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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Do you Remember these Authors? CrimeFest 18 May

18 May 2017. 17:00 - 17:50

Authors Remembered
Discussing authors that you may have forgotten are:

 Jane Corry on R F Delderfield.

R F Delerfield

Jane Corry is a writer, journalist, and creative writing teacher. After spending three years working as the writer-in-residence at a high-security male prison she was inspired to write her first thriller. This turned into the summer 2016 hit My Husband's Wife.

                    John Lawton on Oliver Bleeck.

Oliver Bleeck

John Lawton was born in 1949 in the USA. He is a producer/director intelevision, and an author of historical/crime/espionage novels set primarily inEngland during World War II and the Cold War. His latest book is TheUnfortunate Englishman

  Sarah Ward on Elizabeth Daly

Elizabeth Daly


Sarah Ward is an online book reviewer whose blog, Crimepieces, reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime novels. Sarah lives in rural Derbyshire where her debut novel, In Bitter Chill, published by Faber and Faber, is set. Click on the title to read a review of Sarah's latest book A Deadly Thaw.


Andrew Wilson on Patricia Highsmith

Andrew Wilson     

is an award-winning author and journalist. His first book Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith was shortlisted for the Whitbread biography prize (2003) and won an Edgar Allan Poe award for biography in 2004 and a LAMBDA Literary Award in 2003. His journalism has appeared in a wide range of newspapers and magazines including the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, the Independent, Tatler, the Smithsonian and the Washington Post. 

The Participating Moderator is Martin Edwards on
Lionel Davidson.

Martin Edwards was born 7 July1955 at  Knutsford, Cheshire and educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University taking a first class honours degree He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying in 1980. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and his first book, about legal aspects of buying a business computer at 27, before spending just over 30 years as a partner of a law firm, where he is now a consultant. He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm. A member of the Murder Squad a collective of crime writers, In 2007 he was appointed the Archivist of the Crime Writers Association and in 2011 he was appointed the Archivist of the Detection Club. Martin is the current chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. To read a review of Martin’s epic book The Golden Age of Detection click on the title.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

‘The Devil and Webster’ by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Published by Faber & Faber,
6 April 2017.  
ISBN: 978-0-572-32798-0 (PB)

Previous novels by Jean Hanff Korelitz left me admiring her ability to portray the effect of serious crime on the people affected by it. If the crime itself, and especially the solving of it, proved secondary to the way it invades and damages the lives of innocent bystanders, that gave all the more weight to the author's skill at creating and developing lead characters who felt real, and her talent for drawing the reader into their worlds.

Reading The Devil and Webster, however, I rapidly began to wonder if I'd wandered into a Jane Smiley novel by mistake. Not that that's a bad thing by any means – Smiley is a novelist who presents brilliant insight in an extremely readable way. And like Smiley, Korelitz creates a microcosm which says a great deal not only about a highly respected American university which finds itself in trouble, but also about modern America in general – and also explores the effect of a difficult and potentially explosive (though not literally) situation on the protagonist and the people around her.

But the vexed question is, is it a crime novel? By halfway through, the only crimes are a particularly nasty episode of racist vandalism, and some plagiarism which lurks in the background. After two thirds, there's a half-hearted attempt at arson. There is eventually something more serious, but it's part of a final shocking twist and a long way from the main focus of the narrative.

Maybe the best way to review the book is to set that big question aside. Taken simply as a novel, regardless of genre, it's an extremely accomplished and highly readable piece of writing. Naomi Roth, appointed president of the prestigious Webster College some years earlier on the back of a student 'incident' when she was in a far more junior position, is faced with a student protest which rapidly spirals out of control and presents the college in an unfairly bad light. Naomi, herself a veteran student protester, is thwarted at every end and turn when she tries to find a fair resolution to the issue – not helped by the fact that her own daughter Hannah is a prime mover in the protest. At its centre is Omar Khayal, ostensibly a refugee from Palestine, with a tragic history, protegé of Nicholas Gall, a popular professor (lecturer in British terms) who has been refused tenure, and just happens to be black. We never meet Gall, but his sacking, as the students see it, is the focus of the protest.

What unfolds is a detailed, careful and slightly satirical picture of American higher education, seen from the perspective of a college president forced to face her own views, ideals and ambitions for the  college. Naomi emerges as a troubled soul, well-rounded, flawed, and thoroughly sympathetic and believable; if other characters are slightly less so, it's only because we see them through her eyes.

I enjoyed The Devil and Webster very much, and would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a first-class novel about an aspect of American life. But maybe best not to make the mistake of expecting classic features of a crime novel.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Jean Hannff Korelitz was raised in New York City and graduated from Dartmouth College and Clare College, Cambridge. She has contributed articles and essays to many magazines, including Vogue, Real Simple, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, More and Travel and Leisure (Family), and the anthologies Modern Love and Because I Said So. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, Princeton professor Paul Muldoon, and their children, and works full time as a writer and part time as a chauffeur (i.e. mom). In 2006 and 2007 she worked for Princeton's Office of Admission as an outside reader.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.