New Blood 2020 at the TOPCWF

Now regular readers of this blog will know that every year at Harrogate one of my favourite panels is always the New Blood panel. 4 debut authors chosen by queen of crime herself, Val McDermid. Therefore you can imagine my delight to be told that this year the panel is going virtual! Just when I thought my tbr pile was finally going down I’ve got 4 more books to add, and they all sound fantastic.

This year’s panelists are:

– Deepa Anappara – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (Chatto & Windus)

– Elizabeth Kay – Seven Lies (Sphere)

– Jessica Moor – Keeper (Penguin)

– Trevor Wood – The Man on the Street (Quercus)

The New Blood 2020 panel will be streamed on Saturday 25 July on harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

(L-R: Jessica Moore, Deepa Anappara, Trevor Wood, Elizabeth Kay)

Since 2004, the best-selling Scottish author of the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series has curated an annual celebration of the most formidable debuts taking the crime and thriller genre by storm, with an invitation to join the line-up of the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival: Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

This year, Deepa Anappara has been selected for her part coming-of-age, part detective mystery Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, a heart-breaking and thought-provoking social commentary of modern India’s slums that has been recognised for the Women’s Prize. Elizabeth Kay is on the list for her explosive Seven Lies, taking domestic noir to a whole new level in a deliciously dark blurring of truth and lies, and Jessica Moore is recognised for her brutal and beautiful Keeper, the addictive literary thriller that has had everyone talking. Concluding this year’s New Blood contingent is Trevor Wood and his debut The Man on the Street, a gritty thriller set on the streets of Newcastle.

Val McDermid said: “I have been hosting the New Blood showcase since the festival began in 2003 and, in my book, discovering and sharing new talent with an eager audience is the best job in crime fiction. I know exactly what I’m looking for on my quest: fresh and distinctive voices, a well-told, convincing story and the almost indefinable sense that these authors all have much more to say. Deepa, Elizabeth, Jessica and Trevor tick all of these boxes and more, and if this year’s debuts share a theme, it is the irresistible and devastating way in which crime fiction shines a light on our times: homelessness, domestic violence, child trafficking and mental health are all dissected with an unflinching gaze. Whilst we can’t gather en masse at the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate this year, I hope that readers will enjoy our virtual introduction to these brilliant new writers.”

The unveiling of McDermid’s selection has become one of the most anticipated moments of the publishing calendar, with readers on the lookout to uncover their new favourite author and add the ‘next big thing’ to their bookshelves.

Former ‘New Blood’ alumni include Clare Mackintosh, SJ Watson, Stuart MacBride, Liam McIlvanney and Belinda Bauer, as well as three authors on this year’s shortlist for the UK’s most prestigious crime writing award – Theakston Old Peculier: Abir Mukherjee, Jane Harper and Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was chosen just last year for her Booker longlisted My Sister, the Serial Killer.

As part Harrogate International Festivals’ year round programme of events, each year the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival welcomes the world’s famous authors each year to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel – the scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – for a celebration of the crime genre like no other.

This year’s instalment – which formed part of Harrogate International Festival Summer Season – was cancelled, with much sadness, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and so the 2020 ‘New Blood’ showcase will be streamed on the festival’s HIF Player on what would have been the legendary weekender on Saturday 25 July 2020.

Val McDermid will also interviewed by Mark Lawson about the legacy of the New Blood panel, discussing the vital role of the showcase in giving a platform to new writers in the industry and the crime community, and giving a peek behind the scenes into how and why she chooses the books.

Trevor Wood said: “As a kid I dreamt of playing in the cup final. I’m a fraction older now but being chosen for Harrogate’s New Blood panel feels exactly like that did.”
Jessica Moor said: “To have been chosen for this panel, which has included some of my favourite new authors of the last decade, and to have been chosen by the legendary Val McDermid, is a such an honour.”
Deepa Anappara said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be picked for the New Blood panel, and grateful to Val McDermid for her immense generosity and support of debut novelists.”
Elizabeth Kay said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have been selected for such a prestigious event. The ‘New Blood’ panel has an incredible history, and I’m delighted to be participating this year alongside three really exciting other authors.

Find out more at: www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com | Facebook: @HarrogateInternationalFestivals | Twitter: @HarrogateFest | Instagram: @harrogatefestivals

Right I’m off to order some new books!

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year – new challenge

In the absence of a full TOPCWF this year, I thought I’d have a go at reading the full long list of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year as my challenge. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to complete it ahead of the announcement of the shortlist tomorrow but it’s my challenge and my rules therefore my aim is to read them all before the announcement of the winner later in the year.

The 18 authors listed are:

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Read – see review here)
  • Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre 
  • Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver (Read)
  • Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (Read)
  • Blue Moon by Lee Child
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • Red Snow by Will Dean 
  • Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (Read – it’s set in Peterborough so I had to read a book from my home town)
  • Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Read)
  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Read)
  • Joe Country by Mick Herron 
  • How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid 
  • The Chain by Adrian McKinty (Read – see review here)
  • Conviction by Denise Mina
  • Smoke and Ashes by Abir Mukherjee (Read)
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North (Read)
  • Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson 
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce  (Read)

Ok, well firstly that list confirms that I am very behind with writing reviews. Secondly assuming the winner is announced on the dates that the festival should have been held, voting for the winner will probably close a bit before then. That gives me around 6 weeks to read 9 books. I suppose there are some bonuses about the lock down, with the pubs closed the evenings can be given over to book reading!

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The Nowhere Child by Christian White – a review

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is gutted that we’ll be missing this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (TOPCWF) However if there is any small upside to it, it does mean that I am finally getting the time to catch up on all the books that have been gathering dust on my ‘to read’ pile since last year. One of which was The Nowhere Child by Christian White.

Last year the TOPCWF had a session called Antipodean Noir. This was one session where I didn’t actually have any of the books, although I was keen to purchase the new one by Jane Harper. Whilst stood perusing the session book stall I got chatting to a very nice chap about the authors in the session – long story short I walked away with all 4 books and realised when the session started that I had actually been talking to Craig Sisterson the chair of the panel, he should be a sales person not a journalist. Well I am very glad I was persuaded to buy this, as this was a superb debut novel.

The Nowhere Child tells the story of Kim an Australian photographer. One day a man turns up with a photo of her as a child. He says that Kim is actually called Sammy and that she was abducted from her home town of Kentucky, America twenty years ago. Kim can’t believe that her kind and caring mother who passed away could be an international child abductor, so she heads to America to try and discover the truth.

I found this story absolutely compelling. The story is set between past and present as Kim tries to find out what happened to her, and we also flip back to the lead up to Sammy’s abduction. The flipping between times was done expertly, and it almost felt like two different books (in a positive way) until the worlds finally collided. I especially liked the inclusion of the cult element and the rattle snake wielding preachers that I found fascinating.

Whilst the idea of missing children is one that has been done a lot, this felt like a completely new take on it. Although at its heart this is a family drama, the writing is superb and the element of suspense cuts across every page. I wanted to find out what had happened to Kim when a child, and the twist at the end was a complete surprise.

I would definitely recommend this superb debut novel to all mystery lovers.

The Nowhere Child is available here.

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Lockdown

Well that’s now eight, or is it nine, weeks of lockdown, and frankly I have done absolutely nothing useful with my spare time. I am sure there are lots of people who have spent this time productively. Learning a language, taking up macramé, waking up bright and early every morning to do Joe Wicks (seriously does anyone really do that?) Well I get up, go to work, otherwise known as walk to the kitchen, work then go home, otherwise known as put my laptop back in a box. It really is not that different to my usual workday to be honest. I do find after a day sat at the kitchen table staring at a laptop though the last thing I want to do on an evening is stare at a computer again so I am way behind on reviewing all the books I’ve been reading recently.
One good thing about this whole situation is that the neighbours seem to have started talking to each other. Interaction between neighbours on this street is quite low, one side of the road is pretty much just old women, our side is a bunch of young couples with kids who for some reason avoid us like the plague. That of course could have something to do with the fact that the only sun we get is on the bench I put in the front garden, and it’s just wrong to sit in the sun without a glass of wine. We’ve always assumed that we are therefore seen as the pissheads on the street.
However that illusion was completely shattered the other day. One of the mad old women over the road invited us to join her for a drink in the garden. Of course neither of us wanted to go. If it were up to me I’d have happily hidden in our own garden and ignored her. However Mr F had made the stupid mistake of giving her our home phone number (that now makes the total number of people who have that number 2, the other being my 94 year old gran) so of course she kept ringing and the only way to make the noise stop was either unplug the phone or go over. As she could see us through the window option one wasn’t much use, so we had to go over.
There were 4 women in their 70s, all sat on deck chairs 2 metres apart, absolutely hammered. From what we could gather (as well as sitting 2 meters apart, and being drunk they were all rather deaf) they’d started on wine, moved onto gin and that had run out so they were on the rum. It was only 5pm but like they said what else were they going to do with their afternoon. I do suspect however that this is nothing to do with the current COVID-19 situation, I have a sneaky suspicion that this is how they spend most afternoons. Well I say afternoon, one of them admitted that the night before she hadn’t finished a glass of wine and had found it in the morning… yep you’ve guessed it she had it with her Weetabix.
Well clearly we are mere lightweights compared to the women over the road. Maybe that’s how I can use my time whilst we are stuck at home, I could practice my drinking. Or I could maybe learn how to write my book reviews in crochet so I don’t have to continue to stare at the computer on an evening. That would at least be something useful to have to show for my time in lockdown!

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