Month: January 2019

The Last – Hanna Jameson

Title – The Last

Author – Hanna Jameson

Published – 31 January 2019

Genre – Dystopian thriller

I was a huge fan of Hanna Jameson’s debut – the dark crime thriller Something You Are; The Last is a departure in a number of ways but is no less thrilling. Set in a dystopian near future this is a contemporary thriller using the possibilities that a small leap in current events could create. This isn’t a genre that I read particularly often but the book called to mind both The Last Policeman series with its lead up to an apocalypse and Station Eleven which is set further post-apocalypse. The Last is somewhere between these, on the cusp of events as the realisation that the world is forever changed takes hold on a small group.

American professional historian Jon Keller is in a hotel in Switzerland, attending a convention, when the news breaks over breakfast that there has been a nuclear attack. Ever the professional Keller starts to record the events for posterity, or so that he can make amends with his wife who he left back in San Francisco.

A small group of survivors, a mixture of hotel staff and guests, remain at the hotel, the others having left despite the warnings that there is nothing outside for them. After the initial news reports the communications fail and the group needs to consider how they will survive. When they discover the body of a small child. Keller takes it upon himself to investigate

The hotel is enormous (thirteen floors and almost a thousand rooms) and set in an isolated location. Combine this with the very small group of survivors and this gives the setting a very eerie feeling. Needless to say that the pressure on the group  begins to take its toll as some seek to place blame for the events leading up to the nuclear strike, suspicion mounts over the identity of the killer and tempers flare as resources run low.

Although narrated in a straightforward way, as the days pass there is an element of backstory which fills in details of some of the events that took place once the news of the attack started to spread as well as an explanation of Keller’s relationship with his wife. He’s not a particularly likeable character and as he works his way around the group ‘interviewing’ them it doesn’t increase his popularity. He is also putting his own spin on the situation in the unlikely event that he should be able to give the diary to his wife.

The crime aspect is an interesting one as it gives the sense of a locked room murder and the investigation is one with limited methods at Keller’s disposal. The book is dark and doesn’t ignore the fate of those who decide that they can’t face the future. There are some interesting twists and turns to the plot and a sense that there was some sort of fate or destiny which placed the particular people in the group. I’m not going to say anything about the ending as I want to avoid spoilers but look forward to talking to other readers about it at some point!

A complex story mixing a crime story, with events which are catastrophic but plausible. A great read to start off the year. Many thanks to the publisher for the netgalley.

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Crime fiction events in 2019

My post listing the 2018 events was one of the most popular I published last year so it would be remiss of me not to carry the listings on to 2019.

Remember this isn’t all literary events (there are plenty of lists of those and there must be hundreds of events) but it is a list of the main dedicated crime fiction events taking place in the UK (with a few notable additions).

I aim to maintain the list and update it as dates are confirmed so do let me know if there’s anything I should add.

January

Nothing uncovered so far – perhaps we’re all busy reading!

February

22 – 24 February – Granite Noir 2019, Aberdeen’s crime writing festival
This is the third year for this crime writing festival featuring some of the most celebrated talent from the Nordic Noir scene alongside Scotland’s own Tartan Noir authors.

27 February – Noir at the Bar, Edinburgh
An evening event, check the FB page for info on this and more events – https://www.facebook.com/NoirattheBarEd/ 

March

8 – 10 March – NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival, Belfast
The 3-day festival will be showcasing the amazing talent emerging from Ireland currently.

29 – 31 March  Quais du Polar – Lyon
I can’t see yet that a programme has been published for 2019 – the festival is free, a short flight from the UK and much of the content accessible for English-speakers.

April

11- 14 April – Books by the Beach, Scarborough
Not a dedicated crime fiction event but this does get a good contribution from crime writers.

May

3 – 5 May – Newcastle Noir, Newcastle
Programme release at the end of January, tickets on sale in February (weekend passes & panel passes), & the venue for the Friday night cabaret revealed

9 -12 May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world.

June

3 – 8 June – Crime and Coffee Festival, Cardiff
Returning for a second year, with a packed bill, including talks, readings, panel discussions, and workshops.

12 – 15 June – Captivating Criminality, Bath
The sixth UK conference from the Captivating Criminality Network, ‘Metamorphoses of Crime: Facts and Fictions‘, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre incorporates elements of real-life cases and, in turn, influences society by conveying thought-provoking ideas of deviance, criminal activity, investigation and punishment.

15 – 16 June – Slaughter in Southwold, Southwold
Now in its seventh year, Southwold Arts Centre will host two days of crime fiction heaven. Speakers include Val McDermid, Elly Griffiths, Martin Edwards and Kate Ellis. With a variety of events planned, including a quiz, murder mystery evening and a murder mystery musical, there’s something for everyone.

21 – 23 June – Alibis in the Archives, Gladstone Library, Hawarden, Flintshire
An event run in association with the Crime Writers’ Association and The Detection Club.

29 June – Bodies from the Library – British Library, London
A one day conference with an exciting programme of discussions, presentations and panels on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers.

July

18 – 21 July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Mari Hannah Child is the chair of the Programming Committee. Special Guests already announced include James Patterson, Jo Nesbo, MC Beaton and Stuart MacBride.

August

2 – 4 August – Bute Noir, Bute
Bute Noir is the first crime writing festival to be held on the Isle of Bute bringing together bestselling authors from the U.S, England and Scotland.

16 – 18 August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend – Oxford
The 26th year of this unique conference – https://www.sthildas.ox.ac.uk/content/2019-st-hildas-crime-fiction-weekend

September

11 – 15 September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
The festival is now a biennial event, the next 5-day festival is scheduled for 11th-15th September 2019.

12 – 15 September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk
The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival is an annual celebration bringing together superstar crime authors, exciting new talent and fans of all things crime fiction.

20 – 22 September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Tickets on sale from 3 June. Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

26 – 28 September – Capital Crime, London’s West End
The brains behind this new event are David Headley, MD of  Goldsboro Books and organiser of the infamous ‘Crime in the Court’ and novelist and screenwriter Adam Hamdy so it has excellent credentials.

September – Margate Bookie, Margate
No confirmed dates at time of writing.

28 – 29 September – Morecambe & Vice, Morecambe
The third year for this event, “there will be panels and talks & trials and debates as authors and guests from around the globe gather to converse, consider and confabulate over crime in all its many facets”.

October

4 – 13 October – Cheltenham Literary Festival, Cheltenham
I wouldn’t normally include this festival as it’s so diverse and doesn’t have the same focus as most of the other events listed here but it’s worth a check of the programme when published.

October – Killer Weekend,
The website suggests that there won’t be an event this year but one in March 2020.

October – Crime Writing: Truth, Myth, Death and Mayhem at Darkfest, Portsmouth
Part of Darkfest – no confirmed dates at time of writing.

November

Mid-November is the biennial Iceland Noir, next due to take place in  2020. No news yet on the location a festival taking place in this slot 2019.

December

All busy shopping for books …