Friday, November 17, 2017

Cold, cold heart

Today on the blog I have a guest: Christine Poulson, the crime writer. She is going to answer some questions about significant books in her life, but first, I wanted to tell you about her new novel which is published today - hooray! 

I read Cold, Cold Heart before Chrissie sent it to her publisher, and in my opinion it's her best yet. It's intelligent, tense and gripping, like all Chrissie's novels. Chrissie's books always have a strong sense of place - usually the Fens - but this one is set somewhere very different, and this unusual setting added an extra layer of fascination for me. The cover makes the story look violent, but Chrissie doesn't do graphic violence in her novels, which means they are suitable for lily-livered people like me. I shall be recommending it to all my friends, which is why I am telling you about it.

This is the blurb on the back cover:

Midwinter in Antarctica. Six months of darkness are about to begin. Scientist Katie Flanagan has an undeserved reputation as a trouble-maker and her career has foundered. When an accident creates an opening on a remote Antarctic research base she seizes it, flying in on the last plane before the subzero temperatures make it impossible to leave. Meanwhile patent lawyer Daniel Marchmont has been asked to undertake due diligence on a breakthrough cancer cure. But the key scientist is strangely elusive and Daniel uncovers a dark secret that leads to Antarctica. Out on the ice a storm is gathering. As the crew lock down the station they discover a body and realise that they are trapped with a killer...

Now, I'll hand you over to Chrissie, to tell us about the books in her life...

The book I am currently reading:
is Robert Harris’s Conclave, about the macchinations surrounding the election of a Pope. It is a compelling read, perfectly paced and as gripping as a thriller.
Also by my bed are two collections of short stories that I am dipping into: Foreign Bodies, golden age fiction in translation, edited by Martin Edwards and The Realm of the Impossible, edited by John Pugmire and Brian Skupin.
I am also listening to Timothy West’s superlative reading of The Duke’s Children by Antony Trollope.

The book that changed my life:
Really there are so many, but I will pick The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, which despite its flaws opened my eyes to so much when I read it as a young woman.

The book I wish I had written:
I wish I could write a short story as good as Susan Glaspell’s ‘A Jury of her Peers.’ Pitch perfect and not a word out of place. Written exactly a hundred years ago but still with a freshness and a relevance.
There is not much point in wishing you had written someone else’s novel as you can only write what you can write. But there are crime novels I go back to again and again: Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, Dorothy L Sawyers’ The Nine Tailors, Josephine Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes, and more recently I’ve admired Rennie Airth’s River of Darkness.
Having said all this, I do wish I had written Martin Edwards’ The Golden Age of Murder!

The books I think are most underrated:

Vassilly Grossman, Life and Fate, a War and Peace for the twentieth century.
On a much smaller scale, Willa Cather’s Shadows on the Rock. I was surprised that so few people know it and not to see it on sale in Quebec where it is set.
In crime fiction, the novels of Magdalen Nabb, set in Florence and featuring the highly sympathetic Marshall Guarnaccia.

The last book that made me cry/laugh:
Vassilly Grossman’s Life and Fate made me cry: a Jewish doctor refuses her chance to escape from the gas chamber because she cannot let a child die alone.
Kate Dunn’s stories of mishaps in provincial theatres, Exit Through the Fire Place: The Great Days of Rep, made me laugh so much I almost fell out of bed.

The book I couldn’t finish and am most embarassed at not having read:
I don’t know about couldn’t, but I certainly didn’t, and I probably won’t: James Joyce’s, Ulysses. It’s many years since I made the attempt. I don’t think I got past page 50.

The book I most often give as a gift:
Joyce Dennys’s Henrietta’s War and Henrietta Sees it Through: funny, touching, and yet the lightest of reads along with charming illustrations.


Christine said...

It has been a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me, Sue!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to see Christine here! And what a great interview, too. Among other things, it's reminded me I must read Conclave. Thanks, both, for a terrific read!

Clothes In Books said...

This is great! Really looking forward to Chrissie's latest, and fascinating choices - I'm either nodding in agreement or making a note to find. (Apart from Ulysses, which is a wonderful book, but I won't try to persuade you!)

Sue Hepworth said...

Chrissie's choices for every category are very interesting. Perhaps it's time I tackled Life and Fate.

TracyK said...

Very nice interview with lots of interesting suggestions for reading. I am eagerly awaiting the publication of Cold, Cold Heart in the U.S.

Phoebe said...

Yes, thanks very much for these reading suggestions. My husband loves Life and Fate but I don't have the courage to read it. In my opinion it's not underrated so much as under-known, to coin a phrase.