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Thursday, 31 January 2013


...being the title of my Silent Witness story, the first part of which is showing on BBC1 at 9pm tonight. And no, it's not about wills or family squabbles. It's got explosions and stunts and sex, high crimes and buried secrets and decent people co-opted into sinister agendas.

(There was a picture here, but with a certain lack of foresight I linked it from the Radio Times website instead of nicking and sticking it. Now they've taken it down, so the link is broken. That'll learn me.)

Pic shows Ed Stoppard as Lord James Embleton, and Emilia Fox as Nikki Alexander. Embleton's a science entrepreneur with a political peerage. It's enabled his appointment to a government role without election. He's an idealist, so good luck with that.

(I chose his name to honour British illustrator Ron Embleton, because I could.)

Part two tomorrow. There was a bit with a sheep, but that was cut.

I'll leave you to imagine.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Coming Soon

This eBook novella will be a free download, offered to coincide with paperback publication of The Bedlam Detective.

Details soon.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Here's an Offer

Of course I buy books online, everybody does. But I also can't pass by a bookshop, and with the good ones - those where there's more to the stock than the Top Ten airport reads and a wall of discounted remainders - it's almost impossible not to find something. Some book that you didn't know you wanted until you saw it.

You can, cynically, go home and order it online. That's always going to be a problem for the trade and I don't know what the answer is. But I do know this.

Look at any town centre. If there are no booksellers, it's dying. I don't mean a few shelves in charity shops, they don't count. I mean the real thing, whether it's new books or secondhand, where the person in charge knows something about what they're selling. It's not just an economic indicator, it's a social one. Like fish in a river, a town's bookshops are a sure indicator of its overall health.

So here's a proposal.

If you buy/bought your copy of The Kingdom of Bones from a bricks-and-mortar bookshop (you have to buy a copy from somewhere, it's the law), send a scan or photo of your book and receipt to webguy@stephengallagher.com. On publication day in May I'll choose three readers at random and send them signed copies of The Bedlam Detective UK paperback.

And yes, I realise that each book given away is a lost potential sale. Let's all shake our heads at the irony.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Jack Irish

A couple of interesting TV movies came out of Australia last year, with Guy Pearce playing the title role of Jack Irish in Black Tide and Bad Debts, based on novels by Peter Temple.


Not exactly the same tone as Jesse Stone, but for me they seemed to scratch the same itch. They're making a couple more. Worth looking out for.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Top 10 Crime Shows

"I’ve never made it all the way through an Inspector Morse. Everyone who loves The Wire is lying. A Touch of Frost is part of a plot to destroy humanity’s will to live. Jonathan Creek went steadily downhill after Caroline Quentin left. The writers on The Mentalist are all fat and ride a golf cart to lunch.”

At the request of the Dead Good Books blog, I compiled a list of ten TV crime shows that I think have exceptional merit.

You can read about those that get the thumbs-up here.

Here's a hint:

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Random Page

When The Kingdom of Bones first came out in hardcover, I was invited to blog about it for The Page 69 Test. This was the result...

As a teenager I had a fascination with old-time Penny Dreadfuls and turn-of-the-century thrill fiction. Tom Sayers was a leading character in one of those old story papers, The Marvel. Loosely – very loosely – based on an actual historical figure, the fictional Sayers was your classic Victorian hero. Clean-living, morally upright, and with a hero's enviable physical prowess.

These were the unsung narratives of the Age of the Great Storytellers. They gripped the masses, but they weren't made to travel. Haven't you ever bought the DVD set of a TV show you used to love, and realised with a twinge of sadness that what you're experiencing isn't pure joy, but rather that joy remembered?

It takes more than just the old material to recreate a form. My ambition with The Kingdom of Bones was to take the characters, settings and narrative pacing of those old stories, and to bring them to new life with the kind of themes and complex psychology that we look for in modern fiction.

Page 69 of the novel finds Police Superintendent Turner-Smith, "a formidable figure with a broad white moustache, a war wound and a walking-stick", in the back room of a public house. He's here to meet a man whom he believes to be Tom Sayers. The year is 1888 and the setting is the North West of England. Sayers is a former prize-fighter who's given up the ring, and now serves as the business manager to a small touring theatrical troupe.

Unbeknownst to Turner-Smith, the man across the table is an impostor. The real Tom Sayers is in the theatre next door, watching his company perform. What's about to take place will deprive Sayers of his good name and his liberty, with consequences that will pretty much destroy any future he might have hoped for with the woman he loves.
Turner-Smith considered the man before him for a moment, and then decided that he could speak as one gentleman to another. They were more likely to have interests in common than in conflict.
    “Take a look at this, please, Sayers,” he said, and placed before him one of the pasted-up sheets that suggested a link between paupers that had been mutilated without apparent motive, and the stage company’s progress around the country.
    The other man read for a while, and then glanced up.
    “Some of our less notable receptions.”
    “The dates, Mister Sayers. Look at the dates.”
    He read on for a while. Then he sat back in the attitude of a man conceding an argument that had already been won. “This is very revealing,” he said.
    And Turner-Smith, who for the past minute had been given the opportunity for a closer study of his visitor, said, “Are you by any chance wearing greasepaint, Mister Sayers?”
    The man threw the paper onto the table between them.
    “Ah,” he said. “There you have me.”
    Under the table, Turner-Smith reached out for his sword stick. He took care not to signal his intention. “Yet you are not listed on the playbills among the actors,” he said.
    “Very true.” The man smiled. “I can see that you are too good a detective for me, superintendent.”
    A few moments later, the man rose from the booth and walked out of the saloon. The four commercial travellers in the next booth were laughing so hard at a story that none of them noticed his departure. One took a draught from his mug and leaned back in his seat, only to splutter it out all over the table.
    His fellows were slow to catch on. Their humour ebbed, where his had vanished in a flash.
    “What the devil?” he said. “Something pronged me!”
    And he turned in his seat to find out what it was.
Even though the story's main character is offstage in this scene, I should imagine that the page makes for a reasonable taster of the novel as a whole. I've always reckoned that the best way to test out a book is to pick a random paragraph or two; at the very least, they'll give you a sense of whether you connect with the author's voice. In this case I'd hope that page 69's combination of history, greasepaint and villainy will give any prospective reader a fair idea of what lies ahead. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Silent Witness Season 16

I'll have some more information on upcoming stuff, including UK and US publication dates for The Bedlam Detective paperback editions, in a few days' time.

For now here's the BBC's publicity still for Season 16 of Silent Witness, for which I've written a two-hour story.  The season begins this Thursday and if the shot puts you in mind of a 10cc wraparound vinyl album cover, that makes two of us.

(Just me? Really? OK...)

Pic shows Emilia Fox, William Gaminara, and new regular cast member David Caves.

My two-parter is called The Legacy and I've just been told that it's scheduled to run over the nights of Thursday, January 31st and Friday, February 1st.

The lineup for this story also includes the legendary Richard (The Haunting) Johnson.