[See Updates under PAST CRIMEFEST WEBSITES for older newsletters.]
20 December 2021
Welcome to our festive newsletter.
Still looking for stocking fillers? It’s no mystery most readers of our newsletter would love to unwrap a crime novel. Our trusted friends and reviewers have hand-picked their top reads for Christmas. Read on to find out their picks…
But what to do if you want to go that extra mile to blow Santa’s socks off? Well, there can be no better gift to a loved one (or yourself) than a TICKET to next year’s CRIMEFEST of course!
ANDREW CHILD HEADLINES
Pack your disposable toothbrush and heat up the coffee…We are incredibly excited to welcome Andrew Child for his first English appearance at CRIMEFEST.
An author in his own right as Andrew Grant, the younger brother of Lee has been hugely successful as the continuation author of the Jack Reacher novels. With the latest book, Better Off Dead (another) number one, and the Amazon series due February, this will be a hot ticket!
CRIMEFEST BURSARY FOR CRIME AUTHOR OF COLOUR
As one of the most inclusive crime writing conventions around, CRIMEFEST is offering a bursary for a crime fiction writer of colour to attend next May’s convention.
The bursary will cover the cost of a full Weekend Pass and a night’s accommodation at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel, and a guaranteed panel appearance.
Eligible authors must have published at least one English language book in traditional print by a British commercial publisher.
Donna Moore, Co-host of CRIMEFEST, said: “At CRIMEFEST, we pride ourselves as being one of the most democratic events in our genre. As a convention, published authors don’t have to be invited to take part – there are no gatekeepers or committees dictating who is in and who isn’t. As such, CRIMEFEST is a really exciting event for the genre and a natural hotbed for diverse talent. We’re aware however that more needs to be done to ensure festivals and conventions actively support writers of colour.”
One applicant for the bursary will be chosen by the CRIMEFEST organisers in collaboration with author Vaseem Khan and Ayo Onatade. Vaseem is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India: the Baby Ganesh Agency series set in modern Mumbai, and the Malabar House crime novels set in 1950s Bombay. Ayo Onatade works with Justices at the Supreme Court, and is a well-known blogger and CWA Red Herring award-winning freelance crime fiction critic.
The deadline to apply is 30 January 2022. Go to www.crimefest.com/bursary for more details and how to apply.
Tis that time of year where CRIMEFEST has invited UK publishers to submit eligible entries for its seven award categories. Authors, if you had a title out this year, see if you have been entered on the ENTRIES page. If not, then the deadlines have been extended until 21 January, 2022 so that you can get your publisher to do so. There is no cost to publishers to enter titles, though six copies of crime books for children and young adults are required as part of the submission process. These are donated to inner city schools in Bristol.
The categories are:
– Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award
for best 2021 crime novel by a previously unpublished author
– Audible Sounds of Crime Award
for best 2021 unabridged crime audiobook
– eDunnit Award
for best 2021 crime ebook
– The H.R.F. Keating Award
for best 2021 biography or critical book related to crime fiction
– Last Laugh Award
for best 2021 humorous crime novel
– Best Crime Novel for Children
for best 2021 crime novel for children, ages 8-12
– Best Crime Novel for Young Adults
for best 2021 crime novel for young adults, ages 12-16
The winners will be announced at the CRIMEFEST Gala Awards Dinner. TICKETS now available. Please note that prices go up in January!
RECOMMENDED CHRISTMAS READS
The annual tradition of asking reviewers of crime fiction for their picks of the best books of 2021 continues. We hope it gives you some ideas for what to buy your nearest and dearest (or yourself).
New: True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
Proving that much-acclaimed first novels (such as Joseph Knox’s Sirens) can be followed up with equally impressive successors, this fourth novel from the quirkily talented Knox is a provocative mix of real and fictional crime in which the author himself investigates the disappearance of a student named Zoë. But is she a real or fictional character? With a fascinatingly fragmentary narrative style (interspersing interviews with people somehow involved in Zoë’s disappearance), this is something new in the overcrowded crime genre.
Classic: The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald
One of Macdonald’s most popular novels, this is a quintessential outing for his private eye Lew Archer, with an ambitiously large dramatis personae, all impeccably characterised. Archer is hired to look into the possible kidnapping of millionaire Ralph Sampson, and at the same time a great many people are going to a great deal of trouble to get their hands on a hundred grand in small notes. Archer finds himself running up against Elaine Sampson, Ralph’s disenchanted wife, ex-DA Albert Graves (not a man noted for philanthropy), and the violent chorus boy Dwight Troy. All of this is vintage Macdonald and one of the best post-Chandler private eye novels, with a palpable sense of evil.
Barry Forshaw, an expert on crime fiction, writes for the Financial Times and the i. Books include Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, the Keating Award-winning Brit Noir (plus Nordic, American, Euro & Historical Noir) & British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia (also a Keating winner). He provides booklet essays for Blu-rays & edits Crime Time.
New: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Knowing other end of year polls to which my fellow critics have contributed to, I guess I won’t be the only one strongly recommending Shawn Cosby’s second crime novel, but it deserves all the plaudits it is getting. A savage vengeance tale set in an American rural wilderness full of intolerance, prejudice and warped family ties, it is a brutal but fast-moving read which rapidly carves its way into your gut. Truly memorable and sees Cosby as a modern heir of Jim Thompson with a difference and utterly contemporary even if the setting he sets on fire throughout is timeless.
Classic: Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich
I’ve spent much time this year re-reading Woolrich as I have been editing a tribute anthology to his work, which will appear in 2022 as Black is the Night, and the impact of his tales of noir despair, forlorn bars, femmes fatales and everymen fighting a losing battle against fate or the clock never falters. What to chose? I love his ‘Black’ novels, I love the William Irish race-against-time novels but at the end of the day I opted for Waltz Into Darkness for its over the top romanticism, a story of female betrayal and male insecurity that still has the power to tug the strings of my heart.
Maxim Jakubowski is the former owner of the Murder One bookshop. A past Guardian and Time Out columnist, he writes and edits fiction and non-fiction and also reviews for Crime Time. His most recent novels are The Louisiana Republic and The Piper’s Dance. His anthology of CWA Short Story Dagger winners, Daggers Drawn appeared in 2021. He is an Executive Producer for the upcoming FX/Disney TV series based on the Derek Raymond Factory series, featuring Tom Hardy. He is the currently Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association.
New: The Oxford Brotherhood by Guillermo Martínez
Martínez’s brainy-but-breathless thrillers always seem to me to be the books that Dan Brown is trying to write but never quite manages. Involving a long-lost secret about Lewis Carroll coming to light, this is a fine follow-up to The Oxford Murders.
Classic: The Dancing Face by Mike Phillips
Newly reissued as part of Bernardine Evaristo’s Black Britain: Writing Back series, this 1997 thriller begins with an academic stealing a Benin mask from a museum to highlight the issue of colonialist appropriation of art and artefacts, and soon becomes a riot of double-crossing and violence.
Jake Kerridge is the crime fiction reviewer for the Telegraph.
New: The Shadow Friend by Alex North
Utterly compelling, dark, twisty and fiendish, The Shadow Friend tells the story of Paul, returning to the town where he grew up because his mother has had an accident and is now in a hospice. It’s not a happy place for Paul, following the death of one of his childhood friends, and he hasn’t been back for 25 years. The timeline alternates between now and then and Paul’s first person narration is interspersed with the third person narration of Detective Amanda Beck who’s investigating the present day death of a boy in a nearby town. Brilliant stuff – a complex and multi-layered look at relationships, grief, reality, memory, the impossibility of escaping the shadows of the past and how they impact on the present. Loved it.
Classic: Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich (originally published under the pseudonym George Hopley)
Detective Tom Shawn follows a trail of money on the ground one night, at the end of which is a woman who is about to take her own life. The detective saves her and listens to her unlikely story – a man who can apparently see the future has made predictions which have come true and has now foreseen the death of her father in a very strange manner at a specific date and time. A deliciously noir tale full of tension and infused throughout with a sense of dread and doom. Despite some unlikely coincidences this is the stuff nightmares are made of.
New: Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
A powerful, finely-honed piece of American noir from a genuinely exciting new voice. A tough, uncompromising but very human tale as two unlikely vigilantes team up to get justice for their murdered sons.
Classic: A Perfect Spy by John Le Carré
A year after the author’s death might be a good excuse to catch up or re-read what I consider to be his best novel from 1986. Unsparingly autobiographical and poignant, a moving tale of a lonely spy prepared to betray everything except his friend. Perfect.
Mike Ripley has won awards both for his ‘Angel’ comedy crime series and for his non-fiction history of British thrillers Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He is the continuation author of mysteries featuring Margery Allingham’s Golden Age sleuth, Albert Campion. The ninth, Mr Campion’s Wings, was published in October. Mike writes a monthly column for the eZine Shots.
New: Welcome to Cooper by Tariq Ashkanani
DC Detective Thomas Levine has dirty hands and a dirty soul – but you can’t help rooting for this damaged individual, exiled to a down-at-heel Nebraska backwater town with some nasty secrets. Levine finds himself seriously compromised as he investigates the murder of a young woman – will he be brave enough to do the right thing? A brilliant debut that expresses its debt to the dirty noir tradition with some zinging hard-boiled prose.
Classic: Hyde by Craig Russell
It’s the versatile and talented Russell’s latest book, but he’s gone back to one of the classic stories to give us his spin on Jekyll and Hyde, leaning strongly into the gothic. When Captain Edward Hyde takes it upon himself to investigate a series of murders in the city, the evocation of Victorian Edinburgh, up and down the social scale, is as accomplished as you’d expect from Russell, whose post-war Glasgow in the Lennox novels is one of crime fiction’s defining settings. Eerie, chilling and shiveringly hallucinatory.
Karen Robinson is a writer and critic. She is on the panel for the 2022 Creasey Dagger award for debut crime novels.
Some very sad news: Heather Cressy, room monitor and time keeper extraordinaire at every CRIMEFEST, died unexpectedly earlier this month. Heather was a great supporter of the convention, happily chatted to any delegate, and was a close family friend of the Muller family. She will be much missed.
CRIME DRAMA COMING YOUR WAY
Following in the footsteps of actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Elliott Gould, Robert Mitchum and more, Liam Neeson will star as Raymond Chandler’s classic PI Philip Marlowe in an adaptation of Benjamin Black’s (aka John Banville) continuation novel The Black-Eyed Blonde. Website Collider has more.
How many of you are old enough to remember Jim Hutton (UK) as Ellery Queen, breaking the fourth wall, and asking you if you know who the murderer is? Well, apparently the sleuth, created by Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, will be undergoing a gender swap in a new adaptation for the small screen. Variety reveals more.
Anybody familiar with Israeli crime writer D.A. Mishani’s international bestselling Avraham Avraham crime novels will be interested to know that The Missing File is being adapted for television by David E. Kelley, the producer with the golden touch. Deadline will give you details.
And talking about producers with a golden touch, John Wells of ER fame has optioned the rights to Swedish author Tove Alsterdal’s three-book crime series The High Coast for series adaptation. The first novel, We Know You Remember, was published in Sweden in 2020 and won the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award as well as The Glass Key Award. Faber and Faber publish in the UK in February. It’s another Deadline story.
Forty-plus years on from Agatha (with Vanessa Redgrave as the Queen of Crime), plans are afoot for another imagining of what may have happened when Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days. The Christie Affair is based on the forthcoming Mantle novel by Nina de Gramont. Visit Slash Film for details.
And, finally, Harlan Coben fans are probably already aware of this, but Netflix is filming a slew of his books, with their mini-series filmed in different international locations with local actors from that country. On 31 December comes Stay Close with Cash Jumbo and many other familiar British faces. Visit IMDb for more info on other adaptations.
We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas of what to read and watch. Books are a great way to escape and connect with our fellow human beings – so you know you are never alone in our CRIMEFEST community.
That’s it for now. We hope you and yours enjoy the Festive Season, and we can’t wait to see you all in a hopefully happy 2022!
Be well and stay safe!
Adrian & Donna,
20 October 2021
We hope this finds you well!
In this newsletter:
– TICKETS NOW ON SALE!
– IS YOUR NAME ON THE DELEGATE LIST?
– ANN CLEEVES STARS
– OTHER CRIMEFEST 2022 NEWS
– WHERE TO STAY
– CRIMEFEST FAMILY UPDATE
– THE LIKELY SUSPECTS – AND OTHER CRIME FICTION NEWS
– CRIMINALLY GOOD DRAMA
TICKETS FOR CRIMEFEST 2022 NOW ON SALE
Like all good crime dramas, we’ve built (and built) the suspense. Take a deep breath. We are, at long last, delighted to announce that TICKETS for CRIMEFEST 2022 are now on sale.
Yes, Britain’s friendliest and most inclusive crime fiction convention returns, and we’re still offering more authors for your buck. But do hurry to get the Early Bird rate of £145. Tickets go up to £165 on 1 November!
Thanks to the Covid vaccines’ increased protection, we are actively planning next year’s convention (12-15 May) as a LIVE one – no Zooming or streaming!
AUTHORS, PLEASE NOTE: Many of your colleagues either donated their fee (and received priority booking), or transferred their registration to 2022. As a result, many of the panel slots have already been filled. Newly registered authors will be offered a slot on a waiting list and offered panels on a first-come-first-served basis (subject to topic suitability).
We can’t wait to see all of you in person again – authors, readers and the in-betweeners!
CHECK YOUR NAME IS ON THE DELEGATE LIST
Unsure if you transferred your registration, or donated it and need to register for 2022? No problem, just check your registration status on the DELEGATE page on the CRIMEFEST website.
Those of you who donated your 2019 registration fee and would like to register for next year will see that, as a thank you, you are eligible for a discount.
ANN CLEEVES STARS
We are delighted that firm CRIMEFEST favourite Ann Cleeves is one of the confirmed 2022 Featured Guests.
She’s the visionary behind Vera and Shetland, both adapted of course into smash-hit TV series, with fans worldwide. (Series six of Shetland returns on 19 October.)
What’s more, Ann continues to conquer the airwaves with a new ITV arrival – the dramatisation of The Long Call, the first in her Two Rivers series, featuring Detective Inspector Matthew Venn.
Filmed in part on location in our very own Bristol, the first episode airs on 25 October. We can’t wait to hear first-hand all her TV news, as well as the latest on her upcoming books. Ann is also of course an inspiring champion of readers and libraries alike.
Watch this space for more Featured Guests to be announced!
We’re delighted CRIMEFEST friend Zoë Sharp has agreed to resume the Toastrix role next May. Possibly one of the busiest crime writers around (with the obvious exception of James Patterson), Zoë now has an additional two series on the go in addition to her popular Charlie Fox books. There’s lots to catch up on.
In addition to the ever-popular Authors Remembered panel, Dick Francis was going to be CRIMEFEST’s first Ghost of Honour. Celebrating his career, we have invited Felix Francis back, together with Dick’s editor, and friend Simon Brett.
Another missed celebration was the 75th birthday of that crime fiction modern Renaissance Man, Maxim Jakubowski. We have invited the author, bookseller, editor, publisher and current chair of the Crime Writers’ Association back to curate his own panel. (Subject to confirmation.)
Talking of the Crime Writers’ Association, they will return once more to announce their Dagger Awards shortlists at the Friday night reception.
The full programme is due to be announced in the spring. In the meantime, the list of PARTICIPATING AUTHORS might offer a few tantalising clues of what panel topics to expect. Take a peek.
WHERE TO STAY
CRIMEFEST returns to the four-star Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel. Only registered delegates will receive the convention discount code, which will be sent out later this year/ early next. For those looking to add balance to their party vibe, please note that the Grand no longer offers a swimming pool facility, but it does still have a gym.
(Those delegates penalised for cancelling their 2019 hotel rooms – or UK flights – due to Covid, please note that the Competitions and Markets Authority ruled this was illegal. Full refunds or rebooking should have been offered where applicable.)
But, first of all, we couldn’t be prouder of co-host Donna Moore who has become a Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing. Not only that, but she passed her viva with no corrections, which is almost unheard of! Congratulations, Donna!
Donna is still providing literacy and numeracy support to marginalised and vulnerable women. She is glad to have completed her PhD and eagerly awaiting taking a flight where someone asks: “Is there a doctor on the plane?” The best bit, though, is that she finally gets to read for fun again, rather than endless academic articles and can now dump Foucault for fiction. [Don’t worry if you didn’t get that. Adrian had to look up Foucault as well.]
Fiona and Heather
Fiona, Chief Delegate Bag Filler
Fiona’s days seem to pass in a blur of looking after children and grandchildren (both planned and emergency). So, working part-time three days a week is useful because she at least gets a rest at the office. Other than that, she remains well and enjoys the occasional break away from home.
Heather, Full-time Timekeeper
Heather remains cheerful, pottering along, and continues to read books and her email.
Gianna and Jenny, Registration Desk Team
Last time we heard from Gianna she had just started her new job with the admin HR at the University of Hertfordshire. A year in and she is enjoying it but found working at home a bit hard. Fortunately, she started going into the office last month and finally met her team in person for the first time!
Jenny continues to work from home but did go into the office recently, finding “it was great to have the in-person contact,” but felt a bit strange to be back. She has had a sewing room built in her garden, and can now move the mass sewing/cross stitch/tapestry paraphernalia out there.
Books: The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig, Red Notice by Bill Browder, the Accidental Alchemist Mystery series by Gigi Pandian
TV: Line of Duty (“Obviously”) [UK / US], Baptiste [UK / US], Mare of Easttown, The Flight Attendant.
Thalia is adjusting back to the idea of working in the office three days a week – but it means she gets to see more films at the cinema, and could go to the London Film Festival.
Jen alternates working on her PhD in Archaeology with her part-time archaeological job. Gabe and Eleanor are back to school, and both still stream television programmes in their spare time. Eleanor is also reading lots, with Gabe continuing to play computer games. After watching TV and reading stacks, Adrian is gearing up for next year’s CRIMEFEST.
Jen’s TV: seasons 1 and 2 of Succession (in preparation for season 3)
Adrian’s TV: Annika, which had the feel of Scandi crime, but with some great humour. [Coming to the US on PBS Masterpiece Theatre soon.]
We are sorry to have to end this section with the sad news of the passing of Bill Gottfried, June Muller, and Caroline Todd.
Caroline Todd, together with her son Charles, was the author of two crime series, one featuring Inspector Rutledge, and the other Bess Crawford. A regular delegate who made insightful contributions during her CRIMEFEST panel appearances, she was an incredibly kind and graceful lady, and added class and humour on every occasion. She passed away in August.
June Muller, Adrian’s mother, enjoyed and attended every CRIMEFEST, always the first to boast of her son’s contribution to the convention. After a brief spell in hospital last August, June returned home to recover from an infection. She enjoyed her remaining time with her 24-hour carer, and frequent visits from her family, before passing away after a brief illness in March.
It is arguable that CRIMEFEST would not have come about if Adrian hadn’t met Bill Gottfried (and his wife Toby) at Janet Rudolph’s weekly book club in Berkeley, California. It was there that plans for the first non-US 2006 Left Coast Crime convention in Bristol were hatched. CRIMEFEST was a direct result of that LCC, and Bill and Toby attended every one of them until poor health prohibited foreign travel in 2019. Bill and Toby organised numerous events including Left Coast Crimes and Bouchercon (crime fiction’s world mystery convention). As a result, they not only provided us help and information, but also became much valued members of the CRIMEFEST family. Bill died suddenly in the last week of September, and our deepest condolences go out to Toby and the rest of the Gottfried family.
They will all be very much missed.
THE LIKELY SUSPECTS AND OTHER CRIME FICTION NEWS
Joining a host of other UK publisher crime fiction websites is a new addition: The Likely Suspects, from Simon & Schuster. The aim of the site is to create a community where crime fiction readers can come to find out news about the publisher’s crime and thriller authors and titles, as well as engage in conversations and debate about what crime fiction they are enjoying – in whatever medium they are enjoying it in. S&S authors include names such as Vicki Bradley, James Delargy, Felix Francis, Nicci French, and Kate Rhodes. For more information visit The Likely Suspects website.
Rounding up this section, there are two somewhat unusual titles out there that readers may be interested in…
Published earlier this month was a ‘secret instalment’ of Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series. Riccardino, the 28th book in the bestselling series, was drafted by Camilleri in 2005. After final changes were made in 2016, he handed it over on the understanding that it would be stored in a locked safe until after he passed away. Camilleri died in Rome on 18th July 2019 at the age of 93. Maria Reit, publisher at Mantle, explains: “Riccardino was not the final Inspector Montalbano novel Andrea Camilleri wrote, though it is one of the finest. It was the author’s wish that it be published posthumously, perhaps because Montalbano’s last case holds more than the usual surprises for this incomparable detective. As such Riccardino is a wonderful conclusion to a magnificent and life-affirming series.”
The other title is Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime. Edited by the late, great H.R.F. Keating (no slouch as a crime writer himself!) this 1977 collection of essays about the great mystery writer has been republished with a new introduction by Sophie Hannah. There’s lots of juicy info in the essays, some widely known (Christie wrote in the bathtub while eating apples) and some not (she cured writer’s block by checking into shabby hotels where she knew there would be no distractions). Topics include an insightful exploration on Christie’s enduring appeal, as well as a deconstruction of Miss Marple.
CRIMINALLY GOOD DRAMA
There have been a few, mostly disappointing, adaptations of New Mexican author Tony Hillerman’s iconic books about Navajo police officers Leaphorn and Chee. But hopefully having producers Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) and George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford on board will help this latest version, called Dark Winds. The good news is that the series will star Native American actors (Zahn McClarnon and Kiowa Gordon as Leaphorn and Chee), and the production will film on tribal lands in New Mexico. Visit The Hollywood Reporter for more information.
Netflix’s 2020’s Enola Holmes may have been primarily aimed at young adults, but we at CRIMEFEST think it had something for any Holmes or crime drama fan. Based on the books by Nancy Springer, a new instalment, again starring Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock’s teenage sister, is planned for 2022. Henry Cavill returns as her older brother. Polygon has more details.
Talking of Holmes, not for the first time he is linked to Jack the Ripper, but this time they are both taken far away from the foggy London Streets. Produced by the Russian streaming service Start and production company Sreda, Sherlock: The Russian Chronicles transfers Holmes to St Petersburg in 1889. Something for Walter Presents or other boutique streaming channels? Find out more at Variety.
After two movies starring Chevy Chase as ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, the character returns to the (small) screen. In Confess, Fletch, Gregory McDonald’s journalist, who is often roped into solving odd crimes, will star Jon Hamm as Fletch. It reunites him with his Mad Men co-star John Slattery. Read more at The Hollywood Report again has the scoop.
There have been numerous reports of adaptations of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels over the years, but with Jamie Lee Curtis and her production company on board, might we be just a few steps closer? According to Geek Tyrant, Cornwell seems happy with Curtis starring as her forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta, so fingers crossed.
C.J. Box’s crime novels featuring the game warden Joe Pickett (published in the UK by Head of Zeus) is making its way to the small screen as a ten-episode hour-long drama series with Michael Dorman as the star. Deadline has more.
Chris Whitaker’s crime novel We Begin at the End has been optioned by 20th Television, who are in the process of adapting the novel. More from The Hollywood Reporter.
And finally, before her death, Sue Grafton made her children take a “blood oath” that they would never sell the screen rights of her Alphabet/Kinsey Millhone books. However, the author’s husband and executive producer of the series, Steve Humphrey, says he and the family have agreed that the times – and the medium – have changed. Interestingly, the children themselves have yet to comment… ABC News has the A to Z on the story.
That’s if for now. Don’t forget to buy TICKETS sooner rather than later, as prices will incrementally go up to £200.
Be well and stay safe!
Adrian & Donna,