That was the break that was

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So I’ve been away for a little while.  I’ve been reading a lot, but I’ve also been celebrating a lot too.  I recently turned 40 and have spent three weeks, catching up with friends, attending festivals, going on holiday, and attending parties.  It’s been fabulous.

It started with CrimeFest where I had an absolutely amazing time as always.  There were some interesting panels, some strange and wild conversations, author meet and greets, awards announcements, gala dinners, publisher drinks parties, oh and free books…. but most of that paled into insignificance as over the course of the weekend, I got to go out for lunch with Lee Child.  I think I forgot most of everything that happened after that, including getting an author to write a guest feature for me! (oh the horror….)

There’s even more fantastic author news lined up, but I’ll save that for closer to the time it’s due to happen as I really don’t want to jinx it.

After CrimeFest, I flew to Las Vegas, I *almost* touched David Copperfield (my huge teenage crush), and I walked.  A lot.  When they say the hotels are big, you really just cannot comprehend.  They are beyond huge.  It took 20 minutes to walk from our hotel room through the MGM Grand and Casino to The Strip, but every blister, and night falling into bed with tired and sore feet was worth it.

I’ve been out and about in ‘that London’ with friends to celebrate the actual day, drunk an awful lot of champagne, and avoided writing the reviews and publishing the articles I usually do, because I’ve simply not found the time.

But now the hiatus is over, watch this space, as I catch up with events, competitions, reviews, awards and more.

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The ubiquitous end of year wrap up.

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Well that’s 2014 over, and what an amazing year that was!

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Picture by Fenris Oswin – Fenris.co.uk

Of course the highlight for me will always be my now fiancé proposing to me at the end of a panel during this years Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate. He couldn’t have chosen a more fitting venue and I will be eternally grateful to the 2014 festival chair Steve Mosby, and the rest of the festival planning committee for helping to make this happen.

Not only that but, I’ve also got the good fortune of being able to re-live the moment whenever I want, as the download of the panel itself (In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream) is available to buy from the festival website and the recording has his proposal (although not my squeaked out answer) on the end of it. That £3 purchase was definitely one of my best of the year!

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Picture by Fenris Oswin – Fenris.co.uk

That was closely followed by appearing with friend and crimesquad.com editor Chris Simmons on this year’s ITV3 Specsavers Crime Thriller Club TV show. Not only did we have two fabulous days out in ‘that London’, meeting new and interesting people, catching up with author friends and laughing with Bradley Walsh, we also WON.

Closer to home it’s been great for me to see this blog really start to increase its traffic (I’m still hoping to break that magic 1,000 followers before the end of the year – sitting at 976 as I write) and getting the opportunity to participate in the blog tours of some brilliant crime reads…

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Then of course there were also these fabulous books

 

20140527-165933-61173231.jpgLand Of Shadows – Rachel Howzell Hall

I have read several highly accomplished debut novels this year, but this is one that sticks in my mind.  Homicide Detective Elouise Norton is someone I’m keen to hear more about. Tough and driven, yet at times insecure.  With a fascinating setting on the ever changing border of a gentrifying Los Angeles, it’s a great debut.

wpid-screenshot_2014-09-11-00-59-25-1.pngThe Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins  

“To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.

Just goes to show”

 Not published until Jan 15th 2015, I am jealous that so many of you have such a fabulous book yet to read and experience.  I urge you all to grab it as soon as it comes out, as I guarantee it’s going to cause quite a stir.

V CoverVendetta – Dreda Say Mitchell 

In a distinct change of direction to the race against time thriller, Mitchell has produced a gripping read, with cracking characters, storylines and a great deal of style this series could really see her giving Simon Kernick a run for his money.

wpid-2014_07_25_08.24.01.png Dead Men’s Bones – James Oswald

The fourth and latest of Oswald’s books featuring Detective Inspector Tony McLean. With its supernatural twists on the standard police procedural, this is one series that just gets better and better with Dead Men’s Bones proving to be the best yet.

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The Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood

Dark, chilling and impeccably plotted, it’s an interesting insight into the secrets that lurk behind closed doors, how little notice we all take of the world around us and asks the question just how well do we ever really know our friends and neighbours? 

These few aside there a are plenty more delightful, intriguing and thrilling books out there, and many of those that are currently featuring on an awful lot of top 10 lists this year are staring at me mournfully from my on the verge of collapse to be read pile.  I’m looking forward to being able to sit down and catch up with just a few of them over the coming months.

My end of year tally for books read came to a grand total of 123 missing out by more that I would have liked, on beating last years total of 130, so I’ll be going all out to exceed both of these numbers next year.

Here’s looking forward to and wishing you all a fabulous, book filled 2015.

Meet the detective who fuelled my obsession (a.k.a who did it for you?)

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From the age of nine I lived across the road from a public library.  As I grew up, it was where I spent most of my free hours devouring everything and anything I could.  Indeed by the age of thirteen I had pretty much depleted the entire children’s section.  Thankfully, the local council had a rule that once I reached that age I could access the adult section of the library (and indeed any others in their control), provided a written parental consent had been submitted in person by the parent.  My Mom understood my voracious appetite for books and as such was more than happy to do so.

That was when I discovered for the first time the age old delights of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and many more.  I didn’t find them by chance, and neither did I find them by reputation.  I found them by a love of crime fiction.  A love I first felt blossom from a series of, now sadly out of print, books.  Books which I have seen go for four figures on certain auction sites that will remain nameless.

The man who truly fuelled my love of the genre was Nils-Olof Franzen, with his series of Agaton Sax books, whose English editions were illustrated by the fabulous Quentin Blake.  Of the  11 books in the Agaton Sax series, Franzen had 10 translated into English between 1965 & 1971, including amongst them, Agaton Sax and the League of Silent Exploders and Agaton Sax and the London Computer Plot.  The series was also featured several times on the BBC series Jackanory, and Agaton Sax and the Max Brothers became a four part animated series in 1972.

I mention this now, because today I got this, and although it’s been almost 30+ years since last read one of these stories, I have loved every minute of reading it.  It was as delightful piece of escapism today as it was way back then.  It’s still a great introduction to the crime genre and I’m sure the reason I have as much love for cosy crime fiction, as I do for the hard core thrillers, and well executed police procedurals, because it has a flair for it all.

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Agaton Sax and the Scotland Yard Mystery

In which AGATON SAX, Editor-in-Chief of the Bykoping Post and detective extraordinary, directs his amazing intelligence (and his editorial telescope) to the problem of who has stolen Scotland Yard’s Secret Code Register of Current Criminals … the infamous crew of the bad ship Esmeralda lose their soup … and the mysterious “Boss” gets a nasty shock to his system.

 

Now, own up, who did it for you?