Smokey the Cat
Mick Herron

Sixty seconds with Mick Herron...

Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of two books in the Slough House series, Slow Horses and Dead Lions, as well as the standalone thriller Nobody Walks, and the novella The List. His work has been nominated for the Macavity, Barry, and Shamus Awards, and he has won the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel. He lives in Oxford and works in London.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Herron: An average-looking man, wearing glasses, who missed a bit shaving.

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

Herron: Keith Jarrett’s “Sun Bear Concerts”. (It’s a six-CD set, so that’s cheating. If I’m forced to pick one, the Osaka concert.)

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

Herron: A novelist.

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February 21, 2015

A cold coming we've had of it, these past two weeks, good for reading, if not for long walks in the woods. The weather is very warm (too warm if you're a heretic) in the latest in the Shardlake series, LAMENTATION, by C.J. Sansom, which sees Henry VIII finally depart the scene. I thought it was the best and the saddest of the six book in this remarkable series. Shardlake has much to regret at the end as does Mick Herron's superannuated spy, Tom Bettany, ex-MI5 now French slaughterhouse worker, in NOBODY WALKS. Barbara Fister says that Herron writes with "uncommon grace about a man with no illusions."

Whether it's the influence of GONE GIRL or simply a coincidence, there was a bit of a run on what might be called "domestic noir" this week. Karen Chisholm thought too much in Colette McBeth's THE LIFE I LEFT BEHIND missed the mark but felt that readers more sympathetic to one of its narrators might get more from it than she did. Lourdes Venard thought that THE FIRST WIFE by Erica Spindler was not right up there with REBECCA but that the book on the whole was enjoyable. GOLDEN STATE by Stephanie Kegan approaches the question of domestic terrorism from a different angle, wondering what it must be like to be a member of the family of someone like the Unabomber. Despite its subject matter, Cathy Downs says it is delicately crafted and works gently to explore questions of family and innocence.

Very troubled families figure in a couple of books set in psychiatric institutions. Sandra Block's LITTLE BLACK LIES, a debut by a practising neurologist, involves a resident psychiatrist faced with a patient who killed her own mother, complicated by her own childhood memories of her mother's death by fire. Lourdes Venard thought it a strong debut. The psychiatrist in John Burley's THE FORGETTING PLACE is also troubled by childhood memories, but she has a lot more on her plate, as both she herself and her mysterious young patient are threatened. Sharon Mensing says that this is a difficult book to put down, thanks to its effective mixture of action scenes, psychological insight, and a palpable sense of menace. Two people in SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir are convinced that a boy with Down Syndrome could not have set the fatal fire he is accused of doing. One is his mother, the other an institutionalized psychopath who hires Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to prove it. Barbara Fister thought there might be a bit too much going on here, but still can recommend it.

Art and books are the issue in three other books this week. The first, a thriller by Parker Billal, THE BURNING GATES, has to do with a stash of precious paintings, the spoils of war and develops into a full-on international thriller set in Cairo and starring the Sudanese private detective Makana. Christine Zibas enjoyed it. Bradford Morrow's THE FORGERS deals with rare book collecting, forged literary signatures, and a gruesome murder, but it proceeds at a more leisurely pace than the reader might anticipate, says Sharon Mensing. Quite different in tone is A MURDER OF MAGPIES by Judith Flanders, which deals with the competitive world of book publishing. Deb Shoss found it both discerning and at times hilarious.

Nothing at all connects the final four books this week. If it had nothing else going for it, THE HONEST FOLK OF GUADELOUPE by Timothy Williams would at least provide an imaginary trip to a warm beach, but Phyllis Onstad says it also offers some appealing characters and a strong sense of place. Diana Borse had a great time with TWO PARTS BLOODY MURDER by Jen J. Danna and Ann Vanderlaan, set in Boston and featuring an eighty-year-old crime and echoes of Prohibition. I enjoyed R.T. Raichev's post-modern take on the Golden Age in his ninth in the Hugh and Antonia Payne series set in contemporary London, THE KILLING OF OLGA KLIMT. And P.J. Coldren was enthusiastic about the mixture of the paranormal and the mystery in Gigi Pandian's THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST, set in Portland, Oregon.

Our visitor in the "Sixty Second with..." corner is Mick Herron. Don't forget to pay him a visit over there on your left.

If you want to read more about what's happening in British crime, take a look at CRIMEREVIEW where our former colleagues can help you out.

By the time we meet again in two weeks, daylight savings time will be starting and Spring may even be in sight. Do come back and we can celebrate together.



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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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