Saturday, 27 October 2012

Chris Simms - guest blog

I first met Chris Simms at an author event in Stockport, organised by the late lamented Borders bookstore, a few years back.Another local writer, Kate Ellis, was also with us, but as the event was - shall we say? - modestly attended, we soon repaired to a nearby pub to drown our sorrows and have a chat. Most enjoyable it was, too.

At that time, Chris had only published one book, but I felt from that first encounter that his zest and drive were such that he was someone who would make rapid progress in the crime fiction world, and so it proved. I'm really glad that recently both he and Kate have joined Murder Squad, the group of Northern crime writers formed by Margaret Murphy back in 2000. The Squad's very first event, by the way, was also hosted by Borders UK, and drew a good crowd; I'm afraid, though, that by the time of the Stockport event, the writing was on the wall for the chain - a shame, especially for their enthusiastic staff.

Chris' latest novel, Scratch Deeper, came out yesterday. It is published by Severn House.(whose list now includes a good many stellar names) and to celebrate I invited him to contribute a guest post to this blog. Here it is:

"The other day I found myself thinking; they’re at it again, those crafty little fellows in the Foreign Office. Up to the same old tricks they’ve used so many times before.

You may also have spotted the news story of how the High Court has given leave for three members of the Mau Mau to sue the British government for torturing them back in the 1950s. The Foreign Office immediately announced its intention to appeal on the grounds that it can’t be held accountable for crimes committed by a government from half a century ago.

Funny that,: seeing as the only reason it has taken this long is because the Foreign Office (backed by successive administrations from the 1950s onward) have delayed, stalled and thwarted the Kenyans’ fight for justice anyway they could. (Including the wholesale destruction of colonial records supporting the Kenyans’ claims of torture being used on an industrial scale – including castration and savage beatings.)

But this is an author blog, so why am I banging on about it? Only because I touched on the Mau Mau issue in a previous novel called Savage Moon. That, however, isn’t the reason for writing this blog.

I wanted to point out something relating to the here and now. You see, our government – Labour, Tory or Coalition – continues to try and project power in foreign places in the hope of influencing how that country’s resources are exploited. (The fertile Kenyan highlands provided cheap food to post-war Britain.) Numerous human rights abuses are committed round the world as a result. So I wonder, in another fifty years’ time, will the Foreign Office be responding to claims by Iraqis or Libyans that it can’t be held accountable for crimes committed by a government from half a century ago?

I suspect they will. After all, it’s a trick they’ve used so many times before."


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