Archive for May 7, 2009

Next week Rebecca Cantrell‘s brilliant debut novel A Trace of Smoke will reach the bookshelves of Hawaii and California see here. This novel is getting fantastic reviews and I am pleased to be among the first on this side of the Atlantic to sing its praises. 

See some of the reviews here and read interviews and links to my interview with Rebecca here
At the end of the novel Rebecca includes an excellent glossary, which readers might want to look at before they read the book if they are not conversant with the period. There are also comprehensive author’s notes which refer to many of the books read during the exhaustive research in writing SMOKE.
One of these The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer was the first book I read on this subject and is an very good read. A more recent book covering the subject from a more academic approach is The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. 

‘Ernst Rohm really did exist.’ 

This sentence in the authors notes expresses one of the difficulties in writing historical crime fiction for a general readership and including real historical figures. Will the reader realise the author has taken the real life characteristics of Ernst Rohm [his homosexuality and military background] and created fictional encounters for him? Or will they think the character is totally fictional?
I think the use of Rohm works very well in the story and certainly educates the reader about one of the most important figures in the Nazi hierarchy, who was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest friends. 
I am really looking forward to the sequel set in 1934, and called A Night of Long Knives. 


Posted: May 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

I must admit to be still finding The Foreigner heavy going, but this might be due to a number of factors. 

Firstly every muscle in my body aches from tangling with a recalcitrant allotment. Secondly reading about the Taiwanese criminal underworld while Number One Son [apologies to Earle Derr Biggers] is phoning me from what sounds like a building site in Hsinchu City, Taiwan is a bit disconcerting. 
Thirdly I have been distracted by some redundancies at Number Two Son’s village home at Blackerton and there will be more meetings there in the future. 
The charity that administers Blackerton village formerly known as CARE [Cottage And Rural Enterprises] has renamed itself SELF UNLIMITED. 

See here and scroll down for my previous posts on the thorny subject of Blackerton’s relocation or transformation in the new management speak. Thanks to Maxine at Petrona here you can read a comprehensive coverage about Number Two Son [chronologically I hasten to add not in order of importance] and his band The Honeytones here.

There have been several times in my life when I have felt like King Canute trying to hold back the waves or someone at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 suggesting that the Final Solution was evil. Whether it was trying to prevent the introduction of crap capitation schemes for NHS children’s dentistry, trying to prevent the closure of a hospital or trying to save a rural village for people with learning disabilities, my record is one of abject failure in what I think were just causes. 

But at least we have beaten that allotment into temporary submission.

“One has to fight an idea with an idea. I cannot stand an authority that expects blind following, blind loyalty. I cannot stand it. I have rejected everything in my life that requires such blindness from me. 
Even God.
Even the Confucian teachings – even those.”
Atticus in The Foreigner: Francie Lin