AGENT X - BLOG
Welcome to THE DARK PAGES, the home of crooks and villains, mobsters and terrorists, spies and private eyes; where the plots are twistier than a knotted noose and the pacing tighter than Marlon Brando’s braces.
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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. You can tell because the shops are full of jingles, the television’s full of perfume, and the newspapers are full of people summarising The Best /Worst Things About This Year, for those of us with ultra-short term cultural amnesia. To be honest though, I could do with a recap. I found myself on a flight from Moscow to London recently – or, to give you a bit of necessary background, I found myself in the departure lounge at Domodedovo with a constantly retreating flight time, an expense account, and a friendly barmaid.
THE LEW GRIFFIN SERIES (1992-2001)
by JAMES SALLIS
Reviewed by Stav Sherez
The first book that got me started on crime fiction? That's way too far back in the mists of youth for me to remember. But the first series which showed me what you could do with a series that you couldn't do with standalones was James Sallis' astonishing and groundbreaking Lew Griffin novels.
Of course, I'd read series books before – Barry Gifford, Joe Lansdale, Andrew Vachss, among others – but I'd never thought of the series as something in and of itself – a separate and distinct form – until I picked up Long Legged Fly.
Lew Griffin is a part-time private detective, creative writing teacher, poet and drunk. He's also black, and this is Louisiana, Jim Crow shadows still breathing down the neck of the South. The novel starts with Griffin killing a man by an abandoned oil derrick outside New Orleans. In its simplicity and starkness it's one of the most stunning opening scenes in crime fiction; Camus crossed with Chester Himes
Griffin is then employed to find a missing person. He doesn't succeed. What he finds instead are the thin and fragile threads of friendship which hold society together in the face of life's vicissitudes.
The second and third of the series continue this trend. Griffin is hired to find someone. He never does. He drinks. He loses himself in the city. All the while he's searching for his son, David, who's been missing for several years. Needless to say, he doesn’t find him either.
What Dark Pages first tickled your fancy?
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Taking the writing on the road
As any crime writer or criminal will tell you, the trick of getting away with it is not to get too greedy and never, ever, return to the scene of the crime. Quit while you’re ahead.
That’s maybe what we should have done after organising the first Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling in 2012. It had been bold and reckless yet somehow we pulled it off. We built it and they came, crime writers and readers in their thousands, and no one got hurt. It was a small but beautiful miracle.
Did we return to the scene of the crime? Well of course we did.
Greedy for more of the same, we did it all again in September. The 700-seater Albert Halls were sold out for both Jo Nesbo and Lee Child, and there were huge audiences for the likes of William McIlvanney, Colin Bateman, Arne Dahl, Denise Mina, Christopher Brookmyre and Mark Billingham,
My own Bloody Scotland experience was a mixed bag. I say mixed, I mean weird. The ever-excellent Chris Carter and I had a full house for our discussion about serial killers. I also had the dubious pleasure of moderating the formidable pairing of Val McDermid and Stuart MacBride.
Cold as Ice
On a freezing cold winter's day, the body of a young woman is pulled from an icy canal in London. To D.I. Dan Carter it looks like a tragic accident rather than the work of a murderer. But D.C. Ebony Willis is not so sure. Why has the woman's face been painted with garish make-up and wrapped in a plastic bag?
From the author of the bestselling Dead of Winter comes a page-turning new thriller that will have you hooked from start to finish.
Click here to hear Lee Weeks discussing her new novel.
VIDEO - CRAIG ROBERTSON