Billingham, a former stand-up comedian and TV actor, visited New Zealand last year, appearing on a panel at the Christchurch Writers Festival with Kiwi crime authors Paul Cleave and Vanda Symon. He has also supplied a blurb for the upcoming UK release of Cleave's book CEMETERY LAKE, describing Cleave's writing as "Relentlessly gripping, deliciously twisted and shot through with a vein of humour that's as dark as hell". Which is a pretty great (and in my opinion, bang on the money) assessment - and even nicer considering they write for different publishers, so it's not one of those in-house marketing things.
BLOOD LINE is Billingham's ninth novel (in nine years), and his eighth in the DI Tom Thorne series. I have reviewed it for several publications (in NZ, Australia, and the UK), and so will be interested to hear what the Radio NZ reviewer thinks. You can read one of my reviews at: http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/reviews/Blood_Line.html
You can see a full schedule of upcoming Nine to Noon book reviews (some of which are crime) at: http://www.booksellers.co.nz/bk_reviews.htm
One of the interesting things about Billingham's career, is that for many years he seemed to me a bit of an 'underground' author, whose readers loved his work, but wasn't talked about in the mainstream media as one of the 'big names' in international crime fiction. Often when I talked to readers about crime fiction, they hadn't heard of him. Over the past few years this has seemed to change, and now he is one of the ones others are compared to. His books were always high quality, and I understood they sold reasonably well too, but it just took a while for him to really break through to the headlining 'name author' big-time.
Hopefully some of the NZ writers who are now putting out quality work, but going less-noticed, can have a similar career arc, , in terms of building their audience over time and eventually being more noticed/supported in the wider media, both here and (hopefully) overseas. Incremental improvements that eventually lead to a flood.
Have you read BLOOD LINE? Have you read Mark Billingham? Have you been at any literary events where you've seen him in person? Please share your stories...