Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween from Dean Koontz' Dog!

Got this in email today, via Dean Koontz' website, and it cracked me up.

I, Trixie Koontz, who is dog, wish Halloween 2004 will be your best ever. Here are my ten wishes for you:

1) May you have celebrity dinner date with Big Foot, and I mean real Big Foot, not hairy lummox you used to date.

2) May you eat so much free candy, you hurl and hurl like whale blowing ambergris.

3) When goblin eats your nose, may National Nose Graft Foundation give you perfect donated nose of dead movie star.

4) If you contract case of flesh-eating virus, may virus eat only those parts of your body you think unattractive, not eat parts you think pretty.

5) When evil entity pulls you through vortex into parallel dimension, may you discover fantastic shopping mall with, like, the biggest Gap ever.

6) When extraterrestrials abduct you to mother ship and give usual proctological exam, may they not find anything requiring referral to specialist.

7) If rotting cannibalistic zombies take over world, may you smell unappetizing to them.

8) If doorbell rings on Halloween and you answer, find burning bag, stomp out flames, then find little blue bag full of poop all over shoe -- may you not blame me. Am good dog, good. Must be some other dog, some bad dog, devil dog. Not me. Am good dog, good. Was not me. No way, Jose. No chance, Lance. Might’ve been cat.

9) If you hear jack-o’-lantern whispering “Kill everyone, kill everyone,” take it to driveway, run over with car. Go to market, buy less psychotic species of squash, carve spooky face. Just to be safe, make sure new squash knows what you did to pumpkin.

10) May you have lots of sausage.

By the way, Koontz new book, Life Expectancy, is due out at the beginning of December and it's amazing! It's one of those rare books I actually couldn't put down.

Michael Crichton's latest

Just found out today that Michael Crichton has a new book coming out December 7 (with an announced first printing of 2 million copies). This looks like it's probably old news already, but somehow I missed it.

The book is to be called State of Fear and here's the plot description:
Once again Michael Crichton gives us his trademark combination of page-turning suspense, cutting-edge technology, and extraordinary research. State of Fear is a superb blend of edge-of-your-seat suspense and thought provoking commentary on how information is manipulated in the modern world. From the streets of Paris, to the glaciers of Antarctica to the exotic and dangerous Solomon Islands, State of Fear takes the reader on a rollercoaster thrill ride, all the while keeping the brain in high gear.

Sounds interesting. I'm a definite admirer of Crichton's work, so I look forward to it.

Friday, October 29, 2004

January Magazine's Rap Sheet

A new issue of the Rap Sheet is now up over at January Magazine.

It contains reviews of Stephanie Kane's Seeds of Doubt, James Hime's Scared Money, Larry Karp's First, Do No Harm, Max Phillips' Fade to Blonde, Richard Aleas' Little Girl Lost (that's the worst pseudonym ever!), Sam Hill's Buzz Riff, and a handful of others.

The Rap Sheet also includes a useful roundup of all the crime fiction awards that have been handed out recently -- and there are seemingly scores of them!

The piece could probably have done, though, without editor Jeff Pierce's political proselytizing -- what does that have to do with crime fiction, anyway?

Bouchercon 2004 Picture

We didn't end up with many pics from B'con, but here's one:

James Born, Ralph Pezzullo, David Montgomery & Jim Fusilli

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Return of Hannibal Lecter

Exciting news today on the publishing front. Thomas Harris, who usually takes a decade to produce a book, will return only 6 years after the much-excoriated Hannibal.

The book, to be called Behind the Mask, will be published next fall by Bantam Dell. I was one of the few people who actually dug Hannibal, but even if I hadn't, I'd still be eager to read this one.

Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs established Thomas Harris as one of the finest writers of psychological suspense and he is still the market setter in this corner of the genre.

2004 Shamus Award Winners

Late news, I know, but in case you missed it...

Here are the winners of the 2004 Shamus Awards, given out by the Private Eye Writers of America at Bouchercon earlier this month.

  • Best Novel: Ken Bruen - The Guards

  • Best First Novel: Peter Spiegelman - Black Maps

  • Best Short Story: Loren D. Estleman - Lady on Ice (in A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, ed. Jeffery Deaver)

  • Best Paperback Original: Andy Straka - Cold Quarry

  • Eye Award for Lifetime Achievement: Donald E. Westlake

  • PWA/St. Martin's Press Best First Private Eye Novel: Michael Kronenwetter - First Kill

  • Congrats to all the winners and nominees!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2004

    Whither Thomas Perry?

    One of the best writers in the crime fiction genre has seemingly disappeared off the map, prompting some readers to ask, "Has Thomas Perry retired?" (His last book, Dead Aim, came out in Dec. 2002.)

    The good news is, he has not. The bad news is, we won't see his next book until late-2005 at the earliest. (It is to be titled Nightlife and will be published by Random House.)

    Here is Perry's explanation of what happened:
    During the early part of last year, I wrote a book-length manuscript. It was an attempt to think about characters unlike any that I had ever written about. The plot had some interesting twists and the writing included some good passages, but the story never quite came together as a finished, coherent whole. I rewrote it several times, but I still couldn't get it to work. When people asked me how it was coming, I would usually say, "It's long enough. Now I have to make it good enough." I kept writing drafts, changing the story considerably each time, but still couldn't get it right. Last winter I decided that the best thing to do was to set it aside and go to work on something else.

    I admire Perry for having the guts to pull the plug on a book because he didn't think it's good enough. I'm sure there was considerable pressure from everyone involved for him to produce. (That being said, I'd still be very interested in reading it.)

    But I guess we'll just have to wait 'til next year for our fix. In the meantime, if you haven't read the Gumshoe-winning Pursuit or the excellent Jane Whitefield series, you've got some catching up to do.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2004


    Well, disgust is too strong a word for it, but intense surprise and astonishment would certainly fit. What am I referring to? Well, I shall tell you: the number of books the James Patterson corporation appears to be publishing next year.

    Firstly we have Honeymoon, to appear on February the 14th. Then we have some bizarre project called Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, which is billed as a sequel to his two previous books about flying youngsters, and is due in April. We also have another coming in the same month: The Lifeguard, officially co-authored with Andrew Gross (it's possible these are the same book listed under different, undecided titles, but I don't think so). Then, in June, the next entry in the awful "Women's Murder Club" series, 4th of July, is reportedly due. And that's neglecting to consider the obligatory Alex Cross we'll be treated to at the end of the year. So, what's that? At least five books next year? If it wasn't silly before, it's just plain ludicrous now. Someone put a stop to this madness!!!

    The problem with the Booker... that Fiona forgets about other things that are happening, such as the announcement of the winner of the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, which has gone to Barbara Cleverly for The Damascened Blade. (Got this piece of news from Sarah, who's just brought us another excellent Idiosyncratic Interview, this time with Alexander McCall Smith.)

    Given that that this particular dagger has gone to Cleverly, that makes it, for me, all the more likely that Laura Wilson's The Lover could come away with a Silver in the main group...

    Tuesday, October 19, 2004

    And the winner is...

    As I write, the crowd is gathered in the Royal Horticultural Halls, the [quite classy, but with some rather bizarre square bunches of red roses at the centre of each table] ceremony having been shifted there from the British Museum - where it was held for the past two years - after complaints about the unsatisfactory acoustics.

    After the month of viscious and colourful press that followed the Longlist, and the following month of rather subdued satisfaction with what people seem to have admitted was quite a nice Shortlist, the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2004 is...

    Allan Hollinghurst for The Line of Beauty.

    Which is a surprise (though I did say so, didn't I... Then, I said all of the main three at some stage.)

    (By the way, I'd just like to say how much I liked Chris Smith's speech. Hollinghurst is thanking everybody now, including the lumberjack who cut down the tree which made the paper which made book. Oh, no he isn't.)

    *Here's a very, very swiftly put-together article from The Times.

    Now that's an idea!

    Came across a new blog, Query Leters I Love.

    Here's a choice one:
    Scent of Mirrors: A ghostly assassin haunts a city with an invisibletouch, possessing the souls of his targets with a singular and uniqueskill----his adapted sense of smell.
    Now that's a ripe idea!

    Monday, October 18, 2004

    Welcome, Gregg Hurwitz

    I was pleased to discover earlier today (thanks to Aldo) that Gregg Hurwitz has joined the blogosphere.

    Gregg has already published 5 novels, though he's 4 years younger than even my tender age. His latest is the excellent The Program, featuring ex-U.S. Marshall Tim Rackley doing battle with a mind control cult. (See my review in the Sun-Times.)

    I had the chance to talk to Gregg for a while at Bouchercon earlier this month and found him to be a very nice fella.

    The Return of Kent Harrington

    Just got a wonderful piece of news today! Kent Harrington, a terrific guy and a truly fine writer, has a new book coming out soon.

    Dennis McMillan will be publishing Red Jungle later this year.

    You don't have to wait to read the first chapter, though. Pop on over to Got Text and you can get started right away.

    Kent has previously written some incredible noir-influenced novels (like Dark Ride and Dia De Los Muertos), so this is definitely one to look forward to.

    Edit (10/19): I was disappointed to learn that things aren't quite as certain with Kent's new book as I believed. Apparently he's still shopping for a publisher and the McMillan deal is only a possibility. It's a shame that nobody has snatched this fine writer up yet!

    Saturday, October 16, 2004

    Lee Goldberg vs. the FanFic Universe

    Television writer and novelist Lee Goldberg has launched a one-man crusade against the underground world of "FanFic" (stories written by fans using characters from movies, TV shows, and popular culture in new situations or adventures) and the people who write it (see here, here, here and here).

    Okay, maybe he's not really going that far, but he's unhappy about it. Lee's objections are basically twofold: 1) most fanfic consists of stealing the work of others and thus is unethical if not illegal; and 2) fanfic is pointless, not real writing and of little or no value.

    I wasn't aware of the extent of the FanFic sub-culture, but it really seems to have become quite a phenomenon on the internet. I have been surprised (and, admittedly, a little disturbed) to see the passion that FanFiccers have for their endeavors and the vehemence with which they will defend them.

    I love the fact that these television programs and novels have resonated so strongly with viewers and readers that they want to continue the stories on their own.

    At the same time, though, I lament that so much energy is being spent (I won't go so far as to say wasted) on something that ultimately is fairly pointless. Not that we always have to spend our time wisely -- after all, that's why God invented Free Cell -- but I do hate to see potentially good writing being squandered.

    There is so much awful writing in the world already that it saddens me to see would-be writers pursuing something that doesn't even have the chance to be great.

    As my wife will freely admit, I love to argue and occasionally find myself getting sucked into these pointless discussions. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't be fun as well.

    After reading the ongoing arguments, and throwing in my two cents, of course, I have come to the following conclusions:

    1) Most FanFic is a violation of the copyrights of the original creators. (The main exception to this is works in the public domain, which are free for all.)

    2) This violation doesn't really amount to much and is probably not actionable in most cases.

    2a) Most writers of FanFic are unaware (or don't care) that they are violating copyrights.

    2b) They aren't making any money off it anyway.

    3) There is no essential difference between writing FanFic involving Huckleberry Finn or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, other than the copyright concerns.

    4) Writing FanFic is a diverting hobby for some people.

    5) Writing FanFic might be of some use to its creator as a learning tool, but the writer would be a lot better off creating his/her own works, if they can.

    6) Presumably FanFic is fun for some peple to read, although hardly anyone seems to be making this point. (I get the impression that FanFic has many writers, but few readers.)

    7) Most FanFic is crap (Sturgeon's Law in action), but some of it's pretty good.

    8) The sexually-oriented FanFic (slash, mpreg, etc.) is downright creepy -- and there's quite a bit of it out there.

    9) One will never convince FanFic writers that they'd be better off pursuing works of their own -- and they'll get mad if you try.

    And, perhaps, most importantly...

    10) FanFic is not a serious thing, nor an important one, so there's no point in treating it as such. It's fun for those who practice it, largely harmless, probably pointless, and the discussion of it has occupied too much of my time the past couple days.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    Ignore that man behind the curtain!

    Interesting discussion going on over at Lee Goldberg's blog...

    Lee brought up the recent revelation (recent to he & me, at any rate) that author Michael Gruber (Tropic of Night) was the real writer behind the popular legal thrillers published under Robert K. Tanenbaum's name.

    Gruber's bio in the official Bouchercon program admitted as much: "[Gruber] ghostwrote the Butch Karp and Marlene courtroom thrillers for Robert K. Tannenbaum."

    I happen to find this outrageous (and more than a little bizarre) but such things happen more than you'd think in the literary world. Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy and James Patterson, among others, have all published bestselling novels under their own names that they only partially (at best) wrote.

    What I find truly odd is that nobody seems to give a damn. When infamous lip-synchers Milli Vanilli were revealed to be nothing but pretty faces who hadn't sung a word on their multiplatinum album, the music world was rocked.

    The album was removed from print (the biggest-selling album ever to suffer such a fate), their Grammy was taken back, their careers were destroyed. Rob Pilatus (not sure if he was Milli or Vanilli) sank into depression and killed himself.

    Lip-synching allegations have also dogged the careers of such artists as Madonna, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears. When it was learned that Whitney Houston only mouther her famous rendition of The Spar-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl a few years back, she took her share of heat in the media.

    Strangely, though, the fact that a best-selling book wasn't actually writen by the person whose name is on the cover doesn't seem to bother anyone. At least Britney Spears actually recorded her own music, even if she doesn't always perform it during her concerts. (She also has the excuse that she's doing some rather aerobic dancing at the same time.)

    But when someone like Tannenbaum puts his name on a book he didn't write -- and then shows up at signings to personalize it with his signature -- no one cares. Or do they?

    Put me down as someone who does care. This is a disreputable practice that publishers should cease. Authors might be commodities to sell books, but they're more than that. The great tradition of literarure demands that they be more than just brand names. Otherwise, why doesn't Putnam just slap "Patricia Cornwell" or "Tom Clancy" on everything they publish and just dispense with the pretense of art.

    If we can't trust that the name of the author on the book actually wrote it, it undermines and diminishes both publishing and literature. At a time when tragically few people actually buy and read books, this is a risk we cannot afford to take.

    Cozies for our times?

    Saw an interesting piece of info from Willian Kent Krueger the other day:
    I'd like to pass along a bit of insight my agent recently offered me. According to her, traditional mysteries (a term I prefer to “cozy”) are often an easier sell with publishers these days than grittier mystery novels. This is especially true when it comes to sales in foreign markets. In a world as chaotic and violent as ours appears to be right now, a comfortable, traditional mystery seems to be the preferred cup of tea for many readers. So, yeah, I think the softer-boiled books have a great future.

    While I don't buy the premise that our world is any more chaotic or violent than at other periods in history (and, if anything, it's much less so), it's still an interesting theory.

    If you look at the crime fiction books currently populating the bestseller list, though, it doesn't appear to hold much water.

    4. The Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson
    10. Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell
    11. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    13. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
    18. Trace by Patricia Cornwell
    19. The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner
    21. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
    27. Sacred Stone by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo
    34. Seizure by Robin Cook
    35. Split Second by David Baldacci
    36. The Hanged Man's Song by John Sandford
    40. Deception Point by Dan Brown
    50. The Tristan Betrayal by Robert Ludlum
    55. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
    56. Reckless Abandon by Stuart Woods
    67. Double Homicide by Faye and Jonathan Kellerman
    71. Stone Cold by Robert Parker
    82. Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman
    86. Blacklist by Sara Paretsky
    96. The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy

    Is the Haddon book "traditional" (aka cozy)? Maybe. None of the rest of them are, though.

    Part of the appeal of crime fiction, I think, is that it tends to be comforting in terms of good vs. evil, order vs. chaos, justice vs. lawlessness, etc. No matter what happens in the real world, we can still turn to our fiction for a glimpse of a more idealized universe.

    If anything, it seems that the darker stuff would have just as much appeal, if not more, in troubled times.

    Thursday, October 14, 2004

    The intersection of literature and politics

    Slate does a report on "Who are novelists voting for?" Among them were a couple of crime fiction writers.

    Robert Ferrigno, author of The Wake-Up:
    Mark me on the Bush side of the ledger, a lonely side for this survey, I'm certain. Most novelists live in their imagination, which is a fine place to be until the bad guys come knock knock knocking. I don't agree with Bush on shoveling free meds to granny and grandpa, or his antipathy to fuel conservation along with opening up the arctic reserve, but this is small stuff. I'll be voting for Bush because his approach to stopping the people who want to kill my children is the right one, i.e., kill them first. Kerry will dance the Albright two-step with Kim Jong-il, consult with Sandy Berger's socks, and kowtow to the U.N. apparatchiks who have done such a fine job of protecting the Cambodians, Rwandans, and the Sudanese. No thanks. No contest.

    Roger L. Simon, author of Director's Cut : A Moses Wine Novel:
    I am a registered Democrat. I disagree with George W. Bush on gay marriage, stem-cell research, a woman's right to choose, and, to a lesser extent, a host of other issues, but I am supporting him unreservedly for president. We are in a protracted war with Islamofascism and I do not trust John Kerry to lead us in that war for one minute. Also, I think my party has been hijacked by a cult of know-nothing isolationism out of the 1930s. But if they win, I hope the hell I'm wrong.

    Both, I'm sure coincidentally, are voting for Bush. I know that in Ferrigno's case his position is already getting him hammered, prompting a slew of nasty, negative reviews of his latest book on Amazon.

    This election has gotten so nasty that I have great respect for anyone willing to publicly state their position. (Of course, most of the other authors on the list are rabid Kerry supporters.)

    For the record, I am a somewhat reluctant Bush supporter, mainly because Kerry hasn't given me a single reason to vote for him other than the fact that he's not Bush. Sorry, but that's not enough.

    Rain Storm is drenched in intrigue

    USA Today ran my latest review for them today, a bit belated but better than never.

    The book in question is Barry Eisler's superb Rain Storm, a book I previously raved about in January Magazine.

    The Rain series is one of the best things going on in the thriller genre right now and a personal favorite of mine.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2004

    New Reviews on Mystery Ink

    A handful of new reviews went up on Mystery Ink today, with more waiting in the can.
  • Patricia Cornwell's Trace, reviewed by Fiona Walker

  • Alina Adams' On Thin Ice, reviewed by Yvette Banek

  • Isaac Adamson's Kinki Lullaby, reviewed by Bob Walch

  • Reginald Hill's Good Morning, Midnight, reviewed by Fiona Walker
  • Boris Akunin schedule from Orion (UK)

    For those interested, here's the schedule Orion has sent me re publishing the books of Boris Akunin:
  • Turkish Gambit -- 31st Dec 2004

  • The Death of Achilles -- 11 Aug 2005

  • Pelagia and the White Bulldog -- 11 May 2006

  • Council of State -- 9 Aug 2007

  • The Coronation -- 7 Aug 2008

  • She Lover of Death -- 6 Aug 2009

  • I'll ignore the fact that it might change, and that also have another book - well, actually it's two - listed as well.

    They also seem to be continuing their push to reissue Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series in its entirety. Three more have just found their way back into print, (The Heckler, Give the Boys a Great Big Hand and See Them Die - all of which are fabulous), and two more are coming in January (The Empty Hours and Lady, Lady, I Did It!) Only about, ooo, 40 left to come then.

    "This week, I am mostly reading...Ed McBain."

    Latest Sun-Times Column

    Back from Bouchercon and still recovering...Had a wonderful time, although it was exhausting. I'll try to write something about it later.

    My latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times ran on Sunday.

    It includes my rave on T. Jefferson Parker's California Girl (probably the best book of the year so far), as well as very positive remarks for Elaine Flinn's Tagged for Murder, Jim Fusilli's Hard, Hard City, Greg Rucka's A Gentleman's Game and Benjamin M. Schutz's The Mongol Reply.

    (Sorry, no pans this time. These days I seldom finish the awful ones, so I don't review 'em.)

    Check out USA Today tomorrow for my next review (hopefully)!

    Friday, October 08, 2004

    Brief bit of news

    Val McDermid's The Distant Echo has won the Barry Award for Best British Novel, announced at Boucheron yesterday (I believe.)

    *While I'm about it, there's a small smattering of other stuff too.

    Firstly, the nice new Orion website is now fully functional, here.

    Plus, a couple of reviews. The New Statesman turns its roving eye to Thirteen Steps Down by Ruth Rendell, and Fleshmarket Close. And The Sunday Times gave Rendell's latest novel a nice bit of lovely positive attention as well. Given that 2004 is Rendell's 40th anniversary, I expect many such themed reviews to follow.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    A brief rant

    I'm afraid I succumbed again. A while ago, I read James Patterson's latest Alex Cross novel, London Bridges. My reasoning was something like this: I may as well read it because it'll only take me about half an hour. (Hyperbole, but only just.) Now, I know the futility of trying to stomp on the Patterson machine, but, regardless, I would like to register my brief disgust at several aspects of the book.

    Mainly, my issue is with the British cover, which can be viewed here.

    A mother holding a crying, obviously very distressed baby? A recogniseable landmark (London's millennium bridge, which doesn't even feature in the book) being blown up? Frankly, I am horrified. There's such a thing as going too far, and Headline have gone it. I know that many covers are emotionally exploitative to a degree, but I was disgusted by this. I am possibly (probably) overreacting just a little, but I really don't care. There are some bridges which should not be crossed in order to simply sell a book - a book which also exploits the current world situation as well. Quite frankly, this is not what the world needs to be seeing. It certainly doesn't need its current weakness, a slightly paranoid fear of terrorism, exploited and taken advantage of by writers and publishers in order to line their own pockets. If this were a better book, if it actually aimed to say something about issues, that would almost forgive some of the content of the book (although, frankly, for me nothing can justify that cover).

    Anyway, that's me done. I felt I had to at least mention this grievance of mine, even though I probably shouldn't be surprised at it. I feel rather dirty that I even have a copy of it.

    Monday, October 04, 2004

    CWA Dagger Nominations Announced

    Typical. The only day when I can't get to a computer is the day when the Dagger shortlists are announced.

    And here they are:


    John Harvey - FLESH AND BLOOD - Heinemann
    Mo Hayder - TOKYO - Bantam
    Val McDermid - THE TORMENT OF OTHERS - HarperCollins
    James W. Nichol - MIDNIGHT CAB - Canongate
    Sara Paretsky - BLACKLIST - Hamish Hamilton
    Laura Wilson - THE LOVER - Orion


    Jeffery Deaver - GARDEN OF BEASTS - Hodder and Stoughton
    Dan Fesperman - THE WARLORD'S SON - Transworld
    Joseph Finder - PARANOIA - Orion
    Mo Hayder - TOKYO - Transworld
    Stephen Leather - HARD LANDING - Hodder and Stoughton
    Adrian McKinty - DEAD I MAY WELL BE - Serpent's Tail

    John Creasy

    Denise Hamilton - THE JASMINE TRADE - Orion
    Mark Mills - AMAGANSETT - Fourth Estate
    Catherine Shaw - THE THREE BODY PROBLEM - Allison & Busby
    Stav Sherez - THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND - Penguin Michael Joseph


    John Dickie - COSA NOSTRA - Hodder & Stoughton
    Rebecca Gowers - THE SWAMP OF DEATH - Hamish Hamilton
    Steve Holland - THE TRIALS OF HANK JANSON - Telos Publishing
    Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis - SLAVE - Time Warner
    Sarah Wise - THE ITALIAN BOY - Jonathan Cape

    Short story

    Mark Billingham - DANCING TOWARDS THE BLADE - from Men From Boys, Heinemann
    Mat Coward - PERSONS REPORTED - from Green for Danger, the Do-Not Press
    Jeffery Deaver - THE WEEKENDER - from Twisted, Hodder & Stoughton
    Val McDermid - THE CONSOLATION BLONDE - from Mysterious Pleasures, Little, Brown
    Don Winslow - DOUGGIE DOUGHNUTS - from Men From Boys, Heinemann

    Dagger in the Library

    Mark Billingham,
    Christopher Brookmyre
    Jim Kelly
    Alexander McCall Smith
    Stuart Pawson
    Andrew Taylor

    My thoughts? Well...on the Gold, I'd have to say that I think Mo Hayder will win hands down, with John Harvey taking the Silver, to make up for the paucity of CWA awards for an otherwise highly acclaimed writer. Val McDermid was always good for the shortlist, but I'm almost sure she won't take anything, certainly not Gold. Two books from a four-book (so far) series each getting the Gold Dagger? I don't really think so. I don't fancy Paretsky's chances, either - Diamond Dagger holders don't win Golds (well, Ruth Rendell won the Diamond in the same year as a Gold, but that's a little different). Laura Wilson has a slight chance of Silver, but probably not Gold, considering that she's also nominated for the Historical Dagger and is widely considered a favourite.

    The Steel Dagger could go to Deaver, I think. Dan Fesperman probably won't take it two years in a row (though it has been done before, twice), though from what I've read his seems to be most deserving. For the John Creasy, my money would be on Mark Mills or Denise Hamilton, and if the Dagger in the Library doesn't go to McCall Smith, I will be shocked indeed. Oh yes.

    But, I am mildly simmering due to a lack of Borises Starling and Akunin. Definitely so. However, despite my small complaint I tend to think that that's a really good set of lists.

    * Wow. I apologise for posting that six times. There are obviously ghosts in my machine.

    Sunday, October 03, 2004

    Latest from Lawrence Block

    Two intriguing tidbits from Lawrence Block's latest newsletter:

    I'm one of three writers of a new ESPN dramatic series that's set to air weekly for nine weeks starting Wednesday, January 13. (Officially, I'm an executive story editor.) The show is called TILT!, and the background is big-time poker in Las Vegas; my friends Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who wrote ROUNDERS and wrote and directed KNOCKAROUND GUYS, created the show and will be producing it; Roberto Benabib (of Ally McBeal) and Nick Kendrick (Law & Order: SVU) and I worked together to develop story lines and outline episodes, and now we've each got an episode to write in the next two weeks, and then we go back to the office for more of the same. I don't know that I've ever worked harder or had more fun, and I think the show's going to be outstanding. I will keep you posted on this, but meantime you can mark the date in your book. January 13—TILT!

    That's one of the things you've got to love about Block...he always keeps you guessing what he's going to do next. This sounds like it might be good. I really enjoyed Rounders. Who'da thunk it -- LB writing for TV!

    Let me get back to ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING. I didn't mention this before, but some of you sussed out on your own that it is in fact a Matthew Scudder novel, and I think that's as much as I want to say about it. The book will come out in March (from Morrow/HarperCollins in the US and Orion in the UK) and I'm afraid you'll have to wait until then to know more. In fact it's our intention not to publish Advance Reading Copies of this one. There are some surprises in this book, and I'd just as soon avoid having some largemouthed jackass spoil them for you three months ahead of time. All I'll say is that those people who've read it tell me it's one of the darkest Scudders to date, and the most suspenseful.

    I was one of those who suspected this new one might be a Scudder -- and I'm very pleased to learn it's true. This series definitely represents the best of Block's work. It ranks as one of the top PI series ever created. I'm already looking forward to it!

    I regret the lack of ARCs, but understand why they're doing it. (Mike Connelly did the same thing with his last book, The Narrows.) I'm actually surprised this isn't done with more books.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    The Cool

    After a recent survey of 3000 British 18-44 year old "urbanites", a list of the coolest people in the world has been drawn up. Now, it isn't really Johnny Depp being voted coolest celebrity, or Boris Johnson being the only politician to make the "cool list" (though, seriously, he is) that interests me, but the list of the coolest authors, which looks like this:

    1. J.K. Rowling
    2. Dan Brown
    3. Philip Pullman
    4. Christopher Brookmyre
    5. Michael Moore

    (Incidentally, Moore is also fourth on the "coolest movie directors" list.)

    No real surprises, (well, apart from Brookmyre, who's surely only there because Quite Ugly One Morning got the TV treatment a few weeks ago), particularly with Dan Brown. If this is popular opinion, well, one must bow to it, mustn't one.