Thursday 30 June 2022

In the St Hilda's Spotlight:- Trevor Wood


Name:-Trevor Wood

Job:- Author and volunteer at People's Kitchen


Twitter:- @TrevorWoodWrite


Trevor Wood is the author of a trilogy of novels set in Newcastle. The first novel in the series The Man on The Street was published in 2020 and was nominated and won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2020 as well as the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award. It was also shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 and was a Theakston's New Blood Author in 2020 as well as being a Guardian Crime Book of the Year. The sequel, One Way Street was published in 2021. The final book in the trilogy Dead End Street featuring Jimmy Mullen was published in 2022

Current book? (This can either be the current book that you are reading or writing)

One of the joys of being part of the crime writing community is that I get advance copies of a lot of new books and I’m currently reading a proof of Nadine Mathieson’s The Binding Room. I loved The Jigsaw Man and am happy to report that the sequel is just as good if not better!

Favourite book

I could probably give you a different answer every day for a year. But today I’m going to say American Tabloid by James Ellroy.

Which two characters would you invite to dinner and why?

Let’s get Tilly from Mike Craven’s The Puppet Show (and all its sequels) and Duchess from Chris Whitaker’s We Begin At The End round for a chat. I think they’ll find each other fascinating. 

How do you relax?

I’m a huge music fan and love to cook so I like combining the two by sticking on some new tunes while I’m cooking up a storm in the kitchen. 

Which book do you wish you had written and why?

It would have to be Killing Floor. It’s a terrific book but it would also mean that I’d be Lee Child and that would be pretty cool

What would you say to your younger self if you were just starting out as a writer.

Wait until you’re older, you don’t know enough about anything

How would you describe your series character? 

Jimmy Mullen is a homeless veteran suffering from PTSD. He’s not an easy man to get to know but once you have you’ll find he’s fiercely loyal to his friends. If he lets you in you can be sure he’s got your back, no matter what problems that causes him. 

With Town and Country: Green Lanes to Mean Streets being the theme at St Hilda's this year, Where is your favourite town and where is your favourite country? Why have you chosen these?

It’s got to be the Toon! I fell in love with Newcastle on my first visit, over 30 years ago, and that love has never faltered in all the time I’ve lived there. It’s a warm, welcoming and vibrant city that rewards those who embrace its playful spirit ten-fold. It’s the first place I ever felt was home. 

My favourite country has to be Canada. My daughter is doing a Phd in Vancouver so we’re spending the whole summer there this year (I’m returning a few days earlier than planned specifically to come to St Hilda’s). We first went there around 20 years ago and have been returning on a fairly regular basis ever since. I love the diversity of its cities and the wide open spaces elsewhere, it’s truly spectacular.

What are you looking forward to at St Hilda's?

As always, it’s meeting my fellow crime writers and our brilliant readers. I love to make new friends and am sure I’m going to come away from St Hilda’s with a whole bunch of them.

Dead End Street by Trevor Wood. (Quercus Publishing)

A group of vigilantes are carrying out a campaign of harassment against the homeless, hounding them both verbally and physically to get them off the streets. Jimmy Mullen is approached by his friend Gadge, who wants to confront the people behind it but Jimmy has finally got his life back on track. He's working at a hostel for 18 to 25-year-olds and he's reluctant to get involved in anything dodgy.Gadge decides to go it alone but is attacked by two of the vigilantes. The police find him unconscious in an alley, covered in blood. Problem is, there's a dead body in the alley too and it's his blood that Gadge is covered in. He's also got the murder weapon in his hand.Convinced that Gadge has been set up, and feeling guilty that he didn't back him up in the first place, Jimmy returns to the streets to try and find out who's behind his friend's difficulties. Unfortunately, he's about to discover that Gadge has a lot of enemies to choose from.

Information about 2022 St Hilda's College Crime Fiction Weekend and how to book tickets can be found here.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

2022 CWA Dagger Awards Announced


Ray Celestin, Janice Hallett and Mark Billingham awarded 2022 CWA Daggers.

The winners of the 2022 CWA Daggers, which honour the very best in the crime writing genre, have been announced.

Ray Celestin takes home two Daggers for his novel Sunset Swing. Celestin was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for the crime novel of the year as well as the Historical Dagger.

Sunset Swing is the closing act of Celestin’s City Blues Quartet set in Los Angeles at the end of 1967. Judges praised the novel for its cast of original characters that mingle with historical figures on a big and ‘evocative canvas’.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “This is a book bursting with heart, soul and spirit, at once all-encompassing and intimate, superbly paced and immaculately constructed. It’s a testimony to this book that Ray has scooped not just one, but two CWA Daggers.

Past winners of the CWA Gold Dagger include John le Carré, Reginald Hill and Ruth Rendell.

The prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

The winner of the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger is MW Craven for Dead Ground. Awarded for best thriller, the Dagger is sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand.

MW Craven credited the CWA Debut Dagger competition in 2013 for opening the door to his career as an author. He went on to win the CWA Gold Dagger in 2019 for The Puppet Show.

Dead Ground was praised by the judges for its complex characters and deftly constructed plot: “Once again Craven proves himself the master in the art of writing suspense and action.

The anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels.

This year the accolade goes to Janice Hallet for The Appeal, which was a Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year, praised as a “dazzlingly clever cosy crime novel”.

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction goes to Julia Laite for The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice, a poignant account of the short life of a New Zealand woman trafficked as part of the burgeoning sex trade at the start of the twentieth century.

This is the first year the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger has been sponsored by the CWA Chair, Maxim Jakubowski, in honour of his wife Dolores Jakubowski, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, who was a translator and university lecturer, and a great friend to the crime-writing community. Maxim will sponsor the Dagger in her honour in perpetuity.

This year the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger 2022, sponsored in honour of Dolores Jakubowski, goes to Simone Buchholz for Hotel Cartagena, a tense hostage drama set in a hotel in Hamburg.

The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. Paul Magrs scoops the award for ‘Flesh of a Fancy Woman’, praised as “a wonderfully evocative mix of the Dickensian and the Ealing black and white films.

The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year it goes to Mark Billingham. After a career as an actor and stand-up comedian, Billingham published his first crime novel in 2001. He’s best known for his London-based detective Tom Thorne, which series was adapted by Sky TV starring David Morrissey. His latest book is Rabbit Hole.

This year the chair of the Dagger in the Library judges, Sue Wilkinson MBE, sadly died. At the event the CWA paid tribute to Sue for her passion for reading and her hard work, and thanked Ian Anstice for assuming the role of Acting Chair.

One of the anticipated highlights of the annual Daggers is the Debut Dagger competition, open only to uncontracted writers. The competition can lead to securing representation and a publishing contract – corporate and associate members of the CWA can access the shortlisted entries and often go on to make offers to the writers.

This year, the winner of the Debut Dagger 2022 sponsored by ProWritingAid is Anna Maloney, who has written for TV and works as a script consultant. Her novel, The 10:12, is about a train hijacking and the woman who leads a counter attack, and the aftermath.

The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, goes to Faber & Faber. The shortlist is selected by a representative group of leading book reviewers, booksellers, agents and journalists.

The CWA’s Red Herring, for services to crime writing and the CWA, was awarded posthumously in memory of Thalia Proctor, who died this year aged 51, and was highly regarded in publishing circles. Maxim said: “Thalia endeared herself to everyone and will be sadly missed.” Her family were present to collect the award.

The CWA Diamond Dagger, awarded to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, is announced in early spring each year and in 2022 it was awarded to CJ Sansom, author of the acclaimed Matthew Shardlake series set in Tudor times, as well as standalones such as alternative history Dominion.

On the night, the previous two winners of the Diamond Dagger, Martina Cole in 2021 and Martin Edwards in 2020, were also celebrated after the hiatus of the pandemic.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner at the Leonardo City Hotel on Cooper’s Row in London on Wednesday 29 June. The ceremony was compered by genre expert and author, Barry Forshaw, and bestselling author Victoria Selman. CWA Booksellers Champion and bestselling author Elly Griffiths was the after-dinner speaker.

Maxim said: “It’s always an honour to be part of the annual Dagger awards. This year feels extra special as it’s the first time we’ve gathered to celebrate the best in crime writing since 2019. I’d like to congratulate not only all the winners, but also all those shortlisted. It’s a terrific achievement.

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

Dagger Winners 2022


Sunset Swing by Ray Celestin (Macmillan; Mantle)


Dead Ground by MW Craven (Little, Brown; Constable)


The Appeal by Janice Hallett (Profile Books; Viper Books)


Sunset Swing, by Ray Celestin (Pan Macmillan; Mantle)


The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey: A True Story of Sex, Crime and the Meaning of Justice by Julia Laite (Profile Books)

CWA CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER sponsored in honour of Dolores Jakubowski

Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz and translated by Rachel Ward (Orenda Books)


Flesh of a Fancy Woman’ by Paul Magrs in Criminal Pursuits: Crime Through Time edited by Samantha Lee Howe (Telos Publishing)


Mark Billingham


Faber & Faber

CWA DEBUT DAGGER sponsored by ProWritingAid

The 10:12 by Anna Maloney

THE CWA RED HERRING for services to crime writing and the CWA

In memory of Thalia Proctor

Tuesday 28 June 2022





Elly Griffiths | Joseph Knox | Laura Shepherd Robinson

|Mick Herron | Vaseem Khan| Will Dean

The shortlist for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022, presented by Harrogate International Festivals, has been announced today, with six bestselling authors competing to win the UK’s most prestigious crime writing prize.

The coveted award, now in its eighteenth year, celebrates crime fiction at its very best, with this year’s shortlist taking readers from newly independent India to the tension of a remote Fenlands cottage, from a nail-biting missing persons investigation in Manchester to the wilds of North Norfolk, and from the hedonism of Georgian London to the murky world of international espionage. Selected by the public from a longlist of eighteen novels, with a record number of votes being placed this year, the list of six novels features newcomers to the shortlist, two New Blood panellists, a previous Festival Programming Chair, and a five-time shortlistee. None of this year’s shortlistees have ever taken home the prize before, making the competition even more tense.

Elly Griffiths, who was the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair in 2017, is shortlisted for the fifth time for The Night Hawks, the thirteenth instalment in her popular Ruth Galloway series.The Night Hawks sees Norfolk’s favourite forensic archaeologist Galloway called when a group of metal detectorists discover a body buried on a beach with Bronze Age treasure, a find which will lead to a series of murders seemingly linked to the local legend of a spectral dog whose appearance heralds death.

Sunday Times bestseller True Crime Story, the first standalone novel from Joseph Knox, blends fact and fiction to tell the gripping story of a 19-year-old university student who leaves a party in her student halls and is never seen again. Knox, who was selected by Val McDermid as a New Blood panellist in 2017, was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2018 for his thriller Sirens the following year, but has never previously reached the shortlist stage.

Historical crime writer Laura Shepherd Robinson continues her incredible streak as her second novel Daughters of Night is shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, two years after her debut Blood & Sugar was longlisted for the award in 2020. Robinson’s evocative novel transports readers to the seedy underworld of Georgian London, as Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham tries to solve the murder of a prostitute in the infamous Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, an investigation which will delve into the darkest corners of high society.

Bestselling author Mick Herron is longlisted for Slough House, the tenth instalment in his series of the same name, which was recently adapted by Apple TV as spy drama Slow Horses, starring Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas. Herron will be hoping to take home the prize this year, with 2022 marking the fifth time in the past six years he has secured a place on the shortlist.

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan, the first in a new series chronicling the investigations of India’s first female police detective, marks Khan’s first time reaching the shortlist. The novel introduces readers to Inspector Persis Wadia as she is plucked from obscurity in a basement office and tasked with solving the murder of an English diplomat as the country prepares to become the world’s biggest republic.

Finally, The Last Thing to Burn sees bestselling author and New Blood 2018 panellist Will Dean move away from the Nordic setting of his acclaimed Tuva Moodyson series in favour of a claustrophobic thriller set on the British fenlands. The Last Thing to Burn, which has secured Dean his first ever placement on the shortlist, sees a woman held captive in a remote cottage by a man who calls her Jane and insists she is his wife. She has long abandoned hopes of escape, until she finds a reason to live and finds herself watching and planning, waiting for the right moment to act.

The six novels shortlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022 are:

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Quercus Fiction)

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox (Doubleday)

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson (Mantle/Pan)

Slough House by Mick Herron (Baskerville)

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton)

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, added: “What a fantastic shortlist, six thrilling tales which deliver shocking twists and unforgettable characters! We raise a glass of Theakston Old Peculier to all of the shortlistees and look forward to revealing the winner in July as we kick off the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.”

Sharon Canavar, Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, commented: “We are delighted to announce this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year shortlist, featuring six novels by some of the most exciting crime writers working today. Whisking readers around the world and through time, this shortlist is a fantastic demonstration of the variety to be found in crime fiction. The public have a tough task ahead choosing just one winner and we can’t wait to see who they vote for!

The public are now invited to vote for a winner at Voting closes on Friday 8th July, with the winner to be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Thursday 21st July. The winner will receive a £3,000 prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by T&R Theakston Ltd.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with Waterstones and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2021 to 30 April 2022 by UK and Irish authors.

Friday 24 June 2022

Maclehose Press Thrilled For The Return of Nordic Noir Stalwart Åsa Larsson

Credit - Orlando Boström

Katharina Bielenberg, Publisher at MacLehose Press, has acquired World English Language rights to the sixth and final instalment in Åsa Larsson’s hugely popular Rebecka Martinsson series. The Sins of our Fathers will be published on 30 March 2023 in hardback and e-book, in a translation by Frank Perry.

Katharina Bielenberg says, “Her many readers worldwide have waited long for Åsa Larsson’s next instalment, and without doubt it is her best yet. Gripping and vivid, with layer upon layer of human interest – I was thrilled and profoundly moved by The Sins of Our Fathers, a knock-out finale to a ground-breaking series.

Åsa Larsson’s literary agent, Astri von Arbin Ahlander at the Ahlander Agency says, “The Sins of Our Fathers wraps up a milestone crime series, nearly two decades in the making. With the books about Rebecka Martinsson, Åsa Larsson has not only written beloved novels, she has fundamentally changed the expectations of what suspense literature can be. I am so incredibly honoured and humbled to have had the opportunity to witness a piece of literary history being made.

Åsa Larsson says, “Saying farewell to Rebecka Martinsson contains a multitude of emotions. I am of course incredibly grateful. My fate – if she had not stepped in – would have been to make a living as a tax lawyer. Thanks to her, I was able to provide for myself and my children through my writing. I have friends that I would have never even met if it wasn’t for her. She has given me a life and a context that I, growing up in the mining town of Kiruna 200 kilometers north of the arctic circle, never could have dreamed about.

The Sins of our Fathers has been published widely in Europe, reaching top 5 spots on bestseller lists in Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway, and achieving rave reviews. It was voted Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year 2021, and won the major Storytel Award for Best Suspense Novel 2021 and the Adlibris Award for Best Suspense Novel 2021. It is currently shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. 

MacLehose Press is planning to bring Åsa Larsson to the UK next year to celebrate – and mourn – the final instalment in the Rebecka Martinsson series.

The Sins of Our Fathers by Åsa Larsson (Published by Maclehose Press) Out 30 March 2023

Forensic pathologist Lars Pohjanen has only a few weeks to live when he asks Rebecka Martinsson to investigate a murder that has long since passed the statute of limitations. A body found in a freezer at the home of the deceased alcoholic, Henry Pekkari, has been identified as a man who disappeared without a trace in 1962: the father of Swedish Olympic boxing champion Boerje Stroem. Rebecka wants nothing to do with a fifty-year-old case - she has enough to worry about. But how can she ignore a dying man's wish?When the post-mortem confirms that Pekkari, too, was murdered, Rebecka has a red-hot investigation on her hands. But what does it have to do with the body kept in his freezer for decades? Meanwhile, the city of Kiruna is being torn down and moved a few kilometres east, to make way for the mine that has been devouring the city from below. With the city in flux, the tentacles of organized crime are slowly taking over . . .

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Dark Deeds and Fresh Blood: 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award longlist revealed


Intrigue and betrayal in Renaissance Florence and 1930s Singapore, the ghostly voice of a ‘pretty dead girl’ in New York City, and a romp of a whodunnit fizzing through 1990s Auckland that took 25 years to write are among the ‘fresh blood’ in a diverse array of Kiwi storytellers named today on the longlist for the 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel.

A dozen years after we launched the Ngaio Marsh Awards to celebrate Kiwi crime, thriller, and mystery writing, it’s really gratifying to see how our local authors, experienced and new, continue to raise the bar and produce world-class stories,” says founder Craig Sisterson.“This year’s longlist is a terrific showcase of exciting and innovative storytelling, with our authors harnessing a diverse array of characters, settings, and styles, challenging tropes, and bringing fresh perspectives to a genre that’s thrilled readers globally for 150-plus years.

The longlist for the 2022 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel includes three past winners, several past finalists and longlistees, and five first-time entrants. “It was a really strong group of entrants this year, with many books our judges thoroughly enjoyed missing out,” says Sisterson. “Our local ‘yeahnoir’ scene keeps going from strength to strength. It’s high time more Kiwis realised that just like we accept and even expect our local sportspeople to compete at the highest levels on the world stage, likewise our authors – not just in crime and thriller writing, but across many genres and styles – are among the best in the world. The Ngaio Marsh Awards have celebrated the best New Zealand crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense writing since 2010. The longlist for this year’s Best Novel prize is:

City of Vengeance by DV Bishop (Macmillan)

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz (Allen & Unwin)

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave (Upstart Press)

To The Sea by Nikki Crutchley (HarperCollins)

Polaroid Nights by Lizzie Harwood (The Cuba Press)

Isobar Precinct by Angelique Kasmara (The Cuba Press)

Nancy Business by RWR McDonald (Allen & Unwin)

She's a Killer by Kirsten McDougall (Te Herenga Waka University Press) 

The Last Guests by JP Pomare

The Devils You Know by Ben Sanders (Allen & Unwin)

Quiet in her Bones by Nalini Singh (Hachette)

Waking The Tiger by Mark Wightman (Hobeck Books)

The longlist is currently being considered by an international judging panel of crime and thriller writing experts from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The finalists for both the Best Novel category and Best First Novel will be announced in early August. The finalists will be celebrated, and winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 31 August to 4 September 2022. 

For more information on this year’s Best Novel longlist, or the Ngaio Marsh Awards in general, please contact founder and judging convenor Craig Sisterson, (

Click on the link for the online video highlighting the long listed authors and their books.

Friday 17 June 2022

The Hammett Prize: International Association of Crime Writers


The International Association of Crime Writers, North America, have announced the Hammett Prize Winner for 2021 -

Razorblade Tears by S A Cosby

The other nominees -

Stung by William Deverell (ECW)

Five Decembers by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

The Sacrifice of Lester Yates by Robin Yocum (Arcade CrimeWise)


Thursday 16 June 2022

Bloody Scotland Reveals 10th Anniversary Programme


Stirling 15-18 September 2022

We are very exciting to announce our 10th anniversary programme! Ten years on from the first Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival the run has extended to four days, the number of events has doubled and the authors are more diverse than ever.

2022 sees the return of several Bloody Scotland favourites that we haven’t seen since the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Our dramatic torchlit procession through Stirling historic old town led by the pipes and drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling Pipe Band and Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band encourages locals who don’t normally attend literary events to get involved. Scotland tackle England in our crime writers’ football match at the new venue of King’s Park, a free fun event which is also aimed at breaking down barriers.

There will be a return of the ever-popular Crime at the Coo cabaret featuring an array of crime writers showing off their musical talents and the much-loved Quiz this year takes the form of Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee’s ‘Red Hot Night of a Million Games’ in which they steal the best bits from the game shows of yesteryear and mash them up into something truly remarkable.

Val McDermid has described Bloody Scotland as a ‘dizzying weekend of pleasure’, Jake Kerridge talking on BBC Radio 4 praised Bloody Scotland for ‘thinking outside the box’ creating ‘a sort of fringe’ and William McIlvanney spoke fondly of it being ‘so friendly, so welcoming’. It is with great delight that we look forward to putting on that sort of inclusive, imaginative festival again to celebrate our 10th Anniversary.

In addition to the headliners we are welcoming to Stirling such as Sir Ian Rankin, Anthony Horowitz, Lisa Unger, Jeffrey Archer, Ann Cleeves and Frankie Boyle, debuts are at the heart of what Bloody Scotland is all about. The very first festival featured a ‘Fresh Blood Panel’ and this year in addition to the ‘Bloody Scotland Debut Prize Panel’ we have ‘Alex Gray’s New Crimes Panel’ plus debut authors appearing in various events throughout the programme and twenty new authors appearing ‘In the Spotlight’ on stage ahead of the established names.

We continue our commitment to bring the festival to the wider world and those who can’t make it to Stirling can buy digital passes for individual events or the whole weekend. Val McDermid, David Baldacci, Sara Paretsky, Donna Leon and Irvine Welsh will all join us live for digital sessions. More information about which events will be available to watch on-line can be found at

Tickets can be bought here.

The programme can be found here.

Alan Bett, Head of Literature and Publishing at Creative Scotland said:

Much has changed in the decade since Bloody Scotland launched their first festival, in terms of Scottish crime writing and literature festivals more generally. This 10th anniversary programme is not only the biggest, it also embraces a hybrid model that means a wider audience can engage with authors either on stage or on screen. Bloody Scotland continues to promote the highly popular genre of Scottish crime writing to the world, while also connecting Scottish readers to the work of both new and much loved authors.’

James Crawford, Chair of Bloody Scotland said:

It’s fantastic to be able to mark the 10th anniversary of the festival with a full, four-day programme of in-person events – along with a brilliant selection of digital offerings – featuring the best that crime writing has to offer. Bloody Scotland was established a decade ago to shine a spotlight on crime writing and to help develop a whole new generation of writers. Debut authors have always been central to this, and to the vibrant community that has grown up around the festival. Along with the excitement of seeing familiar faces comes the thrill of finding your new favourite writer. Bloody Scotland 2022 is a festival full of possibilities and discovery.’

Stirling Councillor Leader, Councillor Chris Kane said:

The fact that Bloody Scotland is now enjoying its 10th Anniversary is a welcome plot development for a festival that has grown into one of Stirling’s most loved events. Bloody Scotland has brought a wide range of visitors into Stirling over the years while making sure Stirling residents are an integral part of the occasion, such as the spectacular torchlit procession that lights up our city centre.

Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, providing a showcase for the best crime writing from Scotland and the world, unique in that it was set up by a group of Scottish crime writers in 2012. Full information at

The festival takes place in various venues (including The Albert Halls, The Tollbooth and the social hub of the festival, The Golden Lion Hotel) in the historic town of Stirling from 15-18 September 2022.

The Bloody Scotland Prize for Scottish Crime Writing first awarded in 2012 was renamed The McIlvanney Prize in 2016. The Bloody Scotland Debut Prize was introduced in 2019 and won by Claire Askew who this year made the McIlvanney longlist along with Deborah Masson who won the Debut Prize in 2020.

In 2018 Bloody Scotland began a partnership with Harvill Secker to encourage new crime writers of colour. The winner of the inaugural prize was Ajay Chowdhury and in December 2021 it was won by Dettie Gould with The Light and Shade of Ellen Swithin.

In order to maintain a year-round presence Bloody Scotland set up the Bloody Scotland Book Club in Spring 2021. The panel rotates every month and those on the panel take responsibility for choosing the three books which are discussed.

In 2017 Bloody Scotland partnered with Historic Environment Scotland to produce the Bloody Scotland book of short stories which has been reprinted for the 10th Anniversary and will be distributed free of charge throughout Stirling and the surrounding areas to encourage more engagement with Scottish crime fiction within the local community.

Bloody Scotland recently resurrected the short story competition which took place in the first year. The latest incarnation, sponsored by The Glencairn Glass with media support from The Scottish Field received over 132 entries from all over the world. Many previously unpublished. The winner was from Australia and was published in the Scottish Field Magazine.

To make the festival more affordable for everyone and mark our 10th Anniversary we’re offering a limited number of tickets at £5 each for 10 of our events – see

A 10% discount is available for all events in Stirling to people residing in the Stirling Council area – see

In addition, free standby tickets will be offered to the unemployed or those on low income on the day of the event if there is good availability – see 

We are committed to making Bloody Scotland an accessible festival. All of the venues are accessible by wheelchair and BSL interpretation is available at events on request. Email -

A free shuttle bus between venues is available for those who need it. Seating is unreserved so please advise at time of booking if you require a wheelchair space or have any specific needs and we will do our best to accommodate them.

Friday 10 June 2022

Amanda Jayatissa on How an idyllic island became the perfect backdrop for a thriller

At first glance, Sri Lanka is a picturesque island paradise – golden beaches, lush rainforests, delicious food, and a rich cultural heritage. A picture postcard come to life, there’s no surprise that it’s often considered a favourite destination by travellers from around the world. But like all things that appear beautiful at first glance, beneath the island’s stunning scenery and charming people lies a complex culture steeped in folklore and vestiges of post-colonial gothic atmosphere.

This atmosphere was extremely prevalent in my novel, My Sweet Girl. The present-day story is set in Northern California, and the past, and ultimately the key to the entire mystery, is set in Sri Lanka. During the time where the story is set, the civil war raged in the North, though that mattered very little to children at The Little Miracles Girls Home. Mostly cut away from the rest of the country, Paloma and her best friend Lihini lived in a looming post-colonial building guarded by mango and amberalla trees and whispered ghost stories to their friends by torchlight. Their favourite ghost story was that of Mohini, who they were convinced roamed the halls of the orphanage at night. 

But Mohini herself wasn’t exclusive to the orphanage. Highly prevalent in Sri Lankan urban legends, Mohini is the island’s own Woman in White. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Sri Lanka who didn’t have a friend or an acquaintance who claimed to have seen the demon. A beautiful woman cradling a baby in her arms, Mohini would ask solitary travellers for help, and if they were unlucky enough to stop for her… well, this is where the stories diverge. Some believe that one look into her eyes kills her innocent victims on the spot, some claim that the victims succumb to a mysterious malady a few days later, and some insist that the baby she holds in her arms is actually a monster that feeds on human souls. Whatever the ending, the only thing for certain is that the victims never escape.

This is perhaps why the main character in My Sweet Girl, Paloma, felt she could never outrun her past. In fact, she was still haunted by this very same ghost, along with demons of her own, seventeen years later in her new life in America. What was once an innocent ghost story shared among friends soon evolved into a manifestation of her guilt and paranoia. 

The gothic-style orphanage itself is almost a character of its own and serves as a reminder of the island’s colonial days. For instance, both Paloma and Lihini are fairer than the other girls and thus considered more likely for adoption. The negative effects of colourism still play a significant role in Sri Lankan culture, from marriage proposals to childhood favouritism. 

The Little Miracles Girls Home also depends heavily on donations from foreigners in order to function. As a result of this, the girls are encouraged to perform” whenever there’s a foreign visitor – from singing a welcome song, to delivering rehearsed lines intended to flatter, and fulfilling designated roles, such as reading or crafting, during the visit. This also echoes some of the behaviour we see in Sri Lanka as a whole. As a country that depends heavily on tourism, there’s a large performative element that many locals subscribe to in order to survive. Religious ceremonies, harvest rituals, and historic traditions are now increasingly practiced outside their original significance to capture tourist interest – a development tied to the rise of tourism. 

But of course, it's easy to overlook a few negatives of the place you’ve called home – as Paloma herself understands in America. She is uncharacteristically drawn to a Sri Lankan man, in whom she finds the acceptance, understanding, and warmth that she didn’t realise she was homesick for. And I think many Sri Lankans, including myself, can relate to that, as well as to many more questions about identity in a foreign country – How much of yourself do you leave behind and how much do you bring with you when chasing your American dream? And will your past in a beautiful, tropical island ever truly let you go? 

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa (Hodder & Stoughton) Out Now

A girl in a new country. A dark secret left behind. A dead body which might tell all. Ever since she was adopted from an orphanage in Sri Lanka, Paloma has led a privileged Californian life: the best schools, a generous allowance and parents so perfect that Paloma fears she'll never live up to them. Now at thirty, Paloma has managed to disappoint her parents so thoroughly that their relationship will never recover. Unemployed and friendless, the only person still talking to her is Arun - the Indian man subletting her spare room. That is until Arun discovers Paloma's darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her fragile place in this country, and the next day is found face down in a pool of blood. On finding Arun's body Paloma flees her apartment. But by the time the police arrive, there's no body to be found or signs of struggle - and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place. The police may be quick to dismiss everything, but Paloma knows what she saw. Is this tangled up in her childhood in Sri Lanka and the desperate actions she took to leave so many years ago? And did Paloma's secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?

More information about the author can be found on her website. You can also find her on Twitter @AmandaJayatissa and on Instagram @amandajayatissa. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Thursday 9 June 2022

Bute Noir 2022 Programme Announced


Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award Longlist 2022


Goldsboro Books have announced the twelve titles longlisted for the 2022 Glass Bell Award. Now in its sixth year, the Glass Bell Award celebrates the best storytelling across contemporary fiction, regardless of genre. The 2022 longlist heralds another strong year for debuts – making up just under half of the longlist- including debut thrillers The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Anna Bailey’s creepy and atmospheric novel Tall Bones, and Mrs March by darkly funny, Spanish author Virginia Feito.

Debut authors Hafsa Zayyan, winner of the Merky Books New Writers Prize with We Are All Birds of Uganda, and Robert Jones Jr., who’s stunning novel The Prophets explores the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, join fellow historical novelists, Lucy Holland with her new book Sistersong, British Book Awards 2022 shortlisted author Elodie Harper with The Wolf Den, and the bestselling novel Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.

Spanning historical, literary, crime, thriller and fantasy, the Glass Bell longlist also includes acclaimed authors, including Booker-shortlisted author The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, which was also recently shortlisted for the Women’s Prize, Laura Shepherd-Robinson and her novel Daughters of Night, and Will Dean with The Last Thing to Burn, both of which have been longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year.

The sole fantasy novel on the 2022 Glass Bell longlist is the enthralling bestselling novel Threadneedle by Cari Thomas, which draws readers into the magical city nestled within the boroughs of London.

David Headley, Goldsboro Books co-founder and MD, and founder of the Glass Bell, says:

Every year, we are chomping at the bit to get together and discuss our favourite books published in the previous year; and 2022 was no exception. Once again, the longlist is incredibly exciting and without one weak link. Every year, the judging process gets more difficult as the standard of publishing continues to grow - this year might be our trickiest yet.

The Glass Bell Award is judged by David and his team at Goldsboro Books. It is the only prize that rewards storytelling in all genres from – romance, thrillers and ghost stories, to historical, speculative and literary fiction and – is awarded annually to ‘a compelling novel with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realised’. The shortlist of six will be announced on 28th July, with the winner, who will receive both £2,000, and a beautiful, handmade glass bell, to be announced on 8th September.

Last year, debut author Clare Whitfield was announced as the fifth winner of the prize for her historical thriller, People of Abandoned Character. A thrilling and atmospheric take on the Jack the Ripper story, published by Head of Zeus, was selected for its ‘fresh and unique’ approach to the story by the 2021 jury, who called it ‘a thoughtful and compelling exploration of the endless violence faced by women of all walks of life.

Martin Walker on Finding your Roots


Every crime writer needs roots; a place that can become a character in itself. Sherlock Holmes had Victorian London: a hansom cab rolling through the fog; cheerful street urchins and opium dens in Limehouse. Maigret had his bistro and Donna Leon has Venice. Raymond Chandler had Los Angeles before it became Hollywood and Jack Reacher has his Greyhound bus. 

Before I knew it, the Perigord had taken over my work and become the core character that slowly but surely embraced everything. The painted caves of our Cro-Magnon ancestors and the ancient castles became essential props to the sense of time and place that define the region to this day. 

Wines seeped in at first to accompany the food but then the town vineyard was born in my mind and the splendid wines of the Pécharmant and of Montravel and Monbazillac became an amiable flood. Soon it was followed by the hunters and the wild boar and venison that they roasted for communal feasts. Then the horses became characters in their own right and the basset hounds began to steal the show, while the medieval fortresses began to clamour for their own special place in the stories I wanted to tell. 

The more I learned about the region the more it began to shape my novels, from the Abbot of Sarlat who who was murdered by a crossbow bolt while preaching at his own pulpit to the twelve centuries of the half-ruined castle of Commarque, founded in Charlemagne’s day and a direct descendant of that same first 8th century Count who eleven centuries later became a Resistance leader who was taken by the Gestapo to die in a concentration camp in 1944. 

Maybe a better writer could have withstood this constant, insidious pressure of the place where I was crafting my stories of Bruno, the local policeman of the small town of St Denis. But Bruno was never just a cop. He had served ten years in the French army, been wounded in Sarajevo while wearing the blue helmet of a United Nations peacekeeper. He spends his spare time teaching the local kids to play tennis and rugby, is a member of two local hunting clubs and relishes his extra duties as impresario of the free concerts his town presents on the river bank in summer. 

And here is the strange thing. Bruno was inspired by my friend and tennis partner Pierrot. Jean-Jacques, the chief detective of the department, was inspired by my neighbour Raymond, a veteran captain of Gendarmes. Jack Crimson, the retired British diplomat with intelligence connections, was inspired by another friend who had better remain nameless. Gilles, the journalist for Paris Match, was drawn from another friend and the mayor in my stories was inspired by the two splendid mayors of my town. From different political parties they each became friends. Hubert, who runs the local wine store, was drawn from my friend Julien Montfort, the wine merchant with his own vineyard with whom I make the Cuvée Bruno wine of which we are so proud. 

But the women in my novels have no such inspiration in real life. There is no ambitious Isabelle, building a magnificent career in French intelligence; no Pamela from Scotland with her disastrous marriage to an English banker behind her, to run the local riding school. There is no real-life model for Fabiola, the local doctor, nor for Florence, the divorced mother of twins whom Bruno rescued from a wretched job to become a respected teacher in St Denis. 

Somehow, the women I know are too elusive, too mysterious and unique ever to be drawn into the invented characters of my novels. There are women in my life; my mother, Dorothy McNeil from the Hebridean island of Barra; and Julia, my adored and beautiful wife of more than four decades, a mavellous food writer and magnificent cook. There are our daughters, Kate the Formula One journalist, and Fanny, the poet. But I’d never dare try to insert them into my novels. There are female relatives and friends whose company and intelligence I relish and admire, but they all remain unique to themselves, unfathomable in their privacy which I shrink from trying to invade. 

Finally, there is the town I call St Denis, which is mostly drawn from the small town to which we can walk on market day. But I have imported an ancient church from elsewhere. I have recalled into life a local café that used to make the finest croissants but which has long since changed hands. And I have invented a genial old priest who is wise, devout but utterly understanding of the various flawed and absent faiths of his neighbours. I have even dreamed up a local restaurant that I wish truly existed. But given all the gifts that my Périgord has given me, that might be too much to ask. 

To Kill a Troubadour by Martin Walker (Quercus Publishing) Out Now

It is summer in St Denis and Bruno is busy organising the annual village concert. He's hired a local Perigord folk group, Les Troubadours, to perform their latest hit 'A Song for Catalonia'. But when the song unexpectedly goes viral, the Spanish government, clamping down on the Catalonian bid for independence, bans Les Troubadours from performing it. The timing couldn't be worse, and Bruno finds himself under yet more pressure when a specialist sniper's bullet is found in a wrecked car near Bergerac. The car was reportedly stolen on the Spanish frontier and the Spanish government sends warning that a group of nationalist extremists may be planning an assassination in France. Bruno immediately suspects that Les Troubadours and their audience might be in danger. Bruno must organise security and ensure that his beloved town and its people are safe - the stakes are high for France's favourite policeman.

More information about Martin Walker and his books can be found on his website. You can also find him on Facebook.