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The Times and Sunday Times
Thursday September 28 2017 | Issue 28
Crime Club
Karen Robinson
By Karen Robinson
 
Welcome to Crime Club, the bulletin that brings you the newest and best of crime and thriller fiction. Our preview of what’s coming out in October includes work from our favourite superstars and some exciting fresh talent taking the genre in new directions. If that wasn’t enough reason to join us every month, this issue is a veritable cornucopia of book giveaways and special festival ticket offers, at venues as far-flung and exotic as Hull, Morecambe and Istanbul. And of course, let’s not forget The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, which runs from October 6-15. The organisers are offering Crime Club subscribers a two-for-one deal on tickets to six events, including Denise Mina and Emma Flint talking about making fiction out of true crime, and Ian Rankin on 30 years of Rebus. Book yours here.

■ Find previous issues of Crime Club here
Karen Robinson
The Sunday Times
 
Ted Lewis: criminally overlooked
 
The creator of Michael Caine's iconic character Jack Carter (pictured) was a pioneer of British crime fiction, says Nick Triplow

Ted Lewis had a predilection for bad guys. He wrote them well, revealing a cast of sadistic, guilt-ridden and violent characters in seven crime/noir novels and two semi-autobiographical novels, beginning with All the Way Home and All the Night Through (1965) and concluding with GBH (1980).

As the writer of Jack’s Return Home, that punchy, defiant novel, adapted and directed by Mike Hodges as crime classic Get Carter, Lewis’s skill was in the creation of a downbeat fusion between the hardboiled American school and his own brand of taut, lyrical, social-realist storytelling. When it worked (Jack’s Return Home, Plender, The Rabbit, Jack Carter’s Law, GBH), he was a master; a pioneer who explored new territories for noir fiction with an unflinching mix of tawdry underworld violence and an unerring eye for detail.

Lewis used the crime novel, as Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson had, to present an unsparing vision of society’s underclass. He sent Jack Carter home to the terraced backstreets and boarding houses of Scunthorpe, a steel-town High Noon, shabby and peripheral under grey skies. Never shy of rifling his own back pages for characters and stories, the darker Lewis’s writing became, the closer the convergence of truth and fiction.

Unable to repeat Carter’s commercial success, Lewis turned increasingly to drink. His personal life descended into chaos. With the emergence of muscular TV crime drama epitomised by The Sweeney and its Flying Squad hard men, Jack Regan and George Carter, he felt others were exploiting his ideas. Considered a spent force by many, GBH would be his last published work, a final and unmerciful statement of brutality. If a single novel makes the case for Lewis as a great writer, it is GBH.

Ted Lewis may well be one of the most important writers you’ve never heard of. Without him there is no Jack Carter, Michael Caine is short of one iconic role and British crime fiction is denied a genre-defining classic.

Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir by Nick Triplow is published by No Exit Press on October 26. Buy it here / Read first chapter

■ There will be a special screening of Get Carter followed by a Q&A with Nick Triplow as part of the Gangland London Film Festival at the Regent Street Cinema on October 15. Find out more here. To win one of four pairs of tickets to the screening, email your name and address to regentstreetcinema@organic-publicity.co.uk by Friday October 6, putting “Crime Club Carter” in the subject line.

■ Triplow will be in conversation with Cathi Unsworth at the Getting Carter book launch at Kardomah94, in Hull, on November 17 (full details here) and he'll be at Hull Noir crime writing festival on November 18-19. Hull Noir is offering a 20% discount on a weekend pass for 20 Crime Club readers — look lively as it's first come, first served. Book your passes here.
Win a CJ Box set
 
CJ Box can make the wide open spaces of Wyoming as heavy with threat and danger as the darkest alley in the roughest part of town. Luckily, game warden Joe Pickett is on hand to bring righteous justice to the bad guys in a series of novels outstanding for their powerful descriptions and page-turning plots. To celebrate the paperback publication of Vicious Circle, Box’s 17th Pickett novel, his publisher Head of Zeus is offering five Crime Club readers the chance to win books 13 to 16 — Breaking Point, Stone Cold, Endangered and Off the Grid — plus Shots Fired, a collection of Joe Pickett short stories. Enter here by October 13.
Mum's gone to Iceland
 
How to dispose of a body before the children get home from school: Laura Wilson (inset) explores an author’s dilemma

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Sophie, the protagonist of my new book, The Other Woman, finds herself with a body in her sitting room and only half an hour to get rid of it before 11-year-old Poppy brings Cressida back for a play date.

Needing to get Sophie out of her predicament, I did what everybody does nowadays, which is to ask the internet. This, incidentally, is not a good idea if you have an actual corpse to dispose of: in 2014, a Florida man was convicted of murder after prosecutors presented screen grabs from his iPhone that showed he’d asked Siri how to get rid of it.

In any case, googling will only get you so far: a study of disposal methods told me that if you want to get rid of a body undetected it pays to be a chemist, a farmer, a gravedigger, a forester or a foundry worker. Sophie is none of these things, and therefore has no access to a handy vat of acid, slurry lagoon, herd of hungry pigs, wood chipper, or — living in Norfolk — nearby volcano or crocodile-infested swamp.

And time is not on her side. The outdoor barbecue is neither big nor hot enough, and half-an-hour is nowhere near long enough to burn an entire body (which, in any case, would stink to high heaven). The electric carving knife is in good working order, but dismemberment is complicated, and liable to leave a great deal of forensic evidence even if you’re careful.

Neither is there enough time for her to dig a hole in the garden — which, any case, is visible from the road — and the pond is out of the question because the hot summer weather is playing havoc with the water level.

What Sophie does have going for her is excellent core strength, thanks to pilates, and a large chest freezer. Problem solved, just in time — but only temporarily, because, even hidden under tubs of ice cream and bags of frozen peas, the thing can’t stay there forever…

The Other Woman by Laura Wilson is published by Quercus on October 5. Buy it here / Read first chapter
Looking ahead: our October picks
★ Star pick
Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly
Orion
Bosch is back, and as usual, he's brave, principled, embattled and conspired against. Boldy going where he's never gone before, he discovers that Southern California is home to horrendous new kind of drug crime. (Any more detail would trigger a spoiler alert.) Connelly continues to give his former LAPD hero a “retirement” that takes even more out of him than the day job ever did. Read first chapter
Buy this book >
The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Contraband
The author of last year’s Booker-shortlisted His Bloody Project has returned to the scene and the concept of his 2014 novel The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau: Inspector Gorski’s manor, the fictional town of Saint-Louis, and the idea that the story is actually translated by Macrae Burnet from the French original “by Raymond Brunet”. Simenon fans will feel at home in the claustrophobic and petty-minded atmosphere of the French provinces. Read first chapter
Buy this book >
A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward
Faber & Faber
A strong opening presents DC Connie Childs with a murder-suicide-arson, but as the smoke clears she has an nagging sense that it’s not entirely straightforward. As coppers’ personal tribulations interweave with the unspooling case, a quietly powerful rural procedural develops that delves deep into the most disturbed niches of the psyche. Read first chapter
Buy this book >
Quarry’s Climax by Max Allan Collins
Hard Case Crime
Another outing for Quarry, Vietnam vet and gun-for-hire, as he’s despatched to 1975 Memphis to take out whoever’s trying to take out Max Climer, head of a porno-magazine and strip-club empire. Quarry’s sex-drive is in top gear in this hotbed of unabashed raunch, with X-rated activities and language to match, but his sense of humour is not lagging far behind and there’s some wicked fun at the expense of pornographers, religious fanatics and feminists. Strictly adult entertainment.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
★ Star pick
And so it Began by Owen Mullen
Bloodhound Books
Tartan noir gritster Mullen shifts location to New Orleans for his latest book, which made the longlist of the McIlvanney prize for Scottish crime fiction (Denise Mina’s The Long Drop won). His rough edges and sharp wit are not lost in the move to warmer climes as PI Delaney deals with trouble on multiple fronts, including corrupt police officers, a serial killer who preys on child talent pageants — and an escaped psychopath who wants to kill him.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
Deadlier edited by Sophie Hannah
Head of Zeus
Subtitled “100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women”, this weighty tome pulls together Hannah’s selection of short stories from writers ranging from anthology standbys like Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (which is surely pushing the boundaries of “crime”) and Daphne du Maurier to Cathi Unsworth and Anya Lipska. For most readers it’s probably a mix of old favourites and happy new discoveries. One quibble, though: all the writers work in English — why are there no translations from the wider world?
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
★ Star pick
Butterfly on the Storm by Walter Lucius, translated by Lorraine T Miller and Laura Vroomen
Penguin (new in paperback)
Our introduction to Farah Hafez, investigative journalist, makes Lisbeth Salander look like a member of the WI. Teamed with Amsterdam detective Joshua Calvino, she sets off on a trail that begins with an abused Afghan child and leads into a web of corruption that spreads far beyond the Dutch borders. First part to a trilogy that combines heart-stopping action with a lively awareness of motivations in a multi-cultural cast.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
Ghosts of Empire by George Mann
Titan Books
Mann’s steampunk Ghost series — this is the third — has been hailed as a prime exponent of the “new pulp”. This would appear to mean playing fast and loose with historical what-ifs, supernatural horror, avatars, Russian baddies and a shady organisation called the Circle of Thoth — with the odd zinging one-liner delivered over martinis at the Savoy. Mann’s mainly light touch makes it readable and even amusing, like a comic-book without the pictures.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
The Coven by Graham Masterton
Head of Zeus
Fans of Masterton’s unflinching Katie Maguire det-fic, set in contemporary Cork, may wish to venture into the past with the author, where his craft as a bestselling horror writer is given freer rein. We’re in 1750s London where apothecary’s daughter Beatrice Scarlet is worried about the disappearance of a number of “fallen women” — and satanic witchcraft may not be the worst of it.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
The Blind by AF Brady
HQ
Psychological thriller from the shelf marked “neurotic, damaged but sassy young woman hell-bent on making it all go wrong”. Sam, a psychologist in a New York institution, is a borderline alcoholic and general mess. When she is assigned Richard, an enigmatic patient who refuses to answer any of her questions, the acceleration towards chaotic disintegration begins. Brady makes her compelling enough, and just about sympathetic enough — and the identity of the taciturn Richard adds a mystery twist.
Read first chapter
Buy this book >
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
HarperCollins
You might have heard, there’s a new Murder on the Orient Express film coming out soon, with Kenneth Branagh directing a star-studded cast and playing Hercule Poirot. So HarperCollins has the perfect excuse to bring out this classy new hardback edition of Agatha Christie’s classic whodunnit. For the chance to win one of 10 copies, email your name and address to detectiveclub@harpercollins.co.uk by October 13, putting “Orient Express” in the subject line. Read first chapter
Buy this book >
Q&A: Antti Tuomainen
 
The award-winning Finnish writer who brought a fresh and funny voice to Nordic noir has been translated into more than 25 languages

You’ve been described as “challenging” the Nordic crime genre formula. How do you do that?
I probably wouldn’t know. My influences are not in Nordic Noir — of which I know quite little, actually. I like to mix things and try new things with every book. I’ve published seven novels, all stand-alones, all vastly different from each other, varying from the dystopia of The Healer to the icy North of The Mine to the dark humour of my new book, The Man Who Died.

Readers praise your books for their suspense and their humour. Which is more important?
It’s the combination of the two that really makes it work, if anything. When you put ordinary people in extraordinary situations in which they have to act in desperation, you can expect something to go wrong. When things do go wrong, there is the possibility of the tragicomic, or the simply outright funny. Another important thing about writing this combination of suspense and humour is that you let the characters do the work. Create strong, good, humanly flawed characters, put them in inexplicably uncomfortable situations and stand back: they will do what they think is best.

Which authors (Scandi and otherwise) had you read and been influenced by when you started out?
In my early twenties I read Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night and shortly after that Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch and Lawrence Block’s A Ticket to the Boneyard. Combined with my reading of some wonderful Finnish poetry and literature (Juha Seppala, Juhani Peltonen, Veijo Meri) I think my influences were: Finnish poetry, outrageous French writing and the best American crime writing. Later, the lists on all fronts have expanded, but I feel the mix of influences is already here.

What makes Finland a good setting for your fiction?
Finns can have a very dark sense of humour. There is a certain tone and mood to the country, excluding the few days of sunshine in the middle of the summer. It does get dark here during the winter months.

The hero of The Man Who Died is a mushroom entrepreneur. Was that a subject you already knew about?
I made most of it up. The initial push came from an article in a Finnish newspaper speculating on the mushroom called matsutake that is very popular in Japan. The article speculated that if someone were to pick the mushrooms in Finland and send them to Japan there might be a business opportunity. I thought, surely. And when I got the idea, I knew it would fit perfectly the small-town setting of the story, the main character’s predicaments and the offbeat nature of the novel.

Tell us a secret.
Well, hardly a secret, but I stopped drinking over 14 years ago. I have been sober ever since, one day at a time.

Tell us a joke.
Better yet, I have written a book that should make you laugh more than once. It’s called The Man Who Died.

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen, translated by David Hackston, is published by Orenda Books on October 10. Buy it here / Read first chapter
Mitch Rapp giveaway
 
CIA counter-terrorist agent Mitch Rapp had 13 adrenaline-fuelled adventures before his creator, Vince Flynn, died in 2013. But business continued as usual for Flynn’s character when author Kyle Mills stepped in — he has so far written three more Rapp novels. In the latest, Rapp manages to get on the perilously wrong side of both the Saudis and the CIA. To celebrate the publication of Vince Flynn: Enemy of the State by Kyle Mills, publisher Simon & Schuster is offering five Crime Club readers the chance to win four of Flynn’s Mitch Rapp novels: Executive Power, Consent to Kill, Act of Treason and the new edition of American Assassin, published to tie in with this year’s movie starring Dylan O’Brien. For a chance to win, email your name and address to publicity.enquiries@simonandschuster.co.uk by October 13, putting “Mitch Rapp” in the subject line.
Crime wave: the latest books news
 
■ Agatha Christie famously stayed there, and so did Ian Fleming, who will be honoured at the third crime-writing festival at Istanbul’s Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah. Writers appearing at the iconic hotel’s Black Week — more of a long weekend, as it runs from November 16-18 — include Anthony Horowitz, who’s written his own Bond sequels, Charlie Higson, author of the “Young Bond” books, and distinguished Turkish poet and thriller writer Ahmet Umit (all pictured). The hotel’s Black Week Package starts at £105 per night and includes an invitation to the opening ceremony and all panel discussions, plus breakfast at the Agatha restaurant. Crime Club readers are also offered a free afternoon tea in the sumptuous Kubbeli Tea Lounge. They’re still putting the finishing touches to the programme, so click here in a few days to see the full schedule. Call 0090 212 377 4000 or email jppreservations@jumeirah.com to book — and mention Crime Club to secure your tea reservation.

■ There’s another opportunity, rather closer to home, to hang out in an iconic Christie location: the sublime art deco Midland Hotel, as seen on ITV’s Poirot episode Double Sin, will host murder mystery entertainment and a golden-age dinner tomorrow, Friday September 29 (full details here). The evening will kick off Morecambe & Vice (ouch!), the Lancashire seaside resort’s crime-writing festival — slogan, “bring me some crime” (double ouch!). Its programme features 30 top writers. Crime Club members get 50% off the price of a full weekend pass this Saturday and Sunday: just enter the promo code CRIMECLUB50 at www.morecambecrimefest.co.uk.

■ If you didn’t buy Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in November 1974 then you probably won’t have read A Spot of Folly, the title story in a volume of “Ten and a Quarter New Tales of Murder and Mayhem” by the late Ruth Rendell, published by Profile Books. The collection gives fans a chance to read this and other short stories they may have missed over the years, with a new introduction by Sophie Hannah that turns the spotlight on Rendell’s mastery of the short form. Read the story A Spot of Folly here.

■ David Lagercrantz will write just one more “dragon tattoo” thriller. After the death of Stieg Larsson, whose original trilogy about punky hacker Lisbeth Salander and crusading Mikael Blomkvist, editor of Millennium magazine, were worldwide bestsellers, Lagercrantz took over and has just published his second sequel, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, translated from Swedish by George Goulding (MacLehose Press; Buy it here). But while he says he will miss the “feminist icon” Salander, there will be no more Millennium books from him once his third is published in 2019. Though that’s not to say that another writer might not step in …. Meanwhile, ex-journalist Lagercrantz has exclusively told Crime Club that he will be funding a foundation for investigative journalism in Sweden, with scholarships and training, especially on new tools for internet-based investigating. “We need to make investigative journalists heroes again”, he said — though he was noncommittal when we suggested he could call his new outfit the Millennium Foundation.

■ American writer Marc Behm, who died in 2007, deserves to be better known in this country. The crime-fiction godfather Maxim Jakubowski was a great champion of Behm’s rule-breaking noir PI “The Eye” and published The Eye of the Beholder in 1980. Eleven years later, No Exit Press published Afraid to Death, the tale of an enigmatic female stalker where Behm’s characteristically economical prose delivers instantly powerful sensations. But since then it's been rather quiet. This October, Arcadia Books will launch both read-in-one-sitting titles in fancy new jackets. The Eye of the Beholder: Buy it here / Read first chapter. Afraid to Death: Buy it here / Read first chapter. (Pub quiz fact: Behm wrote the screenplay to 1965 Beatles movie Help!).
Changing the narrative: Arne Dahl
 
At the recent Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Swedish novelist Arne Dahl delivered an electrifying talk to a packed audience. His specially-commissioned lecture, which he entitled Age of Extremes: Noir and the New World Order, was a powerful and articulate analysis of the current (and ever-changing) threats to peace and stability, and what the crime writer’s response should be. It’s no longer enough to write about “the old corpse in the library — without feeling that it happened in your own library”; now “there are directs threats to democracy... and your gut instinct is that there is nobody to trust. It does change the narrative. It must change the narrative.” See the whole talk on video here, or read the transcript here.
Mistress of suspense
 
Lucille Fletcher was a hard-boiled genius who wrote Sorry, Wrong Number for Barbara Stanwyck, says Christopher Fowler

“She crumpled at his feet in a heap of lavender chiffon,” wrote Violet Lucille Fletcher, a writer working in the defiantly male genre of noir suspense.

Born in Brooklyn in 1912, she started her working life as a publicist and aspiring writer at CBS, and while there met her future husband, the soundtrack composer Bernard Herrmann — who would later write the hair-raising score for Hitchcock's Psycho. They married in 1939 but very nearly failed to make it to the altar; Fletcher’s parents objected to her marrying a Jewish man and Herrmann was legendarily abrasive (still, their marriage lasted nine years, only ending when Herrmann had an affair).

Lucille began writing stories for magazines, and two years later Bernard wrote the music for her broadcast story, The Hitch-Hiker. At that time radio and novels had a fluidity between them, so that although she particularly loved writing for radio, an idea developed for one medium could easily cross into the other. Both she and her husband were drawn to hard-boiled thrillers, but it was unusual for a woman to make a name for herself in this field. She saw it quite simply: “You bury the secret, lead the reader down the path, put in false leads and throughout the story remains completely logical.”

She wrote Sorry, Wrong Number as a novel, a play and a film for Barbara Stanwyck, about a woman who overhears a murder plot on a crossed line. It was a smashing success, described by Orson Welles as “the greatest single radio script ever written”. Fletcher’s great strength was placing everyman characters in desperate situations that inexorably spiral out of control. Her prose was tough and stripped of unnecessary detail, ratcheting suspense.

Fletcher wrote many plays and 10 suspense novels, including Eighty Dollars to Stamford in 1975, about a cab driver who is duped by a beautiful blonde into being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s an electrifying read filled with noir tropes, including a discredited hero on the run from the cops and a missing femme fatale, and you can almost hear Herrmann conducting the score as you race to the jaw-dropping twist ending. Her books are the kind you slam satisfyingly shut at the end, only to find that your tea has gone cold. Find them on Amazon and in the best secondhand bookshops.

Extracted from The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler, published by riverrun on October 5. Buy it here / Read first chapter
Crime in the papers
 
The podcasts cracking unsolved crimes, by Johnny Sharp

Joan Smith's crime roundup includes The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye

Crime roundup by John Dugdale

Thrillers roundup by Marcel Berlins
Wallander giveaway
 
The late Henning Mankell’s Inspector Wallander novels brought Nordic noir to crime fans around the world and blazed the trail for a generation of Scandinavian writers. He died in 2015, leaving one last novel: After the Fire is a moving meditation on ageing, loneliness and death, which has now been translated into English by Marlaine Delargy. To celebrate the publication, Harvill Secker is offering five Crime Club readers the chance to win four of Mankell’s Wallander backlist: An Event in Autumn and The Troubled Man, both translated by Laurie Thompson, and The Pyramid and Before the Frost, both translated by Ebba Segerberg. To enter, email your name and address to aredman@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk by Friday 13 October, putting “Wallander” in the subject line.
Crime bestsellers
 
Hardbacks
1
A Legacy of Spies by John le Carre
2 The Tiger's Prey by Wilbur Smith & Tom Harper
3 Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz
4 A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
5 Damaged by Martina Cole
6 Good Friday by Lynda La Plante
7 Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
8 Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
9 The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
10 The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Paperbacks
1
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
2 Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
3 The Whistler by John Grisham
4 The Betrayals by Fiona Neill
5 Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
6 Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose
7 16th Seduction by James Patterson
8 Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri
9 Cast Iron by Peter May
10 Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Lists prepared and supplied by and copyright to Nielsen BookScan, taken from the TCM for the four weeks ending 27/09/17
 


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