Wednesday 2 September 2009

A Varied Bunch

Pan Macmillan are one of the most interesting of those publishers who have a strong crime list. Over the years, Macmillan have published many excellent books, though I still mourn the passing of the excellent ‘Winter’s Crimes’ series of anthologies, and the fact that a number of really good writers have departed their ranks. However, I appreciate the way they have backed the work of Ann Cleeves over the years – with the impressive payback not only of the CWA Gold Dagger for her first Jimmy Perez book, but now also, as I reported the other day, an imminent television series featuring her other current detective, Vera Stanhope. It’s too often the case that publishers dump writers who don’t produce instant dividends, something that (needless to say!) I deprecate, and their faith in Ann has been more than repaid. I’m looking forward to her next Perez, Blue Lightning.

The diversity of the Macmillan list is is one of its real strengths. I’ve mentioned before my appreciation of their New Writing enterprise, which has yielded a number of real finds, and a review of James McCreet’s interesting debut novel The Incendiary’s Trail will appear here shortly. I also wanted to highlight some of their other new and forthcoming publications – they seem to be a varied bunch indeed.

Linda Castillo’s Sworn to Silence came out recently. It has a rural setting, the town of Painter’s Mill, where both Amish and non-Amish citizens live together, more or less in harmony – though sixteen years ago, the community was shocked by a series of brutal and unsolved murders. A young Amish girl, Kate Burkholder, left Painter’s Mill, but now returns as Chief of Police. Then another savage killing occurs…

David Hosp’s Among Thieves is described as ‘red-hot fiction rooted in stone cold fact’ and it is due to come out next year. The author is ‘a trial lawyer who finds time to write his novels on his daily commute by boat across Boston harbour’ (trying to think up stories while stuck in traffic on the Thelwall Viaduct just isn't the same, I can tell you) and is pitched at the John Grisham fan base.

Ryan David Jahn’s Acts of Violence is due to come out in November. It’s billed as ‘2009’s most unnerving literary thriller, based on 1964’s most notorious real-life murder’. Since Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were at their appalling work in 1964, you might assume from this that the source material is the Moors Murders, but in fact the crime in question is ‘the the famous murder case of Kitty Genovese, which was witnessed by 38 people who allegedly did nothing to help.’

Finally, Chelsea Cain’s Evil at Heart features murderous Gretchen Lowell and Detective Archie Sheridan, and is the latest entry in one of the most high-profile serial killer series. In this instalment, a spleen is discovered at a rest stop - which in itself gives you a fair idea of whether the rest of the story will or will not be to your taste…we are back here to the discussion of gruesomeness which prompted such fascinating comments from you last week.


Maxine Clarke said...

To start with a disclaimer, I share an employer with PanMacmillan books, though I am in Nature Publishing Group, a different division of the company, and have no professional contact with the books companies.

However, every month we do have the opportunity to purchase PanMacmillan books, so over my years with the company, I have purchased many a good crime novel. As you write, some good (and some not so good) authors have come and gone, while others remain. I hope you don't mind if I mention some of my own favourites here?

Ann Cleeves as you say, of course!

Brian McGilloway (Borderlands et al) - started with Macmillans new writers but now on the main list.

Len Tyler (excellent "Herring" series)

Catherine Sampson - a wonderful author whose first crime novels were about a TV journalist coming to terms with new (single) parenthood, but who has now segued into being about a Chinese private detective. The author is an ex-BBC correspondent for the region and now lives in China, so these are not only great stories but also authentic.

Sue Grafton, whose long-running alphabetical Kinsey Millhone PI series recently won the "lifetime achievement" Dagger award (or something along those lines!).

Hakan Nesser, one of my favourite Swedish writers - an acerbic, droll and surprisingly moving series of police procedurals, starting with The Mind's Eye.

If you include Picador (a Macmillan imprint) you can also have the delectable Andrea Camilleri and his Montalbano novels, beautifully translated from the Italian by Stephen Satarelli.

As soon as I press "send" I am going to think of more! But these are the authors who spring to mind immediately who I have enjoyed reading.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

A spleen at a rest stop? Well, if that was all there was, it would probably be okay (although your comment following that revelation leads me to believe the rest of the story is gory, too.)

I love the Minette Walters books, but hers are as disturbing as I usually can handle.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, I felt Minette's 'The Sculptress' was one of the very best crime novels of the 90s.
Maxine, thanks for these observations. I have a Catherine Sampson book, maybe two, somewhere around, but haven't read her as yet.