Tag Archives: Ruth Downie

More crime on holiday

I was talking to some library people in Preston at the weekend, and not surprisingly they try to fit in a little adult reading on holiday, since they are honorary teenagers the rest of the time. I would never leave my young books behind when I go away, but do admit to a higher proportion of adult crime for holidays. Not that they are holidays, really. I seem to blog ‘all day long’ wherever I am. 

So, I managed two grown-up crime novels on this latest trip. Roman Ruso I have already told you about, and in the same place as I found Ruth Downie, I also came across Adrian McKinty. I never ask for books for birthdays now, since somehow I don’t seem to need any extra ones, but I did this year, since I was wanting to catch up on Adrian’s books. The dutiful Son has taken it upon himself to provide.

First, then, is Hidden River, and like Fifty Grand it’s mostly set in Colorado, but for all that it’s pretty Irish. Write about what you know is an apt description, since it’s about young man from Carrickfergus ending up in Colorado, and with a little Oxford in the background. Sounds like Adrian himself, except I don’t think he is a disgraced ex-policeman with a drug problem.

Alex Lawson is, however, and he ends up in Colorado trying to solve the murder of his ex-girlfriend Victoria, while looking for heroin to take care of his daily needs. The wealthy, wannabe politician’s set in Denver is not a nice place to be, but everything points in this direction. Interestingly, Adrian tells the reader who ‘did it’ fairly openly, and you get early notice of when people are going to die, or that things will go dramatically pear-shaped. That doesn’t remove any of the suspense.

This is good stuff.

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New friends

Now, I obviously don’t mean that all these illustrious writers are my friends. I’m thinking more along the lines that I’ve had my eyes opened, and my interest has been awakened, and all that. And there are many more that I won’t list here, to avoid boring you as much as one of Saturday’s moderators bored me.

Managed to have a gap Saturday morning, that fitted in well with Stephen Booth, and we had a long fruitful conversation, which only fleetingly dealt with goats. Ruth Downie continues to be very friendly, and so does Kate Ellis. My foreign-ness caused a temporary obstacle with Declan Hughes yesterday morning, but never mind that I came across like an idiot. I am an idiot.

Ian Rankin was wonderful, and thankfully he refrained from singing to us. I was very taken with Rhys Bowen on Friday, and reluctantly revisited Blackwell’s to buy two of her books, for which they proceeded to overcharge me by £8. Will not buy from them again. But anyway, Rhys was lovely when cornered by the witch, and I’m really looking forward to reading her books.

Saturday night offered the big gala dinner, which I felt might be a bit iffy, but I was wrong as usual. Shouldn’t advertise hotels here, but the Marriott Royal have done a good job this weekend, and the dinner was no exception. The dessert could have been smaller, if I must complain. Not all dinners have speeches by Karin Fossum, Jeff Lindsay and Ian Rankin, but this one did.

My new Argentinian granny sat next to me at dinner, and through her I was introduced to a very interesting forensic scientist, and I heard a lot about the mud in Hay.

And whoever it was that did all that drinking in the cocktail bar on my behalf on Friday morning; I hope you enjoyed it. The receptionist was willing to tell me what I’d drunk, but after the first glass the teetotal witch felt dizzy and stopped her. Skål!

More Bristol crime

I still haven’t worked out what I should do with all six pillows I’ve been allocated. It will come to me, I suppose. And after my conversation with Ruth Downie about the minibar, I sincerely hope I won’t be charged for a whisky for each time I get my pint of milk out for a cup of tea. And I’m proud that I can cope nearly every time with my key card, even without Offspring here to help the elderly witch.

The CrimeFest organisers have provided everyone with something for their name badges, which hangs round people’s necks and makes even the toughest crime writer look like a child evacuee. Not me, as I refuse to wear it, and hence nobody knows who I am. They wouldn’t anyway.

I should be used to this by now, but I’m so struck by all these authors behaving like normal people. I had my M&S sandwich sitting on a bench outside the cathedral, thinking that the man sitting opposite me eating a sandwich looked very much like Stephen Booth. No, it can’t be. Yes, it was.

After we had both travelled all the way from Cheshire to Bristol, Kate Ellis and I had a chat in the lounge about her writing. I’ve enjoyed Kate’s Wesley Peterson novels, set in Devon, for years, but always managed to miss her wherever she’s been.

One little gripe would be about Blackwell’s, who sell the books here. They don’t take book tokens. I rarely pay for books these days, so the opportunity to use a book token doesn’t often come along. And it didn’t here, either. There are many ways of losing a customer, and I’d say this counts as one.

After a long day’s listening to panels on various aspects of crime, I found myself having dinner with nine people I’d never met before, and only one of whom, Declan Burke, I knew at all. I strongly suspect he had something to do with the four tealights that turned up along with my dessert, and I know for a fact that Daughter had something to do with it as well.

Lovely people. I even acquired a temporary Argentinian granny from Oklahoma, thanks to a not entirely sober man who claimed to be from Edinburgh. Not with that Glaswegian accent, I’d say.

This seems to be more about food than literature, but as it’s a Saturday, who cares?