Macavity Award Nominations 2008

Mystery Readers International (Mystery Readers Journal) announces the Macavity Award nominations for works published in 2007. The awards will be presented during opening ceremonies at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention (Baltimore, October 2008).

MACAVITY NOMINEES:

Best Mystery Novel
o Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House)
o The Unquiet by John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton*/Atria)
o Blood of Paradise by David Corbett (Ballantine Mortalis)
o Water Like a Stone by Deborah Crombie (Morrrow)
o What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (Morrow)

Best First Mystery
o In the Woods by Tana French (Hodder & Stoughton*/Viking)
o Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (Morrow)
o The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
o Stealing the Dragon by Tim Maleeny (Midnight Ink)
o The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Soho)

Best Mystery Short Story
o “A Rat’s Tale” by Donna Andrews (EQMM, Sep-Oct 2007)
o “Please Watch Your Step” by Rhys Bowen (The Strand Magazine, Spring 2007)
o “The Missing Elevator Puzzle” by Jon L. Breen (EQMM, Feb 2007)
o “Brimstone P.I.” by Beverle Graves Myers (AHMM, May 2007)
o “The Old Wife’s Tale” by Gillian Roberts (EQMM, Mar-Apr 2007)

Best Mystery Non-Fiction
o Rough Guide to Crime Fiction by Barry Forshaw (Penguin Rough Guides)
o Chester Gould: A Daughter’s Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy by Jean Gould O’Connell (McFarland & Company)
o Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, edited by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley (HarperPress*/Penguin)
o Police Procedure and Investigation: A Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland (Howdunit Series, Writers Digest Books)
o The Essential Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians, compiled and edited by Roger Sobin (Poisoned Pen Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery
o Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (Penguin)
o Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Putnam)
o The Snake Stone by Jason Goodwin (Faber & Faber*/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
o Consequences of Sin by Clare Langley-Hawthorne (Viking*/Penguin)
o The Gravediggers Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates (HarperCollins Ecco)
*UK publisher (first edition)

2008 CWA Daggers Short-Lists

Shortlists for the 2008 CWA / Duncan Lawrie Daggers were announced at a reception at the British Library on 3rd June.

The authors shortlisted for the £20,000 Duncan Lawrie Dagger, the world’s largest prize for a crime novel, are James Lee Burke (The Tin Roof Blowdown), Colin Cotterill (Coroner’s Lunch), Frances Fyfield (Blood From Stone), Steve Hamilton (Night Work), Laura Lippman (What the Dead Know) and RN Morris (A Vengeful Longing).

There are five authors in the running for the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger: Andrea Camilleri (The Patience of the Spider), Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Dominique Manotti (Lorraine Connection), Martin Suter (A Deal with the Devil) and Fred Vargas (This Night’s Foul Work). This prize is worth £5000 to the winning author and £1000 to the translator.

In all there are eight awards in contention, the others being the Steel, Non-Fiction, New Blood, Library, Short Story and Debut Daggers.

Book Review: The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke
There is an eternal debate about whether the best Crime Fiction can ever hold its head up as the equal of the literary novel. Just as ‘proper’ authors like Martin Amis, William Boyd and even Charles Dickens can and have turned their hand to mystery fiction, so there exists a strata of ‘crime’ novelists who really can be counted among the great and the good of the literary world. Let’s not pretend that the average Christie/ Rendell/ PD James pot-boiler is anything other than (in Graham Greene’s words) an ‘entertainment’, but the boundaries surrounding the writing of those writers of the calibre of John Harvey, George Pelecanos, Elmore Leonard, David Peace and Raymond Chandler are blurred to say the least. A good crime novel can be a good novel and this by James Lee Burke falls very much into both categories.
When the stink of destruction and death lifts off the page and you can practically hear the cries of anguish, you know that the author is a novelist to be reckoned with, whatever the genre. That’s what James Lee Burke has done with ‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’.
This powerful post-Katrina novel, features his main series policeman, Dave Robicheaux, who is called out of his own police district of New Iberia to help out in the beleaguered Big Sleazy. Along the way he gets caught up in the disappearance of a Catholic Priest, a seemingly random shooting and looting unexpectedly rich pickings from the home of old-school mobster and florist, Sidney Kovick. In Burke’s skilled hands, there are more shades of gray than you’ll find in an eye-specialists’ wall-chart. No one is all bad –  nor is anyone (Robicheaux and the Priest included) – beyond reproach.
At the centre of the action are Otis and Melanie Baylor, middle class whites with a daughter who had previously been raped by young black men. These men themselves, admittedly no angels, show up unwittingly to loot the houses in Baylor’s street and Otis – whose background included watching his father and uncle attend Ku Klux Klan burnings in Alabama – is driven to anger. Shots are fired but the Baylors deny any involvement. Robicheaux is ordered to check it out.
One of the looters, Bertrand Melancon, sees his brother shot and seriously wounded and a young friend killed. He also soon becomes aware that the diamonds and cash they’ve stripped out of Kovick’s walls are likely to get him tortured and disposed of, as a couple of psychopaths take up his trail. As Robicheaux’s ex-partner, renegade bail-bondsman Clete Purcel tells him: ‘Hey, kid, if you stole anything from Sidney Kovick, mail it to him COD from Alaska, then buy a gun and shoot yourself… With luck, he won’t find your grave.’
The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina  came as a devastating blow to a country that thought its racial divide was largely behind it. To remember how deep the racism was in New Orleans back in the ‘old days’ one only has to recall the 1965 Football Boycott of New Orleans that occurred after numerous black players were refused service by a number of hotels and businesses in the Big Easy, and white cabdrivers refused to carry black passengers. The treatment of the poor black population in the aftermath of the Hurricane’s devastation recalled these days and Burke puts a fictional but very insightful spin on real life events and emotions.
‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’ is James Lee Burke’s masterpiece. He’ll be hard-pressed to equal it.
Jim Driver 

 

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2008

2008 Longlist Announced

The longlist was announced today for one of the most prestigious awards in the international crime writing calendar – the 4th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, the only literary prize of its kind to be voted for by the general public.

 This year’s list is a vibrant and diverse mix of titles featuring the work of both established authors and emerging talents. This blend goes to demonstrate the current vitality of the genre and the exceptional standards to be found there. 

Votes for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year can be cast at any Waterstone’s branch in England, Scotland and Wales,/

The List   

Simon Beckett, The Chemistry of Death

When the bizarrely mutilated and long-dead body of a young woman is found in a ditch in Manham, an isolated and insular village in the Norfolk marshlands, former high-profile forensic anthropologist Dr David Hunter is reluctant to get involved. Hunter has a secret past which he hopes will remain buried, but soon Hunter realises it will take all his knowledge and expertise if the killer is to be stopped. But not even he is prepared for the terrible cost that will exact – or the awful price that failure threatens to bring…

Mark Billingham, Buried

Luke Mullen, sixteen year-old son of a former, high- ranking police officer has disappeared, presumed kidnapped. A list of villains with a grudge against Luke’s father quickly emerges, but Detective Inspector Tom Thorne discovers that ex-DCI Tony Mullen has omitted the name of the most obvious suspect; a man who’d once threatened him and his family. Is this a simple oversight, or is it something more telling?

Benjamin Black, Christine Falls

A Dublin pathologist follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of a conspiracy among the city’s high Catholic society. It’s not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It’s the living. One night at the morgue Quirke stumbles across a body that shouldn’t have been there – and his brother-in-law, eminent paediatrician Malachy Griffin – altering a file to cover up the corpse’s cause of death. It turns out the body belonged to a young woman named Christine Falls.

Christopher Brookmyre, A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil

Put on your uniform and line up in an orderly fashion for the funniest and most accurate trip back to the classroom you are likely to read, as well as a murder mystery like nothing that has gone before it. Forget the forensics: only once you’ve been through school with this painfully believable cast of characters will you be equipped to work out what really happened decades later. Even then, you’ll probably guess wrong and be made to stand in the corner.

 Sophie Hannah, Hurting Distance

When Naomi Jenkins’s married lover vanishes without trace, Naomi knows he must have come to harm. But the police are less convinced, particularly when Robert’s wife insists he is not missing. In desperation, Naomi has a crazy idea. If she can’t persuade the police that Robert is in danger, perhaps she can convince them that he is a danger to others. Naomi knows how describe in detail the actions of a psychopath. All she needs to do is dig up her own troubled past

 John Harvey, Darkness and Light

Former cop Frank Elder is once more drawn out of retirement to investigate the disappearance of  his ex-wife’s sister, Claire. When Claire is found dead at home – unmarked and carefully dressed – it is Elder who is surprised by the similarities to an old case. In a case in which neither memories, confessions, nor instincts can be trusted, Elder struggles with the weight of the past and Harvey delivers another psychologically trenchant page-turner.

Reginald Hill, The Death of Dalziel

Reginald Hill returns with a stunning new novel featuring his popular Yorkshire policemen Dalziel and Pascoe. Caught in the full blast of a huge explosion, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel lies on a hospital bed, with only a life support system and his indomitable will between him and the Great Beyond. His colleague, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, is determined to bring those responsible to justice.

Susan Hill, The Risk of Darkness

In her third crime novel, Hill explores the crazy grief of a widowed husband, a derangement that turns to obsession and threats, violence and terror. Meanwhile, handsome, introverted Simon Serrailler, whose cool reserve has broken the hearts of several women, finds his own heart troubled by a feisty female priest with red hair. It hinges on a terrific twist that comes as a complete surprise to the reader.

 Graham Hurley, One Under

A man, chained inside a tunnel and then dismembered and scattered along the tracks by the early morning train from Portsmouth to London. The beginning of DI Joe Faraday’s most gruesome case yet. With his trademark realism and his focus on two very different policeman; one awkward and by the book, the other bolshy and walking the thinnest of lines, Hurley’s Faraday and Winter novels are earning ever more spectacular reviews, and building readership.

Peter James, Not Dead Enough

On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife, he was sixty miles away, asleep in bed at the time. At least, that’s the way it looks to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace who is called in to investigate the kinky slaying of beautiful young Brighton socialite, Katie Bishop. Soon, Grace starts coming to the conclusion that Bishop has performed the apparently impossible feat of being in two places at once.

Simon Kernick, Relentless

John Meron, a happily married father of two, who’s never been in trouble, receives a phone call that will change his life forever. His friend, Jack Calley, a high-flying city lawyer, is screaming down the phone for help. As Meron listens, Calley is murdered. His last words, spoken to his killer, are the first two lines of Meron’s address. Confused and terrified, Meron scoops up his children and hurries out of the house. He’s being hunted and he has no idea why.

Patrick Lennon, Corn Dolls

When Inspector Tom Fletcher investigates a series of deaths in a fenland village, he uncovers the presence of a gang of criminals intent on avenging an ancient grudge. As Tom Fletcher works against time to prevent a massacre of the whole community, he comes to realise that the old policeman’s cliché is true. The police really are your family. Tom’s problem is, they’re not the kind of family that any sane person could ever live with.

Stuart MacBride, Dying Light

It’s summertime in the Granite city: the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and people are dying! It starts with a prostitute, stripped naked and beaten to death down by the docks – the heart of Aberdeen’s red light district. For DS Logan MacRae, it’s a bad start to another bad day. Despite Logan’s best efforts, it’s not long before another prostitute turns up on the slab! Stuart MacBride’s characteristic grittiness, gallows humour and lively characterization are to the fore in his second novel.

Alexander McCall Smith, Blue Shoes and Happiness

In this seventh instalment in the internationally bestselling, universally beloved series, there is considerable excitement at the shared premises of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors. A cobra has been found in Precious Ramotswe’s office. Then a nurse from a local medical clinic reveals to Mma Ramotswe that faulty blood pressure readings are being recorded there. It all means a lot of work for Mma Ramotswe and her inestimable assistant, Grace Makutsi, and they are, of course, up to the challenge.

Val McDermid, The Grave Tattoo

A superb psychological thriller in which present-day murder has its roots in the eighteenth century and the mutiny on The Bounty Imagine an undiscovered manuscript by William Wordsworth. The manuscript has remained hidden for generations, its significance unknown. Until now. Graduate student Jane Gresham’s inquiries stir up long-forgotten memories. And before long, murder stalks the manuscript as ruthlessly as a hidden killer.

Mark Mills, The Savage Garden

A beautiful Tuscan villa, a mysterious garden, two hidden murders – one from the 16th century, one from the twentieth – and a family driven by dark secrets, combine in this evocative, intriguing mystery set in post-War Italy. Past and present, love and intrigue, intertwine in an evocative mystery which vividly captures the experience of an innocent abroad in an uncertain world.

Stef Penney, The Tenderness of Wolves

1867, Canada – As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly weaves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance.

Peter Robinson, Piece of my Heart

As volunteers clean up after a huge outdoor rock concert in Yorkshire in 1969, they discover the body of a young woman wrapped in a sleeping bag. She has been brutally murdered. It looks as if the victim was somehow associated with the up-and-coming psychedelic pastoral band the Mad Hatters. In the present, Inspector Alan Banks is investigating the murder of a freelance music journalist, who was working on a feature about the same band. Banks finds he has to delve into the past to find out exactly what hornets’ nest the journalist inadvertently stirred up.

C.J. Sansom, Sovereign

The third Shardlake novel, set in autumn 1541 during the reign of Henry VIII. When a York glazier is murdered, things get a little more complicated as the murder seems to be not only connected to a prisoner under Shardlake’s ward but also to the royal family itself. A chain of events unfolds that threatens Shardlake with the most terrifying fate of the age: imprisonment in the Tower of London.

Chris Simms, Shifting Skin

‘The Butcher of Belle Vue’ has struck again. Like the first two victims, the third has been partially skinned and dumped on waste ground, her muscles, tendons and ligaments exposed to view. Only this time, her face has also been removed. Jon Spicer and his new partner, Rick Saville, are on the investigating team. Jon’s investigation takes him into the twilight world of Manchester’s escort agencies and the unscrupulous cosmetic surgery industry.

The Awards Ceremony

This year’s winner of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year will be annouced at an award ceremony on the opening night of the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on Thursday 17th July.

Previous winners of the award include Val McDermid (2006) and Allan Guthrie (2007).   

Macavity Awards announced at Bouchercon 2007

The Mystery Readers International Macavity Awards were presented at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in Anchorage, AK, on 9/27. Congratulations to all.

Best Novel

The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine)

Best First Novel

Mr. Clarinet by Nick Stone (Michael Joseph Ltd/Penguin-U.K./ HarperCollins – U.S)

Best Nonfiction

Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers edited by Jim Huang and Austin Lugar (Crum Creek)

Best Short Story

“Til Death Do Us Part” by Tim Maleeny (MWA Presents Death Do Us Part: New Stories about Love, Lust, and Murder, edited by Harlan Coben; Little, Brown)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery

Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur)

Book review: Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Exit Music by Ian Rankin
What is loudly heralded as the final case for Edinburgh Detective Inspector John Rebus sees Ian Rankin returning to the form that established his name as one of Britain’s keenest crime writers back in the mid-1990s. Although the most recent outings lacked the vigour and richness that elevated the series’ undoubted highlight, Black and Blue, far above the opposition, Exit Music ends on a genuine high.
Before DI John Rebus’ scheduled retirement in November 2006, he and Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke are attempting to clear up a batch of unsettled cases. Their progress (or lack or it) is interrupted when a dissident Russian poet is killed after an apparent mugging goes badly wrong.
Edinburgh is playing host to a Russian delegation and the powers that be are keen that the case should be wrapped up as quickly and discretely as possible. But Rebus and Clarke aren’t too sure, especially when a second, seemingly connected, death occurs. Then local gangster and Rebus’ long-term nemesis, ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty, is brutally attacked and the Inspector finds himself the prime suspect.
Exit Music is pretty much a book of two halves. In an unacknowledged homage to John Updike’s ‘Rabbit’ series, the first line on the first page repeats the opening sentence in the very first Rebus book, Knots and Crosses: ‘The girl screamed once, only the once.’ After that, the novel clip-clops along without too much sparkle. Rebus looks back on his life and on his ‘career’ and we are taken along for the journey. For a while there’s the fear that there’s just too much navel-gazing and too little investigation.
Then Rankin’s professional mastery kicks in and the final half of Exit Music entertains, surprises and ultimately satisfies. Anyone who thought they had the solution licked by page 100 will certainly be admitting defeat before they hit the last page.
Along the way Rankin drops hints as to what the next move will be. Who will be Siobhan’s CID partner and will she take over the series, with Rebus perhaps acting the part of a weird, whiskey-sodden Mycroft Holmes? Or maybe Rebus will be reluctantly invited to join the Serious Crimes Review Unit looking – in the style of BBC TV’s New Tricks at cold, unsolved cases? Perhaps both; maybe neither? Jim Driver

Book review: Death Message by Mark Billingham

Death Message by Mark BillinghamDeath Message
Mark Billingham, Little Brown
The latest outing for overworked London Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, kicks off when our very likeable hero receives a grisly, blurred photograph via his cellphone. It shows what looks very much to the DI (who’s become something of an expert in such matters) like a dead man. But there’s no hint as to who the victim is – never mind any clue as to the identity of his assumed killer. And when another picture of a different dead man arrives, it’s getting serious and Thorne shows just why bookshops all over the world look forward to the latest Billingham. All in all, ‘Death Message’ is another cracking thriller from the former stand-up comedian and TV writer, who has proved himself one of the unexpected long-stayers of British crime fiction. Recent Thorne outings may not have been quite up to the early standard set by ‘Sleepy Head’ ‘Lazy Bones’ and ‘Burning Girl’ but ‘Death Message’ is a definite return to form. Recommended.Jim Driver
Buy ‘Death Message’ at full discount from Amazon.co.uk Death Message
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Book review: The Blind Man of Seville by Robert Wilson

The Blind Man of Seville by Robert WilsonThe Blind Man of Seville
Robert Wilson, Harper Collins
Those paying attention to events at the literary end of crime fiction will know Wilson as the author of six previous thrillers, all of them stylish and enhanced by exotic locations. The first four were magical, enthralling works of detective noir set in west Africa. The next, a darkly mysterious World War II puzzler, ‘A Small Death in Lisbon’, was the deserved winner of Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for best crime novel of 1999; its follow-up, ‘The Company of Strangers’, saw Wilson knocking at the door of bestsellerdom.
This startling new novel follows Wilson’s general trend towards darker, more disturbing fiction, and introduces a complex new character: homicide detective Javier Falcon of the Seville police. It is a book that exists on multiple levels, kicking off as an off-key detective story and ending up as (amongst other things) a tense psychological thriller and a literary investigation into perception and family loyalties.
The revelry of Semana Santa (Holy Week) is interrupted by the bizarre murder of a leading restaurateur, whose body is found, bound and gagged, in front of a TV screen. To force him to watch the images, the killer had surgically removed Raúl Jiminéz’s eyelids. Although Falcon’s perceived coldness earned him the nickname ‘The Lizard’, he is uncharacteristically shocked by the killing and drawn into discovering details of the dead man’s life. As he digs, Falcon discovers to his horror that his famous dead artist father was involved in the background to the mystery, and maybe more. A wonderful, if essentially dark and disturbing, literary detective novel. Martin Radcliffe
Buy ‘The Blind Man of Seville’ at full discount from Amazon.co.uk The Blind Man of Seville
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Book review: London Boulevard by Ken Bruen

London Boulevard by Ken BruenLondon Boulevard
Ken Bruen, The Do-Not Press, £6.99
Galway writer Ken Bruen lived over a decade in Brixton and Kennington as special teacher for so-called ‘low achievers’. Along the way he picked up a Runyonesque feel for south-east London and its people that first exploded on to the page in the acclaimed noir, ‘Rilke on Black’. This is his sixth since. To call it a crime novel is like saying wine is something to drink. On one level it’s a reworking of Billy Wilder’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’, on another it’s a modern morality tale, thick with misfits, losers and those who prey on them.
Mitchell is released from Pentonville after serving three years for a vicious attack he doesn’t even remember. He’s met at the gates by Norton, a former associate with plans – plans that include violence, extortion and payback. Mitchell is an anti-hero in the tradition of Thompson and Goodis, a flawed character with a curiously twisted sense of morality, but even he realises that things are going too far. Attempting to distance himself from his turbulent past, Mitchell takes a job as handyman in sunny west London, a cop-out those south of the river don’t approve of.
The cast of characters in ‘London Boulevard’ is rich and Dickensian: in Holland Park there’s fading actress Lillian Palmer and her east European butler, Jordan; back in cold, dark SE11 the list is headed by loan shark and general bad guy, Tommy Logan. But the best of the bunch is Mitchell’s sister, Briony; disturbed and maybe a slug short of a massacre, her love for Mitchell pulls him back on to the straight and narrow – almost. ‘London Boulevard’ is truly great entertainment, permeated with a dark and disturbing strand that�ll stay with you long after the final denouement. Treat yourselves. David Peters
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