Tag Archives: book reviews

Killer Women

killter-woemn-crime-writing-festival-2016I am quite used to getting strange looks off friends and colleagues when I’m asked about my weekend plans. My penchant for heavy metal music, combined with a love of crime novels, Coronation Street and horse riding regularly leads to a look of confusion when the question is asked. Usually followed by a mumbled ok before they back quickly away. This weekend was no exception. People seemed to run away even quicker than normal, when I announced I’m off to the Killer Women Festival in London.

Luckily for Mr F this wasn’t an instructional day on how to do away with your partner (although I think I met a lot of people there who might be able to help with ideas on that front) It was the first ever festival organised by a fantastic group of mainly London based crime writers, collectively known as the Killer Women.

The event was held in Shoreditch Town Hall and was a fabulous mix of panel discussions, author interviews and workshops. As soon as the programme had been released, I started by circling all the sessions I wanted to attend. This seemed like a sensible plan until I realised that actually I wanted to see them all. Therefore, on the day, me and the Sister decided we’d adopt a divide and conquer approach and split up so we could see as much as possible.

The day passed by way too quickly, in a blur of crime, books and our festival pastime of author spotting. Martina Cole, one of my favourite authors, had us all in stitches as she talked about her life and her novels. There was an interesting workshop on how to write a successful book blog with Ayo Onatade of Shots magazine, apparently her blog gets on average five hundred hits a day (Very similar to acrimereadersblog – well the five part anyway) I was entertained by Mark Billingham and Douglas Henshall amongst others in Serial Thrillers, although I’m not convinced that the Great British Body Off would be a big hit. I heard a discussion about being Inside a killers head with authors including Jane Casey and Tammy Cohen. This was a truly terrifying line up, never mind inside a killers head, inside a female crime writers head is much more disturbing! There was even a session where I learnt about solving a crime, with two real life detectives. Having been shown the building blocks of solving a crime I went into the interactive ‘Murder mystery session’ pretty confident that I could solve it quicker than Miss Marple could say knit one purl one. Only to be put in my place rather smartly when I got the answer completely wrong.

The whole day was absolutely superb, it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and you can’t beat a day that ends in some killer women cocktails. I would thoroughly recommend this event to anyone interested in reading or writing crime fiction. If next year we could throw in some heavy metal, and a Coronation Street actor on horseback it really would be a perfect day.

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The Forgotten Garden

After a rather busy few weeks, hopefully normal service can once again be resumed at acrimereadersblog. Having been working on a big event down in Brighton, time has very much been of the essence. Working weekends and evenings does tend to eat into time for other more enjoyable things such as seeing friends, and drinking wine.

However everything is back to normal now and as well as having wine dates booked in with friends, I’m fully up to date on the street antics.

Bringing in a hire car is always a spectator sport in our street and as soon as I pulled up the jungle drums were playing and everyone was out asking about it. As anyone who knows me will confirm, patience is not one of my strong points. This was evident early on in life when I was banned from playing with jigsaws as apparently you are meant to spend time looking for the bits that fit, not just use brute force. What I lack in patience I usually make up in manners but sometimes my street really does push even my polite smile to the limit.

Hilda1 and Hilda2 were the first on the scene to welcome me back. Before I’d even managed to drag my ridiculously large suitcase out of the car I was being regaled with stories from the past two weeks. This included high drama over the road where it turns out Marina has walked out on her husband and moved in with a woman. With winter fast approaching there is deep concern as to who is going to keep the ice at bay as this was previously her role (Winter Frost) There has also been a return of the mythical gangs which have been back out in force tearing up the street.  Apparently their latest attack (Previous can be found here) ended in them cutting down some of my buddlea. Handily for the Hildas this was also the piece that was overhanging the path and getting in their way. It of course also gave Hilda1 and Howard an excuse to point out that my garden was looking a bit forgotten. Well frankly if they spent less time twittering (and there are no computers involved in their version) then maybe I would have time to do something.

One thing that doesn’t stop no matter how busy I am, is of course reading (although my ability to find the time to actually write the reviews has been seriously compromised – have I mentioned I’ve been busy?) No matter what else is going on in my life I can always find time for books which is why it always amazes me when people say they don’t have the time to read. Of course this has its own problems when writing a book review blog as my ability to remember what each book was actually about tends to dwindle with every new book read. Luckily as a collector of notebooks I usually have one to hand and I’ve managed to make copious notes of most of them and hopefully I’ll catch up on reviews soon.

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Where the devil can’t go by Anya Lipska – a review

Every year at the festival Val McDermid runs the New Blood panel which is a group of brand new authors who she thinks are worth reading. If it is good enough for Val it is good enough for me.

I must confess I was a bit sceptical of this book to start with. Another crime novel set in London with a young, naïve woman who would no doubt catch the criminal at the end and all would be rosy. However I was completely wrong. Despite a bit of a slow start (more to do with my attitude than the writing) this book soon gripped me. At the heart it is a murder mystery but told from the perspective of two very different characters.

One is Janusz, a polish immigrant who is seen as a kind of private detective / fixer within the polish community. He is asked to help find a missing girl. He suspects she has just run off with her boyfriend, but agrees to look into it anyway. The other main character is Natalie Kershaw, the young police detective. She is tasked with investigating the death of a young woman found floating in the Thames. Another body soon appears and she connects the two. Both characters paths cross and Janusz becomes both a suspect and a source of information.

This novel was not only an intriguing murder story, it also gave a fascinating insight into the history of Poland, and the Polish community living in London. However unlike some novels which can get bogged down in detail, none of this detracts from the story. In fact it simply enhances it and at no point do you get the feeling that you are being preached at. This was probably testament to the quality of the writing.

I thought both the main characters were equally likeable and annoying, which I find tends to be the case with most human beings anyway and meant that they seemed very realistic.  I also enjoyed the way that the story was interspersed with polish words as it seemed to give a realism to the dialogue that added to the feel of the book. You get a real sense of how it must be to have lived both in Poland under communist rule, and now as a settler in a foreign country. The descriptions of London, and then Gdansk in Poland had a certain darkness to them that gave an almost gothic feel. This was interspersed with bits of humour that  lifted what could have been quite a dark novel.

I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to hearing about future books featuring these characters at the panel at the theakstons crime festival.


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