Thursday, 19 April 2018

Ghost in the Basement By Julia Heaberlin

In Julia Heaberlin’s new psychological thriller, Paper Ghosts, the title refers to old photographs that taunt us with their silence. In this essay, she recalls the childhood moment in real life she met a paper ghost she can never forget.

The steps to my grandfather’s basement were steep for a little girl hugging the wall on the way down. His basement was damp and dark, a scary world carved into the side of a Virginia mountain. It sat right above the hell that adults liked to talk about. Things crawled in the damp shadows.
Yet it was one of my favorite places. When I pulled the chain at the bottom, and light scattered the shadows, it was as if I’d entered my grandfather’s brain. Here is where he painted portraits and abstract blobs of color on wooden easels, cleaned guns and camera lenses, enlarged pictures, hung old tools with big teeth.
Here, in an old trunk, is where he stored a grim set of photographs.
When I was a little girl, I wasn’t a particularly brave one. I was afraid of roller coasters, back flips, horror movies, even the wall beside my bed. At night, after my mother turned off the light, I’d bang my fist on the wall to be sure it was solid. I was certain I would slip through the wall while I slept, and no one would know where I’d gone tumbling.
Nevertheless, on once-a-year visits to my grandfather in the Smoky Mountains, I opened the little door off his kitchen and risked tumbling. I wasn’t called by the washing machine, which gurgled down there, too. I was called by his art, by the creepy and intimate chaos, and by a particular little black book, about 8X10 and two inches thick. It was held together with a snap that always made me think twice before I opened it.
It was a book of horror. A book of sorrow. A book of death. Of dead people. And my grandfather was on the other side, looking through the lens.
For a short stint, my Granddaddy, a professional photographer, shot crime scenes and unusual deaths in a rural area. He was called the county morgue photographer. This book was a portfolio of people who left the earth in confusion and violence.
Horror can wash away the picture, they say, but not always the feeling. I remember mostly fuzzy things from secretly looking at that book. A dead man on an autopsy table. A live dog by a body of water. The idea that the dog belonged to someone who went in and didn’t come out.
I remember only one victim with perfect clarity. A young woman, limbs sprawled at right angles on kitchen tile. High heels. Her blood, pooled and black, because it was a black-and-white photograph. The feeling that her husband got away with it.
My grandfather was a wonderful man. He shot documentary pictures of coal mines, sang a twangy Amazing Grace, fostered Eagle Scouts, told dirty jokes, drew snowy scenes in charcoal pencil, smoked rich cigars, wrote letters to me in perfect calligraphy, drank too much, loved so hard he divorced and re-married my grandmother.
And yet he also was capable of shooting a dead woman with a cold and realistic eye.
He died when I was 19. If I could go back and be that little girl, I’d ask him: How did you do it?
Maybe he’d take me on his lap and ask: Why did you open the book?  
Every time I did, it was a punch in the gut. Every time, it was a wave of intense sadness and guilt. Every time, I had to shut the book quickly and put it back before I finished.
The murdered woman trailed after me when I climbed back up the stairs to the warmth of the kitchen. So did the questions. What was her name? Who loved her? What came before this picture? What came after? 
I just had that single flash.
I saw her framed in the calculating, detached way that only the police and the camera—and the killer—ever would.
I was a child. An audience of one in a cold basement.
 I will never forget her. 
That is what old photographs do. They become paper ghosts. They sink into our souls.
They make us ask questions. But they don’t tell us their secrets.

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin is published on 19 April (Michael Joseph £12.99)
Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. Before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.  Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back...  Because Carl's past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he's killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel. Now they're following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel.  Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he's guilty of nothing and she's the liar. Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she's taking a terrible risk. For if Carl really is a serial killer, she's alone in the most dangerous place of all . . 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Funeral in Berlin* by Ali Karim

*Actually Philip Kerr’s funeral was held in Wimbledon, England

Forgive my artistic license in titling this post; but as Mike Ripley and I paid our respects, following the tragic passing [at such an early age] of Philip Kerr – I reflected upon when we were first introduced to his character Bernie Gunther, which was set in 1936 Berlin in March Violets [published 1989].

Crime Writer, and literary commentator The Talented Mr Mike Ripley and I made our way to St Mary’s Church Wimbledon to pay our respects to an extraordinary talent in the genre that is Crime & Thriller – Philip Kerr.

The Crime and Thriller community has been reeling when we heard of Phil’s tragic passing aged 62, which has been widely reported in the press internationally.

To read the full report, click here

Sunday, 15 April 2018


Big hitters including Lee Child, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, feature on the longlist for the most prestigious crime writing prize in the country.

The prize was created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction and is open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.

2018 marks the 14th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award. The winner is announced at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, hosted in Harrogate each July. The festival was established in 2003 by Val McDermid, agent Jane Gregory, and arts charity Harrogate International Festivals.

The award is run in partnership with T&R Theakston Ltd, WHSmith, and The Mail on Sunday. The longlist of 18 titles were selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers and members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee.

Four previous winners of the award - Val McDermid (2006), Lee Child (2011), Denise Mina (2012 and 2013) and Chris Brookmyre (2017) - return on 2018’s longlist. The longlist also features some of the genre’s hottest new talent including the debut novels of Jane Harper, Emma Flint, Joseph Knox, Imran Mahmood and Abir Mukherjee.

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “2018’s longlist shows how strong and dynamic the genre is as it features so many debut novels, alongside established names. It shows how crime fiction not only dominates publishing but shapes our cultural landscape.”

The longlist in full:    
Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre
The Midnight Line by Lee Child
The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
Little Deaths by Emma Flint
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
The Dry by Jane Harper
Spook Street by Mick Herron
A Death at Fountains Abbey by Antonia Hodgson
He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Sirens by Joseph Knox
The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet
You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood
Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
The Long Drop by Denise Mina
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin
The Intrusions by Stav Sherez
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

The longlist will be promoted in a dedicated online campaign with WHSmith and a nationwide library promotion.

The shortlist of six titles will be announced on 27 May, followed by a six-week promotion in libraries and in WHSmith stores nationwide. The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 19 July on the opening night of the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. They’ll receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

The awards night will also feature the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, with past recipients over the years including PD James, Ruth Rendell, Reginald Hill and Colin Dexter.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime Announce Breakneck By Duane Swierczynski!!

Titan Comics and Hard Case Crime are thrilled to announce Breakneck, an all-new suspense comic coming in August 2018 from celebrated crime and comics author Duane Swierczynski (CableDeadpoolThe Punisher; Severance PackageThe Wheelman).

A perfect thriller for fans of 24Homeland, and Falling DownBreakneck is illustrated by Simone Guglielmini (Near Death), Raffaele Semeraro, and Lovern Kindzierski, with Issue #1 featuring a stunning cover by fan-favorite Hard Case Crime cover artist Fay Dalton.

In this gritty countdown crime thriller set in modern-day Philadelphia, a white-collar everyman is reluctantly forced into a race against the clock as he attempts to thwart an impending a terrorist plot.

Following an angry confrontation at a seedy no-tell motel, Joe Hayward is thrown headfirst into the middle of a frightening terrorist plot to bring Philadelphia to its knees. With less than two hours to thwart the attack, Joe is going to need all the help he can get...including that of the government agent his wife may be sleeping with!

Duane Swierczynski is one of the great talents in the crime genre and I’ve been dying to bring him into Hard Case Crime for more than a decade,” said Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai. “I’m thrilled that with Breakneck we’re finally getting to do so.”

I can’t imagine a better home for Breakneck than Hard Case Crime,” said Swierczynski. “As soon as you see that crown-and-gun logo you know you’re in for a wild ride, and that’s what Breakneck is all about.”

Breakneck is the latest title from Titan’s acclaimed Hard Case Crime  comics imprint, whose recent publications have included Quarry’s War by Road to Perdition author Max Allan Collins; Triggerman by visionary director Walter Hill (The Warriors); Peepland by crime novelists Christa Faust and Gary Phillips; Normandy Gold by crime authors Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin; Babylon Berlin, a graphic novel adaptation of the German novel that inspired the new TV show currently showing on Netflix; and adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s international best-selling Girl With The Dragon Tattoo novels. Also debuting from Hard Case Crime this summer will be Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, celebrating the 100th birthday of legendary crime novelist Spillane, penned by Max Allan Collins.

Monday, 9 April 2018

No Exit Press to publish G F Newman’s Law and Order

Derek Martin (DI Fred Pyall &Ken Campbell (Alex Gladwell) L&O

Groundbreaking 1970s TV series to be aired for 40th anniversary on BBC Four this month.
No Exit Press are to publish GF Newman’s Law and Order, the controversial depiction of corruption in the criminal justice system, as an ebook in April, to tie in with the 40th anniversary screening of the TV series on BBC Four.
Based on the series, Law and Order is GF Newman’s thirteenth novel, and will be available from 6 April at £4.99 on Amazon and all online platforms. The corrupt Detective Inspector Fred Pyall is determined to nail local petty criminal Jack Lynn for an armed robbery at the gas board in Romford.  But is Lynn guilty as charged? Was he even at the scene? What of the bent brief Alex Gladwell, whose relationship with the police is all too cosy?  And when Lynn does go down with assistance from a heavily biased summing up from the judge, what hope does he have of rehabilitation through the prison system?
The TV series of Law and Order tells the story in four parts, each from a different point of view - the Metropolitan Police, the criminal, the solicitor and the prison system.  The BBC will screen all four feature-length episodes on BBC Four, weekly from 12 April.
Ion Mills, Managing Director, No Exit Press, says, ‘Law & Order was a truly ground-breaking novel when first published and we’re delighted to be making such an important work available again for new readers to discover    
GF Newman says,  I’m so pleased that No Exit Press will be publishing the book – they are a publishing house whom I’ve long admired.   The publication seems particularly timely in the light of the current crisis in the criminal justice system.  In 1978 the TV series created huge controversy, and also led to many changes in the system. But 40 years on, clearly, much more needs to be done.’