Smokey the Cat
James Lovegrove

Sixty seconds with James Lovegrove...

James Lovegrove is the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Odin. He was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1998 and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2004, and also reviews fiction for the Financial Times. He is the author of Firefly: Big Damn Hero with Nancy Holder and Firefly: The Magnificent Nine, and several Sherlock Holmes novels for Titan Books. He lives in south-east England.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Lovegrove: Author, husband, father of two, inwardly decrepit, outwardly showing a surprising state of preservation despite advancing years

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Lovegrove: Song: “The Booklovers” by The Divine Comedy
Album: Diamond Dogs by David Bowie

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Lovegrove: A multimillionaire rock megastar

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December 21, 2019

Well, here we are again, at the end of another year. This time we're standing on the brink of a whole new decade, the 2020s. The last Twenties were called Roaring. Somehow, however our Twenties turn out, I'm doubtful they will be Roaring. But that remains to be seen. In the meantime, crime and its fiction still flourishes and we're here to talk about it.

We start with a couple of seasonal titles. Rebecca Nesvet was happy to find that James Lovegrove's latest Sherlockian mashup, THE CHRISTMAS DEMON, had arrived. She says that this Cthulhu Casebooks entry, with its echoes of Baskerville and Brontë, does not disappoint.

The ornithology-oriented author, Donna Andrews, has produced her annual Christmas mystery, OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS and Susan Hoover says it is the perfect book to find under the tree and to read in the gentle haze following the Christmas turkey.

WINTER GRAVE, by Helene Tursten, is set in a small Swedish town in winter, close to the Solstice. The second in a new series for the author, it struck me as a very satisfying police procedural that also conveyed the experience of living in northern climes in mid-winter.

HOW THE DEAD SPEAK, by Val McDermid, takes on the daunting task of mapping out a new kind of life for long-standing main characters. I thought the author successfully navigated the transition, establishing a sound footing for Tony and Carol in the future, even if the book itself was slightly less successful than some of its predecessors. Nevertheless, A- McDermid is still very much worth a read.

Our history mystery this time is BROOKLYN LEGACIES, by Triss Stein, who specializes in investigating Brooklyn's past, as does the protagonist of this fifth in a series. Brooklyn Heights is the focus here and Lourdes Venard says that it is an uncommon venue for crime fiction. Lourdes thinks that history lovers will find the excursion enjoyable.

MURDER IN RAT ALLEY, by Mark de Castrique is the seventh in his Sam Blackman series. This combines espionage and mystery and is set in Asheville, North Carolina. Ruth Castleberry reports that it is an elaborate, multi-layered mystery with an appealing community for readers to explore.

Ruth also read medical thriller writer Robin Cook's latest, GENESIS. Ruth enjoyed it both for its mystery and its science, including up-to-date technical developments that Cook authoritatively employs.

Diana Borse reveals that she is making her acquaintance with Agatha Raisin for the first time with BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH, by M.C. Beaton. But it's an acquaintance she is glad to make and believes that this one will delight fans of the series as well as newcomers.

Elizabeth Penney's HEMS AND HOMICIDE is not a seasonal cosy, set as it is in Maine in the spring. The author has written a long list of cosies, but this is the first in a new series (Apron Shop Mystery). Meredith Frazier clearly didn't mind the shift in seasons, as she says it is "a fun, light read for a winter weekend when images of sun-sparkled ocean, spring flowers, and a bit of mystery are welcome distractions."

Susan Hoover, who lives in Nova Scotia, wants to call your attention to a couple of books by T.E. Wilson that feature a gay Mexican immigrant to Canada. He is the protagonist of MESCALERO and WILD DOGS OF MEXICO, both published by a small press in Cape Breton. Susan reports that she absolutely loved the first two and is anxiously awaiting the third, due out in the Spring.

This time of year, a collection of short stories is often attractive, especially if there are a lot of demands on your time. CUTTING EDGE: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, would be a good choice. Not only are the selected stories generally excellent, but they illustrate Oates' attempt to define a notion of "female noir." I enjoyed both aspects and was especially pleased to see a small collection of poems by Margaret Atwood included.

Our guest in the Sixty Seconds this week is James Lovegrove and you shouldn't miss what this Sherlock re-animator has to say.

'Tis the season in crime fiction across the sea as well, of course, and our friends at CRIMEREVIEW report on what they've read, seasonal or not.

And that's it for 2019, a year that I myself am happy to wave good-bye to. We'll be back in 2020, sometime in January, date to be decided. If you want to know when, you might subscribe to the RSS feed by tapping the button on our masthead, or drop me a line with your email and I'll put you on the notification list.

In the meantime, please get in touch if there's anything you'd like to say to us. We'd love to hear from you.

Finally, let me wish all of you a very happy Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, or any other festive occasion you may be observing. And, it goes without saying, all best wishes for a peaceful, happy, healthy, and altogether satisfactory New Year.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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