DVD News: Follow The Money – The Complete Series One

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Arrow Films has announced the Monday 25th April DVD & BLU-RAY release of the complete first season of the Danish financial crime thriller Follow the Money.

The series centres around one of Denmark’s leading energy companies, ‘Energreen’, and the endless layers of fraud and corruption which point towards insider trading and the death of an industrial employee. With a ruthless and troubled police officer determined to get to the bottom of this deception, a charismatic CEO set on growing his international business, a young lawyer desperate to advance in the company, and an ex-con devoted to provide for his family, this story becomes one of us human beings, the rich, the poor, the greedy, the fraudulent, the robbers who’ll go to any lengths to build the lives of our dreams.

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“A complex, sure-to-be-addictive tale of financial
lies and misdeeds”
– The Observer

“Nordic Noir is back on form with Follow the Money” 
– The Times

“Stylish and compelling”
– The Guardian

“Another Nordic noir that’s right on the money”
– Metro

Follow The Money is available to pre-order from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-DVD/dp/B01CF3BF0I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Follow-The-Money-Blu-ray/dp/B01CF3BC8S/ref=sr_1_1_twi_blu_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1459340115&sr=8-1&keywords=follow+the+money

Book Review: Pedigree by Georges Simenon (Trans by Robert Baldick)

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Joycean novel recreates Simenon’s childhood.

Intended as the first volume of a trilogy, Pedigree stands apart from the rest of Simenon’s output. Borne out of a long-standing ambition to write an extraordinary novel and a response to a personal crisis, the prolific author’s magnum opus is a fictive redrafting of a memoir that has yet to be translated into English.

After an accident chopping wood Simenon experienced acute chest pains. Fearful that he might have broken a rib Simenon visited a radiologist in Fontenay-le-Comte. Misreading an X-ray the radiologist told Simenon that because his heart was enlarged he would be dead within two years.

For decades this misdiagnosis and the subsequent decision to write a memoir so that his son would about his lineage was an accepted part of Simenon’s mythology. Pierre Assouline’s biography claims that the spectre of death was lifted two weeks later when Simenon consulted several doctors who advised that the initial prognosis may have been due to wrongly positioned photographic equipment.

This reminder of mortality occurred during a period of renewed literary activity.

After an abortive attempt to retire Inspector Maigret Simenon sought to cement his literary reputation with a series of ‘roman durs’ (hard novels). Determined to transcend the confines of genre fiction the books written immediately after the publication of Maigret Returns were bleak studies of deviancy without the prospect of redemption.

Declining sales for the ‘roman durs’ forced Simenon to revive his most famous character. In the early days of World War II as the conflict spread to Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands he completed work on Maigret and the Spinster before being appointed “High Commissioner for Belgian refugees for the Département of Charente-Inférieure.”

Before the war Simenon had mentioned in correspondence his ambition to write a different form of novel. Contractually committed to writing three Maigret novels, he had to wait until the manuscripts had been delivered before commencing work on what was intended as his signature work. The recent misdiagnosis and France’s occupation may have preyed heavily on Simenon’s mind as he sat down to create a historical account of his family. Dedicated to his son Marc, the finished text was eventually published as Je me souviens. It remains one of the few Simenon books not translated into English.

After reading Je me souviens prior to publication André Gide advised Simenon to abandon the book and redraft all material as fiction. The revised text was published in 1948 and is an essential read to understand the biographical significance of themes prevalent throughout the ‘roman durs’ and Maigret novels.

Chronicling a family in the Belgian city of Liege during the years 1903 to 1918, Pedigree’s length, time taken to write, subject matter, and narrative structure marks it out as an atypical entry in the Simenon canon.

Simenon typically wrote in novel in seven to ten days. The writing of Pedigree represented an exorcism, possibly a painful one. In a break from his ritualised routine, it took him two years to finish the novel. A further five years would pass before it was published.

Confronting his feelings about people and a city that he had left behind in 1922 Simenon may have intended to finally purge himself from the influence of a life which continuously manifested itself through his novels.

In a repeat of the furore that greeted the publication of Je me souviens, Simenon was hit by several lawsuits from people who felt they had been libelled. Pedigree’s second edition removed offending passages and left blank spaces. The available version is sans the visibly noticeable blank spaces but has not restored the offending passages.

Simultaneously bildungsroman and a roman-fleuve, Pedigree largely corresponds with what is known about Simenon’s early life. The chronology of certain events have been rearranged while others are purely fictitious. While some characters remain relatively unchanged from their real-life counterparts others are composites, or inventions.

The absence of Simenon’s brother has provided scope for analysis by numerous biographers. Representations of Christian Simenon appear in several Maigret novels, most notably Pietr the Latvian. His exclusion is either revisionism as wish fulfillment, an acknowledgement of irreconcilable differences, or an attempt to avoid controversy concerning allegations that Christian collaborated with occupying forces during the war.

Demonstrating that Liege’s inhabitants, weather, and topography would appear repeatedly in transposed form throughout the Maigret novels Pedigree is also a portrait of influences and obsessions that remained with Simenon for the rest of his life.

Pedigree is published by NYRB.

Journey to Death: Leigh Russell Interviewed

 

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Leigh Russell’s latest thriller takes readers on a whistle-stop tour of the Seychelles and introduces a new lead character.

The latest book by the bestselling author of the Geraldine Steel psychological thrillers introduces a new character and marks Leigh Russell’s debut with Thomas & Mercer.

Journey to Death is the first Lucy Hall book and it is your debut with Thomas and Mercer. Will we see further Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson novels?

I am currently writing the ninth book in the Geraldine Steel series, and have been signed up to write three more after that. So Geraldine Steel will still be around for a while. Although I may be prolific, I can’t write three series concurrently, so the Ian Peterson will be stopping for now, but he will not disappear. Ian Peterson began his career working as a sergeant in the first three books in the Geraldine Steel series, and the two characters have kept in touch since he embarked on his own spin off series. Each plays a cameo role in the other one’s books, and he will continue to play a role in Geraldine’s books. They may even end up working together again, as they did in the beginning.

Do you have long term plans for Lucy Hall?

As it happens, I do, but the first book in the Lucy Hall series, Journey to Death, has only just been published. It is set in the Seychelles. The second, set in Paris, will be out in September 2016, and the third in the series, set in Rome, will be published in February 2017. When my debut, Cut Short, the first Geraldine Steel book, was published, I had no idea that it would be the start of a long running series. I’m hoping the same will happen with Lucy Hall. But so far all I can say for certain is that Lucy Hall will have at least three adventures. After that, we will have to wait and see!

Is Lucy Hall based on elements of your own personality? If not, what inspired her creation?

My plots are worked out fairly carefully in advance, but I like to allow my characters to develop slowly. In Journey to Death Lucy Hall is twenty-two and quite naive. The events of the novel force her to grow up, preparing her for the adventures that she will face throughout the series. I’d love to tell you that her character is based on my own personality, but I’d have to pretend that I’m brave and resourceful enough to investigate crimes and track down killers. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not in the least adventurous in real life. My challenges take place on the page while I’m sitting at my desk at home. Perhaps Lucy Hall is the woman I would like to be, intelligent, courageous and enterprising.

Your previous books have been set in the UK. Does the tropical paradise of the Seychelles lend itself to a different form of crime novel?

Crimes in fiction are perpetrated by characters who are drawn from human nature which does not change, regardless of setting. That said, location adds to the atmosphere of any novel. Journey to Death is set on a small tropical island which is both an idyllic and a claustrophobic location. The tropical heat inevitably slows the characters down, and this is reflected in the pace of the narrative. The characters are also captivated by the beauty of the island. It would be impossible to set a novel in such a beautiful place without showing how the characters are affected by the scenery. In some ways, the location is an integral part of the story.

How thoroughly do you research your novels?

As soon as Journey to Death was acquired by Thomas and Mercer, I arranged a trip to the Seychelles. I had researched as much as possible remotely, engaging in a lengthy email conversations with local officials, and studying images online. But the sounds and smells of the cloud forest cannot be replicated online, any more than the atmosphere of a place can be experienced from a virtual tour. During my stay on Mahé I visited several police stations and spent an afternoon with a detective inspector at the Central Police Headquarters in the capital, as well as making several visits to the British High Commission. In addition I toured around the island, visiting the beaches, the market, and the cloud forest on the mountain. Of course I could not travel back to the 1970s and live through the political coup where Journey to Death starts. However I was fortunate to be able to work from an eye witness account of the events that took place on the island in 1977, and so the background to the narrative is based on actual events. Only the characters and their story are completely fictitious.

Will you be attending any crime fiction events this year? If so, which authors are you excited about seeing?

I will be at CrimeFest in Bristol and Bouchercon in New Orleans, and probably at Harrogate, as well as appearing at several other literary festivals not specifically dedicated to the crime genre. It is always enjoyable catching up with fellow crime writers, but there are far too many to name them all. I’m very excited about catching up with Lee Child, Peter James, Jeffery Deaver and James Runcie who have all been particularly kind to me. But the list of authors I’m looking forward to seeing is far too long to include here – Mark Billingham, Linda Regan, Rachel Abbott, Mark Edwards, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Martin Edwards, Len Tyler, Mel Sherratt…. I could go on for pages… ! I have been around for a while now, and the crime community is so friendly, that I have many friends among my fellow authors. It’s always fun to see them. In fact, I can’t wait!

Journey to Death is published by Thomas & Mercer

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Thin Ice: Quentin Bates Interviewed

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Author of acclaimed Icelandic crime series talks about his lead character, translating, and plans for this year’s Iceland Noir festival..

After a decade spent living in Iceland Quentin Bates returned to the UK and embarked on a career as a journalist for a nautical trade publication.

In addition to being the author of a series of novels featuring Officer Gunnhildur Gísladóttir from the Reykjavik Serious Crimes Unit he has translated Ragnar Jónasson’s Snow Blind and Night Blind for Orenda Books.

Gunnhildur was a sidekick when you started writing your first novel. Did making her the lead character cause any major story problems which had to be rectified in subsequent drafts?

In the original draft of Frozen Out she was the sidekick to the male protagonist who I fairly quickly realised wasn’t working. He was the archetypal grumpy geezer with a bottle problem and a weight problem. I admit it, I’d been reading too much Wallander and he had rubbed off far too clearly. Fortunately I could see what was wrong with what I’d been trying to do, got rid of the bloke who was so unmemorable that I can’t even remember what name I gave him, and promoted his far more interesting sidekick to the main role.

That happened quite early in the process, so replacing him was quite seamless. I hardly noticed he was gone. What did cause problems came at the editing stage and was to do with Gunnhildur’s age. Originally she was an older character, in her late forties. The publisher wasn’t happy with that and wanted a younger character, someone with a career ahead of her and not with an eye on retirement. They wanted to go much younger, so eventually we compromised. That meant re-arranging the ages of her children and fixing all kinds of conflicts in the plot, and one or two items from the original version slipped through the net.

How thoroughly do you research Icelandic policing methods?

Actually, I don’t research that side of it at all thoroughly. I have some friends in the Reykjavík police force and I can take questions to them, so I’ll ask if you have XYZ, what would you do, or what could you do? I’m more interested in listening to them talk among themselves, hearing how they treat each other, what they chat about, what their attitudes are to various things that may have nothing to do with police work. It’s the incidental details rather than the procedure that interest me. But if there’s anything specific I’m unsure of, I can ask.

You have a long standing connection with Iceland. As a “Scandi-Brit” Is it easier for you to be more critical in your writing about how the country has responded to the aftershocks of the 2008 financial meltdown than would be the case for a native Icelander?

We’re into sensitive territory here. It’s incredibly easy to criticise both the run-up to the financial crash and the aftermath. Both have been pretty disastrous. It has to be borne in mind that a country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy like this is a rare event and it’s virtually impossible not to criticise, especially when, like me, the critic has a vast emotional investment in Iceland. I’m enormously fond of Iceland and it hurt watching the place hit so hard. Friends and relatives lost jobs and homes. It was painfully close to home watching it all happen.

It’s easier to be critical as an outsider as being outside maybe gives you a clearer view. But I’m also very conscious that as both an insider and an outsider, criticism from me is going to be taken badly. I can’t get away with being as openly critical as a local writing in Icelandic for a domestic readership could be. Having said that, when I wrote Frozen Out, I was sure I had gone overboard in describing some of the excesses, but for years afterwards things were still coming to light and in fact I hadn’t even come close.

Icelandic crime fiction is flourishing after years of being overshadowed by by its Nordic neighbours. Why has it taken so long for British readers and the publishing industry to recognise the country’s crime fiction scene?

Ask the publishers, both UK and US. For some reason publishers on both sides of the Atlantic are traditionally wary of foreign stuff and we see a far lower proportion of translated material on bookshop shelves than you’d see in a European bookshop.

To start with there were Sjöwall & Wahlöö, plus a few others, then Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, followed by Henning Mankell’s books. The arrival of Stieg Larsson triggered a rush for Nordic crime stuff, but in reality the bulk of what publisher snapped up in the wake of the Larsson phenomenon was from Sweden, plus some Norwegian books. Danes, Finns and Icelanders stayed pretty much out in the cold, although this has finally started to change now.

There are still only five Icelandic crime writers available in English; Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir who are well established. Then Viktor Arnar Ingólfsson and Árni Thórarinsson were published by Amazon Crossing, although there’s only one of Árni’s books in English (translated by Anna Yates). Then Karen Sullivan came along and took a punt on Ragnar Jónasson, which was definitely the right thing to do.

There are more to come… Lilja Sigurðardóttir (no relation to Yrsa), Jónína Leósdóttir, Ævar Örn Jósepsson and more. The sooner a few more are snapped by by British publishers the better.

Do you regard translation as an art or a craft?

Technical translation is a craft and literary translation is closer to being an art. Translating a novel calls for all kinds of interpretation, especially with those wonderful untranslatable words, swearing, idioms, nursery rhymes, and so on. These things can’t be rendered directly into English so it’s a process of finding roundabout routes and substitutes that equate to what the author would have written if he or she had been writing in English. It’s certainly a fine way of exercising the grey matter.

When translating Icelandic fiction do you have to make concessions for readers who may be unfamiliar with with the country and its culture?

I try not to. In places I’ll add a line or use one of those roundabout routes if something deserves explanation – although the editor has to approve these additions and may well ask for a few more. But I have faith in the readers of translated nordic crime fiction as being discerning, intelligent types who can use google if there’s something they find genuinely baffling, and who hopefully don’t mind being challenged occasionally by something new and unfamiliar.

What are the biggest challenges facing a translator in the age of ebook publishing?

I’m going to stick out my neck here and say that I deplore the number of foreign authors who translate their work into English themselves. I have read a few of these things and I haven’t seen a good one yet – although I’m possibly more critical than many people would be. It’s an exceptional person who can translate out of their native language and into another one. Fair enough, your conversational or business English is good, even excellent. But that’s not quite enough. I know authors who speak outstandingly good English, but who admit that there’s a crucial 2% shortfall they need to overcome to be able to write English themselves.

But still… when I see those words ‘translated by the author,’ that tends to be as far as I get.

Having said that, Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov both wrote in English which wasn’t their first language. But they were exceptional. They must have mastered that final 2%.

Do you have a wishlist of books that should be published in the UK?

The one mentioned above, Lilja Sigurðardóttir, Jónína Leósdóttir and Ævar Örn Jósepsson are prime candidates. Apart from them, I’d like to see more of Dominique Manotti’s books translated from French as her fiction is outstandingly good. Then I’d like to see crime fiction from more far-flung places, the Balkans, North Africa, Greenland…

As co-founder of the Iceland Noir festival you are currently arranging this year’s line up. What are you able to reveal about the event?

This year we wanted an all-female line-up of headlining authors, and that’s what we have. Our stars are Val McDermid from Scotland, Leena Lehtolainen from Finland, Viveca Sten from Sweden and Sara Blædel from Denmark.

Thin Ice is published by Constable

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