Monday 29 April 2019

In The Spotlight - St Hilda's interviews

As part of the run up to St Hilda’s College Crime Fiction weekend 2019 I am delighted to announce that we will be having a series of mini interviews from all the speakers starting in May.

The first speaker to be featured will be St Hilda’s Fellow and Alumna Val McDermid.  Others to be interviewed will include Will Dean, Andrew Taylor, Sarah Hilary and Mick Herron to name a few.  

The mini interviews will no doubt whet your appetite for the forthcoming weekend and if you have not yet signed up for the weekend then there is still time to do so.  

Information about the weekend can be found here.

So who would be invited to dinner? What does Val do to relax and what book has she just read.  All will be revealed soon.

Saturday 27 April 2019

Bloody Scotland 2019 Launch

Bloody Scotland Launches 2019 Programme with a Special Event with Val McDermid
Val McDermid leading the 2017 Bloody Scotland torchlight procession with Ian Rankin and Denise Mina (credit: Paul Reich)
After launching the 2018 Bloody Scotland Programme with a hugely popular one-off event by Alexander McCall Smith, Director, Bob McDevitt has done it again and secured Val McDermid to star at the programme launch in Stirling on 3 June 2019.

In My Scotland (Sphere, 6 June) she examines how she has used distinctive settings in her books. Organised book by book, My Scotland goes through McDermid’s titles and the places in which they are set. She will be on stage at the Golden Lion Ballroom with Alan McCredie (her teammate on BBC Radio 4 panel show “Round Britain”), whose photographs of Scotland illustrate it.

Val famously celebrated 30 years of crime writing by leading – along with Denise Mina and Ian Rankin - the first Bloody Scotland torch-lit procession from the castle to the Albert Halls then getting everyone to their feet as the lead singer with the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.

In addition to her many books for Hachette she also contributed to the Bloody Scotland book which came out in paperback this year. Her short story in the collection, Ancient & Modern, was recently shortlisted for an Edgar, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious crime writing awards in North America.

She is a national treasure and we are absolutely delighted that she can join us at the launch of Bloody Scotland particularly as she will be in New Zealand at the time of the Festival itself.

Friday 26 April 2019

The Edgar® Award Winners

Mystery Writers of America announced the Winners for the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2018. The Edgar® Awards were presented to the winners at their 73rd Gala Banquet, held on 25 April 2019 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.

The winners are :-
Best NovelDown the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland)
Best First Novel by an American Author
Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin (HarperCollins Publishers – Ecco)
Best Paperback Original
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Best Fact CrimeTinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation by Robert W. Fieseler (W.W. Norton & Company – Liveright)
Best Critical/BiographicalClassic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s by Leslie S. Klinger (Pegasus Books)
Best Short StoryEnglish 398: Fiction Workshop” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Art Taylor (Dell Magazines)
Best JuvenileOtherwoodby Pete Hautman (Candlewick Press)
Best Young Adult
Sadieby Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
Best Television Episode Teleplay
The One That Holds Everything” – The Romanoffs, Teleplay by Matthew Weiner & Donald Joh (Amazon Prime Video)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARDHow Does He Die This Time?”– Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Nancy Novick (Dell Magazines)
* * * * * *
Martin Cruz Smith

Marilyn Stasio, NY Times

Linda Landrigan, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARDThe Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

Shell Game by Sara Paretsky (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Frankie Y. Bailey, 

Congratulations to all the winners and the nominated authors.

Reality check: Researching No Way Out by Cara Hunter

Authenticity is really important to me. I want the DI Fawley books to feel as real as possible and that means getting all the details right, from the forensic science to police procedure. Nothing gives me more pleasure than feedback from serving police officers or other professionals saying the books ring true to them. Since I started writing the series, I’ve gathered an amazing ‘pro team’ to help me, including a Detective Inspector, a QC, a former CSI, and a doctor. Their experience and insight has been absolutely invaluable, but for No Way Out I needed to add another highly specialised strand of expertise: fire scene investigation.

No Way Out opens with a catastrophic fire at a large Victorian house in north Oxford. Two young boys are pulled from the wreckage, one dead, one barely alive. But there’s no sign of the parents, and  - as quickly becomes clear – the fire was no accident. But who could possibly want such a nice ordinary family dead?

The opening scene is a transcript of the firefighters’ communications as they reach the scene and start to tackle the fire. As anyone who’s read any of the previous Fawley books will know, I really like including different types of document in the narrative, and the transcript was an obvious one to choose, as well as a unique and attention-grabbing start to the story. But if I was going to do it I had to get it right – the way the firefighters talk to each other, the terms they use – it all had to be accurate.  

I started by watching a lot of firefighter helmet-cam footage online, which gave me a much clearer idea of what actually happens in a serious fire. That was a good place to start. But I knew it wasn’t enough on its own, not least because almost everything I found was from the US. And it wasn’t just the opening scene either: right from the start, I always knew the fire scene investigation was going to be one of the main planks of the story, so I needed to understand that process from the inside.

I was in luck, though, because a friend was able to introduce me to Graham Turner, who was then Station Manager at the Rewley Road fire station in central Oxford (he’s since retired). He gave me a detailed guided tour of the premises, and went through exactly how fire crews are deployed, and which equipment is used and how. He also showed me the ‘smoke room’ which they use for training – even in broad daylight it was a terrifying, cramped dark space and really brought home how brave and selfless firefighters are. On a lighter note, I also found out that firefighters never have beards (not the genuine article, anyway!). It’s because facial hair could impede the breathing apparatus.

I also spent a long time with Steve Johns, one of the senior Oxfordshire fire scene investigators. He took me through several real-life fire scene reports, some of which were extremely harrowing, but it was fascinating to see how specific evidence is analysed and what it tells a professional like Steve about the source and progress of a fire. He also gave me the report template Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue use, which meant I was able to reproduce a shortened version of a ‘real’ fire report in the novel (I really loved being able to do that). And they were both kind enough to read the book in draft form to make sure it didn’t include any mistakes (including correcting my American lingo in the opening scene!).

Every professional I’ve consulted about the books has been so generous with their time, and Graham and Steve were no different. No Way Out wouldn’t be the book it is without them. 

No Way Out by Cara Hunter is published by Penguin Books (Out now)
It's one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked.  The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.  Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?  Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley's worst nightmare comes true. Because this fire wasn't an accident. It was murder.  And the killer is still out there...

Thursday 25 April 2019

Snip, snip, snip… The background to the novel, Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

The idea for Mr Todd’s Reckoning dates back to May 2015 when my eldest son Michael, who’d spent time in hospital and The Priory with depression and anorexia, came back to live in the family home. These were tough times, to put it mildly. We thought we were going to lose him at any moment.

Michael would spend ages in the kitchen each evening snip, snip, snipping away at vegetables in a wok, cutting them into a million pieces. I would sit nearby and the constant start-stop, start-stop snipping drove me mad. I couldn’t shout “Shut up for a minute” at him, as I might have done with my other two robust children, as he was in a fragile state; things were touch and go for a long time.        

I let off steam by writing what became the first scene of Mr Todd’s Reckoning – a troubled son with mental health issues and a stressed father feeling tense and edgy and having to bottle everything up – and then put it to one side whilst I wrote other books.

Dear Michael, Love Dad is a memoir telling the story of our family and Michael’s downfall. Out Of The Madhouse, co-written with Michael, tells of his days in The Priory and how he came back, slowly but surely, from the brink to become the happy person he is today. I then wrote a man-on-the run thriller, Sweet William.

When I was looking to write my next book, I came back to that snip, snip, scene and wondered if I could develop it into a novel. I had the idea of a father and son forced to live together in a tiny, cramped bungalow, unemployed, tense, feeling claustrophobic, and what might happen to them. The whole thing bubbled with possibilities. Father kills son? Son kills father? What if someone from outside then turned up – a girlfriend perhaps or maybe an old school friend?  

I started writing, as I do, with only a vague sense of where it might be going – no more than one or two pivotal events in my mind. I wrote one scene at a time, edging forwards and backwards, tweaking and adding to each scene as I went along. I had settled by then on the thought that, at some point, one would lash out at the other and kill him – not meaning to – and how he would then deal with that on different levels; emotionally, practically and so on.

I found it easy to get into the minds of my two main characters – Mr Todd Senior and Mr Todd Junior. One began as angrier version of me. The other was a twitchier version of Michael. I had lots of emotions within me because of what happened with Michael; guilt, frustration, anger etc. I had an idea of how Michael’s mind worked as I had read his diaries from The Priory.   

As with Sweet William, once I’d got inside the minds of my characters, the outline I had in my head changed significantly. For me, characters drive the story and where it’s all going to go. As I got to know my characters better, they started to become real people in my head – quite different from Michael and me – and took the story in a whole new direction towards the murder, mayhem and madness that you’ll read about in Mr Todd’s Reckoning.

Iain Maitland’s latest novel, Mr Todd’s Reckoning, is published this month by Saraband books, £8.99 paperback original    

 Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits' end. He's been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home... with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he's getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where? The unholy spirit: in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he'll kill again.

The Petrona Award 2019

Outstanding crime fiction from Denmark, Iceland and Norway shortlisted for the 2019 Petrona Award

Six outstanding crime novels from Denmark, Iceland and Norway have been shortlisted for the 2019 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which is announced today.

THE ICE SWIMMER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
THE WHISPERER by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
THE DARKNESS by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland)
RESIN by Ane Riel, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark)
BIG SISTER by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 11 May during the annual international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, held in Bristol on 9-12 May 2019. 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 2020. 

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 38 entries for the 2019 Petrona Award from six countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). The novels were translated by 25 translators and submitted by 24 publishers/imprints. There were 14 female and 20 male authors, and two male-female writing duos. 

This year’s Petrona Award shortlist sees Norway strongly represented with four novels; Denmark and Iceland each have one. The crime genres represented include the police procedural, the private investigator novel, psychological crime, literary crime and the thriller.

The Petrona Award judges faced a challenging but enjoyable decision-making process when drawing up the shortlist. The six novels selected by the judges stand out for their writing, characterisation, plotting, and overall quality. They are original and inventive, often pushing the boundaries of genre conventions, and tackle highly complex subjects such as mental health issues, the effects of social and emotional alienation, and failures of policing and justice. 

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:

THE ICE SWIMMER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
 Kjell Ola Dahl has achieved international acclaim for his ‘Oslo Detectives’ police procedural series, of which The Ice Swimmer is the latest instalment. When a dead man is found in the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour, Detective Lena Stigersand takes on the investigation while having to deal with some difficult personal issues. With the help of her trusted colleagues Gunnarstranda and Frølich, she digs deep into the case and uncovers possible links to the Norwegian establish-ment. Once again, Dahl has produced a tense and complex thriller, with his trademark close attention to social issues.  

THE WHISPERER by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
Winner of the prestigious Riverton Award and Glass Key Award for Nordic crime, Karin Fossum is a prolific talent. The Whisperer focuses on the case of Ragna Riegel, an unassuming woman with a complicated emotional history, who has recently been arrested. As Inspector Konrad Sejer delves into her psyche in the course of a claustrophobic interrogation, Fossum slowly reveals the events leading up to Ragna’s crime. This is a highly assured mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, which really gets to the heart of one woman’s mental turmoil, and how easy it is for an individual to become unmoored from society.

THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
Jørn Lier Horst’s ‘William Wisting’ novels are distinguished by their excellent characterisation and strong plots. In The Katharina Code, a dormant investigation is reopened when police focus on a missing woman’s husband and his possible involvement in an earlier, apparently unconnected case. Wisting, who has long harboured doubts about the man’s innocence, becomes a somewhat unwilling participant in the surveillance operation. This finely plotted thriller with a strong sense of unresolved justice shows how Lier Horst is as comfortable writing about rural landscapes as urban settings. 

THE DARKNESS by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland)
In Ragnar Jónasson’s The Darkness, the first in the ‘Hidden Iceland’ trilogy, a Reykjavík policewoman on the brink of retirement looks into a final case – the death of Elena, a young Russian woman, which may mistakenly have been labelled a suicide. As much a portrait of its flawed investigator, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir, as of the investigation itself, the novel explores themes ranging from parental estrangement and the costs of emotional withdrawal to the precarious status of immigrants trying to make their way in a new land. The novel’s ending is bold and thought-provoking. 

RESIN by Ane Riel, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark)
Ane Riel’s Resin is an ambitious literary crime novel with a remote Danish setting. Narrated mainly from the perspective of Liv, a young girl, it tells the story of three generations of one family, while exploring the complicated factors that can lead individuals to justify and commit murder. Other narrative voices – such as those of Liv’s mother and a neighbour – provide further nuance and depth. A moving meditation on the consequences of social isolation and misguided love, Resin is an innovative novel that offers its readers a keenly observed psychological portrait of a close-knit but dysfunctional family. 

BIG SISTER by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
In this highly acclaimed, long-running series, former social worker turned private investigator Varg Veum solves complex crimes which often have a strong historic dimension. In Big Sister, Veum is surprised by the revelation that he has a half-sister, who asks him to look into the whereabouts of her missing goddaughter, a nineteen-year-old trainee nurse. Expertly plotted, with an unsettling, dark undertone, this novel digs deep into Veum’s family past to reveal old secrets and hurts, and is by turns an absorbing and exciting read. 

Saturday 20 April 2019

Books to Look Forward to from Head of Zeus

July 2019

The Heart Keeper is by Alex Dahl.  How do you mend a broken heart? It's been three months since Alison Miller-Juul's world fell apart when her six-year-old daughter, Amalie, died in an accident. Three months of sympathy cards, grief counselling and gritting her teeth, but it's still only the vodka and pills that seem to help. Across town, Iselin Berg's life is finally looking up. Her seven-year-old daughter, Kaia, has survived a life-changing operation. After years of doctors, medication and hope, they can now start thinking about the future. When Alison uncovers a dangerous secret, she is left in turmoil. She can now see a way to heal her broken heart, but will she risk everything to do so?

December, 1939. Having solved the case of the Suffolk Vampire, Inspector Betty Church and her colleagues at Sackwater Police Station have settled back down to business. There's the elderly Mr Fern who keeps losing his slippers, Sylvia Satin's thirteenth birthday party to attend and the scintillating case of the missing bookmark to solve. Though peace and quiet are all well and good, Betty soon finds herself longing for some cold-blooded murder.  When a bomb is dropped on a residential street, both peace and quiet are broken and it seems the war has finally reached Sackwater. But Betty cannot stop the Hun, however hard she tries. So when the body of one of the bomb victims is found stretched out like an angel on Sackwater's beach, Betty concentrates on finding the enemy much closer to home...  A Room of the Dead is by M R C Kasasian

August 2019

There's power in stories and this is a story of power. Dead bodies aren't unusual in the alleyways of Fenest. Muggings, brawls gone bad, debts collected - Detective Cora Gorderheim has seen it all. Until she finds a Wayward man with his mouth sewn shut. As
Cora pieces together the dead man's story, she's drawn into the most dangerous story in the Union of Realms: the election. All she wants is to catch the killer, but nothing is that simple in an election year. Dark forces conspire against the Union and soon she finds herself at the rotten core of it all. Cora will find the killer, but at what cost? Widow”s Welcome is by D K Fields

Bitterroots is by CJ Box. Former police officer Cassie Dewell is trying to start over with her own private investigation firm. Guilty about not seeing her son and exhausted by the nights on stakeout, Cassie is nontheless managing... until an old friend calls in a favor: she wants Cassie to help exonerate a man accused of assaulting a young girl from an influential family. Against her own better judgment, Cassie agrees. But out in the Big Sky Country of Montana, twisted family loyalty runs as deep as the ties to the land, and there's always something more to the story. As Cassie attempts to uncover the truth, she must fight against the ghosts of her own past that threaten to pull her back under. 

September 2019

The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.  That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year's event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes. Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message? DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl...  The Bad Place is by M K Hill.

November 2019

No Fixed Line is by Dana Stabenow... though there is no fixed line between wrong and right. There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed. It is New Year's Eve, nearly six weeks into an off-and-on blizzard that has locked Alaska down, effectively cutting it off from the outside world. But now there are reports of a plane down in the Quilak mountains. With the National Transportation Safety Board unable to reach the crash site, ex-Trooper Jim Chopin is pulled out of retirement to try to identify the aircraft, collect the corpses, and determine why no flight has been reported missing. But Jim discovers survivors: two children who don't speak a word of English. Meanwhile, PI Kate Shugak receives an unexpected and unwelcome accusation from beyond 

Who really killed Leo Fenton? Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder. Ben's wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018's sweltering heat wave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo's body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him? St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana's well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.  The Scorched Earth is by Rachel Blok.

December 2019

Tobias Hawke was the tech genius boss of the British Institute for Deep Learning. Now his body has been found in his lab: he has been brutally murdered. Hawke was on the brink of an astonishing breakthrough in the field of Artificial Intelligence. His creation, 'Syd', a machine-learning device that mimics human thought, promised to change the face of humanity forever. But, in the wake of her creator's murder, Syd has gone into emergency
shutdown procedure. What secrets are her neural networks hiding? 
Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, is the man to find out. But he can't work alone. Teenage hacker Fangfang, and Hawke's widow, a prize-winning ethicist, have their own reasons to solve the murder. But can they uncover the truth before it's too late?  Curse the Day is by Judith O’Reilly.
In the Net is by Chan Ho-Kei. Natasha, a librarian, lives a quiet life with her fifteen-year-old sister Anastasia. After a difficult, impoverished upbringing and the deaths of their parents, they are finally finding a bit of stability. Then one day, Natasha comes home to find her teenage sister has jumped to her death. Was it suicide, or was she pushed? And does it have anything to do with a recent trip on the Hong Kong subway which left Anastasia silent and withdrawn? Natasha cannot rest until she knows the truth about her sister - even if that means tracking down her sister's friends one by one and making them confess. Part detective novel, part revenge thriller, In the Net explores themes of sexual harassment, internet bullying and teenage suicide - and vividly captures the zeitgeist of Hong Kong today.

Blood Ties is by Helen Burnside.  Adele Robinson is behind bars. Having been convicted for the murder of her abusive father, she quickly realises that she’ll have to play it tough if she’s going to survive. Meanwhile, her brother Peter is building his criminal empire on the outside. But he soon comes to the attention of Manchester’s rival gangs, and a turf war breaks out. And when things start to get bloody, only Adele can step in to protect the family business. Will she get out in time to save Peter? After all, blood is thicker than water, and when family’s in trouble you can’t look the other way. 

Friday 19 April 2019

2019 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists

2019 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing 

The annual Arthur Ellis Awards by Crime Writers of Canada recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction and crime nonfiction by Canadian authors. Winners will be announced on May 23rd at the Arthur Ellis Awards Gala in Toronto.  

Cape Diamond by Ron Corbett, ECW Press, 
Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery ECW Press

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele, Doubleday Canada
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny, Minotaur Books
The Girl in the Moss by Loreth Anne White, Montlake Romance 

BEST FIRST CRIME NOVEL (Sponsored by Rakuten Kobo)
Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin NeWest Press
Operation Wormwood by Helen C. Escott, Flanker Press, 
Full Disclosure by Beverley McLachlin, Simon & Schuster Canada  
Why Was Rachel Murdered? By Bill Prentice, Echo Road, 
Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley, Simon & Schuster Canada 

BEST CRIME NOVELLA – The Lou Allin Memorial Award, 
The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife, by Melodie Campbell Orca Book Publishers  
Blue Water Hues by Vicki Delany Orca Book Publishers
Murder Among the Pines by John Lawrence Reynolds Orca Book Publishers

BEST CRIME SHORT STORY (Sponsored by Mystery Weekly Magazine) 
A Ship Called Pandora by Melodie Campbell, Mystery Weekly Magazine   
The Power Man, Baby It's Cold Outside by Therese Greenwood Coffin Hop Press 
Game by Twist Phelan Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Terminal City by Linda L. Richards, Vancouver Noir, Akashic Books, 
Wonderful Life by Sam Wiebe, Vancouver Noir, Akashic Books 

Un dernier baiser avant de te tuer, by Jean-Philippe Bernié, Libre Expression 
Adolphus - Une enquête de Joseph Laflamme, by Hervé Gagnon Libre Expression 
Ces femmes aux yeux cernés by André Jacques, Éditions Druide
Deux coups de pied de trop, by Guillaume Morissette , Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur  
Rinzen la beauté intérieure, by Johanne Seymour, Expression noir 

Escape by Linwood Barclay, Puffin Canada
The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker, Annick Press 
Call of the Wraith by Kevin Sands, Aladdin 
The Ruinous Sweep by Tim Wynne-Jones, Candlewick Press
The Rumrunner's Boy by E.R. Yatscoff, TG & R Books 

Dying for a Drink: How a Prohibition Preacher Got Away With Murder by Patrick Brode, Biblioasis 
The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale by Thomas Giacomaro and Natasha Stoynoff, BenBella Books, Inc, 
The Boy on the Bicycle: A Forgotten Case of Wrongful Conviction in Toronto by Nate Hendley, Five Rivers Publishing
Murder by Milkshake: An Astonishing True Story of Adultery, Arsenic, and a Charismatic Killer by Eve Lazarus, Arsenal Pulp Press, 
The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman, Alfred A. Knopf Canada 

BEST UNPUBLISHED MANUSCRIPT – aka The Unhanged Arthur (Sponsored by Dundurn Press) 
Hypnotizing Lions by Jim Bottomley, 
Omand’s Creek by Don Macdonald
The Scarlet Cross by Liv McFarlane 
One for the Raven Darrow Woods, The Book of Answers by Heather McLeod,

Derrick Murdoch Award

CWC announces the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award recipient Vicki Delany

The Derrick Murdoch Award is a special achievement award for contributions to the crime genre. Vicki Delany is a successful and prolific Canadian writer, author of (so far) 34 published books, both standalones and series. She has been a strong supporter and advocate for Canadian crime writers through her work with the Crime Writers of Canada, including serving two terms as Chair of the organization. She has also been a strong supporter of literacy and libraries across Canada and she is one of the founders of the Women Killing It literary festival, which has become a much sought after and sold-out event in Prince Edward County every year. 2019 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing 

Thursday 18 April 2019

Alafair Burke: Behind The Better Sister

Here’s the quick summary of The Better Sister: Chloe Taylor thinks she has it all—a handsome husband (Adam), thoughtful stepson (Ethan), and thriving career (author, editor, budding cultural icon)—until she finds Adam murdered at their East Hampton beach house. Things manage to get even more complicated when police focus their suspicions on Ethan and his biological mother comes to town to try to help.

An added wrinkle? Ethan's mother (and Adam's ex-wife) is Chloe's estranged older sister, Nicky. 

Even that brief synopsis makes it clear that the book will delve into the fine line between sisterly loyalty and rivalry.  But I view The Better Sister as the third book in a thematic trilogy, following The Ex and The Wife, that explores the complexity of female relationships and the diverse roles that women play in contemporary society. As we juggle busy lives, we often show different faces to our spouses, exes, children, parents, siblings, and co-workers, all while trying to know and be true to ourselves.  

 Chloe and Nicky know each other only as siblings.  Adam knew them both as wives.  To teenaged Ethan, Chloe and Nicky are each a different type of mother to him.  And both women have independent existences where they can live without familial obligation.  It’s in that independent realm where the women of this trilogy of books have, I hope, provoked some thoughts about the often gendered nature of threats, abuse, and violence in our culture.

In The Ex, an accomplished criminal defense lawyer steps in to defend her ex after he’s accused of a mass shooting. The Wife is about Angela Powell, who’s dragged into the spotlight after her high-profile husband is accused of sexual assault, but has a survival story of her own. In The Better Sister, Chloe Taylor is a target for online threats and harassment because of her journalistic work related to the #MeToo movement. 

Each book in the trilogy shows smart, capable women searching for every ounce of fortitude to make their own mark on the world while also living up to obligations that fall to them in their status roles—as an ex, a wife, a mother, or a sister. Sometimes that work requires redefining what it means to be “better.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke is published by Faber & Faber in April (£12.99)

Stasi 77 by David Young

With Deutschland 83 having just returned to the small screen, in the shape of Deutschland 86, you might think that – in setting my crime thrillers in the German Democratic Republic (more commonly known as East Germany) – I am simply following a fashionable trend.

That was never my aim. My original inspiration for the Stasi Child series -- which now continues with its fourth instalment, Stasi 77-- has been documented elsewhere. A decade or so ago, I started a little indie-pop band, we managed to blag a tour of Germany, and I was surprised and inspired by the amount of GDR infrastructure still visible in the eastern part of the country.

That led to a trial chapter from Stasi Childon a creative writing MA, and my tutor – Northern Irish crime writer Claire McGowan – encouraged me to turn it into a novel (despite, at every turn, telling me she hated my choice of title). But in researching Stasi ChildI discovered a wealth of weird and wonderful stories in East Germany, some of which I’ve now fashioned into novels.

It wasn’t a conscious choice to become a historical crime writer (Stasi Childwas fortunate enough to win the CWA’s 2016 history dagger for the best historical crime novel of the year), it was simply an automatic follow-on from choosing an East German setting. East Germany has disappeared. It’s a lost world. Unless I wanted to invent a parallel universe in the shape of Robert Harris’s Fatherland, I was automatically in the historical pigeon hole.

It’s quite a comfortable home for me, however. I’ve always been interested in history, and despite giving it up before ‘O’-levels (I was forced instead to do Latin, which I hated) my Humanities degree in the late 1970s at the then Bristol Polytechnic was pretty much – in effect – a history degree as a result of my module choices, and my dissertation on British attitudes to Stalin’s purges of the 1930s.

Stasi 77 is steeped in history – both from the GDR era, and that of the Nazi period. In fact, its inspiration was taken from a Nazi massacre in the final weeks of the Second World War, onto which I’ve bolted a fictional crime story set in 1977. Hence the novel’s title.

It’s a novel I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing, despite its sometimes horrific content. Once again, as in my debut and the follow-ups – Stasi Wolf (2017) and A Darker State (2018) – there is a twin narrative. One is told in third person past through the eyes of my detective, Major Karin Müller of the People’s Police. 

The other – which I found particularly traumatic to write – is through the eyes of a French forced labourer at the Nazi’s V2 rocket factory near Nordhausen, who ends up enduring one of the infamous ‘death marches’ towards the end of the war.
Where that march ends, is where the action takes place – both in 1945, and in 1977.
It’s a novel that’s important to me, and I think it’s my best yet.

I hope you’ll read it and agree.

Stasi 77 by David Young (Published by Zaffre Publishing)
A secret State. A dark conspiracy. A terrible crime. Karin Muller of the German Democratic Republic's People's Police is called to a factory in the east of the country. A man has been murdered - bound and trapped as a fire burned nearby, slowly suffocating him. But who is he? Why was he targeted? Could his murderer simply be someone with a grudge against the factory's nationalisation, as Muller's Stasi colleagues insist? Why too is her deputy Werner Tilsner behaving so strangely? As more victims surface, it becomes clear that there is a cold-blooded killer out there taking their revenge. Soon Muller begins to realise that in order to solve these terrible crimes, she will need to delve into the region's dark past. But are the Stasi really working with her on this case? Or against her? For those who really run this Republic have secrets they would rather remain uncovered. And they will stop at nothing to keep them that way . . .