The treat is in Deal on 28 March, a day of crime fiction, DEAL NOIR. My ticket has been secured weeks ago and I keep looking at the programme with happy anticipation.
Susan Moody is spearheading the event and the seven sessions feature names that promise to make this a great day out in a small town. I’ll report anon.
The feast is in Bristol in May (14-17). CRIMEFEST is an event every crime reader should experience at least once. Spread over four days, from Thursday to Sunday, it is so full of sessions that it’s nigh impossible to take in everything. And it’s not only the books that pull in the crowds. The atmosphere is great, buzzing but friendly. It’s the place to rub shoulders with the authors you’ve only met between the covers of their books.
For me this year’s highlight is the special guest interview: Lee Child interviewing Maj Sjowall. What an inspired signing that is.
The session titles promise an eclectic mix: Debut Authors; Nordic Noir; Strange Bedfellows: Sex in Crime Fiction; Psychopaths: Not Very Nice, Or Just Misunderstood; Spies: When Snooping Is Your Business; Thrillers: Brains or Brawn, Who Kicks Best Ass – the list is long.
Not everything in the programme is nailed down this far ahead – the session titled Forgotten Authors contains no names. How forgotten can you get?
But that made me think – who are the forgotten authors I’d want to hear about?
The first that came to mind is Ursula Curtiss, maybe because she represents a genre of crime fiction which almost disappeared after its heyday: A Woman in Peril. I still reread Curtiss occasionally when I’m in the mood for women who chain smoke, wear wool dresses and little hats and evoke murderous intent.
Next on my list is Bill S Ballinger, simply because his The Nail and The Tooth was the first crime novel I remember reading and it left an indelible mark on my juvenile mind. My copy of the book fell apart decades ago but today, in a bout of nostalgia, I sourced a replacement from Abebooks. It’ll be a bit scary to reread it after all this time. What if I now think my teenage self was stupid to be so impressed?
And finally, Arthur Upfield deserves not to be forgotten. I don’t have to travel to Australia, I can sit at home reading about the cases his Bony – Detective Napoleon Bonaparte – solves and I feel I know the place. Admittedly, this is the Australia of 1920s – 1960s but that gives me a social history lesson as a bonus. Upfield was half Pom and Bony was half Abo, a combination which the Australians didn’t always find endearing, more’s the pity.