OUTSIDE the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, crowds are gathering in anticipation of catching sight – or rather whiff – of the rotten, flesh-like smell of the famed corpse flower that is fleetingly in bloom beyond the gates.
As Val McDermid and I join the throng, it is corpses of a different kind that spring to mind. This month the Fife-born writer will publish her latest novel, Insidious Intent, which centres on a serial killer who stalks his victims at wedding receptions.
McDermid, 62, is often asked whether advances in forensic science have undone the job of the crime writer. The thriller, which sees DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill return for their 10th outing, cleverly turns that notion on its head.
MacLehose Press is reissuing books in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy to complement the jacket of The Girl in the Spider’s Web and has revealed ‘Queen of Crime’ Val McDermid is contributing an introduction to the new issue of The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.
The new-look cover designs use colours from the original jackets but “apply them in a fresh way” by revisiting the image of the woman and her tattooed back, which adorns the cover of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. They will be available on 1st July.
McDermid is also contributing to the introduction to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo after her novel The Wire in the Blood was mentioned as being read by co-lead character Michael Blomkvist in it.
In McDermid’s introduction she will discuss her relationship with Larsson’s work, his literary influences and her take on his graphic and explicit descriptions of the exploitation of women in the novels.
The second Millennium novel by David Lagercrantz, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye will be published worldwide on 7th September.
Her debut thriller was a phenomenon, but here an embarrassment of narrators and the clunky withholding of information is death to suspense
More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, a fact to lend some much-needed plausibility to the overworked genre of domestic suspense, or grip-lit as it’s sometimes known. About 60 debut novels cross my desk every year (I chair the New Blood panel at the Theakston Old Peculier crime writing festival), and for the last three or four years, the proportion of this subgenre has been rising.
The author has to hold back information, hinting at its existence, obliquely suggesting where there might be secrets
Not a problem in itself: if the books were original, well written or thought-provoking, nobody would be happier than I. But sadly that’s not generally been the case. There have been notable exceptions, of course: clever, suspenseful reads such as Renée Knight’s Disclaimer or Ben McPherson’s A Line of Blood. Then there are the mega-sellers such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, which all gave us interesting twists on the idea of the unreliable narrator.
These books need to deliver at least one shocking moment when the reader realises that they have been looking at the picture the wrong way up. There must be a sudden twist in the direction of travel, taking us to an entirely unexpected destination. We readers journey hopefully, willing that moment to arrive.