Lady killers

When it comes to crime fiction the female of the species is often deadlier than the male. Allan Radcliffe talks to two Scottish authors reshaping the genre

gatha (‘hristie and Dorothy l. Sayers were arguably the tnost successful authors of the ‘golden age of the dctectiye fiction‘ in the

1920s and 30s while prolific contetnporary thriller

writers such as H) .lames. Ruth Rendell and Patricia (‘ornwell successfully updated the genre. That grottp shifted the t'octis frotn clues. suspects and secret passageways to a greater concentration on the psychology of the criminal. With members of the ‘tartan noir' pack such as Val MeDermid and Denise

Mina regularly troubling the bestseller lists. some of the strongest and most respected female eyponents of

modern crime fiction hail from north of the border.

An exciting new addition to this grisly brigade is Karen Campbell. whose debut The Twilight 'l'imt' introduces the latest in a long line of tough—but-flaw ed protagonists to the genre's annals. Anna ('ameron is a sergeant in Glasgow's lilexi unit. charged with iny'estigating attacks on local prostitutes. ('ampbell

contrasts Anna's Vocation with the predicament of

former constable (‘th Forbes. who has left the force and is struggling with her new life as a homemaker.

As a former officer with Strathclyde Police. (‘ampbell would seem ideally suited to taking up the literary baton and sprinting off with it. Yet. she admits she was surprised when The Tit-Night Time was billed as crime. thinking it a novel about motherhood and missed opportunities. ‘I wanted to write about how it felt to be a cop and a woman. and also about that .‘wtl-something stage in your life when you think. "Wait a minute; this isn‘t actually the life I planned." Mind you. the fact that it's set in Glasgow's red light district. has a murder.

32 THE LIST 27 Mar—‘0, Apr 2005


Karen Campbdt and Alex Gray

scyet'al slashings and eyplores prostitution might haye nudged it towards the darker side.' .»\lso hitting the shelyes in a shower of bright red

blood is the latest noyel by ;\le\ (iray. whose lour

books to date hay e charted the unlikely partnership of earthy. old—school l)(’l l.orimer and psychologist and criminal protilcr Solomon Brightman. Her latest eypose of (ilasgow's murky underbelly is l’itt'li [flirt-A. which opens with the gruesome murder of a football referee. l.ike Campbell. (iray took a circuitous route towards her life of crime. 'I was alwa} \ drawn to the darker side of literature and at age l4 had found l)ostoeysky‘s ('rimc um/ l’imiylimt'iu. By my early .ills l was steeped in l)ame .-\gatha and her ilk and haunted the library for anything in their crime section. But it was writers like PD James whose skill took my breath away and made up my mind that l was going to be a crime w riterf

\Vhile (iray agrees that Scots writers are w ell«known for mining the dark and deyilish in their work. she belieyes this is due to something deep within the Scottish psyche rather than a simple morbid fascination with blood and gore. ‘\\'e enjoy the shiyery thrill of being led along sinister pathways and our penchant for Using y i\ id language to relate stories has always been a strength. I think ottr contemporary crime writers. many of whom draw on the wildness ot the Scottish landscape. are unconsciously following this tradition. Long may that last.'

Pitch Black is published by Sphere and The Twilight Time is published by Hodder. Both books are out on Thu 3 Apr.

iiOoKs. COMics & EVENTS

* Dan Rhodes The author of Gold celebrates its paperback edition wuth fun aplenty and prizes galore. The Waverley Bar. Edinburgh. Thu 3 Apr.

* Jackie Kay The Scots- born, Manchester-based poet and author hooks up with Robyn Marsack to discuss some of her favourite verse. Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh. Thu 3 Apr.

* Anthony Horowitz The man behind the gloriously successful Alex Rider books gives us a reading from Snakehead. the latest instalment in that series. Borders, Glasgow, Tue 8 Apr. * Gordon Burn Another astonishingly haunting and insrghtful analysis of modern celebntyhood with his ‘news as a novel'. Born Yesterday. See review. page 33. Faber. * Alex Gray & Karen Campbell More talented women crime writers get up to their elbows in the red stuff. See preview, left. Sphere/Hodder.

* Martin Kihn Subtitled ‘How I Got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a Shit About You' A$Shole tracks how a nice guy became mean, quickly finding an upside to being a Jerk. See feature. page 26. Penguin.

* Frank Miller 8. John Romita Jr In Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, this early 905 collaboration focuses superbly on Romita's iconic character with Miller's art upping the noir ante. See review, page 34. Marvel.

* Mark Millar & John Romita Jr And in Kick Ass No 7. Romita's immense new project chucks superheroes into the real world and sees how they get on. See review, page 34. Marvel.