Month: January 2018

Tricks of the Trade: New Release: Cosy Crime

 

In this Edinburgh legal/detective drama, readers get a refreshing, modern take on the cozy-crime mode of crime delivery. Well written and fast-paced, the story hits its stride in chapter two and holds on to the reader until the big reveal. For fans of Agatha Christie, Robert Barnard, Minna Lundgren, Ann Cleeves and M.C. Beaton, this new writer is a ‘must follow’.

I didn’t have any preconceptions going into this story and wasn’t sure what the angle or style would be until the story got going. It starts off with a trainee solicitor complaining about his lot, scratching his head and musing. But that’s not a bad thing. Think back to Dorothy L Sayers’ Gaudy Night, ten thousand words on her memories of her old college and a clock, before anything happens, and that’s a classic!

But somewhere a few pages in, out protagonist, Stewart, starts confiding his thoughts in his friends and then we get to see the wheels turning. There’s been a potentially suspicious death and the as the solicitors responsible for executing the will, Stewart’s firm has a strange interest in making sure they know what happened because this dead man has a proviso. If he commits suicide, he doesn’t want his family to inherit. And there’s the perfect cozy crime set up.

The author works the premise well. Once the story starts flowing the writing is excellent and fast-paced. It has the feel of a book written in one go, a polished first draft, which keeps the excitement the author felt while writing, still intact.

Readers who have been enjoying the resurgence in interest and re-publication of some out of print oldies will appreciate several elements here – the cozy crime angle, the whodunit, and also the classic locked-room approach. The story wraps up nicely with a closed room Cluedo style ending and although there is a little police procedural action, only the bare minimum to make it more believable. So have a look. It might be just your thing.

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Published by Endeavour Press 19th January 2018
http://www.euanbpollock.com

 

Writing is both therapy and addiction: Robb T. White

Join us this week with Guest Blogger Robb T. White, author or Dangerous Women and Perfect Killer.  

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People often ask, what’s my attitude towards “creative writing”? Well… It’s an ambivalent attitude. I see it as both therapy and addiction. It takes me out of my self and away from my consciousness of this world, my own limitations, my failures as a person, and being trapped in the bubble of my own life. Who can see the world as it is and not feel overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, impatience, and loathing? Writing anything removes you for a while from the sordid and the tedious both. It’s ironic for me because I despise actors as the some of the most useless of human beings on the planet. Yet to be involved in creating and deploying fictional beings across an imaginary landscape invented from one’s own mind is a joy, sometimes indescribable, comparable to a junkie’s fix. (That is, when it goes well.) But to what purpose? Indie crime writers don’t make money and there’s no fame to speak of. You can get some kudos from readers on Goodreads and Amazon, which I admit are flattering for the moment, but there are the negative critics (bloggers and readers) to offset them. It’s like running in place: some exercise for the body but you go nowhere.

What about crime writing? Now this is… niche writing, rarely more than entertainment of a low-brow sort, although some crime fiction is superior to so-called literary writing. I’ll take a third-rate crime novel over a formulaic academic or mainstream novel any day. Marlon Brando once said there’s nothing that turns the stomach faster than some celebrity talking about him- or herself on late-night TV. Nothing’s changed. Novels about middle-class relationships don’t interest me unless done with a scalpel as in Tirza, by the Dutch novelist Grunberg. I once devoured true-crime paperbacks, lamenting that the majority were so pedestrian in style despite the flamboyant subject matter. It isn’t that every criminal per se is complex. Far from it. Most are obtuse, empathy-deficient, and lacking in the emotional layering of ordinary people; they deserve the contempt society has for them (namely, prisons). Crime fiction, however, comes with an expectation of larger-than-life characteristics, plot violence (a kind that affords a “new” view of reality, not just cursing, stealing, and killing), and gutsy rule-breaking in narrative point of view. Both Dostoevsky and Camus qualify as crime-fiction writers in that sense. Besides, no one disputes Milton’s Satan is more interesting than the dullard “hero” Adam.

What writers got you writing?  I’m still enamored of my usual favorites, those beautiful writers like Thomas Harris, Martin Cruz Smith, and David Lindsey. I should mention the anti-influence of those other writers, whom a reader can cull from any New York Time’s bestseller list. Those Christie imitators and the endless Dreck of cozies cranked out like spoiled sausage ever since. If you crack open ten novels from the mystery section of any library shelf or supermarket rack, you’ll see in 9 what’s waiting for you from the first page on: the same dull writing, cute plot escapes and solutions, chatty (or comfortably nonconformist) narrating, and stockpiled banalities.

 

Lissa: Thanks Robb. I have to say, I agree on all points. Screw boring books. 

 

Gritty Mid Western Crime Fiction: Robb T. White

I came across a couple of titles this week that had slipped my attention. These two books from Robb T. White are full of red-blooded anti-hero protagonists, the kind good old fashioned pulp fiction loves and my own Lilly Lessard would run into.

The first book, Dangerous Women was brought out by Class Act Books. Here’s the blurb:

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Violence, they often say, is a male prerogative. But someone forgot to tell women like “Baby” Frontanetta in the first story of the collection, or Francie, for whom robbing an armored car isn’t that big a deal, if only her lover will “man up” to assist her. Even parricide isn’t beyond the pale for her. There are the twins Bella and Donna, aptly named, as the narrator of “the Birthmark” will discover. There’s semi-literate Bobbie from West Virginia, a gorgeous lap dancer in a sleazy club in Cleveland, who knows what price men will put on owning beauty like hers. Come meet them all—the hustlers, con artists, thieves, and all-around trouble-makers; you’ll see what the women in these pages are capable of—but beware: they are not your mother’s “ladies.”

 

 

The second is Perfect Killer.

UntitledJade Hui is an FBI agent on the way down – until, that is, her supervising agent assigns her a triple-murder investigation. She soon must overcome bureaucratic obstacles to catch a free-roaming, amoral killer who leaves neither pattern nor motive in his wake. Her suspect is not a typical spree killer or psychotic fantasy killer. Born into wealth and privilege, gifted with great intelligence and strength, Charles Wöissell has his own reasons for travelling across America selecting victims. Wöissell intends to burn every bridge left – home, family, safety – for revenge against the one woman who has put herself in his path.

 

 

Isn’t it great when you find a new/old good book!

Robb T. White will be dropping by next week to give us an insight into his inspiration and some tips on getting a book (or two) finished.