Tuesday 29 November 2022

Forthcoming books from Verve Books

February 2023 

Cut A Drift is by Jane Jesmond. Risk everything, trust no one. Jen Shaw is climbing in the mountains near Alajar, Spain. And it's nothing to do with the fact that an old acquaintance suggested that she meet him there... But when things don't go as planned and her brother calls to voice concerns over the whereabouts of their mother, Morwenna, Jen finds herself travelling to a refugee camp on the south coast of Malta. Free-spirited and unpredictable as ever, Morwenna is working with a small NGO, helping her Libyan friend, Nahla, seek asylum for her family. Jen is instantly out of her depth, surrounded by stories of unimaginable suffering and increasing tensions within the camp. Within hours of Jen's arrival, Nahla is killed in suspicious circumstances, and Jen and Morwenna find themselves responsible for the safety of her daughters. But what if the safest option is to leave on a smuggler's boat?

March 2023

By Way of Sorrow is by Robyn Gigl. Erin McCabe has been referred the biggest case of her career. Four months ago, William E. Townsend Jr, son of aNew Jersey State Senator, was found fatally stabbed in a rundown motel near Atlantic City. Sharise Barnes, a nineteen year-old transgender sex worker, is in custody, and given the evidence, there seems little doubt of a guilty verdict.As a trans woman herself, Erin knows that defending Sharise will blow her own private life wide open and doubtless deepen her estrangement from her family. Yet she feels uniquely qualified to help Sharise and duty-bound to protecther from the possibility of a death sentence. Because Sharise admits she killed the senator's son - in self-defense.As Erin works with her law partner, former FBI agent Duane Swisher, to build a case, Senator Townsend begins usingthe full force of his prestige and connections to publicly discredit everyone involved in defending Sharise. And behindthe scenes, his tactics are even more dangerous. For his son had secrets that could destroy the Senator's own political aspirations – secrets worth killing for.

April 2023

Wish You Were Here is by Nicola Monaghan. DNA doesn't lie. But what if the truth is dangerous? DNA expert Dr Sian Love has settled into running her own investigative agency and living with her partner, Kris. She's also started seeing a therapist to work through her traumatic past - a big step for Sian. Her life threatens to descend into chaos again when a teenage girl shows up at her office claiming to be Courtney Johnson - a child who went missing in Nottingham over fifteen years ago - but refusing to let Sian test her DNA. Wary but intrigued, Sian reluctantly revives the undercover skills she learned during her days as a police officer and begins investigating. But revisiting the past has consequences...

November 2023

A Secret may be kept if , if all but one are dead. 1957 a catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen year old Wilif is working for the summer. A Secret may be kept if , if all but one are dead. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs. 2017. Phiney is schocked when her grandfather, Wilif dies after jumping from the bridge at Tile Hile Station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness. Left in utter disbelief, with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It's soon clear that that these two events sixty years apart, are connected – and that Wilf is not the only casualty. But what is the link? And can they find out before their own lives are lost. A Quiet Contagion is by Jane Jesmond.

December 2023

Attorney and LGBTQ+ activist Robyn Gigl tackles the complexities of gender, power, public perception, and human trafficking with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot in her second legal thriller featuring Erin McCabe, a protagonist who, like the author, is a transgender attorney. Now she and her law partner are drawn into a dark world of offshore bank accounts, computer hacking, murder, and the devastating impact of sexual abuse... At first, the death of millionaire businessman Charles Parsons seems like a straightforward suicide. There's no sign of forced entry or struggle in his lavish New Jersey mansion--just a single gunshot wound from his own weapon. But days later, a different story emerges. Computer techs pick up a voice recording that incriminates Parsons' adoptive daughter, Ann, who duly confesses and pleads guilty. Erin McCabe has little interest in reviewing such a slam-dunk case--even after she has a mysterious meeting with one of the investigating detectives, who reveals that Ann, like Erin, is a trans woman. Yet despite their misgivings, Erin and her law partner, Duane Swisher, ultimately can't ignore the pieces that don't fit. As their investigation deepens, Erin and Swish convince Ann to withdraw her guilty plea. But Ann clearly knows more than she's willing to share, even if it means a life sentence. Who is she protecting, and why? Fighting against time and a prosecutor hell-bent on notching another conviction, the two work tirelessly--Erin inside the courtroom, Swish in the field--to clear Ann's name. But despite Parsons' former associates' determination to keep his--and their own--illegal activities buried, a horrifying truth emerges--a web of human exploitation, unchecked greed, and murder. Soon, a quest to see justice served becomes a desperate struggle to survive. Survivors Guilt is by Robyn Gigl

Monday 28 November 2022

December Books from Bookouture

Her Deadly Promise is by Carla Kovach. Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again… Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath. Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship… Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back… Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument… When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?

The body lay in the river, arms outstretched. Long brown hair swirled in all directions, flowing with the current of the water. Her eyes were wide open in death, pale pink lips parted in a scream. Detective Ellie Reeves should be enjoying the wedding of her dear friend Mia Norman. But instead of celebrating, she is frantically searching for the missing bride. Something is terribly wrong—just hours ago, Mia was blissfully happy. Why would she suddenly vanish? Bursting through the dressing room, Ellie finds it in disarray—chairs overturned, a perfume bottle shattered. Hiding in the bathroom is Mia’s six-year-old daughter Pixie, curled in a ball and sobbing her heart out. The little girl says she was locked inside when she heard a man’s voice, and her mother crying. “I just want my mommy back,” she pleads. Ellie vows to make that happen. Turning the venue upside down, Ellie’s blood turns to ice when she reaches the riverbank. Someone is dead in the rippling water, floating beside a white veil. Ellie holds her breath as she turns the body over. It belongs to Tori, Mia’s bridesmaid, a gunshot wound in her back. Near the murder scene, Ellie discovers a button from a man’s shirt, and her friend’s engagement ring. The race is on to find Mia—before it’s too late. When forensics come back, the investigation takes a dark turn. DNA proves that Mia was actually Jesse Habersham, a woman who went missing five years ago. Ellie is certain that Mia was running from someone. Did her past finally catch up with her? Facing the most complex case of her career, Ellie is in a race against time. Can she uncover the truth before her friend is brutally killed? And when the murderer comes after innocent little Pixie, will Ellie save her from the clutches of death? The Girl in the River is by Rita Herron.

Death at Beresford Hall is by Emma Davies. Francesca Eve, chef, caterer, and baker extraordinaire, has never desired the limelight. But when she’s accepted onto the country’s favourite cooking competition, she can’t help but wonder – what would it be like to win? The one thing she’d never imagined, though, was sharing the kitchen with a killer… When Francesca Eve arrives for the Christmas special of the country’s most popular baking competition, she knows she’s out of her depth. For not only is she there undercover, reluctantly investigating strange threats to Miranda Appleby, the famous presenter-come-chef, but she swiftly gets roped into competing herself when another contestant can’t cut the mustard and quits. Cooking may be bread and butter to Fran, but under the bright lights her cranberry sauce won’t set and her mince pies burn. When the real reason she’s there ends in total failure and Miranda is found with a cake slice through the heart - ‘lights, camera, cook’ becomes ‘lights, camera, murder…’ Miranda may have looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but looks can be deceiving… From her harassed PA to the rakish producer and even the disappointed contestants, everyone on set seemingly had reason enough to want to bump her off. But who would be nuts enough to cook Miranda’s goose in such an obvious way? As the police arrive to take over the investigation, Fran can’t help but continue her own lines of enquiry. She’s come to know the crew and contestants and can’t believe that any one of them would be guilty. But Fran must harden her heart to her new friends and focus her mind. Someone may have thought Miranda was justifiably given her just desserts, but what Fran uncovers takes things to a whole new tier. Can Fran uncover the truth before another death occurs, and before the spirit of Christmas (cake) is ruined forever?

A perfect mother. A loving daughter. A secret that could destroy them both. When I walk into my small family home after a long day at work, I find my mother in the living room, playing happily with my precious baby son, and my heart begins to race. I’ve imagined this moment a thousand times. Who wouldn’t want their mother to meet their first grandchild? But I haven’t seen my mother for years, and there’s a good reason… My son’s laughter and my husband’s tired eyes convince me to let her stay – give her another chance – and soon I start to soften. She’s so good with my little boy, and we appreciate the extra pair of hands. But then one terrible night, I have to make a call no mother wants to make. As I clutch my boy going limp in my arms, waiting for the ambulance, I have to ask if I was wrong to trust my mother, or if I’ve misunderstood everything entirely… Her First Child is by Sheryl Browne.

Chase Her Shadow is by D K Hood. She wakes suddenly. Dawn is still hours away, but through the window of her log cabin in the woods, something moves in the distance. A lone figure in the forest. Her blood runs cold as the shadow begins to walk slowly toward her… It’s Halloween in Black Rock Falls and Sheriff Jenna Alton and her deputy David Kane are called to a small lodge on the outskirts of town. Jenna is devastated to find the lifeless body of Willow Smith, a military widow whose husband went missing in action and has been presumed dead for years. Her breath catches in her throat when she notices the heart-shaped purple medal on Willow’s pale chest. Was Willow clinging to it when she died, or was it placed there after she took her last breath? Desperately chasing down every lead, Jenna hears that Willow had been receiving silent phone calls in the dead of night. Witnesses say Willow thought her missing husband was trying to make contact. Wishful thinking of a lonely wife consumed with grief, or a heartless killer hoping to terrify her? Days later, another woman’s body is found at the bottom of a perilous ravine. Jenna’s worst fear is confirmed the moment she spots a purple medal: a dangerous serial killer is preying on the wives of soldiers from the same platoon, and if she doesn’t act fast, more lives will be at risk. The key lies in discovering what happened to the missing soldiers, and whether any of them made it back alive. But, separated from her team in a secluded forest, Jenna hears a branch snap behind her. She is not alone. Will she be the next victim of a twisted trained soldier on the loose? And how many more grieving widows will have their lives snatched before he’s caught?

Candles are lit and their rich vanilla scent twists its way through the cabin. The table is set for a romantic anniversary dinner with fresh roses dropping crimson petals on crisp white linen. But the woman seated at the table is cold to the touch, and there’s blood trickling down her neck… When Denton’s most loved TV presenter returns home to find his wife dead at the dining table, it shatters the close-knit community. Beautiful and absolutely besotted with each other, Beau and Claudia Collins were idolized for being the perfect couple. But the devastating scene Detective Josie Quinn finds in their remote hideaway has her asking what dark secrets lurk beneath the surface of this seemingly flawless marriage? Beau is grief-stricken by the loss of his kind-hearted wife who gave so much to others as a therapist, but Josie needs to know the significance of the small wooden puzzle box found clutched in Claudia’s hand. A prop in a popular game Beau played with his viewers to test the strength of their relationships, is it a twisted calling card, or a challenge from the killer? The broken body of one of Beau and Claudia’s assistants is found the next day, a matching little box left in the dirt beside her. It’s clear that if Beau doesn’t start telling the truth about the flaws in his marriage, those dearest to him will die. Caught in a cat and mouse chase with disturbing revelations and a mounting body count at every turn, Josie and her team work night and day to keep Beau’s loved ones safe. What kind of calculating monster would do this? A faded newspaper article about a tragic accident is the break Josie desperately needs. But she may already be too late, an innocent child is in danger… The Innocent Wife is by Lisa Regan.

Her Fight is by Emma Tallon. Scarlet Drew is hellbent on getting revenge on her cousin Ruby after she exposed Scarlet’s illicit affair with a Met detective. Scarlet fears she’ll never see her boyfriend again now he’s in hiding, and she wants to make Ruby pay. With all her focus on Ruby, Scarlet fails to notice an old enemy rearing its ugly head. Trapped in an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of London with her aunt Lily, she realises too late the danger they’re in, and that someone has been feeding their most dangerous rival information – someone from inside the family firm… As the Drews face their most deadly fight yet, they know that with just one wrong move, their entire world could come crashing down. Can they catch the mole working alongside them? And when Scarlet finally gets her hands on Ruby, will she get the revenge she’s been waiting for?

They are picture perfect. A young, happy family sat around the kitchen table. But no one moves as wisps of smoke filter into the room and the house becomes a burning grave around them… When reports come in of a family trapped in a burning house, Detective Morgan Brookes rushes to the scene. But as soon as she enters the ruined home, she is devastated by what she finds. Tied to the kitchen table, Sally and David Lawson, and their young son, had no chance of escaping the flames and the smoke… Neighbours all agree the Lawsons were the perfect family, and CCTV shows nothing suspicious. Morgan’s only clue is the silver crucifix necklace around Sally’s neck. Because according to friends, she wasn’t religious. Was someone passing divine judgement on this mother and her family? Focusing on Sally’s last steps, Morgan gets the breakthrough she needs – just days ago Sally had confided in a friend that she felt someone was watching her. And when Morgan finds photos of Sally on her neighbour Luke’s phone, all the pieces slot together. Only then another local woman reports feeling watched. Nothing seems to link her to Luke, but Morgan can’t ignore it. Could the killer still be out there? Going deeper into Sally’s past and uncovering the killer’s motivations is her only chance to save more innocent lives, but can she solve the twisted puzzle in time? Their Burning Graves is by Helen Phifer.


Sunday 27 November 2022

Forthcoming books from Datura (Angry Robots Books)

 February 2023

Death of a Dancing Queen is by Kimberley G Giarratano. After her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Billie Levine revamped her grandfather’s private investigation firm and set up shop in the corner booth of her favorite New Jersey deli, hoping the free pickles and flexible hours would allow her to take care of her mom and pay the bills. So when Tommy Russo, a rich college student with a nasty drug habit, offers her a stack of cash to find his missing girlfriend who is also the co-host of the true-crime podcast Murder Girls - how can she refuse? At first, Billie thinks this will be an easy job, but then her missing person's case turns into a murder investigation… and Tommy becomes the detective bureau’s number one suspect. Suddenly Billie is embroiled in a deadly gang war that’s connected to the decades-old disappearance of Starla Wells, a famous cabaret dancer, with ties to both an infamous Jewish mob and a skinhead group. Toss in the reappearance of Billie’s handsome ex-boyfriend with his own rap sheet, and she is regretting every decision that got her to this point. Becoming a P.I. was supposed to solve her problems; but if Billie doesn’t crack this case, the next body the police dredge out of the Hudson River will be hers.

April 2023

When her missing husband is presumed dead in a fiery car crash, a charismatic actress must find out the truth in this addictive domestic thriller that will keep readers on edge. Sophie is an aspiring British Pakistani actress whose only claim to fame – despite her unscrupulous ambitions – is the unplanned on-camera birth of her son, a clip which has become a cult favorite on the Bollywood movie scene. Her husband, Tariq, is a pillar of the neighborhood’s Muslim community and her perfect match, until his sudden disappearance under mysterious circumstances. When a body is found, but disfigured in a way that makes identification difficult, Sophie is utterly distraught. Tariq was her ‘third time lucky husband’. Her first marriage to Amir, her childhood sweetheart, was cut short, and her rebound marriage to doting Faraz, a recent immigrant to the UK and obsessed with the Royal Family, was even shorter lived. Is Sophie just unlucky or is there more to her than meets the eye? Secrets from the past start to surface when threatening letters appear and questions arise around Tariq’s untimely death. Sophie is guilty of something, but is it murder? Spider is by Amza Dar

June 2023

Mother Howl is by Craig Clevenger and is a compelling literary crime that follows the son of a serial murderer who changes his identity in a bid to escape his past. Sixteen-year-old Lyle Edison recognizes the face of a murder victim on the nightly news – the waitress at his local diner. A place he often frequented with his dad. The following day his father is arrested and charged with her murder. And then eight further bodies are discovered. Following the revelation that his dad is in fact a serial killer, Lyle is outcast and shunned. Forced to abandon his family, illegally obtaining a new identity, he moves away to start all over again. Some years later, Lyle thinks he has finally moved on. But after several brushes with the law, Lyle’s past eventually catches up to him when a mysterious stranger known only as Icarus shows up and seems to know Lyle’s secret…

September 2023

A gothic tale of murder and corruption set in the world imagined by our most famous 19th century writers. The 1840s. Railway Baron Sir Martin Malprelate has been laying waste to the warren of Camden; buying up houses and clearing streets for his new railway line linking King’s Cross with the prosperous town of Middlemarch. He stands to make his fortune ever more vast and to earn the loathing of all who attempt to stand up to him. Little wonder, then, that he meets a violent end on a foggy street after walking out of a particularly bitter meeting with outraged residents facing eviction. But the cause of his death causes more wonder. How could he have possibly fallen beneath the wells of a speeding spectral train running on tracks not yet even built? Sir Martin’s death is investigated by the police, but the company employ one of its senior engineers, Mr Bryde, to pursue his own investigation. Bryde uncovers a network of resentment and conspiracy, popular opposition to the expansion of the railways, agitating workers, scheming shareholders, corrupt politicians and a gallery of varied and grotesque characters, all of whom had some stake in the old man’s death. Lacing it’s realism with both social commentary and the gothic imaginations of the time. The Murder of Sir Martin Malprelate is by Adam Roberts and is a vivid recreation of a London stalked by poverty and haunted by visions of demons and ghosts; a world of slums, lavish wealth and opium dens. The narrative is coloured by exotic characters all too ready to believe in the supernatural but the plot is driven by rationality and the all too real motivations of greed and revenge.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Forthcoming Books from No Exit Press/Oldcastle Books

 January 2023

Final Term is by Leigh Russell.When a pupil accuses a teacher of molesting her, his career and marriage are threatened... The girl's corpse is discovered in the woods, and the teacher becomes a suspect in a murder enquiry. The victim's best friend is then murdered so she cannot reveal the killer's identity. The investigating team are satisfied the teacher is guilty, apart from Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, who believes the wrong man has been arrested. All of her colleagues disagree... but if she is right, the real killer remains at large.

Guns, Dames and Private Eyes: The Rivals of Philip Marlowe - Stories from the Golden Age of the American Pulp Magazines is edited by Nick Rennison. The prototypes of Raymond Chandler's immortal private detective Philip Marlowe first appeared in a magazine called Black Mask in the 1930s. Black Mask was not the only pulp magazine of the period to publish crime fiction. There were news stands full of them with titles like Dime Detective, Spicy Mystery Stories and Ten Detective Aces. And there were plenty of other private eyes in action. This was the era in which the hard-boiled American detective was born and Nick Rennison's anthology gathers an exciting selection of stories about the rivals of Philip Marlowe. From the intriguingly named Cellini Smith to the two-fisted female crime-solver Violet McDade, from the crime reporter Johnny Castle to the quick-witted, fast-shooting Marty Quade, these characters have their own style and originality. Authors like Norbert Davis, reputedly the favourite crime author of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Cleve F. Adams and Robert Reeves may not have the reputations of Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, another famous name who began his career writing for the pulps, but they knew how to tell a thrilling story. They deserve to be remembered and admired, and this collection highlights more than a dozen of them.

February 2023

Robert B Parker's Fallout is by Mike Lupica. When two seemingly unconnected mysterious deaths occur on his watch, police chief Jesse Stone must pull out all the stops to unravel the truth and stop a killer from striking again. The small town of Paradise is devastated when a star high-school baseball player is found dead at the bottom of a bluff just a day after winning the team's biggest game. For Jesse, the loss is doubly difficult - the teen was the nephew of his colleague, Suitcase Simpson, and Jesse had been coaching the young shortstop. As he searches for answers about how the boy died and why, he is stonewalled at every turn, and it seems that someone is determined to keep him from digging further. Jesse suddenly must divide his attention between two cases after the shocking murder of former Paradise police chief, Charlie Farrell. Before his death, Farrell had been looking into a series of scam calls that preyed upon the elderly. But how do these 'ghost calls' connect to his murder? When threats - and gunshots - appear on Jesse's own doorstep, the race to find answers is on. Both old and new enemies come into play, and in the end, Jesse and his team must discover the common factor between the two deaths in order to prevent a third.

Too many people loved Kelly Rowland. One of them killed her, but was it the man in prison for her murder? Gethin Grey is back in the game. His wife may have left him and he's struggling with life as a single father, but now he's got his biggest case in years. The brutal murder of a young woman called Kelly Rowland has been the talk of the South Wales valleys. Even the conviction of a neighbour, a builder called Morgan Hopkins, failed to stop the gossip. There were too many other suspects still around, among them a pair of coppers: brother and sister. So Gethin was delighted when Morgan's family stumped up the money to pay him and his Last Resort Legals team to reinvestigate the case. But when a new lead takes him undercover into a support group for recovering addicts, Gethin has to confront his own demons. Moving from the former mining towns of the valleys to the shiny new waterfront developments of Cardiff, taking in adult puppet shows and piercing parlors, derelict mines and country clubs, Grey In The Dark is by John Lincoln and lays bare a world in which sex and money collide and everyone has their secrets. 

April 2023

Viper's Dream is by Jake Lamar. A hard-boiled crime novel set in the jazz world of Harlem between 1936 and 1961, Viper's Dream combines elements of the epic Godfather films and the detective novels of Chester Himes to tell the story of one of the most respected and feared Black gangsters in America. At the centre of Viper's Dream is a turbulent love story. And the climax bears an element of Greek tragedy. For the better part of 20 years, Clyde 'The Viper' Morton has been in love with Yolanda 'Yo-Yo' DeVray, a singer of immense talent but a woman consumed by demons. By turns ambitious and self-destructive, conniving and naive, Yo-Yo is a classic femme fatale. She is a bright star in a constellation of compelling characters including the chauffeur-turned-gangster Peewee Robinson, the Jewish kingpin Abraham 'Mr. O' Orlinsky, the heroin dealer West Indian Charlie, the corrupt cop Red Carney, the wife-beating singer Pretty Paul Baxter, the pimp Buttercup Jones and the brutal enforcer Randall Country Johnson. But Viper's Dream has a fast-paced vibe all its own, a story charged with suspense, intrigue and plot twists and spiced with violence and humour. It is also steeped in music. The Viper's story is intertwined with the history of jazz over a quarter century.

May 2023

Salvage this World is by Michael Farris Smith. There was no rising from the dead and there was no hand to calm the storms and there was no peace in no valley. In the hurricane-ravaged bottomlands of South Mississippi, where stores are closing and jobs are few, a fierce zealot has gained a foothold, capitalizing on the vulnerability of a dwindling population and a burning need for hope. As she preaches and promises salvation from the light of the pulpit, in the shadows she sows the seeds of violence. Elsewhere, Jessie and her toddler, Jace, are on the run across the Mississippi/Louisiana line, in a resentful return to her childhood home and her desolate father. Holt, Jace's father, is missing and hunted by a brutish crowd, and an old man witnesses the wrong thing in the depths of night. In only a matter of days, all of their lives will collide, and be altered, in the maelstrom of the changing world.

August 2023

As a favour to her partner, Geraldine agrees to look into the disappearance of a young woman, only to discover that several other young women have also gone missing locally. They all vanished unexpectedly, without trace. When one of the missing women is discovered, unconscious and covered in mud, she dies without recovering consciousness, leaving Geraldine and her team in an urgent race to find the other missing women before it is too late to save them. Without Trace is by Leigh Russell.

September 2023

Master storyteller and award-winning author Chris Offutt’s latest book, Code of the Hills, is a dark, witty, and propulsive thriller of murder and secrets in a town where little is as it seems. Mick Hardin is back in the hills of Kentucky. He’d planned to touch down briefly before heading to France, marking the end to his twenty-year Army career. In Rocksalt, his sister Linda the sheriff is investigating the murder of Pete Lowe, a sought-after mechanic at the local racetrack. After another body is found, Linda and her deputy Johnny Boy Tolliver wonder if the two murders are related. Linda steps into harm’s way just as a third body turns up and Mick ends up being deputised again, uncovering evidence of illegal cockfighting, and trying to connect all the crimes.

October 2023

Never Walk Away is by Nick Triplow. DS Mark (Max)Lomax is a former Demonstration Squad Officer – a Special Branch Unit dedicated to inflitrating political and extremist groups, a world he thinks he has left far behind. Following a botched stakeout of a north London gangster, he finds himself on enforced leave and is called back into his old world of half-truths and conflicting agendas. As he digs into the death of the civil servant, Max is obstructed at evry turn, forcing him to turn to the people he once infiltrated an betrayed for help. With political reputations on the line, the case becomes less about uncovering the truth, then burying it for good.

November 2023

Charlie Walden is the Resident Judge of the Bermondsey Crown Court, where he had hoped for a quiet life, but has found it to be anything but. With the job of balancing the needs of prosecutors, judges, 'Grey Smoothies' – the humourless grey-suited civil servants – and the overall needs of a Crown Court, he soon finds himself struggling to keep the peace with his own delightful humour. In this first full length Walden novel Charlie is faced with a number of topical issues he hadn't anticipated; invited to join the Court of Appeal he finds hmself faced with a case involving the 'confusion' of one of his team; in another, a Trans teacher must be penalised for defacing a statue; a huge and mysterious cat comes to the rescue in yet another case, and so the harrassed Judge must pick his way through this minefield of exasperating casesin order to keep eveyone from the cannabis lobby to the anti-slave traders happy with his judgments. No hope of that quiet life for Charlie then but as ever he picks his way through the issues of the day with satirical good humour, insight and wit in another entertaining look at the British Court system. A Week on Mount Olympus and Other Tales From the Bench is by Peter Walden.

Friday 25 November 2022

Kellye Garrett on writing Like A Sister



Like A Sister started with a headline. Similar to the one above which is how my main character Lena finds out her estranged sister has passed. The actual one was about a former reality star found dead in the Bronx in New York City with ‘no pants and cocaine.’

It was from the New York Daily News, a newspaper over here known for writing click bait headlines long before click bait was even a thing. It struck me when I first saw it. Not just because yet another amazing Black woman’s life had been cut short. It also struck me how disrespectfully the headline was worded.

I had the same thought as Lena. That the paper wouldn’t have gone the “bit much” route if this young woman had been white.

Differences like this are something I notice a lot as a writer, former journalist, and lover of all things pop culture. Even before I had the idea for Like A Sister, I knew that I wanted to see someone like myself in whatever I wrote next. A single black woman who lives in a metropolitan area and often is overwhelmed by the Strong Black Woman cape meant to protect her – that same cape that often makes her want to crumble under its weight.

This is something I personally deal with a lot – especially over the past two years as I dealt with both the world crumbling due to COVID-19 and my own world crumbling due to the death of my grandfather. Although the circumstances were different – my grandfather died of natural causes at 92 after living a life filled with love and loved ones – I felt bad when I felt bad. I didn’t allow myself to mourn because there was so much to do. Wrapping up a life, especially one as long and beautiful as my grandfather’s, is not an easy thing. And the Strong Black Woman in me didn’t ask for help. I just did it myself.

And that wasn’t the only thing I wanted to see more of in the books on my shelves. I also yearned for more stories of single women living in urban areas. Don’t get me wrong, I love an unreliable married mom living on a suburban cul de sac chock full of secrets. It’s just not my reality.

So like many writers, I wrote a story I wanted to read. Needed to read.

I’ve been a crime fiction lover since I picked up my first Joan Hess cozy as a preteen. Back then, I’d wander the shelves of my local bookstore and camp out in the mystery section like it was a national park. I’d been so excited to see so much crime fiction being written and published by black authors. Only to be so disappointed over the years as more and more of those stories disappeared. It wasn’t much better for books by other crime writers of color.

It’s one of the reasons that Walter Mosley, Gigi Pandian, and I created Crime Writers of Color in 2018. We wanted a safe place to network and share opportunities. To cheer each other on and cheer each other up. To discuss the unique challenges of being a person of color in publishing.

Today we have over 350 members – and counting. And there’s been a resurgence of crime fiction written by and about people of color.

But even today, a lot of our stories are focused on racism – a subject that’s still extremely prevalent in the States. And again don’t get me wrong. We definitely need those stories, but it’s not our only story. We should have all types of books, just like our white counterparts.

That’s why Like A Sister isn’t a story about racism. A story that isn’t focused on dealing with racism but more on the things we all can relate to – just from a decidedly Black perspective. Anyone with a sibling can understand the tricky politics that go into the relationships. As I say in my dedication, I love my sisters even when I hate them – and I know the feeling’s mutual. Lena having to navigate strained familial relationships including the guilt of being estranged from her sister and the anger at her absentee dad are just as important part of the book as the twists. 

Honestly, I still can’t believe this book will be on shelves for everyone to read – especially other black girls and women who are as obsessed with crime fiction as I was and still am. I hope everyone who decides to pick it up understands – and enjoys – what I was trying to do. It wasn’t to try to break down any barriers. It wasn’t to make any statements. It wasn’t to focus on our trauma.

I simply dreamed of writing a fun, twisty beach read. And I hope I succeeded.

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett (Simon and Schuster) Out Now

She found out her sister was back in New York from Instagram. She found out about her death from the New York Daily News. But she's the only one convinced it wasn't an accident . . . Desiree Pierce, a Black reality TV star, is found dead on a playground in the Bronx. Her death is quickly declared an overdose by the police and the media - tragic, but not a crime. Lena Scott, Desiree's sister, knows that can't be true. Torn apart by Desiree's partying and by their father, a wealthy and influential hip-hop mogul, the sisters haven't spoken in years. But some things about Desiree couldn't have changed, even with time. Nobody is listening to her, but Lena is determined not to let anyone brush off her sister's death. She will find justice, even if it means uncovering the family's darkest secrets - or putting her own life at risk. Because there are two sides to every story - the one being told, and the one nobody wants you to know . . .

More information about Kellye Garrett can be found on her website.

You can also find her on FaceBook, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kellyekell. She is also the co-founder of Writers of Color. Writers of Color can be found on Twitter @CrimeWoC, On Instagram @crimewoc and on FaceBook.

Thursday 24 November 2022

International conference – Crime Fiction and Democracy

International Conference – Crime Fiction and Democracy

Université Paris Nanterre 22-23 June 2023

Organized by the Centre de Recherches Anglophones (Université Paris Nanterre) 

and Queen’s University Belfast, 

in partnership with the Centre de recherches pluridisciplinaires multilingues (Université Paris Nanterre).

The proposed multidisciplinary conference intends to explore the complex, multifaceted relationship between crime fiction and democracy, from the late 19th century to the present.

Recent research has highlighted crime fiction’s relationship to democratic institutions and shown the productivity of reading the history of the genre against the development and consolidation of Western liberal States. This conference seeks to build on such approaches and extend them in two ways.

Firstly, it will focus on crime fiction’s relationship not only to state institutions but, more generally, to the transformative spirit of democracy – a spirit which, according to our working hypothesis, is one of the forces that has driven and is still driving the growth and success of the genre, in its various manifestations. The conference will therefore aim at linking crime fiction’s sociological and cultural history to the achievement or failure of democratic aspirations in different national and international settings and at different periods. It will, on the one hand, try to show how the genre may have represented a modernizing, democratic force within the literary field overall, particularly as its aesthetics often foregrounds vernacular linguistic practices and attitudes, thus subverting traditional scales of values and paving the way for a more egalitarian vision of literature. On the other hand, it may also highlight how crime fiction has, at times, harboured or promoted reactionary, authoritarian or ‘vigilante’ tendencies. These conflicting positions within the genre – sometimes within single works – reflect both crime fiction’s ideological diversity and the elusive nature of democracy, as an elusive concept whose understanding may shift considerably depending on time and place. But they also, overall, testify to the role of crime fiction as a literary testing-ground for democratic impulses and values.

Secondly, the conference aims at a wide historical and geographical scale, in order to account for the evolutions and manifestations of crime fiction in various cultural areas. It will welcome papers looking at the cultural and political history of the genre both in regions where it has long been established (as in the US and Western Europe) and in others where it has only more recently been recognized, as in Eastern Europe and Russia, Africa, Asia, the Arab world, the Caribbean or Latin America. In such regions, too, the conference will aim at correlating the rise of crime fiction with the emergence, affirmation, rejection or breakdown of democratic aspirations.

In order to explore these theoretical perspectives, this conference invites 20-minute papers, either in English or French, focusing on the multiple connections between democracy and crime fiction throughout the world, and seeking, if possible, a broad analytical approach rather than the analysis of single works.

Suggested bibliography

Bloom, Clive, Cult Fiction: Popular Reading and Pulp Theory, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996

Boltanski, Luc, Mysteries and Conspiracies Detective Stories, Spy Novels and the Making of Modern Societies, Translated by Catherine Porter, Cambridge: Polity, 2014

Boucher, Anthony, “The Ethics of the Mystery Novel,” in Howard Haycraft, ed., The Art of the Mystery Story (1946), New York: Carroll & Graf, 1983

Broe, Dennis, Class, Crime and International Film Noir, Globalizing America’s Dark Art, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014

Corcuff, Philippe, Polars, philosophie et critique sociale, Paris: éditions Textuel, coll. Petite Encyclopédie critique », 2013

Damrosch, David; Haen, Theo d’, Nilsson, Louise (ed)  Crime Fiction as World Literature, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017

Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish, translated by Alan Sheridan, New York: Pantheon Books, 1977

Hardt, Michael & Negri, Antonio, Empire, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2000

Haycraft, Howard, Murder for Pleasure, The Life and Times of the Detective Story, New York: Appleton, 1941

Jay, Paul, Global Matters: The Transnational Turn in Literary Studies, Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2010

Koselleck, Reinhart, The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing History, Spacing Concepts, translated by Todd Samuel Presner & al., Stanford: Stanford UP, 2002

Manchette, Jean-Patrick, Chroniques, Paris: Payot, Rivages, 1996

Mandel, Ernest, Meurtres exquis: une histoire sociale du roman policier, Montreuil: PEC, 1984

McCann, Sean, Gumshoe America: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Rise and Fall of New Deal Liberalism, Durham: Duke UP, 2001

Miller, D.A, The Novel and the Police, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988.

Müller Elfriede & et Rueff, Alexandre, Le Polar français. Crime et histoire, Paris: La Fabrique éditions, 2002.

Oliver, Kelly & Trigo, Benigno, Noir Anxiety, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003

Pepper, Andrew & Schmid, David, Globalization and the State in Contemporary Crime Fiction: A World of Crime, London: Palgrave, 2016

Pepper, Andrew, Unwilling Executioner: Crime Fiction and the State, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. 

Rabinowitz, Paula, Black & White & Noir : America’s Pulp Modernism, New York: Columbia University Press, 2002

Selim, Samah, Popular Fiction, Translation and the Nahda in Egypt, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

Tadié, Benoît, Front criminel : une histoire du polar américain de 1919 à nos jours, Paris: PUF, 2018

Wald, Alan, Trinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007

Žižek, Slavoj, Living in the End Times, London: Verso, 2010

Please submit proposals of up to 250 words, together with a bio of approximately 100 words, by January 15, 2023 to Dominique Jeannerod, Andrew Pepper and Benoît Tadié:

d.jeannerod@qub.ac.uka.pepper@qub.ac.uk; benoit.tadie@parisnanterre.fr

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by February 15, 2023. The conference is planned as an in-person event.

Scientific committee:

Margaret Atack (University of Leeds)

Katia Ghosn (Université Paris 8)

Brooks E. Hefner (James Madison University)

Alice Jacquelin (Université Paris Nanterre)

Dominique Jeannerod (Queen’s University Belfast)

Matthieu Letourneux (Université Paris Nanterre)

Andrew Pepper (Queen’s University Belfast)

David Platten (University of Leeds)

Lucia Quaquarelli (Université Paris Nanterre)

Benoît Tadié (Université Paris Nanterre)

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Bodies in the Library as Viewed by Agatha Christie.

 Dr Keith A. Manley, 'Bodies in Libraries as Viewed by Agatha Christie and "Golden Age" Detective Writers

The name of Agatha Christie is synonymous with the discovery of dead bodies in libraries, usually in country houses. This paper will consider death amidst the books in Agatha’s novels and her own upbringing amongst books. But Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple will share the limelight with other `Golden Age’ sleuths of the 1920s and 1930s, with guest appearances from Lord Peter Wimsey, Inspector John Appleby, and others. All of them appreciated libraries, and murder of course; not for the faint-hearted. 

The following seminar will be in-person only at 5.30 p.m. in the Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB. Free to attend, but please book in advance.

Booking can be made here.

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Petrona Shortlist Announced


Exceptional crime fiction from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden shortlisted for the 2022 Petrona Award.

Six exceptional crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have been shortlisted for the 2022 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The shortlist is announced today, Wednesday 16 November and is as follows:

FATAL ISLES by Maria Adolfsson tr. Agnes Broomé (Sweden, Zaffre)

THE THERAPIST by Helene Flood tr. Alison McCullough (Norway, MacLehose Press)

EVERYTHING IS MINE by Ruth Lillegraven tr. Diane Oatley (Norway, AmazonCrossing)

KNOCK KNOCK by Anders Roslund tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Sweden, Harvill Secker)

COLD AS HELL by Lilja Sigurðardóttir tr. Quentin Bates (Iceland, Orenda Books)

THE RABBIT FACTOR by Antti Tuomainen tr. David Hackston (Finland, Orenda Books)

The winning title will be announced on Thursday 8 December 2022. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize.

The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his continued generous support of the Petrona Award.

The judges’ comments on the shortlist:

There were 31 entries for the 2022 Petrona Award from five countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). The novels were translated by 23 translators and submitted by 14 publishers/imprints. There were 16 female, 14 male and one male/male pair of authors.

This year’s Petrona Award shortlist sees Norway represented with two novels; Sweden with two and Finland and Iceland with one each. The judges selected the shortlist from a particularly strong pool of candidates with the shortlisted titles ranging from police procedural and domestic noir to the darkly comic.

As ever, we are extremely grateful to the six translators whose expertise and skill have allowed readers to access these outstanding examples of Scandinavian crime fiction, and to the publishers who continue to champion and support translated fiction. The significantly increasing number of female writers being translated is also to be commended.

The judges’ comments on each of the shortlisted titles:

 Maria Adolfsson - FATAL ISLES tr. Agnes Broomé (Sweden, Zaffre)

Maria Adolfsson’s gripping debut, FATAL ISLES, set in Doggerland - a group of islands in the North Sea between Denmark and the United Kingdom – paints a vivid picture of a northern island community with traditions, rich and poor families, and a stormy climate. Doggerland comes alive on the pages so much that you would never guess it is totally fictional. DI Karen Eiken Hornby is tasked with investigating the murder of her boss’s ex-wife. Does the motive have any connection to a secretive commune that existed on the island in the past? FATAL ISLES is a high tension, character driven, atmospheric police procedural.

 Helene Flood - THE THERAPIST tr. Alison McCullough (Norway, MacLehose Press)

A man goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Police detective Gundersen is officially working the case whilst therapist Sara tries to understand where her husband is. Set in the leafy Oslo outskirts, THE THERAPIST is a tense read that keeps us intrigued with unsettling twists and turns. Sara is constantly analysing herself and the people around her as her whole life is turned upside down. At the same time, she fears for her own safety and tries to remain professional with her clients. Author Helene Flood is a trained psychologist who has used her experience to inform the characters and the narrative in this page-turning debut thriller.

 Ruth Lillegraven - EVERYTHING IS MINE tr. Diane Oatley (Norway, AmazonCrossing)

EVERYTHING IS MINE is the story of two happily married professionals, Clara an ambitious child rights activist at the Ministry of Justice, and Henrik, a compassionate paediatrician. Dedication to their twin sons and their respective causes begins to crack when they are faced with cases of murder and abuse and an unravelling of a tangled web of emotional secrets follows. A powerful narration and detailed observations show a stark contrast between social standing and geographical differences in Norwegian life, and leave the readers with questions of how, and if, individuals can deal with unfairness and pain. EVERYTHING IS MINE combines important issues, thrilling action and a smart intricate plot, with a strong focus on social injustice and complex family relations.

 Anders Roslund - KNOCK KNOCK tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Sweden, Harvill Secker)

Anders Roslund has published nine novels to date as part of the successful writing duos of Roslund & Hellström and Roslund & Thunberg, as Anton Svensson, and has been the recipient of numerous, prestigious international awards. Since the death of Börge Hellström, Roslund has continued their Ewert Grens series and KNOCK KNOCK is his first solo venture. Set over the course of three days, KNOCK KNOCK is another fine example of Roslund's talent for seamlessly blending together a solid police procedural with a high-octane thriller, leading to a gritty and fast-paced read set against his astute observations on the societal and political issues of contemporary Sweden.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir - COLD AS HELL tr. Quentin Bates (Iceland, Orenda Books)

COLD AS HELL, the first novel in a new slick series, introduces Áróra who returns from UK to her homeland Iceland following the disappearance of her estranged sister Ísafold. She uncovers a corrupted world of dark secrets but needs help from her policeman uncle to navigate an Icelandic society with which she is now unfamiliar. The author creates a chilling and tense atmosphere where the midnight sun hides crimes, and all relations are tested. The richness and intensity of the writing makes the investigative accountant Áróra, who will stop at nothing to understand and trace her sibling, a thoroughly modern and captivating protagonist in a league of her own.  

 Antti Tuomainen - THE RABBIT FACTOR tr. David Hackston (Finland, Orenda Books)

Antti Tuomainen was shortlisted for the Petrona Award twice before winning it in 2020 with, LITTLE SIBERIA. THE RABBIT FACTOR, which was also shortlisted for this year’s CWA Dagger for Crime Fiction in Translation, superbly demonstrates Tuomainen's singular gift for dark, absurd crime fiction undercut with poignancy. THE RABBIT FACTOR puts at its heart an ordinary man drawing on his previously undiscovered and extraordinary resolve, to carve out and keep his place in a hostile world, with often darkly funny results.

 The judges

Jackie Farrant - creator of RAVEN CRIME READS and a bookseller/Area Commercial Support for a major book chain in the UK

Miriam Owen - founder of the NORDIC NOIR blog and creator of content for communities

Ewa Sherman - translator and writer, and blogger at NORDIC LIGHTHOUSE.

Award administrator

Karen Meek owner of the EURO CRIME website and blog.

Further information can be found on the Petrona Award website: http://www.petronaaward.co.uk.