Friday, 16 April 2021

Kate Morgan in Conversation


Murder: The Biography by Kate Morgan (Mudlark

Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder. The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction. There's Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people - victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws. 

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law's dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing.

Contact Chiltern Bookshops for information about the event. Tickets can be bought here.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

2021 CWA Dagger Longlists announced

 The 2021 longlists for the prestigious CWA Dagger awards, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre, and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

Past winners of the prestigious Gold Dagger, which is awarded for the crime novel of the year, include Ian Rankin, John le Carré, Reginald Hill and Ruth Rendell. This year sees 2019’s winner of the Gold Dagger, M W Craven, return with The Curator. The former probation officer credited the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for opening the door to his career as an author.

Amer Anwar, who won the Debut Dagger competition in 2008, makes the list with Stone Cold Trouble. Anwar is up against the mighty JK Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith, alongside multi-award-winning authors including Nicci French, Elly Griffiths and Antonia Hodgson.

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is famed for showcasing blockbuster thrillers – past winners include Gillian Flynn and Robert Harris. Robert Galbraith is once more in the running, along with Ian Rankin, Stuart Turton, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ruth Ware and Michael Robotham, last year’s Gold winner.

Holly Watt, who won the Fleming Dagger in 2019, also returns to the longlist with The Dead Line. Another to watch on the Fleming longlist is Chris Whitaker; his book Tall Oaks won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2017. Whitaker is long-listed for his latest novel We Begin At The End, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month and has sold in 17 territories, with screen rights snapped up by Disney. 

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “The CWA Dagger awards are unparalleled for their reputation and longevity. The longlists showcase authors – established and new – at the top of their game. It’s not surprising that sales of crime fiction have been so strong during Covid-19. Both fiction and non-fiction have proven to be a great escape for many as we have been stuck at home. As our longlists show, these stories and insights take readers all over the world and through time, from Bombay of the 1950s to ancient Athens to modern-day California and many points between." 

Crime books can be thrilling mysteries, but they can also provide social commentary, insights into true crime, or explore big questions in life. The vast and diverse talent in these longlists show why it’s the UK’s most popular and enduring genre. We are proud to provide a platform for debut, emerging and established authors, and to honour the very best in crime writing.”

The much-anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels. Among the rising stars of 2021 is Susan Allot with her Australian-set debut, The Silence, praised by the Wall Street Journal as ‘emotionally wrenching’. 

New writing duo Chris Rickaby and Barney Thompson, writing under the pseudonym Ben Creed, also feature with their debut, City of Ghosts, a tense historical novel set in 1951 Russia. The global theme continues with Stephanie Scott’s accomplished debut, What’s Left of Me Is Yours, set in modern day Japan, exploring romantic and familial love, duty and murder.

Booker prize winner John Banville is a heavyweight contender on the Sapere Books Historical Dagger longlist. The prizewinning novelist and literary polymath, considered Ireland’s greatest living novelist, is in the running for Snow, his first murder mystery published under his real name rather than his nom de plume, Benjamin Black.

This Sapere Books Historical Dagger longlist also includes Nicola Upson, who was shortlisted for the award in 2018, and S J Parris, whose Giordano Bruno books, Heresy, Sacrilege and Treachery have all been previously shortlisted. Vaseem Khan also features on the list as he swaps his contemporary light-hearted Baby Ganesh Agency series with his historical crime novel Midnight at Malabar House, set in 1950s Bombay.

The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger sees the bestselling Jo Nesbo on the list with his stand-alone thriller, The Kingdom, translated by Robert Ferguson. Joining the Norwegian is Swedish writer Mikael Niemi with his sumptuous blend of historical fact with fictional intrigue, To Cook a Bear, centred around the Laestadian revivalist movement of the 1850s, translated by Sarah Death.

From one of Israel’s most beloved writers is Three by D A Mishani, translated by Jessica Cohen, and from South Korea, Yun Ko-eun’s original and inventive thriller The Disaster Tourist makes the longlist, with translator Lizzie Buehler.

The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Christopher Fowler, the award-winning author of the Bryant & May mystery novels, has written over 50 novels and short story collections. Fowler, who won the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2015, is longlisted for his short story, Head Count. The list also features acclaimed authors Clare Mackintosh and Stuart Turton. Founding member of the North East Noir crime writers’ group, Robert Scragg, also dominates the category as an editor and writer of short stories. 

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction features the 2020 CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Martin Edwards, with Howdunit. A renowned editor, prolific novelist, and leading authority on crime fiction, Howdunit offers a masterclass in crime writing by leading exponents of the genre.

Dan Smith also features with The Peer and the Gangster which tells the incredible story of one of the largest-scale political cover-ups in British history – the 1964 scandal of an alleged homosexual affair between Lord Boothby, a well-known member of the House of Lords, and London’s most notorious mobster Ronnie Kray.

The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year sees firm favourites from the genre including Nicci French, Lisa Jewell, Margaret Murphy, Erin Kelly, Peter May and Denise Mina on the longlist.

The Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, pits big publishing houses Harper Fiction and Faber & Faber against independent publishers such as No Exit Press. 

The CWA Dagger shortlist will be announced in May with the awards ceremony taking place at the start of July. The 2021 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing, has already been announced, awarded to Martina Cole.

The Longlists in Full:


Amer Anwar: Stone Cold Trouble (Dialogue Books, Little, Brown Book Group)

S A Cosby: Blacktop Wasteland (Headline, Headline Publishing Group)

M W Craven: The Curator (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)

Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Fiction, Welbeck Publishing Group)

Garry Disher: Peace (Viper, Profile Books)

Mick Finlay: Arrowood and the Thames Corpses (HQ, HarperCollins)

Nicci French: House of Correction (Simon & Schuster)

Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)

Elly Griffiths: The Postscript Murders (Quercus)

Antonia Hodgson: The Silver Collar (Hodder & Stoughton)

S G Maclean: The House of Lamentations (Quercus Fiction, Quercus)

C D Major: The Other Girl (Thomas & Mercer)

Thomas Mullen: Midnight Atlanta (Little, Brown, Little, Brown Book Group)

S J Parris: Execution (Harper Fiction, HarperCollins)

Tade Thompson: Making Wolf (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)

Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)

Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre, Bonnier)

Rebecca Whitney: The Hidden Girls (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)


Charles Cumming: Box 88 (HarperFiction, HarperCollins)

Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)

Ryan Gattis: The System (Picador, Pan Macmillan)

Ian Rankin: Song for the Dark Times (Orion Fiction, The Orion Publishing Group)

Rod Reynolds: Blood Red City (Orenda Books)

Craig Robertson: Watch Him Die (Simon & Schuster)

Michael Robotham: When She Was Good (Sphere, Little, Brown Book Group)

Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man (Atlantic Books)

Stuart Turton: The Devil and the Dark Water (Raven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Ruth Ware: One by One (Harvill Secker, Vintage)

Holly Watt: The Dead Line (Raven Books, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre, Bonnier Books UK)


Eva Björg Ægisdóttir: The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda)

Susan Allott: The Silence (Borough, HarperCollins)

Emma Christie: The Silent Daughter (Welbeck Publishing)

Catherine Cooper: The Chalet (Harper Fiction, HarperCollins)

Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Publishing)

Judi Daykin: Under Violent Skies (Joffe Books)

Egan Hughes: The One That Got Away (Little Brown, Sphere)

S W Kane: The Bone Jar (Thomas & Mercer)

Rob McInroy: Cuddies Strip (Ringwood Press)

Stephanie Scott: What's Left of Me Is Yours (Orion, Weidenfeld)

Stephen Spotswood: Fortune Favours the Dead (Headline, Wildfire)

John Vercher: Three Fifths (Pushkin Press)

S R White: Hermit (Headline)


J M Alvey: Justice for Athena (Canelo Digital Publishing Limited)

John Banville: Snow (Faber)

Vaseem Khan: Midnight at Malabar House (Hodder & Stoughton)

Laurie King: Riviera Gold (Allison & Busby)

Chris Lloyd: The Unwanted Dead (Orion Fiction, The Orion Publishing Group)

S J Parris: Execution (HarperFiction, HarperCollins)

Ben Pastor: The Night of Shooting Stars (Bitter Lemon Press)

Michael Russell: The City Under Siege (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)

David S. Stafford: Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons (Allison & Busby)

A D Swanston: Chaos (Bantam Press, Transworld)

Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)

Ovidia Yu: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (Constable, Little, Brown Book Group)


Fredrik Backman: Anxious People, translated by Neil Smith (Michael Joseph, Penguin)

Roxanne Bouchard: The Coral Bride, translated by David Warriner (Orenda Books)

Marc Elsberg: Greed, translated by Simon Pare (Black Swan, Penguin)

Yun Ko-eun: The Disaster Tourist, translated by Lizzie Buehler (Serpent's Tail)

Volker Kutscher: The March Fallen, translated by Niall Sellar (Sandstone Press)

D A Mishani: Three, translated by Jessica Cohen (Riverrun, Hachette Book Group)

Jo Nesbo: The Kingdom, translated by Robert Ferguson (Harvill Secker, Penguin)

Håkan Nesser: The Secret Life of Mr Roos, translated by Sarah Death (Mantle, Pan Macmillan)

Mikael Niemi: To Cook a Bear, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Maclehose Press, Quercus)

Agnes Ravatn: The Seven Doors, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books)

Maike Wetzel: Elly, translated by Lyn Marven (Scribe UK)


Robert Scragg: ‘A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Elle Croft: ‘Deathbed’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Dominic Nolan: ‘Daddy Dearest’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Adam Southward: ‘Especially at Christmas’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Christopher Fowler: ‘Head Count’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)

Victoria Selman: ‘Hunted’ in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Clare Mackintosh: ‘Monsters’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)

Stuart Turton: ‘Murder Most Vial’ in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)

Livia Llewelyn: ‘One of These Nights’ in Cutting Edge: Noir Stories by Women, edited by Joyce Carol Oates (Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo)

James Delargy: ‘Planting Nan’ in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg (Robert Scragg)

Simpson Grears: ‘The Foot of the Walk Murders’ in The Foot of the Walk Murders, edited by Simpson Grears (Rymour Books)


Sue Black: Written in Bone (Doubleday, Penguin)

Amanda Brown: The Prison Doctor; Women Inside (HQ, HarperCollins)

Becky Cooper: We Keep the Dead Close (William Heinemann, Penguin)

Martin Edwards: Howdunit (Collins Crime Club, HarperCollins)

Andrew Harding: These Are Not Gentle People (MacLehose, Quercus)

Debora Harding: Dancing with the Octopus (Profile Books Limited)

Nick Hayes: The Book of Trespass (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Ben MacIntyre: Agent Sonya (Viking, Penguin)

Jax Miller: Hell in the Heartland (HarperCollins)

Daniel Smith: The Peer and the Gangster (The History Press)

Ravi Somaiya: Operation Morthor (Viking, Penguin)

Kate Summerscale:The Haunting of Alma Fielding (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Mark Townsend: No Return (Guardian, Faber & Faber)


Lin Anderson

Nicci French

Lisa Jewell

Erin Kelly

Peter May

Denise Mina

Margaret Murphy

James Oswald

L J Ross

C L Taylor


Bitter Lemon Press

Faber & Faber

Harper Fiction

Head of Zeus

Michael Joseph

No Exit Press

Orenda Books

Pushkin Vertigo




Inspiration behind DON’T TURN AROUND

 The inspiration for my latest novel, DON’T TURN AROUND, came from a few different places. 

The first was an incident that occurred when I was driving to the grocery store in the middle of the afternoon. Another driver become convinced that I’d cut him off and proceeded to tailgate me for several blocks before following me into a crowded parking lot. Eventually he drove away, but though I came away unscathed, it got me thinking: if something like that could happen in broad daylight, what would happen if I’d been driving on a remote road in the middle of the night, with no crowded parking lot to turn into? The experience left me shaken, and I wanted to lean into that newfound fear and push it as far as it would go.

A second moment of inspiration came from an article about a charity offering transportation and lodging to women seeking abortions. Access to abortion has become increasingly scarce in many parts of America as clinics are forced to shut down due to state legislature. In some areas, the nearest clinic is hundreds of miles away, and some women simply don’t have the means to get there. There are charities that provide airfare and pay for accommodation, and others that rely on volunteers to women to their appointments. Not only was I was blown away by these acts of generosity – and horrified that they were needed in the first place – but it also got me thinking: what would that journey be like for those women, forced to rely on a stranger’s help when at their most vulnerable?

Primarily, though, I wanted to delve into the way that women live under constant threat to our personal safety. Activities that our male counterparts take for granted - like going for a run after the sun has gone down, or coming home alone from a night out – are for us laced with potential violence. I don’t remember the exact moment when I learned to clutch my keys between my fingers, or to turn off my headphones when walking at night, or any of the other tiny, imperceptible adjustments I make when moving through the world in order to feel safer. These are lessons we all learn at some point: that danger is lying in wait for us around every corner, and all it takes is just one small lapse in attention. One wrong turn. 

And sometimes we do everything we’ve been taught and it doesn’t matter: violence can always find us, no matter how careful we are. 

Fear is something that women live with - a constant, low-level thrum in our heads - and it’s also the unspoken burden we carry. With this book, I wanted to confront that fear head-on, and explore what happens when the threat of danger is made suddenly, shockingly real. 

Don't Turn Around by Jessica Barry (Vintage Publishing)

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America. Cait's job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something. But what if Rebecca's secrets put them both in danger? There's a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it's like to be followed. And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

New Welsh Women's Crime Anthology - Call for Submissions


A New Chapter in Welsh Women’s Crime Writing: 

Call for Submissions of Original Short Fiction 

by Katherine Stansfield

An exciting development is afoot at Welsh publisher Honno, the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK, and I’m delighted to be able to share the news in this blogpost.

In spring 2022, Honno will publish an anthology of crime fiction, showcasing the talents of new and established women crime writers in Wales today. I’m thrilled to be co-editing the anthology with Honno editor Caroline Oakley. The book will be launched at a special event at the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival in Aberystwyth in 2022.

‘Honno is delighted to be joining Katherine Stansfield in curating a volume of the best of Welsh women’s crime writing to tie in with Crime Cymru’s splendid new festival. I’m personally looking forward to reading some great new voices and gripping stories from a few familiar names.’ Caroline Oakley

Whether you’re a published author or a debutante, we want to hear from you. As editors, Caroline and I are looking for gripping stories that are complex and convincing, chilling or comforting and with a crime or a mystery at their heart, from the most diverse possible selection of Welsh women writers. The new anthology will offer a follow-up to Honno’s brilliant 2009 crime fiction anthology Written in Blood. With the boom crime writing is enjoying in the UK, and the hard work of Crime Cymru to raise the profile of crime writing in Wales, the time is right for a new volume of crime fiction from the country’s women writers.

Submissions are open to stories featuring ‘traditional’ crime fiction elements of detectives and police as well as amateur sleuths. Contemporary crime fiction takes many forms. Tales of mystery and unease, the macabre and the strange all contribute to the crime canon so if your story is bordering on horror – a close relative of crime fiction – the editors would be keen to read it. We welcome stories set in rural or urban settings, historical periods or contemporary landscapes.

Wales is home to a growing number of crime writers (as the Crime Cymru membership attests) and the country is increasingly popular as a setting for crime drama. This new anthology from Honno is an opportunity to celebrate the crime writing talents of Wales’ women writers, but submissions don’t have to be set in Wales or concerned with particularly ‘Welsh’ themes.

Thinking of submitting? Here’s what you need to know:

Submissions should be between 1500 and 5000 words in length and previously unpublished.

The deadline for submissions is 30 June 2021 and the contents will be announced at the end of August. The resulting anthology will be published in spring 2022. All the selected contributors will receive a fee for the publishing rights to their work.

Send your submission to with the subject line Honno/Crime Anthology 2022 by midnight on: 30 June 2021.

If you’re not sure whether you meet Honno’s criteria for publication drop us a line and we’ll let you know.

You can find out more about Honno here.

Jacket reveal - The Apollo Murders by Astronault Chris Hadfield

The Shotsblog are delighted to take part in the cover reveal for The Apollo Murders by Astronault Commander Chris Hadfield. 

Watch the trailer for the book below -

The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield (Quercus Publishing) Out October 12 2021.

The far side of the Moon, 1973. Three astronauts are trapped in a tiny Apollo module, and one of them has murder on the mind... From internationally bestselling astronaut Chris Hadfield comes an exceptional Cold War thriller from the dark heart of the Space Race. As Russian and American crews sprint for a secret bounty hidden away on the Moon's surface, old rivalries blossom and the political stakes are stretched to breaking point back on Earth. Houston flight controller Kazimieras 'Kaz' Zemeckis must do all he can to keep the NASA crew together, while staying one step ahead of his Soviet rivals. But not everyone on board Apollo 18 is quite who they appear to be.


Monday, 12 April 2021

Conan Doyle and Storytelling - Call For Papers


Edinburgh Conan Doyle Network Conference 

‘Conan Doyle and Storytelling’ 

10–11 December 2021 

Birkbeck, University of London

Keynote speakers: 

Professor Christine Ferguson, University of Stirling 

Professor Robert Hampson, Royal Holloway, University of London 

“‘Pray compose yourself, sir,’ said Holmes, ‘and let me have a clear account of who you are, and what it is that has befallen you.’” (‘The Beryl Coronet’) 

Arthur Conan Doyle was one of the greatest of all storytellers. He is best known and most enjoyed not for the subtlety of his characterisation or the profundity of his ideas, but as a master of narrative, in many different forms. It is because of his powers as a storyteller that his work not only endures in book form, but continues to captivate television and cinema audiences internationally. The conditions of his own time were propitious for an author with his gift for narrative. He was writing in a period described as ‘the Age of Storytellers’, which was also an age of literature in transition, and of emergent Modernism. We would welcome proposals for 20-minute papers, which consider Conan Doyle’s writing in all these wider contexts, and which might explore:

  • Conan Doyle and genre: romance literature, detective fiction, historical fiction, the Gothic, sport, travel, and life-writing etc 

  • Narrative and the market: Conan Doyle and publishing history and practice 

  • Late-Victorian and early 20th-century shorter fiction 

  • Neo-Victorian adaptation: Conan Doyle’s stories in the 20th and 21st centuries 

  • Conan Doyle and narratology 

  • Character and action 

  • Narrating the Empire: Conan Doyle and colonialism 

  • Storytelling and Modernism 

  • Conan Doyle’s narrators 

  • Stories of Spiritualism and the supernatural 

    Please send abstracts of 200–300 words together with a brief biography to:-

    Deadline for proposals: - 31 July 2021 

    ‘Conan Doyle and Storytelling’ is hosted in partnership with the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, and will be the third event associated with a new scholarly enterprise,The Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Arthur Conan Doyle, sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Conan Doyle Estate. 

    Further information can be found here.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

2021 Lefty Award Winners


The Lefty Awards, voted on by Left Coast Crime attendees, were presented virtually on April 10, 2021, at the Unconvention. Congratulations to the winners and to all of the nominated authors.

Award for Best Humorous Mystery Novel

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

Award for Best Historical Mystery Novel for books set before 1970

The Turning Tide by Catriona McPherson (Quercus)

Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden, (Ecco)

Award for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories)

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Cataloging 007 from A17924 to Zwart: The Origins of The James Bond Lexicon By Alan J. Porter & Gillian J. Porter


Oh, Im sure we can get the research done in a year” So much for that way over optimistic estimate of what it would take to us chronicle the various lives and worlds of the worlds most famous secret agent across almost seventy years of adventures in various movies, novels, and comics. 

While there was already separate encyclopedias covering the Bond movies and the Ian Fleming stories we felt that the Bond community needed an overarching reference that would bring all the worlds of 007 together including unfamiliar spin-off material and stories told in other media. It was a reference book that we wanted on our shelves, so we set out to write it. 

It turned out to be a bigger project than we first estimated, and we faced some obstacles along the way.

We originally planned to publish the book sometime in 2016, but in mid-2015 Gillian was diagnosed with Stage 3 Gall Bladder Cancer, which hit us pretty hard. As a consequence, we decided to put everything on hold to fully focus on Gill's surgery and treatment. 

By mid-2017 things were going well enough that we decided to get back to working on the book and updating the manuscript. Unfortunately, it was around this time that one of the co-owners of the publishing company we had contracted with suddenly passed away. His business partner decided he didn't want to continue and shut the company, so we were now left with a partially updated manuscript and no publisher. This was a big decision point for us, and to be honest we came very close to just shelving the project. But after some thought decided to carry on and include all Bond material through to the end of 2017 and see if we could find another publisher.

A series of conversations with our On Her Majesty's Secret Podcast co-host Van Allen Plexico in 2018 resulted in him agreeing to publish the James Bond Lexicon via his White Rocket Books imprint and we were back to updating the manuscript for the third time with the intent to cover everything up to the end of 2019 so we could include Danny Boyle's Bond 25 (or so we thought).

Once the No Time To Die delays started to happen we had to make a decision of whether we stuck with "everything up to the end of 2019" or keep waiting so we could include the most recent movie. At first, we thought about waiting but as the impact of COVID started to result in multiple slip dates we decided to stay with what we had and actually work towards getting the book out. So we fixed it at covering the 271 official Bond stories released between 1953 and the end of 2019 - you have to put a line in the sand somewhere on a project like this or you will never finish.

We also decided to launch a companion website ( where we are posting new entries for material released after 2019, and hopefully, one day that will include the entries for No Time To Die.

So here we are in April 2021 and are delighted to see The James Bond Lexicon book finally available, and hope that it will become a well loved and much thumbed reference for Bond enthusiasts, scholars, and general pop-culture fans.

The James Bond Lexicon includes more than 450 pages (over 300,000 words!) of Bond knowledge. Between its oversize covers you will find 5,000 individual entries, covering all the characters, major and minor; all the great Bond gadgets, famous and obscure; those famous vehicles; and the exotic locations Bond and his adversaries have visited, among many other items. The detailed entries come from more than two hundred different Bond stories, as presented in all the various media, from film to comics to tv to novels.

Additionally, the book is fully illustrated with more than eighty pieces of gorgeous original artwork by noted artist Pat Carbajal.

The James Bond Lexicon is available on global Amazon sites and you can follow updates and news at the companion website or by following the @BondLexicon account on Twitter ( 

The James Bond Lexicon: - The Unofficial Guide to the World of 007 in Movies, Novels, and Comics by Alan J Porter and Gillian J Porter (Published by White Rocket Books) Out Now!

300,000 Words, 5,000 Individual entries, 200+ stories covered, 80+ pieces of original art and 6 Years of Research. It all adds up to ONE book –The James Bond Lexicon - the most comprehensive guide to the worlds of James Bond in Movies, Novels, TV, and Comics.  Covering 271 James Bond stories released between 1953 and 2019. Written by Alan J. Porter and Gillian J. Porter: This husband and wife team are active in the James Bond community and are both members of the Ian Fleming Foundation. Alan J. Porter is the author of JAMES BOND: the illustrated 007 (Hermes Press), the critically acclaimed history of Bond in comics, and has presented shows on the topic at museums, libraries, and various comics and science-fiction conventions. Alan is also a regular show co-host on the On Her Majesty’s Secret Podcast channel.

Photograph of Gill and Alan Porter at Ian Fleming's desk at Goldeneye, Jamaica.

©photograph and book cover copyright Alan J. Porter and Gillian J. Porter

Friday, 9 April 2021

Psychological drama behind The Silent Girl


Out this April, The Silent Girl is what I’ve described as a fever-dream of a novel, with elements of crime thriller, romance, mystery, Southern gothic, and more. I love to use lists to describe it, like so: This story has everything—labyrinthine Edwardian architecture; a woman on the run from a dangerous secret she can’t even remember; a haunted stained-glass window; Pentecostal snake handling; a most unapproachable love interest, and so, so many lingering, tense stares. 

The premise: Sophie can’t remember her name, where she’s from, or who tried to kill her. All she has is a mysterious necklace and a dreamlike vision, a memory of a field of flowers. Of course, those aren’t much help, considering she’s all but certain that someone is still following her. Sophie is running for her life, a victim of a terrible crime—or is she? She doesn’t remember anything about where she’s from—or does she?

So, it is a fairly straightforward thriller premise. Sophie is haunted—by what, she doesn’t know, but she’s got her choice of scares: mountainous wilderness, a spooky house, the constant sense of being followed. But what I learned as I wrote was that what truly haunts Sophie is what’s inside her mind, a deep feeling of being fundamentally incomplete. 

I’ve heard people refer to co-dependency as ‘the disease of lost self.’ I began with an image of two people, one brilliant and charismatic, bound in some way to the second, who is less so, a tag-along in constant awe of the first. Where we hope for any relationship to ultimately be a site of growth, a co-dependent relationship prevents individuation. And Sophie is so deep into such a relationship, so accustomed to feeling incomplete on her own, that she doesn’t even know it. While the incident that leaves her without memory is indeed a function of the co-dependent relationship, it is also what forces her to step out of it. As she says at one point in the story: I remember, now, that I always take the safe choice. That I don’t let anybody in, ever…I’ve remembered this too late.

And as I wrote, reaching into her past and exploring her present conundrum, I discovered Sophie’s individuality, in ways along with the character herself. Against all odds, she is incredibly determined, and has a bone-deep impulse toward doing the right thing. She is fiery and tender and fearlessly optimistic, even in the bleakest places. I have never felt so much like a cheerleader for one of my own protagonists as I do for Sophie.

But a co-dependent does not know how to live for themselves. Because this is fiction, the co-dependent relationship is literally deadly. But to Sophie, that environment is familiar, feels safe. As someone more eloquent than me once said, when you are acting in your own interest, when you are drawing boundaries where you have been taught not to, it won’t just be uncomfortable—it will feel like trying to breathe underwater. And that discomfort is a lot of what is bound up with Sophie’s terrifying cat-and-mouse as she tries to discern who is following her, or if anyone even is. 

Nor does a co-dependent know how to build a real relationship, which is one of Sophie’s more significant undertakings. Every codependent has a narcissist. Of course, the word narcissist comes from the old story where it doesn’t matter how much you talk to them, they can only talk to their own reflection. Imagine how jarring, for an Echo-type to have someone look right at her and listen to what she says. Even in Sophie’s buried memories, there’s no training for what to do when you’re talking about your problems to somebody who actually listens. I’ve said too much. There’s something heady, almost intoxicating, about the way he listens to me, the way he wants to hear my thoughts. It puts her on the defensive, throws her off. To someone who wants to help you heal from your wounds, not for their own sake, but for yours. For Sophie, who isn’t used to anything else, the attentions of the man she is inexplicably drawn to, in so many ways cause her suspicion and distress, making her even more determined to hide her past from him, even when it matters most.

But nobody can save the day for her. If Sophie weren’t responsible ultimately for saving herself, then she wouldn’t get to learn anything. It has been an absolute delight to write a story that throws these dysfunctional emotional dynamics into the kind of high-stakes adventure that forces the disordered personalities to get themselves sorted already, or die trying. I hope you love it.

The Silent Girl by Kelly Heard (Published by Bookoutre) Out Now.

Sophie wakes in a cold hospital bed with no memory of her life before. She isn’t even sure if Sophie is her real name… The police tell Sophie she was found alone, unconscious and surrounded by blood-red flower petals, on a remote stretch of highway. She had no I.D., no phone, and no one had reported her missing. But while Sophie’s identity is a mystery, one thing is clear: someone tried to kill her and they almost succeeded. While she’s recovering, Sophie can’t shake the feeling someone is watching her. When a bouquet of red roses is sent to her room without a note, she is convinced they’re from the same people who left her for dead with crimson flowers woven through her hair… With no one to turn to, Sophie takes a job working high in the mountains, miles from the nearest town, where she feels she might finally be safe. Until more red flowers begin appearing on the front step of her secluded cottage. Every cell in Sophie’s body is telling her to run. But she is also desperate to know the truth about who she is. If she lets these people catch up with her, she could finally uncover her past… Or once again place her life in terrible danger…

More information about the author can be found on her website.  You can also follow her on Twitter @KHeardBooks and on Facebook.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Claire McGowan enters The Vanishing Triangle


We were intrigued when we heard that Crime writer Claire McGowan has entered the world of Audio True Crime, She conducts a disturbing investigation, entitled THE VANISHING TRIANGLE, exclusive to Audible Studios. In fact, she also narrates this slab of investigative journalism.

The Vanishing Triangle shines a light on the unsolved disappearance of at least eight women from mid-nineties Dublin; their bodies were never found, and no suspect was ever charged. To understand why these crimes remain unsolved, McGowan explores what life was like in nineties Ireland, and investigates how a shifting political landscape and Irish society’s views on the treatment of women impacted the investigation.

An insightful look at the context that shaped a terrifying Irish mystery, The Vanishing Triangle asks how misogyny, shame and secrecy prevented us from discovering the truth behind these disappearances. 

Claire McGowan is the author of the bestselling crime thriller What You Did and the popular Paula Maguire series. She has written several radio plays and TV scripts, and also writes women’s fiction under the pseudonym Eva Woods.

'I first came across the so-called Vanishing Triangle cases when writing my Ireland-set crime series, and was shocked and horrified that they had never been solved, and that no one really knows about them outside of the country. I realised I had been a teenager growing up in Ireland at the time of the disappearances, but had no memory of hearing about them then. This has been a massive undertaking for me, a different way of writing, a story without an ending, real people with real suffering families. Audible have been hugely supportive and I really hope it will bring a greater spotlight to the ongoing tragedy of these unsolved cases.Claire McGowan

The Vanishing Triangle will be available to download from 1st April 2021 exclusively at

For an insightful look into the attraction of Ture Crime Audio – Click HERE

So, intrigued with this departure for this crime writer, we tracked her down as we had a few questions -

Ali Karim:       The most pressing question first, why the foray into true crime after penning fiction?

Claire McGowan:  It wasn’t something I had particularly planned to do, but the topic came up at the Harrogate crime festival, and I was asked if I could think of any true crime cases I’d be interested in writing about – and this was the first one to come to mind, as I’d learned about it while researching some of my crime novels.

AK:      And so, what intrigued you about the case of these missing eight women in 1990s Dublin to investigate?

CM:     I had always found it very shocking that there could have been a serial murderer in Ireland that not only was never caught, but not even identified for some years. It seemed so sinister that this could happen in such a small and close-knit country, which had always felt quite safe to grow up in.

AK:      After penning many crime novels tell us how difficult it was to change to writing non-fiction?

CM:     I did find it quite a difficult transition – mostly I found myself checking facts over and over while writing, because normally I would just make it up. The other difficulty is that these cases are not currently solvable, and in my books there were would always be a resolution that explained everything.

AK:      In THE VANISHING TRIANGLE you provide commentary on the social backdrop of Ireland before the millennium, especially toward women. Was it difficult to uncover what lay beneath the veneer of a genteel, religious society?

CM:     Although I knew a fair bit about the cases already, and do remember much of the nineties from growing up in Ireland, I was still shocked to discover the extent of violence against women there, both years ago and now. I also learned that as well as the disappearances there was quite a few murders of women in the same area, many still unsolved, that may be connected. Obviously, the country was not as safe as I had imagined as a young girl.

AK:      How much research was involved in your investigation?

CM:     Quite a lot – I researched a lot in newspaper archives as well as books, and spoke to people connected to the cases. The difficult thing was knowing when to stop, as I kept finding more and more cases that might have been relevant.

AK:      And the Gardai? [aka Irish Police] What was the cooperation from the authorities like, or would they rather your just went away?

CM:     I found them very helpful, both the retired officers who worked on the cases, and the current force, who invited me to an event for missing persons that’s held every year in Dublin. My impression was that the officers who investigated the cases, especially the cold case team who worked on them for three years, were quite haunted by them, and had done everything they could to try and solve them, but ultimately there was just no evidence.

AK:      Did you ever consider fictionalising the events of THE VANISHING TRIANGLE to pen an imagined thriller?

CM:    No – I feel I’ve written a lot about missing persons in Ireland already in fiction, and I wouldn’t want to fictionalise something that is still causing so much pain to the families who’ve never had any resolutions, not even a body to bury.

AK:      And why the decision to turn into an audio book? And more specifically, to narrate the story yourself?

CM:     It was actually commissioned as an audio book first and foremost, although it will also be a print book after some time has passed. I was surprised to be asked to narrate it – it wasn’t my decision – because I don’t have any experience in voice acting, but I think as it’s quite a personal story, it was right that I did it.

AK:      Are going to return to crime fiction, with your Paula Maguire books, or standalones?

CM:     I haven’t stopped writing crime fiction – I have another thriller out later this year, I Know You, which is about miscarriages of justice, Death Row, and old secrets coming back to haunt the present.

AK:      And tell us how your involvement in BELFAST NOIR came about?

CM:     That was a collection of short stories edited by Stuart Neville and Adrian McKinty – I was just asked to write a story for it, which was a lot of fun.

AK:      Are we likely to see another Audible work from your notebook and microphone?

CM:     No immediate plans but they have been fantastic to work with, and I would certainly consider writing some more non-fiction in the future.

AK:      Thank you for your time

CM: And to Shots Magazine too!

Shots Magazine would like to thank Ben McCluskey of Midas, London for his help in this Shots Magazine feature.

For more information about the work of Claire McGowan, follow her on Twitter @inkstainsclaire AND More information about the world of Audio Books, go to OR