More crime at Waterstone’s

Oh no, Waterstone’s crime fiction newsletter has come round yet again. This time, they are offering At Risk by Patricia Cornwell, Vanish by Tess Gerritsen, Without Consent by Kathryn Fox and Triptych by Karin Slaughter at half-price — £3.49 each.  I’m up for two of these, but not tempted byh the other two. Other features include  an article on The Missing by Chris Mooney, a book about which I’ve heard good things, on offer at £4.99; and a profile of Peter James, author of the exciting books Looking Good, Dead and others. If you can keep up with Waterstone’s, there is lots to keep you occupied here.

If…. out on DVD this summer

I didn’t think it could ever happen, but it has, almost. One of the movies that influenced me tremendously is Lindsay Anderson’s If….. And it is coming out on DVD — on 11 June, according to Amazon (UK). The question is, do I dare watch it again, after it shook me to the core at the age of about 17? I shall probably succumb. Here is the Amazon synopsis:  "An alternately funny and bizarre drama set in a fictitious but authentic public school. The story moves from intimate scenes of life in a boy’s world, through fantasy and farce, to a violent climax as discontent turns into rebellion."

I wonder if there will ever be a DVD release of Charlie Bubbles, another of my long-lost favourites? Written by Shelagh Delaney, it was directed by and starred Albert Finney, with a cast including Billie Whitelaw, Colin Blakely and an extremely young Liza Minnelli. The plot summary on IMDB is very amusing, in total it is:  "A married writer has an affair with his secretary." Rather far from what the film is actually about.

1,000 mile summer

Today I learned that a most amusing and talented colleague is about to leave Nature for a Great Adventure: walking the Appalachian Trail – and blogging about it en route. Billy Goat and Little Pony’s blog, 1,000 mile summer (in Jenny’s favourite Blogger design template, appropriately woodsy) states:

Join us as we leave behind our 9to5 Washington, DC lives for a 3 month journey on the Appalachian Trail from West Virginia to Maine. Can a couple make it in the woods, alone, with little showering, and dehydrated foods and twigs as substance? Stay tuned and find out.

I recommend staying in touch, it will be an exhilerating ride (or tramp).  Here’s a sample post:

When I told my mom our plans for our AT trek, she joked that Polina should start in Maine, I should start in Georgia and we could finish together at the Harper’s Ferry halfway point. My mom, like most of our friends and family, probably picked up on the Billy Goat’s and Little Pony’s shared personality traits: passion mixed with a little bit of stubbornness—and extreme sensitivity, despite our semi-tough exteriors. My mom’s implicit message was that two people with these same qualities spending that much time over that much distance over such conditions were due for a relationship meltdown–and we haven’t even married two years, much less reproduced.

Blood in the water

The independent publisher Mercat Press (Crescent crime) is due to publish later this month a book called Blood in the Water by Gillian Galbraith. It is billed as the first in a new crime series featuring Detective Alice Rice. From the publisher’s site:

"Gillian has drawn on her professional experience as an advocate and is already attracting much praise for her debut novel. Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency said ‘This is a vivid and exciting story. There is not a dull page in it.’  The Sunday Express has dubbed Alice the ‘new Rebus’. "

The last book I read that was billed as ‘the new Rebus’ was pretty recently, and it wasn’t.  I don’t think books benefit from these types of comparison, particularly if, as in this case, it is a first novel being compared to one of the, if not the, best-selling crime author in the country. However,  Blood in the Water sounds promising: "In this thrilling police-procedural from new crime writer Gillian Galbraith, we are introduced to Alice Rice, Edinburgh’s latest fictional detective. Smart and capable, but battling disillusionment and loneliness, we follow her as she races against time and an implacable killer to solve a series of grisly murders amongst Edinburgh’s professional elite in the well-to-do New Town." There are two spelling mistakes in this short blurb on the Mercat site: elited and implaceable. I hope someone has proofread the book itself.

The next Alice Rice Mystery is due to be published this autumn, but in the meantime you can win a signed copy of Blood in the Water via Mercat’s competition page.

The Tenderness of Wolves

I think I mentioned that I was very impressed by The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. My Review – The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney  is at Euro Crime, where you can read many other reviews of European crime fiction, enter competitions, find news of the Euro crime book scene, and more.

Frank Wilson on the Quantum Enigma

It’s Real (If You Think It Is): The Quantum Enigma – Britannica Blog.

Frank Wilson (aka Sir Galahad of the Blogosphere), litblogger and book review ed. par excellence, reviews The Quantum Enigma at the Britannica Blog. In his review, Frank writes:

The enigma referred to in the title has nothing to do with the science of quantum mechanics: “The experimental results we report and our explanation of them with quantum theory are completely undisputed.” Quantum theory is apparently the most successful in all of science. None of its predictions has ever been proved wrong and a third of our economy is based on it.

What is “hotly disputed,” however, is what the theory implies..

Do read the rest of Frank’s thoughtful, individual review. Do we need to posit a "prime thinker", he asks?

Thanks to Dave Lull for alerting me to the article.

Vargas convergence?

Over at our discussion group: Crime and detection | Revish, we are seeking views on people’s favourite crime fiction novel of the year (so far). Fred Vargas is doing pretty well. She is also featuring strongly on the Petrona post "most influential crime fiction novel of the decade?" (courtesy Crimespace). I am going to read more Vargas immediately(ish) as a result of these debates, but in the meantime, if you are interested in reading detective/crime fiction, please do visit one of the above links and let us know your choices. At the same time, you can discover some other non-Vargas recommendations, eg Chandra’s Sacred Games, from Mallard, Peter, Norm/Uriah, Glenn and others. (Karen of Euro Crime, Crimefictionreader and Lizzy are the Vargas camp.)

An early peep at Harry?

At the London Book Fair,  Bloomsbury and LibreDigital (part of NewsStand) announced a “Look Inside” online service, which allows readers to search and preview book content on the web, aiming to provide a "browse" of books online in a way that replicates the experience of reading through the printed book. In common with (most?) other publishers, Bloomsbury is busy digitising its back -catalogue for this purpose. The company also says that it should be easier for booksellers to promote popular titles on their websites without infringing authors’ copyright.

This initiative will not help those of us who are finding it difficult to wait until 21 July — we are just going to have to be patient.

Medals, perspectives and biscuits

Via dovegreyreader scribbles, "Vote now": until 14 June the public can vote for their favourite Carnegie medal winner from all the books that have won over the years. This particular award is venerable — even I, at my advanced age, remember reading medal winners in my youth. However, although most of the books that have been awarded the prize that I’ve read are very good to excellent, some are not, or are not the best representative of that author’s work. So please do head on over to the link (here or via dovegreyreader’s post) and vote yourself. The winner will be announced on 21 June.

Maya Reynolds has picked up on a few impulsive comments she’s seen around the blogosphere, such as that John Grisham is a self-published author, and is systematially investigating them. In this post, she asks whether it is true that people are reading less since the invention of the Internet. More to follow.

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) writes on judging art — I hope a few Harry Potter detractors read it.  Scott writes: "We assume our personal preferences are the standard by which all art should be judged. I think the best way to judge the quality of art is by how well the artist achieves his objectives, whatever those might be."

Save the planet. John Battelle brings the first news I’ve read that Google’s next move will be into web conferencing. Anything that helps to cut down on the current insane number of plane journeys has got to be good — I hope Google can succeed where other attempts to introduce good-enough technology to substitute for face-to-face meeting have failed.

Problogger lists his "top 100 Australian blogs".  I didn’t spot my favourite, Karen Chisholm’s excellent AustCrime (formerly It’s a Crime), but did see Deltoid, a popular science blog, lurking around the middle.

A couple of good posts on scholarly e-publishing: Prairiemary, as ever writing very clearly and instructively, on "print on demand meets textbooks"; and info NeoGnostic, who does not post often enough, on "e-books at the London book fair".

I will end with what reads like a delicious recipe for stem ginger biscuits. Very tempting; I think even I could make these.

Has the web helped our public awareness?

From a post on Content Matters: Despite Web and Cable, Americans Remain Oblivious to Public Affairs…."or so say the findings of a new study by the Pew Research Center.The study, entitled "What Americans Know: 1989-2007" assesses public knowledge of leaders and news events, as compared to 1989.  We might have assumed that the advent of 24-hour news combined with the abundance of websites and blogs would have resulted in a more educated public, but that’s not the case. According to the Pew study, our knowledge of public affairs today is roughly the same as it was eighteen years ago."

From the Pew study: "More than nine-in-ten Americans (93%) could identify Arnold Schwarzenegger as the California governor or a former action-movie star — both responses were counted as correct in the scoring. An equally large proportion of the public identified Hillary Clinton as a U.S. senator, a former first lady, a Democratic leader, or a candidate for president. Clear majorities can also correctly identify Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (65%) and Sen. Barack Obama (61%). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recognized by about half of the public (49%). Other prominent national figures and world leaders are not as well known. When asked to name the president of Russia, just 36% recalled Vladimir Putin."

I imagine that similar results would be obtained if a sample of the British public were asked to identify political figures in the UK and mainland Europe. Most of them would probably get Schwarzenegger, though.