Saturday, 14 October 2017

Barry Award Winners 2017

Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine announced the winners of the 2017 Barry Awards last night at the opening session at Bouchercon. Congratulations to all!

Best Novel:
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel:
The Drifter, by Nicholas Petrie (Putnam)

Best Paperback Original:
Rain Dogs, by Adrian McKinty (Seventh Street)

Best Thriller:
Guilty Minds, by Joseph Finder (Dutton)

Hat Tip Mystery Fanfare

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Macavity Award Winners 2017

The Macavity Awards are nominated by members of Mystery Readers International, subscribers to Mystery Readers Journal and friends of MRI. The winners were announced at the opening ceremonies at Bouchercon in Toronto. Congratulations to all.

Best Novel
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best First Novel
IQ, by Joe Ide (Mulholland Books)

Best Short Story
 Parallel Play,” by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, Wildside Press)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Novel
Heart of Stone, by James W. Ziskin (Seventh Street Books)

Best Nonfiction
Sara Paretsky: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, Margaret Kinsman (McFarland)

Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Call for Papers: Captivating Criminality 5

Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders
28th – 30th June 2018 - Corsham Court, Bath Spa University, UK

The Captivating Criminality Network is delighted to announce its fifth UK conference. Building upon and developing ideas and themes from the previous four successful conferences, Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre is able to incorporate both traditional ideas and themes, as well as those 
from outside mainstream and/or dominant ways of thinking.

Crime fiction narratives continue to gain in both popularity and critical appreciation. This conference will consider the ways in which writers who work within generic cultural and critical boundaries and those who challenge those seeming restrictions, through both form and content, have influenced each other. Crime fiction, in its widest sense, has benefited from challenges from diverse ‘outsiders’ who in turn shift and develop the genre. This was as true in the early days of the genre as it is today and, as such, we welcome submissions from the early modern to the present day.

A key question that this conference will address is the enduring appeal of crime fiction and its ability to incorporate other disciplines such as History, Criminology, Film, TV, Media, and Psychology. From the sensational’ novelists of the 1860s to today’s ‘Domestic Noir’ narratives, crime fiction has proved itself to be open to challenges and development from historical and cultural movements such as, feminism, gender studies, queer politics, post modernism, metafiction, war, and shifting concepts of criminality. In addition, crime fiction is able to respond to and incorporate changes in political and historic world events. With this in mind, we are interested in submissions that approach crime narratives from the earliest days of crime writing until the present day.

This international, interdisciplinary event is organised by Bath Spa University and the Captivating Criminality Network, and we invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing, to participate in this conference that will address these key elements of crime fiction and real crime. Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

•    Feminist Sleuths (second wave and beyond)
•    The Victorian Lady Detective
•    Femininity and the Golden Age
•    Masculinities
•    Crime and Queer Theory
•    Crime and War
•    The Cozy Crime Novel
•    Victims and Perpetrators
•    Crime Fiction and Form
•    The Prison and Other Institutions
•    Madness and Criminality
•    Technology
•    Film Adaptations
•    Post-Communist Crime Fiction
•    Crime Fiction in Times of Trauma
•    Latin American Crime Fiction and Trauma
•    The Psychological
•    The Detective, Then and Now
•    The Anti-Hero
•    True Crime
•    Contemporary Crime Fiction
•    Victorian Crime Fiction
•    Eighteenth-Century Crime
•    Early Forms of Crime Writing
•    The Golden Age
•    Hardboiled Fiction
•    Forensics and Detection
•    The Body
•    Seduction and Sexuality
•    The Criminal Analyst
•    Others and Otherness
•    Landscape
•    The Country and the City
•    The Media and Detection
•    Adaptation and Interpretation
•    Justice Versus Punishment
•    Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 200 word proposals to Dr. Fiona Peters and Joanne Ella Parsons ( by 3rd February 2018. The abstract should include your name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

Attendance fees:
Full Fee: £180 (£135 if a member of the International Crime Fiction Association)
Reduced Rate (students, ECRs not on a permanent contract/retired): £130 
(£95 if a member of the International Crime Fiction Association)

To join the International Crime Fiction Association please email: 

Full Membership: £20 per annum
Reduced Rate Membership £10 per annum

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Worst Man in the World by Andrew Harris

It was a journey I’d done before. Manchester to Southampton. Six or seven hours depending on the traffic round Birmingham. This time I’d be doing it alone after a long day in the office. I needed to stay awake. Needed to concentrate on something.

It was all planned out. Fill up and grab a sandwich on the M40. Oxford Ring Road, nip down A34, pick up M3 then on to M27. Piece of cake, as one of le Carre’s characters would put it in that laconic, understated style. But I wasn’t to be alone.

As I accelerated onto the M6, I slipped in the first cassette. A soft voice coated in honey positively oozed out of the hidden speakers. I got comfortable and set cruise control.

The Night Manager, written and read by John le Carre.

By the time I’d reached Stoke, the irritating phone calls had stopped. I’d had to re-wind each time so as not to miss a beat. The story was unfolding beautifully, the inflection in le Carre’s voice just enough to denote a different character. It was hypnotic. 

I was there in Switzerland at the hotel with Jonathan Pine when ‘the worst man in the world’ made his entrance. I could see the cavalcade of vehicles parked neatly outside as his entourage swept into the lobby.

Castles of luggage had been disgorged. Passports had been handed over with military precision. Hotel registration forms were being signed by the man who signed; not by the man himself.

Richard Onslow Roper never signed anything.

As I pulled into Warwick Services, I was convinced I was being followed. Was the attendant really working for the service station or was he MI6? Were Roper’s boys tampering with the car while I was in the toilets? I admit, I checked under the wheel arches when I came out and took a long look at the other vehicles and the drivers.

I don’t remember joining the M3. By then I was captured by his sharp descriptive prose – ‘eyes shallow as paint’… ‘cascades of chestnut hair’… ‘the maddening line of her hips’.

The story made me think then as it still does now. In the real world, how do terrorists get hold of the weapons, ammunition, materiel? Or toys, as Roper calls them. Just toys in the game. And that’s what it seems to be – a big game played by willing participants for mutual benefit.

So how and when do good intentions go bad? How can world class security systems, end-user certification processes, rigorous authentication procedures allow arms manufacturers to inadvertently supply weapons to the terrorists trying to destroy our own society?   

Maybe we should ask the real Richard Onslow Ropers out there. Le Carre has such a masterful insight and strong finger on the pulse of international arms dealing that I could well believe he already has.

For me he is the Master of creating crime fiction with a social conscience. I am a disciple and guess I always will be. The man has to live forever. My copy of his new novel, A Legacy of Spies, arrives next week. Another adventure awaits.

Wonder if there’s an audio version? 

A Litany of Good Intentions by Andrew Harris is published 12th October by Faithful Hound, price £12.99

Leading oncologist Dr Hannah Siekierkowski and her partner Lawrence McGlynn are visiting New Delhi for a conference, and enjoying a well-earned break. By chance, they meet Lawrence’s old friend Toby and his passionate daughter Okki, a charity worker. She introduces them to the organisation Sanitation In Action, and its charismatic leader, the young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim.  An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for Jock. Through his charity connections and his fiancée Nisha’s extraordinary scientific breakthrough, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease. Caught up in their passion and energy, Hannah agrees to help present their project at a conference in Uppsala, Sweden.  But with the discovery of a dead body, they realise that someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from achieving Jock’s dream. As the clock ticks down to the conference, Hannah and Lawrence are drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order: a hatred that originates back in the Second World War, with even earlier links to Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Why Charlie Fox by Zoë Sharp

When I was asked why I write about Charlie Fox, why I enjoy it, and what lies behind the latest book in the series, FOX HUNTER, it didn’t take much time to come up with the overriding answer.

I write what I like to read.

It sounds selfish when I put it like that, but I think most authors write for their own enjoyment first, and the enjoyment of others second. After all, if you don’t get some kind of a kick out of opening up last night’s file and reading those words you scribbled down so furiously, trying to do justice to the images swirling around inside your head, why do it at all? There are certainly easier and less painful ways to make a living.

I used to love reading thrillers years ago, but couldn’t help noticing that most of the female characters spent half the book swooning into the hero’s arms, being carried off by the baddies thus necessitating rescue, screaming at inopportune moments, tending the wounded, or cooking.

Even at that early age, I knew I wanted to read about the kinds of role-model women who didn’t need a man to complete them and were more than capable of doing their own rescuing, thank-you-very-much. And when I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for, I decided my only option was to write my own.

Right from the start, I didn’t want Charlie Fox to be some kind of caricature superwoman. I tried to make her believable and human, with all the flaws that entails. But, she also has the ability to kill when the circumstances dictate, which is still not a readily acceptable trait in female characters. Those who do so are often portrayed as ice-cold assassins, deranged serial killers, or a thinly disguised ‘guy in nylons’.

Instead, I saw Charlie as having a very distinct line in the sand, which you crossed at your peril. She will go a long way to avoid conflict, but once something kicks off, you can bet she’ll be the one to finish it—hard and fast. I’d already learned a good many self-defence techniques, cherry-picking among different disciplines, when my day-job as a photojournalist led to death-threats, and I used this knowledge to provide Charlie with a background teaching those same tricks of survival to others.

And why had she learned them in the first place? It had to come as a result of bitter experience. At the time, the scandal of trainees being brutally hazed at the Deep Cut army camp was hitting the headlines. It provided the perfect reason for someone like Charlie, who seemed to be the ideal candidate for the military, to be hiding out in a northern English city and passing on those skills to other women.

I added to that mix parents who seemed incapable of showing affection to their only child—a nervy mother and a clinical father—and who had not approved of their daughter’s choice of profession to start with, never mind when it all went to hell around her.

The vicious attack she suffered back when she was in the army colours Charlie’s thoughts and actions to a large extent in the early books. Although the effects do lessen over time, they are never entirely forgotten. Neither does she allow them to define her—it is just something that happened to her, not all of who she is. And I started the first book in the series, KILLER INSTINCT, at the point when Charlie turns the corner, stops running, and begins to discover just how strong her life experience has made her.

But for this latest instalment, FOX HUNTER, I knew I was going to have to return to the original crime and lay out not only what had really happened to Charlie, but also who really was responsible, and why. I tried to do this in a way that did not wallow in the details. I don’t enjoy reading gore-porn and certainly had no desire to write it.

I try in all the books to take Charlie on a personal journey as well as that connected to the main story thread. For that part, I took as my starting point a news report about modern terrorist funding, details of the private military contractor (PMC) circuit, and information about honour killings.

Added to that was my knowledge of the bits of the Middle East I’d visited, and also the landscapes of Saddleworth Moor in the UK and Borovets in Bulgaria, with its overland route from the Black Sea via Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. All fascinating areas with their own character to try to get across in the course of the story, but without turning it into a travelogue.

As always, it’s a fine balance, but nobody ever said things would be easy …

Zoë Sharp wrote the first in her crime thriller series featuring former Special Forces trainee turned bodyguard, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, after receiving death-threats in the course of her work as a photojournalist. She has given occasional workshops on self-defence, and how to improvise weapons out of ordinary household items, but is otherwise remarkably normal in most respects. FOX HUNTER is book twelve in the award-winning Charlie Fox series.

Buy it from SHOTS A-Store.