Monday, 9 May 2016
Anthony, Ambler, and Words in the Square
A quick trip to London for two contrasting events began brilliantly, when I received an email telling me that The Golden Age of Murder has been shortlisted for an Anthony award, at the New Orleans Bouchercon this September. The shortlist includes, as well as Kate White's popular MWA cookbook, and two other highly informative and interesting books, Val McDermid's book on Forensics, which I rushed out to purchase shortly after its original publication.
So The Golden Age of Murder has won two awards and been shortlisted for two others; three of my novels have, over the years, been shortlisted for major awards (one of which, the Theakston's award for best crime novel of the year, for which The Coffin Trail was a contender, was actually won by Val) but I've never had an experience like this. It's a once in a lifetime thing, and to say I'm delighted is a massive under-statement.
On Friday evening, I was one of no fewer than eight speakers at the British Library, talking about Eric Ambler. Three of Ambler's post-war novels have just been reissued in the BL's Classic Thrillers series, and I wrote introductions for each of them. I'm an Ambler fan - my favourite is his masterpiece, The Mask of Dimitrios - and it was a pleasure to chat about his work. I particularly liked Stav Sherez' suggestion that Ambler's work has something in common with that of the noir writers. A thoughtful and persuasive observation, I think.
The next day, I headed for St James's Square (pictured above) for the London Library's celebration of its 175th anniversary, Words in the Square. There was a glittering cast of speakers, so I felt honoured to be included among the invitees. Last year, Golden Age expert and commentator Helen Szamuely took me on a guided tour of the Library, and I thought it a fantastic place, full of atmosphere and history.
The panellists whom I was moderating were James Runcie (son of the Archbishop, literary curator, documentary producer and author of the books on which the highly successful TV series Grantchester is based), Simon Brett, and Kate Summerscale, author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, one of the most successful books about real life crime in living memory. Simon told the story of the creation of The Sinking Admiral, which is due to be published next month - something that I hope all crime fans who like a bit of fun with their fiction will anticipate eagerly. With writers of such pedigree, moderating is an easy task, and the hour sped by. The audience seemed to enjoy it, and I certainly did.