Tag Archives: theakston crime festival

No time for goodbye

The tents have gone, the bar is empty, and the dead body outline has been taken up from outside the front door, yes the annual Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival has finished for another year. Despite the rain which was an unwelcome new addition to the festival, normally the organisers are able to arrange for glorious sunshine, once again it was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

Arriving on Thursday afternoon as soon as you drive up the path there is an unmistakable buzz that says you are in for a real treat. The tents were even bigger than last year, there was an outdoor bar and the whole thing was set around one of the best bookcases I’ve ever seen.

Anyone who has any interest in books will by now know that J K Rowling made an appearance as Robert Galbraith, an event which surprisingly was completely wizard free. However this was only one of many many fantastic sessions put together by programme chair Steve Mosby of which it’s almost impossible to choose a favourite.

There was no doubt that for me Lynda La Plante was definitely a highlight. It showed exactly what I love about this festival. I went along with a pre-conceived idea, I had seen a lot of her tv credits but had only read one of her books so I was in two minds as to whether to go. Yet she completely blew me away. She was funny, charming, interesting and intelligent, and it definitely goes down as the session I laughed the most in. I came away wanting to immediately rush out and buy all her back catalogue.

Unfortunately the back seat and boot of the car were already full with all the other books we’d bought so I thought it best to wait until I got home. Thanks to Mr F a copy of Twisted is now on the top of my ‘to read’ pile, a pile which could conceivably be described as more a tower than a pile. The number of books I came home with possibly out did even last year’s tally, as it is completely impossible to sit and enjoy listening to authors talk without wanting to go and read their books. I can’t guarantee I’ll manage to get through as many as Natalie Haynes who in the turning to crime session said she’d read about 220 novels last year, but I’ll give it a go.

As always there are some interesting debates and points of view put forward, during one session James Smythe suggested what is possibly both the best and the worst idea ever. He thought that one way of getting people to read books they wouldn’t usually read was by changing bookshops around so that books are stored a-z rather than by category. This could be a good way to find new books, but would mean that a quick trip to the bookshop would actually end up taking me all day.

People familiar with this festival will know that listening to the authors up on stage is only one part of the fun, celebrity author spotting adds another dimension, which author eats the most for breakfast, who was the last still standing in the bar at night, will people make it to the morning sessions, and of course the most important question of all, will anyone join us to make a team for the Saturday night quiz. Excitingly for us this year we were actually joined by the lovely Tony Thompson, although our performance was rather dismal compared to this years winning team lead by Stav Sherez.

The weekend is certainly not a relaxing one, its non-stop with sessions and book signings back to back throughout with little time for chatting. Yet it is definitely one of my most favourite ways to spend a weekend, finished off as always by a quick Betty’s lunch before heading home to sort through all my new books. Its a wonderful weekend,  and a great way of finding new authors, plus you never know what interesting knowledge you’ll pick up, who knew cabbage shows up the same as blood in some forensic tests. I’ll be more careful with my cabbage chopping in future!

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Like this, Forever by Sharon Bolton – a review

I picked this book up on a whim as it was part of some of the free books that I was given at the Festival. As it was a proof copy it didn’t have any blurb on the back so I wasn’t really aware of what the story was about. The quotes on the cover were enough to make it stand out from the pile on my dressing table and grab on my way out to catch a train.

I was certainly not disappointed that I had done. The main character that the book focuses on is Barney. Children are going missing and when their bodies turn up they have been drained of blood. Young Barney lives with his Dad and is obsessed with searching for his mum who he believes is living in London somewhere. He also follows the investigation into the disappearance of the children following updates on the special facebook page set up to discuss the murders.

Barney lives next door to Lacey who is a policewomen currently on sick leave after a traumatic experience whilst on duty (dealt with in a previous novel I believe) He asks her to help him find his mum, and in the process of helping she finds out more than she bargained for.

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t believe that I’ve read any Sharon (or S.J as she was previously known) Bolton before although I will definitely be reading more. Throughout the story I was kept guessing as to the perpetrator and there were numerous possibilities all intertwining different stories, for example the teacher who takes a special interest in Barney, his friends with their own lives and families, the football coach who is always busy on the same nights, the man who posts on facebook. At no point did I guess the true identity.

I thought that the inclusion of social media worked well, especially as it gave a good insight into how children interact via these sites nowadays. It was an interesting mix of normal police investigation led by Dana Tulloch and a childrens viewpoint and their belief that they can find out who did it.

Unlike a lot of books this was a book that didn’t waste words. Although I felt slightly that I missed parts of the story, for example who does Lacey go and visit in prison? I suspect that most of these are either things that would be clearer if I had read previous Lacey novels, or indeed will get cleared up in the next book. Hopefully I don’t have to wait until next years festival to get a copy of that one!

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Filed under book review, crime fiction