Saturday, August 30, 2008

A rival for Nergui?

I received an interesting e-mail today from the crime-writer, Mary Reed.  Mary had come across a (very enthusiastic, I'm pleased to say) review of The Shadow Walker in the newsletter, I Love a Mystery.  The reviewer had mentioned in passing that my publisher had apparently claimed Nergui to be the only Mongolian detective in fiction. 

Well, that kind of claim is always risky, and Mary was writing to point out that she and her writing partner, Eric Mayer, had in fact created a Mongolian detective, Inspector Dorj, who had appeared in a number of stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in the 1990s and in a story in a recent Mike Ashley anthology, The Mammoth Book of Perfect Crimes and Impossible Mysteries.

I'm only too happy to set the record straight, and also to draw your attention to Mary and Eric's excellent website.  The website covers their fascinating-sounding John the Chamberlain series, set in 6th Century Byzantium, and also contains a wealth of stories, essays, reviews and other material (including an absolutely stunning set of links to Golden Age crime stories and M R James-style supernatural fiction, available through Project Gutenberg).  The website is a superb resource and I'll add a permanent link to it on here. 

Apologies to Mary and Eric for my publisher's over-selling of Nergui's uniqueness - but at least it's enabled me to discover their splendid site.  I'll now seek out the stories, and I'll be interested to see how our perspectives on Mongolia compare.  And perhaps one day we should collaborate on something which brings Dorj and Nergui together...

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Adversary in the US

Just received the uncorrected proof copies of the US version of The Adversary.  I've discussed the marvellous cover by Richard Tuschman before on here, but this gives me an excuse (as if I needed one) to show it you yet again. 







Tuesday, August 26, 2008

At the sign of the Blue Bandana

A while ago, I was contacted by Peter Weinig, who is one of the founders of a company called Blue Bandana which runs activity expeditions and holidays in Mongolia.  Peter also distributes and sells Mongolia-related merchandise, and was keen to obtain some copies of the books for distribution in Mongolia itself. 

I'm pleased to say that, despite the inevitable costs and difficulties of transporting goods into Mongolia, he's succeeded in selling some copies out there and now has plans to import some more.  Blue Bandana is a very interesting company, not only for its commercial activities but also for its community work within Mongolia.  I'd recommend a visit to their highly informative website.  They even have an expedition guide called Nergui, though I should emphasise that any similarities to my character are entirely coincidental!

Late-Flowering Art

An interesting piece by Mark Lawson in today's Guardian about the work of artists who are well into what we've traditionally thought of as old age.  Lawson discusses performers such as Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond, who have been gracing the festival stages around the UK this summer.  But he devotes the majority of the article to new novels from PD James and Stanley Middleton, both well into their ninth decade. 

Baroness James's new novel will no doubt receive plenty of deserved coverage, but it's nice to see Middleton getting some attention for once.  I don't think that Stanley Middleton has ever been a fashionable writer, and his determinedly low-key style is perhaps an acquired taste.  But once you acquire it, as I did many years ago, it's highly addictive.  Lawson says of Middleton's recent work: 

'...His very late novels find him worrying away at the literary and social values that have informed his work. There is also the feeling of absolutely authentic reportage of the experience of being old in a culture biased towards youth: the experiences of illness, bereavement, pensions and insurance bureaucracy. When, in a recent novel, Middleton featured a character with Alzheimer's, there was a moving sense of a report being sent back from a massacre by one of the few to escape.'

That's accurate enough, but it doesn't convey the seductive nature of Middleton's prose style or the fact that - despite the conscious avoidance of anything that might be described as melodramatic - his best books are as tense as any thriller. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smuggling Wood

Yet another entry in the 'stranger than fiction' file.  I recall that, during a visit to Mongolia in the early 1990s, a member of our tour party, an amateur geologist, rather naively packed a small sample of Gobi sand in a plastic envelope as a souvenir.   The envelope was discovered and confiscated at the airport.  Initially, we wondered whether the officials had suspected the white powder to be something other than sand - but then we realised that their true concerns related to mineral data being taken out of the country without authority. 

Clearly, given Mongolia's vast mineral potential, this remains a major worry.  This recent UB Post story describes recent instances of smuggling - gold, mineral data and - most bizarrely - petrified wood. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stranger than fiction...?

One of the challenges of writing crime fiction is that, all too quickly, the real world tends to overtake you.   As reported in the UB Post, the latest developments following Mongolia's recent elections certainly sound disturbingly like the opening scenes of a crime novel.  It remains to be seen whether a real-life  Nergui will emerge to take on the case. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

With a bullet (or 50000)

Here's another intriguing story from the UB Post.  Slightly disturbing for me as one of the threads of The Outcast is a cache of illegal arms... 

Friday, August 8, 2008

Stateside Shadow Walking

If you've looked at the News section on the main site, you'll have noticed that The Shadow Walker  is now out in the US.  I'm pleased to say that it's already picked up one or two very positive reviews - I was particularly pleased with this one from Bookpage

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Around the World in 80 Detectives

A tip of the proverbial to the ever-informative Petrona blog as I almost missed this article in the Independent newspaper which appeared while I was on holiday.  Jonathan Gibbs took it into his head to recommend crime novels set in 80 different locations and there, at number 70, is Mongolia and The Shadow Walker.  As always, one can debate endlessly about which locations were included or excluded, but I'm not complaining. 

Monday, August 4, 2008


A short apology to anyone who visited the Shadow Walker website recently - the front page was hacked and replaced by - well, let's just say something completely different.  The hacking took place while I was away for a couple of weeks, but normal service has now been resumed. 

And an equivalent apology to anyone who bought the books on the strength of the temporary illustration and was disappointed to discover that they were only crime novels...