Sunday 28 February 2021

Audible’s Sarah Denzil: Relief from Lockdown

 


Many of us have been relying on Audible during the long nights where sleep can be elusive, with all this Covid-19 lockdown business. When travel is prohibited [unless an emergency], and shops remain closed [with exceptions], then health and economic damage weigh heavily on one’s mind – dominating our thoughts. When the solitude becomes a claustrophobic vacuum that is hard to escape – then it’s time to consider bibliotherapy to confront the loneliness and anxiety of this age.

A dear friend of mine, an avid bibliophile would often say to me, “you’re never alone if you have a novel, because books are your friends,” and I would concur, recalling my own bouts of reflective solitude.

Reading for promoting mental health has been shown to be an effective tool, against the black dog [as Winston Churchill described his bouts of depression]. Though there are times it becomes hard to concentrate, to actually read. My strategy is to listen to audiobooks when I can’t read, with a mind all fuzzy with existential angst; thoughts knitting together to create anxiety. There’s much comfort in being read to, especially if the work is sufficiently immersive and hypnotic. It recalls our childhood; of being a developing mind being read stories before bed, as we struggled to understand our world and the scary reality around us.  

Recently, audiobooks have become a crucial part of my mental rampart, to keep negative thoughts at bay, to prevent them linking together to create weird [and disturbing] scenarios in my head, in my thinking, because negative and frightening thoughts are not helpful for our mental well-being.

In 2019, I was fortunate to become obsessed by one such immersive [and hypnotic] reading experience – it was Cari Mora by Thomas Harris. Despite receiving a lukewarm [at best] reception, I found it helped control my mind [in a personally difficult year] from becoming derailed by problems that started to grow worryingly in my mind, and developing beyond ‘the blues’ – and I don’t mean John Lee Hooker, or Howlin’ Wolf.

Bibliotherapy is not purely distracting your mind from the troubles in your head, though the distraction, the corralling of one’s thoughts – is important. Bibliotherapy is more than that. It is helps channels one thoughts, by following a narrative, which at its core is viewing the world [aka reality] through someone else’s eyes. Reading books [or listening to them, via Audible] can help with ‘the blues’ and assist in preventing ‘the blues’ from getting worse, as the black dog’s bark can be heard in the streets, echoing inside the minds of people - as they tackle this Covid-Lockdown business, becoming fearful for the future, and that of our children’s and friends’ future.

This article from The Huffington Post explains more –

Whether or not a book can single-handedly tackle a person’s depression is difficult to determine, but positive thinking has been proven to help. According to a Psychology Today article titled “Depression Doing the Thinking,” “One of the most powerful actions you can take in combating depression is to understand how critical the quality of your thinking is to maintaining and even intensifying your depression—and that the quickest way to change how you feel is to change how you think.” The article goes on to explain how negative thoughts can enter one’s mind subconsciously, and therefore seem more raw or true to the depression sufferer than their own moods and feelings.

Read More HERE

So, what am I reading currently that is sufficiently immersive that it can help quell the barking of the black dog?

Actually, I’m ploughing my way through [actually listening to] the dark and disturbing novels of Sarah Denzil from Audible

I was only aware of this writer of dark and complex thriller novels, from an interesting article from the New York Times in 2019

Last year, while promoting his debut thriller, “The Woman in the Window,” Dan Mallory praised the tradition of literary mimicry: “It is often said that ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal,’” he said in an interview with The Guardian, borrowing a phrase from T.S. Eliot.

In retrospect, his choice of words was surprisingly honest, a rare acknowledgment in a medium that prizes originality of how deeply he was influenced by other popular thrillers.



Mr. Mallory — who was recently the subject of an exposé in The New Yorker that detailed his past as a habitual liar who feigned fatal illnesses and fabricated a tragic family history — has acknowledged that the plot of his novel, which became a best seller, owes a debt to several famous works, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and Paula Hawkins’s blockbuster thriller, “The Girl on the Train.”

“The Woman in the Window” is also strikingly similar to a novel by Sarah A. Denzil, “Saving April.”

Read More > HERE

So, who is Sarah A Denzil and which books of hers should I listen to and why?

I would urge you to look out for these two interlocking novels, dramatized by Audible studios - SILENT CHILD first and then the upcoming STOLEN GIRL [Release date: 1 March 2021]

Performed by: Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar), Rosalie Craig (Company, The Queen's Gambit) and Gerran Howell (1917, Catch-22).

The sequel to SILENT CHILD’s dark narrative -

When Emma Price’s daughter Gina is snatched, it is every parent’s nightmare. But Emma has lived the horror before. As the clock ticks, and Gina is still missing, a dark game of cat and mouse begins. Emma and Aiden must piece together the kidnapper’s puzzle, to discover who has taken her – and why.

Emma, Aiden and Gina stand on the brink of a new life. After the trauma of Aiden’s abduction and return, they are slowly healing and returning to a fragile normality. Emma is desperate to protect her children, but the world is fascinated by Aiden, the silent child who is finally learning to speak for himself.

Against her better judgment, Emma allows her son to attend a talk show. Her worse nightmare comes true when her daughter, Gina, is snatched from the studio and a chilling game begins.

Emma is convinced the answers lie in the darkest corners of the family’s past, and that Aiden must be able to work out the puzzle, if only he dare reach into the horrors of his memory.



Silent Child written by Sarah A. Denzil and narrated by: Joanne Froggatt

It became Audible’s 2017 Thriller of the Year

Ten years after witnessing the tragic loss of her son, Emma Price is finally rediscovering the joy in life… until Aiden returns. Too traumatised to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Named Audible’s Thriller of the Year in 2017, this exclusive production is the first in an unmissable series by Sarah A. Denzil, performed by the exceptional Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar). As one Audible Editor commented, ‘it will make your heart beat, your mind race and your spine tingle’.

If you want to read about extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people, Denzil’s work may provide comfort in this lockdown and the ubiquity of Covid-19.

More information on Audible and their £7.99 / month membership CLICK HERE

More information on the work of Sarah Denzil CLICK HERE

All images © 2017 – 2021 Audible apart from AJ Finn cover of The Woman in the Window © 2017 HarperCollins

Shots Magazine wish to thank Edwina Boyd-Gibbons and Audible studios for their help in this feature article.



 

Saturday 27 February 2021

Hull Noir Programme

 


FESTIVAL READ 18 MARCH 2021 7pm 

PLENDER by Ted Lewis 

First published 50 years ago, until recently PLENDER could justifiably be considered the ‘lost’ Hull noir novel. Not so in France, where director Eric Barbier, who placed the novel in the traditions of Cape Fear and Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, adapted it for his 2006 thriller, LE SERPENT. But beside Lewis’s best known work, JACK’S RETURN HOME/GET CARTER (1970) and his dark, uncompromising swansong, GBH (1980), PLENDER has always seemed unfairly placed in the shade. 

Originally hitting bookstore shelves at the same time as the ‘X’-rated GET CARTER screened in cinemas across the UK in 1971, PLENDER finds Lewis diving deeper into the noir world the first Carter novel inhabits, revisiting the Hull and Humber haunts of his art school years that were now a decade behind him. Lewis follows his demons wherever they lead, taking perverse pleasure in bringing the sleaze and corruption that he’d experienced in Soho to the streets of Hull. These were places and people he knew well and if the brutality and sexuality of PLENDER shocked the folks back home in Barton and Kirk Ella, so be it. 

With PLENDER, Lewis exploits the hinterland of autobiography and fiction, matching the ruthless, sadistic Brian Plender with the duplicitous and corruptible Peter Knott. The power game played between these twin antagonists is broken down in brief, punchy scenes. Resentment harboured, blackmail exacted, and revenge meted out. If you’re looking for redemption, try elsewhere. This is a Ted Lewis novel. A blueprint that came to redefine the possibilities of British noir. 

Nick Triplow 

Hull Noir are pleased to have No Exit Press sponsoring our festival read. Publishing PLENDER and GBH in the UK for the first time in over 20 years, their 2020 editions have returned these two important novels to their rightful place in the lineage of crime/noir writing. 

To take part in the festival read, contact Hull Noir through our social media channels: Facebook @hullnoir Twitter @HullNoir 

The first 12 people to contact us using the hashtag #HULLNOIRPLENDER will receive a copy of PLENDER [print copy or e-book] and the code to enter the BOOK GROUP taking place via Zoom on the evening of 18 March. The session will be hosted by Ted Lewis’s biographer, Nick Triplow. Entry is free, but bear in mind, it’s important that you can make that date. 

In 2020, Hull Noir made the short film PLENDER. Taking extracts from the novel and filming in locations close to those Lewis envisioned. Adapted by Nick Triplow and Nick Quantrill, filmed by Dave Lee, with extracts read by Matt Sutton. 

View it on on the Hull Noir YouTube channel 

FESTIVAL LAUNCH EVENT: PETER ROBINSON IN CONVERSATION WITH NICK QUANTRILL 19 MARCH 2021 7pm 

(Event sponsored by 360 Chartered Accountants) 

Best known for his Yorkshire-set novels featuring Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, Peter Robinson has established a reputation as one of the foremost crime writers of his generation. Set in the fictional north Yorkshire town of Eastvale, DCI Banks has made the transition to TV screens with Stephen Tomkinson in the title role. 

To celebrate the launch of his 27th Banks novel, NOT DARK YET, in which a gruesome murder uncovers links with the Albanian mafia, Nick Quantrill talks to Peter about the new novel, his approach to Banks, and how he manages to maintain the series’ uncompromising perspective on wider societal issues. 

HULL NOIR CRIME FICTION FESTIVAL 20 MARCH 2021 

Festival Panels

IN COLD BLOOD 10.00am – 11.00am 

As the wheels of crime fiction turn, three new and exciting voices, Alex North, Nell Pattison and Russ Thomas, give the lowdown about their novels, what it’s like to start out (and start again), and discuss what comes next. With Liz Mistry as our guide, we find out what it’s like to launch your book in the midst of a global pandemic and look at new ways of reaching an audience. 


GET CARTER AND BEYOND 11.30am – 12.30pm

With the landmark British crime film Get Carter turning 50, we’ll hear from Nick Triplow - biographer of Ted Lewis, from whose novel the film’s script was adapted, Hull’s Nick Quantrill about bringing crime fiction to the Humber, and journey to 1970s Glasgow with Alan Parks to explore Lewis’s enduring influence on crime writing and the evocation of the non-metropolitan north. Leeds crime writer Ali Harper keeps everything in check.                                                                                                                                                     

WISH YOU WERE HERE 1.30pm – 2.30pm 

Crime fiction’s thirst for new territories remains undiminished, bringing us new landscapes or fresh perspectives on the places we thought we knew. Under the watchful eye of Jacky Collins, Helen FitzGerald, Abir Mukherjee and Marnie Riches uncover the crime-culture influences of fire-ravaged Australia, Raj- era India and the contemporary streets of Manchester to consider what makes them tick. 

THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS 3.00pm – 4.00pm 

Since Edgar Allan Poe’s short story Murders in the Rue Morgue and his creation of C. Auguste Dupin, first published in 1841, the police detective has become a staple of crime fiction. But what of the new breed? Louise Beech, AA Dhand, and Harriet Tyce come together to talk about their own criminal creations and what makes them different, ably aided and abetted by Derek Farrell.                                                                                                                                    LOOK BACK IN ANGER 4.30pm – 5.30pm 

In the writing of Ian McGuire, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, and Cathi Unsworth, historical crime fiction feels fresh, dynamic and insightful. In conversation with Rhiannon Ward, they discuss the ‘power of the strange’ in the lives, times and crimes they write about, and what their explorations of the past can tell us about ourselves now. 

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES 6.00pm – 7.00pm 

Aided and abetted by Luca Veste, Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre go full Holmes and Watson to investigate the scene of contemporary crime fiction. Sharing the secrets of their mind palaces, they examine 20 years of Mark’s acclaimed DI Thorne series, their new novels, what it’s like to be part-time rock stars, and pretty much everything in-between. 

Book Launch Event 21 March 2021 7PM

Yorkshire-based author D. L. Marshall talks to Nick Quantrill about his debut novel, ANTHRAX ISLAND. 

First pitched at Bloody Scotland festival, ANTHRAX ISLAND features John Tyler and is set on Gruinard Island, a small Scottish islet that has been off-limits for decades having been used as a testing ground for biological weapons during the Second World War. When a technician dies at the scientific station on the island, Tyler is flown in to assist. Can he uncover the killer in their midst before a new strain of anthrax is unleashed upon the world? 

The interview will be released on the Hull Noir Youtube channel at 7pm on 21 March. 

Festival Bookshop

Books are available for order and sale from our Festival bookseller, The Bookcase in Lowdham, nr Newark. Please help us in supporting independent booksellers and keep an eye out for editions featuring a special Hull Noir author-signed bookplate. 

https://www.thebookcase.co.uk/ 

Booking Information

All panels and events are free to access. Register via www.HullNoir.com 

You’ll find the option to make a donation via PayPal to Hull Noir. All proceeds go towards future Hull Noir events. We’re working to keep Hull Noir on the road and any support you can give us is gratefully received. 

Follow Hull Noir on social media. 












Friday 26 February 2021

Robert Goddard discusses The Fine Art of Invisible Detection

 

In 2019, one year BC [Before Covid], Robert Goddard was awarded the Crime Writers Association’s highest accolade, The Diamond Dagger in London. His acceptance speech was most amusing and video footage can be accessed HERE

Many of us applauded when Robert’s literary output veered toward [what we term] thriller fiction, but retained the trademarks of his devious plotting, evocative characters and memorable backdrops that framed his narratives.

His latest, is no exception -

When reading The Fine Art of Invisible Detection under lock-down in your house, you will not require either anti-viral hand-gel, an N-95 face-mask or a book-mark - as Goddard’s latest is a one-sitting read, filled with vicarious thrills and a killer dénouement.

There is one unanswered question, to the master of the stand-alone mystery-thriller, and it relates to Umika Wada, the invisible detective. You’ll understand the question if you crack the spine of this book.

Read the review from Shots HERE

So, after an early read of his latest thriller, Shots Magazine tracked down Robert Goddard, to discuss his work -

Ali Karim:   So Robert, before we get into The Fine Art of Invisible Detection, how have you been keeping in these weird days of Plague and Economic Anxiety?

Robert Goddard: On a day-to-day basis, I suppose writers’ lives have changed less than most people since this all started. And at least now we who imagine many kinds of disaster can’t be accused of exaggerating the things that can go wrong in the world. Research trips have gone the way of plotting sessions in the pub, though, which undeniably sucks a lot of fun out of life. But I’m surviving!

Ali: What mental strategies have you found help cope with the ubiquity of Covid?

Robert: The best distraction I can suggest from the all-enveloping topic of the virus is fiction - the writing as well as the reading of it. Never was escapism more sorely needed. A daily walk - even in the rain - also helps.

Ali: So, tell us why this widowed middle-aged Japanese female detective? Where did she spring from?

Robert:  Where do characters come from? I really don’t know. But apparently, somewhere deep within my soul, there is a widowed middle-aged Japanese woman who asks nothing more of life than to be left alone by it but who, inevitably, isn’t going to be. I find her view of the world bracingly pragmatic and her stubbornness - which is fundamentally what drives her pursuit of the truth - very endearing.

Ali: And would I be correct thinking there’s a pinch of Dame Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple somewhere in this fiendish thriller?

Robert:  I don’t think of Wada in Marple-ish terms. I don’t even think of her as a detective. Nor does she think of herself as one, though that’s what she ends up becoming. She somehow just is - and was so from the moment she entered my imagination.

Ali: Am I right in thinking you seem to be enjoying yourself with this change in pace in terms of writing style?

Robert: Is it a change of pace? Or is it an evolution? I feel as if I’m just coming into my prime as a writer. I don’t envy mathematicians or tennis players whose best years are over by the time they hit their mid-thirties. Writing over the long term turns out to be rather exhilarating. I’m certainly enjoying it.

Ali: I was reminded of the novel YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, while engrossed in The Fine Art of Invisible Detection. Fleming once defined a Thriller novel as a narrative structured that “…one must simply keep turning the pages…” Do you consider your work to have evolved from historical, complex crime novels to more of what Fleming alluded to?

Robert: I don’t really distinguish in my mind between crime, history, mystery or thriller. The story is the story. How to tell it - how to structure it - is what takes us into particular genre areas. And this also creates momentum. My belief is that if I want to keep turning the pages, so will the reader.

Ali: Your work [and The Fine Art of Invisible Detection being no exception] seems to feature the fascination of history, or rather what was hidden? Would you care to comment?

Robert: There’s no doubt that secrets from the past play an important role in many of my novels. That’s partly a reflection of the way my imagination works. But it also reflects a fundamental truth: that what we do and why we do it is embedded in our pasts. And in many cases, there are secrets hiding there.

Ali: The character Umika Wada is fascinating, but I’d also like to state, your ability to craft secondary, tertiary and quaternary characters that stand-up on the page, with just a few flourishes of the pen, adroit. So, how do you manage a large cast of characters during the writing process?

Robert:  I love my subsidiary characters. I give them all the rights enjoyed by the major characters, which I don’t always feel is the case in some novels I read. They’re not there just to move the story along. They must be true to themselves. Take George Guptill in The Fine Art of Invisible Detection. The man presented himself in the story fully-formed and halfway through an intrusive question. He’s everything in a fellow passenger on a long flight Wada would want to avoid. But there’s no avoiding George! And in the end you can’t help liking him.

Ali: The ending of The Fine Art of Invisible Detection [as well as execution] made me believe we may see more from Wada’s world, and Japan?

Robert: It’s possible we’ll hear more of Wada. We’ll have to wait and see what comes up. I would undoubtedly enjoy posing another set of fiendishly complex problems for her attention, though to stay on the right side of her I’d apologise in advance. She appreciates courtesy.

Ali: Like many International Thriller Novels / Films, there is often a conspiracy at the core. What do you make of the appeal of conspiracy theories and those who become attracted to them?

Robert:  Well, there are conspiracies and then there are conspiracy theories and those who admit the possibility of the former can’t in all logic dismiss the latter without examining them. Covid has already spawned many conspiracy theories. I think we all crave certainty about events that sometimes arise from entirely chaotic circumstances. Then again, those of us old enough to remember where we were when Kennedy was shot know that nothing has ever been quite the same since. If the official version of events makes no logical sense, it’s inevitable that some will speculate about where the truth might lie.

Ali: And the appeal of Cults, especially those that involve death?

Robert: Now, I’m as happy as the next man to indulge in elaborate theorising about unexplained events (see above), but cults? There I have to hold up my hand and admit that I cannot comprehend the ability of the human mind to convince itself that obedience to irrational commands is the key that will unlock the doors of happiness and spiritual fulfilment. But many do just that. And then, beyond that, the engagement in murderous activity, as with the Aum Shinrikyo cult? Reality leaves us novelists behind at times. All we can do is try our very best to keep up.

Ali: Just before the world went all weird and Covid; you were awarded the 2019 CWA Diamond Dagger, so do you feel any acceptance as being labelled a ‘crime writer’ OR are genre boundaries irrelevant to a writer?

Robert:  I really never set out to write crime novels or thrillers or historical fiction. I just wanted to write the kinds of stories that excited my imagination, which generally involved quite a few crimes, psychological tension and historical themes. I’m not sure exactly what you’d call them, but I was delighted the CWA wanted to recognise my work in the way they did.

Ali: And what about your reading?

Robert:   My reading’s almost all research-driven, although that can be quite far-ranging. Impulse buys haven’t happened as much as they used to when I could browse in bookshops - a really good cover tends to lure me in. As a result, I’m missing bookshops almost as much as I’m missing pubs.

Ali: And what’s next for you professionally?

Robert: Another book is happening and it seems to be going well. But I can’t say much about it at the moment.

Ali: Thank you for your time.

Robert: Thank you for the questions.

We would suggest you mark your diaries accordingly as is released on March 18th 2021, including on eBook and Audible platforms.

More information about the work of Robert Goddard – CLICK HERE and not HERE, unless you wish to augment your wardrobe.

Shots Magazine would like to thank Patsy Irwin of Penguin Random House for organizing this conversation for our readers



Thursday 25 February 2021

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR 2021

 

The world-renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival has announced that it will go ahead later this year, after the Government unveiled its roadmap out of lockdown.

 Taking place in Harrogate, from 22-25 July – well after expected lifting of restrictions on 21 June - the Festival will celebrate a return to live events after a difficult and uncertain year for Harrogate International Festivals. Forced to cancel the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, alongside their wider summer season in 2020, the arts charity moved online, welcoming new audiences and taking the experience of ‘Harrogate’ to the world.

The return to a live event, announced on social media yesterday, was well received by audiences, with over 80% of early ticket bookers for the 2020 Festival having already transferred their tickets to 2021.

 After the lockdown saw a soar in popularity of the genre in the bestseller charts, as more and more readers turned their fiction interests to crime, the 2021 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, supported by T & R Theakston, will celebrate crime fiction in all its kinds, with a programme curated by Programming Chair Ian Rankin alongside the acclaimed Festival Committee and the  RankinHarrogate International Festivals team.

 Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said: ‘‘Whilst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be extremely dynamic with rules and regulations changing constantly, the Government Roadmap suggested a return to normal by this Summer. We are adapting and evolving our plans to be able to deliver a safe and agile Festival in line with the government regulations at the time, with additional safety measures where necessary, whilst also ensuring the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival retains the iconic feel that has ensured its place as the most successful crime writing festival in the world.

 We remain optimistic about the year ahead and like people across the UK, we are very much looking forward to the return of live events.”

Festival fans can expect a range of live author talks, panels and special guests, as well as some hybrid events to ensure that audiences who are unable to travel can access the Festival, bringing the power of literature to all in 2021.

The full author line-up, and ticket on sale dates for the Festival will be announced in the coming months. More information can be found at harrogateinternationalfestivals.com which will be updated regularly.






Wednesday 24 February 2021

Memories of Margaret (Maron) by Mike Ripley

 

Margaret Maron 1938-2021

I first encountered Margaret Maron in 1989 when I naively applied to become an associate member of the Mystery Writers of America (not realising you were expected to be published there to qualify). I must have included some biographical background - at the time I was involved in exporting British beer to the US - as Margaret wrote to me asking if I would mind answering a few technical questions for her husband Joe, a keen (and very talented) home brewer.

It sounded like the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and it was.

When I learned she was due to attend the 1990 Bouchercon in London, I hastened round to Murder One and stocked up on Margaret’s ‘Sigrid Harald’ mysteries, then published here by Headline.

Debuting with One Coffee With in 1982, New York police detective Harald was to feature in nine novels and the series drew praise from veteran British critic Anthony Lejeune as examples of  the ‘cleanly, even classically, drawn detective problem and  neatly turned solution.’ I found they offered not just a good murder mysteries, but interesting character studies as Sigrid, whilst certainly not a strident feminist, was having to make her way in the very male world of police work.

Just as, in fact, Margaret Maron was having to make her way in the male-dominated world of American  crime-writing, hence her involvement in the formation and success of the Sisters In Crime organisation, one of the subjects she was to speak on at the London Bouchercon.

Mike Ripley & Margaret Maron

In London, we finally met. I arranged  a private tour of the House of Commons for her and she gave me a t-shirt, which I still have, to induct me as an associate Sister In Crime - an honour I think only Robert Barnard and I held at the time.

It was the start of a friendship which was to span more than thirty years.

Margaret Brown Maron was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, growing up on her mother’s family farm. Aged 20, she was working in the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff when she met young US naval officer Joseph Maron. They married and relocated to Italy on a three-year tour of duty. When they returned to the US it was to Joe’s home town of Brooklyn, which was to provide much of the background for her Sigrid Harald stories.

Margaret Maron

Margaret Maron in 1960

In 1972, the Marons with their young son John, moved to Willow Spring, North Carolina where Margaret was to write all her novels and many short stories including her most successful series featuring Judge Debora Knott, beginning with Bootlegger’s Daughter in 1992. In this, she pioneered the ‘regional mystery’ taking the action away from the ‘mean streets’ of urban settings.

Her twenty Deborah Knott books were to win her a staggering number of Agatha and Macavity awards, as well as an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America, of which she served as President and was made a Grand Master in 2013. Her early involvement in the Sisters In Crime movement resulted in her becoming its third president and in 2016 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina. 

Over the years I would receive, every Christmas,  a new Margaret Maron book, invariably accompanied by a parcel of salted pecan nuts from her garden, which was home to a ridiculous number of plastic pink flamingos, the result of a prank by fellow mystery writers which got laughably out of hand.

My wife and I hosted Margaret and Joe and their son and his wife whenever they visited England and in 2004, as I was recovering from a stroke, the Marons invited our entire family over to stay with them and I was invited to speak to the North Carolina Mystery Writers as Margaret’s guest of honour.

 My daughter Felicity (‘Fliss’) had already been immortalised as a character in Margaret’s novel Uncommon Clay, which she suitable inscribed.

As I was unable to attend the 2015 Bouchercon, held in Raleigh, North Carolina, I arranged a surprise presentation to her which was carried out by undercover agent and roving Shots reporter Ali Karim.


As I was unable to attend the 2015 Bouchercon, held in Raleigh, North Carolina, I arranged a surprise presentation to her which was carried out by undercover agent and roving Shots reporter Ali Karim.

Margaret died on 23rd February after complications following a stroke she suffered in December. My last contact with her, at Christmas, was to send her an advance proof of my forthcoming novel which is dedicated to her and her husband Joe and which opens on Harkers Island, North Carolina, where, in 2004, we sat out a hurricane together.

Her passing is a great loss to so many; her family, other authors and of course readers.  She will be sorely missed.








MacLehose to Publish New Thriller Debut and International Rights Sensation The Therapist


 The Therapist by Helene Flood (MacLehose Press) 

Translated by Alison McCullough (Published on 8 July 2021)

At first it's the lie that hurts. A voicemail from her husband tells Sara he's arrived at the holiday cabin. Then a call from his friend confirms he never did. She tries to carry on as normal, teasing out her clients' deepest fears, but as the hours stretch out, her own begin to surface. And when the police finally take an interest, they want to know why Sara deleted that voicemail. To get to the root of Sigurd's disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about her relationship.

See the trailer below -


The Therapist can be pre-ordered from Waterstones here.


Tuesday 23 February 2021

#1 Bestselling Authors Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny Team Up to Write Thriller

 






State of Terror to be published by Pan Macmillan 

in the UK in October 2021



Pan Macmillan is proud to publish a novel written by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. A unique collaboration by two long-time friends and thriller aficionados, State of Terror will be published on 12 October 2021 in the US jointly by St Martin’s Press and Simon & Schuster, and in the UK and rest of world by Pan Macmillan.

The story follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage. A series of terrorist attacks throws the global order into disarray, and the Secretary is tasked with assembling a team to unravel the deadly conspiracy, a scheme carefully designed to take advantage of an American government dangerously out of touch and out of power in the places where it counts the most.

This high-stakes thriller of international intrigue features behind-the-scenes global drama informed by details only an insider could know.

When it was suggested my friend Hillary and I write a political thriller together, I could not say yes fast enough,’ says Louise Penny. ‘What an incredible experience, to get inside the State Department. Inside the White House. Inside the mind of the Secretary of State as high stake crises explode. Before we started, we talked about her time as Secretary of State. What was her worst nightmare? State of Terror is the answer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton adds, ‘Writing a thriller with Louise is a dream come true. I’ve relished every one of her books and their characters, as well as her friendship. Now we’re joining our experiences to explore the complex world of high stakes diplomacy and treachery. All is not as it first appears.

Jeremy Trevathan, Pan Macmillan publisher, comments, ‘State of Terror is as exciting a proposal for a global thriller as I have ever read. The scope, ingenuity and ambition reflects the strength of the creative chemistry that exists between Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny. It’s a unique pairing of global real life experience at the highest level and brilliantly honed narrative craft. The characters, their nuanced backstories and the tense, all-too-believable plot leap off the page. This is emphatically a story for our times and we are confident it will establish itself as a bestseller for years to come, read both by thriller fans and by Hillary Clinton’s and Louise Penny’s legions of admirers around the world.

In a joint statement, Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, and Don Weisberg, Chief Executive Officer of Macmillan Trade Publishers, say, ‘When we read Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton’s outline for State of Terror, it was immediately clear that when an ingenious novelist goes to work with one of the world’s most knowledgeable leaders, the results are kinetic. We are delighted to be part of this exciting publishing relationship, and we expect State of Terror to thrill legions of readers throughout the world.

Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s and Pan Macmillan acquired World and Audio Rights from Robert B. Barnett of Williams & Connolly, who represented Hillary Rodham Clinton, and David Gernert of The Gernert Company, who represented Louise Penny in the deal. Jennifer Enderlin, President and Publisher of the St. Martin’s Publishing Group, will edit the novel.

For more information, please contact Hannah Davies or Holly Hooley at Four Culture: 

Hannah.Davies@fourcommunications.com / 07891 423 421

Holly.Hooley@fourcommunications.com / 07881 510 181





Martina Cole Receives 2021 CWA Diamond Dagger

 

Martina Cole is the recipient of the highest honour in British crime writing, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Diamond Dagger.

The long-reigning Queen of Crime Drama is a publishing powerhouse. Martina has written 25 novels, all published by Headline, seventeen of which reached No.1 and her books have collectively spent over 4 years in the bestseller charts. Total sales stand at over 17 million copies, making her Britain’s bestselling female crime writer and with The Faithless she became the first British female adult audience novelist to break the £50 million sales mark since Nielsen Bookscan records began. Her books have been translated into 31 languages and adapted for multiple stage plays and television series.

Martina’s own story is as remarkable as any bestseller plot. Martina grew up on an Essex council estate and Ronnie and Reggie Kray once visited her family’s home when she was a child.

The youngest of five children in a large, poor, Irish Catholic family, she attended a convent school, where her struggle against authority started; this culminated in two expulsions. She finished school at 15 with no qualifications; was married at 16, divorced at 17 and pregnant at 18. A single mum, she struggled to bring up her son, Chris, taking on waitressing jobs.

Aged 21, she lost both her parents and started to write her iconic debut novel, Dangerous Lady, but it wasn’t until she was 30 that she gave up her job and decided to devote herself seriously to writing and finished the manuscript. Dangerous Lady caused a sensation when it was published in 1992 – and the rest is history.

Martina is a passionate advocate for prisoner rehabilitation and visits prisons to give writing classes. She often quips to her classes: ‘there’s one thing you’ve got that all writers want – time’. It’s therefore no surprise her books are the most requested in Her Majesty’s prison libraries, and the most stolen from bookshops.

The Diamond Dagger award recognises authors whose crime-writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to crime fiction writing.

The CWA Diamond Dagger is selected from nominations provided by CWA members. Martina Cole joins icons of the genre who have been recognised with the accolade, including Ruth Rendell, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Ian Rankin, PD James, Colin Dexter, Reginald Hill, Lindsey Davies, Peter Lovesey, and John Le Carré.

Martina said: “It means so much to me to be receiving this prestigious award from my peers at the CWA. I can’t believe it’s nearly thirty years since Dangerous Lady was published - some people dismissed me as an Essex girl and a one-book wonder – but as one of my favourite songs goes: ‘I’m still here’!”

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the CWA, said: “We are delighted to award the Diamond Dagger to a crime-writing legend.”

Maxim Jakubowski, Hon CWA Vice Chair, said: “A much-overdue reward for a major crime author who has often been badly overlooked by the critical establishment. Martina has single-handedly created a new crime genre and brought so many new readers on board, and has always been a vocal supporter of her fellow writers in word and deed.”