There are rich pickings on the crime scene with Graeme Blundell, one of my favourite followers of crime fiction, sleuthing out four new offerings (should that be a massacre of crime novels?) in his popular Crime File. The latest from Garry Disher, who has been producing literary thrillers for decades, is Better Wash Road, (published by Text) is set in the beautiful wheat and wool country north of Adelaide in South Australia. Still in Australia is The Train Rider, by Tony Cavanaugh (published by Hachette), a new novel about Darian Richards, who is drawn out of semi-retirement on the Noosa River in Queensland. by the apparent re-appearance of a serial killer. Graham Hurley’s Touching Distance, (published by Orion) also welcomes back an old favourite, Detective Superintendent Jimmy Suttle, who is investigating three apparently random killings in Devon and Cornwall, in England’s south. Last in the killer quartet is In the Morning I’ll Be Gone (Serpent’s Tail) by Adrian McKinty, featuring recalcitrant Irish cop Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy who is heading for the scrap heap until a break out from the notorious Maze Prison by one of the IRA’s most dangerous men.
Also on the subject of crime, John Grisham is one of those rare writers whose name alone on the cover will guarantee a book’s success. Not that it’s always been that way. His first book, A Time to Kill, about a brave young lawyer who defends a black man unjustly accused of murder, was published 25 years ago and bombed. Grisham, himself a lawyer, ended up buying 1000 copies, from a print run of just 5000. Things did pick up though. Now 58, Grisham has written 32 books which have sold more than 275 million copies in dozens of languages and been made into nine Hollywood movies.
There’s no reason to expect anything less from his latest book, Sycamore Row, a sequel to A Time To Kill, again set in Ford County, again with a dominant plot built around racism. I recently read an interview with Grisham published in The Sunday Times. It gives a fascinating insight his strictly (almost fanatical) business-like approach to writing. “I start writing January 1 every year and go until July 1,” he says. “Six months, that’s what I give myself. People ask ‘How can you write a book every year, sometimes two?’ But if you’re disciplined about it and you don’t make excuses, the pages really pile up. It’s a job.” Read journalist Rosie Kinchen’s full interview with John Grisham including how he comes up with his news-driven plots.