Today I am joined by author Mike Craven who is sharing his Friday Four choices. Mike grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Sixteen years later, he took the plunge and accepted redundancy to become a full time writer. He now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.
Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and was published on 11th June 2015 by Caffeine Nights. Also available is his award winning collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything. Body Breaker, the sequel, is due out in May 2017.
Four books you think everyone should read and why
The best dystopian book ever written. Unfortunately more and more of it is coming true….
Along with The Silence of the Lambs, The Poet is the best serial killer book I have ever read. Where it beats the Silence of the Lambs is that for a large part of the book, you aren’t even sure there is a serial killer. The novel is told through the eyes of a reporter brother of one of the Poet’s victims rather than the FBI or the police. Superb book.
A recently published, unknown gem. The Joyland in question is a theme park where the protagonist goes to work one summer after a bad break up. Joyland is a beautiful coming-of-age story, a horror story and a crime novel rolled into one. Oh … and it has a stunning cover!
For fans of watch commander Sam Vimes, this book has it all. A serial killer, a city-wide riot and the first stirrings of a revolution. But … through some science bullshit, Sam Vimes is transported back twenty years so he lives through it again. This time he knows what happens and how to effect a better outcome. But … Carcer, the serial killer, has come back with him. And the young Sam Vimes is out there …
Four of your favourite children’s books
- Watership Down. The only children’s book I’ve read where genocide is a thing. If you replaced the rabbits with people you’d have a story that you wouldn’t let children read. You could also argue that it offers commentary on the recent Syrian refugee crisis today.
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. This first book in the series is fun, subversive and very clever. Artemis is a thirteen-year-old boy who kidnaps a fairy and ransoms her for gold. A clever cast of characters make this entertaining from beginning to end.
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Great fun. Far better than the films Peter Jackson made recently. Sets up Lord of the Rings
- Any of the Tiffany Aching novels by Terry Pratchett. His YA series is just as good as the adult novels. Still set in the discworld, Tiffany is a young witch just starting out on her journey through life. The books are notable for the Nac Mac Feegle: a race of pictsies that believe in fighting and drinking and stealing – hilarious.
Four books you’d love to see made into films
- The Poet by Michael Connelly. If done right, it would rival The Silence of the Lambs.
- The Mr Mercedes trilogy by Stephen King. An adaption is planned and might air in 2018. Need to eat some vegetables to ensure I live that long …
- It’s not out until January but Defender by GX Todd would make an extraordinary film. Set in a dystopian future where people hear voices in their heads that aren’t theirs, it’s the first in a four book series that is set to challenge Stephen King’s The Stand.
- The Brilliance trilogy by Marcus Sakey. If you haven’t red these books then you’ve missed out on something special. In a future where 1% of the population have been born with enhanced capabilities, the battle between norms and abnorms rages. Stunning book, it would make a jaw-dropping film.
Four favourite book characters
- Sam Vimes. Ankh-Morpork City Watch Commander. The watch stories Terry Pratchett wrote in his discworld series are fine police procedurals. That there are dragons, golems, time-travel, floating islands, trolls made of diamonds and a war between werewolves and vampires is immaterial – these are crime novels within a fantasy setting and Sam Vimes has to deal with this alongside the routine, mundane crimes that occur in a city of a million people. The Sam Vimes novels are also satirical and incredibly funny.
- Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. Bosch might not have appeared in my favourite Michael Connelly novel but he and Sam Vimes are my favourite literary cops. Stubborn, insightful and dogged, Bosch constantly finds himself up against his superiors, the city, the FBI, even Homeland Security. That he comes out on top but always at a personal cost is a credit to how much Connelly has developed the character.
- Jack Reacher. Simply brilliant creation. The force of nature that is Jack Reacher is a literary phenomenon. ‘nuff said.
- The ex-governor of Florida who fled into the Everglades and became ‘Skink’ is a recurring secondary character in Carl Hiaasen’s brilliant, laugh-out-loud novels. He has one eye, wears a pink shower cup, eats road kill and like Jack Reacher is a force of nature. An environmental terrorist who frequently becomes involved with Hiaasen’s protagonists, you simply never know what he’ll do next.