Michael Haskins

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jenny Hilborn

My friend, and fellow writer, Jenny Hilborn just released her latest thriller, Madness & Murder. Here is an excerpt you might enjoy.

Madness & Murder
With the body count at five, and the blade marks left on the latest victim determined to be have been made by an eight-inch blade, Mac Jackson had little doubt in his mind that they had all died at the hands of the same killer. Another serial killer on the streets of San Francisco, but this one left no cryptic clues or taunting letters, made no demands to the police or the general public. He didn’t appear to want attention or recognition. Jackson suspected he had a particular grudge, or some type of personal vendetta, only he hadn’t been able to figure out what.
Exhausted from working through the night–even with a little extra civilian help to which he’d consented–he rubbed at his eyes, and took a slurp of coffee that had already turned cold. He’d been making notes and sifting through the scant evidence left behind since the young woman’s body had been found by a lonesome jogger, during the early hours of Tuesday morning. What the hell is your motive? He set the mug down, sighed, and looked at the photo of the deceased. If he’d been called to the scene half an hour sooner, he might have been able to ask the killer that question. Her body had still been warm.
“She was just a kid,” he said to Red. “Twenty-four. Only two years older than Bryce.”
Red shook his head, no more enlightened than Jackson. “I know. There’s no pattern. He butchers men, women, old, young, but never rapes them or robs them. What’s the motive? What the hell does this bastard want?”
“I wish I knew,” Jackson said, grimacing at another mouthful of cold coffee, “but one thing’s becoming clear; he’s getting careless or cocky. Thirty minutes sooner and we’d have had him.”
“Doubt it. That was deliberate, Jackson. The bastard knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t want to get caught until he’s ready.”
“Well, so far he doesn’t have to worry about that. We’ve got extra cops patrolling the streets, and he still manages to leave us a warm, dead body and no witnesses. There’s something we’re missing.” He pressed his hands and finger-tips together, hooked his thumbs under his weary chin, and closed his eyes, trying to get inside a killer’s head.
“This is his arena, man, his stage,” Red said. “He’s killing right under our noses like there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. And the warm body?…he’s performing. That’s arrogance.”
“Or anger.” Jackson opened his eyes. “Or maybe he’s bored.”
“He’s not bored,” Red said, shaking his head. He strode around his desk to sit on the front edge of it, facing Jackson. “He thinks he’s superior. He stays one step ahead, but barely, he leaves virtually no clues, and he seems to murder at random.”
“And always in a busy location.” Jackson drummed his long fingers impatiently on his desk. “Why do you think he makes no effort to conceal the bodies?”
“He wants them to be found. He wants us to know he’s killed again, and we’ve failed again.”
“To protect the city. To do our jobs. He’s not just satisfying some sick thrill, you know, he’s making fools of all of us, of law enforcement.”
“So, maybe that’s his message. There’s a reason for the killings, I’m sure of that, but the real anger is against the law. And he wants us to figure out why.”
“I’m going out on a limb here,” Red said. “Call it one of your hunches, but I’d say he’s never done time. He’s not going to be in the database.”
“What makes you say that?” Jackson looked at his partner with interest.
“Something tells me he hasn’t reached his zenith. He’s leading up to something, and until we figure out what it is, he’s not going to get caught. He wants to get caught, but not just yet, not until he’s ready. And another thing…I don’t believe he kills at random. He picks his victims.”
Jackson nodded, thinking, pinched the bridge of his nose while he contemplated. Finally he looked back at Red, still perched on the edge of his desk and looking as beat as Jackson felt.
“You know,” he began, “I can’t stop thinking about the tongue. He’d already slit her throat, so she’d have been dead already, bled out, so why cut it out? And why didn’t we find it?”
A thorough search of the area where the body had been found had not turned up the missing muscle.
“I’d say she pissed him off,” Red suggested. “Maybe she said something he didn’t like.”
“You think he knew her?”
Red shrugged. “Maybe, probably not. But I’d say he’d been in close proximity the night he killed her, maybe listening to her conversation.”
Jackson picked up the report on his desk and reread the notes about the young woman’s last night. “She’d been out with friends,” he read aloud, “celebrating a promotion, according to her friends.” He searched Red’s face. “They work in finance.”
“Jealousy?” Red suggested.
“Possible. Except her friends state they were all doing well.”
“Yeah, well maybe one of them thought she wasn’t deserving, thought she got promoted out of turn. She was considerably younger. They were in their forties. Hell, I’d probably be pissed if I got overtaken by a kid in her twenties.”
“But if they’re all hot shots, I’d say it’s unlikely,” Jackson said. “Anyway, they all checked out. They all left together, without her, and went straight home. She’d had too much to drink, apparently wanted to walk it off.”
“Some friends.”
Jackson shrugged. “It happens. None of the other diners remember anyone suspicious. Nothing we could use.”
“What about credit cards?”
Jackson shook his head. “Slow night, only a few transactions and they checked out.”
“So he paid cash.”
“Maybe. No one remembers a lone diner. No one paid her group any attention.”
“Well, someone did.” Red pursed his lips, removed his legs from the desk, and walked round to the other side to sit down. “If the guy was there, he looked like a regular. He fitted in. No one noticed him.”
“And a regular guy can fly under the radar, mingle easily. That’s how he does it.” Jackson slapped a hand down on his desk. “We’re looking for someone who fits into society. Someone with a job, maybe even a few friends. On the one hand he kills, has an aversion to the law, but he also lives a part of his life normally, like everyone else.”
“Could have been someone she worked with. One of the group. Or a schizophrenic.”
“Not a schizophrenic. I don’t believe there’s any distortion of reality for this guy. I believe he knows exactly what he’s doing.”
Red nodded. “You’re right about him being local.”
Jackson pulled up a fresh sheet in his notepad and began to scribble. “Here’s what we’ve got,” he said to Red, “I think he’s a white male, probably late twenties to early thirties, strong, agile, social to an extent but really a loner.”
“Little or none.”
“Think he killed ‘em?”
“His family? No. If he’s local we’d have gotten something on that. He’s from this area, so they’re either dead already, or they’ve moved away.”
“Why d’you think that?”
“Hunch. Plus, he can go about his business more easily with no one keeping tabs on his hours, his comings and goings. My gut tells me this guy is a loner, not one of her group.”
“Good enough for me.” Red yawned behind his hand, and rubbed his eyes, ran a hand through his hair, and stretched in his seat. “I’m beat.” He laced his fingers together behind his head and leaned back, putting his feet up on his desk. “Still think it’s a thrill killer?”
Jackson sighed. “I don’t know. Yes…and no. There’s an underlying motive, but he’s a sadistic bastard. He enjoys the violence.”
“The tongue?”
“That, the genitals, and the fact he mutilates them after they’re dead. The two back in ninety-five…I believe it’s the same guy.” He locked eyes with Red, saw his furrowed brow, and could almost hear the cogs turning in his partners head. “What is it?”
“The fact her body was still warm.”
“What about it?”
Red unlaced his fingers, removed his feet from his desk, and leaned forward in his seat, his face taut with concentration. “The jogger found her at four-thirty, Tuesday morning.”
“Right.” Jackson watched his expression with interest.
“If he’d been inside the restaurant and followed her out, killing her on her way home, her body would have been cold by the time the jogger found her. We know the jogger didn’t do it because he’d only left the house ten minutes earlier, confirmed by his wife, and he had no blood on his clothes.”
“Ok.” They’d been through this already, but Jackson didn’t mind going over it again. Maybe they’d missed something the first time.
“We know she’d been dead for only about thirty minutes, so, if time of death was four in the morning, we’ve got six hours to account for from the time she left the restaurant to when she died.”
“Well, we know she went for a walk, she was drunk, and she was alone. Maybe she fell asleep somewhere, and maybe he didn’t follow her. He might not have been in the bar at all; no one remembers a lone guy, so maybe it was purely random and he stumbled upon her sleeping it off.”
“It’s possible,” Red said, “but it doesn’t fit with the tongue. That kind of violence had to be provoked. It wasn’t random. She said something to piss him off. He was in that bar, and he followed her out. Know what I think?” He didn’t wait to be asked. “I think he tortured her for a while.”
Jackson sighed. “No marks on her body to suggest it, no ligature on her wrists or feet.”
“Mental torture. I think she felt comfortable with him, trusted him. She went with him willingly.”
“She was drunk,” Jackson reminded him, a headache beginning to kick around at the back of his eyeballs. “She wouldn’t have had the same fear she might have had sober.”
“That’s true, too, but…if he was mad enough to hack off her tongue, he wouldn’t waste six hours idly chatting. Somehow, he gained her trust before he killed her, and he took six hours to do it. There’s a reason for that, and I want to know what it is.”
Jackson scratched his head. “We’ve been over this. I don’t know.”
“Jackson,” Red shot him a dry look, “you’re the master of hunches, and maybe it’s rubbing off. My hunch: he’s testing himself.”
“Red.” Jackson stared at him in astonishment, his headache suddenly vanishing. “That’s it. You’re brilliant.” He punched the air.
“What did I do?” Red stared back in surprise.
“You hit the nail on the head, that’s what you did.” Jackson smacked his hands together triumphantly. “He is testing himself, not us.” He laughed out loud. “Why didn’t I see it before?”
“See what?”
Jackson grinned at Red’s puzzled expression. “You see how the murders have been escalating? Both in frequency and violence?” He didn’t wait for Red to comment. “I figured he’s been working his way up to something.” He pulled open the file on his desk with the old notes from the earlier murders. “The ones in ninety-five…those were homeless, nobodies…their bodies could drift about for days, months, and no one would miss them. He was warming up, getting a taste for murder. He didn’t care if anyone found them.”
“And these latest ones?”
“These victims have families. He knew they’d be missed. He wanted them to be found. He wanted to know he could walk into a crowded area, somewhere like the Embarcadero, choose a victim, and kill them without getting caught, and then watch how the case unraveled. See what he could learn from the moves made by police.”
“If we don’t believe the victims were chosen at random,” Red said, Jackson’s sudden enthusiasm rubbing off on him, “then there’s a common link, something that makes him snap, something that ties them all together.”
“Yes.” Jackson smacked his desk again. “We need to find that link.” He grinned across at Red. “We’re finally making progress.”
Red seemed to be on a roll. “And if the victims were chosen by something they said or did, he upped the stakes each time, increased the violence, let us get closer. He tested himself to see how far he could go before we start closing in.”
“And that tells me something else. Red, when he abducts his final victim, he’s going to do it in a public place. He’s been training for it, building up to it. He’s going to try to snatch him or her from right under our noses.”
“Think he’s following the reports on the news?”
“I don’t doubt it. The vicious bastard has enjoyed destroying those families.”
“That’s it.” Red leapt from his chair, wide-eyed and without a trace of exhaustion.
“What?” Startled, Jackson stared at him as if he’d gone mad.
“Jackson, you’re fucking brilliant.” Red grinned.
“Piss off, Dennis.”
“Don’t you get it?” Red flicked a paperclip that hit Jackson on the nose. “You just figured out the motive.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

MWA Nominees for 2012 Edgar Allen Poe Awards

Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce on the 203rd anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2011.  The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 66th Gala Banquet, April 26, 2012 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York, New York.


The Ranger by Ace Atkins (Penguin Group USA – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Gone by Mo Hayder (Grove/Atlantic – Atlantic Monthly Press)
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Minotaur Books)
1222 by Anne Holt (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
Field Gray by Philip Kerr (Penguin Group USA - G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Marion Wood Books)


Red on Red by Edward Conlon (Random House Publishing Group – Spiegel & Grau)
Last to Fold by David Duffy (Thomas Dunne Books)
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen (The Permanent Press)
Bent Road by Lori Roy (Penguin Group USA - Dutton)
Purgatory Chasm by Steve Ulfelder (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett (Hachette Book Group – Orbit Books)
The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle (Felony & Mayhem Press)
The Dog Sox by Russell Hill (Pleasure Boat Studio – Caravel Mystery Books)
Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper Paperbacks)
Vienna Twilight by Frank Tallis (Random House Trade Paperbacks)


The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars by Paul Collins (Crown Publishing)
The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Random House - Doubleday)
Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender by Steve Miller (Penguin Group USA - Berkley)
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal (Penguin Group USA - Viking)


The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson and the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of our Time by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making by John Curran (HarperCollins)
On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling by Michael Dirda (Princeton University Press)
Detecting Women: Gender and the Hollywood Detective Film by Philippa Gates (SUNY Press)
Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck and Walter Srebnick (University of Illinois Press)


"Marley’s Revolution" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by John C. Boland (Dell Magazines)
"Tomorrow’s Dead" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Dean (Dell Magazines)
"The Adakian Eagle" – Down These Strange Streets by Bradley Denton (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"Lord John and the Plague of Zombies" – Down These Strange Streets by Diana Gabaldon (Penguin Group USA – Ace Books)
"The Case of Death and Honey" – A Study in Sherlock by Neil Gaiman (Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Books)
"The Man Who Took His Hat Off to the Driver of the Train" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Peter Turnbull (Dell Magazines)


Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger (Abrams – Amulet Books)
It Happened on a Train by Mac Barnett (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Vanished by Sheela Chari (Disney Book Group – Disney Hyperion)
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (Scholastic Press)
The Wizard of Dark Street by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (Egmont USA)


Shelter by Harlan Coben (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Penguin Young Readers Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall (Random House Children’s Books – Knopf BFYR)
The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines (Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group – Roaring Creek Press)
Kill You Last by Todd Strasser (Egmont USA)


Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club by Jeffrey Hatcher (Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix, AZ)
The Game’s Afoot by Ken Ludwig (Cleveland Playhouse, Cleveland, OH)


"Innocence" – Blue Bloods, Teleplay by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS Productions)
"The Life Inside" – Justified, Teleplay by Benjamin Cavell(FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television)
"Part 1" – Whitechapel, Teleplay by Ben Court & Caroline Ip (BBC America)
"Pilot" – Homeland, Teleplay by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff (Showtime)
"Mask" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Speed Weed (Wolf Films/Universal Media Studios)


"A Good Man of Business" – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by David Ingram (Dell Magazines)


Martha Grimes


M is for Mystery Bookstore, San Mateo, CA
Molly Weston, Meritorious Mysteries

Joe Meyers of the Connecticut Post/Hearst Media News Group

(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton (Minotaur Books)
Come and Find Me by Hallie Ephron (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Death on Tour by Janice Hamrick (Minotaur Books)
Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry (Crown Publishing Group)
Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely (Minotaur Books – Thomas Dunne Books)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My friend and fellow writer Dellani Oakes, has published "Indian Summer" and agreed to share a little. I thought you'd enjoy this section. If you enjoy it, as I did, buy it and write a review on Amazon.


 There was a nagging feeling of dread rising in my mind. I felt hot then cold all over as if I were taking sick again. I had the feeling that Manuel needed me, something was horribly, terribly wrong. I couldn't suppress it, for it seared my soul. My dreams nagged my thoughts, causing shivers of dread down my spine.
       Without saying a word to anyone, I wended my way as quickly and quietly to the door as I could. It was hardly more than three minutes after Manuel left, and yet he was nowhere in sight. He must have taken his buggy. Having no such vehicle available to me, I ran to the fortress with as much speed as I could muster. I was grateful to Grand-mère for the dress as it provided more mobility than any of my other outfits would have.
       The hair rose on my arms as if I were cold, my breath came in shuddering gasps and yet I ran until I thought my lungs would burst. It was then I saw it, a flicker, a flame and suddenly the entire southeast bastion of the fort seemed to be on fire!
       Silhouetted against it, I saw a man. My dream came rushing back of an instant and I knew it to be James the spy! I couldn't contain my anger. It drove me onward, compelling me to be hasty, chiding my slowness. Anger burned within me, hot and fierce as the signal fire before me, filling me with a fury driving away my fear.
       I finally reached the gate, passing the ladies and the buggy without fully noticing. I saw no sign of Manuel, James or anyone else. In fact, the postern gate was open and unguarded, just as in my dream! I stifled the shriek I felt rising in my throat. Fear gripped me, cold unreasoning fear. Dread of ghosts of dead soldiers floated through my mind, making me shiver again.
       For the first time in my life, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't think or make any decision. I stood there stupidly, gaping at the sight in front of me, riveted to the spot. That was my undoing. Stealthily out of the shadows, James was upon me. He grabbed me in his strong arms, holding me to him, using me as a shield, a gun pointed at my head!
       An involuntary scream ripped from my throat! James chided me, goaded me on, pulling my hair, waving the gun before me!
       "Go ahead and scream, lass. Scream for all you're worth! It will bring him to me. I've waited, plotted, planned for this moment. Before the sun rises, he'll be dead and you, my lass, you will be mine!"
       He planted a rough, brutal kiss on my cheek, nipping my ear, causing me to scream again. I writhed away from him, but he held me fast. He shifted his hold upon me, crushing me against his pelvis. I could feel the lust in him. It disgusted and terrified me. He seemed to feed off my fear, growing more bold.
       "That's it, that's it! He'll be here any minute that upstart Spanish bastard!"
       He was turning around from side to side, holding me in front of him, pulling my hair to keep me on my feet, for I was near to fainting. A shadow moved stealthily toward us. I hoped James had not seen. Perhaps I only hoped so much that it was Manuel, I imagined it. But no, I heard a pistol being cocked and knew James heard it to. From our left, Manuel emerged quietly from the shadows, pistol in hand.
       The light from the signal fire threw wavering shadows and highlights over his face, making him look demonic, his handsome face contorted into an unyielding mask of cold rage and hatred. His hand was steady, pointing the gun at James, who tried in vain to keep me in front of him. Manuel lifted his chin standing still.

       "Let her go, James, or I shall drop you where you stand."
       "If you shoot me, she's dead." He put the gun up against my head.
       "Don't be so sure of that, Doctor."
       I could hear panic rising in James' voice. His breath coming in fast gulps, hot on my neck. "Drop your gun. I'll let her go if you drop your gun!"
       "Do you take me for a complete fool? You drop your gun and I'll give you a head start to the gate to run like the cowardly cur you are. Stand away from her now."
       James' hand holding the weapon was beginning to falter. I summoned all my resolve and slammed my elbow into his ribs, stamped on his foot and hit him in his private parts as hard as I could with both my fists together.
       He gasped for breath, falling to the ground, dropping his gun. Manuel kept him covered while I jumped out of reach. All I could think of was getting away, returning to the safety of my home, of Manuel's arms. I was in a panic, terrified! Then I saw the man behind Manuel, musket raised like a club, the sailor who had met James.
       Manuel couldn't get a shot off in time, but caught the blow of the musket with his pistol stock, forcing the man away from him. They grappled for what seemed hours, but was only a few seconds. Unfortunately, neither of us watched James. He lunged for his pistol, grabbing it before I could warn Manuel. I could do nothing to stop him. I was too far away. I tried to scream, to alert Manuel in some way, but the sound caught in my throat.
       Manuel and the sailor turned just as James raised his gun to shoot. James' shot caught the other man in the back, the bullet slamming through him as if he were jelly. The echo in the stone courtyard was deafening. Then they fell!
       “Manuel! Dear God, he's been shot!" I screamed to no one.
       The other fellow was dead, but Manuel was still moving. I ran to be by his side, but James grabbed my hair again and dragged me away! The last I saw, Manuel was lying in a pool of blood, his life draining from him and I could do nothing!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Paul D Barzill, guest blogger, Grit on the Box

With the BBC’s latest incarnation of Sherlock back on the small screen it may again seem that America is the home of harboiled crime television such as Breaking Bad and The Wire, while the United Kingdom, is the land of Dame Agatha style cozies and stuck-up, Latin quoting police detectives.
However, for over forty years British television also has looked at the grubby underbelly and produced plenty of gritty crime writing.
While we may think of sixties and seventies British TV cops as sophisticated post James Bonds, for example, Frank Marker, who  was played so brilliantly by Alfred Burke in the sixties television series PUBLIC EYE was no Simon Templar, Jason King or John Steed, I can tell you.
The Public Eye ran for 10 years –from 1965 to 1975- with almost 100 episodes and although I haven’t seen it since then I remember it quite well and very fondly. Marker moved from a dingy office in London to another flea pit in Birmingham and eventually to Brighton, and I can still picture him walking along a wind and rain swept sea-front, looking like someone from a Morrissey song.
Marker looked like a soggy mongrel and he was a walking hard luck story, getting knocked about by the police as well as criminals and even being framed and sent to prison.
Not a lot of peace and love there, then.
The seventies was a time when music and film were doing some pretty ground breaking and experimental stuff and, in the UK at least, so was TV.
The BBC’s Play For Today, for example, is looked back upon with dewy eyed reverence these days. And so it should be. There were plays by Dennis Potter –Blue Remembered Hills, Mike Leigh –Abigail’s Party, Alan Bleasdale, John Osborne. Some of them were terrifying to the young mind- I still cringe when I remember the harrowing and brilliant Edna The Inebriated Woman. Others were hilarious –Rumpole Of The Baily, which spawned the television series.
And some were rock hard.
In 1975, Philip Martin’s controversial Gangsters aired and it was great. Gangsters was true Brit Grit television. Set in Birmingham, it was a multicultural crime story about illegal immigrants and corrupt politicians. I was thirteen at the time and I loved it. There was a violence, swearing, nudity! What more could you want?!
The next day at school everyone was talking about it. The subsequent media furore only added to the buzz.
Gangsters was such a success it was made into a series with theme music from the prog rock band Greenslade. It told the story of Kline, played by super-craggy Maurice Colborn, ex SAS, fresh out of prison and trying to go straight. And failing.
Like the Play For Today it came from the series was hardboiled, with maybe only Mike Hodges’ Get Carter as an antecedent.

By season two, the series really took a turn for the mental, though. The title sequence now had blues singer Chris Farlow belting out the theme song and looked like something from a low budget Kung Fu film.
Indeed, it went down such a weird path that it even had writer Philip Martin regularly appearing as himself dictating scenes to a typist. And later he appeared as The White Devil, a hit man dressed as W C Fields(a role originally intended for Les Dawson!) who eventually killed Kline.
Gangsters, which had started off as a hard hitting social realist crime drama , ended fantastically with the characters walking off the set, shots of the writers literally tossing away the script and a ‘That’s All Folks’ caption appearing on screen.
‘Daft!’ said my sister in law, who watched it with me. And she was right, I suppose, but then ‘daft’ isn’t always a bad thing, is it?
In one play and the two seasons of Gangsters, there were drug addicts, hit men, sleazy night clubs, triads, murders, racist comedians, the CIA, strippers and all manner of urban rough and tumble. And W C Fields.
And on to the nineties.
CRACKER was a Granada TV series that was created by the writer Jimmy McGovern which ran from 1993- 1995. A mere two years, yet it made a great impact  in that short time.(Okay, there was also a  fine Hong Kong set special in 1996 -and another in 2006,which I didn’t see.)
The star of the show was Scottish comedy actor Robbie Coltrane who was previously best known for a cracking- see what I did then? – performance in theBBC’s version of John Byrne’s Tuttie Fruttie and for throwing a chair through a pub window.
Coltrane played Fitz, a brilliant, hard-drinking, heavy – smoking, bad- tempered criminal psychologist who worked as an assistant to the Manchester Police Force. “I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much.” Top man.
Colrane was mesmerising. The stories were gritty and twisty and moving -even when they pushed the boundaries of melodrama. The rest of the actors involved  were spot on too, in particular Christopher Ecclestone as the young detective learning more about life’s underbelly than he wanted. And Robert Carlyle was super impressive as the bitter, disillusioned Albie in the amazingly intense story ‘To Be A Somebody.’ But it was all great.
Later, there was a watered-down U.S. version with Robert Pastorelli as Fitz . Pastorelli is a good actor but it really was a decaffeinated version of the original.
But what Brit Grit television have we had since the ‘90s? Has it all been Midsumme rMurders?To be honest, I couldn’t tell you, since I haven’t lived in the UK for over ten years. But if there is none, then surely one of the writers from Brit Grit Too could put Brit Grit back on the box?
Bio: Paul D Brazill is the editor of Brit Grit Too which collects 32 of Britain's best up and coming crime fiction writers to aid the charity Children 1st children1st.org.uk/

‘The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that's as black as it's bitter--this is BRIT GRIT.’

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