Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Jackal Turns 40

I was delighted to see that Random House UK have just released a special 40th Anniversary edition in Hardcover of one of the greatest thrillers of all time, namely Frederick Forsyth’s ‘The Day of The Jackal’. Naturally I have several paperback editions of this ground-breaking [in the truest sense of the term] thriller, but when it came out [in the 1970’s] I was a poor student, and had to make do with reading it in mass-market format. Now as a book collector, I have always wanted to own a hardcover edition, and finally my wish has come true. Out this week is a handsome edition for the collector though priced reasonably at £20, it’s a perfect excuse to re-read a novel that can be truly termed a ‘definitive’ work of the thriller genre.

I have continued to read Forsyth’s work ever since I picked up that second-hand paperback of Jackal in the 1970’s, though that debut work has inspired a generation of writers [and continues to do so]. F. Paul Wilson even wrote an essay about it in David Morrell and Hank Wagner ITW 100 : Thriller Novels. I was fortunate to meet and talk with Forsyth last year at the Specsavers CWA Dagger Awards, while Selina Walker of Transworld / Random House explained how Forsyth had extreme trouble finding a publisher.

In the Telegraph, Forsyth explains the process

He hawked his book around from February to September 1970, when it was finally accepted by a publisher, who told Forsyth he could see why The Jackal had been so roundly rejected. “They told me I’d broken all the rules,” he says. For starters, de Gaulle was still alive (he died in November 1970) so readers knew a fictional assassination plot (set in 1963) couldn’t succeed. Forsyth had even told readers, early in the novel, that de Gaulle would die in his bed. The publishers were also wary of a book whose central character has no name. The Jackal slips out of alias after alias, eventually being buried anonymously.

A small print run was planned. Then, to the surprise of both Forsyth and his publishers, buyers at bookshops began reordering copies before publication. “The run went up to 8,000 copies,” he says, “and that was felt to be one hell of a risk. There were no reviews. The book slithered out through the summer of ’71. Slowly, the orders began to move faster. It was all word of mouth. Then my publisher phoned me at 4am in my bedsit. He’d sold the book to an American publisher for $365,000, which was roughly £100,000. And I got half of that. I’d never seen money like it and never thought I would. My family were disbelieving. They read it. My mother, God bless her, never quite understood the reference to fellatio.”

Read More Here

As an amusing aside related to this novel, I must tell you about the time Mike Stotter [Shots’ Editor-in-Chief] and I flew to New York for ITW Thrillerfest II in 2007. Thanks to Zoe and Andy Sharp we managed to get first class tickets at a very specially discounted deal with ‘Max-Jet’ [who unfortunately have since gone bust]. Neither of us had flown first class across the Atlantic before, so after a particularly grueling time [prior to our Thrillerfest trip], we decided to relax and soak up as many of the delights of that first class cabin as we could, including plenty of smoked salmon to soak up the Champagne and Malt Scotch we were knocking back. As the drinks flowed, we were laughing at some of our past miss-adventures and the absurd things we’d witnessed, and generally having a great time. Mike got up and excused himself to take a toilet break in a ‘staggering’ manner due to excessive champagne consumption. While he was gone, the head stewardess came over to me and smiled holding up her clipboard checking my name. “Mr. Karim, we’re delighted that you and Mr Stotter are having a good time on the flight, but for the benefit of the other passengers, could we ask you to keep the noise down a little please.” She said in a clipped American accent. Now I had consumed a great deal of Champagne and Malt Scotch at the time, and have a mischievous streak, so I smiled back and replied “Sorry for that, but Mr Forsyth is enjoying your hospitality, but I’ll ask him to keep his voice down”. I am still amazed how I kept a straight-face while staring at the Stewardess straight in the eye. She looked back at the passenger manifest on her clipboard and shook her head and checked the seat numbers above us. “Sorry, Mr Forsyth?” She flipped the manifest over, checking all the names. “Sorry, I should have mentioned, Mr Frederick Forsyth likes to travel incognito, he has a ‘special’ identity - Michael Stotter. Like in his novel.” She looked at me quizzically. I cleared my throat and in the most authoritative upper-class English accent, I continued. “I’m Karim, Ali Karim his security man. You know must know who Frederick Forsyth is?” She looked confused. “You must know!” I continued stretching my arm out like a sniper taking aim “The Day of The Jackal.” I could hear a few people in the seats behind whisper “hey, did you hear that! Frederick Forsyth is on the plane!” And then I noticed other passengers looking at us and before long more whispers spread back along the cabin like a Mexican wave. The stewardess looked back at me and said “of course, I saw the film with Bruce Willis and Richard Gere! and the Jackal is a master of disguise.” I heard the toilet door open and a decidedly ‘wobbly’ Mike Stotter stumble out. I didn’t want to remind her of the novel and the original Fred Zinnemann film so I continued, “precisely!”

The stewardess moved away and smiled as Mike took his seat. The stewardess winked at me and said “Anything we can do for you Mr…..Stotter,” and winked at him. Mike smiled back and replied in broad cockney, “more champagne would be nice” and with that the stewardess went back to the galley. Mike looked at me and screwed up his eyes intently, “is it me, or are people staring at us?” I shrugged and told him it was his imagination, but I heard a voice tut behind us “that’s not Frederick Forsyth, I’ve seen him on TV, he’s much taller than that and a damned sight older!” I looked innocently at my feet. “Did you hear that? Freddy Forsyth’s on the plane?” Stotter retorted. I didn’t have the heart to tell him anymore till we got into the Hyatt, instead I knocked back the champagne. “Did you notice that stewardess?” Mike said as she left our glasses filled with bubbly, “she keeps winking at me…..” I could only but laugh as the rest of first class stared at us and I tried hard to keep a straight-face.

To read more about our adventures at Thrillerfest 2007 click here, here and here – And this year we’re unable to attend Thrillerfest, but will be at Bouchercon St Louis in September….traveling economy.

Photo © 2010 Ali Karim “Selina Walker with Frederick Forsyth” at the Specsavers CWA Dagger Awards 2010 Grosvenor House London

Friday, 27 May 2011

Author Barry Eisler joins Amazon Imprint!

In March this year best-selling author Barry Eisler announced that he had turned down a two-book deal worth $500,000 from St Martin’s Press. He was subsequently interviewed by author Joe Konrath on his blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing about his decision to turn down the deal and go the self-publishing route. The same interview can be also found on Barry’s blog The Heart of the Matter as well. He also explained the reasons why he went down the self-publishing route to author Jason Pinter in an online article in The Daily Beast.

Amazon appears have managed to persuade him to change his mind once again and he has according to (where you can read the complete article) been lured into joining Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer mystery imprint. All this was revealed at the recent Book Expo America (BEA) with Idea Logical’s Mike Shatzkin in New York. Eisler in his discussion explained that his next book would be released initially in e-book format with a print edition to follow and his advance was "comparable" to traditional deals offered to him for his book.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

London Review Bookshop World Literature Weekend 17-19 June 2011

The London Review Bookshop is hosting a World Literature Weekend, which will take place in Bloomsbury. There are two events of particular interest to crime fiction readers.

On Friday 17 June (2 p.m.) Spanish crime writer Teresa Solana (who is the author of A Not so Perfect Crime) will take part in a seminar on Catalonian writing and on Sunday 19 June (also at 2 p.m.) there will be an event with Scandinavian crime writers Karin Alvtegen and Hakan Nesser. Both events are to be held in the Stevenson Room of The British Museum. Further details can be found at the London Review Bookshop and to book tickets call: 020 7269 9030

National Crime Writing Week - 13th to 19 June 2011

This year the National Crime Writing week is due to take place between 13th and 19th June 2011. National Crime Writing Week is a week of events celebrating crime writing. As part of National Crime Writing Week I shall be taking part in a debate on the judging process.

London South Bank University in association with The Culture, Writing and Performance Department within the Faculty of Arts and Human Science are hosting a day whole event surrounding crime fiction. The event “Meet the Authors: Choosing the Best in Crime and Mystery Fiction” will take place on Thursday 16 June 2011.

The event is due to start at 12:30pm and authors Frances Fyfield, Belinda Bauer, S J Bolton, Natasha Cooper, Chris Fowler and Gerald O’Donovan will be in attendance. The first panel "What's in a prize?” will start at 13:30 and will include authors Belinda Bauer, S J Bolton and Gerald O’Donovan alongside Transworld editor Sarah Adams and publicist Patsy Irwin and they will be discussing the mysteries of being nominated, the effects of being short-listed and what happens when you win. The panel will be moderated by Margaret Kinsman.

The second panel is entitled “What’s in the judging process?” where alongside Christopher Fowler, Zoe Watkins and David Wilkerson I shall be talking about what it is like to act as a judge for a literary prize. The panel will be moderated by crime writer Natasha Cooper, a former Chairman of the CWA and a former CWA judge. The second panel is due to start at 15:30pm.

At 17:00 Barry Forshaw a former CWA Gold Dagger judge and a distinguished crime fiction critic will interview author Frances Fyfield.

More information on the event and booking information can be found here. Information about other events can also be found on the CWA Website.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Blanche, Carte Blanche - Arrives in UK

We gave Peter Guttridge one of his most toughest assignments to date. Our man in London filed this report before running away from a shady-looking man with an umbrella on a very sunny day....

"The launch of the latest instalment of the James Bond franchise - Carte Blanche by Jeff Deaver - took place in the exotic but totally appropriate surroundings of the champagne bar beside the Eurostar platforms at St Pancras. He arrived in a Bentley sports car; the book arrived courtesy of half a dozen marine commandos abseiling off the roof of the Victorian railway station. Eurostar passengers on the platform opposite watched bemused but intrigued. Jeff gave a gracious and witty speech, as did the publishers and Lucy Fleming, actress descendant of Ian Fleming. As I write this the commandos are making contact with the local population. Aside from the the fun of this, I'm hoping a proof copy of the book will come out of this but I have my doubts.

Great launch - the only worry was that I spotted the man known only as the Professor (so named by Mike Ripley) in the audience. What dastardly deeds did he have in mind?"
And we have the photographical evidence to prove it (sadly no negatives).
Royal Marine at the ready

Getting closer


Bring the car around, James

Jeffrey Deaver

"The Professor"
Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s niece, commented at today’s launch: “On Saturday my uncle, Ian Fleming, would be 103 years old. If he had been here today he would have loved the occasion.

“With his brilliant plot and clever twists, his perfectly horrible villain and his detailed knowledge of the British intelligence Service, Jeffery Deaver brings Bond straight into the heart of modern espionage.”

Carte Blanche will be published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton tomorrow, Thursday 26 May 2011, just ahead of Ian Fleming’s birthday on Saturday 28 May. Priced at £19.99, the book will be available nationwide. For more information, visit

Bond babe takes possession of Carte Blanche with a special red Bentley Continental GT ready for a fast getaway
The book cover

Monday, 23 May 2011

Final day at Crimefest and round up!

So on the final full day of crimefest was Saturday and I was rather surprised that I actually woke up let alone got up at 9:00am in the morning. I had four hours sleep having got to bed at 5am.

Saturday night was the gala dinner and the organisers had the ingenious and inspired idea to identify all the tables with the names of crime fiction detectives. Thus I found myself sitting on the Jules Maigret table. My companions on the table were fellow shots contributors Kirstie Long and Ali Karim who was accompanied by his gorgeous daughter Sophia. Also on the table were author Adrian Magson along with his lovely wife Ann, debut author Quentin Bates and JC Martin who correctly predicted the winners of the abridged and unabridged audio prizes.

The evening reception started with a drinks reception, which was hosted by Mulholland Books UK as part of their launch of their new imprint Mulholland Books UK at Hodder and Stoughton. Mulholland Books have an already impressive line up of authors that are going to be published and it will be interesting to see and read the books in due course as they have a stellar line up of authors on their roster. They also quite generously provided everyone that attended the launch with a copy of “Guilt by Association” by Marcia Clark one of the authors being published under their imprint.

The toastmaster for the evening was author Christopher Brookmyre who took to the task as toastmaster with aplomb despite the fact that he was stepping in at the last minute for Don Winslow who had to withdraw rather suddenly. Christopher had all of us in attendance in stitches of laughter on several occasions with his witty repartee and humour. As part of his duties as toastmaster Christopher had to announce the winners of a number of awards. These awards were the eDunnit Award for the best crime fiction eBook first published in hardcopy and in electronic format in the UK IN 2010. The Winner was Field Gray Philip Kerr (Quercus). The other awards that were given out were the Last Laugh Award sponsored by Goldsboro Books. David Headley the Managing Director of Goldsboro Books presented the prize which was won by LC Tyler for The Herring in the Library (Macmillan) and the unabridged and abridged Sounds of Crime Awards. The winner of the unabridged Sounds of Crime Award was Peter James for Dead Like You, whilst the winner for the abridged Sounds of Crime Award was John le Carré for Our Kind of Traitor. which was for the best humorous crime novel first published in the UK in 2010 and which was won by The eligible titles were submitted by publishers for the long list, and audio crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the short list and winning title. Once the main wining and dining had finished it was time for speeches from the featured guest authors Peter James and Deon Meyer and the 2011 CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger recipient Lindsey Davis.

L-R Myles Allfrey, Peter James, Lindsey Davis, Deon Meyer & Adrian Muller (Christopher Brookmyre kneeling)

© Ayo Onatade (picture)

The first speech was by Deon Meyer who regaled us with a story about crime in South Africa and that sometimes the things that take place are so implausible that if they did use them in their writing then they would not be believed. Peter James (who is also the current Chair of the CWA) was a tad more serious as he used his speech to re-enforce the message that he wants to get across during his period as Chair about the fact that he wants to get rid of the notion of that genre fiction (and in this case crime fiction) is not as good as literary fiction. I have to admit that this is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. Lindsey Davis speech also had us in fits of laughter. Lindsey spoke of how she first met the toastmaster Christopher Brookmyre at a book festival at a Scandinavian book festival along with Ian Rankin. It was a really amusing anecdote, which involved lots of alcohol and herrings cooked in various different ways. Needless to say it went down very well indeed especially since of the three of them Lindsey was the one left to uphold the honour of the United Kingdom.

After all the speeches had finished, a great many of us adjourned to the bar for the rest of the night. It was great fun to catch up with and chat with people including Chris Ewan whose books The Good Thief’s Guide is a must read for those who like comic caper novels, Helen FitzGerald, Donna Moore, Paul Johnston, Christopher Wakling and Peter Guttridge to name a few. Also having fun and chatting with authors was Ali Karim’s delightful daughter Sophia who is certainly a chip off the old block!

By the time I managed to head off to bed it was the early hours of Sunday morning, I could say that I should have gone to bed earlier, but I was having too much fun. That is one of my most abiding memories of Bristol – how much fun everyone was having. Adrian and Myles put on a splendid event and amongst the chatter being heard over the weekend the phrase that seemed to dominate was how much fun it was and how well it organised was as well. Richard Reynolds of Heffers in Cambridge was the bookseller and if the scrum by the book tables were anything to go by then I hope that he sold a lot of books.

I was however determined to attend the interview that the toastmaster Christopher Brookmyre gave Maxim Jakubowski and managed to bag a front row seat to what in my opinion was one of the best interviews I have heard in ages. Christopher Brookmyre has such a comic turn of phrase and timing that it is impossible not to be in stitches. It was a wide-ranging interview and if you have heard Christopher speak before then you can imagine what it was like. It was certainly not for anyone with sensitive ears or did not like the use of the word “fuck”. I certainly enjoyed it. Once again the phrase “enjoyment” comes to mind about the whole weekend. I can only say that if I had another opportunity to listen to Christopher Brookmyre talk then I would do so with open arms. He is without doubt one of the best authors who is able to combine satire with black comedy whilst still writing an entertaining story. He also has a dry sardonic wit that is a extremely funny indeed. Furthermore how can you not want to read a novel that has the title Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Duck or A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil or even All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye! I can only say that Adrian and Myles pulled off a really good thing with Christopher Brookmyre being in attendance.

Maxim Jakubowski and Christopher Brookmyre © Ayo Onatade (picture)

The final panel of the day is one that all of us had been waiting for. It was Criminal Mastermind. In a packed room authors John Curran, Lauren Henderson, Paul Johnston and Andrew Lane submitted themselves to the Mastermind chair and the inquisition of quizmaster Maxim Jakubowski on a wide range of specialist subjects including Sherlock Holmes and Modesty Blaise. The winner of the quiz was Paul Johnston with Lauren Henderson coming second followed by John Curran and Andrew Lane. As the winner Paul Johnston has the opportunity of returning next year to defend his title.

(L-R John Curran, Lauren Henderson, Paul Johnston & Andrew Lane) © Ayo Onatade (picture)

It was sad to see Crimefest finish on the Sunday but I can only say that I am sure that I am not the only one who had a fabulous time. It was well run, the panels were good and it was an enjoyable way to spend nearly 4 days.

Next year will be the 5th anniversary of Crimefest and two of the authors that we can look forward to seeing once again are Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver. It is a festival that one should not miss and it will take place between 24th and 27th May 2012. I for one will make sure that I am there!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Crimefest Day 3

Needless to say, having stayed up rather late last night it meant that I am behind on the blog! So I am now playing catch up. My fellow Shotsmag contributor and all round crime fiction man Ali Karim has been posting pictures to his Facebook page so please have a look!

After the late night that I had the first panel that I managed to get to was The Grass Is Greener: Thrillers - UK Vs US. This panel was ably moderated by Nick Sayers of Hodder & Stoughton and had on the panel Charlie Charters, Simon Conway, Matt Hilton and Zoë Sharp. Surprisingly of the four authors on the panel only one of them is not published by Hodder & Stoughton. I know which author it is but do you? I was rather disappointed in not being able to attend any of the earlier panels which were Room for One More: Debut Authors which was moderated by Peter Guttridge and Suspicion: Spies Coming in From The Cold which was moderated by Michael Ridpath.

Rather sadly I also did not manage to get to any of the other panels that were being shown in the morning. It was not however for lack of trying! I kept on (in a very nice way) getting hijacked by people who wanted to talk to me. The ever effervescent Sam Eades of Headline took a party of us out to lunch. This consisted of the Shotsmag team, Jake Kerridge, Colin Bateman, Katherine Armstrong and Conor Fitzgerald whose novel Dogs of Rome was one of the fe books that I picked up as a result of Declan Burke talking sbout it. I am looking forward to reading it a lot. I spent the afternoon trying to ensure that the blog is up to date and thus did not have the opportunity to go to any of the panels this after noon. The one tht I did regret missing was Lindsey Davis being interviewed by Lauren Henderson.

One of the highlights of Saturday night is the gala dinner and for once I do not have to worry about what I am going to wear! A number of awards will also be given out and I shall let you know the result. Anyway, I am off to get dressed for the dinner.

So far I have been having a wonderful time at Crimefest. It has been so much fun catching up with various people that rather sadly the time has gone past rather quickly. So, before I forget I would like to say a huge thanks to Adrian Muller and Myles Allfrey for once again putting on such a splendid event.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Crimefest Day 2 Part 3

This blog is now seriously running behind and I can only put it down to the fact that I am having such a good time!

The last "formal" event that took place on Friday was the announcement of a number of the CWA shortlists. These were the International Dagger, the Non-Fiction Dagger, the Dagger in the Library, the Debut Dagger and the Short Story Dagger which as Chair of the Short Story panel I got to anounce.The short list -


The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, Tr. Stephen Sartarelli, (Mantle)

Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo, Tr. Jethro Soutar (Bitter Lemon Press)

The Saint-Florentin Murders by Jean-François Parot, Tr. Howard Curtis (Gallic)

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström, Tr. Kari Dickson (Quercus)

River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi, Tr. Joseph Farrell (Maclehose)

An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas, Tr. Siân Reynolds (Harvill Secker)

Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar, Tr. Sonia Soto (Abacus)


Judith Flanders: The Invention of Murder (HarperCollins)

Colin Evans: Slaughter on a Snowy Morn (Icon Books)

Douglas Starr: The Killer of Little Shepherds (Simon & Schuster)

Wilbert Rideau: In the Place of Justice (Profile)

Michael Capuzzo: The Murder Room (Michael Joseph)

Kate Colquhoun: Mr Briggs Hat (Little, Brown)


East of Suez, West of Charing Cross Road by John Lawton - Agents of Treachery - Ed Otto Penzler (Atlantic Books)

Wednesday’s Child by Ken Bruen - First Thrills - Ed. Lee Child (Atlantic Books)
The Princess of Felony Flats - by Bill Cameron - First Thrills - Ed. Lee Child - (Atlantic Books)
The Dead Club - by Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer - First Thrills - Ed. Lee Child (Atlantic Books)
Homework by Phil Lovesey - The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime Vol 8 - Ed Maxim Jakubowski (Constable and Robinson)


S J Boloton

RJ Ellroy

Jason Goodwin

Mo Hayder

Susan Hill

Phillip Kerr


A Burial Place for Strangers – Sharon Hunt (Canada)

A Quiet Night in Entebbe – Peter Wynn Norris (UK)

A Vicious Indulgence – Annie Hauxwell (Australia)

Biographies of a Victim – Gunnar Lange-Nielsen (Norway)

Hide and Seek – Sarah Darby (UK)

Men of the Rose – Jessica Ramage (UK)

The Boy Who Loved Penguins – SWC Webb (UK)

The Greengrocers and Fruiterers’ Convention – Martin Ungless (UK)

The Outrageous Behaviour of Left-Handed Dwarves – Graham Brack (UK)

The Temp – Luke Melia (UK)

Unveiled Threats – Stephanie Light (UK)

What Hidden Lies – Michele Rowe (South Africa)

The winners will be announced at the Harrogate Crime Festival in July. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Dinner was a joyus affair. Nicci Praca from Quercus took the Shotsmag team along with Jake Kerridge, Shona MacLean, Nigel McCrery and Colin Cotterill out to dinner. We all had a wonderful time. Needless to say that once we got back to the hotel none of us went to bed immediately and I spent the evening in the pleasant company of a lady called Caroline (whose surname I must find out) and various other members of the crime fiction fraternity. So what time did I go to bed? Now that would be telling! I can only say that it was rather late and in the wee hours!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Crimefest Day 2 Part 2

Well my decision not to buy any more books did not last very long. In fact it did not last 24 hours. I managed to miss the first panel I had a feeling that I would. I did not manage to get up on time. I ended up having breakfast with other Shotsmag members, Mike Stotter, Ali Karim and Kirstie Long.

(L-R Janet Laurence, Deryn Lake, Steven Saylor, Shona MacLean & Carola Dunn)

(Pictures Ayo Onatade)

The first panel that I went to was An Affair to Remember: A Walk Through History, which was moderated by Janet Laurence. The panel members were Deryn Lake, Shona MacLean, Carola Dunn and Steven Saylor. It was a really good panel and like all the previous panels that I have attended so far very well attended. One of the questions that the panel members were asked was what drew them to the period that they wrote about. For Carola Dunn it was the increase in freedom for women that appealed to her. Shona MacLean explained that for her as a historian she found her training helped her. However, she also explained that her editor sometimes felt that it was a hindrance. Steven Saylor explained that he loved the history of Rome and that he series grew out of his fascination of the ancient world. For Deryn Lake, her character came about as a result of some research that she had been doing on behalf of a drinks company. The question of how morals fitted into their stories was also discussed. Shona MacLean explained that for her character it was difficult, whilst for Carola Dunn her character Daisy Dalrymple has she explained her own morals and sometimes they did not equate with everybody else’s. Steven Saylor said that he did in fact have to tone down his material because of the somewhat foulness of the language during the period. There was a very different mindset.

The second panel that I managed to get to was I was a Male Warbride: Confessions of a Crime Fiction Author. This panel consisted of Chris Ewan, Douglas Lindsay, Helen Fitzgerald and Steve Mosby along with Donna Moore as moderator. Panels moderated by Donna Moore are always a joy to attend and this was no exception. We had confessions coming out of our ears from the various panel members ranging from the panellists worse reviews, most embarrassing events that have taken place in their lives and whether or not they had in fact done anything criminal. I am sure you would like to know which author tried to steal a lamp post, which author used to catch a train without buying a ticket, and which author managed to embarrass himself in front of his future in laws quite spectacularly. How
ever, I am not telling! It was a really interesting panel and the audience members were in fits of laughter but I am sure that if any of the members of the panel learnt anything it was that Donna knows too much about them and that they should be wary as to what they say to Donna Moore as it would most likely always come back to haunt them one way or another.

Lunch was good fun. I ended up going out to lunch with Sam Eades from Headline, Kirstie Long, Helen Fitzgerald, the delightful Christopher Wakling and Katherine Armstrong from Faber who kindly paid for lunch!

Even though I was not sure which panel I was going to attend, I some how managed to miss both of the panels first thing after lunch. They were None but the Lonely Heart: The Lone Wolf P.I Notorious: Making People Shiver. I did attend The Last Laugh Award Shortlist Panel. Robert Lewis who has also been shortlisted was unable to attend. It was once again a highly amusing panel, and Donna Moore made sure that she got the best out her fellow panel members who once again elicited and which was moderated by Donna
Moore (a shortlisted author) and included Colin Bateman (who won the award last year), LC Tyler, Chris Ewan and Colin Cotterill fits of laughter from those in attendance. It will be interesting to see who wins the award as they are all worthy winners in my opinion.

(L-R Jake Kerridge, S J Bolton & Simon Beckett)

Watching S J Bolton and Simon Beckett being interviewed by Jake Kerridge was really good. It was a shame that it was up against Born to Be Bad: The Nature of Evil as it could have done with more people in attendance. The only other issue that I would comment on was that I would like to have seen Jake ask the two authors slightly more probing questions. However, one of the questions that did get everyone talking was how did they feel about the BBC television programme on genre fiction which has as I am sure that many of you are aware caused a quite a furore. Whilst Simon Beckett was in my opinion rather sanguine in his response, S J Bolton was quite firm in how she felt. She was one of the signatories to the letter that was sent to the BBC in complaint.

Anyway, this blog is running late at the moment. I have to go and get changed for the Dagger announcements that are due to take place around 5:30pm and then dinner with the every lovely Nicci Praca from Quercus Books. Should be good fun!

Crimefest Day 2 Part 1

Okay, so I surprised myself last night and did not stay up too late. I went to early for a change. Early by my standards anyway. I was in bed by 12:30am. I am not sure that this is going to be the case today. There are lots of panels to look forward to today. It is going to be fun trying to work out which ones to attend.

I have also been very good on the book buying front. So far I have only bought three books and I don't intend to buy anymore. The three books are Chris Ewan's The Good Thief's Guide to Paris which I had to buy purely because I could not find my edition at home. The only books I brought with me to Crimefest to get signed was Chris Ewan's Good Thief's Guide series. The other two books that I bought were The Mammoth Book of the World's Best Crime Stories which I have been trying to get my hands on and the third book which I bought was Conor Fitzgerald's The Dogs of Rome which I have been hearing good things about.

The first two panels are at 9:00am in the morning. The first is Operation Petticoat: Jobs for the Girls whilst the second is Father Goose: Unusual Job for a Sleuth.

Right! I'm off, I think that I had better get a move on and get my act together or if I am not careful I may not make it to the first panel and I have not had my breakfast yet!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Crimefest Day 1 Part 3

L-R Caroline Todd, Peter Guttridge, Martin Edwards, Adrian Magson & Sarah Rayne
(Picture Ayo Onatade)

Day one of Crimefest hasn't finished yet. The final panel that I attended was the one on Forgotten Authors which as I pointed out in my previous post was moderated by Martin Edwards. The panelists on Forgotten Authors in addition to Martin who was a participating moderator were Peter Guttridge, Sarah Rayne, Adrian Magson and Caroline Todd (who writes books with her son as Charles Todd). Each of the panelists spoke about two authors that were in their opinion forgotten authors. Some of them were in fact rather obscure but it was interesting to learn about them and understand why the panelists consider them to be forgotten authors.

Each of the authors after talking a bit about themselves spoke briefly about the authors that they considered to be forgotten. Peter Guttridge spoke about John Franklin Bardin a British author whose book The Last of Phillip Banter was made into a film in 1986 and featured Tony Curtis. Peter's second author was Adam Hall who is best known for the book The Quiller Memorandum. Caroline Todd spoke about George Shipway whose book The Chilian Club (aka The Yellow Room in the US) was seen not only as a political satire but considered to be too close and real to what was happening in the world at the time. The second author that she considered to be "forgotten" was William Barrett an American author whose second book The Edge of Things (1938) drew her to the author. His 1951 novel The Left Hand of God was made into a movie featuring Humphrey Bogart and was set in Chile, whilst Sidney Poitier featured in 1962 novel Lillies of the Field which was also turned into a film. Sarah Rayne's first forgotten author was Peter Van Greenway who is best known for the 1973 novel The Medusa Touch which featured Inspector Cherry and was filmed in 1978 staring Richard Burton. Her second author was Patricia Wentworth is is best known for the Miss Maud Silver series.

Adrian Magson's two authors were Adam Diment and one of my favourites Leslie Charteris who is best known as the author of the Staint novels. As Adrian explained, it was because of Adam Diment he wrote spy novels. Diment did not write many spy novels and as a result of this there is a rather mythical status about him. He wrote his first novel in 1967 - The Dolly, Dolly Spy and his last novel Think, Inc in 1971. Adrian indicated that he felt that the main protagonist in the Adam Diment novels were in fact better than Ian Fleming's James Bond. He also felt that he was ahead of his times. Not much could be said about the Saint books. As Adrian indicated, "he spent his life biffing the baddies".

Martin Edwards two authors were Charles Warren Adam also known as Charles Felix and Canon Victor L Whitechurch. Canon Whitechurch was the author of a series of railway detective novels featuring a character known as Thorpe Hazell. It was an interesting discussion and if anything it made me want to go back home and hunt down all my Saint books to re-read!

So what happened at the quiz! The quiz once again took place in The Greenhouse the pub opposite the conference hotel! Peter Guttridge who was once again quiz master produced his usual set of esoteric questions. The team I was in consisted of Maxim Jakubowski and his lovely wife Dolores, Paul Johnston, Lauren Henderson, Andrew Taylor and a lovely lady called Sarah whose surname I did not catch. The Shots team consisted of Ali Karim, Mike Stotter, Kirstie Long and Ilaria Meliconi from the independent publishers of Italian Crime novels Hersilia Press. The name of our team was The Beauty and the Beasts and we did not do too badly. We actually came second with 33 points. The winners were the International Bloggers who won with 37 1/2. I am certain that what did us in were the anagrams. But such is life. It was good fun.

More people have started to arrive and these include Matt Hilton, Priscilla Masters and Sheila Quigley. More tomorrow! The first panel is at 9:00am so I need to get my beauty sleep!

Crimefest Day 1 Part 2

The first panel at Crimefest was Arsenic and Old Lace: How Cosy are Cosies. This was very well moderated by Lauren Henderson with the panelists being Frances Brody, Dolores Gordon-Smith, Carola Dunn and Deryn Lake. One of the questions that was asked was whether or not the panelists books were actually cosies? It was agreed that they were not the ones that thought up the name "cosies" and that they did not consider their books to be cosies. As Carola Dunn explained, her latest book Anthem of Youth is her darkest yet and that she certainly did not see it as a cosy. However, it was also agreed that there are a lot of people that will not pick up what is considered to be a cosy novel. As Dolores-Gordon-Smith pointed out here it is seen as an insult. I am not actually sure that I agree with this though I can see her point. It was pointed out that none of the panelists characters were set in the present day. But why? It was also agreed that there was room for all different types of books and that other elements made up cosies. Amongst some of the other questions that were asked were whether or not cosies explored a particular part of society and also did the day job affect their writing? All the panelists agreed that cosies did explore a different part of socity and also the day job did affect their writing!

Bringing Up Baby: : Creating Believable Sleuths was the second panel of the day and featured authors Paul Johnson, Christopher Wakling, L C Tyler and Anne Zouroudi with the participating moderator being Zoe Sharp. The panelists were asked if their characters were flawed narrators. LC Tyler felt that his were. There is a lot of conflict between his two main characters. It was felt that flaws made them interesting and not one dimensional. Christopher Wakling explained that his character was addicted to coffee which made him interesting but still mundane. It felt that it added to the story. It was also felt however that the flaw did not have to be in the character and that it could be external as well as internal. Various other questions were asked of the panelists about their characters and it was agreed that they did in fact evolve organically. As Anne Zouroudi pointed out, if there is no conflict then there is no story. One of the most interesting questions that the panelists were asked was what annoyed them in characters. Paul Johnston started off by saying that he disliked Dorothy L Sayers character Lord Peter Sayers because of his snobbery and general behaviour. Chris Wakling said that he disliked the novel American Psycho. He said that he really did not like the character Patrick Bateman and that the bit where they are comparing the thickness and style of their business cards is the bit that annoys him the most. For Len Tyler it was rather surprisingly Miss Marple! Anne Zouroudi said that for her it was not a particular character per se, but implausible police officers. As she explained police officers were not likely to welcome a member of the public helping them solve a crime. The police officers that she had met were at times rather arrogant and would certainly not want a member of the public anywhere near their crime scene. Zoe Sharp said that for her as well it was not really a specific character but it was when the character rather plainly got things wrong. This is of course more to do with the author than anything else. Her example was Dan Brown as she said, it was clear in one of the books that he had never ridden a Land Rover across a field before as there was various mistakes in what he had written.

The final panel of the day was on Forgotten Authors and it was moderated by the excellent Martin Edwards! What happened on the panel will be part of my next post as I am off to have some food and to join my fellow quiz members which will include Lauren Henderson and Maxim Jakubowski! Wish me luck!

Crimefest Day 1 Part 1

This is the first of my bolgs from Crimefest. For those of you that have read my blog the previous years, you will realise that they will consist of as much interesting and sometimes irrelevant inormation as possible. Enjoy!

Okay, so I have finally arrived at Bristol to attend Crimefest. The train journey down was quite good fun. I met up with my friend and fellow Shotsmag reviewer Kirstie Long and we had an enjoyable journey down which culminated in us regaling a fellow passenger with a whole load of suggested authors that he might want to try reading! Have already met /bumped into a wide range of people at the hotel, including the delightful Lauren Henderson and the equally delightful Donna Moore, Andrew Taylor, Adrian Magson, Carola Dunn, Len Tyler and Francis Brody to name a few. There is only one strand of panels taking place on the Thursday, so I am going off to listen to Lauren Henderson moderate Arsenic and Old Lace : How Cosy are Cosies?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

SHOTS from the Red Carpet.

Lindsey Davis was presented with the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger on 16th May at London's Savoy Hotel. She was the 26th recipient of the prestigious award.  A full report will follow but thought to share some of the photos taken last night by myself.
Aranud Bamberger addressing his "super sleuths"

Aranud Bamberger  & Lindsey David
The famous Cartier Diamond Dagger

Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here ....

There will be more coverage of the event over on the Shots website but after Crime Fest.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Forthcoming books to look forward to from Simon & Schuster

Meet Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. He's a murder detective. A near-genius. He's brilliant; he's intense; he's instinctive. He's obsessional. He's dangerous. DCI John Luther has an extraordinary clearance rate. He commands outstanding loyalty from friends and colleagues. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumours that DCI Luther is bad - not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented. Luther seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things he shouldn't; things way beyond the limits of the law. Luther: The Calling, the first in a new series of novels featuring DCI John Luther, takes us into Luther's past and into his mind. It is the story of the case that tore his personal and professional relationships apart and propelled him over the precipice. Beyond fury, beyond vengeance. All the way to murder... Luther: The Calling is by Neil Cross and is due to be published in August 2011.

Thieves Get Rich is by Jodi Compton and is due to be published in December 2011. Having defied a powerful mobster to protect a pregnant teenager, army dropout Hailey Cain has found herself on the wrong side of the law and is now in LA, second-in-command to her high school best friend turned rising gangster Serena 'Warchild' Delgadillo. Hailey is just beginning to settle into her unconventional new way of life when it is suddenly and violently overturned. A murder has been committed, and all fingers are pointing at her. Only Hailey herself, and the all-girl gang to which she belongs, know that this is a case of stolen identity with ruthless and dangerous motives. But how can they prove this, given that she'll be arrested as soon as she steps forward? Hailey must go on the run once more, risking her life to reclaim her name and chase down the murderer who has taken it...

Agent 6 is by the award wining author Tom Robb Smith and is due to be published in July 2011. Former Soviet Secret Service agent Leo Demidov has built himself a new life as a civilian with his wife Raisa, and their two teenage daughters, Elena and Zoya. The Soviet Union is a country trying to reassert itself after the murderous excesses of Stalin and the chaos of the following years, and as the Cold War continues powers inside Russia seek to topple their great enemy, the United States of America. Communist allies within the United States will prove vital players in this game of intrigue and revolution. Raisa and their two daughters travel to the United States on a diplomatic mission, but a horrifying tragedy destroys everything Leo and Raisa have built. Leo must get to the States somehow and find out what happened. Exiled from the Soviet Union and separated from his family, Leo's quest takes him through the stark wilderness of Afghanistan, reawakening all his old instincts and forcing him to confront his demons. But whatever it costs, wherever he must go, he will find Agent 6.

In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train. Despite hundreds of potential witnesses, no one noticed when the girl was taken. Her mother had been left behind at the previous station in what seemed to be a coincidence. The train crew were alerted and kept a watchful eye on the sleeping child. But as the train pulled into Stockholm Central Station, the girl was nowhere to be seen. Inspector Alex Recht and his special team of federal investigators, assisted by the investigative analyst Frederika Bergman, are assigned to what at first appears to be a classic custody row. But when the child is found dead in the far north of Sweden with the word 'Unwanted' scribbled on her forehead, the case soon turns into the investigation team's worst nightmare - the pursuit of a brilliant and ruthless killer. Unwanted is by Kristina Ohlsson and is due to be published in November 2011.

Forensic investigator Reilly Steel, Quantico-trained and California-born and bred, imagined Dublin to be a far cry from bustling San Francisco, a sleepy backwater where she can lay past ghosts to rest and start anew. She's arrived in Ireland to drag the Irish crime lab into the 21st century, plus keep tabs on her Irish-born father who's increasingly seeking solace in the bottle after a past family tragedy. But a brutal serial killer soon puts paid to that. When a young man and woman are found dead in an apartment, the gunshot wounds on their naked bodies suggest a suicide pact. But Reilly's instincts are screaming that something's seriously amiss, and as more bodies are discovered, the team soon realises that a twisted murderer is at work, one who seeks to upset society's norms in the most sickening way imaginable... Taboo is by Casey Hill and is due to be published in July 2011.

When Detective Robert Hunter, of the Los Angeles Homicide Special Section, has to take over the investigation of an especially gruesome murder, he starts to suspect that the killer might be keeping several women hostage, not least because his inquiry collides with a missing persons’ case being investigated by the razor sharp Whitney Meyers. Soon Robert finds himself on the hunt for a predator with a terrible secret, who won’t stop until each of his victims has brought forth the awful truth that lies hidden deep inside them too. The Night Watcher is by Chris Carter and is due to be published in July 2011.

The Covenant is by Dean Crawford and is due to be published in November 2011. When archaeologist Lucy Morgan uncovers a 7000-year old tomb on a dig in a remote part of Israel, she realises she has stumbled across something that will re-write history. That’s before she’s knocked unconscious. Pastor Kelvin Patterson, head of one of America’s biggest fundamentalist churches, has known of such discoveries for some time but in his eyes these skeletons are not aliens but angels. In Washington DC, two detectives come across three bodies, rotting in a sweltering apartment. So why is it that they appear to have died of hypothermia. With so much at stake only one man can be called upon to help. Troubled Ethan Warner, war correspondent and former marine, had hoped to put his action days behind him. But when he is asked by Lucy’s mother to find her, he knows he cannot let her down.

Ali Reynolds' six week course at the Arizona Police Academy is abruptly interrupted when Brenda Riley, a colleague from Ali's old news broadcasting days in California, shows up in town with an alcohol problem and an unlikely story about a missing fiance. Ali is cynical, but reluctantly agrees to help out an old friend. It soon comes to light that the man posing as Brenda's fiance is Richard Lowensdale, a cyber-sociopath who has left a trail of broken hearts in his virtual wake. Now he has been viciously murdered, the women he once victimized are considered suspects. The police soon focus their investigation on Brenda, who is already known to have broken into Richard's home and computer before vanishing without a trace. Attempting to clear her friend's name, Ali is quickly drawn into a web of online intrigue that may lead to a real-world fatal error. Fatal Error is by J.A Jance and is due to be published in September 2011.

Face of the Devil is by N.J.Cooper and is due to be published in July 2011. Suzie Gray is only fifteen when she is stabbed to death within metres of her uncle's yacht on the Isle of Wight. Her body is found in the blood-smeared arms of Olly Matken, a family friend who grew up with her. Schizophrenic and vulnerable, he presents a serious challenge to the police. 'I didn't hurt her!' Olly protests. 'All I did was keep her from the devil.' DCI Charlie Trench turns to forensic psychologist Karen Taylor. She knows she should ignore his call, but she cannot. Curiosity and, although she would never admit it to her partner, Will, a dangerous attraction to the brooding detective, push her into a deeply troubling case. Is Olly capable of murder? His own psychologist doesn't think so, but his father does. The only way to find the truth is to identify Olly's devil. And Karen has demons of her own.

Jake Reese is an ordinary guy with an ordinary job, trying to block out the memory of his far from ordinary past by planning for a life with his new wife, Diane. When two men attack Jake in a car park and cut off his ring finger, he tries to dismiss it as a random incident: an unlucky case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when events take a sinister turn and Diane goes missing, Jake finds he can dismiss his suspicions no longer. As he embarks on a mission to find her, Jake finds that his dark past refuses to stay buried, and his future begins to unfold in ways he could never have imagined….. Already Gone is by John Rector and is due to be published in December 2011.

Gideon Davis, whose behind-the-scenes negotiating skills have earned him the role of peacemaker in conflicts around the globe, knows more about hush-hush discussions in Capitol corridors than he does about hand-to-hand combat. But his more practical, tactical skills become vital when he's called upon by family friend and government big-wig Earl Parker to bring in a rogue agent - Gideon's own brother Tillman. Gideon is transported from a DC awards dinner to the jungles of the oil-rich nation of Mohan, where Tillman has promised to give himself up. But on his arrival the plan goes immediately awry. Gideon must evade hostile locals to make his way to The Obelisk - a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art oil rig that has been seized by terrorists. Both Tillman, who doesn't seem to have surrender in mind, and Earl Parker are aboard the ill-fated rig - Tillman working undercover and Parker as a hostage. As tensions rise, Gideon launches a hazardous one-man rescue. The Obelisk is the debut novel by Howard Gordon and is due to be published in September 2011.

When Christopher Thomas, a curator at San Francisco's Museum of Fine Arts, is murdered and his decaying body is found in an iron maiden in Berlin, his wife Rosemary Thomas is the prime suspect. Long suffering under Christopher's unfaithful ways, Rosemary is tried, convicted and executed. Ten years later, Jon Nunn, the detective who cracked the case, becomes convinced that the wrong person was put to death. Along with financier Tony Olsen, he plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher died and finally uncover the truth about what happened that fateful evening. Could it have been the ne'er do well brother Peter Hausen, interested in his sister's trust fund having got through his own; the curatorial assistant Justine Olengard, used and betrayed by Christopher; the artist Belle who turned down his advances only to see her career suffer a setback; or someone else all together? No Rest for the Dead is a thrilling, page-turning accomplishment that features contributions from such authors as Jeffery Deaver, Kathy Reichs, Tess Gerristen, Jeff Lindsay, Alexander McCall Smith and Peter James with an introduction by David Baldacci. It is due to be published in November 2011.

When a whole block is torn down in central Minneapolis to make way for a new housing development, an unpleasant surprise is unearthed. The bodies of two girls, wrapped in plastic, are discovered underneath an old house. It looks like they've been down there a long time. Lucas Davenport knows exactly how long. In 1985, Davenport was a young cop just about to be promoted out of uniform, despite a reputation for playing fast and loose with the rules. A superb undercover guy, he was part of the massive police effort that followed the kidnapping of two girls who were never found again, dead or alive. The searches turned up nothing, so when the suspected kidnapper was killed in a shoot-out, the case was closed. But not for Davenport. He'd gotten deep into the case, and while he was convinced the suspect knew something, he didn't think he was the perpetrator - something just felt off. He argued hard about it to his bosses, but nobody wanted to hear. Until now. With the bodies discovered, the case is dusted off, just to tie a bow around it - but there's something wrong with the evidence. There are indications of tampering. Police tampering. And as Davenport investigates, it becomes clear: It wasn't just the bodies that were buried, but the truth - and there are a lot of people with a very strong stake in that truth never being uncovered. Buried Prey is by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Sandford and is due to be published in July 2011.

The Good Jihadist is by Bob Shepherd and is due to be published in August 2011. Disillusioned SAS veteran Matt Logan is struggling on civvy street. The life he dreams of can be his - if he takes a private security job with the American commander who ended his military career. But when a seemingly random act of terror destroys everything Matt holds dear, the only way to settle the score is to sell his soul. Matt returns to the murky world of Black Ops. But this time, he's not part of an elite crew. To find and kill an elusive insurgent leader, he must single-handedly unravel a jihadist network more complex than he realizes and closer than he knows. Stalked by fundamentalists and Pakistani intelligence, Matt ends up a pawn in a conspiracy to redraw the boundaries of global power; a secret war that is ripping a nation apart. But not the one he thinks ...

The Survivor is by Sean Slater and is due to be published in August 2011. It's every cop's worst nightmare. Especially when his daughter's in the line of fire. In his first hour back from a six-month leave of absence, Detective Jacob Striker's day quickly turns into a nightmare. He is barely on scene five minutes at his daughter's high school when he encounters an Active Shooter situation. Three men wearing hockey masks - Black, White, and Red - have stormed the school with firearms and are killing indiscriminately. Striker takes immediate action. Within minutes two of the gunmen are dead, and Striker is close to ending the violence. But then the last gunman, Red Mask, does something unexpected. He runs up to his fallen comrade, racks the shotgun, and unloads five rounds, obliterating the man's face and hands. And before Striker can react, Red Mask escapes. Against the clock, Striker investigates the killings for which there is no known motive and no known suspect. Soon his investigation takes him to darker places, and he realizes that not everything at Saint Patrick's High is as it seems. The closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his world becomes. Until Striker himself is in the line of fire. And the violence follows him home ....

When the village of Priors Bramley was closed off for chemical-weapons testing during the Cold War, a long history of dark secrets was also shut away. Now, more than fifty years later, the ghost village has been declared safe again, but there are those living nearby who would much rather that the past remains buried. Ella Haywood, who used to play in the village as a child, is haunted by the discovery of two bodies. All those years ago, something happened in the village, something so terrible that and she and her two oldest friends have vowed to this day never to tell a soul. But the past has a habit of forcing the truth to the surface. With the identity of the bodies and the mystery surrounding the now derelict Cadence Manor drawing increasing local interest, Ella fears that she will have to resort to ever more drastic measures if she is to make sure that no one discovers what really happened all those years ago. What Lies Beneath is by Sarah Rayne and is due to be published in August 2011.

The Beloved of Isis is by Christian Jacq and is due to be published in October 2011. Vienna 1789. A season of darkness has spread throughout Europe as the French Revolution stirs up civil unrest and provokes fear among the authorities. Struggling to makes ends meet, and plagued by a never-ending assault from his enemies, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is determined to fulfil his destiny, as foretold in the ancient secrets of the Pharaohs. Supported by his friend Thamos, Count of Thebes, and encouraged by the Masonic Lodge, Mozart finds the energy to accomplish his greatest work - The Magic Flute, which will reveal the Mysteries of Isis and Osiris to the world and pave the way to enlightenment. But the ultimate test approaches...

Cerdic, a young boy who has the ability to see into the future, has a mysterious treasure in his possession. A blind old woman once gave him a miniature knife with an ivory bear hilt - the symbol of King Arthur - and told him that when the time comes he will know what he has to do with it. But when he and his brother, Baradoc, are enlisted into King Arthur's army, he finds that trouble seems to follow him wherever he goes. When Baradoc dies fighting with King Arthur in an ambush of the Saxons on Solsbury Hill, Cerdic buries the dagger in the side of the hill as a personal tribute to his brother. Throughout history, Solsbury Hill continues to be the scene of murder, theft and the search for buried treasure. Religion, politics and the spirit of King Arthur reign over the region, wreaking havoc and leaving a trail of corpses and treasure buried in the hill as an indication of its turbulent past. Hill of Bones is by The Medieval Murderers and is due to be published in July 2011.

The Night Strangers is by Chris Bohjalian and is due to be published in November 2011. It begins with a door in a dusky corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire. A door that someone has sealed it shut with thirty-nine enormous carriage bolts. The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin daughters. Chip was an an airline pilot until he was forced to crash land on a remote lake the jet he was flying after double engine failure. Thirty-nine people aboard Flight 1611 died that day - a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door ...Meanwhile, his wife is increasingly troubled about the women in this sparsely populated village, self-proclaimed 'herbalists'. Why do they seem excessively interested in her young daughters. Emily is terrified, too, that her husband's grip on sanity seems to have become increasingly tenuous, in the wake of the devastating plane accident.