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Sins of the Father

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 08:34
 The third book in the D/S Jimmy Suttle series publishes in November.  Here's what happens... A rich elderly man, Rupert Moncrieff, is beaten to death in the silence of his West Country waterside mansion, his head hooded and his throat cut. His extended family are still living beneath his roof, each with their own room, their own story, their own ghosts, and their own motives for murder. And in this world of darkness and dysfunction are the artefacts and memories of atrocities in colonial Kenya that are returning to haunt them all.At the heart of the murder investigation is...

La Vie Francaise

Friday, August 8, 2014 - 17:15
Most writers I know – English or otherwise – respond to changes of location (in plainer English we call this “travel”).  We also, as a tribe, enjoy the chance to meet fellow writers, compare notes, and maybe even bump into one or two folk who have dared to scale our modest fictional alps and have survived to make it back to base camp (we call these “readers”).  Roll all these delights into a single weekend and – voila! – you may be lucky enough to find yourself invited to a festival de polars. My first experience of this full...

The Past is a Moving Target

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 12:50
Just returned from Israel and the West Bank.  Extraordinary trip.  The last time I went was 48 years ago but even at 19 I was older than the fledgling Israeli state.  It was the end of my first year at Cambridge and the long summer vacation yawned ahead.  I was as skint as every other student I knew but I badly wanted to put serious distance between myself and the UK and spotted an appeal for fruit pickers on an Israeli kibbutz.  In return for a couple of months in the orchards, they gave you a return flight, a bed, free food, and pocket money of (as I recall) a quid...

Remembrance

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 17:24
 Just back from a research trip to Northern Germany.  The book is called Finisterre.  In essence it’s an off-piste excursion into the world of a U-boat Kapitan called Stefan Portish, and a renegade FBI agent – Hector Gomez.  Portisch and Gomez do their fictional business on separate sides of the Atlantic during the closing months of the Second World War, each tugging at separate ends of what turns out to be the same plot-line.  The idea came to me when Lin and I were wandering around Northern Spain in our camper.  One sunny afternoon in an...

Fifty Years On

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 12:33
  Fifty Years On Half a lifetime ago, back in my university days, I was debating how to take maximum advantage of the long summer vacations.  Three months was a long time.  The world was at my feet.  Where should I go?The problem, of course, was money.  Like every other student, I was skint.  A decent stretch of bar work would give me enough to get by for maybe a month but after that I’d be sleeping on the beach.  Then I happened on an ad for holiday contracts in Israel.  Sign up for six weeks apple-picking in a kibbutz and they’d...

Rockbusters

Monday, February 17, 2014 - 11:01
Here’s a thing.  It’s Sunday morning and sunshine invites us back on the water.  The wind has disappeared.  The last storm has tossed our boats around in the compound, damaging one of them,  but the beamy Safran is still intact.  We rig it up, stow the coffee and fruit cake, and head for the beach.The tide is high and last week’s storms haven’t quite finished with us.  Waves curl and break.  We need to plan this launch.Knee-deep in the surf, we keep tripping over mystery obstacles. Storm-tossed rocks.  Half-digested bits of...

Memento Mori

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 19:03
Memento MoriWe live within sight of the sea.  Indeed, our view of the sea happily fills every window at the front of the house.  We also row twice a week on that same stretch of the ocean: beyond Dawlish and back, to Budleigh and back, or upriver when the gods of the deep are in a stroppy mood.  So we kid ourselves we’re on handshake terms with this stretch of coastline.  How wrong we were.Nothing could have prepared us for the last week or so.  First  the traffic jam of weather systems emerging from the storm nursery off Nova Scotia, then thundering east,...

Ecstasy

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 10:08
I’ve just finished Olivia Laing’s excellent The Trip to Echo Spring, rightly shortlisted for last year’s Costa Biography Award.  It’s a beautifully written exploration of the swampy badlands between creative endeavour and the crutch some writers use to make it to the end of their journey.  Ms Laing takes the train and a couple of flights to criss-cross the US and try and figure out what happened inside the brains (and livers) of Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever, Raymond Carver and poet John Berryman.  The travel...

The "M" Word

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 12:29
Writing is a strange game.  A contractual hiccough delayed the start of this year’s book until 2ndJanuary.  The Killing Stone will be the third in the D/S Jimmy Suttle series, and explores the onset – and the consequences – of madness.  This happens to be a hot topic just now, not least because the safety net we fondly believe to be in place is, to be polite, fraying.  There are holes through which potentially dangerous folk can easily slip.  Beneath lies the murderous netherworld inhabited by the seriously deranged with untold consequences for the...

Strange Stuff

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 15:02
Writing can be a odd business.  You spend a sizeable chunk of the working day trying to conjure tension and credibility from characters you’ve hauled from the depths of your imagination.  You arrange them in interesting patterns, push them in this direction or that, and hope to God that the fictional chemistry works.  Then you check the e-mail or answer the phone, and begin to wonder about that strange no-man’s-land between reality and make-believe. The phone call first. It came from a woman called Peggy Harrison.  She’s the speaker secretary of a...

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