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Golf, Lawrence Block, morgues and manners

Lawrence Block with a cigar. I’ll buy that for a dollar. Lawrence Block drinking a whiskey on the rocks. You can have a buck for that too. But Lawrence Block on the golf course. Nah, I’m not buyin it.

Well, actually you don’t need a dollar for that one, because unbelievable as it sounds Lawrence Block has written a golf-meets-crime fiction story and he’s giving it away free for Kindle until 2:59am EST on Tuesday 2 July. It’s called Welcome to the Real World and free download links are here for the US and here for UK readers. “I don’t play golf, but I have to say I love golf stories,” explains Block. “Keller, my wistful hit man, doesn’t play either, but an assignment leads him to a gated community with a golf course, and he hangs out and tells stories with the rest of the members, even if he never does lay hands on a niblick.”

That’s great for everyone who loves golf and crime fiction, but if your sport happens to be baseball, Lawrence Block hasn’t forgotten you. His 17-page short story Almost Perfect is about crime and America’s favourite passtime and is $1.21 or £0.77 on Kindle. That’s not as good as free but not much more than a dollar.

Million for a Morgue
You don’t need a dollar for this one, but a pound will do nicely and £10 will be even better. Million for a Morgue is a charity campaign spearheaded by 10 crime authors to raise £1million for a new morgue at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee. The upgrade to the mortuary will include facilities for the Thiel embalming technique which maintains more lifelike colour in the cadaver and greater flexibility. So, it should be very popular with zombies…

The authors taking part are: Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Jeffrey Deaver, Val McDermic, Jeff Lindsay, Stuart MacBride, Peter James, Kathy Reichs, Mark Billingham and Harlan Coben. Here’s the best bit, you can vote on which crime writer the morgue will be named after. Currently the frontrunner is Tess Gerritsen, followed by Val McDermid. I’m a little surprised that Harlan Coben is bringing up the rear so Coben fans out there better get voting. In order to vote, you have to also make a donation to othe charity. See what they did there? It’s just like Britain’s Got Talent with authors and corpses.

Crime in the Court
Sticking with that monetary theme, £5 will get you into Crime in the Court, a celebration of crime fiction in London’s Cecil Court. This little street lined with booksellers and bars is near Leicester Square and on Wednesday 3 July it will be milling with crime fiction lovers and authors, all hosted by Goldsboro Books. You’ll  be able to purchase books, get them signed and drink wine with 40 authors including Ben Aaronovitch, Stav Sherez, Lynn Shepherd, Alison Bruce, Michael Ridpath, Claire McGowan and Ali Knight. You might see an author fall face down in a pot plant. You might fall face down in a pot plant too. “I think it’s going to be heaving with wine-glugging crime lovers,” says Will Carver.

No1 Ladies: Manners are free
A big publisher treating a book cover illustrator badly? Unfortunately I’ll buy that for a dollar too. I interviewed Hannah Firmin the other day. She’s the illustrator who gave Alexander McCall-Smith’s No1 Ladies’ Detective Agency covers their unique look and feel. No doubt her vinyl block printing and collage technique, and colourful style, contributed at least something to the sales figures – well over 10 million in the English language alone.

Little Brown recently kicked off a furore by introducing new look covers for the entire series leaving fans who were collecting the books somewhat annoyed – book 12 looks nothing like number 11 did. The first Firmin heard of it was when someone in Australia emailed her to enquire about the new look. You’d have thought after being at the publisher’s beckon call for nine years she’d have had a phone call, email or letter. Firmin’s imagery won best cover at the British Book Awards in 2004, and even then Little Brown didn’t invite her to the ceremony. This and the author himself has been tweeting about rude taxi drivers.

We don’t know all the ins and outs, but wouldn’t it be nice if Little Brown could drop her a line? They’ve made millions from the books, DVDs and so on, but manners are free. Tell us what you think below…

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