Author of the Month - March 2005
Name: Victoria Blake
First Book: Bloodless Shadow
Most Recent Book: Cutting Blades
Cutting Blades continues the ongoing saga of Sam Falconer’s life. Her father, Geoff, comes back from the dead and Sam learns some unsavoury details about his lost years working for the government in Ireland during the “troubles”. It is not long before he is haunting the rest of her family. At the same time Sam is involved with the disappearance of a young Oxford student who is the star of the Oxford rowing team and with robberies involving a jeweller who lives in Sam’s block of flats.
Before solving the different cases, which are slightly connected, Sam has to go through fire and brimstone as family secrets are finally revealed. If you thought she had problems with her family in the first book - then the fireworks really go off in Cutting Blades! You really feel for Blake’s protagonists and I can see that the situation they find themselves will be unveiled over the coming series.
Like Elizabeth George and Deborah Crombie, Victoria Blake’s novels are very character driven. Although the plot is interesting, it is the marvellous canvas of different characters that always hold your attention. There is loveable Alan - her gay best friend - who has a bigger part in this story. There are also new characters in Jackie, the jeweller, and Tyler, her ex-coach. However, my favourite has to be Sam’s neighbour Edie with her secret stash of contraband. Edie always shines and brings welcome light comedic relief amongst the trauma in Sam’s life.
Despite there not being a great criminal element to the story, the people who populate this novel make it, nonetheless, fascinating and urge you to turn the pages. The ending, I felt, was slightly rushed. However, the core of the book is Sam and her various problems which I am sure will become prominent in Victoria Blake’s following novels.
I think this novel easily equalled Victoria’s previous book and I am sure the stories will get stronger as the series progresses.
Reviewed by CS
Victoria Blake was born in Oxford and read history at Lady Margaret Hall. Having qualified as a solicitor, she began working for the publisher, Gerald Duckworth. She took a year out to concentrate on her writing and began working part-time as a bookseller. She lives in West London.
1.) How would you describe your books?
My main protagonist, Sam Falconer is a Private Investigator working in Putney and the action takes place in Oxford, her hometown, and West London. She is a four times World Champion in judo who was brought up in an Oxford college and is struggling to come to terms with life after a successful sporting career.
2.) What is you favourite crime read of all time?
I love The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos and also The Long Firm by Jake Arnott.
3.) Would you describe yourself as a crime fan and
if so, what authors do you most admire?
Yes, I definitely am a crime fan. First off I have to mention Sara Paretsky, the queen of the female private eye novel. I am also a big fan of Ian Rankin because he does everything so well – plot, procedure, dialogue but never at the expense of the characterization of rebus. I also love the American comic crime writers, Kinky Friedman (you have to love a man who titles a book Armadillos and Old Lace) and Joe Lansdale. Robert Parker is another writer I always buy.
4.) What is your favourite plot twist of all time?
I remember being completely gobsmacked when I reached the end of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
5.) Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers?
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple and sixty-seven novels in total – it’s got to be Agatha.
6.) P.D. James or Ruth Rendell?
I’ve always been a fan of poet-cop Adam Dalgliesh so P.D. James.
7.) Favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
I’ve got four, I’m afraid – The Maltese Falcon, The Day of the Jackal and LA Confidential. Also, although I think this is cheating because it started as a screenplay and Greene wrote the book afterwards, The Third Man – what a fantastic film!
8.) Where do you see crime going next?
I love the Alexander McCall Smith books and they’ve been hugely successful – maybe not so many maggot-strewn corpses and more charm.