Tag Archives: Peter May

Crime Thriller Book Log: McBride, Kernick, May & Whitney

Just because Christmas is over, don’t think you’re finished spending. You have that book voucher from your auntie in your pocket, and that other one from last year in the kitchen drawer that you haven’t even touched.

Luckily, those kind people who publish books are here to help you by releasing what is known in the trade as product. How this works is, your favourite authors spend countless hours writing stories and then someone puts a cover on them and sells them in shops.

So you may know this already, no need to get so touchy about it – what have I told before about dealing with those negative emotions? Let’s get on with it, before we fall out.

Look, books — out tomorrow!

The Missing And The DeadThe Missing And The Dead is Stuart McBride’s ninth Logan McRae novel. Ninth! Where do the years go, eh? His McRae novels are set in the Granite City – that’s Aberdeen to you – although in this latest one McRae finds himself out in the cold of the countryside. I’ve a feeling carnage is just around the corner, however.

The blurb is wearing its Hunters:

One mistake can cost you everything…

When you catch a twisted killer there should be a reward, right? What Acting Detective Inspector Logan McRae gets instead is a ‘development opportunity’ out in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire. Welcome to divisional policing – catching drug dealers, shop lifters, vandals and the odd escaped farm animal.

Then a little girl’s body washes up just outside the sleepy town of Banff, kicking off a massive manhunt. The Major Investigation Team is up from Aberdeen, wanting answers, and they don’t care who they trample over to get them.

Logan’s got enough on his plate keeping B Division together, but DCI Steel wants him back on her team. As his old colleagues stomp around the countryside, burning bridges, Logan gets dragged deeper and deeper into the investigation.

One thing’s clear: there are dangerous predators lurking in the wilds of Aberdeenshire, and not everyone’s going to get out of this alive…

The Final MinuteThat Simon Kernick like his thrills. He’s got these three protagonists — Dennis Milne, Mike Bolt and Tina Malone, who all take it in turns to feature in his explosive novels, and occasionally team-up. For his latest novel, The Final Minute, it’s Tina’s turn to take centre-stage:

The blurb is positively breathless with anxiety:

‘It’s night, and I’m in a strange house.

The lights are on, and and I’m standing outside a half-open door.

Feeling a terrible sense of forboding, I walk slowly inside.

And then I see her.

A woman lying sprawled across a huge double bed.

She’s dead. There’s blood everywhere.

And the most terrifying thing of all is that I think her killer might be me …’

A traumatic car-crash. A man with no memory, haunted by nightmares.

When the past comes calling in the most terrifying way imaginable, Matt Barron is forced to turn to the one person who can help.

Ex Met cop, turned private detective, Tina Boyd.

Soon they are both on the run .….

RunawayPeter May’s new novel is called Runaway, and it’s based on the time he and some pals ran away to London to be rock stars and ended up sleeping at Euston station. He’s already turned the experience into a song, and now it’s a crime novel, with a bit of murdery stuff added.

The blurb is struggling with the bridge:

In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year’s end three returned, and returned damaged.

In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades.

Runaway is a crime novel covering fifty years of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered and passions lit and extinguished; set against the backdrop of two unique and contrasting cities at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.

May is doing a tour in Scotland to plug the book, by the way, and you can get details on those places and dates here.

The Liar's ChairAnd just to show that we don’t just plug grizzled veterans here, Rebecca Whitney’s book The Liar’s Chair is her debut novel.

Interestingly, she’s put the playlist of the music she listened to while writing the novel on Spotify — David Shire’s excellent soundtrack to The Conversation is in there — and the mood board for the novel, which features more toxic domestic drama, is on Pinterest.

Oh, wait, lets not forget the blurb:

Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David’s darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar’s Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney’s debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from . . .

 

 

TV Crime Log: Club, Leftovers, Legends & Strain

Crime Thriller ClubCrime Thriller Club very much covers the same territory we do here – crime fiction and TV – but it’s got Bradley Walsh going for it instead of The Fella.

*tumbleweed rolls past*

Anyhow. It’s returning for another six week series on ITV3, which is the channel your in-laws watch. Walsh is joined by some of the stars of the biggest crime thriller shows, goes behind the scenes of upcoming new crime dramas, and plays quizmaster as he sets out to find a ‘Criminal Mastermind’.

At some point in that last sentence we slipped into blurb speak, so we may as well print the rest of it:

Culminating in the glittering Crime Thriller Awards 2014 – the ‘Oscars’ of the crime thriller world – this series delivers exclusive access to the stars and sets of some of Britain’s best known crime thriller programmes – including much-loved shows like DCI Banks, Whitechapel and Silent Witness – as well as gripping new dramas like the BBC’s Interceptor.

Each week, Bradley interrogates a leading actor from a major crime thriller – including the likes of Robert Glenister and Stephen Tompkinson – and casts a forensic eye over the career of a literary Living Legend, profiling blockbuster authors including Robert Harris, Dean Koontz, Lynda La Plante, Michael Connelly, and Wire In The Blood creator Val McDermid.

Across the series, Bradley’s also aided and abetted by renowned authors including Adele Parks, Peter James, Mark Billingham and Kate Mosse, who join him to help review an outstanding new crime thriller book of the week – and we hear what inspired their creators, including Lucie Whitehouse, James Carol and Peter May.

So that’s Crime Thriller Club at 9pm on ITV3. Just keep pressing the down button on your remote and you’ll get there.

The LeftoversJust by hitting the return bar, we arrive at 9pm on Tuesday — or as you pedants like to call it: tomorrow —  and the beginning, on Sky Atlantic, of The Leftovers. Now this is not strictly a crime drama – but you know what? My blog, my rules.

Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, it envisages a world three years after a certain proportion of the population are whisked off in the Rapture, and the population left behind feels very sorry for itself indeed.

The main guy in it, played by actor and scriptwriter Justin Theroux is the town sheriff – so there’s a crimey link if you really insist on one. The Leftovers has proved marmite in the US because of its insistence on focusing on the shattered personal lives of the people left wondering what happened to their disappeared loved ones rather than investigating its mysterious supernatural conceit.

The StrainWednesday night sees the first episode of The Strain on Watch at 10pm. It’s a television adaptation of the trilogy written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – who wrote Prince of Thieves! It’s basically a modern-day retelling of Dracula, in which an airliner arrives at JFK, a la the Demeter, its lights off and doors sealed. An epidemiologist and his Disease Control unit is sent to investigate — and a vampire virus is unleashed on New York.

The first novel in The Strain trilogy was an interesting new take on ancient material. The second and third volumes, The Fall and The Night Eternal… not so much. Del Toro said he wanted to reinvent the vampire novel as a modern-day procedural.

So, in case you’re wondering whether to invest your precious hours in these serials, The Strain has been renewed for a second season — along with The Leftovers. The aim is to tell the entire trilogy over, er, four seasons. It stars the ever excellent Corey ‘Cards’ Stoll and David ‘Hartnell’ Bradley.

LegendsThere’s more adapted drama on Sky 1 at the same time, Wednesday at 10pm. Legends is based on Robert Littell’s book of the same name. Sean Bean stars as Martin Odum, a Deep Cover agent who changes identities in the same way other people change their underwear. Which is, hopefully, a lot. Trouble is, Odum begins to wonder whether his own identity is also a lie.

It’s a great concept, but the ratings in the US have been somewhat tepid, and there’s still no word on whether it’s going to get renewed.

Guest Post: William Shaw On Writing

In this tiny part of the internet we like to get between the ears of novelists.

We absolutely love doing The Intel Interviews because it gives us a sense of how writers sit down and, well, write – and it’s different every single time. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Take a look down the sidebar – down, down, thats it, there, you got it – and you’ll see there are a million ways to write a book.

So I’m very pleased to say that William Shaw is contributing a guest post on how to expect the unexpected when writing. As you know, we reviewed Shaw’s second Breen and Tozer novel,  A House on Knives, earlier in the week – scroll down, a bit further, that’s it – and by crikey, I believe we liked it a lot.

Here’s William’s experience on how to catch literary lightning in a bottle and, at the same time, keep writing fun:

William Shaw

William Shaw © Ellen Shaw


Whatever you do, write a plan before you start on a thriller. That’s what they say.

It seems to be the right way to do it. Plots are complex. You need to control them, so the reasoning goes. “Plan your novel thoroughly in advance” comes the advice from all quarters. Why wouldn’t you use a map when setting out on a difficult journey?

A successful thriller writer friend once was struggling with a particularly complex book a couple of years ago, he showed me his outline for the novel. It was about twenty pages long, each page divided into five or six columns.

“It’s fantastic,” I said.

Just looking at it made me feel ill. Carefully outlined, there were scenes, descriptions, character lists, plot points, mood notes and estimated word lengths. The whole thing was practically a novel in itself. It was forensic in detail and the end result was destined to be a chart-topping best seller.

A House Of KnivesAnd I was intimidated by its thoroughness, because the truth is, I don’t plan. I’ve tried, honestly I have. But every time I do I tear up my plan and write something else.

For the first Breen and Tozer book, A Song from Dead Lips, there was no plan. In fact, I hadn’t even planned on a book. I simply started writing the first scene and then a second, and before I knew it, one of the characters was a detective. Up to a third of the way through, I had no idea who had killed the victim. Really. It was as much of a surprise to me, as hopefully, it will be to you.

I was slightly more disciplined when I came to the second; A House of Knives. I had written a one page précis for my editor. I knew who had done it, at least. But again, but beyond that, there was no actual twenty-page plan.

I’m currently finishing the third in the series. Determined to be more like my successful friend I wrote a long plan this time; three pages, at least. But as I near the end of the book, I have to admit, what I’ve ended out writing bears little resemblance to those pages.

There is a reason for this.

For a start, thrillers have to surprise. That’s part of their job description. And if they surprise the writer, I think that’s a start.

But it’s something else too. Despite all the screeds of advice you’ll hear about writing, there is no right way to write a book. Michael Crichton hit a mind-boggling 10,000 words a day. Graham Greene managed about 600. Tom Wolfe? A paltry 135. Some write first thing in the morning; others late at night. Some people edit as they go along. Others leave all that to the end. Everybody does it differently.

Planning works for some. I start asking colleagues about how they write. Michael Ridpath, whose Traitor’s Gate received lavish praise last year, tells me, (entirely disengenuously) that he isn’t clever enough to think of brilliant situations, “So I plan a lot.”

Likewise, Peter May, whose superb Lewis Trilogy I’m currently reading, says he has to have a clear idea of structures and characters before he starts. Why? His background was TV, he says. “So I imported the techniques. If I know the story, I write better.”

A Song From Dead LipsBut this doesn’t work for everybody. Stephen King famously shies away from the process of plotting. He just writes. “I distrust plot for two reasons,” he wrote in On Writing. “First, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.”

It’s the second reason in particular that I like. Any writer I know soon becomes aware of the strange unconscious process of writing. You find a character suddenly says something totally unexpected. A minor event suddenly takes on a major significance.

For me, that’s the real fun of writing. In A Song from Dead Lips, my character Sergeant Cathal Breen suddenly abandoned his investigation to climb a tree catch a cat that was stuck in the branches. Why? At the time, I had no idea. None at all. He wasn’t doing what I wanted him to. But I realised, as I typed, that it was useful to give him the broken wrist he had from falling from that tree, because it made him more dependent on the brash young WPC Helen Tozer who had been assigned to him. I certainly hadn’t planned it; but I really liked what I’d written. Months later, my US editor liked the tree incident so much too, he made me expand it.

A House Of Knives has just come out in hardback and ebook, and the first in the series, A Song From Dead Lips is now out in paperback.

It’s the age old writing divide, isn’t it – there are plotters and there are pantsers. So how do you guys sit down to write stories? Do you write notebooks full of notes before you start, or pin up a complicated graph over your desk, or do you sit and wait for what Stephen King famously calls ‘the boys in the basement?’

 

Peter May Talks Entry Island

Peter MayThis week we reviewed Entry Island, Peter May’s new stand-alone thriller, which combines a contemporary murder-mystery with a story set during the infamous Highland Clearances. Feel free to refresh your memory of that delightful review here, or, er, alternatively, you can scroll down a notch. Your choice, entirely.

I’m delighted to say that Peter – who wrote the Lewis Trilogy, and also writes the Enzo Files and his China thrillers, was happy to answer some questions about Entry Island.

Entry Island reads very much like a companion piece to the Lewis Trilogy – how did the novel come about?

I had always wanted to write about the Highland Clearances, a kind of ethnic cleansing which had taken place in Scotland during the 18th and 19th centuries.  But I didn’t want to write a historical novel.  So I had to find some way of making a contemporary crime story link with events of the past.  Entry Island is the result, with the contemporary end of it set in Quebec, Canada, and the historical element set in my old stomping ground of the Hebrides, which themselves suffered during the clearances.  So, although the story and characters are quite different from the Lewis Trilogy, I didn’t quite leave the islands behind.

Although a crime novel, Entry Island has a very effective interlinked storyline about The Highland Clearances, did you consider writing a straight historical fiction?

The answer to this one is probably found in the answer I gave above.  And is an emphatic no.  I am a writer of contemporary crime fiction.  But, of course, as with so many things in life, the answers to our present predicaments often lie in the past – which was very much a theme of the Lewis books as well.

Entry Island features another isolated island community. What is it about these locations that attracts you as a crime writer?

I like the places themselves.  There is something unique about an island setting, and I know that as a mainlander I always feel a sense of arriving somewhere very different when I fly into an island or arrive by ferry.  But as settings for crime stories they offer the writer closed communities where even small frictions can blow up into full scale murder, and we all get the chance to place our human frailties under the microscope.

Your protagonist Sime’s strong sense of a link with his ancestor is never-explained, but the past often haunts the present in your fiction – what attracts you to this idea?

It starts off in a small way – the realisation that things we have done, and decisions we have made, sometimes many years before, can come back to haunt us.  Hindsight is a chastening experience, and regret is so often its companion.  As a writer you try to reflect those emotions that we all share as human beings, and with that sharing comes the recognition that we are not alone in them, and a bond is created between writer and reader.

The same thing applies at another level – the realisation that we are who we are and where we are today, because of the decisions made and actions taken by our parents, and their parents, and their parents before them.  To truly know who you are is to know where you came from.  And I think there is a danger that in the 21st century we really are starting lose those connections with the past.

With books set in the UK, Europe, China and now North America, your novels Entry_Island_JKroam far and wide. What draws you to a specific location?

I love the experience of new places.  I hate the tiresome processes of getting there, but it’s always great to arrive.  I have always been fascinated by far flung and exotic locations, ever since I read the Tintin books as a kid.  And so I travel where I am drawn, and write about the places I end up.

There’s a strong sense of melancholy that runs through your work – is writing a cathartic process for you?

I didn’t used to think it was.  I used to just write stories, and take delight in the language and entertaining people.  But as I have got older I find that I am digging deeper and deeper into myself, perhaps (if only by proxy) attempting to understand what we call the human condition – at least as it affects me.  And it’s hard to write about such a thing without addressing the fundamental sadness of lives that invariably end in death, and are often wasted on the way.  I don’t know if it’s cathartic, but I often end up weeping in front of my computer screen.

You’re a prolific author, but you also research your books thoroughly – how do you manage to fit it into your schedule?

Research is much more fun than writing.  You get to travel around the world and discover fascinating things.  As a young writer you are always told to write about what you know.  But the more you write the further you have to cast your net, and the research skills I learned as a journalist have certainly come in handy.  For me there are three distinct phases to the creation of a new book – research and development, storylining and writing.  Each has its place and is equally important.

You’re a novelist, but also a TV and screenwriter – how do these different writing disciplines inform each other?

I brought with me the disciplines of storylining and dialogue from my years as a scriptwriter.  Understanding the structural processes of the former, and the importance of the latter in taking forward story and character have, I think, made me a better writer of novels.

What’s next for you?

A crazy year of touring and promotion that looks like taking me halfway round the world.  A new book, in which I have already engaged myself on the research and development.  And if I’m very lucky, the chance to put my feet up for five minutes!

Peter’s also did one of Crime Thriller Fella’s Intel Interviews more specifically about his writing process. Feel free to take a gander at that when you have a minute. You will not be disappointed.

Entry Island – Peter May

Entry_Island_JKWhat I love about writing is that an author can spend a lifetime in dogged pursuit of their own fears and fascinations. Some nail it with their first novel and some never find it, but when they corner the subject and theme they were born to write, they never look back.

You get the sense that Peter May really found his lifelong subject when he wrote his Lewis trilogy – The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man, The Chessmen – about a copper who must confront the demons of his past when he returns to the Isle of Lewis to find a murderer. The desolate Hebridean island, with its weather system that changes from moment to moment, was the dominant character in the trilogy. May wrote about the place with passion and pride.

His latest novel, Entry Island, is a kind of a companion piece to those three books. Please have your boarding passes ready for the blurb:

When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime’s conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.

Entry Island is a curious beast. It looks like a crime novel and feels like a crime novel, and indeed a murder is a catalyst for the events in the book, but it’s also a historical novel and a darkly romantic tale of unfulfilled destiny. Much of the contemporary action is set on the titular island in the Magdalens, more than 800-miles off Canada. Entry Island is like a mirror-image of May’s beloved Hebrides. There’s that same sense of isolation, and of a traditional way of life coming to an end.

Sime (pronounced Sheem) Mackenzie is a typically dislocated character, an insomniac forced to work alongside his embittered former wife and as distanced from his work-colleagues as Entry Island is from the Canadian mainland. Sime’s murder investigation unfolds enjoyably, the suspects are introduced and motives become ever murkier, but it’s Sime’s growing obsession with his own ancestry that May seems really interested in.

Sime’s overpowering feeling that he knows Kirsty Cowell, the murder suspect, dredges up buried memories of his namesake ancestor’s journey from Lewis as part of the Highland Clearances, when men, women and children from the Hebrides were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to the New World – many never survived the awful conditions on the ships that took them across the Atlantic. The Highland Clearances are a shocking backdrop to a romance between two young people separated by class and wealth.

To his surprise, this reader found himself more engaged with these two-hundred-year-old events. It’s dramatic life-and-death stuff that often threatens to engulf the self-absorbed Sime’s modern day story.

As usual, May’s fascination and passion for the Hebrides, and its rich and turbulent history, shines through. It’s good, solid storytelling that unfolds in careful, polished prose – the attention to detail is second to none. If you’re looking for thrills at a breakneck speed, Entry Island is perhaps not for you. It’s not a book that moves at a thousand miles an hour, and climactic momentum arrives perhaps a little too late to the party, but the conclusion to both storylines is satisfying.

In Entry Island the author has found another isolated and windswept location – is there a writer more meteorologically fastidious than May?  And I liked the  way Sime’s affinity with his unlucky ancestor is left unexplained, so that you get only the merest hint of a greater design pulling the two strands of the story together.

I’m happy to say that Peter May will be talking about Entry Island here on the blog on Friday!

Many thanks to Cecilia Keating at Midas PR for the review copy.

The Intel: Peter May

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We love writers here, and we’re keen to learn from them. I’m absolutely delighted to say Peter May, author of the bestselling Lewis Trilogy — The third novel, The Chess Men is out now — has agreed to share with us a little about how he goes about the critical business of getting words on a page.

What’s your writing process? What comes first – plot or character?

The germ of an idea comes first. Then I work on characters, and really all story comes out of character, so the rest generally just falls into place.

Take us through a typical writing day for you?

I spend four to five months developing characters and plot, and doing my research (which is really the fun bit). Then I write (in about 7 days) a very detailed synopsis, which can be up to 20,000 words long. At that point I can look at the whole, and discern where the flaws might be, and what further research is needed. My storyline then provides a safety net for me as I embark on the writing of the actual book, even although story and characters quite often evolve differently. It allows me to write quickly (something I learned to do as a journalist), and to focus on the quality of the writing. I get up at 6am and write 3000 words a day, however long that might take me. I always end my day when I reach the 3000th word, even if it is mid-sentence. That way I always know how I will begin the next day, and so I never have writers‘ block. The book is usually finished in about 7 weeks.

Who are the authors you love, and why?

As a young man the writers I most admired included Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene, HE Bates and JP Donleavy. I don’t get much time these days to read for pleasure – most of my reading is for research. But the best book I’ve read recently was (much to my surprise) a Stephen King novel called 11/22/63. I am not a fan of horror or supernatural novels. This doesn’t really fall into that category. It does involve time-travel, but if you are prepared to suspend disbelief in that one respect, then King takes you on a wonderful journey through the late fifties and early sixties as the main character attempts to prevent the assassination of JFK. He is a terrific writer and a master storyteller.

What’s the hardest lesson you ever had to learn about writing?Peter May

That even although you believe that what you have written is great, sometimes it really isn’t, and you have to accept the judgment of an experienced and objective eye – usually your editor. So while it can often be a painful process, you have to be prepared to re-think and re-write. Nine times out of ten it will turn out better.

How do you deal with feedback?

I think people who lavish my books with praise have infinitely good judgement, and that anyone who criticises them must be a complete moron. Seriously, though, you have to be prepared to accept that everyone has different tastes, different likes and dislikes, and not everyone is going to like your work. Hard though that is, you have to learn to be philosophical. As far as direct contact from readers is concerned, I now receive thousands of emails a year and my wife and I labour very hard to try to answer them all.

How have your own experiences shaped your writing?

Entirely. Whether those experiences come from my own past, or from those things I have learned on my many research trips, my life wholly shapes the things I write about. The Lewis Trilogy is a typical example. In The Blackhouse, Fin’s relationship with Marsaili is very much based on an on- off relationship I had with a girl I met on my first day at school. In The Lewis Man, I used the experience of my father’s descent into alzheimer’s to shape the character of Marsaili’s father, Tormod. In The Chessmen, I borrowed heavily from my own experiences playing in a band during my teens and early twenties to colour the lives and experiences of the Celtic rock band “Solas”.

Give me some advice about writing…

Don’t do it if you think it will bring you money, fame or a glamorous lifestyle. Writing is hard, often unrewarding work. Most writers are driven to write by some inexplicable compulsion that must be coded into their DNA. It is a tough and often lonely road that the writer travels, so don’t even embark on it unless you, too, are driven to it.

What’s your best advice for an author looking to get into the marketplace…

Don’t try to write for the marketplace. Write what’s in your heart, and above all what you know about. Don’t waste time sending an unsolicited manuscript to publishers – they won’t read it. Try to find yourself an agent who believes in your work. These days publishers will only read manuscripts submitted by agents. If you can’t find either, then publish yourself. The technology makes it easy these days to produce and sell either hard copies or e-books. But be aware that the competition is fierce and that it is a full-time job just to get your book noticed.

What’s next for you?

I have another two books to write for my current contract, plus the final book in the Enzo Files series. Then…. I don’t know. A very long holiday!

The Chessmen by Peter May is published by Quercus at £7.99, and is available from Amazon here.

Crime Thriller Book Log: Mina, Mackay, Dunne & Slaughter

It may not surprise you to know that there were some books published this week. Some crime thriller books. I’m going to tell you about four of them and then you can go.

Unknown-2Red Road is the latest Alex Morrow novel from Denise Mina.

The blurb is very dramatic, as blurb tends to be:

31st August 1997: Rose Wilson is fourteen, but looks sixteen. Pimped out by her ‘boyfriend’ and let down by a person she thought she loved, she has seen more of the darkness in life than someone twice her age. On the night of Princess Diana’s death – a night everyone will remember – Rose snaps and commits two terrible crimes. Her life seems effectively over. But then a defence lawyer takes pity and sets out to do what he can to save her, regardless of the consequences.

Now: DI Alex Morrow is a witness in the case of Michael Brown – a vicious, nasty arms dealer, more brutal and damaged than most of the criminals she meets. During the trial, while he is held in custody, Brown’s fingerprints are found at the scene of a murder in the Red Road flats. It was impossible that he could have been there and it’s a mystery that Morrow just can’t let go.

Meanwhile, a privileged Scottish lawyer sits in a castle on Mull, waiting for an assassin to kill him. He has sold out his own father, something that will bring the wrath of the powerful down upon him.

A playwright and graphic novelist – she’s written for the acclaimed comic Hellblazer – Mina is on a roll. Her Morrow novel Gods And Beasts is on the shortlist for the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year. She won the award only last year with The End Of The Wasp Season. Among the other books in the shortlist are Stav Sherez’s A Dark Redemption, and Peter May’s The Lewis Man.

*Warning: segue reversing… segue reversing…*

Malcolm Mackay lives on Lewis. He’s the author of How A Gunman Says Goodbye, the second in in his Glasgow trilogy.

Lock ’n ’load the blurb:

Unknown-3How does a gunman retire? Frank MacLeod was the best at what he does. Thoughtful. Efficient. Ruthless. But is he still the best? A new job. A target. But something is about to go horribly wrong. Someone is going to end up dead. Most gunmen say goodbye to the world with a bang. Frank’s still here. He’s lasted longer than he should have …

The final book The Sudden Arrival Of Violence follows next year. The first book was written, he says, as a ‘secret little project on his computer.’

There’s a really interesting article right here about how an author who lives in the placid environment of the Outer Hebrides, and has no intention of leaving, projects himself into the mind of a ruthless Glaswegian hitman.

Last time I looked, Derby was a long way south of Lewis and indeed of Glasgow. It’s the setting for another of Steven Dunne’s serial killer novels featuring DI Damen Brook. This one is called The Unquiet Grave.

Dust to dust, blurb to blurb:

The Cold Case crime department of Derby Constabulary feels like a morgue

imagesto DI Damen Brook. As a maverick cop, his bosses think it’s the best place for him.

But Brook isn’t going to go down without a fight. Applying his instincts and razor sharp intelligence, he sees a pattern in a series of murders that seem to begin in 1963. How could a killer go undetected for so long? And why are his superiors so keen to drive him down blind alleys?

Brook delves deep into the past of both suspects and colleagues unsure where the hunt will lead him. What he does know for sure is that a significant date is approaching fast and the killer is certain to strike again…

Dunne’s a bit of an inspiration. His first book The Reaper was turned down all over the shop, but he had faith in himself, and he self-published it. It sold well – and as a result was picked up by Harper Collins. More proof that writers who believe in themselves can get published.

UnknownAnd finally, if ever there was a terrific name for an crime author, it’s Karin Slaughter. She’s sold 17 million books. One of her continuing series features her dyslexic special agent Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Will has huge hands.

Put the gun down and step away from the blurb:

Special Agent Will Trent has something to hide. Something he doesn’t want Dr Sara Linton – the woman he loves – to find out. He’s gone undercover in Macon, Georgia and put his life at risk. And he knows Sara will never forgive him if she discovers the truth.

But when a young patrolman is shot and left for dead Sara is forced to confront the past and a woman she hoped never to see again. And without even knowing it, she becomes involved in the same case Will is working on. Soon both of their lives are in danger.

Like most successful authors, Slaughter is prolific. She finishes a book a year, but is always making notes for future novels.

Right, off you toddle. No, wait —

Before you go, here’s that 2013 Theakstons Crime Novel If The Year list in full –because you haven’t seen it on, like, a thousand other blogs already, this week.

Rush Of Blood – Mark Billingham (Little Brown)

Safe House –  Chris Ewan (Faber and Faber)

The Lewis Man – Peter May (Quercus)

Gods And Beasts – Denise Mina (Orion)

Stolen Souls – Stuart Neville (Vintage)

A Dark Redemption– Stav Sherez (Faber and Faber)

I know which one I’d like to see win — granted, I’ve only read four on the list. But what about you – what’s your pick?