This week, I have whisked yet another
victim guest off to my deserted tropical island to enjoy peace, solitude and the chance to kick back and read five hand-picked books without interruption. This time, the lucky castaway is non-fiction author… Brian Price.
This anthology collects together Arthur Conan Doyle’s finest Sherlock Holmes stories.
The drug-addled, anti-social sleuth has become one of the most iconic characters in fiction and the tales collected here will entertain readers today just as much as when they were first published in the late 19th-century.
Featuring such classic cases as ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ and ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’, this provides the perfect introduction to the world’s favourite detective.
I’ve have enjoyed Sherlock Holmes ever since I was a teenager and the collected short stories demonstrate the breadth of the author’s inventiveness – more so than some of the longer ones. Of course, some are a little fanciful but they are of their time and still repay re-reading.
Book Two – Dr Thorndyke Omnibus by R. Austin Freeman
Dr. Thorndyke is one of the best creations of the Golden Age of British detective fiction. He is both medical doctor and barrister and the first great exponent of forensics in fiction, with an encyclopedic scientific knowledge.
R. Austin Freeman was innovative in his writing too – some of his stories are divided in two: the first part describes the crime AND who did it – the second, the means of detection.
In this new omnibus edition, over forty Thorndyke short stories are gathered, from The Singing Bone (a.k.a. The Adventures of Dr. Thorndyke), The Great Portrait Mystery, John Thorndyke’s Cases (a.k.a. Dr. Thorndyke’s Cases), The Magic Casket , The Puzzle Lock and Dr. Thorndyke’s Case Book (a.k.a. The Blue Scarab).
In some ways a rival to Holmes – their writings overlapped at the turn of the 20th century – Freeman’s character uses science much more than Holmes and the stories are all the richer for it. In some ways I prefer Thorndyke – he’s more sociable – and the puzzles are excellent.
Book Three – The Witches Trilogy by Terry Pratchett
A collection of three of the author’s “Discworld” novels; Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad, that feature the characters Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrit Garlick.
Terry Pratchett can always cheer me up and the witches stories are hilarious. He was a wonderful writer who sneaked in a lot of thoughtful stuff beneath the humour and fantasy. Greatly missed.
Book Four – Howdunnit by Martin Edwards (ed.)
Ninety crime writers from the world’s oldest and most famous crime writing network give tips and insights into successful crime and thriller fiction.
Howdunit offers a fresh perspective on the craft of crime writing from leading exponents of the genre, past and present. The book offers invaluable advice to people interested in writing crime fiction, but it also provides a fascinating picture of the way that the best crime writers have honed their skills over the years. Its unique construction and content mean that it will appeal not only to would-be writers but also to a very wide readership of crime fans.
The principal contributors are current members of the legendary Detection Club, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Peter James, Peter Robinson, Ann Cleeves, Andrew Taylor, Elly Griffiths, Sophie Hannah, Stella Duffy, Alexander McCall Smith, John Le Carré and many more.
Interwoven with their contributions are shorter pieces by past Detection Club members ranging from G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr to Desmond Bagley and H.R.F. Keating.
The book is dedicated to Len Deighton, who is celebrating 50 years as a Detection Club member and has also penned an essay for the book.
The contributions are linked by short sections written by Martin Edwards, the current President of the Club and author of the award-winning The Golden Age of Murder.
Martin Edwards has pulled together an amazing collection of tips for crime writers, from authors old and new, together with valuable examples of how it should be done. An invaluable source of advice.
Book Five – The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven
Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .
A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.
When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.
Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.
As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …
Picking a contemporary novel to re-read is extremely difficult but I’ll go with the first in the riveting Poe and Tilly series. The characters are brilliant, the plot excellent and the writing great – and sometimes very funny.
My luxury item
If a solar powered word processor is not available, I’ll settle for a big box of pens and paper – without too many distractions, I should be able to write something half decent!
About Brian Price
Brian Price is a chemist and biologist who provides advice on science to crime writers direct and via his website and YouTube channel. He was an Open University tutor for 26 years and also worked for the Environment Agency. He is an avid reader of crime fiction, writes short stories and has a novel currently seeking a publisher.
Brain’s latest book, Crime writing: How to write the science, is a guide for authors on the scientific aspects of crime. It covers poisons, weapons, knocking people out, fires & explosions, body disposal and some aspects of DNA and forensics. It aims to help writers avoid common mistakes and is also of interest to avid crime readers. Million-selling crime writer Leigh Russell described it as ‘Detailed and thorough. Price clearly knows his subject matter which he presents in a lucid and well-organised text. This is an invaluable resource for any crime writer.’ You can buy a copy of the book here.
How many times have you read a crime novel describing a poisoning, a stabbing, an explosion or a shooting and realised it’s wrong? Mistakes jar and can undermine a brilliant plot.
This guide will help you to avoid these mistakes, save you research time and ensure that your writing is scientifically credible. Crime writers increasingly look for accuracy in their work and this book, which assumes no previous scientific knowledge, will be a valuable asset for both novices and experienced writers and will also fascinate readers who love crime fiction.
This book explains: * The nature of poisons and how they work. * How to knock out a character and avoid killing them * The nature of explosives are and what happens in an explosion.. * How fires start and their effects on people and buildings. * Firearms, suppressors and how they work. Mechanisms for murder. * Tips on fighting back from an attack and escaping from captivity. * Problems of body disposal and crime scene clean-up. * The nature and use of DNA. * Forensic techniques & how evidence can be misinterpreted.
Connect with Brian:
Facebook: Brian Price
YouTube: Brian Price