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The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves @AnnCleeves @panmacmillan #TheLongCall

Source: Review copy
Publication: 5 September 2019 from MacMillan
PP: 384
ISBN-13: 978-1509889563

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

A brand new series from Ann Cleeves is something not to be missed and I dived into The Long Call with eagerness. This is the Two Rivers series, so called because the books are set in North Devon between the Taw and Torridge rivers.

There we meet D.I. Matthew Venn, hovering outside a church where inside his father’s funeral is taking place. Matthew Venn is from this area and grew up part of a strict evangelical sect known as the Barum Brethren. But his family ostracised him when he felt he could no longer believe in their God, or any God, and they have not spoken since.

Matthew is married to Jonathan, an easy going chap and head of The Woodyard, a community arts centre that also houses a day centre for learning disabled adults. Two of those attending are Lucy Braddock and Chrissie Shapland, both of whom have Down’s Syndrome.

Matthew works out of Barnstaple Police station where his boss, DCI Joe Oldham is going through the motions prior to retiring. Matthew’s team are DS Jen Rafferty,  a single parent who has fled Liverpool to get away from her abusive partner and Ross May, the DCI’s blue eyed boy who Jen suspects is Oldham’s eyes and ears on the ground. May is over eager and quite competitive which also doesn’t endear him to Jen.

Their first case is, as it turns out, far too close to home for Matthew to be comfortable, though for the reader it provides a great opportunity for us to get to know the principal series characters and the local area. For that reason, I’d recommend this book for anyone wanting to read the series as it develops.

Simon Walden’s marriage collapsed after he killed a child whilst driving under the influence of alcohol. A veteran, Simon had been drifting since then, drinking too much and suffering from depression. After pitching up at the Woodyard he was taken in by two local women, Caroline Preece who is going out with the local pastor and artist, Gaby Henry.

When Simon is found murdered on the beach at Crow Point, Matthew finds himself in a difficult position. He is too close to the Woodyard and should by rights be excusing himself from the investigation, but Oldham is prepared to let him run with it provided he checks in regularly.

Ann Cleeves beautifully captures the North Devon countryside and seascape and her descriptions of the landscape are evocative and sometimes quite haunting. One of the real strengths of this book is the richly drawn nature of the characters who spring to life from the page. These are people we can see, whose characters we understand and this lets us immerse ourselves in Cleeves story.

I really liked that Cleeves has chosen to write an inclusive novel which portrays the strengths of Down’s Syndrome adults and that Matthew, an introvert, relies on Jonathan, a more relaxed and gregarious individual, to be his rock.

The Long Call is a great read; confident, well-plotted and character driven. Cleeves lays out the plot strands and then slowly and cleverly weaves them into an intricate pattern which is not revealed until the final chapters.

Verdict: Fabulously drawn new characters in a complex and well-plotted police procedural written with insight and compassion. What more could you want?

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Photo of Ann Cleeves, standing with arms crossed

Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on screen and in print. Both series are international bestsellers.

In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black, the first book in her Shetland series. In 2012 she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. Ann lives in North Tyneside.

Bloody Scotland Reveals Final Four on Shortlist for McIlvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year Prize 2019 @BloodyScotland @Brownlee_Donald

Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival
20-22 September 2019

A panel of judges including Alison Flood, James Crawford and Stuart Cosgrove today revealed the finalists for The McIlvanney Prize 2019.

They are the multi-talented Doug Johnstone who has a PhD in nuclear physics and moonlights as the manager and drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, Manda Scott who studied veterinary surgery before turning to crime writing, a former McIlvanney winner Denise Mina and half a former winner in the form of Ambrose Parry – aka husband and wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman.

The winner of the Scottish Crime Book of the Year will be awarded The McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney at the opening reception on Friday 20 September and will lead a torchlight procession – open to the public – with David Baldacci on their way down to his event. The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.

This is what the judges had to say about each of the shortlisted books:

Photo of Doug Johnstone holding his book, Breakers
Doug Johnstone

Breakers – Doug Johnstone (Orenda)
A tightly written and compelling exploration of two sides of Edinburgh, touching on social topics rarely examined in crime fiction. A brilliant and moving portrait of family dynamics and loyalty as a young boy struggles to break out of his powerlessness.

Photo of Manda Scott
Manda Scott

A Treachery of Spies – Manda Scott (Bantam Press)
A powerful, complex and remarkable espionage thriller: a present-day murder links back to Resistance France. An intricately plotted novel which keeps the reader guessing right to the end.

Photo of Denise Mina
Denise Mina Photo: Ollie Grove

Conviction – Denise Mina (Harvill Secker)
A highly original and timely rollercoaster of a read, a caper which takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from central Glasgow to the Highlands, France and Italy. The novel fizzes with energy and brims over with a love of storytelling.

Photo of Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman who comprise Ambrose Parry
Ambrose Parry Photo: Alan Trotter

The Way of All Flesh – Ambrose Parry (Canongate)
Intensely and brilliantly researched piece of writing, casting back to 19th century Edinburgh when the art of surgery was just emerging at the same time as body snatchers were at large on the streets. Vivid, original, compelling, playful. 

Photo of the McIlvanney judges, Stuart Cosgrove, Alison Flood and James Crawford
McIlvanney judges

This year’s judges are Alison Flood, books reporter for The Guardian and a former news reporter for The Bookseller; James Crawford, chair of Publishing Scotland and presenter of BBC series, Scotland from the Sky and Stuart Cosgrove, writer and broadcaster who was formerly a senior executive at Channel 4.

Previous winners are Liam McIlvanney with The Quaker in 2018, Denise Mina with The Long Drop in 2017, Chris Brookmyre with Black Widow in 2016, Craig Russell with The Ghosts of Altona in 2015, Peter May with Entry Island in 2014, Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013 and Charles Cumming with A Foreign Country in 2012. The 2019 winner will be kept under wraps until the ceremony itself.

Five authors are also shortlisted for the inaugural Bloody Scotland Debut Scottish Crime Book of the Year:

All the Hidden Truths, Claire Askew (Hodder)
From the Shadows, G R Halliday (Vintage)
Black Camp 21, Bill Jones (Polygon)
In the Silence, M R Mackenzie (Bloodhound)
The Peat Dead, Allan Martin (Thunderpoint)
The winner will be revealed on the opening night of the Festival.

Tickets are available from or at the Box Office in the Tolbooth Stirling or in the Albert Halls.
Download the Bloody Scotland programme here

Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen trs David Hackston @Antti_Tuomainen @countertenorist @OrendaBooks #LittleSiberia

Source: Review copy
Publication:  Available now in e-book and 17 October in paperback
PP: 245
ISBN-13: 978-1912374519

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his. As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

If a meteorite falls in the forest and no-one is around, does it matter?

Little Siberia is Antti Tuomainen in a deep and darkly humorous frame of mind. Marrying his trademark Hiassen-like humour with a philosophical bent, Tuomainen’s protagonist is Joel Huhta , a priest living in the remote village of Hurmevaara in Finland, a place which one of his characters christens ‘Little Siberia’.

Joel may be a priest, but his faith in the world around him is wavering, just at the point when he ought to be filled with joy. For Joel, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict, has a secret that he has not divulged to anyone, not least his wife Krista, whom he loves deeply.  And now his wife has informed him that they are expecting a baby.

Joel does not believe that he has fathered this child and he needs to know with whom his wife has been unfaithful, so he sets out to find out who has done this terrible thing to him. This being a small village, the number of suspects is limited.

In the midst of trees, snow and little else, Joel is now looking at his flock with fresh eyes, calculating which of them might have impregnated his wife. 

Tuomainen gives us a bleak, harsh landscape that is claustrophobic and with a climate that would freeze even the warmest of monkey appendages. Into this village he then brings a cataclysmic event. A meteorite crashes straight into the car of the town drunk, a once famous rally driver who lost everything when he crashed and killed his navigator partner. Now he is a man driving madly to his destruction, halted only by this extraordinary event. Suddenly, everything changes. The whole town becomes convinced that this meteorite is worth a fortune – 1m euros is the generally agreed sum.

The meteorite is taken to the local museum, awaiting transport to the nearest town, from where it will travel abroad for scientific analysis. Joel and some of the villagers undertake to keep watch over it. But there are plenty in the village, and further afield, who see this as their opportunity to make a killing, both figuratively and, as it turns out, literally.

Joel takes the first watch and it’s not long before the museum is broken into and two assailants try to steal the meteorite. But Joel is not in the mood to let this happen. Using his military skills, he tracks them through the woods where he finds one of the miscreants blown to pieces in an explosion. Saying nothing, Joel determines to become the sole guardian of the meteorite, not knowing whether his fellow volunteers may have been in on the theft plot and knowing there will be further attempts to come.

So now Joel is looking askance at each villager and stranger for two reasons. Are they a thief, plotting to violently steal the meteorite and did they father Krista’s child? There are two very dodgy looking Russians in town who are certainly prime suspects for something, if not everything.

Then there’s Karoliina, the town’s femme fatale. Joel’s been following his nose, and it has led him to the Golden Moon Night Club, a place where happy hour lasts for 6 hours, and Karoliina presides over the bar like Frenchie in Destry rides again, only with more makeup and a nasty bruise.

I have to say the villains in this novel are superb. All the characters are idiosyncratic and unpredictable and the level of violence in the town only accelerates as Joel tries to quell his growing unease at how he can continue to counsel his parishioners at the same time as he is suspecting them of keeping terrible secrets and committing despicable acts.

Joel’s faith is severely tested when it becomes clear that Krista has become the central fulcrum of the action. Joel’s doubts coalesce around a defining action by the would-be thieves and Joel realises once and for all what really matters to him.

 It’s really hard to describe the impact of this book. It is without doubt, dark and funny and it has some startlingly violent moments and a brilliant, sparkling finish. But it is also rather a thoughtful and questioning book about the nature of faith, the value of secrets and the importance of love.

Verdict: A brilliantly funny, darkly comic and philosophical and ultimately tender book about faith, belief and what’s truly important. I loved it. This is Tuomainen at his best.

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Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The recently published Palm Beach, Finland has been a massive critical success, with Marcel Berlins of The Times calling him ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and making it one of his books of the year.

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay @LinwoodBarclay @HQStories @fictionpubteam #ElevatorPitch

Source: Review copy
Publication: 5 September 2019 from HQ
PP: 400
ISBN-13: 978-0008331993

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers . . .

I’m a huge Linwood Barclay fan, more so since I met him at Harrogate and found him to be an absolute gentleman. So I always knew I was going to want to read Elevator Pitch. I love that word play in the title, don’t you? There’s always a bit of humour worked into a Barclay story, irrespective of how suspenseful it is, and gosh this one is chock full of suspense.

Oddly enough, it isn’t the first elevator story I have read this year, Megan Golding’s The Escape Room also had bad things happening to people in elevators, but these are, of course, two very different stories.

Elevator Pitch is first and foremost a strongly plotted, crackingly well-told story. It has characters you want to root for, whether you belong to the generation that identifies with our protagonist, journalist and commentator, Barbara or her daughter, Arla, just embarking on her first job.

Barclay takes the New York vista with its tall and imposing high tech buildings, all glass and steel, and shows us what it means to have to rely on one piece of technology to make them work. For without elevators to keep the buildings occupants flowing, these places are just useless hunks of masonry.

It starts one Monday morning, without warning. Four people get into an elevator and all perish when it malfunctions and goes into plummeting freefall. Then the following day, there is another, deeply gruesome event in which a woman is killed in the most macabre accident.

In a city that is sadly no stranger to acts of terrorism, the old adage of ‘once is happenstance, twice coincidence’, simply does not fly.  The Mayor of New York, Richard Wilson Headley, rumoured to be interested in political advancement beyond the city, finds himself in the unenviable position of having to explain these incidents to the public and to try and re-assure them of their continuing safety.

Detective Jerry Bourque and his partner, Lois Delgado of the NYPD are investigating the murder of an unknown man on the High Line, way above the NYC sidewalks. Someone has gone to great lengths to hide this man’s identity, but is it connected to the elevator deaths?

Then there’s the ‘Flyover Group’ a bunch of malcontents who despise the big city dwellers for their money and corruption as they fly from coast to coast over, as they see it, the little people, the people whom, the Flyovers contend, are the ones who really contribute to the culture of the great country of the USA. Their leader, Eugene Clement, just happens to be in town with his wife, ostensibly to celebrate their anniversary. But when a bomb goes off and responsibility is claimed by someone claiming to be inspired by the Flyovers, all attention is directed to them.

Barclay pulls together a compelling cast of very well drawn characters to fuel the tension that comes from a deathly, high stakes, claustrophobic setting in which ordinary people are pawns in the hands of a ruthless killer or killers.

As Barbara, no fan of the Mayor, piles the pressure on at press conferences, Headley is forced to order all elevators shut down until they can be checked and a public relations nightmare ensues.

Short, fast paced chapters help to ramp up the tension and the body count just goes up and up as the reader tries to work out who has the motive and the opportunity to put such a deadly plan into action. A brilliant final scenario lends a sharpness and breathtaking edge to the denouement, which is both shocking and surprising.

Verdict: Suspenseful, claustrophobic and gripping, Elevator Pitch is an intense thrill ride on a rollercoaster that twists and turns until you’re not sure which way it’s safe to turn. Highly recommended read from a master storyteller.

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Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.

Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children.

*Cover Reveal* I Am Dust by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

It is an absolute pleasure to be able to give you the first peek at the new cover for Louise Beech’s hotly anticipated new book, due out in paperback next April.

What’s it about, I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you about I am Dust.

I Am Dust, Louise Beech

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Now what about the cover for this awesome release? Well…here we go!

I Isn’t that beautiful? And the book is going to be just as special, that I can promise you!

If you have not yet read Louise’s work, you are missing something special. Let me tell you a little about her.

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award and longlisted for the Polari Prize in 2019. Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine’s Best Book of the Year Award, and was longlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Capital Crime from 26-28 September 2019 – inclusive and accessible @CapitalCrime1 @LizzieCurle @MidasPR

You can’t have failed to miss the fact that there’s a new crime festival in town. In London town, to be precise, taking place from 26th to 28th September in the Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London. The festival programme is certainly very impressive, with leading crime and thriller creative makers attending. Capital Crime is welcoming some of the world’s favourite authors and filmmakers to London, aiming to bring the best of everything crime and thriller to fans.

The programme reads like a who’s who of crime and some of the panel sessions are really imaginatively put together. I’m personally looking forward to the Killer Women panel on Is Crime Fiction a Problem for Feminists? with Julia Crouch, Sarah Hilary, Amanda Jennings, Colette McBeth and Kate Rhodes in conversation.

Killer Women image of Julia Crouch, Sarah Hilary, Amanda Jennings, Colette McBeth and Kate Rhodes

I’m also genuinely thrilled that Don Winslow is going to be chatting to Ian Rankin – that’s one to get any crime fan’s heart beating faster.

Ian Rankin and Don Winslow

You can see the schedule here.

But what I’m really interested in is what this festival is doing differently. I’ve heard a lot recently about Capital Crime’s inclusivity and accessibility and I wanted to probe under the surface of that a little bit and find out what that means.  After all, a crime festival in a rather grand setting with tickets that started out at £200 for a weekend pass doesn’t exactly scream inclusive.

Well, the setting may be grand, but the best thing about it is its accessibility, as Lizzie Curle, Festival Manager told me. “London as a city comes with its own challenges, especially at a basic accessibility level,” she told me. “Venues often say that they are fully accessible, but they have steps into the main entrance, or you can reach all the conference rooms but not get to the bar.” (which really would be a disaster). As someone with mobility issues who has experienced exactly this problem before, I am delighted just knowing that this has been at the heart of Capital Crime’s thinking. So what Capital Crime is lucky to have at the Grand Connaught Rooms is not only a fully accessible venue, even though it is an old venue. There are lifts onto every floor and ramps onto the main building. So finding a venue that all readers can come to, and celebrate crime and thrillers is a really positive step.

That’s the starting point for this year. There are further aspirations, for example to bring in an on-site signer, and that’s very much top of their minds for future years.

I asked Lizzie about Capital Crime’s pricing structure, bearing in mind that the tickets have now reduced in price, something that was always an aim. Lizzie told me that in many ways the festival was competitively priced on a comparative basis, but that perhaps as a new festival, they hadn’t got the history behind them to command such an outlay.  Fortunately, they have managed to secure sponsorship which has enabled them to reduce the ticket price to £150 for a weekend pass and £80 for a day pass and that has enabled them to offer tickets at the level they feel is more affordable. The ticket sales reflect that position now, and as Lizzie says, with a new festival it was always going to be a bit of a learning curve.

All the way along though, Capital Crime has been thinking about how inclusive they can make their pricing. So they set aside 25 reduced priced tickets for librarians; those quintessential book lovers and book promoters who are so important to authors and readers alike. The idea was to give back to those who do so much to celebrate books.  These sit alongside carer tickets; 25 tickets set aside for those on a low income, bringing the cost of a weekend ticket to £50 and some blogger passes, too, representing a considerable commitment to inclusivity, making the festival a truly accessible, mass participation event.

For new festival goers, or those who are on their own, there will be a team of ‘Introducers’, ready and willing to help people understand what’s on offer, where it is and to help them feel at home. That’s friendliness on the doorstep, designed to make you feel welcome as you arrive.


Capital Crime Social Outreach Initiative

What really excites me though, is the initiative that Capital Crime has taken with schools this year. Both David Headley and Adam Hamdy, the festival co-founders, come from working class backgrounds and they want to give back to those who perhaps don’t have great access to the opportunities that others have. They understand how opaque the publishing industry can sometimes look from the outside. Though the industry itself is changing a lot, David and Adam were really keen to see what they could do to help make the industry accessible to new and diverse voices.

So Capital Crime started by reaching out to 10 state schools, each carefully chosen to ensure a geographic and diverse reach. They offered two places per school to sixth form students who were either interested in writing or wanted to go into the publishing industry. The idea was to inform these students about how publishing works, what kinds of jobs are available – offering them some basic information about the industry to demystify it and make it more of an accessible choice. By opening doors, and introducing them to some of the industry’s influential ‘movers and shakers’, they would feel a little more clued up and supported.

These 20 students and their teachers attended a seminar evening in April with some fantastic speakers. Ali Land, James Swallow, David Headley and Adam Hamdy all spoke and the students had the opportunity to hear from authors and publishing professionals and to understand how they might be able to pursue careers in writing or publishing.

Arising from that event, Hachette offered the opportunity for students to come and look around the Hachette building and a couple of weeks ago available students went to the Hachette building, met with the Director and had a hands on tour of what life in a publishing office was like. Lizzie Curle says that was really helpful. “They could see themselves there”, she said. “It’s often a question of making people feel confident and comfortable in these surroundings and that no-one need feel excluded. The intention is to give these students the confidence to seek out the careers that they really want, and not just those that they have been told they can have.”

Lizzie tells me that some of the students have been applying to Universities and have mentioned their Capital Crime experience to date in their applications.

Those 20 students have also been given complimentary day passes to attend Capital Crime on Saturday 28th September with full access to all the panels and the opportunity to meet established authors and publishing professionals.

I think this is such a brilliant initiative and one that shows true generosity of spirit and a real intention to affect change in a concrete way.

It’s clear that a lot of good thinking has gone into Capital Crime and that as well as being a brilliant crime and thriller festival, it’s also putting its heft to excellent use for the future of the publishing industry.

First and foremost though, Capital Crime is a festival for readers. As Lizzie told me; “when you speak to authors, they tell you about the book that made them want to write. That’s what we want to harness and celebrate”.

I can’t wait.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Capital Crime website.

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry @AmbroseParry @BeccaNice @Canongatebooks #TheArtofDying

Source: Review copy
Publication: 29th August 2019 from Canongate Books
PP: 416
ISBN-13: 978-1786896698

Edinburgh, 1849. Despite Edinburgh being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr James Simpson. A whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron’s name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavouring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.

Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets to clear Simpson’s name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.

I loved The Way of All Flesh, the first Sarah Fisher and Will Raven book, so I was really fired up to read the follow up, The Art of Dying. Brookmyre and Haetzman have together created a distinctive and compelling pair of characters and their voices resonate down the path of the history of medicine in this fascinating and intriguing historical crime story.

One of the reasons this collaboration is so successful is that much of it is based on fact and Haetzman’s interest in the medicine of the era and her immaculate research has provided a wealth of fascinating and true stories from the 19th Century which are the foundation for these books.

Sarah and Will are such great characters. Sarah is a strong woman who is only beginning to learn what she may be capable of. In the first book she was a housemaid, quick witted, learning as she watched. Now she has more resources and a firmer place in the world. As she meets some of the women for whom medicine has been their world, she is slowly beginning to realise that what she wants may, after all, be attainable.

Meanwhile Will Raven, newly returned from Europe where he combined his medicinal learning with a romantic dalliance, is beginning to regret his own deferment to what he perceived would have been hostile public opinion. He has missed Sarah more than he wants to admit, but is now realising that he may have to repent his hesitation at leisure.

Set in 1850, this is an Edinburgh alive with all its bustle, class distinctions and maps of the less salubrious areas as well as the more affluent Trinity and Queen Street. The wit is ever present too, even that old Edinburgh joke about not being offered tea when a visitor comes to call.

From the outset, readers are given a glimpse into the mind of this murderer; one who is responsible for the deaths of four family members within a fortnight as well, we learn, as countless others.  Then Will and Sarah, working together to try and clear Dr Simpson’s name after being accused, sotto-voce, of the death of one of his patients, begin to see a pattern.  By comparing symptoms that relate to Dr. Simpson’s unfortunate patient and to the four family members, plus a patient that Will has advised on, they realise there is a common denominator. Will, a man easily overexcited at the prospect of enhancing his reputation, thinks he has discovered a new disease, one which he quickly names, ‘Raven’s Malady’.  Sarah is the one to come up with a more likely working hypothesis, but it takes Will longer to see what Sarah knew from the start – that they are up against a dangerous foe.

The Art of Dying has a number of different plot strands, neatly intertwined with an emotive storyline that brings the whole Queen Street household bustling into life. A number of the more dubious, colourful characters from Will’s past also make a welcome return. Then just when you think you’ve got it all sussed out, there’s a nice little surprise or two waiting for you.

Verdict: I loved this book for its rich characterisation; for a setting that springs out from the pages and comes to life; for a storyline that makes you want to cry and cheer alternately and for a nice line in cutting wit that leavens a sometimes very dark scenario. Bring on the next one – but where will it be set?

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Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym of the husband and wife team of Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. Chris Brookmyre is a bestselling crime writer whose 21 books are all contemporary or set in the future; Marisa Haetzman has been an anesthesiologist for 20 years. Haetzman stopped practicing to get a master’s degree in the history of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and while researching Simpson, uncovered fascinating stories. Combined with the goings on in 1840s Edinburgh, the extremes of high brow and low, and “the colorful nature of Simpson’s domestic arrangements,” Haetzman thought there were the perfect elements for a historical mystery.

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