Smokey the Cat
Tim Major

Sixty seconds with Tim Major...

Tim Major is a writer and freelance editor from York, UK. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids. Tim’s most recent books include Hope Island and Snakeskins, short story collection And the House Lights Dim and a monograph about the 1915 silent crime film, Les Vampires, which was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. Tim’s short fiction has appeared in Interzone, Not One of Us, Shoreline of Infinity and numerous anthologies, including Best of British Science Fiction, Best of British Fantasy and The Best Horror of the Year. He tweets @onasteamer.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Major: Writer, husband, father, editor, tired.

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

Major: The collected singles of Lonnie Donegan, which is the single most uplifting record I can think of right now.

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

Major: Oh, pretty much always a writer, or failing that, a typist. When I was about eight my mum won an electronic typewriter in a short story competition. I was already a big reader and enjoyed writing fiction, but I loved the act of typing so much that I’d transcribe stories from my favourite books, working solidly for hours at a time.

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September 25, 2021

The autumnal equinox has come and gone and the nights are drawing in. Canadians have survived an election and Americans have a result from Arizona. Time to settle down with a good book and ignore the world outside. And, since it's early Fall, books by favourite authors are appearing in the bookstores every day.

Let's begin with Louise Penny's latest trip to Quebec's Eastern Townships and Inspector Gamache. Anne Corey welcomes la famille Gamache return to Three Pines from their Paris visit. Anne is glad they're back and says the solution to the crime is deeply satisfying.

Cathy Downs is utterly delighted to have made the acquaintance of Lisa Gardner via her recent entry in the Frankie Elkin series BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED. It's the characters that she particularly enjoyed, behaving as real people do. She's setting off to see if she can find earlier books in the series.

In THE MISSING HOURS, Julia Dahl moves from the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community which has been her venue to a story about the aftermath of a rape in a college dorm. Barbara Fister remarks that while the book appears to be aimed at younger readers than Dahl's earlier novels, it is by no means a Young Adult offering on several grounds.

Maybe it's because we haven't been able to do much in the way of foreign travel lately, or maybe it's coincidental, but we read a number of books this time that were set abroad. I enjoyed Ian Rankin's much anticipated completion of the late William McIlvanney's THE DARK REMAINS. This takes us back to Glasgow in 1972, when Laidlaw was much younger. It is a remarkable act of resurrection on Rankin's part. HYDE: A NOVEL by Craig Russell, is not set in Stevenson's London, but in late Victorian Edinburgh. Rebecca Nesvet calls it "gripping and mesmerizing," and declares that it calls out for more than one reading.

Next we go to the Continent, in John Banville's APRIL IN SPAIN. But, says Cathy Downs, Banville does not confine himself to that country, but deals with the lingering psychological effects of several violent European conflicts: Ireland's Troubles, the Nazi extermination of the Jews, and Basque separatism. She concludes that though presented as a thriller, the books is really "a study of the effects of PTSD on various generations of English, Irish, and Spanish people."

The island of Ireland is the setting for the next two books. Stuart Neville has largely written about the Troubles and their lingering effects. In THE HOUSE OF ASHES, set in rural Northern Ireland, he goes deeper into the past and deals with the ghosts of sixty-year -old crimes that still haunt the house in which they occured. I found it an absorbing read, though a disturbing one, and very hard to forget. THE GOOD TURN, by Dervla McTiernan, is set across the border in rural Ireland. Meredith Frazier enjoyed this for its "strong story lines, even stronger characters, and satisfying solution."

Back to this side of the Atlantic, to Texas in Larry D. Sweazy's WINTER SEEKS OUT THE LONELY. It involves a former Texas ranger who does what he can to restore a moral order in his small Texas town. PJ Coldren says that "this is more than "just" a mystery; it is a classic Western with all the dark and yet redemptive qualities one associates with the great stories of our historic past."

Donna Andrews has been playing with bird puns in her titles for a long time now and MURDER MOST FOWL is her twenty-ninth and involves a flock of black Sumatran chickens that preside over a performance of that Shakespearean tragedy which must not be named. Rebecca Nesvet has some quarrels with its version of academic politics, but does admit that on the whole it is a suspenseful read.

There's nothing as handy than a collection of short stories when you're travelling. Lourdes Venard can recommend the recent entry in Akashic's extensive City Noir series. This one is PALM SPRINGS NOIR, edited by Barbara Marco-Barnett. Palm Springs and noir may not seem to belong in the same sentence, but these stories highlight the Palm Springs that is largely hidden from tourists. Lourdes says that if you like noir, you'll like this one

Donna Andrews does not have a monopoly on titular word play when comes to the opposite end of the spectrum from noir. Cosies positively revel in them. This time for example we have NO GRATER CRIME by Maddie Day, which Ruth Castleberry said moved too slowly to sustain suspense. But Ruth did enjoy the bookshop cosy CHAPTER AND CURSE by Elizabeth Penney, which she says has an appealing set of characters and is set in Cambridge, England. This too is the first in a series and Ruth says it marks a promising start.

Our guest in the Sixty Seconds this week is Tim Major. Look over to your left to see what he has to say for himself.

Our friends across the sea have been busy keeping up with what is going on in British crime. You can find out what they thought of it at CRIMEREVIEW.

And that's about that for September. We will be back in October with some treats but no tricks, so please come back. In the meantime, do drop us a note if you have a comment or a question or anything you want us to know and email either Rebecca or me. We look forward to hearing from you.




Rebecca Nesvet

Yvonne Klein

Yvonne Klein

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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