Saturday 29 October 2022

Whose Line is it Anyway with The Northern Crime (writing) Syndicate


Tickets are now on sale for the first ever live version of Whose Crime Is It Anyway? Seven crime writers from the NCS make up a best-selling story in one hour with the help of the audience. Fresh from a hugely successful zoom run the NCS are going live! It's at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle on Saturday November 26th at 2pm. 

Tickets are available here but you have to scroll down to the date and time to find them - persevere, you know it's worth it. The bigger the audience the more fun so please come along if you can The Northern Crime (Writing) Syndicate.

Sunday 23 October 2022

November Books by Bookouture

She was lying as if asleep on the wooden kitchen floor, beneath the fridge covered with a child’s colourful crayon drawings. But her frozen expression showed she would never wake again… When Detective Jackie Cooke is called out to the scene, she’s expecting a routine check. The bottle of pills on the kitchen table, next to the note with the single word SORRY written in a shaky hand, make it seem obvious what’s happened. But Jackie is shocked when she recognises her old schoolfriend Claire – and she is convinced Claire would never take her own life. Determined to dig deeper, Jackie soon discovers evidence that proves her right: a roll of notes has been thrust down the victim’s throat. And when she finds another woman killed in the same way, she realises someone may be targeting lonely single mothers. As Jackie talks to Claire’s distraught children, one of them too young to understand his mummy is never coming home, she vows to find answers. Both victims were in touch with someone calling himself Nice Guy – could he be the killer? Pursuing every clue, Jackie is sure she’s found a match in dead-eyed Tyler, part of a dark world of men intent on silencing women for daring to reject them. But just as she makes the arrest, another single mother is found dead – a woman who never dated at all. Forced to re-evaluate every lead she has, with her boss pressuring her to make a case against the obvious suspect, Jackie knows she is running out of time before another innocent woman is murdered. And, as a single mother herself, she cannot help but wonder if she is in the killer’s sights. Can she uncover his true motivation and put an end to his deadly game… or will he find her first? The Silent Dead is by Marnie Riches.

Your new husband has a shocking secret. Would your mother-in-law kill to protect it. From the moment I meet my new mother-in-law in her beautiful country house, she makes it clear I’m not welcome. Lilian Fletcher hates me for marrying her precious boy on a golden beach far away from her. Starting our marriage living in the Fletchers’ family home is a nightmare. Then I discover Seb was married before and his first wife is dead. I wonder why the man I love didn’t tell me the truth. And I wonder what happened to her: the woman who came before me. How did she die? Lilian’s steely blue gaze follows me everywhere. Then the accidents start to happen, and I know she is behind them. It starts with small things, like a dropped birthday cake, a spilt glass of wine. But then my mother-in-law accuses me of something terrible. This woman is determined to get me out of her son’s life. Now I wish I’d never met my handsome, clever husband. Or come to this luxurious house that feels more like a prison. But I have secrets too. And no-one knows who I really am… The Daughter in Law is by Shalini Boland.

A Body at Lavender Cottage is by Dee MacDonald. Nurse Kate Palmer is Cornwall’s answer to Miss Marple! But when a body turns up in her own garden can Kate solve the crime? Or is the murder a bit too close to home? Kate Palmer is stunned when she wakes up one morning to discover the body of a man in the beautiful garden of Lavender Cottage. She’s spent the last few years renovating her cozy, clifftop cottage with its gorgeous views of the sparkling Cornish sea. And a death right under her nose is more than a little unsettling… When Woody Forrest, Kate’s new husband and the village’s retired detective inspector, takes a closer look he realises the victim is none other than Frank Ford – Woody’s old nemesis. Now, Frank is lying dead amongst the daisies… strangled with Woody’s blue police tie. Kate is certain the man she loves is not a murderer and is determined to prove his innocence. But who would want to kill Frank and frame Woody? As Kate investigates, Frank’s family seem to be the obvious suspects. Could it be Jason Ford, the youngest son, who has an odd obsession with birdwatching? Sid Kinsella, the angry father-in-law? Or Sharon Mason, the troublesome daughter? When another member of the Ford family bites the dust while Woody is tending his allotment, it’s clear the killer is determined to bury Woody’s reputation. But when a chance conversation on Bluebell Road provides Kate with a clue, she must find a woman named Rose, who could hold the answers Kate is looking for. But Kate needs to dig up the truth – and fast! – before poor Woody is thrown behind bars. Can she solve the case and save her husband before it’s too late?

While Jamie’s cold, lifeless body lay in the morgue, Detective Kim Stone stared at the empty board in the incident room and felt her anger boil. Why were there no photos, details, or lines of enquiry? When a nineteen-year-old boy, Jamie Mills, is found hanging from a tree in a local park, his death is ruled a suicide. Detective Kim Stone’s instincts tell her something isn’t right – but it’s not her investigation and her temporary replacement is too busy waiting for the next big case to be asking the right questions. Why would a seemingly healthy boy choose to end his life? Why does his mother show no sign of emotional distress at the loss of her son? Still mending her broken mind and body from her last harrowing case, Kim is supposed to be easing back into work gently. But then she finds a crucial, overlooked detail: Jamie had a recent injury that would have made it impossible for him to climb the tree. He must have been murdered. Quickly taking back charge of her team and the case, Kim visits Jamie’s parents and is shocked to hear that they had sent him to a clinic to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality. According to his mother, Jamie was introverted and prone to mood swings. Yet his friend speaks of a vibrant, outgoing boy. The clues to smashing open this disturbing case lie behind the old Victorian walls of the clinic, run by the Gardner family. They claim that patients come of their own accord and are free to leave at any time. But why are those that attended the clinic so afraid to speak of what happens there? And where did the faded restraint marks identified on Jamie’s wrists come from? Then the body of a young woman is found dead by suffocation and Kim makes two chilling discoveries. The victim spent time at the clinic too, and her death was also staged to look like a suicide. Scarred from an ordeal that nearly took her life, is Kim strong enough to stop a terrifying killer from silencing the clinic’s previous patients one by one? Hidden Scars is by Angela Marsons.

Mystery at Southwood School is by Clare Chase. Eve Mallow’s going back to school! But when a former student is murdered, Eve must discover who taught her a deadly lesson…Eve Mallow is delighted when she’s asked to cater Founders’ Day at Southwood School. It’s the best – and most secretive – school for miles around, and Eve can’t wait to see what it’s really like. But when she arrives, the atmosphere is far from scholarly. Natalie Somerson, ex-pupil and professional gossip, is the guest of honour, but nobody seems to want her there… especially when her speech stirs up an old scandal about a secret love affair. So why was she invited? The next morning, Natalie is found dead in a locked attic room. To make matters worse, Eve’s boyfriend Robin becomes the police’s prime suspect. Determined to prove his innocence, Eve starts to investigate everyone with a stake in the school. Is it the prudish principal, worried about Natalie’s influence? Her former teacher, whose life Natalie made miserable? Or the head girl, who seemed to hate Natalie one day and adore her the next? When strange letters arrive at the school and Eve finds a bottle of Natalie’s perfume in the most unexpected place, she senses time is running out to save Robin’s good name. Eve had better study her suspects and unmask the real killer…before they give her a fatal mark!

She’s there to keep your baby safe… Or is she? I’ve always wanted a baby, more than anything. I never meant to do it alone, but it’ll be a fresh start. I can finally leave the past behind me. I’m so lucky to have Jackie, my midwife, who understands how hard this is. She supports me more than anyone could have hoped or expected. But as I sit in this cold white room, that was meant to be full of other mothers to be, a chill creeps up my spine. There’s only one other mother here, and she’s clutching her bump nervously. And as she squirms under Jackie's questions, Jackie can’t stop staring at me. And then something clicks, and my blood freezes. She recognises me, doesn't she? The Midwife is by Victoria Jenkins.

Next to the lake’s dappled water, a woman lies on her yoga mat, her limbs twisted as if she is trying to crawl away. Her mug of tea steams into the cool air and her lips, still warm, are parted mid-sentence. But she will never speak or see again... When Sandra Ashville is found murdered in a sleepy town near Oakhurst, Detective Jo Fournier is first at the scene. Jo is shaken by the similarities between herself and the dead assistant District Attorney, a dedicated woman with a heart for justice. And as she examines Sandra’s body, Jo discovers something that chills her to the bone: the bullet hole is covered by an intact blindfold. Why was Sandra only blindfolded after her death? The very next morning Jo receives a shocking call. A judge has been brutally killed, before she too was blindfolded. Soon it becomes clear that the twisted serial killer is working with a deadly countdown: every morning, another body will be found. Working around the clock, Jo makes an important break-through: all the victims are connected to the same murder trial. And Jo’s dear friend and partner Bob Arnett could be next… With the next morning rapidly approaching, Jo and her team pull out all the stops to catch the killer. But when she uncovers a stain of corruption that includes Bob, Jo faces an impossible choice. Can she trust her partner, when the evidence suggests he turned a blind eye to a grave miscarriage of justice? And as the body count rises, can Jo catch the killer before it is too late for her oldest friend? What They Saw is by M M Chouinard.

Bookshop owner and amateur detective Flora Steele teams up with handsome crime writer Jack Carrington to unravel a curious murder in the village of Abbeymead! Sussex, 1956:When Flora and her partner-in-crime-solving, Jack, arrive at the charming church of St Saviour’s the last thing they’re expecting to find is the curate, Lyle Beaumont, lifeless on the flagstone floor beneath the belltower, with a mysterious note in his hand. Flora is dismayed to find the poor curate dead. But she can’t help being intrigued by the eclectic mix of bell ringers present at the old church –Mr Preece, the local butcher, Dilys Fuller, the busybody postmistress, and Stephen Henshall, a newcomer to the close-knit community. Any one of them could be the culprit – and Flora needs to act fast before someone gets away with murder… When Flora and Jack begin their sleuthing, they quickly realise all is not what it seems with the victim, and the certainty of the dead man’s identity becomes the first twist in the investigation. Just as they’re getting closer to the answer, the death of one of the suspects changes everything. As a series of unexplained accidents unfolds across the village, it seems no-one who was present at the church on the night of the curate’s demise is safe. Has the bell tolled on Flora and Jack’s detective days? And will they work out the truth in time to save themselves? Murder at St Saviours is by Merryn Allingham.

Irish whiskey, rolling green hills, a traditional Christmas feast and… a murder? Lady Swift will need the luck of the Irish to survive this holiday season! Christmas, 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift has received a rather unexpected invitation to the village Christmas party in the tiny, rural hamlet of Derrydee in the west of Ireland. Eleanor is thrilled about exploring her ancestral roots at her late uncle’s estate and spending the festive season in a castle. PackingGladstone the bulldog’scoziest Christmas jumper, they set off to the Emerald Isle with her butler Clifford in tow. Arriving late at night, Eleanor and Clifford are shocked when they find a body sprawled in the snow on the winding country lane outside the estate. The local constable is immediately suspicious and all but accuses the pair of murder. This isn’t the warm Irish welcome Eleanor imagined! Clifford is certain he recognises the poor fellow from the funeral of Eleanor’s uncle – but what was their connection? Undeterred by the villagers’ lack of gossip on the matter, Eleanor is determined to get justice for the victim. The man’s pockets are suspiciously empty of personal effects, but closer inspection reveals an old key hidden in the heel of his boot. Could this unlock more than one mystery for Eleanor? But when a fire breaks out at the castle on Christmas Eve, an even bigger question looms: is someone out to ensure the family line dies with Lady Swift? And will Eleanor’s first Irish Christmas be her last? Murder in an Irish Castle is by Verity Bright.

Missing Girl at Frozen Falls is by Leslie Wolfe. She lay in the frosted grass behind Frozen Falls. Her eyes were wide open, and the wind blew her hair, ash-blond locks reflecting the blue sky. Her face, beautiful even in death, was pale, as if the bitter cold from the mountain had drained the color from her cheeks. On a crisp autumn day in the small town of Mount Chester, Detective Kay Sharp comes face-to-face with the past she has spent the last decade running from. Her ex-husband, Brian, has been accused of murder. Seeing Brian brings a flood of painful memories—he betrayed her in the worst possible way. Yet despite her heartbreak, Kay is willing to put her career on the line to prove his innocence. Brian is accused of killing Kay’s former best friend, Rachel—the woman he cheated on Kay with, getting her pregnant. The blood drains from Kay’s face; she received a voicemail from Rachel two days ago. “I hope you’ll forgive me,” she’d said, her voice fraught with tears. “I know I have no right, but I need you.” Kay’s stomach plummets. By the time she called back, Rachel was already dead. Could Brian really be the murderer? Kay faces pressure from her crime team, who don’t want her working on an investigation so close to home. But she’s willing to risk everything—she vows to get justice for Rachel. When Kay visit’s Rachel’s mother, she uncovers a heart-stopping discovery that makes the case even more critical: Rachel’s eight-year-old daughter, Holly, is missing. Could the little girl still be alive? Up against the most complex—and most personal—case of her career, can she save precious Holly before it’s too late? And will Kay’s determination to find out the truth lead to justice—or be her undoing?

Thursday 20 October 2022

Irish Book Awards shortlists 2022


The Irish Book Awards shortlists have been announced. The complete shortlists can be read here.

The shortlist of the Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year are 

Remember my Name by Sam Blake (Corvus)

Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus)

Breaking Point by Edel Coffey (Sphere)

The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh (Orion)

The Interview by Gill Perdue (Sandycove)

Hide and Seek by Andrea Mara (Transworld)

To vote go here. Voting closes on 10 November 2022 with the winners being announced on 23rd November 2022.

Congratulations to all the nominated authors.

2023 CWA Debut Dagger Competition Opens for Entries


The most hotly contended competition for would-be crime novelists is now open for entries.

Aspiring crime novelists have until the end of February 2023 to enter the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Debut Dagger, renowned for opening doors for new writers.

Shortlisted authors often get representation by literary agents, with some going on to achieve publication deals.

The competition for the best new voices in the genre has been going for over 20 years and helped launch the careers of established crime writers, including M W Craven, who entered in 2013.

Craven went on to win the CWA 2019 Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year for The Puppet Show, and more recently the 2022 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Dead Ground.

M W Craven said that, “The CWA Debut Dagger competition gave me a career. I can draw a direct evolutionary line from being shortlisted to the two-book deal I signed.” The decision to take a week off work and write 3000 words for the competition he said, “would go on to change my life.

Created in 1955, the CWA Daggers are the oldest and most regarded awards in the genre, and for over two decades the CWA has been encouraging new writing with its Debut Dagger competition for unpublished writers.

The Debut Dagger is awarded every year by the CWA for the opening of a crime novel and a synopsis. Budding authors are invited to submit the opening 3,000 words and a synopsis of the full novel of up to 1,500 words before the competition deadline of Tuesday 28 February, 2023.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the CWA, said: “The winner of the Debut Dagger receives £500, but the main motivation to enter is that shortlisting ensures that your work will be brought to the attention of leading agents and top editors, who have to date signed up over two dozen winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors.

Submissions are judged using a range of criteria including quality of prose, originality of plot, execution of plot, narrative voice, plausibility, characterisation, setting evocation, and good read factor.

From the hundreds of entries from around the world, around a dozen will be longlisted in April 2023. Longlisted authors are asked to submit a further 3,000 words from their novel. The shortlist is announced at CrimeFest in May 2023, and the winner at the Daggers event held in early July.

Judges comprise top crime fiction editors and literary agents, as well as bestselling author, Leigh Russell, who chairs the Debut Dagger competition.

The competition is only open to writers who have never had a publishing contract for fiction over 20,000 words, or self-published fiction more recently than February 2018. Authors of published short stories are eligible, as are authors of published non-fiction.

Also now open for entries is the annual CWA Margery Allingham Short Mystery Competition. Entrants have until Tuesday 28 February 2023 to enter.

The Margery Allingham Society, set up to honour and promote the writings of the great Golden Age author, works with the CWA to run the writing competition. Submissions have a limit of 3,500 words and stories must pay homage to the author’s definition of a mystery. The winner is awarded £500 and two passes to CrimeFest the following year.

Dea Parkin, Secretary of the CWA and competitions co-ordinator, said: “Crime continues to dominate as a fiction genre, and whether it’s celebrity authors such as Richard Osman or established, much-loved writers such as Elly Griffiths who make the headlines, crime and mystery stories are a key touchstone now for publishers. This short story competition is a fantastic way of developing your crime-writing craft and raising your profile.

Whether you’re writing suspenseful psychological noir, historical crime or traditional whodunnits, the trend has resulted in hit books in the genre from authors such as Nicola Upson, Martin Edwards and Vaseem Khan.

Dea added: “These stories provide familiarity and comfort in an uncertain world as they offer clues, great characters and locations, with the mystery solved in the end and justice served.”

For writing tips, case studies of shortlisted and winning Debut Dagger entrants, and full details on how to enter both writing competitions, go to To receive a regular enewsletter in the run-up to the deadline, join the Debuts

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Keep it in the Family Q & A with John Marrs

 Q:- In your own words, tell us a little about Keep It in the Family.

A:- It follows a young married couple, Finn and Mia, who buy a property that needs much renovation work. However, when pregnant Mia begins decorating the nursery, she find a message etched into the skirting boards. It reads, ‘I will save them from the attic.’ Together with her fractious in-laws, they go into the attic and discover it’s much smaller than the floorplan suggests – there’s a hidden room that has been bricked up. And inside, they find seven suitcases, each with a pile of children’s clothes in front of them. The novel is told from four perspectives, along with the person responsible for the secrets the house is hiding. 

Q:- The core idea of the book came to you in a dream. Would you be able to expand upon that? 

A:- It was literally just that. I’ve had dreams before with story ideas and I’ve woken up, telling myself I’ll remember them in the morning but failing to do so. I’ve also other dreams that seemed amazing at 3am but in the cold light of day, they’re just awful! For this book, I dreamed about a couple who bought a house and found suitcases in the loft complete with piles of clothing in front of them. I woke myself up, dictated it into my phone and fell back to sleep. Two days later I remembered vaguely dreaming about a plot, checked it my notes section and thought ‘I might be on to something here.’ By the end of the week, I had my entire story and characters mapped out. 

Q:- You’ve explored disturbed family relations in some of your previous books, including What Lies Between Us. What is it about this that you are keen to explore?

A:- I think I enjoy writing about twisted family relationships because the lives and experiences of my characters are so far removed from my own. My mum and dad were together until my father died 18 years ago, I’m happily married with a wonderful almost-three-year old. My life is nothing like those I write about. I like putting my cast through the wringer, making them suffer and seeing what comes out the other side for them. Some learn from their mistakes, others don’t. Maybe I’m living vicariously through them and and working out how far I’d need to be pushed before I reach breaking point.

Q:- Children are often in danger in your books. As a parent yourself, can this be hard to write about? 

A:- I purposefully don’t go into any great detail about what happens to the children in this book. I hope I give the reader just enough for them to use their own imagination and decide the hows and wherefores. What I found most disturbing was a book I read when researching what it must be like to have a killer in the family. Love As Always, Mum by Fred and Rosemary West’s daughter Mae is more disturbing than any fictional story a writer could come up with.

Q:- The early days of parenthood are so vividly drawn in Keep It In The Family. Did you draw on your own experience of fatherhood? 

A:- For some parts, yes. Our son was born two months prematurely, like Mia’s baby, and he spent the first month of his life in hospital. So I drew on experience of what a worrying time that was for my characters. He is now three so those sleepless lights, self-doubt, panic and apprehension you’re doing it all wrong are still very fresh in my mind! But to be honest, he’s been a great little lad and has made it relatively easy for us. 

Q:- Covid and lockdown make a couple of appearances. Why did you choose to include references to the pandemic, and how challenging was the experience of writing during lockdown? 

A:- I don’t think I could pretend it hadn’t happened, particularly with the dates this book was set in. But I didn’t want it to take precedence over the story. I didn’t include Covid at all in my original drafts, but my editor persuaded me to change my mind. It was the right thing to do or it would be like setting a book in the late 1940s and failing to mention World War 2. Its omittance would have stood out more than its inclusion. 

Q:- You write both speculative fiction and crime thrillers. What’s the process of writing them – do you write both simultaneously, or do you alternate?

A:- I alternate. But I usually have three books on the go at any one time. The one I have just started, the one I’m working on rewrites for with my editor, and the plotting out of the next. I am fortunate to be able to write two different styles of novel for two different publishers who are very patient with each other! So I’m able to alternate books – a speculative for one publisher and then a crime thriller for the next. My brain is constantly buzzing.

Q:- The One was adapted for Netflix last year. How has this changed your life? 

A:- On a day-to-day basis, I don’t know if it has really. But it has perhaps made me more widely known than I was and it’s helped to sell a lot more copies of The One. And as a result, my back catalogue sales have also expanded. Another result has been a project I’ve been working on for my social media channels. I started approaching other authors I didn’t know personally but admired, asking them to take part in my 60 Second Interview challenge on Instagram. And it surprised me how many said yes, and how many of them had heard of me through the Netflix series. So it’s opened up doors that way. I’ve also since had three other books optioned by different production companies so fingers crossed something might happen with them too. It was a very surreal time through, watching on television something I created in my head one evening on the way home from work, then becoming the number one most watched show in the world on Netflix that week. 

Keep It in The Family by John Marrs (Thomas & Mercer) Out Now

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home. At last, they’ll be able to move out of Finn’s parents’ house and start living alone. In the midst of this, Mia falls unexpectedly pregnant, adding a sense of urgency to the renovations. But just as the house is nearly ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following this clue up to the eaves, the couple are shocked to find that their dream home was once a house of horrors. In the wake of the traumatic discovery, their baby arrives early. Plagued by nightmares and struggling with motherhood, Mia becomes increasingly obsessed with the terrible crimes that happened in what was to be their new home. Maybe once she uncovers the truth, she’ll be able to focus on her new baby boy Sonny. But in doing so, she is alienating her husband, and risking the fragile relationship between her and in-laws. Meanwhile, the terrible secrets the house has revealed are not confined to the past. A murderer is watching, and waiting for the perfect moment to strike... Mia will do anything to protect her son, but is it already too late? 

More information about John Marrs and his work can be found on his website. You can also find him on Facebook, On Twitter @johnmarrs1 and on Instagram

Saturday 8 October 2022

In Memoriam - Peter Robinson

 In Memoriam

Peter Robinson (17 March 1950 – 4 October 2022)

Copyright Hodder& Stoughton

The crime fiction community have been shocked to hear of the death of Peter Robinson that happened on 4th October 2022 after a short illiness. Peter Robinson was a great crime writer and his DCI Alan Banks series had legion of fans. He was also a great writer of short stories.

The statement from his publishers Hodder & Stoughton can be read here. The Guardian newspaper also have a piece on Peter Robinson that can be read here, the BBC here and also the Globe and Mail

The DCI Banks series were adapted into an ITV series with Stephen Tompkinson, which ran from 2011 to 2017. His 2001 novel Aftermath was the basis for the poilot.

In 2017 Hodder and Stoughton celebrated 30 years of Peter Robinson and DCI Alan Banks with a month long celebration of events.

A number of his books and short stories have been nominated for awards worldwide. The first novel in the series Gallows View (1987) was short-listed for the John Creasey Award in the UK and the Crime Writers of Canada best first novel award. The fifth Inspector Banks novel, Past Reason Hated, won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 1992.

Innocent Graves which was published in 1996 was also nominated for a Hammett Award by the International Association of Crime Writers, and also won the Arthur Ellis Award.

In 1990 his short story Innocence won an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story. His short Story The Two Ladies of Rose Cottage won a Macavity Award and was also nominated for both an Agatha and an Arthur Ellis Award.  Murder in Uptopia won Peter Robinson his fifth Arthur Ellis Award in 2001. 

In A Dry Season won the Anthony Award and Barry Award for Best Novel and was nominated for the Edgar, Hammett, Macavity and Arthur Ellis Awards in 2000. In 2001 it went on to win the France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award.  Cold is the Grave, (2000) won the Arthur Ellis Award and was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. In 2006 it won the Danish Palle Rosenkrantz Award.

Peter was awarded an Edgar Award in 2020 for the Best Short Story Missing in Action. He also won a CWA Dagger in the Library in 2002.

Peter Robinson © Ayo Onatade
For three succesive years he was also nominated for a Macavity Award in 2005 for Playing With Fire, 2006 for Strange Affair and 2007 for Piece of my Heart. His 2013 book Before the Poison was a Dilys Award winner for Best Book and also Golden Crowbar (formerly Martin Beck) Award from the Swedish Crime Writers. In 2008 he won the Crimespree Magazine Award for best on-going series. 

In 2014 he also won awards in Finland for body of work and in 2016 the Great Calibre Award for body of work. Portal Kryminalny.(Poland) In 2006 he became a member of the illustrious Dectection Club.

In 2013 Peter Robinson gave a paper at St Hilda's Crime and Mystery Conference where he gave a paper on the increased popularity of true crime cases.

In 2020, he was granted the Grand Master Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, having previously been given their Derrick Murdoch Award in 2010. His books have been published in 25 countries.

Ayo and Peter Robinson © Ayo Onatade

Peter Robinson was a firm favourite with the Shots team and reviewers. Over the years the books have been consistently been reviewed and it is clear that they have been firm favourites with readers.

My abiding memory of Peter that will stay with me was his generosity. A number of years ago I found myself in Richmond, North Yorkshire visiting my judge Lady Hale. I can't remember how we found out that we would both be in Richmond at the same time but I found myself spending a very pleasant afternoon with Peter and his wife Sheila in their garden chatting away and being plied with food and drink. It was such an enjoyable vist and one that I will treasure.

His passing is a great loss to so many; his family, authors and readers. He will be sorely missed.

The latest Book in the series Standing in the Shadows is due to be published in 2023.

Standing in the Shadows by Peter Robinson (Hodder & Stoughton) Published 30 March 2023

Late November, 1980. English student Nick Hartley returns from a lecture to find his house full of police. He soon discovers that his ex-girlfriend has been found murdered in a nearby park, and her new boyfriend is missing. Nick quickly realises he is a suspect as he has no convincing alibi, but Nick has his own suspicions . . . Meanwhile, in late November 2019, an archeological dig near Scotch Corner unearths a skeleton that turns out to be far more recent than the Roman remains she is looking for. Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called in, and the investigation into the find begins but there is little to be gleaned from the remains themselves. Left with few clues, Banks and his team must rely on their wits to hunt down a killer. As the two cases unfurl, the investigations twist and turn to an explosive conclusion.

Thursday 6 October 2022

The Killing of Lord George by Karl Shaw

Our great period in murder’ wrote George Orwell, in an essay published in 1946, “our Elizabethan period, so to speak, seems to have been between roughly 1850 and 1925, and the murderers whose reputation has stood the test of time are the following: Dr Palmer of Rugeley, Jack the Ripper, Neill Cream, Mrs Maybrick, Dr Crippen, Seddon, Joseph Smith, Armstrong, and Bywaters and Thompson.” 

It was midway during the latter third of this period in 1911 that an alleged murder tookplace that I have spent the best part of three years researching and writing about.

My project didn’t at all start out that way. I thought I was doing what I usually do, writing about social history. My subject was a gentleman who was once a showbiz celebrity. He was known to the world as Lord George Sanger but he didn’t have a drop of blue blood in his veins. Chances are you’ve never heard of him but for more than half a century he was Britain’s most popular and most successful entertainer and at the time of his death he was venerated as a national institution. He was the seventh child of a penny peep-showman. At the age of five he was a fairground spieler and by his early teens he was running a one-man travelling show. During his life on the road he endured great hardship and was at the receiving end of some of the worst prejudices Victorian society could muster, lumped together with vagabonds, gypsies and Jews. He became a magician, married a lion tamer, reinvented himself as a circus proprietor and his name was soon known in every corner of the British Isles. Just as PT Barnum ruled the world of popular entertainment in America, for more than half a century, Sanger was the biggest brand in British show business.

In 1911, a few weeks short of his 86th birthday, George Sanger died violently in his home in North London. It was considered one of the most callous murders in the English criminal calendar and was one of the news sensations of the Edwardian age. Within a week Sanger’s brutal slaying was making headlines from New York to New Zealand. It read like a popular crime thriller: a crazed, merciless killer, a famous victim, a desperate manhunt and a sensational ending. 

When I set out to research George Sanger it was to write a book about his extraordinary life and career and I hadn’t thought much at all about his death other than that it seemed like a very strange and tragic post-script. I didnt anticipate anything revelatory. It was only when I tracked down the old police case files and transcripts of the inquest into his death that I realised I had a genuine historical murder mystery on my hands.

Is it ever really possible to investigate something that took place more than 110 years ago? Certainly it presents many challenges and it depends how good the source material is. My starting point was George Sanger’s memoir, a hugely entertaining work and an important piece of social history in its own right. Unfortunately George was a born story-teller, overly fond of self-mythologising and it threw up quite few red herrings, but at least some of what he wrote tallies with the historical record. The details of his death were also very widely reported in the press but were never properly tested in a criminal court. By comparing accounts in national and local newspapers it is possible to construct an accurate record of the police investigation as it was seen through the eyes of the Edwardian public. The coroner’s records are also preserved in the National Archives in Kew and the London Metropolitan Archive in Farringdon and these also give us a very decent chance of unlocking the mystery. Most fortunately of all, the Metropolitan police were sticklers at preserving anything that came across their desk connected to potential murder enquiries and these too are kept at Kew. It was my first time at the Archives and I’ve been back there many times since. It truly is a fantastic resource and we’re very lucky to have it. Thanks to the NA, using original evidence, witness statements and police documents, I believe I have been able to reconstruct the events leading to George Sanger’s death, and like so much of his life, nothing was quite what it seemed.

The Killing of Lord George by Karl Shaw (Icon Books) Out Now

The Life and Death of a 19th Century Circus Legend. On 28 November 1911 a retired showman died violently at his home in North London. Known to the world as Lord George Sanger, he was once the biggest name in show business, and was venerated as a national institution.

The death of Britain's wealthiest showman read like a popular crime thriller: a merciless killer; a famous victim; sensational media headlines; a desperate manhunt laced with police incompetencies and a dramatic denouement few could have anticipated. But for over a century, questions have persisted about the murder.

Weaving in the story of George's rise to fame and the history of Britain's entertainment industry, The Killing of Lord George uses previously unpublished archive material to reconstruct the events leading up to the death and reveal the true story behind the brutal crime that shocked Edwardian England.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Maxim Jakubowski on Black is the Night


It actually began with a shot.

An imposing cathedral somewhere in the French provinces. A happy couple on the steps leaving the ceremony behind, smiles on their faces, the bride wearing the obligatory white. And then the shot breaks up the cheering crowd and the groom collapses to the floor.

It was Paris in 1968 and my first encounter with Cornell Woolrich, the week that François Truffaut's 'La Mariée Etait en Noir' opened. A film classic better known here as 'The Bride Wore Black', adapted from the unforgettable novel by Cornell Woolrich.

At first it was a little confusing as, having been brought up in France, I hadn't made the connection between Woolrich and William Irish, a pseudonym he used on a number of books and short stories, and which French publishers somehow had highlighted on the majority of his books issued there. I had probably read a number of his stories in magazines, probably those of a more supernatural bent as I was at the time more of an expert on SF &fantasy and hadn't immediately puzzled out the Irish/Woolrich connection. To this day his books are generally signed by William Irish in France. An oddity of the French publishing scene where, similarly the wonderful novels by my dear, late friend Derek Raymond, are attributed to his real name, Robin Cook (as the US writer of medical chillers is almost unknown there...).

At any rate, this was my introduction to the dark world of death, broken love and melancholy loners that is characteristic of Woolrich.

He is an author's author. The general public mostly know him because of the many film and TV adaptations: 'Phantom Lady', 'Rear Window', Mississippi Mermaid', 'I Married a Dead Man', 'Black Angel', 'Deadline at Dawn', 'Night has a Thousand Eyes', 'Union City', and over 50 others.

Flash forward 20 years and I decide to launch Black Box Thrillers, a new imprint to rediscover some of the classics of noir, much inspired by the fact that so many wonderful US authors appear to be better known in Europe and are mostly out of print in their own language. And my first choice is, naturally, Woolrich. By now I have read all his books and a good chunk of his hundreds of stories and I am not just a fan but, with my own writing hat on, heavily under his influence.

He 'talks' to me; over the gulf of years we share some of the same obsessions: the cloak of night, the breathless passage of time that none of us can halt, the seductiveness of the femme fatale who we know is bad for us but can't stop lusting after, the downbeat endings, the strong sense of despair that life sometimes throws in our path.

I have no doubt that had I not read Woolrich (and a few other noir poets of the night like Marc Behm, David Goodis and Jim Thompson) I might have not begun writing crime & mystery and remained in the SF & fantasy ghetto. So, you know who to blame!

A Sunday dim sum lunch with Nick Landau and Vivien Cheung of the Titan group and my erstwhile silent partners in Murder One saw us brainstorming ideas for some new projects for Titan Books to follow up on the anthologies I had edited for them and which had performed reasonably well. Somehow the subject of Woolrich came up in the conversation as Nick is as much of a classic film fan as I am.

There have been a spate of recent anthologies with American small presses featuring stories influenced by the music of many luminaries: Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffett, etc... Lightning struck Baker Street (which is where the restaurant we were dining in was...)! Why not do the same with influential writers? We agreed on the spot Woolrich would be the first (I have since followed up with a similar book under the halo of J.G. Ballard, which will appear in 2023).

There were crime authors I knew who shared my passion for Woolrich which I approached and every single one came on board without a moment's hesitation. Then I mentioned the project on social media and was deluged by fervent expressions of interest. Some writers I would never have dreamed of contacting, others whose work does not on the surface appear to have any connection with Woolrich but were adamant in expressing how important he was for them. I had an embarrassment of potential contributors to the anthology and had to turn down so many with a heavy heart. And then there were dozens of speculative submissions; two of which actually made it into the final book.

I am absolutely delighted by the volume that came together. Truly marvellous stories, each and every one flying high under one aspect or another of the melancholy and murderous world that Cornell Woolrich created. Not imitations, but tales that are in his image, some that reflect twists on his themes, others that ingeniously transpose his world into contemporary times without losing the essential poignancy that lies at the heart of his work, every one a winner.

I have now edited, for good or worse, well over a hundred anthologies but 'Black is the Night' is undoubtedly in my Top 5.

Black is the Night edited by Maxim Maxim Jakubowski (Titan Books) Out Now

A gritty and thrilling anthology of 28 new short stories in tribute to pulp noir master, Cornell Woolrich, author of 'Rear Window' that inspired Alfred Hitchock's classic film. Featuring Neil Gaiman, Kim Newman, James Sallis, A.K. Benedict, USA Today-bestseller Samantha Lee Howe, Joe R. Lansdale and many more. An anthology of exclusive new short stories in tribute to the master of pulp era crime writing, Cornell Woolrich. Woolrich, also published as William Irish and George Hopley, stands with Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett as a legend in the genre. He is a hugely influential figure for crime writers, and is also remembered through the 50+ films made from his novels and stories, including Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, I Married a Dead Man, Phantom Lady, Truffaut's La Sirene du Mississippi, and Black Alibi. Collected and edited by one of the most experienced editors in the field, Maxim Jakubowski, features original work from: Neil Gaiman, Joel Lane, Joe R. Lansdale, Vaseem Khan, Brandon Barrows, Tara Moss, Kim Newman, Nick Mamatas, Mason Cross, Martin Edwards, Donna Moore, James Grady, Lavie Tidhar, Barry N. Malzberg, James Sallis, A.K. Benedict, Warren Moore, Max Decharne, Paul Di Filippo, M.W. Craven, Charles Ardai, Susi Holliday, Bill Pronzini, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Maxim Jakubowski, Joseph S. Walker, Samantha Lee Howe, O'Neil De Noux , David Quantick, Ana Teresa Pereira, William Boyle

Monday 3 October 2022

Ragnar Jonasson and Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland jointly write crime novel to be published by Penguin Michael Joseph


Penguin Michael Joseph acquires REYKJAVIK by Ragnar Jonasson and Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland

Penguin Michael Joseph has acquired Reykjavik by Ragnar Jonasson and Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.

Publisher Maxine Hitchcock and senior commissioning editor Rebecca Hilsdon acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from David Headley at DHH Literary Agency. PMJ have previously published OutsideThe Girl Who Died, and the Hidden Iceland trilogy, all authored by Jonasson alone.

Ragnar Jonasson is the first Icelandic author to become a Sunday Times bestseller and has been described as ‘a world-class crime writer’ by The Sunday Times and ‘a landmark in modern crime fiction’ by The Times. Worldwide, he has sold over 3m copies, and is a number one bestseller in France, Germany, Australia, and his native Iceland. 

Katrin Jakobsdóttir has been Prime Minster of Iceland since 2017. Hailing from a family of prominent Icelandic poets and academics, she wrote her Master’s dissertation on Icelandic crime writing. She and Jonasson are longtime friends, who first worked together nearly ten years ago as part of the jury for an award for best crime fiction in translation in Iceland.

Reykjavik is a dual-narrative crime novel, following two strands of a mystery 30 years apart. In August 1956, a 14-year-old girl called Lara disappears from the island of Vidney,  just off the coast of Reykjavik – and becomes Iceland’s most infamous unsolved case. In 1986, as Reykjavik celebrates its 200th anniversary tabloid journalist Valur digs into her death.

Ragnar Jonasson said: ‘In early 2020 I had lunch with Katrin Jakobsdóttir, Iceland's Prime Minister, and suggested that it might be fun writing a crime novel together. We have really enjoyed working on this story, set in Iceland in the 1950s and 1980s, and are looking forward to sharing it with readers. It's been a dream come true to work with Penguin in recent years, and I am so excited that they will be bringing this story to a wider audience, with the help of our wonderful translator Vicky Cribb.

Katrin Jakobsdóttir said: ‘It was a real pleasure and a thrill to write this crime novel set in Iceland in the year 1986 with my friend Ragnar Jónasson. When the world is full of extreme challenges it can be quite beneficial for the soul to stay for a moment in a fictional world belonging to another era and write about sordid crimes.

Maxine Hitchcock said: We are so delighted to have another incredibly atmospheric and thrilling novel from Ragnar Jonasson -who is fast becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed crime novelists - and to welcome Katrin Jakobsdóttir to Penguin Michael Joseph. Both Ragnar and Katrin are devoted aficionados of the crime genre and combining their voices has added up to a novel that will enthral readers across the globe. The publication of REYKJAVIK will be a true event.’

Reykjavik will be published in the UK in August 2023.

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 Sriya Varadharajan at