Thursday, 19 October 2017

You Can’t Keep a Good Cop Down by Adrian Magson

With all my books I try to use a small element of current or historical facts as a faint (very faint mostly) backdrop – a peg on which to hang the story. This applies equally, whether I’m writing modern-day espionage thrillers or my 1960s French-based Inspector Lucas Rocco crime series.

The first title back in 2010 was Death on the Marais, with a backdrop of wartime memories.  For some of the older characters it was WW2 that formed them and their story, while Rocco is dealing with the aftermath of his own service in France’s lengthy Indochina war in south Vietnam which ended in 1954. For Rocco this is even harder to forget when he is posted from Paris as part of an initiative to spread investigative skills across France to cope with the spread of crime, and he finds himself living in a tiny backwater village and under the command of his former army C.O. Francois Massin, now police Commissaire for the Amiens (Picardie) division.

Having saved Massin’s life by dragging him off the battlefield during the senior officer’s blue funk, Rocco’s presence is clearly an embarrassing irritant Massin would rather forget. But policing is policing and criminals don’t stop for anyone, and the two are obliged to work together until, as Rocco suspects, Massin will be able to get him assigned to some desert posting in the middle of nowhere. For now, a murder in the silent marshland around Rocco’s home base of Poissons-les-Marais carries all the hallmarks of privilege, secrets, links to the wartime Resistance and a VIP with a history in the SOE (Special Operations Executive) which for reasons Rocco has to uncover, he would rather forget.

In Death on the Rive Nord, the backdrop is France’s history with Algeria, and that country’s eventual independence, with immigrants legal and otherwise, and criminals and industrialists trying to make a quick sou out of the situation any way they can.

I used the idea of assassination attempts on President Charles de Gaulle (there were many, all unsuccessful – he really wasn’t popular in some quarters) for the background to Death on the Pont Noir. Playing with the possibility that a certain criminal gang from London, led by twins (I’ll leave it to your imagination), actually got involved in one on these attempts as a cover for a bit of cross-channel larceny, allowed me to bring in an example of British thuggery to mix with the French.

In the fourth of the series, Death at the Clos du Lac, it was France’s expansion and trade with China and/or Taiwan that provided the background, with the kidnap of a wealthy aircraft manufacturer’s wife (a true event) as an attempt by certain opposition parties to derail the talks.

With the latest and fifth in the series – Rocco and the Nightingale – I used (very loosely) France’s connections with Gabon, its former territory in Central Africa. Since achieving independence in 1960, there have been a few changes at the top, one of the most recent being a former development minister, Antoine Bouanga, ousted by rivals and on the run seeking sanctuary outside Amiens.

Rocco is ordered by the Interior Ministry to protect this man, overtly to show goodwill, but as cynics soon point out, because there is trade and money to be made out of the many mineral rights in Gabon, and maybe this man can help if he gets back in.

Part of the backdrop here is personal for Rocco, however, stemming from book 2 – Rive Nord – and the death of a leading Algerian gangster, Samir Farek. Farek’s brother has taken over his brother’s criminal activities in Paris, and wants revenge for Samir’s death. To achieve it he hires a top international assassin to bring Rocco down.

With a cast of regular characters from previous novels, such as Mme Denis, Rocco’s neighbour, the local garde champêtre Claude Lamotte, Commissaire Massin, Detective Desmoulins and, not forgetting the fruit rats in Rocco’s attic, it’s business as usual, but with plenty of action to prove that while this might be a rural backwater, crime is crime the same as it is everywhere else.

Rocco and the Nightingale’ – Lucas Rocco Book 5 – ISBN-10: 0995751013 - October 19, 2017
When a minor Paris criminal is found stabbed in the neck on a country lane in Picardie, it looks like another case for Inspector Lucas Rocco. But instead he is called off to watch over a Gabonese government minister, hiding out in France following a coup. Meanwhile, Rocco discovers that there is a contract on his head taken out by an Algerian gang leader with a personal grudge against him.  Against orders, he follows leads on the original murder case, discovering as he does so that the threats against him are real. When the minister is kidnapped and two replacement guards are shot, it soon becomes apparent that the criminal’s murder, the threats against Rocco and the minister's kidnap are all interconnected...

Buy from the SHOTS A-Store at discounted price!

For more about the author see:

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Barry Award Winners 2017

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the winners of the 2017 Barry Awards last night at the opening session at Bouchercon. Congratulations to all!

Best Novel:
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel:
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (Putnam)

Best Paperback Original:
Rain Dogs, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street)

Best Thriller:
Guilty Minds, by Joseph Finder (Dutton)

Hat Tip Mystery Fanfare

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Macavity Award Winners 2017

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal and friends of MRI. The winners were announced at the opening ceremonies at Bouchercon in Toronto. Congratulations to all.

Best Novel
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel
IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland Books)

Best Short Story
 Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, Wildside Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel
Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Best Nonfiction
Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, Margaret Kinsman (McFarland)

Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Call for Papers: Captivating Criminality 5

Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders
28th – 30th June 2018 - Corsham Court, Bath Spa University, UK

The Captivating Criminality Network is delighted to announce its fifth UK conference. Building upon and developing ideas and themes from the previous four successful conferences, Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre is able to incorporate both traditional ideas and themes, as well as those 
from outside mainstream and/or dominant ways of thinking.

Crime fiction narratives continue to gain in both popularity and critical appreciation. This conference will consider the ways in which writers who work within generic cultural and critical boundaries and those who challenge those seeming restrictions, through both form and content, have influenced each other. Crime fiction, in its widest sense, has benefited from challenges from diverse ‘outsiders’ who in turn shift and develop the genre. This was as true in the early days of the genre as it is today and, as such, we welcome submissions from the early modern to the present day.

A key question that this conference will address is the enduring appeal of crime fiction and its ability to incorporate other disciplines such as History, Criminology, Film, TV, Media, and Psychology. From the sensational’ novelists of the 1860s to today’s ‘Domestic Noir’ narratives, crime fiction has proved itself to be open to challenges and development from historical and cultural movements such as, feminism, gender studies, queer politics, post modernism, metafiction, war, and shifting concepts of criminality. In addition, crime fiction is able to respond to and incorporate changes in political and historic world events. With this in mind, we are interested in submissions that approach crime narratives from the earliest days of crime writing until the present day.

This international, interdisciplinary event is organised by Bath Spa University and the Captivating Criminality Network, and we invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing, to participate in this conference that will address these key elements of crime fiction and real crime. Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

•    Feminist Sleuths (second wave and beyond)
•    The Victorian Lady Detective
•    Femininity and the Golden Age
•    Masculinities
•    Crime and Queer Theory
•    Crime and War
•    The Cozy Crime Novel
•    Victims and Perpetrators
•    Crime Fiction and Form
•    The Prison and Other Institutions
•    Madness and Criminality
•    Technology
•    Film Adaptations
•    Post-Communist Crime Fiction
•    Crime Fiction in Times of Trauma
•    Latin American Crime Fiction and Trauma
•    The Psychological
•    The Detective, Then and Now
•    The Anti-Hero
•    True Crime
•    Contemporary Crime Fiction
•    Victorian Crime Fiction
•    Eighteenth-Century Crime
•    Early Forms of Crime Writing
•    The Golden Age
•    Hardboiled Fiction
•    Forensics and Detection
•    The Body
•    Seduction and Sexuality
•    The Criminal Analyst
•    Others and Otherness
•    Landscape
•    The Country and the City
•    The Media and Detection
•    Adaptation and Interpretation
•    Justice Versus Punishment
•    Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 200 word proposals to Dr. Fiona Peters and Joanne Ella Parsons ( by 3rd February 2018. The abstract should include your name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

Attendance fees:
Full Fee: £180 (£135 if a member of the International Crime Fiction Association)
Reduced Rate (students, ECRs not on a permanent contract/retired): £130 
(£95 if a member of the International Crime Fiction Association)

To join the International Crime Fiction Association please email: 

Full Membership: £20 per annum
Reduced Rate Membership £10 per annum

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Worst Man in the World by Andrew Harris

It was a journey I’d done before. Manchester to Southampton. Six or seven hours depending on the traffic round Birmingham. This time I’d be doing it alone after a long day in the office. I needed to stay awake. Needed to concentrate on something.

It was all planned out. Fill up and grab a sandwich on the M40. Oxford Ring Road, nip down A34, pick up M3 then on to M27. Piece of cake, as one of le Carre’s characters would put it in that laconic, understated style. But I wasn’t to be alone.

As I accelerated onto the M6, I slipped in the first cassette. A soft voice coated in honey positively oozed out of the hidden speakers. I got comfortable and set cruise control.

The Night Manager, written and read by John le Carre.

By the time I’d reached Stoke, the irritating phone calls had stopped. I’d had to re-wind each time so as not to miss a beat. The story was unfolding beautifully, the inflection in le Carre’s voice just enough to denote a different character. It was hypnotic. 

I was there in Switzerland at the hotel with Jonathan Pine when ‘the worst man in the world’ made his entrance. I could see the cavalcade of vehicles parked neatly outside as his entourage swept into the lobby.

Castles of luggage had been disgorged. Passports had been handed over with military precision. Hotel registration forms were being signed by the man who signed; not by the man himself.

Richard Onslow Roper never signed anything.

As I pulled into Warwick Services, I was convinced I was being followed. Was the attendant really working for the service station or was he MI6? Were Roper’s boys tampering with the car while I was in the toilets? I admit, I checked under the wheel arches when I came out and took a long look at the other vehicles and the drivers.

I don’t remember joining the M3. By then I was captured by his sharp descriptive prose – ‘eyes shallow as paint’… ‘cascades of chestnut hair’… ‘the maddening line of her hips’.

The story made me think then as it still does now. In the real world, how do terrorists get hold of the weapons, ammunition, materiel? Or toys, as Roper calls them. Just toys in the game. And that’s what it seems to be – a big game played by willing participants for mutual benefit.

So how and when do good intentions go bad? How can world class security systems, end-user certification processes, rigorous authentication procedures allow arms manufacturers to inadvertently supply weapons to the terrorists trying to destroy our own society?   

Maybe we should ask the real Richard Onslow Ropers out there. Le Carre has such a masterful insight and strong finger on the pulse of international arms dealing that I could well believe he already has.

For me he is the Master of creating crime fiction with a social conscience. I am a disciple and guess I always will be. The man has to live forever. My copy of his new novel, A Legacy of Spies, arrives next week. Another adventure awaits.

Wonder if there’s an audio version? 

A Litany of Good Intentions by Andrew Harris is published 12th October by Faithful Hound, price £12.99

Leading oncologist Dr Hannah Siekierkowski and her partner Lawrence McGlynn are visiting New Delhi for a conference, and enjoying a well-earned break. By chance, they meet Lawrence’s old friend Toby and his passionate daughter Okki, a charity worker. She introduces them to the organisation Sanitation In Action, and its charismatic leader, the young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim.  An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for Jock. Through his charity connections and his fiancée Nisha’s extraordinary scientific breakthrough, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease. Caught up in their passion and energy, Hannah agrees to help present their project at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden.  But with the discovery of a dead body, they realise that someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from achieving Jock’s dream. As the clock ticks down to the conference, Hannah and Lawrence are drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order: a hatred that originates back in the Second World War, with even earlier links to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.