Category Archives: Theakstons Festival

Nemesis

So with one week and two days left to go until the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival I thought I’d have a bit of a check where I am with the TOPCWFC 2016. I had high hopes this year. Looking through the list there were a lot of authors that I’ve seen before and therefore there was a high chance that I had read something of theirs already. However it does look like sadly I may have taken on more than I can chew yet again. This challenge is beginning to be my nemesis.

On the positive side, I’ve realised I’d counted wrong in my initial plan. I had counted two authors separately although they write as a team, and I’ve also excluded one author on the grounds he only writes true crime and this is a fiction challenge (my challenge my rules!) However with only nine days before the festival I still have 4 authors to go. Now admittedly as I write this I’m about to finish an audio book of one, and I’m halfway through another in hard copy, yet I still suspect it’s going to be a case of so near yet so far.

Out of interest though I’ve listed all those books I have read below. Obviously with some authors I’ve read most of their novels and so I’ve just listed the most recent one. It was actually quite an interesting exercise going through the authors and seeing what I’d read. Although it has made me realise how many new books there are out there that I really want to read. If only I could find a job that would pay me to read books all day, fingers crossed for next year.

The TOPCWFC 2016

  1. Linwood Barclay – Broken Promise
  2. Mark Billingham – Time of Death (audiobook)
  3. Peter James – A Twist of the Knife
  4. Sharon Bolton – Little Black Lies
  5. Mari Hannah – The Murder Wall
  6. Ysra Sigurdardottir – The Silence of the Sea
  7. Julia Crouch – The Long Fall
  8. Helen Fitzgerald – The Cry
  9. Paula Hawkins – Girl on a Train
  10. Clare Mackintosh – I let you go
  11. Alex Marwood – The Wicked Girls
  12. Simon Brett – The Hanging in the Hotel
  13. Frances Brody – A Death in the Dales
  14. Ann Granger – Dead In the Water (audio)
  15. Catriona McPherson – Quiet Neighbours
  16. Ruth Ware – In a Dark Dark Wood
  17. Elly Griffiths – The Crossing Places
  18. Brooke Magnanti – The Turning Tide
  19. Kate Medina – Fire Damage
  20. Val McDermid – Splinter the Silence
  21. Sophie Hannah – A Game for all the Family (audio)
  22. Simon Kernick – The Murder Exchange
  23. Laura Lippman – After I’m Gone
  24. Martyn Waites – The Dolls House (Yes technically its Tania Carver but its my rules!)
  25. Laura Wilson – The Wrong Girl
  26. Jeffrey Deaver – The Skin Collector
  27. Mark Lawson – The Deaths
  28. Gerald Seymour
  29. Martin Holmen – Clinch
  30. J S Law – Tenacity (audiobook)
  31. Beth Lewis
  32. Abir Mukherjee – A Rising Man
  33. NJ Cooper – Vengence in Mind
  34. Paul Mendleson – The serpentine road
  35. Deon Meyer – Devil’s Peak
  36. Margie Orford – Daddy’s Girl
  37. Michael Stanley –
  38. (Micheal Sears and Stanly Trollop one author above)
  39. Pierre Lemaitre – Blood Wedding
  40. Bernard Minier – The Frozen Dead
  41. SJ Parris – 
  42. Martina Cole – The Life
  43. Tess Gerritsen – Last to Die
  44. Charles Cumming – A Divided Spy
  45. Frank Gardner (True Crime so not in the challenge)
  46. Kate Rhodes – River of Souls
  47. Gillian Slovo – Ten Days
  48. Neil Cross – Captured

 

 

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The Forty (nine) Steps

Back in the dim and distant time that was 2012 when I was but a much younger thing I set myself my first ever Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Challenge (TOPCWFC). In case you don’t know this was for me to read a book by every author at the festival that year.

Well it quickly became apparent that that was rather an impossible feat, and I narrowed it down to reading something from at least one author from each session was much more manageable. Well its now 2016, I’ve just turned 40,  and so it is fifth time lucky for the TOPCWFC.

This time I’m feeling pretty hopeful.  As you’ll know I wrote a list of 40 things I’m going to do this year, it could be called 40 steps to making this year ‘The Year of Me’ (Spot The Middle reference there) Completing the TOPCWFC is one of those. The programme has been released and as always it looks like a fantastic weekend. There are some of my favourite authors returning including the excellent Peter James, Tess Gerritsen and Martina Cole. Val McDermid is doing a double hitter this year being in conversation on Friday night and of course doing my favourite New Blood panel. There is also what is sure to be one of my top ranked panel discussions ‘Domestic suspense – the killer behind the front door’ featuring five of my favourite female authors including Julia Crouch and Paula Hawkins.

As well as those who I’ve seen before there are some new faces to the festival although not new to crime fiction such as Jeffery Deaver the writer of the Lincoln Rhyme thrillers most of which I’ve already read. Then there are others such as Gerald Seymour who is a new name to me although he has actually just written his 32nd book.

This year if my maths is correct there are 48 authors appearing alongside comedians, playwrights, forensic podiatrists, and radio producers. Of these I’ve read 26 already, so only 22 to go. That shouldn’t be too hard to do surely? Thanks to netgalley I’ve already made a start on A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee and I recently purchased a novel by Ysra Sigurdardottir so fingers crossed I’m well on the way to completion for the first time ever! (There is nothing wrong with a bit of optimism)

 

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Sorrow Bound by David Mark -a review

I first met David Mark in 2012 when he appeared in the New Blood panel. As I’ve often said if it’s good enough for Val McDermid then it’s good enough for me, and this was no exception. Since his first appearance back in Harrogate David Mark has become one of my favourite authors.

Sorrow Bound is the third book to feature Aector McAvoy. The detective is settling into a new house with his wife Roisin and their two children as he struggles to oversee his team of detectives who are all coming apart at the seams. There are two separate storylines running through this novel. There is a series of murders that link back to an old case. Then there is also a new drug gang in town that McAvoy’s wife accidently gets caught up with.

I thought Sorrow Bound, like the previous two novels was excellent.  It’s very dark and violent which is exactly how I like crime novels to be sometimes. It is set in Hull which is a city I don’t know well  (apart from a trip with a friend a few years ago, the most memorable bit of which was a fish nearly landing on my friends head) but it is always nice to read stories set outside London. It’s difficult to review more of the story without giving any spoilers away but it was a fast paced read with plenty of twists and turns. The ending itself however is a real cliff hanger that disappointed me slightly as I can’t wait to find out what’s next.

One of the things that makes David Mark stand out for me is the actual writing. The descriptions add an extra depth to the story that makes this different to a lot of the usual novels. When I read I skim read a lot as I’m always anxious to find out what’s next (sorry that must be annoying for authors to hear as they agonise over every word they write) With this series I really feel like every word is important and should be savoured.

The main character of McAvoy’s is of course flawed and the story starts with him having to see the forces psychologist. However he is also a loving husband and father who is trying his best to keep his family safe and not let his job colour their lives. It makes a change to have a detective who isn’t a single man with his only friend a bottle of whisky. All the characters in this series are seemingly well rounded but with faults just like us all which makes this more than just a story about a crime but also a good reflection on the human race.

I mentioned before I am a big fan of David Mark and would definitely recommend his novels especially if you like gruesome well written stories. As always another great find from the new blood panel.

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The hand that feeds you by AJ Rich – a review

This was one of the books I picked up at the festival earlier in the year and last week made it to the top of the TBR pile.
The story begins with a rather gruesome discovery by main character Morgan. She arrives home to find her fiancé Bennett has been ripped to pieces by her dogs. Morgan is writing her master’s thesis in forensic psychology and met Bennett via her online research into victims. After his death Morgan attempts to get in touch with her fiance’s family but soon finds out that Bennett has been weaving a pack of lies. She starts to try and find out who the man she thought she loved really was and soon finds out that it is not only her life that is in danger.
This book is proving tricky to review. On the one hand whilst reading it I couldn’t put it down. I was hooked from the beginning and really wanted to know what had happened. However once I’d finished and started thinking about the review I realised that it was actually a bit of a ridiculous story. The main character Megan was just annoying. We are supposed to believe she is an educated women working as a psychologist, yet she falls for Bennett within what is seemingly a matter of minutes, when any normal person would have realised from the start he was odd. We are given an in depth description of a traumatic incident that happened to her when young, yet seemingly this hasn’t had any long term effect on her at all and she trusts everyone she meets.
Having dogs as the main suspect in a murder was an unusual idea, although it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to be that cut and dried. For some reason though again with hindsight I am just not sure that I actually cared about the dogs or their fate – and I usually prefer animals to people. I am not sure that Megan really cared either, despite us being told numerous times how she loved dogs and had two rescue dogs.
As I said it’s a difficult book to review, I did enjoy reading it and wanted to know the outcome for Megan. However I’m struggling to think why I enjoyed it. I would say that ‘The hand that feeds you’ is worth picking up if you are looking for a nice easy holiday read but its not necessarily an outstanding psychological thriller.

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