Walk the tube

Link: London Underground Tube Diary – Going Underground’s Blog.

Planning to visit London? At the link are some extremely useful maps for visitors to our fair city. The length of time it takes to walk between stations for one; and the stations between which it is quicker to walk than to travel between by Tube, for another.

The Going Underground blog (link above) has a rather spooky regular Friday feature: strange garb worn by Tube travellers, taken surreptitiously by "Annie Mole" and her fellow Tube spy bloggers — with associated Flikr area. Take my advice, don’t wear Ugg boots or anything metallic if you visit London and plan to use the Tube. You have been warned.

The Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Link: » The Golden Age of Detection Wiki.

In about 20 years, when I have a spare five minutes, I would really like to join in this wiki project, which looks great. I’m a fan of wikis, which are a great way to use internet space collaboratively, dovetailing perfectly with blogs.

So, here’s the challenge:  "At the moment we have about 7000 books listed and only about 500 reviews, so most of our slots are empty. Some authors are well-covered; John Dickson Carr, for instance, has reviews for most of his books. Others are entirely blank, waiting for some enthusiast to come and fill them in. We add about three or four reviews a week, so we have many years’ work ahead of us."

The wiki’s creator, Jon Jermey, says: "To join the Golden Age of Detection Mailing list go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GAdetection/

To view the Golden Age of Detection Wiki go to: http://gadetection.pbwiki.com.

Contributors can log in with their email address and password: ‘goldenage’. Please read the Rules first!"

Writer’s choice: Clare Dudman

Link: normblog: Writer’s choice 91: Clare Dudman.

There is a lovely piece on the normblog this week by Clare Dudman, who discusses Wild Boy by Jill Dawson.

"Victor has been brought up by wolves. There are local stories of his being suckled by them, of his living with them and almost becoming one of them – and the third-person narrative tells this story with a delicate touch. This precarious existence is brought to an end when he is spied in a village, captured and sent to the institute for the deaf in Paris. Here he encounters the ambitious Dr Itard who views the child as an ‘extraordinary opportunity that has walked out of the forest and into my life’. This is where the story starts. Dr Itard is determined to make his name by teaching Victor to talk."

Read Clare’s article, and short autobiography, at the normblog link above.

Stephen White’s Dry Ice

Link: An Interview With Stephen White Author of DRY ICE.

Stephen White has a new Alan Gregory novel coming out. Furthermore, the author has a beard. See link for interview in the California Literary Review (via Sarah Weinman), complete with photo of author, which clearly is one for my beard collection on Flickr (which doesn’t actually exist, but has lurked in my mind for some months and so far consists of Dave Lull, Frank Wilson, Viggo Mortensen, Ken Sampson (have not seen him for years but he used to do the typesetting for Nature’s news and "front half"),  and a picture of George Clooney sent to me by Jenny Davidson — as well as hon. mem. Walter Raleigh, whose beard is not quite right but near enough).

Enough of this frivolity. I am looking forward to reading Stephen White’s next book. I’ve read the entire Alan Gregory series and can highly recommend them. They are rather like Jonathan Kellerman, focusing on psychology, family, cycling and crime. A perfect combination?

For a flavour of the Alan Gregory books, here is an extract from the interview:

DRY ICE deals with the damaging effects that secrets can have on an individual. Is that a recurring theme in your books? Are there particular aspects of human behavior that fascinate you and that you continually explore in your novels? 

I try to avoid recurring themes as much as I can. I have no doubt that certain ideas do show up with some regularity because so many characters recur, but I try—for selfish reasons—to focus each book on a fresh idea or dilemma. I am constantly grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to write about things that fascinate me. I’ve written books, for example, about the nature of a good death, the cult of celebrity, the concept of retribution, the Witness Protection Program, the political aspirations of the LDS church, fascination with high-profile crimes, and the echoes of school violence. I live with the process of writing each book for almost a year and each time I consider a new project I try to select a topic that feels interesting enough to keep my attention for the duration.

John Baker on the radio

Link: World Book Day in Harrogate – John Baker’s Blog.

Here’s the best thing I’ve read about World Book Day, which happens this Thursday (1 March). John Baker is in Harrogate and being interviewed on Radio York. "10.30am to 11.30am. You can listen live on the Radio York site or tune in to: 103.7FM, 104.3FM or 95.5FM."

John writes excellent crime fiction books and has a blog which I like a lot — it is most definitely not an "author marketing his book" blog whose main aim is to sell his books, but is a thinking, personal and poetic blog, complete with various samples of John’s writing and his advice to other writers. I can’t think of a blogger/published author who gets both activities as spot-on as John. Any thoughts?

Office chair set on fire

A story in the Westmoreland Gazette, a Cumbrian local paper, has become a hot favourite on the Internet:

“An office chair was destroyed after it was set on fire on the grassy area off Maude Street, Kendal, this afternoon. Fire crews from Kendal attended along with police. A spokesman for the fire and rescue service said: ‘A delinquent set fire to an office chair in the middle of a grassy area and it was extinguished using one hose jet’.”

That was the extent of the story. But in the strange snowballing way of the online medium, it first attracted comments of pity, followed by flights of fancy by readers, ending up as a global running joke.  " ‘This is not the most crime-ridden or busiest of areas, and it’s difficult to get much material from calls to the police and fire brigade,’ Mike Glover, the editor and publisher, said. ‘We took the the attitude that local news sells local newspapers. People will have wondered what the fire brigade were doing.’ "

Source: The Times.

Westmoreland Gazette: Chair destroyed. (original story, with many comments)

Westmoreland Gazette: Destroyed chair story continues to draw comments.

What was your first detective novel?

Eurocrime (or Aerodrome, as Typepad spellcheck would have it) reports news of a new series of books by Nicola Upton, set in London theatreland of the 1930s.  I’m quite intrigued, because the first book,  An Expert in Murder, will feature  Josephine Tey as an amateur detective.

Tey, of course, was a real-life writer of detective novels, including The Franchise Affair and Brat Farrar (these, both concerning the theme of imposters, and others by the same author, are still in print). How Nicola Upton’s book(s) will reconcile Tey the character with Tey the real person is an interesting prospect.

Karen’s post, however, made me realise that The Daughter of Time is, I think, the first detective novel I read. Before that, I’d read Sherlock Holmes, but these were short stories. REmembering the book from the distance of many years, The Daughter of Time features a bored detective recovering in hospital. Someone brings him some newspapers or magazines, and while reading them something strikes him as illogical about Richard III having murdered the Princes in the Tower. The rest of the book features the bedridden investigation into the "case". I was given the book because at that time I was fascinated by the Richard III story.  I don’t recall if that is where my long interest in crime fiction began, but it must have helped.

What was the first detective/crime fiction novel you read?

Glorious games

The Times has been publishing a run of correspondence on the relative behaviours, and hence class structures, of soccer and rugby football supporters. The stimulus was a national agreement at the lack of crowd atmosphere at Twickehnam (home of the English rugby team, the ground being a handful of miles from Petrona Towers). An offering from Thursday:

"Sir, Some rugby supporters do tend to be well spoken (letters, Feb 16 and 17). In one match at Durham City many years ago, the referee was perhaps not having his greatest game. This prompted one exasperated chap to shout: "Do you have a solicitor, referee?"

Even the poor official chuckled.

Daniel H. Hinge [etc]"

Today’s contribution:

"Sir, Many years ago I attended a game at Hull City, where the advertised strengths of a recent signing including his ability to marshall midfield defences. As the game progressed, and those skills became difficult to detect, a lone voice boomed: ‘You’re supposed to be a schemer! Scheme, you bastard, scheme!’

Andy Cowie [etc]".

Another round in the stars

What makes scientists tick? The blog Sceptical Chymist has started a new feature called "Reactions" in which chemists will answer such questions. First up is David Leigh.

For any budding entrepreneurs out there, Mark Fletcher, founder of Bloglines, has started a new website called Startupping that will, you guessed it, "take the mystery out of starting and running an Internet company and sharing the experience". Via Geeking with Greg.

The saga of the absconding Mr WordPress gets more bizarre. While his wife is out looking for him, he’s now claiming to have been home all along. "Don’t worry, we’ll get through this. Remember all the Betas?" he bravely opines.

The "same old handful of blogs, more or less" have been nominated for the 7th annual weblog awards, is the complaint on The Millions blog. Why are litbloggers left out? I imagine the answer is that they are a minority interest compared with the likes of Boing Boing, Daily Kos et al. And that’s OK by me.

While on the topic of litblogs, a couple of interesting reviews: A Corpse in the Koryo on International Noir Fiction; and news of Giulio Leoni’s Dante trilogy at Eurocrime.

Nature’s X-files

Link: news @ nature.com – Nature’s X-files – Not all the correspondence to a top science journal contains top science. Some of it is very odd indeed..

Yes, science journals receive all kinds of letters, whose authors claim to have solved Fremat’s last theorem (before it was actually solved), that the theory of relativity is wrong, or that a perpetual motion machine has been invented, to name but three perennial favourites. Jim Giles investigated a strange case that we received the other week:

"The fax looks like a copy of a letter from Nature telling a scientist that their paper has been accepted for publication. But several things were odd. The letterhead looked like a forgery. The sender’s name was mis-spelled. And the editor named does not work at the office from which it was supposed to have been sent.

The letter came to Nature‘s attention when a company called to check on the publication date. But Nature had no record of the paper. Our manuscript editors did not recognize its title. The correspondence and enquiries desk passed it down to the newsdesk to see if we could make any sense of it.

After a little digging, I discovered that the letter had been forged by a scientist who had got himself in a hole. Contracted to run tests for health-drink company, the researcher said he had some exciting results: the drink contained a molecule with anti-ageing properties.

But the scientist had got ahead of himself. As pressure mounted to publish his results, he tried to stall his employer by claiming his paper had been accepted at Nature. When the paper never appeared, the company got suspicious and contacted us. By the time I got in contact, the researcher had already confessed."

See the rest of Jim’s article on the Nature newsblog at the link above.