Saturday, 4 February 2023

Books from Head of Zeus

February 2023 

1936, London. A celebrity psychiatrist is discovered dead in his locked study. There seems to be no way a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, Inspector Flint, the Scotland Yard detective on the case, calls on retired stage magician turned part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colourful cast of suspects, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets... or motives for murder. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realise the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon. Death and the Conjuror is by Tom Mead.

No Place to Hide is by JS Monroe. Adam lives a picture-perfect life: happy marriage, two young children, and a flourishing career as a doctor. But Adam also lives with a secret. Hospital CCTV, strangers' mobile phones, city traffic cameras - he is convinced that they are all watching him, recording his every move. All because of something terrible that happened at a drunken party when he was a medical student. Only two other people knew what happened that night. Two people he's long left behind. Until one of them, Clio - Adam's great unrequited love - turns up on his doorstep, and reignites a sinister pact twenty-four years in the making...

Storm Watch is by C J Box. When a prominent University of Wyoming professor goes missing, authorities are stumped. That is, until Game Warden Joe Pickett makes two surprising discoveries in his district. First, Joe finds the professor's vehicle parked on a remote mountainside. Then he finds the professor's frozen and mutilated body. When he attempts to learn more, Joe's investigation is obstructed by Federal agents, extreme environmentalists, and Governor Colter Allen. Meanwhile, Joe's associate, falconer Nate Romanowski, is approached by a shadowy group of local militant activists who are gaining in power and influence, and demanding that Wyoming join other western states in seceding from the Union - by force, if necessary. They ask Nate to throw in his lot with them, but should he trust them, or is he being set up? As a storm of peril gathers around them, Joe and Nate confront it in different ways - and maybe, for the first time, on opposite sides.

We live with our history, but it can kill us. Faces from the past appear from nowhere at a family funeral, and Will Flemyng, spy-turned-ambassador, is drawn into twin mysteries that threaten everything he holds dear. From Washington, he's pitched back into the Troubles in Northern Ireland and an explosive secret hidden deep in the most dangerous but fulfilling friendship he has known. And while he confronts shadowy adversaries in American streets, and looks for solace at home in the Scottish Highlands, he discovers that his government's most precious Cold War agent is in mortal danger and needs his help to survive.In an electric story of courage and betrayal, Flemyng learns the truth that his life has left him a man with many friends, but still alone. The Spy Across the Water is by James Naughtie.

March 2023

She says he's a victim. They say he's a killer. When an armed man massacres several people in central London, Claudine witnesses the whole thing. To her horror, one of the victims is her brother, Jethro. Driven by grief, Claudine retreats to the family home in the Fens, which is where the police find her. She is left reeling when they tell her Jethro orchestrated the attack. Why would a gentle, if troubled, middle-aged man cause such bloodshed - and why would he include himself in the list of victims? The truth could lie in Jethro's research on a mediaeval cult. If Claudine can't solve the mystery in time, more people will die... and the darkness will claim her too. Twist of Fate is by D L Mark.

What Have We Done is by Alex Finlay. The foster children of Savior House never knew the peace of a normal childhood. Raised in an institution, a group of four friends from the home have now grown and gone their separate ways. They haven't seen one another since they left those abusive foster-home halls, until, twenty-five years later, they are reunited for a single, inescapable reason: someone is trying to kill them. To save their lives, the group will have to revisit the nightmares of their childhoods and confront their past: a past that holds the key to everything.

Robert Ludlum's The Treadstone Rendition is by Joshua Hood. Adam Hayes has stepped away from the field for the very last time. He's promised his wife that he won't put his life on the line any more, and nothing will make him break that promise. Well... almost nothing. With America withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Taliban closing in, Abdul Nassir reaches out to his old partner, Hayes. Ten years ago, Nassir saved the American's life, and the time has come for repayment. Nassir is desperate to get his family out of the country. He is scared of the Taliban... but he can't trust the Americans either: his daughter witnessed a massacre committed by rogue CIA contractors. That only leaves one man who can get them out of the country: Adam Hayes.

April 2023

A mid-air collision in the Alaskan wilderness between two small aircraft leaves ten people dead. Was it a bird strike, pilot error... or premeditated murder? Then an eleventh body is found in the wreckage: a man shot gangland style, twice in the chest and once in the head. In an investigation that reaches to the highest levels of government, justice may not be served, but Kate Shugak is determined that the truth will out, even at the risk of her life and the lives of those she loves most. Not The Ones Dead is by Dana Stabenow.

Death Comes to Costa Del Sol is by M H Ecclestone. Amateur sleuth Astrid Swift swaps the sporting summer in England for a British expat enclave in Spain, where everyone has a mysterious reason for leaving the UK. The sunniest days, the deadliest nights. It's the end of the summer season in the harbour town of Estepona. The holiday makers are heading home, leaving the British expats to reclaim their little corner of paradise. Among them is art restorer Astrid Swift's estranged father. She's sailed into town to reunite with him but has instead been tasked with catching an internet troll who's been threatening his wife online. Soon Astrid is entwined in the lives of these expats, from the boozy local heckler to the socially awkward beachcomber. And then she discovers a body in the bunker of the local golf course... Can Astrid uncover the 'Costa del Troll' behind the poison-pen campaign before they reveal everyone's secret past? Or will they tear this cosy community - including Astrid and her father - even further apart?

The Monk is by Tim Sullivan. The Detective DS George Cross has always wondered why his mother left him when he was a child. Now she is back in his life, he suddenly has answers. But this unexpected reunion is not anything he's used to dealing with. When a disturbing case lands on his desk, he is almost thankful for the return to normality.The Question - The body of a monk is found savagely beaten to death in a woodland near Bristol. Nothing is known about Brother Dominic's past, which makes investigating difficult. How can Cross unpick a crime when they don't know anything about the victim? And why would someone want to harm a monk? The past - Discovering who Brother Dominic once was only makes the picture more puzzling. He was a much-loved and respected friend, brother, son - he had no enemies. Or, at least, none that are obvious. But looking into his past reveals that he was a very wealthy man, that he sacrificed it all for his faith. For a man who has nothing, it seems strange that greed could be the motive for his murder. But greed is a sin after all...

May 2023

Sepulchre Street is by Martin Edwards. 'This is my challenge for you,' the woman in white said. 'I want you to solve my murder.' London, 1930s: Rachel Savernake has been invited to a private view of an art exhibition at a fashionable gallery. The artist, Damaris Gethin, known as 'the Queen of Surrealism', is debuting a show featuring live models pretending to be waxworks of famous killers. Before her welcoming speech, Damaris asks a haunting favour of the amateur sleuth: she wants Rachel to solve her murder. As Damaris takes to a stage set with a guillotine, the lights go out. There is a cry and the blade falls. Damaris has executed herself. While Rachel questions why Damaris would take her own life - and just what she meant by 'solve my murder' - fellow party guest Jacob Flint is chasing a lead on a glamorous socialite with a sordid background. As their paths merge, this case of false identities, blackmail, and fedora-adorned doppelgangers, will descend upon a grand home on Sepulchre Street, where nothing - and no one - is quite what it seems.

June 2023

The Inmate is by Sebastian Fitzek. A missing child. A desperate father. A terrible secret. Serial killer Guido T has already confessed to two horrific child murders and led the Berlin police to the horribly disfigured bodies. The police are sure he is also the kidnapper and murderer of six-year-old Max, who disappeared without trace a year ago. But now Guido T, who is being held in the high-security ward of a psychiatric prison hospital, is staying silent. The investigators have no reliable evidence. And without the prisoner's statement, Max's parents will have no certainty and will never be able to say goodbye to their son. But then an investigator from the homicide commission makes Max's desperate father an unbelievable offer: he will smuggle the distraught parent into the hospital where Guido T is imprisoned. Max's father will be listed as a fake patient, equipped with a fake medical record. He will be as close as he possibly can to the child killer, and plans to force the killer into a confession. Because nothing is worse than uncertainty. Or so he thinks. Until he, as an inmate, learns the gruesome truth...

Burning Bridges by Stephanie Harte is also due to be published in June




Friday, 3 February 2023

Call For Papers: BIPOC Female Detectives (Theme Issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection)

 

BIPOC Female Detectives 

(Theme Issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection) 

Guest Editor: Sam Naidu, Rhodes University, South Africa 

Seeking to illuminate an often marginalized space, this Clues theme issue will focus on female detectives who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color); span eras, genres, and geographical locations; and appear in texts, TV programs, films, and other media. Of particular interest are intersections among race, indigeneity, gender, age, class, or sexuality in these works, as well as projects that center BIPOC scholarship. 

Some Suggested Topics: 

  • • BIPOC female detective figures in African and Asian crime fiction, such as in works by Leye Adenle, Oyinkan Braithwaite, Angela Makholwa, and Jane De Suza. 

  • BIPOC female detectives in hard-boiled and traditional mysteries that might include characters such as Carolina Garcia-Aguilera’s Lupe Solano, Eleanor Taylor Bland’s Marti MacAlister, Leslie Glass’s April Woo, Sujata Massey’s Rei Shimura and Perveen Mistry, Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone, Barbara Neely’s Blanche White, S. J. Rozan’s Lydia Chin, Valerie Wilson Wesley’s Tamara Hayle and Odessa Jones, and Paula L. Woods’s Charlotte Justice. 

  • BIPOC female detectives in film and television series such as Get Christie Love! (1974–75, TV movie 2018), Angie Tribeca (2016), and Black Earth Rising (2018). 

  • BIPOC female detectives in comics and graphic novels such as Storm and Misty Knight of Marvel Comics, Martha Washington of Dark Horse Comics, and Vixen of DC Comics. 

  • BIPOC female sidekicks such as Janet Evanovich’s Lula, or Elementary’s Joan H. Watson, or BIPOC detecting teams such as those in Cheryl Head’s Charlie Mack series or Ausmat Zehanat Khan’s Inaya Rahman series. 

  • BIPOC female detectives of male authors such as Kwei Quartey, Deon Meyer, and Alexander McCall Smith. 

  • Analyses of historical BIPOC female detectives in crime fiction such as that in Pauline E. Hopkins’s Hagar’s Daughter (1901). 

  • Queering the BIPOC female detective. 

  • Relationships between BIPOC female detectives and criminals/criminality. 

Submissions should include a proposal of approximately 250 words and a brief biosketch. Proposals due: April 30, 2023. Submit proposals to: Prof. Sam Naidu, email: s.naidu@ru.ac.za. Full manuscripts of approximately 6,000 words based on an accepted proposal will be due by September 30, 2023. 

About Clues: Published biannually by McFarland & Co., the peer-reviewed Clues: A Journal of Detection features academic articles on all aspects of mystery and detective material in print, television, and film without limit to period or country covered. It also reviews nonfiction mystery works (biographies, reference works, and the like) and materials applicable to classroom use (such as films). Executive Editor: Caroline Reitz, John Jay College/The CUNY Graduate Center; 

Managing Editor: Elizabeth Foxwell, McFarland & Co. 

Clues Website: https://sites.google.com/site/cluesjournal/ 


Thursday, 2 February 2023

Elliot Sweeney - How embedding social themes into crime fiction makes for rich stories

 There’s no hiding from it. 

Turn on the TV and we’re flooded with pictures of fuel poverty, the social care and NHS collapsing, strikes in public services; there’s the growth of foodbanks, a police force full of misogynists and sadists, kids knifing kids. Is the world becoming an increasingly barbed, hostile place?

I’m jaded of course. As well as being a crime fiction aficionado, I’m a mental health nurse, a vocation that means I regularly meet some of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and stigmatize in society. Their human sufferings often seem needless, borne from inequity, and have left me hardened me in ways I haven’t reconciled, perhaps never will. 

As a writer, I’ve found the day job has proven to be fertile soil for stories. I don’t need to go hunting for characters: when you’re up close to the sharp edge of human emotions – anger, jealousy, hatred – they present themselves and become hard to ignore. 

The bereft mother of a schizophrenic teen lost to suicide seeks revenge on the systemic failures that led to her boy’s death. An orphan who witnesses his father’s murder at the hands of racist police grows into a sadist himself, fuelled by a propulsive need for revenge. Both characters, anonymised here for patient confidentiality, are based on real encounters. They and a list of others are calling out to be written about.

So long as the characters are razor sharp, I’m of the belief that a decent crime novel is possible, even if the plot is mediocre. And to make characters bear verisimilitude, the writing needs to seem socially accurate. James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos, and Elmore Leonard all pen slick, streetwise prose delivered by multicultural, often poorly educated locals whose prose integrates patois and swinging vernacular with masterful ease. To read them feels immersive and entirely natural; yet in less skilled hands, I’m sure such attempts would plunge into cliché. Indeed, while describing his research style, Pelecanos has commented on his habit of situating himself in bars and clubs, ordering a beer, and listening to the comings-and-goings of those around him, a method I have imitated (can my bar-tab be put through as a legitimate expense, I wonder?).

On a macro level, social themes have the capacity to provide a crime novel with an added dimension that resonates long after the final plot twist. A recent example was S.A.Crosby’s Razorblade Tears: two fathers investigating the murders of their sons is a fairly interesting, but not wholly original premise; but when those sons were in a gay relationship, and the fathers, one white, one black, both carry unresolved issues around race, homosexuality, masculinity and class, we have a tale for its time. In a similar vein, Will Dean’s The Last Thing to Burn, about a woman held captive by a psychopathic farmer, could have felt like a derivative locked room story akin to Misery or Room; but make her an illegal migrant smuggled into the UK and purchased into modern slavery, and there’s a cutting story with propulsive social importance.

When I set out to write The Next to Die, the first in the Dylan Kasper series, my aim was to fuse the hardboiled crime genre I fell for as a teen with difficult topics I’d encountered in my career in psychiatry – specifically, men’s mental health, the mess left by suicide, and the harsh realities of post-traumatic stress and abuse. I was compelled to tackle these topics gloves off, and inject the story with both the grim irresolution, but also the dark humour that can come when immersed in a world like this. 

Although the novel has been labelled bleak, and according to some, in need of trigger warnings (is this a bad thing in crime fiction, I wonder?), the writing process was strangely lilting. It has allowed me to form a semblance of order out of the chaos and re-evaluate some tough memories that had hitherto been unresolved. 

And if readers found Book One heavy going, wait till they get a load of Book Two...

The Next To Die by Elliot Sweeney (Wildfire) (Headline Publishers)) Out Now.

Five years since his daughter's death. Now it's happening again. Dylan Kasper is stuck. Living in self-imposed reclusion from his former life in the police, he's been in a downward spiral since his daughter's death five years ago. All that changes when the son of an esteemed professor jumps under an inner-city train. His former colleagues call it suicide, but Kasper knows different. This has all happened before - to him, and his dead daughter. Taking on the investigation himself, Kasper soon realises the terrible trouble young Tommy had found himself in. With nowhere to run, he thought suicide was the only way to keep his family safe. But before long, Kasper's investigation makes him target number one. Can he keep his demons in check and stay alive long enough to bring those responsible to justice?

More information about Elliot Sweeney and his work can be found on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @elliotfsweeney.








Why Soho? By Jessie Keane

Well if I am going to talk about Soho, then first I am going to have to give you a little background. I ran away from home when I was sixteen (maybe even fifteen, now I think about it). I walked out of school (I’d hardly ever attended, anyway), walked away from the ruins of my family (the family firm had collapsed, we’d been evicted by the banks, my father had just died of lung cancer) and went to London to stay with my friend Joanna, who had a dirty little flat in Soho near Berwick Street Market. 

I never saw the dirt, of course. A Romany child used to open country, I took one look at the teeming city of London and in particular the steamy streets – Old Compton Street, Frith Street - of Soho and fell utterly, hopelessly in love with surroundings that were so very different to the ones I’d grown up in.

Then I fell in love all over again, with a man we met one night. We came out of Raymond’s Revue Bar and went into the Windmill Theatre and there he was. Sadly, his attention was focused on Joanna, but my attention was focused on him. I’d been scratching away in notebooks ever since I could crawl, writing playlets, westerns, sci-fi fantasies, anything. But the sight of this man knocked me sideways and convinced me that I would have to set him down on paper. The black curling hair. The sapphire-blue eyes. His flashiness, his Savile Row suits, his vicuna coats, his shoes from Lobbs, his latent aura of power. Gorgeous!

Of course, I was a minnow among sharks in 60’s Soho, but my extreme innocence was a sort of protection. I sailed through every obstacle and filled notebooks full of details I noticed as I passed through. That black-haired man with the gangster look about him became, inevitably, set in my mind. He never left it, not even when I came back to my boring existence at home. He stayed with me all through relationships, marriages, moves, everything, until one bleak day I was sitting under a quilt watching a crime DVD. I couldn’t afford to heat the flat, I was too poor for that. I had no education, no money. I’d had a succession of boring low-paid job. Wrapping chips in the local chip shop. Sweeping up in a hairdressers. Slicing bacon in the Co-op. Now I was really on my uppers, but I was still making notes and dreaming of being an actual, proper writer.

Then Annie Bailey – who would later become Annie Carter – strolled into my head and I thought, what fun. A strong Alpha woman and I would place her in among the gangsters and see what she would get up to. 

I sold my wedding dress, bought a typewriter, and set to. Before three months was up, I had finished writing the very first of the Annie Carter novels, Dirty Game. Of course, that gorgeous man I’d met in the Windmill in Soho was in there too, clashing with Annie at every turn. It was the most fun I’d had, ever, writing, that book. People talk about writers ‘finding their voice’ and I had always laughed at that, not understanding what they meant. Suddenly, I did. I’d found my voice with a vengeance.

So off I trotted to the Post Office, clutching six carefully wrapped packages. Each one contained a synopsis and a copy of the book, bound for a variety of agents. At this point, my partner took pity on me.

You’re bright,’ he said. ‘Maybe it’s time to stop all this dreaming. Get a proper job.’

Which made me dig my heels in all the more. I posted the manuscripts off, and waited. Rejection slips soon poured through the door. Four of them. But two out of the six were interested, and one said she might have someone who would like this book, but not to get my hopes up, and why hadn’t I numbered the pages? I was that inexperienced, that much of a numpty!

That agent invited me to London, talked me through a few alterations. I was so happy to get back to the Smoke, I was ecstatic. Even if nothing ever came of this, at least I’d got to the first fence.

I went home, rewrote. Sent the thing back to her. It was August Bank Holiday, nothing was happening, publishing was empty of workers, she told me. Just hold on. Don’t get your hopes up.

I didn’t.

Then two days later she phoned me again.

I’ve got you a three book deal,’ she said. ‘For a six figure sum.’

I couldn’t help but think I had Soho, my time there as a wet-behind-the-ears, my meeting that beautiful black-haired stranger, to thank for this miracle. So don’t ask me why Soho. Ask me why not Soho. It may be changed these days – a little tamer, a little more polished – but anytime I go back there now the magic, for me, remains. 

This is the place where I found my inspiration and became a professional writer, this is the place that inspired Dirty Game, the very first of the Annie Carter novels and now I am launching the seventh novel about her and her dangerous, glamorous life and her love/hate relationship with Max. She had come a long way, baby! And so have I. Dirty Game shot straight into the Heatseekers chart at number one, and all my books have been in the Sunday Times Top Twenty chart. So I have a lot to thank Annie for. And Soho, bless it!

Never Go Back by Jessie Keane is published 2nd February 2023 in Hardback by Hodder, priced £16.99

The Carter women don't follow the rules: They make them.Gangster Max Carter and his ex-wife Annie Carter are leading separate lives in separate countries: past hurts and broken promises cannot be resolved. But then a summons to Majorca and a tragic death makes Max question all that has happened to him over many years. He had two brothers - both are now dead. His closest friend has been found hanging from a London bridge. As the police wrestle with a seemingly unsolvable case, Max is forced to revisit his painful past to find answers to a mystery that seems to make no sense at all. Who is targeting his family and why? Annie Carter is at a crossroads in life. She has a luxurious lifestyle but no one to share it with, and Max clearly thinks she is in danger too. Her daughter, Layla, has left her mafia lover Alberto Barolli and is back in London, stumbling into the police investigation and making waves. You should never go back, so the old saying goes. But then, the Carter women don't follow the rules, they make them. And when the truth of what's been happening is finally revealed, will the Carter family stand together - or will it finish them for good?

More information about Jessie Keane can be found on her Facebook page. You can also follow her on Twitter @realjessiekeane

Friday, 27 January 2023

Agatha Award Nominees

 

Best Contemporary Novel

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime)

Death By Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley)

Fatal Reunion by Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books)

Dead Man's Leap by Tina de Bellegarde (Level Best Books)

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best Historical Novel

The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker (Level Best Books)

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower (Berkley)

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur)

In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson (Mobius)

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)

Best First Novel

Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss (St. Martin’s)

Death in the Aegean by M. A. Monnin (Level Best Books)

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra (Constable)

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)

The Finalist by Joan Long (Level Best Books)

The Gallery of Beauties by Nina Wachsman (Level Best Books)

Best Short Story

"Beauty and the Beyotch," by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Magazine, Feb. 2022)

"There Comes a Time," by Cynthia Kuhn (Malice Domestic Murder Most Diabolical) Wildside Press

"Fly Me to the Morgue," by Lisa Q Mathews,( Malice Domestic Mystery Most Diabolical) Wildside Press

"The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot," by Richie Narvaez, (Land of 10,000 Thrills, Bouchercon Anthology) Down & Out Books

"The Invisible Band," by Art Taylor (Edgar & Shamus Go Golden) Down & Out Books

Best Non-Fiction

The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)

The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie by Mary Anna Evans and J. C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic)

The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks)

Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, Diane Vallere Ed.(Sisters in Crime)

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)

Best Children's/YA Mystery

Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young People)

In Myrtle Peril by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)

#shedeservedit by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)

Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers)

Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! 

The Agatha Awards will be presented Saturday, April 29, 2023, during Malice Domestic 35

Malice Registrations and Agatha Banquet Tickets are available on the Malice Domestic website.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

Books from Bloomsbury

 January 2023

Home is by Callean Steed. Someone has broken into Zoe's flat. A man she thought she'd never have to see again. They call him the Hand of God. He knows about her job in the cafe, her life in Dublin, her ex-girlfriend, even the knife she's hidden under the mattress. She thought she'd left him far behind, along with the cult of the Children and their isolated compound Home - but now he's found her, and Zoe realises she must go back with him if she's to rescue the sister who helped her escape originally. But returning to Home means going back to the enforced worship and strict gender roles Zoe has long since moved beyond. Back to the abuse and indoctrination she's fought desperately to overcome... Going back will make her question everything she believed about her past - and risk her hard-won freedom. Can she break free a second time?

February 2023

Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy uncovers the life-story of one of the most fascinating authors of contemporary American literature his biography is the untold story of how Ellroy created a literary persona for himself as the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction, giving him a celebrity status and notoriety that few authors can match. To his admirers Ellroy is a literary genius who has reinvented crime fiction. To his detractors he is a reactionary, overrated figure. Love Me Fierce In Danger examines the enigma of an author who has striven for critical acclaim and often courted controversy with equal zealotry. Love Me in Fierce Danger is by Steven Powell.

April 2023

Sometimes work can be murder... The Consultant is very good at his job. He creates simple, elegant, effective solutions for... restructuring. Nothing obvious or messy. Certainly nothing anyone would ever suspect as murder. The 'natural deaths' he plans have always gone well: a medicine replaced here, a mechanism jammed there. His performance reviews are excellent. And it's not as though he knows these people. Until his next 'customer' turns out to be someone he not only knows but cares about, and for the first time, he begins to question the role he plays in the vast, anonymous Company. And as he slowly begins to understand the real scope of their work, he realises just how easy it would be for the Company to arrange one more perfect murder... But how far will he go to escape The Company? And how far will they go to stop him? The electrifying first novel from award-winning Korean thriller-writer Im Seong-Sun - now in English for the first time - combines the tension of the best crime fiction with searing social criticism to present a searing take-down of global corporate life. 

May 2023

When match fixing leads to murder, only journalist Casey Benedict can expose the truth - and risk her own life doing so. Casey Benedict is the globe-trotting star reporter at London paper the Post. Casey is tenacious, fearless, inventive and still in recovery after her last major story jeopardised her life, and all of those she held most dear. Invited to spend the day at the races at the invitation of a former colleague, it is meant to be a chance to relax and recover. But when she sees a man being hunted across the racecourse, a horrified Casey intervenes to save his life - and in doing so finds herself face to face with her next major investigation. Match fixing. Gambling. And murder. From London to Budapest, from snowy mountain retreats to glitzy Mediterranean coastal resorts, Casey is on a desperate hunt to find the person behind the shadowy organisations responsible and expose them to the public before anyone else's lives are lost. The End of the Game is by Holly Watt.

June 2023

Ex journalist Tash has been searching for a story to launch her freelance career. But she has also been searching for something else. New friends to help her navigate motherhood. She sees them at her son's new playgroup. The other mothers. The sleek, the sophisticated, the successful mothers... the women she wants to be. And then one day they welcome her into their circle and Tash discovers the kind of life she has always dreamt of; their elegant London townhouses a far cry from her cramped basement flat and endless bills. These families seem to have everything. But they also have their secrets. And it's soon clear that not everyone at the playgroup can be trusted. The Other Mothers is by Katherine Faulkner.






Friday, 20 January 2023

2023 Edgar Award Nominations

 

Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2023 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2022. 

The 77th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 27, 2023, at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.

The Nominations are as follows :-

BEST NOVEL

Devil House by John Darnielle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – MCD)

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett (Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

Gangland by Chuck Hogan (Grand Central Publishing)

The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias (Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

The Maid by Nita Prose (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Jackal by Erin E. Adams (Penguin Random House – Bantam)

Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

Shutter by Ramona Emerson (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li (Penguin Random House – Tiny Reparations Books)

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Quarry’s Blood by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime

On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass (Harlequin Trade Publishing – Graydon House

Or Else by Joe Hart (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)

Cleopatra’s Dagger by Carole Lawrence (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)

BEST FACT CRIME

Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls by Kathleen Hale (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse (Flatiron Books)

Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles (Hachette Book Group – Workman Publishing – Algonquin Books)

American Caliph: The True Story of a Muslim Mystic, a Hollywood Epic, and the 1977 Siege of Washington, D.C. by Shahan Mufti (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)

BEST CRITICAL/BIOGRAPHICAL

The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins – Collins Crime Club)

The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie by Mary Anna Evans & J.C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury – Bloomsbury Academic)

The Crime World of Michael Connelly: A Study of His Works and Their Adaptations by David Geherin (McFarland)

The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story by Andrew Neiderman (Simon & Schuster – Gallery Books)

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)

BEST SHORT STORY

"Red Flag," by Gregory Fallis  in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

"Backstory," by Charles John Harper in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

"Locked-In," by William Burton McCormick in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

The Amnesty Box," by Tim McLoughlin in Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (Akashic Books)

First You Dream, Then You Die," by Donna Moore in Black is the Night (Titan Books)

BEST JUVENILE

The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Beil (Holiday House – Pixel+Ink)

The Area 51 Files by Julie Buxbaum (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada - Tundra Books)

Adventures on Trains: Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Macmillan Children's Publishing - Feiwel & Friends)

Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon (Random House Children's Books Wendy Lamb Books)

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne (Random House Children’s Books – Crown BFYR)

Frightmares by Eva V. Gibson (Random House Children’s Books – Underlined)

The Black Girls Left Standing by Juliana Goodman (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)

The Red Palace by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)

Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph (Sourcebooks – Fire)

BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY

One Mighty and Strong" - Under the Banner of Heaven, Written by Brandon Boyce (Hulu/FX)

Episode 1” – Magpie Murders, Written by Anthony Horowitz (Masterpiece/PBS)

Episode 1" - Karen Pirie, Written by Emer Kenny (BritBox)

When Harry Met Fergus" - Harry Wild, Written by David Logan (Acorn TV)

The Reagan Way" - Blue Bloods, Written by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)

"Eighteen Wheels A Predator" - Law & Order: SVU, Written by Brianna Yellen & Monet Hurst-Mendoza (NBC Universal)

ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD

"Dogs in the Canyon," by Mark Harrison in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

THE SIMON & SCHUSTER 

MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower (Penguin Random House Berkley)

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Never Name the Dead by D.M. Rowell (Crooked Lane Books)

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS 

SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD

Secret Lives by Mark de Castrique (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

An Unforgiving Place by Claire Kells (Crooked Lane Books)

Hideout by Louisa Luna (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group – Doubleday)

Behind the Lie by Emilya Naymark (Crooked Lane Books)

Secrets Typed in Blood by Stephen Spotswood (Knopf Doubleday Publishing 

Doubleday)

THE LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN MEMORIAL AWARD

The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)

Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette (Penguin Random House – Berkley)

Desert Getaway by Michael Craft (Brash Books)

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)


SPECIAL AWARDS

GRAND MASTER

Michael Connelly

Joanne Fluke

RAVEN AWARD

Crime Writers of Color

Eddie Muller for Noir Alley and The Noir Foundation

ELLERY QUEEN AWARD

The Strand Magazine

Thursday, 19 January 2023

In a Lonely Place: Reading Men in Early Twentieth Century Crime Fiction

 

I’ve been a voracious reader of early twentieth crime fiction since childhood. Christie was my Blyton. A firm favourite of ten-year-old Natalie was ‘A Pocketful of Rye.’ I’d fallen a little in love with Lance Fortescue – his charm, his sadness – so the abject cruelty and base misogyny of poor Gladys Martin’s murder still haunts me today. There is nothing cosy about Christie. Read between each genteel line and you will see a world riddled with corruption, or to use a word both Marple and Poirot would be comfortable with – evil.

After Christie, came Sayers and another charmer. Lord Peter Wimsey quoted poetry I neither knew nor understood. His speech was affected, and he wore a monocle. However, I liked him. His cleverness, his devotion to, and passion for, Harriet Vane and his war-born vulnerabilities were all fascinating to me.

I was a good way through a Marjory Allingham reading jag when I discovered the Americans. On film, this time, and to be precise through a BBC Humphrey Bogart season. I devoured the great film noirs – The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, In a Lonely Place – and was mesmerised by the lurking psychological shadows of war, trauma and social change expressed in both imagery and narrative. I read Hammett and Chandler voraciously. Finding the sociopathic carapace of Sam Spade and the Continental Op disturbing and wild, I preferred Philip Marlowe, that sardonic white knight with a patter in similes so impressive they’d make a writer kick a hole through a library window. Marlowe was a man a bookish girl could love.

I’d read In a Lonely Place not too long after I’d seen the Nicolas Rey film. It was a disappointment. I wanted a Byronic Dix and a tale of thwarted love. The man who said: ‘I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me’ and meant it. But the teenage me got a psychopathic, serial killer Dix. And, strangely, I would’ve sworn the novel was written in the traditional American first person, hardboiled style. It’s not. It’s in third person close. If this seems like an overly technical point, please bear with me.

I think there is a psychological theory which says we form our cultural tastes in adolescence. The type of music we enjoy, the films we love, the sports teams we support, we cherish and protect these first loves way into adulthood, dragging them about like Sebastian Flyte does Aloysius.

So, thirty years later when I began to write a Needless Alley, my love letter to the crime fiction of the period, I knew I’d write some form of noir. And I knew I needed to write from the point of view of a man. Men own the night. It’s why femme fatales do their violence by proxy. Women have partial access to the shadowy corners of noir, and the back-alley beatings, dive bars and private clubs which define noir’s (mostly) urban settings. Importantly, I wanted my detective to uncover a corruption he contributed to. But, in all honesty, I’m interested in those men I read as a young woman. The troubled men of interwar crime fiction. War-worn men, brutalised, violent or giddy, outsiders, bookish, perhaps, and in the case of the Americans, desperately lonely. They work alone. They are alone. Marlowe has no Bunter. Sam Spade would let Hastings bleed out from a gunshot to the gut.

So, let’s get technical. How does a woman write this kind of man? The answer for any writer is to learn from the best. Therefore, I revisited In a Lonely Place. The teenage me was premature in her assessment of the novel. It is what the great Megan Abbott calls, ‘a dark, cold gem of a book.’ In Steele, Dorothy B. Hughes uses third person close to enter the mind of a violent rapist and killer, but with enough distance to enable the reader to see the power of the surrounding women. The strength of Laurel and Sylvia lies in what Dix instinctively knows. They can see the true Dix. Something Brub, the LA detective and Dix’s best friend, cannot do. Hughes rejects the intrinsic self-absorption of the first person, with its powerful associated male noir gaze, to give full scope to the women in the story. 

Needless Alley doesn’t have In a Lonely Place’s icy intensity. I don’t think I have that in me. William Garrett is no hard-boiled hero, and, as much as he is complicit in the exploitation of women, he is no misogynist. He’s soft-boiled. His loneliness, and his disfunction, isn’t a protective carapace, but something he finds painful. And during the novel, something he begins to solve. I suppose I humanised the noir detective, fashioned him to suit my purpose. After all, he is mine. And as William’s inner voice says, ‘He never got the hang of men. He prefers the company of women.

Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow (John Murray Press) Out Now

Birmingham, 1933. Private enquiry agent William Garrett, a man damaged by a dark childhood spent on Birmingham's canals, specialises in facilitating divorces for the city's male elite. With the help of his best friend - charming, out-of-work actor Ronnie Edgerton - William sets up honey traps. But photographing unsuspecting women in flagrante plagues his conscience and William heaves up his guts with remorse after every job. However, William's life changes when he accidentally meets the beautiful Clara Morton and falls in love. Little does he know she is the wife of a client - a leading fascist with a dangerous obsession. And what should have been another straightforward job turns into something far more deadly. Drenched in evocative period atmosphere and starring an unforgettable cast of characters, Needless Alley takes the reader from seedy canal-side pubs, to crumbling Warwickshire manor houses, and into the hidden spaces of Birmingham's Queer, bohemian society.

You can follow Natalie Marlow on Twitter @NatalieMarlow2



Why Hackney? By Joe Thomas


When I was a boy, an Irish woman called Lil would clean our house from time to time. Her son, Tony, was older than me, Hackney-born. He became a builder, started off working with our next-door neighbour, Harry, which meant a fair few lunchtimes in the public bar of the Prince of Wales trying to keep up with the older labourers. He’d do odd bits and pieces at ours, too. I was fourteen, I think, when he suggested we go for lunch at a caff on Chatsworth Road. I got in his car – I remember it was very low to the ground – and we drove off. Just past Rushmore, my old school, there were a couple of blokes about Tony’s age waving at him and he pulled over. There was also a young lad with them, younger than me. Wait here, Tony told me, and he got out. I watched the three older blokes in animated conference. When they were finished, Tony and another fella climbed back in, and the other one and the young one got into another car. I remember we drove around for about five minutes before coming to a sudden stop, a teenage boy panicking on the pavement. Engine running, Tony and the bloke jumped out, grabbed the kid, and then pinned him against the wall. The other one and the young one got out of the other car and went over. They were carrying a baseball bat. I could see the young one answering questions, nodding. The teenager handed over a watch, crying. Nothing happened for a moment, and I waited, nervous. What would be the punishment? Clearly this bigger kid had nicked this younger kid’s watch, and the younger kid had got his big brother to sort it out, which he had. Let’s have lunch, then, I was thinking. Then I watched as the teenager was force-fed the watch. He was eating the watch, I realised, eating it. Punishment fitting the crime and all that. In the caff, over bacon, egg, chips, and beans, no one really talked about it, and I certainly never told anyone.

I wanted to write about where I grew up, Hackney, in the late-seventies and eighties. Although White Riot is very much a political novel, it is also hugely personal: I accessed the sights, sounds, and smells of my childhood to try and recreate the sensual experience of it. I thought about how the place changed, who moved away, who stayed, why, who had power, who was disenfranchised, and why.

I’ve never wanted to write a whodunnit; I’ve always wanted to write about place, about fiction based on fact. My fiction addresses the discourses of power and the specificity of crime, why something happened precisely where it did, and is an attempt to illuminate the reasons why. You can strip away the layers of city in a crime narrative.

In the author’s note to her epic French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety, Hilary Mantel writes: ‘The reader may ask how to tell fact from fiction. A rough guide: anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true.’ 

In White Riot, the more outlandish political events, the most shocking violence, the most brazen corruption scams are all real, or based very closely on real-life incidents. It has always seemed to me that real life offers the best structural and societal models around which to thread a fictional narrative. Crime is political, I think, and more politics is criminal than we’d care to admit. 

There’s that old adage: ‘You couldn’t make it up.’ 

More and more, I’m beginning to think that you shouldn’t.

White Riot by Joe Thomas (Quercus Books) Out Now

1978:The National Front is gaining ground in Hackney. To counter their influence, anti-fascist groups launch the Carnival Against Racism in Victoria Park. Observing the event is Detective Constable Patrick Noble, charged with investigating racist attacks in the area and running Spycops in both far-right and left wing groups. As Noble's superiors are drawn further into political meddling, he's inveigled into a plot against the embattled Labour government. 1983: Under a disciplinary cloud after a Spycops op ended in tragedy, Noble is offered a reprieve by an old mentor. He is dispatched in the early hours to Stoke Newington police station, where a young black man has died in suspicious circumstances. This is Thatcher's Britain now, a new world that Noble unwittingly helped to usher in, where racial tensions are weaponised by those in power.

Photo credit: Oliver Holms