Friday, 1 June 2018

BEST OF CRIME with Steve Cavanagh

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 his Thirteen blog tour

to share his BEST OF CRIME ...

God, so many. Lee Child, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Mark Billingham, Patricia Highsmith, Val McDermid…I could go on for pages. Each of these authors and many more I could name have had an influence on me. I’m going to pick one author you should read, and that’s Ross MacDonald. His Lew Archer series is one of the cornerstones of crime fiction. Read Blood Money, The Zebra-Striped Hearse and The Chill. This man put heart, wit and elegance into the private detective novel. He’s not read so much these days, and Raymond Chandler tends to get more attention. MacDonald is by far the better novelist.

This is even worse. I’m going to recommend a film which maybe some of your readers haven’t seen. It’s The Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurosawa. It’s a 1954, Japanese, black and white Samurai movie which will put some people off, but the characters, the story and the sheer spectacle of the thing will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s a masterpiece. You might cry. It will haunt your thoughts for days and weeks afterwards and you’ll recognise scenes and images which have been copied (but never bettered) by Hollywood for decades afterwards. And yes, it is a crime film. And so much more.

One show stands head and shoulders above all others at the moment. Billions. It’s on Sky Atlantic, and it stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. The show is written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien who wrote Rounders, Oceans 13 and more. It is by some way the smartest show on TV. Giamatti is the US attorney gunning for Bobby Axelrod (Lewis) billionaire and head of Axe Capital. It’s a chess match, played with real people. It has probably overtaken The Wire, The Shield, and The Sopranos for me as my favourite show of all time.

It’s got to be Hannibal Lecter, right? If anyone has read Silence Of The Lambs, or Red Dragon, then their favourite killer has to be Hannibal. He’s very polite. A nice guy. You could imagine yourself having a very entertaining evening together, but deep down you know he’s a total monster. Yep, it’s got to be Hannibal the Cannibal. 

Sherlock Holmes. The ultimate detective. I don’t think anyone has written a better one.

Steel baseball bat. There is nothing more visceral, brutal or disturbing than watching that scene from Scorcese’s Casino, or the twins fight scene from Raid 2 Berendal. If you think you have a strong stomach, and can tolerate violence – watch those scenes. Not for the faint hearted.

The end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Come on, it’s the best! Paul Newman and Robert Redford were never better. At the end of the film you’ve got the whole Bolivian army waiting for them, and yet out they go, guns blazing. It’s perfect.

I’m going to recommend a podcast instead. Marc Maron’s WTF. A weekly, sometimes twice a week, dose of great conversation, fascinating insights and occasionally you get to hear two people making a genuine connection. Maron is one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard, and he gets the best guests. Just listen to one or two episodes and you’ll be completely hooked.

READ. Read the best. Read Elmore Leonard. Read Raymond Chandler. Read James Lee Burke. Read Thomas Harris. Read Patricia Highsmith. Read Lee Child. Learn what makes their plots work. How they portray characters. The structural tricks they use in their novels and how that shapes it and sometimes fools you, or gives you a different perspective. Read Elmore Leonard, James Lee Burke, Lee Child and Chandler out LOUD. You don’t so much as read their work as sing it. There is a rhythm, a beat, a music to the words they put on the page – with Leonard it’s in the dialogue, with Burke in it’s in the poetic description, with Chandler it’s in everything, with Lee it’s a freight train of suspense in every single line. Learn from them.

Gallons of coffee and the occasional digestive. Or a doughnut if I need a sugar rush.

Steve was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At 18 he moved to Dublin and studied Law, by mistake. Steve had a choice of degree courses at College, either Business & Marketing or Law. He decided to enrol for Business & Marketing, but he got the course timetables mixed up and ended up registering for Law.
After completing his degree in Dublin, he moved to Cardiff where he undertook a post-graduate studies in Law. Around this time, when Steve was in his early twenties he began to write Screenplays, but after a short while he decided to give up writing completely and focus on his legal career. He then returned to Belfast where he landed a job as an investigator for a large law firm. During his time at the firm Steve worked on a wide range of cases – everything from road traffic collisions and accidents at work to catastrophic incidents.

He went on to qualify as a solicitor at the firm and gained valuable experience as a litigator representing some of the largest insurance companies in the world. In 2002 Steve represented the Northern Ireland Law Society in the Louis M Brown Client Counselling Competition, in Durban, South Africa, competing against the finest young lawyers from 17 countries. He was a semi-finalist.

Find Steve Cavanagh on his website, on his Facebook page and on Twitter - @SSCav


Publisher's description

'To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?'
Murder wasn't the hard part. It was just the start of the game.
Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He's done it before. But this is the big one.
This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.
But there's someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn't the man on trial.
Kane knows time is running out - he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered. 

My verdict? Re
ad my review here!

Thirteen is being published in paperback by Orion on 14 June 2018. (E-book out now!)

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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