Saturday 30 April 2022

How a Small Nevada Town Inspired a Crime Novel by Heather Young


One hundred miles east of Reno, Nevada, there is a town. You can’t see it from Interstate 80, but I stumbled upon it one day when the pumps at the Exit 105 Chevron were broken. Lovelock, it’s called. “Lock Your Love in Lovelock,” says the billboard on the interstate. As I drove its short main street I slowed the car. I tried to imagine why 1,847 people might choose to live there, in the middle of the desert, so far from anyone else. 

This wasn’t unusual for me; I’ve always been fascinated by small towns. I grew up in a subdivision, but my parents grew up in picture-perfect Midwestern villages, with elm-shaded streets and white-painted bandstands. Each summer we visited my father’s hometown, and I walked to the soda counter and swam in the community pool. It was a theme park version of the perfect childhood, and when we left I’d feel cheated. My parents had had that life. Why couldn’t I?

Then, when I was in high school, my mother said she wanted us to move back to Iowa, and suddenly I could imagine nothing worse than living in those cornfields, far from the malls and multiplexes of my teenaged suburban world. You’ll be Homecoming Queen, my mother promised, as though there were nothing better than being Homecoming Queen in a small Iowa town, and I realized the nostalgia I’d always heard in her voice was really regret. She’d never wanted to leave. But my father had always wanted to live in the wider world, so we didn’t go back. And ever since, I have driven slowly through small towns. I think about my mother, who wanted to stay, and my father, who wanted to leave. I think of my own internal conflict: my heart is drawn to the slow beats of these lovely pastoral villages even as my mind revels in the kinetic energy of the large city where I’ve chosen to live instead.

Lovelock, though, is not a lovely pastoral village. It’s an unsightly scab on a bleak landscape. Its drab commercial buildings house pawn shops and slot casinos. Its houses are small and nondescript, with sandy lots and concrete sidewalks cooking in the sun. Yet its existence out there in the desert struck me as kind of wonderful, as if I’d found a secret pocket in the lining of a raggedy coat. I’d assumed the appeal of small towns lay in their quiet beauty: in grassy town squares, white-steepled churches, and graceful homes with wraparound porches. But it couldn’t be beauty that kept people in Lovelock. I knew that someday, I would set a story there. 

The Distant Dead is that story. It’s about a man who moves to Lovelock seeking sanctuary only to meet death at the hands of the demons he tried to outrun. It’s about a woman who feels trapped in the town where she was born, and a young boy, burdened with a terrible secret, who wants a place to belong. All three wrestle with the idea of home: what it means, how much it matters, and whether it’s possible to leave it and start fresh. Through their interwoven stories, I examine the mystery at the heart of the question I’ve asked myself my whole life: how the same small town can offer succor to one person and feel like a cage to another.

The answer, it turns out, lies in the human connections that are only possible in small towns. The bartender at the Whiskey Barrel on Main Street explained it when she told me how she’d married her high school boyfriend, followed him while he served in the Army, then moved back with him when his tour was over. There are prettier places, she allowed. But they wanted to raise their children alongside people they’d known since they were born. The owner of the town’s only coffee shop echoed her. She knew the town was struggling, but her family had been there since the beginning. Leaving would feel like a betrayal. Anyone else in Lovelock would tell you the same thing: they don’t stay because they like the weather. They stay because their people are there. Their history is there. Their dead are there. 

That’s also, of course, why they leave. Because for some, the fact that their name makes everyone in their town nod in recognition is a claustrophobic horror, and the generations that came before are not a legacy to be honored but a haunting to be outrun. 

But whether they stay or go, they will always feel the weight of home in a way I never will. My investigation of this one small town taught me that this—the birthright my parents denied me when they left Iowa--is why I’m fascinated by all such places. I will never be known the way my parents were. Nor will I ever know anyone else as deeply or effortlessly as the people in Lovelock know one another. I desperately wish I had had that opportunity. I’m profoundly grateful I did not. And so I will always drive slowly through small towns, feeling envy and relief in equal measure. 

The Distant Dead by Heather Young (Verve Books) Out Now

A body burns in the desert... Does the boy who found it know more than it seems Sal Prentiss, orphaned and burdened with a terrible secret, just wants a place to belong. Sal lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills, and finds himself at the centre of a brutal murder mystery when he discovers the body of his maths teacher, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles' compound. In the seven months he worked at Lovelock's middle school, the quiet and seemingly unremarkable Adam Merkel had formed a bond with Sal and was one of the few people to look out for the boy. Nora Wheaton, the school's social studies teacher, sensed a kindred spirit in Adam - another soul bound to Lovelock by guilt and duty. After his death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him. For Sal's grief seems shaded with fear, and Nora suspects he knows more than he's telling about his teacher's death.

Friday 29 April 2022

2022 Edgar Awards announced


Mystery Writers of America have announced the Winners for the 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2021 

Best Novel

Five Decembers by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)

Best First Novel by an American Author 

Deer Season by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)

Best Paperback Original

Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)

Best Fact Crime

Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green (Celadon Books)

Best Critical/Biography

The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W. Norton & Company)

Best Short Story

The Road to Hana,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by R.T. Lawton (Dell Magazines)

Best Juvenile

Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)

Best Young Adult

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Henry Holt and Company BFYR)

Best Television Episode Teleplay

Boots on the Ground” – Narcos: Mexico, Written by Iturri Sosa (Netflix)

Robert L. Fish Memorial Award 

Analogue,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Rob Osler (Dell Magazines)

The Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award 

Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

The G.P Putnam's & Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award. 

Runner by Tracy Clark (Kensington Books)

Special Awards


Laurie R. King


Lesa Holstine – Lesa’s Book Critiques; Library Journal Reviewer


Juliet Grames – Soho Press – Soho Crime

Congratulations to all the winners and nominated authors. 

The Edgar® Awards were presented at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square and livestreamed on YouTube.

The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents.

Mystery Writers of America would like to emphasize our commitment to diversity and fairness in the judging of the Edgar Awards. Judges are selected from every region of the country, from every sub-category of our genre, and from every demographic to ensure fairness and impartiality.

The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

Why We Listen to Psychopaths: The compelling testimony of the smartest, coldest figures in literature

You caught me because we’re very much alike. Without our imaginations, we’d be like all those other poor dullards. Fear is the price of our instrument".

Hannibal Lecter delivered those lines to Special Agent Will Graham while supposedly helping him to catch a serial killer (and actually trying to get him and his family killed by said killer. Classic.) 

What Hannibal engages in here is some textbook psychopathic manipulation. He begins by telling Will that they are they are different and special, with their own bond. He gives Will the ultimate compliment in telling him he is a psychopath like him. He must be, because it takes a psychopath to imagine how another’s mind might work. 

But Lecter’s comment says more than this, too. It sums up, neatly, the particular draw that the psychopath has on all of us. They provide a vividness and imagination that is anything but dull. Time spent with one is, at first at least, addictive and enthralling and enlivening. It throws everything else into the shade – but it comes at a cost. 

In fiction, that cost can range from the small – like having to live with someone who might just decide to kill you – to the major. We’ll call this worst option “They kill everyone you know and then either kill you, or frame you.” 

For some reason, despite the obviousness of this cost, we can’t get enough of psychopaths. From Villanelle in Killing Eve to Amy Dunne in Gone Girl; from Tom Ripley and all his talents, to Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes. From the Marquise and Visconte in Liaisons Dangereuses, to the dark antics of Dexter: we are fascinated by them. And of course there’s Hannibal himself, the most-quoted psychopath of them all, and the reason Antony Hopkins rarely gets invited to kids’ parties. 

It isn’t just that we like to watch them do their evil misdeeds. It is, I think, more profound than that. We crave their insight, because they have an ability to cut through all the layers of social conditioning and say piercing truths that none of us are willing to. They are, in literature at least, always profoundly smart. 

And there’s a small part of us that wants them to be redeemable, too. We are desperate for them to turn out to be the charming, likable version of themselves that they put forward when it suits them (usually right at the beginning or just as you are about to tell them “no”). We want them to genuinely see the main character as special in the way that they claim, and to go out of their way to save them from harm. 

I was certainly conscious of all this when writing Keely, my very own psychopathic young woman, in Little Sister. She is someone who seems to have been willing to sacrifice anything to get what she wanted, including her own younger sister Nina, and in the early chapters, sits opposite DCI Jonah Sheens, telling him that he needs to play her game or never see Nina alive again.

The problem for Jonah is that, like so many of those who encounter a psychopath, he doesn’t know whether to believe what she is telling him; or to treat her as you might a snake. And every sudden rush of belief in her as human comes up against her biting sarcasm – or against what seems to be cold, hard reality. 

So why does Jonah keep trying, and why do all of us want to hang in there, too?

Intellect without empathy

The strange thing about our belief in psychopaths is that we look to them for an understanding of human nature. It’s strange because these people lack empathy, the one quality necessary to really understand the people around us. In its place, psychopaths have (in fiction at least) pure intellect, which has allowed them to learn how to manipulate people. They may not have always grasped complex emotions, but they have recognised what ordinary peoples’ grubbier desires are and how to control them. And though they lack any morality, they are quite happy to use other people’s desire to be moral for their own ends. It immediately gives them a starting bonus. Think Iago in Othello, mocking his superior for his “foolish honesty” and using it to destroy him. 

And yet, in spite of their lack of empathy, these villainous psychopaths so often deliver exactly the kind of insight that makes us feel like they’re voicing all the thoughts we’ve had but not been able to put into words. Take, for example, Amy Dunne’s glorious rant about “cool girls” in Gone Girl

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes… Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl… You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.

If you’re anything like me, it’s impossible to read that as a woman and not feel as though Amy Dunne has cut to the heart of your own discomfort with this kind of woman: a woman held up as an ideal, but who is acting with only the male gaze in mind. It’s wonderful to have that behaviour exposed. Liberating.

The same can be said for the Marquise de Merteuil’s reflections on the status of women in Les Liaisons Dangereuses

I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe… I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with. And in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.

Like Amy, she rages against how society is attempting to make her and other women behave, and chooses another path. But such observations are also part of the psychopath’s toolkit. By revealing them to us, we’ve been drawn into a feeling of fellowship with Amy, and with the Marquise. We feel that we might sympathise with her. We might even like her. 

These thoughts may also, perhaps, not be quite true. Just like Lecter’s reflections on Will or Clarice, those harsher thoughts of ours about “cool girls” – those tired-and-fed-up judgements that she is echoing – may be no more the right answer than the ones wrapped in social norms and empathy. People are complex, after all. They might like the things they claim to like more than Amy Dunne understands. And the Marquise’s thoughts about being condemned to “shut up and do as she was told” are perhaps belied by the way other clever women of her generation lived their lives. 

I had Keely Lennox paint a similarly harsh portrait of human nature. She tells Jonah:

“We all have the same savage possibility in us. I know I do. Mine got stripped pretty bare by everything. To find my sister, you have to look in the mirror, and actually see what’s there. Have a good delve into all the dark places. At all the times you’ve chosen your own interests over someone else’s. All the petty or selfish things you’ve done. 

Isn’t it weird how, with all those things, you can still hold it all together and tell yourself you’re a good person? That’s because you didn’t have the same pressure I did. You know, I’d probably be a lot like you if all the bad stuff had happened later. It wasn’t really child-appropriate, any of it. The trouble is, nobody’s overseeing this stuff, and life just does its thing. It has basically no respect for ratings.”

It’s persuasive and engaging, and like Hannibal Lecter’s words to the officers who come to see him, it puts Jonah and Keely on a level to a certain extent. But is it honestly true?

In both Amy and the Marquise’s cases, there were other courses of actions open to them than the destructive ones they took. Amy might simply have exposed her husband’s affair, instead of framing him for murder. The Marquise might have sought a partner who saw her as an equal and gathered like-minded people around her. But that was never their game. 

Playing nicely wasn’t Keely’s game, either. But it isn’t clear to Jonah or his team whether that happened out of choice – or out of necessity. And I won’t spoil the surprise here by revealing all…

The hope of redemption

And so we come on to the other incredibly appealing side to the psychopath: that strange hope in all of us that the bad will be redeemed. It is a trope seen over and over again in literature: most commonly in the bad boy turned good, but only because of the love of a particular person, or the friendship of another. 

It is this trope that underlies the draw of The Silence of the Lambs, and still more so the Hannibal TV spin-off. We have seen Will Graham and then Clarice Starling finally get to Hannibal. They have each of them become a soul-mate. An equal. Someone with a bond that goes beyond the normal. Instead of simply voicing a recognition of them in order to manipulate, Hannibal has in each case become emotionally entangled with the investigating officer. It is never more clear than when, in the series, Hannibal asks Will Graham, “Do you think you can change me as I’ve changed you?” We know that Will is right when he replies that he already has.

We see it clearly in Villanelle’s relationship with Eve, where the psychopathic assassin is suddenly drawn to care for and protect the woman she becomes besotted with. And once again, this obsessive care is reserved for Eve and Eve only. Her husband and friends are no more than collateral. 

We see it in the development of Joe Goldberg in Caroline Kepnes’s You series, and even in Humbert Humbert in Lolita. We see it in Amy Dunne’s bloody return to Nick after he calls to her on-air in Gone Girl; and in the Visconte Valmont’s respect and love for Madame de Tourvel in Les Liaisons Dangereuses - while he continues to treat Cecile Volanges as though she is worthless. 

The fascinating side to all of this is that we all of us appear to identify with the main character in these scenarios. We take satisfaction from seeing the psychopath not only become to a very limited extent good, but more importantly, besotted. Even when the psychopath still treats others with as little care as ever, and perhaps almost because they still do, we find ourselves drawn to them and this new close relationship.

There’s a real question to ask, here, about what makes this so fascinating. The answer seems, to me, clear. We’re all of us, when becoming absorbed in these books or films, seeing ourselves in those main characters. And that means that we have been singled out as special by the psychopath. That manipulative, charming man or woman with their promise that we meant something has suddenly decided that we really did mean something. This hardest of people to please and reach has actually come to like and respect us.

And somehow, this is the very best prize of all.

Little Sister by Gytha Lodge is published on 28th April by Penguin Michael Joseph. 

Two sisters went missing. Only one of them came back... Detective Jonah Sheens is enjoying a moment of peace and quiet, when a teenage girl wanders out of the wood. She's striking, with flame-red hair and a pale complexion. She's also covered in blood. She insists she's fine. It's her sister he needs to worry about. Jonah quickly discovers that Keely and her sister, Nina, disappeared from a children's home a week ago. Now, Keely is here - but Nina's still missing. Keely likes to play games. She knows where her sister is - but before she tells, she wants Jonah's full attention. Is she killer, witness, or victim? And will Jonah find out what Keely's hiding, in time to save Nina?

You can follow Gytha Lodge on Twitter @theGyth. You can also find her on Facebook

Thursday 28 April 2022

Can a Wealthy Family Buy Their Alibi? Books Focused on Opulent Wealth, Family Secrets & Suspense by Georgina Cross


For readers, novels about the uber wealthy can be an enticing foray into another world, a sneak peek into how “the other half” lives, complete with glamour and over-the-top situations. It’s a fascinating exploration of a person’s flamboyant behavior and entitled notions about their money buying them everything—including a way to bury their secrets.

In my novel, Nanny Needed readers are cast into the mesmerizing world of the Bird family who live in an extraordinary penthouse in the Upper West Side, New York City. Despite the family’s unusual way for hiring nannies and the fact Sarah has zero nannying experience, Sarah takes the job. She agrees to the family’s strict instructions, including that ominous detail she chooses to ignore: Special conditions apply. While dealing with the mother Collette’s tragic behavior and the child in their care, Sarah finds herself going against the powerful family who employs her and the lengths they will take to make sure no one talks—especially the nanny. Until now, the Bird family may have gotten away with a few too many tragedies, but with Sarah, their secrets are about to rise to the surface. 

Other books about families with wealth and secrets: 

Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier

Speaking of opulent wealth, the title says it all. As one of my personal, most anticipated reads for the upcoming year, Eliza Jane Brazier’s sophomore book Good Rich People takes us into the lives of a wealthy couple living in L.A. and the twisted games they will unleash on the people they invite to stay in the guesthouse of their Hollywood Hills mansion. Lyla and Graham have it all, and yet, they can’t stand the idea of someone else having a self-made success story. Enter Demi, a destitute woman who jumps at the chance to take over another person’s identity and deceives her way into living in their guesthouse. But little does she know what Lyla and Graham are planning, and how far they will go to win at their wicked games. Because after all, doesn’t having a lot of money mean you always come out on top and you’re the winner? But Lyla and Graham may have sorely underestimated the latest player living under their roof and she has a few tricks up her sleeve too. Good Rich People is a wild, witty, suspenseful and wholly original story.

Nanny Dearest by Flora Collins 

With Nanny Needed soon to be published, I am definitely plugging another nanny book. Nanny Dearest is Flora Collins’ debut with her novel already gaining quite the buzz as an intense, psychological thriller. When Sue Keller is in her mid-twenties, her father dies, and she finds herself reconnecting with the nanny who cared for her as a child. Annie looked after Sue and lived with the family in their enormous house upstate. She loved Sue as her own. But while the two women rekindle their bond, Sue begins to ask questions and she discovers several tragedies that may have occurred around the time Annie lived with them. A slick thriller, Nanny Dearest shows the dark side of a family and the nanny who promised to care for everyone in the home.

When She Disappeared by Nicole Mabry and Steph Mullin

Writing duo Nicole Mabry and Steph Mullin are back at it again with another suspenseful read. When She Disappeared focuses on the discovery of a teenage girl’s body, the same girl who disappeared fifteen years earlier, and the lengths one family will go to so their only son doesn’t become the main suspect. When Margo returns to her hometown, she works with a documentary crew to investigate the case about the discovery of her high school best friend’s body. But the Abbott family will use their stature to convince everyone—and anyone—to turn the spotlight away from their son. But as Margo uncovers shocking secrets, it appears the Abbotts aren’t the only ones who didn’t want Jessie’s body to be found. 

A Mother Never Lies by Sarah Clarke (Out now)

In A Mother Never Lies, a young woman had the perfect life: a nice house, a loving husband, and a gorgeous little boy. But in one horrific night, everything she knows to be good and pure is taken away from her. Fourteen years later, she’s finally ready to face the past—and she will take her son back. She will bring him home, even if that means going up against her husband’s wealthy and incredibly powerful family who remain intent on brushing their past traumas beneath the carpet. But this mother is no longer going to take no for an answer.

Nanny Needed by Georgina Cross (HarperCollins)

When Sarah Larsen answers the Bird family's advertisement, her life changes overnight.  The job seems like a dream come true: nannying in a glamorous penthouse apartment with a salary that adds several zeroes to her income. Sarah signs the contract binding her to complete secrecy without a second thought. These are important people, after all - they can't be too careful about who they let into their home. All is well until events in Sarah's life begin to take a sinister turn and the trail leads back to the Birds. She soon realises there's something very strange about the family. But by then, is it too late for her?

Georgina Cross is the bestselling suspense author of The Stepdaughter and the author of The Missing Woman published by Bookouture, as well as Nanny Needed with Bantam, Penguin Random House. Two more books are set for publication in 2022. Georgina is a member of Mystery Writers of America and also the Founder & President of Susie's Wish Inc. which sends patients with life-threatening illnesses to the beach. Married to David, they spend their weekends filled with kids' basketball tournaments, scary movies, and trying new restaurants with their combined family of four sons.

More info on Georgina and her books: Instagram: @georginacrossauthor, Twitter: @gcrossauthor, Facebook: @GeorginaCrossAuthor, and

Writing my debut novel "Trust" during a year of lockdown by Mark Eccleston

I’d been thinking about writing a novel for a good 30 years, but never got round to it. There was always something more important to do. Then the Covid pandemic turned up. Out of nowhere. And it was mind-frazzling and grim. But for most of us it was a chance to reassess our lives. A long time-out. If I was going to write that novel, I wouldn’t get a better chance than this. But what would it be about? 

One thing I knew, it wasn’t going to be a dark. Living in a horror story every day – watching the virus run out of control, a government staggering after it – I wanted some escapism. A beautiful setting. Eccentric side characters. A few laughs, with a bit of luck. A houseboat – the boat figured early in the planning. I live in Ealing, which is not quite central London. Not quite leafy suburbia. A long way from the countryside I dreamt about moving to with my family during the pandemic. Where we might cash-in, buy a houseboat on a backwater. 

One of my favourite places in the country is the Dorset coast around Poole. There’s a huge harbour – an inland sea almost – that’s surrounded by some stunning landscapes. Sandy beaches. Wild heathland. Deserted islands. A river that winds up to a pretty village called Wareham. Which is where the protagonist Astrid Swift, an art conservator from the British Gallery in London, finds herself after inheriting a creaky houseboat. The town in the book isn’t Wareham. It’s called Hanbury, and is even more picturesque – the quintessential English hamlet that I thought about moving to, but never but never did in the end. If it even exists. It’s a village where the weather is always great. The locals are friendly, and the local pub is, like the genre, cosy.

I like cosy crime – writers like Agatha Christie, and more recently Robert Thorogood and Richard Osman. In their books, the villain never gets away with it. The amateur detectives triumph because, underneath it all, they’re good eggs. They have skills and do the decent thing. There’s a satisfying certainty to it all, and in uncertain times, those are the stories I wanted to read and write. A story that values friendship and community. That was the remarkable thing about the pandemic – how most people stepped up and did their bit. Cared for each other. It was the silver lining. In The Trust, Astrid slowly realises the shallowness of her materialistic life – the trophy husband begins to tarnish, and she’s sacked from her high-flying job. But in picking up the pieces in a small town where she has to rely on the kindness of strangers, she discovers who she truly is.

The lockdowns rolled in over the course of 2020 and, between the home schooling for the kids and the statutory one hour of outdoor exercise a day – remember that? – the story began to take shape. There was a fair amount of research to sort out along the way. None of it in person, but then, given the wonders of the internet, everything I needed to know was out there. So began hundreds of hours watching art conservators at work. A show called Fake or Fortune? presented by Fiona Bruce became essential viewing. As did sailing tutorials on YouTube. Lots of books were delivered: guides to deadly mushrooms and bird-spotting, tide charts and biographies of England’s finest stately homes. Sherbourne Hall, the scene of much of the crime in the book, is a mix of various grand houses around the country. 

By the start of 2021, the book was finished. It went off to my agent, who seemed happy. She’s always happy though. Then it found a quick home, along with two more in the series, at Head of Zeus. It comes out in paperback this spring, now that life is, it seems, getting back to normal. If there hadn’t been those lockdowns, I doubt I’d have written a novel. Life would have carried on as usual – which is always wonderful. I’m lucky, and keenly aware of that. Grateful for getting through the pandemic, and out the other side with a new career and outlook on life. 

The Trust by M H Eccleston (Head of Zeus) Out Now

Ever so wholesome. Ever so deadly... When art restorer Astrid Swift moved from London to the Dorset village of Hanbury, she thought she was heading for a quiet life. Far from it. A local man has just been murdered in the English Trust stately home where Astrid works, and the sleepy community is shaken to its core. Soon Astrid has discovered the shocking truth about her employer: rather than being the genteel organisation it seems on the surface, the Trust is a hotbed of politics and intrigue. As Astrid's new friend Kath from the village says: 'It's like the mafia, but with scones. As the suspicious deaths mount up, Astrid must use every gadget in her restorer's toolkit to solve the mystery, salvage her reputation - and maybe even save her life.

Mark can be found on Twitter @MarkEccleston1 

Writing No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride

Normally it can be quite difficult for me to identify the exact genesis of a story, but that’s not the case with No Less the Devil. Years and years ago, back when I was young and fresh faced… Well, that’s a lie. Back when I was slightly less haggard and grumpy. That’s more like the truth. Anyway, way back then I was asked to write a short story to be read out on Radio 4. I, being an international man of mysteries, was on my way to South Africa at the time to do a lovely wee festival there and a bit of a book tour, and as it was one of those overnight flights I decided to fulfil my short-story obligation on the plane. I never sleep on these things anyway – why not put the time to good use?

So, between Heathrow and Johannesburg I sat in my seat and came up with what I thought was a nice little family tale with a crime-fiction twist. Emailed it off when I got to my hotel, then forgot all about it.

Just before I was supposed to get on the plane back to the U.K, having enjoyed a very nice time in lovely South Africa, thank you very much, i got an email from the BBC saying that my nice little family tale was far too dark to broadcast on the radio!' with more than a whiff of ‘what’s wrong with you?’ about it.


In if they didn’t like that one (which has never been published, by the way), then I would write them something else on the plane home. And somewhere over Zambia or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I had an idea. And I wrote a fragmented short story about a little girl called Lucy and her little brother and a very naughty dog called Mr Bitey. Which seemed to go down OK. Not too dark for the delicate sensibilities of the British radio-listening public. And that was that.

Or it should’ve been.

The trouble was that Lucy really intrigued me, not in a ‘thinking about it every day fashion’, more a ‘niggling away at the back of my skull’ kind of thing. As the years went on I’d come to from a dwam, and find I’d been staring out the window for a while, pondering what Lucy would be like when she grew up. Would she be happy? Would she have changed? What would she be doing now? And what would happen if she joined the police…

This is what we shall now refer to as: Tab A.

Slot B came into being before the first lockdown was announced, but it was a vague and fuzzy slot without clearly defined edges, and then the pandemic hit. And then all the stories of VIP lanes, and massive contracts worth hundreds of millions doled out by sleazy idiots to their avaricious cronies. Cronies with no experience supplying the things they were now being paid massive sums of tax-payers’ money to supply. Things that often didn’t work and cost twice as much as they should have.

It's been clear for years that we live not in a real, genuine, un-bought-and-paid-for-by-entities-and-individuals-who-do-not-have-our-best-interests-at-heart democracy, or even a kleptocracy (though it sometimes feels that way), but an ineptocracy. Where we’re governed by people wholly unfit for the task, whose only qualification is that they’re privately educated and sound a bit posh.

Which made me wonder – what if all the staggering displays of ineptitude on daily display weren’t just because these people had the intellectual heft of what could be dug from your average tumble dryer’s fluff filter after doing a load of socks and pants? What if they were part of a pattern? What if they were part of the plan?

Hell, what if they were the plan. What if the only reason these people had, to claw their way up the greasy political flagpole, was to enrich people exactly as venal and useless and overprivileged as they were?

At which point Tab A slid neatly into Slot B, and No Less the Devil was born.

Then all I had to was write it, which is a different story entirely…

No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride (Transworld Publishers) Out Now 

We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell. It's been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast. Now isn't the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn't have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one's ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he's back on the streets again - battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy 'They' are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.It sounds like paranoia, but what if he's right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy's ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn't the only monster out there? And what's going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

Sunday 24 April 2022

Agatha Awards Announced


Congratulations to this year’s Agatha Award winners at Malice Domestic!

Best Contemporary Novel

Cajun Kiss of Death by Ellen Byron (Crooked Lane Books)

Best Historical Novel

Death at Greenway by Lori Rader-Day (HarperCollins)

Best First Novel

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley)

Best Short Story

"Bay of Reckoning" by Shawn Reilly Simmons in Murder on the Beach (Destination Murders)

Best Non-Fiction

How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America by MWA with editors Lee Child and Laurie R. King (Simon & Schuster)

Best Children's/YA Mystery

I Play One on TV by Alan S. Orloff (Down & Out Books)

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Mystery and Thriller Category


The winners of the 2022 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were announced at the start of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The winner in the Mystery/Thriller Category

The Turnout by Megan Abbott (G.P. Putnam's Sons)


The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)

Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron)

The Collective, by Alison Gaylin (Morrow)

Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)

Saturday 23 April 2022

Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition Long List

The Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition Long List has been announced. 

Congratulations to everyone who made the list! 

The CWA 2022 Dagger Long Lists

The CWA Dagger Long lists have been announced this evening at the CWA Gala Dinner which took place during the annual CWA Conference.

The Dagger in the Library

Ben Aaronovitch

Lin Anderson

Mark Billingham

Susan Hill

Edward Marston

Kate Rhodes

Cath Staincliffe

Rebecca Tope

Sara Sheridan

The Dagger for the Best Crime & Mystery Publisher 

Faber & Faber 

Harper Fiction 


Michael Joseph 

Point Blank 

Pushkin Vertigo 


Raven Books 

Thomas & Mercer 

Titan Books 


The CWA Short Story Dagger

The Clifton Vampire by T E Kinsey

With the Others by T M Logan 

When I Grow Up by Robert Scragg

New Tricks by Matt Wesolowski

All from ‘Afraid of the Shadows’ 

London by Jo Nesbø 

From ‘The Jealousy Man and Other Stories

The Way Of All Flesh by Raven Dane

Blindsided by Caroline England

The Victim by Awais Khan 

Flesh of a Fancy Woman by Paul Magrs 

:Changeling by Bryony Pearce

All from ‘Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time

The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger

Girls Who Lie by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir (trans Victoria Cribb)

Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz (trans Rachel Ward) 

Riccardino by Andrea Camilleri, (trans Stephen Sartarelli) 

Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (trans Steve Anderson)

Bullet Train by Kōtarō Isaka (trans Sam Malissa): 

Heatwave by Victor Jestin (trans Sam Taylor) 

Oxygen by Sacha Naspini (trans Clarissa Botsford)

People Like Them by Samira Sedira (trans Lara Vergnaud) 

The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen, (trans David Hackston) 

The Scorpion's Head by Hilde Vandermeeren (trans Laura Watkinson)

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

The Devil You Know by Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne:

The Jigsaw Murders by Jeremy Craddock

What Lies Buried by Kerry Daynes

The Good Girls by Sonia Faleiro

We Are Bellingcat by Eliot Higgins

The Irish Assassins by Julie Kavanagh

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey by Julia Laite

The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machell

The Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris

The Seven Ages of Death by Richard Shepherd

The CWA Historical Dagger

April in Spain by John Banville

City of Vengeance by DV Bishop

Sunset Swing by Ray Celestin

Crow Court by Andy Charman

Not One Of Us by Alis Hawkins

The Drowned City by KJ Maitland

Where God Does Not Walk by Luke McCallin

Edge of the Grave by Robbie Morrison

A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry

Blackout by Simon Scarrow

The Royal Secret by Andrew Taylor

The Cannonball Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu

The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

Welcome to Cooper by Tariq Ashkanani

Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan

Repentance by Eloísa Díaz

Hunted by Antony Dunford

The Mash House by Alan Gillespie

Raft of Stars by Andrew J Graff

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Falling by TJ Newman

Where Ravens Roost by Karin Nordin

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina

The Death of Kirti Kadakia by Meeti Shroff-Shah

The Source by Sarah Sultoon

Waking the Tiger by Mark Wightman

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger

A Man Named Doll by Jonathan Ames

Find You First by Linwood Barclay 

Exit by Belinda Bauer

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh 

Sunset Swing by Ray Celestin

Razorblade Tears by S A Cosby

Dead Ground by M W Craven

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Rizzio by Denise Mina 

The Lonely Ones by Håkan Nesser

The CWA Gold Dagger

Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict: 

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham: 

City of Vengeance by DV Bishop: 

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Sunset Swing by Ray Celestin: Sunset Swing 

Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean 

The House Uptown by Melissa Ginsburg

The Unwilling by John Hart

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Lightseekers by Femi Kayode

I Know What I Saw by Imran Mahmood:

The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee

The Killing Hills by Chris Offutt 

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou: 

The Trawlerman by William Shaw

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson: 

A Beginner's Guide to Murder by Rosalind Stopps

Brazilian Psycho by Joe Thomas 

A video presentation of the announcement can also be seen below.

Thursday 21 April 2022

The Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence 2022 Shortlists


Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) have announced the Shortlists for the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Started in 1984, the annual Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, then known as the Arthur Ellis Awards, recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction, and crime nonfiction by Canadian authors.

Winners will be announced Thursday 26 May 2022.

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) have announced the Shortlists for the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Started in 1984, the annual Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, then known as the Arthur Ellis Awards, recognises the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction, and crime nonfiction by Canadian authors.

Winners will be announced Thursday 26 May 2022.

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo, with a $1000 prize

Find You First by Linwood Barclay (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)

Lost Immunity by Daniel Kalla, (Simon & Schuster)

Under the Outlaw Moon by Dietrich Kalteis (ECW Press)

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena (Doubleday Canada)

The Hunted by Roz Nay (Simon & Schuster)

Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Writers First, with a $500 prize

The Push by Ashley Audrain (Viking Canada)The Captive by Fiona King Foster (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.)

Windfall: A Henry Lysyk Mystery by Byron TD Smith (Shima Kun Press)

All Is Well by Katherine Walker (Thistledown Press)

Seven Down by David Whitton (Rare Machines an imprint of Dundurn Press)

The Whodunit Award for Best Traditional Mystery sponsored by Jane Doe, with a $500 prize

What’s the Matter with Mary Jane? By Candas Jane Dorsey (ECW Press)

Three Dog Knight by Alice Bienia (Cairn Press)

Hell's Half Acre by Jackie Elliott (Joffe Books)

So Many Windings by Catherine Macdonald (At Bay Press)

Murder in a Teacup by Vicki Delany (Kensington Publishing Corp)

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada sponsored by The Engel Family, with a $500 prize

Beneath Her Skin by C. S. Porter (Vagrant Press / Nimbus Publishing Inc.)

Corpse with an Iron Will by Cathy Ace (Four Tails Publishing Inc.)

Death on Darby’s Island by Alice Walsh (Vagrant Press / Nimbus Publishing Inc.

Hell and Gone by Sam Wiebe (Harbour Publishing Co. Inc.)

Three for Trinity by Kevin Major (Breakwater Books)

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $200 prize

Identity Withheld by Marcelle Dubé (Falcon Ridge Publishing)

Murder in Abstract by Brenda Gayle (Bowstring Books)

Letters From Johnny by Wayne Ng (Guernica Editions)

Not So Fast Dr. Quick by Elvie Simons, (Dell Magazines)

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $300 prize

What can You Do? By Pam Barnsley (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Weed Man by Hilary Davidson (Dell Magazines)

Number 10 Marlborough Place by Elizabeth Elwood (Dell Magazines)

All My Darlings by Charlotte Morganti Die Laughing: An Anthology of Humorous Mysteries

Dead Man's Hand by Melissa Yi (Dell Magazines)

Best French Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Le Murmure des Hakapiks by Roxanne Bouchard (Libre Expression)

Dis-moi Qui Doit Vivre… by Marc-André Chabot (Libre Expression)

Conduite Dangereuse by Guillaume Morrissette (Saint-Jean)

Flots by Patrick Senécal (Editions Alire)

Stigmates by Richard Ste-Marie (Editions Alire)

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction) sponsored by Shaftesbury, with a $500 prize

Blood Donor by Karen Bass (Orca Book Publishers)

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney (Puffin Canada)

Hunting By Stars, by Cherie Dimaline (Penguin Teen)

The Traitor's Blade by Kevin Sands (Aladdin (Simon & Schuster))

Don't Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor (HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers))

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book sponsored by Simpson & Wellenreiter LLP, Hamilton, with a $300 prize

Don't Call it a Cult, by Sarah Berman (Viking Canada)

Vancouver Vice: Crime and Spectacle in the City's West End, by Aaron Chapman (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Murder on the Inside: The True Story of the Deadly Riot at Kingston Penitentiary by Catherine Fogarty (Biblioasis)

The Beatle Bandit by Nate Hendley (Dundurn Press)

The Don: The Story of Toronto's Infamous Jail by Lorna Poplak (Dundurn Press)

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript sponsored by ECW Press, with a $500 prize

The Strength to Rise by Delee Fromm

Captives by Pam Isfeld

Elmington by Renee Lehnen

Ken's Corner by Katie Mac

Part Time Crazy by Mark Thomas

CWC announces the 2022 Grand Master Award recipient Louise Penny.

Louise Penny’s debut novel, Still Life, not only won CWC Award for Best First Novel but also the New Blood Dagger, Anthony and Barry awards. Since then, Louise Penny has penned over sixteen Inspector Gamache novels, won many more awards, become an International Bestseller and Canadian icon. Inspector Gamache is being adapted for television by Left Bank Productions with Alfred Molina playing the beloved detective. Her most recent book, State of Terror, was written with 2016 U.S. Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton, a literary coup and another bestseller.

About Crime Writers of Canada

Crime Writers of Canada was founded in 1982 as a professional organization designed to raise the profile of Canadian crime writers. Our members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and literary agents as well as many developing authors. Past winners of the Awards have included such major names in Canadian crime writing as Mario Bolduc, Gail Bowen, Stevie Cameron, Howard Engel, Barbara Fradkin, Louise Penny, Peter Robinson and Eric Wright. We would like to thank ECW Press, Rakuten Kobo, Mystery Magazine, Shaftesbury, Simpson and Wellenreiter LLP (Hamilton), Writers First, Jane Doe and the Howard Engel family for their sponsorship, and the many participating publishers for their continued support.

The shortlist presentation can also been seen on YouTube below.