Monday 30 April 2018

Outstanding crime fiction from Denmark, Finland and Sweden shortlisted for the 2018 Petrona Award

Six outstanding crime novels from Denmark, Finland and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2018 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which is announced today.

What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis, tr. Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)

After The Fire by Henning Mankell, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)

The Darkest Day by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist, tr. Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 19 May during the annual international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, held in Bristol on 17-20 May 2018. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2019.

The Petrona 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 continued generous support of the Petrona Award.

The judges’ comments on the shortlist:
There were 61 entries for the 2018 Petrona Award from six countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). The novels were translated by 33 translators and submitted by 31 publishers/imprints. There were 27 female and 33 male authors, and one brother-sister writing duo.

This year’s Petrona Award shortlist sees Sweden strongly represented with four novels; Denmark and Finland each have one. The crime genres represented include a police procedural, a courtroom drama, a comic crime novel and three crime novels/thrillers with a strong psychological dimension.

As ever, the Petrona Award judges faced a difficult but enjoyable decision-making process when they met to draw up the shortlist. The six novels selected by the judges stand out for the quality of their writing, their characterisation and their plotting. They are original and inventive, and shine a light on highly complex subjects such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, school shootings, and life on the margins of society. A key theme that emerged across all of the shortlisted works was that of family: the physical and psychological challenges of parenting; the pressures exerted by family traditions or expectations; sibling rivalries; inter­generational tensions and bonds; family loyalty… and betrayal.

We are extremely grateful to the translators whose expertise and skill allows readers to access these gems of Scandinavian crime fiction, and to the publishers who continue to champion and support translated fiction.

The judges’ comments on each of the shortlisted titles:

WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS by Agnete Friis, tr. Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)
Her ‘Nina Borg’ novels, co-written with Lene Kaaberbøl, have a dedicated following, but this first solo outing by Danish author Agnete Friis is a singular achievement in every sense. Ella Nygaard was a child when her mother was killed by her father. Did the seven-year-old witness the crime? She can’t remember, but her body does, manifesting physical symptoms that may double as clues. Ella’s complex character is superbly realised – traumatised yet tough, she struggles to keep her son Alex out of care while dealing with the fallout from her past.

QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)
In this compelling and timely novel, eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg is on trial for her part in a school shooting which saw her boyfriend, best friend, teacher and other classmates killed. We follow the events leading up to the murders and the trial through Maja’s eyes, including her reaction to her legal team’s defence. Lawyer-turned-writer Malin Persson Giolito successfully pulls the reader into the story, but provides no easy answers to the motives behind the killings. Gripping and thought-provoking, the novel offers an insightful analysis of family and class dynamics.

AFTER THE FIRE by Henning Mankell, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)
Henning Mankell’s final novel sees the return of Fredrik Welin from 2010's Italian Shoes. Living in splendid isolation on an island in a Swedish archipelago, Welin wakes up one night to find his house on fire and soon finds himself suspected of arson by the authorities. While there’s a crime at the heart of this novel, the story also addresses universal themes of loss, fragile family ties, difficult friendships, ageing and mortality. The occasionally bleak outlook is tempered by an acceptance of the vulnerability of human relationships and by the natural beauty of the novel’s coastal setting.

THE DARKEST DAY by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)
Many readers are familiar with the ‘Van Veeteren’ detective stories of Håkan Nesser, but his second series, featuring Swedish-Italian Detective Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti, is only now beginning to be translated. An engaging figure who navigates his post-divorce mid-life crisis by opening a witty dialogue with God, Barbarotti is asked to investigate the disappearance of two members of the Hermansson family following a birthday celebration. The novel’s multiple narrative perspectives and unhurried exploration of family dynamics make for a highly satisfying read.

THE WHITE CITY by Karolina Ramqvist, tr. Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)
Karolina Ramqvist’s novella focuses on an often marginalised figure: the wife left stranded by her gangster husband when things go wrong. Karin’s wealthy, high-flying life is over. All that’s left are a once grand house, financial difficulties, government agencies closing in, and a baby she never wanted to have. This raw and compelling portrait of a woman at rock bottom uses the sometimes brutal physical realities of motherhood to depict a life out of control, and persuasively communicates Karin’s despair and her faltering attempts to reclaim her life.

THE MAN WHO DIED by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)
The grim starting point of Antti Tuomainen’s novel – a man finding out that he has been systematically poisoned and his death is just a matter of time – develops into an assured crime caper brimming with wry black humour. Finnish mushroom exporter Jaakko Kaunismaa quickly discovers that there’s a worryingly long list of suspects, and sets about investigating his own murder with admirable pluck and determination. The novel’s heroes and anti-heroes are engagingly imperfect, and Jaakko’s first-person narration is stylishly pulled off.

The judges are:

Barry Forshaw – Writer and journalist specialising in crime fiction and film; author of multiple books including HISTORICAL NOIR, 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; translator and editor; Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University; international crime fiction reviewer/blogger at MRS. PEABODY INVESTIGATES.

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

Further information can be found on the Petrona Award website (

Sunday 29 April 2018

Agatha Award Winners 2018

Malice Domestic announced the Agatha Award Winners on Saturday 28th April 2018 in Bethesda, MD. 

Best Contemporary Novel 
Glass Houses: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best Historical Novel 
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union Publishing)

Best First Novel 
Hollywood Homicide: A Detective by Day Mystery by Kellye Garrett (Midnight Ink)

Best Nonfiction 
From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström (Mysterious Press)

Best Short Story 
The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn” by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press)

Best Children’s/Young Adult 
Sydney Mackenzie Knocks 'Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)

Congratulations to all!

Saturday 28 April 2018

2018 Edgar Allan Poe Awards,

Mystery Writers of America announced the winners for the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2017.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper (HarperCollins – Ecco)

 The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola (Sourcebooks – Sourcebooks Landmark)

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Penguin Random House – Doubleday)

Chester B. Himes: A Biography by Lawrence P. Jackson (W.W. Norton & Company)

Spring Break” – New Haven Noir by John Crowley (Akashic Books)

Vanished! By James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster – Atheneum Books for Young

Somebody to Love” – Fargo, Teleplay by Noah Hawley (FX Networks/MGM)

The Queen of Secrets" - New Haven Noir by Lisa D. Gray (Akashic Books)

Jane Langton
William Link
Peter Lovesey
Kristopher Zgorski, BOLO Books
The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence Kansas

 Robert Pépin

* * * * * *

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow Paperbacks)

Friday 27 April 2018

Theakstons Crime Writing Festival 2018 Launch Party

The Shots team enjoyed an energetic time last week, as guests of Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, as the 2018 Program of events was released at a wonderful party, hosted in London’s Covent Garden.

It was timely, as in 2017 for the first time, Crime and Thriller outsold General and Literary fiction in the UK, with Lee Child the UK’s biggest selling author, and who is the chair for programming for the 2018 Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, hosted in Yorkshire’s historic Harrogate?

Want to find out more?  We have the full report and photos over at the main SHOTS' website. CLICK HERE

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Crime Science versus Crime Fiction: Exploding the Myths

Crime fiction is now officially the most popular genre in the world. From Sherlock Holmes to CSI, fictional depictions of this good-versus-evil conflict have sought to utilise the latest advances in scientific knowledge. But how closely does crime fiction mirror the realities of police investigation? How far is modern science able to help in the fight to reduce and prevent crime?

This unique, free-to-attend event, jointly organised by one of the world's top crime research departments (UCL Jill Dando Institute) and one of the world's foremost crime writers' organisations (the CWA - Crime Writers Association), brings together bestselling crime authors with leading academics who research crime. Together they will discuss the ways in which crime prevention and detection differs in real life from how it is depicted in our favourite tales of murder and mayhem.

So, if you have ever wondered whether DNA really is the 'magic bullet', or how murder trials really work, or even how an innocent person might end up with a killer's gunshot residue on their hands just by riding in the wrong taxi, then this event is for you.

For more information and tickets please go here.

Thu 30 August 2018
18:00 – 20:00 BST

University College London
Gower Street

Monday 23 April 2018

Audible’s Animal Instinct, Human Zoo

The importance of audio in publishing cannot be underestimated as our lives become more time constrained - reading often suffers. Some may mutter “…..but are novels relevant in these days of online streaming of entertainment?”

I would assert that reading imaginative work, be they novels, novellas or short fiction is more important now than ever, due to the rising levels of anxiety in society. It is widely known that the reading of fiction [aka Biblio-Therapy] is a very useful method of reducing stress and anxiety. In fact, Stephen King in his work “On Writing” said –

“Life is not a support system for the arts, it’s the other way around”

Recently I have become evangelical about the Audio Dramatizations, from Audible Studios. I wrote about audiobooks last year, when Audible announced their Audio New Writing Award, steered toward the Crime and Thriller Genre – Read More Here

I always have plenty of Audio books, loaded on my Iphone and Laptop, for my car and for traveling by train, as it helps manage my time and my thoughts; allowing me to escape my problems by becoming lost in someone else’s’ problems. It also keeps my mind occupied and I learn about life, and how some of us cope with existence. And is there any better pleasure in life than being read to, before the arms of sleep comfort us? The audible app for Iphone has a sleep-timer, so you can have a chapter read to you before you succumb to slumber.

I am huge follower of Audible’s original content, the dramatizations, such as The X-Files, Aliens, and Stephen Fry’s extraordinary vocalisation of the complete Sherlock Holmes among many others.

And so it was a delight to discover the remarkable audio-drama Animal Instincts, Human Zoo written by Simon Booker, and performed with a cast which includes Fehinti Balogun, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Ed Bluemel, Imogen Church, Brendan Coyle, Laurence Dobiesz, Victoria Hamilton, Rebekah Hinds, David John, Harry Lloyd, Brigid Lohrey, Joseph Marcell, Michael Shon, James Smith, Jo Stone-Fewings, Niky Wardley, Sarah Whitehouse and Lia Williams.
The recording is evocatively realised with three-dimensional sound, complete with echoes and effects as we follow a former British Cop [who, still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] agrees to help a friend, not realising what he will have to confront.

Here’s a sneak preview of what to expect

Ex-policeman Joe Cassidy has a keen interest in animal behaviour and how it can have a bearing on some of the most heinous of human crimes - a talent that has heavily informed his detective work over the years. Although until now, he thought that he had left detective work behind....
Suffering from PTSD and wracked with guilt and failure after a grisly discovery in a particularly disturbing case, Joe lives in a lonely shack in the shadow of the nuclear power station at Dungeness. But when the daughter of an old friend goes missing, the investigation centres on the wealthy family's animal park.
Owing the owner a favour from years past, Joe is drawn further and further into the enquiry - hoping to solve the riddle of the disappearance amid the family's increasing dysfunction and desperate to find redemption for himself in the process.
And here’s a behind the scenes peak on the production of this engaging drama –

So if you haven’t discovered Audible Original Productions, then Simon Booker’s Animal Instincts / Human Zoo is a good place to start

More information from

Tartan Noir: no laughing matter?

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, I had a brief stint as a stand up comedian.  I’d always loved comedy but never considered it was something that you could just get up and do, until I started a new job and met a colleague who had a regular gig at a local club.

An advert for a Comedy Workshop at the Leith Festival finally persuaded me to take the plunge, and I spent a couple of years trying, and sometimes succeeding, to make people laugh.

When I started my first novel, A Fine House in Trinity, I was very keen to take the humour with me.  In fact, as a novice writer that was just about all that I took with me, and my first draft was a loosely connected series of jokes and set pieces.  Naturally, the jokes were hilarious and the set pieces benefitted from the trained observational eye of a comedian (IMHO).  But plot?  Non-existent.  Characterisation? Wafer thin.

In stand up I didn’t have time to develop an idea at length.  Lots of comedians do this really well; both Stewart Lee and Eddie Izzard excel in developing the simplest of issues in hilarious depth.  But they are at the top of their games, with their own shows.  They get an hour.  I was bottom of the bill and got ten minutes.

Ten minutes.  Ten minutes to get the audience on side, tell my jokes, and in the case of Glasgow get off the stage and into my car before anyone twigged that I was from Edinburgh (old rivalries die hard.)  Time wasn’t on my side, and while reaching for the occasional stereotype or cliché will get you through a comedy gig, it won’t cut the mustard in a novel.

With my second draft I had to put my ‘stand up’ head aside, and think like a writer.  The finished book had both humour and some resembling a plot, and it must have been OK, as it was long-listed for the William McIlvanney Award in 2016 (she noted modestly.)

When I moved on to writing my Virus series, I had the luxury of developing character quirks across more than one novel.   In The Health of Strangers, we meet the Health Enforcement Team members, who are fighting crime against the background of a deadly virus.  We have the Team Leader, Paterson (scary, old school cop), Mona (bossy), Bernard (confused, mainly), Carole (motherly), and Maitland (fancies himself as a ladies man).

Now, with the second book in the series, Songs by Dead Girls, I find myself with an opportunity to develop the humour that comes from knowing the characters really well.  And I’ve noticed that, however dark the situation gets, the HET team have got a quip for it.   And they are always pithy, relevant, and cutting.  It’s almost like someone is putting them in their mouths.  Some frustrated comedian, perhaps? 

I don’t do stand up any more.  A job, two kids, and the desire to write novels all got in the way.  I miss it, though.  I miss the immediate feedback that you get from a crowd.  It’s the worst feeling in the world when a joke falls flat, but better that than spending two years on a novel only to find out no-one likes it.

So, Songs by Dead Girls, it’s your time to fly and find your audience.  I hope they like you.  I hope they laugh in all the right places. 

Just remember, though, that you are set in Edinburgh.  If you play Glasgow, keep the motor running.

Lesley Kelly’s third novel, Songs By Dead Girls, is published by Sandstone Press in April.  Her Health of Strangers series is set in a virus- ravaged Edinburgh of the near future.   

Songs by Dead Girls by Lesley Kelly (Published by Sandstone Press)
Nobody likes the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team, least of all the people who work for it.  An uneasy mix of seconded Police and health service staff, Mona, Bernard and their colleagues stem the spread of the Virus, a mutant strain of influenza, by tracking down people who have missed their monthly health check.

When Scotland’s leading virologist goes missing, Mona and Paterson from the Health Enforcement Team are dispatched to London to find him. In a hot and unwelcoming city, Mona has to deal with a boss who isn’t speaking to her, placate the professor’s over-bearing assistant, and outwit the people who will stop at nothing to make sure the academic stays lost.

Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, Bernard is searching for a missing prostitute, while Maitland is trying to keep the chair of the Parliamentary Virus Committee from finding out quite how untidy the HET office is.

More information about  the author and her work can be found on her website.  You can follow her on Twitter - @lkauthor and on Facebook.