Monday, 13 March 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Marnie Riches

Welcome to my latest 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 


for her Born Bad blog tour

to share her BEST OF CRIME... 

My favourite author in the crime genre is Thomas Harris, simply because he wrote The Silence of the Lambs, which is crime fiction perfection. For years, I was also a Scandi Noir devotee and loved Stieg Larsson - not necessarily for the elegance of his prose, but for the complexity of his stories, his characters and wonderfully insightful depiction of Swedish life.

I can’t only choose one! Perhaps it marks me out as a 1990s throwback, but aside from the seminal The Silence of the Lambs with Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, I’m a huge fan of Tarantino and particularly adored Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s stories and scripts really are top class. I loved Guy Ritchie’s Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels. His story-telling and stylistic cinematography were great and I love the depiction of London – I was living in Surrey Quays in S.E. Docklands at the time! In Bruges was a darkly comic masterpiece. Nowadays, I think the Scandis do crime movies best. The Swedish big screen adaptations of Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy were cracking – Noomi Rapace had me transfixed. I loved Headhunters and loved, loved, loved Jackpot – both Jo Nesbo stories on the big screen. I like my crime with a little dark humour and those two films have them in spades. Some of the best crime drama of late has most definitely been on TV…

Well, Breaking Bad of course! Without doubt, the best TV drama since… The Wire, which was the best TV drama EVER. Every series of both Breaking Bad and The Wire were flawless. Just brilliant. There was humour, violence, ingenious intrigue... The dialogue crackled. The characters were breathtakingly well drawn. The sets were SO authentic. The acting was phenomenal. I don’t mind saying that Breaking Bad inspired some of The Girl Who Had No Fear. And obviously there are the Scandis – what’s not to love about The Bridge and The Killing (not the American version, of course, but the original Danish)? Well written, beautifully shot, perfectly acted. Oh, and FARGO!!! Fargo has been incredible – both seasons 1 and 2. Billy Bob Thornton as the nutter? And Kirsten Dunst? Ah, the surprises just kept coming. I loved it. And then, there was the first season of True Detective with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Bloody brilliant! Nothing on British TV has measured up to the US and Scandinavian offerings, I’m afraid. Not for me.

On screen, I absolutely love Hannibal Lecter, Walter White, Jules Winnfield and Stringer Bell. Who can argue with the performances of Anthony Hopkins, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson and Idris Elba? So much of on-screen charisma is down to the actor, as much as the script. Omar from The Wire, played by Michael K. Williams, is one of the coolest characters on TV. I loved the romance and poignancy of Richard Harrow in Boardwalk Empire, played by the yummy Jack Huston. In print, Lecter (again), Graeme Cameron’s unnamed protagonist in Normal is highly entertaining. Peter Swanson’s Lily Kintner in A Kind Worth Killing is a dastardly cowbag!

Obviously Paul van den Bergen is my favourite detective – I would say that! Clarice Starling is a standout investigator. I love McNulty, Bunk, Kima Greggs and Lester Freamon from The Wire. But I have also enjoyed the Franciscan Friar, William of Baskerville in Umberto Eco’s outstanding The Name of the Rose. If I’m honest, I usually like the bad guys rather more than the good guys. 

The Leopold’s Apple in Jo Nesbo’s The Leopard.

In print, the Snowman’s antics in Jo Nesbo’s most famous Harry Hole novel are pretty spectacularly gruesome. In the film, Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) are in a car when Vega accidentally shoots his colleague, Marvin in the face. Very funny and surprising! There is also a scene in Breaking Bad where an informant – Tortuga – has been killed by the Cartel. From a distance, DEA detective, Hank sees a head moving slowly along the dusty horizon. It turns out to be Tortuga’s head on a plodding giant tortoise, emblazoned with the words, “Hola DEA”. I thought that was ingeniously cruel

I skim the newspaper websites for real life crime inspiration. The Manchester Evening News is particularly useful for reports of crime that might inspire my new Manchester series. For crime reading recommendations, I like to see what Grab This Book, Northern Crime and Crime Fiction Lover have got on the boil and of course, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and its sister site, the Crime Readers Association (CRA) are chock full of the latest info about British crime writing. Author, Rebecca Bradley does a great blog about the craft of writing too and is great for writing tips…

Plan your story in advance. If you can describe it in one or two sentences, you’re on to something that readers will want to pick up and read. If you can fit your story into a two page synopsis with a beginning, middle and an end, the writing will be that much easier. Keep your high points roughly at 25%, 50% and 75% of the way through. Keep your beginnings and endings sharp. Make every chapter count. Write every day, if you can. Edit ruthlessly. If you’re bored whilst reading it, cut it. If the passage doesn’t move the story forwards, cut it.

Nuts. Gin. Dark chocolate. Wine.


Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester, aptly within sight of the dreaming spires of Strangeways prison. Able to speak five different languages, she gained a Masters degree in Modern & Medieval Dutch and German from Cambridge University. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist, a property developer and professional fundraiser. In her spare time, she likes to run, mainly to offset the wine and fine food she consumes with great enthusiasm.

Find Marnie Riches on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @Marnie_Riches


Publisher's description
The battle is on…
When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

Born Bad was published by Avon on 9 March 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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