Related to: 'Quercus Events'

riverrun

Larchfield

Polly Clark
Authors:
Polly Clark

'Mysterious, wondrous, captivating' Louis de Bernieres 'We need the courage to choose ourselves' W. H. AudenIt's early summer when a young poet, Dora Fielding, moves to Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland and her hopes are first challenged. Newly married, pregnant, she's excited by the prospect of a life that combines family and creativity. She thinks she knows what being a person, a wife, a mother, means. She is soon shown that she is wrong. As the battle begins for her very sense of self, Dora comes to find the realities of small town life suffocating, and, eventually, terrifying; until she finds a way to escape reality altogether.Another poet, she discovers, lived in Helensburgh once. Wystan H. Auden, brilliant and awkward at 24, with his first book of poetry published, should be embarking on success and society in London. Instead, in 1930, fleeing a broken engagement, he takes a teaching post at Larchfield School for boys where he is mocked for his Englishness and suspected - rightly - of homosexuality. Yet in this repressed limbo Wystan will fall in love for the first time, even as he fights his deepest fears.The need for human connection compels these two vulnerable outsiders to find each other and make a reality of their own that will save them both. Echoing the depths of Possession, the elegance of The Stranger's Child and the ingenuity of Longbourn, Larchfield is a beautiful and haunting novel about heroism - the unusual bravery that allows unusual people to go on living; to transcend banality and suffering with the power of their imagination.

riverrun

The Book of Forgotten Authors

Christopher Fowler
Authors:
Christopher Fowler

'JOYOUS . . . READERS WILL LOVE THIS FASCINATING BOOK' CATHY RENTZENBRINK'A GODSEND WITH THE PRESENT SEASON APPROACHING' IRISH INDEPENDENT'THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A BOOK-OBSESSED FRIEND' STYLIST, 50 UNMISSABLE BOOKS FOR AUTUMN 2017'EXCELLENT . . . SHOULD BE READ BY ANYONE WHO LOVES BOOKS' EVENING STANDARDAbsence doesn't make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you're dead.So begins Christopher Fowler's foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.Whether male or female, domestic or international, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner - no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten. And Fowler, as well as remembering their careers, lifts the lid on their lives, and why they often stopped writing or disappeared from the public eye.These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favourites: including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced us to psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world.This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers, and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening and entertaining guide.'A BIBLIOPHILE'S DREAM' FINANCIAL TIMES'WILL HAVE READERS SCURRYING INTO SECONDHAND BOOKSHOPS' GUARDIAN

Jo Fletcher Books

Corpselight

Angela Slatter
Authors:
Angela Slatter
riverrun

You Should Have Left

Daniel Kehlmann
Authors:
Daniel Kehlmann

A thrilling exploration of psychological disturbance and fear from the bestselling and prize-winning author of Measuring the World.On retreat in the wintry Alps with his family, a writer is optimistic about completing the sequel to his breakthrough film. Nothing to disturb him except the wind whispering around their glassy house. The perfect place to focus. Intruding on that peace of mind, the demands of his four-year-old daughter splinter open long-simmering arguments with his wife. I love her, he writes in the notebook intended for his script. Why do we fight all the time?Guilt and expectation strain at his concentration, and strain, too, at the walls of the house. They warp under his watch; at night, looking through the window, he sees impossible reflections on the snow outside.Then the words start to appear in his notebook; the words he didn't write.Familiar and forbidding by turns, this is an electrifying experiment in form by one of Europe's boldest writers. The ordinary struggles of a marriage transform, in Kehlmann's hands, into a twisted fable that stays darkly in the mind.

riverrun

I'll Eat When I'm Dead

Barbara Bourland
Authors:
Barbara Bourland
MacLehose Press

Retribution Road

Antonin Varenne
Authors:
Antonin Varenne
Quercus

The Reading Group: March (Book 3)

Della Parker
Authors:
Della Parker

This is Part 3 of a fabulous, feel-good new series! Perfect for fans of The Lemon Tree Cafe and The Vets at Hope Green.Jojo has felt ruined for romance ever since her husband and love of her life, Big Al, left on an around-the-world trek to 'find himself' and never came back. Then her colleague Daniel asks her on a date. He's conscientious, sincere and serious - everything Big Al wasn't - and Jojo begins to think they might have a real future together. But a romantic dinner date in his pristinely impressive home reveals his pad to be a practical mausoleum to his troubled past . . . causing Jojo to wonder if her new man's heart is really ready to move on. Meet the Reading Group: six women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don't forget the glass of red! This month the Reading Group is devouring Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and wondering if fiction really does mirror real life . . .

Quercus

The Reading Group: January (Book 1)

Della Parker
Authors:
Della Parker

This is Part 1 of a fabulous, feel-good new series! Perfect for fans of The Lemon Tree Cafe and The Vets at Hope Green.Anne-Marie has always considered herself a bit of a matchmaker - never mind that she's only got one real success under her belt. And this year she's determined to up her game: Little Sanderton's singles could certainly benefit from her expertise! But while Anne Marie thinks she knows what's best for everyone else, her own life couldn't be less of a fairytale romance. Between looking after her cranky father and running her own business, she doesn't have time for a relationship. Her friends in the Reading Group know better though: after all, love can be found in the most unexpected of places . . .Meet the Reading Group: six women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don't forget the glass of red. This January the Reading Group is tackling Jane Austen's Emma . . . but who's got time for fiction when romance is in the air?

riverrun

A Field Guide to Reality

Joanna Kavenna, Oly Ralfe
Contributors:
Joanna Kavenna, Oly Ralfe
riverrun

The Book of Aron

Jim Shepard
Authors:
Jim Shepard
Jo Fletcher Books

Seasons of Mist

Alison Littlewood
Authors:
Alison Littlewood

Beware if fact and fiction suddenly start to blur with this perfectly horrifying omnibus from Richard and Judy bestseller Alison Littlewood, a master of subtle horror who explodes genre conventions. Contains the titles A Cold Season, Path of Needles and The Unquiet House, plus an exclusive preview of the sequel to A Cold Season: A Cold Silence.A COLD SEASONA BROKEN FAMILY Cass is trying to rebuild her life after the loss of her soldier husband, and a renovated mill in the picture-perfect village of Darnshaw looks to be the idyllic spot to bring up her traumatised son.A DARK SECRETBut the locals aren't as friendly as Cass had hoped, and Ben is beginning to display a hostility she can't understand. Then the blizzards blow in, and Darnshaw is marooned in a sea of snow.ISOLATEDNow, threatened on all sides, Cass finds herself pitted against forces she can barely comprehend.The cold season has begun . . .PATH OF NEEDLESDon't follow the path into the woods . . .A body is found in a shallow grave in the trees near Newmillerdam. The victim is a young girl, and the gruesome way in which the body has been posed has the police at a loss. Until, on a hunch, Alice Hyland, an expert in fairytales is brought into the investigation. And it is Alice who finds the connection between the body of Chrissie Farrell and an obscure Italian version of Snow White. It seems a fairytale has taken a twisted, nightmarish turn.Then another body is found in a similarly shocking state. Now Alice must fight, not just to prove her innocence, but to protect herself from what lies in wait in the woods . . .THE UNQUIET HOUSEMire House is dreary, cold and isolated. But when Emma Dean inherits it from a distant relative, she immediately feels a sense of belonging.It isn't long before Charlie Mitchell, grandson of the original owner, appears, claiming that he wants to get to know her as they are the last of their family. But Emma suspects he's more interested in the house than his long-lost relatives.And when she starts seeing ghostly figures, Emma begins to wonder: is Charlie trying to scare her away, or are there darker secrets lurking in the corners of Mire House?

Quercus

The Other Child

Lucy Atkins
Authors:
Lucy Atkins

A gripping psychological thriller from the author of the bestselling debut The Missing One. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go, The Sisters by Claire Douglas, The Book of You and The Ice Twins.Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth . . . but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love? When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house, Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery . . .

Jo Fletcher Books

Marked

Sue Tingey
Authors:
Sue Tingey

Team Jamie or Team Jinx? Which handsome hunk will Lucky choose - once she's dealt with the demon assassin on her trail, that is?Lucky's always known about her own psychic powers - after all, her closest friend is a ghost - but she knows nothing of her long-dead family . . . until a daemonic assassin brings a message that drags both Kayla and Lucky down to the Underlands - and into the political fight for the daemon king's throne. Lucky's determined to find her way home, but Jinx and Jamie have both marked her - and now she's not sure she even wants to escape the loving attentions of her handsome winged Guardian and her devilishly charming horned Deathbringer.And if she stays, she might just find out who she really is . . .'Reads like the Sookie Stackhouse series combined with the sinister undertones of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere' says Booklist.

Quercus

The Missing One

Lucy Atkins
Authors:
Lucy Atkins
Jo Fletcher Books

Mage's Blood

David Hair
Authors:
David Hair

Desperate for the next Game of Thrones? The Moontide is coming and the world stands on the brink of war: 'Similar in scope to George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time novels and sure to please those authors' many fans (Library Journal)Every twelve years the tides sink to their lowest and the Leviathan Bridge rises above the waves, linking the East and West for twenty-four short months.'Fans of Game of Thrones will delight in the existence of this different-yet-similar fantasy series' (New Myths) The Rondian emperor, overlord of the West, is hell-bent on ruling both continents, and the last two Moontides have seen his crusading armies crossing the Bridge and raping and pillaging their way across Antiopia.The next Moontide is almost here: the battle-magi of the Third Crusade are mustering in the West, and in the East, holy Shihad has been declared. This time the two will clash as never before.'A complex world populated by a rich and diverse cast of characters . . . There's something for everyone here - conspiracies, political backstabbing, high magic, swordplay, a smattering of romance, and more . . . Recommended for fans of George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss' (Monster Librarian)And three ordinary people - a failed mage, a jaded mercenary and a lowly market girl - are about to discover that their actions may determine the fate of nations.The Moontide Quartet: an epic fantasy rich in intricate plots, intrigue and treachery as vast forces collide and ordinary people make heart-rending choices that will shake the world.

Q&A with Andreas Norman

If there was a film of Into A Raging Blaze, who do you think would play the main characters of Bente Jensen, the Secret Service Head, and Carina Dymek, the civil servant on the run? Well, the Swedish original of Into A Raging Blaze (En rasande eld), is actually being adapted for bigscreen right now by a major Swedish film company. They are right now starting to cast it! But then of course, Bente and Carina will be played by Swedish actors. In a British remake I would love to see a character actress like Jodie Foster or Imelda Staunton play Bente, who could take on that utterly unsentimental, tough-minded, no-nonsense type of woman. Carina – I think Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emily Blunt or Sarah Solemani would be perfect for the role. Brainy actresses with a lot of energy. You worked in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years in Counter-terrorism and Security. Can you tell us anything about the kinds of projects you worked on, and what it was like? They were mainly projects launched to prevent further terrorism – in other words, the recruitment and radicalisation of individuals and groups in countries around the world. I can't tell you much more, it is all very classified information; other than that we worked in partnership with other countries on this, and their police forces, intelligence agencies as well as various local non-governmental organisations. Our main slogan was: counter-terrorism without the respect for human rights is counter-productive. That was a one-liner I came up with, actually, in order to easily convey the Swedish view on these matters. And I still believe that it is absolutely valid. If you violate people's basic rights, you will end up with more politically motivated violence, and that is unfortunately what is happening today in, for example, Pakistan and many other places around the world today. How much is the diplomatic service as portrayed in the novel based on your experience of that world? The descriptions of the Ministry’s interior and other places are absolutely authentic; you could use the book for a guided tour around the Swedish MFA and the Government offices! If you ever visit the pub Pickwick’s on the corner of Fredsgatan and Drottninggatan in Stockholm, where all the civil servants hang out after work, look out for the elk head hanging on the inner wall. You'll find that place, and all other locations in the book exactly as I describe them. It was great fun to portray my workplace and the people in it. There are such a wealth of stories and characters in the diplomatic and intelligence community, that for most of the time remain untold, unseen, due to the secrecy that surrounds the trade. At the same time, there’s a lot that is universal which every person who spends their days in an office can easily relate to: the struggle for having an office with a nice view, the byzantine procedure for requisitioning an ergonomic chair, the career angst, all that. You left the Ministry to become a full time writer. What do your former colleagues think of the novel? Were you worried about revealing any government secrets? They think it’s great! I was surprised and happy to get so many positive reactions from colleagues in the MFA. Dozens of ambassadors and desk officers from all over the world have emailed me to congratulate me on what they felt was both a very entertaining and wholly accurate panorama of the rather absurd everyday life in the foreign service. I think many felt that, for once, their profession and work life had been portrayed in an authentic way. I wasn't worried for a second that I would reveal any secrets. I'm so used to handling classified information, you know, and the people in the ministry knows that. But just to be sure, I actually read my first draft as if I were looking for intelligence, classified procedures, etc. In some cases I obscured one or two details to make sure that Into A Raging Blaze would be useless – as intelligence, I mean. Your novel has a plot point whereby British agencies and GCHQ use cyber-spying to access private communications in European countries, even from governments. Was this based on fact when you wrote it, and if so, how did you come across the information? Sure, this is common practice. Just look at what Snowden revealed: NSA tapping the mobile phones of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My book basically outlines GCHQ’s mass surveillance programme code-named Tempora. I was not aware of the code name at the time I wrote the book, but knew something like this existed. That was in 2009. It was also in this period that NSA got enormously enhanced capacities to collect and store data, and later, to mine them. They were building big new facilities in Utah for data storage. As part of my job in the Foreign Ministry, I had the opportunity to learn how the signals intelligence agencies were organised, their methods, their technology. It was top secret back then; now you can find all about it on Google in an instant. Since you wrote the novel and it was published in Sweden, the world woke up to the same reality when Julian Assange published Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. What was the reaction to your book when this happened? A lot of readers were surprised by how close to reality my book actually was. Everyone who read it reacted with, ‘Wow, did you know about all this?’ Especially since the depth of the partnerships between NSA, GCHQ and the Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA was revealed later that year. Then even political op ed's in the main Swedish papers started using my book as a starting point for discussing the surveillance scandal, which thrilled me. The Swedish agency took a lot of criticism for being mixed up in the mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, and my story pointed towards precisely this partnership. It´s called Five Eyes, by the way. Al Gore has now come out in support of Snowden. What do you think of Snowden’s and Assange’s actions, and the reaction to them? I completely agree with Al Gore's statement. Snowden has done everyone a great service. Leaking classified information is always damaging someone, and sure, if it’s being revealed to the public, there is a risk of jeopardizing national security or hampering operations that can save lives. But when state agencies like the NSA or GCHQ operate massive systems that violate the basic civil rights of millions of innocent people, and do so without any democratic control, you end up with a state within the state; an omnipotent machine working outside the boundaries of democratic society, and that is very dangerous. That cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic, rule of law-based society. Assange created the platform for leaks, and Snowden provided the content. How uncomfortable it ever may be for state agencies and corporate executives, I think society will always need whistle-blowers like them. That the intelligence community reacts with horror is no surprise. Disappointing, but not a surprise at all, is the way the Obama administration is pursuing whistle-blowers like Snowden and Manning, in spite of their rethoric about openness. What is most worrying is the complacency of the public. But I think this is due to the fact that we, the ordinary internet users, have no alternative to the internet. Even though our digital lives are being monitored we have no real way to protest, since you can't really say, ‘Hey, I'll stop using the internet and go buy some other product!’ In a way, it shows the limits of consumer power. What is needed are sound state policies that put citizen rights first. The leaked documents in your novel are plans for a Europe-wide intelligence service that would not only cross borders, but skirt national and international law in the name of counter-terrorism. Are there any signs that this is a real possibility, and what would you consider are the major risks of such an operation? The idea came to me when I learned about the US drone warfare in Pakistan. There you have exactly this situation. The US Air Force fly thousands of drone missions for the CIA over Pakistan every year. They fly wherever they want, target whomever they want, regardless of Pakistani law, and probably also in violation of international law. What if drone missions were carried out over UK soil, with the silent approval of the British government and the EU? That is the question I hope my book raises. Even more chilling is that the US administration also targets its own citizens, putting not only foreigners but Americans on so-called 'kill lists'. This practice not only violates basic rights of individuals, but weakens the judicial system, and corrodes the trust we put in our governments. It's a disturbing development. Your fictional ‘European Intelligence Service’ had a clause allowing American services to launch attacks within European borders if they could justify a potential threat. Your novel shows convincing ‘threats’ can easily be created from little evidence. Do you think that US intelligence services pushes the boundaries of acceptable strategy, and how much are European services in thrall to them? Yes, well, you know, intelligence services are masters of fabrication and betrayal. To fabricate ‘threats’ to support wars and other foreign policy adventures are textbook tactics. Just think of the introduction to the Iraqi war, and the massive fabrication of ‘threats’ back then. Or the last and current US administration's circumvention of international law, in order to justify huge counter-terrorism operations. Today, the Obama administration have moved more towards extrajudicial assinations, drones and special forces operations, and the CIA, together with parts of the US military, like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have turned into smooth war machines. What if it would lie in the interests of the US to launch the same counter-terrorism operations they carry out in Afghanistan or northern Pakistan in the heart of Europe, and the EU would condone it? That question lies at the core of my book. It's fiction, but at the same close to reality. Because all intelligence services depend more or less on each other. You trade intel, you build alliances. The US service is the most powerful player, simply on the strength of their vast capacities. They can push boundaries to fit their objectives and cooperate with European services when it serves their interests. The Brits have a privileged position in this business, being very close to the US system, whereas the Swedes are just a minor, but useful partner. As I put it in Into A Raging Blaze: the Brits and Americans create the weather of tomorrow, while the Swedes are forced to guess the forecast. In the novel, a young Egyptian-born civil servant in the Swedish Ministry of Justice is suspected of being linked to a terrorist cell. How much do you think immigrated Arabs, North Africans and people of Islamic origin are at risk of being unjustly persecuted? Or is paranoia justified in the face of a terrorist threat? Intelligence services nurture professional paranoia, and rightly so; it’s part of their job description to be suspicious. But in the today’s era of counter-terrorism, with its strong focus on Islamic fundamentalism, whole Muslim minorities run the risk of being regarded as a ‘problem’, or an environment conducive to political violence and terrorism. When a security service try to pin down someone who might pose a terrorist threat, a large number of people are screened, which is standard procedure for all investigations. The problem is, with the mass surveillance currently in use, it is possible to screen literally millions, which means that whole populations of Muslims or immigrants – for example, everyone in the UK with the surename ‘Mohammad’ – could be routinely monitored. This is a depressing reality, and adds to the strong islamophobic tendencies we witness in Europe today. In the UK, John Le Carré’s novels were instrumental in forming the spy compromised group in opposition to the realpolitik practices of ‘big brother’ CIA. In your novel there’s a similar relationship, but between the Swedish and British, relatively. Is this a realistic portrayal? Yes, absolutely! The only difference is, Swedes are nicer because they are weaker and further down the food chain in global politics. If Swedish services had the same spying capacity as the colleagues in Vauxhall, not to mention Langley, they would be meaner, I'm sure. But there are historic reasons as well to why Swedish services are less ruthless than their AngloSaxon counterparts: we have not been forced to fight for our survival in World War II or fight terrorism at home; we have no recent colonial history, no real ambition to dominate the world – other than perhaps through exports of pop music, cars and crime novels. Swedish intelligence services are just small, efficient sub-suppliers in the global security business. It’s funny you mention LeCarré, since his latest novel A Delicate Truth is quite a turnaround where he portrays the British government and the MI6 as the corrupt and morally rotten ones, don't you agree? I hope Mr LeCarré nods in approval of my portrayal of the Swedish-British relationship. The recent European elections saw a surge in extreme right-wing groups gaining votes. Why do you think this is, and how might it affect counter-terrorism and relationships between diplomatic services? Oh, I just get depressed when I think about the recent EU-parliament election . . .The reasons for this can probably be found in the recent economic recession that plagued many European countries since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. Europe is being strongly affected by globalization, and financial crises with immediate repercussions in national economies, resulting in redunduncies and harsher everyday lives for a lot of people. This generates fear and hatred. When citizens don't feel that there is a social contract anymore, that there is no state to provide them with basic services, there is always a temptation to join the populist chant. It’s easy to blame immigrants, or a weak minority with no voice, like the Roma. Fascism offers a tempting dream of unity and strength. It’s an enthusiastic ideology, selling easy solutions. Unfortunately, a lot of people are lost in this dream nowadays. To diplomats, the appearance of right-wing extremists in leading positions around Europe complicates bilateral relations. Some relations will become frosty, new alliances will be made. For example, a social liberal democracy like Sweden cannot rely on support from Hungary or Denmark in the EU-council for its view on migration. And so on. For professionals in the intelligence services, an increase of militant right-wing extremists of course means more work, and in the long-term perhaps also a shift towards monitoring right-wing terrorist networks more closely. After the Utöya massacre and the bombing of the Norwegian government offices in 2012, this has certainly been the case with Norwegian and Swedish security services. What are you writing next? I have a book out in autumn, 9,3 på Richterskalan (9,3 on the Richter scale). It's an eyewitness account of my days in Thailand after the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. I was sent to Thailand as a member of some one the first response teams, being a young diplomat who just entered the service. My publisher calls it a harrowing read, I suppose it is. Right now, I'm writing the sequel to Into A Raging Blaze. You'll see more of Bente Jensen, this time in a family crisis with lethal consequences. Surveillance, counter-espionage, deadly lies and deception, all against the backdrop of the recent Crimea crisis. That’s about all I can tell you, the rest is classified!

His ideas and inspirations behind Into A Raging Blaze

Q&A with Andreas Norman

If there was a film of Into A Raging Blaze, who do you think would play the main characters of Bente Jensen, the Secret Service Head, and Carina Dymek, the civil servant on the run? Well, the Swedish original of Into A Raging Blaze (En rasande eld), is actually being adapted for bigscreen right now by a major Swedish film company. They are right now starting to cast it! But then of course, Bente and Carina will be played by Swedish actors. In a British remake I would love to see a character actress like Jodie Foster or Imelda Staunton play Bente, who could take on that utterly unsentimental, tough-minded, no-nonsense type of woman. Carina – I think Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emily Blunt or Sarah Solemani would be perfect for the role. Brainy actresses with a lot of energy. You worked in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for ten years in Counter-terrorism and Security. Can you tell us anything about the kinds of projects you worked on, and what it was like? They were mainly projects launched to prevent further terrorism – in other words, the recruitment and radicalisation of individuals and groups in countries around the world. I can't tell you much more, it is all very classified information; other than that we worked in partnership with other countries on this, and their police forces, intelligence agencies as well as various local non-governmental organisations. Our main slogan was: counter-terrorism without the respect for human rights is counter-productive. That was a one-liner I came up with, actually, in order to easily convey the Swedish view on these matters. And I still believe that it is absolutely valid. If you violate people's basic rights, you will end up with more politically motivated violence, and that is unfortunately what is happening today in, for example, Pakistan and many other places around the world today. How much is the diplomatic service as portrayed in the novel based on your experience of that world? The descriptions of the Ministry’s interior and other places are absolutely authentic; you could use the book for a guided tour around the Swedish MFA and the Government offices! If you ever visit the pub Pickwick’s on the corner of Fredsgatan and Drottninggatan in Stockholm, where all the civil servants hang out after work, look out for the elk head hanging on the inner wall. You'll find that place, and all other locations in the book exactly as I describe them. It was great fun to portray my workplace and the people in it. There are such a wealth of stories and characters in the diplomatic and intelligence community, that for most of the time remain untold, unseen, due to the secrecy that surrounds the trade. At the same time, there’s a lot that is universal which every person who spends their days in an office can easily relate to: the struggle for having an office with a nice view, the byzantine procedure for requisitioning an ergonomic chair, the career angst, all that. You left the Ministry to become a full time writer. What do your former colleagues think of the novel? Were you worried about revealing any government secrets? They think it’s great! I was surprised and happy to get so many positive reactions from colleagues in the MFA. Dozens of ambassadors and desk officers from all over the world have emailed me to congratulate me on what they felt was both a very entertaining and wholly accurate panorama of the rather absurd everyday life in the foreign service. I think many felt that, for once, their profession and work life had been portrayed in an authentic way. I wasn't worried for a second that I would reveal any secrets. I'm so used to handling classified information, you know, and the people in the ministry knows that. But just to be sure, I actually read my first draft as if I were looking for intelligence, classified procedures, etc. In some cases I obscured one or two details to make sure that Into A Raging Blaze would be useless – as intelligence, I mean. Your novel has a plot point whereby British agencies and GCHQ use cyber-spying to access private communications in European countries, even from governments. Was this based on fact when you wrote it, and if so, how did you come across the information? Sure, this is common practice. Just look at what Snowden revealed: NSA tapping the mobile phones of Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My book basically outlines GCHQ’s mass surveillance programme code-named Tempora. I was not aware of the code name at the time I wrote the book, but knew something like this existed. That was in 2009. It was also in this period that NSA got enormously enhanced capacities to collect and store data, and later, to mine them. They were building big new facilities in Utah for data storage. As part of my job in the Foreign Ministry, I had the opportunity to learn how the signals intelligence agencies were organised, their methods, their technology. It was top secret back then; now you can find all about it on Google in an instant. Since you wrote the novel and it was published in Sweden, the world woke up to the same reality when Julian Assange published Edward Snowden’s leaked documents. What was the reaction to your book when this happened? A lot of readers were surprised by how close to reality my book actually was. Everyone who read it reacted with, ‘Wow, did you know about all this?’ Especially since the depth of the partnerships between NSA, GCHQ and the Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA was revealed later that year. Then even political op ed's in the main Swedish papers started using my book as a starting point for discussing the surveillance scandal, which thrilled me. The Swedish agency took a lot of criticism for being mixed up in the mass surveillance revealed by Snowden, and my story pointed towards precisely this partnership. It´s called Five Eyes, by the way. Al Gore has now come out in support of Snowden. What do you think of Snowden’s and Assange’s actions, and the reaction to them? I completely agree with Al Gore's statement. Snowden has done everyone a great service. Leaking classified information is always damaging someone, and sure, if it’s being revealed to the public, there is a risk of jeopardizing national security or hampering operations that can save lives. But when state agencies like the NSA or GCHQ operate massive systems that violate the basic civil rights of millions of innocent people, and do so without any democratic control, you end up with a state within the state; an omnipotent machine working outside the boundaries of democratic society, and that is very dangerous. That cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic, rule of law-based society. Assange created the platform for leaks, and Snowden provided the content. How uncomfortable it ever may be for state agencies and corporate executives, I think society will always need whistle-blowers like them. That the intelligence community reacts with horror is no surprise. Disappointing, but not a surprise at all, is the way the Obama administration is pursuing whistle-blowers like Snowden and Manning, in spite of their rethoric about openness. What is most worrying is the complacency of the public. But I think this is due to the fact that we, the ordinary internet users, have no alternative to the internet. Even though our digital lives are being monitored we have no real way to protest, since you can't really say, ‘Hey, I'll stop using the internet and go buy some other product!’ In a way, it shows the limits of consumer power. What is needed are sound state policies that put citizen rights first. The leaked documents in your novel are plans for a Europe-wide intelligence service that would not only cross borders, but skirt national and international law in the name of counter-terrorism. Are there any signs that this is a real possibility, and what would you consider are the major risks of such an operation? The idea came to me when I learned about the US drone warfare in Pakistan. There you have exactly this situation. The US Air Force fly thousands of drone missions for the CIA over Pakistan every year. They fly wherever they want, target whomever they want, regardless of Pakistani law, and probably also in violation of international law. What if drone missions were carried out over UK soil, with the silent approval of the British government and the EU? That is the question I hope my book raises. Even more chilling is that the US administration also targets its own citizens, putting not only foreigners but Americans on so-called 'kill lists'. This practice not only violates basic rights of individuals, but weakens the judicial system, and corrodes the trust we put in our governments. It's a disturbing development. Your fictional ‘European Intelligence Service’ had a clause allowing American services to launch attacks within European borders if they could justify a potential threat. Your novel shows convincing ‘threats’ can easily be created from little evidence. Do you think that US intelligence services pushes the boundaries of acceptable strategy, and how much are European services in thrall to them? Yes, well, you know, intelligence services are masters of fabrication and betrayal. To fabricate ‘threats’ to support wars and other foreign policy adventures are textbook tactics. Just think of the introduction to the Iraqi war, and the massive fabrication of ‘threats’ back then. Or the last and current US administration's circumvention of international law, in order to justify huge counter-terrorism operations. Today, the Obama administration have moved more towards extrajudicial assinations, drones and special forces operations, and the CIA, together with parts of the US military, like the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have turned into smooth war machines. What if it would lie in the interests of the US to launch the same counter-terrorism operations they carry out in Afghanistan or northern Pakistan in the heart of Europe, and the EU would condone it? That question lies at the core of my book. It's fiction, but at the same close to reality. Because all intelligence services depend more or less on each other. You trade intel, you build alliances. The US service is the most powerful player, simply on the strength of their vast capacities. They can push boundaries to fit their objectives and cooperate with European services when it serves their interests. The Brits have a privileged position in this business, being very close to the US system, whereas the Swedes are just a minor, but useful partner. As I put it in Into A Raging Blaze: the Brits and Americans create the weather of tomorrow, while the Swedes are forced to guess the forecast. In the novel, a young Egyptian-born civil servant in the Swedish Ministry of Justice is suspected of being linked to a terrorist cell. How much do you think immigrated Arabs, North Africans and people of Islamic origin are at risk of being unjustly persecuted? Or is paranoia justified in the face of a terrorist threat? Intelligence services nurture professional paranoia, and rightly so; it’s part of their job description to be suspicious. But in the today’s era of counter-terrorism, with its strong focus on Islamic fundamentalism, whole Muslim minorities run the risk of being regarded as a ‘problem’, or an environment conducive to political violence and terrorism. When a security service try to pin down someone who might pose a terrorist threat, a large number of people are screened, which is standard procedure for all investigations. The problem is, with the mass surveillance currently in use, it is possible to screen literally millions, which means that whole populations of Muslims or immigrants – for example, everyone in the UK with the surename ‘Mohammad’ – could be routinely monitored. This is a depressing reality, and adds to the strong islamophobic tendencies we witness in Europe today. In the UK, John Le Carré’s novels were instrumental in forming the spy compromised group in opposition to the realpolitik practices of ‘big brother’ CIA. In your novel there’s a similar relationship, but between the Swedish and British, relatively. Is this a realistic portrayal? Yes, absolutely! The only difference is, Swedes are nicer because they are weaker and further down the food chain in global politics. If Swedish services had the same spying capacity as the colleagues in Vauxhall, not to mention Langley, they would be meaner, I'm sure. But there are historic reasons as well to why Swedish services are less ruthless than their AngloSaxon counterparts: we have not been forced to fight for our survival in World War II or fight terrorism at home; we have no recent colonial history, no real ambition to dominate the world – other than perhaps through exports of pop music, cars and crime novels. Swedish intelligence services are just small, efficient sub-suppliers in the global security business. It’s funny you mention LeCarré, since his latest novel A Delicate Truth is quite a turnaround where he portrays the British government and the MI6 as the corrupt and morally rotten ones, don't you agree? I hope Mr LeCarré nods in approval of my portrayal of the Swedish-British relationship. The recent European elections saw a surge in extreme right-wing groups gaining votes. Why do you think this is, and how might it affect counter-terrorism and relationships between diplomatic services? Oh, I just get depressed when I think about the recent EU-parliament election . . .The reasons for this can probably be found in the recent economic recession that plagued many European countries since the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008. Europe is being strongly affected by globalization, and financial crises with immediate repercussions in national economies, resulting in redunduncies and harsher everyday lives for a lot of people. This generates fear and hatred. When citizens don't feel that there is a social contract anymore, that there is no state to provide them with basic services, there is always a temptation to join the populist chant. It’s easy to blame immigrants, or a weak minority with no voice, like the Roma. Fascism offers a tempting dream of unity and strength. It’s an enthusiastic ideology, selling easy solutions. Unfortunately, a lot of people are lost in this dream nowadays. To diplomats, the appearance of right-wing extremists in leading positions around Europe complicates bilateral relations. Some relations will become frosty, new alliances will be made. For example, a social liberal democracy like Sweden cannot rely on support from Hungary or Denmark in the EU-council for its view on migration. And so on. For professionals in the intelligence services, an increase of militant right-wing extremists of course means more work, and in the long-term perhaps also a shift towards monitoring right-wing terrorist networks more closely. After the Utöya massacre and the bombing of the Norwegian government offices in 2012, this has certainly been the case with Norwegian and Swedish security services. What are you writing next? I have a book out in autumn, 9,3 på Richterskalan (9,3 on the Richter scale). It's an eyewitness account of my days in Thailand after the tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. I was sent to Thailand as a member of some one the first response teams, being a young diplomat who just entered the service. My publisher calls it a harrowing read, I suppose it is. Right now, I'm writing the sequel to Into A Raging Blaze. You'll see more of Bente Jensen, this time in a family crisis with lethal consequences. Surveillance, counter-espionage, deadly lies and deception, all against the backdrop of the recent Crimea crisis. That’s about all I can tell you, the rest is classified!

Welovethisbook.com

Q&A with Elly and Keith Walters

Elly Griffiths tells us about her fourth novel in the Ruth Galloway Investigation series, a possible BBC adaptation, and why she hates Time Team In A Room Full of Bones, new mother and forensic archeologist Ruth finds a museum curator dead ahead of the opening of a new medieval bones exhibition. How have the character dynamics changed now that Ruth Galloway’s one-year-old daughter Kate is around? It feels like a real privilege to have the time and space to develop the characters. It does get easier but I have to say that Kate was a challenge. I wanted her to be a distinct presence in Ruth’s life – every parent knows that a baby disrupts your life completely – but I didn’t want the books to become diatribes about the hardships of being a single parent. Are museums somewhere you spend a lot of time? I used to live in South London and visited the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill a few times. I have to say, though, that the museum that influenced me most is the Booth Museum in Hove. It’s very near my old school and I remember many happy stolen hours staring at the Great Auk... Was it always your intention to make Ruth dissimilar to traditional female detectives, with her clumsiness and weight issues? I just wanted to make her real. It wasn’t until after the book was published that I realised how many crime heroines were, in essence, superwomen – looking beautiful, cooking gourmet meals, running twenty miles before breakfast. Ruth could certainly eat a gourmet meal but she would struggle with the rest. Are the Rebus and Springsteen references in the books favourites of yours, as they appear to be the books and CDs of choice to Ruth Galloway? Do you have a favourite Boss album? Yes, I’m a big fan of both Ian Rankin and Bruce Springsteen. My favourite Springsteen album is Born to Run and my favourite track is Thunder Road. Are there any crime writers who have been a particular help or influence when you started out? I hadn’t read a lot of crime novels when I wrote The Crossing Places. My biggest influences were probably Victorian writers like Wilkie Collins. Since then I have met quite a few stars of the crime world and they have all been incredibly friendly and supportive. Val McDermid, in particular, has been delightful. Crime writers seem particularly charming. Maybe they exorcise all their demons in their books. I don’t know any Brighton-based writers, though I did meet Peter James when we were both shortlisted for the same award. You featured a location map in the first book, The Crossing Places, are there any plans to get maps into any future books? I love drawing maps and managed to get one into The House at Sea’s End. I think every book should have a map at the front. How do you write? My system hasn’t really changed. I write a rough chapter-by-chapter outline and then go for it. I write for about three hours a day and the rest of the time it’s going round in my head. I hope my plots have got a bit better as I’ve gone on though. Is Ruth going to be brought to the TV screen? The BBC has expressed interest, but I don’t think I’m allowed to say more than that. I would love to see Ruth on TV. Not sure who would play her, though... The location of your books is fantastic and they all give a tremendous sense of place - but could you ever see yourself writing Ruth into Brighton, or writing a standalone novel in Brighton? Or is your hometown too crowded with fictional crime already? Peter James does have Brighton sewn up and I’m sure I couldn’t better him. I do have a vague idea about a historical crime novel set in Brighton, though. My granddad was a music hall comedian and I’d love to write about that world. Ruth has no plans to leave Norfolk, although in book five she does visit Blackpool. Why does Ruth not like Time Team? Well, I have a bit of a grudge against Time Team, as my husband had a well-paid city job before he started watching it and now he’s a poorly-paid archaeologist! I think it’s a great programme, but Ruth, being a professional, would be rather sniffy about it (whilst, at the same time, watching it avidly). What can we look forward to next from Ruth Galloway or from Elly Griffiths? I’ve almost finished book five, which will be about Roman remains found near Blackpool. It takes Ruth into Nelson’s territory and, of course, into danger. I’ve already got a pretty good idea for Book 6. After that, who knows? A Room Full of Bones is out tomorrow, published by Quercus.

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Stocking Fillers

By George, these nifty little books have shot straight to the top of many-a-Christmas-list this year, and are guaranteed to go down well with a mince pie or two. Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy confront a number of new adult challenges, like finding a decent gluten-free cream tea, surviving an unbearable work strategy away day and navigating the murky waters of parenthood! The Five Go series is available to buy online at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Next on the Chirstmas list we have the book that accompanies the hilarious, massively successful My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: the ultimate, annotated edition of Belinda Blinked. Rocky Flintstone's now-legendary porno (sorry, erotic novel), became a sensation thanks to the outrageously funny podcast created by his son and two friends, who week on week read (and critiqued) chapters of the book. Adored by legions of fans, My Dad Wrote a Porno has been downloaded over ten million times - and we've made it into a steamy book once again. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Up for a challenge in 2017? Why not learn to play the piano? We've got just the book you need - How to Play the Piano by James Rhodes. An accessible and inspiring guide by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes, who promises that this book gives anyone with two hands, a piano or an electric keyboard and just 45 minutes a day the tools they need to learn to play Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major in 6 weeks, even if they know nothing about music and have never even touched a piano before. Available at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Dust off your axes, it's back! The interactive follow up to last year's Christmas sensation Norwegian Wood is available to anyone looking ro get crafty this Christmas. An original gift for all seasons and the perfect fireside companion, The Norwegian Wood Activity Book, with it's bespoke wooden finish, will bring warmth and entertainment to armchair enthusiasts and active woodcutters alike. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon, Wordery and from your local indepdent bookshop. The Most Wondeful Time of the Year is a hilarious and heartwarming Christmas comedy from Joanna Bolouri, the bestselling author of The List. It's perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Kat French and Lindsey Kelk, and will have you laughing all the way to New Year! Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. What is more irresistible than an adorable puppy looking for a home and a family to love him? NOT MUCH! The Christmas Guest is a touching story of Teddy, the little lost puppy who appears on a family's doorstep covered in snow just before Christmas. Turns out, the family need Teddy as much as he needs them,and they might just have made each others Christmas wishes come true. Available to buy at Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a kitsch novelty knit - now you can make your own with these, fast, easy, no-knit ideas for one-of-a-kind Christmas jumpers. Make Your Own Christmas Jumper by super-crafter and blogger Nicolette Lafonseca is a wonderful gift for that crafty someone. With all styles covered - be it glitzy and glam, twee and tasteless, laugh-out-loud or cute as a button - you're sure to find your perfect Christmas look, not to mention all the sequins, pompoms and twinkly lights your heart could desire. Available to buy from Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop.

From snowy dogs to chopping logs - we've got something for everyone this Christmas!

Stocking Fillers

By George, these nifty little books have shot straight to the top of many-a-Christmas-list this year, and are guaranteed to go down well with a mince pie or two. Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy confront a number of new adult challenges, like finding a decent gluten-free cream tea, surviving an unbearable work strategy away day and navigating the murky waters of parenthood! The Five Go series is available to buy online at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Next on the Chirstmas list we have the book that accompanies the hilarious, massively successful My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast: the ultimate, annotated edition of Belinda Blinked. Rocky Flintstone's now-legendary porno (sorry, erotic novel), became a sensation thanks to the outrageously funny podcast created by his son and two friends, who week on week read (and critiqued) chapters of the book. Adored by legions of fans, My Dad Wrote a Porno has been downloaded over ten million times - and we've made it into a steamy book once again. Available to buy at Waterstones, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. Up for a challenge in 2017? Why not learn to play the piano? We've got just the book you need - How to Play the Piano by James Rhodes. An accessible and inspiring guide by the pianist and international bestselling writer James Rhodes, who promises that this book gives anyone with two hands, a piano or an electric keyboard and just 45 minutes a day the tools they need to learn to play Bach's Prelude No. 1 in C Major in 6 weeks, even if they know nothing about music and have never even touched a piano before. Available at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Dust off your axes, it's back! The interactive follow up to last year's Christmas sensation Norwegian Wood is available to anyone looking ro get crafty this Christmas. An original gift for all seasons and the perfect fireside companion, The Norwegian Wood Activity Book, with it's bespoke wooden finish, will bring warmth and entertainment to armchair enthusiasts and active woodcutters alike. Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon, Wordery and from your local indepdent bookshop. The Most Wondeful Time of the Year is a hilarious and heartwarming Christmas comedy from Joanna Bolouri, the bestselling author of The List. It's perfect for fans of Holly Martin, Kat French and Lindsey Kelk, and will have you laughing all the way to New Year! Available to buy at Waterstones, Hive, Amazon and from your local indepdendent bookshop. What is more irresistible than an adorable puppy looking for a home and a family to love him? NOT MUCH! The Christmas Guest is a touching story of Teddy, the little lost puppy who appears on a family's doorstep covered in snow just before Christmas. Turns out, the family need Teddy as much as he needs them, and they might just have made each others Christmas wishes come true. Available to buy at Waterstones, WHSmith, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a kitsch novelty knit - now you can make your own with these, fast, easy, no-knit ideas for one-of-a-kind Christmas jumpers. Make Your Own Christmas Jumper by super-crafter and blogger Nicolette Lafonseca is a wonderful gift for that crafty someone. With all styles covered - be it glitzy and glam, twee and tasteless, laugh-out-loud or cute as a button - you're sure to find your perfect Christmas look, not to mention all the sequins, pompoms and twinkly lights your heart could desire. Available to buy from Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Amazon and from your local independent bookshop.