Bloody Scotland – Crime on the Costa

6th of November 2018

This is the second year that Bloody Scotland authors have been invited to participate in Xabia Negra.

The place - Xabia, Spain, the event - Xabia Negra, the time - 2nd to the 4thof November and the Bloody Scotland team, on tour, were Lin Anderson, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Abir Muckerjee and myself.

First things first, the artwork for the festival is amongst the coolest I’ve seen and this year was no exception. The only fly, in an otherwise smooth and sweet ointment - Graeme Macrae Burnet’s name was shortened to Graeme Macrae on all the literature. Even the fame of being a shortlisted Booker author can’t protect you from typos.

'Our Poster'

'Names up in lights'

The festival is not just a literature event, it celebrates photography, cinema, short stories, even fancy dress and is a melting pot of all things crime. Low key is the way the festival organisers like to play it. Events are held in the pubs, restaurants and local venues across the old town of Xabia, wrapped around a 16thcentury church and in the port, with the closing event held in the local cinema yards from the sea front.

On Friday night Lesley and I attended the first of what the festival calls roundtables (we call them panels) with Toni Hill, Nieves Abarca and Vicente Garrido along with the Xabia Mayor. I managed to grab Toni, one of Spain’s best-selling crime writers, for a quick selfie and a chat about coming to Bloody Scotland one day. To say he was keen was an understatement.

‘Toni Hill and I (those are not our wine glasses).'

Vicente, my contact at the Ajuntament de Xàbia, invited us all to join him and other festival participants for dinner that night in a wonderful restaurant. You have to say this writing job is hard work – food, drink, good company – in sunny climes – tough, tough, tough.

‘If ever a motlier crew sat down to a feast…’

On the Saturday morning the festival held a street fair in the old town with a small band playing and a number book stalls. We have tied up with a local book shop, called Polly’s, to supply our books and help spread the word about Bloody Scotland’s involvement with the festival.

Our panel followed at midday, in a restaurant called l’Embruix. As with many things in Spain, the pace of life is a little more relaxed than back home and, with ten minutes to our start time, there was no audience to be seen. Then someone opened a minor flood gate and bodies flowed in. With the four of us in full voice (we had to be loud, as there were no microphones) the hour flew by. We read from our books, discussed how we name characters, told our stories and indulged in lightweight digs at each other as often as we could. The audience were great.

'Great panel...'

'...great crowd.'

After the event we signed some books, chatted with readers and struggled along the street to force ourselves to eat lunch in the late afternoon sun.

‘Abir, that evening, demanded a Pina Colada after the strain of the panel.’

The close of the festival was a large affair with the awards for best film, costume, short story and photograph handed out. In addition, there were a few speeches and, seeded throughout the hour and a half, a ‘play’ involving ‘criminals’. The only downside was that the entire thing was conducted in Valenciano and Spanish, which left the Bloody Scotland contingent a little bewildered – although we got name checked twice (Graeme still didn’t get Burnet appended).

'Play'

'Vicente in full flow'

'A dead person.'

Before he left, we managed to grab a word with Mayor Chulvi to thank him for inviting us.

‘From L to R - Graeme, Mayor Chulvi, Lin and myself demonstrating superior poster holding skills. (Abir had to leave early – but was there in spirit.)

As we said our goodbyes, Vincente, a charming host for the whole weekend, told us, as a word of caution, that there is a local election next May but he’s hopeful of being there to extend an invitation for Bloody Scotland to participate in the 2019 event.

Let’s hope so.

‘Vicente insisted we joined him in the bar to celebrate a successful festival.’

Witch Hunt

11th of November 2018

For the Four Blokes upcoming night in Rothesay (Friday 19th October) I thought it might be worth creating a Bute themed short story. Based on a true story, I may have taken a few liberties with some facts.

Witch Hunt

(Inspired by a true story)

By

Gordon Brown

The rain was sweeping west, a tail of smir soaking the coat of the bald-headed man. He had waited for hours, still, looking. The cloud cover was full. Light was limited. The sea, a few feet from his feet, was invisible. The sluicing of gentle waves on the rocks the only indication it was nearby. His eyesight was good. Better than most. His flock of sheep tended to wander and his livelihood depended on getting every one of them to market. Spotting an escaping animal, high on the surrounding hills, or a thief out to snatch, was his best weapon against the hunger a bad market day brought.

He was fixated on a small, intermittent glow bobbing in the mid distance. It was sliding north, past Ettrick Bay, into the Kyles of Bute. The man wiped the rain from his pate, eyes never leaving the light. He knew there was a ship out there. The rain covered the sound of the boats’ progress. The cloud and lack of moon rendered her invisible.

The man knew what had to be done. He rose up the rocks, each step a careful movement on the slippery surface, his thin leather soles ill-equipped for the job at hand. He gained the turf that bordered the rocks and listened. The hard breathing of his horse gave him direction and he walked towards the sound, laying a hand on the beast’s side a few second a later.

The horse grunted as the man mounted her. It was dangerous to travel in the dark but he would cross the island because the woman he loved was ensconced in the belly of Rothesay Castle and Malcolm Turnbull knew that one of the men on the boat was here to kill her.

***

Deep in the castle, Jonet McNeil lay in her own filth. Pressed against her were Margaret McLevin, Margaret McWilliam, Janet Morrisonand Isobell McNicoll. All crammed into a cell designed to accommodate one person. A sixth inmate, Jessie Rayland, had died three days earlier. She had only been removed last night.

The recent rain was a blessing in disguise. Freely pouring through the cell’s only window it had washed some of the excrement and urine into the crude drain. At the storms height all five had taken it in turns to let the waterfall of rain, falling from the window, cascade over their hair. Trying to wash away the dirt and lice. All five had removed as much of their clothing as they could bear. Rinsing their soiled cloth in the torrent. With no food for days they had drank their fill. Gaining small respite.

All were weak.

All were to be executed the following morning.

The trial had been a trial in nothing but name. A Commission of Justiciary formed that paid little heed to the facts. John McFie, a local land owner, had accused Margaret McWilliam of witchcraft. He had claimed, following what he called an altercation, that Margaret had ‘pained him like that of birth’ for three long months. Witch hunts, spreading from the east the year before had reached Bute in early 1662 and McFie had fed his accusation into a populace afire with stories of witches and devilment.

Thirty years earlier five woman had died of starvation in the same cell Jonet lay in; they too accused of witchcraft. At that time they had denounced Margaret as a witch, a label that had stuck with her for three decades. When McFie added the death of his child to the accusations, Margaret was incarcerated in Rothesay Castle along with five others, including Jonet. In the dim light of day, the cell’s original inhabitant’s initials could still be seen scratched in the wood of the door.

The commission felt starvation a fitting punishment, but McFie, as was his right, had demanded a quicker death.

The law required an official to oversee the execution. The verdict had been despatched at the conclusion of the trial, but a storm had blown in and no boat could land for three days. With witch hunts in full flow the official had further delayed his arrival on Bute to attend to other executions. Tomorrow he had to officiate at two hangings in Tighnabruaich, at dawn, before he could cross to the island. It was his ship that Jonet’s lover had been watching slip through the Kyles.

Jonet knew there was to be no reprieve for any of them. Margaret had told her how McFie had at first courted her, with small gifts and pleasant words. How her coldness had transformed him. How only the intervention of her father had stopped John from raping her in the field. As John had fled, Margaret’s father had chased him, stumbled and cracked his head open on a stone. Killing instantly the only witness to McFie’s abhorrent intent.

With the official delayed, even though the commission had dismissed Margaret’s account, McFie feared the truth would get out and took to sleeping in the guard house to prevent visitors. McFie stopped food from being delivered to the woman’s cell, gifting the guards the bread and potatoes meant for the prisoners. Add in a few bottles of ale each day and the guards left him well alone.

McFie had tried to enter the women’s cell many times. They had fought him off. But it was getting harder.

***

Malcolm Turnbull tied his horse up on the gatepost of the Tollbooth. Now that the official’s boat was headed for Tighnabruich he knew his loved one would surely die the following afternoon. Jonet’s cell lay deep in the bowels of the castle. The moat, thick walls and guards meant any attempt at rescue was doomed. But he had other plans.

Malcolm pulled the blanket from the wicker basket that hung on the horse. In the darkened lee of the building he carefully extracted an oiled cloth. Shielding it from the last of the rain, he unfurled the material and extracted the flintlock that lay inside. A small leather pouch tumbled to ground and Malcolm snatched it up, eyes flitting around, fearful he had been seen. Opening the pouch, he lifted two tiny musket balls from the powder within. He placed them in his pocket and, with care, began to prime the weapon.

Pouring the powder slowly into the barrel, he tamped it down. He did not insert a ball. For what he had in mind there was no need. Another smaller pouch provided the finest ground of gunpowder for the striking plate. Loaded, he pulled the gun’s cock into the firing position. When he pulled the trigger, it would snap along the L shaped frizzen, creating a spark as it pushed the frizzen out of the way, revealing the gunpowder filled pan. The spark would ignite the finer powder on the pan, the flame would travel through the touchhole in the barrel and ignite the gunpowder, firing the gun, normally pushing the ball out. Malcolm wasn’t about to waste a precious ball. He simply needed the noise.

Placing the gun beneath his cloak Malcolm stepped out onto the street. He walked, trying to stay out of sight, until he reached a small, squat wooden house, near the castle’s main gate. Behind him the ground dropped away sharply. With a quick look to ensure he was on his own, he raised the gun in the air and pulled the trigger.

The gunshot echoed off the castle walls. A dog barked. His horse whinnied and Malcolm leapt down the slope, lying flat. Hidden from the castle he waited. Silence fell. Malcolm waited some more. No one came. The guards, relieved of their duty by McFie, had drunk themselves into an early morning stupor. The local residents, if they heard the shot, decided that investigation was too fraught with danger. Window shutters and doors remained firmly closed.

When Malcolm was sure no one was coming, he crawled along the slope, back to his horse and reloaded the flintlock. This time tamping in a ball after the gunpowder.

Inside the cell Jonet heard the shot. She roused the others.

They responded with light moans. She doubted her plan would work. The others were sure it would fail. But she had to try.

Jonet stood up, her head inches from the low roof. With what strength she had left she began banging the door. She knew McFie was only a few yards away.

In the Gaelic that the farmworkers spoke she shouted ‘McFie. Tha thu nad rapist agus nad èibhinn.’ McFie you are a rapist and a coward.

She repeated the phrase over and over, interspersing it with weaker and weaker blows on the wood. When she heard footsteps, she stopped. She turned to the others. Their faces were all but lost in the night.

The key rattled in the lock. Jonet felt fear. Deep fear. She placed a hand on the wall to steady herself. The door swung in. When it was half-open she reached out and pulled it. McFie let go. Jonet tried to dive forward but her legs failed her. She tumbled from the cell, McFie easily throwing her to one side. A burning torch, held in McFie’s hand, lit the scene. Jonet looked back, expecting the others to follow. That had been the plan. One mass break out.

McFie smiled.

Reached into the cell.

Closed the door.

Looked down at Jonet.

Turned the key.

‘Nì thu.’ You’ll do.Is all he said.

Jonet tried to crawl away. McFie, a powerful man, reached down and grabbed her dress by the hem. He hauled her up the three stone stairs and through the archway that led to the guard’s room. Placing the torch in a metal holder on the wall he flung Jonet onto the pile of hay that served as a bed for the night shift.

Jonet looked round. Eyes wide with terror.

McFie reached to his waist and pulled the cord from his trousers. Pushing them to the floor he wrestled his stained breeches down. Jonet scrabbled up against the wall. Clawing at the hay and the dirt beneath her as McFie stepped from his trousers and breeches, his penis hard, his smile now one of anticipation. Stepping onto the hay he grabbed Jonet’s hair. She struggled but he had a firm grip. He began to kneel down, pulling her head with him.

Jonet was inches from McFie’s stinking manhood. McFie loosened his grip as he adjusted himself and Jonet shot her head forward. She opened her mouth and took him whole. McFie froze. Jonet gagged. The taste of his penis was appalling. McFie was slow on the uptake. Half expecting her to start sucking he began to lean back. To take his pleasure. Jonet, with her few remaining teeth, bit down. Hard.

McFie’s scream reached beyond the castle walls.

McFie tried to pull away. Jonet bit harder, cutting through engorged flesh and muscle. Blood flooded her mouth. McFie slapped at her head. Jonet rocked back, her teeth still locked. She pulled him with her as she fell. He had no choice but to follow. He hit her again and she released him. He threw his hands on his injury. In the torchlight blood started seeping between his fingers.

Jonet rolled away, off the hay. McFie was caught between two worlds. Attending to his torn groin or seeking retribution on Jonet.

Jonet stood up, adrenaline fuelling her legs. McFie turned and Jonet pulled the burning torch from its holder and plunged it into his face. His screaming turned to a howl. Jonet let go of the torch. McFie flailed on his back. Hands on his face, his flaccid penis, leaking blood. The torch landed on the hay and the flames leapt quickly across the dry straw. McFie’s cape, wrapped around his neck, caught fire.

Jonet backed away. The door to the castle was open. She jumped through it as McFie’s clothes ignited.

She wanted to go back for the other cell mates. She couldn’t. She was too scared of McFie. She stumbled into the night. To her right the castle’s drawbridge blocked her exit. She stumbled towards it. The sound of snoring coming from a door. She looked in. The giant iron wheel, that controlled the rope for lowering and raising the drawbridge, lay unattended. The guard asleep next door. A large wooden wedge, jammed in at the base, stopped the wheel turning. Jonet saw a lump hammer, lying against a wall. She tried to lift it but she could barely drag it, the metal head screaming as the cobbles resisted its passage. Jonet expected the snoring to stop. It didn’t.

She reached the wheel and holding the hammer in both hands swung it between her legs, aiming at the wedge. The first strike scuffed the ground and stopped short. She re-set, eyes on the sleeping guards’ door, and swung again. This time she got some force into the blow. The wedge shivered but remained in place. She pulled it back for a third time and struck true. The wedge shot from its home. The wooden wheel began to spin. The ropes shrieked and the timber rasped as the drawbridge fell.

Jonet dropped the hammer, her energy all but spent. The guard’s door burst open. Rubbing his eyes, the guard looked at the spinning wheel and at Jonet. She staggered away. Pushing out onto the drawbridge. She wanted to run. Needed to run, but what little life-force she had holding her together, was venting into the greying dawn.

She lurched towards the agreed meeting point at the Tolbooth. Malcolm emerged from the shadows, towing the horse. She collapsed into his arms and he gently lifted her onto the animal. Wrapping her in the horse blanket, he urged the animal forward.

Jonet gasped, her eyes locked on a spot behind Malcolm. She screamed.

Malcolm spun.

McFie stood a few yards away. The guard behind him. McFie was naked from the waist down, his face charcoal black, his clothes burnt rags, a stain of blood ran down both legs. In his right hand he held a knife. Malcolm stepped back, placing himself between Jonet and McFie.

McFie charged. Hand high. Readying the knife for Jonet.

Malcolm collapsed to the ground in shock, the thunderclap of the gun that Jonet had just fired bursting both his eardrums. McFie fell to earth. The gun clattered next to Malcolm. The horse reared and took off, Jonet clinging to the rein, slipping from sight as the morning mist enveloped her.

Malcolm picked up the gun, intending to take chase. The guard stepped forward as more men poured from the castle.

Malcolm would never see his Jonet again.

Coda

This story is based on historical events. The names of many of those involved are correct but Malcolm Turnbull never existed. Some of the story is imagination some of it isn’t and I apologise if my depiction of some characters is erroneous.

It is duly recorded that Jonet McNicoll did escape Bute. She is known to have lived, for the next twelve years of her life, in Kilmarnock. There have been numerous theories on why she returned to the island. When she did, in 1673, she was executed for her 1662 conviction along with another woman, the last of such witch persecutions on the island.

If you want one possible answer for why Jonet would come back to what was certain death, pay a visit to the cemetery at the ruin of St Mary’s chapel just outside Rothesay. Spend a little time near the south wall. It’s rumoured that the grave of John McFie lies there. If you find it check out the date he died. The 4thMarch 1673, nearly twelve years after he was shot and by some strange coincidence, exactly the same day that Jonet McNicoll returned home.

My Bloody Scotland (in 500 words)

7th of October 2018

This isn’t the story of this year’s Bloody Scotland. There are plenty of brilliant people that have already worn down those cobbles. This is an emptying of my mind about, what is now, one of the most important crime festivals on the planet. I can’t bottle Bloody Scotland........

My Bloody Scotland

(in 500 words)

by

Gordon Brown

This isn’t the story of this year’s Bloody Scotland. There are plenty of brilliant people that have already worn down those cobbles. This is an emptying of my mind about, what is now, one of the most important crime festivals on the planet.

I can’t bottle Bloody Scotland. I can’t gift wrap it. I can’t even describe it in any succinct manner. It’s a festival. A celebration. A party. But more, much more, it’s an important statement. Born due to the lack of a focal point for the magic of Scottish crime writing, Bloody Scotland is a living book of a weekend. A chance for author, reader, publisher and supporter to rub shoulders, listen, talk, laugh and cry. The new, the old, the proven, the experimental. All are here.

People float along the streets, through the doors and down the aisles. Seeking what? Entertainment? Knowledge? Insight? Hope? What happens between authors ears explained, or more often, not explained? The stage is the psychiatrist’s couch. The psychiatrist, the audience. Each event is a personal story in its own right. Hopefully leaving those that attend wanting to listen to the next one.

There’s no desire from those in the background of Bloody Scotland, the ‘board’, to turn this into some cold monument to crime. Bloody Scotland is about warmth. It has to connect reader and writer. Whether it’s holding a burning torch, kicking a ball on the oldest bowling green in Scotland, playing a guitar at midnight, reading in public for the first time – interaction is the norm, not the exception.

We want it to be fun. We want it to be exhilarating. We need it work. There is a passion for the festival that breathes hard in the room, buried in the depths of the Golden Lion hotel, that serves as the meeting place for the Bloody Scotland team. Sitting cheek by jowl there is a sense of something wonderful being created and a fear of failure. Every meeting is a high and low of what will be and what might be. Every session is about making it better.

We enter the weekend with trepidation, survive on camaraderie and adrenaline and, at the conclusion, we turn our thoughts to next year.

At one point, long ago, we debated a strap line for Bloody Scotland. I can’t remember who came up with the line ‘A Criminally Good Weekend’ but we’ve never used it – we just live by it.

I’ve rarely been involved in anything that quite feels so much like we are doing something. Something important but, at the same time, not up its own arse. As soon as I start thinking how well the festival has done the team point to those laurels on our chairs, and how much hard work will be needed to deliver 2019 and beyond.

Why am I writing this?

To say thanks.

Thanks to everyone that touches Bloody Scotland.

It’s cool to be part of it all.

New USA Book Deal

6th of October 2018

It all started back in Colorado Springs in the spring of 2013.

It all started back in Colorado Springs in the spring of 2013. I was attending the Left Coast Crime Festival and met Eric Campbell (at the bar I think). Eric is the man behind Down & Out Books and saw something in my work, publishing my first book, Falling, in the USA in 2016 and the sequel, Falling Too, in 2017. But now he's shaken hands with me once more and has agreed to publish the Craig McIntyre trilogy (Darkest Thoughts, Furthest Reaches and Deepest Wounds) starting in 2019. Down and Out Books. A huge thanks to Eric and the team for the faith.

Blog Tour

24th of September 2018

Thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours I'm on tour. Read more.

I'm on a 9 day tour, day 5 as a I type - with Deepest Wounds  - some great feedback from the reviewers. Here's some links to the reviews. 

Live and Deadly

Jen Med's Book Reviews

BOOKSAREMYCWTCHES

Chapterinmylife

BookLoverWorm

Crime in the Spotlight

15th of June 2018

Now that the line up for Bloody Scotland has been launched - see www.bloodyscotland.com it's now time for my favorite bit - the call for entries into Crime in the Spotlight. It's the chance for debut authors to get a chance to be the support act to some of the biggest names in crime writing. All you have to do is enter here https://bloodyscotland.com/take-part/spotlight/

Gordon Brown’s writing in 2017/18 – and why the 23rd of April 2018 is so important.

6th of April 2018

My New Year celebrations were muted this year and January the 1st was less of a haze than usual. This gave me time to reflect on the year gone and the year ahead, not something I'm often given to do. Here's my thoughts from back then and now 2017 was a whirlwind from a writing point of view. I've had three books published. Falling Too (the sequel to Falling) was released in the U.S.A. In the UK, Darkest Thoughts and Furthest Reaches were launched (with the third book in the Craig McIntyre series, Deepest Wounds, due out in early 2018). I've also had work appear in two short story anthologies (HES's 'Bloody Scotland' and the CWA's 'Mystery Tour'). At Bouchercon, in Toronto, a short story anthology I was included in (Blood on the Bayou) won the Anthony for best short story anthology. Add this all up and it's been a hell of a writing streak. But there's more. With the bulk of the writing for all the above having been done in late 2016 and early 2017 I sat down, mid year, and said - 'What next?' I had no idea if there would be a third Falling book or a fourth Craig McIntyre. I didn't want to stop writing, so I decided that maybe this was the time to look at a third series. But where to start? As with everything I've ever written I just sat down at the laptop and typed a first line - and kept going. As I sip my tea on January the 1st, I'm a month or so off finishing the new work. I have engaged the services of a fellow writer, Russel McLean, to help knock the manuscript into shape. So, with the New Year not twenty four hours old, I'm putting my feet up, watching the TV and smiling. Roll forward to today. The new novel is complete and is with a few publishers to see if I get a bite. I've started the third Falling book and plan to work on the fourth Craig McIntyre novel soon. We are well into planning for Bloody Scotland 2018 and I'm considering going to Bouchercon, this year in St Petersburg, Florida. However, there is something much more more important than any of this is and that is Monday the 23rd April 2018. That is the date of my wedding anniversary - my 30th anniversary - 30 years since I married Lesley - and I wouldn't change a second of it. And, despite the recent whirlwind of writing, my anniversary tops it all - by a mile - by a country mile - by a thousand country miles. All I want to say to Lesley is thank you for a magical 30 years, thank you for all your support, thank you for being there and here's to thirty more. Finally I just want to say, with all my heart, 'I Love You'?

A Whirlwind Romance that's lasted 30+ years.

Archive of older Posts 2017+

3/21/2018

David Adam - The Genius Within

I'm just off the back of chairing as session at Aye Write with David Adam on the subject of near enhancement. Now there's a subject worth looking up if you have a few hours to kill. Thanks to David for being such an easy person to chair and no thanks to me for forgetting to take any pictures.

1/24/2018

Digital Writers' Lab

I took part in an BeeBooks and Bloody Scotland initiative called the Digital Writers' Lab where they paired me up with author Abhijnan Roychowdhury to chat on all things 'place'. V cool. http://digitalwriterslab.in/single.php?pid=30

1/8/2018

Crime Review Review

A cool review from the Crime Review site for Darkest Thoughts. www.crimereview.co.uk/page.php/review/5655

12/13/2017

Reading Agency - Book of the Year 2017

Darkest Thoughts has been picked by Reading Groups for Everyone as one of the books of the year for 2017. Reading Groups for Everyone celebrates reading groups across the UK and is run by the book loving team at national charity The Reading Agency. For more info click here http://readinggroups.org/find-a-book

11/14/2017

Mystery Tour

I'm just back from Sunny Spain (you have to say it that way - it's an official rule when describing the country). I was attending the Xabia Negra festival, an event set up to celebrate all things noir. Myself and two fellow authors, Alxandra Sokoloff and Craig Robertson, were invited (under the auspices of Bloody Scotland) to attend and participate in a panel.

So what's not to like about a few days on the Costa Blanca talking about books and sipping beer.
At one point during our panel the discussion turned to location and wether the darkness of northern Europe provided a more fertile ground for crime writing than the sun bleached southern countries.
As a matter of happenstance I'd just written a short story for the new CWA anthology called Mystery Tour. I took this to give me license to write a story set abroad and I chose Xabia. The story opens on a glorious day with our hero lounging at the end of a pier watching the fishing trawlers return home. In fact the first page and half is more a description of the town and its surrounds than anything else. Yet, later, I squeeze in crime, a dilemma and try my best throw my protagonist under the proverbial bus.
Does the story work? Well Orenda Books and the CWA thought so as it's nestled in the heart of the new book which is out soon.
Not that this means that the darker lands are not a richer source of evil - but just because the sun is out doesn't stop the nasty buggers of this world from operating - in fact, if you think about it, where would you rather commit your next crime - on a beach in Spain or in a back alley in Glasgow.
Answers on a postcard.

You can see the new book at www.orendabooks.co.uk

10/17/2017

Bouchercon 2017

It started with losing my voice, moved to launching a book and ended with an ‘award’. That’s the top and tail of my Bouchercon 2017 in Toronto. For those who don’t know what Bouchercon is, it’s the biggest mystery/thriller (crime/thriller to us of a UK persuasion) convention of its type in North America. Seven panels running at the same time, with up to five authors on each panel from dawn to dusk – all over three and half days – that’s a hell of a lot of crime (mystery).

I’ve not been back to Toronto since I briefly lived and worked there in the eighties – when I delivered pizza, helped at rock concerts and worked for a brewery – sometimes I think my working life has gone backwards since then.

Wednesday

So, this time around, accompanied by my wife, Lesley, we landed in Toronto late on the Wednesday night, fought with the airport over a rip in our luggage, got in to the hotel late, ate and fell asleep.

Thursday

It was a sparrow fart start. I’d signed up to be a ‘speed dating’ author. Some forty plus authors had agreed, in some form of mass madness, to ‘pitch’ their wares to sacrificial readers. I was partnered by the lovely Jamie Freveletti.

Jamie and I – early morning.

Kilted (I promised my publisher that I would wear the kilt at some point) our mission was simple. Starting at the unholy hour of 8.00am Jamie and I had two minutes each to tell our table of readers about ourselves and our books. Then a bell rang and we both moved to the next table to repeat our spiel. We did this twenty times, by which time my voice was sounding distinctly Morgan Freemanish. I’ve never lost my voice before (my friends think this is a tragedy) but, by around two o’clock that afternoon it had nearly vanished. On any other day this might have been an inconvenience. With a panel to moderate that evening it was slightly more than that. In an attempt to rescue some semblance of speech I undertook the following:

  • Heather Graham gave me what can only be described as industrial strength, prescription grade throat sweets.
  • Rexall (the Canadian pharmacy chain) furnished me with cough sweets and Benylin.
  • I sat in the shower for two hours breathing steam.
  • I stopped speaking.
  • I prayed.

When it was clear that none of this was working, Craig Robertson did the knight in shining armour bit and promised he would take on my duties if my voice vanished completely. I was moderating a panel on ‘Dark Minds’ with Daniel Palmer, Alan Jacobson, Carolyn Arnold, Andrew Grand and J.T. Ellison. I arrived at the room and, apologising for my voice to both my panellists and the audience, I croaked out questions. Craig waited on the substitute bench for a call that would never come because my panel were stars. Recognising my limitations, they flew like jet fighters and made the whole thing a doddle. God love them all – the panel was great.

Left to Right – J.T., Daniel, Andrew, Carolyn and Alan.

Later that evening I was supposed to play the role of John Buchan, as the ‘Ghost’ of Honour, with a small speaking part at the opening ceremony. But, by then, the last of my voice had given in and I was left with a husky rasp that resembled, as Chris Brookmyre told me, a Glasgow gangster – which may have been appropriate for my role had anyone in the room known what the hell a Glasgow gangster sounded like. Craig stepped in and, after bedecking himself in his wedding kilt (he was flying to LA to get married to the delightful Alexandra Sokoloff after the convention – so just happened to have one in his bag), he took on the part of John Buchan. I can only thank him here for being such a brilliant understudy (or more truthfully a better actor).

I retired to bed that night hoping my voice would find me in the middle of the night.

Friday

With nothing official on the cards for Friday I dropped in and out of some panels and generally hob-nobbed. With little sign of my voice this wasn’t easy. I therefore used the time to distribute oversized book marks for Falling Too on what were called ‘the bumf tables’. A rather thankless task as, within a day, the tables were so full of other bookmarks, business cards and promotional material that my efforts had vanished beneath the waves and required frequent rescue to make them visible.

I took a little break from the convention to have some Lesley and I time. We walked down to Ontario Place. It’s a pleasant enough spot to wander about – but not a must-see for the average person visiting Toronto. For the two of us it holds a special place. Thirty-two years ago we stumbled upon a Canadian singer called Gowan who, on a small stage was, memorably, lying across a grand piano, playing the keyboard backwards. The memory has stuck with us and we wanted to re visit the place.

Lesley and I – near where Gowan played in 1985 (I think)

With my voice still on walkabout I hit the sack early once more.

Saturday

Another day of sitting in on panels and an evening set aside for my book launch. I say book launch but it was really just meant to be a few drinks to celebrate that Falling Too had been published by Down & Out Books (a huge thanks to Eric Campbell for all his support). I booked a corner of an Irish Bar called Quinns and sent out the word to a few of the authors. The biggest mistake I made was not taking any photos because amongst the authors who were there, in no particular order, were – Chris Brookmyre, Mark Billingham, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Carolyn Arnold, Andrew Grant, Antti Tuomaninen, Thomas Enger, Wendy Jones, Caro Ramsay, Alex Gray, Harley Jane Kozak, Jay Stringer. Karen Sullivan,  was present also along with a host of others – and Donnie McGruther – who was celebrating his birthday that night.

There was also one Mr Craig Sisterton, a Kiwi with a penchant for whisky, who contributed, in no small part, to my hangover the next morning with a round of Glenlivet at some point in the evening. We manged to see the close of two bars – Quinns and, when they threw us out of there we retired to the hotel bar to be ejected in the wee small hours.

Me and my book.

Sunday

The last day of the conference and I wanted to attend the Anthony Awards (the big crime awards at Bouchercon) as Jay Stringer was up for two. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but he did brilliantly getting shortlisted in two categories. However there was a breath of an award for me. Greg Herren picked up the Anthony for the Best Short Story Anthology with Blood on the Bayou. One of the stories in the anthology, a Detective Sarah Tracy story called ebdgea, is from myself. So, in a way, I won a ‘fraction’ of an Anthony.

I’m in this book – somewhere.

Lesley and I concluded the day with a hazy trip up the CN Tower where I fulfilled a promise to my UK publisher to start photographing my new Craig McIntyre book, Furthest Reaches, in some ‘out there’ places.

My poor book, clinging for life to the CN Tower.

And, to top it all, we finished our time in Toronto by visiting a friend that we had met way back when Lesley and I were but burnished twenty year old children wondering how in the hell we had ended up being so lucky as to be working in Canada.

Did I also mention that we saw a Kiss tribute band play, ate way too much pizza, drank in the coolest bar I’ve been in for a while and consumed so much Tim Horton coffee that I own shares.

Here’s to St Petersburg (Bouchercon 2018).

10/3/2017

The Big Thrill

I’m participating in a roundtable discussion on the Big Thrill website - The Big Thrill. As part of this they did a Q and A on Falling Too – if you fancy a read click here – Falling Too

9/24/2017

Tidelines and Byres Rd Festival

The last few days have been fun. It started on Friday night when I chaired an event called Banned Books with Claire Gray and ‘Nippy Nora’ at the Tidelines Festival.

Just before kick off at Banned Books

An hour later I was chairing the ‘encyclopedic’ Stuart Cosgrove, talking about his trilogy of books that examine the social history of America and the rise of soul music across the years 1967, 68 and 69. A great event.

Just before kick off with Stuart Cosgrove

On the Saturday I headed for the Byres Rd Book Festival to appear with my three other cohorts and our ‘Four Blokes in Search of a Plot’ panel.

Spot the Tea Cosy of Inspiration.

9/18/2017

Publication Day for Falling Too

A huge thanks to Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books for publishing Falling Too. It’s the sequel to my first book, Falling, and has a hell of a streamline ‘The Crime of the Century is about to be Committed- Again.’

Falling Too

9/12/2017

Bloody Scotland – My Top Five Moments

I’m sitting at the back of St Osmand’s High School in Stirling listening to Helen Grant as she describes a visit to the catacombs of Paris. She draws an ‘Ooooh’ from the S2 pupils with a picture of skulls and bones. This is my start to Bloody Scotland 2017.

What lies ahead is nearly three days of crime writers entertaining Bloody Scotland audiences.

This has been a record festival. We launched six years ago and we’ve grown every year – our audience for 2017 was close to 8,500.

I’ve been part of the festival organising committee since day one and, sitting in the afterglow of this year’s festival, I’d have to say it has topped them all.

In truth I’m a bit tired, my iPhone says I walked some twenty odd miles over the weekend, between festival venues, but it was all worth it as there were some magical high spots. So, with this in mind, I thought I might list my personal top 5 moments from Bloody Scotland 2017:

5) The Scotland v England Authors Football Game (for the record Scotland won 6:3.)

Did I kick a ball? No. Was I an unused substitute? No. Did I take on the job of refereeing? No. I was behind the scenes, marking out the football pitch, covering my new shoes in paint, sweating profusely into my favourite  shirt, moving Craig Robertson’s (fellow board member) car because he had blocked the hotel car park and after all that I had to leave at half time, missing the winning goals. But I still loved it.

The Scotland Team and the Bloody Cup (note that Craig’s head has been replaced by Ian Rankins)

4) Crime in the Spotlight.

A few years back, I had a simple idea, shamelessly lifted from the music world, to allow debut authors a chance to be the support act to more established authors. This became known as Crime in the Spotlight. For a few minutes, just before the Bloody Scotland main events get underway, the new authors have the opportunity to tell the audience a little about themselves and read from their work. This year there were eleven of them – and they were fantastic – every one of them shone like a mini supernova.

Charlie McGarry speaking just before Chris Brookmyre lets rip

3) The Bloody Scotland Anthology Launch.

Eleven of Scotland’s best crime writers, and myself, were asked to pen a short story that featured a famous Scottish monument for the Historic Environment Scotland anthology, Bloody Scotland. I chose the little known but fascinating Crookston Castle, located on the south side of Glasgow, and set my story around the idea of a siege for the 21st century. The book launch was held on the Friday night in Stirling Castle’s Great Room.

Jamie Crawford (HES), Chris Brookmyre, E.J. Thomson, Craig Robertson, Val McDermid, me, Sara Sheridan, Denise Mina, Doug Johnstone and Lin Anderson (10 of the 12 authors from the Bloody Scotland anthology)

My box of anthologies.

2) The Torch Lit Procession.

Picture this – 300 people marching down from Stirling Castle, sun sinking in the west, led by two of the greatest crime writers ever, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin. Every one of the participants holding a burning torch aloft. Hair-raising is an oft used term – and, in this case, it isn’t apt – because it isn’t enough – the scene as we wove into the town, the line of glowing lights waving and flickering above the smiling crowd was brain-raising.

Yours truly mid parade.

1) Four Blokes in Search of a Plot.

A few years ago, fellow authors Neil Broadfoot, Mark Leggat and Douglas Skelton did me the honour of letting me share a stage with them for a book event. Four Blokes in Search of a Plot was born. With a dozen or more events behind us we upped the ante for our panel at Bloody Scotland. Following a session for ScotLitFest where the four of us had to make up a story live on Facebook we took this idea to the stage. While three of us chatted with the audience one of us had to put on the Tea Cosy of Inspiration and type. After writing fifty words the typist stopped and read their creation. The audience then chose who should be the next to wear the Tea Cosy and to write the next fifty words. So we wrote a very short story, (to be circulated soon), demonstrating that the first words from many writers’ minds are raw and in need of a good, hard edit. But boy we had fun – and now we’ve agreed to take the format on the road. If you want to know more see our Facebook site @4blokes.

Four Blokes mid flow at the festival. (From the left Neil Broadfoot, me, Douglas Skelton (with the Tea Cosy of Inspiration on his head) and Mark Leggatt.

Of course, this list doesn’t recognise how superb all the authors were over the weekend. It doesn’t pay homage to the enthusiasm of our audience, or highlight the hard work of the board. It doesn’t praise the unbelievable energy of the volunteers and fails to thank our sponsors for their support. For all of this I am amazed and grateful because these things all make Bloody Scotland very, very special indeed.

Me bagging a photo with Ann Cleeves and Dougie Henshall.

9/4/2017

Bloody Scotland Anthology

Look what just arrived. Thanks to HES for including me in this. Historic Environment Scotland. Can be bought at all good book suppliers.

Historic Environment Scotland

8/9/2017

All Live in Spain

Tune in on Sunday 13th August from 1.00pm – 4.00pm CET for live chilled music from the sunny Costa Blanca. Total FM

7/20/2017

Scot Lit Fest – LIVE

In a fit of ‘insert word that means madness’ I’m going to be part of an experiment on Sunday the 23rd ofJuly from 10.00am to 2.00pm on Facebook. along with Douglas Skelton, Mark Leggett and Neil Broadfoot we are gong to write a live crime story with Laura Jones as our ‘conductor’. I’ve no idea how this works but if you want to join in the fun here’s the website SCOTLITFST 2017

6/28/2017

First Draft Done

Stuck this magic words, The End, on a first draft of a new novel. mo McIntyre, no Wings – all new crime book – series?

6/11/2016

Bloody Scotland – the Launch and the Anthology

Due to the vagaries of WordPress I’ve been banned from my own website for a month. So time for a quick update.

Bloody Scotland was launched in Stirling and London. For the full line up click here Bloody Scotland.

The Bloody Scotland Team at Stirling Castle. Impressive aren’t they?

The Slice Girls in action at the London launch.

I made an appearance on telly.

Me confusing the hosts of Live at Five on STV 2

I’ve done a number of radio interviews and ticket sales are well ahead of last year – so if you fancy going I’d be quick.

I’m also going to be part of a new crime writing anthology sponsored by Historic Environment Scotland along with a host of Scotland (and the world’s) best crime writers.

Oh and I’ve started writing a new novel.

Apart from that not a lot has happened.

4/13/2017

Darkest Thoughts Launch Night – Thursday, 27th April

The launch of Darkest Thoughts will take place at 6:30pm on the 27th of April at Waterstones Argyle Street. My publisher has printed a special edition of all three books in the trilogy for the evening. https://www.waterstones.com/events/gordon-brown-launches-darkest-thoughts/glasgow-argyle-street

4/1/2017

Sunday Times Crime Club

Myself, with the help from a few below authors made the Sunday Times Crime Club this month:

Crime ClubWe love their books — but what do we know about our favourite crime authors? John Connolly gives some frank answers about the nature of evil and 1980s pop music (apparently unrelated) in our Q&A, while Abir Mukherjee and Eva Dolan, among others, reveal the deepest fears they tap into in their writing. We’ve got terrific giveaways in this bulletin, including the chance to win Donna Leon classics and novels by Val McDermid’s favourite new crime writers, and there’s a free Stuart MacBride ebook for every reader. I hope you enjoy Crime Club each month — let me know what you think on the email address below.

Karen Robinson

The Sunday Times

karen.robinson@sunday-times.co.uk [6]
@timescrimeclub [7]

Q&A: John Connolly

A GAME OF GHOSTS IS YOUR 15TH BOOK TO FEATURE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR CHARLIE PARKER. HOW DO YOU KEEP HIM INTERESTING?
I made a decision to write a series of novels that allowed readers to start anywhere in the sequence and not feel lost, but to have a larger story building up in the background, so that if people read the books in order, they had a different experience. I’ve also let Parker grow older, so he is not the same man he was nearly 20 years ago. I still get a great deal of pleasure from looking at the world through Parker’s eyes.

YOU GREW UP AND LIVE IN IRELAND, YET PARKER IS AMERICAN. WHY HAVE YOU CHOSEN TO SET THE BOOKS IN THE USA?
I wanted to get away from what I felt was a very restrictive view of what an Irish writer should be: someone who wrote about the nature of Irishness. I was lucky in that we didn’t have a strong tradition of mystery fiction, so the models I looked to were mostly American. That left a choice: should I try to import the conventions of the American mystery novel to an Irish context — which I didn’t think would work — or could I bring a European perspective to that American model, and try to create something new? I hope that’s what I’ve done: combined the hard-boiled novel, which is very American, with mythology and folklore.

THE SUPERNATURAL HAS A PRESENCE IN YOUR BOOKS. HOW DO YOU MAKE IT WORK WITHIN A HARD-BOILED PI CONTEXT?
Along with mystery fiction, supernatural fiction was what I devoured when I was young. It may also be related to my Catholic upbringing and its themes of reparation and redemption. And I was interested in exploring concepts of evil — from human selfishness to the possibility of an older, deeper evil from which humanity, in extremis, sometimes draws. I think there was a feeling among a rump of narrow-minded critics and writers that it wasn’t appropriate to mix genres, but it’s a view many readers don’t share. There has always been a tension between the rational and the anti-rational in the genre: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, one of the earliest English detective stories, is suffused with a fear of the supernatural, and Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the paragon of rationalism, Sherlock Holmes, attended séances and believed in the Cottingley Fairies.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE “EVIL”?
Most human beings aren’t evil. They’re selfish, or fearful, or angry, and as a consequence they do terrible things, but they don’t actively set out to do evil. Real evil requires premeditation. I used to think of it as the absence of empathy, but I’m not sure that’s sufficient anymore. It’s close, but it’s not quite there.

DO YOU THINK IT’S TIME PARKER MADE IT INTO FILM OR TV? WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY HIM?
The Parker books were never written with film or TV in mind. They’re not structured that way, and I think the pleasure for readers lies as much in the narrative voice and the language as it does in the characters. That’s hard to transfer to screen. (God, I seem to be talking myself out of an adaptation.) But if it happened, it would be great, and we’re close to signing a deal. I’ve never described Parker in detail, and I’ve always been reluctant to put an actor’s name to him.

ON YOUR DUBLIN RADIO SHOW, YOU PLAY EIGHTIES MUSIC. THREE TOP TRACKS FOR THE DANCE FLOOR?
Keep the hardest question for last, why don’t you? Off the top of my head, and in my current mood, Antmusic by Adam & The Ants; Mirror Man by The Human League; and Baggy Trousers by Madness, but ask me tomorrow and you’ll get a different answer. When it comes to the Eighties, we’re spoiled for choice.

_A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly is published by Hodder on April 6. Buy it here [8] / Read first chapter [9]_

Gordon Brown: the fear of writing

When I was a kid I’d often wake up, pouring with sweat, unable to take a breath. Each time, I was convinced that I was going to die. This has left me with a morbid fear of suffocation that has surfaced in many of my books. Am I alone in tapping my deepest fear when writing? Here’s what some of my fellow authors confided in me when I asked them.

STRANGER DANGER: Alexandra Sokoloff (_Bitter Moon, Thomas & Mercer / Buy it here [10]_) told me of the time a paedophile tried to grab her when she was walking home from school. “That specifically gender-based fear and experience of being prey, and my anger about it, constantly informs my books and screenplays,” she says.

CAR CRASH: Abir Mukherjee (_A Rising Man, Harvill Secker / Buy it here [11]_) was in the family car when it was crushed between two trucks in India. “I remember the crack of shattering glass, the wrenching of metal and the heart-stopping fear that we were about to die,” he says. “I now channel that feeling of dread when I write.”

CONFINED SPACE: “Many years ago I was led into a disused underground tunnel in Glasgow which I found terrifying,” admits Alex Gray (_Still Dark, Sphere / Buy it here [12]_). “I am now terribly claustrophobic and I make my protagonist suffer from this phobia as well.”

Abduction: Simon Kernick (_The Bone Field, Century / Buy it here [13]_) was 16 when he was abducted, beaten and threatened with death by a gang of three men he’d accepted a lift from. “I’ll never forget the sheer terror I experienced as they drove me to an isolated wood and dragged me from the car. It’s this memory that I always call upon when trying to recreate a sense of fear in my books.”

INSECURITY: When Eva Dolan (_Watch her Disappear, Harvill Secker / Buy it here [14]_) was young she “didn’t mind spiders and wasn’t scared of clowns”, but she was “truly terrified of having the security of family whipped away.” Her novels frequently focus on this fear.

_Gordon Brown is a founding board member of Bloody Scotland, an international crime writing festival. His latest book, Darkest Thoughts, is published on April 27 by Strident. Buy it here [15] / Read first chapter [16]_

Looking ahead: our April picks

Death Message by Kate London

Corvus

In Post Mortem, London’s 2015 debut, detective Sarah Collins first encountered PC Lizzie Griffiths — and the relationship was fraught from the off. As their paths cross again on two troubling investigations, the prospect of a thaw is distant, so there’s hope that the duo is being set up for a series-long sparring partnership. London uses her experience of working in the Met’s homicide division to describe policing with immediacy and a telling eye for detail.
Read first chapter [17]

Buy this book [18]

★ Star pick

Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr

Quercus

Twelfth outing for German cop Bernie Gunther, which finds him in 1956 fleeing the French Riviera pursued by the Stasi and remembering a 1939 murder investigation at Hitler’s Bavarian retreat. Off his head on the Berchtesgaden drug of choice, methamphetamine, Gunther offers a wry view of several real figures, notably Heydrich and Bormann, and a pithy up-close analysis of the whole Nazi machine. Thrilling. Read first chapter [19]

Buy this book [20]

The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff, translated by Sam Gordon

MacLehose Press

Misfit Paris cops bring an entertaining collection of idiosyncrasies to the newly-formed cold-case team headed by impetuous detective Anne Capestan — though the fun has to stop as they start to piece together evidence of serious corruption in high places. Original and amusing, it’s French noir with a sly smile.
Read first chapter [21]

Buy this book [22]

A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

Doubleday

It’s 1939 and glamour, danger, intrigue, snobbery and best frocks are all aboard SS Orontes as the liner leaves Tilbury for Sydney. As ex-waitress Lily, on her way to domestic service in Australia, gets to know her fellow passengers — including a dazzling couple from the first-class deck — it becomes clear that they are travelling with as many troubling secrets in their baggage as she has. The menace builds, with a backdrop of exotic ports of call, to an excitingly modern twist.
Read first chapter [23]

Buy this book [24]

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

Serpent’s Tail

In the thriller landscape, Washington DC is where media, power and sex are all at their most intense. Kovac, a veteran Beltway TV news producer, has her heroine Virginia — a veteran Beltway TV news producer — propelled into ever greater danger as the mystery of a disappearing woman spirals into areas important people would rather she stayed out of. Pacey and tense, with added stress for Virginia courtesy of her boss-from-hell.
Read first chapter [25]

Buy this book [26]

Three Envelopes by Nir Hezroni, translated by Steven Cohen

Point Blank

A chillingly smart Israeli intelligence assassin has taken his job rather too seriously. But why is an agent being sent to mess with his head — and who’s she working for? Bold forks in the plot and contemporary neuroscience make this an inventive page-turner.
Read first chapter [27]

Buy this book _ [28]

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo, translated by Neil Smith

Harvill Secker

The Norwegian blockbuster-merchant brings his edgy detective Harry Hole back into the Oslo police to catch a killer who has eluded him in the past. Powerful writing weaves a switchback story around Hole and his unusual relationships with his colleagues, though the sickening violence the villain wreaks on defenceless female victims may turn your stomach. You can find Nesbo’s national book tour schedule HERE [29]_
Read first chapter [30]

Buy this book [31]

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Simon & Schuster

Voted Sweden’s best crime novel of 2016, Quicksand is narrated by Maja, sole survivor of a mass shooting in an exclusive high-school. Nine months after the event, she’s on trial for her role in the killings — but is she a cold-blooded murderer or the innocent victim of her disturbed boyfriend? Keeps you guessing.
Read first chapter [32]

Buy this book [33]

Hope to Die by David Jackson

Zaffre

Even by the standards of the genre, Liverpool detective Nathan Cody’s backstory trauma is intense, though surprisingly his superiors don’t seem to worry much about it affecting how he does his job. Reunited with DS Megan Webley to investigate the murder of a schoolteacher with an apparently blameless life, and pushed to the edge by taunting reminders of his past, Jackson’s flawed hero has a case and a beat that serve up plenty of excitement.
Read first chapter [34]

Buy this book _ [35]

A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

HarperCollins

Dark and sharp as malt vinegar on a deep-fried fish supper, MacBride’s sense of humour splashes all over his crime fiction as DC Callum MacGregor hunts for a serial killer and for answers to the long-ago disappearance of his mother, while facing shattering personal betrayal. Lifelike portrayals of his colleagues and the whip-smart LOLs make this stonking 600-pager a first-class swathe of tartan noir. Don’t miss your chance to download this month’s free Times+_ _ebook, In the Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride. The offer closes at midnight tomorrow, March 31. Download it _here [36]_._
Read first chapter [37]

Buy this book [38]

Fatal Crossing by Lone Theils, translated by Charlotte Barslund

Arcadia Books

Young London-based journalist Nora stumbles across the 20-year-old mystery of two Danish girls who went missing on a ferry to England and is determined to find out what really happened. The plot ricochets between Denmark and Britain, propelled by youthful enthusiasm and a rekindled high school romance.
Read first chapter [39]

Buy this book [40]

★ Star pick

Lola by Melissa Scrivner Love

Oneworld

Women are supposed to take a minor role in Los Angeles’s Latino gang life, but Lola finds herself at the centre of complicated, dangerous narco power struggles — while still playing the dutiful roles of daughter and girlfriend. A tough, enterprising and vulnerable heroine, Lola gives the reader an unvarnished insight into ghetto life.
Read first chapter [41]

Buy this book _ [42]

Donna Leon giveaway

Commissario Guido Brunetti has been on the Venice beat since 1992, and will make his 26th appearance in Donna Leon’s latest novel Earthly Remains (Buy it here [43] / Read first chapter [44]_). To celebrate the Venetian veteran’s amazing career, publisher Heinemann is offering 10 Crime Club readers the chance to win four books from the Brunetti backlist: By Its Cover, Beastly Things, The Waters of Eternal Youth and Death at La Fenice. To enter, email your name and address to donnaleoncontest@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk [45] by April 13, with “LEON” in the subject line.

Barry Forshaw: four underrated US crime writers

BARRY FORSHAW’S AMERICAN NOIR, COVERS US CRIME FICTION, FILM AND TV. HERE HE MOVES BEYOND THE OBVIOUS SUSPECTS TO TIP US OFF TO FOUR WRITERS YET TO RECEIVE THE ACCLAIM THEY DESERVE

LAURA LIPPMAN has been producing some of the best-written domestic noir in the USA for years. After I’m Gone (Faber / Buy it here [46]) shows that the genre can be infinitely flexible in tackling its basic concerns (and a few new ones). Lippman describes the lives of five women whose happiness is destroyed by Felix Brewer, a white-collar crook and adulterer who vanishes in 1976, leaving chaos in his wake.

After Ryan Gosling, pictured above, starred as a cool getaway driver in the film of JAMES SALLIS’s lean and sinewy masterpiece Drive (No Exit Press / Buy it here [47]), the writer became known to more than just the cognoscenti. Personally, I’d be happy if he remained caviar to the general, but you can’t blame the Sallis and his publisher for wanting the kind of success enjoyed by many a less talented writer.

ATTICA LOCKE’s debut novel Black Water Rising — ambitious, socially committed and beautifully written — created a stir, and the subsequent Pleasantville (Serpent’s Tail / Buy it here [48]) is just as impressive. In Houston, a mayoral election is pending, and a key swing area is the African-American neighbourhood Pleasantville. The nomination seems to be assured: Axel Hathorne has the perfect pedigree. But Axel’s nephew is charged with murder and the would-be-mayor’s credentials are soon under threat.

THOMAS H COOK is cherished by aficionados, but The Quest for Anna Klein (Corvus / Buy it here [49]) deserves wider appreciation. In 1939 the privileged Thomas Danforth is tasked with training an enigmatic young woman at his estate in Connecticut as part of a secret wartime project. The result is a mystery that he is forced to pursue over decades and continents.

_Barry Forshaw’s American Noir is published by Pocket Essentials. Buy it here [50] / Read first chapter [51]_

Harrogate festival giveaway

_

One of the highlights of the annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is Val McDermid’s New Blood panel, when the reigning crime queen anoints a handful of chosen successors. Val said: “Over the years, I’ve been able to introduce some formidable new talents to the Harrogate audience, and through them to a wider readership.” The organisers of the festival, which takes place in Harrogate on July 20-23, are offering five Crime Club readers the chance to win signed copies of each of this year’s New Blood titles: Rattle by Fiona Cummins (Pan Macmillan), The Dry by Jane Harper (Little, Brown), Sirens by Joseph Knox (Doubleday) and The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (Faber & Faber) — you’ll have to wait for Lepionka’s novel, it’s not out until July. For a chance to win, email your name and address to crime@harrogate-festival.org.uk [52] by April 13, with “NEW BLOOD” in the subject line. For the full festival programme, CLICK HERE [53].

Crime wave: the latest books news

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS? Winnie M Li has been named as one of Lancôme’s 40 Incredible Women, a list that includes cyclist Laura Kenny and disabled TV presenter Sophie Morgan. Li says she’s “very honoured and slightly amused” to have been chosen for the — unpaid — role selling the new range of Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation for the cosmetics giant. Legend Press, her publisher, says she was awarded the accolade “for her inspiring work as a sexual assault activist”. And it might well widen the potential readership of her forthcoming debut thriller, Dark Chapter (Buy it here [54] / Read first chapter [55]_), which is based on her own personal experience.

HORRIBLE HISTORIES: from the 1671 attempt to steal the Crown Jewels to the 2015 Hatton Garden heist, and taking in Burke and Hare, Bonnie and Clyde and the Bandit Queen of Uttar Pradesh, The Crime Book by Dorling Kindersley is an exhaustively researched and lavishly illustrated treasure-trove of malfeasance through the ages and around the world. The publisher is giving away five copies to Crime Club readers. ENTER HERE [56] by April 13.

THE ICE QUEENS COMETH… soon, to CrimeFest in Bristol, where Yrsa Sigurdardottir will be joined by three of her Icelandic crime-writing sisters for a thrilling, if chilling, panel. Other attractions at the event on May 18-21 include Ann Cleeves, Anthony Horowitz and several panels featuring new talent on the crime scene. I’ll be hosting two of those and I’m looking forward to interrogating Steph Broadribb, GX Todd, and others. For full details, visit crimefest.com [57]. To book tickets with a Crime Club discount of 25% on the four-day £195 pass, BOOK HERE [58] before May 15.

DOING TIME: Scottish novelist Christopher Brookmyre is always happy to promote his own books and his fellow crime writers, usually at bookshop signings and literary festivals — but now he’s found a new captive audience. On April 20, the day his new book Want You Gone is published by Little, Brown (_Buy it here [59] / Read first chapter [60]_) Brookmyre will visit Scotland’s toughest jail, meeting inmates at HMP Barlinnie, in Glasgow. He’s already been behind bars at HMP Cornton Vale, a women’s prison near Stirling — thoughtfully coinciding his visit with International Women’s Day — where he “found the audience to be highly receptive, engaged and appreciative”. He’s hoping for a similarly warm welcome at the “Bar-L”, where he is “looking forward to once again being kept on my toes”.

PRIZE CONTENDERS: six titles have been shortlisted for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year published in the UK. Neil Smith translated the two Swedish books on the shortlist: The Dying Detective by Leif GW Persson (Doubleday), and The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westo (MacLehose Press). Small indy publisher Orenda Books claims half the list with The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto, translated from Finnish by David Hackston, plus two from Norway: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn, translated by Rosie Hedger, and Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen, translated by Don Bartlett. 2015 Petrona winner Yrsa Sigurdardottir is on the list with Why Did You Lie? translated by Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton). Well done all of them — authors and translators — even if geography purists might complain that Finland and Iceland aren’t actually in Scandinavia — though they’re definitely Nordic. The winner will be announced at CrimeFest on May 20.

DEATH OF A HERO: “In many ways he mirrored characteristics of the much earlier, similarly cultured intellectual sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, with his fierce brain and quiet nature, and like Holmes, he came off the page and stepped out of our screens to become a living person, someone any of us could imagine meeting for a drink in a pub.” Last week, Peter James led the tributes to the creator of Inspector Morse, Colin Dexter, who died earlier this month at the age of 86. John Thaw famously played the grumpy sleuth on television — search catch-up TV for episodes. There’s still time to hear Neil Pearson’s version of the character in House of Ghosts, an original Radio 4 Morse drama by Alma Cullen set in 1980s Oxford, broadcast last Saturday [61]. Read The Times obituary of Colin Dexter HERE [62].

Shady seaside dealings

HARRY BRETT (AKA HENRY SUTTON) DIDN’T HAVE TO LOOK FAR FROM HOME TO FIND CHARACTERS FOR HIS LATEST NOVEL

The Haven Bridge crosses the River Yare, linking Great Yarmouth to Gorleston-on-Sea. My great uncle Ralph Moore, who went on to become a squadron leader in the Second World War, flew under this bridge in a Tiger Moth. The tide was out and the river low. Also for a bet, he once raced someone from Great Yarmouth to Lowestoft, in reverse. This was in a Rover 14, and I’m told that all the gears could be used going backwards as well as forwards. Needless to say, he won.

He came from a family of gamblers and builders. His biggest ambition, however, was never realised.

In the 1930s, Moore and Sons put in planning permission to build a vast, glittering hotel out on Scroby Sands, a series of sandbanks or shoals some two miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth. Seals frolic there, ships used to get wrecked, and now it’s a massive wind farm.

The war and some unexpected storm surges scuppered that idea, much to Ralph’s dismay. (He died from eating a chicken bone — the bet being that he could eat the whole carcass.)

Before the war, Yarmouth was still something of a great British seaside resort. Centuries earlier, Daniel Defoe thought it “infinitely superior to Norwich”. These days the town is troubled by unemployment, crime, alcohol and drug abuse.

Part family homage, part a desire to curb the deprivation, if only in fiction, I made the central premise of my new novel, the first in a series, Great Yarmouth’s regeneration. My fictional crime family — they were never going to be straight — are planning to build a massive hotel and casino complex on a couple of piers pointing towards Scroby Sands.

_Time to Win by Harry Brett, is published by Corsair on April 27. Buy it here [63] / Read first chapter [64]_

Crime in the papers

Heretics by Leonardo Padura, reviewed by Siobhan Murphy

Read the full story [65]

Joan Smith’s monthy crime roundup

Read the full story [66]

Thrillers roundup by John Dugdale

Read the full story [67]

March crime roundup by Marcel Berlins

Read the full story [68]

Crime bestsellers

HARDBACKS
1 16th Seduction by James Patterson
2 The Girl Before by JP Delaney
3 The Caller by Chris Carter
4 War Cry by Wilbur Smith & David Churchill
5 Backstabber by Kimberley Chambers
6 Ragdoll by Daniel Cole
7 Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
8 Dangerous Lady by Martina Cole
9 Shadow Kill by Chris Ryan
10 The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

PAPERBACKS
1 Never Never by James Patterson
2 The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay
3 Out of Bounds by Val McDermid
4 Saturday Requiem by Nicci French
5 Every Dark Corner by Karen Rose
6 The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
7 Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi
8 The Gangster by Clive Cussler & Justin Scott
9 The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons
10 Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant

_Lists prepared and supplied by and copyright to Nielsen BookScan, taken from the TCM for the four weeks ending 25/03/17_

2/22/2017

Look What Arrived in the Post

Look What Arrived in the Post

2/17/2017

Falling Too

I’m delighted to say that, after a few years in the wilderness, that Charlie Wings, the star of Falling, is to make a comeback in Falling Too – a new novel, to be released by http://www.downandoutbooks.com in September 2017. A big thanks to Eric and the team and Down & Out Books.

Archive of older posts 2016+

2/10/2017

Festivals

In advance of the upcoming book launch I’m lined up to talk in front of the masses at the following:

Granite Noir – 24th and 25th February – see Granite Noir. I’m interviewing Stuart MacBride on the Friday night and I’m on stage with Quentin Bates on the Saturday.

Nithsdale Noir – 10th March –  see Nithsdale Noir.

Aye Write – 11th March – see Aye Write . Interviewing Steph Broadripp, SJI Holliday and Russel McLean

12/22/2016

2017

Ok sneak preview of what’s to come, on a writing front, in 2017 (always subject to change).

Relaunch/re edit of The Catalyst and Meltdown – with new titles.

New Craig McIntyre book.

Sequel to Falling – for the U.S. market

Book of Detective Sarah Tracy short stories.

See you in the New Year.

11/2/2016

Crying Over Spilled Words

Over at https://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/guest-post-g-j-brown-on-crying-over-spilled-words/ you can see why slicing 40,000 words from my new novel was a good thing. https://elementaryvwatson.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/guest-post-g-j-brown-on-crying-over-spilled-words/

10/13/2016

Speed Learning – what in the heck is that?

I’m a guest blogger at the Criminal Minds blog. Want to find out what speed learning is? Click here. http://7criminalminds.blogspot.com/2016/10/speed-learning-gordon-brown-guest-blogs.html

10/4/2016

Sarah Tracy is Back

I introduced Sarah Tracy, a detective in the LAPD, in the Bouchercon Anthology, ‘Blood on the Bayou’. Well, she’s back, in a new short story, entitled ‘The Why.’ at Crime Thriller Girl’s website. Enjoy. CTG EXCLUSIVE: A SHORT STORY BY G.J. BROWN – THE WHY

9/22/2016

Blog

A big thanks to Patricia Stoltey for publishing my blog on her website. http://patriciastolteybooks.com/2016/09/3-minutes-by-g-j-brown/

9/20/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 6 (Last Day)

My last day in New Orleans. I’m free to wander at will – a rare occurrence for me in the last few years. I could go to the gym, but I’m tired of that game. I could lie in bed all day, which would seem like a bit of a waste. I work out a plan.

Breakfast, ferry to Algiers Point, a quiet wander amongst the historic district and home for tea. Then, as with all good plans, it falls apart when the lens falls out of my sunglasses. It’s fixable but only with the aid of the world’s smallest screwdriver. There are two sources for such an animal – the optician (according to Google the nearest is 2 miles away) or a hardware store (only 1 mile away). I decide to walk to the hardware store. Mistake. Walking in the U.S. is cool if you live in Manhattan – sidewalks aplenty. In New Orleans it’s a little less straightforward. My route, in 90 degree heat, takes me under a freeway, over a three lane exit ramp, into an industrial estate and across an expanse of waste ground.

‘Pedestrians not welcome.’

I arrive at the hardware store ten pounds lighter and have to spend half an hour sitting in the air conditioned entrance to prepare for the return journey. Even so I need to break the return trip and rest in the local bus depot, where I consume a pint of Coke in just under ten seconds.

As it transpires the diversion to get my sunglasses fixed allows me to briefly visit the ‘World War II museum.’

‘They take their guns seriously around this neck of the woods.’

After another brief detour through a shopping mall (to bathe in the A/C) I jump on the Canal St ferry – a sort of industrial hulk that feels like it was built in the fifties.

‘Me on the ferry across the Mississippi. I sang ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ – swapping out Mersey for Mississippi  – all day long.’

The journey across the Mississippi is quick, if not quiet – 50’s engine technology is noisy. I’m deposited in Algiers Point and from the get-go it’s clear that this is no tourist hotspot. I start along what they call the Jazz Trail, a concrete path that traces the river bank.

‘I had to get a photograph of me and a paddle steamer. You have to look hard to see it.’

I quit the trail when I started to feel my skin fry. Walking amongst the clapperboard homes I attempted to find the town centre. I failed.

‘Proof, if proof were needed, that New Orleans has a hankering to be chilled.’

Resorting once more to Google Maps I typed in ‘hostelry’. It seemed that I had Hobson’s Choice – The Old Point Bar or The Old Point Bar. The Old Point Bar it was.

Now sometimes in life you just happen to stumble upon a gem. Set next to the Mississppi but hidden from it by a giant grass levy, the Old Point Bar, is as American as mother pie and applehood. I fell in love.

‘Not a beer – more a fire extinguisher.’

After dropping my body temperature by twenty degrees in the welcome A/C I stepped outside, sat down, opened my book – and chilled, and chilled, and chilled.

‘A very chilled view for a very chilled few hours.’

With the edge of the sun I walked back along the banks of the Mississippi before sliding back across the water on the ferry.

‘It seems they have a brewery named after me.’

With a trip back across the Atlantic and then onto Spain due the next day, I called it quits, slept for twelve hours, woke early and headed for the airport.

Bye New Orleans – it was good to see you again – but next time could you turn the heating down a little?

9/19/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 5

Today’s the last day of Bouchercon. No gym this morning – rolling over in bed, for an other hour, won out. I was due to chair one of the last panels of the festival today. Having sat through some great sessions I scratched my head to think of something original for my panel to do. In the most amazing burst of creativity I came up with the stunning idea of getting the panel members to ‘read from their work’ – I know, crazy.

My panel consisted of Mary Coley, Maegan Beaumont, Jim Sanderson and Matt FitzSimmonds.

It’s not always easy being the moderator on panels. In some cases the authors can dry up and leave you stranded, short on questions to ask them and facing an audience that can smell blood. In this case it was a breeze. The four of them sailed through with an entertaining hour of reading, chat and laughs.

‘Me, Maegan, Jim, Mary and Matt. It’s not often I feel small but Matt is six feet six.’

With my formal duties over there was last event on the calendar where the guests of honour were on a final panel. Chaired by Heather Graham we had Harlan Coben, David Morrel, Craig Robertson, Alexander Sokoloff, Harley Jane Kozak, Ruth Jordan and Jon Jordan. Heather had fun with the questions and the audience ate it all up.

‘The All Star Line Up.’

It was then time for ‘goodbyes’, ‘farewells’, ‘see you laters’ and ‘see you soons’.

With the festival officially over I put on my shorts and went for a wander in the city – and a strange thing happened. Well, strange to me.

This is not my first time in New Orleans. I was here back in the late eighties, a couple of times, with my wife, Lesley. Back then we went for a walk in a shopping centre called the Riverwalk. It’s still standing, refurbed but still there. On the last visit, nearly thirty years back, we visited a shop that sold fudge. In full sight of the customers, and on top of white slabs, hot fudge was poured out, left to cool before it was moulded into shapes. It’s an enduring memory of that trip. I have vivid recollection of watching the ‘chefs’ chasing the hot fudge around the table, catching it just before it flowed over the edge and cutting it it up to sell it. So why do I mention this? Well, who knew it would still be there, white marble tables and all? Hot fudge was dully being poured and shaped. It was  a tiny time slip in my life as I stood, watching the ‘chefs’ at work.

‘This photo will mean nothing to anyone but me – but talk about nostalgia.’

Next up was a trek, deep into the French Quarter. According to the unreliable health app on my iPhone I walked ten miles. Mmmm. Whatever the truth, I do know is that the walk was further than I intended. At one point I was so off the beaten track I needed Google Maps to find my way back to the hordes.

‘New Orleans – the ‘back end of nowhere.’

Near the end of the trek I heard drumming coming from what turned out to be ‘Louis Armstrong’ park – a lovely backwater not far from the commercial district of New Orleans. I’m not quite sure what was going down, you can judge for yourselves if you click the link, but it looked like a therapy session to me – anyway up, the drum beat is still banging around in my head.

https://www.facebook.com/gordon.brown99/videos/10209172865550374/

The evening was heading for a quiet one until I got a Facebook message from Craig Robertson telling me a ‘few’ people were off to the French Quarter for a drink and some music. The ‘few’ turned out to be Craig and the ‘Slice Girls’ who, with the exception of Susi Hollliday, eventually retired to be replaced by Stuart Neville and some of his publisher friends (they just happened to be visiting the same public house).

I forget where the conversation went after this but the taxi home was a late one.

A fitting end to Bouchercon.

9/18/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 4

More gym this morning. I think this will be the end of the fitness phase for a while. Lying-in has its attractions. I pulled on my publishers t-shirt to show support today, that and it’s also a cool t shirt.

‘Ready for the day.’

My first stop was a healthy breakfast in McDonalds.

‘Wall St Journal, Egg McMuffin and a Tram.’

I bumped into an author while queuing for my McD. Charles Finch has written 10 historical novels. He was due on a panel shortly. Not having seen many panels to date I popped in to listen to the world of historical crime fiction with authors speaking about setting as diverse as 16th Japan, 18th Century Victorian England and 1974.

‘Charles, third left, talking history.’

My main event today was the launch and signing of the Bouchercon Anthology, Blood on the Bayou.

Authors had submitted short stories based on the theme ‘Blood on the Bayou.’ I was lucky enough to be one of the twenty two selected for the anthology. My story is called ‘ebgdea’ – which are the first six chords of the song ‘Duelling Banjos’. If you want to know what the story is about you’ll need to buy the book. The signing was in a large ballroom and once readers had purchased a copy they could skip from table to table asking the authors to sign the book.

‘Me and one of the many readers.’

While I was signing Joe Abramo sat down next to me. Joe is a Brooklyn born author now living in Denver. I first met him three years ago at the Left Coast Crime Festival in Colorado Springs where he was a on a panel with me. We’ve kept in touch and been promising to go out for a beer ever since. Last book signed we eventually had that beer.

‘Joe and I celebrating Joe’s Seamus award for ‘Circling the Runway.’

With little to do until the night’s festivities I took the opportunity to look around the whole festival – and bumped into Lee Child. As a fan of Jack Reacher I had to get a photo but, in my haste to do so, I managed to blur the shot. So now I have a fuzzy Lee Child photo for my collection.

‘A fuzzy Lee Child.’

Towards the end of the afternoon Craig Roberston was interviewed by Catriona McPherson on the 41st floor of the hotel. They both did a great job.

‘Craig and Catriona and the view they were competing with – and beat.’

Later that night there was a party at the ‘House of Blues’. The centre piece to the event was various authors doing their turns on stage. With echoes of Bloody Scotland a range of authors hit the microphones – Mark Billingham, Stuart Neville, Doig Johnstone – to name a few. The highlight, for me, was the return of the Slice Girls – who cut the place up big style.

‘The girls – knocking it out of the park (as they say here).’

Bed once more beckoned and day 4 drew to a close.

9/17/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 3

Day 3, early rise, sweaty gym – again. I hope this is not a pattern. I have a panel today, so off with the shorts and on with a shirt – presentable is the name of the game. It kicked off at 11.00am and there’s a green room in the hotel to meet you fellow panellists before hand. My fellow panellists weren’t there. I sat for fifteen minutes as ‘Jimmy nae mates’ before making my way to the room where my panel was scheduled. Ta da – there I find them all.

Day 3, early rise, sweaty gym – again. I hope this is not a pattern. I have a panel today, so off with the shorts and on with a shirt – presentable is the name of the game. It kicked off at 11.00am and there’s a green room in the hotel to meet you fellow panellists before hand. My fellow panellists weren’t there. I sat for fifteen minutes as ‘Jimmy nae mates’ before making my way to the room where my panel was scheduled. Ta da – there I find them all.

I know one of them, Susi Holliday and, like many of the others over here from the UK, I feel like we’ve all just jumped into the TARDIS to run a mini Bloody Scotland this side of the Atlantic. My other panellists were Sean McDaniel (A panel virgin), Nik Korpon (an American Glasgow Celtic fan), John McFetridge (all the way from Toronto) and the chair, Duane Swiercynski (very well prepared). The panel went well – it was funny, insightful and I swear it only lasted ten minutes.

‘Susi and myself on the panel – iced water at the ready.’

‘Our perfectly formed and enthusiastic audience.’

The audience seemed to like it all, and afterwards, at the signing, I sold and signed all the copies of my books – I now have no books for sale.

‘Julie Gerber and me – Julie was one of the mad fools who bought one of my book – thanks Julie.’

‘Lisa Brackmann, a fellow Bouchercon author, was sitting next to me at the signing table – Lisa wants to go to Bloody Scotland – I think she might have told me this one or twenty times.’

After the signing I’d arranged to meet up with the members of the panel I’m chairing on Sunday, at the coffee shop. I think I screwed up on communication as only Maegan Beaumont and Matt FitzSimmonds turned up. I’m hoping that Jim Sanderson and Mary Coley (the missing members of Team Gordon) make it along on Sunday. Maegan and Matt were in good form and, after we finished our meeting, we walked through the lobby where I bumped into Craig Robertson –  who was heading for lunch. Mmmm  –  a bit of a fatal encounter as lunch turned into watching the Liverpool v Chelsea game, turned into having a beer, turned into an afternoon in the bar. It’s a hard life.

‘There’s no such thing as ‘warm beer’ in New Orleans – especially in the bar we were in.’

I knew there was a parade on as part of Bouchercon. We arrived back at the hotel just in time to catch the parade starting off. Now this is/was/and shall, for ever be, a cool moment in my life. With marching bands at the top and tail of the parade, all the ‘Boucherconners’ marched through New Orleans, police escort at the front, traffic jam behind. The various stars of the weekend were on floats and I thought it a good idea to video it all. (click below).

https://www.facebook.com/gordon.brown99/videos/10209156270655512/

So that’s another one off my bucket list – taking part in a parade in New Orleans.

We all arrived at the Orpheum Theater to watch Lee Chil interview David Morrell – the author who gave the world Rambo when he wrote ‘First Blood’ – and, in case you’re wondering, the name Rambo comes from the name of an apple – you’ll need to contact David for the full story.

‘Lee Child and David Morrell on stage at the Orpheum. Lee didn’t get to say much – boy can David talk – good though.”

This was followed by the Anthony Awards chaired, in part by Alexander Sokoloff – who, dressed in a lemon/green/yellow wig, did a fantastic job of holding it all together.

‘Alex announcing one of the winners. I believe she dresses like this on a regular basis.’

The evening finished as I stepped out into the, still warm, night that had wrapped New Orleans. The pub beckoned and I ignored it. Bed was calling.

I really am getting old.

9/16/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 2

You’d think that a journey of 24 hour would knock your body for 6. Not so. Come 6.00am on Day 2, I’m part of the wide awake club. I spend half an hour trying to get back to sleep before I give on and go the gym – a small, hot sweaty (this word will figure a lot in the coming days) box buried deep in the hotel.

You’d think that a journey of 24 hour would knock your body for 6. Not so. Come 6.00am on Day 2, I’m part of the wide awake club. I spend half an hour trying to get back to sleep before I give on and go the gym – a small, hot sweaty (this word will figure a lot in the coming days) box buried deep in the hotel.

Bouchercon is being held at the Mariott Hotel on Canal St, a five minute walk from my hotel. Today it’s hot and humid – the locals told me it’s nowhere near what they call ‘hot and humid’. It’s the same the world over, whatever the weather, the residents will always start a reply with ‘This is nothing…’

‘Failed Attempt at photographing the heat and humidity on Canal St.’

I reached the hotel and registered for the festival – a convoluted affair that provides you with badge, bag, programs, free books and t -shirt – each obtained at a different table.

‘Choose a book – any book – they are all free.’

I met Craig Robertson, Bouchercon’s ‘International Rising Star’, (that’s his official title for the duration of the festival) and we wandered into the French Quarter for breakfast –  a deep fried plate of cholesterol washed down with decaf coffee.

My first panel is not until tomorrow so I nipped into to see Alex Gray’s panel to find out if they the U.S. version of a panel differs from the ones at Bloody Scotland. The answer is  – not really.

‘Alex in full flow.’

I had some time on my hand and headed for Bourbon St –  a sleazy strip of bars that disappoints and wandered through the French Quarter before walking along the Mississippi. I lost five pounds in sweat in an hour.

‘This sign tells you all you need to know about Bourbon St.’

‘Me with street sign, me with tram, me with river.’

I had one importune date in the diary for late afternoon to meet my U.S. publisher, Eric Campbell of Down & Out Books. It’s Eric that I have to thank for being here. He took a chance on publishing ‘Falling’, in the U.S., earlier this year. Eric is an amazing man. He holds down a full time job and publishes books – by the end of this year he will have published over 150 in the five years he’s been at it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the meet. Communication across the Atlantic has been of the patchy email and the occasional Skype variety. I wondered if the meet was to say thanks but we’ve decided not to take anymore of your books in the future. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Over a coffee and, subject to crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s, I have now have a two year publishing plan with Eric to release at least two, if not more, of my books from now ’till 2018 – GO ME.

In celebratory mood I went back to the hotel to get changed for the 5th anniversary bash that Eric was throwing that night. And, as is my want in my advancing years, fell asleep.

I woke up in enough time to get dressed – I promised Eric I’d wear my kilt – and walked the mile and a half to the venue. Reminder to self, never walk to anywhere in a kilt when it’s 87 degrees and north of 70% humidity. I was, for the second time today, a puddle of sweat by the time I arrived.

It was a great night with some thirteen of Eric’s authors reading from books, short stories or playing guitar. My one regret was missing the opening of Bouchercon but given the coffee conversation earlier that day there was no way I was missing the birthday bash.

‘Cosimos in the French Quarter – the venue for Down & Out Books 5th Anniversary.’

After drink, chat and a lot of laughter, a clutch of us wandered back through the French Quarter later that night. I intended to have a drink at the Mariott but after a quick chat with two of the Bouchercon board of directors, Jeff Siger and David Magayna, I called it quits instead – tiredness catching up at last.

Well almost quits – if you don’t count the stop for a pizza and coke on the way back to the hotel.

Roll on day 3.

9/15/2016

New Orleans – Bouchercon Day 1

I’ve been looking forward to Bouchercon for weeks but with Bloody Scotland landing the week before I haven’t had time to focus on it. Bouchercon is Set in New Orleans and I flew out from Glasgow on the Wednesday, catching the 9.00am flight to Newark. The trip got of to a great start with an upgrade. Then things slide backwards.

I’ve been looking forward to Bouchercon for weeks but with Bloody Scotland landing the week before I haven’t had time to focus on it. Bouchercon is Set in New Orleans and I flew out from Glasgow on the Wednesday, catching the 9.00am flight to Newark. The trip got of to a great start with an upgrade. Then things slide backwards.

A Misty Manhattan on approach to Newark

I had a layover of 7 hours in Newark and, having been in New York a dozen times in the last year, I decided not to take the trip to town and prep for my Bouchercon panels.

This year there is a slew of UK crime authors en route to The Big Easy. I met Russel McLean at the Newark luggage pick up. I got chatting and failed to notice an earlier New Orleans flight. I could have flipped flights but, hey I was talking books and drinking coffee with Russel.

Russel was going via Washington and when he left I got down and dirty and read up on my fellow panellists until Facebook told me that Doug Johnstone was waiting on the same flight as me. A few weeks ago he had asked me for some tips on seeing Manhattan in three hours and was just back from The Big Apple. We tied up for a drink, then another drink – then another as our flight slipped from a 6:45pm departure to a 7:15 then 7:45 and then to 8:00 and then, big leap coming, 10:45pm.

What can you do. Drink, eat and wait.

Doug Johnstone helping me while away the hours in Newark Airport.

By the time we landed in New Orleans it was 12:30am local time and I got to the hotel an hour later. Total journey time – door to door – 24 hours – ouch.

Let’s hope Day 1 is easier on me.

9/12/2016

Bloody Scotland 2016 – My Top 5 Moments

I’m sitting in my dressing gown on the Monday morning. My head is mince and my body is telling me that I’m not 21.

Three days and two nights of festivalling have done for me. But what a weekend. This is year 5 of Bloody Scotland and attendance is up. The feedback I received over the weekend was brilliant. So I thought I’d try and detail my top 5 highlights (although it could easily be a top 20).

Number 5: I don’t really want to pull out any one session as being better than the others but I have to give a big thumbs up to Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyres’ Friday night slot. They rocked the place and, according to Chris only four people walked out  – oh and one person fainted (don’t worry the casualty is fine).

‘Chris and Mark  – A quiet night was had by all.’

Number 4: My own panel – chaired by the wonderful Catriona McPherson, I was subjected to a gentle, but probing, examination of my knowledge of all things America along with Mason Cross and Steve Cavanagh (because all three of us set our novels in the U.S.). Mason won Catriona’s pop quiz. Steve insulted my surname and Catriona won us all over from minute one by bringing coffee.

‘Me, Steve, Mason and Catriona – I forgot to take a photo of my own panel in action – go figure.’

Number 3: Crime at the Coo – the alternative event down at the local pub (now in its second year) was a runaway success. The authors were allowed to cut loose and entertain us in any way they fancied. Val McDermid and Doug Johnstone rocked the place with 500 miles. Bob McDevit and his friend Tommy did a Full Monty on us (but didn’t strip), Alex Gray and Lin Anderson sang a few Scottish songs, the Slice Girls heated the place up no end and… – well there were just so many ‘ands’.

‘Slice Girls in full flow at the Curly Coo.’

Number 2: Crime in the Spotlight – I spent the weekend with what I called my ‘kids’. 12 new authors who each had an opportunity to open for one of the main sessions. They all read a short passage from their new book. Not easy as , for many, this was the first time in front of such a large audience. I need to name check them all because they were all simply fantastic. So in order – Stephen Watt, Shelley Day, Daniel Pembrey, Amanda Fleet, Eva Holland, Les Wood, Tom Ogden Keenan, Michael Grothaus, Jackie Baldwin, Sandra Ireland, Liz Mistry and Lesley Kelly. Thanks to them all.

‘Some of the ‘Spotlighters’ – pre their slots – spot the nervous smiles.’

Number 1 – truthfully I thought Crime in the Spotlight would be number 1 – but then along came Alanna Knights’ play – ‘The Horrific Hotel Slaying’. Stuart MacBride played Inspector Faro, Theresa Talbot was Pearl Stark, Amir Mukherjee played Paul Vane, Marsali Taylor was Isobel Vane and I played P C Baillie. Now let’s put a little perspective on this. Our rehearsal was a quick meeting just before the play. The ballroom was sold out. And we were all looking at the audience thinking – ‘Are you all expecting a professional show?’ But what a show. We had a ball. Everyone of my fellow actors (first and last time I’ll probably use those words) were superb. Theresa’s Russian/French accent, Abir’s discovery half way in that he was supposed to be Scottish, Marcelia Oscar winning solilioqhy and Stuarts;’ show stealing leading part – were all magic moments in an evening of magic moments. I had to leave straight after the play to introduce the next Crime in the Spotlight author and missed the standing ovation.

‘Myself and fellow thespians in full flow.’

And if you want proof I enjoyed the play (and the weekend) – well this photo says it all.

9/4/2016

Sunday Herald

My essay, done in the run up to Bloody Scotland appeared today. Cool. http://www.heraldscotland.com/opinion/14721987.Essay_of_the_week__The_power_of_fear/

8/13/2016

Crime Book Junkie

My first Craig McIntyre short story is on Crime Book Junkie. Let me know if it cuts the mustard? http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2016/08/gordon-brown-partners-in-crime-special/

8/10/2016

Femmes Fatales

I’ve written a guest post on the Femmes Fatales website – thanks to Catriona McPherson for letting me muscle in on the website. Click away and read:

http://www.femmesfatales.typepad.com/my_weblog/2016/08/the-special-relationship.html

8/7/2016

Bute Noir – Crime on an Island

I got off the train at Weymms Bay station, dragged my bag through the category A listed, turn of the century, railway station and joined the rag tag line of passengers waiting on the ferry to Rothesay.

It’s midday on Friday the 5th of August and my thoughts are on the weekend ahead. I turn round to see how many more people have joined the queue and a familiar face smiles in my direction. A Liverpudlian accent says hi and I walk back to join Luca Veste. This is the start of Bute Noir for me.

Bute Noir is a new crime writing festival, the brainchild of Craig Robertson and Karen Latto, that lined up 12 authors for a weekend of crime across three venues on the Island of Bute – Rothesay Library, Bute Museum and Print Point.

(The line up.)

I board the ferry and enter a floating crime writer’s convention in its own right, as Luca and I are joined by some of our cohorts

(From left to right – me, Craig Robertson, Alex Sokoloff, Luca Veste, Douglas Skelton and Michael Malone. Present, but missing from the photo, Alex Gray, Alanna Knight and Caro Ramsay.)

The hub for the festival was the Argyll Guest House, which we had to ourselves. On the ferry Craig asked if I minded sharing a room with Douglas Skelton. I said yes too quickly. Seconds after I nodded my head Douglas turned to me and said ‘I’m trying nasal strips to help with the snoring.’ My relief was palpable when I checked in to find we all had our own rooms.

The first event kicked off at three o’clock with me chairing Craig and Luca.

(Luca’s body language saying ‘OK Craig – enough with the sarcastic remarks.’)

The theme was serial killers with Craig’s new book, ‘Murderabilia’ and Luca’s latest, ‘Then She Was Gone’ featuring a slew of dead bodies. The audience, setting a trend for the whole weekend, were engaged and loaded up with questions at the Q & A section. Books were signed, wine drunk, thanks given and we were off to a flying start.

I’d like to say that I made it to every event but there was a technical issue that prevented me from doing so (and before it’s said it wasn’t the pub). Venues selling out meant that space was limited for the authors. So I made the sacrifice and stepped aside to let the paying guests take their rightful place for the next few events.

Everyone involved in the festival did us proud with some stunning displays across all the venues.

(Display in the library – the press took a photo of us all in front of this but I forgot to do the same.)

With a nice creative twist the festival had linked a book from each author to an object in the museum – providing content for posters and bookmarks.

(My poster – with me trying, and failing, to look cool in sunglasses and black t shirt.)

Later in the afternoon Craig, Luca and I were grabbing a refreshment when Craig snapped upright and announced that he was supposed to be on Bute Island Radio in five minutes. He rushed out leaving Luca and I in his dust. Ten minutes later the manager of the station appeared and says to the two of us that Craig wants us to join him on air. We are whisked into the studio to talk gibberish. Just as we are settling into our rhythm the studio door opens and in walks Chris Brookmyre to join us.

(Luca, me, Chris, Mike Blair (DJ) and Craig in the Bute Island Radio studio)

The first day finished with Chris in the library. He signed off the evening with a short story entitled Puck Knows – so Chris.

We were all good people and off to bed we went (believe what you want).

The next morning I took a stroll up the Serpentine to ‘Spring clean’ my head.

(Go on, beat this for a Saturday morning view – Rothesay in the sun)

Before we all kicked off again the inaugural Brookmyre Cup was held on Rothesay’s famous putting greens. Six players entered (Chris, Luca, Craig, Douglas, Michael and me – with Caro as official umpire) and I emerged victorious.

(There were six in the competition but I suspect that Luca was having a quick ciggie when this photo was taken.)

The festival resumed at lunchtime with an event entitled ‘Caro Ramsay and Friends’ (who knew she had friends). Chris and Craig did the manful thing and stepped in to be Caro’s mates – another one I missed because there wasn’t a spare square inch the room.

Later in the day Michael chaired Alex.

(Michael deciding a glass of vodka is in order)

Next I found myself squeezed in at the back of Print Point. When I say squeezed I use the word to its full effect. The only way to explain the crowd that sat down to watch Luca and Douglas debate the merits of Liverpool and Glasgow is to introduce that well known acronym – TARDIS. Not being bias in any way the outcome of the city debate was a forgone conclusion. Glasgow won. (I’m writing this – so my view is all that matters).

(Luca and Douglas in full flow. Look closely – strategically Luca is in the Health section with Douglas filed under Cookery  – just saying).

As the festival drew to a close Alex Sokoloff and myself debated the role of supernatural in the library (and were told some very chilly ghost stories by the audience).

The whole event was rounded off by a quiz. Not to put to fine a point on it my team, Ramsay, Skelton and Brown, roundly beat Brookmyre, Veste and Malone despite Craig, as the chair, docking us points for various infringements (he even knocked off a point when I gave him a tenner).

(An unstaged shot if ever I saw one)

The weekend finished on a high with the quiz. We all mingled with the audience afterwards and gauging by the number of requests for it all to happen again next year I feel that something good has been born.

The next day even the weather was a little melancholy that it was all over.

Summing up the weekend is easy. Wonderful. It’s the only word I need. Let’s be serious – when you turn up to find a goodie bag like this – what else can you say.

7/25/2016

Bute Noir

Running order for Bute Noir.

7/6/2016

Bute Noir

To add to the current Crime Factor tour I’ll be appearing in Bute Noir on the 5th and 6th of August. Great line up.

6/25/2016

American Booksellers and Readers

A message from Denise Minah and I was asked to attend a small soiree with a visiting crowd of U.S. booksellers and readers at the Indigo Hotel. I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was a lovely evening talking books with the visitors, catching up with fellow authors and taking a break from the real world.

11/4/2017

A Walk in the Hills

I remember, after a few pints, saying that I quite fancied joining the Bloody Scotland team on the Caledonia Challenge. A few tweets later and I was signed up. Then, being male, I read little on the subject.

A few weeks before the walk a dribble of nervousness began to seep into my ignorance. My fellow walkers, two in particular, were posting photos of their training. Posts such as ‘just done Ben McBen in 43 minutes’ told me that the ‘walk in the hills’ I was about to undertake might not be as easy as I assumed. Even so, as I sipped a cocktail on the beach in Spain, I still held out hopes that all would be well. After all, I had once walked the last half of the West Highland Way (some twenty five years ago) and the Caledonia Challenge covers the last twenty four miles of the Way in reverse. So how hard could it be?

The briefing the night before injected some reality – when they showed the route on a large screen. The hills I had been telling everyone about, now looked like mountains.

(We started just where the green spikes on the left and finished at the bottom of the highest spike – easy)

Still, the next morning spirits were high.

(Left to right – Chris Brookmyre, Matt Bendoris, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and me – you can’t see the midges – but the little buggers were seeng us off in style)

We set of at a hell of a pace and, with some forty three teams involved, the masses at the start soon began to thin out.

(Matt and Doug about mile five – Bailey (Matt’s dog) is out of sight. If we walked 24 miles, Bailey walked/ran three times that distance)

We reached Kinlochleven, the half way checkpoint, in a little over four hours. Lunch was curry and rice.

(Craig showing me respect, Matt with far too much energy)

We were in no rush to leave the checkpoint. Feet up and a cup of tea was the order of the moment. We even considered a cone from the ice cream van that sat outside.

Roll on the second half.

Spirits were still up in the sky.

(All smiles – the face between Craig and Chris is Snow Irwin – Snow told us she hadn’t done much training – but was as fit as Bailey)

Then we hit ‘the hill’. When I say hill, what I really mean is the ‘vertical climb rejected by Sly in ‘Cliffhanger’ because it was too steep’.

By half way up the thing the fun part of the event was vanishing into the mist around us. The midges descended, forcing us into midge hats (I had a very fetching midge suit – but sadly no photo of me in it). The team began to split. Craig and myself drifted to the back. Craig was suffering with his feet but showed no sign at all of giving in – quite the opposite – head down he was determined to finish.

To ease the pain as we worked our way to the top of well named Devils’ Staircase (for those paying attention this was the second green spikes bit on the first photo) there were views to sooth the soul.

(The path to the Devil’s Staircase)

The walk had one last sting in the tail. As we crested the Devil’s Staircase we could see the Glencoe Mountain Resort, our objective. At a guess it looked a few miles off – the reality was a three times this – or maybe it just felt that way.

(The last few miles – if we could have walked on the road we would have knocked a few miles off the walk and probably have been killed)

By now, through the wonders of modern technology, we knew that our team mates had finished. Craig and I were about half an hour behind. Craig sucked it up and we ground out the last stretch. And, just to add sauce to the whole thing, the final half mile was up hill.

When we crossed the finish line we discovered that the others had used the intervening half an hour to decompress, change socks, tops, feet etc – Craig and I by-passed this, walked another hundred yards up to the cafe, and ordered beer.

(Us at the cafe after finishing. The smiles are back – beer has an amazing way of making you forget the past).

We did the whole thing in 8 hours 47 minutes – that placed us 7th out of the 43. Not bad (especially given the extended lunch break we indulged in).

As we sipped at the alcohol there was a short (very short) conversation on the merits of entering the longer walk next year (54 miles). This ended when we looked at the electronic score board. It would seem that some madman had just finished the 54 in a little over nine hours.

Some of us spent that night in Fort William eating curry, ignoring the football and groaning every time we stood up to get a round in.

My final thoughts on it all are simple:

Well worth doing.

A great team.

Great fun.

Pain what pain?

Oh, and, the cup of tea back home was magnificent.

6/7/2016

Caledonia Challenge

Along with four other authors; Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Craig Robertson and Matt Bendoris I’m off to undertake the Caledonia Challenge this weekend. 24 miles in 12 hours over a few wee hills on the West highland Way starting at Fort William. If you fancy donating to a good charitable cause click on the link. Also there is a small message from the team.

http://www.caledonianchallenge.com/teams/BloodyScotland

5/2/2016

Crime Factor 2016 – the tour goes on

Here are the upcoming dates for the Crime Factor tour with Mark Leggat, Neil Broadfoot and Douglas Skelton. Thursday June 2 – the AK Bell Library, Perth, in association with Waterstones Perth Thursday June 9 – Behind the Wall, Falkirk, in association with Waterstones Falkirk Thursday June 16 – Carnegie Library, Ayr, in association with Waterstones Ayr Thursday June 23 – Reuben’s, Dunfermline, in association with Waterstones Dunfermline Thursday June 30 – Waterstones, East Kilbride, in association with guess who? Thursday July 14 – Blackwells, Edinburgh.

4/19/2016

Omnimystery – or how I used my grandparent’s house as a setting for a key moment in Falling

Thanks to the Lance at Omnimystery for a great article.

Omnimystery News

4/15/2016

Free Short Story

I’ve no idea where this one came from but it seemed like a good idea at the time – enjoy.

‘Cannon Fodder’

A Short Story

by

G. J. Brown©

Cannon fire woke Trent. In itself, an unusual occurrence in the annals of Glasgow history. Not the cannon fire. It’s a fair bet that cannons were in regular use a few centuries ago, in and around the Clyde valley. The unusual news was that Trent didn’t sleep through it. He had a reputation for sleeping like a corpse. Famously, once falling asleep leaning against the speakers of the loudest night club in Scotland.

Trent could, and would, take to dreamland with the sort of ease that suggested a serious, undiagnosed medical complaint. He needed a minimum of fourteen hours sleep on an average day. More, if he’d been deprived of his bed due to a heavy weekend in the pubs and clubs in town.

His record for an uninterrupted snooze was twelve minutes short of twenty-four hours. Trent despised those twelve minutes. He wanted to claim a full day. His partner of the last three years was witness to the shortfall. She had seen him fall asleep as the credits had rolled on Coronation Street. He had risen from the sofa, the following evening, just after the break in River Monsters. Failing to make the twenty-four.

Trent slid from his bed with the enthusiasm of an oil man forced to drive an electric car. He wasn’t yet aware of what had woken him. Only that dust was falling on his head and one of the panes of glass in his window seemed to be missing. There also seemed to be an abundance of car alarms in play.

Trent shouted ‘Hey Siri’ at his phone. A new feature that saved him the bother of picking the thing up. The phone pinged. He shouted again. ‘What time is it?’. The phone thought about if for a few seconds. ‘It’s 2 oh 3. Time to be asleep. I think.’

In the morning?’

Siri didn’t answer.

The dark outside confirmed that Siri was either right, or there was an eclipse that Trent hadn’t heard about.

The second cannon shot was more accurate. The steel ball entered Trent’s flat a few feet above the bedroom window. Taking out the lintel. It ripped through the ceiling of the room, coming to rest in Mrs Lorimer’s bedside cabinet, on the floor above. Mrs Lorimer would require sedating.

In Trent’s sleep addled head he wasn’t sure what was happening. His first coherent thought was that a terrorist bomb had gone off. Not as far from the truth in reality. As to why a terrorist would target a tenement on the south side of Glasgow was no longer a question of note. Trent had read about too many terrorist attacks in too many random places to think this was off the mark.

His real problem was what to do in such a situation. He had issues even when he woke up at his own pace. Accelerated ejection came with its own set of problems. Not least, that he was dying for a piss. The fright from the cannon ball rendered this problem mute. Replacing it with a new imperative – the need for a fresh pair of boxers sooner, rather than later.

The tenement flat was of Victorian build. The ceiling still the lathe and plaster construction of the late nineteenth century. A technique that could, and had, survived the decades but, when breached, tended to bring the entire ceiling down. Chunks of plaster the size of a rock star’s wedding cake rained down. One slab caught Trent on the back of his head. Pole axed, he fell to the floor.

It took a while for the third assault. Reloading a cannon is a slow process. It was also one that the gunner had not expected to undertake. He had, in his mind’s eye, seen this as one shot deal. Cannon balls in the movies would rip holes in castle walls that allowed armies to flow in through the gap created. Boats would sink with a single shot.

The first shot had fallen somewhat short of the first floor window it was supposed to enter. A lack of any real practice was to blame.

The Internet had been very informative on how to fire the thing; it had also made it look very easy. The YouTube video had demonstrated the power of the single ball. A young man, dressed in a U.S. Civil War uniform, took out the side of an old railway shed with the minimum of effort.

Even the required ingredients for the cannon had been easy to obtain. The gunner wasn’t sure that his search history wasn’t a little bit incriminating. But, no one had come knocking at his door when the delivery man had appeared with a small box of explosives, primer and fuse.

The canon had been more problematic. The gunner knew where to lay his hands on one. He also knew that the ball would have to be a certain size, the firing kit a certain make up. The cannon he had in mind was a working model. Every year it was used in Pollok Park to mark the anniversary of something or other. The blaze of fire and smoke from its mouth told the gunner all he needed to know. It worked.

Stealing it was a touch more complex than the gunner was prepared for. For starters it was stored at the back of Pollok House, an imposing stately home with an industrial set of doors guarding its cellar. Getting the stolen 4×4 round to the back of the house had not been easy either. The tyre tracks would take a few months to vanish completely from the pristine lawn.

And, to make a bad situation one that had dog dirt on it – no one – not the guy in the video – nor Wiki – and certainly not the gunner’s sidekick, Chas, had hinted at how heavy a cannon was. The original plan to lump it into the back of the Land Cruiser went out the window in seconds. Fortunately, the cannon was on a trailer. A length of rope, a bad knot tied round the handle of the 4×4’s back door, and they were away.

As to how they had not been stopped on the short journey to the tenement was down to a fight in a nearby pub that required the full attention of the local constabulary.

By morning there would be a slew of photos on Facebook and Twitter. Mostly of the devastation, but a few came from people who had caught site of the Toyota and cannon combo. In one photo Chas was waving at the camera.

The reason for the shortfall on the initial shot was a failure to properly secure the canon. The barrel depressed as the fuse was lit. The carnage was still quite impressive. All be it, the flat below Trent’s took the full hit. Sanjay Kahn’s pride and joy – a full replica of Preston railway station, replete with track and trains was reduced to matchwood. Sanjay, thankfully had been in bed.

The second shot was a beauty. An accidental beauty. A wonderful, heat seeking beauty. The sort of three hundred and fifty yard, curving drive off the first tee, beauty. Chas had his phone on video. He caught the shot like a pro. He uploaded it before the third cannon ball was loaded.

The third shot was a resounding disaster. Bathed in the euphoria of the previous shot, the instructions of the Civil War dude were ignored. The over loading of charge, shortening of the fuse, lack of wadding and ill placed cannon ball added up to an internal cocktail that the cannon could not survive. The gunner and Chas’s proximity to the destruction of the cannon should have killed them both.

They were spared, due to a flaw in the cannon makers art some two centuries before, when, through an overindulgence in the local brew the blacksmith had screwed up the casting of the cannon, and imbued a slight flaw on the left hand side. The gunner and Chas were standing on the right when the cannon exploded.

Ten streets away, the revellers at a party, on the top floor of set of new apartments, witnessed the mushroom shaped cloud of the cannon exploding. It’s uncanny resemblance to a small nuclear detonation was commented on. Again, the talk of a terrorist attack was raised. Again, it wasn’t dismissed. A sign of the times.

The police arrived. As did the fire brigade. As did an ambulance. As did an army vehicle. The latter called in by a retired SAS sergeant who lived in the next block. He had been the first to pick up the phone when he had seen the nutters unloading a cannon.

The gunner and Chas, both unconscious, were taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for treatment. Cannon wounds were a new one for the staff.

Trent was placed at the same hospital. He had no recollection of events.

The police were left dumfounded. Firstly, be the sheer stupidity of the actions. Secondly by the fact it was even possible to steal, load and fire a cannon. Lastly, as to the why?

With the victim and the accused all out of action, it was left to speculation as to what the hell had gone down.

The truth would emerge in fits and starts. When it did, it did little to dampen the madness of the whole incident.

Trent, a man in a full time relationship, had strayed from the path of fidelity. One night, full to the gills, he had propositioned and won over a young lady in a night club. The resultant dalliance in the back lane had been quick and dirty.

The gunner, better known as Dave, had known the young lady. In fact, he was of the impression he was the only man in her life. What he didn’t know was that he wasn’t even the only man on his street, in her life. Her name was Diane.

Dave, through Chas, through a mutual contact, discovered Trent and Diane had been taking the night air together. Dave, and the term is an old one but a good one, went Radio Rental.

To his credit he did not knee jerk into action. He planned the revenge. Identifying Trent’s home. Considering the options.

When he had visited Pollok Park a few days later the sight of the canon sparked inspiration. He knew what he had to do. It was the perfect way to make his point.

After all, how better to send a message when your girlfriend’s name was Diane Canon.

The End

4/5/2016

Crime Factor 2016

Great to be on tour with Neil, Douglas and Mark. Looking forward to the banter, insults and general chaos that this promises.

4/3/2016

Falling in the U.S.

It behoves me to say a few words about the U.S. launch of Falling. First off its a ‘mild’ edit of the original book, which came out in the UK a few years back. When I say mild I’m talking the best part of 10,000 edits. Most of this is down to an evolution of writing style over the last few years. Some of it is down to re reading the original and spotting some areas for improvement. A little is down to me fixing things that I missed the first time round.
I asked Eric, my publisher, at Down & Out, if I should consider ameliorating the book by tackling some of more choice Glaswegian language. Eric said no. A firm no. And all the better for it in my opinion. Ok so a few phrases may cause some to make a quick dash through Google. But I hope not. Where I saw language as being an issue I re read the surrounding text to see if the context aided. In all cases I’m happy. Now and again there are examples that might still cause a little head scratching. My view, for what it’s worth, is that this is no bad thing. Eric’s stable of writers come from a vast swathe of life. Every one has a different approach, but all of them have a laser focus on squeezing the best possible read onto the page. All of this is down to bringing character and plot to life. My book is set in Glasgow. Without a does of Glaswegian my characters would have been lifeless.
So have a read. And if you really don’t understand something I apologise.Falling – Down & Out Books

Gordon

3/29/2016

U.S. Launch Day

Big day for me today. Falling is launched in the United States. Big thanks to Eric at Down & Out Books for the faith. Amazon

3/17/2016

Mass Reading

Some of my colleagues in the U.S. pre ordered copies of Falling and sent me a photo of a mass reading in their office in New York on Park Avenue South. V cool.

3/4/2016

Cool

Just cool. AI for Falling in the US.

Archive of older posts 2014+

3/1/2016

Pre Order Links

The pre order links for Falling are now live – pass onto anyone in the U.S. that you know that might like a Scottish crime book.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

2/28/2016

Falling to America

The pre order for the US launch of Falling is up and running.

2/22/2016

J. L. Abramo

See the attached link. J. L. Abramo (Joe)’s seventh book is coming out on Down & Out Books this month. If you like grit and hard guys – click here.

1/15/2016

New Short Story

My first book, Falling, is due to be launched in the United States next month. As part of the promotional activity I’ve written a short story ‘prequel’. You can find it on the Down & Out book website. Enjoy. ‘Before I Fell.’

11/30/2015

Meltdown Giveaway

As the Christmas period approaches and since the giveaway of The Catalyst did so well I thought I’d set up a new giveaway, this time for the second in the Craig McIntyre series, Meltdown.

So, for a SIGNED copy of Meltdown follow the instructions on the below Rafflecopter widget.

If you follow me on Twitter, you get 1 entry. If you do that and then tweet the giveaway, you get 3 entries. Signing up to my mailing list gets you 2 entries. And so on. The more you participate the more chance you have of winning. Clever, huh?

It’s open until Monday Dec 7th. Sorry, it’s UK only.

Good luck!

11/24/2015

New Start

Because I’m a writer. And writer’s need inspiration. Since I’m writing this less than thirty seconds after I posted I may find that no one contributes. Why should they? After all I’m just about to use their line to inspire a story that will have my name on it.
My plan is to list the lines here (please note if the next line is blank you’ll know why.)

‘It was a dark and stormy night , suddenly a shot rang out ….?’ Scott Ballantyne.
‘A long time ago in a galaxy far away…’ John Calderwood.
‘The bleeding had slowed.’ Mark Leggett.
‘He fought like mad while they tried to get the handbag off him..’ David Manderson.
‘There was a brick missing from the wall…’ Stewart McAbney.
‘I need a line to start a story.’ Joey Falco.
‘Once upon… you never got off’ David Barber.
‘It was a fully lit and windless night…’ Hugo Charles Hansen.
‘I woke up feeling fine, and then, I remembered what day it was’ Tracy Hall
‘I like what I do, but today is different. I know that I have to go through with this, but it’s not through choice or love.’ Si Skelly.
‘He throws a punch at me. I let my own punches explain why doing so is such a mistake.’ Graham Smith.
‘As I walked towards the station a piece of toast fell from the sky.’ Julie/Doug Easton
‘I turned around and there he was….’ Harley.
‘It was an ordinary cat in an extraordinary bag’ Paul Rudge.

And a few from me:

‘Holding the last card in the pack close to his chest, Malcolm wondered if he was about to die?’
‘Cherry blossom hung in the air as the pilot stripped naked and boarded the plane.’
‘It’s Tuesday.’ There he’d said it.’
‘The ship had a single yellow line running from bow to stern. Half way along it a severed finger stuck to the wait paint.’
‘Two days before Christmas. Three days before the loan was due.Four days would be a blessing.’
‘His fist punched another hole in the wall.’
‘It sounded like the last beat of a heart.’
‘Touch what?’
‘Mary’s eye lay on the floor.’

11/20/2015

So What if I Want to Write Like an American?

While the first in my Craig McIntyre thriller series The Catalyst is free for a very brief amount of time on Kindle I thought I’d write about why I changed its setting from Glasgow to the US…

11/10/2015

New newsletter

Just thought I’d drop in to say I’ve now got a shiny new monthly newsletter (well, I’m aiming for monthly) that will include updates on the third book in the Craig McIntyre series (coming very soon), info on any events I’ll be attending and maybe some special deals and promotions only for newsletter subscribers.

I hope to send out my first newsletter in December with a special welcome promo. To avoid missing out you can sign up to the mailing list at this link: http://eepurl.com/bFqIf1 or on the sidebar on the right. Thanks for joining in.

Anyway, back to work!

10/31/2015

First Draft of new Craig McIntyre Novel

Just put the full stop on the next Craig McIntyre novel. Provisionally entitled Dynamite and due out early to mid next year. Time for a beer.

10/3/2015

A Bad Day at the Office

My new promotional video for the Craig McIntyre series. This was great fun to make.

9/29/2015

So What If I Want To Write Like An American

With a little help from my friends here’s an article on the difference between American and Scottish Crime Writing. Crime Of It All

9/23/2015

Westender Magazine Feature

A cool thing to do – interviewed outside my gran’s old flat by WESTENDER Magazine – why? – because the final scene of my first book was set in her house. WESTENDER MAGAZINE

9/20/2015

Crime in the Spotlight

Now that the dust has settled on Bloody Scotland for another year I thought I’d reflect on a small but significant debut amongst the wealth of talent and events that we showcased over the three days. Spread across the Saturday and the Sunday five new authors were given the opportunity to read from their work in front of the audiences of Martina Cole, Ian Rankin and Chris Brookmyre, amongst others. In each case they walked onto stage before the main event and, after a deep breath, read. We called this little gem ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ and it’s now penciled in for reappearance for 2016. It’s part of the DNA of Bloody Scotland that we give new and aspiring authors a spotlight and ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ is another notch in our bedpost. My thanks go to the star authors who made the ‘Crime in the Spotlight’ team so welcome. Everyone of them was welcoming and supportive and more than happy to give up a little of the limelight to support our new authors.
I was privileged to run the initiative and prouder still to be the one that asked them on stage. I wish them all well in the future and thought I would leave the last word to each of them (in no particular order of course).

“Being chosen to be one of the speakers at Crime in the Spotlight was a wonderful opportunity for emerging crime writers and I am truly honoured to have been selected by my peers. I hope Crime in the Spotlight is repeated in future years so other new authors can also benefit from the festival committee’s forward thinking.”

Graham Smith – author of ‘Snatched From Home.’

“It was a great thrill to be part of Crime in the Spotlight, to have the attention of a big audience for two minutes to read from The Blue Horse and hopefully introduce them to my debut novel. It was a great chance to not only read in public but perhaps create more interest in my writing. I applaud the festival, also, for introducing the scheme and I am grateful it chose me to read from my book. It is a great gift for a debut writer.”

Phil Miller – author of ‘The Blue Horse.’

‘Now that the knees have stopped knocking and the heart-rate has eased, I can look back clearly at how I was welcomed so warmly by Gordon, Dom, Craig and the rest of the committee. I can’t thank you all enough for this amazing opportunity. Didn’t think I stood a chance of winning a slot on ‘Crime in the Spotlight’, since I’m English – although there is a Scottish police dog-man who plays an integral role in My Kind of Justice! ‘

Col Bury – author of ‘My Kind of Justice.’

“Crime in the Spotlight was a fantastic opportunity for me to introduce my work to the Bloody Scotland audience. It was a great experience to be involved in such an important festival, and to meet and chat to readers and more battle-hardened authors.”

Graeme Macrae Burnet – author of ‘His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae.

‘Crime in the Spotlight’ is a fantastic initiative and I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity I had to showcase myself and my writing. Despite having had good success in international book prizes it has been incredibly difficult to attract interest from agents and reviewers and a festival appearance, with an opportunity to engage with audiences directly, has been but a distant dream. However, the Bloody Scotland initiative was bloody brilliant in generating publicity, giving me a chance to flaunt my narrative drive and speak to audience members directly who didn’t just buy my book but asked me to sign it!(HURRAH!)
Margot McCuaig – author of ‘The Birds That Never Flew’

9/18/2015

Bloody Scotland – post event blues

Well it’s all over for 2015 – a record year with more memories than I care to catalogue. Highlights were the panel with Tom Wood, Simon Kernick and Mason Cross, chairing Chris Brookmyre, introducing ‘Crime in the Spotlight’, officiating at the Curly Coo, meeting Martina Cole and so much more. Here’s to 2016.

9/12/2015

Bloody Scotland

Out of the gate on Bloody Scotland – 5 authors to introduce as part of the ‘Crime in Spotlight’ initiative, interviewing Chris Brookmyre, on stage with Mason Cross, Tom Wood and Simon Kernick and helping out at the Curly Coo – pictures soon.

8/29/2015

Review

A great review of The Catayst at Big Al’s Books & Pals

A great review of The Catayst at Big Al’s Books & Pals

http://booksandpals.blogspot.co.uk

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Psychological thriller

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Gordon Brown is a marketing executive by trade. He has lived and worked abroad, including a stint in Canada. He was born and still resides in Scotland with his family. When not working Gordon writes and is a founder member of the Bloody Scotland literary festival and he shares the same name as the ex-Prime Minister of the UK. Apparently Gordon is very bad at playing golf. Catalyst is his third novel.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

Craig McIntyre, ex US military turned bodyguard, has a powerful and uncontrollable affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions, transforming their darkest thoughts into action.

When a US senator sees the unique potential to create the ultimate assassin he orders a covert agency to capture Craig and Craig’s wife, Lorraine.

In an attempt to mould him into a lethal weapon, the senator has Craig drugged and tortured and forces him to witness Lorraine’s murder.

Craig escapes and, distraught at the death of his wife, he vows to kill the senator. But he has to act fast because the agency has orders to hunt him down and bring him back: dead or alive.

Appraisal:

Well, this is an interesting novel and a different take on the use of a person as a weapon. McIntyre, is no slouch when it comes to his military abilities, but throw in his ability to force people to turn on each other he’s deadly. The trouble is McIntyre is at first unaware of his ‘skill’. Once he gains awareness (by force) he can’t figure out how to control it. Instead a US senator tried to turn him into a killer to be directed as he sees fit. McIntyre wants to break out, but he can’t and in the process he ends up killing the few people around him he cares about and many more beside. And there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it.

Overall it’s brightly written. Brown has a taut, very economic style to his narrative that whips the story along at pace. Descriptions are minimal, which adds to the breakneck speed. Being written in the first person adds greatly, the reader becomes immersed in McIntyre’s world, sensing his confusion, his loss and, ultimately, his hate.

I thoroughly enjoyed Catalyst and read it over a couple of sittings. It slips along easily, the twists and turns in the plot kept me well entertained. If you like something a little different, this is the book for you. Cleverly plotted it’s a winner.

8/2/2015

Film Star

My friends at SteinIAS have been helping me out. So far I’ve been covered in dirt, blood, beaten up. wrapped in tape, tied to a chair and attacked with a crow bar – all in the name of shooting a video for my Craig McIntyre series. Teaser attached – full video soon.

6/7/2015

Me and the First Minister

Bumped into the First Minister at the airport in New York today.

5/24/2015

US Publication with Down & Out Books

I’m delighted that Down & Out Books have signed up to publish Falling, my first book, in the US next year. A big thanks to Eric Campbell for having faith in me.Down & Out Books

5/22/2015

Free e-Book

This weekend I am launching my four novels on amazon e-books under the author name of G.J. Brown (although they will also temporarily be available under Gordon Brown).

To celebrate I am making The Catalyst FREE to download on Saturday 23rd May and Sunday 24th May.

This is a limited time offer – all you need to do is click on the link below and away you go (you don’t need a kindle to do it – instructions for app are in the link)

Link – Click Here

Remember it’s free on Saturday and Sunday only – Please tell your friends (or your enemies) and let Amazon know what you think of the book.

4/12/2015

Missing in Action

I’ve been remiss in my update of the website. With work being full on, Bloody Scotland taking shape and writing taking up all my spare time I’ve been web shy. I’ve just agreed to a new event at Bookpoint in Dunoon on the 16th May. For your diaries Bloody Scotland – see www.bloodyscotland.com is from the 11th to the 13th of September with the programme being launched on the 3rd of June.

11/17/2014

Launch Night

Has a brilliant night at the launch of Meltdown with a full house and we sold out of books. A big thanks to everyone that came along and to Waterstone’s on Argyle St for hosting the event.

11/17/2014

Launch of Meltdown

I’ve had a couple of great pieces of coverage in the press from both the Sun and the Daily Record for the launch of Meltdown.

10/7/2014

Meltdown Launch – November 13th

The launch of Meltdown will take place on November the 13th at Waterstones, Argyle St in Glasgow. The multi talented Shari Low has agreed to act as compere for the evening. Should be fun.

8/16/2014

Meltdown – New Craig McIntyre Novel

Meltdown, published by Gallus, will be launched in November. As a taster here is the back cover blurb.

Craig McInytre is back and sometimes the unthinkable happens.

‘Ex bodyguard Craig McIntyre has a unique affliction: his mere presence removes people’s inhibitions turning their darkest thoughts into actions. When captured by arch enemy and state senator Tampoline, McIntyre fully expects to be killed, but instead finds himself on a mission to help replenish the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve which has been destroyed in a hushed up attack by white supremacist group the Factor.
As McIntyre tries to use his unique ability to avert global economic meltdown, he must stay one step ahead of both Tampoline and the Factor. And as this thrilling story unfolds the stakes only get higher.’

Out November 2014.

7/8/2014

‘The Time Thief’

Life from the In-Between

When I skulked out of university after four years of home based indulgence I decided I was leaving the mother ship and struck out for London. I worked as a graduate trainee in a Sainsbury supermarket in Putney. My job description promised a wide and varied introduction to the world of supermarket retailing. On arrival I had been assigned to the produce department and, as soon as I took off my coat, my new boss announced he was off on holiday soon. So, four weeks into the job, I was in charge of the department and the staff. Well you can tell that this was going to go well. Me in charge of a team who viewed me with disdain oozing from their brown overcoats and clip ties.
Due to a combination of unbridled ignorance and long hours I survived the fortnight and the experience made a small but perceptible mark in my psyche. In working from six in the morning to midnight I garnered a full and unfettered understanding of the benefits of ‘me time’. Something that had been in no short supply at uni. Off course, being young and blessed with an Atlantic type distance to the grim reapers visit, I utilized the few free hours on offer consuming food and drink. Sleep was optional.
With the Atlantic gap to my demise now more like the North Sea the concept of ‘me time’ has crystalized into an absurd parody of itself. The intervening years have taken the hours set aside for my delectation and dictated that they’re available for reallocation on an arbitrary basis to non ‘me-time’ activity.
This redistribution is not led by some Machiavellian outside force. It would be easy for me to blame relatives and friends for nicking my precious spare minutes. The truth is touch more bizarre for I’ve discovered that the thief in the night is none other than myself. I’m the root cause of the removal of my own free time.
Why would I do such a thing? Well let’s hang out the beast for examination. It all takes the shape of an endless need to be doing something when I could be doing sod all. Well, as close as you can get to sod all. When a ‘Carry On’ movie beckons I’ll take a notion to cut grass. A chance to read another chapter of my latest book becomes an opportunity to touch up some paint. And, when a whole weekend rolls into view, my time-thief lets rip with a cry of joy. All those seconds to be filled. Stuff to be done. Jobs to be planned. Forgotten promises of work. A list unfurls and pins itself to the inside of my eyelids. Striped sweater, swag bag and masked up the time-thief sneaks in and swipes his booty.
I can foil him. Sometimes. Forced inactivity is one weapon. A hotel room in a backwater place. Far away from home. Or a walk. But he’s a persistent beggar. I know that the solution is to front him up, stand my ground – or rather lie down on my ground and tell him to feck off.
I should but I don’t. Anyway I need to go. I’ve just remembered I haven’t cleaned the sills on my car for a couple of weeks.

7/2/2014

The Catalyst Now Available On line

After a long and arduous battle with the world of eBooks ‘The Catalyst’ is now available on line through a variety of routes including Amazon at the amazingly low price of £1.81. http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Catalyst-Gordon-Brown-ebook/dp/B00LFJGA1S/ref=sr_1_sc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1404289410&sr=8-2-spell&keywords=catlayst+gordon+brown

6/22/2014

Independent Bookseller Week – Dunoon 28/6/14

Doing a gig for Independent Bookseller Week in Dunoon at Bookpoint this Saturday at 12.00pm

6/10/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘The Big Apple’

Sirens, car horns, truck horns, air conditioning hissing, mobile phone tunes I don’t know – sounds.
Food smells at every corner, car exhaust fumes, rubbish bins – smells.
A feeling that you need to wash your hair, ten minutes after washing it – touch.
Yellow cabs, blue police cars, silver buses, famous buildings – Empire State, Chrysler, Grand Central, 42nd Street, Park Avenue, hobos, delis – sights.
New York is a mild mugging of your senses. It doesn’t sit well with the city to prick at just one of the physiological capacities of organisms that provide data for perception (Wiki’s description – not mine). It has an inbuilt desire to take them all on. Or, if the city was honest with itself, win you over, sense by sense. It opens the pores, dilates the pupils, brushes the ear-drum and gets up your nose. It wants you to remember who’s really in charge. The people on the sidewalk, the cabbie at the lights, the police officer with a coffee, the mother with the stroller – all think the world centres on them. The city knows different. It sits square in the middle of the local universe. It calls out to you, with a degree of subtlety that would make a trained hostage negotiator cry with envy, to comply. The freedom so close to an American’s heart is one of a gilded cage. It dictates pace. Restricts movement. Steals time. And there is nothing you can do about it. The TV brims with technology trying to beat the city. Colour coded traffic reports, public transport incident alerts, radar driven weather updates – all of which give the illusion of control.
Take last Sunday when I arrived from the UK. The taxi rank at the airport promises swift, all be it expensive, transport to Manhattan. But the city is holding Puerto Rican Day. A solid wall of red, white and blue marching down 5th Avenue – slicing the city in two. Placing a barrier to cars that can’t be breached. I was liberated from my money and deposited three blocks from my destination – it may as well have been thirty. Progress was imposed upon me at a pace a baby on its first crawl would have beaten. Around me people are celebrating the joy of being while the city holds them in velvet handcuffs.
I love the place. It has a heartbeat hard to match anywhere on the planet. But there is a price. New York takes more than it gives. You leave with a sense of weary exhilaration. Every time you leave something of you stays behind. Just enough to make you want to return – because, after all, every beast needs a regular supply of food.

5/30/2014

Life from the In-Between

‘Buying Stuff.’

When I was a lad (said with the required Yorkshire accent) buying stuff was simple. Three main options were open to you. A private sale, buy through a shop or order from a catalogue. Most deals were for cash or on tick. Your rights were weak – caveat emptor was the norm. Warranty’s and guarantees were thin on the ground. But so were sales. Impulse purchasing was a phrase from a future decade. Disposable income was measured in pennies. And, unless you lived on the west side of the Atlantic, the shopping experience was as weak as tea from used tealeaves.
Today we swim beneath an ocean of buying opportunities. Your three basic options have been boosted by the arrival of the Internet and alternate technology.
But all is not as it seems. In 1979 I purchased Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark first album on vinyl. Yesterday I bought Rufus’s new album at Fopp. I could have downloaded it but I want the CD and Amazon takes too long to deliver. Save it’s a CD and not vinyl, and that’s a debatable advance, not much change there then. I saw Star Wars four months after it premiered in the US. Now I’ll watch ’12 Years a Slave’ four months after release – admittedly at home.
I can order a new t-shirt from Australia. In the seventies my mum’s Kay’s catalogue let me do the same thing.
So is technology really changing the way I buy? Well let’s look at the top five strangest things you can buy on the Internet (according to the Internet)

1) Urine Powered Batteries
2) A Mech ( a kind of robot)
3) A Celebrity
4) A Serial Killers Fingernails
5) A banana guard

Now let’s consider the top 5 strangest things you could buy in the seventies – and not a URL in sight:

1) Own your own Texas Ranch (a one inch square of genuine Texas land and a map to show you where it is – 2 dollars)
2) Automatic Firing Tripod Machine gun ($1.98) – ten pellets a second
3) A Polar Nuclear Submarine ($6.98) – seven feet long and sits two kids.
4) Hypno-Coin – hypnotize your friends in seconds – $1.00.
5) And, off course, X Ray Specs – £1.99

Be honest the seventies list is far more intriguing. There may be more opportunities to purchase today but has buying stuff really changed for the better? My answer – I’m off to order my X Ray Specs.