Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway

Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway, May 2017, 336 pages, Corsair, ISBN: 1472151305

Reviewed by Michelle Peckham.
(Read more of Michelle's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

A complex mixture of homophobia and racism in the Greenaway Estate, somewhere in Northern Ireland, provides the story for this fourth book from McGilloway, featuring DS Lucy Black. The book starts with a sermon from Pastor Nixon railing against homosexuality, and suggesting that homosexuals should be stoned, and is swiftly followed by the discovery of a body of a man, with his head bashed in by a rock, who turns out to have been homosexual. Alongside this, DS Black and her partner Tom Fleming, are called to the house of the Lupei family, Romanian immigrants, who have had the sign ‘Romans out’ painted on the side of the house. While they are there, Mrs Lupei gives them a leaflet that is being handed out on the Greenway Estate, which refers to Brexit, the chance to get rid of immigrants, and the statement ‘local housing for local people’. Clearly this is a family under threat, and Lucy is worried about potential escalation. Sprinkled into the mix are ‘legal highs’, drugs being sold by someone, with the claim that someone in the Lupei family is involved in selling drugs, strongly denied by Mr and Mrs Lupei. And of course, in the background is the ever-present history of Northern Ireland and the ‘troubles’.

It’s an interesting complex story, characterised by the reluctance of almost everyone involved refusing to talk, or give any information out that might help the police, which makes life difficult for Lucy and Tom, and this reluctance leads to further violence. There are the usual few blind alleys and then an eventual resolution that brings all the threads together, without too many surprises.

The backstory, is that Lucy’s mother is a senior police office, who left her with her father when she was just 8 years old, but as Lucy’s mother uses her maiden name, very few people actually know that the two are related, and Lucy wants to keep it that way. She blames her mother for the family breakup, and remains fiercely loyal to her father, who is now in a care home, suffering from dementia. Lucy is living in her father’s house, and has a lodger called Grace, a street girl that she offered a home to, at the end of the previous book, and is finally coming to terms with her father’s disease. Gradually throughout this story, there is also a softening in relations between Lucy and her mother, which is interesting to watch. However, apart from this, there is almost no other personal backstory of any kind, in contrast to earlier books in the series, and I found this a little disappointing.

The main focus of the book is then directly on Lucy and Tom and their efforts to uncover who is behind the killing of the (initially) unidentified man, and those behind the targeted attacks on the Lupei family. Without giving too much away, there is somewhat of a mixed message about ‘Brexit’, immigrants, and possible links to drugs, which I found somewhat uncomfortable. However, Lucy is strong in her support of the Lupei family, making efforts to help them get rehoused away from the Greenway Estate, where they will be safe. There are sympathetic noises towards the homosexual issue, where it seems particularly difficult for members of the ‘macho’ male community, to openly admit that they are gay, and Lucy determinedly challenges Pastor Nixon on his homophobia. Lucy is a strong, likeable, detective and Tom works well as a sensible, level headed foil to her more headstrong approach. Overall, the book has strong lead characters, a complex story with some surprises, and an interesting mix of prejudices that drive the plot.

Michelle Peckham, May 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Awards News (III) - Theakstons 2017 Shortlist

And finally, the Theakston 2017 Shortlist was also announced on Saturday. From their website:

Six Suspects Announced on the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award Shortlist

The shortlist for crime writing’s most wanted accolade, the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, has been announced.

The most prestigious prize in the crime genre is now entering its 13th year. The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles published by British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback between 1 May 2016 and 30 April 2017.

The 2017 Award is run in partnership with title sponsor T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday.

Essex-based writer Eva Dolan returns to the shortlist for the second year; Tell No Tales was shortlisted in 2016. Her follow-up After You Die is the third book from the author BBC Radio 4 marked as a ‘rising star of crime fiction’. Shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when she was just a teenager, her debut novel Long Way Home, was the start of a major new crime series starring two detectives from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

Mick Herron’s espionage thriller, Real Tigers, is the third in his Jackson Lamb series. It received critical acclaim, with The Spectator saying the novel ‘explodes like a firecracker in all directions’. The series is based on an MI5 department of ‘rejects’ – intelligent services’ misfits and screw-ups, featuring anti-hero Jackson Lamb. Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for ‘the spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.’

Lie With Me, the psychological thriller by Sabine Durrant was a Richard and Judy book pick. Durrant, also a feature writer, is a former assistant editor of The Guardian and former literary editor at The Sunday Times. Full of violent twists, her roguish charmer, Paul Morris, a once acclaimed author now living off friends and feeding them lies, is invited on a Greek holiday and events take a sinister turn. The Guardian praised it as a ‘thriller worthy of Ruth Rendell or Patricia Highsmith.’

Susie Steiner is also a former Guardian journalist. Her first crime novel introduces Detective Manon Bradshaw, working on the high profile missing person’s case of Cambridge post-grad Edith Hind, daughter of Sir Ian and Lady Hind. Can DS Manon Bradshaw wade through the evidence before a missing person inquiry becomes a murder investigation? Missing, Presumed, was a Sunday Times bestseller, a Richard & Judy pick and was praised for its stylish, witty and compelling writing.

Chris Brookmyre
beat stiff competition to win the Scottish crime book of the year award with his novel, Black Widow, a story of cyber-abuse, where ‘even the twists have twists’. It features his long-time character, reporter Jack Parlabane. Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that she had been given the novel as an early Valentine’s Day present by her husband, declaring it ‘brilliant’.

Val McDermid, acknowledged as the ‘Queen of Crime’ has sold over 15m books to date. Her latest number one bestseller, Out of Bounds, features DCI Karen Pirie unlocking the mystery of a 20 year-old murder inquiry. The book is her 30th novel.

The shortlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers and members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee.

The titles will now be promoted in a seven-week promotion in over 1,500 libraries and WHSmith stores nationwide throughout June and July.

The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at www.theakstons.co.uk.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 20 July on the opening night of the 15th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. They’ll receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

It’s also been announced that the awards night will honour Lee Child. The Jack Reacher creator will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, joining past winners Val McDermid, Sara Paretsky, Lynda La Plante, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

Awards News (II) - Petrona & CrimeFest Awards

Last Saturday, in the early evening at the Gala Dinner at CrimeFest in Bristol, the following winners were announced:

Winner of the Petrona Award 2017 was Gunnar Staalesen for Where Roses Never Die translated by Don Bartlett. (Watch the whole presentation ceremony here).

Audible Sounds of Crime Award
WINNER: Clare Mackintosh for I See You, read by Rachel Atkins (Hachette Audio / Isis)

eDunnit Award
WINNER: Laura Lippman for Wilde Lake (Faber & Faber)

H.R.F. Keating Award
WINNER: Barry Forshaw for Brit Noir (Pocket Essentials)

Last Laugh Award
WINNER: Mick Herron for Real Tigers (John Murray)

Best Crime Novel for Children (08 – 12)
WINNER: Robin Stevens for Murder Most Unladylike: Mistletoe and Murder (Puffin)

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults (12 – 16)
WINNER: Simon Mason for Kid Got Shot (David Fickling Books)

Awards News (I) - Dagger Longlists

So many shortlists, longlists and winners were announced over the weekend, I'm going to break it up into several posts.

Firstly we had the CWA Dagger Longlists:

International

A Cold Death - Antonio Manzini tr. Antony Shugaar (4th Estate)
A Fine Line - Gianrico Carofiglio tr. Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)
A Voice In The Night - Andrea Camilleri tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Mantle)
Blackout - Marc Elsberg tr. Marshall Yarbrough (Black Swan)
Blood Wedding - Pierre Lemaitre tr. Frank Wynne (Maclehose Press)
Climate Of Fear - Fred Vargas tr. Siân Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
Death In The Tuscan Hills - Marco Vichi tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Bastards Of Pizzofalcone - Maurizio De Giovanni tr. Antony Shugaar (Europa Editions)
The Dying Detective - Leif G W Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday)
The Legacy Of The Bones - Dolores Redondo tr. Nick Caister & Lorenza Garcia (Harper Fiction)
When It Grows Dark - Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press)

Gold

The Beautiful Dead - Belinda Bauer
Dead Man’s Blues - Ray Celestin
The Girl Before - J P Delaney
Desperation Road - Michael Farris Smith
Little Deaths - Emma Flint
The Dry - Jane Harper
Spook Street - Mick Herron
Sirens - Joseph Knox
Ashes of Berlin - Luke McCallin
The Girl in Green - Derek B. Miller
A Rising Man - Abir Mukherjee
Darktown - Thomas Mullen

Ian Fleming Steel

You Will Know Me - Megan Abbott
Kill the Next One - Frederico Axat
The Twenty Three - Linwood Barclay
The Killing Game - J S Carol
The Heat - Garry Disher
A Hero in France - Alan Furst
We Go Around in the Night Consumed By Fire - Jules Grant
Moskva - Jack Grimwood
The One Man - Andrew Gross
Redemption Road - John Hart
Spook Street - Mick Herron
Dark Asset - Adrian Magson
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly - Adrian McKinty
The Constant Soldier - William Ryan
The Rules of Backyard Cricket - Jock Serong
Jericho’s War - Gerald Seymour
The Kept Woman - Karin Slaughter
Broken Heart - Tim Weaver


John Creasey - New Blood

The Watcher - Ross Armstrong
The Pictures - Guy Bolton
What You Don’t Know - JoAnn Chaney
Ragdoll - Daniel Cole
Sunset City - Melissa Ginsburg
Epiphany Jones - Michael Grothaus
Distress Signals - Catherine Ryan Howard
Himself - Jess Kidd
Sirens - Joseph Knox
Good Me, Bad Me - Ali Land
The Possessions - Sara Flannery Murphy
Tall Oaks - Chris Whitaker

Endeavour Historical

The Devil’s Feast - M.J. Carter
The Coroner’s Daughter - Andrew Hughes
The Black Friar - S.G. MacLean
The Ashes of Berlin - Luke McCallin
The Long Drop - Denise Mina
A Rising Man - Abir Mukherjee
Darktown - Thomas Mullen
By Gaslight - Steven Price
The City in Darkness - Michael Russell
Dark Asylum - E.S. Thomson

Shortlists for the Daggers will be announced later in the summer and the winners will be announced at the Dagger Awards dinner in London on 26 October, for which tickets will be available shortly. Visit www.thecwa.co.uk for more information.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Petrona Award 2017 - Winner

Announcing the winner for:

The 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

On 20 May 2017, at the Gala Dinner at CrimeFest, Bristol, Petrona Award judges Barry Forshaw and Sarah Ward announced the winner of the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

The winner was WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE by Gunnar Staalesen, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett and published by Orenda Books.

The trophy was presented by last year's winner Jørn Lier Horst.

As well as the trophy, Gunnar Staalesen receives a pass to and a guaranteed panel at next year's CrimeFest.

The judges's additional comments on WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE:
Gunnar Staalesen has long been the finest Nordic novelist in the private-eye tradition of the American masters. WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE is both a coruscating and ambitious novel from the veteran writer, and a radical re-working of his customary materials - perhaps the most accomplished entry in the long-running sequence of books about Bergen detective Varg Veum.
The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his generous support of the 2017 Petrona Award.

Watch the live recording of last night's presentation:



Gunnar thanking his translator Don Bartlett:


Barry Foshaw (judge), Gunnar Staalesen, Karen O'Sullivan (publisher), Don Bartlett (translator), Sarah ward (judge), Kat Hall (judge)

Friday, May 19, 2017

CWA International Dagger 2017 - Longlist

The Longlist for the CWA International Dagger 2017 was announced tonight at CrimeFest.

The list includes two Petrona Award winners - Leif GW Persson and Jorn Lier Horst as well as several previous winners of the International Dagger: Andrea Camilleri, Pierre Lemaitre and Fred Vargas.
A Cold Death - Antonio Manzini tr. Antony Shugaar (4th Estate)
A Fine Line - Gianrico Carofiglio tr. Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)
A Voice In The Night - Andrea Camilleri tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Mantle)
Blackout - Marc Elsberg tr. Marshall Yarbrough (Black Swan)
Blood Wedding - Pierre Lemaitre tr. Frank Wynne (Maclehose Press)
Climate Of Fear - Fred Vargas tr. Siân Reynolds (Harvill Secker)
Death In The Tuscan Hills - Marco Vichi tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Bastards Of Pizzofalcone - Maurizio De Giovanni tr. Antony Shugaar (Europa Editions)
The Dying Detective - Leif G W Persson tr. Neil Smith (Doubleday)
The Legacy Of The Bones - Dolores Redondo tr. Nick Caister & Lorenza Garcia (Harper Fiction)
When It Grows Dark - Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear, May 2017, 350 pages, Allison and Busby, ISBN: 0749021802

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Britain is at war. Returned from a dangerous mission onto enemy soil and having encountered an old enemy and the Fuhrer himself along the way, Maisie Dobbs is fully aware of the gravity of the current situation and how her world is on the cusp of great change. One of those changes can be seen in the floods of refugees that are arriving in Britain, desperate for sanctuary from the approaching storm of war. When Maisie stumbles on the deaths of refugees who may have been more than ordinary people, she is drawn into an investigation that requires all her insight and strength.

Running her own private investigation agency, Maisie has plenty of work coming in and is busy with current enquiries when she is approached at her home address by a lady known as Dr Francesca Thomas who explains that she wants to employ Maisie and her firm to try to prevent a murder from happening. Dr Thomas works for the Belgian Government and explains that several thousand refugees fled their country during the Great War and many had settled in the UK, changing their names if appropriate. One Belgian named Frederick Addens, was unfortunately found dead in St Pancras Station in early August, shot in the back of the head.

According to Dr Thomas, Scotland Yard were not too interested in spending a lot of time investigated the death of a foreign national, particularly at a time of heightened security because of the impending war. Dr Thomas said a Detective Inspector Caldwell at Scotland Yard was in charge of the case and Maisie has had dealings with him before. She wants Maisie to look into the case and she will pay all the expenses.

Maisie reluctantly takes up the case and asks her assistants, Billy Beale and Sandra Pickering at her Fitzroy Square, London W1 office address to look into various aspects of it immediately. Using all the skills that she has picked up in over ten years of investigations Maisie soon sets to work in solving this latest case. Maisie also has to look into a couple of other cases which are similarly quite complex but this adds to the enjoyment of this very gripping story.

Jacqueline Winspear is a very gifted author of historical mystery thrillers and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to review her latest work. I have read for review several of her previous books and consequently I appreciate the very detailed research that the author makes when plotting her stories. You really get a good sense of what daily life was like in the 1930s. This is a very high quality story with very good characterisation of Maisie, Billy and the other lesser characters which are so insightful that they just leap off of the page.

I enjoyed reading this story immensely and I do look forward to reading more of the highly intriguing adventures of Maisie from this very idiosyncratic and evocative writer. Extremely well recommended.

Terry Halligan, May 2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The CWA & Libraries

I've recently had two press releases from the CWA regarding their connection to libraries. Firstly, the shortlist for the Dagger in the Library has been announced:

The Dagger in the Library is a prize for a body of work by a crime writer that users of libraries particularly admire. It is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the UK and previous winners include Elly Griffiths, Christopher Fowler, Sharon Bolton, Belinda Bauer, Alexander McCall Smith, Stephen Booth, Peter Robinson and Lindsey Davis.

The CWA, in discussion with its 2017 partners, The Reading Agency, revised the 2017 Dagger in the Library format so that, uniquely among crime-writing awards, only library staff were able to nominate authors. Nominations were received from 175 libraries across the UK and Ireland. The CWA worked with The Reading Agency, local libraries and the Crime Readers’ Association to promote novels from the longlisted authors to reading groups nationwide and feedback received from reading groups via Reading Groups for Everyone was a major factor in the judges’ shortlisting.
Here is the Shortlist:
Kate Ellis

Tana French

Mari Hannah

James Oswald

C J Sansom

Andrew Taylor
For more information about the authors, please visit: http://daggerreads.co.uk/dagger-in-the-library/

The winner will be announced at a short reception to immediately follow the Bodies from the Library event at the British Library on Saturday 17 June, promptly at 5.30pm.

More details about Bodies from the Library and ticket information can be found here: https://bodiesfromthelibrary.com/

And secondly, Ruth Dudley Edwards has been appointed as the CWA's Libraries Champion:
The Crime Writers’ Association has appointed its first Libraries Champion, Ruth Dudley Edwards. Ruth and the CWA will work with libraries nationwide to support the public library network, promote the value of reading for people of all ages and from all backgrounds, and promote crime writing.

Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said, “Ruth Dudley Edwards is the ideal person to lead this exciting initiative. The CWA already has strong links with libraries throughout the country. Our annual Dagger in the Library award has been highly prized for 20 years, and June sees National Crime Writing Month, with crime writers appearing at libraries throughout Britain, as well as our Alibis in the Archive conference at Gladstone’s Library, near Chester.

“Ruth is an award-winning crime novelist and writer of non-fiction, and her fearless journalism commands respect internationally. She will be a passionate and effective advocate for libraries and for the value of books in all communities.”

Ruth Dudley Edwards said: “I’m delighted to have this chance to build on the already close relationship CWA members enjoy with librarians throughout the United Kingdom. I’ve never met a crime writer who didn’t love libraries.”

Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, and Strategic Lead on Libraries, Galleries and Culture for Manchester City Council said: “I am delighted to welcome Ruth as the Libraries Champion and look forward to developing opportunities and programmes for SCL & public libraries to work with the CWA to promote reading and libraries.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Free TV Episodes on Amazon (II)


It's back - Amazon.co.uk are repeating their offer of making the first episode available to "buy" for free, this time in 62 TV series - you can download as well as stream.

The list includes Scandi favourites such as Beck, Borgen, The Bridge, The Legacy, Occupied and additionally 1864, Modus, The Protectors, The Team and Follow the Money. Also included are: French series Braquo ; Israeli series Hostages; Polish series The Border; Belgian series The Outlaws and the Australian series The Code.

British series include Happy Valley, Hinterland, Luther, The Missing (II) and Shetland.

Browse the whole list on Amazon.