These days, it is not uncommon for crime-writers to give away CDs along with their books, the songs acting as a soundtrack to the novels. And now it seems that musicians are doing the same thing in reverse; finally repaying the compliments paid them by a host of writers who have spent years name-checking them in their books. Along with the likes of Ian Rankin and George Pelecanos I have enjoyed collaborating with bands and songwriters such as the fabulous My Darling Clementine; artists who can see that when it comes to a certain sort of dark storytelling, music and crime fiction share a good deal of common ground.
In 2006, BBC Radio 4 made a series of programmes about the way crime-writers use music in their fiction. Presented by Ian Rankin, it featured a wide variety of writers, including myself, alongside the likes of James Lee Burke, John Connolly, George Pelecanos, Robert Crais, John Harvey, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter and Jim Sallis. We each talked about our own musical tastes and the way in which the music in our novels reflected our characters’ state of mind. Music can also create atmosphere, or can be used to work against it. It can be a soundtrack to action or a counterpoint to it. And of course, it can be a handy shortcut; a few lines of a particularly emotive song being able to say much more than a page or two of purple prose.