Thursday, 31 October 2019

C M Ewan on Why I Wrote A Window Breaks


Chris Ewan is the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of many mystery and thriller novels.  His is also the author of THE GOOD THIEF’S GUIDE TO …  a series of mystery novels set in Amsterdam, Paris, Las Vegas, Venice and Berlin.  His first standalone thriller, Safe House was shortlisted for The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. He is also the author of three other thrillers Dead Line, Dark Tides and Long Time Lost

Stories of break-ins and home invasions have always fascinated me. As a kid, I had a recurring nightmare about a series of burglaries in the quiet suburb in Taunton where my family lived. I’m still not sure why. There never was a burglary in the area that I knew of. There were no stories of armed men in balaclavas going from house to house. But those were the visions that crammed my mind in the small hours of the night. And, I guess, like most childhood fears, they’ve lingered on ever since.

The first time I heard about a real-life home invasion actually happening to someone I knew was when I was studying Biology for my A-levels. A student in my class who lived in the countryside came into college shaken up one day. The previous afternoon, she’d been home alone when a stranger had broken into her parent’s place. She’d barricaded herself in her bedroom. The stranger had toured the house, pushed on her bedroom door, tried to get in. She’d pushed back and yelled at him to leave and, thankfully, he had. But the story left me chilled. Imagine being on the other side of the door from a total stranger. Imagine having nowhere to run for help.

Other incidents followed. There was the time when I was at law school in Nottingham and someone followed me into my student house without me knowing it. They swiped my housemate’s car keys and stole her car. It was found burned and abandoned the next day. Then there was the time that same housemate was sleeping over at a friend’s house some months later. She was crashed out on a sofa in the living room and thought it was pretty considerate of the other people in the house to use a torch when they walked by her to use the bathroom in the middle of the night – until she said hello and the burglar who’d broken in jumped in terror and fled the house.

Eventually, it happened to me. I was sharing a flat in London when I got home one evening to find the door to my apartment ajar. I guessed my housemate had forgotten to pull the door closed on its latch first thing that morning. I went in, saw her bedroom door closed ahead of me, thought nothing of it and went to take a shower. I was in the middle of singing a very bad version of Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River when I heard a door slam. Embarrassing, I thought. My housemate must have got home and heard me singing. But when I came out of the bathroom, there was nobody there. Hours later, my housemate got home late from work. She knocked on my bedroom door and asked me if by any chance I’d been in her bedroom, ransacked her things, stolen all her jewellery? It wasn’t me (I swear) but it dawned on me pretty quickly that a burglar had been there when I’d come home. Lucky for me, I guess, that I’m such a bad singer, or they might have stuck around.

Just over a decade ago, I took all these stories and experiences and I channelled them into writing a series of comic mysteries about a globetrotting burglar (starting with The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam).

But I never explored my real fear at the heart of all these stories about burglaries and home invasions. Our homes are meant to be safe havens – but what if they’re not?

People are scared of all kinds of different things. There are entire spectrums of phobias. But I think there’s one fear we don’t just all share but we’ve all experienced, too. It’s that haunting moment, very late at night, when you’re fast asleep and then you’re woken by a strange noise in your home. What do you do? Do you get out of bed to investigate? Go room to room, flipping on the lights? Or do you lie in bed, crippled with fear, wondering if you should call someone for help?

That’s the question that led me to write A Window Breaks. The book is a fast, twisting and nerve-shredding exploration of how far one family will go to save themselves when they’re all alone at a remote lodge in the wilds of Scotland and they hear footsteps downstairs in the middle of the night.

What would you do in that situation? Would you run, or would you fight?

A Window Breaks by  C M Ewan (Published by PanMacmillan)
If your family was targeted in the middle of the night, what would you do?  You are asleep. A noise wakes you.  You stir, unsure why, and turn to your wife.  Then you hear it.  Glass. Crunching underfoot.  Your worst fears are about to be realized.  Someone is inside your home.  Your choices are limited. You can run. Or stay and fight. What would you do?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Bad Fire is coming



It’s hard to believe that Quintin Jardine’s Bob Skinner detective series reaches 31, in November.

Scotsman Jardine first introduced his Edinburgh Policeman in 1993, with Skinner’s Rules.

So what’s in store for Bob Skinner in THE BAD FIRE?

Nine years ago, divorcee Marcia Brown took her own life. A pillar of the community, she had been accused of theft, and it’s assumed that she was unable to live with the shame. Now her former husband wants the case reopened. Marcia was framed, he says, to prevent her exposing a scandal. He wants justice for Marcia. And Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate, and daughter of retired Chief Constable Sir Robert Skinner, has taken on the brief, aided by her investigator Carrie McDaniels.

When tragedy strikes and his daughter comes under threat, Skinner steps in. His quarry is about to discover that the road to hell is marked by bad intentions . . .

We’re delighted to provide Shots Reader’s an exclusive extract, the opening of THE BAD FIRE

EXTRACT: Chapter One

By Scottish standards, it was an unusual summer. It had survived the first fortnight in May, continued into June, and was threatening to extend into July. Edinburgh’s city-centre shoppers were sweltering, the nation’s golf courses were turning brown in spite of their automatic watering systems and beach car parks were earning a small fortune for local councils all around the country.

‘Get you,’ June Crampsey laughed, as Bob Skinner walked past the open door of her office on the way to his own, dressed in shorts, sandals and a close-fitting blue T-shirt. ‘Not even the directors of our parent company in Spain dress like that. Nice legs, by the way,’ she added. ‘I don’t recall ever seeing them before.’ He paused. ‘Don’t you start,’ he replied. ‘Trish, the kids’ carer, said I look like the guy from Baywatch.’
‘Which version? David Hasselhoff or Dwayne Johnson?’
‘I like to think she meant the younger one.’
‘Could you do me a selfie?’ the managing editor of the Saltire newspaper asked. ‘I’m thinking of doing a photo feature in the next Sunday edition on unusual office attire. ’‘This doesn’t count as an office day for me; I was here all day yesterday, remember, Sunday or not, talking to Spain about the UK expansion programme. Sarah’s car’s had a recall, so I drove her to work, then thought I’d come in to check my mail.’
She looked at him afresh. ‘I don’t see room for a phone in that skimpy outfit.’
‘Left it at home, didn’t I? The heat must be getting to me, for I’m finding that I quite like being out of touch, from time to time. I don’t think I have been in years, since even before we all started carrying mobiles, or had them wired into our cars.’
‘That explains why your daughter was up here looking for you half an hour back. She asked if you’d call in on her if you showed up.’
‘I thought she was due in the high court this morning.’
‘The trial’s been postponed, she said. The prosecution have offered her client a plea deal.’
Skinner chuckled. ‘Which means that the Crown Office doesn’t think it can get a conviction. Okay, I’ll go down and see her.’
‘Don’t forget that selfie,’ she called after him.

He stepped into his own office; unlike that of his colleague, it looked towards the morning sun. The high-rise block was faced in glass that was meant to be heat-reflecting. It seemed to be doing its job, although the air-conditioning system was working full blast, ruffling the correspondence in his in-tray. Skinner was a part-time executive director of InterMedia, a family-owned company that was the proprietor of the Saltire, as well as titles and radio stations across Spain and Italy. He had been doubtful about the post when it had been offered by his friend Xavi Aislado. After a career in the police service, it had been a radical departure, but he had been persuaded – not least by the substantial salary – to give it a go. To his surprise he had risen to the challenge, to the extent that while his contract specified one day a week, he spent at least three in his office, and had become effectively the managing director of the Saltire, as the board’s British presence.

He spent fifteen minutes reviewing his mail, physical and electronic, and acting on it where urgency was required, then headed for the stairs that led to the office suite he had secured for his daughter as her legal practice grew to the point where it could no longer be run from home or from a law library.
‘Bloody hell!’ Alexis Skinner laughed as her father appeared in her doorway. ‘Why didn’t you just put on budgie-smugglers and be done with it?’

Continue reading THE BAD FIRE by QUINTIN JARDINE from Headline Publishing [available 14th November 2019]

More information available HERE

Text Credit © 2019 Quintin Jardine
Photo Credit © 2019 Chris Close and © 2019 Headline Publishing

Shots Magazine pass thanks to Rosie Margesson of Headline Publishing for providing our readers an exclusive look at the latest Bob Skinner thriller.




Sunday, 27 October 2019

Books to Look Forward to from Oneworld - Point Blank Books

January 2020

In the first of the Burrowhead Mysteries, an atmospheric murder investigation unearths the brutal history of a village where no one is innocent.  When psychotherapist Alexis Cosse is found murdered in the playground of the sleepy northern village of Burrowhead, DI Strachan and her team of local police investigate, exposing a maelstrom of racism, misogyny and homophobia simmering beneath the surface of the village. Shaken by the revelations and beginning to doubt her relationship with her husband, DI Strachan discovers something lurking in the history of Burrowhead, while someone (or something) equally threatening is hiding in the strange and haunted cave beneath the cliffs.  When The Dead Comes Calling is by Helen Sedgwick.

February 2020

An eerie and absorbing novel following a criminal psychologist who has discovered shocking and possibly dangerous connectionsbetween a serial killer and her stepdaughter.  Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her. Seonkyeong agrees out of curiosity. That same day Hayeong, her husband's eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, shows up at their door after her grandparents, with whom she lived after her mother passed away, die in a sudden fire. Seonkyeong wants her to feel at home, but is gradually unnerved as the young girl says very little and acts strangely. At work and at home, Seonkyeong starts to unravel the pasts of the two new arrivals in her life and begins to see startling similarities. Hayeong looks at her the same way Yi Byeongdo does when he recounts the abuse he experienced as a child; Hayeong's serene expression masks a temper that she can't control. Plus, the story she tells about her grandparents' death, and her mother's before that, deeply troubles Seonkyeong. So much so that Yi Byeongdo picks up on it and starts giving her advice.  The Only Child is by Mi-ae Seo.

Murder often comes with an easy scapegoat...  When a boatman is murdered on a remote island off Van Diemen's Land, the authorities want to blame a famous, and very inconvenient, political prisoner.  In this, the third in the Monsarrat series, Hugh Llewelyn Monsarrat and his trusty housekeeper, Mrs Mulrooney, are sent to remote Maria Island to solve the murder of corrupt tradesman Bart Harefield. When Harefield is murdered with an axe, blame is laid at the feet of Thomas Power, the charismatic Irish revolutionary held in detention. Monsarrat and Mrs Mulrooney soon realise their real job is to tie Power neatly to the crime, so he can be hanged without inciting rebellion.  But were there others who also had reason to want to shut Harefield up?  The Power Game is by Meg and Tom Keneally

March 2020

Black River is by Will Dean.  FEAR.  Tuva's been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy Yamnim has gone missing.  SECRETS.  Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy's life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?  LIES.  Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. The only question is who will be there to save Tuva?

April 2020

The Chemical Reaction is by Fiona Erskine.  Jaq Silver can’t catch a break. After escaping almost certain death at the hands of her old chemical engineering employers, she soon finds herself up to her neck in even hotter water. Deep in debt, she decides to take on a risky contract in China to earn money and investigate the rather mysterious disappearance of an old student. Nothing is as it seems, never more so when the factory overnight completely vanishes…  From fraudulent art auctions in London to a convoy of male strippers in Shanghai, the mystery of the vanishing factory begins to look even more complicated as the days pass. Jaq needs to work out what happened and whether it has anything to do with her nemesis Frank Good and time is running out. As Jaq is pulled further and further into a murky underworld of deceit and corruption, things soon take an explosive turn.

May 2020

It's 1961 and the white heat of the Space Race is making the Cold War even colder.  Richard Knox is a man with secrets, and not just because he's a secret service officer. He's been hung out to dry by someone in MI5, and the only way to save his career could destroy his world.  Meanwhile in a closed city outside Leningrad, brilliant physicist Irina Valera discovers the secret to sending messages from Earth to space, and faces an unimaginable personal tragedy.  With Britain's own latest espionage breakthrough stolen, and its top spy trapped in a mysterious coma, Knox must find a new ally to help him uncover the traitor in MI5's ranks - Abey Bennett, one of the CIA's few female recruits who's determined to prove herself whatever the cost.  As the age of global surveillance dawns, three powers will battle for dominance, and three people will survive...  Red Corona by Tim Glister.

June 2020

Struggling with long-buried family secrets and her own recent heartbreak, artist and pet portraitist Susie Mahl hopes her brief sojourn as art-tutor at a Scottish mansion will prove a distraction. Can she get her eclectic mix of students to behave long enough to draw a Highland cow? Can her hosts the Earl and Countess of Muchton save their family estate and its prize art collection? Will Susie's pupils actually manage to survive the week?  Scotland has an air of mystique about it, with mist-covered glens and its beautiful rivers and hills, but it also has a darker side, soon discovered by Susie. She must look towards her craft for the answers. But can anyone be trusted, or is she in this alone?  A Trick of the Light is by Ali Carter.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

2019 CWA Daggers Announced - Press Notice

2019 CWA Daggers Announced

M.W. Craven has won the CWA Gold Dagger for his novel The Puppet Show

The Daggers, which were announced (24 October) at a glittering awards ceremony at the Grange City Hotel, London, are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.

The first in M.W. Craven’s Detective Washington Poe series, The Puppet Show drew critical acclaim from crime authors Martina Cole, Peter James and Mick Herron – who described it as a “thrilling curtain raiser”.

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.

Craven, who lives in Carlisle, served in the armed forces and became a probation officer before crediting the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for opening the door for a career as an author.

The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers, which honour the very best in crime writing, are the oldest awards in the genre. Created in 1955, the CWA Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “2019’s winners show the incredible range and quality of authors at work in the crime writing genre today. The Daggers recognise both established and emerging names, and we are incredibly proud of the reputation and longevity the Daggers have, nationally and internationally.

Writer Barry Forshaw, MC for the Dagger Awards evening, added: “The Daggers are the ultimate celebration of the fact that crime fiction remains an evergreen area of modern publishing, with fresh trends continually appearing, and traditional forms undergoing constant reinvigoration.”

2019 CWA Daggers – The Winners

CWA Gold Dagger:  
The Puppet Show by M. W. Craven (Constable / Little Brown)
CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger: 
Scrublands by Chris Hammer (Wildfire)
CWA ALCS Gold Dagger For Non-Fiction:  
The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre: (Viking)
CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: 
To The Lions by Holly Watt (Raven Books)
CWA International Dagger:  
A Long Night in Paris, by Dov Alfon, tr Daniella Zamir (MacLehose Press)
CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger: 
Destroying Angel by S.G. MacLean (Quercus Fiction)
CWA Short Story Dagger: 
The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing’ in The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and other Fantastic Female Fables (Fantastic Books) by Danuta Kot writing as Danuta Reah
Highly commended: ‘I Detest Mozart’ by Teresa Solana in The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories by Teresa Solana (Bitter Lemon Press)
CWA Dagger in the Library: 
CWA Debut Dagger: 
Wake by Shelley Burr
Best Crime and Mystery Publisher: 

Chris Hammer’s powerful debut Scrublands claimed the CWA John Creasey New Blood award.  Hammer, a journalist for more than 30 years, set Scrublands in the scorched landscape of Australia, featuring his flawed protagonist, journalist and former foreign correspondent, Martin Scarsden. The Guardian said Hammer’s lyrical writing evoked a “profound sense of place.”

Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor, a tale of betrayal, duplicity and raw courage that changed the course of the Cold War, was awarded the CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction.  The No. 1 Sunday Times Bestseller reveals the dramatic role played by MI6 in recruiting and cultivating a serving KGB insider and was hailed by John Le Carré as “the best true spy story I have ever read.”

To The Lions by Holly Watt received the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.
Featuring a female journalist who stumbles upon a dark conspiracy, it was praised as a “first-rate Fleet Street novel” by the Sunday Times. Watt, an investigative journalist, has worked on MP’s Expenses and the Panama Papers and written for major broadsheets in the UK.

Israeli author Dov Alfon received the CWA International Dagger for A Long Night in Paris.   A former intelligence officer of Unit 8200, the most secretive arm of the Israel Defence Forces, Alfon was also editor in chief of Israel’s most influential newspaper, Ha’aretz.   A Long Night in Paris  - his first work of fiction - was praised by the Financial Times for Alfon’s insider knowledge.

The CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger went to S.G. MacLean for Destroying Angel, the third in her Seeker series. Set in 1655 in Yorkshire, the gripping historical thriller features Captain Damian Seeker from Oliver Cromwell’s handpicked guard. MacLean has an MA and PHD in History from the University of Aberdeen.

Danuta Kot, writing as Danuta Reah, received her second CWA Short Story Dagger for The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing. She last received the award in 2005.

The CWA Dagger in The Library went to Kate Ellis, who was previously shortlisted for the award in 2017. Ellis has sold over three-quarters of a million books worldwide, known for her Devon-set historical crime Wesley Peterson series and spooky DI Joe Plantagenet based in North Yorkshire. She beat stalwarts M C Beaton, Mark Billingham, John Connolly, C J Sansom and Cath Staincliffe for the Dagger which is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries.

The Debut Dagger competition for unknown and un-contracted writers saw Australian author Shelley Burr win for her novel, Wake.  

One of the UK’s most prominent societies for the promotion and promulgation of crime writing, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark.

2019 also saw the inaugural Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year go to No Exit Press.  The first new Dagger category in over a decade celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing. No Exit Press is one of the UK’s leading independent publishers of crime fiction. Over its 30 years of business, it’s published numerous award-winning titles and prides itself on uncovering new talent.

On the night, Robert Goddard was also presented with the 2019 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing.

2019 Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards



We gathered last week in East London to join the Crime Writers Association for the 2019 Dagger Awards over dinner.

Barry Forshaw was the Master of Ceremonies, with a welcoming address from Linda Stratmann, current CWA Chair. The after-dinner speech was presented by Lynne Truss.
A full listing of the winners can be downloaded from The Crime Writers Association’s website HERE as a .pdf while Jeff Peirce [of The Rap Sheet] has a full listing, including all the shortlists HERE

It was good to hear Linda Stratmann acknowledge the hard work carried out by the CWA Dagger Liaison Officer, Mike Stotter, as well as Barry Forshaw (on behalf of the CWA) recognise the work of Maxim Jakubowski with the presentation of a Red Herring Award.
We present a series of videos of the various award presentations from that evening in East London, and congratulate all the nominated writers, editors, publishers – each of the work shortlisted is well worth exploring.

But first the welcoming speeches:

Linda Stratmann, Chair of the Crime Writers Association


Barry Forshaw Master of Ceremonies


Maxim Jakubowski’s contribution to the genre of crime and thriller recognised by The CWA with a Red Herring Award. 


CWA Gold Dagger
The Puppet Show, by M.W. Craven: (Constable)


Also nominated: All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton); What We Did, by Christobel Kent (Sphere); Unto Us a Son Is Given, by Donna Leon (Heinemann); American by Day, by Derek B. Miller (Doubleday); and A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better, by Benjamin Wood (Scribner)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood)
Scrublands, by Chris Hammer (Wildfire)


Also nominated: All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton); The Boy at the Door, by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus); Turn a Blind Eye, by Vicky Newham (HQ); Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle); and Overkill, by Vanda Symon (Orenda)

CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-fiction
The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre (Viking)


Also nominated: All That Remains: A Life in Death, by Sue Black (Doubleday); An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere, by Mikita Brottman (Canongate); Murder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime, by Claire Harman (Viking); The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Hutchinson); and The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger
To the Lions, by Holly Watt (Bloomsbury)


Also nominated: Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott (Picador);Safe Houses, by Dan Fesperman (Head of Zeus); Killing Eve: No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings (John Murray); Lives Laid Away, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime); and Memo from Turner, by Tim Willocks (Jonathan Cape)

CWA International Dagger
A Long Night in Paris, by Dov Alfon; translated by Daniella Zamir (MacLehose Press)


Also nominated: Weeping Waters, by Karin Brynard, translated by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon (World Noir); The Cold Summer, by Gianrico Carofiglio, translated by Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press); Newcomer, by Keigo Higashino, translated by Giles Murray (Little, Brown); The Root of Evil, by Håkan Nesser, translated by Sarah Death (Mantle); and The Forger, by Cay Rademacher, translated by Peter Millar (Arcadia)

CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger
Destroying Angel, by S.G. MacLean: (Quercus)


Also nominated: The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (Harper Fiction); Smoke and Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker); The House on Half Moon Street, by Alex Reeve (Raven); Tombland, by C.J. Sansom: (Mantle); and Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)

CWA Short Story Dagger
“The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing,” by Danuta Reah (from The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and Other Fantastic Female Fables, by Danuta Reah [aka Danuta Kot]; Fantastic).


Highly recommended: “I Detest Mozart,” by Teresa Solana (from The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories, by Teresa Solana; Bitter Lemon Press)


Also nominated: “Strangers in a Pub,” by Martin Edwards (from Ten Year Stretch, edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller; No Exit Press); “Death Becomes Her,” by Syd Moore (from The Strange Casebook, by Syd Moore; Point Blank Books); and “Bag Man,” by Lavie Tidhar (from The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin; Solaris)

Dagger in the Library: Kate Ellis

Also nominated: M.C. Beaton, Mark Billingham, John Connolly, C.J. Sansom, and Cath Staincliffe

Debut Dagger (for the opening of a crime novel by an uncontracted writer): Wake, by Shelley Burr


Also nominated: The Mourning Light, by Jerry Krause; Hardways, by Catherine Hendricks; The Firefly, by David Smith; and A Thin Sharp Blade, by Fran Smith

Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year
No Exit Press (Oldcastle Books)


Also nominated: Faber and Faber, Harper Fiction (HarperCollins), HQ (HarperCollins), Orenda Books, Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin), and Raven (Bloomsbury)

Diamond Dagger Recipient:


Shots Magazine would like to pass out thanks to The Crime Writers Association for a wonderful evening, where we celebrated Literature’s darkest avenue – Crime and Thriller.


More information from THE CRIME WRITERS ASSOCIATION – CLICK HERE

More information from THE CRIME READERS ASSOCIATION – CLICK HERE

Happy Reading from all of us at Shots Magazine.


Here’s a few photos from the event.












Of particular delight was meeting up with Thomas Harris’ UK publisher Jason Arthur of the William Heinmann imprint of PenguinRandomHouse and David Brawn of HarperCollins who I am delighted to learn is championing Alistair MacLean, bringing his work back into print.


Photos © 2019 Ali Karim & The Crime Writers Association.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Return of Martina Cole



After a break in 2018, which was unprecedented for the hard-working Queen of the Gangland Thriller; Martina Cole returned with a bang publishing “No Mercy” last week via her longstanding publishers Headline. She has worked with the same publishing team, the same literary agency and the same PR agency since she debuted with Dangerous Lady.
Martina was one of the guests at the Inaugural Capital Crime, held earlier this month – Click HERE about that extraordinary event from The Crime Readers Association, and HERE from The Rap Sheet.
Below she is on TV’s Loose Women talking about the challenges she and many women face –

So what were our thoughts as to Cole’s return after 2017’s Damaged?

There is a great deal of death in this novel, violent death as little is as it seems. Beneath the surface gloss the veneer is thin, like ice on a thawing lake. Thankfully, Cole’s dark humour and witty one-liners make the reader smirk, even if at times it feels inappropriate. Horror and humour (as emotions) are the yin and the yang that help make this novel flow, until the conclusion is reached and then we think, and we ponder.

No Mercy is an insightful look under the shadow world that lies millimetres from the one we normally perceive. It is a welcome addition to the work of Martina Cole, further cementing her reputation as one the World’s toughest crime writers.

But a warning. 

No Mercy as a title is eponymous, for it reveals that many of the characters contained in the narrative receive no quarter, as family bonds can be shattered, and when they are, there will be plenty of claret flowing.

Read the full review of “NO MERCY” from Shots Magazine HERE

The launch of a Martina Cole novel has become arguably one the most celebrated literary events that celebrates crime writing, as these links indicate –

The Business 2008, and Here, 2014’s The Good Life, 2013’s REVENGE, 2016’s Betrayal, and of course 2017’s Damaged.


To celebrate Martina Cole’s return, the Shots Team of Mike Stotter, Ayo Onatade, Mike Ripley and I joined an eclectic gathering in London, where a colourful party had been organised for the launch of NO MERCY.

We were welcomed by Headline Publishing


There were far too many guests to name, so we have included an array of photographs which may indicate the amusing nature of the gathering.







And Barry Ryan’s video THE MAKING OF DANGEROUS LADY is an amusing introduction to the work of Martina Cole –


Photos © 2019 A Karim (and T Mearns), cover art © 2019 Headline Publishing.


Don’t forget that Martina Cole will be appearing in November 2019 at Murder One in Dublin, Ireland where she will be in conversation with Steve Cavanagh – More Information HERE


More information about the work of Martina Cole, click HERE