Friday, 3 February 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Sophie Hannah

Welcome to a new feature on my blog called BEST OF CRIME, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME... 

Agatha Christie.  I love her ingenuity, her ability to create and build suspense, those surreal, impossible-seeming plot premises and their total unguessability. Her books have a perfect simplicity of style combined with very complex plotting.  She was always looking to expand the possibilities of the genre – I see her almost as a philosopher of the crime novel!

Twelve Angry MenI first saw it when I was 12, and have watched it at least 20 times since. It will always be my top movie of any genre. It’s a great jury room drama, with all but the first scene set in a single room. The movie shows the best and the worst of human nature, and how our personal backgrounds and prejudices always influence our judgement. It’s largely dialogue based, with a fantastic script. Twelve Angry Men instilled in me a lifelong devotion to the ‘innocent until proved guilty’ principle.  It’s not an exaggeration to call it work of genius. 

I can’t choose between The Shield (cops and gangs in LA) and Sons of Anarchy (gangs and more gangs in California). Both are massively underrated. Both are absolutely top-notch and addictive.  

Dexter Morgan (created by Jeff Lindsay). He’s a serial killer who’s also a cop, and he's such a great character that I can’t help loving and feeling sorry for him, even though obviously I disapprove of his murderous ways. 

Well, I can’t pick Poirot because I now write about him, so that would feel wrong.  And I’ve mentioned Agatha Christie as my favourite crime author already, so I won’t pick Miss Marple, though I adore her.  A new private eye called Roxane Weary is brilliant – her first outing is in The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka, published by Faber in July. It is absolutely brilliant. I want many more books starring Roxane Weary, please!

Spoiler alert! In The Little House by Philippa Gregory, a brilliant psychological thriller, the heroine arranges for her vile mother-in-law to be electrocuted by a faulty lawnmower. I loved the book and the murder method – though, with murders, I’m generally more interested in the ‘why’ than the ‘how’. I tend to murder people (in my own novels) in fairly standard ways but for interesting reasons!

I’ve never forgotten a scene from PJ Tracey’s Want to Play? At one point, the protagonists realise that a person who was wheeled past them in a wheelchair earlier was actually a dead body being taken away by the killer. It’s done in such a chilling way. 

Rightmove. I get all the houses for my books from there! Also Twitter, where no one can hide their true self for very long. Twitter demonstrates every day how psychologically dysfunctional people are. You see intelligent, educated people calling others scum and telling them to eff off at first sign of disagreement. I used to think my characters were overly warped, self-serving and dysfunctional – then I discovered Twitter!

Plan first.  An architect wouldn’t build a house without drawing up the floor plans first to check that everything is in the right place and the right order.  For me, the planning stage of a novel is every bit as creatively exciting as the writing of it.

About Sophie Hannah
Sophie Hannah is an internationally bestselling writer of psychological crime fiction, published in 32 languages and 51 territories.  In 2014, with the blessing of Agatha Christie’s family and estate, Sophie published a new Hercule Poirot novel, The Monogram Murders, which was a bestseller in more than fifteen countries.  In September 2016, her second Poirot novel, Closed Casket, was published and became an instant Sunday Times top ten bestseller.

In 2013, Sophie’s novel The Carrier won the Crime Thriller of the Year Award at the Specsavers National Book Awards.  Two of her crime novels, The Point of Rescue and The Other Half Lives, have been adapted for television and appeared on ITV1 under the series title Case Sensitive in 2011 and 2012. She is forty-five and lives with her husband, children and dog in Cambridge, where she is a Fellow Commoner at Lucy Cavendish College.

About Closed Casket

Publisher's description
Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.
‘What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’
Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .
Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?
When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?
Following the phenomenal global success of The Monogram Murders, which was published to critical acclaim following a co-ordinated international launch in September 2014, international best-selling crime writer Sophie Hannah has been commissioned by Agatha Christie Limited to pen a second fully-authorised Poirot novel. The new book marks the centenary of the creation of Christie’s world-famous detective Hercule Poirot, introduced in her first book The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Closed Casket is being published in paperback by Harper on 23 March 2017 (it's already available in e-book and hardback).

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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