Category Archives: Historical crime fiction

Samantha Norman talks about co-writing Winter Siege with her late mother Ariana Franklin

“I would never have got round to writing a novel if my mother hadn’t died. I wanted to, but only in the way a lot of people want to write – in a rather dreamy, rare as hen’s teeth way: a sudden flash of inspiration one day leading to a perfect plot and 90,000 immaculately ordered words divinely processed through the fingertips by the next. It was never going to happen. Like most people, I had neither the rigour nor the discipline to do it and, when it came down to it, probably didn’t want to enough.

My mother, however – Ariana Franklin, the much-admired historical thriller writer and author of the Mistress of the Art of Death series – loved writing and was as good at it as you can get. She was also a great mum, and, as all great mothers tend to be, a terrific nag. Ever since I can remember she had nursed a conviction that I should write novels. So when she died, suddenly and unexpectedly, halfway through a book it felt not only like the most dreadful thing that had ever happened to me but a rather weird challenge as well.

I took it up hoping to do her justice, to make her proud (even from beyond the grave) and because it was the very last thing I could do for her. The result is Winter Siege, her last novel and my first, published this week.”

WinterSiege

Click on the pic for a link to Amazon UK.

For Samantha Norman the unfinished Winter Siege was a gift from her late mother, launching her on the road of a new career in writing. Published today, it’s a standalone novel set in a freezing cold 1141. Gwil, a battle-hardened mercenary, watches in horror as a little girl with red hair is dragged away by his own men. Caught in the middle of the fight for England she is just one more victim in a winter of atrocities. But a strange twist of fate brings them together again. Gwil finds the girl close to death, clutching a sliver of parchment – and he knows what he must do. He will bring her back to life. He will train her to fight. And together, they will hunt down the man who did this to her. But danger looms wherever they turn. As castle after castle falls victim to siege, the icy Fens ring with rumours of a madman, of murder – and of a small piece of parchment the cost of which none of them could have imagined …

A review of the novel will follow next week.

More Novels in the Russell Series by Laurie R. King Available in the UK from Allison and Busby

Available from Amazon UK.

Available from Amazon UK.

By ScotKris

Fans of Laurie King have another year to wait until the next instalment of Mary Russell’s journals, so it is with considerable satisfaction that It’s a Crime! can report that those lovely people over at Allison and Busby are releasing the ‘missing four’ Russell titles, previously unavailable for a dozen or more years.

The first of these missing titles, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary, are available now, with The Moor and Justice Hall coming shortly. What’s more, with four more stunning cover designs, the entire series of (currently twelve) novels is available for the first time with a uniform series ‘look’, and full credit to the publisher’s designer for such beautiful covers.

Available from Amazon UK.

Available from Amazon UK.

Where The Beekeeper’s Apprentice laid the groundwork, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary were the early showcases of Miss Russell (with Mr Holmes, naturally), taking her forward to the 1920s and into investigations both baffling and intriguing. Theology and detective work go hand in hand and we also see the growing partnership between Russell and Holmes which forms the cornerstone of this unique series.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women sees an Oxford friend of Russell introducing her to the ‘New Temple of God’, which, if appearances are to be believed, is a sect involved in the suffrage movement of post-War years; however, appearances can be deceptive and when one murder follows another, Russell investigates …

More information at Allison and Busby.

More information at Allison and Busby.

The Moor then takes us to Dartmoor, paying homage to a certain Conan Doyle tale, but Justice Hall, for me, marked a turning point in the series. While following on directly from the events of The Moor, Justice Hall reintroduces characters first met in Palestine in events described in O Jerusalem, and involves Russell in a mystery that dates back to the Great War. Rich descriptions bring to life the Justice Hall of the title which, for me, is one of the most evocative books in this very compelling series and the closing pages remain with me some 12 years since I first read them – a telling sign.

More information at Allison and Busby.

More information at Allison and Busby.

As I have said before, one of King’s many strengths is her ability to create images in her novels that draw you into the era, cleverly combining real events with the fictitious, and in which her characters play their own unique roles. Never do readers feel they are subject to a history lesson; indeed they come away feeling enriched, entertained and truly satisfied.

With the reappearance of these four books comes an opportunity to revisit old friends or to discover them for the first time; the only shame is that a year must pass before Russell returns in Dreaming Spies!

Crime Saturday at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle 3 May 2014

LitPhil1If you are in or near Newcastle on Saturday, 3rd of May get thee hence!  All these authors are fantastic public performers.  Call the Lit and Phil on 0191 232 0192 to book/reserve your tickets.  From the Lit & Phil’s website:

Saturday 3rd May | 2pm | Crime Saturday | £5/3 per session or £12/8 for all three
An estimated 45% of the fiction borrowed from the Lit & Phil falls into the category of crime.  Our fascination with the subject seems to be not only ongoing but continually branching out into new areas.  Join us for Crime Saturday and meet some of the authors responsible for this interest.  We are hosting literary panels of experts discussing their particular area of crime fiction.

Historical Crime 2.00 – 3.30pm
Aly Monroe is the author of the Peter Cotton series.  Her third novel Icelight, was awarded the 2012 CWA Historical Dagger.  Samantha Norman is finishing Winter Siege, a book started by her mother, the historical thriller writer Ariana Franklin who died in 2011.  John Lawton has written seven novels, the last of which A Lily of the Field was named Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year in 2011.

LitPhil2Women in Crime 4.30 – 6.00pm
Mari Hannah won the Polari First Book Prize for her debut novel, The Murder Wall and a Northern Writers’ Award for her second, Settled Blood.  Zoë Sharp has written a standalone crime novel, various short stories and ten books featuring bodyguard Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox.  M J McGrath is the author of the Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries.  The first in the series, White Heat, was nominated for a CWA Gold Dagger.

Icelandic Crime 7.00 – 8.30pm
Ragnar Jonasson is an Icelandic writer of the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland, currently being developed as a TV series.  Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is the bestselling and award-winning Icelandic crime author of the Thóra Guðmundsdóttir series.  Quentin Bates is writing a series of crime novels set in present day Iceland. Cold Steal will be published in April 2014.

In association with Northumbria University.