The Magazine for Crime & Mystery

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Ezine 12 Contents

Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood


reprinted with kind permission of Hodder & Stoughton

John Connolly has been called the unrivalled master of Maine noir; his writing not so much hard boiled as noir boiled ... and indeed The White Road is detective gothic from first to last.
Connolly has used his skill in the past to weave the black styles of the fair tale and gothic chill into his writing, but it is his fascination with ghost stories that has increasingly influence his books. In The White Road the reader is snagged into the shadowy world created by the southern States' memory of horrors that beggar belief, ancient wounds that gape open below the thinly closed surface - of old money and slave traditions. There is nothing so black and white as the pale moonlit KKK robe, or as dark as midnight coloured skin.

Charlie Parker, doggedly loyal to old friends, and stubbornly supportive of lost causes, agrees to help in a horrifying murder case in South Carolina. In doing so, his own ghosts are given free rein in a place where atmosphere alone would murder hope. His is not so much an investigation, more a decent into the abyss.
The chilling preacher Faulkner is again a dark presence in the background whilst Parker's friends, Angel and Louis, damaged and deadly, follow their own avenging trail. So brilliant a creating villains, Connolly has given us the strange and meancing mr Kittim and the deformed killer Cryus Nairn, both of whom lead Parker down one shadowy road after another.
There is never a simply answer to Connolly's plots, but as the differently coloured strands of TheWhite Road are pulled together, the dark and the pale flowwing into one, it is again clear that the storytelling is superb. There are few authors who can make their words dance to such a dark rhythm as Connolly.... Now read on

Bear said that he had seen the dead girl.
It was one week earlier, one week before the descent on Caina that would leave three men dead. The sunlight had fallen prey to predatory clouds, filthy and gray like the smoke from a garbage fire. There was a stillness that presaged rain. Outside, the Blythes' mongrel dog lay uneasily on the lawn, its body flat, its head resting between its front paws, its eyes open and troubled. The Blythes lived on Dartmouth Street in Portland, overlooking Back Cove and the waters of Casco Bay. Usually, there were birds around - seagulls, ducks, mallards - but nothing flew that day. It was a world painted on glass, waiting to be shattered by unseen forces.
We sat in silence in the small living room. Bear, listless, glanced out of the window, as if waiting for the first drops of rain to fall and confirm some unspoken fear. No shadows moved on the polished oak floors, not even our own. I could hear the ticking of the china clock on the mantel, surrounded by photographs from happier times. I found myself staring at an image of Cassie Blythe clutching a mortarboard to her head as the wind tried to make off with it, its tassel raised and spread like the plumage of an alarmed bird. She had frizzy black hair and lips that were slightly too big for her face, and her smile was a little uncertain, but her brown eyes were peaceful and untouched by sadness.

Bear tore himself away from the daylight and tried to meet the gaze of Irving Blythe and his wife, but failed and looked instead to his feet. His eyes had avoided mine from the beginning, refusing even to acknowledge my presence in the room. He was a big man, wearing worn blue jeans, a green T-shirt, and a leather vest that was now too small to comfortably accommodate his bulk. His beard had grown long and straggly in prison, and his shoulder-length hair was greasy and unkempt. He had acquired some jailhouse tattoos in the years since I had last seen him: a poorly executed figure of a woman on his right forearm and a dagger beneath his left ear. His eyes were blue and sleepy, and sometimes he had trouble remembering the details of his story. He seemed a pathetic figure, a man whose future was all behind him.

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