Thomas Mogford is another of my favourite crime writers. Hollow Mountain was in my top five reads last year and he continues to write high quality crime fiction. For his latest book, Sleeping Dogs, he takes his Gibraltarian lawyer/detective to Corfu. It’s a nice change of scenery for the series and, given that I read it in Greece, a perfect holiday read.
Spike Sanguinetti is advised by a therapist to go on holiday to help eradicate some of the demons that have been tormenting him. He chooses to visit the house of his business partner on the wealthy north coast of Corfu. But his holiday is overshadowed by the death of the handsome Greek/Albanian Arben on the neighbouring estate owned by the wealthy Hoffman family. When the son of his hosts’s housekeeper is arrested for Arben’s murder, Spike reluctantly agrees to investigate the case. However lives are put at risk as domestic secrets and dynastic feuds ignite.
I’ve always been impressed by the evocation of the Gibraltar setting in Mogford’s books. It feels genuine even though I’ve never been to that part of the world. So it was interesting to read one of his narratives set somewhere I am familiar with: a Greek island. Mogford puts enough language and local flavour into descriptions of the place to bring alive the setting without it dominating the plot.
In Sleeping Dogs, as well as investigating the killing of Arben, there’s a focus on Spike’s domestic arrangements. This is first seen through his relationship with Charlie, the child he rescued in the previous book, Hollow Mountain, and then in Corfu as he attempts to resurrect his relationship with his childhood girlfriend Jessica.
The quality of Mogford’s writing once more shines through and he makes storytelling look effortless. Which I’m pretty sure isn’t the case. Once more Bloomsbury have produced a writer of quality crime fiction.
Thanks to Bloomsbury for my review copy.
It’s May and the sun is shining in Bristol so it must be time for CrimeFest. Traffic conspired against me on Thursday which meant I wasn’t able to attend any the panels that day. However, they have been ably written up by Ayo from Shots blog here.
Friday, however, was more successful and I attended the first panel of the day: Debut Authors – An Infusion of Fresh Blood featuring MJ Arlidge, Jake Woodhouse, Colette McBeth, Kate Griffin and Mason Cross. The panel introduced their protagonists and spoke about writers who had influenced their work. What was interesting was the extent to which their disparate backgrounds and influences are producing books which bring something new to the genre. I’m particularly looking forward to reading Kate Griffin’s Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders which features a seventeen year old trapeze artist as its heroine.
The second panel of the day was Murder Know No Boundaries which focused on both domestic and international crime fiction. Moderated by Anne Zouroudi, the international element was represented by Jeffrey Siger whose books are set on the Greek Island of Mykonos and Thomas Mogford whose Gibraltar based book, Hollow Mountain, I recently reviewed on this blog. On the home front, Mari Hannah and Steven Dunne write novels set in the North East of England and the East Midlands. Panellists brought in artefacts that had influenced their writing and discussed the implications of both writing as an outsider looking in at a different culture and of the tensions about writing about your own community.
The Modern Thriller panel featured Belinda Bauer, Chris Ewan, Helen Fitzgerald and Simon Kernick and was moderated by Doug Johnstone. I’m a huge fan of these writers and was fascinated by the debate on what differentiates a thriller from a crime novel. Immediacy and pace in the genre were discussed and it became clear that there is a lot of flexibility as to what constitutes a modern day thriller beyond the traditional whodunit.
My final panel of the day was an ‘In the Spotlight’ session featuring French crime writer Dominique Manotti and her translator, Ros Schwartz. They talked about the translation process and in particular the impact of film on readers’ expectations. Manotti writes in the present tense and she made a convincing case for why this tense works so well in French literature. Manotti is a wonderful example of how the personality of a writer can make you want to read their books. I’m catching with Manotti as soon as possible.
Tonight we’re announcing the winner of the 2014 Petrona Award. More about this on the blog tomorrow.