Murderabilia – Craig Robertson

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Title – Murderabilia

Author – Craig Robertson

Published – 2016

Genre – Crime

I don’t think it’s any secret that I am a fan of Craig Roberton’s writing – his mix of gritty Glaswegian crime fiction, ability to weave in multiple plotlines and of course his very readable prose. This is the sixth book in the series featuring DI Rachel Narey and her partner, ex-police photographer Tony Winter and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint.

Set just months after the end of In Place of Death, Winter is now a photo-journalist with the Scottish Standard but that doesn’t stop him getting into the thick of it when it comes to taking crime scene photos. A particularly visual death has Winter taking the pictures of a body suspended from a railway bridge, a death Narey will be investigating but something happens at the beginning of the investigation that sees Narey confined to their home and a colleague she believes to be incompetent taking over her case.

While Narey is trapped Winter does some digging of his own but not one for inaction Narey also begins to investigate one aspect of the crime scene through the only means she can – the internet. What she finds is a world where people will trade anything and everything associated with serial killers and their victims. Unable to leave her bed she becomes more and more obsessed with what she finds and is drawn into the darkest area of the web. Where the first books in this series featured Winter’s obsession with his photography and the visual aspects of the crime scene this is Narey’s turn to be consumed by something horrific.

Normally Robertson’s books offer a view of the dark side of the City of Glasgow but in this book it’s the dark side of the internet that is centre stage and those that collect items most of us would find abhorrent. The book still manages to be atmospheric because it effortlessly captures the claustraphobia of Narey’s confinement and her obsession. She’s firmly at the forefront of this book which makes it a more emotional read than perhaps the earlier titles have been.

It’s refreshing to come across a plot and a take on an investigation which is original and Robertson on certainly achieves that here. I’m always intrigued by his books, there is always some aspect that he brings in that makes me want to go away and find out more about. In this case you might (or might not) want to try Googling ‘murderabilia’ for yourself. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

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Here’s to 2017

stockvault-large-colorful-fireworks114130Well whatever your thoughts about 2016 it has, inevitably, passed and here we are looking forward to 2017 and what that might bring.

I thought this might be a good opportunity, even if it’s just for my own benefit, to take stock of what I read / blogged in 2016 so this time next year I have a comparison. According to Goodreads I have read 51 books – which is what I would expect – I know I usually read about one a week and with the house move I’ve had a couple of weeks where I’ve hardly read a page.

As well as completing 51 books I consigned one to the ‘abandoned’ shelf, have carried over 6 that I had already started and still haven’t finished and started a further three – so I’m technically currently reading 9.

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My ‘to read’ numbers are a little frightening. According to Goodreads, which is how I try to keep track, I have a total of 288:

  • 146 on my bookcase (although this is theoretical as a lot have yet to be unpacked)
  • 41 on my kindle
  • 101 (intentionally) in boxes although I hope to get to them eventually.

This compares with a total of 250 in March when I commented following a post of Cleo’s.

I don’t commit to a reading challenge each year, blogging can feel like enough of a chore sometimes without making the reading feel challenging too!

As far as my blog is concerned I posted reviews of 39 books – confirming my suspicion that I am permanently behind and never manage to write / post the reviews at the same speed at which I read.

As well as the book reviews I tried two new things on the blog this year. The first was a series of features on those people who are behind the scenes but are all involved in getting great crime fiction to our shelves / e-readers. This was a popular feature which I will be pressing on with – I have some more interviewees lined up I just need to write the questions for them to answer.

I also built on my ‘Debuts to look out for in 2015‘ with a monthly post featuring forthcoming crime fiction / thriller debuts. Although this was a great way of focussing attention on these new releases it became far too difficult to maintain in the latter part of the year. Perhaps I’ll just do a single ‘2017’ post.

Overall the traffic to my blog has increased, which is great and thank you to all the people who have read, liked and commented. Here’s to more of the same in 2017!

So do you have plans, challenges or goals for your reading and / or blogging in the next year?

Black Night Falling – Rod Reynolds

Title – Black Night Falling

Author – Rod Reynolds

Published – August 2016

Genre – Crime fiction

This is a long outstanding review that I feel particularly guilty about not posting in a more timely manner but it’s also a post that I would swear I had written and was ready to press ‘publish’ on, but then was just a blank page…

Set a few months after the end of The Dark Inside, Charlie Yates is living in Venice Beach with Lizzie and they’re putting the past behind them. But a call from a friend suggesting that there was something unfinished about the events that took place in Texarkana draws him back to the South. He leaves Lizzie at home and arrives in Hot Springs only to find that the man whose call he was answering is dead.

Galvanised into action by this unexpected death he embarks on an investigation of his own, but unlike in the previous book he has no standing to do that so this is another obstacle he must overcome. As he starts to find out more about the events that prompted the original phone call there are threads that link back to Texarkana and he finds that his actions may have put Lizzie in peril.

Charlie is still wrestling with his demons and although he has mellowed a little after the events of the previous book, he is still quick to avoid being seen as a coward (which suggests that that’s really how he sees himself). He’s motivated by justice and revenge and is driven onwards by his conscience – he feels like the quintessential ‘good guy’ although he doesn’t always get it right.

This is incredibly atmospheric and if you didn’t know better you would imagine that the author had walked the Texarkana streets in the 1940s so what makes the writing even more astonishing is the fact that Rod Reynolds is a thirtysomething Londoner. There’s lots of historical detail and the voices of the characters really feel true to the period. There is a real feel of the ‘Wild West’ too with the dogged newspaper man facing up to the corruption he finds around him. The first book had its origin in historical events but this book proves that the author can devise his own plots without any help.

Another great read in the Charlie Yates series and if you’re after crime fiction / thriller with an unusual historical setting then this might be just what you’re looking for.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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Watch Her Disappear – Eva Dolan

cover-jpg-rendition-460-707Title – Watch Her Disappear

Author – Eva Dolan

Published – 26 Jan 2017

Genre – Crime fiction

I’m trying to catch up with my blog and while a number of boxes of ‘to read’ books remain to be unpacked I do have a stack of ‘read but not yet reviewed’ books that it would be great to clear before the start of the new year. Let’s see how that goes!

First up is Watch Her Disappear which was an unusually early read for me and will be published towards the end of January 2017. This is the first of Eva Dolan’s books I’ve read and is the fourth in her ‘Zigic and Ferreira’ series based on the work of the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit.

The book opens with a gripping action scene before switching to the two main detectives, DI Zigic and DS Ferreira, who are summoned to the scene of a murder. It’s obvious from the outset that the two detectives and their personal lives are important to the series and I can see that being a huge draw in making you want to read the next in the series, and the next… Fortunately, while they seem to have quite complicated personal lives it’s refreshing to read a police procedural where they aren’t afflicted by any of the more common cliches that appear (too) often in crime fiction.

I assume from the ‘hate crimes’ slant that the books have tackled some difficult subjects and certainly this book doesn’t shy away from one which is both difficult and topical. The victim of the attack was a trans woman and this opens up a whole host of issues, both for the investigation and through the complex personal life of the victim. The investigation uncovers a spate of attacks on trans women but there is also a serial rapist in the area which muddies the waters. The victim’s family had shown different levels of acceptance of her lifestyle and while the divisions felt as if they were portrayed accurately the attitudes of her friends and relations only serve to add another level of complexity to the police investigation.

As someone who hasn’t read the preceding books I didn’t feel that I was at any sort of disadvantage and there weren’t any moments where I thought that readers of the series would have more idea about what was going that I did. The plot featured a difficult subject that’s not often discussed and managed to be thought-provoking without seeming to preach, none of this affected the pace and the plot kept me guessing until the end.  The investigative aspect relied on interviews (rather than forensics) and the personal perspectives of the two lead detectives, who in themselves offered an unusual dynamic to a police procedural. All in all an excellent read.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

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Well here we are!

screen-shot-2016-12-15-at-20-53-29It wasn’t the smoothest move in the history of the world but I’m now living in my fourth ever county. While it’s not all gone to plan it’s a relief to have got the move done and have the chance to think about what’s next – THE MOVE has been such a big, looming event that it’s been impossible to see past it. Apparently it’s Christmas soon…

I was a reader before I was a blogger and have always had a lot of books; we’ve not unpacked any yet and there are close to 100 boxes still to go (hopefully not all books – there is an elusive cushion I’m still looking for). First we need to buy more shelves so a trip to Ikea is in order, but of course the days before Christmas aren’t the best time to pick. We’ve been here just a week and have managed to get a couple of rooms organised so we can escape from the heaps of boxes filling the other rooms. Small steps…

But at least we’ll have some time off in the next few weeks so we should have the opportunity to get more rooms sorted. And once there are some books unpacked then it’s back to the blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead Line – Chris Ewan

716-ctbctqlTitle – Dead Line

Author – Chris Ewan

Published – 2013

Genre – Thriller

I enjoyed Safe House and it’s ridiculous that I let Dead Line languish on my TBR for so long, but I’m glad that I finally got round to reading it.

Dead Line is another gripping thriller with perhaps more of a mysterious feel to it compared to its predecessor. The main character is Daniel Trent, one half of a hostage negotiating duo, who live and works in France. He appears to be planning some sort of heist of his own when circumstances overtake him and his plans change.  The opening of the book is quite cryptic and Ewan drip feeds the reader information to flesh out the background to Trent’s story and the motivation for his attempt to turn from gamekeeper to poacher.

Cleverly written and fast-paced this was just the sort of thriller I enjoy and reminded me of Christmas mornings and not being able to resist racing through a new Dick Francis novel. There were some twists and revelations that I saw coming and others that I didn’t – a balance that means that this made a rewarding thriller that held my interest.

If I have a gripe it was the ending and I understand that I’m not the first person to have a grumble about it. But you’ll have to read the book yourself to see if you think my complaint is justified!

Everything a good thriller should be, I can highly recommend this. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy of this book.

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Looking forward to 2017

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Perhaps it’s the post-Iceland Noir blues but I’ve already started to think about the crime events to look forward to next year, so it seemed a good time to put my 2017 events listing together. 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.

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

24 – 26 February – Granite Noir – Aberdeen
This is a new crime writing festival featuring some of the most celebrated talent from the Nordic Noir scene alongside Scotland’s own Tartan Noir authors.

March

25 March – Deal Noir – Deal
An event over just one day, although quite an intimate event it’s punched above its weight with the calibre of authors participating in previous years. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be taking part in 2017.

31 March – 2nd April – Quais du Polar – Lyon
The theme for 2017 is due to be published shortly (December) – the festival is free, a short flight from the UK and much of the content accessible for English-speakers.

April

May

18-21st May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world.

June

17 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.

30 June – 2 July – RebusFest – Edinburgh
A three-day even celebrating thirty years of John Rebus.  A festival of arts, literature, music and film curated by Ian Rankin – your chance to step into Rebus’ world and explore the making of the iconic detective you love. More info to be announced on 17 March.

July

20 – 23rd July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Peter James is the chair of the Programming Committee.

August

4 – 6th August – Bute Noir, Bute
The second year of this small festival on the Isle of Bute.

18 – 20th August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend – Oxford
This looks like it may be getting a bit of a re-vamp in 2017 – https://www.sthildas.ox.ac.uk/content/2017-st-hildas-mystery-and-crime-conference 

August – Margate Bookie, Margate
There is a dedicated series of crime fiction sessions in their Crimewave (ha!) part of the programme date TBC.

September

8 – 10th September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

13 – 17th September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
Traditionally taking place in Torquay in the middle of September this festival features a range of events celebrating the life and work of Agatha Christie.

14 – 17th September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk
Taking place across four days, the festival takes place at the Norwich Arts Centre, the University of East Anglia and Jarrolds. Fringe events will run throughout the festival at locations around the city.

30 September – 1st October – Morecambe & Vice, Morecambe
A new event from the organisers of Deal Noir.

October

28-29th October – Killer Weekend, London
All about becoming the next big thing in the crime fiction world this is a weekend of masterclasses, workshops and pitching sessions.

November

TBC – Hull Noir – Hull
An event filling the slot of the biennial Iceland Noir and part of the City of Culture celebrations.

December

All busy shopping for books …