occurred to me that whereas people might not be inclined to pick up and read a book on PTSD, they might be prepared to pick up and read a thriller.

And so … I began to write.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Simon & Schuster Crime Fiction Showcase in London

Following invigorating crime fictions parties at Hodder and Stoughton, Quercus, Mulholland & Headline Publishing, as well as Penguin-Random House and Macmillan it was now time to see what was coming from Simon and Schuster.

The Shots Team and our fellow Crime & Thriller Fiction colleagues met up on a somewhat surreal London evening, to investigate the upcoming 2017 releases from Simon and Schuster Publishing. This publishing house hosted their inaugural crime fiction party / showcase in the heart of London’s West End.

Earlier that day, there had been a tragic terrorist incident in Westminster that resulted in loss of life and serious injury. Though, stoically as Londoners we all followed that WW2 Mantra ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. Sometimes the embrace of dark literature is a coping mechanism for managing the more disturbing aspects of our reality, and for not allowing madmen to cloud our world-view of humanity.

Simon and Schuster aptly chose London’s Phoenix Artists Club as the venue for their Crime Fiction Showcase, drawing upon their enthusiasm for the genre. With many of S & S Editorial team, under Publishing Director Jo Dickinson, their authors joined the assembled guests which consisted of book reviewers, booksellers, editors, literary commentators such as Laura Wilson, Marcel Berlins, Barry Forshaw, Chris Simmons, Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade and many, many others.

Diversity is a keyword when it comes to Simon and Schuster’s Crime Fiction list. There had been recent celebration when Chris Carter’s THE CALLER reached No 1 hardcover in the UK. Shots reviewer John Parker read in one-sitting, after realising that the author is unrelated to the creator of The X-Files.

Another author who is gaining much traction is the renowned journalist turned crime-writer, Craig Robertson. Many of us know of Robertson for his work with Bloody Scotland, as well as being one of the Guests of Honour at last year’s Bouchercon New Orleans [click here to see the Opening Ceremonies, including Craig dressed New Orleans Mardi Gras style]. Shots reviewer Les Hurst wrote about his remarkable Glasgow based peep into the damp floor of the internet MURDERABILIA here.

It was also good to see Rob Ryan and his wife who it was revealed are R J Bailey with their remarkable Safe From Harm, which Shots reviewed earlier this year. 

Also present were authors Lee Weeks, Alan Judd, Andrew Wilson, Chris Petit, Sandrone Dazieri (who had flown in from Italy), as well as Luca Veste, who I discovered is penning his first standalone The Bone Keeper and is planned for release in November. I would urge you to visit the podcast TWO CRIMEWRITERS AND A MICROPHONE which Luca produces in-concert with fellow crime-writer Steve Cavanagh. This podcast is one that always makes me laugh, and can be accessed here.

There were goody bags for the reviewers, which included advanced proof copies of upcoming work, of which Sarah Vaughan’s Anatomy of a Scandal is one I am eagerly anticipating, though not scheduled for release until January 2018.

So after mingling and sampling the wine and canapes it was soon time for Joanna Dickinson of Simon and Schuster to welcome us all to the party and introduce the assembled authors.

And so it was time to mingle further, with the attendees at the first Simon and Schuster Crime Fiction Party, and we present a selection of photos from the event.

Soon it was time to say farewell and thank the S & S Team for throwing a fine party, on what was a dark day in London, made bearable by the comfort of friends who share our enthusiasm for Literature’s darkest Genre, Crime, Mystery and Thriller Fiction.

Note : Simon and Schuster offer a free eBook when you sign up for their Newsletter Here

Footnote : Many of us have applauded Simon and Schuster’s US Imprint Threshold Editions for dropping the book deal for the so-called ‘Alt-Right’ Kent Schoolboy Milo YiannopoulosRead More