Review: Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow by Kate Griffin

5114tlmQplL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_During the excitement of publication week for A Patient Fury, I was still able to read lots of crime novels – the new Le Carre, Nicola Upson’s Nine Lessons and a couple of classic crime books. Thanks to everyone who took part in the competitions. All the winners have been notified (names can be found at the bottom of the posts) and their books sent. I’m now catching up with posts on some of the excellent books which I’ve not yet got around to reviewing, the first of which is Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow by Kate Griffin.

I’m a big fan of the Kitty Peck books, reviewing the first on Crimepieces. I caught up with the second, Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune before reading her latest outing but I’m relieved that each book can be read as a standalone which I always greatly value in a series. Kitty Peck has inherited Paradise, her grandmother’s Docklands entertainment empire, and is determined to keep the business intact despite rivals circling. The absence of Lady Ginger, however, and the disappearance of her brother means that Kitty is vulnerable and forced to seek new allies.

Kitty Pack and the Daughter of Sorrow is darker than Griffin’s previous book as Kitty gets sucked into the Paradise underworld and, in particular, the grips of opium. This is a more vulnerable Kitty and yet the spark remains despite the trials of finding out who her enemies are. Griffin balances the darkness with glorious descriptions of Victorian London and its ill smells during a heatwave. There are some lovely new characters, particular Sam Collins, who was a delight to discover and, as usual, Griffin’s language is wonderful and suited to the rich and bawdy setting.

I suspect Kitty Pack and the Daughter of Sorrow will garner Kitty Peck new followers and encourage readers to pick up earlier books. This is a series going from strength to strength.

Review: Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders

I’m a big fan of historical crime fiction but I just don’t read enough of it. Whenever I pick up well written book that transports me to8b25cfe8341ee30d995b241261c4df28 the period in question I’m always resolved to read more of the genre. I was inspired to try Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders when I met the author at CrimeFest this year. I had the book on my shelf and the writer, Kate Griffin’s account of how the character and name of Kitty Peck originated (she is based on Griffin’s grandmother) made me want to discover more.

Seventeen-year-old seamstress Kitty Peck is in the employment of Lady Ginger, the domineering owner of a string of music halls who has a ferocious reputation and is determined to discover why some of her girls keep disappearing. Kitty’s brother died the previous year and she is roped into a scheme to help Lady Ginger with the tantalising possibility that she might see her brother alive again. However Lady Ginger’s scheme involves using Kitty as bait to attract the potential kidnappers by dangling her over the audience every night on a makeshift trapeze.

The book’s greatest strength is its protagonist Kitty Peck. She’s both naive and brave and struggles to fulfil her mission while attempting to fly in an unsafe contraption every evening. The reader sees everything through Kitty’s eyes and, as a result, the narrative has an unworldly feel to it, reflecting the gullibility of the narrator.

The dialogue brings the book alive and Kitty’s use of the Victorian vernacular is often funny. The class divisions that were rife in the nineteenth century are mined by the writer to show the precarious lives of those involved in the music halls.

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders is a well-written debut and I’m sure the series is already developing a readership of fans who are interested to see what happens next.

Thanks to Faber for my copy of the book.

CrimeFest: Friday’s Panels

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.

IMG_0125Friday, 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.

crimefest_logo1The 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.