Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bristol: Crimefest 2009 - Thursday

Well, I've made it to Bristol for Crimefest 2009, and spent an enjoyable and inspirational afternoon at the crimewriting workshop lead by Peter Gutteridge and Janet Laurence. The workshop was very cosmopolitan, with participants travelling from Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to the variety of panels, and a chance to pitch to an agent!

Impressed so far by the Bristol Marriott hotel: my room is spacious and bright.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Iceland: "Hypothermia" by Arnaldur Indriðason - September 2009

More details of the next Inspector Erlendur novel by Arnaldur Indridason. As revealed in my earlier blog, the title of the book is Hypothermia, and Amazon is now showing a release date of 3rd September in the UK (October 27th in the US). The translation is by Victoria Cribb, who competed the work on his previous novel, Arctic Chill, after the death of Bernard Scudder.

The blurb states:

One cold autumn night, a woman is found hanging from a beam in her summer cottage by Lake Thingvellir. At first sight it appears to be a straightforward case of suicide; the woman, Maria, had never recovered from the loss of her mother two years earlier and had a history of depression. But when Karen, the friend who found her body, approaches Erlendur and gives him the tape of a seance that Maria had attended, his curiosity is aroused.

Driven by a need to find answers that even he does not fully understand, Erlendur embarks on an unofficial investigation to find out why the woman's life ended in such an abrupt and tragic manner. At the same time he is haunted by the unresolved cases of two young people who went missing thirty years before, and, inevitably, his discoveries raise ghosts from his own past.

Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. Þingvellir National Park was founded in 1930 to protect the remains of the parliament site and was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area. The first parliament or Althing was established at Þingvellir in 930 and remained there until 1789. Þingvellir is the site of a rift valley and home to Lake Thingvellir, the largest natural lake in Iceland.

I'm looking forward to this book, and finding out more about Erlendur's past.

Sweden: A New Wallander Novel! "The Nervous Man" by Henning Mankell

Perhaps everybody else already knows this, but more than ten years after the last book Henning Mankell has written another novel featuring Kurt Wallander - the final in the series, apparently. It's completed, and scheduled to be published in Sweden on August 18th August 2009 (and hopefully as soon as possible after that in English!)

In a recent interview Mankell revealed the title of the book : Den Orolige Mannen This apparently translates as The Nervous Man.

This extract is provided from the Swedish publisher's press release:

"On a winter's day in 2008 a retired high naval officer, Håkan von Enke, disappears during his daily walk in Lilljansskogen. For Kurt Wallander this becomes a personal matter of the highest importance. Von Enke is Linda Wallander's father-in-law, and her little daughter's grandfather.

The investigation leads back in time, to the Cold War, to right-wing associations and assassins from the old Eastern Europe. Wallander suspects that he is on the track of a big secret, perhaps on the edge of something much more serious than even the Wennerström affair, the worst spy scandal Sweden has ever experienced. At the same time an even darker cloud appears on the horizon..."

Argentinian Wallander fan Ezequiel M. González Busquin, who heard Mankell speak of this new novel at the Buenos Aires Book Fair in April, says Mankell mentioned that Wallander will not die in the book, but that something will happen to him and it will be impossible to write any more Wallander novels.

I am lucky enough to have got a ticket for the Radio 4 Book Club discussion with Henning Mankell at the end of May in Wye. Maybe we will be able to entice him to reveal more then! A most informative site in English giving up-to-date Henning Mankell news can be found here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sweden: Three more of Henning Mankell's "Wallander" stories commissioned for TV by BBC.

A second series of Wallander, based on Henning Mankell's novels set in Ystad in southern Sweden, has been commissioned by the BBC.

Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as Inspector Kurt Wallander for three further adaptations of Henning Mankell's novels: Faceless Killers, The Fifth Woman and The Man Who Smiled. All three episodes will again be filmed in Ystad.

Branagh said: "I'm delighted to be back in Kurt Wallander's shoes. The character's story becomes ever more complex in these next films." The show won this year's BAFTA Television Awards for best drama series and best actor for Branagh.

For information about the location check my earlier blog here. A list of the Wallander (say Wall-AND-er) novels in the correct order can be found on here.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Quebec: 'The Cruellest Month' by Louise Penny - a Three Pines state of mind.

Follow Autoroute 10 southeast from Montreal towards the Eastern Townships, and after about an hour's drive turn off south down a country road into the mountains towards the US border.

This road will lead you deeper and deeper into the forest until the path becomes a dirt track and you stumble across a village "nestled in the palm of the rugged Canadian mountains, protected and hidden and rarely found except by accident".

This is the delightful fictional community of Three Pines as described by Louise Penny in her novels featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.

The Cruellest Month is the third in the series but my first exposure to this idyllic location - a place I feel I would love to linger, despite the mortality rate. When I began the story I thought it might be a mistake to pick up the series in the middle - I had to concentrate quite hard to unravel the backstory of corruption and double-dealing in the Quebec police. I also wasn't sure which characters I should be familiar with, but I drew up a list of names and roles of the kind often found in 'golden age' mysteries, which helped, and I was soon caught up in the storytelling.

The story follows C.I Gamache as he is called to investigate the death of a vibrant and popular Three Pines resident during a seance in a haunted house - apparently of fear. What follows is a classic "closed community" whodunnit with a convincing selection of suspects unfolding alongside the machinations of dark forces against Gamache in the Québec Sûreté.

The Eastern Townships (Estrie) region of Quebec is a landscape of mountains, valleys, hills and picturesque villages which have become established favourites for visitors. There are several tourism sites: this one has a link to videos of the region (in French) and this is an official Quebec Tourism site.

Three Pines itself is a fictional village, in the general area shown on my map. Some consider Three Pines to be based on the author's own home village of Sutton, but Louise Penny herself says: "Three Pines itself I think of as simply a state of mind, we can always visit when we choose kindness over cynicism."

In fact she has used the mountain resort of Sutton as a basis for the fictional St Remy in the stories. Another fictional location in the story based on a real place is Williamsburg, which is roughly based on the lovely village of Knowlton. The real Cowansville is the site of the area's hospital, where the post-mortem of the victim in The Cruellest Month is carried out.

The latest Three Pines novel The Murder Stone (A Rule Against Murder - US) recently been released in the UK - Louise Penny talks about it on YouTube here.

The Cruellest Month is just the kind of puzzle I enjoy most, and the solution kept me guessing right until the end. I can hardly wait to read the other books - but unfortunately I have to, until they become available to Sony Readers in the UK!

Click on the image above to read a fascinating interview with Louise penny in Shots Ezine, a recommended read for those of us who enjoy crime fiction!