Category Archives: Crime

This year’s Bloody [Scotland] plans

If you thought that rubbing shoulders with crime writers at the Coo in Stirling, during the Bloody Scotland weekend in late September, sounds like fun, you can forget it. The event sold out in no time at all.

But there’s other daft stuff you could do, unless you delay so that these other events also sell out. Personally I fear this might happen more than I’d find convenient. You know, I don’t want to commit just yet. But I don’t want to be left without, either.

Bloody Scotland

There’s more than one event where crime writers do something else, like sing. Or pretend to be a television quiz show. There is even a musical, written by Sophie Hannah and Annette Armitage, which to begin with I believed to last seven and a half hours, but it’s just two ‘sittings’ so to speak. Or there’s the cast and crew of Agatha Raisin. You can go to the football. I haven’t yet, but there is no saying how long I can hold out.

If you fancy more ‘ordinary’ events where authors talk about their books, look no further. Bloody Scotland has a lot of them. I see James Oswald has a new detective. (I don’t like change!) There’s an event on breaking barriers with three Asian authors and one Icelandic one. Or there are more Icelanders in a separate event, if you prefer.

They have Swedes. Well, they have one real Swede, Christoffer Carlsson, from my neck of woods. He’s nice. Although not so sure about his murders. Then there is a French fake Swede, but who writes about Falkenberg, which I highly approve of. And someone else foreign who at least lives in Sweden.

It’s 2018, so violence against women has to be addressed. Our favourite pathologist is coming back. So is Pitch Perfect, where they let the hopefuls in. The Kiwis are coming, and Chris Brookmyre has got a new name as he writes with his wife.

They also offer some of the biggest names in the business, but you’ll need to read the rest of the programme yourselves. And come and see the torchlit procession on the Friday night!

Bloody Scotland Torchlight Procession

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Kat Wolfe Investigates

This was such a fun book to read! I loved it!

Lauren St John puts her heroine Kat and Kat’s vet Mum in a somewhat bad situation, after which they decamp to Dorset, the way you always do in a good ‘let’s start a new life’ crime story. In Dorset it is beautiful and friendly and they feel they have ended up in just the right place.

Within hours odd things start happening, and Kat is the kind of 12-year-old who investigates. She’s also an animal person, so meets ‘all’ the village pets immediately on arriving, gets to know the nice people of Bluebell Bay, and finds a best friend in no time at all. Just as well, since there is much to investigate.

Kat is someone most of us have at some time hoped to be, and this book is the story we wanted to write when we tried our hand at ‘a Blyton’ and Bluebell Bay is definitely the place we want to go and live in.

There are bad guys and there are seriously bad guys. We have the army nearby and the Minister of Defence plays his part, as do the secret services of several countries. And there are animals, a ditzy American professor and his computer geek daughter Harper, Kat’s new best friend and partner in crime [solving]. Wolfe and Lamb, they call themselves. And where would you be without a librarian?

I know I will have to wait until next year for book no. two about these clever girls. But I don’t want to.

Unusually, for a book for this age group, a great cover and chapter illustrations, by Beidi Guo.

Lauren St John, Kat Wolfe Investigates

Five from my childhood

A recent meme on social media to put up cover images of your favourite books had me doing absolutely nothing. Nothing, except looking to see what people would put there. It was interesting. Illuminating, might be a better word.

I assume that the actual cover images they used were of the particular edition they had read and liked, many years ago. It made me think about how important that first cover is; the one where you discovered something new and wonderful.

I wonder if you could do that, but hate the cover? I don’t know. Thank you, H Baldorf Berg for giving life to my early adventures. Nothing out there beats them.

Enid Blyton, Fem söker en skatt

I know I loved discovering Fem söker en skatt, aka Five on a Treasure Island, by Enid Blyton. Despite me starting with the film, I was nevertheless enchanted by the cover of the book Mother-of-witch let me have soon after.

They were too expensive for me to buy, at the age of seven. I suspect that after the first one, I only got more Blytons for birthdays and Christmas. And we borrowed from each other at school.

The cloth spine is rather frayed, and the colour has faded much more than the other books in the same style, presumably indicating I not only read this one almost to pieces, but that it had a head start in the bleaching process.

It cost five kronor 50 öre, which was a lot for a child who received one krona pocket money per week. But I reckon Mother-of-witch got her investment back, because where would I be today without that first book?

Enid Blyton, Fem söker en skatt

I own maybe five of the Five books, plus a few of the other series. As you can see, I crossed off the books as I read them. I must have felt it was OK to do this. And even though it looks like I didn’t read all the books, it’s more likely I stopped crossing the titles out on the backs of my books at some point.

I read them all.

Crimetimes

The Gothenburg book fair has joined forces with Crimetimes, which I believe used to be its own separate book festival. And here, well before the main book fair programme, is the programme for crime fans, for the Saturday and Sunday, 29th and 30th September.

They have both the full seminars, as well as the shorter 20-minute sessions, into which it is possible to pack a surprising amount of book stuff. I know, because the ones I’ve been to have used their time really well, and small is at least as good as big.

You can also buy a crime pass, which will work like the book fair pass, except covering only the crime, and being a little cheaper.

Most of the authors are Swedish, but since they are all the rage right now, that should make it all the more exciting. Except possibly for the fact that you will need a crash course in the language first. You have four months!

(For apostrophe purists, there is an event on “do’s and dont’s…” It’s so hard.)

Jessica Fellowes and Donna Leon are among the English language authors, and among the Swedes you get Håkan Nesser, Camilla Läckberg, Lars Kepler and many more. You also get some very capable chairs/moderators.

It’s never too early to plan ahead. Well, it could be, but now is not it. I hope you already have a hotel room booked, because if not…

Murder at the Grand Raj Palace

In Vaseem Khan’s fourth crime novel about his detective, ex-Inspector Chopra and his lovely elephant, Baby Ganesh, we go to Mumbai’s finest hotel, the Grand Raj Palace, which has served its wealthy guests for a hundred years. It’s my dream kind of place!

And also Poppy’s, Mrs Chopra. We think alike on so much, although here Poppy is concerned with how best to mark her silver wedding day, and how to do it in the company of her husband, when all he seems to do is solve murders.

Vaseem Khan, Murder at the Grand Raj Palace

Is it a murder though? The American billionaire appears to have committed suicide. Chopra thinks not, and sets about to prove murder, and to find who did it. Meanwhile, Poppy finds herself her own wedding-related mystery, also at the Grand Raj, which satisfies her greatly. Irfan and Ganesha come along to help, and what can be more natural at a grand hotel than to have your own elephant with you?

Chopra wades around in the murky Mumbai arts world, and Poppy makes a royal friend. Great women think alike.

This book is even more fun, and thought-provoking, than Vaseem’s earlier novels. You learn much about life in India, in Mumbai and elsewhere, and you do so while almost not noticing. And there is the humour; between them Poppy and Ganesha have got it covered.

Luckily there was very little food described this time, so I didn’t get too hungry. It was mostly just the one samosa, eaten burger-style in a bun, which sounds truly unhealthily appetising.

Bodies in libraries

What was I thinking?

My mind works fast – occasionally – when coming up with ideas. And then it forgets again. I took this picture waiting for my train recently, to remind me what I was thinking. That worked well, didn’t it?

The Body in the Library bag

I believe I mused a little on my long ago reading of Agatha Christie. Because nearly all of it happened forty to fifty years ago, and I’ve not re-read much. I decided I couldn’t remember who dunnit in the library. Or who died, for that matter. The body will not be the same as the one in the vicarage, where there was also a murder.

Decided I could look it up, and then decided against. Just in case I happen to read the book again, any time soon. Or, for that matter, if it turns up on television, like that Ordeal by Innocence the other week. I gather one way of dealing with well known novels being adapted for the screen is to change the plot and the ending. In which case there is only annoyance for anyone with a good memory, or a recent encounter with Wikipedia.

So, looking on the bright side, I could have a brand new reading experience by reading The Body in the Library again, purely through poor memory and the passing of a lot of time. Or, I could have that anyway, by watching the BBC do their stuff. As long as it’s retro, who cares?

My apologies to the lady with the bag. I just liked the look of such a well-used bag, illustrating such a well-known crime novel.

More George, and more Duffy

Great news on the crime front!

Today sees the publication of the fifth George McKenzie novel by Marnie Riches, The Girl Who Got Revenge. It’s ‘only’ the ebook today, but don’t despair. On May 3rd we get the whole collected George on paper for the first time! I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to that. Except I just did. Sort of.

Marnie Riches, The Girl Who Got Revenge

I imagine Marnie is equally pleased to see her first crime babies in actual print, after her Born Bad series which came last year.

I will get back to you when I’ve read about George’s revenge.

And on the Irish front, it seems we are to be rewarded with three more Duffy novels from Adrian McKinty. I had suspected the worst, but it would appear that Duffy didn’t sail into a permanent sunset after all. In fact, with news of three books, I will dare hope, and expect, that Sean Duffy lives through at least two and a half of them.

Adrian McKinty

So, plenty more Irish history for Duffy to solve crimes in, and no one could be happier than I am. Not sure how long a wait there will be, but it will be worth it.

Good news too for the Resident IT Consultant who has belatedly begun reading all six books. Don’t know what took him so long!