Thursday, 25 January 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Kate Rhodes

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 her BEST OF CRIME ...

I think that one of the very best crime authors right now is Erin Kelly. Erin was a journalist before becoming a crime novelist and her experience of conveying complex information from multiple perspectives really enriches her writing. I love the way her beautifully layered plots flick easily between different characters’ viewpoints and time zones. There’s a tremendous black wit in her novels such as The Poison Tree too. Her latest crime novel, He Said, She Said, is a brilliant statement about how much damage our flawed memories can do, and explores some of the darkest areas of sexual politics. I was absolutely thrilled that Erin wrote a kind review of my first novel, because I’m a huge fan of her writing and always pre-order her books. 

Psycho. Even though more than fifty years have passed since Hitchcock directed this crime classic, it still sends shivers down my spine. There’s something particularly appalling about the way Antony Perkins switches so easily from naïve, fresh-faced sweetness to the apotheosis of evil. The shower scene with its screaming violin still has the power to induce nightmares, despite all the parodies and spoofs that followed. 

Hinterland is one of my favourite crime drama series, and I’m thrilled to see that it has been optioned for another series. It draws on some of the darkest aspects of Scandinavian thriller series like Wallander, which translate perfectly to the beautiful but bleak Welsh countryside. I really like the way the characters switch between languages, reminding me of the beauty of the Welsh language. Stunning plots and performances form the entire cast lift Hinterland to a higher level than most recent crime drama for me. 

Hannibal Lecter is my favourite villain. I adore Thomas Harris’s writing, and his cannibalistic killer in Silence of the Lambs is far more subtle on the page than the big screen. The literary version of Lecter interests me far more than the bloodthirsty celluloid one, because he is capable of love, remorse, and ultimately of redemption. 

John Rebus is my favourite literary detective. I’m a huge Ian Rankin fan, and I’ve been loyal to his great crime series from book one. I love reading (and writing) crime series, because the fictional characters become as familiar as relatives. I can imagine John Rebus arriving at my house for Christmas dinner, drunk, and in a bad mood from his latest attempts to solve a crime. When Rankin finally lays him to rest, I will go into mourning. 

I’m a big fan of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta novels which provide some of the most intriguing murder weapons ever. In Unnatural Exposure, Scarpetta has to go up against a killer who uses deadly diseases to kill his victims, rather than standard weapons. There’s something particularly horrifying about a killer who’s prepared to use a smallpox vaccine to kill his victim, putting the whole population at risk. 

The most memorable death scene is by one of my great heroes, Graham Greene. 

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read his most famous novel, Brighton Rock, look away now… 

The book ends with seventeen year-old gang leader Pinkie Brown getting his face splashed with vitriol, then plummeting to his death from a clifftop. Pinkie is such a malevolent character, that despite his youth, his death comes as a relief, and Greene portrays his agonies as a just retribution for all the lives he’s taken with great panache. 

The internet site I’ve been looking at most recently is actually a web cam, sited at Ruin Beach on the Scilly island of Tresco. My new HELL BAY crime series is set on the Scillies, and it’s a ten hour journey from my home in Cambridge to reach the islands. But when I need to remember exactly what the landscape looks like, it feels like I’m standing on the shore again, watching the Atlantic tide roll in. 

My most important writing tip is never give up! I attended several brilliant writing courses run by the Arvon Foundation when I was dreaming of writing my first novel, and one the best lessons I learned was the need for persistence. Many people complete that all-important first draft, but give up when it comes to editing and polishing their work. Stick with it, and remind yourself you have a great story to tell. 

Nuts are my nibble of choice. I keep a big bowl of them on my desk, so when hunger strikes, I’ll snack on almonds, pecans and cashews. I used to eat truckloads of chocolate biscuits, so my new snack feels quite virtuous. And I suppose it’s a fitting snack for an author, really. Most writers would agree that you don’t have to be nuts to do the job, but it certainly helps! 


KATE RHODES is a full-time crime writer, living in Cambridge with her husband, a writer and film maker. Kate used to be an English teacher and has published two award winning collections of poetry. In 2015 she won the Ruth Rendell short story prize. Kate is the author of the acclaimed ALICE QUENTIN series, with the fifth book, BLOOD SYMMETRY published in 2016. In January 2018 Kate will publish the first novel in a new series, HELL BAY, a crime novel set on the remote Cornish island of Bryher, featuring DI Ben Kitto.

Find Kate Rhodes on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @K_RhodesWriter


Publisher's description
DI Ben Kitto needs a second chance. After ten years working for the murder squad in London, a traumatic event has left him grief-stricken. He’s tried to resign from his job, but his boss has persuaded him to take three months to reconsider.
Ben plans to work in his uncle Ray’s boatyard, on the tiny Scilly island of Bryher where he was born, hoping to mend his shattered nerves. His plans go awry when the body of sixteen year old Laura Trescothick is found on the beach at Hell Bay. Her attacker must still be on the island because no ferries have sailed during a two-day storm. 
Everyone on the island is under suspicion. Dark secrets are about to resurface. And the murderer could strike again at any time.  

Hell Bay is being published by Simon & Schuster on 25 January 2018.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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