“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Stop The Press - MISSING PRESUMED DEAD’s PRESUMED DEAD is, erm, MISSING

Break out the Chateau Neuf De Elf-Wonking Juice, people – Arlene Hunt’s latest, MISSING PRESUMED DEAD, goes into mass-market paperback on January 8. So what’s it like, says you? “An escalating thriller … a remarkably prescient read,” cooed the Sunday Tribune. “A very enjoyable, neatly worked mystery, packed with deft characterisation,” purred the Irish Indo. Meanwhile, Ms Hunt’s Dutch debut draws ever closer, with the new cover for VERMIST (right) on show over at her interweb blogging thingy. Quoth the delectable Arlene:
“This is the draft cover for the Dutch edition of MISSING PRESUMED DEAD. It’s simply entitled MISSING and it looks fantastic.”
Pithily put, ma’am, but entirely true. Meanwhile, we’re pretty sure there’s a punchline going a-begging given the way the MISSING PRESUMED part of MISSING PRESUMED DEAD has become MISSING, and how there's a lesson in there for us all about the dangers of being presumptuous, but it’s Friday afternoon and HR Pufnstuf is beckoning to us from his dungeon door, hookah in hand, so you’ll just have to work it out yourselves …

Callan Out Around The World …

Charles Kelly’s (right) debut novel may be set in Arizona, but there’s a distinctly Irish strain running through his Phoenix-based tale of murder and mayhem, PAY HERE. Quoth the Point Blank blurb elves:
Decades in the desert have made reporter Michael Callan hard as a sun-bleached skull. But mutilated migrants and his ex-flame keep causing Callan trouble ... even if they’re six feet under. Mix an innocent beauty with a savage one, add an assembly of killers, thugs, and a surgeon. Stir vigorously, and you’ve got a bloody cocktail – lethal for an Irishman who doesn’t drink. This is the first novel by Charles Kelly, an award-winning reporter for the Arizona Republic. His in-depth knowledge of criminals, reporters and the issue of illegal immigration across the Arizona-Mexico border are all perfect fodder for this shocking crime fiction debut.
Meanwhile, over at Pulp Pusher, Damian Seaman grills Kelly with the really tough questions, to wit:
DS: How important is Irishness to you? How much of yourself did you put into protagonist Michael Callan?
CK: “My father was Irish. I like the Irish literary style: it’s irreverent, working-class, fatalistic, hard-nosed. Like Irish music, which I’ve listened to for years. I’m not a very hard-nosed person myself but that attitude intrigues me. So I threw all that in there. And there was my knowledge of reporting, the focus on the romance of the individual reporter. Callan wants to get the story, which means more than the text printed in the newspaper. It means understanding the issues through the worldview of the reporter. But other than that there’s not much of myself in Callan. I had Callan born in Ireland because I wanted to make him more vivid and bring the Irish theme more to life.”
We’re guessing the diddley-ayes and top-o’-the-mornin’s will be at a premium. And if all that isn’t enough Kelly for ya, here’s the man himself getting the rubber-hose treatment from the CAP elves a couple of months ago. Be warned – it’s not for the squeamish, especially the bit where Kelly squishes a couple of elves underfoot …

Thursday, December 6, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 1,078: J. Kingston Pierce

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Is there any self-respecting author or enthusiastic reader who could offer just one title? It’d be like asking me to choose the single book I would take with me to a deserted island. Hell, I’d drown myself in the ocean before I ever reached that frickin’ island, if I knew I was going to be stuck there with just one book to read for the rest of my foreseeable days. But back to your actual question: what book I’d like to have penned. It would be a toss-up between Ross Macdonald’s THE CHILL (1964), Peter Lovesey’s WAXWORK (1978), Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE (1953), Rennie Airth’s RIVER OF DARKNESS (1999), and maybe Elmore Leonard’s LABRAVA (1983). Oh, and I would go to my grave a happy man, indeed, if I could ever produce something even remotely as brilliantly disturbing as Robert Wilson’s A SMALL TOWN IN LISBON (1999).
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
The only faint shame I ever feel in reading is when I find myself hooked on authors whose work isn’t changing or evolving much, yet I can’t resist picking up their new novels. In that category, I’d place Edward Marston (who has been writing variations on the same delightful Elizabethan theater mystery for the last 20 years), Loren D. Estleman’s Amos Walker series (at least the guy realizes that he’s an anachronism), and Charles Todd’s Inspector Ian Rutledge books. Outside of the crime category, I’m addicted to historical non-fiction about the American West.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When I’m so enmeshed with my storytelling, that I lose track of time. At such moments, I forget to eat, forget about the laundry that needs doing and the cat meowing at the windows at the top of his lungs. Even better: When I find myself unable to move forward in a tale, at least for a time, because I know that I’m going to have to cause harm to a character I’ve come to love. There’s nothing tougher. Or more rewarding.
The best Irish crime novel is ...?
I can only say what I’ve liked best, which would include Declan Hughes’ THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD, John Brady’s POACHER’S ROAD, Gene Kerrigan’s THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR, and of course, John Banville/Benjamin Black’s CHRISTINE FALLS. I’m only now, finally, digging into Eoin McNamee’s Diana, Princess of Wales, conspiracy novel--12:23: PARIS. 31ST AUGUST 1997--and enjoying it immensely.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Because the last film I remember being made of the notorious 1910 Hawley Harvey Crippen murder case was 1962’s DR. CRIPPEN, starring Donald Pleasance, I’d be happy to see John Boyne’s CRIPPEN (2004) adapted for the silver screen. Maybe with the chameleon-like Philip Seymour Hoffman in the starring role.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: Having people ask you for years about what you’re working on now, and you have nothing new to say--you’re still writing the same book you were the last time they inquired. After spending decades as a journalist, and enjoying the satisfactions to be had from making short work of short pieces, I find that writing novels--as I’m finally starting to do now--can be frustrating in the extreme. But then there’s that best thing about being a writer: Beating your head against an impossible scene, with improbable circumstances and inflexible characters, and suddenly everything comes together. And your fingers cannot move quickly enough over the keyboard to get down every nuance. What’s that Nathaniel Hawthorne quote? “Easy reading is damned hard writing.” Every novelist should plaster that statement above his or her computer.
The pitch for your next novel is ...?
What I’m laboring on is my first novel. I haven’t had to pitch such a work before. The half-dozen non-fiction titles I have to my name were easy sells; I just had to write them. This one will be tougher, especially since it’s a historical tale that resists being categorized as crime fiction, but can’t be easily slotted elsewhere. If I can use cinematic references rather than literary ones, I’d shorthand the story as THE UNFORGIVEN meets CHINATOWN, with a bit of the Burt Reynolds/Gene Hackman/Liza Minelli Prohibition romp LUCKY LADY thrown into the mix. I wish I could write faster, so I can read how it all turns out.
Who are you reading right now?
As editor of The Rap Sheet and senior editor of January Magazine, I’m required to do a lot of reading in the crime/mystery genre. So I have a stack of those titles on my nightstand, among them David Lawrence’s DOWN INTO DARKNESS, Thomas Eidson’s SOULS OF ANGELS, and Richard Kunzmann’s SALAMANDER’S COTTON. Plus, I am in the midst of several books that aren’t available yet, including Peter Robinson’s FRIEND OF THE DEVIL, Steve Hockensmith’s BLACK DOVE, and my colleague Linda L. Richards’ DEATH WAS THE OTHER WOMAN. But I don’t confine myself to crime fiction. I’m also relishing Richard Russo’s BRIDGE OF SIGHS, Thomas Oliphant’s UTTER INCOMPETENTS: EGO AND IDEOLOGY IN THE AGE OF BUSH, and Stacy A. Cordery’s outstanding biography of Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter, ALICE: ALICE ROOSEVELT LONGWORTH, FROM WHITE HOUSE PRINCESS TO WASHINGTON POWER BROKER.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Precise. Witty. Propulsive.

J. Kingston Pierce is the editor at The Rap Sheet. He is currently working on his first novel.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

The reviewing elves were very impressed with Sean Moncrieff’s latest novel THE HISTORY OF THINGS, and Ian O’Doherty at the Irish Independent reckoned it ‘arguably the best Irish novel of the year so far’, but you shouldn’t let either opinion put you off this perceptive offering, which skewers the pretensions of the Celtic Tiger with quiet, assured authority. Courtesy of the very generous people at New Island, we have three copies of THE HISTORY OF THINGS to give away, and to be in with a chance of winning one just answer the following question:
Is history:
(a) bunk;
(b) a tissue of lies invented by old people to make themselves sound interesting;
(c) “just one fucking thing after another”(© Alan Bennett)?
Answers to dbrodb(at)gmail.com by noon on Monday, December 10, putting ‘Swearing is neither big nor clever unless you’re Alan Bennett’ in the subject line. Et bon chance, mes amis

The Embiggened O # 2,013: Evans Sent

The End-of-Year round-ups are coming in thick and thicker, people, and Mark Evans at the Irish Examiner has done our “sharp, witty, 200 km/h” humble offering THE BIG O proud. To wit:
“THE BIG O is the Sligo-born author’s second novel, disproving the difficult tag by following the many sub-plots he constructed for EIGHTBALL BOOGIE with a cleaner, smarter tale. However, it is Burke’s dialogue that stays longest in the mind. This author doesn’t do exposition. Why use colourful prose to describe what’s happened when you can get one of the likeable characters to tell it like it is? So, do yourself a favour if you’ve found yourself in a bit of a reading rut – let these gun-toting, scheming criminal oddballs blow the cobwebs away.”
Mark? Consider us blown away. We thank you kindly, sir …

Mi Cassie, Su Cassie

THE LIKENESS, Tana French’s (right) follow-up to IN THE WOODS, is due out on March 6, and features a fairly bold ploy on behalf of the writer that suggests the novel will be doing exactly what it says on the tin. Quoth the Hodder & Stoughton blurb elves:
Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to deal with the events of IN THE WOODS. She is out of the Murder Squad and has started a relationship with fellow detective Sam O’Neill but is too badly shaken to commit – to Sam or to her career. Then Sam is allocated a new case, that of a young woman stabbed to death just outside Dublin. He calls Cassie to the murder scene and she finds the victim is strangely familiar. In fact, she is Cassie’s double. Not only that, but her ID says she is Lexie Madison – the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective. With no leads, no suspects and no clues, Cassie’s old undercover boss spots the opportunity of a lifetime: to send Cassie undercover in the dead girl’s place. She could pick up information the police would never hear and tempt the killer to finish the job. So Cassie moves into Whitethorn House, poses as a post-grad student, and prepares to enter Lexie’s world!
Oooh, spooky. Will Cassie wind up a dead ringer for her, y’know, dead ringer? Only time, that perennially doity rat, will tell …

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 1,012: Patrick Shawn Bagley

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
AMERICAN SKIN by Ken Bruen. If there is a perfect crime novel, this is it.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read crime fiction, mainstream fiction, “classics”, fantasy and SF, horror, history, comics, poetry, science, biography ... and never feel guilty about any of it.
Most satisfying writing moment?
It should come in just a couple of weeks, when I finish the first draft of BITTER WATER BLUES.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Declan Hughes’ THE COLOUR OF BLOOD knocked me on my ass.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THE BIG O, of course. THE COLOUR OF BLOOD or the novel that preceded it [THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD]. I’m surprised Connolly’s EVERY DEAD THING hasn’t been adapted yet.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: I get to work in my boxers with the stereo playing. Worst: Being a Maine writer, having people ask, “You think you’re Stephen King or somethin’?”
The pitch for your next novel is …?
Here’s my elevator pitch for BITTER WATER BLUES: “Publish it or I’ll split your head open with a rock, wrap you up in a tarp, weigh you down with skidder chains and sink you in the bog behind my house.” Nah, that might be coming on too strong. I guess I’d go with this one: “Take a pair of redneck wannabe hit men, a pissed-off housewife, a bored cop, a killer forced out of retirement and a porn video starring a mob boss’ niece. Mix them all up in a small Maine town and get the hell out of the way.”
Who are you reading right now?
John Connolly.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Hill. Billy. Noir.

Patrick Shawn Bagley blogs at Hillbillies and Hitmen. His short story, IN THE DITCH, can be found in the latest issue of Spinetingler Magazine.

Crime Always Plays: In Which The Irish Crime Flick Comes Of Age

Crikey! Turn your back on Technicolour Talkies of Hibernia for two seconds and all hell breaks loose. First off, the trailer for In Bruges has finally arrived, and the good news is that it looks the dog’s. Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes, all let loose on the unsuspecting populace of Bruges in a hilarious, dark caper movie about two hapless hitmen on the loose … truly our cup runneth over. Elsewhere on TToH, Gavin Burke – for lo! It is he! – tips us off that director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name of the Father) is making a crime flick, Emerald City, based on the Irish mob of Hell’s Kitchen. Looks like the Irish crime flick is finally coming of age, people. Anyhoo, here’s the trailer for In Bruges – and we’re loving the tagline: ‘Shoot first, sightsee later’ …

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: HELLFIRE by Mia Gallagher

Mia Gallagher’s debut novel utilises two risky devices to embellish its narrative, but boy, do they work. Firstly, the protagonist, Lucy Dolan, is trying to make sense of a horrific, life-changing event of 13 years earlier and narrates the story partly from the first person, but mostly from the second; she’s addressing her childhood friend, Nayler, who is the missing piece of the puzzle that is her life. This switching between pronouns works beautifully and imbues an epic story, which spans four generations, with a life-force from the beginning – who is this Nayler and why is he so central to the plot? It doesn’t become fully apparent to the end, but that device drives the narrative in its jumping from the present, which is 2003, back to the ’30s,’40s and ’50s of inner city Dublin and from there to the ’60s, right up to the heroin epidemic that infected the city in the ’80s. Secondly, the entire story is relayed in vernacular Dublinese, which can be tricky to pull off; Roddy Doyle is one the only writers to have successfully done it thus far. But Gallagher’s faithful rendering of Dublin’s wackers, ganglords, messenger boys, tinkers, dealers, fortune tellers, pimps, junkies and brassers is more comparable in flavour to Irvine Welsh (which is intended as a high compliment). My only criticism is that the novel is perhaps overly long – somewhere three-quarters of the way through it seemed as though its cohesiveness had slipped a little; the time that Lucy spends in prison feels like it could be shortened and is slightly at odds with the rest of the novel. But, that small quibble aside, it redeems itself by the end and HELLFIRE is, overall, as addictive as Lucy’s beloved ‘gear.’- Claire Coughlan

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Monday Review. But Lawks! ’Tis A Tuesday!

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “[Ken] Bruen’s brilliant, machine-gun quick dialogue and furious pacing makes him one of my all-time favourites and a perennial pick for the Notable list,” reckons Seth Marko of AMMUNITION at The Book Catapult’s End-of-Year Notable list. Over at Spinetingler Magazine, Sandra Ruttan agrees: “Far too many authors mistake volume for detail, and waste a lot of words never saying what Bruen can nail in a single sentence. He’s taken the lesson of writing short stories – that every single word must count – applied it to writing novels, and the result is stories that pull you into them and refuse to let you go until you’ve finished the last page. Somehow, Bruen also manages to pull off the difficult task of having an ensemble cast that never feels too large, weaves several storylines together in a way that seems effortless, and makes his lead a character who is completely unlikeable, and yet somehow endearing.” Brant endearing? Criminy … Onward to The Saturday Review, and Dan’s take on Andrew Pepper’s THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE: “Pyke is the very definition of anti-hero. Normally I am not attracted to amoral protagonists, preferring my heroes to be a little cleaner cut, but for some reason I really took to Pyke, and will certainly attempt to follow him on any subsequent adventures.” Which is nice … “The original characters (mainly Skulduggery and Stephanie but also the secondary characters) and the witty dialogue between them strengthen the basic good-triumphs-over-evil plot,” says Laura Baas at the Library and Literary Miscellany of Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT … They’re starting to trickle in for Julie Parson’s latest, I SAW YOU: “Madness, revenge and atonement all intermingle, as the pace of the novel increases towards a violent and bloody climax. Julie Parsons has written a page-turner that will keep the reader fascinated right to the very end,” says Vincent Banville at the Irish Times. Staying with Fab Vinnie, this time on Ruth Dudley Edwards’ latest: “MURDERING AMERICANS, as well as being a mystery thriller, casts a bleary satiric eye on the institutionalised correctness of American academia. Lovely stuff.” And now for something completely ZUGZWANG: “Bennett deftly evokes the atmosphere of a society in which an international chess tournament can seize the attention of the local populace while terrorist bombs are exploding around the city … ZUGZWANG moves quickly – there is not a moment when history gets in the way of the plot [take that, Marx!] – and yet the underlying message comes through quite clearly: The real madness in St. Petersburg is not in Dr. Spethmann’s office,” says Michael Wade at Execupundit. Over at Wynne’s World of Books, Wynne – for lo! It is he! – agrees: “The plot is convoluted with lots of twists and turns involving revolutionary and counter-revolutionary plots – all great fun but infused with political and ethical dilemmas … A really great read – highly recommended.” The Sunday Tribune carried a yearly round-up of best books which included Gerard Donovan’s JULIUS WINSOME: “A dark, vivid, and gently powerful novel about revenge and loneliness … delivered in precise prose as cold, sharp, and evocative as the shot described ringing out in the cold Maine October afternoon at the beginning of the book. O’Donovan’s narrator … is much more complicated than the normal run of the mill vengeful protagonist … and this is a book about the nature of revenge which is satisfyingly complex.” The Trib also liked Tana French’s IN THE WOODS, to wit: “The prose manages to be smart and satisfying without falling into the easy trap of being overly literary, making this the perfect antidote to the more pedestrian efforts which clog up the market. A very satisfying debut with a rich feel for character.” Sean Moncrieff’s THE HISTORY OF THINGS also went down a treat with the Trib: “A novel which is fully rounded and imbued with a sense of imminent doom … The various miseries inflicted upon Dalton are described with the kind of subtle detail that makes your skin crawl, and Moncrieff has a pitch-perfect feel for describing the aftermath of a broken marriage, and the slow steady disintegration of a mind under stress.” As for Declan Hughes’ THE COLOUR OF BLOOD, don’t get them Trib-types started. Ooops, too late: “This is a book that could so easily have become an unconvincing pastiche, maybe two parts Chinatown to one part Jim Rockford; but Hughes’s writing has the intelligence and integrity to allow him to create something which stands assuredly on its own two feet. If you like your detective fiction written with smarts, and a meaty, mature, and satisfying edge to it, then this book is for you.” Finally, Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN is still hauling in the big-ups, starting with Tom Adair in The Scotsman: “You sense that Banville / Black found it easy and wrote it quickly, wrote it with relish – one of the reasons you enjoy it, despite a nagging feeling of hunger for something meatier on the inside. Its descriptive power is delicious … all in all it’s a romp of a read, a compelling fix.” Over at The Telegraph, Tom Fleming is largely in agreement: “The writing and characterisation are enough to sustain the attention when the plot occasionally stalls. This is a literary thriller that merits the name.” And that, we’re almost entirely certain, is a very good thing …

All The Fun Of The Fayre: Yep, ’Tis Ye Olde Crime Carnivale!

“Ta-ra-ra-boo-ki-yay / Ta-ra-ra- boo-ki-yay …” Yessiree Sideshow Bob, it’s the latest leg of the Crime Carnival, and sincere apologies if our calliope music sounds a little wonky, not to mention nothing like any music you’ve heard before at any carnival. Here at Crime Always Pays Towers, however, wonkiness is the new black, courtesy of the elves’ patented Elf-Wonking Juice. Stick around, you just might get used to it …

Before we plunge down the dark alleyway that is the crime writing blogosphere, however, we’d like to doff our caps / pay our dues / offer you a little history. Ye Olde Crime Carnivale is the brainchild of criminal mastermind Barbara Fister, who thought that it might be a rather spiffing idea for like-minded people to share their favourite blogs, websites, writers and all things crime-‘n’-interweb-related. Karen Chisholm at AustCrimeFiction took up the poisoned chalice in her beautifully manicured hand, before passing it on to the strong and silent (but deadly) J. Kingston Pierce at The Rap Sheet. Sadly, he got himself hooked up with a load of Femmes Fatales (left), and brother, that was all she (or they, for that matter) wrote.

Anyhoo, moving swiftly along … First, a brief history of Crime Always Pays. Last April, the Grand Vizier, Declan Burke, co-published THE BIG O with the tiny but perfectly formed Irish publishing house Hag’s Head Press on a 50-50 costs and profits deal. There being zip, zilch and nada in the promotion budget, and Declan Burke having a yen to start telling the world at large about the thriving Irish crime fiction scene, a blog was born. Naturally, the first thing we discovered was that someone else had got there before us. Critical Mick – for lo! It is he! – is a veritable Golden Cornflake of Irish crime fiction blogging, being the original and the best. Irascible, spicily opinionated, never less than original and mad as a box of frogs, Critical Mick should be the first port of call for anyone looking for updates on Irish crime writing or confirmation that they are, in fact, the second-biggest loony on the planet. Ah, and an honourable mention in terms of an Irish crime fiction resource goes to author Cormac Millar, who compensates for his irregular updates with a comprehensive database of all things Irish crime writing.

Coming as we do from an independent publishing viewpoint, we generally like to support the kind of lone wolves who pretty much march to their own drum, and so – trumpet parp please, maestro – it’s off to Philly to drop in on Peter Rozovsky at Detectives Beyond Borders. Given that he’s likely to celebrate anything from Eoin Colfer’s young adult fiction to crime tropes in Shakespeare, we like to imagine that yon Rozovsky has a brain like the Mekon from the old Dan Dare comics, albeit with Dan Dare’s square chin and dreamy eyes. Or is that just us? Hmmmm …

Anyway, off we go again with hop, a skip and a jump across the blogosphere to the man we believe is either Rozovsky’s evil twin / alter ego or his dastardly nemesis, Glenn Harper at International Noir. Glenn doesn’t like Michael Dibdin, but don’t hold that against him – in the last fortnight alone he’s been bigging up fiction from Australia, Iceland, the UK and Italy, and should really be put on a retainer by International Publishers Inc., if and when such a corporation comes into being.

Meanwhile, Nathan Cain over at Independent Crime gets a well-deserved plug for (a) his resolute support for independent crime and (b) his ‘Wednesday Paperback Cover’ slot (left), the less said about which the better lest the elves start drooling into the keyboard again. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of drooling, two words: Jen Jordan. Hell, her profile even describes her as ‘friend to all elves’. If we weren’t currently stalking Ruth Dudley Edwards, Jen Jordan would be reaching for the barring order as you read. Logging on to Human Under Construction is a mini-Crime Carnival every time, a veritable cornucopia of generalised weirdness that even includes crime fiction-related material once in a while …

Out with the inflatable rubber raft, then, and it’s high-ho back across the Atlantic to the UK, and Petrona, an indispensable resource run by the ubiquitous Maxine Clarke, without whose perpetual motion the entire interweb would very probably collapse in on itself in a black hole. The great fear, of course, is that one day Maxine will stop for a snooze, and then we’ll all be scuppered. In the meantime, she’s hosting an exhaustive list of blogs and websites pertaining to a bewildering variety of crime fiction and science-related topics …

Maxine regularly reviews (said he with a barely perceptible segue) for Euro Crime, hosted by Karen Meek, a site that offers a treasure trove of info on all things (yep!) Euro + Crime, not least of which is the weekly update (usually on a Sunday evening) of a slew of new reviews. In fact, Karen is very probably the evil twin sister / dastardly nemesis of the chaps at Detectives Beyond Borders and International Noir, and for all we know they’re plotting to subvert democracy and are sending messages in code via their reviews. Still, it can’t be Mills & Boon (right) all the time, right?

One last UK resource, this being one Welsh, which is reason enough for celebration – Crimefic at It’s A Crime! Or A Mystery! is currently hosting a series in which writers chose their favourite books of the year for a ‘Christmas Books’ selection, and most of her blogspace is taken up by that project at the moment. At quieter times of the year, however, you can catch all sorts of thoughtful and incisive pieces on the book industry from the perspective of a dedicated crime fiction fan. Unfortunately, as regular readers will be aware, Crimefic has recently suffered a bereavement. Our sincere condolences go out to one of the leading ladies of the crime fiction blogosphere ...

Finally, we’re going to mention International Crime, a German outpost of all things skulduggerish and hardboiled, run by Bernd Kochanowski. The gist of his manifesto runneth thusly: Gedanken über Krimis, insbesondere aus den USA, Großbritannien und Irland. As you’ve probably guessed, the site is in German, and given that our command of German is only marginally worse than our command of English, we haven’t a buggery’s idea as to what’s going on over there except to say the man’s working hard to keep the crime fiction flame a-burning bright, which is the whole point of Ye Olde Crime Carnivale. Right? All together now: Unten müssen jene Mittelstraßen ein Mann gehen...

By the way – the next Carnival? It’s Material Witness, people. And they’re serious about crime fiction. Don’t say you weren’t warned …