Monthly Archives: December 2012

Spring 2013 – Essential Pre-orders

So the top crime books of 2012 is done and dusted, time to start thinking about what’s coming up next…

Gone Again – Doug Johnstone

‘It’s just to say that no-one has come to pick Nathan up from school, and we were wondering if there was a problem of some kind?’

As Mark Douglas photographs a pod of whales stranded in the waters off Edinburgh’s Portobello Beach, he is called by his son’s school: his wife, Lauren, hasn’t turned up to collect their son. Calm at first, Mark collects Nathan and takes him home but as the hours slowly crawl by he increasingly starts to worry. With brilliantly controlled reveals, we learn some of the painful secrets of the couple’s shared past, not least that it isn’t the first time Lauren has disappeared. And as Mark struggles to care for his son and shield him from the truth of what’s going on, the police seem dangerously short of leads. That is, until a shocking discovery…

Out in early March Gone Again signals a shift in gear from Doug Johnstone. An emotionally fraught novel with a fabulous eye for domestic details, it’s a real heartbreaker.

gone again

Ratlines – Stuart Neville

Right at the end of the war, some Nazis saw it coming. They knew that even if they escaped, hundreds of others wouldn’t. They needed to set up routes, channels, ways out for their friends. Ratlines.’

Ireland, 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. He is the third foreign national to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey is desperate to protect a shameful secret: the dead men were all former Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government. A note from the killers is found on the corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favourite WWII commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. It says simply: ‘We are coming for you. Await our call.’

Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate the crimes. But as he infiltrates Ireland’s secret network of former Nazis and collaborators, Ryan must choose between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? And who are the killers seeking revenge for the horrors of the Second World War?

Like Stuart Neville’s previous books Ratlines merges the political and the personal to great effect. The period details are deftly deployed so that this historical crime novel feels fresh and punchy, and his hero Albert Ryan is a character I’d love to see more of. A bona fide single-sitting read, this one will grab you from page one.


Runaway Town – Jay Stringer

After narrowly surviving a vicious knife attack, gangland detective Eoin Miller thinks he’s earned a break from hunting down thieves, runaways, and stolen drug money. But when crime boss Veronica Gaines tips him off to a particularly sensitive new case, his Romani blood won’t let him say no. A rapist is targeting immigrant girls, and the half-gypsy Eoin knows all too well just how little help an outsider can expect from the local police.

Besides, his client isn’t looking for someone to arrest the bastard. He’s looking for someone to stop him—for good. But the deeper Eoin digs, the more tangled he becomes in a web of corruption, racism, and revenge…especially once his troubled past threatens to derail the investigation by raising questions about his own loyalty and family ties. With his life teetering on the brink of disaster, Eoin realizes there is a fine line between justice and punishment. Now it’s up to him to decide just which side he’s on.

Old Gold, Jay Stringer’s debut, was a cracking read, grim and violent, pacy as hell, and Runaway Town continues in the same strong vein. Eoin Miller is an engaging protagonist, on the wrong side of the law but he has right with him most of the time, and this book takes him into territory often overlooked by crime writers. This series deserves to be huge.

runaway town

Where The Devil Can’t Go – Anya Lipska

A naked girl has washed up on the banks of the River Thames. The only clue to her identity is a heart-shaped tattoo encircling two foreign names. Who is she – and why did she die? Life’s already complicated enough for Janusz Kiszka, unofficial ‘fixer’ for East London’s Polish community: his priest has asked him to track down a young waitress who has gone missing; a builder on the Olympics site owes him a pile of money; and he’s falling for married Kasia, Soho’s most strait-laced stripper.

But when Janusz finds himself accused of murder by an ambitious young detective, Natalie Kershaw, and pursued by drug dealing gang members, he is forced to take an unscheduled trip back to Poland to find the real killer. In the mist-wreathed streets of his hometown of Gdansk, Janusz must confront painful memories from the Soviet past if he is to uncover the conspiracy – and with it, a decades-old betrayal.

Recently picked up by The Friday Project and with a paperback release in February this is a book which really makes a mark. Anya Lipska drags her readers into the murky, crime infested world of London’s migrant worker community and renders it pungent on the page in a way most writers could only dream of. Anya Lipska is definitely a name to watch.


Matador – Ray Banks

A man wakes in a shallow grave next to a corpse to find himself shot, amnesiac and in deep trouble. Meanwhile, an expat drug runner finds out that he’s not the killer he thought he was.

That is all I know about Matador, but I want it. If you’re in the USA you can sign up for it in serial form already at $1.99. In the UK we’ve to wait until February, but on the upside it will be available as a paperback.


The Next Big Thing

So it’s my turn in this Next Big Thing chain letter – not sure of the details but apparently if you refuse every book on your shelf is spontaneously transformed into Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate (if you already have that one, God help you).  Thanks to Andrew Nette for tagging me in.

I’ll keep it brief.


What is the working title of your book?

Long Way Home.


Where did the idea come from for the book?

It began with a conversation overheard in a pub last summer, where two men were discussing the business practices of local gangmaster.  The casual brutality towards his workers and how routine they made it sound really infuriated me.  The conversation led to a short story, the short story led to this book.


What genre does your book fall under?



What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea what my characters look like, not the main ones anyway.  The second they acquire a face they become slightly unreal so I try not to even think about it.  Although Brendan Gleeson gets a cameo.


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

When a migrant worker is found murdered in a suburban shed, suspicion immediately falls on the householders, but as police delve into the man’s background they discover that he’s made plenty of enemies during his short time in the city and the search for his killer takes them into the murky underworld of illegal housing, right-wing extremists and unregulated gangmasters, where human life is the cheapest commodity going.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Long Way Home is due out in spring 2014 from Harvill Secker.  Such a pleasure to write that sentence.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’d been turning the idea around for a few months so by the time I came to actually sit down and start a lot of it was in place.  The first draft took just over six months, then there was the inevitable tinkering and polishing which took another two.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I wouldn’t dare.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Think we’ve already covered that.


What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hopefully the exact thing which led me to want to write it – migrants in this country occupy a strange position, they can be highly visible through their work, but at the same time their communities often remain insular, self-policing and dominated by semi-criminal middlemen.  They’re routinely ripped off and exploited, with violence being used as simply another management technique.  Most British people never see into this world and I want to show them just how brutal and lonely it can be.

That’s more than enough about me.  Now for the interesting bit; five writers who you should have a look at …

Luca Veste is the editor/co-editor of two cracking charity anthologies – Off the Record 1 and 2 – and a talented author in his own right.  I was privileged to read his first novel a few months ago and am confident you’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the coming year.

Sara Sheridan has recently turned to crime writing after producing a string of excellent straight fiction novels.  Brighton Belle is the first in the series, set in 1950’s Brighton – think Foyles War with better clothes – and part two is out very soon.

Heather Hampson debut novel The Vanity Game is a wickedly sharp satire on Premiership football and the dodgy characters who operate in the shadows around it.  Dark, funny and downright brutal in places, it promises great things in the future.

Iain Rowan is the author of some of the finest short stories I’ve ever read, haunting, original and written with great poise, they stay with you long after you’ve put the book down.  Iain is currently coming towards the end of a year long project 52 Songs, 52 Stories which is well worth your time.

Author, playwright, pugilistic master of various arts, Gerard Brennan  writes books with huge punching power.  His latest, Fireproof, is a Satanic romp through the streets of Belfast – perfect Christmas reading for you bah-humbug types.