Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Crime Writing

Last night saw the Crime and the City event at the Philip Larkin Centre here in Hull. It was cheery to see a sell-out crowd as these writers' events catch on. The series dances across the genres, but thiere's a real crime writing buzz in the region with a number of writers working in the field.
I was glad to welcome Robert Edric back into the fold. Hull's done well by its world famous poets, but in Edric we have a world class novelist who's been working steadily out of the limelight. Born in Sheffield (so Yorkshire to the core) he studied at the university for seven years, and now lives and writes on the coast nearby at Hornsea. An ebullient character (his opening remarks were sexual confessions) he was presenting his Hull based Song trilogy, featuring the private detective Leo Rivers.
A question from the audience spun tales of the names given to characters. Rivers comes from the confluence of the Rivers Hull and Humber in the region, Leo for the expected lionlike mightiness of the character. A Chinese woman in Edric's Siren Song he named Laura Li, as in Lorelei - which no reader has yet twigged.
Allan Guthrie, it turns out, also plays games with names. A man who was frames, for example, is named Frame. The prison warder at the heart of his latest novel, Slammer, is called Nick Glass. Nick after prison, and Glass after his propensity to being shattered. Again, readers don't seem to have twigged.
Guthrie writes crime rather than detective fiction - nobody's particularly out to bring justice into his novels' black tide of woebegone miscreants who try, and generally fail, to stamp themselves onto Edinburgh's meanstreets.
The evening brought Nick Quantrill to the stage for the launch of his own Hull Private Detective in Broken Dreams. The secret behind the detective's name, Joe Geraghty? Research in a phone directory for a name that appealed.

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