Tag Archives: jo nesbo

Doors Open

Well it’s over, the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival has finished, and I have no idea how to begin to describe this weekend. It was excellent!

Me and the Sister travelled over on Thursday afternoon. After a quick trip round the bookshops of Harrogate (market research obviously) we headed to the hotel where the festival kicked off to a great start with Denise Mina being awarded the crime novel of the year. Colin Dexter then made a guest appearance to accept the lifetime achievement award, he was a very witty man.

Breakfast the next morning and the celebrity spotting began before the first session of the day started. This was Mark Billingham (who incidentally was our first celebrity spot at breakfast) interviewing John Connolly. Obviously great friends it was a very funny interview.

The first full day of the festival included the science fiction session. Contrary to my original thoughts this turned into a very amusing talk and not completely geeky! In the afternoon there was the rather controversial e-book debate, which yesterday afternoon on twitter was rebranded ‘tossergate’. Some very strong views were aired, including one bookseller who pointed out that people are happy to pay over £8 to view a two hour film, but will balk against buying a £7.99 novel.

John Connolly then reappeared, this time as chair of the America’s Got Talent session with four great authors discussing their latest book and what they are doing next. After such a full day we decided to skip the Kate Mosse interview (although apparently she was absolutely fascinating) and headed into a very busy Harrogate for something to eat.

We got back in time to see what, to me was definitely one of the highlights – A late night chat between Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. With Mark Billingham attempting to stand in as barman for the pair, it did seem that they were just out for the night having a couple of beers and a catch up which was excellent.

Saturday morning started with Peter James and quite a disturbing story about his stalker. At one point he was receiving up to 40 emails a day from her, how on earth did she find the time? The day continued with a fascinating debate on whether the 1920s/30s really can be called the ‘Golden Age of Crime’ before Val McDermid took to the stage for the New Blood panel. This was her choice of the best new writers of the year and  included the lovely Elizabeth Haynes who I later met in the queue for Harlen Coben and again in the toilets (Contrary to what it may sound like, especially after the earlier discussions I wasn’t actually stalking her!)

The afternoon continued with the same gusto. One panel was an interesting discussion between 3 female writers and ‘reader in residence’ Martyn Waites (who writes as a women) as to whether women write more gruesome stuff than men. There was also a special event around the TV show Luther, where journalist Miranda Sawyer interviewed its writer Neil Cross alongside production team members and two actors (I confess I now have a bit of a crush on Warren Brown who plays Ripley).

Early evening and we went along to the Come Die With Me dinner hosted by Ann Cleaves, and were sat on a table with SJ Parris. It was then straight into an interview with Harlen Coben who was talking to Laura Lippman. It was another interesting session, and again they are obviously great friends and it was a very natural interaction.

Me and the Sister then rather nervously went along to the Late Night Quiz. Neither of us are particularly good at quizzes, and not knowing anyone else we did have visions of ending up bottom on our own. However it was great fun. We met two very nice ladies again on their own, and rather amazingly (Especially considering the competition in the room) we came third out of the readers teams and fifth overall.

Another late night in the bar (although much earlier than most people) and then our final day started with a discussion around translation, before the final session which was Mark Lawson interviewing an interesting Jo Nesbo. A quick trip to Betty’s as we’d not had time to go during the weekend and we left the Swan Hotel sadly behind.

People keep asking ‘which was your favourite’ and I can honestly say, I haven’t got a clue. I can’t pick one as it would feel like a disservice to all the others. Each session was fascinating and I came away from each one thinking ‘wow’. Admittedly that only lasted for the 10 minutes I was queuing for the book signings before it was straight back into the next session. It was a full on weekend and I loved every minute of it. Roll on 2013!!


Filed under Crime writing, Theakstons Festival

The Leopard – Jo Nesbo a review

ImageMy latest book (read in two halfs around Gillian Flynn due to train equalling kindle and home equalling real books!) was The Leopard by Jo Nesbo. I’ve read the Redeemer by the same author previously so had an idea that I was going to like it.

Jo Nesbo is an author based in Norway, and really does go to show that (in my opinion) some of the best of both music and books comes from the Netherlands. This was the second of Nesbo’s books I’ve read, and with hindsight I really should have read the Snowman first as aspects of it were mentioned in this book. However in no way did that detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Once again Harry Hole is the main crime solving character in the book, and he covers all the clichés of a detective – alcoholic, lost the family he loved, dying relative, cynical and ‘world weary’. However rather than feeling clichéd I felt it gave him a certain substance. I wouldn’t say he was particularly likeable but at the numerous scenes where you suspect he may be killed, such as when he gets buried in an avalanche, you do care whether or not he lives or dies.

The story is how a good crime novel should be, its chilling, gruesome and violent and leaves you wandering how people think these things up. A metal object with retractable needles shoved in peoples mouths makes an unusual murder weapon, but unlike some writers it didn’t seem to me to be overdone for the sake of being shocking. The story is such that the red herrings, and politics and characters keep you guessing right throughout the story, and the descriptions make for an atmospheric read.

The story starts in Hong Kong and also takes in the Congo as well as it’s base in Norway which provided an interesting perspective on three countries I know little about, and managed to give a good description of each of the three without resorting too much too broad bland statements.

It’s a pretty hefty book of over 600 pages which does normally put me off a bit. I also did find that there were parts when I got a bit bored, so personally I would say that it could have been slightly shrunk down without taking away from the story. Overall though a great read, and I am definitely going to go out and read the Snowman soon.

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Filed under book review, crime fiction

61 hours

The programme for the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate has been released. Whilst it doesn’t seem to have the ‘big hitters’ of last year’s festival such as Lisa Gardner and Tess Gerritsen, the actual programme looks very exciting and features more ‘home grown’ talent.

The festival opens with the award for the Crime Novel of the Year. Last year’s winner was Lee Child. The shortlist hasn’t yet been released as far as I can see but I might make reading the books on it my mini-challenge within a challenge.

One session I’m most looking forward to is called ‘Deadlier than the Male’. This includes Jilliane Hoffman and Tania Carver (a man called Martin who writes with his wife, neither are actually called Tania) discussing whether women write the most graphic violence. In my completely non-scientific and non-proven opinion I do think there is a difference in the portrayal of crime between men and women writers. I think the men tend to write more physically violent descriptions with fights and punch ups, whereas I think women are often more psychologically mindedwith their descriptions of torture and fear for example Chelsea Cain springs to mind. It will therefore be interesting to hear this point debated by those who actually right it.

The session titled ‘America’s got talent’ is looking good as I have just read Gillian Flynn which was fantastic, review coming soon for her book, recently read on a trip up to Edinburgh (where for those who read my previous post, the delay on the train this time was due to a slow running train)

There is also a special event called Luther, looking behind the scenes at the TV series of the same name. As a big fan of the tv programme I’m looking forward to hearing writer Neil Cross talk. His books are definitely on my to read list and with any luck the rather handsome Idris Elba might make a surprise guest appearance too!

Sunday morning (a later start after the murder mystery dinner on Saturday night with Anne Cleaves creator of Vera) begins with ‘50 different words for murder’ with Deon Myer and Camilla Lackberg discussing the art of translation in crime novels. The final session of the festival is Jo Nesbo talking to Mark Lawson.

It’s a pretty full programme over the just under 3 days with a late night appearance on Saturday by Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. I haven’t yet read any Ian Rankin but I’m in Scotland for a few days soon so going to save it for that. There is also a quiz on the Saturday night with quiz masters Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. Unfortunately I am not great at quizzes as they involve remembering things, I do have quite neat handwriting though so hopefully me and the sister can join someone elses team and I can always offer to be the scribe!

My new aim for this challenge, in case I don’t complete the whole thing is to try and read at least one author from each session. I will give ‘Crime in another Dimension’ a miss though as Science Fiction is not really for me, sounds like a good time for a trip to Bettys and a bit of shopping in Harrogate.


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April 25, 2012 · 5:31 pm