Wednesday 31 May 2023

Crime Writers’ Association Announce New Chair

One of the UK’s most prominent writers’ societies, the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) has elected Vaseem Khan as its new chair.

Vaseem Khan is the author of two award-winning crime series set in India, the Baby Ganesh Agency series, and the Malabar House historical crime novels. He is the first non-white author to chair the CWA.

The CWA, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, was founded in 1953 by the prolific author John Creasey.

Vaseem Khan was voted in as chair on 20 May at the CWA’s Annual General Meeting, taking over from publishing polymath, Maxim Jakubowski.

 Vaseem Khan’s debut, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, became a top ten bestseller, and was translated into 17 languages. He was awarded the CWA Historical Dagger for Midnight at Malabar House.

Vaseem also co-hosts one of the UK’s most popular crime fiction podcasts with Abir Mukherjee, The Red Hot Chilli Writers, and created an online course Writing Crime Fiction for Curtis Brown Creative.

Vaseem Khan said: “It goes without saying that following in the footsteps of crime fiction greats such as Ian Rankin, Dick Francis, Peter James, and Lindsey Davis, is a singular honour. Crime writing has led the way in opening itself up to new voices and new stories. I’ve often joked that criminals are the most inclusive members of our societies, happily willing to murder, rob, and cheat anyone regardless of creed, colour, and background. I’d put crime writers in that same bracket – albeit only in fiction!” 

The CWA’s determination to promote the genre remains central to its mission. Recent initiatives include its Debut Dagger, a competition for uncontracted writers, and National Crime Reading Month, both of which help to connect crime writers and readers, as well as supporting libraries and bookshops.

 Vaseem said: “When I was published, almost a decade ago, I didn't know anyone. I was told by my agent to join the CWA and I found some friends here, and suddenly I felt less alone in an industry that can be truly frightening and confusing. If I’ve had any writing success today it’s because I’ve had the support of friends and well-wishers, especially through the difficult times. That’s what I want the CWA to be.

He continued: “My vision for the CWA is for it to be a home for all crime writers, whether you’ve sold ten million copies or ten copies. It should be a place where writers of all backgrounds can come, and know that they will be treated with respect. Ultimately, the CWA should be about inspiring the next generation of crime writers.”

Outgoing CWA chair, Maxim Jakubowski, will formerly hand over the Creasey Bell to Vaseem Khan at the annual Dagger Awards hosted in London on 6 July, a tradition passed on from chair to chair for 70 years.

The CWA hosted its first awards ceremony in 1956; Agatha Christie was the principal guest. The oldest awards in the genre, the CWA Daggers are an annual fixture on the literary calendar, and this year the awards ceremony will be co-hosted by authors Victoria Selman and Imran Mahmood.

Maxim Jakubowski said: "After two years at the helm, I leave the CWA chair with a sense of great satisfaction, with membership at an all-time high and an organisation restructured to face a promising future and in great health. I am confident my erstwhile partner in crime Vaseem will take over the baton and continue to make the CWA even more prestigious and rewarding for our members. The Creasey Bell remains in great hands.

The CWA board also sees new faces with co-vice chairs Sarah Ward and William Shaw, who take over from Antony Johnson, who will continue to provide support to the organisation. It also welcomes new board members, Nadine Matheson, Stella Oni and Morgen Witzel.

Vaseem said: “Our board is now the most diverse it has ever been, in terms of age, gender, and background, reflecting the incredibly broad church that crime writing now represents. My hope is that this signals just how welcoming we intend to be, to old members and new.”

Friday 26 May 2023

David Thompson Special Service Award announced


The Bouchercon Board announced that SARA PARETSKY is this year's recipient of the David Thompson Special Service Award!

The award is given by the Bouchercon Board to honor the memory and contributions to the crime fiction community of David Thompson, a beloved Houston bookseller who passed away in 2010. Recipients are recognised for their extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the crime fiction field.

Sara's contributions as a founder of Sisters In Crime; as a leader in helping to lay the publishing groundwork for women authors of mystery and crime fiction, and as an ongoing literacy activist, have been phenomenal.

The award will be presented during the General Members Meeting at the Bouchercon 2023 convention in San Diego. 

Thursday 25 May 2023

A.A. Chaudhuri on the Fascination of Secrets and Lies between Friends and Family

As a psychological thriller writer, I love delving into the mindsets and motivations of my characters - what makes them tick and do the things they do - while setting this against everyday set-ups we can all relate to, as readers. Whether that be the workplace, on holiday, a marriage, or indeed in the context of a family or friendship scenario. It’s this close to the bone feeling that makes the genre so compelling for me, because we can all picture ourselves in a given situation, while the darker traits of human nature psychological thrillers tend to explore are all ones that we have the potential to fall foul of, as fallible human beings. Secrets and lies are a good example of this. At some point in our lives, all of us will have held a secret or told a lie, however big or small. It’s human nature. Secrets and lies permeate every level of society and in thrillers they tend to relate to something bad or unsavoury because of course this is what thriller fiction is about. It would be very bland and dull otherwise! Readers want to be intrigued, to feel on edge, to feel the tension, conflict and sense of dread and unease between characters as they turn the pages, so what better than a juicy secret to achieve this and keep them gripped? And when such secrets and lies exist between family and friends it can ramp up that intrigue and suspense we want from our thrillers that much more because we, as readers, know the ultimate reveal and impact is going to be huge and potentially very destructive. 

In my latest psychological thriller, The Final Party, three couples gather in a luxury villa high in the hills above the glamorous town of Sorrento for the seemingly perfect fortieth birthday celebration. But their idyllic week in paradise rapidly descends into the holiday from hell when one of the group starts receiving anonymous text messages threatening to expose a dark secret from their university days, and before long one of them is dead. 

But it is not just the fear of one secret from nearly two decades ago being exposed that is haunting my characters. Each of them is plagued by their own individual secrets which is driving a wedge between them, leading to the mind games and sense of mutual mistrust and unease which typifies the psychological thriller genre. As the plot unfolds the reader is gradually let into such secrets while the characters continue to keep them from each other. The continuing suspense for the reader lies in wondering when such secrets will be found out and what the fall-out will be when that happens. 

But what makes secrets and lies between friends and family so compelling for readers? For me, the answer to that questions lies in the fact that families and friends are our support systems, the people who we trust completely, and who we rely on to be honest with us and have our backs. That being said, when they lie to us and keep potentially harmful secrets from us, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, while the guilt and shame of the person at fault can take its toll and lead to the gradual erosion of such relationships along with escalating feelings of suspicion between them. There is a famous William Blake saying which I feel encapsulates this perfectly: ‘It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.’ What he of course meant by this is that we all expect our enemies to lie to us, but it’s the last thing we expect from our nearest and dearest, and so the potential for us to react in a rash or explosive way is that much greater. 

Guilt and fear are feelings that tend to feature heavily in psychological thrillers, and often stem from a character holding a dark secret they are at pains to keep buried because they fear the consequences of it being exposed, and yet at the same time the guilt and shame they feel for deceiving their loved ones almost destroys them. I think most people can empathise with this. It’s very rare for a person not to feel conflicting emotions of fear and guilt, unless they are a sociopath of course! Again, this is what makes the psychological thriller so relatable and therefore compelling.

Of course, just because a given character has a secret they are tormented by this doesn’t necessarily make them the ultimate culprit in the overall story, but what it does do is give them more complexity and depth as a human being, which I think readers appreciate because we all have light and shade to us, and it’s important to show a character’s redeeming side. It also serves as an effective red herring, particularly in multiple person narratives where the reader is privy to various characters’ secrets and lies, all of them with the potential to be the ultimate culprit in the overall story, and so keeps them guessing until the hopefully explosive denouement. 

It's human nature to be intrigued by secrets and lies when they aren’t your own, especially when they exist between friends and family because the potential outcome is that much more destructive. It’s a theme I’m sure will continue to hold infinite appeal for psychological thriller lovers far and wide until the end of time.

The Final Party by AA Chaudhuri. (Hera Books) Out Now

Six friends. In a luxury villa set high in the hills above the glamorous town of Sorrento, southern Italy, three couples gather for the perfect 40th birthday celebration. One body. Before the week is out, one of them is dead. Countless lies. Their perfect reunion quickly becomes the holiday from hell when one of the group starts receiving anonymous messages, threatening to expose a dark secret from their university days.  As old friendships are tested to the limit, it's clear that what happens in the dark past won't stay buried...

More information about A A Chaudhuri and her books can be ffound on her website. She can also be found on Twitter @AAChudhuri, Facebook. Instagram @a.a.chaudhuri

Flying in the Dark by James Swallow

I’ve always been a bit of an aviation geek; I mean, with a surname like mine, how could I not love things that fly? 

I grew up in North London under the approaches to Heathrow, not far from the aerial car park known as the “Lambourne Stack” – for the uninitiated, that’s one of the four volumes of sky around the edges of Greater London, where airliners circle in race-track patterns while they’re waiting permission to land at one of the world’s busiest airports. I watched jets from my bedroom window when I wasn’t making models of them; I had parents who shared my interest, who toured me around museums and air shows, and when I reached seventeen, they gifted me my first flying lesson, in a little single-engine Cessna 152. 

I love the drama of flight, the romance and the excitement of it. The thrill never gets old for me, even when I’m experiencing it from back in coach class, crammed into a seat too small for my long-legged frame. I’m still looking out of that window, watching the sky streak by. 

In my previous novel AIRSIDE (Welbeck,2022) I wrote a thriller about a man whose luck had run out, bumped off the last flight home and trapped in a storm-bound airport terminal. Following it with my newest book DARK HORIZON, I realized I was writing a loosely-connected duology, with both books carrying a common aviation theme – but where AIRSIDE is about being stuck on the ground, DARK HORIZON’s pilot heroine Kate Hood finds herself trapped in the air, in the middle of a violent conspiracy that she wants no part of...but that fate won’t let her escape.

When I write a thriller, my stock in trade is a narrative at a fast pace, a page-turner high on the action. So to give that a foundation, I do my best to make sure the setting of the story is as genuine as I can make it. Writing DARK HORIZON, I talked to experts, aviation historians, fighter pilots and civil flyers alike, to make Kate’s dramatic journey feel authentic.

The concept behind her story takes inspiration from real events – several years ago, after I moved south to the leafy environs of Kent, I once more found myself under an airport approach path, but this time it was for Biggin Hill, a former World War II RAF airfield. I still get to watch flights from my office window, but now they are sleek executive jets, helicopters and occasionally, my old friend the Cessna.

As I read up on the history of the area, a detail pinged on my thriller writer radar and I immediately filed it away as the seed of a potential story. In the early-to-mid 2000s there was a scandal about the alleged use of British airports like Biggin as waypoints for clandestine “renditions” undertaken by America's Central Intelligence Agency. In these covert operations, the CIA would transport suspected terrorist captives outside of US borders, to countries with non-extradition treaties and lax laws with regard to forcible interrogation. The end-point of these flights were the infamous off-grid prisons known in the intelligence community as “black sites”. Morally and ethically grey, operations like these challenge us to consider the lines our governments and security forces are prepared to cross in the name of security. 

It’s the nature of the author that we go through life sifting the world around us for the starting points of our stories, and when I read about these “dark flights” I knew that the enclosed set-up and the secret, highly-charged nature of it would form the solid bedrock of a compelling thriller novel; and from that concept, I formulated the plot line that would become the novel DARK HORIZON, putting a lone pilot with a past she can’t escape on a collision course with a mysterious passenger who may be an innocent victim, or a murderous terrorist hiding in plain sight.

DARK HORIZON by James Swallow is published by Welbeck, out now in hardcover and eBook.

At 40,000 feet up... There is no place to hide. A fatal crash on a rain-slick road and a brutal murder in an English village set off a deadly chain of events, leading from stormy skies over the Mediterranean Sea to an explosive confrontation on a remote airstrip in North Africa... Only a handful of people know the reason why Kate Hood left the military in disgrace; now a contract pilot for a private jet company, she’s looking for a second chance and a better life. But to keep her secrets, she must take a last-minute assignment to fly a covert cargo out of the country to a non-extradition nation, with no questions asked. The cargo is a prisoner who may be the key to a violent terrorist conspiracy – but he swears he is an innocent man, wrongly accused of crimes he played no part in. And as Kate races through the night, on the ground a team of ruthless killers are hunting the people she cares about, threatening their lives to force the pilot to hijack her own aircraft. But do they plan to liberate the captive – or execute him? Trapped at the heart of an escalating crisis, Kate and her mysterious passenger must navigate the conflicting agendas of enemies and allies alike, on a flight into danger that neither of them may survive...

Learn more about James Swallow and his writing at his website You can also find him on Twitter @jmswallow

Sunday 21 May 2023

Murdle: 100 Solve 100 Devilishly Devious Murder Mystery Logic Puzzles

Every Murdle includes a list of suspects, murder locations and murder weapons. There is also a list of clues. All suspects were only in one location with one murder weapon, but only one of them committed the murder.

Use the clues to fill in the deduction grid. When, for example, you work out what weapon a suspect had, put atick in the box. At the same time, put a cross against the other weapons for that suspect because you now know they did not have those. When you have enough information in the grid - who had what, and where - use the clue in red to work out whodunit. 

Good luck, gumshoe!

Murdle: 100 Solve 100 Devilishly Devious Murder Mystery Logic Puzzles by G.T. Karber (Souvenir Press) Out 6 July 2023, creator of

From G. T. Karber, the creator of the popular online daily mystery game at, comes this fiendishly compulsive and absolutely killer collection of 100 original murder mystery logic puzzles. Join Deductive Logico and pit your wits against a slew of dastardly villains in order to discover: - Who committed the ghastly deed? - What weapon was used to dispatch the victim? - Where did the dreadful demise occur? These humorous mini-mystery puzzles challenge you to find whodunit, how, where, and why. Examine the clues, interview the witnesses, and use the power of deduction to complete the grid and catch the culprit. Packed with illustrations, codes, and maps, this is the must-have detective casebook for the secret sleuth in everyone. Are you the next Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot? You'll soon find out, if you dare to Murdle! Perfect for fans of Sudoku, Wordle, and other logic games, Karber’s Murdle is a brand new utterly addictive new puzzle for armchair detectives.

Thursday 18 May 2023

Heroine Addiction - Kate Griffin on the enduring appeal of the (very) bad girl in books

Most authors I know will admit to the obscene satisfaction derived from creating a really good villain. Unshackled from the bonds of goodness or morality, it’s often alarmingly exciting to find that the really wicked characters have a habit of creating themselves on your page or screen. They simply stroll into your head fully formed and ready for mayhem.

It’s especially shocking when that character is female.

Perhaps it’s the joy of toppling the order of things? After all, aren’t women – at heart – supposed to be empathetic, nurturing, loving and kind? Yes, they can be clever, sparky and opinionated; they can even be that most toe-curling of words ‘feisty’, but how often are they allowed to be truly, diabolically bad?

Despite years of emancipation, there’s still a whiff of sulphur about a woman who’s gone to the dark side. And there’s certainly judgement. Females who step beyond the bounds of good behaviour are regarded with more horror and even perhaps with disgust than bad men because their very existence is a threat. Whisper it, but in their rebellion against the domestic and maternal realm, wicked women are unsettling and unnatural.

It’s enraging that male villains in books frequently get to grandstand and just ‘be’ without too much sensitive exploration of their backstory, while their distaff counterparts must always have suffered terribly at some point in their past – because that’s the only way such an abomination of nature could possibly have come to be.

No writer should even look at anything on Goodreads, but it’s like Pandora’s Box. The temptation to look at reader reviews – not just of your own books – is like a Siren luring you to the crashing rocks of disappointment. Quite often I’ll love a fellow author’s wicked character, but I’ll be amazed to discover that others didn’t share my enthusiasm. All too frequently, people struggle with a book because the main female character made them feel ‘uncomfortable’, or worse they couldn’t ‘sympathise’ with her.

I don’t think Shakespeare wanted us to sympathise with Lady Macbeth, but, oh boy (or should that be ‘oh girl’?) do we remember her! 

In my new neo-Victorian Gothic novel, anti-heroine Marta is wicked to the core. There’s little point in combing through her past to find compelling reasons for her transgressive nature. She was born that way.

Rightly suspected of seducing the son of the local vicar, Marta is sent (banished more like) to Fyneshade, an ancient crumbling medieval house where she is to take up the role of governess to the owner’s motherless daughter. The usual convention of the Gothic novel sees a good girl sent to a terrible nightmarish place, but here Marta brings the darkness with her.

I hope she’s memorable in the best and worst possible ways. As Margaret Atwood rightly says: “Create a flawless character and you create an insufferable one.

I’m here to stand up for horrible heroines who are just completely themselves. These are some of my favourites.

  1. Becky SharpVanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray. Oh Becky! How do I love thee – let me count the ways. For a start, when I first read this stupendous novel at the age of 13, I’d never come across a central female character in ‘literature’ who was so deliciously wicked.  Becky is basically a charming, clever, beautiful, talented psychopath desperate to rise in society. We know she’s ruthlessly bad to the bone but she is also utterly bewitching, and readers find themselves rooting for her despite their better natures.

  2. Rebecca: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It’s odd that the woman who is dead before the novel even starts becomes such a vividly wicked presence throughout. Although the unnamed heroine of the tale is a mouse-like ingenue, very much in the classic Gothic mode, her haunting predecessor – the former wife of Max de Winter – is the dark star around which all things revolve. Rebecca is gradually revealed as a cool, brittle and heartless seductress whose flame is lovingly tended by her former lady’s maid, Mrs Danvers. Rebecca offers the joy of two exceptional anti-heroines for the price of one.

  3. Amy DunneGone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Here we have the bad girl as the ultimate unreliable narrator. We explore the mysterious disappearance of Amy through the first-person account of her husband, Nick, and, initially, through Amy’s own diary entries. It’s clear that nothing is quite what is seems, but it’s only when the reader reaches the second half of the book that Amy’s shocking, perfectly plotted wickedness is revealed. She’s not only bad, she’s brilliant and although we may not like her, we can only admire the cool precision of her evil genius. Amazing Amy indeed.

  4. Scarlett O’HaraGone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I’ll be upfront - this novel has not aged well. With its disturbingly casual racism and rose-tinted vision of America’s brutal deep Southern past it is a difficult read today, but, but… In the character of Scarlett Mitchell created an unforgettable anti-heroine and perhaps set the template for countless fascinatingly amoral, unlikeable females in books. Spoiled, vain and ruthlessly calculating, Scarlet will do anything to get what she wants. Her badness rips through the pages like the Great Fire of Atlanta. 

  5. The Marquise de Merteuil: Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. I’ll hazard a guess that although they’re familiar with the film, a lot of people haven’t read this epistolary novel of 1782 - and that’s a pity as it’s quite the page-turner. I came across it at university when it was part of the ‘Development of the European Novel’ course and I immediately fell under the spell of the beautiful, cunning, jealous, spiteful and utterly deadly Marquis whose weapon of choice is sex.

  6. Barbara: Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller. Oh my, this is a creepy read. The affair between attractive youngish pottery teacher Sheba and her fifteen-year-old pupil Steven is bad enough, but the predatory, obsessional interest of the aptly named Barbara Covett - the older teacher to whom Sheba confesses - is the stuff of nightmare.Barbara takes it upon herself to record the details of the affair and even uses gold stars to highlight key events. “This is not a story about me,” she says but actually the more she writes about Sheba, the more we learn about Barbara, and it’s quietly, claustrophobically horrifying.

  7. Beatrice: Wideacre by Phillipa Gregory. Before the Other Boleyn Girl, there was Wideacre, the 1987 debut by Philippa Gregory, and what a sumptuously decadent and wicked brew it was. Beatrice Lacey is the daughter of the Squire of Wideacre. At five years old she falls passionately in love with her father’s estate and decides to stay there for ever. But her dreams are shattered when she learns that her brother, absent Harry, will inherit. Wilful, wicked, sexy, amoral and ravishingly untouched by anything approaching a conscience, bad beauty Beatrice will do anything to make sure she keeps Wideacre. I love her. This review from the dreaded Goodreads tells you everything you need to know: 

“I absolutely hated this book… The heroine is despicable in every possible way, yet the author clearly expects you to root for her à la Scarlett O’Hara. She commits multiple acts of murder, participates in very creepy incest, and betrays people who love her. I’m not particularly squeamish, but I do require some redeeming qualities in a protagonist if I’m to forgive them all that, and Gregory didn’t provide them.”

Fyneshade is by Kate Griffin (Viper Books) Out Now

Many would find much to fear in Fyneshade's dark and crumbling corridors, its unseen master and silent servants. But not I. For they have far more to fear from me... On the day of her beloved grandmother's funeral, Marta discovers that she is to become governess to the young daughter of Sir William Pritchard. Separated from her lover and discarded by her family, Marta has no choice but to journey to Pritchard's ancient and crumbling house, Fyneshade, in the wilds of Derbyshire.

All is not well at Fyneshade. Marta's pupil, little Grace, can be taught nothing, and Marta takes no comfort from the silent servants who will not meet her eye. More intriguing is that Sir William is mysteriously absent, and his son and heir Vaughan is forbidden to enter the house. Marta finds herself drawn to Vaughan, despite the warnings of the housekeeper that he is a danger to all around him. But Marta is no innocent to be preyed upon. Guided by the dark gift taught to her by her grandmother, she has made her own plans. And it will take more than a family riven by murderous secrets to stop her...

Monday 15 May 2023

No Ordinary Day with Matt Johnson and John Murray.

 Author Matt Johnson in conversation with contributor John Murray to talk about how this book came about.

Matt Johnson

Matt: John, perhaps we should explain who we are first, about the campaign and how this all got started?

John: April 17th 1984, a day that will forever live in our memories. Yvonne and I were both uniform PCs at Bow Street. On that day, we were scheduled to do some routine work but were re-assigned to a demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’s Square. You were driving the local traffic car, as I now know.

Matt: That’s right, and although I’d never met you at that time, I knew Yvonne quite well. Not too long before, she’d been at my house warming party with Mick Liddle, her fiancé. Matt: John, perhaps we should explain who we are first, about the campaign and how this all got started?

John: April 17th 1984, a day that will forever live in our memories. Yvonne and I were both uniform PCs at Bow Street. On that day, we were scheduled to do some routine work but were re-assigned to a demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’s Square. You were driving the local traffic car, as I now know.

Matt: That’s right, and although I’d never met you at that time, I knew Yvonne quite well. Not too long before, she’d been at my house warming party with Mick Liddle, her fiancé. 

John Murray

John: Mick was on the demonstration as well, just a few yards from us. We were standing facing about fifty noisy demonstrators who were venting their anger against Colonel Gaddafi. I remember hearing a noise like fire crackers going off and then everything went silent, not a sound. Then, from the crowd somebody screamed.

Matt: When did you first realise Yvonne and many others had been shot?

John: It took a while; I mean who would ever have expected a man to open up on us with a Sterling machine gun from the first floor of the Embassy? Yvonne and I had changed position several times and it was only a moment earlier when she’d come across to me and offered to swap. The people in front of me were particularly vocal so she was doing me a favour. She was in my line of sight and I saw her go down. I thought she’d tripped over but it was only as she writhed in agony that I realised it was more serious than that. Our Sergeant, Howard Turner, helped me with her and it was then we saw the blood and her wound.

Matt: So, you knew then you’d been shot at and many people had been hit?

John: We all realised, if they opened up again we were sitting ducks. But there were injured people who needed help and, as we know, that sometimes means risking it all to do that. Together with another PC called Pete Rogers, we lifted Yvonne and carried her to Charles II Street where it was safer. And that’s where you came in. When the ambulance arrived, you were assigned to escort us to the Westminster Hospital.

Matt: Were you able to speak to Yvonne during those moments?

John: I was. She was hurting and I used a pair of scissors to cut the waistband of her skirt. There were two Libyan students with us who’d also been shot. One was really crying. Yvonne talked to him, calmed him down and reassured him. 

Matt: She realised she’d been shot?

John: By then, yes. And I promised her I would not rest until I’d helped he get the people who’d done it.

Matt: And an hour later came the awful news, that she had died?

John: Yes, and as we know, what followed was the longest siege in UK policing history. At the end of which our Government decided everyone inside, even those suspected of involvement in the murder, would be allowed to leave without being prosecuted.

Matt: Because they had diplomatic immunity?

John: They had nothing of the kind, as we now know. Some of those Libyans were killers, bombers, terrorists. They were in the UK to murder people.

Matt: And now the full story behind what happened that day is about to be told in this book. 

John: Yes, and if you don’t mind me saying, you’ve done an incredible job. This was a three dimensional jigsaw of information, some related, some apparently quite random. You’ve pieced it together with the skill of a detective.

Matt: Do you recall how the idea to write it came about?

John: The Victoria Derbyshire show had the idea to mark the anniversary of the murder with a reunion. They wanted to talk to me about what was a 36 year campaign at that time, and to bring me together with you, with Tony Long from the firearms team and with Clive Mabry, that legend amongst police officers.

Matt: Clive being the PC who sneaked into the Square late at night and under cover of darkness to recover Yvonne’s hat from the street outside the Libyan Embassy?

John: I’d never met him. We knew he existed but it was the BBC researcher who tracked him down. Ex-para. Brave as you can imagine. Rescued her hat so it could sit on her coffin for the funeral.

Matt: The coffin you personally carried into Salisbury Cathedral.

John: That’s right. I repeated my promise to her that day as well. I promised I would get the men that did it. 

Matt: Do you remember how the idea for a book came up that day?

John: I’ve read all your novels and loved them. And I remember you dedicated your very first novel to Yvonne’s memory. Clive suggested it as we talked about those books. He reckoned you could do it because you’d be able to get access to people that an ordinary writer couldn’t. And they’d talk you because of your pedigree. 

Matt: I remember I took a long time thinking about it. It was a lot of responsibility. I’d never written non-fiction before and I didn’t want to let you down, to let down Yvonne’s memory. Even once I’d started I had many doubts.

John: It was a mammoth task. We knew there was stuff in the National Archives waiting to be discovered and there was a story to be told but it grew to even more than I expected.

Matt: Amazing to think what the Government was up to in those days, supposedly in our best interests?

John: And what they’re almost certainly up to today.

Matt; So, what is your hope for the book?

John: I’m hoping people will read it and learn the truth. Over the years I’ve talked to more people than I could count who remember where they were and what they were doing on the day Yvonne was shot. This was a national tragedy not just a police tragedy. I want people to understand what drove me to do the best for my friend and to secure justice for her. I want them to know who killed Yvonne, how they did it and why. And I want them to know why our Government wanted the killers to go free. What about you, similar I’d guess?

Matt: Yes, all as you describe. But for me there’s more. I want people to learn about you and about how brave you’ve been, the personal risks you’ve taken and the dangers you’ve faced and, despite all that, you never gave up. And I want people to read how events that day shaped policing in the UK for the next forty years, and in ways they might hardly have believed. The truth, I think, will shock people but sadly, I fear it may not surprise them.

John Murray has fought for nearly 40 years to secure justice for the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. No Ordinary Day tells the story of that fight.

No Ordinary Day: Espionage, Betrayal, Terrorism and Corruption - The Truth Behind the Murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher by Matt Johnson with John Murray (Mardle Books) Out Now.

On 17 April 1984, as police and anti-Gaddafi demonstrators gathered in the street outside the Libyan People's Bureau in London, they had no way of knowing they were about to become part of one of the greatest tragedies in British policing history. At 10.17a.m. automatic gunfire rained down on them. WPC Yvonne Fletcher was hit in the back and later died from her injuries. Twelve demonstrators were wounded. The gunmen were Libyans, both concealed behind a first-floor window of the Bureau. Two weeks later, all those present inside the Bureau, including everyone suspected of involvement in the attack, were deported from the UK. Men guilty of terrorism and murder were neither arrested nor prosecuted. As Yvonne Fletcher lay dying, her colleague and close friend PC John Murray cradled her in his arms. Before she lost consciousness, he promised her he would not rest until those responsible for her murder had been brought to justice.

Thirty-seven years would pass before John was able to fulfil that promise. Whilst writing John Murray's story, Matt Johnson identified UK government duplicity, secret service deals and how a plan to finally defeat the all-powerful National Union of Mineworkers would place the government in an invidious position when pro- and anti-Gaddafi elements brought their fight to the streets of the UK. He was able to discover why, in 1984, her killers had been allowed to go free. His extensive research also revealed how events on 17 April resulted in a 30-year government campaign to bring the police services of the UK under political control, a campaign that has driven our police service into the state of disarray we see today. The story behind what happened outside the Libyan People's Bureau is complex, shocking and revealing. Matt Johnson's compelling account pulls together a series of seemingly unconnected threads into a coherent whole, incorporating all the inter-related elements of politics, business, secret service missions and chance. For some, this will be a very uncomfortable read. For many, it may confirm what they already suspect, that we, the public, know very little of the decisions being made by our elected representatives and the actions taken by official bodies, supposedly in our best interests.

Sunday 14 May 2023

Agatha Christie Teaser Trailer - A Haunting in Venice

The official trailer for A Haunting in Venice, the third of Kenneth Branagh's Poirot adaptations has been released. When the retired detective attends a séance in a decaying, haunted palazzo in Venice, a sinister world of secrets and murder is unveiled. This supernatural thriller comes to cinemas September 15th 2023.

Inspired by the novel Hallowe’en Party, and directed by and starring Oscar® winner Kenneth Branagh as famed detective Hercule Poirot. A Haunting in Venice is set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve and is a terrifying mystery featuring the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile in the world’s most glamorous city, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.

Saturday 13 May 2023

CrimeFest Award Winners Announced

Winners of 2023 CRIMEFEST Awards 

CRIMEFEST, one of Europe’s leading crime fiction conventions, has announced the winners of its annual awards.

Now in their 16th year, the awards honour the best crime books released in the UK last year. 

The winner of the highly anticipated Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, and £1,000 prize monies, is Stacy Willingham for A Flicker in the Dark published by HarperCollins.

A psychological serial killer thriller with a shocking twist, A Flicker in the Dark was an instant New York Times bestseller and Sunday Times Thriller of the Year and is set to be adapted into a major TV series.

Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers who sponsors the award, said: “We’re thrilled to support the debut author prize. As one of the judges, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the shortlisted titles. Stacy Willingham’s debut, however, was a book I simply couldn’t put down until I had finished it.”

The eDunnit Award for the best e-book goes to Sara Gran for The Book of the Most Precious Substance, published by Faber & Faber. The absorbing occult thriller combining intrigue, magic and antiquarian bookselling was praised as “deeply atmospheric” by The Guardian.

Winner of the H.R.F Keating Award for best biographical or critical book on crime fiction is The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and their Creators by Martin Edwards, published by Collins Crime Club. Edward’s opus on the genre, described by the New York Times as a “impressive feat,” recently won a 2023 Edgar Award.

The Last Laugh Award goes posthumously to Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May's Peculiar London published by Doubleday. The author died aged 69 in March this year, having being diagnosed with cancer three years ago. His curious world of the nation’s oldest serving detectives, has been described as “deliriously eccentric” in the Financial Times, and “devilishly clever” by Val McDermid.

Best Crime Novel for Children, aged 8-12, goes to Sharna Jackson for The Good Turn published by Puffin. With themes of social activism, the spooky mystery from the former Waterstones Children's Book Prize Category Winner revolves around an internet-loving girl determined to start her own scout troop.

Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, aged 12-16, is awarded to Holly Jackson for Five Survive published by Electric Monkey. A gripping cat-and-mouse thriller, it was The Guardian Best Children’s Book of 2022.  

The Thalia Proctor Memorial Award for Best Adapted TV Crime Drama goes to Slow Horses (seasons 1 & 2), based on the books by Mick Herron. Produced by See-Saw, shown on Apple TV+, the drama, which follows a dysfunctional and disgraced team of MI5 agents, stars Gary Oldman. 

The award is named in honour of Thalia, a CrimeFest team member and a much-loved figure in the world of crime fiction, and is decided by public vote.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CRIMEFEST, said: “We are proud to be one of the few genre awards that celebrate e-books, humour, children, and Young Adult novels. Our inclusive awards reflect the values of our convention as accessible and open to all. These awards are a true celebration of the crime genre, which continues to entertain and enlighten so many readers of all ages. We would like to thank Specsavers for their on-going support in celebrating new talent.

Hosted in Bristol, CrimeFest is one of the biggest crime fiction events in Europe, and one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar, with circa 60 panel events and 150 authors over four days. Featured Guests at the convention this May are Mark Billingham and Elly Griffiths. 

Leading British crime fiction reviewers and reviewers of fiction for children and young adults, alongside the members of the School Library Association (SLA) form the CrimeFest judging panels. 

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. It was established in 2008. It follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to fans, readers, and commercially published authors. 

All category winners will receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

2023 CrimeFest Award Winners

SPECSAVERS Debut Crime Novel Award

 A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham (HarperCollins)


The Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran (Faber & Faber)


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

Last Laugh Award

Bryant & May's Peculiar London by  Christopher Fowler (Doubleday)

Best Crime Novel for Children

The Good Turn by Sharna Jackson (Puffin)

Best Crime Fiction Novel for Young Adults

Five Survive by Holly Jackson (Electric Monkey)

Thalia Proctor Memorial Award for Best Adapted TV Drama 

Slow Horses (seasons 1 & 2), based on the books by Mick Herron. Produced by See-Saw. Shown on Apple TV+. 

Friday 12 May 2023

2023 CWA Dagger Shortlists Revealed

 The 2023 shortlists for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger awards, which honour the very best in the crime-writing genre, have been announced.

2023 marks the CWA’s 70th Platinum Jubilee Year; the Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre, created in 1955.

The Gold Dagger, which recognises the crime novel of the year, sees Vaseem Khan’s The Lost Man of Bombay make the shortlist. It’s the third novel in his historical crime series set in 1950s India. The first in the series, Midnight at Malabar House, received the CWA Historical Dagger in 2021.

Khan is pitted against WC Ryan’s gothic mystery The Winter Guest, set during the Irish war of independence. Simon Mason also makes the shortlist with A Killing in November, which bravely takes on Morse’s classic Oxford setting and was a Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month. 

Also up for Gold is Anna Mazzola’s The Clockwork Girl, praised as an intoxicating story of obsession set in Paris. The Clockwork Girl has also been shortlisted for the Historical Dagger. George Dawes Green with The Kingdoms of Savannah and Simon Van der Velde’s The Silent Brother are also in contention for Gold.

Sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, the Fleming family-owned company that looks after the James Bond literary brand, the Steel Dagger celebrates the thriller of the year. Big hitters on the shortlist include Robert Galbraith with The Ink Black Heart and Linwood Barclay’s Take Your Breath Away. Last year’s winner, MW Craven, returns with The Botanist, his fifth novel in the hugely popular Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series. John Brownlow’s Seventeen, Alias Emma by Ava Glass and May God Forgive by Alan Parks are also in contention for the Steel Dagger.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “As always with the Daggers, the titles on the shortlists showcase the very best in the genre from leading publishing houses to the smaller independents, including fiction in translation, the short story, debut, and unpublished authors to watch. We are proud to say that no other awards truly showcase the depth and breadth of talent in this enduring genre.

The CWA welcome new sponsor, International Literary Properties (ILP), for the ILP John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. ILP own, invest in and proactively manage the estate of the late John Creasey, who founded the CWA and whose name is associated with the award for best debut novel.

The award-winning journalist Amanda Cassidy has her first novel Breaking on the debut shortlist, alongside Australian writer Hayley Scrivenor, with her debut Dirt Town, a number one Australian bestseller. 

Emma Bell, SVP Creative and Brand and Executive Producer for ILP, said: “John Creasey was a truly original talent. His tenacity and flair are an inspiration for writers everywhere and so it is fitting that his spirit is celebrated annually through the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.” 

The shortlist for the Historical Dagger includes Harini Nagendra with her fiction debut The Bangalore Detectives Club, set in the cacophony of 1920s Bangalore. A Financial Times Book of the Year, Blue Water by Leonora Nattrass also makes the shortlist, praised for combining page-turning detective fiction with eighteenth-century political intrigue. Other contenders are DV Bishop’s The Darkest Sin, The Homes by JB Mylet, and Sarah Smith’s Hear No Evil.

The Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger, sponsored in honour
of Dolores Jakubowski, sees The Bleeding by French novelist Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner) pitted against the great Spanish writer, Javier Cercas, and his international bestseller, Even The Darkest Night (translated by Anne McLean). Also, up for the accolade is Good Reasons to Die by Morgan Audic, set in the radioactive Chernobyl exclusion zone in a dislocated Ukraine, translated by Sam Taylor. 
French authors Hervé Le Tellier and Michel Bussi, alongside China’s bestselling Zijin Chen, also make the shortlist.

The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story. This year’s shortlist includes the mother and daughter duo, Victoria Dowd and 16-year-old Delilah Dowd, with The Tears of Venus. They face stiff competition with short stories from Leigh Bardugo, Sanjida Kay, Abir Mukherjee, CJ Tudor and Hazell Ward.

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction shortlist includes 2020’s Diamond Dagger winner Martin Edwards with his non-fiction opus The Life of Crime. He’s up against The Poisonous Solicitor, the true story of a 1920s murder mystery by Stephen Bates, praised for his meticulous research. 

The shortlist also features About A Son, A Father’s Search for Truth by David Whitehouse, which was praised by Elizabeth Day as “a dispatch from the frontiers of the human heart”. Authors Wendy Joseph, Amit Katwala, Julie Mackay, and Robert Murphy are also on the non-fiction list.

The Dagger in the Library is voted on exclusively by librarians, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year sees firm favourites from the genre: Ben Aaronovitch, Sophie Hannah and, for the first time on this list, Mick Herron, famed for the hit Jackson Lamb novels.

The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, features Harper Fiction, Mantle, Michael Joseph, Pushkin Vertigo, Quercus and Viper.The Dagger for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, features Harper Fiction, Mantle, Michael Joseph, Pushkin Vertigo, Quercus and Viper.

The Daggers also celebrate unpublished authors with its annual competition for aspiring crime novelists, the Debut Dagger, sponsored by ProWritingAid. The competition to find the best new voices in the genre has been finding the next big names in crime fiction for over 20 years. The winner will receive £500 as well as the attention of leading agents and top editors; over two dozen past winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger authors have been signed to date. 

The CWA Diamond Dagger, awarded to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, is announced in early spring each year and in 2023 it was awarded to Walter Mosley.

The winners will be announced at the Daggers awards night on Thursday 6 July at the Leonardo City Hotel in London, with guest speaker, author Charlie Higson.

The winner of the Margery Allingham Short Mystery Prize, run by the CWA in partnership with the Margery Allingham Society, was announced as Judith O’Reilly with story, ’How to Catch a Bullet in a Plate and Other Tricks to Astound,’ praised by judges as “fabulously clever.” Judith, a former journalist, is a novelist whose thriller series starring elite assassin and spy-for-hire, Michael North, extends to three books, published under the name Jude O’Reilly. Judith wins £500 and a pass for CrimeFest 2024.

The Shortlists in Full:


The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green (Headline Publishing Group)

The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)

A Killing in November by Simon Mason (Quercus)

The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola (Orion)

The Winter Guest by WC Ryan (Bonnier Books UK)

The Silent Brother by Simon Van der Velde (Northodox Press)


Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay (HarperCollins, HQ)

Seventeen by John Brownlow (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Botanist by MW Craven (Little, Brown Constable)

The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith (Sphere)

Alias Emma by Ava Glass (Penguin Random House UK, Century)

May God Forgive by  Alan Parks (Canongate)


Breaking by Amanda Cassidy (Canelo)

The Local by Joey Hartstone (Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo)

London in Black byJack Lutz (Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo)

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan)

No Country for Girls, Emma Styles (Sphere)

Outback, Patricia Wolf (Bonnier Books UK, Embla)


The Darkest Sin, DV Bishop (Pan Macmillan, Macmillan)

The Clockwork Girl, Anna Mazzola (Orion)

The Homes, JB Mylet (Profile Books, Viper)

The Bangalore Detectives Club Harini Nagendra (Little, Brown, Constable)

Blue Water Leonora Nattrass (Profile Books, Viper)

Hear No Evil, Sarah Smith (John Murray Press, Two Roads)


Good Reasons to Die, Morgan Audic translated by Sam Taylor (Welbeck Publishing Group, Mountain Leopard Press)

The Red Notebook, Michel Bussi translated by Vineet Lal (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Even the Darkest Night, Javier Cercas translated by Anne McLean (Quercus, MacLehose Press)

Bad Kids, Zijin Chen translated by Michelle Deeter (Pushkin Press, Pushkin Vertigo)

The Bleeding, Johana Gustawsson translated by David Warriner (Orenda Books)

The Anomaly, Hervé Le Tellier translated by Adriana Hunter (Penguin Random House UK, Michael Joseph)


Leigh Bardugo ‘The Disappearance’ in Marple (HarperCollins)

Victoria Dowd & Delilah Dowd, ‘The Tears of Venus’ in Unlocked (The D20 Authors)

Sanjida Kay ‘The Beautiful Game’ in The Perfect Crime edited by Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski (HarperCollins)

Abir Mukherjee ‘Paradise Lost’ in The Perfect Crime edited by Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski (HarperCollins)

CJ Tudor ‘Runaway Blues’ in A Sliver of Darkness (Penguin Random House)

Hazell Ward ‘Cast A Long Shadow’ in Cast A Long Shadow edited by Katherine Stansfield and Caroline Oakley (Honno Press)


The Poisonous Solicitor, Stephen Bates (Icon Books)

The Life of Crime, Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)

Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey, Wendy Joseph (Transworld)

Tremors In The Blood: Murder, Obsession and the Birth of the Lie Detector, Amit Katwala (Harper Collins)

To Hunt a Killer, Julie Mackay and Robert Murphy (HarperCollins)

About A Son, David Whitehouse (Orion Publishing Group)


Ben Aaronovitch    

Sophie Hannah

Mick Herron 


Harper Fiction (HarperCollins)

Mantle (PanMacmillan)

Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House)

Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin Press)

Quercus (Hachette)

Viper (Profile Books)

DEBUT DAGGER Sponsored by ProWritingAid

Bulldog Murphy Chris Corbett

Male, Unknown Chris Griffiths

Sideways Jeff Marsick

Heist James Pierson

The Line of Least Resistance Jeff Richards

Cradle of Storms Margaret Winslow