Tag Archives: ian rankin

The Chain by Adrian McKinty – a review

I am unfortunately not the type of person who wins things. I rarely enter competitions as I know I won’t win, I don’t buy lottery tickets and when it comes to any kind of race, well suffice to say I have absolutely no competitive spirit whatsoever.

Therefore I was completely surprised to find out that I had actually recently won a giveaway by the lovelyEmma at Damppebbles to get a book of my choice from Book Depository. Now normally like a kid in a sweetshop it would take me hours to decide what book to pick, I’m not good with a lot of choice. However for once this decision was easy. Whilst at the TOPCWF I went to a session with both Adrian McKinty and Ian Rankin and thought that Adrian’s book sounded fascinating so that was my first choice. Well I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The Chain starts with Rachel picking up the phone to hear a stranger tell her that her daughter has been kidnapped. In order for her daughter to be freed Rachel will have to kidnap another child. Any child ill do but if she goes to the police her daughter will die, if she doesn’t kidnap a child her daughter will die, if she deviates from her instructions in any way her daughter will die. Rachel is now part of the chain.

This was a novel that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. The story moves along with a terrific pace as Rachel suddenly turns from mild mannered mother to gun-toting kidnapper.

I liked the fact that despite the main focus of the book being The Chain and the kidnappings, the main characters were all well rounded and had back stories that meant the crimes they had to commit were even more out of context. Rachel is a divorcee who thinks that the cancer she thought she had beaten has returned. Her brother in law who becomes her partner in crime is Pete who is an ex-forces man suffering PTSD and a drug addict. The story shows us the fall out of the crimes and how the characters try to move on with their lives which is impossible when the chain still exists.

I did feel that the first half was a little better than the second. The second half gives us the insight into the perpetrators and what led to the creation of the chain which was interesting. Yet  I felt it slowed a little in the middle, until the pace suddenly kicked up again towards the end. Saying that you almost needed the slight breather in order to continue on until the end. The premise of this story is something that I find really interesting, how far will ‘normal’ humans go if they are backed into a corner? This is a novel that explores exactly that.

I think this is the first novel I have read by Adrian McKinty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to thank Damppebbles for my copy.

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Capital Crime line up announced!

Like most Crime Fiction lovers if I could spend all my time reading and talking about books I would be happy. Throw in a coffee or a nice glass of red (depending on the time of day) and life is complete. Yet unfortunately real life gets in the way and work has to happen. Sadly there just isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do, like attend every single one of the fantastic Crime Festivals that are happening this year. The latest event to announce itself is Capital Crime being held in London at the end of September. The announcement today of some fantastic names really does look like this is a festival not to missed, I’d best go and check how much holiday I have left!

Capital Crime today announces further names for its inaugural festival taking place this September at the Connaught Rooms in London. Mark Billingham, Martina Cole, Ian Rankin, Ann Cleeves, Don Winslow, Robert Glenister, Leye Adenle, Denise Mina, Catherine Steadman and Abir Mukherjee are among the guests announced today.

The first international crime and thriller festival in London, Capital Crime offers fans unprecedented access to their favourite crime and thriller creatives. Capital Crime is a celebration of books, films and TV and the line-up is an unrivalled mix of world class talent, rising stars and newcomers. Capital Crime is a must for fans of all things crime and thriller.

Among the stellar list of speakers are Kate Atkinson, David Baldacci, Ann Cleeves, Robert Harris, Peter James, Lynda La Plante, Simon Mayo, and Kate Mosse. (list of confirmed guests can be found here: https://www.capitalcrime.org/guests/).

The crime and thriller community is excited about Capital Crime.

Martina Cole (No Mercy – Headline – Autumn) said: ‘We have all been waiting for a London based festival like Capital Crime. It’s fantastic to see such a diverse line up of crime and thriller writers taking part. David Headley and Adam Hamdy have put together an amazing programme of events for the first crime festival in London and I’m thrilled to be part of it.’

Ann Cleeves (The Long Call – Pan Macmillan – September) ‘I’m delighted to be taking part in the very first Capital Crime and can’t wait to meet readers and writers in London in September.’

Best-selling London based author Abir Mukherjee (Smoke and Ashes – Vintage – June) said: ‘London is one of the world’s great cities, the setting, and often the inspiration, for some most infamous true crimes and some of the world’s best loved fictional detectives. It’s the home of Scotland Yard, Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and a natural location for a festival bringing together international fans and authors in a celebration of the very best and latest that crime fiction has to offer. It’s long overdue and I hope Capital Crime becomes a regular fixture in the crime fiction calendar.’

Panels of note include: The Interrogation of Mark Billingham: The bestselling author is put through his paces by Graham Bartlett, an experienced police interrogator; Ian Rankin discusses The Human Cost of Crime with Don Winslow. Also there is a quiz panel Whose Crime is it Anyway? pitting debut crime and thriller authors against each other with Paul Clayton hosting; The Forensic Mind: Denise Mina and Ann Cleeves discuss what makes a great detective, moderated by Chris Ewan; Plus Are We Living in An Espionage Thriller: Tom Bradby, Charles Cumming, Frank Gardner and Stella Rimington offer their unique insights into events that concern us all.

Capital Crime is a diverse, inclusive and socially responsible festival, running initiatives including social outreach to support students exploring a literary career, an innovative digital festival and the launch of their New Voices Award. The festival is the brainchild of British screenwriter Adam Hamdy and Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, David Headley.

Tickets for the festival are now on sale at https://www.capitalcrime.org/

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End in tears (of sadness at the end of TOPCWF)

Going out bras, spot porn, fart jokes, and murder – it could only be The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing festival (TOPCWF for short)

Our bathroom at the Crown was a lot cleaner.

Yet again it was a superb weekend over in Harrogate, with an absolute cornucopia of authors and bloggers from all over the country (and the world) I know I probably say this every year but I really think this year’s event was the best ever. Well, in all aspects except the weather. Sadly someone forgot to order the usual bright sunshine, and Saturday was positively torrential. However the river like streets didn’t seem to dampen any enthusiasm.

As usual there were some big hitting names. Kathy Reichs was making her first appearance at the festival discussing everything from bones to beavers (the dam making kind before you get any ideas) and Ann Cleaves bought along not one but three celebrity TV stars to keep us all entertained whilst talking all things Vera and washing machines.

One of the funniest events of the weekend was the late night panel, featuring Sarah Millican chairing, with Val McDermid, Lee Child and Mark Billingham. Secrets were flying round the ballroom, from who used to have David Beckham washing his car to who sleeps naked, and which celebrity nearly crushed their dogs head with her (or his!) boob. This was probably my most favourite session of the weekend and they all had the whole room in stitches.

The quiz is always a highlight of the event, and this year was no exception. Questions range from music to pictures, with our hosts Val McDermid and Mark Billingham. There is always a beer tasting round thanks to the Theakstons brewery, although a slight technical hitch meant that the answers weren’t counted. This was a shame really as helpfully the answers were actually written on the drinks so this might have been the one and only round that we actually did any good in.

Ian Rankin and whisky

I know everyone says it but this really is one of the friendliest festivals ever. For a bunch of people who spend their time thinking of murder, death and crime most of the time, the people at this festival are some of the nicest you will ever meet.  Where else would you get to discuss whisky with Ian Rankin (Laphroaig is one of his favourites if anyone wants to send him some, mine too by the way!) or talk shopping with Eva Dolan?

 

Of course for us readers the real bonus to this weekend is the sheer amount of books on offer. Strangely I actually heard a couple complaining that their goody bags had too many books in them. Clearly these people are not friends of mine, and frankly I worry for their mental health. There is no such thing as too many books. All in all TOPCWF is really one of the best weekends in the world, and I am sure a few tears are shed when it’s over and we all have to go back to mundane real life.

Whilst I am never going to start watching spot porn, or be the kind of woman that owns going out bras, I am definitely the kind of woman that is going to be back in 2018. Especially as Lee Child is rumoured to be the next programme chair!

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Coffee, tea or murder

Last weekend I was lucky enough to sample the delights of afternoon tea in Bettys in York. It was all very civilised. We bypassed the usual never ending queue into the main café, and were led straight to our table in the previously unseen upstairs. We then spent a very nice afternoon eating salmon sandwiches, scones, cakes and drinking tea. Well ok, as a coffee drinking vegetarian I’d already put my special request in so I had Betty’s posh coffee and very nice avocado sandwiches.

The first Betty’s cafe was opened in the home of the ‘Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival’ The lovely spa town of Harrogate back in 1919 and still remains its most popular café. Me and the Sister went in last year for coffee and cake and were surrounded by people excitedly discussing the festival and carrying goody bags. I’ve no doubt this year will be no exception.

The programme for the event has recently been released and once again it looks a fantastic few days. There are some great special guests, including Ruth Rendell being interviewed by Jeanette Winterson which I’m especially looking forward to. I’ve always been a big fan of Ruth Rendell. Although I’ve not read any of Jeanette Winterson’s books apart from ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ which as a child I had to keep hidden under my bed as it would most definitely not have been classed as suitable reading.

I’ve not yet been through the entire programme in detail, or indeed planned my reading list for the next few months but at first glance it looks an excellent programme. Some of the speakers are old favourites from last year, whilst some are brand new such as William McIlvanney who I hadn’t even heard of until I saw he was being interviewed by Ian Rankin so will be looking out his novels.

This year’s TV tie in panel is Vera. Ann Cleaves (star of last year’s murder mystery themed dinner) is going to be joined by those who are responsible for bringing her novels to tv, including actor Brenda Blethyn. Another interesting sounding session features forensic anthropologist Professor Sue Black OBE. I’m always fascinated by how far fiction actually mirrors real life, and how much artistic license authors have to employ to keep the story moving.

One of the special guests this year is Lee Child, I have to confess that I’ve never actually read any of his books, so he will definitely be an author I put on the top of my list. He’s being interviewed by Comedian Sarah Millican so that should be an excellent session. Special guest on Saturday evening is York born Kate Atkinson, whose Jackson Brodie novels have recently been turned into a tv series. As a York dweller myself I’m always happy to hear from local people.

The one thing that really did stand out of the programme was that there was not one session I would want to miss. Last year me and the Sister did skip a couple, mainly to give us time for food and of course Betty’s cake. This time Betty’s will definitely have to wait until the show is over!

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