Sunday 24 September 2017

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet extract

As part of The Frozen Woman blog tour we present an extract from the book. 

‘What was your first reaction when you found her,  Thygesen?’ Stribolt asks.
 Vilhelm Thygesen doesn’t answer. He has his eyes fixed on a point behind Stribolt, who observes the distracted look on Thygesen’s face and repeats the question in a sharper tone: ‘How did you react when you found the frozen body of the dead woman?’
‘There’s a woman trying to get in,’ Thygesen says, pointing with the stem of his pipe to the point he has been staring at. Stribolt wriggles on the leather sofa and catches sight of Vaage. She is standing on the glass veranda and fumbling with the handle of the door to Thygesen’s living room cum office. The low sun in the middle of the day, which is the second in February, a Friday, causes the frost patterns on the veranda window to glitter. Through the windows of the large log-house in Bestum the light angles in, giving the burlap wallpaper a warm glow, and is reflected by the golden letters on the spine of Norway’s Laws and other books on the shelves, causing the wisps of pipe smoke to become visible.
‘It’s not locked, but it’s awkward,’ Thygesen says, getting up and walking to the door.
Stribolt struggles to deal with the unreality of the situation. He is sitting here on official business in the home of a man whose sun he had thought had long since set. A murky legend who, it transpires, is a living legend.
Thygesen has a slight limp. His ponytail, which makes him look like an old hippie, swings back and forth. It doesn’t go with the Italian-tailored charcoal suit which Thygesen is wearing and definitely not the white shirt and grey-striped silk tie which matches the man’s hair almost too perfectly.
To Stribolt it is unimaginable that Thygesen should comb his mane into a ponytail and wear a fashionable suit on a daily basis. He had expected a scruffier turnout.
Leaving to meet Thygesen, he had assumed he would be confronted by a wreck, a shipwrecked mariner washed ashore on the sea of life.
Stribolt makes a note on his pad lying on the coffee table: T has tarted himself up for us.
Thygesen kicks the door as he twists the handle.
A cold blast of air enters from the veranda. It is freezer temperature outside: minus 18 degrees. Ruddy-faced Vaage has frost on her dark fringe. She looks even more apple cheeked and attractive than usual, Stribolt muses. Everytime he works with Vaage he thinks he will have to have his haircut as short as hers, take up squash again and get himself into shape. When he was last out on the town a slip of a girl told him he looked like a Buddha with a Beatles wig sliding off the back of his head. Not hard to say something like that when you are in the Buddha Bar, but he took it to heart and the sight of the clientele made him bristle with anger, all those tossers on financial steroids. Now it annoys him that Vaage is wearing an almost identical shiny blue pilot’s jacket to his. They aren’t in uniform. Although they look as if they are, just not a police uniform.
‘More like taxi drivers,’ Stribolt mumbles.
Vaage removes her gloves, shakes Thygesen’s hand and introduces herself.
‘I’m also a Kripos detective,’ she says. ‘A chief inspector like my colleague Stribolt here.’
‘Coffee?’ Thygesen asks. ‘I’ve put a pot on.’
‘No, thanks,’ Vaage says.
Stribolt accepts.
While Thygesen goes out, Vaage examines the room, clearly with some disapproval. Perhaps she thinks it is repugnant that a couple of logs are crackling away on the fire while a very cold woman is lying under a tarpaulin in a corner of Thygesen’s large, overgrown garden.
‘I thought this bugger Thygesen didn’t have two øre to rub together,’ Vaage says under her breath. ‘He’d gone to the dogs. Done for murder in the seventies, petty fraud in the nineties. Alkie and all-round dick. And then here he is, poncing around in this million-dollar pad in the West End of Oslo.’
‘It’s just a rambling old house,’ Stribolt says.
‘Imagine what he can get for this place, the plot alone.
Why’s he trying to trick old dears out of the odd krone when he has all this?’
‘It’s dangerous to give credence to rumours,’ Stribolt answers, turning down the volume of the stereo, which is playing a jazz CD, possibly Miles Davis. ‘Our friends at Grønland Police HQ are not always well informed. The two fraud charges against Thygesen were dropped for lack of evidence.’
‘What we have in the garden is murder,’ Vaage says.
‘Premeditated murder, I would think. The poor girl has been hacked about in every conceivable way.’
Vaage roams around restlessly and scrutinises a new, green transparent iMac on a computer desk, a thick book beside it, next to a south-facing window overlooking the garden.
‘Is Thygesen a member of some morose sect?’ she asks, lifting up the book.
Lichtturm is written on the cover in big letters.
‘I think it’s a stamp catalogue,’ Stribolt says, trying not to let his voice sound too cutting. He has never got used to the sudden changes in Vaage’s temperament and deals with her forthrightness badly every time. She can be as capricious as the weather on his childhood coast.
‘Right, I thought it might be one of those sect books,’ Vaage says.
‘Lighthouse or whatever it’s called. You’ve heard about Watchtower, haven’t you, Smartie Pants?’

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet (No Exit Press) translated by Don Bartlett
Hbk £12.99. Published September 21, 2017
In the depths of the Norwegian winter, the corpse of a woman is discovered in the garden of a notorious left-wing lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.  A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by Thygesen, dies in suspicious circumstances.  As Thygesen receives anonymous threats, investigating detectives Stribolt and Vaage uncover a web of crime and violence extending far beyond Norway’s borders.  Does the frozen woman hold the key?

Buy it from SHOTS A-Store.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Crime Fiction at the Cheltenham Literary Festival

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival (6 - 15 October), where book lovers of all ages will descend for ten days of literary celebration, discussion and debate.

There is a fantastic showcase of crime writing lined up – from Ian Rankin celebrating 30 years of the indomitable Rebus to Minette Walters on ending her decade-long silence with The Last Hours, from Barry Forshaw talking gripping true crime with Emma Flint (Little Deaths) and Denise Mina (The Long Drop), to exploring exciting debut crime fiction from Joseph Knox (Sirens) and Ali Land (Good Me Bad Me). 

They will also be spotlighting partners in crime as the bestselling Nicci Gerrard and Sean French share the secrets behind their unique and successful co-writing partnership, and another duo will be returning to the stage: notorious crime writer’s Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre bring back their hilarious two man show to entertain into the evening.

Alexander McCall Smith discusses three new novels to be published this autumn including The House of Unexpected Sisters, A Time of Love and Tartan and A Distant View of Everything. Ian Rankin talks to James Naughtie to mark Thirty Years Of Rebus – one of crime fiction’s best-loved characters. Former MI5 Director General Stella Rimington joins author Allan Mallinson and BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera to discuss how true to life spy novels and films really are and Minette Walters talks about ending her decade-long hiatus from writing and shifting genres with The Last Hours.

Friday 22 September 2017

Extract from Chapter One of The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans

Chapter One


June 1881

Phoebe Stanbury, blushing, beautiful, and almost in love, greeted the last of her unfamiliar guests and took her seat. As the quartet began to play, she could feel her cheeks paling as her heart retreated to its rightful place; the heart that would, in less than nine and one quarter minutes, pump every ounce of her innocent blood into the flagstones beneath her feet.

The doors to the orangery stood open and a slight chill whis- pered across her skin. She had asked her mother not to close them yet. The garden’s last scent was strong, and she wanted today to be perfect. It was perfect. Benjamin held her hand in his limp grasp. This was their engagement party – something she could still not quite believe, nor, she suspected, could their guests. She saw the question in their eyes: why was Benjamin Raycraft, son of Sir Jasper, marrying such a nobody? He was surely one of the most eligible bachelors in London, not for his form or ability maybe, poor Benjamin, but blood is blood after all. She and her mother had endured their interrogations: are you perhaps related to the Chichester Stanburys? And even, wasn’t it a Phoebe Stanbury who accidentally hit Prince Alfred with an oar at Henley last year? No, then smile, then no again. Phoebe wondered what hushed conversations had brought them all to her mother’s house on the wrong side of the river. Sir Jasper’s pedigree? Or prurient interest in the unknown bride? No matter, her mother had said, they are here.

As the music danced, Phoebe snatched a glance at their guests. Even the Society Editor of The Times, who sat primly towards the back of the room, had smiled in her direction. Now his mouth moved slightly, as if composing the words that would sketch this enchanting evening for his readers. She did not know it then, but Phoebe would never read those words, and he would not write them.

Beyond the open doors, past the cherub fountain that tinkled in the evening sun and down the slope to the river, the curtain of willow trees hid a naked man.

He shivered, his sopping clothes dripping from the branches of the nearest willow. Flat out on the riverbank, he hoped the weakening sun might warm him. He could feel his wet back begin to liquefy the hard surface of the mud beneath him, releasing the earthy smell of decay that the early summer heat had yet to eliminate. It felt appropriate that he should smell like this, of nature, of life and death. Today, he would give the gift of one by bestowing the horror of the other. Today he would right the wrong, the terrible aberration taking place in the house of swirling music and perfume. He would bring the stink of corrosion and finally they would know what had been under their noses: a secret, rotting slowly in the ground for so long.

He rolled on to his front and covered his body with the resurrected muck of the riverbank, pulling it through his pale hair and smearing his face and neck with the rich juice of the earth. He dipped his hand into the chill of the river and wiped some of the mud away, revealing the tattoos that marked his arms and chest. It was important that everyone should see them, particularly the girl. He reached for the leather satchel that hung from the willow bough and removed a bundle swathed in newspaper, sodden and turned to sticky clods of wet ash. Once unwrapped, the hunting knife refused to glint in the evening light as if it knew there was grave business ahead.

It was time. The innocent would die to punish the guilty.

The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans published by Little Brown
A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets... One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society. As she takes her fiancé's hand, a stranger holding a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl's life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: 'I promised I would save you.' The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message…

Thursday 21 September 2017


The Bouchercon National Board of Directors has selected George Easter as the recipient of its 2017 David Thompson Special Service Award for “extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field.”

The David Thompson Special Service Award was created by the Bouchercon Board to honor the memory and contributions to the crime fiction community of David Thompson, a much beloved Houston bookseller who passed away in 2010. Past recipients of the award include Ali Karim, Marv Lachman, Len & June Moffatt, Judy Bobalik, Otto Penzler, and Bill and Toby Gottfried.

Founded in 1970, and named after distinguished mystery critic, editor, and author, Anthony Boucher, Bouchercon is an all-volunteer non-profit organisation that each year brings together fans, authors, publishers, editors, agents, and booksellers from around the world in a different location for a four-day celebration of their shared love of the crime genre. This year's Bouchercon, Passport to Murder, will take place in Toronto, October 12-15, 2017

George Easter is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, one of the premiere review periodicals in the mystery community. Deadly Pleasures, a great resource for readers, was started in 1992. DP also includes news of forthcoming releases in the U.S. and abroad, and columns, reviews, and interviews from an international group of contributors. Sneak previews of upcoming books are divided into soft boiled, hardboiled, medium boiled and more. Deadly Pleasures was nominated four times for an Anthony Award for Best Mystery Magazine and won the Anthony for Best Critical/Biographic Work in 1999.

But Deadly Pleasures was not enough for George, being a fan’s fan, and in 1997 he conceived the Barry Awards (named after fan Barry Gardner) that are presented by Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine in various categories for excellence. George also presents the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mystery Fandom (named after fan Don Sandstrom).

George has served on the Bouchercon National Board, has attended every Bouchercon, except two, since 1991 in Pasadena, CA, and volunteered to produce the Program Book for the 2000 Bouchercon in Denver, CO. He was also responsible for getting publishers to donate books to the Book Bazaar giveaway at last year’s Bouchercon in New Orleans.

The Bouchercon Board is pleased to honor George Easter with the David Thompson award for all he has contributed to the mystery community and for his honoring both mystery authors and fans. George Easter is truly a Fan’s Fan.

H/T - Janet Rudolph