The Diversity of British Crime Fiction – William Ryan, Bill Rogers and Robert Thorogood

Reviews

A lot of my reading recently, in addition to Nordic Noir, has been books by authors that I’ve been appearing alongside at events. It’s fascinating to hear what other writers have to say, in terms of what’s inspired their stories and how they go about writing their books and it helps the discussion if I’ve managed to read one of their novels. British crime fiction is a hugely diverse genre and this is illustrated by the following three books.

30130105I’ve reviewed William Ryan’s novels on Crimepieces before and am a fan of his Captain Korolev series. The Constant Soldier is a standalone which tells the story of Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army who returns home to his village from the Eastern Front disfigured from fighting. An SS rest hut has been set up in the village which provides respite for soldiers in the prison camps. When Brandt recognises one of the female workers, a political prisoner he once knew, he accepts a job inside the hut in the last days of the war. The writing, as you would expect from Ryan, is excellent and the calmly written story contrasts with the atrocities being committed around the protagonists. It is in the minutiae that we find the most moving stories and this is Ryan’s best book to date.

51zsz4aonllBill Rogers is an author who I’ve also reviewed on this blog before. His books are set in my hometown of Manchester so it’s always fascinating to read about locations I know well. The intriguingly named The Pick, The Spade and the Crow is the start of a new series featuring Senior Investigator Joanne Stuart who is newly promoted to the National Crime Agency. Stuart features in his previous series so there’s a nice continuity about the new book where a cold case suddenly becomes active again. Rogers’ attention to detail is always spot on and both the police investigation and references of Freemasonry came across as very well-researched. Those familiar with the city of Manchester will delight, as usual, in the references to landmarks such as the Northern Quarter and this excellently written book is a great start to a promising new series.

51puhqu5rcl-_sx317_bo1204203200_Lowdham Festival is an excellent event run Bookcase bookshop in Nottinghamshire. There, I met Robert Thorogood who created the Death in Paradise TV series. He’s written a book which stands alongside the series. As I haven’t seen any of the programmes I can’t compare the two but A Meditation on Murder was excellent. It’s a good example of how a crime novel can be gentle and funny without feeling ‘cosy’. The main detective Richard Poole appears to exasperate those around him yet his off-beat collection of evidence gradually uncovers the murderer of a spiritual retreat leader. Very enjoyable and I’ll definitely be reading more.

Advertisements

Iceland Noir 2014 Day One

Reviews

It’s that time of year again when all lovers of Scandinavian crime fiction get together in Iceland. There’s an excellent line-up at this year’s conference and the panels start properly today.

imageHowever, yesterday a couple of events took place which I’m sure will be of interest to Crimepieces readers. Firstly, William Ryan, as well as being a writer of excellent historical fiction, also runs workshops for those who wish to try their hand at crime writing. I’ve always been curious about these events and was determined to use the opportunity whilst in Iceland to attend one.

I took a taxi to Kópavogur public library in a Reykjavik suburb. It’s a huge building with excellent facilities. There I joined sixteen other people at an event that was a mixture of information on how to construct a crime novel combined with a series of exercises to let us have a go. Chatting to the people afterwards, it was clear that most people were already writing something and that the challenge is to complete their works of fiction. I’m sure this workshop will have inspired people to do just that.

Thursday evening is traditionally the time we get to hear authors read aloud from their works. We had a rich variety of writers last night inimage a room at the Solon bar in central Reykjavik. Readings were in both English and Icelandic and it was particularly nice to hear Antti Tuomainen give an extract from The Healer, a book I enjoyed last year. The photo to the right, show Peter James reading from his latest novel. James is an excellent reader and is a good example of how an author can bring their works to life by their performance.

So, the event starts in earnest today but I thought you’d like an update of what’s happened so far. Yesterday was largely about catching up with friends as well. Can you spot the crime writers in the photo below?

image