Wednesday, June 16, 2004

It's difficult not to feel snowed under by the constant outpouring of new novels. It's entirely my own fault, I know - after all, I choose to read them, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But at least it's snowed under in a good way. I should by rights be occupying my time with other things (my impending exams, perchance? The first of which rolls around on Friday) but I am just not. Procrastination, interrupted by panicked bouts of "learn something, quick" which alleviate my guilt, has always been my route to sucess, but this time I'm slightly more uneasy about it than usual...

In the past week, I've acquired a slew of books, every one of which I am incredibly eager to read. I've already managed to get the latest by Kathy Reichs and Val McDermid out of the way, but even then I seem to have made little progress. *sigh*. Peter Robinson's Caedmon's Song; Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland; Firewall by Henning Mankell; Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country?, and Steven Sherrill's Visits from the Drowned Girl (which I got yesterday, and is yet another example of that ambiguous, absolutely inexplicable phenomenon: the paperback with a dust-cover.) All of which (and, to be honest, at least 5 more) could be up next. It's just impossible to choose. Not that I'm complaining; it's far better than the alternative!

Anyway...

Last Saturday The Telegraph gave some heavy crime coverage, with reviews for Kathy Reichs' Monday Mourning, Val McDermid's The Torment of Others , and Elmore Leonard's Mr Paradise.

As resported practically everywhere else before now, Shots 22 is online, and a mammoth tome it is indeed. More new interviews than I've ever seen in one place; five great pieces of short fiction; phots; new reviews. Highlights for me? Raising the Bar, by Stephen D Rogers, the interviews with Mo Hayder, Mark Billingham, Michael Connelly, and Michael Marshall, and yet more praise for 2004 Boucheron Guest of Honour Lindsay Davis, who is simply unique in crime fiction: a historical series novelist who is also a huge bestseller (Scandal Takes a Holiday reached number ten on last Sunday's lists.)

Also, exciting news: not only has Brill Bryson (not a typo) just won the Aventis Prize, but his just-released paperback A Short History Of Nearly Everything has ousted Mark Haddon from the top spot, which not even Cornwell's Blow Fly managed. Honestly, it's a tremendous book. I may be being a little hasty here (I often, very foolishly, am) when I say it might just be the most useful, worthwhile non-fiction book ever published? (I know that's not exactly a question, but hey...)

Lastly…it’s the day I’ve been waiting for: the day the marvellous Richard and Judy turn their hand to reviewing P.J. Tracy’s Want to Play/Monkeewrench on their book club. Their general consensus? Cracking; a great read and no mistake. Judy was particularly impressed, citing it as possibly her favourite of all the six novels they’ve chosen for this summer. She also endeared herself to me immeasurably by saying that she loves crime novels. And when she said some aspects of Want to Play? (i.e. the isolation of the central characters in their group) were reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, well, I was sold. I was already keen to read it, but now it’s jumped practically to the top of my pile. Well, after all those other aforementioneds.