From the Web 2-9 March

About books:
At Books and Writers, a review of a debut novel, White Heat, by M. J. McGrath. From the review, by Keith B. Walters, “An ice-cold crime chiller from debut novelist, M.J.McGrath, this little cracker of a book deals with murder and mystery among the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle – on the island of Craig to be specific……White Heat does what great crime books do best, it tells a good story with a great and interesting central character and has a strong secondary character – the landscape of the place in which the story plays out.” UK Amazon’s listing for the book describes the author thus: “M. J. McGrath was born in Essex. As Melanie McGrath she is the author of critically acclaimed, bestselling non-fiction (Silvertown and The Long Exile) and won the John Llewelyn-Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for Best New British and Commonwealth Writer under 35, for her first book Motel Nirvana. She writes for the national press and is a regular broadcaster on radio.”

Joanna Trollope has a new book out, Daughters in Law. Here is a BBC Breakfast video of her talking about the book and more generally about relationships between mothers and daughters-in-law. Read more about the book, including an extract, at the author’s website. The author’s 30-year writing career, and her books, are described in this brief biography.

A BBC radio programme in which bestselling author Val McDermid talks about “the rise of Emerald noir” (that’s Irish crime fiction!) is available on iPlayer (no geographical restrictions) for a few more days. The Guardian has reviewed the programme, as has Declan Burke at Crime Always Pays blog, which specialises in promoting Irish crime fiction. A good range of Irish crime fiction authors, with links to reviews of their books, is at Euro Crime. I particularly recommend Gene Kerrigan and Brian McGilloway (see the preceding two links for my reviews of their books), as well as Winterland by Alan Glynn (his first crime novel).

Some good book reviews this week: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain is reviewed at Yet Another Crime Fiction blog by Keishon. This post is a great example of how to review a book that one found disappointing and/or mediocre. The superb reviewer Bernadette takes on Liza Marklund’s Prime Time at her Reactions to Reading blog. Perhaps this book is not one of Marklund’s best but even so it is heaps better than most crime novels in my view. As well as some interesting comments this review sparked some discussion of the quality of literacy and translation over at the Friend Feed crime and mystery group. Glenn Harper, another superb reviewer, has unearthed an example of South Pacific noir at his blog International Crime Fiction: Devil-Devil by Graeme Kent. And Philip posts a review of The Facility by Simon Lelic at his blog To Be Read… a kinder review than I was able to write for this disappointing second novel after the author’s searing debut, Rupture (or 1000 Cuts). Finally of this week’s selections, Terry Halligan reviews James Thomson’s promising first novel Snow Angels at Euro Crime. My review of the same book is here; and Barbara Fister posts an interview with the author on the eve of publication of his second novel in the series, Lucifer’s Tears.

And on the miscellaneous front, some articles that caught my interest this week:
Robert Peston (BBC) on why Barclays bank has just paid its shareholders a hopeless dividend after giving huge bonuses to its leaders.
John Gapper ( has lunch with Sean Parker, said to be the driving force behind several internet companies including Napster and Facebook (he is portrayed in the film The Social Network which is just out in DVD in the UK and which I must watch, together with another new DVD release, Winter’s Bone (my review from 2007), based on the excellent book by Daniel Woodrell).
Philip Ball (Nature News) on how the images from early microscopes are a lot clearer than many have believed.
Future Book (The Bookseller, UK) on how to get a job in publishing.
Joanna Scott (Nature Network San Francisco blog) on the film Secret Rosies: The Female Computers of World War I. This film has been shown at the Computer History Museum in California – I am not sure if it is going to be made generally available, but here is the link to the museum’s website for those who want to watch out for it.
Guardian Technology blog: first round-up of analysis of and reactions to the Apple iPad 2.
Marbury: A world map of China (via the Economist) which instead of provinces displays the country with the nearest GDP to that province. Fascinating.

9 thoughts on “From the Web 2-9 March

  1. great round up Maxine, thanks! am intrigued by the reference to south pacific noir, will go and check out the blog!

  2. All these Irish temptations. Well, when I have read the remaining 2-3 Irish novels on my TBR, I may be able to squeeze new books in again 😉

  3. I like seeing what other people have found on the web, there’s always something interesting to be learned, or some outrage to shake one’s head at. And thanks for the kind words.

  4. Oh, the banks! Don’t get me started! Unemployment is mammoth over here, many are working part-time involuntarily, benefits are cut, but the banks are doing great, and so are corporations. And teachers are being hard-hit, too.
    Anyway, thanks for this very informative post. “Winter’s Bone” is a good, but tough movie to watch, about a very hard life, excellent acting. Have to see “The Social Network.” Lots of good book ideas, sending my manageable TBR list to a larger one.
    I would add “Faithful Place” by Tana French to the Irish crime fiction list, and can’t wait until it’s reviewed here.
    The South Pacific and Arctic Circle noirs fascinate me, and I’ll pass those ideas on to a friend who is now in Canada on an archaelogical trip.
    I could stay here reading forever, but “Red Wolf” is calling, with one of the most complicated characters I’ve ever encountered, page by page. A challenging and unique read, which lets me know that the mystery genre still has possibilities.

  5. Finished “Red Wolf,” and thought it was a novel and intelligently-written book, with a unique main character, Annika Bentzgon. Although I had a hard time believing the political underpinnings at the root of the story, I liked reading Annika’s back story and personal and family sections. I saw Marklund’s sources, and may try to look at one or two, as this history suspends my belief, but does not turn me off to her other books at all.
    I will look for Studio 69, Prime Time and whatever else this website and others I frequent recommend. These books are one-of-a-kind and contribute to Swedish and global crime fiction in a fresh way. And I do like Annika, as complicated as she is, struggling with so many issues of her–probably more than the overall plot. That’s fine.

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