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Saturday, November 22nd 2008 : "Dancing to the Raven Black Quintet..."
This is the Paris of idealistic adolescent dreamers and ad men. A cellar bar in the centre of the city - a real 'cave' with a low curved ceiling and white-washed walls. Champagne bottles in buckets of ice. A jazz quintet. Lots of beautiful intellectuals talking about books and politics. And me, neither beautiful or intellectual, but expected to make a speech all the same. I don't enjoy being the centre of attention - in fact I'm embarrassed by the large picture of me, grinning inanely, that's on the wall behind the band - but I'm hugely grateful to Francoise and Marie-Jeanne from Belfond for organising this fantastic event. A party to celebrate the publication of MORTS SUR LA LANDE (Telling Tales) and three of their other crime novels. The quartet includes a Belfond staff member and has called itself the Raven Black Quintet just for the evening. There is dancing apparently, but by then I've left, happy to return to my lovely hotel.
The Hotel L'Abbaye is something special. I stayed there last time I was in Paris, the guest of Belfond. It provides the base for interviews with journalists. It's right at the heart of the fashionable Left Bank, but when I wake in the morning I hear birdsong and water from the fountain in the small walled garden, not traffic. The staff are delightful, mostly middle-aged men, there's a log fire, good coffee and last night a little party to celebrate the arrival of beaujolais nouveau. (Although I think champagne and new red wine won't mix, I'm tempted to a small glass on my return).
For my interviews I have a great translator, Christian, but during the three days I feel that the language is returning to me. It feels like a sleepy cat stretching and coming back to life. I understand more questions, even put together some answers. So a new resolution: find some way of improving my French, so the next time I go, I might even join in the conversation
And DANCING FOR THE HANGMAN...
Martin Edwards has been a friend for a long time. I enjoy his series books, especially the Harry Devlin novels for their pace, humour and sense of place. I went to university in Liverpool and recognise the Scouse spirit. But in his-stand alones his writing hits a new level. TAKE MY BREATH AWAY is a witty satire on Blair's Britain, with one of the best first scenes I've read anywhere. Now his new book DANCING FOR THE HANGMAN has been published by Flambard, an independent press better known for its literary fiction and poetry. This novel considers the life and crime of Crippen - Martin is a meticulous researcher and is passionate about all forms of crimewriting. The fiction brings a new insight into the character and time of the notorious doctor and it contains some of Martin's finest writing. Definitely not to be missed!
Posted by Ann at 09:21 AM GMT