Monthly Archives: March 2012
Rising star of French crime writing Antonin Varenne has just been awarded the Prix Quai du Polar/20 minutes, a prize awarded by one of France’s most popular newspapers and one of its main thriller festivals. The winning book, Le Mur, le Kabyle et le Marin, will be published by MacLehose — eventually, it is scheduled for 2014! — as Loser’s Corner, and will most likely be translated by Frank Wynne.
But English readers will not have to wait until 2014 to find out what the fuss is about . Only two months, in fact, because we will be publishing Bed of Nails this June:
It’s as if he’s being mocked from beyond the grave . . .
When John Nichols arrives to identify the body of an old friend, he is immediately caught up in the detritus of Alan Musgrave’s life, the side of Paris the tourists don’t see, where everyone has a past but very few count on a future. But what can he expect from a man who bled to death in his own excruciating S&M stage show?
Now there’s a maverick police lieutenant on the prowl who thinks that Musgrave’s suicide was murder. Guérin might not look like much, but he’s one of the few honest officers on the force. As the horrific extent of police abuse is revealed, the race is on to find the link between a slew of recent suicides – and the key to it is buried deep in Nichols’s past.
Introducing the new novel from French crime ace Xavier-Marie Bonnot: The Voice of the Spirits. This was raised on the blog many months ago, when it was announced (almost accidentally before it was officially announced — but happily not) that it had won France’s Crystal Feather Award.
Well now we have much more exciting news: it’s just been published in English, and there’s no doubt in our minds that it is by far and away his best book yet. The mystery has it’s roots in the ancient rituals of Papau New Guinean warriors, whose way of life endured until well into the twentieth century. By which I mean that it is full of headhunters, shrunken heads, ancient bows and arrows and blowpipes — all wrapped up in a gripping and rather spooky murder mystery. And it’s just been reviewed by the Bookbag:
This is Xavier-Marie Bonnot’s third Commandant de Palma book (after The First Fingerprint and The Beast of Carmargue) but, I’m ashamed to say, I hadn’t heard of him. This is indeed my error as The Voice of the Spirits isn’t just a detective novel, it’s an education. The author knows how to research, as his PhD in history and sociology demonstrates, but there’s nothing for those of us without degrees to fear. He shares his research in an entertaining rather than high-brow manner that draws the reader in, providing more depth than normally expected from a crime novel. In this case, Bonnot’s background information regarding the head hunting tribes in Papua New Guinea is fascinating, seasoning the story with eeriness and anticipation. More of that later, but meanwhile, what of the Commandant himself?
Bonnot knows how to write (and, indeed, Justin Phipps translate) a character that will ensure future material. Michel de Palma is very human. He loves opera (like Morse) and the Clash (unlike Morse), he has a way with the ladies (definitely unlike Morse!) although strictly a one-woman man since his marriage broke up. (His heart belongs to Eva from the bakery… along with his stomach, looking at the bakery’s specialities.) ‘The Baron’ even gets along with his colleagues, counting Commandant Maistre as a best friend as Maistre comes to terms with his own new, enforced single status. However, a lingering sadness lurks behind de Palma’s sense of humour and twinkle. He’s haunted by the past and his brother’s untimely death. In a nutshell, ‘The Baron’ is the sort of character who brings any genre of book alive, making the crime itself an added bonus. In fact where the crime is concerned, the reader can more or less guess who’s next for the mortuary but, due to these intricacies of character (and indeed story), it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.
Read the full (splendid) review . . .
Delighted to see this splendid review for Valerio Varesi’s The Dark Valley from Rosemary Goring in the Herald.
In his debut and now with this, if possible, bleaker offering, he pares away the surface of modern Italy like a grocer slicing rind off pecorino. What he finds below is rancid. The crimes he depicts are the product of the country’s ugliest times, their origins in the conflicts between the past century’s partisans and fascists, and those vacillating in between, who only wanted to save their skins.
Varesi’s plotting is sound, and his pacing good. Where he raises his game from the common crime ruck, however, is in his almost painterly evocation of wretchedly dark atmosphere and character. He could be the long-lost heir of Caravaggio. His grizzled old men and their flinty womenfolk are at odds with the country’s much-desired bella figura, but they are the heart and soul of a certain hard-bitten and punishing Italian community, where even today old enmities smoulder.
A few chapters into The Dark Valley, and the reader is coated in woodsmoke and filled with apprehension. The unnerving and the unrelenting are Varesi’s forte, and the setting and history of his homeland play into his hands.
You can read the full review on the Herald website. Varesi’s first novel in English translation, River of Shadows, is now available in paperback.
This, before we start, is the cover for the imminent paperback edition of Love Virtually, which was catapulted into the limelight when the BBC broadcast an abridged radio play last week, starring David Tennant and Emilia Fox.
It was trailed on Radio Four for a whole week before it’s afternoon slot, and has been widely reviewed in the broadsheets. Here’s the pick of the reviews – but unfortunately it is too late to listen to it again on iplayer: you’ll just have to read the book!
“Much Radio 4 hoo-ha over Love Virtually, a play written entirely in – gasp – emails and acted by Emilia Fox and David Tennant. I listened reluctantly: my entire life is lived through emails, texts and Twitter. But the play proved compelling, the flirting of the protagonists – Emmi and Leo – realistic and, at certain points, pretty hot” Miranda Sawyer in the Observer
“Thursday’s Afternoon Drama – Love Virtually (Radio 4) featured another duo, Emma (Emilia Fox) and Leo (David Tennant), conducting a strange romance – they’ve never met – through the medium of email. This was sharply written, funny and brilliantly played, so you believed in the connection between them in each of its twists and phases” Elisabeth Mahoney in the Guardian
“Adapted from a best-selling novel by Daniel Glattauer, Love Virtually (Radio 4, Thursday) promised a tale of flirtation, friendship and romance, told through a series of emails exchanged by its two protagonists. Being no great fan of epistolary tales, I approached it with trepidation.
The plot began with the online equivalent of a wrong number, as Emmi Rothner (Emilia Fox) mistakenly emailed a man called Leo Leike (David Tennant). After a few wry, ironically mannered back-and-forths (“Dear Ms Rothner, I’d like to congratulate you on having produced a brilliant message. How long did it take you to write?”), they started to open up to one another, building an online relationship that threatened to unbalance their steady offline lives. I abandoned my trepidation around the 10-minute mark, and spent the rest of the programme glued to the radio, marvelling that such an erotic drama was being broadcast during the quiet hour before the school run begins” Pete Naughton in the Telegraph
Out soon in paperback!
We’re all very excited about this:
Christopher MacLehose acquired world rights including ANZ to novel Risk by New Zealand author C. K. Stead, with plans to publish in October 2012 with a view to coinciding with this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair NZ focus.
MacLehose did the deal directly with Stead.
MacLehose also acquired world rights, excluding ANZ, directly from Australian author, critic and art historian Murray Bail, to his new novel The Voyage.
MacLehose said: “It is a privilege, no less, for us to have the chance to publish and to sell all over the world the work of these two outstanding writers.”
Read the full review over on The Bookseller.