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This category contains 23 posts

On Barry Hines

Sad today to hear about the death of writer Barry Hines. He’s not someone I’ve thought about recently, but he is an author who had a profound effect on my childhood, for two reasons. We’ll get to A Kestrel for a Knave in a minute, but the first time I encountered Hines’ work was when my … Continue reading

On Bowie, Shelley and the telling of stories

The strange grief I felt at David Bowie’s death took me completely by surprise. I would never call myself a huge fan of his work – I own only one CD of his, a singles compilation which I’ve started playing again for the first time in months – so how come I cried three times … Continue reading

On the Mavericks vs. the Grafters

Good to see DCI John Luther back on television screens in a new (albeit brief, 2-part) series. Idris Elba is the maverick detective par excellence, a man fiercely protective of his colleagues whilst also willing to take enormous personal risks. It’s certainly a crowded market; even before Luther came along crime fiction was filled with rule-breaking … Continue reading

On true crime and ‘The Ballad of Kate Eddowes’

Today was a big day for me, writer-wise. I received two contributors’ copies of The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories which is the first anthology to feature one of my own short stories, ‘The Ballad of Kate Eddowes’. It’s also the first time I’ve had anything published in hard copy, so holding the book … Continue reading

On ‘James Ellroy: Visions of Noir’, Liverpool University 2 July 2015

‘In Ellroy’s world, everyone is tarnished and afraid.‘ It’s good for the soul to wallow in fandom now and again, and I did that yesterday at a terrifically entertaining conference on the work of crime writer James Ellroy. It was also a chance for me to relive my youth; I spent four years as a … Continue reading

On the real King Richard III

One of the most remarkable stories in archaeology draws to a close this week with the reburial of the bones of King Richard III. It’s remarkable that they should have been found at all; but to have found a body that displayed some of the physical deformities Richard was said to have had; to have … Continue reading

On reviews good, bad and ugly

A couple of articles caught my eye in recent days, both concerning unfavourable reviews of books. The first is from the writer’s POV; except rather than shrugging off the criticism novelist Kathleen Hale used it as a reason to start stalking the unfortunate blogger who happened to dislike her latest book. I read the article … Continue reading

On ‘True Detective’, ‘The Pledge’ & the passing of time

‘Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. You have to be careful what you get good at.‘ This is primarily a blog about books, but I feel compelled to say a few words about the TV series True Detective. Thanks to my local library (they don’t do just books, you know…), I’ve just worked … Continue reading

On Orwell vs. Amazon

Even since I started this blog I’ve wanted to write about George Orwell’s essay ‘Books v. Cigarettes’, but always lacked a way in. That is, until today; and we’ll get to the reason for that in a minute. For those not familiar with the piece, Orwell wrote it in 1946 in answer to those who … Continue reading

On slumming it

The writer Tony Parsons has provoked a tsunami of online comment with an interview to promote his new book, The Murder Bag. As well as coming out as a potential UKIP voter (okaaaay…), Parsons was also asked why he had switched to crime for his latest novel: The thing is, he explains, he wanted to … Continue reading