Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GOOD NEWS:LUCARELLI AND INDRIDASON ON THE WAY






With all my recent distractions I only just noticed the good news posted by Karen at Euro Crime.






The last book in the De Luca Trilogy Via delle Oche will be published in a few days in the USA and in June in Europe.

And Artic Chill the latest from Arnaldur Indridason will reach us in October.


These are two of the finest European authors to be translated into English and while Indridason has received many prizes and plaudits I think Carlo Lucarelli is very underrated here. His gritty style was shown at its best in my opinion in Day After Day [reviewed here] the sequel to Almost Blue which was shortlisted by the CWA fro a Gold Dagger.

Both the De Luca and the Grazia Negro books are fine examples of their sub genres and I hope more of Lucarelli's books will be translated soon.

FESTIVAL GAMES

Thanks to Rhian at It's a Crime! [or a mystery....] for the news that bookings are open for the Hay Festival.

I do love Hay on Wye and we have stayed there several times but have never been to the festival. A very brief glance through the 84 page brochure gave me a clue as to why we have not bothered.

Among the speakers Tariq Ramadan, Salman Rushdie and Rt Rev Gene Robinson not at the same time I hope.
Ashraf Ghani, Afghan finance minister 2002-2004, speaking about Fixing Failed States and Cherie Booth QC speaking about Women's Equality, or should that be the other way round.

You can hear Cherie for £9, her husband had a 3-0 record in elections, but hearing ex President Jimmy Carter with a 1-1 record will cost you £50.

Luckily Bernie Gunther [in the guise of Philip Kerr] will be present to sort this lot out , and I hope he does not get too much of a feeing of deja vue and Berlin 1932.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MEDIEVAL SEASON




The BBC 4 Medieval Season web site is here, and details of the next In Search of Medieval Britain can be found here.



Mistress of the Art of Death on Crime Scraps and The Death Maze on Euro Crime will be reviewed some time in the next few weeks, earlier if the weather in Devon remains as wet as today.

MEDIEVAL COVER ART




I like the covers of Ariana Franklin's two books [Mistress in the Art of Death and The Death Maze] featuring the forensic expert from the Great School of Medicine in Salerno Adelia Aguilar. They are simple clear and attractive and reading the first in the series Mistress in the Art of Death, which won the Ellis Peters Award, has revived my interest in medieval history.


This is convenient because BBC4 are in the middle of their Medieval season which includes In Search of Medieval Britain, a fascinating series in which Medieval art historian, Dr Alixe Bovey uses the oldest surviving route map of Britain to make a series of journeys through Britain in the Middle Ages.


I have watched three episodes and while at times the camera man does seem to concentrate more on the attractive Dr Bovey than the castles and cathedrals, it still shows the wealth of history that has survived the depredations of various monarchs, politicians and town councils.


BROKEN SOCIETY:WHERE WILL IT ALL END?


Two items of news from the Daily Mail about our once fair and pleasant land:


1) As an ex-policewoman, Julie Pickford thought she knew how to deal with rowdy teenagers.
So when she politely asked a boy to stop throwing popcorn at other passengers on a tram she was confident he and the rest of his gang would behave.
Nothing could have prepared her for the shocking and violent attack that followed.
Without warning, one girl stood up and punched her in the face and then a mob of up to 30 teenagers joined in, punching her and stamping on her.


Read the full article here.

2) Cowering upstairs with his partner and their two children as a gang of burglars wielding an axe emptied his living room, Mathew Sims wasted no time in calling 999.
But instead of the immediate response he expected, the police told him: "We're too busy to help."
Within minutes, the burglars drove off with a haul of stolen property.


Read the full article here.


The ludicrously inadequate sentences given to the 'murderers' of Sophie Lancaster......


'The judge told him he must serve a minimum 18 years before he is eligible for parole.
Herbert, who admitted murder and GBH with intent, was given two life sentences and will serve at least 16 years and three months.
The Hulme brothers received indefinite sentences after admitting GBH with intent on Mr Maltby.
They will serve a minimum of five years and ten months.
Mallett, who admitted the same charge, wept as he was also given an indefinite sentence. He will serve at least four years and four months.'


.....makes one wonder if we will ever save this country from total anarchy. These young attackers don't care about their victims or themselves and until we have a proper tariff for murder more people such as Sophie Lancaster, Gary Newlove and Damiola Taylor will continue be slaughtered on our streets.

The punishment for a "first degree" murder should be life imprisonment which should mean imprisonment for the perpetrator's natural life.
I do have the experience of being attacked by a mob fifty one years ago when I was a chunky school rugby player, and a fairly good sprinter.
I am carrying a bit more weight today and it was a very long time ago. Then I was able to get away possibly because I had no illusions about what was going to happen if I stayed on the ground any longer than a few seconds.
I scrambled to my feet and ran, unfortunately today my chances of repeating that feat in similar circumstances could be rated at zero.

Monday, April 28, 2008

OUT OF ORDER: RECOMMENDED READING




From Euro Crime yesterday:




Laura Root heaps yet more praise on the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr with her review of the paperback of The One from the Other which she recommends to "all fans of historical and noir fiction".
Laura's review definitely makes me want to read The One from the Other, even though this would be out of order as I have read and reviewed the sequel A Quiet Flame.

MANHATTAN NOCTURNE: THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY


I am now just over a third of the way into Manhattan Nocturne by Colin Harrison which was sent to me to review by a nice lady at Picador USA.


I will be posting a full review when I have finished but sometimes you come across a passage and a character that just grabs your attention.


Hobbs, the billionaire newspaper owner in this novel, is an amalgam of a well known real life newspaper tycoon, Citizen Kane, William Randolph Hearst and Attila the Hun. His subtle attitude to employment law and management techniques is not unknown in real life.


"Please! I can throw a bone in the street and get a newspaper staff. I've done it in Melbourne, I've done it in London, and I could do it here."


Or:


"Or we might find that your wife had operated on someone we know and that, sadly, she did not do such a terrific job, and we could then secure an allegation of malpractice-"


It is tough in the newspaper industry, but I am enjoying the book.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SHERLOCKIAN BARGAIN


My book addiction has no cure and in a bargain book shop the other day I purchased along with some Sue Graftons, a book about Sherlock Holmes.
Not another book about Sherlock Holmes!


This one is a 'pocket essential guide with in depth analysis of all the stories, a sampling of the best pastiches and parodies, an exhaustive listing of actors who have played the role, and a summary of the best websites devoted to Holmes and Conan-Doyle.'
Each of the stories are rated out of 5 so there is plenty to argue about with other Sherlockians. eg The Adventure of the Speckled Band scores 5/5 and The Adventure of the Copper Beeches 3/5.
Well worth the £2.99 I paid.
"It is nearly midnight, Watson, and I think we may make our way back to our humble abode."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER MEME ANOTHER HEADACHE


I was tagged by the mellifluous Rhian of It's a Crime! [or a Mystery...] who referred to me as "darling Norm".

I must admit that I have been called worse, a lot worse, in my time.


I would hazard a guess that the trustees and CEO of CARE might not think as kindly of me if they have read either my series of posts on the closure of Blackerton Village here, or my letters.


Some patients over the years might have mumbled something less endearing about me from their swollen, numb, bleeding mouths.


But enough of happy memories of past tooth extractions and on to the meme.


Now, here are the rules of this meme:


Link to the person that tagged you.

Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about you in a blog post.

Tag six people in your post (see below).
Let each person know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the tagger know your entry is up.
Six Very Random Things.
1) I spent my first 18 months in North Wales, and we returned every few years to see if it had stopped raining. It hadn't until 2002!
2) I went to the same school as Raymond Chandler and P.G.Wodehouse. Where I played chess against a future Grand Master and lost.
3) Two years after I qualified I wanted to give up dentistry and become a history teacher; I even took History A level before applying again to university. I then changed my mind and drilled away for another 33 years.
4) I suffered from severe travel sickness until I was about 34, when the man behind me on a flight back from Rhodes was airsick all the way until he saw the lights of Gatwick.
I was fine despite the smell and from then on became a travel fanatic for a few years. Converts are always more orthodox in their observances.
5) Important dates in my life [births, weddings, deaths] coincide with dates in American history. Luckily I don't share a birthdate with George W. Bush, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan or Warren Harding.
6) I am hopeless at languages, but the best man at my wedding speaks French, Italian, Arabic and Brazilian Portugese.
I hope these facts are suitably random and now I will tag.

I must say that this meme craze does strain the brain but it does give you the opportunity to link to some very good blogs, so there.

SAY IT AIN'T SO


'We are sorry to inform you that we have been unable to obtain the following item:


Andrea Camilleri (Author), Stephen Sartarelli (Translator) "The Paper Moon (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries)" [Paperback]


We apologise for the length of time it has taken us to reach this conclusion.


Until recently, we had still hoped to obtain this item for you. This item has now been cancelled from your order and we can confirm thatyou have not been charged for it.

Please accept our apologies for any disappointment or inconvenience caused.'


Let down by Amazon don't they know I am the "King of Camilleri" [courtesy of Detectives Beyond Borders] and Euro Crime's Italian expert.

The world seems a darker place this evening and I will return to the web to find an alternative source.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ANZAC DAY




Tomorrow Friday 25 April is ANZAC day and we in Britain should appreciate the wonderful support Australians and New Zealanders gave the home country in two world wars many laying down their lives in conflicts thousands of miles from their home.
It is a memorable day for our family as I have just visited my 96 year mother-in-law whose father was drowned aged 34 in 1918 while serving as a petty officer in the Royal Australian Navy.
[From wikpedia]
The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stale-mate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

THE NESBO TANGO




As an accredited Nesbo nutter I received an email from the Salomonsson Agency the other day with this information proving truth is stranger than fiction.


[Argentinian newspaper] Clarín, 10.04.2008

'FROM THE STREETS OF SAN MARTÍN:


A review of the clever heist of a crime novel.
The following story is best described as taking place in the grey zone wherea criminal act meets genius marketing. According to a press statement fromthe Argentinian publishing house Nuevo Extremo, the first print-run of theSpanish edition of Jo Nesbo's crime novel The Redbreast has been stolen.The heist took place on the morning of 8th April, as the books were being transported from the printing house to the publisher's warehouse. An armed man and his partner blocked off the road for the van carrying 3,000 copies of the book at an intersection in the San Martín neighborhood in BuenosAires. The men got into the truck, and after several rounds in the vehicle with the driver still in it, moved the books into another truck. The robbers then headed for the Pan americana highway, which is located by a mall in Don Torcuato, some 40 km from the city center of Buenos Aires. The truck was eventually found in the mall's parking lot, but the copies of The Redbreast had already been removed.


The San Martín police confirm that the truck driver reported the heist. They do however claim that they did not know what the truck contained, and that this information was recently demanded by the state prosecutor, who is responsible for the matter.


The publishing house, on the other hand, claims that the contents of the truck was indeed mentioned in the police report.
The Redbreast won the Glass Key for Best Scandinavian crime novel 1999, andis the second book about Harry Hole, the hard-boiled and edgy Oslo police inspector who this time finds himself in the tracks of a crime with links to a group of neo-Nazis.
On Friday 25th April, Jo Nesbo is due to participate in a Norwegian cultural soirée during this year's edition of the international book fair in BuenosAires. The Argentinian publishing house is now frantically trying to get their hands on new copies of the book for the fair.'

Monday, April 21, 2008

123 TAGGED





"memes are viral and propagate around sometimes mutating as they propagate"
It sounds frightening to me but:

Here are the rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book.

2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

I am currently reading Cross by Ken Bruen so:

"Here is the name of a very fine hearing-aid man. He'll fit you with one." I was trying to play catch up.
I bit tame for the Bruen and this book, but those are the sentences.
And as I assume you can't tag people who have already been tagged then my five taggees this day are:

ANOTHER DONNA LEON FAN


You can read another fine review of The Girl of his Dreams at Kerrie's Mysteries in Paradise website here.

This is very professional site which will keep you up to date with the Australian crime fiction scene and everything else.


My own review will appear on Euro Crime in a few weeks hopefully long after you have forgotten how well these other reviews were written.

REVIEWS AT EUROCRIME: A FRENCH NOIR THRILLER


More new reviews have been posted at Euro Crime and all six books were well received.

My review of the French thriller Three to Kill by Jean-Patrick Manchette can be read here.

Written in 1976 the book explores a theme which seems to have become increasingly popular in recent crime fiction, that of an ordinary law abiding man provoked by events to react with extreme violence.

The French as well as the Italians are able to pack more incidents and excitement in their shorter novels than some writers manage in 600 page blockbusters.


Of the other books reviewed the only one I have read is The Girl of his Dreams by Donna Leon and I certainly agree with Maxine's excellent review of this return to form for Guido Brunetti's creator.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

SEARCHING FOR GREATNESS: MISSING IN ACTION


I discovered that I had read only 39 ot the 50 selections for the Greatest Crime Writers, which is probably why I came up with a my list of those 'missing in action' [see below].


How do we define a great Crime Writer, well my criteria would be that they would:


1) To have written a prolific body of work.

2) To have had a great influence on other writers.

3) To have produced new inventive ideas, or created a new sub genre.

4) To have had a longlasting appeal.

5) To have won a number of crime fiction prizes. [the least important factor]

6) To have invented truly memorable character, or characters.


If these criteria were applied to general fiction would Harper Lee be classified as a great author, or just someone who had written one great book and created a memorable character. I think To Kill a Mocking Bird and Atticus Finch would automatically put her in the great author list. But there is no crime fiction book in that super category, and I think that a large body of work is required to be a great crime fiction writer.

Among the Times selections I would challenge some of the choices as not meeting my criteria.

Are these crime fiction writers really great; Sara Paretsky, Henning Mankell, Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben, Scott Trurow, Michael Dibdin, Minette Walters, and Manuel Vazquez Montalban?


I know I am being a bit hard in the case of Hennig Mankell, but I don't think he is quite as good as Indridason or Nesbo.


Are they any better or had more influence on the crime fiction genre than my first thoughts 'missing in action' list of:

Rex Stout

Lawrence Block

Michael Connelly

James Crumley

Sue Grafton

Laura Lippman

Peter Robinson

Peter Temple

John D. MacDonald

Arnaldur Indridason

Ken Bruen

John Connolly

Jo Nesbo

Robert B. Parker

Donald E. Westlake

and Tony Hillerman?


Perhaps not. Who else have I forgotten?


The debate goes on and we can expect another list from The Rap Sheet soon I hope.

HOLD YOUR HORSES: IT'S ANOTHER LIST


The Times 50 Greatest Crime Writers list is oneline here but I had some problems with the links [too many crime fiction fanatics on line?] so I dashed out at first light, well perhaps a bit later, to purchase a copy of the newspaper.


Thanks to Karen at Euro Crime for the news that Andrea Camilleri was deservedly on the list.

And also to Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise for her post which listed the books in a readable format. I am still puzzled that I could connect to Adelaide and not to The Times in London.

Ar first glance the list seems less contentious than the Telegraph's 100 Greatest, but I was still able to come up with 13 missing contenders for the top 50 in a minute.

The choice of Patricia Highsmith at number one will provoke some debate I would think.



But before I post my "missing in action " list I must just see how many of those 50 I have read, and then think what really defines greatness in a writer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MORE BOOKS MORE READING









I seem to have collected rather a lot of books to read, and am now delving into two at the same time.
I must in future control this serious addiction or else I won't be able to get into my study/large cupboard.
Of course I always have an excuse for getting a book, and I am also guilty of sending in an email to Euro Crime's numero uno Karen to sneak the best books from under the noses of the top reviewers.
My excuse for buying Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin was that I am going to the Saturday of Crime Fest in Bristol and hope to attend the panel Thoroughly Modern Millie-The Historical Female Sleuth with Ms Franklin participating.
The other featured authors on this panel are Rhys Bowen, Patricia Finney and Laurie R. King and the moderator is Andrew Taylor so it should be one of the highlights of the day.
However I might be directed to another panel going on at the same as more appropriate for me.
"Big Bellies-Crime Writers Chew The Fat"
I have also started to read Ken Bruen's Cross the sequel to Priest; if you did not know better you might think the Irish were a bit obsessive about religion.
On the shelf ready to read is Manhattan Nocturne by Colin Harrison which was sent to me to review by Picador USA.
The blurb says it is a "roaring story of power, lust, greed and very human folly...." and "spares no detail of sex and violence."
I wonder why they thought I would be interested.
My review of Cross will appear on Euro Crime.
My reviews of Mistress of the Art of Death, a mixture of Kathy Reich and Philip Kerr set in 12th century England, and of Manhattan Nocturne will appear on Crime Scraps.

TECHNICAL UPDATE


Fresh from my success at loading, or uploading, or embedding a video on a post this week I have despite my age been at it again.


I finally remembered how to add links and you will see two new additions in the side bar the Irish Crime Fiction blogs Crime Always Pays and Crime Scene NI. These guys certainly kissed the blarney stone as they have a real way with words, their blogs are a real pleasure to read as well as being very informative.


On top of this I have added a sitemeter that will show me where my five regular readers are located. If my hits, or whatever you call them, go up this may be because I have instructed my children and step children to log on to Crime Scraps at every opportunity.

I have a suspicion I might remove this item if it becomes too embarassing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

HE'S BACK


ANSA) - Rome, April 15 - Italian centre-right chief Silvio Berlusconi, who has stormed back into power for a third time, said on Tuesday that he would use his unexpectedly strong majority to tackle problems ranging from inflation, crime and Alitalia to a rubbish crisis in Naples. Speaking at a press conference a day after his election win, the 71-year-old media tycoon promised immediate delivery on pledges to abolish council taxes on first homes, lift minimum pensions, detax overtime and introduce one-off 1,000-euro 'bonuses' to couples who have a baby.

On the business side, Berlusconi his first cabinet meeting would also approve the detaxation of profits which are reinvested in production.He said cracking down on crime would be a priority for his new government which would put more police on the streets, deport illegal immigrants and introduce stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.

''We need to increase the number of neighbourhood police officers who must form an 'army of good' in the squares and streets to come between Italian citizens and the army of evil,'' Berlusconi said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.


Read full article here


Whether this is good news for Italians I don't know, but perhaps it is good news for Italian crime writers as their detectives cogitate over the reasons for the third coming of this incredible politician.


I would say Berlusconi is bad with a capital B......Andrea Camilleri quoted in The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A SMALL CLUE

video

Following my recent birthday I have decided to give you a small clue as to my age. You don't need to be a Sherlock Holmes, Harry Bosch, V.I.Warshawski or Kinsey Millhone to work this one out.

Anything, everything, is possible.....Thomas Edison 1908

Saturday, April 12, 2008

THE AIR WE BREATHE: A BERLUSCONI STRONGHOLD


Piero, 50 and Piero, 44
"We'll vote for the centre-right, for Silvio Berlusconi. The centre-left government really punished us taxi-drivers - all our costs went up.
"Sicily has been a Berlusconi stronghold for years. If I have to choose between a friend and an enemy in power, then I'll choose the friend.
"The centre-left would tax the air we breathe if we'd let them."
From the BBC News website full story here
It seems despite Palermo's reputation the voters there have quite normal opinions about their politicians, "they don't trust them."

CARE BLACKERTON: RELOCATION WATCH






There were 135 signatures on the petition to save CARE village at Blackerton at the last count, with some very good comments from people all over the world.



But it seems the trustees and senior management are determined to close the village against the wishes of most of the relatives and residents.

The fight to save something of the Blackerton community spirit will go on but the once beautiful caring village now has a very different atmosphere. Many of the activities once enjoyed by the residents have one way or another been curtailed by events.

It is probably better that I don't say anymore at this stage as I received an email last week from a concerned relative telling me that a formal complaint has been made concerning the conduct of several members of staff and presumably investigations are taking place.



This is all very sad but inevitable when commercial decisions take priority over service users best interests. This is purely my personal opinion but an opinion possibly shared by many of the relatives.

I will continue to campaign for the very best result for the residents, and perhaps even the promised new "core village" with "state of the art facilities" might be built in the future.


All my other posts on this sad situation can be read here just scroll down.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to sign the petition.

Question: Is cost the driving force behind the current situation?

Answer: It is the decision of CARE to close CARE Blackerton not Devon County Council.

With regard the future options for people currently living at CARE Blackerton, Devon learning Disability Health & Social Care Partnership has a responsibilty to provide services that meet people's needs and to offer choices for accommodation and support.

Answer from Carolyn Elliott, Head of Learning Disability Health & Social Care Partnership , a very helpful lady who I believe will do her best for the Blackerton residents in difficult circumstances.

THE ULTIMATE TEASE AND CAMILLERI AUDIOBOOKS













Andrea Camilleri
The Inspector Salvo Montalbano Mystery Series

August Heat(La vampa d'agosto)
(Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli)


Book Description: Not Available!



The good news is that the 10th Salvo Montalbano book will be with us in February 2009.
More good news for Camilleri Fans unearthed by the encyclopedic super sleuth of crime fiction Karen of Euro Crime is that Oakhill Publishing have released five of the Montalbano mysteries as audiobooks.


Friday, April 11, 2008

PIZZO IN PALERMO


It seems the people of Palermo and Sicily are fighting back against domination by the Mafia.


From the BBC News website:


Centre-left candidate Walter Veltroni has now spoken of being part of "a political force which will destroy the criminality that saps energy from this land" and Mr Berlusconi has said his party is "incompatible" with the Mafia, pointing to the series of arrests during his time in office.
Angelino Alfano, a 37-year-old MP within Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom alliance says the sea-change on the streets of Palermo, with companies refusing to pay into the racket, represents "the end of an era of fear."
"Too many firms still pay the pizzo, but there has been a massive rebellion. A lot of companies have decided to trust the state and believe the state will protect them."

Full article here

Count Orazio Falier, whose son in law is a certain Commisario Guido Brunetti, has taken to calling Sicily and Calabria "Occupied Territories" so obviously the optimistic news of the Mafia's demise has not yet reached Venice.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

APPRENDISTA: SAVING THE MAFIA


From Wednesday's Guardian:


"They're violent, they're ruthless, they have caused misery to many, but you can't fault their business sense..........

Big business has learned how to sell itself to the public, with television shows such as The Apprentice and Dragons' Den granting us a view of harsh but compellingly competitive environments. Businessmen such as Sir Alan Sugar, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones have become unlikely media personalities. But the mafia has been using these methods for years.


When Bernardo Provenzano took over the organisation in the mid-90s, he inherited a depleted and demoralised workforce, who had scuppered their own access to politics and industry. The bombs that killed anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino had created a PR disaster and a law enforcement backlash."...............

Read the full article here
I wonder if the present contestants in The Apprentice [UK version] would be using a little more common sense on their tasks if Bernardo Provenzano was the one saying "You're fired!" rather than Sir Alan Sugar?
I believe that Bernardo Provenzano probably treats his customers somewhat better than some of our high street banks working on the principal that a closed business cannot pay any interest payments.
The book which tells the whole story
Boss of Bosses: How Bernardo Provenzano Saved the Mafia is published by John Murray and can be purchased at Amazon UK for £12 plus postage and packing.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

THE ART OF ESCAPISM: MID WEEK MUSING




Escapism is mental diversion by means of entertainment or recreation, as an "escape" from the perceived unpleasant aspects of daily stress. It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to try to help relieve feelings of depression or general sadness. [from Wikpedia]




I have recently found myself reading a lot of historical fiction and despite some of the raw subject matter ranging from torture in 17th century France to the Nazi takeover in 20th century Germany I have found it to be almost escapist literature.

What does this say about our modern society when reading about people being thrown out of a plane over the River Plate in 1950 is more relaxing than reading our current newspapers?
With people being stomped and stabbed to death in our streets, and with the constant menace of terrorism reading about the terrible past becomes almost a pleasant diversion.
Historical note: Germany was awarded the 1936 Berlin Olympics before Hitler seized power while China was given Beijing 2008 with full knowledge of her human rights record.
Do you prefer historical thrillers, or do you enjoy modern drug and terror related thrillers?

My review of Death In Breslau will appear on Euro Crime in due course.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A QUIET FLAME: COMPLETE AGREEMENT




In the recent edition of the excellent Mystery Readers Journal entitled Historical Mysteries, Part 1 Mike Ripley mentioned that he rated The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza as quite brilliant. He had been a judge for the first time for the CWA 2002 Daggers and The Athenian Murders had been a unanimous winner.


But I really could not understand Somoza's book and found it dull and very disappointing.
We all have our own opinions.
So I was very pleased to see Mike's review of A Quiet Flame on Euro Crime with this introduction.
In the world of crime writing there are three prestigious awards made each year to honour the best crime novel, the best 'thriller' and the best historical mystery, which these days means one set before about 1960. Philip Kerr's new novel, A Quiet Flame (Quercus, £14.99), qualifies in every category and might just pull off a spectacular literary treble by winning all three awards. It certainly deserves to: it is that good.
Spot on Mike, I wish I had written that and my own review of this book is also on Euro Crime at:

Friday, April 04, 2008

THE BIG ONE: QUIRKY QUIZ SPRING EDITION




I have a suspicion these questions are far too easy for my very intelligent readership. But I have taken pity on you and made the questions a bit easier this time.
We will see if anyone can get all the answers, or at least beat the phenomenal 80% success rate achieved by the winner of the last quiz.


And remember the winner will have as their prize a choice of book from one of the giants of the crime fiction genre, and the satisfaction of outwitting me.

Here we go:

1) An easy one to start; Slang for an English florin, an imitative bird, and No 3 in Paris what is the cinematic connection? A full explanation please.

2) What is the link between a Maltese Jew, an African Queen and James T. Kirk?

3) The first of the straightforward multiple questions this one on detective partnerships, who works or worked with; Kollberg, Elinborg, Frank Frolich, Gunvald Larsson, and Jacob Skaare?

4) By what names are the following better known:
Gordon Daviot, Mary Patricia Plangman, Grigory Chkhartishviti, Tobias Leo Pevsner, Edith Pargeter, Elizabeth MacKintosh, Frank Morrison, and J.I.M.Stewart?

5) What is the link between a German prize, a sinister Trinidadian, and ten priestly commandments?

6) How was an author of a Roman epic unaffected when a detective changed his name?

7) Who was requested to go to the Court of the Pope, and what was the connection with Lebanon?

8) Who in the world of crime fiction worked as a:

Professor of Forensic Pathology
Professor of Medical Law
Professor of Mathematics
Professor of French
Professor of Anthropology

9) How are a system of metal pipes, hounds crossing a river, and a saintly Milanese bishop connected?

10) Guns play a big part in crime fiction but in real life who said:

You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.

And

When I hear the word ***** I reach for my Browning.


What is the missing word and who said it?
*****************************************

I can hear those little grey cells working now.
Very good luck, and please send your answers to THBear08@gmail.com
The closing date for prize entry is 5 May, which gives you plenty of time to work out the answers.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

DUCK MAIGRET




Even in charming Dulverton, Gateway to Exmoor, you cannot escape the crime fiction genre.

DISTRACTED OF DEVON




If my posts become more infrequent and my reading speed slows from Spring to Autumn blame the beautiful Devon and Somerset countryside.


Today I was watching wild Exmoor ponies and admiring the blue skies above the moor.
What a contrast to my son, who had his car towed away in Lambeth despite having a resident parking ticket on it. The recovery cost was a shattering £260 and it is even more annoying because he was there to do a job for Lambeth Council.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

BRITAIN AND FRANCE SWAP JUSTICE MINISTERS







Following the state visit of President Nicholas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Gordon Brown announced this morning that Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw would be seconded to work in the French justice ministry.



In a straight swop Britain's new Justice Minister would be Rachida Dati, the exchange which was discussed at their meeting by the two leaders, and approved by a joint meeting of the Houses of Parliament will take place today.