Author: suzigun

The 2019 CWA Daggers – longlists announced

As has become traditional the CWA Dagger longlists were announced at Crimefest in Bristol earlier this month. The Diamond Dagger has already been confirmed and the shortlists for the remainder will be announced in July. The winners of all the CWA Daggers will be announced at the Dagger Awards Dinner to be held on 24 October.

The Diamond Dagger – selected from nominations provided by CWA members – 2019 winner is Robert Goddard and the award will be presented at the CWA Dagger Awards Dinner in October.

The longlists for the following daggers were announced during Crimefest and the shortlists will be announced in July.

Gold Dagger

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

Snap by Belinda Bauer

The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin

The Puppet Show by M W Craven

Body and Soul by John Harvey

What We Did by Christobel Kent

Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon

Fade to Grey by  John Lincoln

Cold Bones by David Mark

American By Day by Derek B. Miller

Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee

Salt Lane by William Shaw

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

The Fire Court by Andrew Taylor

A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better by Benjamin Wood

 

 

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

Give Me Your Handby Megan Abbott

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Safe Houses by  Dan Fesperman

The Stranger Diaries by  Elly Griffiths

No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings

Lives Laid Away by Stephen Mack Jones

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

Homegrown Hero by Khurrum Rahman

To The Lions by Holly Watt

Memo From Turner by Tim Willocks

 

 John Creasey (New Blood)

Motherland by G D Abson

All the Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

When Darkness Calls by Mark Griffin

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Turn A Blind Eye by Vicky Newham

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Something In The Water by Catherine Steadman

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

Overkill by Vanda Symon

 

International Dagger

A Long Night in Paris by Dov Alfon, translator Daniella Zamir

Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard, translators Maya Fowler & Isobel Dixon

The Cold Summer by Gianrico Carofiglio, translator Howard Curtis

Newcomer by Keigo Higashino, translator Giles Murray

The Root of Evil by Håkan Nesser, translator Sarah Death

The Forger by Cay Rademacher, translator Peter Millar

The Overnight Kidnapper by Andrea Camilleri, translator Stephen Sartarelli

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl, translator Don Bartlett

Slugger by Martin Holmén, translator A A Prime

The Katherina Code by Jørn Lier Horst, translator Anne Bruce

 

Non-Fiction Dagger

All That Remains by Sue Black

An Unexplained Death by Mikita Brottman

Trace by Rachael Brown

Murder by the Book by Claire Harman

The Feather Thief by Kirk Johnson

Eve Was Shamed by Helena Kennedy

In Your Defence by Sarah Langford

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

My Life with Murderers by David Wilson

 

CWA Short Story Dagger

Room Number Two by Andrea Camilleri in ‘Death at Sea’ by Andrea Camilleri

Strangers in a Pub by Martin Edwards in ‘Ten Year Stretch’, edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller

How Many Cats Have You Killed? by Mick Herron in ‘Ten Year Stretch’, edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller

Death Becomes Her by Syd Moore in ‘The Strange Casebook’ by Syd Moore,

The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing by Danuta Reah in ‘The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and other Fantastic Female Fables’

I Detest Mozart by Teresa Solana in ‘The First Historic Serial Killers’ by Teresa Solana

Paradise Gained by TeresaSolana in ‘The First Historic Serial Killers’ by Teresa Solana

Bag Man by Lavie Tidhar in ‘The Outcast Hours’, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin

Debut Dagger (unpublished writers)

Shelley Burr – Wake

Mairi Campbell-Jack  – Self-Help for Serial Killers: Let Your Creativity Bloom

Jerry Krause – The Mourning Light

Michael Fleming – The Fruits of Rashness

Carol Glaser – Down the Well

Catherine Hendricks – Hardways

Anna Maloney – The Right Man

David Smith – The Firefly

Fran Smith – A Thin Sharp Blade

Matthew Smith – InWolf’s Clothing

Historical Dagger

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Destroying Angel by S G Maclean

Gallows Court by Martin Edwards

Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee

Tombland by C J Sansom

The Angel’s Mark by S W Perry

The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve

The Mathematical Bridge by Jim Kelly

The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin

The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

 

 

Dagger in the Library longlist

M C Beaton

Simon Beckett

Mark Billingham

Christopher Brookmyre

John Connolly

Kate Ellis

Sophie Hannah

Graham Masterton

Denise Mina

C J Sansom

Cath Staincliffe

Jacqueline Winspear

 

So how’s your reading going – will you have read enough to judge a category for yourself?

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Dark Vineyard – Martin Walker

71h0Mf4nPQLTitle – Dark Vineyard

Author – Martin Walker

Published – 2009

Genre – Crime fiction

I’m starting this review with a bit of an unrelated moan, but WordPress has been driving me mad of late. I use a Mac and haven’t been able to open WordPress via Safari for weeks. Having established that’s the issue I’ve had to install a different browser and although I have access again I now can’t persuade the browser or WordPress to do any spellchecks. I seem to be spending a lot of time trying to fix things that a few weeks ago weren’t broken and my ‘to review’ pile is just getting bigger & bigger!

But back to the point of this post – my review of the second book in the ‘Bruno, Chief of Police’ series ‘Dark Vineyard’. While I felt that the first book (Death in the Dordogne) wasn’t quite as good as the later books I’ve read, I thought this one was up to the standard I’ve come to expect.

There is only really one mystery that gets this book started and that’s who has set fire to a field of GMO crops – could it be a disgrunted local or an environmental activist? As the investigation into the fire begins a Californian wine producer, Bondino, meets with the Mayor to make a business proposition, one that will change life in St Denis, however he won’t pursue the deal if there is a hint of any futher trouble. The proposal adds a political dimension to the plot, pitting tradition against progress, and Bruno is under some pressure from the Mayor to reach the right conclusion speedily.

As ever, Bruno draws on his local knowledge to take the investigation in the right direction and that puts one of the young men from the rugby club, Max, in the spotlight.   He has strong environmental credentials and plans a future in wine production, he also seems to be a rival for the affections of Jacqueline, a young, Canadian student of wine who has been linked romantically with Bondino.

As the investigation into the fire progresses and the day-to-day life of the town carries on there are two further deaths which while odd aren’t necessarily anything more than accidents, although their timing could suit Bondino who, as an outsider, would make the perfect suspect for Bruno.

Bruno’s love life continues to feature – his ‘on/off’ relationship with Isabelle, as she pressures him to follow her to Paris and a new romance sparks on his doorstep. One of the disadvantages of reading the series out of order is knowing how these things will pan out.

Wine production features heavily in this book – adding to my knowledge from Proof by Dick Francis and more recently All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo (which was excellent & I must write up my review). The book, as with the others in the series, evokes the location – if I ever visit the Périgord Martin Walker will be have to take some responsibility. Bruno also conjours up more of his remarkable meals, the notable one featuring ‘bécasses’ which I had to Google afterwards and are woodcocks (not a dish I plan to order!).

An engaging read with a charming yet fallible lead character, an idyllic setting (despite the increasing bodycount) and some aspirational lifestyles, I do enjoy this series. I note that, jumping ahead, the twelfth book in the series, The Body in the Castle Well, is due out in June.

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Villa America – Liza Klaussmann

Title – Villa America

Author – Liza Klaussmann

Published – 2016

Genre – Historical fiction

I saw Liza Klaussmann talking about her book alongside Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott (author of Swan Song) at the Cheltenham Literary Festival last year and had to add it to my wishlist for Chirstmas (and many thanks to Mr Novel Heights for buying it for me).

Like Swan Song this is a fictional take on real events, although in this case there is more on the ‘fiction’ side. ‘Villa America’ is the name of the villa built by husband and wife Gerald and Sara Murphy, in Cap d’Antibes. Their presence heralded the fashion for spending the summer (and not just the winter) on the French Riviera and introduced sunbathing as a fashionable activity. The circles they moved in (or rather, that appear to have moved around them) included Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Pablo Picasso, Archibald MacLeish, Cole Porter, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.

In ‘Villa America’ the author tells the story of the couple’s relationship (they married in 1915) with the bulk of the story taking place in the period between the two World Wars. To the framework of the historical records about the lives of the Murphy’s and their guests Klaussmann has fleshed out a pilot who flew in caviar for them and he (Owen) becomes the representation of Gerald’s struggles with his sexuality.

By creating the character of Owen, Klaussmann has given herself the opportunity to explore a huge ‘what if’ in the lives of the Murphys and weaves that extra dimension into their story. Told from multiple perspectives it’s the story of how the relationships shift within the marriage as Gerald develops a bond with Owen. While much of the book is a story of excess and glamour Gerald Murphy’s character is torn by the duality of his love life and as the Depression hits so very personal tragedies take their toll on the Murphys. It’s not a story with a happy ending!

Gerald became an artist during his time in France and it’s been interesting to see some of the paintings referred to in the book. Of course having read the book first I have to remind myself that the pictures existed before the author started the book and not the other way round! And Sara herself was something of a muse for Picasso.

Yet another book that sends me off in a new direction for my reading, I should add Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have based the characters of Dick and Nicole Diver on the Murphy’s) and the couple are also possibly referenced by Hemingway in The Garden of Eden. I should probably also go back to Mrs Hemingway  to see how this perspective fits with Villa America.

An enjoyable read and one ideal for reading on a hot and sunny beach.

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award – 2019 longlist

I wasn’t particularly planning to keep up the series of posts I did last year for the various crime fiction awards but when the longest for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award was published I was pleased to see that I’ve read a few of the book son the list. The full longest is:

Snap by Belinda Bauer (Transworld)

Our House by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster UK)

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh (Hachette)

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves (Pan Macmillan)

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Take Me In by Sabine Durrant (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths (Quercus)

London Rules by Mick Herron (John Murray Press)

Broken Ground by Val McDermid (Little, Brown Book Group)

The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney (HarperCollins)

The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry (Canongate Books)

East of Hounslow by Khurrum Rahman (HarperCollins)

Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes (Simon & Schuster UK)

Salt Lane by William Shaw (Quercus)

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor (Penguin Random House)

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan (Simon & Schuster UK)

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski (Orenda Books)

It’s interesting to see Snap on the list as it was on the Man Booker longlist, The Quaker took The McIlvanney Prize (Bloody Scotland’s annual prize awarded to the best Scottish Crime book of the year) and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle won the 2018 Costa First Novel Award. Alongside these winners are some of the really big names writing crime fiction at the moment. I’ve not read enough from the list to feel I can make a call on the winner, or even the shortlist, but it’s definitely a great list of crime books from the last year, if you were looking for more books for your TBR pile.

Any omissions that you would have liked to have seen included?

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

Title – Blood Orange

Author – Harriet Tyce

Published – Feb 2019

Genre – Crime fiction

This is one of the few review copies I’ve picked up this year (good news for my TBR), one of the books I picked up at the Headline New Voices event in Bristol.

I’ve categorised it as ‘crime fiction’ but it’s a gripping mix of domestic noir and legal, and unusually for me I read it in just one day.

Alison is one of those women who seem to be commonplace in crime fiction at present – a woman who appears to have it all (career, husband, daughter, illicit boyfriend) but treats it all quite carelessly. A self-destructive barrister, she realises that she drinks too much but despite swearing off the booze and being given her first murder case she fails to get her excesses under control.

The murder case isn’t the main plot but provides an interesting additional thread. The case means working with her boyfriend, a man who treats her abhorrently but seems to be another vice that she can’t give up. They are to defend an alleged murderer, Miranda, who is accused of stabbing her husband to death while he slept. Initially there seems to be little doubt that the accused woman murdered her husband but as they prise the details of their relationship out of her it becomes clear that the relationship was an abusive one, and Alison begins to see some similarities between Miranda’s experience and her own.

Against the backdrop of the case Alison’s home life begins to deteriorate and neither her husband nor her boyfriend seem to have a positive influence on her. She is frustrating when you know that she is making a bad decision (there are a lot) or she gets herself into  an unpleasant situation (there are some real ‘eww’ moments) but there is something about her that makes you want to stick with her despite the frustration.

As is often the case where the main character is drinking too much they and those around them all become unreliable narrators and this gives an underlying tension to the plot and to all Alison’s interactions. She perhaps doesn’t realise that people around her are untrustworthy but the reader certainly sees the possibility, even if it isn’t the case.

As Alison’s relationships fail her domestic issues reach a climax and the case against Miranda heads to court. Things didn’t pan out as I expected which I was pleasantly surprised by but they do take a dark turn.

I’m not a fan of books where you’re supposed to dislike the main character but there is something about Alison, perhaps a vulnerability that the writer has given her, that made me want to not only stick with the book but also made me want to root for her. I can’t say that this was an enjoyable read but it did have me gripped. Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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The Last Hours – Minette Walters

Title – The Last Hours

Author – Minette Walters

Published – 2017

Genre – Historical Fiction

I’m a huge Minette Walters fan so The Last Hours was a book I didn’t want to miss out on reading. A departure from her crime novels this is historical fiction where the bulk of the bodycount comes from the Black Death rather than murder (note I said bulk…).

Set in 1348 the book opens as the Black Death is starting its horrific journey across the country. The main location is Develish, an estate in Dorset where the absence of the Lord of the manor forces his wife, the young Lady Anne, to take control in order to protect the serfs who live on their land.

Lady Anne is a progressive woman for her time, having introduced changes (despite her boorish husband) which have seen the health and productivity of their lands improve. She quickly understands the necessity for isolation and brings all two hundred serfs within the moated walls of the estate. This sets up a situation where tempers are sure to fray and conflicts arise.

The death of a young man leads to a small expedition beyond the confines of the estate and this adds more tension to the story. The parts of the book where the action takes place outside the walls are graphic in their depiction of the Black Death and don’t pull any punches. It’s also one of those situations where the reader knows more than the protagonists about their plight (unless you’ve never heard of the Black Death…).

I’ve seen reviews of the book that describe it as being on a broad canvas but I’m not sure I agree. The isolation of the inhabitants from the rest of the outside world, other than a few dramatic encounters, gives the book a claustrophobic atmosphere and although there are several main characters (Lady Anne, her spoilt brat of a daughter Eleanor, Thaddeus Thurkell, a man pilloried for being a bastard) the core story is very much ‘the Black Death came to our door, this is what we did’ rather than deal with the developments beyond the estate.

I think the book has quite a slow pace but I enjoyed the description of the more day-to-day events and the development of the main characters that this allowed. Some of the characters were better developed than others – the priest, for example, felt like quite a caricature, but the demands the new situations put on Thaddeus provided an opportunity for his character to grow through the course of the story.

I’m not sure how realistic the portrayal of Lady Anne is and whether there are any examples of women who took on these leading roles in their estates, but her character is the one that ties all of the story together and she is the one who sets the moral standards in things like equality.

A very enjoyable read but a little disappointing that it obviously goes straight into the sequel so I did feel I’d been left in suspense a little at the end.

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The Chalk Man – C J Tudor

Title – The Chalk Man

Author – C J Tudor

Published – Jan 2018

Genre – Crime fiction

I had heard so many plaudits for this debut that I treated myself to a copy. It’s marketed heavily on similarities to Stephen King but to me it didn’t feel like ‘horror’, which is how most people think of King, it’s more like ‘Stand By Me’ – a coming of age story.

In the 1980s a group of friends are kicking their heels during the school holidays in a small town on the south coast of England. Eddie is one of the friends, now a 42 year old teacher still living in his parents’ house but with the addition of a young female lodger, and is the narrator of the events that took place thirty years previously. He’s received a mysterious letter (and if I’m honest I can’t remember if we ever found out what was in it) which sends ripples through the present and brings to the fore the events that took place thirty years ago. The events took the group from spending their pocket money at fairgrounds, building dens and riding their bikes, to a fractured group who mistrust each other.

Switching between the two timelines we have events unfolding in the 1980s where there is a surprisingly high body count and the present where Eddie is forced to face, and try to unravel, things that the friends hoped they could put behind them.

It’s an interesting way of telling the story, as a reader you wonder at each event ‘is this the one?’ and there are several possible candidates for being the ‘Chalk Man’ so it makes for an intriguing read. Eddie has some problems of his own and you realise fairly early on that he may not be the most reliable of narrators, he certainly is choosy about what he shares with the reader and when. The time slip aspect also gives an interesting feeling about the differences in perception that somewhat naive teens have versus more worldly wise adults. If all this isn’t enough there is also a more touching side of the story as Eddie describes his father’s decline with dementia. As is often the way with debuts, there are a lot of different things packed into the one book.

I liked the characters, you could see how the group would exist as friends and how the personalities fitted together. It’s also interesting to read about them in their school years and then jump ahead to find out what became of them as adults. It all felt very credible and authentic.

I enjoyed the writing and read the book over just a few days but I think there are some aspects where I got swept along with the writing and events may have seemed implausible if they had been given more scrutiny.

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