As the clock ticks down to zero hour and the old year prepares to clutch frantically at its chest complaining of numbness in the left arm and a taste of copper in its mouth, it's traditional to do one of those 'year roundup best of thingies' post. Soon 2007 will swoop down like a carrion crow upon the fresh corpse of the old year, eating its eyes and stripping the flesh from its skull, and asking if anyone has any mustard to go with the nose.
So without further ado, Halfhead is proud to presents yet another list:
Good stuff what did happen in 2006
- Finally got round to reading J Rickards Esq.'s THE TOUCH OF GHOSTS. I have to say that John may be small and a bit molluscy, but he does write a damn fine crime novel. Not only that, he seems to be getting better with every book. I've not got my hands on his DARKNESS INSIDE yet (oo-er missus) but I'm expecting very big things of it.
- THREADS OF MALICE by Tamara Siler Jones. I actually read this one twice this year, which is pretty unusual for me. But when I visited Tammy in Iowa she let me into a few secrets about what's up ahead for Dubric and his merry band, so I had to go back and read it again. And now that I know what's going to happen, I can see how well it's all been set up. Because Tammy's books have a fantasy setting they get lumped in with all the sword and sorcery stuff, but I wouldn't say they're fantasy novels: they're dark, and sometimes very violent, serial killer thrillers that just happen to be set in a world where magic is real. They should be given the prominence they deserve -- in mainstream crime fiction.
- FIRST DROP by Zoë Sharp. I kinda screwed this one up for myself -- I had it down with me to read at Harrogate, and Zoë was one of the first people I saw when I went down to check out the bar.
"Hello," says me, "I've got one of your books on the go right now."
"Really?" she says, with a smile, "Which one?"
Small pause. "You mean First Drop."
Another pause, this time with heavy overtones of embarrassment. "I'll just..." Stuart points at the bar. "Ehm... yes." And leaves.
But I have to say that embarrassing encounters with the author aside, it's a very good book. One of her characters is a whiny, pain in the arse teenager, but Zoë actually manages to make the spoilt little twerp likeable. No mean task.
- THE MERMAIDS SINGING by Saint Val of McDermid. I've read a lot of Val's work, so I have no idea why it took me so long to get round to this one. Lovely book, very dark and claustrophobic. I have to say that it's my favourite of hers to date. I can see why the TV people beat a path to her door for the Tony Hill series (even if it is named after WIRE IN THE BLOOD).
- TWO WAY SPLIT and HARD MAN by Allan Guthrie. I've already banged on about how good these two are, but to recap: brilliant, funny and twisted, much like their author. Only less like a hamster.
- LIFELESS by Captain Mark Buggerlugs Billingham. I have to admit that this wasn't what I was expecting when I opened it -- I was looking forward to a nice little crime caper with some murder and gratuitous curry consumption, but this took the Tom Thorne series in a completely different direction. In some ways it's more of a character study of Thorne than a traditional crime novel, and it WORKS. Damn his girly goatee beard: not only can the man write, he's not afraid to take chances with his books.
- Iowa -- ten days eating too much American food, drinking not enough American beer (it was too hot for alcohol), learning to shoot soya beans and chest of drawers filled with hornets, hanging out with Tammy, Bill, Rick, and the Kid. They even laid on an episode of 'Creepy Stalker Boyfriend' for me. It was a classic.
- My mini tour of the US. Strange, and eye-opening, with a completely unnecessary demonstration of just how bloody awful American immigration can be at Chicago O'Hare -- now officially, the worst airport in the world. But I did get to meet the Clan Jordan.
- Harrogate Crime Festival. A bar, beer and lots of crime writers and readers: what could possibly be more fun?
- Not having to take any more anti-bloody-biotics.
- Seeing my editor Sarah do a little happy Snoopy dance when she found out DYING LIGHT had somehow made the Sunday Times BS list.
As for next year, I already have a couple of resolutions in mind, top of which is 'READ MORE BLOODY BOOKS!!!' And maybe take the occasional afternoon nap. Have to keep my strength up for all that writing after all.
Have a good one!