Thursday 30 September 2021

Could You Commit a Murder? by Lauren North

For the vast majority of us the answer to this question is of course NO! And yet we never really know how we’re going to react when we find ourselves in the worst moments of our lives, do we?

Just for a minute, imagine the scenario – your boyfriend of seven years is going to propose. You’ve seen the ring hidden in his sock drawer. A big fat diamond you can’t wait for people to see on your finger. He’s been acting quiet and secretive for weeks. And so when he suggests you take a day off work and a walk along the remote cliff tops you both love so much, you know what’s coming. You’re so sure in fact that you let slip to your friends, revelling in the excited squeals over bottles of Prosecco on a Friday night. Your mum is already scrolling Google for suitable wedding venues and has a bottle of champagne hidden in the back of her fridge for when you stop by afterwards to show off the ring. 

The day arrives and it’s overcast, the path along the cliff top blustery and deserted, and when you reach the spot where you shared your very first kiss together, and your boyfriend stops and turns to take in the views of the steal-grey sea and distant ships, you know the moment has come at last. All those years of patience, all those times sat on hard wooden pews watching your friends say, ‘I do’ and pretending not to mind, and finally it’s here – your turn. 

You can’t stop the smile stretching across your face as he turns to you, eyes wide with emotion. But then it all goes wrong. The words that leave his mouth, aren’t, ‘will you marry me?’ they’re, ‘I’m sorry, it’s over.’ He’s in love with someone else. He’s going to propose to someone else. The big fat diamond you found in the sock drawer is for someone else. 

The rage is hot and quick, scorching through your blood. You feel the humiliation burn on your face. All the friends you’ll have to tell, your family too. All those looks of pity from your smug married friends. Oh how wrong you got it. He must see something in your face because he takes a step back, and suddenly he’s close to the edge of the cliff and there’s no one else for miles, and you see in that moment of blinding fury another story. Not the jilted girlfriend, but the grieving fiancée, an unspeakable tragedy after a proposal. Who would know? And all it would take is one shove, one burst of that anger pumping through you. 

Are you still sure you’re not capable of murder? 

Perhaps your answer is still no, and that’s fair enough. But maybe we all have a button somewhere deep inside us, a situation where we’ll find ourselves crossing that line. And let’s not forget that I haven’t even mentioned children yet – that fierce love we have for them, and how far we’d go to protect them. 

It really is impossible to know how anyone will react when their worst moment happens. And there lies the beauty of psychology and the enduring popularity of psychological thrillers. Authors who take the ordinary people, the loving girlfriend, the two point four, the relatable, and throw them into the unimaginable. 

As an author, I’m no different. In my latest novel Safe At Home, anxious mother, Anna, leaves her 11-year old child home alone. Why? Because at some point we have to take that step, we have to give that independence, and it’s only twenty minutes and the village really is very safe. But twenty minutes becomes five hours when a lorry turns over on the road ahead of Anna and she’s stuck. 

It’s all so easy to imagine, isn’t it? 

And now as the author I take it one step further and something terrible happens to Anna’s daughter in that time. There’s mud on the kitchen floor. Someone has been in the house. But Anna’s daughter won’t say a word. So just how far will Anna have to go to find the truth and keep her daughter safe? How far would you go?

Thankfully, those worst moments, that line we never want to cross, is a rare thing indeed, which is another reason why so many readers are drawn into the fictional worlds of psychological thrillers and their characters just like us. 

Safe At Home by Lauren North (Transworld Publishers) Out Now. 

What if you left your child alone, and something terrible happened? Anna James is an anxious mother. So when she has to leave eleven-year-old Harrie home alone one evening, she can't stop worrying about her daughter. But nothing bad ever happens in the sleepy village of Barton St Martin. Except something goes wrong that night, and Anna returns to find Harrie with bruises she won't explain. The next morning a local businessman is reported missing and the village is sparking with gossip. Anna is convinced there's a connection and that Harrie is in trouble. But how can she protect her daughter if she doesn't know where the danger is coming from?

You can find more information about her and her books on her website and you can also follow her on Twitter @Lauren_C_North

Petrona Award 2021 Shortlist is announced


Outstanding crime fiction from Iceland, Norway and Sweden shortlisted for the 2021 Petrona Award 

Six outstanding crime novels from Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been shortlisted for the 2021 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The shortlist is announced today, Thursday 30 September. 

A NECESSARY DEATH by Anne Holt, tr. Anne Bruce (Corvus; Norway)

DEATH DESERVED by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, tr. Anne Bruce (Orenda Books; Norway)

THE SECRET LIFE OF MR. ROOS by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Mantle; Sweden)

TO COOK A BEAR by Mikael Niemi, tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner (MacLehose Press; Sweden)

THE SEVEN DOORS by Agnes Ravatn, tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books; Norway)

GALLOWS ROCK by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)

The winning title, usually announced at the international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, will now be announced on Thursday 4 November 2021. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2022.

The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his continued generous support of the Petrona Award. We would also like to thank Jake Kerridge for being a guest judge last year. 

We are delighted to welcome new judge Ewa Sherman to the Petrona Team. Ewa is a translator and writer. She blogs at NORDIC LIGHTHOUSE, is a regular contributor to CRIME REVIEW, and volunteers at crime fiction festivals in Reykjavik, Bristol and Newcastle.

The judges’ comments on each of the shortlisted titles:

A NECESSARY DEATH by Anne Holt, tr. Anne Bruce (Corvus; Norway)

Anne Holt, according to Jo Nesbø, is the ‘godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction’. Best known for her ‘Hanne Wilhelmsen’ and ‘Vik/Stubø’ series (the inspiration for TV drama Modus), she also served as Norway’s Minister for Justice in the 1990s. A Necessary Death is the second in Holt’s ‘Selma Falck’ series, whose eponymous protagonist is a high-flying lawyer brought low by her gambling addiction. The novel shows Falck resisting an attempt to kill her: on waking in a burning cabin in a remote, sub-zero wilderness, she has to figure out how to survive, while desperately trying to remember how she got there. A pacy, absorbing thriller with a gutsy, complex main character.

DEATH DESERVED by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, tr. Anne Bruce (Orenda Books; Norway)

Death Deserved marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration between two of Norway’s most successful crime authors. Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst are both already well known for their long-running ‘Henning Juul’ and ‘William Wisting’ series. Death Deserved, in which a serial killer targets well-known personalities, mines each writer’s area of expertise: the portrayal of detective Alexander Blix draws on Horst’s former career as a policeman, while Enger brings his professional knowledge of the media to the depiction of journalist Emma Ramm. The novel expertly fuses the writers’ individual styles, while showcasing their joint talent for writing credible and engaging characters, and creating a fast-paced, exciting plot. 

THE SECRET LIFE OF MR. ROOS by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Mantle; Sweden)

Håkan Nesser, one of Sweden’s most popular crime writers, is internationally known for his ‘Van Veeteren’ and ‘Inspector Barbarotti’ series. The Secret Life of Mr. Roos is the third in a quintet featuring Gunnar Barbarotti, a Swedish policeman of Italian descent, who is a complex yet ethically grounded figure. His relatively late appearance in the novel creates space for the portrayal of an unlikely friendship between Mr. Roos, a jaded, middle-aged man who has unexpectedly won the lottery, and Anna, a young, recovering drug addict of Polish origin, who is on the run. Slow-burning literary suspense is leavened with a dry sense of humour, philosophical musings, and compassion for individuals in difficult circumstances.

TO COOK A BEAR by Mikael Niemi, tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner (MacLehose Press; Sweden)

Mikael Niemi grew up in the northernmost part of Sweden, and this forms the setting for his historical crime novel To Cook a Bear. It’s 1852: Revivalist preacher Lars Levi Læstadius and Jussi, a young Sami boy he has rescued from destitution, go on long botanical treks that hone their observational skills. When a milkmaid goes missing deep in the forest, the locals suspect a predatory bear, but Læstadius and Jussi find clues using early forensic techniques that point to a far worse killer. Niemi’s eloquent depiction of this unforgiving but beautiful landscape, and the metaphysical musings of Læstadius on art, literature and education truly set this novel apart.

THE SEVEN DOORS by Agnes Ravatn, tr. Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books; Norway)

Agnes Ravatn’s The Seven Doors has shades of Patricia Highsmith about it: a deliciously dark psychological thriller that lifts the lid on middle-class hypocrisy. When Ingeborg, the daughter of university professor Nina and hospital consultant Mads, insists on viewing a house that her parents rent out, she unwittingly sets off a grim chain of events. Within a few days, tenant Mari Nilson has gone missing, and when Nina starts to investigate her disappearance and past life as a musician, worrying truths begin to emerge. A novel about gender, power and self-deception, expertly spiced with Freud and Bluebeard, The Seven Doors delivers an ending that lingers in the mind.

GALLOWS ROCK by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)

Gallows Rock is the fourth in Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s ‘Children’s House’ series, featuring child psychologist Freyja and police detective Huldar as a reluctant investigative duo. Their relationship provides readers with some lighter moments and occasional black humour, along with a frisson of mutual attraction. The novel’s intricate plot focuses on skewed morals and revenge: what begins as a ritualistic murder at an ancient execution site in the lava fields – the Gallows Rock of the title – leads to the unearthing of a case of long-term abuse, whose devastating impact is sensitively explored. The author won the 2015 Petrona Award for The Silence of the Sea.

The judges

Jackie Farrant – Crime fiction expert and creator of RAVEN CRIME READS; bookseller for twenty years and a Regional Commercial Manager for a major book chain in the UK.

Dr. Kat Hall – Translator and editor; Honorary Research Associate at Swansea University; international crime fiction reviewer at MRS. PEABODY INVESTIGATES. 

Ewa Sherman – Translator and writer; blogger at NORDIC LIGHTHOUSE; regular contributor to CRIME REVIEW; volunteer at crime fiction festivals in Reykjavik, Bristol and Newcastle. 

Award administrator

Karen Meek – owner of the EURO CRIME website; reviewer, former CWA judge for the International Dagger, and Library Assistant.

Further information can be found on the Petrona Award website:

Images of the Petrona Award logo and the shortlisted titles are available (from 8.00am) at:

(copy & paste link into browser)

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Books to look Forward to from Profile Books (Incl Viper Books)

 January 2022

A murder that no-one wants to solve... Dublin 1986. The murder of an off-duty officer in Phoenix Park should have brought down the full power of the Dublin police force. But Kieran Lynch was found in a notorious gay cruising ground, so even as the press revels in the scandal, some of the Murder Squad are reluctant to investigate. Only Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine are willing to search out the difficult truth, walking the streets of nighttime Dublin to find Kieran's lovers and friends. But Gina has her own secret that means she must withhold vital evidence. When a fire rips through Temple Bar and another man is killed, she must decide what price she is willing to pay to find a murderer. The Burning Boy is by Nicola White.

The Twyford Code is by Janice Hallett. It's time to solve the murder of the century... Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children's book, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. He took it to his remedial English teacher, Miss Isles, who became convinced it was the key to solving a puzzle. That a message in secret code ran through all Edith Twyford's novels. Then Miss Isles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven's memory won't allow him to remember what happened. Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Isles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today? Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Isles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn't just a writer of forgotten children's stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn't the only one trying to solve it...

February 2022

Who will survive the night? A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There's a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it's not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises. Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she's become, or why she lets him hurt her. Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can't forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children's lives are at stake... A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Nasty Little Cuts is by Tina Baker

March 2022

You can't escape the desert. You can't escape Sundial. Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because she fears what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice. Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive. Sundial is by Catriona Ward.

April 2022

Begars Abbey is by V L Valentine. A dark house filled with darker secrets. Winter 1954, and in a dilapidated apartment in Brooklyn, Sam Cooper realises that she has nothing left. Her mother is dead, she has no prospects, and she cannot afford the rent. But as she goes through her mother's things, Sam finds a stack of hidden letters that reveal a family and an inheritance that she never knew she had, three thousand miles away in Yorkshire. Begars Abbey is a crumbling pile, inhabited only by Sam's crippled grandmother, Lady Cooper, a housekeeper and a handful of servants. Sam cannot understand why her mother kept its very existence a secret, but her diaries offer a glimpse of a young girl growing increasingly terrified. As is Sam herself. Built on the foundations of an old convent, Begars moves and sings with the biting wind. Her grandmother cannot speak, and a shadowy woman moves along the corridors at night. For there are dark places in the hidden tunnels beneath Begars. And they will not give up their secrets easily...

May 2022

Murder by the Seaside is by Cecily Gayford. It's the height of summer. As the heat shimmers on the streets and ice cream melts onto sticky fingers, tempers begin to rise and old grudges surface. From Cornish beaches to the French Riviera, it's not just a holiday that's on people's minds ... it's murder. In these ten classic stories from writers such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare and Margery Allingham, you'll find mayhem and mysteries aplenty. So grab the suncream and head down to the beach - if you dare.

To tell the truth? Or protect his family? Cornell is having a bad time. Kicked out of secondary school for a fight he didn't start, he finds himself in a Pupil Referral Unit. Here he makes friends with one of the Sinclair family. You don't mess with the Sinclairs, and when Ryan Sinclair demands Cornell comes with him to teach another student some respect, Ryan witnesses something that will change his life. Torn between protecting his family and himself, Cornell has one hell of a decision to make. Witness is by Alex Wheatle.

'There were good people in The Homes. But there were also some very, very bad ones...' A thousand unwanted children live in The Homes, a village of orphans in the Scottish Lowlands on the outskirts of Glasgow. Lesley was six before she learned that most children live with their parents. Now Lesley is twelve, and she and her best friend Jonesy live in Cottage 5, Jonesy the irrepressible spirit to Lesley's quiet thoughtfulness. Life is often cruel at The Homes, and suddenly it becomes much crueller. A child is found murdered. Then another. With the police unable to catch the killer, Lesley and Jonesy decides to take the matter into their own hands. But unwanted children are easy victims, and they are both in terrible danger... The Homes is by J B Mylet.

June 2022

Would you open The Box to save your daughter? Ed Truman's family is falling apart. His daughter Ally is being targeted by an alt-right incel organisation, Men Together. His house is being picketed, former clients are accusing him of sexual assault, his son won't speak to him. And then Ally disappears. Frantic, Ed suspects that Men Together have abducted her. But before he can go to the police, his DNA is found on the body of a young woman. Suddenly he's the subject of a nationwide manhunt, led by the tenacious DCI Jackie Rose. Ed finds himself on the run with Ally's friend, the enigmatic Phoenix, who claims to know where Ally is. But what is the truth? Is Ed a violent sexual predator? Or is he the victim of a ruthless conspiracy? The answers are in The Box. But not everyone who goes in, comes out alive... The Box is by Dan Malakin. 

Monday 27 September 2021

Books to Look Forward to from Oneworld and Point Blank Press

 January 2022

In the summer of 1991, teen Dee McBride vanished in the city of Milwaukee. It was the summer the Journal Sentinel dubbed 'the deadliest . . . in the history of Milwaukee.' Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer's heinous crimes dominated the headlines and the disappearance of one girl was easily overlooked. 2019, nearly thirty years later, Dee's sister, Peg, is still haunted by her disappearance. Desperate to find out what happened to her, the family hire a psychic and Peg is plunged back into the past. But Peg's hazy recollections are far from easy to interpret and digging deep into her memory raises terrifying questions. How much trust can we place in our own recollections? How often are our memories altered by the very act of speaking them aloud? And what does it mean to bear witness in a world where even our own stories about what happened are inherently suspect? The Comfort of Monsters is by Willa C Richards.

February 2022

A Loyal Traitor is by Tim Glister. Duty or honour. Which would you betray? It's 1966. London is swinging, and the Cold War is spiralling. Clear cut lines have faded to grey areas. Whispers of conspiracies are everywhere. Spies on both sides of the iron curtain are running in circles, chasing constant plots and counterplots. And MI5 agent Richard Knox is tired of all of it. But when Abey Bennett, his CIA comrade in arms, appears in London with a ghost from Knox's past and a terrifying warning that could change the balance of power in the Cold War for good, he has to fight to save the future. He must also face an agonising choice: who will he believe, and who will he betray - his duty to his country or his loyalty to his friends?

April 2022

Wake Me Up at Nine in the Morning is by A Yi. Infamous local thug Hongyang is found dead by his lover after a night of debauched drinking. Hongyang is a man with plenty of enemies, any one of whom could be responsible for his death...Piecing together the story of Hongyang's violent criminal past through the voices of his friends, family, and his former lover Aiwan, Wake Me Up at Nine in the Morning is a breathless and immersive journey into China's criminal underworld. It is also a terrifying snapshot of a society in which cynicism and suspicion reign supreme.

Everyone deserves a second chance. After a car accident killed her husband and left her permanently scarred, Kat Alexander, a wealthy widow, starts a new life in the countryside. Mourning not only her husband but her last chance of motherhood, Kat is completely lost. Until she meets Ginny, who runs the local animal sanctuary and offers Kat a lifeline. The two become inseparable and Ginny encourages Kat to join the local branch of Young and Widowed, dubbed the Coffin Club by its members. There she meets Nico, a young Spanish widower with a five-year-old daughter Magdalena 'Midge'. Nico is gorgeous - good-looking, kind, caring - and wants to settle in the UK permanently. Kat would do anything to be a mother and Nico can offer her just that. Marriage seems like the perfect option but how well do they really know each other? The Coffin Club is by Jacqueline Sutherland.

June 2022

Chemical Cocktail is by Fiona Erskine. Jaq Silver is back with a bang in this high-octane third novel in the series. When Jaq Silver's mother dies, she is handed a poisoned chalice. An inheritance more valuable to her than she could have imagined. Travelling from Portugal to Brazil amid conspiracies and corruption to get to the bottom of her family mystery, Jaq learns she is not the only one with an interest in her unusual inheritance. Racing against the clock as the threats to her life increase on all sides, Jaq must use her scientific know-how to save what matters most.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Books To Look Forward To From Bloomsbury and Raven Crime

January 2022 

Best friends share everything. But murder is different. Isn't it? Keeley and Jude are closer than blood. Inseparable since childhood, they share everything: clothes, secrets, booze - and blame. So when they wake up after a new year's party to find Keeley's boyfriend stabbed to death beside them, they agree to share something else: the story they'll tell the police. But who is that story really meant to protect? Is Jude risking her bright future to protect her friend? Is there more to sharp-eyed Keeley than she lets on? Or are they conspiring to let Keeley's brother get away with the drugs he's been selling in their small town? As the murder investigation sends ripples through their community, the history of the girls' claustrophobic relationship comes under scrutiny - and they start to realise they might not, always, have shared as much as they thought. Can their friendship survive sharing everything? She and I is by Hannah King.

February 2022

The Leviathan is by Rosie Andrews. She is awake Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft. Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before. Something has awoken in England, and now it will not rest...

March 2022

The Devil's Bargain is by Sheila Rimington. Harry Bristow: policeman, father, chauffeur, fraud. In 1988 Harry made one mistake: he took a bribe, letting a man he knew as Igor into Britain - and he's regretted it ever since. So when he recognises 'Igor' fifteen years later as his newly-elected MP, he knows he has to come clean. But the MP recognises him too - and Harry fears what he might do next. Peter Robinson, MP: salesman, politician, bachelor, spy. It was easy to get into Britain in 1988 as an illegal, working deep undercover, but the break-up of the Soviet Union cut Robinson off from his homeland. He's inching closer to Britain's levers of power - but now the one man who knows his secret has reappeared. With no way to contact Moscow, he must act fast to preserve his position and reap its rewards - at any cost. Manon Bradley, CIA analyst, has just boarded a plane to London - with a report on Russian illegals to read.

April 2022

The Cove is by Alice Clark Platts. A luxury resort they never want to leave. One of them never will. A holiday to an idyllic Malaysian island is just what the two families need. For Lou, it is make or break for her marriage. For Eliza, it is a chance to reconnect with her husband and a respite from a busy lifestyle. The resort is remote, surrounded by sea and jungle, and an escape from the outside world and all of the troubles that plague them. But as soon as they arrive at the cove, it becomes evident that things are not all they seem. There are secrets between the two families and strange goings on at the hotel, and when tensions reach breaking point on the final night, they can't wait to leave.Then a violent storm comes in, trapping then on the island. That's when the first person goes missing.

May 2022

Tensions between friends spiral towards disaster in this thrilling novel set on a luxury Greek resort. Liv Travers never knew real friendship until she met fellow mums Beth and Binnie. The three women become soulmates as they muddle through early parenthood. Then along comes Ange... Ambitious, wealthy and somehow able to do it all. Under Ange's guiding presence, the group finds new vigour and fresh aspirations - bigger houses, better schools, dinners at exclusive restaurants. But Liv can't keep up and is increasingly edged out. When the four families take a three-week trip to a luxurious holiday resort, Liv seizes the opportunity to reclaim her place at the heart of the group, only to discover the true, devastating cost of a friendship with Ange. Set over the course of a single, life-changing trip to a Greek island paradise, Little Nothings is a sly, suspenseful novel about female bonds turned toxic, and the desperate ends one woman will go to keep her friends close - and her enemy closer. Little Nothings is by Julie Mayhew.

Friday 24 September 2021

The Reading Agency 2022 Quick Read Authors Announced


The Reading Agency has announced the eight best-selling authors writing Quick Reads for 2022, the life-changing programme tackling the UK’s adult literacy crisis by helping less confident readers get reading.

Publishing on 14 April 2022 in a showcase of the very best contemporary writing, the new raft of Quick Reads titles incudes: a chilling story of revenge by New York Times bestseller Paula Hawkins (Blind Spot, Penguin Random House, Transworld, Doubleday); an intriguing tale of romance and danger from treasured comedian and presenter Graham Norton (The Swimmer, Hodder, Coronet); a gruesome new case for MW Craven’s popular crime-cracking duo Poe and Bradshaw (The Cutting Season, Hachette, Constable); a specially abridged version of Lemn Sissay’s prize-winning memoir (My Name Is Why abridged, (Canongate); a catch up with Ayisha Malik’s 'Muslim Bridget Jones’ Sofia Khan (Sofia Khan: The Baby Blues, Headline, Review); a fable of family dynamics and deception courtesy of the much-loved Santa Montefiore (The Kiss, Simon & Schuster); an historical drama set against the backdrop of Tenerife’s volcanic landscape by the award-winning Kate Mosse (The Black Mountain, Macmillan, Mantle); and a high stakes return to the streets of Alex Wheatle’s North Crongton estate (Witness, Serpent’s Tail).

MW Craven, The Cutting Season (Hachette, Constable)

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals… M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

MW Craven said: “In my sixteen-year career in the probation service I witnessed the devastating impact of illiteracy and low-level literacy on an almost daily basis. From the first-time offender being unable to read the community order he was being asked to sign, to the coping mechanisms and the myriad excuses used to avoid reading out loud on the offending-behaviour courses we ran. Many of these men and women had basic reading skills, but little to no confidence, and that is why the Quick Reads programme is such a wonderful thing. Reading is such a vital part of communication and I couldn’t say yes to being involved fast enough.

Poe’s just hanging out on a Saturday afternoon…

Hanging from a hook in a meat packing plant isn’t how Washington Poe wants to spend his weekend. He’s been punched and kicked, and when the Pale Man arrives it seems things will soon go from bad to worse. The Pale Man is a contract killer, and he and his razor are feared all over London.

But Poe knows two things the Pale Man doesn’t. And now things are about to get interesting…

Paula Hawkins, Blind Spot (Penguin Random House, Transworld, Doubleday)

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before writing her first book. Paula was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. She moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. Her first thriller, The Girl on the Train, has sold 23 million copies worldwide. Published in over forty languages, it has been a Number 1 bestseller around the world and was a box office hit film starring Emily Blunt.

Paula's second thriller, Into the Water, and her latest book, A Slow Fire Burning, were also instant Number 1 bestsellers.

Paula Hawkins said: “I jumped at the opportunity to write a Quick Reads. Reading is such a joy for me – it has been since childhood. Books have formed the cornerstone of many of my friendships; they connect me to people and places I might never go. They’re fundamental to my understanding of the world. But I’m acutely aware that, for all sorts of reasons, people might struggle with reading, so it’s a great privilege to be invited to write a Quick Reads. I can only hope that Blind Spot will help someone else discover the pure pleasure that can be found within the pages of a favourite book.

‘How can you say things like this? How can you be so blind?’

Since they were kids, Edie, Jake and Ryan have been the closest of friends. It’s been the three of them against the world. Edie thought the bonds between them were unbreakable. So when Jake is brutally murdered and Ryan accused of the crime, her world is shattered.

Edie is alone for the first time in years, living in the remote house that she and Jake shared. She is grief-stricken and afraid – with good reason. Because someone is watching. Someone has been waiting for this moment. Now that Edie is alone, the past she tried so hard to leave behind is about to catch up with her…

Ayisha Malik, Sofia Khan: The Baby Blues (Headline, Review)

Ayisha Malik was born and raised in South London and is a lover of books (obviously), and writer of contemporary fiction. A former publicist at Penguin Random House, turned managing editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, turned full-time writer. Her debut novel, Sofia Khan is not Obliged, and its sequel, The Other Half of Happiness, (Zaffre), were dubbed as the 'Muslim Bridget Jones.' Her latest novel, This Green and Pleasant Land, (Zaffre) is out now. She has also contributed to the anthology, A Change is Gonna Come, (Stripes Publishing), and upcoming collection, A Match Made in Heaven, (Hope Road Publishing). Malikis also known for ghost-writing Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain's, adult books.

Ayisha Malik said: “Growing up, reading was such a huge part of my understanding of the world and myself. That experience should be available to everyone and Quick Reads is a brilliant way of trying to make that happen. I’m honoured to be a part of something so crucial, and to have had such fun with the story along the way.”

Sofia Khan is going about everything the wrong way. At least, that’s what her mother, Mehnaz, thinks. Sofia is twice-divorced, homeless and – worst of all – refusing to give up on a fostered baby girl. Sofia’s just not behaving like a normal woman should.

Sofia doesn’t see it like that. She’s planning to adopt Millie, and she’s sure it’ll be worth it. (Even if it means she and Millie have to stay at Mehnaz’s place for a while.) And as Sofia finally begins to live the life she’s chosen, she finds both romance and happiness start to blossom.

But then someone comes back from the past – and not even Sofia’s own past. Suddenly, she’s faced with a choice. To do what’s best for those she loves, Sofia might have to break her own heart. And she might find herself needing the last person she expected…

Santa Montefiore, The Kiss (Simon & Schuster)

Santa Montefiore’s books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have sold more than six million copies in England and Europe. She is the bestselling author of The Temptation of Gracie and the Deverill series, among many others. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London.

Santa Montefiore said: “The main reason that I write is to entertain. It gives me enormous pleasure to know that people enjoy my stories. It’s what drives me and propels me from book to book. However, I’m aware that there are many people out there who might find my novels too long or perhaps too densely written for their tastes. That’s why I agreed to write a story for Quick Reads. It gives those readers who wouldn’t normally pick up one of my novels the opportunity to give me a go. With this in mind, I wanted to write something special for them. I know how much my readers love stories based in Italy, so I set mine in Tuscany, and I made sure that I added all the things they enjoy, like romance and mystery, into the mix. It was a story, based on a true story I had heard, that I had been sitting on for a while and wasn’t sure what to do with. So, in a way, Quick Reads benefited both me as well as their readers, because I was able to use this gem of an idea which was too small for a larger book. I thank Quick Reads for inviting me to write for them, and my readers, longstanding and new, who enable me to do what I love doing best. I really hope they are entertained and perhaps, if they are, I might have the opportunity to write for them again.”

Sometimes your biggest mistake can also be a blessing… Madison has always known she had a different father to her siblings. But it wasn’t until she turned eighteen that she learned his name. And now she wants to meet the man who shares her fair hair and blue eyes: Robert.

Robert is a very lucky man. A big house, beautiful wife, three handsome sons. Eighteen years ago, he made a mistake. A brief fling that resulted in a daughter nobody knows about.

Robert must finally tell his family the truth. Will they ever be able to forgive him and accept Madison as one of their own?

Kate Mosse, The Black Mountain (Macmillan, Pan Books)

Kate Mosse is an award-winning novelist, playwright and non-fiction writer, the author of six novels and short story collections, including the multimillion-selling Languedoc TrilogyLabyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – and number one bestselling Gothic fiction The Winter Ghosts and The Taxidermist’s Daughter. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and published in more than forty countries. The Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, she is also the Deputy Chair of the National Theatre in London. Kate divides her time between Chichester in West Sussex and Carcassonne in south-west

Kate Mosse said: “I wrote my first Quick Read in 2009 and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my writing life. Meeting new readers, many of whom were just starting to fall in love with stories on the page, transformed how I thought about storytelling, about language and about the barriers some people face to engaging with fiction. It made me question how I wrote, and why I wrote, and I've been grateful for everything I learnt because of it. The programme is exceptional - always innovative, always exciting, always finding ways to support literacy but also to give emerging readers access to the widest possible range of books. It genuinely changes lives and it's an honour to be part of the 2022 list.”

It is May, 1706. Ana, a young Spanish woman, lives in a small town on the north-west coast of Tenerife with her mother and twin younger brothers. The town is in the shadow of a mighty volcano, which legend says has the devil living inside it. However, there has been no eruption for thousands of years and no one believes it is a threat.

One day, Ana notices that the air feels strange and heavy, that the birds have stopped singing. Tending the family vineyard, a sudden strange tremor in the earth frightens her. Very soon it will be a race against time for Ana to help persuade the town that they are in danger and should flee before the volcano erupts and destroys their world. Will they listen? And Ana herself faces another danger…

‘A powerful storyteller with an abundant imagination’ Daily Telegraph

Graham Norton, The Swimmer (Hodder, Coronet)

Graham Norton is one of the UK’s most treasured comedians and presenters. Born in Clondalkin, a suburb of Dublin, Norton’s first big TV appearance was as Father Noel Furlong on Channel 4’s Father Ted in the early 1990s. He then secured a prime time slot on Channel 4 with his chat shows So Graham Norton and V Graham Norton. Known for his quick wit Graham began hosting a variety of talent shows on BBC One from Strictly Dance Fever and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? to The Eurovision Song Contest and BAFTAs. Graham was soon approached by the BBC to front his own self-titled chat show The Graham Norton Show in 2007. Graham Norton has won 9 BAFTAs for Best Entertainment Performance, and Best Entertainment Programme. He presents The Graham Norton Show on BBC1, a show on BBC Radio 2 every Saturday, and is a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Norton won the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards in 2017. Graham’s third novel will be published in hardback, eBook, and audiobook in October.

Graham Norton said: “Being involved with Quick Reads was a huge pleasure as well as a real challenge. I loved the discipline involved in shaping a story that was accessible at the same time as being exciting, emotional and hopefully rewarding. Books and stories are an extraordinary escape for so many and I am thrilled to work with Quick Reads in helping to unlock the world of words for new readers.”

Helen is a retired teacher living on the Irish coast. She enjoys the peace and quiet – despite the burden of Margaret, her unpleasant sister. Margaret arrived three years ago for a short holiday, but somehow managed to stay and worm her way into Helen’s life.

One day, Helen sees a man struggling in the sea and decides to investigate. She doesn’t quite know what it is, but something about it feels very strange…

Lemn Sissay, My Name Is Why (abridged) (Canongate)

Lemn Sissay MBE is a BAFTA nominated International prize winning writer. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature by The Queen of England, The Pen Pinter Prize and a Points of Light Award from The Prime Minister. Google “Lemn Sissay” and all the hits will be about him. There’s only one person in the world called Lemn Sissay.

Lemn Sissay said: “This is why I wrote My Name Is Why. Family is a collection of stories between one group of people over a life time. For some it is an anthology of disputed tales over a lifetime. Families can uphold what they believe to be a fact which is in fact pure fiction. What matters most of all is harmony: the truth has little to do with it. The same could be said for storytelling. I wrote My Name Is Why because no member of my family knew who I was or what I had been through. I have found an extended family in the readers of my book and I am thankful to every one of them.

An abridgement of his bestselling memoir of the same name.

How does a government steal a child and then imprison him?

How does it keep it a secret?

This story is how.

This story is true.

My Name Is Why is a true story about growing up in care and fighting to succeed despite the cruelty and failures of the care system.

Alex Wheatle, Witness (Serpent’s Tail)

Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents, Wheatle spent much of his childhood in a Shirley Oaks children’s home. He wrote lyrics about everyday Brixton life. By 1980 Wheatle was living in a social services hostel in Brixton, South London. He participated in the 1981 Brixton riots and aftermath. While serving time in prison he took to reading. His first novel, Brixton Rock, was published to critical acclaim by BlackAmber Books in 1999. Following the publication of his second novel, he turned his attention to writing YA fiction and has won a number of awards, including the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Award

Alex Wheatle said: “I may have been nominated and short-listed for many awards, but I believe my greatest success in this old writing game is when a school librarian informs me that one of their students, who has never picked up a book before, cannot put an Alex Wheatle book down.

‘They have found a story they can finally relate to,’ I am often told.

Reading for pleasure is a crucial gateway to all learning. If I can engage a reader with my characters, my narratives and the themes that are important to me, then I believe I’m passing on my humanity.”

Cornell is having a bad time. Kicked out of school for a fight he didn't start, he finds himself in a Pupil Referral Unit. Here he makes friends with one of the Sinclair family. You just don't mess with the Sinclairs, and when Ryan Sinclair orders him to come with him to teach a rival some respect, Cornell witnesses something that will change his life.

Torn between protecting his family and himself, Cornell has one hell of a decision to make.

Witness is Alex Wheatle at his best: a thrilling story about street violence, friendship and making the right choices.

About The Reading Agency & Quick Reads

The Reading Agency is a national charity that tackles life's big challenges through the proven power of reading. We work closely with partners to develop and deliver programmes for people of all ages and backgrounds. The Reading Agency is funded by Arts Council England.

Quick Reads, a programme by The Reading Agency, aims to bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, including the one in three adults in the UK who do not regularly read for pleasure, and the one in six adults in the UK who find reading difficult. The scheme changes lives and plays a vital role in addressing the national crisis around adult literacy in the UK. Each year, Quick Reads works with UK publishers to commission high profile authors to write short, engaging books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. Since 2006, over 6 million books have been distributed through the initiative, 5 million library loans (PLR) have been registered and through outreach work hundreds of thousands of new readers each year have been introduced to the joys and benefits of reading. From 2020 – 2022, the initiative is supported by a philanthropic gift from bestselling author Jojo Moyes.

Thursday 23 September 2021

The Return of Capital Crime!




Capital Crime and Goldsboro Books have partnered for the next Capital Crime Writing Festival scheduled to take place from 29th September – 1st October 2022

Capital Crime will run at a new, tented, venue in a central London park from Thursday, 29th September to Saturday, 1stOctober 2022. The celebrated crime and thriller festival will feature a wide-ranging line-up of events focused on accessible, mainstream fiction loved by readers around the world, which entertain crime and thriller fans, readers and authors alike in the UK’s capital.

The inaugural festival in 2019 was hailed a success, and celebrated as “the most diverse and inclusive” of its kind” which saw a wide range of household names and new authors coupled with actors and producers from popular crime and thriller adaptations across the weekend. The line-up included Ian Rankin, Martina Cole, Lynda La Plante, Abir Mukherjee, Robert Glenister, Dreda Say Mitchell, Leye Adenle, Will Dean, Kate Atkinson, amongst others.

Award-winning communications agency FMcM have been appointed to handle media relations for the festival.

Capital Crime co-founder and Goldsboro Books managing director, David Headley, says: “I was incredibly proud of Capital Crime’s inaugural festival in 2019. Postponing our second festival was heartbreaking, but I’ve been delighted with how the team have kept the spirit of the festival going throughout lockdown, with the Amazon Publishing New Voices Award, the Capital Crime Book Club and Social Outreach Initiative. I couldn’t be more pleased that our diverse celebration of the crime and thriller genre is returning to the capital – in a brilliant new venue!

Capital Crime Festival Director, Lizzie Curle, says: “Our priority is to keep our customers and authors safe, and with our exciting new venue we will be able to run a fun, conscious and inclusive festival, and bring the celebration of crime and thriller genre back to London.

Early Bird Tickets for Capital Crime 2022 go on sale from 12 noon on Thursday 23rd September 2021 at, with lineup and full details to be announced later this year. All existing 2020 festival ticket holders will have their tickets carried over.

Alongside the festival, Capital Crime will continue to create a year-round home for crime and thriller readers and authors with their book club and awards, and nurture under-represented authors with their social outreach initiative which was established in 2019.

For further information please contact Capital Crime’s Festival Director,

Lizzie Curle on 

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Symposium: Crime Fiction and the Social Contract


Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast); Barbara Pezzotti 

and Carlos Uxó (Monash University)

Chaired by Dr Stewart King (Monash University)

Tuesday 28 September 2021, 8-10pm Melbourne; 6-8am New York; 11am-1pm London

To register for this Zoom symposium, please click here.

Crime Fiction and the Unravelling of the Social Contract: Generic Breakdown at the End of Days - Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast, English)

In this talk, I take as my starting point the turn by a number of crime writers towards the apocalypse and apocalyptic themes: namely, Lauren Beukes’s Afterland (2021), Hanna Jameson’s The Last (2019), Deon Meyer’s Fever (2017), Hye-Young Pyun’s The City of Ash and Red (2018), Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers (2019), and Ben Winters’s The Last Policeman (2012). In part, and looking at the long history of the genre, crime fiction has always been interested in the benefits and problems of the social contract: as I have argued, even the earliest crime stories ‘end up responding to the threat of social anarchy by justifying a Hobbesian move from the state of nature into the social contract while at the same time hinting, intentionally or otherwise, at the inadequacies of the state’s provisions for law enforcement’ (Unwilling Executioner, 24). These contemporary crime/apocalypse novels allow us to think about how much and how little has changed: in response to the spectres of global pandemics, nuclear explosion and climate emergencies, the states in these novels have evolved/crumbled and with this their imperfect mechanisms for maintaining order, law and justice. As such I am interested in teasing out and interrogating three related lines of critical enquiry: first the potential to read these texts as world literature, given the global nature of the threats and the breakdown of national traditions and borders; second, the issue of how the unravelling of the social contract occasioned by the apocalyptic threat is dealt with by or within the parameters of the crime story; and third, the extent to which this social unravelling presupposes and indeed produces an unravelling of genre or at least the emergence of new hybrid forms.

How the Social Contract has Failed Women - Barbara Pezzotti (Monash University, European Languages)

Crime fiction has been long accused of being a conservative genre that reaffirms the social order and endorses a patriarchal society. This view has been challenged by a number of crime novels which successfully denounce violence against women, and the evil of patriarchal societies that feeds such violence. In my talk I will analyse the representation of gender violence and femicide in Dacia Maraini’ Voices (1997), Maria-Antònia Oliver’s Study in Lilac (2001), and Stieg Larsson’s Men Who Hate Women (2005). I will show how these crime novelists use the crime fiction genre to shift the readers’ attention from an individual crime and an individual culprit to point to a systematic failure of Western States, and the social contract that pinpoints them. Throughout their narrative, these writers historicise the evil of femicide, arguing that far from being merely a matter for psychiatrists, it has profound roots in Western culture. They describe it as a pervasive evil in contemporary society and a gangrene very difficult to eradicate as it concerns everybody, and is not only identifiable with deviant personalities. Ultimately, I show how crime fiction can act as a privileged genre for exposing how the social contract has failed women.

Maintaining the Revolutionary Social Contract: The Role of Cuban Television Police Shows - Carlos Uxó (Monash University, European Languages)

Social contract theory is concerned with the legitimacy of authority over the individual and discusses to what extent, and why, individuals consent to surrender some of their freedoms in exchange for a social order from which they benefit in one way or another, and in which they feel protected. For the social contract to work, therefore, a body of laws must be created and shared by all members of a given society. But, do all members of a society enter into the social contract consensually? And how do the authorities remind citizens of their duty to abide by the social contract? Taking these issues as my starting point, in my talk I discuss the role Cuban television police shows have played in the maintenance of the Revolutionary social contract, by constantly reminding citizens of the rules they had to follow, and the penalties they would otherwise face. To that end, I analyse the television series Tras la huella, broadcast in Cuba since 2005.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Killing It Competition Winners Revealed


HarperFiction has revealed the three winners of its Killing It Competition for Undiscovered Writers, launched in January this year.

The competition is designed to find unpublished writers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and this year was judged by editorial director Phoebe Morgan, commissioning editor Kathryn Cheshire, assistant editor Sophie Churcher and guest judge Ayo Onatade.

Each winner will receive a comprehensive editorial report from a HarperFiction editor covering pace, characterisation, pitch and more, as well as three mentoring sessions.

Onatade said there was a large number of submissions which were "varied, amazing and certainly gave us food for thought".

"They were all a great joy and fascinating to read. Deciding the winning three was a tough choice and I am delighted to have been part of the decision-making. It is clear from the submissions that the genre is in good hands and will continue to grow and evolve. Congratulations to you all!"

The winners include IT consultant Rama Varma, for "The Banana Leaf Murder" which tells the tale of Mami, a retired maths teacher, who is invited to the grand birthday celebration of her family friend, aristocrat Sredharan Nair in Kerala. Before the party, he is found dead in his room and his nurse has disappeared with a large sum of money. 

Stacey Thomas' "The Revels" was also announced as a winner. It is a tale of an aspiring playwright who is apprenticed to a former witch hunter in 17th-century England. Thomas is a full-time civil servant and staff reviewer at Bad Form Review. In February, she won the Clare Mackintosh Scholarship for Black Writers for "The Revels" and was awarded a sponsored place on the Curtis Brown six-month Writing Your Novel course. She is currently being mentored by Clare Mackintosh.

The third winner is Shabnam Grewal's "Secrets and Shame", about a radio reporter struggling for direction until a chance encounter leads her to question the truth about her uncle Raj’s murder 40 years earlier. Grewal is an award-winning radio and TV producer at the BBC.

Saturday 18 September 2021

Bloody Scotland Announces winners of McIlVanney Prize and Debut Novel


sponsored by The Glencairn Glass with match funding from 

Culture & Business Fund Scotland

William McIlvanney famously said of Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival:

I went to Bloody Scotland and I was just knocked out.... this event was so friendly, so supportive I was honestly overwhelmed

William McIlvanney – speaking on BBC Scotland

The prize in his honour is even more poignant this year as his last book has just been published posthumously with the help of one of Scotland’s best known crime writers, Ian Rankin who completed The Dark Remains and will be on stage at Bloody Scotland at 7pm tonight to talk about it.

The 2021 Festival launched in Stirling with a Debut Panel featuring all of the authors shortlisted for the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize. At the prizegiving itself a specially commissioned film about Scottish crime fiction, produced in association with Publishing Scotland, was screened for the first time. It stars Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Ambrose Parry, Denise Mina, Abir Mukherjee and Graham Macrae Burnet. It is presented by broadcaster and incoming Bloody Scotland chair, James Crawford who said:

Is there perhaps something in the water or the air or the landscape that makes Scotland’s crime writers so adept at this, so skilled at unpeeling these layers of personality to expose the raw nerve of identity and truth

BBC Radio Scotland presenter and Debut Judge, Janice Forsyth revealed the winner of this year’s Bloody Scotland Debut Prize to be Robbie Morrison with Edge of the Grave (Macmillan) which she described as:‘ A terrific debut novel, with a memorable cast of characters, which impressed the judges with its ambitious, authentic, deep dive into the Glasgow gangland and class divides of the 1930s.’

Morrison was also a finalist for The McIlvanney Prize along with Emma Christie, Alan Parks and Stuart MacBride but McIlvanney judge and crime critic, Ayo Onatade revealed the judges chose the winner of The McIlvanney Prize to be Craig Russell with Hyde (Constable) describing it as:‘a fantastic book with a gothic background that draws you in and brings the reader back to the Scottish origins of Jekyll and Hyde’s creator, Robert Louis Stevenson. A dark tale that was a delight and a thoroughly entertaining read. It shows that Scottish crime writing is amongst the best in the world.

Russell is a local author who first won the award in 2015 with The Ghosts of Altona just before it was renamed The McIlvanney Prize. He is the first author to win the prize twice.

The Glencairn Glass, the world’s favourite whisky glass, has again sponsored both The McIlvanney Prize and The Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Novel of the Year. Culture & Business Fund Scotland have generously given matched funding. The winners were presented with a trophy by Raymond Davidson – CEO and Founder of Glencairn Crystal - who said:

We’d like to raise a toast to Robbie Morrison and Craig Russell and congratulate them on their success in winning the prizes. It is an honour to support the world of Scottish crime fiction with The Glencairn Glass and we wish all the participants well in the future.

Angie Crawford, Scottish Buying Manager for Waterstones who support the prizes with displays in their 27 shops across Scotland said:

We are utterly thrilled for Craig Russell that Hyde has won the McIlvanney Prize, it is one of our bookseller’s favourites across Scotland and we have loved recommending it to our customers. Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison is currently our Scottish Book of the Month – it is especially pleasing to see it win the Bloody Scotland Debut.

Pre-Covid, celebrations would have progressed outside for the traditional torchlight procession from the Castle but this year the spectacle was brought inside the Albert Halls with a specially commissioned film of Stirling lit up red, a lone piper and volunteers recreating the Bloody Scotland logo – the map of Scotland – by torchlight.