Wednesday, 15 March 2017

BEST OF CRIME with David Young

Welcome to my BEST OF CRIME feature, 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 his BEST OF CRIME... 

William Ryan. I missed out on Bill as a tutor on my MA at City University London – I was a year too early. But I love his Korolev series set in Stalin’s Soviet Union and am delighted to hear he’s at work on more. His standalone The Constant Soldier was excellent too – no books of his have disappointed me.

Although not ‘crime’ as such, I thought Bridge of Spies was a great film. Probably my favourite of recent times. With a cracking performance by Tom Hanks.

I started Spiral/Engrenages at Series 5, then devoured the previous four series and have been chomping at the bit for Series 6. The detectives are all fab – I love Laure, Gilou and Tintin as a team. But as well as the gritty realism of the police work, what makes it so special is the behind-the-scenes machinations at the Palais de Justice. Judge Robain is possibly my favourite character.

Lou Ford in Jim Thompson’s classic, The Killer Inside Me. It was one of our set books list on my Creative Writing MA, and one which perhaps made the biggest impression. It’s disturbing how likeable someone so evil is, which is testament to Thompson’s superb writing. 

I’m loving Inspector Borowski on All4’s Walter Presents. In fact, it runs Spiral/Engrenages a close second for my favourite TV show, although the stories are more variable in quality than those in the French drama. At the heart of it are the great performances by Axel Milberg in the lead role as the Kiel-based German detective. A fabulous character. 

The full-body gilding used to kill Goldfinger’s secretary in the James Bond film based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name. It was thought at the time that painting the entire body could cause asphyxiation, which is why a small portion of actress Shirley Easton’s body was left unpainted in the film. In fact, as long as you can still breathe through your nose or mouth, allegedly this wouldn’t happen. I don’t intend to test it out anytime soon. 

I rather like the opening of RN Morris’s A Gentle Axe. An elderly woman searching for firewood in frozen St Petersburg discovers the body of a swarthy peasant swinging from a tree with a bloodied axe in his belt. Nearby, is a suitcase containing the body of a dwarf – his head split in two by an axe. So atmospheric.

There’s an excellent blog about East Germany called The GDR Objectified, written by a Canadian, John Paul Kleiner. It really is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the GDR. Great pieces about two key settings in my latest novel, Stasi Wolf – Halle Neustadt and Oberhof. Oberhof is my main protagonist Oberleutnant Karin Müller’s hometown, and you can find John Paul’s take on it here

Writing what you know is of course a great tip. But I rather enjoy turning it on its head. I’m passionate about researching, and then writing about, what I don’t know. For me, it makes it all more exciting. I never visited East Germany before the Wall came down, yet I have a novel series set there. My main character is female. And when I started out, I couldn’t speak German beyond ordering a beer or booking a hotel room (I’ve been learning but haven’t advanced much).

I’ve recently discovered Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chopped Nut chocolate – it’s got the same luxurious feel as the Milka broken hazelnut version. But most of the time I try to stay healthy with nuts and dried cranberries without the chocolate – washed down by Asda Earl Grey tea (cheaper than Twinings but tastes just as good).

About David Young

David Young was born near Hull and, after dropping out of a Bristol University science degree, studied Humanities at Bristol Polytechnic. Temporary jobs cleaning ferry toilets and driving a butcher’s van were followed by a career in journalism on provincial newspapers, a London news agency, and international radio and TV newsrooms. He now writes in his garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight, and in his spare time supports Hull City AFC.

Find David Young on his website, Facebook page and on Twitter - @djy_writer

About Stasi Wolf

Publisher's description
East Germany, 1975. Karin Müller, sidelined from the murder squad in Berlin, jumps at the chance to be sent south to Halle-Neustadt, where a pair of infant twins have gone missing.
But Müller soon finds her problems have followed her. Halle-Neustadt is a new town - the pride of the communist state - and she and her team are forbidden by the Stasi from publicising the disappearances, lest they tarnish the town's flawless image.
Meanwhile, in the eerily nameless streets and tower blocks, a child snatcher lurks, and the clock is ticking to rescue the twins alive . . .

Stasi Wolf was published by Zaffre on 9 February 2017.

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