Wednesday 31 March 2021

Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction and True Crime Writing


The Women’s National Book Association of New Orlean established the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction in 2012 for women writers to honor the memory of Diana Pinckley (1952-2012), a longtime crime fiction columnist for The New Orleans Times-Picayune, and her passion for mysteries.

New this year, the Pinckley Prize for True Crime Writing is intended to honor a book which illuminates the reality of women’s lives; it need not be a debut work.

C.S. Harris (Candace Procter) and Angie Kim are the recipients of the 2020 Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.

Emma Copley Eisenberg is the inaugural winner of the Pinckley Prize for True Crime Writing. 

The prizes will be presented during the 2021 Bouchercon which takes place in New Orleans in August.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

2020 Hammett Prize Nominees


The International Association of Crime Writers, North America have announced the 2020 Hammett Nominees. 

The Hammett Prize is given for literary Excellence in Crime Writing. This is a distinguished award for a single book and is open to writers at any stage in their career

Congratulations to all the nominees.

The following books (in alphabetical order) have been selected for the short list:

In Old Bombay by Nev March (Minotaur) Based on a true story, in 1892 a soldier recovering from wounds investigates a murder.

The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor (Minotaur) - A New York detective revisits the disappearance of her cousin in Ireland two decades ago.

Three Hours in Paris by Cara Black (Soho)- In World War II, a young female sniper is sent to Paris to assassinate the Führer.

When These Mountains Burn by David Joy (Putnam) - A father in Appalachia confronts the opioid epidemic in an attempt to rescue his son.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Ecco) - Vigilante Virgil Wounded Horse investigates the spread of heroin on the reservation.

The 2020 reading committee, consisted of Christopher Chan, Marni Graff, Debbi Mack, and Chair J. Madison Davis 

Mothers and Daughters in Crime Fiction by Miranda Smith


Being one of four girls, I’ve always been fascinated by the relationships between mothers, daughters and sisters. My latest psychological suspense novel, Not My Mother, gives these relationships a true crime spin.

Marion is celebrating her own daughter’s first birthday, an event she has spent several months planning. The party is interrupted when Marion’s mother, Eileen, is arrested. The police claim Eileen is not her real name. They allege Marion isn’t even her real daughter. Everyone suspects Eileen abducted Marion from her actual family when she was only an infant—the case has been referenced in the media for years as the Baby Caroline case. If Eileen has lied to Marion for her entire life, how can their relationship ever recover?

The idea for this story sparked when I envisioned a grandmother being arrested at her granddaughter’s birthday party. I wanted to explore what possible crimes this woman could have committed, and how her arrest would impact her relationship with everyone around her. 

I’m a big admirer of crime novels that explore this same theme. Here are some other great crime reads that focus on sinister mother and daughter relationships.

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

At first glance, the relationship between Maggie and her daughter, Nina, appears normal. They have conversations, listen to music and eat dinner every night. However, we quickly learn Nina is holding her mother prisoner. Each night, Maggie returns upstairs and is restrained with heavy chains. This is Nina’s way of punishing her mother for everything she has done wrong.

What could Maggie have possibly done to deserve such treatment? And does Nina have secrets of her own? This is a brilliant and twisted read you won’t forget. You’ll question which character to root for throughout, and the ending is one you will not see coming.

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones

Still mourning the death of their father, sisters Kate and Lauren don’t always see eye to eye. Their relationship worsens when their Sunday lunch is interrupted by a knock at the door. The woman standing outside is named Jess, and she claims to be their sister. Each character has to process this news, while trying to understand how the revelation impacts their relationships with each other.

This is a tense thriller that brings into focus how siblings can grow up in the same household yet have completely different understandings of their childhood. We get to see how Kate and Lauren’s memories differ, all while trying to find out the truth about their parents.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn is famous for her best-seller Gone Girl, but her debut novel, Sharp Objects, is equally engrossing. The story follows journalist Camille as she returns to her hometown of Wind Gap. She has been tasked with writing an article about the young girls there who have gone missing, but instead she finds herself trying to solve the mysteries of her own past. She reconnects with her affluent mother, Adora, in hopes of solving past and present crimes.

This book is dark, atmospheric and begging to be read in one sitting. I loved reading as Camille processed events from her childhood through an adult lens, although some of the descriptions can be graphic and triggering. Still, this book serves up two great mysteries at once and has a last-page reveal guaranteed to make your jaw drop.

Baby Teeth (titled Bad Apple in the UK) by Zoje Stage

Is there anything more unsettling than a disturbed child? Now imagine if that was your child. That’s the premise of Zoje Stage’s debut, and it’s a chilling read from the very beginning. Suzette and her seven-year-old daughter, Hanna, have a strange relationship. Although Hanna is the perfect child in the eyes of her father, she has had numerous difficulties with teachers and babysitters. Add to this, Hanna is mute, and when she does finally speak to Suzette, what she says is frightening.

Witnessing the building tension between Suzette and Hanna is horrifying, and there are multiple twists that make you question what is really going on behind the scenes of this picture-perfect family.

If you’re looking for twisted family drama and shocking reveals, add these crime thrillers about mothers and daughters to your TBR!

Not My Mother by Miranda Smith, Published by Bookouture (Out Now)

What if the person you trust most in the world is lying to you? I’d heard of the Baby Caroline case, of course. When a baby is snatched from her mother’s arms, the whole country knows about it. I knew about the parents left lying by the swimming pool, the open window in the nursery. But I never dreamed it had anything to do with me. Today, my beautiful daughter turned one. We were unwrapping gifts and blowing out candles when the knock came at the door, and they took my mother away. The police say she’s not really my mother. That she stole me, thirty years ago. When I visit her, desperate for answers, she looks me in the eye, and says nothing. I can barely breathe. Is my whole life a lie? I have to find out, but the more I learn, the more scared I become. And soon I start to wonder, am I losing my grip on reality or is my own daughter in terrible danger?

Monday 29 March 2021

Books to Look Forward to From Quercus Publishing (Incl MacLehose Press, Riverrun and Jo Fletcher Books)

 April 2021

A Which Hunt in Whitby is by Helen Cox. A serial killer is loose in Yorkshire, and has claimed three victims in three months. Eleven days before each murder, a large purple V is painted on the front door of the victim's house. The victims, all of whom have some association with the occult, are found drained of blood with two red marks on their neck.  When Ruby Barnett comes home one evening to find a large purple V on her front door, it becomes clear she is the so-called Vampire Killer's next victim. Private Investigators Kitt Hartley and Grace Edwards have just eleven days to solve the mystery and save Ruby's life. The clock is ticking . . .

Ex-MI6 officer Paul Samson has been tasked with secretly guarding a gifted young woman, Zoe Freemantle. He is just beginning to tire of the job when he is attacked in the street by a freakish looking knifeman. It's clear the target is on his back not hers. What he doesn't know is who put it there. At that moment, his mentor, the MI6 legend Robert Harland lies dead on a remote stretch of the Baltic coastline. Who needed to end the old spy's life when he was, in any case, dying from a terminal illness? And what or who is Berlin Blue, the name scratched in the sketchbook beside his body? A few hours later, Samson watches footage from the US Congress where billionaire philanthropist Denis Hisami is poisoned with a nerve agent while testifying - an attack that is as spectacular as it is lethal, but spares Anastasia Hisami, the love of Samson's life. Two things become clear. One, it was a big mistake to lose the mysterious Zoe Freemantle. And two, Robert Harland is making a final play from beyond the grave. The Old Enemy is by Henry Porter.

The Untamable is by Guillermo Arriaga.Yukon, Canada's far north. A young man tracks a wolf through the wilderness. The one his grandfather warned him about: "Of all the wolves you will see in your life, one alone will be your master." In Mexico City, Juan Guillermo has pledged vengeance. For his murdered brother, Carlos. For his parents, sentenced to death by their grief. But in 1960s Mexico justice is sold to the highest bidder, and the Catholic fanatics who killed Carlos are allied to Zunita, a corrupt and influential police commander. If he is to quench his thirst for revenge Juan Guillermo will have to answer his inner call of the wild and discover what links his destiny to a hunter on the other side of America.

Short of leads on the execution-style murder of a fortune-teller, Detective Lefty Mendieta turns to his contacts in the drug underworld. They oblige, but there is a quid pro quo: Help Samantha Valdes, head of the Pacific Cartel, slip through the net of Mexican army and federal police encircling the hospital where she is recovering after an attempt on her life. Grudgingly he agrees, but then gets caught on camera during the escape and becomes headline news. Fired from the force and on the run from the Feds, Lefty again seeks Samantha's help when he learns that his son Jason has been kidnapped in Los Angeles. There, he must come to terms with the woman who broke his heart, while contending with a thicket of conspiracies, feints and double-crosses that further blur the distinction between crime and the law. Betrayal is certain. To save his son, who will Lefty sell out? Kiss The Detectives is by Elmer Mendoza.

May 2021

The Perfect Lie is by Jo Spain. He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder. Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny's police colleagues one morning, it's the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death. Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband's murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect. But it was all built on the perfect lie.

Bruno Courreges is Chief of Police of the lovely town of St Denis in the Dordogne. His main wish is to keep the local people safe and his town free from crime. But crime has a way of finding its way to him. For thirty years, Bruno's boss, Chief of Detectives Jalipeau, known as J-J, has been obsessed with his first case. It was never solved and Bruno knows that this failure continues to haunt J-J. A young male body was found in the woods near St Denis and never identified. For all these years, J-J has kept the skull as a reminder. He calls him 'Oscar'.Visiting the famous pre-history museum in nearby Les Eyzies, Bruno sees some amazingly life-like heads expertly reconstructed from ancient skulls. He suggests performing a similar reconstruction on Oscar as a first step towards at last identifying him. An expert is hired to start the reconstruction and the search for Oscar's killer begins again in earnest. The Coldest Case is by Martin Walker.

A Double Murder. The naked corpses of Aylmer and Mary Younis are discovered in their home. The only clues are a note written in blood and an eerie report of two spectral figures departing the crime scene. Officer Jill Ferriter is charged with investigating the murders while her colleague Alex Cupidi is on leave, recovering from post-traumatic stress.  An elaborate scam. The dead couple had made investments in a green reforestry scheme in Guatemala, resulting in the loss of all their savings. What is more disturbing is that Cupidi and Ferriter's disgraced former colleague and friend Bill South is also on the list of investors and the Younis's were not the only losers.  An unlikely killer. Despite being in counselling and receiving official warnings to stay away from police work Cupidi finds herself dragged into the case and begins to trawl among the secrets and lies that are held in the fishing community of Folkestone. Desperate to exonerate South she finds herself murderously compromised when personal relationships cloud her judgement. The Trawlerman is by William Shaw.

Priest of Gallows is by Peter McLean. Gangster, soldier, priest. Queen's Man. GovernorTomas Piety has everything he ever wanted. In public he's a wealthy, highly respected businessman, happily married to a beautiful woman and governor of his home city of Ellinburg. In private, he's no longer a gang lord, head of the Pious Men, but one of the Queen's Men, invisible and officially non-existent, working in secret to protect his country. The queen's sudden death sees him summoned him back to the capital - where he discovers his boss, Dieter Vogel, Provost Marshal of the Queen's Men, is busy tightening his stranglehold on the country. Just as he once fought for his Pious Men, Tomas must now bend all his wit and hard-won wisdom to protect his queen - even when he can't always tell if he's on the right side. Tomas has started to ask himself, what is the price of power? And more importantly, is it one he is willing to pay? 

Widowland is by C J Carey. To control the past, they edited history. To control the future, they edited literature. London, 1953, Coronation year - but not the Coronation of Elizabeth II. Thirteen years have passed since a Grand Alliance between Great Britain and Germany was formalized. George VI and his family have been murdered and Edward VIII rules as King. Yet, in practice, all power is vested in Alfred Rosenberg, Britain's Protector. The role and status of women is Rosenberg's particular interest. Rose Ransom belongs to the elite caste of women and works at the Ministry of Culture, rewriting literature to correct the views of the past. But now she has been given a special task. Outbreaks of insurgency have been seen across the country; graffiti daubed on public buildings. Disturbingly, the graffiti is made up of lines from forbidden works, subversive words from the voices of women. Suspicion has fallen on Widowland, the run-down slums where childless women over fifty have been banished. These women are known to be mutinous, for they have nothing to lose. Before the Leader arrives for the Coronation ceremony of King Edward and Queen Wallis, Rose must infiltrate Widowland to find the source of this rebellion and ensure that it is quashed.

It's over, my angel. Today I'm going to die. Just like her. He's won. It's been years since Nadja Kulka was convicted of a cruel crime. After being released from prison, she's wanted nothing more than to live a normal life: nice flat, steady job, even a few friends. But when one of those friends, Laura von Hoven - free-spirited beauty and wife of Nadja's boss - kills her lover and begs Nadja for her help, Nadja can't seem to be able to refuse.The two women make for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart and Nadja finds herself outplayed, a pawn in a bizarre game in which she is both the perfect victim and the perfect murderer . Dark secrets past and present collide in this haunting novel of guilt and retribution. Sleepless is by Romy Hausmann.

This Eden is by Ed O'Loughlin. Ever felt like you were living in a dystopian tech thriller? That's because you are... Michael is out of his depth. The closest he ever came to working in tech was when he rode a delivery bike for a food app in Vancouver. Yet when his coder girlfriend dies, he is inexplicably headhunted by sinister tech mogul Campbell Fess, who transplants him to Silicon Valley. There, a reluctant female spy named Aoife lures him into the hands of Towse, an enigmatic war-gamer, who tricks them both into joining his quest to save the world, and reality itself, from the deadliest weapon ever invented. Hunted by government agents and corporate goons, manipulated at every turn by the philosophising Towse, Aoife and Michael find themselves in an intercontinental chase which will take them from California to New York, from the forests of Uganda to Jerusalem, Gaza, Alexandria and Paris, and to a final showdown with the truth in Aoife's native Ireland.

The Wrong Goodbye is by Toshihiko Yahagi. A classic slice of Japanese hard-boiled noir paying homage to the master of the genre: Raymond Chandler The Wrong Goodbye pits homicide detective Eiji Futamura against a shady Chinese business empire and U.S. military intelligence in the docklands of recession Japan. After the frozen corpse of immigrant barman Tran Binh Long washes up in midsummer near Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base, Futamura meets a strange customer from Tran's bar. Vietnam vet pilot Billy Lou Bonney talks Futamura into hauling three suitcases of "goods" to Yokota US Air Base late at night and flies off leaving a dead woman behind.Thereby implicated in a murder suspect's escape and relieved from active duty, Futamura takes on hack work for the beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hsu, a "boat people" orphan whose Japanese adoption mother has mysteriously gone missing. And now a phone call from a bestselling yakuzaauthor, a one-time black marketeer in Saigon, hints at inside information on "former Vietcong mole" Tran and his "old sidekick" Billy Lou, both of whom crossed a triad tycoon who is buying up huge tracts of Mekong Delta marshland for a massive development scheme. As the loose strands flashback to Vietnam, the string of official lies and mysterious allegiances build into a dark picture of the U.S.-Japan postwar alliance.

All Human Wisdom is by Pierre Lemaitre. In 1927, the great and the good of Paris gather at the funeral of the wealthy banker, Marcel Pericourt. His daughter, Madeleine, is poised to take over his financial empire (although, unfortunately, she knows next to nothing about banking). More unfortunately still, when Madeleine's seven-year-old son, Paul, tumbles from a second floor window of the Pericourt mansion on the day of his grandfather's funeral, and suffers life-changing injuries, his fall sets off a chain of events that will reduce Madeleine to destitution and ruin in a matter of months. Using all her reserves of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and a burning desire for retribution, Madeleine sets about rebuilding her life. She will be helped by an ex-Communist fixer, a Polish nurse who doesn't speak a word of French, a brainless petty criminal with a talent for sabotage, an exiled German Jewish chemist, a very expensive forger, an opera singer with a handy flair for theatrics, and her own son with ideas for a creative new business to take Paris by storm. A brilliant, imaginative, free-falling caper through between-the-wars Paris, and a portrait of Europe on the edge of disaster.

August 2021

Hell and High Water is by Christian Unge. With 85% per cent burns to his body and a 115% risk of dying, it's a miracle the patient is still alive. He only made it this far thanks to Tekla Berg, an emergency physician whose unorthodox methods and photographic memory are often the difference between life and death. Convinced that the fire was a terrorist attack - and that the patient was involved - the police are determined to question him. Almost as determined as those who would silence him at any cost. And while Tekla battles to keep him breathing, she can't shake the thought that something about him is strangely familiar . . . Tekla has always hidden her remarkable mind from her hospital colleagues, resorting to amphetamines to take the edge off the endless whirl of lucid memories. But now she'll need to call on all her wits as she's drawn into a mystery involving corrupt police, the godfather of the Uzbek mafia, and her beloved but wayward brother.

August 2021

Night Hunters by Oliver Bottini. Over the course of several days one hot summer, a female student from Freiburg disappears, a father is murdered in a brutal attack, a teenage boy drowns in the Rhine in suspicious circumstances. It soon becomes evident to Chief Inspector Louise Boni and her colleagues at Freiburg's criminal police that the three cases are connected - and that others are now in terrible danger. Including Boni herself. In the fourth of the Black Forest Investigations, Louise Boni is confronted with the grim secrets of outwardly respectable citizens. Sometimes it takes very little to unleash the monster in man.

Sunday 28 March 2021

The Dreaming Spires at St Hilda's Crime Fiction Weekend


Dear Partners in Crime,

Even in these uncertain times, preparations for the 2021 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend are in full swing.

As yet we can't say if we will be able to meet in person, but whether on-site or online, we have another compelling line-up for you this August. With the theme of Oxford: the capital of Crime Fiction you can expect old favourites, Morse, Wimsey, and Gervase Fen, as well as the new writers on the beat, Lucy Atkins (Magpie Lane), Cara Hunter (DI Fawley series) and more.

Val McDermid and Mick Herron are back by popular demand.Alison Joseph and Jake Kerridge take the Chair, and we can announce a new mystery from Chief Insp. Andrew Taylor and The Case of the Cambridge Corpse.

Expect Gaudy Nights and Moving Toyshops, sinister scholars and dodgy detectives, and low deeds on High Table.

Details here with booking link to be anounced soon. Meanwhile, save the dates, and sharpen your wits.

Best wishes from the Committee: Triona Adams, Jean Harker, Sarah Hilary, Mick Herron, Alison Joseph, Jake Kerridge, and Carolyn Kirby.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Joy Kulver on Fictional vs Real Settings


I liken writing a book to a recipe. There are certain key ingredients needed but then we tend to make up our own method. One key ingredient is setting. This world or another? Own country or a different one? Urban or rural? Fictional or real? All these things need to be considered.

When I wrote my very first novel, I wanted a rural location that was still fairly accessible to London. I decided to go west along the M4 corridor and landed on Wiltshire. That particular book will probably never be published but I’ve stayed in the county for my police procedural series. At first glance, it may seem that not very much happens there. I follow Wiltshire Police on Twitter and Facebook and there have been mentions of cows in Devizes and naked cyclists. Although not necessarily at the same time. However, high profile murders and the very public Novichok poisonings in Salisbury have made Wiltshire headline news.

Wiltshire Police headquarters is based in Devizes so it made sense to have DI Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel working from there. Bernie is a former Met officer and a lifelong Londoner. It’s not easy for the city girl to adjust to the slower and quieter pace of small town and rural life. Given the chance she’d be back in London but for her own safety she’s been transferred to Wiltshire. 

Devizes is roughly in the middle of the county with Swindon to the north, Trowbridge to the west and Salisbury to the south. For Last Seen, I needed two villages and immediately discovered a possible problem. Setting a book in a real place means getting details right and the smaller the location, the more obvious any mistakes might be. Plus, I didn’t want to offend any Wiltshire villagers as the residents in one of my fictional villages don’t appear to be very friendly. So I created Marchant and Otterfield. 

Marchant is your typical picturesque country village with pretty cottages, a pub and a beautiful old church. Otterfield used to be similar until it was bombed during the Second World War. Pebble-dashed box houses were built for the residents who were then encouraged by Margaret Thatcher to buy them. ‘They’re a community with a collective chip on their shoulders. Highly suspicious of outsiders’ is how I have a police officer describe them to DI Bernie Noel. This opinion seems confirmed when the residents of Otterfield refuse to help when a five-year-old girl goes missing from the local playground. 

The beauty of creating your own setting is that you can do so from the comfort of your own home and there’s always Google Maps for inspiration. In fact, for my second book in the series, that’s how I found my crime scene. Zooming in helped me to find roads and lanes, providing ways in and out. Yet something was missing for me. It wasn’t enough to just see it. I had to experience it.

So we set off for a research trip – the whole family. Top tip: don’t take children on a research trip. But I’m so glad I went. I saw things that you can’t see on a laptop screen but more importantly, I heard and smelt the surrounding countryside. I met a woman walking her dog who told me a very interesting ghost story which will be mentioned in book two. My youngest child drew a picture of police headquarters. We found the best bakery which features quite heavily in Last Seen. I walked around, drinking in the atmosphere and listening to the local accent and phrases. As a lifelong Londoner too, I tried to see it all from Bernie’s point of view.

We have returned for a second trip but it’s fair to say, the rest of the family have had enough now. Personally, I want to go back and stay for a few days, even a week. It’s not just about valuable research. Bernie is so real to me I half expect to see her coming out of police headquarters. And Marchant and Otterfield might not officially be on a map but they’re rooted in Wiltshire for me. Not just two villages with very different architectural styles and atmosphere, but two communities with a shared history that they’re battling to overcome. Who says fictional places can’t be real?

Last Seen by Joy Kulver (published by Bookouture) Out Now

A little girl is missing from under her mother’s nose. She’ll be scared and vulnerable – if she’s still alive. But no one is helping us search. No one wants to give us information. No one even seems surprised. What’s going on?’ Detective Bernadette Noel came to this quiet rural corner of south-west England from London to lie low after a high-profile prosecution led to death threats against her family. But she has barely settled in when the call comes. A woman’s voice, shrill with terror and thick with tears: ‘Help – it’s my daughter, Molly – I only had my back turned for a minute… She’s gone!’ A child abduction is about as far from lying low as it gets, and her boss wants to assign a different detective. But there’s no way Bernie’s not taking the case – she can’t miss this chance to prove herself. Five-year-old Molly Reynolds has been snatched from the playground in the village where she lives. Normally in cases like this the community is an asset – eager to help search and full of local knowledge. But although Molly’s mother Jessica is in anguish, the other villagers don’t seem to want to know.As details emerge, Bernie discovers a possible link to a shocking crime that has never been solved, and which the locals have never forgotten. But what exactly is the connection to Molly’s abduction? Cracking a cold case is the only way to find out – and meanwhile time is running out for Molly.

Friday 26 March 2021



The Agatha Awards will be presented as part of the MORE THAN MALICE Festival, so if you would like to vote for the winner and watch the awards presentation, please join them for this exciting event - July 14-17, 2021. Registration can be found here.

Best Contemporary Novel

Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)

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

From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris (Kensington)

All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

The Lucky One by Lori Rader-Day (William Morris)

Best Historical Novel

The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen (Berkeley)

Fate of a Flapper by Susanna Calkins (Griffin)

A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington)

Taken Too Soon by Edith Maxwell (Beyond the Page Publishing)

The Turning Tide by Catriona McPherson (Quercus)

Best First Novel

A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison (Crooked Lane Books)

Winter Witness by Tina deBelgarde (Level Best Books)

Derailed by Mary Keliikoa (Epicenter Press, Inc.)

Murder at the Mena House by Erica Ruth Neubauer (Kensington)

Murder Most Sweet by Laura Jensen Walker (Kensington)

Best Short Story

"Dear Emily Etiquette" by Barb Goffman (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Sep/Oct)

"The Red Herrings at Killington Inn" by Shawn Reilly Simmons Masthead: Best New England Crime Stories (Level Best Books)

"The Boy Detective & The Summer of ‘74" by Art Taylor (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine Jan/Feb)

"Elysian Fields" by Gabriel Valjan California Schemin’: The 2020 Bouchercon Anthology (Wildside Press)

"The 25 Year Engagement" by James Ziskin In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon (Pegasus Crime) 

Best Non-Fiction

Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh,

Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody (Seal Press)

American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI by Kate Winkler Dawson (G. P. Putnam)

Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club by Martin Edwards (Collins Crime Club)

Phantom Lady: Hollywood Producer Joan Harrison, the Forgotten Woman Behind Hitchcock by Christina Lane (Chicago Review Press)

H. R. F. Keating: A Life of Crime by Sheila Mitchell (Level Best Books)

Best Children's/YA

Mystery Midnight at the Barclay Hotel by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young Readers)

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)

Saltwater Secrets by Cindy Callaghan (Aladdin)

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (Katherine Teagen Books) 

Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco by Richard Narvaez (Piñata Books) 

Congratulations to all of the nominated authors.

Alan Parks on The Three Things I’ve Learned in My Short Crime Writing Career.


One. Don't Put Song Lyrics in Your Books.

The first draft of my first book Bloody January was awash with them. The Rolling Stones singing 'Paint It Black' on McCoy's car radio. A glimpse of Marc Bolan shimmying his way through 'Metal Guru' on someone's black and white TV in the corner of their living room. A young guy putting a five pence into a pub jukebox and dancing back to his pals as the opening bars of 'Alright Now' by Free blasted out. All good stuff I thought. A quick and easy way to give a sense of atmosphere and the particular time the book was set in.

But. That was until I found out you had to pay to put them in. And it costs a lot. Having worked in the music industry for twenty years, this may have crossed my mind, you may think. It didn't. Shows how much attention I was paying in those long marketing meetings. 

Consequently, Bloody January has 'House of The Rising Sun' in it now. And that's it…. 

Two. Swearing Drives Some People F*cking Nuts. 

Again, call me naive but I thought someone who chose to read a book set in the grimy and violent world of early seventies Glasgow might not be too concerned with a bit of ribald language. How wrong I was. 

One of the fun things you get to do as an author is meet book groups who have been reading your book. I always enjoy this, it's nice to hear what people think, and let's be honest it gets you out the house for a change. When it breaks up people often stay behind to have a personal word. Tell you their Gran lived in the same street as McCoy, that they love Wattie. Again, very nice. 

But. There is always someone who asks you with a pained look on their face. 'Do you really have to put so much swearing in the books?" Two things immediately cross your mind. One, you should have seen the first draft before the editor took half of it out. And two. Yes, I do. 

It always amazes me that no one ever objects to a scene of someone getting their fingers broken one by one, or being tied to a chair and repeatedly stabbed in the face but the minute the psychopath doing so and doing so with relish, utters the word f*ck, all hell breaks loose… 

Three. Research Will Fail You. 

I pride myself on being pretty diligent about trying to get things in the books as accurate as possible. I check old Yellow Pages to make sure a certain off-licence was open at the time the book was set. I interview people about boxing matches in the Govan Town Hall in 1973. I get my friend Stevie who is a criminal lawyer to check I've not used any non-Scots Law legal terms. 

But. There are always ones that slip through the net no matter how hard you try. Murray and McCoy have a conversation next to a motorway works. Motorway works that weren't started until the next year. A murder victim gets on a number 47 bus. Which wouldn't transport her to her grisly demise. 

I remain calm in these situations, smile nicely at the person who is 'kindly' pointing it out to me, and repeat in my head. 'It's the story that really matters not these kind of details…

The April by Alan Parks (Cannongate) Out Now.

In a grimy flat in Glasgow, a homemade bomb explodes, leaving few remains to identify its maker. Detective Harry McCoy knows in his gut that there’ll be more to follow. The hunt for a missing sailor from the local US naval base leads him to the secretive group behind the bomb, and their disturbing, dominating leader. On top of that, McCoy thinks he’s doing an old friend a favour when he passes on a warning, but instead he’s pulled into a vicious gang feud. And in the meantime, there’s word another bigger explosion is coming Glasgow’s way – so if the city is to survive, it’ll take everything McCoy’s got . . . 

Thursday 25 March 2021

Locked Up Festival 2


Last July, Two Crime Writers and a Microphone put on the Locked Up Festival, bringing the biggest names around in the name of charity. Hundreds of amazing people bought tickets and raised over £14,000 for the Trussell Trust

A three day, fun-filled, informative, and often hilarious festival, that couldn't have gone any better. For a great cause, they were honoured to put it together. 

So, they are doing it again.

8th-10th April 2021. 

Tickets can be bought here.

Sherlock Holmes and the American Sherlocks


More than 130 years after his first appearance in print, Sherlock Holmes remains the most famous fictional detective in the world. Yet he and his dependable sidekick, Dr Watson, were not the only ones racing down Victorian and Edwardian London’s gaslit streets in pursuit of criminal masterminds. The years between 1890 and 1914 were a golden age for English magazines and nearly all of them published crime and detective fiction. Sherlock Holmes had plenty of rivals.

In the last few years I’ve compiled several anthologies of crime stories from that era. I’ve scoured the back numbers of old magazines and blown the dust off half-forgotten volumes of short stories in second-hand bookshops in search of Holmes’s competitors. In The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes and More Rivals of Sherlock Holmes I highlighted 30 of them. Some, like GK Chesterton’s Father Brown, still have their own fame. Others, such as Addington Peace, created by the man who gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the basic idea for The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Percy Brebner’s Christopher Quarles, are scarcely remembered today. Some were such Holmes clones you wondered why their authors were never charged with plagiarism; others, like the wizened Hindu sage Kala Persad and Hagar, the Romany pawnbroker, were more exotic.

In Supernatural Sherlocks I gathered together stories of a special type of crime-solver – the occult detective whose investigations took in the supernatural world. The most famous of these is probably William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder. In Sherlock’s Sisters I put together tales of women detectives. They range from Catherine Pirkis’s Loveday Brooke, representative of what was known at the time as ‘The New Woman’, independent and intent on her own career, to the lip-reader Judith Lee who can never go anywhere without encountering villains discussing outrageous crimes, blithely unaware that their every word has been understood by the young woman on the far side of the room.

My latest anthology is American Sherlocks. The title is self-explanatory. Its heroes are transatlantic ones. We all have a picture in our mind of the archetypal detective of American fiction. He (and it very nearly always is a he) is a hardboiled, wisecracking private eye, walking a city’s mean streets. Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe or one of the hundreds, probably thousands, of other gumshoes who have trodden in their footsteps. But that style of detective only came into being in the late 1920s and early 1930s. American crime fiction has a much longer history. 

It began with Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin stories (‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ etc) in the 1840s. It’s tempting to believe that then nothing much happened in American crime fiction between Poe’s ‘tales of ratiocination’ and the arrival of writers like SS Van Dine, Hammett and Ellery Queen in the 1920s but this is far from being the case. The USA had as many fictional crimebusters in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as Britain. Broadly, they fell into two categories.

The first was the dime novel hero. Dime novels, first appearing in the 1860s, were the American equivalents of British ‘penny dreadfuls’. They came in a range of genres, including crime fiction in which characters like ‘Old Sleuth’ and ‘Sam Strong the Cowboy Detective’ battled bad guys in stories that made up in lively action for what they lacked in literary sophistication. However, the major detective to emerge from the dime novel was Nick Carter. He arrived in 1886 and new stories about him were still being published a century later. I’ve included one from 1914 in my anthology. 

The second type of American detective was one modelled much more closely on Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle’s stories were just as popular in the USA as they were at home. Scores of American rivals to Holmes appeared in magazines and collections of short stories. The impressively named Professor Augustus SFX Van Dusen, known as ‘The Thinking Machine’, was even more cerebral than Holmes. Madelyn Mack, who chewed on cola berries for stimulus while exercising her formidable deductive powers, was a female Sherlock, working as a private detective in New York. The blind detective Thornley Colton was a wealthy New Yorker who took on cases purely for intellectual interest.

Both in the USA and in Britain there are plenty of Sherlock’s rivals to be enjoyed. In my five anthologies I have highlighted a few dozen. There are even more out there to be discovered and I hope to do so in the future. 

American Sherlocks Edited by Nick Rennison (Oldcastle Books) Out Now

Sherlock Holmes is the most famous of all fictional detectives but, across the Atlantic, he had plenty of rivals. Between 1890 and 1920, American writers created dozens and dozens of crime-solvers. This thrilling, unusual anthology features stories about 15 of them, including Professor Augustus SFX Van Dusen, 'The Thinking Machine', even more cerebral than Holmes; Craig Kennedy, the so-called 'scientific detective'; Uncle Abner, a shrewd backwoodsman in pre-Civil War Virginia; Violet Strange, New York debutante turned criminologist; and Nick Carter, the original pulp private eye. Editor Nick Rennison gathers together often neglected tales which highlight American crime fiction's early years.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Books to Look Forward to From Oneworld (Point Black - Crime)

 July 2021

Please God, don't let this be about Burrowhead...  An archaeological dig exposes a brutal history and a witness finally speaks. It seems the wickedness swirling in the harsh sea air of Burrowhead might be excised at last.  But before DI Georgie Strachan can lift the veil of evil, a black horse is slaughtered on an altar in the woods and human remains begin to surface. Sinister rituals connect past and present but no one wants to see, or tell, or hear, the truth. Soon Georgie must face the question: where do the missing souls of the village gather?  Where The Missing Gathers is by. Helen Sedgwick

Karolina or The Torn Curtain is by Maryla Szymiczkowa. Easter, 1895.The biggest event in the Catholic calendar is a disaster in Zofia Turbotynska's household. Her maid Karolina has handed in her notice and worse, gone missing. When Karolina's body is discovered, violated and stabbed, Zofia knows she has to investigate.  Following a trail that leads her from the poorest districts of Galicia to the highest echelons of society, Zofia uncovers a web of gang crimes, sex-trafficking and corruption that will force her to question everything she knows.  Set against the backdrop of the women's cause, Karolina, or the Torn Curtain refuses to turn a blind eye to the injustices and inequalities of its era - and ours.

October 2021

The Twelve Even More Days of Christmas is by Syd Moore.  With returning characters from the Essex Witch Museum series and a weirdly wonderful tale for each day of Christmas, these spooky stories are the perfect companion for long, dark winter nights. So wrap up warm and let yourself get lost in the world of the strange, the scary and the supernatural...

It only takes one... A murder.  A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated.  A festival.  A cultish hilltop community 'celebrates' Pan Night after the apple harvest.  A race against time.  As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story...  Bad Apples is by Will Dean

Tuesday 23 March 2021

The Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction shortlist


The Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction (‘The Lindisfarne Prize’) is a literary prize which recognises outstanding writing in the genre of crime or thriller fiction, sponsored by the author L J Ross through her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, in association with the Newcastle Noir Crime Writing Festival and Newcastle Libraries. It is open to all writers who are from, or whose work celebrates the North East of England, and who have not previously had their submission published in any form (though they might have had other stories published before). To be considered, entrants must submit a short story of no more than ten thousand words or the first two chapters and a synopsis of their work in progress.

This year’s shortlist have been announced!

Thank you to all the writers who entered this year’s competition - the standard was very high, which is an enormous achievement given all that’s going on in the world. It was no easy task to choose between them, but this year we are delighted to congratulate:

Rob Scragg

Barbara Scott Emmett

Ellie Davies

David Cooper

Ed Walsh

The winning entry will be awarded a prize of £2500 to support the completion of their work and funding towards a year’s membership of both the Society of Authors (SoA) and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), and smaller financial awards to shortlisted candidates. Entries are open from 31st October 2020 – 28th February 2021 and the winner will be announced during the Newcastle Noir Crime Writing Festival in May 2021.

The Lindisfarne Prize for Crime Fiction offers financial support but, more importantly, helps to build and maintain creative confidence for new, emerging and established writers in the genre.