Friday 27 January 2023

Agatha Award Nominees


Best Contemporary Novel

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime)

Death By Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley)

Fatal Reunion by Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books)

Dead Man's Leap by Tina de Bellegarde (Level Best Books)

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny (Minotaur)

Best Historical Novel

The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker (Level Best Books)

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower (Berkley)

The Lindbergh Nanny by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur)

In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson (Mobius)

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)

Best First Novel

Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss (St. Martin’s)

Death in the Aegean by M. A. Monnin (Level Best Books)

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra (Constable)

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)

The Finalist by Joan Long (Level Best Books)

The Gallery of Beauties by Nina Wachsman (Level Best Books)

Best Short Story

"Beauty and the Beyotch," by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Magazine, Feb. 2022)

"There Comes a Time," by Cynthia Kuhn (Malice Domestic Murder Most Diabolical) Wildside Press

"Fly Me to the Morgue," by Lisa Q Mathews,( Malice Domestic Mystery Most Diabolical) Wildside Press

"The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot," by Richie Narvaez, (Land of 10,000 Thrills, Bouchercon Anthology) Down & Out Books

"The Invisible Band," by Art Taylor (Edgar & Shamus Go Golden) Down & Out Books

Best Non-Fiction

The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)

The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie by Mary Anna Evans and J. C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic)

The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie by Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks)

Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, Diane Vallere Ed.(Sisters in Crime)

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)

Best Children's/YA Mystery

Daybreak on Raven Island by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young People)

In Myrtle Peril by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)

#shedeservedit by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)

Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers)

Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! 

The Agatha Awards will be presented Saturday, April 29, 2023, during Malice Domestic 35

Malice Registrations and Agatha Banquet Tickets are available on the Malice Domestic website.

Sunday 22 January 2023

Books from Bloomsbury

 January 2023

Home is by Callean Steed. Someone has broken into Zoe's flat. A man she thought she'd never have to see again. They call him the Hand of God. He knows about her job in the cafe, her life in Dublin, her ex-girlfriend, even the knife she's hidden under the mattress. She thought she'd left him far behind, along with the cult of the Children and their isolated compound Home - but now he's found her, and Zoe realises she must go back with him if she's to rescue the sister who helped her escape originally. But returning to Home means going back to the enforced worship and strict gender roles Zoe has long since moved beyond. Back to the abuse and indoctrination she's fought desperately to overcome... Going back will make her question everything she believed about her past - and risk her hard-won freedom. Can she break free a second time?

February 2023

Love Me Fierce In Danger: The Life of James Ellroy uncovers the life-story of one of the most fascinating authors of contemporary American literature his biography is the untold story of how Ellroy created a literary persona for himself as the Demon Dog of American Crime Fiction, giving him a celebrity status and notoriety that few authors can match. To his admirers Ellroy is a literary genius who has reinvented crime fiction. To his detractors he is a reactionary, overrated figure. Love Me Fierce In Danger examines the enigma of an author who has striven for critical acclaim and often courted controversy with equal zealotry. Love Me in Fierce Danger is by Steven Powell.

April 2023

Sometimes work can be murder... The Consultant is very good at his job. He creates simple, elegant, effective solutions for... restructuring. Nothing obvious or messy. Certainly nothing anyone would ever suspect as murder. The 'natural deaths' he plans have always gone well: a medicine replaced here, a mechanism jammed there. His performance reviews are excellent. And it's not as though he knows these people. Until his next 'customer' turns out to be someone he not only knows but cares about, and for the first time, he begins to question the role he plays in the vast, anonymous Company. And as he slowly begins to understand the real scope of their work, he realises just how easy it would be for the Company to arrange one more perfect murder... But how far will he go to escape The Company? And how far will they go to stop him? The electrifying first novel from award-winning Korean thriller-writer Im Seong-Sun - now in English for the first time - combines the tension of the best crime fiction with searing social criticism to present a searing take-down of global corporate life. 

May 2023

When match fixing leads to murder, only journalist Casey Benedict can expose the truth - and risk her own life doing so. Casey Benedict is the globe-trotting star reporter at London paper the Post. Casey is tenacious, fearless, inventive and still in recovery after her last major story jeopardised her life, and all of those she held most dear. Invited to spend the day at the races at the invitation of a former colleague, it is meant to be a chance to relax and recover. But when she sees a man being hunted across the racecourse, a horrified Casey intervenes to save his life - and in doing so finds herself face to face with her next major investigation. Match fixing. Gambling. And murder. From London to Budapest, from snowy mountain retreats to glitzy Mediterranean coastal resorts, Casey is on a desperate hunt to find the person behind the shadowy organisations responsible and expose them to the public before anyone else's lives are lost. The End of the Game is by Holly Watt.

June 2023

Ex journalist Tash has been searching for a story to launch her freelance career. But she has also been searching for something else. New friends to help her navigate motherhood. She sees them at her son's new playgroup. The other mothers. The sleek, the sophisticated, the successful mothers... the women she wants to be. And then one day they welcome her into their circle and Tash discovers the kind of life she has always dreamt of; their elegant London townhouses a far cry from her cramped basement flat and endless bills. These families seem to have everything. But they also have their secrets. And it's soon clear that not everyone at the playgroup can be trusted. The Other Mothers is by Katherine Faulkner.

Friday 20 January 2023

2023 Edgar Award Nominations


Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2023 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honouring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2022. 

The 77th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 27, 2023, at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.

The Nominations are as follows :-


Devil House by John Darnielle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – MCD)

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett (Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

Gangland by Chuck Hogan (Grand Central Publishing)

The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias (Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

The Maid by Nita Prose (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)


Jackal by Erin E. Adams (Penguin Random House – Bantam)

Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

Shutter by Ramona Emerson (Soho Press – Soho Crime)

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li (Penguin Random House – Tiny Reparations Books)


Quarry’s Blood by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime

On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass (Harlequin Trade Publishing – Graydon House

Or Else by Joe Hart (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)

Cleopatra’s Dagger by Carole Lawrence (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)


Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls by Kathleen Hale (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)

Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation by Erika Krouse (Flatiron Books)

Trailed: One Woman's Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders by Kathryn Miles (Hachette Book Group – Workman Publishing – Algonquin Books)

American Caliph: The True Story of a Muslim Mystic, a Hollywood Epic, and the 1977 Siege of Washington, D.C. by Shahan Mufti (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America's Jack the Ripper by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)


The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins – Collins Crime Club)

The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie by Mary Anna Evans & J.C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury – Bloomsbury Academic)

The Crime World of Michael Connelly: A Study of His Works and Their Adaptations by David Geherin (McFarland)

The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story by Andrew Neiderman (Simon & Schuster – Gallery Books)

Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)


"Red Flag," by Gregory Fallis  in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

"Backstory," by Charles John Harper in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

"Locked-In," by William Burton McCormick in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)

The Amnesty Box," by Tim McLoughlin in Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (Akashic Books)

First You Dream, Then You Die," by Donna Moore in Black is the Night (Titan Books)


The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Beil (Holiday House – Pixel+Ink)

The Area 51 Files by Julie Buxbaum (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada - Tundra Books)

Adventures on Trains: Murder on the Safari Star by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Macmillan Children's Publishing - Feiwel & Friends)

Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon (Random House Children's Books Wendy Lamb Books)


Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne (Random House Children’s Books – Crown BFYR)

Frightmares by Eva V. Gibson (Random House Children’s Books – Underlined)

The Black Girls Left Standing by Juliana Goodman (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)

The Red Palace by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)

Lock the Doors by Vincent Ralph (Sourcebooks – Fire)


One Mighty and Strong" - Under the Banner of Heaven, Written by Brandon Boyce (Hulu/FX)

Episode 1” – Magpie Murders, Written by Anthony Horowitz (Masterpiece/PBS)

Episode 1" - Karen Pirie, Written by Emer Kenny (BritBox)

When Harry Met Fergus" - Harry Wild, Written by David Logan (Acorn TV)

The Reagan Way" - Blue Bloods, Written by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)

"Eighteen Wheels A Predator" - Law & Order: SVU, Written by Brianna Yellen & Monet Hurst-Mendoza (NBC Universal)


"Dogs in the Canyon," by Mark Harrison in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Dell Magazines)



Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower (Penguin Random House Berkley)

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

The Disinvited Guest by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myers (HarperCollins – William Morrow)

Never Name the Dead by D.M. Rowell (Crooked Lane Books)



Secret Lives by Mark de Castrique (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

An Unforgiving Place by Claire Kells (Crooked Lane Books)

Hideout by Louisa Luna (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group – Doubleday)

Behind the Lie by Emilya Naymark (Crooked Lane Books)

Secrets Typed in Blood by Stephen Spotswood (Knopf Doubleday Publishing 



The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)

Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)

Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette (Penguin Random House – Berkley)

Desert Getaway by Michael Craft (Brash Books)

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)



Michael Connelly

Joanne Fluke


Crime Writers of Color

Eddie Muller for Noir Alley and The Noir Foundation


The Strand Magazine

Thursday 19 January 2023

In a Lonely Place: Reading Men in Early Twentieth Century Crime Fiction


I’ve been a voracious reader of early twentieth crime fiction since childhood. Christie was my Blyton. A firm favourite of ten-year-old Natalie was ‘A Pocketful of Rye.’ I’d fallen a little in love with Lance Fortescue – his charm, his sadness – so the abject cruelty and base misogyny of poor Gladys Martin’s murder still haunts me today. There is nothing cosy about Christie. Read between each genteel line and you will see a world riddled with corruption, or to use a word both Marple and Poirot would be comfortable with – evil.

After Christie, came Sayers and another charmer. Lord Peter Wimsey quoted poetry I neither knew nor understood. His speech was affected, and he wore a monocle. However, I liked him. His cleverness, his devotion to, and passion for, Harriet Vane and his war-born vulnerabilities were all fascinating to me.

I was a good way through a Marjory Allingham reading jag when I discovered the Americans. On film, this time, and to be precise through a BBC Humphrey Bogart season. I devoured the great film noirs – The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, In a Lonely Place – and was mesmerised by the lurking psychological shadows of war, trauma and social change expressed in both imagery and narrative. I read Hammett and Chandler voraciously. Finding the sociopathic carapace of Sam Spade and the Continental Op disturbing and wild, I preferred Philip Marlowe, that sardonic white knight with a patter in similes so impressive they’d make a writer kick a hole through a library window. Marlowe was a man a bookish girl could love.

I’d read In a Lonely Place not too long after I’d seen the Nicolas Rey film. It was a disappointment. I wanted a Byronic Dix and a tale of thwarted love. The man who said: ‘I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me’ and meant it. But the teenage me got a psychopathic, serial killer Dix. And, strangely, I would’ve sworn the novel was written in the traditional American first person, hardboiled style. It’s not. It’s in third person close. If this seems like an overly technical point, please bear with me.

I think there is a psychological theory which says we form our cultural tastes in adolescence. The type of music we enjoy, the films we love, the sports teams we support, we cherish and protect these first loves way into adulthood, dragging them about like Sebastian Flyte does Aloysius.

So, thirty years later when I began to write a Needless Alley, my love letter to the crime fiction of the period, I knew I’d write some form of noir. And I knew I needed to write from the point of view of a man. Men own the night. It’s why femme fatales do their violence by proxy. Women have partial access to the shadowy corners of noir, and the back-alley beatings, dive bars and private clubs which define noir’s (mostly) urban settings. Importantly, I wanted my detective to uncover a corruption he contributed to. But, in all honesty, I’m interested in those men I read as a young woman. The troubled men of interwar crime fiction. War-worn men, brutalised, violent or giddy, outsiders, bookish, perhaps, and in the case of the Americans, desperately lonely. They work alone. They are alone. Marlowe has no Bunter. Sam Spade would let Hastings bleed out from a gunshot to the gut.

So, let’s get technical. How does a woman write this kind of man? The answer for any writer is to learn from the best. Therefore, I revisited In a Lonely Place. The teenage me was premature in her assessment of the novel. It is what the great Megan Abbott calls, ‘a dark, cold gem of a book.’ In Steele, Dorothy B. Hughes uses third person close to enter the mind of a violent rapist and killer, but with enough distance to enable the reader to see the power of the surrounding women. The strength of Laurel and Sylvia lies in what Dix instinctively knows. They can see the true Dix. Something Brub, the LA detective and Dix’s best friend, cannot do. Hughes rejects the intrinsic self-absorption of the first person, with its powerful associated male noir gaze, to give full scope to the women in the story. 

Needless Alley doesn’t have In a Lonely Place’s icy intensity. I don’t think I have that in me. William Garrett is no hard-boiled hero, and, as much as he is complicit in the exploitation of women, he is no misogynist. He’s soft-boiled. His loneliness, and his disfunction, isn’t a protective carapace, but something he finds painful. And during the novel, something he begins to solve. I suppose I humanised the noir detective, fashioned him to suit my purpose. After all, he is mine. And as William’s inner voice says, ‘He never got the hang of men. He prefers the company of women.

Needless Alley by Natalie Marlow (John Murray Press) Out Now

Birmingham, 1933. Private enquiry agent William Garrett, a man damaged by a dark childhood spent on Birmingham's canals, specialises in facilitating divorces for the city's male elite. With the help of his best friend - charming, out-of-work actor Ronnie Edgerton - William sets up honey traps. But photographing unsuspecting women in flagrante plagues his conscience and William heaves up his guts with remorse after every job. However, William's life changes when he accidentally meets the beautiful Clara Morton and falls in love. Little does he know she is the wife of a client - a leading fascist with a dangerous obsession. And what should have been another straightforward job turns into something far more deadly. Drenched in evocative period atmosphere and starring an unforgettable cast of characters, Needless Alley takes the reader from seedy canal-side pubs, to crumbling Warwickshire manor houses, and into the hidden spaces of Birmingham's Queer, bohemian society.

You can follow Natalie Marlow on Twitter @NatalieMarlow2

Why Hackney? By Joe Thomas

When I was a boy, an Irish woman called Lil would clean our house from time to time. Her son, Tony, was older than me, Hackney-born. He became a builder, started off working with our next-door neighbour, Harry, which meant a fair few lunchtimes in the public bar of the Prince of Wales trying to keep up with the older labourers. He’d do odd bits and pieces at ours, too. I was fourteen, I think, when he suggested we go for lunch at a caff on Chatsworth Road. I got in his car – I remember it was very low to the ground – and we drove off. Just past Rushmore, my old school, there were a couple of blokes about Tony’s age waving at him and he pulled over. There was also a young lad with them, younger than me. Wait here, Tony told me, and he got out. I watched the three older blokes in animated conference. When they were finished, Tony and another fella climbed back in, and the other one and the young one got into another car. I remember we drove around for about five minutes before coming to a sudden stop, a teenage boy panicking on the pavement. Engine running, Tony and the bloke jumped out, grabbed the kid, and then pinned him against the wall. The other one and the young one got out of the other car and went over. They were carrying a baseball bat. I could see the young one answering questions, nodding. The teenager handed over a watch, crying. Nothing happened for a moment, and I waited, nervous. What would be the punishment? Clearly this bigger kid had nicked this younger kid’s watch, and the younger kid had got his big brother to sort it out, which he had. Let’s have lunch, then, I was thinking. Then I watched as the teenager was force-fed the watch. He was eating the watch, I realised, eating it. Punishment fitting the crime and all that. In the caff, over bacon, egg, chips, and beans, no one really talked about it, and I certainly never told anyone.

I wanted to write about where I grew up, Hackney, in the late-seventies and eighties. Although White Riot is very much a political novel, it is also hugely personal: I accessed the sights, sounds, and smells of my childhood to try and recreate the sensual experience of it. I thought about how the place changed, who moved away, who stayed, why, who had power, who was disenfranchised, and why.

I’ve never wanted to write a whodunnit; I’ve always wanted to write about place, about fiction based on fact. My fiction addresses the discourses of power and the specificity of crime, why something happened precisely where it did, and is an attempt to illuminate the reasons why. You can strip away the layers of city in a crime narrative.

In the author’s note to her epic French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety, Hilary Mantel writes: ‘The reader may ask how to tell fact from fiction. A rough guide: anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true.’ 

In White Riot, the more outlandish political events, the most shocking violence, the most brazen corruption scams are all real, or based very closely on real-life incidents. It has always seemed to me that real life offers the best structural and societal models around which to thread a fictional narrative. Crime is political, I think, and more politics is criminal than we’d care to admit. 

There’s that old adage: ‘You couldn’t make it up.’ 

More and more, I’m beginning to think that you shouldn’t.

White Riot by Joe Thomas (Quercus Books) Out Now

1978:The National Front is gaining ground in Hackney. To counter their influence, anti-fascist groups launch the Carnival Against Racism in Victoria Park. Observing the event is Detective Constable Patrick Noble, charged with investigating racist attacks in the area and running Spycops in both far-right and left wing groups. As Noble's superiors are drawn further into political meddling, he's inveigled into a plot against the embattled Labour government. 1983: Under a disciplinary cloud after a Spycops op ended in tragedy, Noble is offered a reprieve by an old mentor. He is dispatched in the early hours to Stoke Newington police station, where a young black man has died in suspicious circumstances. This is Thatcher's Britain now, a new world that Noble unwittingly helped to usher in, where racial tensions are weaponised by those in power.

Photo credit: Oliver Holms

Wednesday 18 January 2023

Left Coast Crime - Lefty Award Nominees

The Lefty Awards will be voted on at the Left Coast Crime Convention and presented at a banquet on Saturday, March 18, at the El Conquistador Resort in the Oro Valley of Tucson, Arizona. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Lefty Nominees for Best Humorous Mystery Novel

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime)

Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley Prime Crime)

Five Moves of Doom by A.J. Devlin (NeWest Press)

A Streetcar Named Murder by T.G. Herren (Crooked Lane Books)

Scot in a Trap by Catriona McPherson (Severn House)

Lefty Nominees for Best Historical Mystery Novel

(The Bill Gottfried Memorial) for books set before 1970

A Bride’s Guide to Marriage and Murder by Dianne Freeman (Kensington Books)

In Place of Fear by Catriona McPherson (Severn House)

Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris (William Morrow)

Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)

The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker (Poisoned Pen Press)

Framed in Fire by Iona Whishaw (Touchwood)

Lefty Nominees for Best Debut Mystery Novel

Jackal by Erin E. Adams (Bantam Books)

Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor (Soho Crime)

Shutter by Ramona Emerson (Soho Crime)

Other People’s Secrets by Meredith Hambrock (Crooked Lane Books)

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra (Pegasus Crime)

Devil’s Chew Toy by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)

The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Vintage Books)

Lefty Nominees for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories)

Like a Sister by Kellye Garret (Mulholland Books)

Back to the Garden by Laurie R. King (Bantam Books)

Dead Drop by James L’Etoile (Level Best Books)

Under Lock & Skeleton Key by Gigi Pandian (Minotaur Books)

A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Secret Identity by Alex Segura (Flatiron Books)

Thanks to Gabriel Valjan for the collage of nominees.

Monday 16 January 2023

Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize are now open for submission

Today the Best Published Novel and New Voices Award submissions for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize has been opened. This mean that all three strands for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize are now open for submission.

See the website for more information. Here for Best Published Novel and here for New Voices Award.

Previous winners can be found here.

Walking the Mean Streets of Historical Noir

So, Douglas, why yet another new direction?

I was asked this question recently in relation to my new book, An Honourable Thief (Canelo), an historical adventure/crime/espionage thriller (I think that just about covers it) set between London and Edinburgh in 1715.

It is true that my writing career appears to have encompassed more changes of direction than an indecisive sat-nav – from true crime, to non-fiction history, to biography, to gritty Glasgow underworld fiction, wisecracking private eye novels, a fast-paced New York set conspiracy thriller and dark – may I say lyrical? Yes, I may – crime novels set in the Scottish highlands.

Okay, so why?

Well, I believe authors should always stretch themselves, step out of their comfort zone. But is this new one really THAT much of a change of direction?

Look at the list above. I’ve written historical books before. In fact, that’s how the plot for AHT – as we in the know call it – came about. I was researching Dark Heart, which told the story of Edinburgh’s Tolbooth, a building that played a major role in the city’s blood spattered history, and came across a line about a certain document that old Queen Anne may, or may not, have penned. The story was that the letter may have suggested she favoured her half-brother James Edward Stuart to succeed her to the throne over George of Hanover, of whom she was apparently none-too-enamoured.

That notion stuck in my mind and over the next 20 years or so I added bits and pieces of plot, set-pieces and a protagonist named Jonas Flynt rubbing shoulders with real-life characters of the period. One of those set-pieces features the aforementioned Tolbooth. 

Of the non-fiction books with my name on them, I am very proud of Indian Peter, a true-life tale of adventure and legal shenanigans in Scotland and the American Colonies of the mid-18th century.

And the four Davie McCall books are set between 1980 and the millennium. Apparently that’s deemed as historical, although I can remember those years so, frankly, I don’t see it that way. 

Then came A Rattle of Bones, the third in my Rebecca Connolly series. The opening chapter was set in 1752 and that prompted crime writer Denzil Meyrick to suggest that I try my hand at historical fiction. I resisted but secretly the idea took root. After all, I’d already done most of the research over the years. Why not give it the old college try?

Fully expecting to abandon it before it was halfway done, I set to the task.

Three months later I had a complete draft, so perhaps all that had gone before was paving the way for the new book.

The words literally fell onto the screen. Yes, they needed work – it was a first draft, remember – but I don’t think I’ve ever written a novel quite so quickly, but then, the narrative style is very much in my ball-park. I think if there had to be a label put onto the series, and there ALWAYS has to be a label, it would be Historical Noir.

With the exception of the Rebecca Connolly series, I’m a believer in the Raymond Chandler dictum that whenever the story seems to slow down, have two guys with guns kick in the door.

In fact, Jonas Flynt is introduced limbering up to do just that, only it’s a brace of flintlock pistols he wields. The streets of Georgian London and Edinburgh are ideal for the genre. They were mean. And dark. And dirty. And far from fragrant. 

Oh, and no CCTV or mobile phones and no real forensics to speak of. My goodness, that sure does free things up for the writer. Think about it – Flynt doesn’t need to worry about fingerprints, DNA, contact traces, or disguising his digital footprint when getting up to anything murky. He may be on the side of the angels but he sure as hell ain’t one.

He does have demons because I seem to have a thing for people being haunted by dark pasts. I don’t know why such characters attract me, because I am such a sunny, carefree fellow.

I’ll pause here to let those who know me hoot with laughter.

So, in the end, how much of a departure is AHT? Well, linguistically, chronologically, geographically and other words ending with -cally, it is different. 

Otherwise, it’s business as usual. Only with added research!

The second book in the series to feature Jonas Flynt, A Thief's Justice is due to be published in May 2023.

A Thief's Justice by Douglas Skelton. (Canelo Crime) Out May 2023

London, 1716. Revenge is a dish best served ice-cold… The city is caught in the vice-like grip of a savage winter. Even the Thames has frozen over. But for Jonas Flynt– thief, gambler, killer – the chilling elements are the least of his worries… Justice Geoffrey Dumont has been found dead at the base of St Paul’s cathedral, and a young male sex-worker, Sam Yates, has been taken into custody for the murder. Yates denies all charges, claiming he had received a message to meet the judge at the exact time of death. The young man is a friend of courtesan Belle St Clair, and she asks Flynt to investigate. As Sam endures the horrors of Newgate prison, they must do everything in their power to uncover the truth and save an innocent life, before the bodies begin to pile up. But time is running out. And the gallows are beckoning...

More information about Douglas Skelton can be found on his website.  You can also follow him on Twitter @DouglasSkeleton1 and on FaceBook.

Saturday 14 January 2023

Books to Look Forward to from Canelo

 January 2023

For DCI Gillard, sometimes old sins cast long shadows…Under a motorway flyover lies the body of a young man. Days earlier, he had been involved in an altercation with DCI Craig Gillard’s pregnant partner Sam. Now he’s dead…Meanwhile, something is brewing in the criminal underworld. Whispers of a big job have reached the Met’s Flying Squad. Something is going to be stolen, and soon. Something worth £500m. But what? And where? And how does it relate to the body under the overpass? It should be a simple case: stop the burglary, crack the gang, find the murderer – but for Gillard, once again it’s personal… The Body in The Shadows is by Nick Louth.

The Investigator is by John Sandford. By twenty-four, Letty Davenport has seen more action than most law enforcement professionals. Working a desk job for US Senator Christopher Colles, she’s bored and ready to quit. But when her skills catch Colles’ attention, she is offered a lifeline: real investigative work. Texas oil companies are reporting thefts of crude. Rumour has it that a sinister militia is involved. Who is selling the oil? And what are they doing with the profits? Letty is partnered with a Department of Homeland Security investigator, John Kaiser. When the case turns deadly, they know they're onto something big. The militia has an explosive plan… and the clock is ticking down.

February 2023

A Terrible Village Poisioning is by Hannah Hendy. The local mayor has a dinner date with death…With school out for the summer, Margery and Clementine Butcher-Baker are taking advantage of the break to go on holiday. They plan to explore the village of St-Martins-on-the-Water and rest before the chaos of Mrs Smith's impending hen do. By the end of their first night, the local mayor lies dead on the floor of the hotel restaurant, having been poisoned by his meal. The villagers are convinced: The Poisoner is back. As the residents turn to the duo with suspicion and begin to freeze them out, Margery and Clementine are left with more questions than answers. Everyone is convinced that the pair – and Clementine in particular – are bad news, but why? And as more people in the village start to become unwell, the question remains, is The Poisoner back, or is this the work of a new killer? And will they strike again?

Blood and Fireflies is by B M Howard. A Dark Murder. A secret brought to light … June, 1797. From his headquarters at the Villa Mombello near Milan, the French revolutionary army’s young general, one Napoleon Bonaparte, dictates peace terms to Europe’s monarchies with breath-taking ease and arrogance. But when a series of malicious events at Mombello threaten to set Italy ablaze once again, and talk of a ghoul stalking in the night committing atrocities spreads like wildfire among the assembled guests, Napoleon forces failed magistrate Felix Gracchus out of retirement to solve the puzzling murders. But when a series of malicious events at Mombello threaten to set Italy ablaze once again, and talk of a ghoul stalking in the night committing atrocities spreads like wildfire among the assembled guests, Napoleon forces failed magistrate Felix Gracchus out of retirement to solve the puzzling murders. Gracchus’s unwilling escort in this military world is ambitious but underachieving young cavalry officer Dermide Vanderville. Aided by Napoleon’s unruly tomboy sister Paolette, they set about unravelling the twisted skeins of intrigue and terrible secrets clogging the mansion’s shadowy corridors.

Having just completed a complex recovery assignment, covert salvage specialist Korso is in no mood to take on another job so soon, but he has little choice when he’s contacted by Cole Ashcroft, an ex-colleague who’s calling in a debt. An official at the US Embassy in Bulgaria has approached Cole with a well-paying salvage job, but only if he can persuade Korso to plan the whole operation. A chemist for a pharmaceutical company has secretly developed a revolutionary glaucoma pill, one with an unexpected side effect that could make it the discovery of the century. But the chemist has since been found dead, and the prototypes are missing... Aware that ownership of these pills could shift the balance of military power overnight, the embassy man offers to pay Korso handsomely to locate and recover them using any means necessary. But with a job this big Korso also knows he’ll have to assemble a team to help him, and that brings its own set of problems. Because with potential profits in the billions, can he really trust anyone...? The Prototype is by Jason Dean.

Agent in the Shadows is by Alex Gerlis. There's a traitor in the pack... Who can you trust? The extraordinary final instalment of the Wolf Pack series. June, 1943. In Lyon, the capital of the French resistance, a secret meeting is held under orders from General de Gaulle. The objective is to unite all resistance factions. The future of France is on the line. But when the meeting is raided by the Gestapo under Klaus Barbie, the 'Butcher of Lyon', the plan disintegrates and the leaders are captured. The movement has been betrayed. There is a traitor in Lyon. British undercover agents Jack Miller and Sophia von Naundorf are sent to France. They must find the informer and save the resistance. But the Gestapo is on the hunt. More traitors emerging from the shadows. The net is closing.

March 2023

What The Shadows Hide is by M J Lee. To love and to cherish, till death did them part... Two desiccated bodies are found in each other's arms in the bricked up room of a derelict Victorian warehouse. After six months of work, the police have nothing and Ridpath is finally called in to investigate. Dubbed the Romeo and Juliet murders by the press, so many questions remain unanswered. Who are they? Why were they there? Who killed them? And why was the coroner so keen for him to work on this particular case? Ridpath is plunged into his most difficult investigation yet, in a race against time to discover the truth. Has an unknown serial killer been operating in Manchester for the last twenty years? 

All The Grey Cats is by Craig Thomas. Despite nearing the end of his intelligence career, spymaster Kenneth Aubrey is given yet another critical mission: he must arrange the defection of an East German officer, Kurt Winterbach, who holds important Soviet and East German military secrets. Under Aubrey’s authority, Winterbach is brutally interrogated by British Intelligence, and dies whilst trying to escape. His mother, the vengeful senior KGB officer Brigitte Winterbach, blames Aubrey and seeks retribution, with the power of the Stasi at her disposal. Meanwhile in Nepal, Tim Gardiner,Aubrey’s adoptive son and ex-Ghurkha, finds himself hunted down by an East German wet squad. He knows something he shouldn’t: the KGB are planning a coup in the wake of the death of the king. But what he doesn’t yet know, is that his life is intended to be a forfeit for Kurt Winterbach’s. With Russian war planes poised to invade and riots breaking out as the king approaches his death, Gardiner will be the bait to lure Aubrey into a fateful meeting with Bridgitte Winterbach only hours before the Soviet takeover, in which the future of Nepal hangs explosively in the balance…

April 2023

Welcome to Eldey, an island with deadly secrets. Mona is a carefree artist, staying at The Cloister to work on her illustrations. Beth is the harried mother of a toddler, on the remote Welsh island for a weekend escape with her family. Charlotte wanted a romantic getaway with her husband, not a trip with his troubled teenage stepdaughter. One of them is a serial killer who poisoned four of her friends at her eleventh birthday party. When one of the hotel guests is found dead, it becomes clear to Mallory Dawson – the night manager of the boutique island hotel and former police detective – that The Birthday Girl is among them. Three guests who fit the profile, but which of them would risk everything to kill again? The Birthday Girl is by Sarah Ward.

Dark Angel is by John Sandford. Letty Davenport’s days working a desk job are behind her. Her previous actions at a gunfight in Texas – and her incredible skills with firearms – draw the attention of several branches of the US government, and make her a perfect fit for even more dangerous work. The Department of Homeland Security tasks her with infiltrating a hacker group that is intent on wreaking havoc nationwide. Letty and her reluctant partner from the NSA pose as free-spirited programmers for hire and embark on a cross country road trip to the group’s California headquarters. But soon they begin to suspect that the hackers are not their only enemy. Someone within their own circle may have betrayed them, and has ulterior motives that place their mission – and their lives – in grave danger.

May 2023

A Thief's Justice is by Douglas Skelton. London, 1716. Revenge is a dish best served ice-cold… The city is caught in the vice-like grip of a savage winter. Even the Thames has frozen over. But for Jonas Flynt– thief, gambler, killer – the chilling elements are the least of his worries… Justice Geoffrey Dumont has been found dead at the base of St Paul’s cathedral, and a young male sex-worker, Sam Yates, has been taken into custody for the murder. Yates denies all charges, claiming he had received a message to meet the judge at the exact time of death. The young man is a friend of courtesan Belle St Clair, and she asks Flynt to investigate. As Sam endures the horrors of Newgate prison, they must do everything in their power to uncover the truth and save an innocent life, before the bodies begin to pile up. But time is running out. And the gallows are beckoning...

June 2023

Black Valley Farm is by Sheila Bugler. She tells everyone her name is Clare Brown. She's twenty-seven years old. She's an only child. Her parents were killed in a car crash. She used to have a black cat called Ollie. None of these things are true. Ten years ago, nine people were found dead at Black Valley Farm. The only suspect was never found. Clare has spent a decade living a lie but a new podcast on the murders threatens to bring her carefully built life crashing down. But Clare isn’t the only one hiding something. Somebody knows she’s lying, and they’ll stop at nothing to ensure the truth never comes to light. 

Friday 13 January 2023

Rebus: A Game Called Malice

 Six characters in search of a solution…

The world premiere of REBUS: A GAME CALLED MALICE is at Queen's Theatre Hornchurch 2nd - 25th February. Written exclusively for the stage by Ian Rankin and Simon Read

Directed by award winner Robin Lefevre with the lead role played by John Michie, best known for his roles as DI Robbie Ross in STV’s Taggart and Karl Munro in ITV’s Coronation Street. Michie will be joined by Rebecca Charles, Billy Hartman, Emily Joyce, Forbes Masson and Emma Noakes

A splendid dinner party concludes with a game created by the hostess. A murder in a stately home needs to be solved. Suspects, clues and red herrings await… but the dinner-party guests have secrets of their own, threatened by the very game they are playing. And among them is Inspector John Rebus. True crime is his calling – is he playing an alternative game, one to which only he knows the rules? There is danger with every twist and turn – and a shocking discovery will send this game called Malice hurtling towards a gasp-inducing conclusion...

Thursday 12 January 2023

MWA Announces 2023 Special Awards – Grand Master, Raven & Ellery Queen Recipients


MWA Announces 2023 Grand Master, Raven 

and Ellery Queen Award Recipients

Today Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announces the recipients of its special awards. The board chose Michael Connelly and Joanne Fluke as the 2023 Grand Masters, the 2023 Raven Award recipients are Crime Writers of Color and Eddie Muller, and The Strand Magazine will receive the Ellery Queen Award. They will accept their awards at the 77thAnnual Edgar Awards Ceremony, which will be held on April 27, 2023 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square in New York City.

Mystery Writers of America is thrilled to announce the recipients of our special awards for 2023. It’s always such a joy to recognize deserving individuals for their outstanding contributions to our genre. Michael Connelly and Joanne Fluke have contributed so much to the genre through their hard work and amazing careers, and they will continue to influence and inspire future generations of writers long after they receive their awards,” said MWA Executive Vice President Greg Herren.

MWA’s Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.

Connelly’s nomination cited Bosch’s mantra from the first in the series, The Black Echo, to the present day also sums up Connelly’s approach to his craft: “Everybody counts or nobody counts,” adding “What those five words have meant to the readers of mystery fiction in the past 37 years can’t be overstated.”

On being notified of the honor, Connelly said, “All I can say is I’m overwhelmed. When you look at the list of previous Grand Masters you see every writer that ever inspired you. So overwhelming. I first got published thirty years ago and I remember everything about it. To think that that guy of thirty years ago would end up with this honor is really quite amazing. I am truly honoured.”

Connelly is the author of 31 novels, including multiple #1 New York Times bestsellers. His books, which include the Harry Bosch series and Lincoln Lawyer series, have sold more than 74 million copies worldwide. Connelly is a former newspaper reporter who has won numerous awards for his journalism and his novels and is the executive producer of both Bosch TV series and The Lincoln Lawyer. He spends his time in California and Florida.

Fluke launched her series 21 years ago with Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (2001). Since then, she has written 30 Hannah Swenson Mysteries, the most recent being 2022’s Caramel Pecan Roll Murder. The series also has the distinction of being turned into five hugely successful Murder, She Baked films for the Hallmark Channel. Fluke has also written suspense, thriller, and romance novels under her own name and pseudonyms. Like Hannah Swensen, she was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota, but now lives in sunny Southern California.

On learning of the honor, Fluke said, “I am very grateful to be mentioned in the same breath as such legends as Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen and John le CarrĂ© . . . Speaking of breathing, I’m very glad I still am!

Previous Grand Masters include Laurie R. King, Charlaine Harris, Jeffery Deaver, Barbara Neely, Martin Cruz Smith, William Link, Peter Lovesey, Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Ken Follett, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Stephen King, Ira Levin, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie, to name a few.

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. For 2023, Mystery Writers of America selected Crime Writers of Color (CWoC), “an association of authors seeking to present a strong and united voice for members who self-identify as crime/mystery writers from traditionally underrepresented racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” and Eddie Muller, host of the Turner Classic Movies series Noir Alley and founder and President of the Film Noir Foundation.

Speaking for CWoC, co-founders Gigi Pandian, Kellye Garrett, and Walter Mosley wrote, “When we first started talking about the idea that became Crime Writers of Color, we never imagined the small informal group would become such a big and thriving community in just a few years. Our goal was always to create a safe and supportive space for fellow writers of color to network and thrive. So, to know that the group is making a positive impact in the mystery community as a whole is so gratifying, and to be recognized by MWA in our fifth year is such an honor! We thank you on behalf of all our 350-plus members who are in all stages of their career.”

Muller is best known as the host of the Turner Classic Movies series Noir Alley, a weekly showcase for the best of crime cinema and for his lively, erudite intros and outros to these movies, in which he always foregrounds writers—novelists and screenwriters both—in the conversation. At the Film Noir Foundation (FNF), which makes restoring and preserving films from around the globe a priority, Muller has personally saved many motion pictures from disappearing, among them acclaimed titles like The Prowler, written by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and Too Late for Tears.

In response to learning he would receive the Raven Award, Muller wrote, “I was completely surprised! The crime and mystery fiction community—writers, editors, booksellers, and readers—is a wonderfully warm, supportive, and generous tribe and I’m happy to have been a small part of it for the past 20 years. Having my eclectic endeavors rate a Raven—what a delightful surprise, and what an honor! I’m extremely grateful to MWA.

Previous Raven Award recipients include Lesa Holstine, Malice Domestic, Left Coast Crime, Marilyn Stasio, The Raven Bookstore, Sisters in Crime, and Oline Cogdill.

The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.” This year the Board chose to honor The Strand Magazine, a bimonthly periodical known as much for its incisive articles about the mystery world and its practitioners and penetrating interviews with top authors like James Patterson and Lee Child, as for unearthing lost short stories penned by now-dead literary greats, such as a 600-word short story by Raymond Chandler, written in the 1950s toward the end of his life, as well as the forgotten fiction of such giants as Dashiell Hammett, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and H.G. Wells.

On learning they would receive the Ellery Queen Award, managing editor Andrew Gulli said, “When The Strandstarted 25 years ago, we had no idea how big it would get. So, it’s great to see The Strand being honored with the Ellery Queen Award from Mystery Writers of America. MWA has always felt more like a community—one in which I’ve formed strong friendships and where The Strand has found some of its best authors. As a print publication with a strong online presence, The Strand has had to continuously adapt to an ever-changing industry and being honored with the Ellery Queen Award from MWA serves as definite proof that print is not only alive but kicking! Here’s to another 25 years!

Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Juliet Grames, Reagan Arthur, Kelley Ragland, Linda Landrigan, Neil Nyren, Charles Ardai, and Janet Hutchings.

Eddie Muller’s dedication to preserving the marvelous legacy of noir and crime films by bringing classics to new generations of viewers through his work with TCM and his foundation is more than worthy of recognition,” Herren said. “The Strand Magazine’s legacy of quality has never faltered and remains a must-read for crime fans. The impact of Crime Writers of Color, not only in crime fiction but across the board in publishing, may not be quantifiable, but can be seen at every conference, awards ceremony, and bestseller list. It’s an incredible list of honorees. We are in a golden age of crime fiction, and it’s very exciting to see.

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