Thursday, 27 July 2017

2017 Anthony Award Nominations

Best Novel
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott [Little, Brown]
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
Red Right Hand by Chris Holm [Mulholland]
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny [Minotaur]

Best First Novel
Dodgers by Bill Beverly [Crown]
IQ by Joe Ide [Mulholland]
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann [Midnight Ink]
Design for Dying by Renee Patrick [Forge]
The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]

Best Paperback Original
Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott [Polis]
Leadfoot by Eric Beetner [280 Steps]
Salem’s Cipher by Jess Lourey [Midnight Ink]
Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty [Seventh Street]
How to Kill Friends and Implicate People by Jay Stringer [Thomas & Mercer]
Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin [Seventh Street] 

Best Short Story
Oxford Girl” by Megan Abbott, Mississippi Noir [Akashic]
Autumn at the Automat” by Lawrence Block, In Sunlight or in Shadow [Pegasus]
Gary’s Got A Boner” by Johnny Shaw, Waiting to Be Forgotten [Gutter]
Parallel Play” by Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning [Wildside]
Queen of the Dogs” by Holly West, 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul and Payback [Moonstone] 

Best Critical Nonfiction Work
Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd [Nan A. Talese]
Letters from a Serial Killer by Kristi Belcamino & Stephanie Kahalekulu [CreateSpace]
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin [Liveright]
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker by David J. Skal [Liveright]
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale [Bloomsbury/Penguin] 

Best Children’s/YA Novel
Snowed by Maria Alexander [Raw Dog Screaming]
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry [Henry Holt]
Tag, You’re Dead by J.C. Lane [Poisoned Pen]
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier [Soho Teen]
The Fixes by Owen Matthews [HarperTeen] 

Best Anthology
Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns – Editor Eric Beetner, [Down & Out]
In Sunlight or in Shadow - Editor Lawrence Block, [Pegasus]
Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens - Editor Jen Conley [Down & Out]
Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – Greg Herren, ed. [Down & Out]
Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by the Replacements – Editor Jay Stringer, [Gutter] 

Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words)
Cleaning Up Finn by Sarah M. Chen [All Due Respect Books]
No Happy Endings by Angel Luis Colón [Down & Out]
Crosswise by S.W. Lauden [Down & Out]
Beware the Shill by John Shepphird [Down & Out]
The Last Blue Glass by B.K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016 [Dell]

The winner in each category will be announced immediately following the Sunday Brunch on October 15 2017.   The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Africa’s under-appreciated crime fiction

As readers of African crime fiction for fifty years, and writers of it for the past fifteen, we’ve
had a chance to appreciate where it’s come from and watch where it’s reached.
While Africa has a long tradition of storytelling, it seems that African fiction writers only really came to international attention in the fifties with the writings of Nigerian Chinua Achebe and South Africans Alan Paton and Nadine Gordimer.
As far as mysteries are concerned, one really starts with James McClure’s Kramer and Zondi series of the early seventies. Not only are these darn good crime fiction plots, but the relationship between the white Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and the (smarter) black Detective Sergeant Mickey Zondi illustrates and satirises the contradictions and unfairness of apartheid. At about the same time, Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote Petals of Blood set in post-colonial Kenya, but illustrating the conflict between the inherited colonial ideas and the ambient African cultural ones.
Mysteries with African settings by European writers have a longer history. Among the earliest was the first of Elspeth Huxley’s three Kenya mysteries—Murder at Government House—published in the thirties. While there is the strong sense of Africa that characterises all her books, it’s restricted to the colonial players.
So, African mysteries have some history, and over the last fifteen years there has been an explosion of authors writing contemporary crime fiction in Africa—not only in South Africa but across the continent with writers like Leye Adenle (Nigeria), Kwei Quartey (Ghana), Unity Dow (Botswana) and many others. 
How have readers elsewhere in the world reacted to this new and rich perspective on the continent?  Only a few have made the breakthrough into the international arena.  Writers from overseas who set their work here also have had a mixed reception, some successful like Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Ramotswe series, but others who are first class cause hardly a ripple. Just as one example, take Robert Wilson’s excellent work—his Africa novels are not as popular as the ones set closer to home.
It was Deon Meyer who took up McClure’s cudgel, using crime fiction set in the post-apartheid era, albeit steeped in its aftermath, to illustrate present day South Africa.  He is probably Africa’s best known crime writer, yet even his excellent police procedurals and thrillers don’t make the same impact overseas as those of many Scandinavian writers.
It certainly isn’t the case that readers are only interested in crime fiction set in their own cultures or written originally in their own language—one only has to look at the huge success of the Nordic writers. What makes their books appealing?  Is it the weather? The cold seeping into your bones and the winter darkness seeping into your heart? Or is it a different writing style, but not too different? Or is it just that they are in fashion?
Or is it something else?
Is it perhaps that readers are reluctant to stray away from cultures they know, away from characters who are more or less like themselves?  For the last month, there has been a blog tour for our latest Detective Kubu mystery, Dying to Live.  Fortunately, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but several of them contained a message that surprised us.  For a number of these bloggers, who are voracious readers, Dying to Live was a first or rare excursion into Africa.  Some were worried before they started reading that differences in culture would put them off or make the book difficult to read.  By the time they finished the book, far from finding it off-putting, many commented how much they enjoyed being taken to somewhere they didn’t know and to a culture that was quite different, set in the context of a good mystery.  Some said it was a welcome change to read an example of Sunshine Noir rather than Nordic Noir.
So, perhaps the main reason that African mysteries don’t get the recognition we think they deserve is nothing to do with the writer, but rather the setting.  So, how can we persuade readers to become more adventurous?
Last year at the Murder Out of Africa panel at Harrogate, we asked the audience how many of them had read an African mystery.  Only a few had.  Then an audience member commented that he hardly ever heard of African mysteries and asked us why publishers don’t select more African crime fiction books.  Deon spoke for all of us when he replied that the way to get more published with greater visibility was for people to buy more and read more of them.  A literary vicious circle.
So, we urge readers to intersperse their to-be-read piles with books set in different cultures and settings.  It will give writers from these places greater access to the wonderful reading public of the U.K., and give readers the opportunity for exciting armchair travel.

Michael and Stanley
Read Robin Jarossi's review here.
Buy it from SHOTS A-Store
Michael writes a monthly piece on new African crime fiction—Africa Scene—for the International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill online magazine:

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Published by Orenda Books)
The body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case becomes…

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Books to look forward to from Orion

July 2017

Renee Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job no matter what the department throws at her. The Late Show is by Michael Connelly.

Miri Goldstein was a call girl with connections to powerful men. Now that she's dead, some can   You Don’t Know Me is by Brooke Magnanti.
breathe more easily. But the grave is not always good at keeping secrets. As the media dig into Miri's past, her old friend Denise worries that her own will rise to the surface. Meanwhile in Scotland, controversial forensic pathologist Harriet Hitchin is put in a bind when the body turns up on her patch. Police think they have their killer but Harriet is certain they made a mistake. If she's wrong, it will end her career. If she's right it could cost her life.The case will play games with all who come near and force them to ask - how many of us are living a lie?

August 2017

Bad Move is by Linwood Barclay.  Zack Walker is a writer with an overactive imagination and two teenage children. After a murder on their street, he uproots his family from the city - insisting it's for their own good - and heads for the security of the suburbs. However, his peaceful new life is soon shattered when he finds a body while out walking by the creek. Zack recognizes the dead man - and knows who his killer might be. Things go from bad to worse as Zack follows a trail of deceit that leads right to his front door. To protect his family - and so he doesn't get framed for a crime he didn't commit - he's going to have to track down the killer himself. Suddenly the suburbs are not looking nearly so safe.

September 2017

Much to his family's relief, stay-at-home writer Zack Walker finally gets a job outside of the house. Surely, becoming a journalist will keep his overactive imagination in check . . . Now in full-time employment, Zack's protective instincts must work over-time to keep his kids safe from dangers real and imagined.  But while writing his feature article, Zack stumbles into the centre of a web of murder and deceit. What seems like a tragic accidental hit-and-run may actually be a far darker crime. And Zack will find himself in the dark about who the good guys are, what the bad guys want, and what he's started to uncover . . .  Bad Guys is by Linwood Barclay.

The Furthest Station is by Ben Aaronovitch.  There's something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call. It's PC Peter Grant's speciality . . . Only it's more than going 'bump'. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter - making the follow up interviews rather difficult. So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.  Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.

October 2017

Eliza Altairsky-Lointaine is the toast of Moscow society, a beautiful actress in an infamous theatre troupe. Her love life is a colourful as the parts she plays. She is the estranged wife of a descendant of Genghis Khan. And her ex-husband has threatened to kill anyone who courts her. He appears to be making good on his promise. Fandorin is contacted by concerned friend - the widowed wife of Chekhov - who asks him to investigate an alarming incident involving Eliza. But when he watches Eliza on stage for the first time, he falls desperately in love . . . Can he solve the case - and win over Eliza - without attracting the attentions of the murderer he is trying to find?  All the World’s a Stage is by Boris Akunin.  He TV rights for the Fandorin series have been optioned by the BBC.

Journalist, family man, and paranoid writer Zack Walker visits his father's lakeside fishing camp. But the fresh air, childhood memories and peaceful contemplation are ruined when a body is found.  Locals say the mutilated corpse must have been the victim of a random bear attack. But Zack Walker, as always, fears the worst. When another body is discovered, it seems there is a more deadly predator on the prowl. A Lone Wolf killer who is hell-bent on laying siege to the idyllic town. The fuse is lit and time is running out. Zack must face down a madman - or find out first-hand what the grand finale is . . .  Bad Luck is by Linwood Barclay.

Harry Bosch works cold cases as a volunteer for the San Fernando police department when he's called out to a local drug store where a young pharmacist has been murdered. Bosch and the town's three-person detective squad sift through the clues, which lead into the dangerous, big business world of prescription drug abuse. Meanwhile, an old case from Bosch's LAPD days comes back to haunt him when a long-imprisoned killer claims Harry framed him and that there's new evidence which proves it. Bosch left the LAPD on bad terms, so his former colleagues aren't keen to protect his reputation. He must fend for himself in clearing his name and keeping a clever killer in prison.  The two unrelated cases wind across each other like strands of barbed wire, and Bosch learns that there are two kinds of truth: the kind that sets you free and the kind that leaves you buried in darkness.  Two Kinds of Truth is by Michael Connelly.

The Shadow Man is the debut novel by Margaret Kirk.  Two brutal killings rock Inverness, and bring ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler the biggest challenge of his career...The body of the queen of daytime TV, Morven Murray is discovered by her sister, Anna, on the morning of her wedding day. But does Anna know more about the murder than she's letting on?Police informant Kevin Ramsay's murder looks like a gangland-style execution. But what could he have stumbled into that was dangerous enough to get him violently killed? Mahler has only a couple of weeks to solve both cases while dealing with his mother's fragile mental health. But caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler hunting one killer, or two?

November 2017

Bad News is by Linwood Barclay.  Journalist Zack Walker has a dangerous habit of finding deadly stories. But this is one his good friend Trixie Snelling doesn't want told. It turns out Trixie has her fair share of skeletons in her closet and, as Zack discovers, a dead body in her basement.  With other journalists circling the story - and no sign of Trixie, who has gone missing - Zack could find himself implicated in a murder, unless he finds out the truth fast. The bad news is: it will cost him his job, and teach him that everything he knows about his friend, his town, and even his marriage, is a lie. The good news? It hasn't cost him his life . . . yet.

My Little Eye is by Stephanie Marland.  A young woman is found dead in her bedroom
surrounded by rose petals - the latest victim of 'The Lover'. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no closer to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out. AND MAKE THEM DIE... As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands - to catch the killer before the police. Hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group. As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case neither of them realise they're being watched. The killer is closer to them than they think, and he has his next victim - Clementine - firmly in his sights.

Portrait of a Murder: The Mill is by M B Shaw.  Meet portrait painter and amateur sleuth Iris Grey, who sees the truths of others while struggling to find her own way. Iris Grey arrives at The Mill in Hampshire, commissioned to paint a portrait of Dominic Wetherby, a celebrated author. She quickly finds herself drawn into a world of village gossip, romantic intrigue, buried secrets and a murder.

Jennifer Dorey thinks she is safe. Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper. After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years. Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to 'Fritz', the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected. But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights. And home is the last place she should be.  The Devil’s Claw is by Lara Dearman.

December 2017 

The Boy is by Tami Hoag.  Mother, liar, murderer? In the sleepy Lousiana town of Bayou
Breaux, a mother runs to her neighbour - bloody and hysterical. The police arrive to find Genevieve Gauthier cradling her seven-year-old son in her arms as he bleeds to death. Detective Nick Fourcade finds no evidence of a break-in. His partner Detective Annie Broussard is troubled by parts of Genevieve's story that don't make sense. Twenty four hours later teenager Nora Florette is reported missing. Local parents fear a maniac is preying on their children, and demand answers from the police. Fourcade and Broussard discover something shocking about Genevieve's past. She is both victim and the accused; a grieving mother and a woman with a deadly secret. Could she have something to do with the disappearance of teenager Nora Florette?

January 2018

Naomi Cottle finds missing children. When the police have given up their search and an investigation stalls, families call her. She possesses a rare, intuitive sense, born out of her own experience, that allows her to succeed when others have failed. Young Madison Culver has been missing for three years. She vanished on a family trip to the mountainous forests of Oregon, where they'd gone to cut down a tree for Christmas. Soon after she disappeared, blizzards swept the region and the authorities presumed she died from exposure. But Naomi knows that Madison isn't dead. As she relentlessly pursues the truth behind Madison's disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce defences that have protected her for so long. If she finds this child, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?  The Child Finder is by Rene Denfeld.

Fear is by Dirk Kurbjuweit. You'd die for your family. But would you kill for them? Family is everything.  So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour - a man who doesn't listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help - the police, your lawyer - can't help you.  You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there's nothing more you can do to protect them.  Is there?'

'Do you ever think there's maybe something that's gone wrong with the world?' A man is found dead in one of the city's luxury homes. Homicide detective Ross Carver arrives at the scene when six FBI agents burst in and forcibly remove him from the premises. Two days later...Carver wakes in his bed to find Mia a neighbour he's hardly ever spoken to, reading aloud to him. He has no recollection of the crime scene, no memory of how he got home, and no idea that two days have passed. Carver knows nothing about this woman but as he struggles to piece together what happened to him, he soon realises he's involved himself in a web of conspiracy that spans the nation. And Mia just might know more than she's letting on...  The Night Market is by Jonathan Moore.

The Guilty Wife is by Elle Croft.  WIFE. MISTRESS. MURDERER. If you were being framed for murder, how far would you go to clear your name? I'm not guilty of murder. Bethany Reston is happily married. But she's also having an affair with a famous client.  And no one can ever know. But that doesn't make me innocent.  When Bethany's lover is brutally murdered, she has to hide her grief from everyone. But someone knows her secret. And then one day the threats begin. With an ever-growing pile of evidence pointing to her as the murderer, the only way she can protect her secrets is to prove her innocence. And that means tracking down a killer.