Monday 28 February 2022

March Books from Bookouture


The Baby Shower is by S E Lynes. She doesn’t know I’m there, watching her in the mirror. She slides her hand under her blouse. And then I see something impossible. She isn’t pregnant… She bursts into my life like a storm, and nothing is the same again. She seems so perfect, with her lilting laugh and her beautiful face. One by one, I watch as my friends fall under her spell. Only I seem to suspect something. Only I see that her smiles don’t reach her cold, furious eyes. And when I’m accused of things I didn’t do, when my home is vandalized, I know she’s behind it. But she only lets her mask slip when no one is looking, so if I say anything, I’ll look crazy.So when the baby shower comes around I’m there, sitting on a velvet sofa in a posh hotel room, surrounded by balloons. We share gifts, we pour small glasses of champagne, and she beams, her bump just visible under her bright red shirt But that afternoon, I finally learn the unbelievable truth.There is no baby…

Harlow looked down at a photo of her victim and couldn’t reconcile it with the body found by the lake. Here was a young and carefree woman, gazing at the camera with her striking emerald green eyes, her long black hair waving in the breeze. But within an instant her future had been extinguished. Harlow had to find out why. When the remains of a young woman are discovered on the edge of Saranac Lake in upstate New York, local law enforcement immediately call Detective Harlow Durant. When she arrives at the scene, she instantly knows this case will get under her skin. Lying just beyond the picturesque lake popular with families are the remains of a victim who has seemingly been burned to death. With very little evidence remaining, Harlow begins scouring missing persons reports. The victim is identified as twenty-six-year-old Ellie Gordon—a fun-loving young woman who worked in the bookstore and enjoyed going out with friends. When her mother comes to ID the body, she reports her daughter’s gold crucifix missing and the hunt begins to locate it and any potential DNA evidence. But as Harlow starts to piece Ellie’s last movements together, another body is found. The victim was killed in exactly the same way and worked with Ellie. Witness statements identify a local man who was obsessed with both women and when Harlow sees video evidence of him pawning the gold necklace, she thinks she has her man. But when he too winds up dead, Harlow has to start over. The only other link to the women is Gavin Croswell, one of the most powerful men in the town. But with a whole host of alibis, pinning the murders on him is almost impossible. With time running out to find the killer before another woman loses her life, the case soon becomes personal when Harlow’s car is violently run off the road. Someone wants to warn her off the case and they will use anything they can to threaten her. Even if it means exposing her own dark secret. Can Harlow confront her demons to save another innocent life from being lost? And just how much is she prepared to sacrifice? The Girls in the Fire is by Dea Poirier.

Pray for Mercy is by D K Hood. Her heart races as a noise from downstairs wakes her. She checks every room in her small home, but it’s not until she returns to the safety of her bedroom does she see movement. She’s not alone. And nobody can help her now. Writing scrawled on the wall of Sheriff Jenna Alton’s office overnight leads her and her deputy David Kane to a secluded house on the outskirts of town. Inside, Jenna is devastated to find a much-loved local resident lying in a pool of blood, stab wounds covering her lifeless body. What monster would attack a defenceless woman living alone? With no trace of the killer at the scene, the deadly message written on Jenna’s door is her only clue. But as the small town grieves, it leads her to a contractor who recently had access to the woman’s home. She races to interview him, only to discover the wreck of a car on a steep mountain road with another dead woman inside. Jenna knows the victims were friends and regularly went to church together. She thinks a twisted killer has been watching them, waiting for the perfect time to strike. But before she can make her next move, one of her own team is found unconscious and covered in the blood of a third female victim—a knife inches away from his hand. Pulse racing, Jenna questions her shaken deputy, who can’t explain why he was in the woman’s house. Could he really be a killer, or is someone playing an evil game? The clock ticks to uncover a dark secret that connects all three victims, but can she work it out before another innocent life is taken?

One Girl Missing is by Carla Kovach. Five-year-old Cally waits in her pretty pink bedroom for the sound of the front door opening and her mother’s sweet voice in the hall. But when the doorbell finally rings, and Cally creeps out of bed to peer through the banister, a large man in uniform is all she sees. Her mother is missing... Teacher Annabel Braddock was last seen drinking at the local pub with her best friend, Jennifer. Witnesses saw tears running down her cheeks, and friends say she was having problems with a colleague at work, and that her marriage had broken down. But as the two women hugged goodbye, neither noticed the car speeding towards them. As the dust settled, Jennifer lay unconscious on the ground and Annabel was nowhere to be seen. She’d never abandon her little girl, so did someone snatch her? As family crowd around Jennifer’s hospital bed, hoping she’ll wake up, police visit Annabel’s home and her inconsolable daughter, Cally, tells them she had seen a man outside staring into her room as she climbed into bed that evening. Was it her childish imagination, or had someone been watching Annabel’s home? When Jennifer finally opens her eyes and tells the police what happened that night, it’s clear there are plenty of people with a reason to harm Annabel. With an unpredictable husband, a colleague who denies harassing her and a neighbour who seems to know her every move, could she be in imminent danger? As the hours turn to days, will little Cally ever see her precious mother again? Or will she be next?

The Party At No.12 is by Kerry Wilkinson. Everyone’s invited. Someone will never leave. In a grand townhouse rented specially for the evening, Hannah beams at her guests under the sparkling chandelier. Her sisters, her mother and aunt, her best friends… although she’ll miss them all so much when she moves away, tonight is about celebrating the happy times and raising a toast to the future. But the next morning, one of the guests is found cold and lifeless in their pristine white bed. Hannah is desperate to call the police. After all, it must have been an accident. Perhaps too much wine, on a night where emotions were running high. But it soon becomes clear that every single person at the party has something to hide. A mother who’ll do anything for her daughters. Best friends with dark secrets between them. A sister with a jealous streak. What if one of them is a killer? And what if this is just the first victim?

The Step Child is by Nicole Trope. Three-year-old Millie Everleigh disappears on a crisp winter’s day, and nothing is as it seems… It’s the phone call every mother dreads. I’m climbing into the car after a trip to the grocery store. As the engine starts, my phone rings. It’s my stepdaughter, Shelby, who is babysitting my three-year-old little girl Millie. ‘I only went upstairs for a second,’ she says through her sobs. ‘She’s gone.’ I race home to find my blue-eyed baby girl missing, and my heart ripped out of my chest. When the police turn up, Shelby’s story starts to unravel. What is she hiding? Then I get a message saying, ‘Your husband is not who you think he is.’ Could he be lying? Suddenly, my family feel like strangers. Everyone has a secret – even me. No one knows why I was late coming back from the store, and the guilt I’ve been feeling ever since… Once the truth comes out, all of our lies exposed, will it be too late to save my precious child?

The Villa is by Clare Boyd. Nora thought two weeks in a stunning villa in the south of France would be the perfect treat for the family she adores. She pictured them tucking into buttery croissants every morning before long days lounging by the sparkling pool. It’s probably too much to hope that it might heal the rifts growing between them, but she can’t wait to count the freckles collecting on the kids’ innocent smiling faces and feel the warm Mediterranean Sea wash all her fears away. But Nora is nervous as she gathers everyone around the large oak table on the villa’s vine-covered terrace. Her daughters eye her suspiciously as she tops up her wine with a shaking hand and clears her throat to speak. The secret she’s about to tell will shatter their lives forever…

Join Flora Steele – bookshop owner, bicycle-rider, daydreamer and amateur detective – in her quest to solve a brand-new murder mystery! Cornwall, 1956: When Flora Steele sets off for a peaceful vacation with crime writer Jack Carrington in his little red Austin, the last thing she expects to find is a body at their pretty rental cottage! Shocked by the discovery, inquisitive Flora joins forces with handsome Jack to find out how the poor man came to such an untimely end in the overgrown orchard of Primrose Cottage. They discover Roger Gifford was a man with plenty of friends and the villagers seem devastated by his sudden death… So why was he murdered? And who has blood on their hands – his estranged wife Beatrice, his wayward younger brother Lionel, or the suspicious newcomer Mercy Dearlove? The baffling case gets even more complicated when a second man is found dead and a set of puzzling clues lead them to an intriguing wartime mystery connected to Jack’s estranged father. As old secrets emerge and Jack receives an unsettling letter, it seems the crime writer is in danger of a fate befitting his fictional characters. Will Flora be able to crack the case and save Jack? Or will this be one murder too many for Flora Steele? Murder at Primrose Cottage is by Merryn Allingham. 

After the Wedding is by Laura Elliot. Everyone said she was the prettiest flower girl. But now her dress lies on the floor. It’s wet and torn, her shoes are lost. ‘Tell us what happened to you?’ her daddy sobs. Christine shakes her head. All she can remember are the red rose petals scattering like drops of blood spilling to the ground. When Christine Lewis was a little girl, she witnessed something terrible at a wedding and buried it so deep in her memory, she managed to forget it ever happened. Years later, Jessica Newman walks into the successful advertising agency Christine runs with her husband. Jessica is beautiful and excellent at her job but her presence triggers disturbing memories for Christine. Fragments of the wedding are starting to flicker in her mind and an unexplainable ball of dread begins to form in Christine’s stomach. Jessica is slowly beginning to destroy Christine’s marriage and her business. Why can’t anyone else see it? Christine and Jessica’s lives were connected long before they set eyes on one another. But in unlocking the mystery of what happened at the wedding all those years ago, is Christine prepared for the truth she’s about to find?

The Family Holiday is by Shalini Boland. Two families. One house swap. A vacation to die for. The white-washed Italian villa is perfect. I thought it might feel odd, living in a stranger’s house for the summer, but as my husband and children swim in the infinity pool, I start to relax. And then, in the back of a wardrobe, I find something that shatters everything… Sparkling green eyes, square jaw, lopsided smile. A young man with his arm around a beautiful woman. The picture is old and faded but I’d recognise him anywhere. The man is my husband. But we’ve never met the family we’ve swapped homes with and my husband swears it isn’t him in the photo. He’s lying. We argue on the balcony with the sun setting behind us and I storm out. When I finally calm down enough to go back to the villa to confront him, I find his dead body sprawled across the veranda. Who killed my husband? Was our marriage a lie? And are my children now in terrible danger?

We should never have kept our father’s secret. Before, my sisters and I were close. Now, a year after our father’s funeral, we barely speak to each other. Molly won’t accept the truth. Rachel can’t forgive him. And I spend all my time digging through his life, trying to understand. Then we hear the news. A woman has been found by the docks, her wedding ring stolen. The reporter says it appears the local serial killer has returned… But I know that can’t be right, because I know who the killer was. Henry Martin. Our father. Someone is sending us a message. Someone knows we lied. Now my sisters and I must work together to find out who is targeting us. How do they know what we’ve hidden? What do they want? And what other secrets lie buried in the past, putting us all in danger? The Killer's Family is by Miranda Smith. 

Sunday 27 February 2022

Crime Programme at the FT Oxford Literary Festival


The Oxford Literary Festival have introduced a Crime Fiction Programme. The link to the whole programme can be found here.

The highlights include

Whatever Gets You Through the Night - Charlie Higson being interviewed by Triona Adams on Friday 25th March 2022 at 4:00pm at the Sheldonian Theatre.

A thrilling life: the Slough House series. Mick Herron being interviewed by Triona Adams on Saturday 26th March 2022 at 10:00am at the Weston Lecture Theatre.

The Past is Never Dead: Crime Fiction from Christopher Marlowe to 1979 : Val McDermid being interviewed by Emma Smith on Saturday 26th March 2022 at 6:00pm at the Sheldonian Theatre.

Give Unto Others: Donna Leon talks about the 31st case involving her fictional Venetian detective Guido Brunetti on Friday 1st April 2022 at 6:00pm at the Sheldonian Theatre.

Saturday 26 February 2022

2022 Thriller Award Nominees

The International Thriller Writers have announced the 2022 Thriller Award Nominees.

Congratulations to all the nominated authors.


The Turnout by Megan Abbott (Penguin/Putnam)
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Flatiron Books)
Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (Flatiron Books)
These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall –(Thomas & Mercer)
Red Widow by Alma Katsu (Penguin/Putnam)
I Am Not Who You Think I Am by Eric Rickstad – (Blackstone Publishing)


Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby (Macmillan) Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White
Sleeping Dogs Lie by Samantha Downing (Audible Originals) Narrated by Melanie Nicholls-King and Lindsey Dorcus
How it Ends by Rachel Howzell Hall - (Audible Originals) Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz (Macmillan) Narrated by Scott Brick
The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson (HarperCollins) Narrated by Davine Henry


Girl A by Abigail Dean (HarperCollins)
Repentance by Eloísa Díaz (Agora Books)
My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa (Berkley)
Damascus Station by David McCloskey (W.W. Norton & Company)
Bones of Hilo by Eric Redman (Crooked Lane Books)


Flight Risk by Joy Castro (Lake Union)
Under Color of Law by Aaron Philip Clark (Thomas & Mercer)
The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke (Berkley)
Bloodline by Jess Lourey (Thomas & Mercer)
My Mistress' Eyes are Raven Black by Terry Roberts (Turner Publishing Company)


Not My Cross to Bear” by S A Cosby (Down & Out Books)
Demon in the Depths” by William Buron McCormick (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
The Lemonade Stand” by Scott Loring Sanders (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
The Interpreter and the Killer” by Jeff Soloway (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
Bad Chemistry” by John Wilmer (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)


The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson – (HarperCollins)
Calculated by Nova McBee (Wolfpack Publishing LLC)
Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain (Penguin Young Readers)
The Project by Courtney Summers (Wednesday Books)
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland (Penguin Young Readers)


The Dark Side: Alex Hunter 9 by Greig Beck (Pan Macmillan)
Where the Wicked Tread by John Connell – (John Connell)
The Little Girl Taken by Wendy Dranfield (Bookouture)
Blood Parish by E.J. Findorff (E.J. Findorff)
Mother May I by S. E. Green (S. E. Green)
Blue Madagascar by Andrew Kaplan (Andrew Kaplan)
Last One Alive by Karin Nordin (HarperCollins)

ITW will announce the winners at ThrillerFest XVII on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, New York City.

Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare for the information.

Friday 25 February 2022

Chair and Special Guests for Theakston's Old Peculier 2022 Announced






21-24 July 2022 | Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate| #TheakstonsCrime

Harrogate International Festivals is thrilled to reveal the Festival Chair and Special Guest line-up for the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

Award-winning crime novelist Denise Mina will be acting as this year’s Festival Chair, following in the footsteps of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, and Lee Child. Mina is known for the Tartan Noir Garnethill trilogy, as well as her Alex Morrow and Paddy Meehan series, the latter of which was adapted into a BBC television drama. In addition to her fourteen novels, Mina writes short stories, plays and graphic novels, presents on TV and radio, and leads masterclasses on crime writing.

Special guests on this year’s incredible line-up, curated by Mina, include crime fiction titans such as: Lynda La Plante, Paula Hawkins, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Lucy Foley, Charlie Higson, John Connolly, CL Taylor and Kathy Reichs.

From 21 – 24 July 2022, Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will return to Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel, bringing together some of the world’s most popular crime and thriller writers to discuss all things crime fiction.

A key date in the literary calendar, the award-winning festival offers an international audience the opportunity to discover the next big names in crime fiction and hear giants of the genre discuss their work, as part of a programme made up of thrilling panels, inspiring creative workshops, and unique talks.

This year, Denise Mina will be speaking with Prime Suspect creator and Lynda La Plante CBE; Paula Hawkins, the author behind global phenomenon Girl on The Train, will appear in conversation with crime writer and reviewer NJ Cooper; John Connolly will be discussing The Furies, the twenty-second book in his award-winning Charlie Parker series; Kathy Reichs will introduce Cold, Cold Bones, the latest instalment in the acclaimed Temperance Brennan series; and crime fiction icon Val McDermid will once again be hosting her must-see New Blood panel, showcasing four debut crime writers to watch.

Michael Connelly, author of the international bestselling Harry Bosch series and The Lincoln Lawyer, will return to the festival to appear in conversation with festival stalwart Mark Billingham; author of the popular Rizzoli and Isles series Tess Gerritsen will be flying in from the US to discuss her remarkable writing career; Lucy Foley and CL Taylor, two of the most exciting names in British thrillers, will discuss their gripping new books; and Channel 4 journalist and broadcaster Steph McGovern will be speaking with actor and author Charlie Higson about his new crime novel Whatever Gets You Through the Night.

Denise Mina, bestselling author of the Garnethill trilogy and the Paddy Meehan novels, said: “The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is the greatest crime writing event of the year so it is a very real honour to be chairing it, to work with the programming committee and to have the chance to attend all the thrilling events. After the difficulties and hardships of the past two years we are all very much looking forward to all of the writers and readers coming together in Harrogate once more.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Rob Parker on research!


This topic of research is one I often get asked about, and one I throw myself at with a bit too much gusto. So much of the time, way more often than you’d imagine, the truth is so much wilder and more unbelievable than the fiction I end up writing. Many times my editors have said ‘this is too much’ or ‘this is ridiculous’ and it has been something that has been hijacked from real life.

The North West is where I grew up, my home town being Warrington, which, for the uninitiated, is between Liverpool and Manchester; two powerhouse cities that have their own industries, histories, identities – and crime. And here, in Warrington, we have a hotchpotch mixture of all these things that has been distilled so finely through time that it is an identity all our own. I’ve always found this completely fascinating. I’m a citizen of these areas, and for want of a better word, I get stuck in. 

So much of the information and inspiration I come across is thanks to me being a creature of habit and a ‘yes’ person. I am who I am. I like to pop down the pub and chat with people. I like working in the pub, as I find the setting somehow soothing and inspiring. I’m writing this piece in The Horseshoe in Croft, a Guinness by my elbow. It just works for me.

It’s not just on home turf either. When I travel anywhere, I always search out the local pub or bar, because it’s a bit like a barometer. You can find out so much about the vibe and themes of a place by hanging out in one of its bars for just an hour. The side effect of this is that you see things, hear stuff, and get talked to, while alcohol allows the truth to drift out a little easier. 

And people like to talk! When they find out that the guy in the corner with the daft grin, a laptop and a pint of Guinness is a writer, so many make a beeline to offer stories up in a heartbeat. Contacts develop and blossom, and opportunities emerge. This comes back to me being a ‘yes’ person, because if someone asks me whether I’d like to do something, or try something (within reason!), I always try to say yes – because regardless of whether I enjoy it or hate it, I’ll come away enriched in some way, have more experience and more to say. And this helps my writing hugely. 

This is how I ended up in a Puerto Rican biker bar, 500 yards from a prison, chatting with a gang celebrating the release of one of their own. This is how I ended up hanging out with (name redacted) who has the doors in (town name redacted), who invited me to his upcoming birthday party, we’d got on that well. And this is how I ended up sparring a guy who’d done a double digit prison stint for something very bad indeed, only to find we weren’t that different after all. I find if I say yes to stuff, go into situations accepting who they are and who I am, and smile, I end up in some wonderfully odd and enlightening predicaments – most of which find their way into my books, and And Your Enemies Closer is no different. 

Another thing I make clear, is my confidentiality. I never name names, and this allows conversations to flow. This in turn has given me an understanding of certain mindsets and activities that I ordinarily would have no chance of getting near, and the hope is that this gives my work a degree of authenticity. If you’re ever reading my crime books and think I’ve gone too far, know that there were lots of other very real details that were deemed too outlandish to even put in the book. And some things I get told, or find out, are put in a special box in my head – where the ideas for my next book sit. Forgive me, but, like all ideas, I’m going to leave them to percolate for a while, before I try to find a way to make these astonishing truths work in fiction.

And Your Enemies Closer by Rob Parker is out now exclusively by Audible.

And Your Enemies Closer is a serpentine race against time as retired detective Brendan Foley and DI Iona Madison must stay one step ahead of criminals at every corner, while trying to bring justice - in whatever form it takes, and whatever loyalties it might burn. In the North West criminal underworld, a deal goes tragically wrong, resulting in war between the two main organised crime factions in the region. Shockwaves rock the thirty-mile gap between Liverpool and Manchester - with retired detective Brendan Foley right in the middle of it all. For Brendan, six months after his resignation, life is all different. His marriage is a mess, he’s working as a nightclub bouncer, his brother is still missing, and just he can’t stop searching for the crime family that destroyed his life. And at last, he’s found them - and he’s got them bang to rights. Iona Madison, his one-time partner and now successor as a DI in Warrington Police, is tasked with a body pulled from the River Mersey - a teen-age boy that went missing the previous year, which might bring her own conduct into question. Not only that, Brendan is feeding her information whether she likes it or not - and his unsanctioned activities are causing her headaches. And now, there’s a price on his head. A million pounds, dead or alive.

More information about Rob Parker can be found on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter @robparkerauthor. He can also be found on Facebook and on Instagram.


C C Humphreys on One London Day

When I told people that my newest novel was to be set in the present day, many were surprised. After all, my books thus far have all been either historical fiction or fantasy. 

Yet in one specific way it was not such a leap. Because every book I write, whatever genre it is, starts with an idea – an image, a person, sometimes a few words. A lightning flash when I glimpse something for the briefest of moments and know I will not be content, or sleep easy, until I see it again, explore it, understand it.

The lightning blast for One London Day began with an incident that happened to a friend of mine. Horrific, nasty. My friend witnessed a murder – a hit, actually, right outside her front door in a quiet, affluent street in North London. One man had been paid to kill another. Kill her neighbour.

It was gang related. However I was not so interested in the true story. What fascinated me was where it happened, in that quiet suburban street; when, on just another day; and finally to such an ostensibly ordinary man.

That was the flash that lit my way. I wasn’t even a novelist at the time – over twenty years ago. But I knew I wanted to write. So I jotted down some notes under the title, ‘Ordinary Day’. Came up with a few characters. Then ran out of steam and confidence as I was prone to do. Put the notebook away… until three years ago, and eighteen novels later, I stumbled across them, those first scratchings. Remembered the lightning bolt. Asked myself again: who was that ordinary man? And why the hell was he ‘hit’?

Then the novel came in a rush. I decided fast that I didn’t want to do something totally conventional. I didn’t want the hero vs. villain arc of most fiction. I didn’t want a single protagonist. I wanted one character to be connected to another and them to another and so on. In the end, six viewpoints on the same incident to explain why this respectable man - wife, family, conventional job - got killed? What choices had he made that had led to such a disastrous outcome? I also decided to compress the timeline. Do almost all the action on that one day.

So I began at the beginning - with the assassin, Mr Phipps and the hit itself. Flashbacked to five days before to the victim, Joseph Severin, and his sudden totally out-of-character ‘amour fou’ for Lottie, a pianist. Who is trying to fall out of love with Joseph, the latest, hottest young black actor. Who is obsessed by Sonya, a beautiful Russian escort… who is only selling her body to make enough money to pay for her daughter’s cancer operation in the US. Severin is an accountant, and has been doing the books – double entry, in ledgers, old school, because the only trail you can’t trace these days is a paper one – for the Shadows, a rogue MI6 outfit run by the upper-class sociopath, Sebastien. Who calls for the hit.

Not a whodunnit then, but a whydunnit. A character study of mostly ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, all in the guise of a thriller.

What also really intrigued me, was to mostly set it in the North London where I lived for years, among the people I grew up with. It is therefore, in lots of ways, my most personal novel. Not only because of that background but because it is written how I think. No ‘epic’ as I might use in historical fiction, say. Shorter length, snappy sentences, with the characters able to hold various things simultaneously in their minds. An example: Mr Phipps, the hitman, checking his Glock in the boot of his car pre-hit, having to re-arrange the stuffed toys he won for his seven year old daughter at the Hampstead Fair, annoyed with his ex-wife wanting him to babysit on a ‘working day’. Or like Lottie, the pianist, writing letters she’ll never send to the man she can no longer love, while becoming the focus of an ordinary man’s sudden obsession.

I had huge fun writing it. It confused the hell out of most of the crime editors of London who, though they raved about its ‘Noir’ stylings and multi-level characters, simply couldn’t get their heads around the fact that there was no hero (though there is one absolutely dastardly villain!). That it was told from so many points of view. So I published it myself. Commissioned an amazing cover from my uber-talented designer friend Rob Edmonds. Took notes from agents and novelist friends. Wrote and re-wrote.

I love all my books. They are, in so many ways, like my children. I have a special fondness for this one. Probably because it is unconventional, deeply personal, quirky, yet still the kind of pacy ride for which I am known. 

I always miss characters when I finish a novel, even when I am ‘making new friends’ in my next projects. But, unless I kill them off, (which, admittedly, does happen a fair bit in C.C. Humphreys’ book!) I know they have carried on living their lives. So I often wonder what choices they have made since that One London Day, which changed everything.

One London Day by C C Humphreys (Out Now)

July 30th 2018. It’s the hottest Summer in fifty years and Joseph Severin, a respectable North London businessman, has taken on a lucrative side job. He’s doing the books, old school, (because these days the only trail you can’t trace is a paper one) for a rogue MI5 outfit, the Shadows, headed by clever, psychopathic Sebastien. When the game is rumbled, he sends their hitman, Mr Phipps, to kill Severin and get those books back. For a simple man, Severin has a complicated life. He’s developed a sudden and wild passion for Lottie – aka ‘chaos on two legs’. Who is in love with Patrick, the next hot young black actor. Who is obsessed by Sonya, a gorgeous Russian escort. Who has one night to make the final money she needs for her daughter’s cancer operation. With MI6 onto them, and the books missing, the Shadows panic. And a day that begins with a hit in Finchley ends in violence and betrayal on the steamy night streets of Portobello.

You can buy One London Day here.

More information about the author can be found on his website.

You can also find him on Twitter @HumphreysCC and on Facebook

Wednesday 23 February 2022

An interview with DS Max Craige

Neil Lancaster is the author of the DS Max Craigie series. The first novel in the series Dead Man's Grave was longlisted for the 2021 William McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The second book The Blood Tide is published on 23rd February 2022. 


Neil- So, tell us all about Max Craigie then?

MC - What do you want to know?

Neil - Well, how about your childhood for a start. Where is “home” fox Max?

MC - We’ll I’m a Black Isler, by birth. I grew up in a tiny community in the centre of the Isle in a house surrounded by barley fields. It was nice and peaceful. I went to school in Fortrose, I did okay, but didn’t set the world on fire. I was a dreamer.

Neil - Oh wow, Island life must have been very different.

MC - It’s not actually an Island at all, it’s a peninsular surrounded on 3 sides by the Cromarty Firth, Moray Firth and Beauly firth. It’s only twenty minutes to Inverness, so it didn’t even feel remote to me. I had a great time. I was outside in all weathers, fishing, building camps or sorting wood for the fire.

Neil - A good childhood?

MC - It was great until I was fifteen. My parents were killed in a head on traffic accident.

Neil - Oh, my goodness, how dreadful. What happened to you after that?

MC - I went to live with my Aunt Elspeth who lives close by in Avoch, a small village by the sea, she took me in and was wonderful to me. I joined the Army shortly afterwards. I don’t want to be rude, but can we not talk about my parents, please?

Neil - So, what was the young Max like, then?’

MC - Very outdoorsy. I loved biking, hill walking, kayaking, and swimming in the sea I was rarely inside, I also was a keen amateur boxer. All this, probably pushed me towards the Army. Elspeth was wonderful and treated me like her own son, but I needed to get away from the remoteness and discover life for myself. I probably had a lot of pent-up anger in me, so I needed structure and discipline to stop me going off the rails. The army gave me that. 

Neil - How did you enjoy the Army?

MC - I enjoyed it a lot. I was very young, but I was physically very fit so it was much easier for me. It gave me a sense of belonging and purpose.

Neil - Did you see action?

MC - Yes. I went to Afghanistan twice. 

Neil - How was that?’

MC - It was interesting.

Neil - You must have seen some terrible things.

MC - Good times and bad. I was with a brilliant team of guys, and we did some good, I’d like to think. I also saw a good friend killed by a landmine. That was hard. It still lives with me today. Overall, I’d describe it as a huge adventure, to do the job you’d been trained to do. 

Neil - Has there been any impact to the things you witnessed?

MC - Can I just say yes, and leave it at that?’ I saw things I wish I hadn’t seen. It has affected me, but I manage it in my own way.

Neil - Can you share how you manage it?

MC - I don’t drink alcohol for a start, I stopped a few years ago. It made me feel dark when I drank, so I don’t drink anything other than cranberry juice any more. I also run a lot with my dog, Nutmeg, but the biggest thing is that I accept it. I saw bad things, and they still affect me. I just accept that they affect me and I’m not ashamed about it. Owning it is what keeps me happy. If I tried to block it I think I’d struggle more, but I think I’m a mostly happy bloke now, despite an occasional dream.

Neil - What type of dreams?

MC - I’d rather keep that to myself, if I’m honest. I have people I can talk to about it, and my wife understands, so we just manage it. 

Neil - Tell me about joining the police.

MC - I wanted to leave the Army and it just seemed like a good idea. A decent career, part of a team and a desire to do something worthwhile was about the extent of it, I think. I didn’t over-think it, to be honest, which is fairly typical. It’s a good career, and I still maintain that we are the good-guys, despite everything you hear in the media. The vast majority of cops want to do what’s right, and they mostly do. Some bad news stories don’t change that. There are cops out there right now, in the eye of the storm, putting themselves in harms way for no other reason than to do the right thing. I did some time in uniform, then moved to the CID. I wanted to be a squad man, chasing the real criminals. The career villains who do it out of choice, so I ended up on the Flying Squad.

Neil - Like The Sweeney?

MC - Almost, although with less drinking, less swearing, casual racism and sexism. It was a good job, but it took my life over. I’d met Katie, my wife by this point, and I was always at work, following armed criminals around London and beyond. It was tremendous fun, but just so hard on relationships. That was part of the reason I moved north, back to Scotland. A new life. Leastways, that was the idea, but I’m still always busy. It took a bit of time to settle, but I think we’re both happy in Scotland. We like the clean air.

Neil - What do you do outside of work?

MC - Nutmeg, my dog takes up a lot of time, she’s my best pal. We walk and run miles together. I also train a lot in my gym. Hard exercise is a big part of my healing. I also spar with my work partner, Janie. She’s a real tough cookie, and is definitely better than me at most martial arts.

Neil - I heard that you came to own Nutmeg by an unusual method.

MC -  *laughs* I’d moved up and found the house I wanted to buy It’s a lovely place                                             in Culross, with views over the Firth of Forth, and I fell in love with it. Lots of other people were keen to buy it and there was likely to be a bidding war. The old lady who lived there was moving into sheltered accommodation and couldn’t take Nutmeg with her. When she saw me and Nutmeg playing together in the garden, she said that I could have the place at the guide price if I took on Nutmeg and promised to bring her to the sheltered home for visits regularly. Well, I bit her hand off, and we’re still friends to this day. Either me or Katie take Nutmeg to visit her at least once a week. We have a cuppa with her and Nutty curls up on her lap for an hour. 

Neil - You’re a big tough guy, Max. I just love that you have this cute little cockapoo dog.

MC - Ach I’m a big softy, really. 

Neil - So, what are you doing at work, right now?’

MC - I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you afterwards, sorry.

Neil - What, not anything?

MC - Sorry, but ask me anything about boxing, or Nutmeg , but let’s stay away from my job.

The Blood Tide by Neil Lancaster (HarperCollins) Out Now

You get away with murder. In a remote sea loch on the west coast of Scotland, a fisherman vanishes without trace. His remains are never found. You make people disappear. A young man jumps from a bridge in Glasgow and falls to his death in the water below. DS Max Craigie uncovers evidence that links both victims. But if he can’t find out what cost them their lives, it won’t be long before more bodies turn up at the morgue… You come back for revenge. Soon cracks start to appear in the investigation, and Max’s past hurtles back to haunt him. When his loved ones are threatened, he faces a terrifying choice: let the only man he ever feared walk free, or watch his closest friend die…

More information about Neil Lancaster can be found on his website. You can also find him on Facebook and he tweets @neillancaster66

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Cover Reveal of Dark Music by David Lagercrantz


Dark Music by David Lagercrantz (Published by Quercus Publishing) Out 18 August 2022

The launch of a new series inspired by Sherlock Holmes. A murder investigation brings together two unlikely allies in a race to uncover a shadowy international conspiracy

Professor Hans Rekke: born into a wealthy Stockholm family, world authority on interrogation techniques, capable of vertiginous feats of logic and observation . . . But he might just fall apart when the going gets tough, leading to substance abuse and despair.

Micaela Vargas: community police officer, born to Chilean political refugees in a tough suburb, with two brothers on the shady side of the law

Vargas feels she has something to prove. She's tenacious and uncompromising, but she needs Rekke's unique mind to help her solve the case. Rekke has it all - wealth, reputation - but also a tendency to throw it all away. He needs Vargas to help him get back on an even keel so he can focus his mind on finding the killer before they're both silenced for good.

Monday 21 February 2022

New Anthology from World Famed CWA


The world-famous Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) has released a new collection of crime stories written by its members.

Music of the Night edited by Martin Edwards, invited CWA authors to submit short stories on the theme of music. An array of award-winning authors features in the anthology, which is published by Flame Tree Press on 22 February.

The 25 stories include four by CWA Diamond Dagger winners – the highest honour in UK crime writing – alongside nine authors who have never previously contributed to a CWA anthology.

Author and editor Martin Edwards said: “The stories are an eclectic mix, which reflects the wide range of tastes in music, and within the crime genre itself. The hope is this collection will entice readers with familiar and established authors while giving readers the chance to sample works by writers they may not have yet discovered.

One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey. It works to support, promote and celebrate the crime writing genre, and runs the prestigious Dagger awards. Membership includes authors at all stages of their career.

The CWA has published anthologies of members’ works for more than fifty years; Martin Edwards has edited them for nearly half that time. A consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics, Martin is also a former chair of the CWA and current President of the Detection Club.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the CWA and an influential figure in the publishing world, also features in the collection.

Maxim said: "As an anthologist myself, I've always admired Martin Edwards' work in this very particular field, and I was delighted he was able to include a story of my own in Music of the Night, thus combining our mutual admiration for the work the CWA has done since its inception, and our own personal love of music. A winning combination for all involved, and a fascinating snapshot of some of the most exciting authors in the genre at work today.”

The Diamond Dagger authors whose stories are included in the collection are Catherine Aird, Peter Lovesey, Andrew Taylor, as well as Martin Edwards, who received the Diamond Dagger in 2020.

Martin Edwards said the theme of music has a long fascination with many in the crime genre: “Sherlock Holmes was fiction’s most famous violinist, Agatha Christie dreamed of a musical career as a child, and music features in any number of classic detective novels, as well as contemporary stories; Ian Rankin’s love of music is apparent in many of his novels.

Contributors include Paul Charles, who spent many years working in the music business with acts such as Van Morrison and Elvis Costello.

Music of the Night is the first CWA anthology of brand-new writing to be published by Flame Tree Press after the success of Flame Tree’s Vintage Crime anthology, which celebrated CWA members’ work from the mid-1950s onwards, tracing the development of the genre across half a century.

Flame Tree Press is the imprint of long-standing independent Flame Tree Publishing, dedicated to full-length original fiction in the horror and suspense, science fiction & fantasy, and crime, mystery and thriller categories. The list brings together new authors and the more established; the award winners and exciting, original voices.

Nick Wells, Publisher at Flame Tree Press, said: “Flame Tree is proud to be the steward for the current annual anthology, Music of the Night. This collection of new stories is both a fitting tribute to the CWA’s legacy of great writing while reflecting the vitality of the contemporary membership. It's been a joy to publish.

The CWA also offers a platform for unpublished stories with its annual Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition, the closing date for both is February 28.

Music of the Night, edited by Martin Edwards and published by Flame Tree Press, is out on 22 February. Buy in bookshops or online

Saturday 19 February 2022

Friday 18 February 2022

“Stumbling My Way to Mystery” by Wiley Cash

Although When Ghosts Come Home is my fourth published novel, in many ways it marks a number of firsts for me. It’s the first novel I began writing after losing my father, and it’s also the first novel I began writing after having two daughters. And although I have always written about the state of North Carolina, this is my first novel set on the coast, where I’ve lived since 2013. Finally, this is the first mystery I’ve written.

Now, I’ve been accused of writing mysteries before, but I’ve always disagreed. My previous novels were mysteries inasmuch as the characters were kept in the dark about what would happen and how. In terms of those novels, the reader always knew the score. They always knew who was evil and who was innocent. But something – please forgive me – mysterious happened while writing When Ghosts Come Home: a mystery revealed itself to me, and I essentially wrote the novel to solve it. 

The book opens as a local sheriff is awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a large, low-flying airplane on the coast of North Carolina. He climbs out of bed and drives to the small municipal airport to see if an aircraft has made an emergency landing. What he finds changes not only his life, but the life of his small community forever. An empty WWII transport plane has been abandoned and left sitting sideways at the end of the runway. In the grass nearby lies the body of a local man, shot dead and left behind. Who flew this aircraft? Who shot this man?

I didn’t know the answers to those questions until I finished writing the book. Unlike my other novels, this story did not reveal itself until it was finished. There is a first time for everything, and I hope readers are as surprised as I was. 

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash is published by Faber (£14.99 hardback)

An abandoned plane. A dead body. A small town threatening to explode. 'A searing, thunderous, heartbreaking thriller. Wiley Cash has talent to burn.' Chris Whitaker Winston did not hear it so much as feel it as it passed over their house and into the trees across the waterway. The sheriff struggling for re-election and haunted by his past. The mystery plane which crash-lands on his island. The daughter returning home to hide from her troubles. The FBI pilot sent in to help. As the mystery of the abandoned plane and the dead body stokes long-simmering racial tensions, a moment of reckoning draws ever closer for the town of Oak Island.

Thursday 17 February 2022

Time For a Change by Luca Veste

When I was teenager, my bookshelves (well, the stack of books I kept propped against my bedroom wall – we didn’t have anything as fancy as a shelf) were all horror novels. I couldn’t read any other genre at that point. It was all horror. Then, I didn’t read for ten years.

I was around twenty-four years old when my grandmother handed me a Mark Billingham book. Sleepyhead. She said, “you’ll like this. It’s dark.”. A great recommendation. A few days later, I was given a huge box of all those Stephen King novels I’d once taken from the library a decade earlier and devoured. My aunty Jo was making room and remembered I’d liked him as a kid and thought I’d give them a good home.

I did. They’re sitting on a shelf behind me as I write this. 

Thirty odd books, to join the two or three I’d somehow managed to keep hold of since being a teenager and moving around a lot when I left home six years earlier. Now, on that aforementioned shelving behind me, I have well over a 1,000. 

I’m not sure what happened in that week. I remember a lot of sleepless nights, as my first child was teething. Maybe that’s what made me pick up a book for the first time in ten years. Maybe it was the nostalgic element of seeing all those Stephen King books – a nice reminder when the darkness was about the possibility of something moving in the shadows, rather than a baby crying out. Whatever it was, I found myself reading Mark Billingham’s book at three in the morning. 

That book made me fall in love with reading again. It wasn’t long until I was buying multiple books a day. I discovered Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, John Connolly, Mo Hayder, and so many more amazing British crime writers, all in the space of a month or two. I went through and read their entire backlists. 

It made sense when I started writing novels that I would try and emulate those procedural style stories I had fallen in love with. However, I had also discovered the likes of Harlan Coben and Linwood Barclay. Along with the love of horror, I was being pulled in a few different directions when it came to deciding on what I wanted to write.

You Never Said Goodbye is a departure for me, genre-wise, but it is something I’ve wanted to write for years now. When I was writing my procedural novels with Murphy and Rossi, or my crime-horror crossover with The Bone Keeper, this idea has been at the back of my mind, niggling away at me. I knew what I wanted to do with it. I knew it didn’t fit in with what I was writing. Yet, I couldn’t shift this idea. I knew it wouldn’t be like anything I’d written before – a very personal story, that has its roots in my own past experiences – and I knew I had to do it. 

I feel like I’ve been building to this shift for years and it was nerve-wracking waiting for those early reviews. More so than the previous seven books! Thankfully, they’ve been incredibly positive and I have many more stories like this one to tell. Ordinary people in extraordinary situations. High-stakes, different continents, and massively emotional elements. I’ve never felt more excited about what’s to come next. You Never Said Goodbye is the culmination of me finding my way, but it is also a beginning. 

You Never Said Goodbye is by Luca Veste (Published by Hodder & Stoughton) Out Now.
A DEVOTED MOTHER - Sam Cooper has a happy life: a good job, a blossoming relationship. Yet, there's something he can never forget - the image seared into his mind of his mother, Laurie, dying when he was a child. His father allowed his grief to tear them apart and Sam hasn't seen him in years. A LOVING WIFE - Until an unexpected call from Firwood hospital, asking Sam to come home, puts in motion a chain of devastating events. On his deathbed, Sam's father makes a shocking confession. A LIAR? - Who was Laurie Cooper? It's clear that everything Sam thought he knew about his mother was wrong. And now he's determined to find out exactly what she did and why - whatever the cost. What happens if you discover you've been lied to by your own family for twenty-five years? Sam Cooper is about to find out.

More information about Luca Veste and his books can be found on his blog or you can find him on Twitter @LucaVeste. Luca Veste is one half of the podcast “Two Crime Writers and a Microphone” You can follow them on Twitter @TwoCrimeWriters. He is also the bass player for The Fun Lovin' Crime Writers. @FunLovinWriters