Sunday 31 July 2022

Q& A with Charlotte Carter

©Charlotte Carter


Charlotte Carter is the author of the jazz based trilogy novels featuring Nanette Hayes a young Black American jazz musician street busker. A former editor and teacher. The series was originally published in the 1990s and has recently been republished by Baskerville Publishing.

Ayo:- When I first read your Nanette Hayes series one of the things that drew me to the series aside from the fact that your love of jazz comes through on every single page is how spunky and sassy and sexually liberated Nanette is. Is there any part of you in Nanette and if so was this intentional?

Charlotte:- Spunk, sass, sexually liberated. I wish. Maybe the best answer is that my innate shrinking violet was always dueling with a bolder, more courageous persona, and to my surprise, sometimes the bold one won out over Miss Timid. Kind of depends on what’s at stake, I guess.

Of course there’s a bit of yourself in nearly every character. It occurs to me that one of the plusses of a first person narrative is that if you so choose, you can present yourself as a better you. Smarter, funnier, prettier, cooler, whatever. 

Ayo:- When the series was first published it was like a fresh of breath air and Nanette was a very unusual character. A strong black female. This impression has continued with how she has been received since the books have been re-issued. Were you surprised about this especially since she appears to be the head of the curve when it comes to dealing with social issues?

Charlotte:- It’s interesting how many times this thing about Nanette being “ahead of the curve” in dealing with social/racial issues has come up. “Strong black female” on the dust jacket is almost a yawn these days. I had no agenda, certainly I had no intention to use Nan as a way to preach or teach. In fact, perhaps people looked at her as a breath of fresh air because she isn’t out to sway opinion or shout the house down about this or that issue--but her take on race, colour, power dynamics, sexism, and so on, is still clear. 

Ayo:- It is evident that you have a great love of jazz, jazz history and film noir. Where did this come from?

Charlotte:- You know how you hear music that’s strange to your ears, you don’t know who’s playing or singing but you know you need to hear/learn more about it. A lot of the music I love came at me when I was young, and there were endless opportunities to learn more. I was living in a black community, and in a large multigenerational household, where some kind of music was playing all the time. So, one of my relatives was friendly with a guy who worked at a blues club, my mother and her girlhood friend were semiprofessional performers when they were young, my uncle with the drug problem was a Charlie Parker fanatic, an eighth grade teacher would try to instill black pride in us by playing Leontyne Price or some indigenous Ghanaian music, and so on. I guess once in a while I’d hear something and think, Nah, not feeling that, tune it out--but most of the time I could just go with it.

As for the film stuff, having a mother who didn’t make me go to bed at any particular time had a lot to do with how my interest in movies developed. It is amazing how many films you could see after prime time—and the variety was amazing. I’m talking about the early 60s. I’d see foreign movies dubbed into English, talk shows that originated in New York [guests from Richard Pryor to Oscar Levant to Lenny Bruce to Gwen Verdon; I even saw Jack Kerouac on tv], and an endless parade of noir films—a treasure trove. Before long I was taking note of the cinematographers and who wrote the scores and what novel the movie was taken from. The world view that life could be dark and short and often brutal was not a hard sell for me. There was a hell of a lot of grim stuff going on around me. To be honest, I’ve gotten way more out of living than I ever thought I would.

Ayo:- Is there anything you would have changed if you could since you initially wrote the books?

Charlotte:- Yeah. They’d be better. And I wouldn’t have stayed so silent. I more or less turned away from trying to write, which meant I blew the chance to be better.

©Charlotte Carter

Ayo:- Have you still got a love of jazz and for someone who wanted to read the books with music playing in the background which jazz artists or songs would you recommend? 

Charlotte:- Better for people to listen to anything they really like. I played Talking Heads the other day, to get myself up and moving. I play Coltrane a lot. But I haven’t been diligent about keeping up with newer artists. I’m pledging that when Covid is behind us [ha ha], I will start going out again [if there are any venues left] to hear some of the good musicians around today. There are probably a hundred of them just on this side of town.

Ayo:- How pleased were you when Baskerville decided to re-issue the Nanette Hayes trilogy?

Charlotte:- Very pleased. That came out of the blue. Can’t rewrite them at this stage, but I took the opportunity to do some minor surgery on the books, taking out stuff that was a bit over the top, adding a scene or two to each of the books. I haven’t done much writing the last ten years. Collaborated with my husband in the early 2000s on a film treatment, but we weren’t successful. Wow, was he prescient—he tried like hell for a good 15 years to sell this dystopic novel we were writing together, about the overturning of Roe v Wade and the criminalization of abortion in the States. They all laughed ….

Ayo:- Rhode Island Red is my favourite of the trilogy partly because it sems to be an ode to Dashiell Hammett and The Maltese Falcon which is one of my all time favourite crime novels and also because it is was my introduction to such a wonderful series. Was this intentional as there is a missing saxophone at the heart of the story?

Charlotte:- Yes. That, and many other crime things where the cast of characters are on a kind of quest for something elusive, something or someone. It’s enough of a recognized trope that it didn’t feel like stealing. The search almost never ends well.

Ayo:- Have we seen the end of this series? 

Charlotte:- To be brief, I don’t know. A couple of plots are bubbling, but I genuinely don’t know if anything will come of them.

Ayo:- What are you working on at the moment?

Charlotte:- A novel, due out next year. It’s not a Nanette, it’s full of grief and death but it’s not a murder mystery, and it is set in both the past and the present, often at the same time; it has a paranormal edge; almost a druggy edge; it’s… what?... inescapably erotic; and in this case, those racial and societal issues indeed are like a cloud overlaying the entire book.

My post about the series can be read here. There is also a Q & A with Charlotte Carter at Crime Time which can be read here.


Saturday 30 July 2022

In The St Hilda's Spotlight - Peter May


Name:- Peter May

Job:- Author and former television dramatist

Twitter:- @authorpetermay



Peter May is a scottish author and a naturalised French citizen. He is the author of a number of different series and standalone novels. 

The Blackhouse the first in the Lewis Trilogy was first published in France under the title L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux. It won the Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre's Ancres Noires Festival in 2010 and won the Barry Award for Crime Novel of the Year and the Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE (Readers' prize for best novel by a European author, published in France) in 2011. It was also chosen as one of the Richard and Judy books for the autumn 2011 list. The second book The Lewis Man won the French daily newspaper Le Télégramme's 10,000-euro Grand Prix des Lecteurs, the Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre's Ancres Noires Festival, 2012 and the won the 2012 Prix International at the Cognac Festival. The Chessman, the third book in the trilogy was published in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year 2014.

In 2014, Entry Island (a standalone novel) won both the Deanston's Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and the UK's ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year Award. It also won the French Trophée 813 for the Best Foreign Crime Novel of the year 2015. In 2021 he was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library which recognises the popularity of an author's body of work with readers and users of libraries.

The Enzo Files are set in France featuring a half scottish, half Italian former forensic scientist, now working as a biology professor. His has written six books in his China thriller series and he is the only westerner to be honoured by the Beijing Chapter of the Chinese Crime Writers Association where he is an honorary member.

His most recent book is The Night Gate which is an Enzo File book. Peter May is currently writing A Winter Grave that is due out in January 2023.

Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing)

I am in the production process with my latest book, which will be released next January. I have just gone through the copy-edit and should receive proofs within the next two weeks. “A Winter Grave” is a thriller set in 2051 (the year of my 100th birthday) in a world transformed by climate change. It is largely set in the West Highlands of my native Scotland and I feel that it might be one of my very best.

Favourite book?

The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B” by J.P. Donleavy. I first read this book when I was eighteen, and it profoundly influenced my writing style.

Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why? 

Inspector Jules Maigret to discuss the insights into the human condition that made him such a intelligent and compassionate investigator; Charles Latimer, Eric Ambler’s mystery writer in “The Mask if Dimitrious”. I’d love to ask him why he didn’t regard the extraordinary adventures he had just been through as inspirational material for his next book – rather than sitting down at the end of it to write yet another “golden age” murder mystery set in a country mansion.

How do you relax?

Writing and recording music. Music has been one of the great loves of my life, playing in bands from my early teens and into my twenties. Now that I have more time, and a little money, I have been able to install a home recording studio to indulge my passion fully. I will be bringing out an album of original songs later this year.

Which book do you wish you had written and why?

Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast”, because I would love to have lived that life, met those people, experienced those things.

What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.

Stick at it. No matter how many knockbacks you receive, just keep writing and believe in yourself, even when others don’t.

How would you describe your series characters? 

I have only once set out to write a series – the Enzo Files. My China Thrillers only became a series at the prompting of my publisher. Likewise the Lewis Trilogy. I loved the characters in both those series because through them I was able to explore emotions and experiences, and create the kind of long term relationships I had learned to craft as a writer of TV soap. But Enzo was a character with whom I wholly identified. My age, my cultural background. Scottish, now living in France, and toiling to repair the fractured relationship with his daughter from a previous marriage. We have grown old together, drunk great wine and eaten wonderful food together, entered semi-retirement together, and might one day sit down to discuss a future collaboration.

With Town and Country: Green Lanes to Mean Streets being the theme at St Hilda's this year, Where is your favourite town and where is your favourite country? Why have you chosen these?

My favourite town is Toulouse – La Ville Rose. A wonderful old mediaeval town built of red brick, with a thriving student culture that makes it such a living, vibrant place, even for an oldie like me. My favourite country is the part of rural south-west France where I live. Rolling hills, majestic rivers, forested valleys, ancient stone villages, and a way of life that is laid back and life-affirming.

What are you looking forward to at St Hilda's?

My regret is that I won’t be there in person. Because of this damned pandemic, I’m not ready to travel yet. I love Oxford, and have done several book events there, and I am sad at missing the opportunity to visit a place of such historical importance in the pioneering of women’s rights in education. Happily, due to the wonders of the internet, I will be able to join the audience for a live interactive after my pre-recorded speech, and I’m looking forward to that very much.

The Night Gate by Peter May (Quercus Publishing) Out Now.

In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house. The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart. Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter. Two extraordinary narratives are set in train - one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown. And Enzo's investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders - the Mona Lisa. Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world's most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons - Hitler and Göring. What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades. Events that have led to both killings. The Night Gate spans three generations, taking us from war-torn London, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Berlin and Vichy France, to the deadly enemy facing the world in 2020.

A Winter Grave (Quercus Publishing) Out January 2023

2051. The warnings of climate emergency have been ignored and vast areas of the planet are under water, famine and population displacement are now the norm. Cameron Brodie, a Glasgow detective who has been diagnosed with cancer has been given six months to live when he is ordered to investigate a suspicious finding of a body entombed in ice on a mountain near the village of Kinlochleven. After a hazardous journey to the isolated and ice-bound village he meets the pathologist assigned to the perform the autopsy, Sita, an immigrant originally from India. Sita's autopsy establishes that the body, that of a missing journalist George Younger was murdered. She has collected evidence that once put through the DNA database could identify the killer. But after a restless nights sleep Brodie wakes to a crime scene and must race against time to identify the faceless killer.

Friday 29 July 2022

Golsboro Glass Bell Award Shortlist


Goldboro Books have announced the shortlist for the £2000 Goldsboro Glass Bell Award 

The shortlisted novels are:

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan, (Merky Books)

Sistersong by Lucy Holland (Pan)

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, (Wildfire)

Mrs March by Virginia Feito, (Fourth Estate)

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper, (Head of Zeus)

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson, (Pan).

Administered by independent bookshop Goldsboro Books, the Glass Bell Award rewards storytelling in all genres, and is awarded annually to ‘a compelling novel with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised’.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Davitt Awards 2022 Shortlists Announced


Sisters in Crime Australia has announced the shortlists for the 2022 Davitt Awards for best crime books by Australian women.

The shortlisted titles in each category are:

Adult Crime Novel 

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie, (HQ Fiction)

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz, (A&U)

You Had It Coming by B M Carroll, (Profile Books)

All That I Remember About Dean Cola by Tania Chandler, (Scribe)

Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down, (Text)

Shelter by Catherine Jinks, (Text)

The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland, (HarperCollins)

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy, (Hamish Hamilton)

The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald, (A&U)

The Second Son by Loraine Peck, (Text)

The Silent Listener by Lyn Yeowart, (Viking)

Young Adult Crime Novel

The Gaps by Leanne Hall, (Text)

Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley, (Text)

Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn, (A&U Children’s)

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, (Penguin)

Children’s Crime Novel

Night Ride into Danger by Jackie French, (HarperCollins)

The Detective’s Guide to Ocean Travel by Nicki Greenberg, (Affirm)

Ella at Eden #6: The London Thief by Laura Sieveking, (Scholastic)

Nonfiction Crime Book

Empowering Women: From Murder and Misogyny to High Court Victory by Susie Allanson with Lizzie O’Shea, (Wilkinson Publishing)

Larrimah: A Missing Man, an Eyeless Croc and an Outback Town of 11 People Who Mostly Hate Each Other by Caroline Graham & Kylie Stevenson, (A&U)

The Winter Road: A Story of Legacy, Land and a Killing at Croppa Creek by Kate Holden, (Black Inc.)

Banquet: The Untold Story of Adelaide’s Family Murders by Debi Marshall, (Vintage)

Debut Crime Books

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz, (A&U)

Shadow Over Edmund Street by Suzanne Frankham, (Journey to Words)

Larrimah: A Missing Man, an Eyeless Croc and an Outback Town of 11 People Who Mostly Hate Each Other by Caroline Graham & Kylie Stevenson, (A&U)

The Waterhole by Lily Malone, (Lily Malone Publishing)

Unsheltered by Clare Moleta, (Simon &Schuster)

The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald, (A&U)

The Second Son by Loraine Peck, (Text)

Shiver by Allie Reynolds, (Hachette)

Crime Writer by Dime Sheppard, (Ruby Books)

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, (Penguin)

The Silent Listener by Lyn Yeowart, (Viking).

This year’s judging panel was made up of medical autopsy expert Philomena Horsley; YA expert and reviewer Joy Lawn; Sisters in Crime’s president Moraig Kisler; and authors Janice Simpson, Emily Webb and Jacquie Byron. The judges selected the 33 shortlisted titles from a longlist of 169 books.

The six category winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne on Saturday, 27 August. No prize money is attached to the Davitts; the winner of each category receives a trophy.

Last year’s winners included Sally Hepworth for The Good Sister (Macmillan) and Leah Swann’s Sheerwater (Fourth Estate).

For more information, see the Sisters in Crime website.

Wednesday 27 July 2022

Capital Crime Returns in September 2022

 Capital Crime Returns in September With Richard Osman, 
Anthony Horowitz, Dorothy Koomson and Paula Hawkins to Headline. 

Richard Osman, Rev. Richard Coles, Kate Mosse, Robert Harris, Dorothy Koomson, Bella Mackie and Paula Hawkins are amongst the authors confirmed for Capital Crime, London’s only crime and thriller festival, which returns 29th September-1st October after its hugely successful inaugural event in 2019

Taking place in London’s stunning Battersea Park, Capital Crime will be hosting over 164 panellists, bringing together readers, authors, industry figures and the local community for the first major literary festival held on the site. With a Goldsboro Books pop-up bookshop in the iconic Pump House Gallery, the first ever Fingerprint Awards ceremony, alongside an array of London’s tastiest local street food vendors and bar area, it promises to be a weekend of fun, innovation and celebration of crime fiction.

On the opening night (Thursday 29th September), Anthony Horowitz, Kim Sherwood and Charlie Higson will be discussing all things Bond, and the role the capital city has played in the fictional spy’s life, and the 007 car from Sherwood’s incredible new novel, ‘DOUBLE OR NOTHING’ will be on display at the heart of the festival, in association with Alpine and Ian Fleming Publications

Thursday’s programming will comprise of a series of events dedicated to Capital Crime’s social outreach programme, in which two sixth form students and their teachers from schools in and around the capital will be invited to meet with authors and publishing professionals to demystify the industry and attract new and diverse young voices into publishing.

Robert Harris will be in conversation with comedian and podcaster Andrew Hunter Murray, discussing dystopian fiction, and there will also be a very special opportunity for aspiring authors to pitch their novel idea to agents David Headley (DHH), Emily Glenister (DHH), Camilla Bolton (Darley Anderson) or Phillip Patterson (Marjacq). The first evening will close with the very first Fingerprint Award Ceremony. The winners, selected by readers across five categories Crime Novel of the Year; Thriller Novel of the Year; Historical Crime Novel of the Year; Debut Novel of the Year and Genre-Busting Novel of the Year, will be announced alongside a very special Lifetime Achievement Award and Industry Award of the Year.

Friday’s events include Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Robotham and Mark Billingham interviewed on the theme of ‘Crime Across Continents’ by Victoria Selman, and Mark Edwards, Will Dean, Erin Young and Chris Whitaker speaking to Tariq Ashkanani about setting their thrillers in the US. In addition, Abir Mukherjee, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Anna Mazzola and Jessica Fellowes will be speaking to Suzy Edge about historical crime writing, and Dorothy Koomson and Kate Mosse will be in conversation about their work with the Women's Prize and the versatility of crime fiction. Claire McGowan, David Beckler, Catriona Ward, Chris Carter, Nicci French, W.C. Ryan, Stuart Neville and Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir will also be taking part in panels on the themes of courtroom dramas, ghost stories, crime set in Brighton and medicine in crime fiction, amongst other topics, throughout the day, and the first two rounds of Capital Crime’s quiz ‘Whose Crime Is It Anyway?’ will take place, featuring teams of debut authors.

Saturday will see Peter James interviewed on his writing career by clinical psychologist Chris Merritt; bestsellers Jeffrey Archer, Lucy Foley and Clare Mackintosh in conversation with Barry Forshaw and a Polari Panel hosted by Paul Burston. Other events include former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom Baroness Hale in conversation with Harriet Tyce; bestselling Icelandic author Ragnar Jonasson in conversation with the Prime Minister of Iceland Katrin Jakobsdottir; Sarah Vaughan, Louise Candlish and Paula Hawkins discussing the experience of screen adaptations, before rounding off the festival with Richard Osman in conversation with Bella Mackie.

The final round of ‘Whose Crime is it Anyway?’ will also take place, as well as panels on the topics of spies, Grand Dames, detectives and comedy crime featuring Vaseem Khan, Robert Thorogood, Antti Tuomainen, Steve Cavanagh, Jane Casey, Catherine Ryan Howard and Steph Broadribb

As well as panels and events, there will be exciting public events throughout the weekend, including launch events for Elly Griffiths’ breath-taking new thriller Bleeding Heart Yard, The Perfect Crime Anthology, which brings twenty-two bestselling crime writers from across the world together in a razor sharp and deliciously sinister collection of crime stories, and an interactive treasure hunt inspired by Peter James’s latest blockbuster, Picture You Dead. There will also be entertainment, including a crime-themed comedy performance from The Noise Next Door on Thursday.

The full programme can be found here.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Charlotte Carter - In a world of jazz with Nanette Hayes


New Yorker Nanette Hayes the main protagonist in Charlotte Carter's excellent noir jazz infused series is a young black jazz musician who not only has a lust for life but an aptitude for solving crimes. Set in streets of New York this acclaimed series has just been republished by Baskerville with some glorious covers by Bristol based artist Lucy Turner who was asked to redesign the covers. Originally published in the 1990s this underrated but brilliantly written series when first published pointed me in the direction of a character who was not only funny with a sense of humour that made the series stand out but also showed that there could be strong sexually confident women who knew what they wanted and be a dab hand at solving crimes as well. 

At a time when there were not (in my opinion) enough black female crime writers visible within the genre (we did have Eleanor Taylor Bland, Barbara Neely, Valerie Wilson Wesley, and Grace F. Edwards) coming across Charlotte Carter made me realise that one had to dig deeper to find these gems to read and also the fact that this series was and still is a delight, whether you are reading them for the first time or whether you are reacquainting yourself with them like I am. Any author who uses Theolonius Monk song titles as chapter headings is is certainly worth reading.

The first book in the series Rhode Island Red sees jazz loving Nanette offering a fellow street musician a bed for the night. Finding him dead the following morning Nanette is soon involved with a strange and sinister couple, a fellow jazz lover who just happens to be a gangster as well and who is someone that she could easily fall for as well as trying to solve what might be the mystery that the jazz world has been trying to solve for quite sometime. Rhode Island Red was clearly inspired by Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, which being one of my all time favourite crime novels is another reason to enjoy this book so much. Furthermore, Charlotte Carter's love of film noir also comes shining through in her prose.

The second book in the series is Coq Au Vin and this time it sees Nanette in the city of love that is Paris. Nanette is trying to find her aunt Vivian who has disappeared. As Nanette hooks up with André a self-taught violinist from Detroit (who is also in Paris) as she searches for her bohemian aunt she finds herself once again deep in the midst of danger, this time in the dark side of historic Paris and at the centre of attention of some extremely dangerous people. Once again Charlotte Carter has continued to share her love of jazz by giving the chapter titles the names of songs sung by some very impressive jazz artists including Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Billy Strayhorn and Clifford Brown to name a few. 

© Ayo Onatade

Like Rhode Island RedCoq Au Vin is an intensely jazz filled book. Jazz is certainly the main narrative that is seen via both Nanette and André and their interactions with each other. This time around one has the added love affair, that of the relationship between Paris and Black Americans. One cannot forget that some of the best jazz musicians for example Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Theolonius Monk and Charles Mingus all spent time in Paris during their lives. 

The third book in the series is Drumsticks and after a rather tragic sojourn to Paris, Nanette is back in New York drowning her sorrows metaphorically and figuratively and just about managing to make ends meet. Things start to look up when she receives a Voodoo doll as a present. Could her luck be changing after all? It falls to Nanette to investigate when the lady who sent her the doll is found dead. Who killed her and why? Liking up with some unlikely allies sees Nanette delving into the life of Ida the dead women who had rather a large number of dark skeletons in her cupboard.

Whilst it was great to see Nanette in Paris in the second book in the series seeing her back in her usual haunt of New York was a delight. There was slightly more grittiness in the dialogue (which I loved) which was not so evident in Coq Au Vin, but the descriptions of New York were just as vivid as those of Paris. Charlotte Carter certainly knows how to draw her readers into a city. Her descriptions are profound, lush and very much part and parcel of this trilogy. Again Charlotte Carter does not disappoint us when it comes to her chapter titles, with song titles from the Nat King Cole Trio, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Chet Baker and Dexter Gordon.

Nanette's ability to be ferocious in what she delights in whether it be falling in love with men (decent or not) fine wine and food and of course the best of jazz music and not forgetting her innate ability to solve mysteries is what makes this series amongst the best music inspired series to read. 

It is an utter shame that we readers only have a trilogy to read about Nanette Hayes. I certainly wish that there were more. Charlotte Carter not only managed to write a thrilling series with a strong, sexy female character but she also brought jazz to life and enthused this series with jazz music that would delight anyone whether or not the are a novice when it comes to their love of jazz or a longstanding lover of Jazz. 

One of the best things of this series which always makes these books worth rereading is the great sense of place, characterisation and the love of jazz and jazz history that flows through the pages. I love the fact that jazz songs are cited, it makes you want to go and seek out all of them, You don't have to be a fan of jazz to enjoy this series but it does help and its incredibly easy to immerse yourself in reading this series with jazz playing in the background.

If you haven't read this series before then do so. They may have been originally published in the 90s but that has not stopped them from being great reads today. Welcome to the world of sexy, sassy Nanette Hayes, who if anything will bring jazz to life as she solves a number of mysteries. Re-reading these have been a joy. 

Charlotte Carter's Nanette Hayes series has been re-issued by Baskerville a John Murray Press imprint. More information can be found here.

Monday 25 July 2022

2022 Macavity Nominees Announced


The Macavity Award Nominees 2022 

(for works published in 2021)

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal, and friends of MRI. The winners will be announced at opening ceremonies at the Minneapolis Bouchercon.

If you're a member of MRI, a subscriber to MRJ, or a friend of MRI, you will receive a ballot later this week, so get reading. Ballots will be due by August 15.


The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown and Co.) 

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)

1979 by Val McDermid (Atlantic Monthly)

Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks(World Noir)

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (Henry Holt)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)


Who is Maude Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown) 

Girl A by Abigail Dean (Viking)

Deer Season by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)


Lucky Thirteen,” by Tracy Clark (Midnight Hour, Crooked Lane Books)

Sweeps Week,” by Richard Helms (EQMM, July/August 2021)

Curious Incidents,”by Steve Hockensmith (EQMM, January/February 2021)

“The Road to Hana,”by R.T. Lawton (AHMM, May/June 2021)

The White Star,” by G.M. Malliet (EQMM, July/August 2021)

The Locked Room Library,”by Gigi Pandian (EQMM, July/August 2021)

Julius Katz and the Two Cousins,”by Dave Zeltserman (EQMM, July/August 2021) 


Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge (HarperCollins)

How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America edited by Lee Child with Laurie R. King (Scribner)

The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox (Random House)

The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (W.W. Norton)

Tony Hillerman: A Life by James McGrath Morris (University of Oklahoma)

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W. Norton)


The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen (Lake Union)

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)

The Hollywood Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal (Bantam)

The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey (Soho Crime)

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)

Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (William Morrow)

Congratulations to all the nominated authors

Sunday 24 July 2022

In The St Hilda's Spotlight: - Abir Mukherjee


Name:- Abir Mukherjee

Job:- author (and former accountant)

Twitter:- @radiomukhers

Website :- 


Abir Mukherjee is a Hamilton raised former accountant turned crime writer of the Times bestselling author of the Wyndham & Banerjee series of crime novels set in Raj-era India. His books have won numerous awards including the CWA Dagger for best Historical Novel, the Prix du Polar Européen (A Rising Man), the Wilbur Smith Award for Adventure Writing (A Necessary Evil) and the Amazon Publishing Readers Award for E-book for the Year.

His first book A Rising Man (2016) was shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2018. It was also both the Waterstones' Thriller of the Month and the Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month in May 2017. It also won the CWA Endevour Historical Dagger, a Barry Award and the Jhalak Prize. It also won the Harvill Secker and Daily Telegraph crime writing competition. His second book A Necessary Evil was published in 2017 and was also nominated for Gold Dagger and a Barry Award,

His third book Smoke and Ashes (2018), the fourth book was also shorlisted for the CWA Sapere Historical Dagger and the HWA (Historical Writers Association) Gold Crown and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. Death in The East (2019 )was also won the CWA Sapere Historical Dagger and was also a Sunday Times books of 2021 pick. Shadows of Men (2021) shortlisted for the Gold Dagger. Alongside fellow author, Vaseem Khan, he also hosts the popular Red Hot Chilli Writers podcast,

Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing)

I’m currently reading The Black Drop by Leonora Nattrass, set in the London of the 1790s on the brink of revolution and possible war with America.

Favourite book?

Only ever one choice: Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell

Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why? 

Bernie Gunther and Arkady Renko – two anti-heroes from different countries, both beaten down, but both linked by that thread of common decency. I think both of them would appreciate a good meal and neither would judge my cooking abilities too harshly.

How do you relax?

My feet up, some good music and a glass of whisky.

Which book do you wish you had written and why? 

Razorblade Tears by S A Cosby – It’s a fantastic concept and a brilliant book. It’s the sort of thing I wish I could write.

What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.

Have more self-confidence. Start earlier. Don’t spend twenty years of your life being an accountant!

How would you describe your series characters? 

Sam Wyndham is a tired, jaded ex Scotland Yard detective who takes a job in Calcutta as it’s slightly preferable to suicide. Surendranath Banerjee (known as Surrender-not by his linguistically challenged British superiors) is a clever, idealistic, young detective who puts Sam on a pedestal – at least until he works with him. They develop an odd, but close friendship, solving crimes while negotiating the racial tensions of the closing decades of the Raj.

With Town and Country: Green Lanes to Mean Streets being the theme at St Hilda's this year, Where is your favourite town and where is your favourite country? Why have you chosen these?

My favourite town has to be Kolkata (Calcutta) – it’s not an easy place to live, but once you see beyond the surface, you discover a place of art and culture and humour and love and vibrancyto rival anywhere in the world.

As for my favourite country – right now I’m still basking in the glow of returning from a trip to Polignano in the south of Italy and so, I’d have to say Italy – for the food, the wine, the climate and the good friends I’ve made there.

What are you looking forward to at St Hilda's?

The stimulating debate, the wonderful lectures and the sheer fun of hanging out with people who love crime fiction.

The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee (Vintage Publishing) Out Now

Calcutta, 1923. When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can officers of the Imperial Police Force, Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath? Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this 'unmissable series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?

Information about 2022 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend and how to book tickets can be found here.

Saturday 23 July 2022

Special Offer at St Hilda's -- One Day Pass

Mick Herron and Elly Griffiths 

Information about the one day pass can be found here.

Dark Deeds in Sun-drenched Places by Lexie Elliott


We’re an odd bunch, thriller writers. We don’t so much look at the world sideways as from the bottom up, through the lens of whatever we imagine might lie beneath. Sophisticated sun-kissed European cities have me eying the dark shadows of the back alleys, where tourists seldom dare to venture, and I can’t stumble across the sight of a beautiful waterfront villa without wondering what’s lurking in the damp basement or what horrors might be discovered if the river was dredged. One can speculate that Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley and M. M. Kaye’s Death In… series, along with numerous exotically-set Agatha Christie mysteries, had more of an impact on my teenaged psyche than I appreciated at the time, but I’ve always been utterly fascinated by tales of darkness that play out in the light: is there anything more seductive than a murderous plot conducted in a glamorous care-free location complete with sun-drenched days and hot, sultry nights? 

My latest novel, How to Kill Your Best Friend, is set in just such an environment: a luxury resort on a remote island in Southeast Asia. Setting is so very important to me that on any new project it can almost become a character in itself, and it’s usually the first thing that comes to mind. I’ll be pondering potential ideas and find myself dwelling on a certain location, and an accompanying sense of atmosphere—it’s as if I need to know the where before I can find the characters that inhabit that landscape. However, How to Kill Your Best Friend entirely bucked that trend: the title came to me first, and it was so strong that I couldn’t ignore it; I found myself in the unfamiliar position of working backwards from it. That title threw up so many questions: why would anyone even consider killing their best friend? What must have happened in the past between these friends? How did they get to this extreme point? From mulling those questions, the central relationship quickly unfolded, based around three women (Georgie, Lissa and Bronwyn) who met and bonded through their university swim team—a very convenient shared passion for me to gift them, I must confess, as I myself have a long history of competitive swimming and thus the research was already ticked off. It’s Lissa’s death that brings the friendship group back together; we see the tale through the eyes of Georgie and Bronwyn, who each have their own reasons for questioning how a champion swimmer such as Lissa could possibly have drowned. With the beginnings of a cast of characters in mind, the question of setting reared its head: where would this tale play out? 

At the time, I happened to be on vacation at, erm, a remote resort on an island in Southeast Asia—I’m sure you can connect the dots—and in truth the idea of a resort setting was instantly captivating, not least of all because it made sense logistically for the swimming and the drowning aspects. Perhaps conditioned by my teenage reading material, I could also see distinct possibilities in the juxtaposition of the terrible ordeals the characters undergo with the glamorous luxury setting: the contrast of the darkness and shade of human nature is never so stark as when played out in an environment where people expect to relax and forget their cares. Whilst not precisely a “locked room” scenario, the resort location provides both physical and mental isolation for the characters: physical, in the sense that they are all geographically removed from their ordinary lives and, moreover, spread out across different villas within the resort; and mental, in the sense that the distance and the time zone difficulties cut them off from contact with their usual support systems, leaving them truly alone with their increasingly anxious thoughts. In addition, once the weather turns ominous on the island and the staff begin to melt away, for all its supposed luxury the resort becomes something of a prison that the characters can’t escape. How many of us have taken the back seat on the organisation of a vacation, leading to the uncomfortable realisation that you have very little idea of where you are and even less idea of what to do if catastrophe strikes? Have you ever found yourself thinking: where, exactly, is the airport, and how might one get there if there were no hotel staff around to help? If you haven’t, you surely will now.

As I write this, I’ve already finished the bulk of the work on my next novel (Bright and Deadly Things, which will be coming out in 2023), and I’m beginning to cast around for ideas for my next project. Unfortunately, we’re going on a beach-based island resort holiday this summer, so I can’t rely on that for any fresh inspiration. Though I will at least make sure I know where I am, and how to get to the airport…

How To Kill Your Best Friend by Lexie Elliott (Atlantic Books) Out Now

The perfect getaway - to get away with murder...Georgie, Lissa and Bronwyn have been best friends since they met on their college swimming team. Now Lissa is dead - drowned off the coast of the remote island where her second husband owns a luxury resort. But could a star open-water swimmer really have drowned? Or is something more sinister going on?Brought together for Lissa's memorial, Georgie, Bron, Lissa's grieving husband and their friends find themselves questioning the circumstances around Lissa's death - and each other. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the guests on the island, it slowly dawns on them that Lissa's death was only the beginning. Nobody knows who they can trust. Or if they'll make it off the island alive...

Friday 22 July 2022


Jasper Joffe, CEO of leading independent publisher Joffe Books, has acquired Ostara Publishing from previous owner Andrew Cocks for an undisclosed sum. 

Joffe Books will be taking over the Ostara list of approximately 120 titles. They will publish new editions in late 2022 and 2023, with Joffe’s laser-like focus on marketing and design relaunching the books to a whole new gamut of readers.

Award-winning crime writer, former Ostara consultant editor and Shots columnist Mike Ripley has been approached to write new introductions to the Ostara Classics. 

Kate Lyall Grant, Joffe Books Publishing Director: “Ostara has a well-deserved reputation for the superlative quality of its crime list, and with Joffe Books’ commercial success and expertise in the digital market, we think this is the perfect fit to reach a widespread new readership for these fantastic books. We will be staying true to the spirit of Ostara, and keeping the Ostara name, branding the books as ‘Joffe Books presents Ostara Classics.

Andrew Cocks: ‘Regrettably I am no longer in a position to publish new books and give my existing titles the attention they deserve in an fast-developing publishing environment. I am delighted to have found in Joffe Books a kindred spirit to take over the Ostara list of authors and truly believe that Joffe will give the Ostara authors the opportunity to reach new readers and prosper. It has been a privilege to have been involved with all these books and I could not have wished for a better home for them.

In 2019, Joffe Books acquired the Robert Hale backlist from Crowood Press, reissuing and revitalizing the sales of authors including Roger Silverwood, Frances Lloyd, David Hodges and Bill Kitson. These authors’ books now regularly feature in the Top 100 UK Kindle chart. The overall sales of ex-Hale titles have increased over tenfold since the acquisition.

About Joffe Books

Founded in 2014, Joffe Books is proud of its history of innovative publishing. Thanks to the unflagging passion and dedication brought by everyone in Team Joffe, we have built a reputation for crafting great books for readers, long-term relationships with authors and agents, and fleet-footed marketing. We are now the largest independent publisher of e-books in the UK. In 2021, Joffe sold over 3 million books across crime, mystery, thriller, romance and historical fiction (and another 6 million through Kindle Unlimited). Joffe was shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2020, 2021, and 2022. The Joffe Books Prize aims to increase the diversity of voices in crime writing.

For more info contact


Tuesday 19 July 2022

First Deadline Looms for Famed CWA Daggers


Authors and publishers have until 31 July to nominate titles published in the first half of 2022 for the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) 2023 Dagger awards.

The famed annual Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century. Past winners of the awards include icons of the genre, including Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill, John le Carré and Lee Child, and in the 2022 Daggers, awarded in a ceremony on 29 June, winners included MW Craven, Janice Hallet, Ray Celestin, Mark Billingham and Simone Buchholz.

One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark.

The CWA has undergone a refresh in recent years, updating and diversifying its Dagger judging panels and its board. To reflect the changes in the publishing landscape, the awards are now open to all traditionally published authors and to self-published authors who are CWA members, as well as publishers.

The deadline is 31 July for nominating titles published between January and June 2022 and 15 November for those published between July and December. For the first time in many years, the Daggers 2023 will be awarded along with a cash prize.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “We are delighted not only to open the Daggers to author-nominations but also to recognise the very best crime writing in this way.”

Categories include the coveted Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year and the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller, sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand.

The awards also recognise best historical crime novel, crime fiction in translation, the best short story, and the ALCS Gold Dagger for non-fiction titles. An annual highlight is the anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for the best debut novel. The Dagger judging panels include leading authors, bloggers, newspaper reviewers, academics and media professionals.

The Daggers also provide a platform for unpublished writers, many of whom enter the Debut Dagger competition sponsored by ProWritingAid, and for authors who are favourites with libraries and their borrowers with the librarian-nominated Dagger in the Library.

To enter visit the website: The CWA Daggers - The Crime Writers’ Association