Monday 29 January 2018

Partying with Jane Gregory in Mayfair

My father, a retired psychiatrist (now elderly) would remind me from time to time that as we age - 

“it’s the characters, the larger than life people; those with a generosity of nature, the ones that make you think, and make you laugh loudly at the absurdity of life - who are the ones that enrich our lives, and they are the people we remember most affectionately as they are life affirming.” 

And we all know that literary agent Jane Gregory is one such person, for her presence always lifts ones’ spirits, no matter how dark the day is.

When congratulating Jane Gregory last year at the Theakstons’ Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival for receiving the Special Services Award from the Harrogate Team, I remarked about how eclectic her 20th Anniversary Party was. She still recalled Mike Stotter and I attending as “Pulpy Fiction” dressed as John Travolta & Samuel Jackson from the Tarantino movie, complete with false wigs and facial hair. We thought our attire was apt as Jane’s business - Gregory and Company are specialist literary agents, who work in publishing’s crime, mystery & thriller fiction niche.

So late last year many of us received a ‘save the date’ message from Gregory and Company. We all knew that the niche literary agency was joining forces with David Higham Associates and that Gregory and Company were about to celebrate 30 years in business.

To see and read more about the evening - click here
Photos and Text © 2018 Ali Karim

Friday 26 January 2018

Manchester: A tale of two cities by Marnie Riches

A year ago, the first book in my Mancunian-Noir gangland series – Born Bad – was published. After having had bestselling, award-winning success with three George McKenzie novels, set in South East London and Amsterdam, it was the first time I’d allowed my crime fiction to wander north, along the M6, to my hometown and place of birth.  
Born Bad follows the lives and power-struggles of those who lead the city’s underworld: Paddy O’Brien heads up the O’Brien crew on the south side, while Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies work as a team to run the Boddlington gang in the north. Their business interests encompass drug dealing, prostitution, counterfeiting, illegal gambling and super-club-ownership - the series seems to thrum with a soundtrack of iconic Mancunian music. Above all, it’s a gritty and gripping tale of the lengths that the “haves” will go to in order to protect what they’ve built, and the appalling compromises the “have-nots” will make in a bid to escape their crappy circumstances at home. Set all of the high-stakes action against a northern urban backdrop, where it regularly rains and the sky is permanently an uninspiring shade of grey, and you can understand why it was essential to pepper the story with dark humour. Mancunians are like that, in any case. Poverty pervades the city like dry-rot. It’s officially the UK’s most violent city, but the people have a keen, dry humour. They have to see the funny side of a hard life!
The Cover-Up published just over a week ago and is flying off shelves as quickly as Born Bad did, thankfully. Where Born Bad had a subplot of the women – Sheila O’Brien and Gloria Bell – taking crumbs from the table in a man’s world, we see the two taking over the O’Brien empire, thanks to bullying wife-beater, Paddy’s apparent demise. Imagine that! A battered trophy-wife and an ex-cleaning woman running the south side and battling with a Birmingham crime boss who fancies his chances! In a series with a sizeable and ethnically mixed cast of larger-than-life characters, readers are pleased to see that favourite anti-heroes, Leviticus Bell and Conky McFadden also reappear. The books can be read out of sequence, of course. It doesn’t take long to cotton onto who is doing what to whom. Early reviews are very positive…
What I found really satisfying as a writer, was penning both Born Bad and The Cover-Up as tales of two cities. As you would expect from the criminal underworld, there is a side to Manchester that is unspeakably luxurious and leafy. The big bosses hide behind their electronic gates in my fictitious south Manchester/Cheshire borders village of Bramshott, or in the well-heeled Edwardian splendour of Boddlington Park in the north. Tariq drives a Mercedes CLS. Paddy O’Brien prefers his Bugatti Veyron. Sheila pootles about with sacks full of dirty cash in the back of her Porsche Panamera. But at the other end of the scale, we have the likes of young, single-father, Leviticus Bell. Where support from his mother, Gloria, is lacking, he reluctantly turns to dealing drugs and being muscle for hire, playing one gang off against the other in order to give his terminally ill son the chance of a future. What other opportunities does someone like Lev have to escape the rubbish-strewn sprawl of his tower block on the fictitious council estate of Sweeney Hall? Both rich and poor have some morally dubious choices to make in the books, and their decisions are never easily reached. As a reader, you find yourself as much absorbed by these grey-area moral predicaments as you are by the grey, rain-soaked locations.
I’d encouraged readers who like their gangland thrillers to give this series a try. I am a real Mancunian and I feel certain I’ve painted the UK’s “most violent city” in its true colours. Go on! Dip your toe in Born Bad’s and The Cover-Up’s freezing cold waters! You’re as likely to end up smelling a million dollars as you are to be coated in grime!

The Cover Up by Marnie Riches (Avon)
Watch your back. Everyone else will be.  How far would you go to protect your empire?  Manchester’s criminal underworld is reeling from the loss of its leader, Paddy O’Brien. In the wake of her husband’s death, Sheila O’Brien takes charge of the city, and for once, she’s doing things her way.  But she hasn’t reckoned with the fearsome Nigel Bancroft, a threat from Birmingham who is determined to conquer Manchester next.  As a power tussle begins, Sheila is determined to keep control of the empire she has won – even if it means she has to die trying…
More information about the author and her books can be found on her website.  You can also follow her on Twitter @Marnie_Riches.
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Wednesday 24 January 2018

“Murder, She Tweeted: Crime Narratives and the Digital Age” - Call For Papers

University of Tampere, Finland, August 23-24, 2018

Keynote speakers: Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast) & Fiona Peters (Bath Spa University)

The advent of new technologies and digital media have transformed society and influenced cultural narratives. The changes brought about by technological innovations, digitalisation, and globalisation have affected not only the subject matter and themes of contemporary crime narratives but also the production, distribution, and consumption of crime fiction on the global market, as well as the analytical tools, techniques, research methods, and theories available to scholars. These changes are readily visible in detectives’ digital investigations or in how criminals employ digital technology in committing cybercrimes such as online stalking or theft. Moreover, the potential of digitalisation in modifying crime narratives nowadays ranges from podcasts such as “Serial” to Sherlock Holmes fan fiction to transmedia narration in “Sherlock” and the Twitter adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library.

We invite proposals for paper presentations on crime narratives and the digital age from different language and cultural spheres. The conference’s approach to crime and the digital context is wide and covers a variety of contemporary crime narratives (e.g. novels, films, TV series, adaptations, true crime, fan fiction, vlogs, blogs and other social media) that can be examined in a number of ways.

We would like to welcome proposals which address one or several of the following topics (please note that the list is by no means exhaustive):
– production and the global market of crime narratives
– crime narratives, participatory production and fan practices
– new modes of narration and serialised storytelling in crime narratives
– multimodality and transmedia crime narratives
– remakes and social media adaptations of crime narratives
– social media and mobile technologies in or about crime narratives
– crimes and criminal agency
– criminal networks and transnational crime
– crime and thriller narratives and digital geopolitics
– policing, detective agency and (digital) methods of detection
– true crime narratives and cold case archives
– digital humanities and the study of crime narratives
– crime and digital culture in the postcolonial world
– virtual crime
– ecology, crime and digital technologies
Participants may contribute with individual presentations (20 min) or panel proposals (three presenters).

Please submit your proposal (max 300 words for individual presentations; for panels, please submit titles and abstracts of each paper) and a short biographical statement (including name, email address, institutional affiliation) to as attachments in rtf or doc format by March 20, 2018.

Conference fee: there is a conference fee of 70 euros (coffee, lunches, reception) and participants are expected to cover all costs for travel, accommodation and subsistence themselves.

Organising committee:
Dr Helen Mäntymäki, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Dr Maarit Piipponen, University of Tampere, Finland.
Dr Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Dr Andrea Hynynen, Finland.

Monday 22 January 2018

2018 Barry Award Nominations

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine have announced the Barry Award Nominees. Winners will be announced September 6, 2018 at the St. Petersburg Bouchercon Opening Ceremonies.

Best Novel 
The Late Show by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (Putnam)
Exit Strategy by Steve Hamilton (Putnam)
The Force by Don Winslow (Morrow)
Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr (A Marian Wood Book)
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (Harper)

Best First Novel 
The Dry by Jane Harper (Flatiron)
She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (Ecco)
The Lost One by Sheena Kamal (Morrow)
The Irregular by H. P. Lyle (Quercus)
A Rising Man Abir Mukherjee (Pegasus)
My absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead)

Best Paperback Original 
Safe from Harm by R. J. Bailey (Simon & Schuster UK)
The Deep Dark descending by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)
The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day (Morrow)
Blessed are the Peacemakers by , Kristi Belcamino (CreateSpace)
Super Con by James Swain (Thomas & Mercer)

Best Thriller 
Gunmetal Gray by Mark Greaney (Berkley)
Spook Street by Mick Herron (Soho)
The Freedom Broker by K. J. Howe (Quercus)
The Old Man by Thomas Perry (Mysterious Press)
Uunsub by Meg Gardiner (Dutton)
Trap the Devil by Ben Coes (St. Martin’s)

Congratulations to all!