Archive for January, 2015

You can find my Favourite Discovery of 2014, along with some excellent choices by other Euro Crime reviewers over at Karen’s encyclopaedic Euro Crime website.

The year 2015 on TV has opened with a bang with the new series of the very gritty French crime drama Spiral. Great moments in past series have included the wonderfully evil line. 

Ms Karlsson if you work for me you must love money and money alone. 

And the scene where police Captain Laure Berthaud [Caroline Proust], the sexy antithesis of the well groomed French woman, pours a quantity of liquid over a suspect and stands near him waving around a cigarette lighter. I can’t see that interrogation method meeting the PACE Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 code of practice.      

The remaining answers to the Quirky Quiz:

6] How did a bleeding ulcer and a broken leg connect Christina Collins and Edward V?

This referred to books that exhibited a great blend of history and detective fiction. Inspector Grant is in hospital with a broken leg in Josephine Tey’s novel The Daughter of Time in which he questions whether Richard III murdered the princes in the tower, his nephews. 

In Colin Dexter’s The Wench is Dead Inspector Morse is in hospital with a bleeding ulcer. Morse with his alcoholic intake is a real candidate for an ulcer. He investigates the 1859 murder of Christina Collins, and retrospectively proves the convicted murderers innocent of the crime.

7] Who noted a lack of any ornithological reference in the Memoirs of the Verney family?

Ornithology is the study of birds, and what is the most famous bird in crime fiction?

The Maltese Falcon, Dashiel Hammett’s 1930 novel which was made into such a superb movie in 1941. The movie directed by John Huston starred Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, and Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy, but it had surely one of the great suporting casts with Peter Lorre as Joel Cairo and Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman “the Fat Man”. 

It is Gutman, who recounting the story of the falcon to Sam Spade, says ” There’s nothing said about the bird in Lady Frances Verney’s Memoirs of Verney Family during the Seventeeth Century, to be sure. I looked.”

8] Name a crime fiction author who has worked as:

[a] an osteopath– Caro Ramsay

[b] a forensic anthropologist– Kathy Reich

[c] an eukaryotic archaeologist– Fred Vargas

[d] an architect-S.J.Rozan

9] Identify the people in these photos.


Asa Larsson





Aly Monroe





Jack Whicher




10] Andy Dalziel likes choosing nicknames for his colleagues, for example Shirley Novello naturally becomes “Ivor” after the actor and composer Ivor Novello.

How and why did Andy’s choice of nickname for Sergeant Whitby link an unfinished 1817 novel with a epistolary novel of 1897?

Reginald Hill and Andy Dalziel at their  most erudite, in the novel A Cure for All Diseases which is a homage to Jane Austen’s 1817 unfinished novel Sanditon updated to the age of emails and digital recorders. The epistolary novel of 1897 is Dracula, who arrives in England at Whitby, so Sergeant Whitby reminds Andy of Dracula so he becomes “Jug” for the jugular vein beloved by Dracula. 

I think that question was a real tester, sorry, but if you had read A Cure for All Diseases it was the sort of information that stuck.    

The winner of the quiz from British Columbia got all the questions correct except for the photos, and he even got one of those right so this quiz was not impossibly indecipherable. 

1] By what names are the following better known?

[a] Salvatore Albert Lombino- Ed McBain

[b] Elizabeth Mackintosh- Josephime Tey

[c] Daniel Nathan- Frederic Dannay [half of Ellery Queen]

[d] Juliet Marion Hulme- Anne Perry

[e] Willard Huntington Wright- S.S.Van Dine

[f] Edith May Pargeter- Ellis Peters

[g] Janet Quin-Harkin- Rhys Bowen

2] Who was “the man who could see round corners”?

Lars Martin Johansson in Leif G.W.Persson’s trilogy about the murder of Olaf Palme, or John Dee in Philippa Gregory’s Elizabethan crime novels. 

3] Which detective found his perfect life partner in Enscombe? 

If you remembered that Reginald Hill was one of my favourite crime writers, and know your Jane Austen you would have had no trouble with this question. 😉

A “perfect” life partner in the village of Enscombe features in “Pictures of Perfection” Reginald Hill’s 1994 Austen pastiche in which Edgar Wield, the gay sergeant in the Dalziel and Pascoe novels met Edwin Digwood.


4] Who cinematically linked a Hungarian born member of the Detection Club, with an aircraft, and a city chronologically between Barcelona and Sydney?

I am going to explain this in detail so you can see how the straightforward answer can be worked out from the complex question.

Cinematically linked-so we are looking at a movie link. A Hungarian born member of the Detection Club, well the only one is Baroness Orczy, author of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The movie of that name starred  British actor Leslie Howerd as Sir Percy Blakeney. Does that link in with the rest of the question?

A plane, well Leslie Howerd played the part of R.J.Mitchell in the movie First of the Few [Spitfire in the USA] and was in real life shot down by the Nazis while flying to Portugal in 1943.

The city chronologically between Barcelona [1992] and Sydney [2000] was of course Atlanta, which hosted the Olympics in 1996 [easier with the relevant dates there to be seen]. Leslie Howerd starred as Ashley Wilkes in the Civil War epic Gone With The Wind set around the fall of Atlanta to the William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union Army in 1864. 

5] Who were married to: 

[a]Heloise Plisson-Tom Ripley

[b]Mary Marstan- Dr John Watson

[c]Thomas Samuelsson- Annika Bengtzon

[d] Dulcie Duveen?- Captain Arthur Hastings

[to be continued]

Favourite Reads of 2014

Posted: January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

You can see my selection of my favourite reads of 2014 over at Euro Crime.

I read less than forty crime fiction books, but managed to read some heavyweight long non-fiction books about real crimes. Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder, Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum, Fascist Voices by Christopher Duggan, and 1177BC, The Year Civilisation Collapsed by Eric Cline. I can recommend all four, but Bloodlands and Iron Curtain are particularly testing reads because of the harrowing content.

I have been blogging about crime fiction for over 8 years, and during that time have built up a large backlog of unread history and political books. In 2015 I intend to catch up with this mountain of books, and this will necessarily mean less blog reviews. 

But I will blog about the CWA International Dagger, Historical Dagger and of course the Petrona shortlists when they are announced.

I suspect that after a couple of non fiction tomes I will return to some crime fiction for relaxation. The name of the winner of the Winter Quiz and the important answers will be published over the next couple of weeks. The deadline for your entries is 11 January and they should be sent to