Today I’m continuing my look at the short story collection celebrating 10 years of CrimeFest in Bristol and featuring some of the top names in crime writing of current times. I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of this book from publishers No Exit Press (although I’ve had it on preorder for months as well. Can you blame me?) So today I’ll take a quick look at stories seven to ten. First up, lets see what the book is all about.
About the Book
Twenty superb new crime stories have been commissioned specially to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Crimefest, described by The Guardian as ‘one of the fifty best festivals in the world’.
A star-studded international group of authors has come together in crime writing harmony to provide a killer cocktail for noir fans; salutary tales of gangster etiquette and pitfalls, clever takes on the locked-room genre, chilling wrong-footers from the deceptively peaceful suburbs, intriguing accounts of tables being turned on hapless private eyes, delicious slices of jet black nordic noir, culminating in a stunning example of bleak amorality from crime writing doyenne Maj Sjowall.
The foreword is by international bestselling thriller writer Peter James. The editors are Martin Edwards, responsible for many award-winning anthologies, and Adrian Muller, CrimeFest co-founder.
All Royalties are donated to the RNIB Talking Books Library.
The contributors to Ten Year Stretch are: Bill Beverly, Simon Brett, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Jeffery Deaver, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Peter Guttridge, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Mick Herron, Donna Moore, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, James Sallis, Zoe Sharp, Yrsa Siguroardottir, Maj Sjowall, Michael Stanley and Andrew Taylor.
Crime Scene – Kate Ellis
Kate Ellis was born and brought up in Liverpool. Described by The Times as ‘a beguiling author who interweaves past and present’ she is best known for her DI Wesley Peterson series. She has been shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger and for the CWA Dagger in the Library. Her first novel in a new trilogy set in the aftermath of World War One, A High Mortality of Doves, was published in 2016.
Faced with a woman who claims to know him, a successful writer, currently struggling with book two, finds himself in somewhat of a sticky predicament. Haunted, guilty and now being blackmailed, what did happen after he blacked out that night and how far would be go to protect his secrets.
This was a quick and quirky, double jeopardy-esque story or revenge which backfires. Dishonesty from start to finish, framed by fragile egos and a little too much to drink and the stage is set for one heck of a murder mystery. Another first for me but I really enjoyed it.
Normal Rules Do Not Apply – Peter Guttridge
Peter Guttridge is the award winning author of 12 novels and numerous short stories.
Oh this did make me chuckle and if you read it you’ll understand why. At one of Britain’s leading crime writing festivals (sorry conventions) a headline author is creating rather a stir. Or rather his body is – the one found splayed in a lift at the convention hotel.
A fun and fresh parody of all that makes crime fiction the wonder that it is, from the cosy crime knitting circles (I’m hoping entirely fictional and they some scary ladies…) to some of the wonderful contributors to this anthology, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to look folk in the eye next weekend. To be fair, as he’s about nine foot tall or something and I’m borderline Lilliputian, I would struggle to look Lee Child in the eye anyway but hey ho …
CrimeFest will never be the same again.
Ask Tom St Clare – Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling crime fiction writer. Her crime novels have been translated into 34 languages and published in 51 countries. In 2014 and 2016, Sophie published The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket, the first new Hercule Poirot mysteries since Agatha Christie’s death, both of which were national and international bestsellers. Sophie is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, two children and dog.
The first of a missing person double bill this is the story of a woman who hires a Private Investigator to find her missing boyfriend. No reply to her calls or her emails she pins all her hopes, and a rather sizeable retainer, on the PI being able to discover something that her simple methods of detection cannot achieve. Could he be injured, kidnapped or worse? She has no idea. That is what she is hoping that he will find out.
Sophie Hannah creates a perfect little mystery, drawing the reader in and providing a whole host of clues as to the true nature of this story while still completely catching you unawares. Short but fun, you can feel the frustrations building as the case fails to progress. But just as to why this is so … well you should read to find out. Really enjoyed this story and I’ll definitely be searching out more from the author.
Blue and Sentimental – John Harvey
John Harvey has been a professional writer for more than 40 years and his work has been published in over 20 countries. Winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger and the Silver Dagger for Fiction, in 2007 he was awarded the CWA’s Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing. In addition to his fiction and poetry, he has written for stage, radio and television. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from the Universities of Hertfordshire and Nottingham.
The second missing person tale but this has a far more emotional tone and a sombre edge. Again a Private investigator is brought in to try to trace a missing woman, someone who hasn’t been heard from by her partner or family for two weeks. The more he looks into her background, her relationship with her estranged husbands and the possibility of untold changes to her life, the more it becomes clear that there are many reasons she may have disappeared, both by fair means or foul.
This is the second piece I have read by John Harvey and I love the way he is able to tease the emotion and drama out of his writing and put the reader at the heart of the story. Even in these few short pages you could feel the passion, tension, anger and anxiety as the peaked and died away again. A great story which will capture the reader from start to finish. the kind of story I just wish was longer.
I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts on the rest of the stories over the next few days. In the meantime, if you’d like to pick up a copy and read for yourself you can find it at the following retailers:
It’s still not too late to make plans for CrimeFest either. Four days to go. It really is a brilliant festival, perfect for fans of the genre, readers, writers (and aspiring) alike and you can find out more about it right here.
Might see you there …