Event Report: CWA 60th Anniversary Event

Barry Forshaw at CWA

Barry Forshaw at CWA

Last night I trotted into London for the CWA 60th Anniversary event. Held on the third floor of the fabulous Foyles flagship bookstore on Charing Cross Road, the celebrations began at 6.30pm with the announcement of the CWA’s recent polls to find the greatest crime writer, crime series and crime novel of all time.

The packed room fell silent as the winners were announced. And the winners are …

Best Ever Novel: THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD – AGATHA CHRISTIE 

Best Ever Author – AGATHA CHRISTIE

Best Ever Crime Series – SHERLOCK HOLMES

Following the announcement, an expert panel of crime thriller writers – Barry Forshaw, Belinda Bauer, Zoe Sharp and David Stuart Davies – debated the shortlist choices and winners, with panel chair, Barry Forshaw, playing ‘devils advocate’.

A lively discussion was had – with topics ranging from plot-holes in classic crime novels, what can an author do when they get sick of writing their protagonist (as Agatha Christie did famously with Poirot), and who is the best Sherlock Holmes?

Congratulations to the winners and Happy Anniversary CWA.

 

Event Report: CSI Portsmouth

Ticket, Book & Fingerprint Key-ring!

Ticket, Book & Fingerprint Key-ring!

On Saturday I made the trip to Portsmouth to attend CSI Portsmouth. Organised by crime writer Pauline Rowson, and one of many events taking place as part of the Portsmouth BookFest 2013, CSI Portsmouth was held at the fabulous Royal Naval Museum in the Historic Dockyard.

Now in its fourth year, the event brought together crime writers and crime solving experts.

The morning panel paired crime authors Pauline Rowson and Kerry Wilkinson, with real-life crime experts Michael Ellis of Hampshire Police and Dr Alex Allan, a Forensic Scientist specialising in Toxicology. The afternoon panel paired crime authors SJ Bolton and NJ Cooper with  real-life crime experts Brian Chappell, MBE, former DCI with the MET and Scotland Yard, and Sergeant Tony Birr from Hampshire Police Marine Unit.

Both panels made for some interesting discussions. For example, the debate in the morning panel around ‘legal highs’ and how the use of these unregulated and seemingly untested drugs are impacting on the police and other emergency services, and the conversation in the afternoon panel between NJ Cooper and SJ Bolton on whether provoking fear in themselves whilst writing helped them portray a scary and tension filled scene.

In addition to the panels, Haling Island Bookshop was on-hand for all your bookish shopping needs, and I was able to get my fingerprint (well, thumbprint) taken by Hampshire Constabulary and have it put into a key-ring!

If you’re interested in how crime is investigated both in real life and in crime fiction, CSI Portsmouth 2014 could be worth a visit.

CTG Reviews: NEVER GO BACK by Lee Child

NEVER GO BACK cover image

NEVER GO BACK cover image

What the blurb says: “ After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington DC, the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had. Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind Reacher’s old desk isn’t a woman. Why is Susan Turner not there? What Reacher doesn’t expect is what comes next. He himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn’t expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’ Will he be sorry he went back? Or – will someone else?”

Classic Reacher. Unputdownable.

When I was halfway through this book I started to slow down, I was so enjoying the story that I wanted to make it last longer. Now that, to me, is a great book. In fact, I think this might just be my new favourite of the series – and that’s a tough call to make because they are all so good.

Anyway, this book sees Reacher finally getting to Virginia. Only Major Susan Turner isn’t there and Reacher is recalled back into the army to face an old homicide charge (and another, more personal relationship-based, legal situation). But does Reacher quit? Of course not, he’s going to find out why both he and Susan Turner are being held on trumped-up charges, and ensure that justice is served.

So I’m not going to discuss the plot further than that because, quite frankly, you need to discover it as you read and I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

What I will say though is that this book is a little different to the majority of the others in the series due to the depth of connection between Reacher and Major Susan Turner. Reacher isn’t alone. Sure, you might say that in previous books he’s always teamed up with someone (often a woman) to sort out whatever situation he’s uncovered. But this is different. With Susan Turner the connection is way more than professional and way more than physical. This isn’t a knight rescuing a damsel in distress. This is a pair of knights, a partnership of equals, a meeting of minds, bodies and souls. And it makes for some gripping reading.

It also shows elements of Reacher that have been less touched upon in other books. Yes, sure, there’s still the great action sequences at the series is famous for, and Reacher is just as tough and able to win a fight (even with his hands behind his back) and he’s super smart at thinking through the complex problems that he encounters. But this time the personal stakes are higher, and so is the tension.

In this book, more than any other, Reacher has the chance to put down roots and, for the first time, it seems like he’s really considering it. Question is, after so long on the road, will he?

Highly recommended.

 

[I bought my copy of NEVER GO BACK from Waterstones book shop]