Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Laura Wilson Wins the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger

It was third time lucky for Laura Wilson has she picked up the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award 2008 for her novel Stratton’s War (Orion). The event was held in London's Fitzrovia last night (27th October) which was attended by fellow writers, critics, and industry people. David Shelley, editor at Little Brown publishers and Janet Laurence (Ellis Peters judge and author) presided over the events, and it was Janet's honour to read out the results.

This year's list was a very strong one, and when asked if I could predict the winner, it was impossible. The other shortlisted novels were: The Death Maze by Ariana Franklin (Bantam Press); A Quiet Flame by Philip Kerr (Quercus); Death on a Branch Line by Andrew Martin (Faber); Revelation by C J Samson (Macmillan) and Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor (Michael Joseph).

The judges also released an unprecedented extended long list of books that just missed out on the shortlist. These were Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles (Allison & Busby); A Mortal Curiosity by Ann Granger (Headline); Inspector Ghote's First Case by H R F Keating (Allison & Busby); and A Vengeful Longing by R N Morris (Faber).

Congratulations to Laura and to the other authors.

A slide show of the photos taken that evening will be over on the main Shots Ezine shortly.


by Ali Karim

One the most difficult conversations I had during Bouchercon Baltimore last month was with US novelist Louise Ure. We took some time out to talk about our friend, antique dealer and writer of the Molly Doyle mysteries, Elaine Flinn. We spoke at how much we missed her not being with us at Baltimore. We also knew that she was terminally ill, so we were also worried about her and how her family would cope during this difficult time. There was a terrifying finality in our conversation as we knew that the prognosis was not good, but we agreed that Elaine was a fighter and we would pray for her and her family.

You see Louise Ure’s debut novel “Forcing Amaryllis was first introduced to me by Elaine Flinn during the inaugural ITW Thrillerfest held in the summer of 2006 in Phoenix Arizona. This was typical of Elaine, always pushing other people’s work to writers, reviewers and readers. She was always at the centre of the laughter at any conference.

So how did I first meet Elaine Flinn?

Louise Ure like myself, with fellow critics Dave Montgomery and Larry Gandle were judges for the inaugural ITW Thriller Awards, hence had spent much time emailing each other during the judging process. Though I knew David and Larry well (having met up with them at Bouchercon in 2003), I had never met Elaine Flinn. After a most difficult journey from London; when I arrived at The Arizona Biltmore Hotel I walked into the bar and the first thing I heard as “Ali’s arrived!” and it was Elaine Flinn who sprang up from her chair and gave me a huge hug. My travel stress just evaporated with that embrace. I enjoyed hanging out with Elaine during that weekend. She was so full of energy, fun and her laugh infectious. Just thinking about her today puts a smile on my face. At Thrillerfest, she even insisted on me joining her table at the ITW awards banquet with Larry Gandle and David Montgomery. She saved a seat for me and placed me next to one of my literary heroes F. Paul Wilson [as she knew that ‘The Keep’ was one of my all-time favourite novels]. She was just so thoughtful.

She championed many writers, helped people - but the greatest memory I have was when in New York with Mike Stotter the following year for the second Thrillerfest Conference. I pulled out a copy of “Deadly Vintage” a terrific mystery featuring her alter-ego Molly Doyle.

I asked Elaine if she would sign it for me as I absolutely loved the book. In typical Flinn fashion she said “Oh that’s so sweet, but I thought you only read noir?” I told her that “Deadly Vintage” was just wonderful, and she blushed and beamed replying simply “Thank you Ali, but more importantly thank you for introducing me to Nick Stone, you were right, “Mr. Clarinet” was one of my favourite books.” Again, typically Elaine was always supporting other writers.

My editor at January Magazine, novelist Linda Richards summed up her work robustly.

"A former San Francisco Bay area antiques dealer, Flinn dreamed up a sleuth with whom she had a great deal in common. Carmel, California, antiques dealer Molly Doyle was introduced in Dealing in Murder. Flinn’s 2003 debut novel was nominated for the Agatha, Gumshoe, Barry, and Anthony awards in its publication year.
In 2004, Flinn’s follow-up novel, Tagged for Murde
r, won the Barry Award. Two more Molly Doyle novels would follow--Deadly Collection in 2005 and Deadly Vintage just last year. And though all of Flinn’s novels were well-received and her Molly Doyle novels earned her a dedicated following, the author was nearly as well known for her vibrant presence in the mystery community.
Flinn was one of the founding members of the Anthony Award-nominated blog, Murderati. It was during her time at Murderati that Flinn developed the Evil-E persona for which she came to be so well-known."

Molly Doyle Mysteries by Elaine Flinn

  1. Dealing in Murder (2003)
  2. Tagged for Murder (2004)
  3. Deadly Collection (2005)
  4. Deadly Vintage (2007)

Elaine Flinn passed away on Saturday 25th October 2008 from medical complications due to pneumonia and cancer. She will be remembered by many of us who had the pleasure of reading her work, as well as just being in her presence.

Coda from Mike Stotter

I only had the pleasure of meeting Elaine the once at the 2007 Thriller Fest when we gathered for an evening meal. Of course I had known her by reputation and her writing. The meal was one of the highlights of the weekend, very informal, very funny and, needless to say, very alcoholic, which I’m sure you can gather from the photo. I’m sure each of us who attended came away with something memorable from the evening. I found Elaine a very gracious and witty person. It is a shame that or paths will never cross again. RIP Elaine.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Ayo's Bouchercon 2008 Roundup

As promised I have to round up what happened on Saturday and Sunday in one post. So many things were happening that I was not able to send anything off to my erstwhile editor on Saturday evening. Anyway, one would have thought that with the panels starting at 8:30 each morning that there would be a lack of faces in the audience. However this has not been the case from the start of the conference. Every morning each of the panels have had a huge attendance and Saturday was no exception, despite the fact that many were out partying until late.

Those of you who are fans of Lee Child and Zoë Sharp will recognise the name Frances Neagley. During the conference, I got the chance to meet the real life Frances Neagley and she was such a lovely person to meet.

The business side of publishing got an airing on Saturday with the panel Taking Care of Business: the business side of publishing. Amongst the panel members were publicist Maggie Griffin, freelance writer Sarah Weinman, Ben LeRoy of Bleak House Books and agent David Hale Smith, while web designer Madeira James moderated. A panel of international authors also took the audience on a jaunt around the world with their panel Been around the World: travel the globe with Janet and friends. Charles Benoit, Jason Goodwin, Arnaldur Indridason and Michael Stanley discussed the pros and cons of writing books set in another country from where they lived and, in the case of Jason Goodwin, in another period. The panel was excellently moderated by Janet Rudolph of Mystery Readers International and Mystery Readers Journal fame.

Even though the conference was being held in Baltimore that great city New York was not left out. In a panel called New York State of Mind: why New York is such a great place to write about, authors Ira Berkowitz, Parnell Hall, Lawrence Light, Jonathan Santlofer and Richard Stevenson, along with moderator Jason Starr, discussed the reasons why they enjoy writing about the Big Apple.

Two really great panels also took place in the morning. In Hooked on Classics authors Gary Phillips, Christa Faust and Max Allan Collins spoke about their favourite classic crime writers. Whilst Christa Faust spoke about Richard Prather, it was no surprise that Gary Phillips spoke about Chester Himes, and for those who know Max Allan Collins it would have come as no revelation to hear him talk about Mickey Spillane. The other panel was Private Eyes: Why would someone want to be a PI? Where moderator Harry Hunsicker, Linwood Barclay, Declan Hughes, John Lutz, Dave White and Michael Wiley fought it out.

Alongside the live auction there was also a silent auction which started on the Thursday and finished mid-morning on the Saturday. At the same time the voting for the Anthony Awards ended. Everyone who registered received an Anthony Award ballot with their papers when they arrived and were encouraged to vote.

In the afternoon there was again a huge variety of panels to choose from. The wide range of panels has been both a blessing and a disadvantage as it was difficult at times to sort out which panels to attend. I saw Lawrence Block being interviewed by Charles Ardai. Charles Ardai is, of course, the founder and editor of the excellent Hard Case Crime, a line of pulp-style paperback crime novels. The covers of Hard Case Crime are sultry and sexy and take you back to a period where having a half dressed woman on the front of your book did you no harm whatsoever. I have to admit that I adore the covers as they remind me of a time when noir was at its peak.

"I Love my chicken." Stuart MacBride

As for Mr Lawrence Block! What can I say! The queue for him to sign books went all the way down the corridor. Signing had to be limited to three books per person so as to enable him to sign everyone's books. Even the dealers who wanted books signed had to queue; if they wanted to get more books signed then they had to join the queue again.

All through the conference there was of course a number of interviews taking place. On Thursday Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald of Poison Pen Press – and the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award were interviewed by author Twist Phelan. On the Friday International Guest of Honour John Harvey was interviewed by Publisher and editor Otto Penzler who is also the owner of Mysterious Bookshop in New York. The two guests of honour interviews can be found on http://www.charmedtodeath.com/.

On Saturday afternoon Mark Billingham was interviewed by John Connolly and, judging by the raucous laughter that was coming from the room where it was taking place it was evident that a good time was had by all. I decided to give it a miss, not because I don't like listening to Mark and John – Mark of course is a brilliant raconteur and John has such a wicked sense of humour – but because I wanted to go to the panel Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me: Batman -world's greatest detective. It was being moderated by the delightful McKenna Jordan who is the owner of Murder by the Book in Houston and who is also due to be co-host of Bouchercon 2009 in St Louis. It was a fascinating panel, and for those of us who are interested in the increasing link between graphic novels and crime fiction it was the one to attend.

Another panel that was also standing room only was Red, Red, Wine: that's wine not whine which featured Harlan Coben, John Harvey, Lauren Henderson, Jim Huang, S. J. Rozan and Laura Lippman. It was a chance for the authors to have their say (accompanied by wine of varying different names) on how they feel about the state of crime fiction and some of the comments that they have received during their careers. The audience gave in suggested questions for the panel members to answer, on the understanding that they would receive a bottle of wine if their question was used. However, due to the lack of time, names were just drawn from the question hat and each was given a bottle of wine. What can I say, improvisation at its best.

One of the best things that happened on Saturday night was Thalia's pub quiz. Sara Weinman, on hearing that I was not on a team, invited me to join her. I also managed to persuade Jon Jordan to join us. It was actually a very well run and enjoyable event with over thirteen teams. I am pleased to say that Crime Busters Unlimited, which consisted of myself, Sarah Weinman, Dave White, Byron Quertermous, Jason Pinter and Jon Jordan beat – by half a point! – the team of Kelly Smith, Val McDermid, Myles Allfrey, Liz Hatherell, David Shelley, Martyn Waites and Mark Billingham. As for my erstwhile Shots colleague Ali Karim, he was nowhere to be seen at the quiz. I am not sure what happened to him that evening.

Thalia Proctor and Ruth Jordon

There were also a number of panels on Sunday morning. The first panel was Call Me When You're Sober: Sunday hangover, which featured the two Declans – Hughes and Burke (both pictured on the front cover of the special Bouchercon edition of CrimeSpree magazine) – Stuart McBride and Martyn Waites. Running alongside it was also a panel called Beginnings: introducing first time authors. It was moderated by the extremely funny Chris Grabenstein. If you had heard him at the auction you would understand what I am talking about. There was also a panel called A Town Called Malice: where is as important as whom where a number of authors, including Ann Cleeves (as moderator) and Martin Edwards, discussed the importance of place in novels.

No conference would be the same if the fire alarm didn't go off. In this case there was a false alarm just before the first panels of the day were due to start. However, the incident was dealt with efficiently by the staff. I was not surprised to hear later on that some people had slept through the whole thing.

It goes without saying that the interview of the American Guest of Honour, Laura Lippman, was standing room only. Laura was interviewed by Michael Koryta. It is always a delight to listen to Laura talking about her work. The fact that Denis Lehane – who was not due to attend the conference – turned up unannounced to see her being interviewed is a testament to how well regarded she is by many.

This year there was not an Awards Dinner but a brunch instead on the Sunday. It was a fabulous brunch: well run, good food and of course the anticipation of the announcement of the winners. There was in fact a waiting list for tickets as it sold out pretty soon after information was put on the Charmed to Death blog.

At the start of the brunch there was a lovely tribute to James Crumley who died this year. Crumley won the 1994 Dashiell Hammett award with his novel The Mexican Tree Duck. He is, however, best known for his novel The Last Good Kiss. It is acknowledged as having one of the best opening sentences in a crime novel.

Lawrence Block received the Distinguished Contribution to the Genre Award at the Anthony Awards as he was unable to receive it at the opening ceremony on Thursday. Prior to him receiving the award there was a montage to him from a large number of friends and fellow crime writers attesting to the reason why he is considered amongst the greatest of crime writers. It was an extremely emotive tribute and it was clear that Lawrence Block was quite moved by the number of well-wishes and tributes given to him. He also received a standing ovation as he went up to collect his award.

The complete list of Anthony Award Winners is as follows:-

Best Novel: What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman - Morrow
Best First: In the Woods by Tana French - Viking Adult
Best Paperback Original: A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish - Pocket
Best Short Story: Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman - from Dead Man's Hand edited by Otto Penzler for Harcourt
Best Critical Work: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley - Penguin
Special Services: Ruth and Jon Jordan
Best Web Site: Stop You're Killing Me by Stan Ulrich and Lucinda Surber

As an addition, all of the nominees received a plaque. It was lovely to see Sarah Weinman receive two plaques for her Anthony Award nominations for Special Services and Web Site.

On each chair at the Anthony Awards brunch there was either a copy of Laura Lippman's short story collection Hardly Knew Her, Trigger City by Sean Chercover or Hit and Run by Lawrence Block.

Aside from all the panels the organisers not only set up a half-hourly karaoke bar (and no, you didn't have to sing if you didn't want to) but there was also Bouchercon at the movies. A wonderful line-up of movies was shown over the course of the conference. On Friday Let the Right One In was shown. It was adapted for the screen from the award-winning novel by John Lindqvist. Jar City, which of course is based on the novel by Arnaldur Indridason, was also shown. On Saturday there was a short film called The Shovel which is based on Steve Hamilton's Plots with Guns short story ‘A Shovel with my Name on It’. There was also a double bill, reminiscent of Saturday night film shows, of The Grand Inquisitor and the Last Lullaby. The Grand Inquisitor was written and directed by Eddie Muller and adapted from his short story of the same name, published in A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir (Busted Flush Press, 2007). The Last Lullaby, on the other hand, is about a former hit man who is struggling to cope with retirement, and features Tom Sizemore and the gorgeous Sasha Alexander, formerly of the television programme NCIS. It was co-written by Max Allan Collins.


What did I enjoy? Too many enjoyable events took place for me to be able to chronicle them all. Where do I start? First and foremost, seeing how awesome Judy Bobalik and Ruth Jordan are. They were, and are, two of the most welcoming people ever. They put on a fabulous event and certainly raised the bar when it comes to organising Bouchercon. In the words of Jon Jordan, “they rocked”.

Spending time with the Jordan clan – they certainly know how to put you at ease, make you laugh and generally make you feel wanted.

Talking to Dan Fesperman and George Pelecanos at the Enoch Pratt Library. George Pelecanos’s latest novel The Turnaround is fantastic.

Managing to get a photograph with the deep-voiced Gary Phillips thanks to Zoë Sharp's husband Andy. I freely admit that I am a huge Gary Phillips fan. If you have not met him, I can only say that once met never forgotten. His social acumen is without par and he is one of the nicest people to talk to. His knowledge of the genre in all its forms, be it novels, articles or graphic novels, is formidable. If you have not read the anthology Cocaine Chronicles that he co-edited then you do not know what you are missing. Also Angel Town, the five-issue limited edition graphic novel that he wrote (published by Vertigo Comics) is worth getting your hands on.

Catching up with Sean Chercover and meeting his wife and son Fin and also seeing the look of delight on his face as he won the Barry Award and CrimeSpree Award for best first novel. Sean also won a Shamus Award.

The fact that my panel went off without a hitch. Thanks to four wonderful panellists – Val McDermid, Mo Hayder, Ann Cleeves and Natasha Cooper. You can’t believe how nervous I was.

Talking to Charlaine Harris, whose Sookie Stackhouse series is the basis for the series True Blood which is currently getting rave reviews in the media.

Finally getting to meet and chat with the lovely Kat Richardson whose Greywalker paranormal series is well worth reading.

Catching up with Mary Reagan and Sarah Weinman – it’s been too long.

Getting loads (and I mean loads) of hugs from Ken Bruen every time we saw one another during the conference.

Meeting the delightful Christa Faust, and getting some rather strange looks from people on the flight home as they saw the cover of her book Money Shot that I was reading on the way back.

Losing and finding my mobile phone within two hours.

Having the opportunity to have a long chat with Lauren Henderson. I can't believe that I managed to get to bed at 4:00 on Sunday morning. It was nice to close the bar with her.

The hospitality suite that was hosted by Sisters in Crime. It was not solely for the authors but for everyone in attendance. An excellent place to chill out during the conference.

Aside from attending as many panels as possible, spending time with lots of friends that I made in Chicago.

My disappointments! Not managing to meet Mario Acevedo, whose Felix Gomez vampire detective series are brilliant books with such inspired titles; the current one being The Undead Kama Sutra.

Not getting a chance to go to Lexington Market – another time maybe.

Charmed to Death may have ended but it will certainly not be forgotten.

Ali, Roger and Ayo

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Screen & Book News

The author of Gomorrah, the book about the Naples gang wars that was turned into a prize-winning film, could be dead by Christmas along with his bodyguards, according to a well-placed supergrass. Roberto Saviano, the 29-year-old journalist whose novel-like chronicle of the brutal rule of the Camorra has sold more than a million copies, has been under heavy police protection for two years. - hat tip: Story in The Independent
Roberto Saviano has been forced to live a hard life, an absurd one. We need to make him feel that he is not alone," Italian president Giorgio Napolitano wrote in a letter addressed to the Repubblica newspaper. "The threats against the writer from the most ruthless Camorra clan are a challenge not only to culture, but to the civilized conscience of the country itself," said Napolitano. "The State must do its part as a guarantor of security and legality. But everyone must understand that what is at stake are the fundamental values of freedom and national dignity. That the prestige of a democratic Italy in Europe is at stake."


Filming has begun on the highly-anticipated second series of award-winning Ashes To Ashes for BBC One. Series two kicks off in 1982 where leg warmers are cool, fluorescent is the colour of choice, Margaret Thatcher is in her element and bullish DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is back, policing the streets in his politically incorrect and loud-mouthed style. Sassy Alex Drake, whom Hunt shares a fiery working relationship with, is by his side, desperately trying to keep him in line. Though no nearer to getting back to her daughter, Alex believes she is suspended in time and finally understands how the world around her works. But, when she starts hearing news from 2008, she realises nothing is as it seems. Clinging on to fast fading hope, she discovers she may not be alone in her predicament. It seems unlikely, but is there someone in 1982 who can help her?

But, the most anticipated TV return has to be SPOOKS, which screens on 27 October on BBC One 21.00-22.00hrs.
This is the outline to episode One: The world is still facing the threat of Islamist terrorism and, with Russia also emerging as a new super power, MI5's Section D faces even more frightening and deadly challenges. Six months on from their terrifying ordeal at the hands of the Red Backs, Adam is back on the Grid, but there is no sign of Jo.

Brushing off his recent torture, Adam is already leading the team on a major terrorist threat. A British soldier, Private Andy Sullivan, has been kidnapped by al-Qaeda and they are threatening to kill him unless all Remembrance Sunday services are cancelled.

There's also a new Spook on the block when a secret assignation between MI5 and the Russian intelligence services (the FSB) brings Harry's old protégé, Lucas North, back into the fold after eight years languishing in a Russian prison. Harry is thrilled to have him back, but does Lucas have the necessary skills to rejoin MI5 at the top level? And, more importantly, whose side is he really on?

Harry's opposite number at the FSB, Arkady Kachimov, reveals they have discovered the identity of the MI5 officer Harry posted to Russia on a secret mission – none other than Ros Myers. In the knowledge that the FSB are onto her, the prodigal daughter of Harry's team begins her dangerous journey back to Britain.

Things get worse for the team when they learn from Ros's Russian intelligence that al-Qaeda is planning to detonate a bomb during a Remembrance Service, and the bomber is supported by the Chechens with links to Russia. With thousands of civilians at risk, can the team locate the car bomb and rescue Private Sullivan before it is too late? When Adam takes matters into his own hands, the team hold their breath as his race against the clock becomes a desperate fight for survival.
With rumours running rife in the publishing industry about lack of advances this piece of news comes in from the Frankfurt Book Fair:
Bestselling thriller writer Matthew Reilly has moved to Orion in a “major” deal .Orion fiction publishing director Jon Wood has acquired two books from the Australian writer, whose previous novels, including this year’s hit The Six Sacred Stones, have been published by Pan Macmillan.
His first Orion novel will appear in spring 2010 and will be accompanied by a UK author tour and what the publisher promises will be “one of the biggest consumer campaigns of that year”. Reilly said: “As everyone in publishing knows, I don’t change publishing houses often or lightly and Orion, having shown a consistent interest in me for some time, made a very compelling pitch.” He said he looked forward to working with Orion “as we attempt to take my books to the next level in the UK”.
Wood said: “Reilly’s brand of imaginative concepts, powerful storylines and non-stop action should take him right to the top over here in the way it already has Down Under. He appeals right across the commercial spectrum. We are very excited about his future with us.”
The sum involved in the deal was undisclosed, but Wood said: “We have high ambitions for Reilly and the advance reflects that.”

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


There seems to be a run of film options of late. Leading the pack is Ken Bruen. Magma Films has optioned Ken’s Jack Taylor novel THE GUARDS for a feature-length film, to be developed with Germany's RTL. The film is earmarked as a pilot for a Jack Taylor series. This is the third of Bruen's book to be slated for dramatization, along with BLITZ which will be directed by Elliot Lester, with production slated in the first quarter of 2009. The novel was optioned by Lionsgate UK, Brad Wyman and Donald Kushner. The British-born Lester, who made his feature debut on "Love Is the Drug," will direct from Nathan Parker's script. Parker also has written "Moon”. Also LONDON BOULEVARD has been optioned with William Monahan, the Oscar-winning scribe of The Departed, directing his own adaptation of the novel. For Monahan, who won the Oscar for writing "The Departed", the film marks his debut as a director. The book was recently nominated for the SNCF Prize of "Best Foreign Crime Novel" in France.

Douglas Preston began his writing career at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. He has published 21 books, both fiction and nonfiction, many co-authored with Lincoln Child. According to a recent announcement in Variety, Tom Cruise and United Artists have acquired rights to Preston's serial-killer thriller THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE. "It's the biggest movie deal in my life," said Preston. His previous thriller Relic was also made into a major motion picture. The Monster of Florence case on which Preston based his book had previously inspired the Thomas Harris sequel Hannibal. The script will be penned by Chris McQuarrie ("Valkyrie") and that Cruise will produce and decide whether he wants to star once he reads it.

Larry Beinhart's upcoming novel, SALVATION BOULEVARD, has been optioned for the screen by Mandalay Independent Pictures, with George Ratliff set to write the screenplay and direct. Beinhart's earlier novel novel American Hero was adapted for the screen in 1997 as the film Wag the Dog. The novel, to be published this autumn (fall) by Nation Books, concerns a private detective who confronts religious issues while investigating the death of a professor. According to Variety, "The exercise proves to be a clash of faiths: The detective is a born-again Christian, the dead man an atheist, the accused killer an Islamic foreign student and the D.A. is Jewish" and the book has a "satirical bent, targeting organized religion."

And on the UK domestic side of things Hat Trick Productions has signed a deal with ITV to develop a new crime drama populated by "strong women in peril". The programme will be based on one of Sophie Hannah's trilogy of crime novels LITTLE FACE, HURTING DISTANCE and THE POINT OF RESCUE, which feature detective Simon Waterhouse and his boss and on-off love interest Charlie Zailer. Each book is equally split between their hunt for the truth and the story of an ordinary woman who finds herself in extraordinary circumstances. No writer has yet been hired to work on the script, but it is being developed with a view to becoming a returning drama.

Sky 1 is developing a crime drama featuring a down-to-earth male detective and his "damaged" female colleague. The Twofour drama will be based on DANCING WITH THE VIRGINS, one of eight books in
Stephen Booth's Cooper and Fry detective series, and is being adapted for the screen by Murphy's Law writer Colin Bateman. Twofour head of drama Jo Wright is overseeing the development after the Plymouth-based indie landed a substantial development deal. Sky confirmed the novel is one of 15 dramas in development in line with its pledge to invest "millions" in book adaptions. DANCING WITH THE VIRGINS is about a series of brutal murders whose victims are arranged to look like they are dancing. Based in the Peak District, the books follow old-fashioned detective Ben Cooper and his ruthless colleague Diane Fry. Booth's literary agent Teresa Chris said the tension in the books "comes as much from the relationship between the main characters as from the crimes. They come from different parts of the social spectrum and don't understand each other".

Manchester indie Title Role Productions has been commissioned by the Crime & Investigation network and the History Channel to produce 6 x 60-minute series CRIMES THAT SHOOK BRITAIN. The show will focus on some of the best known recent cases, including the massacre at Hungerford and the mass murderer Dr Harold Shipman.

Given the state of the international economy ITV was bold enough to go ahead this Monday to screen their new 3 parter drama WIRED, set in the world of … er … international finance. Figures in states that it managed to be top dog in the key 9pm slot last night with 4.8m viewers (21.4%). The opening hour-long episode began with 5.4m (23.4%) but lost a million viewers during the time it was on air to have 4.4m (19.7%) watching in the final quarter of an hour. The drama stars Jodie Whittaker, Laurence Fox and Charlie Brooks.

ITV3 has acquired gritty new cop drama FLASHPOINT, which has proved a surprise hit over the summer in the US. The 13 x 60-minute drama follows an elite group of officers who deal with high risk, life-and-death situations every day and stars Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars), Hugh Dillon (Durham County) and Amy Jo Johnson (Wildfire). The high action series will show the squad rescuing hostages, arresting gangs, defusing bombs, scaling skyscrapers and talking down suicidal teens. But it will also show them off duty – and not everyone can take the pressure the job entails.

First-Time Novelist Wins Booker

As I reported yesterday, the favourite Aravind Adiga has won this year's Man Booker Prize with his debut novel The White Tiger. The 33-year-old Indian-born writer was also the youngest author on the shortlist. He beat favourite Sebastian Barry to take the £50,000 prize. The other authors were Amitav Ghosh, Steve Toltz, Linda Grant and Philip Hensher. Read the BBC report here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Crime Round up

With Tom Rob Smith's Child 44 now out of the running, Louise Doherty, one of the judges of this year's Man Booker Prize has launched an outspoken attack on male academics who sit on literary judging panels, ahead of the award ceremony tonight. Read more. Indian writer Aravinda Adiga, a literary debutant, has beaten fancied rivals to be named favourite by British bookies for the Man Booker Prize 2008.

The world's largest book fair opens to the public in Frankfurt on Wednesday under the cloud of a world financial meltdown that its celebrity invitation list of writers and politicians cannot dispel.

I've now had the chance to load up the slide show of photos to the ITV3 Crime & Thriller Drama Awards. All taken by Ali "Snapper" Karim.

Ayo has promised to send in her final report along with photos as soon as the jet lag has passed. I've just got off the phone to her and she had nothing but glowing praise for the organisers and the whole event. I could her her little brain cells calculating as to whether or not she can make Bouchercon 2010.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Bouchercon Report #5

Ayo's daily report from Bouchercon 2008:

The best thing about Bouchercon is the fact that such unusual things happen. Like Friday for example! On Friday morning one of the first panels in the morning was called "Would I lie to you?". The panel consisted of Laura Lippman, John Connolly, Chris Mooney, Mark Billingham and Karin Slaughter. The premise was that the audience had to decided whether or not what the panelists were saying were lies or not. If you manged to work out what they were saying was a lie then they had to donate some money I believe $10.00, if you were wrong then you had to pay $2.00. That was funny enough and hearing some of the "lies" was hilarious. Would you have believed that John Connolly once danced around on a stage wearing green tights? I would not have believed it if I had not heard it for myself. For me however, the best bit was seeing Laura Lippman being challenged to do 50 push-ups in a minute and doing them to much applause! The response was overwhelming.

A couple of the other great panels that took place on Friday included Whistle while you Work: The Influence of music on/in writing. The panel featured Clea Simon, don Bruna. Thomas B Cavangh, John Harvey and Roz Southey, The Killing Moon: Noir for the New Century featuring Megan Abbott and Eddie Muller. Aside from the panels the tradition of hosting a basketball game also continued. This year it took place at Merritt's Downtown Athletic Club.

Every year a business meeting also takes place to discuss various issues and anybody that is registered to attend Bouchercon is also eligible to attend the meeting and participate. The two important decisions that were decided at the meeting this year was were Bouchercon in 2010 and 2011 are due to take place. Rae Helmsworth with her bid for San Francisco beat the bid that was put in for Tempe, Arizona. So in 2010 Bouchercon is going to take place in San Francisco. McKenna Jordan from Murder by the Book in Houston and David Thompson from Busted Flush Press (along with the help of Jon Jordan of CrimeSpree magazine) put together the only bid for 2011. It was voted on and in 2011 Bouchercon will be taking place in St Louis.

The Private Writer's Association also held the Shamus Awards on Friday and two of the big winners were Reed Farrell Coleman with Soul Patch which won Best Novel and Sean Chercover whose debut novel Big City Bad Blood won Best First Novel. Sean is certainly having a good time at Bouchercon this year. It was the third award that he has won so far and we still have the Anthony Awards to be given out!

A live auction also took place and some of the items that were being bid on included a drink with the International Guest of Honour John Harvey, being named a character in Zoe Sharp's book - this item went for $500 and also being a character in Laurie R King's new book. This item went for large some of $1,500.00.

The bar of course has been constantly heaving and knowing what crime fiction authors and readers are like the organisers arranged that the bars would stay open every evening until 2:00am.

There is still lots more to do and if i have a moment I am going to try and get to Lexington Market. I must try the Crab Cakes before I leave.

Ali Karim, Michelle Gagnon and Jason Starr at Lee Childs' party sent in by Timothy Maleeny

Friday, 10 October 2008

Bouchercon 2008 Report#4

Ruth & Jennifer Jordan

I am constantly been told that there is an extra buzz about Bouchercon this year and I can believe it. The book bags have been over whelming welcomed! I mean what can you say when for example one of the books in the bag is the collection of Laura Lippman's short stories Hardly Knew Her (which has only just been published) and John Harvey's Frank Elder books are also being given away. The bar has been packed from first thing in the morning till late at night. The hospitality suite has been open since this morning and is for the use of everyone not solely the authors and people moderating panels.

Peter Robinson

This evening they held the opening ceremony. To say that the room was packed is putting it mildly. It was standing room only. The awards that were being given out were the CrimeSpree Awards, The Macavity Awards and The Barry Awards.

The winners of the Macavity Award were:-
Best Mystery Short Story - Please watch Your Step by Rhys Bowen (The Strand Magazine)
Best Mystery Non-Fiction - The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors and Librarians by Roger Sobin (Poisoned Pen Press)
Best First Novel - In the Woods by Tana French (Hodder Stoughton/Viking)
Best Mystery Novel - What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery - Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

All the winners bar Ariana Franklin were on hand to accept their awards. Since I know and recently interviewed Ariana Franklin for Shots I proudly accepted the award on her behalf. The Macavity Awards were presented by Janet Rudolph the editor of Mystery Journal International and are voted on by members of Mystery Readers International.

The winners of the Barry Awards were -
Best Novel (Published in the US in 2007) - What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (Morrow)
Best First Novel (Published in the US in 2007) - In the Woods by Tana French (Viking)
Best British Crime Novel (Published in the UK in 2007 but not necessarily written by a British Writer or set in the UK) - Damnation Falls by Edward Wright (Orion)
Best Paperback Original - Queenpin by Megan Abbott (Simon and Schuster)
Best Thriller - The Watchman by Robert Crais (Simon and Schuster)
Best Short Story Award - The Problem of the Summer Snowman by Edward D Hoch. (EQMM) This was the second year in a row that Ed Hoch has won this award and a rather sad win as well. Ed Hoch sadly passed away in January 2008 and he was known for his short stories.

The CrimeSpree Awards were also given to the following -
Favourite book of 2007 - The Unquiet by John Connolly (Atria)
Favourite ongoing Series - Inspector Banks by Peter Robinson (Morrow)
Favourite First Novel - Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover (Morrow)
Favourite Anthology - Expletive Deleted by Jennifer Jordan (Bleak House Press)
favourite Comic Book Writer - Brian Azzarello
The Anthony Awards are due to be given out on Sunday at a Brunch.

Ali Karim & Roger Jon Ellory

Thursday, 9 October 2008

More from Baltimore Bouchercon


The panels have started today. The first panels being at 8:30 am. Despite the early start the panels have been packed and in some cases it has been standing room only even with the large sizes of the rooms.

All the panels have music titles which is really good and they do make for interesting conversations. So far some of the panels this morning have included Bouchercon 101 which covered everything you ever wanted to know about attending or hosting a Bouchercon, The Dot Gets the Com: e-zines the new anthologies, Walk on the Wilde Side. One of the most well attended panels in the morning was of course Like a Hurricane: Three Guys Talking. The three guys in question were Lee Child, Ace Atkins and William Kent Krueger. Fellow Shots mag contributor Ali Karim also had a panel which he was moderating this morning entitled I Can't stand up for Falling Down: Booze, hootch & Firewater and its place in crime fiction.

This afternoon the panels have ranged from one on young adults called This one is for the Children: keeping one Step ahead of some serious YA readers., Thank the Lord for the NightTime:Why is the Supernatural so Damm Fun and my own panel London Calling: The Dark Places we Go. My panelists were Val McDermid, Mo Hayder, Ann Cleeves and Natasha Cooper. It was an excellent panel with standing room only in the room to my delight. It was a shame that it was only an hour long because there were certainly a lot more questions that could have been asked.

Later on this evening there is going to be the Opening Ceremonies where there is going to be the presentation of the Barry, Macavity and CrimeSpree Awards!

Watch this space for the results!

Anne Cleeves, Martin Edwards and Martyn Waites

Ayo's Baltimore Beat

Part 2 of Ayo Onatade's report from Bouchercon 2008

Bouchercon has certainly started! The hotel has slowly started to fill up and various authors and participants have started to arrive. The authors that have been seen including the delightful Laura Lippman who is the American guest of honor, Lee Child, Adrian Magson, Natasha Cooper, Jason Starr, Martyn Waites, Mark Billingham who is Toastmaster for the whole of the Convention. International guest of Honour John Harvey, Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald who are due to receive a lifetime achievement award, Zoe Sharp and numerous other authors, Fans have come from far and wide including Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Last evening there was a small dinner to which a number of people (including myself) had been invited, This gathering had included all the guests of honour and was primarily held to say thank you to a number of the volunteers. The dinner party was held in the elegant Enoch Pratt Library. Prior to the dinner we were given a guided tour of the H L Mencken room and his papers. Henry Louis Mencken was a renowned Baltimore journalist and critic who had a long and friendly relationship with the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The conference has well and truly got on its way and while the panels do not start until today it is nice to see a huge number of people gathering in the bar and discussing which panels they are planning on attending.

I am not sure that the hotel have realised what hit them!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bouchercon 2008

Here's a first for the Shots Blog. We have Ayo Onatade in Baltimore, USA attending Bouchercon 2008 and she will be sending in a report as it happens.
For all of you who might not know the following are keynote guests:
Guests of Honour:Lawrence Block, Distinguished Contribution to the Genre
Laura Lippman, American Guest of Honour
John Harvey, International Guest of Honour
Mark Billingham, Toastmaster
Robert Rosenwald & Barbara Peters, Lifetime Achievement Award
Thalia Proctor, Fan Guest of Honour
The Prologue
"Bouchercon is less than six hours away and after the last two days I have a renewed respect for organisers of conferences. Over the last two days I have helped move over 500 boxes of books, label over 1,000 envelopes with participants names, helped stuff over 1500 catalogues and move over 1500 completed and full book bags. This year the co-organisers have surpassed themselves with the number of books that participants will receive in their bags. I would be very much surprised if anyone starts to complain as they will have no justification.
Slowly but surely people have started to turn up. From the UK point of view Martin Edwards and Ann Cleeves have already arrived. Ann has been in the states for sometime where she has been doing library events. So far the weather has been brilliant and the buzz about the hotel has been slowly building up. No doubt by 6:00pm (local time) the hotel will be full of Bouchercon attendees. What a sight it will be!"

Sunday, 5 October 2008

ITV3 CRIME DRAMA AWARDS - winners and report


Bourne, Ian Rankin, Colin Dexter & The Wire

Celebrate Wins at Inaugural Awards

The Ballroom of the Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane, London, was the location for the inaugural ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards. The room was packed with writers, agents, industry people and a host of TV stars. From Lee Child, Val McDermind, Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Robothom, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Roger Jon Ellory to Robson Green, Marie Helvin, Raza Jaffrey, Keeley Hawes and Alex Walkinshaw. Obviously there were many more but the above is just a teaser.

Executive producer Amanda Ross spoke about how excited she was that ITV3 and Cactus TV was able to present this new award and believed it would grow from strength to strength. The event was hosted by actor, Alan Davis, himself no stranger to the crime and thriller genre. The winners were presented with their awards by a selection of star names, led by Dame Helen Mirren, Robson Green and Ricky Gervais. The ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards will be broadcast on Monday 6th October at 2200 on ITV3.

Before sitting down for the event I spoke to Roger Jon Ellory about his new book A Simple Act of Violence which had just been published. It’s a big doorstep of a book that dented my floor when it landed. Mind you it was in company with another big ‘un Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day. When I mentioned to Roger about the length of the book he said that we got the cut down version. “Why so long?” I asked in all innocence. “I just can’t shut up,” came his honest reply. He was in the company of his editor, Jon Wood, and the gorgeous supermodel Marie Helvin. She could still give some of the current supermodels a run for their money. As a young man, I remember her photoshoots for David Bailey – and yes, that is an admission.

I was sat at a table near the stage with fellow Crime Fest organizers Adrian Muller, Myles Allfrey and Liz Hatherell. We were joined by Coronation Street stars Helen Worth (Gail Platt) and Michael le Veil (Kevin Webster) and his friend, Stevie Bell. In the course of the conversation Helen said that Michael was a big crime fan and we spoke of how well The Place of Execution had been adapted from Val McDermid’s book, then onto what books to read and some of the great stuff being screened on FX in the UK. Later on in the evening I was able to introduce Val to Michael, whom she remembered from her days as a journalist.

The pinnacle of the star studded event was the announcement of the ITV3 Writer’s Award for Classic TV Drama, voted for in an entirely free vote by viewers of the channel. Morse author, Colin Dexter, was announced at the winner by Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren.

In the hotly contested Film of the Year category, presented by Ricky Gervais, Matt Damon's The Bourne Ultimatum beat blockbusting and critically acclaimed films The Dark Knight, Gone Baby Gone and No Country for Old Men to the honour.

Criminal Justice scooped the award for TV Crime Drama of the Year – beating Ashes to Ashes, He Kills Coppers, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Spooks and Wire in the Blood.

The final season of massively acclaimed US drama The Wire saw off challenges from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Dexter, Numb3rs, CSI: Miami and Shark to walk away with the gong for International Crime Drama of the Year.

Best Actress winner Hermione Norris, who won for her role as Ros Myers in Spooks, had seen off a varied selection of her peers - Kelly Reilly (He Kills Coppers), Jill Scott (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), Amanda Redman (New Tricks) and Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes)

Miranda Raison & Raza Jaffrey (Spooks)

The best actor award was won by Rupert Penry-Jones, for his role as Adam Carter in Spooks. Runners up in the Best Actor category were - Philip Glenister (Ashes to Ashes), James Nesbitt (Midnight Man & Murphy’s Law), Dominic West (The Wire) and Ben Whishaw (Criminal Justice). He was unable to attend the event as he is currently filming a version of John Buchan’s 39 Steps in Scotland for transmission this Christmas the BBC..

At the ceremony, as well as the winners of the awards above the first three entries into the The International Crime Writing Hall of Fame were announced – three authors who throughout their illustrious careers have represented the pinnacle of the crime thriller genre. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dame Agatha Christie and PD James were all inducted into the Hall of Fame. A visibly moved PD James collected her accolade from award presenter Alan Davies, and paid tribute to her many peers at the event.Rebus author Ian Rankin’s last novel about the Scottish detective, Exit Music, gained him the coveted Author of the Year title. Beating competition from acclaimed authors Peter James (Not Dead Enough, Pan), Robert Harris (The Ghost, Hutchinson) and Lee Child (Bad Luck and Trouble, Bantam). Ian sent a recorded message as he was unable to attend due to current book tour.

Stieg Larsson was posthumously awarded the International Author of the Year title. His father, Erland Larsson, collecting the award on his behalf paid tribute to his son in a moving speech about his pride for his son’s work and life. Larsson’s debut novel, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, had seen off competition from Jeffery Deaver (The Sleeping Doll, Hodder & Stoughton), Karin Slaughter (Skin Privilege, Arrow) and PJ Tracy (Snow Blind, Penguin)

With the awards and dinner out of the way, it was time to chat with old friends and meet new ones. On the way back from the bathroom I spotted Ali Karim speaking to Jeff Deaver and Mark Smith (CEO of Quercus Publishers). I congratulated Mark on Larsson’s win, and thought it would bring the author an even wider UK audience especially since The Girl Who Played With Fire (the second installment of the Millenium series) will be published in January 2009. And before Ali could say another word, I turned to him and said, “Don’t you dare ask Jeff about Garden of Beasts. That brought about much hilarity as it is now a running joke between Jeff, Ali and I. If you happen to be at an event with Jeff and Ali is in the audience you can bet your bottom dollar Mr Karim will ask Jeff about Garden of Beasts despite my kicking him under the table.

After chatting with Lee Child, Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, I met up again with Michael Robotham. We last met at Thriller Fest New York 2007 and got on really well. In my opinion Shatter is Michael’s best novel to date and we spoke about his new novella - a fast paced thriller entitled Bombproof, which will be out in the UK next year (I was lucky enough to obtain an advance copy). It was written as part of an Australian government programme to promote reading and literacy, and given away for free.

A surreal part of my evening was bumping into the dazzling Keeley Hawes and a group of her friends trying to take a photograph with her iPhone. I volunteered my services and snapped them in their "happy" and "unhappy" looks - and thank goodness for auto focus. And that's one photo you'll never get to see!

My night ended in early morning and thanks to Snapper Karim you’ll be able to see a selection of photos over on the website. I have a feeling that the exposure given by ITV3 will be of great benefit to everyone involved in crime & thrillers, and to me, that can’t be a bad thing.

ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Season & Crime Thriller Awards are commissioned by Claire Zolkwer, Commissioning Editor, Entertainment on behalf of Emma Tennant, Controller of ITV3 and CITV. The Executive Producer is Amanda Ross and the series is Produced by Gareth Jones.

ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards will be screened on 6th October, 10pm. ITV3

Click here to see the Red Carpet Gallery

Thursday, 2 October 2008

2008 Ellis Peters Historical Award - Shortlist announced

Hot off the press from the British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) comes the shortlist for 2008 Ellis Peters Historical Award.

Here are all the shortlist contenders:

The Death Maze, by Ariana Franklin (Bantam Press)
A Quiet Flame, by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
Death on a Branch Line, by Andrew Martin (Faber and Faber)
Revelation, by C.J. Sansom (Macmillan)
Bleeding Heart Square, by Andrew Taylor (Michael Joseph)
Stratton’s War, by Laura Wilson (Orion)

Now your guess is as good as mine in predicting the winner as the list is very strong. Could Ariana pull off a double, or will Laura win by a neck? As I say, a very hard call to make and good luck to the judges on picking the winner.This year’s Ellis Peters winner will be announced on October 27 and SHOTS will be there to cover it.

Stella Rimington - Dead Line Launch

Stella Rimington signs for fan boy Ali Karim

Quercus publishers launched the new Stella Rimington Liz Carlyle novel, Dead Line, not in a secret location but in the rather sumptuous setting of Wiltons in Jermyn Street, London.
Stella Rimington is the former Director General of the Secret Service (MI5 to me and you), and speaking to her she said she was happy to have been the first ever woman to hold the post and also the fact that it helped Dame Judy Dench to become the first ever female head of the service in the James Bond books after the departure of M.
The author was very gracious as I bombarded her with questions, not only about the book but on the genre as a whole. Although a couple of my queries were deflected, she was very honest.
Those attending the launch including Ali Karim, Ayo Onatade, Chris Simmonds and Barry Forshaw (could there ever be a launch without them?) Also journalists Jeremy Jehu, John Duggdale, Natasha Cooper and Jake Kerridge; as well as the support from Anthony Cheetham, Lucy Ramsey, Ron Beard and Mark Smith of Quercus (and apologies to those who I have missed out).
Dead Line is the forth Liz Carlyle in the series.
The Synopsis:

MI5 Itelligence office Liz
Carlyle is summoned to a meeting with her boss Charles Wetherby, head of the Service's Counter-Espionage branch. His counterparty over at MI6 has received alarming intelligence from a high-placed Syrian source. A Middle East peace conference is planned to take place at Gleneagles in Scotland and several heads of state will attend. The Syrians have learned that two individuals are mounting an operation to disrupt the peace conference in a way designed to be spectacular, laying the blame at Syria's door. The source claims that Syrian Intelligence will act against the pair, presumably by killing them.
No one knows who they are or what they are planning to do. Are they working together? Who is controlling them? Or is the whole story a carefully laid trail of misinformation? It's Liz's job to find out. But as she discovers, the threat is far greater than she or anyone else could have imagined. The future of the whole of the Middle East is at stake and the conference is drawing ever closer.