PAUL GADSBY

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Category: Chasing the Game

“An atmospheric depiction of 1960s London” – Chasing the Game review

Chasing the GameChasing the Game has been praised for generating “an atmospheric depiction of London in the 1960s” in its latest review.

My debut crime thriller, a fictional account of the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy from Westminster Central Hall in 1966, was reviewed by footballbookreviews.com, a website that delivers passionate coverage of original, thought-provoking and independent football-related literature in various forms.

The review adds to the overwhelmingly positive reception Chasing the Game has received since its release in 2014. A summary of how the novel has been received by literary critics, including media reviewers and established crime fiction bloggers, can be found here, while a round-up of what readers think of the book is available by clicking here.

The full review of Chasing the Game by footballbookreviews.com can be found here, but segments of it are below:

“In Chasing the Game Paul Gadsby provides a fictional account of the events around the robbery and the subsequent recovery of the trophy. As such the football element is only a minor thread in a book which is essentially a crime thriller.

“Gadsby provides an atmospheric depiction of London in the 1960s, where gangster Dale Blake is battling with discontentment amongst the ranks and an unhappy home life. The theft of the trophy and the hoped-for ransom money are seen by Dale as a way to sort out the problems he is encountering in his life.

“This is a read which is in parts gritty as it explores the murky world of gangsters, but which also has a softer side as it explores through the central character Dale a number of areas including family relationships, leadership, power and respect… Gadsby provides an entertaining and well-paced read in relation to a fictional exploration of the events in London before England’s finest footballing hour.”

Chasing the Game – what the readers think

Chasing the GameThe reading public always passes the ultimate judgement on a book, so I thought I’d highlight some of the comments left by readers on the Amazon review page of my debut novel, Chasing the Game.

For those of you who would like to see how the book was received by literary critics, please click here to see what media reviewers and established crime fiction bloggers thought of Chasing the Game.

But here are some quick snippets from a selection of verdicts from those all important readers…

“Fantastic 1960s detail . . . can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a debut novel more.
Too many gangster books can slip into caricature, but the highest praise I can give is that so much of the authentic period detail and Gadsby’s sharp dialogue evoked memories of when I discovered Jake Arnott’s series of books more than a decade ago.
It would be interesting if it could be dramatized for the 50th anniversary of the theft in 2016.”
Paul Richardson

“What a fantastic book . . . The amount of research put in is immense, to nearly every detail. 60s gangsters and the rest of the trimmings, but with a clarity to the story, and writing. I can’t recommend it enough.”
David Hardy

“The characters’ personalities all come alive and keep you guessing at what their fate will be. The story moves along at a good pace and makes the book difficult to put down. This is not just for the guys.”
Gillian Brown

“Compelling, original and eminently readable. The story skilfully merges fiction and the real life events surrounding the actual theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966. This is a fast paced mystery with an atmospheric setting that succeeds in depositing the reader into the vibrant, rapidly changing London of the 1960s. The book will appeal to all mystery and crime aficionados.”
Benignus

“I loved this book. It’s a real page turner. Beautifully plotted, with lots of twists and turns. The characters are very well drawn. The dialogue crackles and fizzes. The mixture of tension, humour and, at times, almost farce is really deftly judged and pulled off. Highly recommended!”
L.G. Williams

“A great read, couldn’t put it down. As I was in my late teens at the time of the ‘66 World Cup and the theft of the World Cup is still vividly etched in my memory. Paul’s account of the theft and subsequent recovery of the iconic trophy, whilst fictional, is very plausible given the gangland culture that existed in East and South London at that time. Brought back to life those black and photos that graced the tabloids the day after Pickles discovered the package in the hedge of that front garden. A brilliant first offering from a talented writer.”
Lillywhite

“Well worth a read! Full of well researched detail, and the twists in the story keep you gripped until the very end. It’s not just a book about a football trophy, it’s so much more and I would highly recommend it to everyone.”
ABM

“Fantastic book, I couldn’t put it down. Well written and researched and a great twist in the book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Hope it’s not too long before the next one!”
Neil Mason

“Paul Gadsby has created a very authentic 60s London and a crime firm that feels as though it really could exist. You will want the main character to succeed, despite being a criminal! And it ties in very well to real life events. A brilliant read.”
Paul Green

“A very plausible storyline depicting a historical moment of British history.
A fantastic read. Not only a very imaginative depiction of what could have happened when the World Cup was stolen but also an excellent underlying story of a criminal firm led by Dale. I was really impressed with how I could empathise with each of the characters in their own right.
This would make an excellent television drama which I feel would appeal to not only football fans but a wider audience.”
Victoria Vickers

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Christmas sales surge for Chasing the Game

Chasing the GameThe festive period is always a buoyant one for the books trade and I’m delighted to reveal that Chasing the Game is no exception, my debut crime thriller enjoying a rise in sales in recent weeks.

Both the paperback and ebook versions of the book have seen a sharp increase in sales, with people seeing the book as an ideal stocking filler Christmas gift.

The paperback, currently priced at £6.53 on Amazon, and the ebook at just £1.99, represent fantastic value for those wishing to give their friends or family a gripping, fast-paced read to enjoy.

It beats toiletries or a naff pair of socks, anyway.

Chasing the Game is a unique fictional depiction of the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy (the original football World Cup) in London in 1966, a crime which remains unsolved. To read more about the book and the true-life crime that sparked its narrative, please click here.

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Chasing the Game appears in match programme

AFCRD programmeThe matchday programme of my local football team, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, published a feature about Chasing the Game in its latest issue.

The in-depth feature included an interview with me that focused on the storyline and background of the novel as well as my history in supporting the Diamonds, which goes back to 1990 when the club was known as Rushden Town.

In June 2014 the AFC Rushden & Diamonds programme, edited by Stephanie Webb, won the Programme of the Year award for the entire United Counties League, which has 41 clubs over two divisions.

Chasing the Game of course has strong links with football, depicting a fictional version of the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet trophy in London ahead of the 1966 World Cup.

The crime thriller has received a raft of glowing reviews since its release, including from Britain’s biggest crime websites Crime Fiction Lover and Crime Time. For more details about the book and the true-life crime that influenced its narrative, please click here.

Chasing the Game can be ordered from the publisher Matador here, or on Amazon (paperback version) or ebook (just £1.99).

For more details about AFC Rushden & Diamonds, please click here.

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The best on-screen portrayals of crime fiction characters

While reading through the Amazon reviews of my crime thriller Chasing the Game recently, I was struck by one comment in particular: “It would be interesting if the story could be dramatized for the 50th anniversary of the theft in 2016.”

The novel’s main character, Dale Blake, who plots the theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1960s London, would certainly make a powerful and captivating on-screen presence, and it got me thinking about those actors who have really pulled off a performance that matched the momentous work of the author who created their character.

There have, of course, been many examples of on-screen portrayals of literary figures not working out (John Hannah’s version of Rebus just didn’t hit the mark) but let’s focus on the positives and run through some shining examples of compelling character acting that either lived up to – or even surpassed – our high expectations, having sat down to watch with the literary versions of these characters foremost in our minds.

The characters listed below are simply some choices I’ve made from my experiences of watching TV or film adaptations of my favourite books (and ones that I’ve managed to recall on the spare evening I’m writing this). I’ve thrown in a few unusual ones to catch the eye, but if you feel I’ve made a glaring omission or a ludicrous pick, tell me about it on Twitter – @PaulJGadsby – I’d love to chat about it with you.

Mark Strong as Harry Starks (The Long Firm)
Jake Arnott’s debut novel was a groundbreaking piece of fiction that rejuvenated the gritty British gangster genre, and charismatic nightclub owner and racketeer Harry Starks stole the show. When it came to the BBC’s four-part dramatization of the book, Mark Strong nailed the role to such a degree that it’s impossible to read the book now without imagining Strong’s face in every description of Starks and every line of his dialogue. Strong’s performance was magnetic, forceful, tender and utterly convincing, piercing into Stark’s complex and fascinating soul and capturing every single aspect of it.

Richard Attenborough as Pinkie Brown (Brighton Rock)
The 1947 film version of Graham Greene’s haunting classic is widely regarded as one of the finest ever cinematic expressions of British noir, and this was in no small part down to the skill Richard Attenborough applied to playing Pinkie, the story’s lead villain. A sadistic teenage gangster, a thrilling and terrifying embodiment of pure, irredeemable evil, Pinkie is one hell of a character to play and his relationship with young waitress Rose takes him on an emotional rollercoaster in the second half of the movie and Attenborough expertly maintains his immense control over the part throughout – resolute, chillingly sociopathic, and downright creepy wherever appropriate.

Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger
Okay, at some point I was going to squeeze a Bond villain into a list of crime fiction characters. Goldfinger was not only one of my favourite books from Ian Fleming’s series, it was also one of the best films from the franchise. German actor Gert Frobe captured the subtle gestures and nuances from Fleming’s alluring prose quite beautifully, and he just . . . looked like the guy you imagined in the book. Frobe was a strange casting choice as well – in that he couldn’t speak English – but that was nothing a bit of voice dubbing couldn’t fix. Frobe’s appearance and mannerisms matched the essence of the character, and for me he is the finest representation of a literary Bond villain we have seen, with Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Le Chiffre in Casino Royale coming a close second.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
Now we’re talking classic. Rathbone appeared as the cunning sleuth in 14 films between 1939-1946 and for me no one has quite matched him since. When I read the books, I imagine Rathbone’s face, Rathbone’s profile, Rathbone’s turn of phrase, Rathbone’s charm. The fact that Nigel Bruce’s stupendous depiction of Watson during those films has since blurred into the background perhaps says it all about the impact Rathbone brought to the lead role. With his deerstalker silhouette having reached iconic status, Rathbone will always be, for me, the quintessential Holmes.

Matt Damon as Tom Ripley (The Talented Mr Ripley)
A bit left-field this one but still worthy of extremely high praise. Patricia Highsmith was a glorious novelist and this is my favourite book of hers (just beating Strangers on a Train). There are so many angles to the character of Ripley, her darkly twisted young man who’s in Italy trying to escape his true self, that Damon really has his work cut out in order to slip into Ripley’s skin. Morally vacant, haunted, desperate, sad, lonely, evil, lost, gifted, tender – Damon masters them all in a powerhouse performance that’s as fantastically elegant as it is deeply unsettling. You just can’t look away from him on the screen. To me this is still Damon’s signature role despite the subsequent success of the Bourne franchise.

Ashley Judd as Joanna Eris (The Eye of the Beholder)
Marc Behm’s 1980 novel paints a vivid picture of this psychologically scarred character who’s no ordinary femme-fatale. The composed and striking Joanna employs her raw survival skills to hop from city to city, changing wigs and aliases as she preys on rich men before marrying and then killing them. A private investigator (played by Ewan McGregor in the film), absorbed by her life and fascinated by her backstory, follows her as she cuts a deadly swath from New York to San Francisco to Alaska with many scintillating stops in between. The killing is Joanna’s coping mechanism to get through life, but when she genuinely falls in love with a sophisticated but vulnerable wine merchant (who’s blind) and falls pregnant, tragedy strikes. Judd crawls into the heart and soul of Joanna, expressing her wild personality changes, her dark cunning and her crushing sense of abandonment and loss with such sincerity that we never judge her. We, like the PI who follows her, just want to watch and understand her.

Paddy Considine as Peter Hunter (Nineteen Eighty)
In this second instalment of the three-part Channel 4 serial depicting David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet, Peter Hunter is the lead detective in a disturbing fact-meets-fiction investigation to catch the Yorkshire Ripper. A Lancastrian called in to lead the paranoid and dejected Yorkshire CID team who’ve failed so far to catch their man, Hunter is up against it to get the officers who hate him on his side and the infamous serial killer behind bars. As the pressure mounts in a community gripped by fear and a police force riddled with corruption, Considine brings just the right amount of steel, anxiety and dismay to the role that Peace so poetically conveys in the book.

Ryan Gosling as Driver (Drive)
The lead role in this tale (James Sallis only ever referred to him as ‘Driver’ in his novel while in the film he was unnamed) is the archetypal example of the neo-noir hard-man male, a walking embodiment of the description ‘enigmatic’. The prose in the book is so startlingly sparse that we are captivated by this mysterious lead character and are desperate to know more about him. A Hollywood stuntman by day and underworld getaway driver by night, Driver is a weighty creation and Gosling does a mighty fine job of representing him faithfully on screen – his performance is poised, restrained, slick and brutal.

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
I guess the Academy Award says it all. Hopkins’ portrayal of Thomas Harris’ cannibalistic serial killer will never be forgotten. Clearly one of the most strikingly visual cinematic performances of all time, my favourite scene is how Hopkins appeared the first time we meet Hannibal as Clarice Starling approaches his cell. He’s not gripping the bars or slouched on his bed as he awaits his visitor; he’s standing bolt upright in the middle of the room, arms down by his sides, staring right at her. Chilling.

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep)
Another choice that perhaps picks itself. I think the strongest element to the 1946 film version is how the script is heavy with graceful dialogue rather than loaded with action – the characters are free to talk, in keeping with Raymond Chandler’s book. And when it comes to verbal tone and visual style, the cool Bogart earns the plaudits. His wry, humorous delivery, set amongst the beautiful black and white cinematography, just oozes noir, while his lusty on-screen chemistry with Lauren Bacall adds a dynamic, hearty charge to the narrative.

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Chasing the Game featured in The Guardian

Guardian articleI’ve written an article published in The Guardian about the true-life crime that sparked the narrative behind my new novel Chasing the Game.

The colourful, in-depth feature describes the theft of the Jules Rimet (World Cup) trophy in London in 1966, as well as dramatic events in Rio in 1983 when the trophy was stolen once again, never to be recovered.

The full article in The Guardian, titled ‘World Cup mystery: what happened to the original Jules Rimet trophy’ can be found by clicking here.

Another feature I wrote about the 1966 theft was published in the London Metro newspaper – ‘Holding the 1966 World Cup to ransom: The curious theft of the Jules Rimet trophy’ can be found here.

To read more about Chasing the Game and the real-life crime that influenced its narrative, please click here.

Chasing the Game can be ordered from the publisher Matador here, or on Amazon (paperback version) or ebook (just £1.99).

The book has already received several rave reviews in the media, including from Britain’s biggest crime website Crime Fiction Lover and the highly revered Crime Time. To read a summary of those and more glowing reviews for Chasing the Game, please click here.

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More rave reviews for Chasing the Game

Chasing the Game“If you’re in the market for historical crime fiction with a lot of heart, Gadsby’s your man” – is the conclusion of the latest review of my debut novel, Chasing the Game.

The highly distinguished website ‘Of Pitch & Page’ is in agreement with other literary critics by giving the book a glowing review, saying my 1966-set thriller depicting the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy in London is “full of period detail and moody violence.”

Reviewer Matt Oldfield added: “Gadsby takes the undisputed facts about the infamous robbery and has some good old-fashioned fun. With the exception of Pickles the dog, all names are changed (FA Chairman Joe Mears becomes Clement Spears), and many characters are constructed from scratch, namely the gang members and their families. Multiple narrative perspectives are handled well, the pacing and plotting are strong, and the dialogue rings true. . . the pages turn, and the reader is drawn into the murk.”

Chasing the Game is a well-crafted and entertaining novel. Despite its timely release for the buzz around Brazil, its readership should extend beyond the World Cup dreamers. Because if you’re in the market for historical crime fiction with a lot of heart, Gadsby’s your man, whether you like football or not.”

The full review of Chasing the Game on ‘Of Pitch & Page’ can be found here.

Esteemed crime reviewer ‘Crime Thriller Fella’ also sung the book’s praises, saying: ‘Gadsby takes the [1966 World Cup] theft and uses it as a hook to explore the downfall of a complex and conflicted gangster, Dale Blake.”

“There’s a lot to like here, a hell of a lot. Gadsby knows the mechanics of drama, and he gives his protagonist problems before the first page, so that the tale he’s telling seems like a small part of a wider canvas. . . Dale’s a sympathetic character, a man out of his depth, and we genuinely feel for him in his Harold Shand moment.

“Gadsby is a writer by trade, but this is his debut novel, and he has a focused control over his material. He knows his story, and knows how to tell it. A lot of new authors – you can tell they’ve not rewritten and then edited enough. They’ve not gone through the manuscript again and again, removing every superfluous phrase, every redundant word. Gadsby has removed every bobble and clump from the page, so that the writing is as smooth as a lawn in Chelsea.

“The prose is lean and terse, and his dialogue is muscular, but never slips into gangster parody. . . It’s not a footie novel, so you really don’t have to give a fig about the beautiful game.”

The full review of Chasing the Game on the ‘Crime Thriller Fella’ website can be found here.

One of Britain’s biggest crime fiction websites, Crime Fiction Lover, also loved the book, reviewer David Prestidge saying: “I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The prose is unpretentious, brisk, and will move the reader through the 200-odd pages with minimal effort. Gadsby has taken a real-life event that remains a mystery to this day, and provided a perfectly plausible, well-timed and entertaining fictional account.” That full review on Crime Fiction Lover can be found here.

Other excellent reviews have greeted Chasing the Game’s release, not least from the highly-revered Crime Time website as well as critically acclaimed author Guy Portman and blogger ‘Book Addict Shaun’.

So far on Amazon, the book has attracted ten reviews; nine of them 5 star and one 4 star.

To read more about Chasing the Game and the true crime that influenced its narrative, please click here.

Chasing the Game can be ordered from the publisher Matador here, or on Amazon (paperback version) or ebook (just £1.99).

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Guest appearance on Radio Northants

This weekend I was a guest on Radio Northants, where I talked about my new book Chasing the Game.

Joining host Lindsey Samples on her Sports Saturday show, I was asked about the inspiration behind the book and the plotting that went into creating the narrative.

We also talked about the World Cup, which starts this week, where I was put on the spot to predict a winner; Argentina were my choice, so let’s see how that works out!

For more details about Chasing the Game, a fictional depiction of the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy (football World Cup) in London in 1966, please click here.

For more details about Radio Northants, please click here.

An audible recording of the interview will be available here soon.

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A pleasure to kick off festival fever

Bristol PlanetariumThis weekend I appeared at the opening night of the Festival of Football Ideas to talk about my new crime novel Chasing the Game.

The two-week event, held at the enchanting Bristol Planetarium (pictured) on the eve of the 2014 World Cup, is a celebration of how literature, art, film, music and comedy can connect with football.

My talk, within a section called ‘Altering the narrative’, was titled ‘Chasing the Game – A Creative Twist on the Theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy’.

I spoke about how I used aspects of the real-life theft of the Jules Rimet (World Cup) Trophy in London in 1966 and combined them with fictional elements to create Chasing the Game, a dramatic and gripping depiction of this famous crime that remains unsolved to this day.

The Festival, running each night until Saturday 14 June, will feature further talks and performances from artists, writers, poets, academics, musicians and comedians. Full details of all the exciting events are available at the Festival’s website here.

FOFI logoThe Festival is a not-for-profit event created and run by a group of volunteers for the love of football and art.

During my talk I also spoke about football’s link with literature in general, particularly books that have been bold enough to try and use football as a theme within a fictional narrative. The novels/novellas I discussed were:

The Damned United, by David Peace (2006)
Red or Dead, by David Peace (2013)
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery, by Leonard R Gribble (1939)
The Thistle and the Grail, by Robin Jenkins (1954)
Shoot on Sight, by Michael Hardcastle (1967)
Goalkeepers Are Different, by Brian Glanville (1972)
How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won The FA Cup, by JL Carr (1975)
A Book of Two Halves, edited by Nicholas Royle (1996)
Perfect Pitch series, edited by Simon Kuper (1997-99)
For Whom the Ball Rolls, by Ian Plenderleith (2001)
Heartland, by Anthony Cartwright (2009)

A review of my appearance on the Festival of Football Ideas official blog can be found here.

Chasing the Game is available now and can be ordered from the publisher Matador here, or on Amazon (paperback version) or ebook (just £1.99).

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Thriller Books Journal interview me about Chasing the Game

The Thriller Books Journal have just interviewed me about my new crime thriller Chasing the Game.

During the interview I also talk about the ebooks v traditional books debate as well as how the genre of crime fiction is often the victim of unhelpful – and inaccurate – snobbery from the ‘literary elite’ within the publishing trade.

Click here to read the feature: ‘Interview with Paul Gadsby (author of Chasing the Game)’

Thriller Books Journal is a comprehensive and vibrant website dedicated to crime and thriller novels, featuring a wealth of reviews, interviews and updates on new releases. The site is run by Italian author and avid reader Giuseppe Pastore.

For more details about Chasing the Game and the real-life story that sparked the tale, please click here.

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Interviewed by ‘Crime Thriller Girl’

This week I was interviewed by ‘Crime Thriller Girl’ about my newly-released debut novel, Chasing the Game, and my writing style.

Crime Thriller Girl leads a double life. By day she’s a corporate suit, but by night (and early morning) she’s an aspiring author, avid reader, and book reviewer of all things crime thriller. She’s also working on an exciting debut novel, which we’ll no doubt hear more about soon.

Her popular blog provides crime fiction fans with an abundance of reviews, interviews and latest news, and a link to her interview of me about Chasing the Game can be found here.

For more details about Chasing the Game, a fictional take on the real-life theft of the World Cup trophy in London in 1966, please click here.

Here is a transcript of the interview. . .

Today I’m delighted to welcome Paul Gadsby to the CTG blog to talk about his new book – Chasing the Game. So, let’s get to it …

Chasing the Game is out now, and gathering rave reviews. Can you tell us a bit about it?
It’s a crime thriller depicting one of the most fascinating real-life crimes in British history – the theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966. Three months before the football World Cup tournament was due to begin, the trophy, on display in Westminster Central Hall, was stolen in an audacious daylight raid with the back doors of the building forced open. No one actually saw the trophy being taken but a ransom demand was made a few days later to the Football Association (FA), who were desperate to save face and reclaim the trophy, and a rendezvous organised where the trophy would be exchanged for cash. But the exchange never happened, one man was arrested for demanding the ransom but was never connected to the actual theft, so the identity of the thieves remains a mystery. Bizarrely, the trophy was discovered under a bush in a suburban street in Norwood a week after the theft by a dog named Pickles, who subsequently became a national hero.
I wanted Chasing the Game to be very much a fictional novel before anything else (not a documentary-style review of the crime etc), so the make-up of the gang of thieves and their particular characters and motivations were all driven by my imagination and I had a blank canvas to work on there. I used elements of the real-life tale (the ransom demand, the exchange set-up) and created extra conflict by having my FA chairman as a steely character who is determined to recover from the global humiliation the theft caused him and his organisation, and hell-bent on making the criminals pay. I had a theory early on about how I believed the trophy ended up under that bush, and basically worked back from there to create a gripping story.

In Chasing the Game, a real-life event – the theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy (the football World Cup) in London in March 1966 – is integral to the story. What was it about this event that sparked your idea for the novel?
I was drawn in by the fact that the crime has so many unanswered questions to it. The actual theft appears to have been carried out with a fair degree of good planning and professional expertise, so it seems a group of people did it rather than someone alone snatching an opportunity. But then the trophy – their only asset in getting something out of their efforts – ends up under a hedge a week later. Something must have gone dramatically wrong between that group of people during those seven days, as the pressure mounted with the case attracting international publicity.
I’ve always been fascinated by the internal structure of organised criminal set-ups and the personality clashes that rise to the surface. I’d been toying with a theme for a crime novel about leadership – about how some people have the natural skillset to be an effective operations man in a number two role but not necessarily the abilities to handle the wider scale responsibilities that come with being number one – and thought it would be good fun to drop this theme into the midst of a dramatic story such as the 1966 theft.

How did you go about researching the time period and the real life events?
I’ve always been into 1960s-set gangster stuff such as the Krays and the Great Train Robbery, so I read a lot of books surrounding those characters and looked into the pressures they faced in their lives at that time; what kind of lifestyles they were living and what they were aspiring to. I also watched a number of television documentaries about everyday life in Britain in the 1960s (thank you BBC4 et al) because I was determined to make that period a character of its own in the book. I love the music of that era but have always felt the way the 1960s is often portrayed to people like me who were born after then (Swinging Sixties, everyone flocking to a vibrant Carnaby Street to spend a fortune on the latest fashions etc) is a little skewed from reality. I wanted people consumed with the grind of their jobs, their money problems, their marital problems, their parenting problems and so on – characters burdened by the harsh challenges that life always throws into people’s laps.
That’s where the ransom demand in Chasing the Game proved really handy as a motivation driver within the narrative. I deliberately placed my ‘firm’ of criminals in west London, a few miles away from the central Soho scene they ultimately want to get to and grab a stake in – and the ransom cash is their leg-up to this world, their ticket to a brighter future. The trophy theft is also a chance for my ageing, old-school FA chairman to hit back against the thieves he sees as a stark representation of an increasingly insurgent society, and leaves him questioning his place in the world.

Could you tell us a little about your writing process, do you dive right in, or plan the story out first?
Chasing the Game is my first novel to be published but I’d written a few before that and with each one the process was slightly different. With this one I had the end of the story in place first, and worked back from there, carefully mapping out the characters and the various conflicts they would face, then drawing up a detailed chapter breakdown before getting into the actual writing. With other books I delved into the writing a lot quicker – happy with the overall concept and where things would finish, I went for it, adopting the ‘car headlights in the dark’ approach (writing away knowing what is immediately in front of you as well as the end destination, but never seeing what is a little further down the road). This approach allows the detail of each chapter to develop more organically and is an enjoyable way to write, but is probably more suited to character-driven work rather than plot-driven material. Either method (and many more besides) is fine and can be successful as far as I’m concerned, as long as the writer has a burning passion to explore the themes they want to unravel, and has created mesmerising characters who have plenty at stake within a tension-riddled story.

Who are your favourite crime writers – which books and authors have inspired you?
I have tended to prefer standalone books rather than mass-volume serials; I love it where the writer has the freedom to take his main character down any dark alley and the reader really doesn’t know how bad things will get. With the serials, we always know the main character is going to be fine and any injuries sustained will not be too serious because they’ll be back in another adventure next summer. That said, although I’m no great fan of those formats, there have been some tremendous writers who have gone down that path and deserve every credit – Ian Fleming for one, while Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham are delightful writers and I’ve enjoyed many of their books. Ray Banks’ mini-series following PI Cal Innes was fantastic and wrapped up with great humility, while David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet inspired me to explore mixing fact with fiction.
I love noir classics as well as slick contemporary thrillers. Elmore Leonard’s ear for dialogue is, in my opinion, unmatched. James Crumley is a big hero of mine as are the likes of Ken Bruen, James Sallis, Patricia Highsmith, Jake Arnott, Graham Greene, Jim Thompson, Adrian McKinty and James Ellroy. Eddie Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce is a glorious standalone book and one of my all-time favourites, as is The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips.

And lastly, what does the rest of 2014 have in store for you?
I have written the first draft of another novel, a tale about a recently-retired boxer who is forced into a life of crime by his former manager, and look forward to editing and polishing that soon. But in the meantime I’m enjoying promoting Chasing the Game – reviews from crime fiction sites have been fantastic so far, while I’ve been asked to speak about the book at this summer’s Festival of Football Ideas in Bristol, a literary-music-art-themed event, which I’m really looking forward to.

A huge thank you to Paul for allowing us to grill him! 

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Under the spotlight on Morgen Bailey’s site

I was this week’s author under the spotlight on Morgen Bailey’s all-embracing writing website.

Every week Morgen puts a different author under the microscope, and this time she asked me about my new book Chasing the Game, my writing career, and my view on all things literature.

I spoke about many issues including the self-publishing v traditional publishing debate, as well as the way crime fiction is often stigmatised and looked down upon within the industry by the so-called ‘literary elite’.

Click here to read the feature ‘Author spotlight – Paul Gadsby’

Morgen’s extensive website is a huge resource for writers, with a wealth of information and advice. As well as author spotlights and interviews, the site carries guest blogs, reviews, podcasts, competitions, tips, writing groups, writing exercises, exclusive flash & short fiction and poetry.

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Crime Fiction Lover the latest to praise Chasing the Game

Chasing the GameOne of Britain’s biggest crime fiction websites, Crime Fiction Lover, has followed in the footsteps of other leading media sources by awarding my debut novel Chasing the Game with an excellent review.

Led by a team of expert contributors and critics within the genre, Crime Fiction Lover is one of the most firmly established and well-respected websites around, covering news, reviews and features across a wide range of crime from atmospheric noir and thriller mysteries to hardboiled detectives and police procedurals.

Reviewer David Prestidge read Chasing the Game, my fictional depiction of the real-life theft of the World Cup trophy in London in 1966, and the full review can be found here.

Amongst his comments, David wrote that the story provides ‘a mixture of criminal incompetence, jealousy and black comedy, which presents itself as a plausible account of one of Britain’s greatest unsolved mysteries.’

He added: ‘This is a London where the smart boys smoke Dunhills because the slimline pack doesn’t spoil the cut of their suit jackets, a Mark II Ford Cortina could just about take a man’s breath away, and Michael Caine was doing something similar to young women with his screen portrayal of the amoral Alfie.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The prose is unpretentious, brisk, and will move the reader through the 200-odd pages with minimal effort. Gadsby has taken a real-life event that remains a mystery to this day, and provided a perfectly plausible, well-timed and entertaining fictional account.’

This write-up of Chasing the Game comes after further glowing reviews greeted the book’s release, not least from the highly-revered Crime Time website as well as critically acclaimed author Guy Portman and blogger ‘Book Addict Shaun’.

So far on Amazon, the book has attracted eight reviews; seven of them 5 star and one 4 star.

To read more about Chasing the Game and the true crime that influenced its narrative, please click here.

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Crime Time hails Chasing the Game

My debut novel Chasing the Game has received a glowing review from – among others – the highly-revered Crime Time website.

Just days after its release, the book was reviewed by Crime Time contributor Brian Greene and the full review can be read by clicking here.

Amongst his comments, Brian wrote: ‘There’s much to like about this, Gadsby’s first novel. The characters are believable, the storyline is compelling, and Gadsby excels at balancing the various subplots.

‘As you read along you’re just as intrigued to find out what will become of Blake’s personal life as you are to see what will go down with the firm and with the consequences of the trophy heist. The author never makes the mistake (too often seen in recently-written edgy crime novels) of toiling at making his characters come off as hard – he just shows them as they are and places them in interesting situations, and that’s enough to make you care.’

Crime Time previously ran as a popular magazine, running for 54 issues before reverting to a pure online source of crime news, features and reviews in 2008. Edited by Barry Forshaw, widely regarded as the UK’s leading expert on crime fiction having written many books on the subject, Crime Time is hugely popular and known for reviewing the best crime fiction in the UK and around the world.

Esteemed novelist James Sallis once said about Crime Time: ‘This is what the rest of the magazines want to be when they grow up.’

This review comes hot on the heels of the book’s hugely positive review by critically acclaimed author Guy Portman, which can be read in full here.

Amongst Guy’s comments, he wrote: ‘The story skilfully merges fiction and the real life events surrounding the actual theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1966. This is a fast paced mystery with an atmospheric setting that succeeds in depositing the reader into the vibrant, rapidly changing London of the 1960s.

‘The reader is able to identify with protagonist, Dale, despite his criminality, due to his sympathetic nature and a problematic personal life that entails a declining relationship with wife Sheryl, a runaway teenage son, and a father in prison.

‘Chasing The Game is compelling, original and eminently readable, with an unpredictable plot. The book will appeal to all mystery and crime aficionados.’

Chasing the Game was also highly praised on the ‘Book Addict Shaun’ blog, which can be read in full here.

Amongst Shaun’s comments, he wrote: ‘The setting of 1960s London was felt throughout the book. The city was definitely brought to life here. And the book had a strong cast of believable characters. Yes it’s a book partly about football but you don’t need to be a massive football fan to enjoy the book. It’s also about friendships, relationships and internal conflicts within a firm and we all know how the real life ones usually turn out so the fictionalised one here was very enjoyable.

‘The writing in the book is incredibly strong too. It was also a very gripping read which once your start you won’t want to put it down. I’ve already had my dad asking me if I’ve read it yet as he wants to read it too. Overall a very enjoyable book, definitely something a bit different to what’s out there at the minute and a book I highly recommend. Will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from this author.’

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Appearing at FOFI this summer

I have been invited to speak about my new novel Chasing the Game at this summer’s Festival of Football Ideas (FOFI) in Bristol.

The two-week event, held on the eve of the 2014 World Cup, is a celebration of how literature, art, film, music and comedy can connect with football.

FOFI logoThe Festival will run each night from Friday 30 May – Saturday 14 June and will feature talks and performances from artists, writers, poets, academics, musicians and comedians. Full details of all the exciting events are available at the Festival’s website here.

My talk, at 7pm on Saturday 31 May, is within a section called ‘Altering the narrative’ and is titled ‘Chasing the Game – A Creative Twist on the Theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy’.

Each evening will consist of two talks, split into two ‘halves’ of 45 minutes, with a half-time break – oranges are optional. Tickets for most events will be £5 and can be booked through the website from 25 April.

The Festival is a not-for-profit event created and run by a group of friends and volunteers for the love of football and art.

It will be held at The Planetarium based at the At-Bristol site. The event also has its own Twitter page, @Bristol_FOFI

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Interview on the ‘Crime Thriller Fella’ blog

Chasing the Game front cover

Chasing the Game front cover

I was interviewed by ‘Crime Thriller Fella’ this week about my new book Chasing the Game and my writing regime in general.

A link to the interview on the excellent Crime Thriller Fella website can be found here.

A transcript of the interview can also be found below.

Crime Thriller Fella writes screenplays and novels, and reviews crime movies, TV shows and books for his blog, as well as providing interviews and latest news.

For more details about Chasing the Game, a fictional take on the real-life theft of the World Cup trophy in London in 1966, please click here.

 

Here is the interview transcript. . .

We love writers with synchronicity. Paul Gadsby’s novel about the true-life disappearance of the World Cup trophy is released with the 2014 tournament just round the corner. Paul is a journalist and writer. Having worked in sports, news and trade journalism for 14 years, he’s the co-author of the seminal snooker book Masters of the Baize. Chasing The Game is his first crime novel, and you can buy it right here. Paul gives us the lowdown on an intriguing unsolved mystery – and, of course, his writing regime.

Chasing The Game is based on the true story of the disappearance of the World Cup trophy in 1966 – what happened?

It’s a fascinating story – one that has a dose of crime, shame, desperation and intrigue in roughly equal measures. The World Cup, or Jules Rimet Trophy as it was known, was on display in Westminster Central Hall in March 1966, three months before the World Cup tournament was due to begin. The stakes were high because the Football Association (FA) wanted the event to go very smoothly, it being the first – and so far only – time England have hosted the World Cup.

But one Sunday lunchtime the trophy was stolen from its display case. A few days later a ransom demand was made to the FA, and a note later delivered setting up a rendezvous where the trophy would be exchanged for the cash. But the plan fell apart, the switch never took place (despite coming tantalizingly close) and the thieves were never identified. The trophy, for reasons unknown, ended up under a bush in a London street where it was discovered by a dog named Pickles a week after the theft. Pickles briefly became a national hero, praised for sparing England’s blushes and saving the reputation of the World Cup tournament as a brand.

How closely is your novel based on true events?

Pretty closely in many ways, which is why I didn’t go into too much detail above! I always wanted this project to be a work of fiction, though, so certain elements – the nature of the theft in particular – were dramatised in order to drive the narrative. I kept certain characters such as the chairman of the FA (although I changed his name and created my own persona for him) while the gang of thieves was entirely down to my imagination. I’ve always felt the theft had an organised criminal element behind it, but not a large scale one, so it was fun creating a ‘firm’ who could carry out the raid but were under real pressure to collect the ransom because they desperately needed the cash.

Pickles is the only character that maintains his real-life name. In 1966 there was also a replica of the trophy made, commissioned by the FA but against FIFA’s wishes, and I exploit this conflict in the story. I’m a big fan of blending fact with fiction (David Peace and James Ellroy being the masters at this) and have always felt authors should be encouraged to use fiction as a vehicle to enhance intriguing factual narratives and sharpen the motivations of characters or historical figures.

What drew you to the story?

The curious nature of the theft, the bizarre discovery of the trophy, and the fact that the crime remains unsolved. Who were the gang of thieves? What went wrong between them to result in the trophy, worth a significant amount of money, ending up under a suburban hedge? I was surprised that no one had taken the Pickles story and done something exciting with it, so I thought I’d jump in there and weave my own narrative.

I also tied this in with a theme I’d been toying with basing a crime novel on for a while – leadership, and the pressures that come with fronting a criminal enterprise or firm. I’ve always been fascinated with the internal struggles and conflicts that crop up within a systemised criminal set-up, and seeing people try to take on the skillsets required to fill certain roles. So the tense and complex professional relationships that exist between members of the gang make up a central theme of the book.

Take us through a typical writing day for you?

I wish I had more of them! I write around a day job (I write copy for a marketing company) and am married with a three-year-old son, so my blocks of time for creative writing can be varied and unpredictable. On the occasions when I have a few hours to write, I begin by (and most writing guides advise against this) doing a light edit of what I’d written previously. I trained and worked in journalism for a few years and the editor in me just can’t resist, but I do enjoy ploughing on with a first draft knowing that the product behind me is a strong one.

Obviously the second draft stage is always an extensive one, but I don’t want a major re-structuring job at that point; I’d rather fix problems and enhance areas as I go along. I’m also a big fan of Stephen King’s theory of ‘write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open’ so I’m very much in my own head when unleashing a first draft, then liaising with friends and fellow writers for feedback on the second draft.

Chasing the Game is my first published novel but I wrote three crime thrillers before that; I’ve been writing seriously since about 2005 when I had a non-fiction book published and got the bug for writing full-length works.

Who are the authors you love, and why?

I adore Elmore Leonard’s dialogue, Adrian McKinty’s action sequences, Ken Bruen’s humour, the powerful prose of James Sallis, Jake Arnott’s deep characterisation, Patricia Highsmith’s ability to build drama, James Crumley’s sense of time and place and Graham Greene’s story structure. James Ellroy, David Peace and Don DeLillo do a glorious job of mixing fact with fiction while I also love Ian Fleming’s Bond books. As remarkable standout thrillers I really enjoyed Eddie Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce (which apparently inspired Tarantino to write Reservoir Dogs) and The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips.

What’s the hardest lesson you ever had to learn about writing? 

Probably the fact that it’s incredibly difficult – and increasingly rare – to make a full-time career out of it. At a recent writing event I had a chat with an established, award-winning author who’s terrifically talented but told me how many copies her last book had sold and how many other things she had to do in order to supplement her time to write, and I thought that was a shame. The less time an author has to write, the fewer chances we have to enjoy them.

On a technical point, I like writing a synopsis but find it bizarre, frustrating and amusing that every agent and publisher appears to have a different idea about what they want to see in one. It’s an area that takes subjectivity to a new level!

How do you deal with feedback?

I embrace it during the editing stages of my writing. An interesting point is what to do with all the feedback you collectively receive. I know some writers who literally change everything that is recommended from all sources, but the danger of this is that the focus of the manuscript can then fragment and before you know it you have several half-realised themes and sub-plots going on.

I don’t think an author should ever lose sight of the initial purpose they had at the onset of the project. I think it’s best to take all feedback on board, apply a great deal of it if necessary, but to always consider that this is your book and the reader has to be convinced that it has come from one soul.

As for feedback from the industry, rejections are a familiar tale and for me have always been tempered by the fact that you know thousands upon thousands of writers are going through the same thing. Many writers collect their rejection letters but I’ve never really gone in for that. Positive responses from the trade, meanwhile, are obviously fantastic; it’s great to spend time speaking with agents, publishers and authors, and when you’ve had your work praised by such people it comes as a relief as well as a joy.

Give me some advice about writing…

Tough one. Any advice given by writers is obviously going to be very personal to them, but I’d say the most valuable way to spend your time is to focus on both finding your own distinctive voice (there’s no better way to make an impression on your first page) while at the same time reading as much of other writers as you can. If you’re writing a full-length novel you need prose worming through your brain pretty much all the time. The passion to write can only be driven by the passion to read.

What’s next for you?

I’ve written a first draft of another crime novel, which I’d like to polish and edit in the near future. It has another sports link, and is about the physical and mental struggles of a recently retired boxer who gets dragged by his former manager into a murky world of crime and an underground bare-knuckle fighting circuit, while also struggling to deal with his Alzheimer’s-stricken father. It’s called When the Roar Fades.

Who’s going to win the World Cup this summer?

All World Cups previously held in South America have been won by a nation from that continent, and I can’t see that pattern changing. It’s hard to see past the hosts, Brazil, but Argentina could be handy. I think England might sneak through their tough group but I’d be surprised to see them go beyond the quarter-finals.

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World Cup trophy theft – new book revives the tale

Chasing the Game coverMy new crime thriller Chasing the Game – a groundbreaking fictional take on the real-life theft of the World Cup trophy in 1966 – has just been released.

The solid gold Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen from Westminster Central Hall three months before the tournament and famously discovered by a dog named Pickles in a London street a week later, wrapped in newspaper. But the circumstances behind the crime, and its perpetrators, remain unsolved to this day.

Chasing the Game brings this intriguing tale to life, weaving a set of vivid characters into the tale to create a gripping – and shocking – version of a story that still draws much speculation today.

For more details on the background behind the 1966 theft of the Jules Rimet Trophy and the plot of Chasing the Game, please click here.

The book enjoys a timely release in the build-up to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, a country where the Jules Rimet Trophy was actually stolen again in 1983, and this time never recovered.

You can order Chasing the Game from the book’s publishers Matador as well as several leading retailers including Amazon, iconic independent bookseller Foyles and Waterstones.

The book is available as a paperback as well as an ebook in all major formats.

More updates about the book will be posted on this website and on my Twitter page, @PaulJGadsby

If you would like to order a review copy for your newspaper/magazine/website/blog, or discuss an interview with the author, please feel free to email pauljgadsby(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

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Chasing the Game available to pre-order

Chasing the Game front cover

Chasing the Game front cover

The cover for my forthcoming crime thriller Chasing the Game has been released, and the book is now available to pre-order from many retail outlets.

Chasing the Game is the first fictional portrayal of one of England’s most enduring and fascinating crimes – the theft of the Jules Rimet (World Cup) Trophy in London in 1966.

The solid gold trophy was stolen from Westminster Central Hall three months before the tournament and famously discovered by a dog named Pickles in a London street a week later. But the circumstances behind the crime, and its perpetrators, remain unsolved to this day.

For more details on the background behind the real-life theft of the trophy and the plot of Chasing the Game, please click here.

The book will enjoy a timely release in the build-up to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, a country where the Jules Rimet Trophy was actually stolen again in 1983, and this time never recovered.

You can pre-order Chasing the Game from the book’s publishers Matador, as well as the UK’s iconic independent bookseller Foyles and major retailer Waterstones, as well as Amazon, who you may have heard of.

The book will be available as a paperback as well as an ebook in all major formats, including Kindle and ePub.

More updates as we near publication will be posted on this website and on my Twitter page, @PaulJGadsby

If you would like to order a review copy for your newspaper/magazine/website/blog, or discuss an interview with the author, please feel free to email pauljgadsby(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

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Coming soon – crime thriller ‘Chasing the Game’

Chasing the Game front cover

Chasing the Game front cover

Chasing the Game, my novel depicting the 1966 theft of the Jules Rimet (World Cup) Trophy in London, will be released very soon.

The book is the first fictional portrayal of this notorious true crime that rocked the Football Association and remains unsolved to this day. Centred within a merciless criminal underworld, Chasing the Game may be a work of fiction but there is one character who makes an appearance playing the same role he did in reality 48 years ago; Pickles the dog.

Publishers Matador are applying the final touches, and the book will enjoy a timely release in the build-up to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

For more details on the background behind the real-life theft of the trophy and the plot of Chasing the Game, please click here.

The book will be available as a paperback via many sources including the Matador website and Amazon, and it will also come out as an ebook in all major formats, including Kindle and ePub.

More updates in the lead-up to publication will be posted on this website and on my Twitter page, @PaulJGadsby

If you would like to order a review copy for your newspaper/magazine/website/blog, or discuss an interview with the author, please feel free to email pauljgadsby(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

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Chasing the Game entry now on Matador webshop

Details of my debut novel, Chasing the Game, are now available on the website of the book’s publisher, Matador.

Matador, an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd, was launched in 1999 and has been hailed as the publisher of choice for independent authors in several editions of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, as well as being recommended by The Writers’ Workshop, The Oxford Literary Consultancy, Cornerstones, Lovewriting.co.uk, Bubblecow and Addison & Cole.

The entry can be found in the Matador webshop here.

My description of the book can he found here.

Further news on the publication date and any other significant production updates will be posted here.

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