Monday, 11 December 2017

BEST OF CRIME with James Buckler

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 


to share his BEST OF CRIME ...

I am currently obsessed by Martin Cruz Smith, and his series of novels featuring the Russian detective Arkady Renko. I had never come across the author until it turned out he had already used a title that I wanted for an early version of my novel. I was intrigued and began to read Gorky Park and was blown away by the quality of the perfectly pitched writing and the supremely intelligent story telling. I would thoroughly recommend him to anyone. 


There are so many great crime films I could list, but as my current book is set in Tokyo, I will suggest Stray Dog by Akira Kurosawa. It is in black and white, shot soon after the Second World War and features Kurosawa’s first collaboration with the great actor Toshiro Mifune. It is a cold blooded, anxiety inducing depiction of crime in a pitiless city on the verge of collapse. 

Prime Suspect is hard to beat as a benchmark for all that is great about British crime drama, especially the first series. The camera doesn’t ever stop moving as it follows DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) as she outwits both the killer and the old-school, misogynists on her own team. 


After Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, can any fictional killer ever escape his shadow? He is the embodiment of sadistic terror and unintentional hilarity in one perfectly groomed, narcissistic package. With terrible taste in music. 

I’m sure everyone gives the same answer – Philip Marlowe. I love the way he’s so jaded he is barely motivated to solve the crime at hand, whilst also having all the best lines. I always remember, “I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, …. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” 

This instantly made me think of Alabama Worley (Patricia Arquette) using a cork screw as a weapon in True Romance. Of course, she goes on to use a toilet lid bowl, a flaming aerosol can and a shot gun - all in the same scene. Typical Tarantino-esque restraint. 

How about Jean-Paul Belmondo’s “dégueulasse” speech as he breathes his last in A Bout De Souffle? Or the nihilist gang finally doing for Donny outside the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski? The scene that always gives me nightmares is the death of Julian Wells in Imperial Bedrooms. Another cold, amoral murder from Brett Easton Ellis. 

Am I allowed to say YouTube? My novel is set in Tokyo, a city I last lived in about eight years ago, so when I needed to be reminded of the look and feel of the place I used the infinite amount of video on YouTube to help me. Of course, I also watched clips of cats making funny faces. 

Never get disheartened. Keep going despite all practical evidence telling you to stop. And always keep reading. Every technical problem a new writer encounters has been tackled before by an expert. Follow their lead. 

A cup of hot sake, mixed into a bowl of chicken broth. Try it and it might just change your life. 

James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London. In the past he lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher, providing inspiration for Last Stop Tokyo. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in lm & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel. 


Publisher's description
The funny thing with suffering is just when you think you’ve suffered enough, you realize it’s only the beginning.
Alex thought running away would make everything better. Six thousand miles from the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt, Tokyo seems like the perfect escape. A new life, a new Alex.
The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate him, and he finds himself transfixed by this country, which feels like a puzzle that no one can quite explain. And when Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko, the peace he sought slips ever further from his grasp.
After all, trust is just betrayal waiting to happen and Alex is about to find out that there’s no such thing as rock bottom. There’s always the chance it’ll get worse . . . 

Last Stop Tokyo was published by Doubleday on 24 August 2017.

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