Tuesday, 24 May 2016

I killed Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is a character whose time has come.  It’s odd to say that of a figure who’s been popular ever since his creation, in the 19th century, but then he was an epitome, and now he’s an outlier.  Holmes was the perfect Victorian gentleman, the classical idea of rationality utterly in control of passion.  People forget, but in his original form he was also sociable, partaking of the arts, very much part of his civilisation.  His drug-taking was not illegal. His status as a confirmed bachelor not at all unusual. He was not an eccentric, but, as the years went by and the world changed around him, and a hat only used for long walks in the cold of the country got stuck to his head even when he went to the opera, he became one. 

But the world around him was changing in other ways too. The rationality that Holmes represented became increasingly challenged by irrationality, in the form of everything from heartfelt belief to the power of the big lie and the amplification of social media.  So now the myth of the perfectly rational being who is able to see society as just a string of equations (and modern people are aware in their bones of how chaos theory says it can’t be reduced to that), who is a human Snopes or Mythbusters, able to deduce, rather than pursue or break or intuit, the right answer…well, that’s now incredibly attractive.

So of course I had to kill him. In the world of my Shadow Police novels, ghosts are the memories of all Londoners, living and dead, made manifest, at least to those with ‘The Sight’.  They include fictional and mythological characters, as well as the deceased.  So when I came up with the title Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? it all fell into place.  In the book, the ghost of Holmes, a flickering conglomeration of every different version of him, is found, still intangible, face down in the Museum at 221b Baker Street, with a ceremonial dagger in his back. My down to earth Metropolitan Police heroes have to initially ask themselves an almost existential question: what does it mean to murder a ghost? Is it connected to whoever’s re-enacting the crimes from the Conan Doyle stories, in order, at their original locations? And is the fact that three different Holmes productions are all filming in town at once? (Allowing me some fond satire of the modern Holmes industry.)

Along the way, we cover a lot of what makes Holmes relevant today, from the point of view of actors, detectives, even other fictional characters. I hope the novel both forms part of the current Sherlockmania and comments on it. Holmes may be dead, but he’s also very much alive.

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? is published by TOR UK on 19/07/2016 TOR.

Someone has murdered the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. But who is responsible - and will the murderer strike again? A small team of Met detectives with the ‘Sight’ find themselves assigned to this twisty new investigation. Quill and his team pursue a criminal genius, who lures them into a Sherlockian maze of too many clues and too much evidence, while also battling their own, and all too real, demons. It looks like the game is afoot…

Paul Cornell has been Hugo-nominated for his work in TV, comics and prose, and is a BSFA award-winner for short fiction. He has also written some of Doctor Who’s best-loved episodes for the BBC, and has more recently written for the Sherlock-inspired TV show Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.  He lives in Gloucestershire. Find out more www.paulcornell.com and @paul_cornell.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The 2016 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

On 21 May 2016, at the Gala Dinner at CrimeFest, Bristol, Petrona Award judges Barry Forshaw,  Katharina Hall and Sarah Ward announced the winner of the 2016 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

The winner was THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst translated by Anne Bruce and published by Sandstone Press.

The trophy was presented by last year's winner Yrsa Sigurdardottir to Jorn Lier Horst's representative, Robert Davidson of Sandstone Press. Mr Davidson read out the following remarks from Jorn Lier Horst:

This is the fourth Petrona Award and I feel highly honoured to follow Liza Marklund, Leif GW Persson, and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. I am also very grateful to the jury for the trouble they have taken, for their expert knowledge and their commitment over the years. They pay great tribute to their late colleague, Maxine Clarke, whose memory is perpetuated in this most suitable of ways.

Our present time will be referred to in future as the ‘Golden Age of Scandinavian Crime Literature’. Never before have so many Scandinavian authors written so many good crime novels, with a vitality and quality that not only attracts readers worldwide but also enhances the whole crime genre. In such a time it is especially an honour to receive the Petrona Award, particularly gratifying and a source of great pride. Thank you.

Mr Davidson added: This is yet another recognition of a very fine author. More than just a crime writer, Jorn Lier Horst is a novelist who has extended beyond his genre. I would like also to pay tribute to his translator, Anne Bruce. All of us at Sandstone Press are very proud to be the publishers of this great series.

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

The judges's comments on THE CAVEMAN:

THE CAVEMAN is a gripping police procedural drawing on Jorn Lier Horst’s experiences as a murder detective. All the books in the 'William Wisting' series have had compelling narratives and THE CAVEMAN is no exception, exploring a Norwegian society where, in a supposedly close-knit community, a man can lie dead at home unnoticed and unmourned for weeks. Excellent plotting, well-drawn characters and writing of the highest quality make this book a worthy winner of the 2016 Petrona Award.

Pace in Crime Novels

One of the things that makes a crime novel is pace. Tension is created by a sense of danger, and then the speed at which the danger resolves. 

The best crime writers are masters of economy. James Ellroy’s terse sentences in LA Confidential aren’t just a kind of grammatical puritanism, they’re a way of getting to the point of the action. In an interview with Paris Review Ellroy explained, 'Because, the story was violent, and full of action, I saw the value of writing in a fast, clipped style. So I cut every unnecessary word from every sentence.’ 

I’m a big Simenon fan too. His was a kind of painterly minimalism for whom a tiny detail could form an entire character sketch -  ‘the black commas’ of a man’s moustache, the lines on a naked woman’s body from where her clothes had been too tight, a celluloid protector for a traveller’s necktie. Simenon knew the value of getting the reader where they need to be fast, and without flourish. "Adjectives, adverbs, and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence—cut it. Every time I find such a thing in one of my novels it is to be cut,” he once said.

Elmore Leonard, another genius of pace, famously wrote his 10 Rules for Writing. Number 10 was, ‘Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.’ 

But sometimes you have to breathe, surely? By the time Ellroy wrote The Cold Six Thousand his quest for economy had become so extreme it became comical. "''They got close. They dropped guns off. They shot inland. They torched huts.”               

The thing about speed is you only notice how fast you’ve been going when you slow down. What makes roller coasters scary isn’t just the speed of the drop, it’s the pause before the decent. It is those moments of stillness, when the readers sensible something terrible is going to happen, but the characters in the book, going about their daily lives, don’t. The Birdwatcher is set in Dungeness. It’s a beautiful place of eerie calm. My main character is an ordinary, neighbourhood officer who enjoys the simple tasks of looking for stolen lawnmowers and attending community meetings. The wide shingle beach is extraordinarily beautiful in autumn, when sunlight cracks through low dark cloud. It’s a place where the birdwatchers gather to witness the beautiful migrations that take place each season. And what could possibly go wrong in a place like that? 

The Birdwatcher by William Shaw, is out now by Quercus Publishing (£12.99)
Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder
investigation. He is a murderer himself. But the victim was his only friend; like him, a passionate birdwatcher. South is warily partnered with the strong-willed Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, newly recruited to the Kent coast from London. Together they find the body, violently beaten, forced inside a wooden chest. Only rage could kill a man like this. South knows it. But soon - too soon - they find a suspect: Donnie Fraser, a drifter from Northern Ireland. His presence in Kent disturbs William - because he knew him as a boy. If the past is catching up with him, South wants to meet it head on. For even as he desperately investigates the connections, he knows there is no crime, however duplicitous or cruel, that can compare to the great lie of his childhood. Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

You can find more information about William Shaw and his books on his website.

Follow him on Twitter @william1shaw

Find him on Facebook

Friday, 20 May 2016

CWA Dagger Long lists

Debut Dagger Longlist

Sponsored by Orion Books

Dark Valley by John Kennedy

Death by Dangerous by Oliver Jarvis

The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

Hardways by Catherine Hendricks

Let’s Pretend by Sue Williams

Misconception by Jack Burns

A Reconstructed Man by Graham Brack

A State of Grace by Rita Catching

The Tattoo Killer by Joe West

Wimmera by Mark Brandi

Dagger in the Library Longlist

RC Bridgestock published by Caffeine Nights

Tony Black published by Black & White

Alison Bruce published by Constable & Robinson

Angela Clarke published by Avon

Charlie Flowers published by Endeavour Press

Elly Griffiths published by Quercus

Keith Houghton published by Thomas & Mercer

Quintin Jardine published by Headline

Louise Phillips published by Hachette

Joe Stein published by Ward Wood

Short Story Dagger Longlist

As Alice Did by Andrea Camilleri (from Montalbano's First Cases) published by Pan Macmillan

On the Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier by John Connolly (from Nocturnes 2: Night Music) published by Hodder and Stoughton

Holmes on the Range: A Tale of the Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository by John Connolly (from Nocturnes 2: Night Music) published by Hodder and Stoughton

Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman by Christopher Fowler (from London's Glory) published by Bantam

Stray Bullets by Alberto Barrera Tyszka (from Crimes) published by MacLehose Press

Rosenlaui by Conrad Williams (from The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty: The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes’s Nemesis edited by Maxim Jakubowski), published by Constable & Robinson

International Dagger Longlist 

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango (translated by Imogen Taylor), published by Simon & Schuster

The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaître (translated by Frank Wynne), published by MacLehose Press

Icarus by Deon Meyer (translated by K L Seegers), published by Hodder & Stoughton

The Sword of Justice by Leif G.W. Persson (translated by Neil Smith), published by Doubleday

The Murderer in Ruins by Cay Rademacher (translated by Peter Millar), published by Arcadia

The Father by Anton Svensson (translation not credited), published by Sphere

The Voices Beyond by Johan Theorin (translated by Marlaine Delargy), published by Transworld

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama (translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davis), published by Quercus

Non-Fiction Dagger Longlist

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards published by HarperCollins

Sexy Beasts: The Hatton Garden Mob by Wensley Clarkson published by Quercus

You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat)
by Andrew Hankinson, published by Scribe

A Very Expensive Poison by Luke Harding published by Faber & Faber

Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories by Thomas Grant published by John Murray

John le Carré: The Biography by Adam Sisman published by Bloomsbury

Endeavour Historical Dagger Longlist

Sponsored by Endeavour Press

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby published by Pan Books

A Death in the Dales by Frances Brody published by Piatkus

A Man of Some Repute and A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson published by Thomas & Mercer

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths published by Quercus

The Last Confessions of Thomas Hawkins by Antonia Hodgson published by Hodder & Stoughton

The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr published by Quercus

A Book of Scars by William Shaw published by Quercus

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith published by Lion Fiction

Striking Murder by A. J. Wright published by Allison & Busby

Stasi Child by David Young published by Twenty7Books

John Creasey New Blood Dagger Longlist

Fever City by Tim Baker published by Faber & Faber

Dodgers by Bill Beverly published by No Exit Press

Mr Miller by Charles Den Tex published by World Editions

The Teacher by Katerina Diamond published by Avon

Wicked Game by Matt Johnson published by Orenda Books

Freedom's Child by Jax Miller published by HarperCollins

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh published by Jonathan Cape

The Dark Inside by Rod Reynolds published by Faber & Faber

The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle published by Viking

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Longlist

Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications

The Cartel by Don Winslow published by William Heinemann

The English Spy by Daniel Silva published by HarperCollins

Bone by Bone by Sanjida Kay published by Corvus

Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty published by Serpent’s Tail

Real Tigers by Mick Herron published by John Murray

The Hot Countries by Timothy Hallinan published by Soho Crime

Black Eyed Susans by Julia Hearberlin published by Michael Joseph

Make Me by Lee Child published by Bantam Press

Spy Games by Adam Brookes published by Sphere

The American by Nadia Dalbuono published by Scribe UK

Goldsboro Gold Dagger Longlist

Sponsored by Goldsboro Books

Dodgers by Bill Beverly published by No Exit Press

Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre published by Little Brown

After You Die by Eve Dolan published by Harvill Secker

Real Tigers by Mick Herron published by John Murray

Finders Keepers by Stephen King published by Hodder & Stoughton

Dead Pretty by David Mark published by Mulholland Books

Blood Salt Water by Denise Mina published by Orion

She Died Young by Elizabeth Wilson published by Serpent's Tail

CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

The Art of Imperfection by Sue Dawes

The Blockage by Ian Cowmeadow

The Box-Shaped Mystery by Peter Guttridge

Echolalia by Ilana Lindsey
Faceless Killer by Christine Poulson

Gardyloo by Ian Moore

The Litter Artist by Marian Cox

Mrs Pepys Detective and the Cheape-side Thief by Cara Cooper
Not Quite Nice by Shona MacLean
Requiem Island by Mirandi Riwoe
Safe as Houses by Scott Hunter

Through a Glass Darkly by Elizabeth Heery

The Winner of the Margery Allingham Short Story Competition - 

The Box-Shaped Mystery
by Peter Guttridge