Tuesday 28 November 2023

Rachel Lynch on writing The Rich

Writing The Rich was a new challenge for me after writing eleven Kelly Porter police procedural books, but that was the point; I wanted to explore a new world. The world of the privileged elite and how they seem to stay out of the crime statistics and tend to be treated differently, even when caught, fascinated me. 

Diving into a new setting in Cambridge, as well as a host of new characters filled me with both excitement and trepidation. I love crafting new personalities for my books, but pulling it off, after the Kelly Porter books achieving such incredible success, was daunting. Writing a psychological thriller, with untrustworthy characters, numerous villains and a flawed hero made me face a new set of rules. In police procedural, good battles evil and the detective solves the riddle in the end; in the world of the psychological thriller, it’s all about the twists and suspense, and I wanted to make The Rich a true whodunnit right to the last page.

Writing crime from the point of view of those involved, rather than a hero trying to do good, was also new. Doctor Alex Moore is a psychologist to the wealthy of Cambridge, and she counsels an array of clients, but her own life isn’t perfect. She has three children, all of whom struggle with their own pressures, and an alcoholic husband. I wanted to make Alex as vulnerable as her clients, because at the end of the day, she’s human too. Simply because she’s a therapist for other people’s problems doesn’t mean she has none of her own. It was important to me that none of my characters were untouched by trauma because I believe it’s more of a reflection of true life.

In exploring the devastating effects of tragedy on people’s lives, I wanted to shine a light on their secrets and how they lie to protect them. As Alex steers her clients through their healing, she doesn’t stay immune to the impact that one’s past has on the present. As all their pasts unravel, it’s soon clear that when a person carries damage around with them, they’ll go to startling lengths to deceive. The plot was a complex one, but I’m used to that with my Kelly books, and I enjoy giving the reader multiple voices to contend with.

There’s often a serious social injustice theme to my writing and the Kelly books handle tough topics such as knife crime, bullying, people trafficking, drug abuse and serious crime. I wanted to be just as robust with The Rich by exposing the glaring discrepancies in the incidence of crime amongst people with adverse childhood experiences. It’s indisputable that you’re far more likely to go to prison, become an addict, fail in school, or have a shorter life expectancy if you have faced several childhood traumas and I wanted to play with the concept that, as a result of this inequity, The Rich could literally get away with murder, because society believes a certain stereotype of a criminal. This is exactly what Doctor Alex exploits in The Rich and her knowledge of the system puts her at the centre of the race to find out who committed a terrible crime.

I must admit I do have a soft spot for the baddies I create. I have fun with all my characters, and I find writing despicable back stories highly entertaining. I hope that if I enjoy the creative process then it will come across in my writing and give my readers a more satisfying and rounded experience. I don’t shy away from hard-hitting subjects and the ending of The Rich is a good example of that. I like to push the limits of what humans will do, and the lengths they will go to avoid exposure. 

It was a fine balance juggling between the two sub-genres when I wrote The Rich. I was completing Kelly Porter book eleven at the time – I’ve just finished editing number twelve – and it was jarring moving between the two. Kelly is a rounded heroine – not perfect – who I’ve been told in reviews is highly relatable. Readers have every right to feel secure when they pick up a Kelly book that she’s going to catch the perpetrators in the end. I find that when psychological thriller fans pick up one of their favourites, they expect something quite different, and the early reviews of The Rich have borne this out. There is common loathing for some of the characters and that is the whole point. It’s not clear who is the perpetrator because they’re all flawed. The detective is inept too, which was difficult for me to craft after writing so many books about Kelly who is a consummate professional. It was hard for me to craft a police officer who is so clearly corruptible, like DS Hunt. Again, that was the point, he is blinded by the status of those he investigates and immediately looks to those with a background he sees as fitting what criminals should look like.

I would like to write more privileged thrillers, and I have plenty of ideas. It’s a well-known fact that, as humans, we judge people within seven seconds of meeting them and much of that assessment balances on appearance, accent, and perceived social status. This is how to get away with murder.

The Rich by Rachel Lynch (Canelo) Out Now

They can buy everything except the truth. Each week, they come to lie on her couch. Carrie, Henry and Grace. They don’t know one another, but Dr Alex knows them all too well. She listens as they reveal their dirtiest little secrets. Then a murderer strikes in their elite neighbourhood. Could her clients hold the answers? As a psychologist, she knows that anyone can be a killer if they’re pushed hard enough. But only some can get away with it.

Rachel Lynch can be found on X at @r_lynchcrime. She can also be found on Facebook.


Monday 27 November 2023

Jane Jesmond on what she likes best about writing.

What bits do I love writing most? It's a question that crops up from time to time and it's pretty tricky to answer because I love everything about writing crime fiction: plotting the twists and turns; inventing perilous situations for my characters to escape from; exploring interesting places for settings. Or at least I love it when the words are flowing!

But if you put a gun to my head and told me I had to choose, I would say that it's writing the characters and their relationships with each other that I get the most pleasure from. There's nothing to beat that moment when I suddenly feel I know a character better than my friends and family. When I know what they'll say or do or react without having to think too much about it. 

I've always thought that moment arrives because I put a lot of background work into developing characters - coming up with life histories, asking them questions and searching for pictures that convey some aspect of them - all to ensure that their actions and reactions are true to themselves or making sure there's a consistency running through them.

So I was a bit disconcerted when an interviewer asked me the following about Phiney, the often-grumpy nurse whose grandad dies in mysterious circumstances at the start of my latest book A Quiet Contagion

Tell me about Phiney, the interviewer said, she's a bundle of contradictions isn't sheAnd she went on to list all the inconsistencies in Phiney's character. 

After I'd spent the obligatory 10 minutes panicking that I'd got it all wrong, I made myself think a bit more calmly. It is true Phiney is contradictory and conflicted. She obsesses about living a chemical-free life while administering toxic drugs as an oncology nurse. She is judgmental (internally anyway) about other people while giving in to her own worst failings. But aren't we all contradictory? Isn't that what makes Phiney so human? So relatable? 

There's often a conflict between what we'd like to do and what we actually do. We behave differently according to the situation we find ourselves in. I have 100 times more patience in a professional situation than I do with my family. And while we're thinking about family, how many parents have been pleasantly surprised when an acquaintance has described their sulky, stroppy teenager as charming or considerate?

Maybe I had got it right after all! The development work, the histories, the interviews and pictures were part of the process leading up to the point where I'd immersed myself in Phiney's character enough for instinct to take over. Because so much of writing is instinctive - or at least it is for me. I do the background work. I plan. I produce spread sheets and use post it notes. I write brain maps. But, in the end, it comes down to the words that come out of my head and appear on the page as I'm writing and I often don't quite know where they come from. 

The Quiet Contagion by Jane Jesmond. (Verve Books) Out Now

Six decades. Seven people. One unspeakable secret. 1957. A catastrophe occurs at the pharmaceutical lab in Coventry where sixteen-year-old Wilf is working for the summer. A catastrophe that needs to be covered up at all costs. 2017. Phiney is shocked by the death of her grandfather, Wilf, who has jumped from a railway bridge at a Coventry station. Journalist Mat Torrington is the only witness. Left with a swarm of unanswered questions, Phiney, Mat and Wilf's wife, Dora, begin their own enquiries into Wilf's death. It is soon clear that these two events, sixty years apart, are connected - and that Wilf is not the only casualty. But what is the link? And can they find out before any more lives are lost?

Jane Jesmond writes crime, thriller and mystery fiction. Her debut novel, On The Edge – the first in a series featuring dynamic, daredevil protagonist Jen Shaw – was a Sunday Times Best Crime Fiction of the Month pick. The sequel, Cut Adrift, was selected as a Times Thriller of the Month and a Sunday Times Book of the Year upon its publication. Jesmond also recently published Her, a speculative standalone novel, with Storm Publishers. A Quiet Contagion is a brand-new standalone and her third book with VERVE Books

Saturday 25 November 2023

Ngaio Marsh Awards


It's official! After months of judging and some tough decisions to parse some amazing books, the 2023 Ngaio Marsh Awards winners were announced last night following a special Ngaios-WORD Christchurch (New Zealand) event and pub quiz MCed by Kiwi crime queen Vanda Symon, the winners are:

Best Non-Fiction

Missing Persons by Steve Braunias

Best First Novel: 

Better the Blood by Michael Bennett

Best Novel: 

Remember Me by Charity Norman


From Craig Sisterson, organizer of this amazing Award: 

Whakamihi to our winners, and all the terrific 2023 Ngaios finalists, longlistees, and entrants. 

Kia ora rawa atu to our international judging panels, readers, WORD Christchurch, and all the libraries involved in our Mystery in the Library series. Another fabulous year.

Friday 24 November 2023

Royston Reeves on the Inspiration for The Weatherman

When I was sixteen or seventeen, I saw something on the local news that sent a shiver straight through me. This kid from a neighbouring college had gone out for drinks in Brentwood one Friday night and ended up accidentally killing a person.

After chucking out time, there’d been an altercation in the street. This kid had pushed someone, who’d tripped and fallen over backwards. The back of the guy’s head collided with a concrete kerb and he’d died instantly. One second they’re arguing, the next, the guy was dead. 

I couldn’t stop thinking about the horror of that moment. The daft confrontation; maybe a bit of shoving. Angry shouting. Scuffling shoes on the pavement. Then that sickening, life-changing moment of impact. A split second of mortifying silence as everyone processed the horror. And then the screaming. I can barely imagine anything more horrible.

The most terrifying part is how normal the guy was.

I remember thinking how he was just like me. 

There but by the grace of God go I.

For months it kept haunting me. I kept wondering what would have gone through the mind of the perpetrator immediately afterwards.

What would I do? Hold my hands up and await the police? Try and pretend it wasn’t me? Run and hide somewhere? Curl up in a ball on the ground? There is no useful human action at that moment. The train has left the station and it’s coming down the track for you.

Scenarios like these are the ones that have always gripped me. ‘Ordinary’ people forced into extraordinary situations; having to adapt in real-time to dark and terrifying new realities. Trying to fight to keep things normal. That’s why I wanted to write The Weatherman in first person – to take readers inside that pulsing, plunging, desperate mindset.

The Weatherman is a journey through the stomach-dropping horror of a scenario like this one. In Will’s (the protagonist) case there is an added layer of deniability: nobody saw him commit his crime. It happened in one of central London’s rare blind spots, obscured from onlookers and CCTV.

It's fascinating how pliable human morality can be in situations as taut this one. We humans are capable of morally licensing ourselves for all sorts of things when fate triggers our survival instincts. Extraordinary pressure changes people and contorts personalities into dangerously capable new shapes. The book explores how a person can descend and lose themselves in the pressure of that process.

Making the setting visceral and real was so important to landing this concept. I crafted the story around Farringdon because I worked there for almost a decade and I felt like I knew its bones, from Smithfield to the Coin Laundry.

The whole place has such a bustling, metropolitan vibe during the day: City workers, street traders and people from creative industries share a noisy and eclectic space. Then at about half six people clock off and pub culture takes over. You see all sorts of things after dark. Students sitting on kerbs eating kebabs, football fans shouting into cones, street sweepers driving those little tuk-tuk things. But then you walk around the next corner, and you could hear a pin drop. Fifty yards away from all that activity, there’s just nothing. It can be like that in inner London. There’s this eerie urban desert of commercial spaces after hours- a perfect modern setting for a moment of misadventure.

The Weatherman isn’t framed around any particular moral position. It’s more like a series of fierce, challenging collisions as the protagonist tumbles down this brutal, anxious rabbit hole. The protagonist Will is not a conventional hero. Neither is he a figure to be disliked. I hoped for Will to represent the slightly flawed, self-biased everyman. His impulsive, erratic nature ends up fanning the flames of his own downfall, no doubt, but I hope readers find his journey an exciting trip down a chillingly feasible road.

The Weatherman by Royston Reeves. Published (No Exit Press) Out Now

I'm going to tell you about the worst thing that ever happened to me.' Will's a nice guy. So when he takes a shortcut to the tube station after a few beers with his mates from work, he steps out of the way of the fellow who's staggering towards him. But he – deliberately – moves back into his path. They knock each other as they pass. Moments later one man is dead and another's life is changed forever. Or is it? There are no CCTV cameras. There was no one else in the out-of-the-way alley. Maybe the world doesn't have to end for Will after all. But there's always someone watching . . . and Will's life is about to implode.

You can follow Royston Reeves on X at @royston_reeves

Tuesday 14 November 2023

CrimeFest Announce 2024 Featured Guests



Laura Lippman and Denise Mina have been announced as the Featured Guests at one of Europe’s biggest crime fiction conventions in the spring.

CrimeFest, sponsored by Specsavers, is hosted from 9 to 12 May 2024 at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel. The biggest event of its kind in the UK, up to 150 authors will descend on Bristol appearing in over 50 panels. It attracts regular delegates from as far as Australia, the Far East, Canada, the United States and mainland Europe.

The Scottish novelist Denise Mina won the CWA John Creasy Dagger for Best First Crime Novel for her debut, Garnethill, published in 1998. Now, she is a seminal and multi-award-winning author, known for her DI Alex Morrow books, as well as adapting Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy as graphic novels. Denise has made several TV and radio documentaries, as well as frequent media appearances. She is also the first woman asked to write a new novel featuring Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow; the paperback of The Second Murderer is out April 24. Denise last headlined CrimeFest in 2013, alongside the late admired Scottish author, William McIllvanney.

The acclaimed American author Laura Lippman and former reporter on The Baltimore Sun is best known for her novels set in Baltimore featuring reporter turned investigator, Tess Monaghan. She is a two-time CrimeFest eDunnit Award winner for Wild Lake (2017) and Sunburn (2019) and has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards. Her novel, Every Secret Thing, was adapted into a 2014 film, starring Diane Lane, and Lady in the Lake was adapted into a series for Apple.

As a convention, CrimeFest is open to all published authors and known for its inclusive approach. The event is run by Adrian Muller, co-host Donna Moore, and a small team of committed volunteers.

The convention began in 2008 and attracts readers, fans, editors, publishers, and reviewers, and features the annual CrimeFest Awards.

Director and co-founder of CrimeFest, Adrian Muller, said: “It’s a real honour to be welcoming Laura and Denise to CrimeFest next year. They are both remarkable writers who generate huge amounts of respect and acclaim, in the publishing industry and with readers alike. We can’t wait to welcome them to Bristol.”

Canadian mystery writer Cathy Ace will be the Gala Dinner’s 'Leader of Toasts', toasting the authors nominated for the 2024 CrimeFest awards. Cathy's Cait Morgan Mysteries have been optioned for TV by the production company, Free@LastTV, which is behind the hit series, Agatha Raisin.

The convention has also announced a homage to PD James, the creator of Adam Dalgliesh, known as the Queen of crime fiction. The Ghost of Honour panel will feature the award-winning crime writer and lawyer, Frances Fyfield, the Sunday Times chief fiction critic, Peter Kemp, and the author, playwright, and writer and producer for TV and radio, Simon Brett.

Other acclaimed authors confirmed include chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, Vaseem Khan, the author of two award-winning crime series set in India. It also welcomes the award-winning Janice Hallett, best known for her phenomenally successful debut thriller, The Appeal.

Bristol will see some of the genre’s most established names descend, including the author, critic, and historian Martin Edwards, who returns to host one of CrimeFest’s most popular panels: Authors Remembered.

The convention also welcomes some of the newest talent, such as Abigail Dean, whose first novel Girl A in 2021 took the book world by storm. Donna Moore will be moderating a panel showcasing debut authors. 

Specsavers is the long-running sponsor of the convention. Dame Mary Perkins, who founded the national and international chain of opticians in Bristol, said: “I am an avid reader and fan of the genre, and I always look forward to CrimeFest, which is so friendly it feels like all who go are welcomed as part of a big family, connected by a love of books and reading. We are proud sponsors of the convention.

Donna Moore, co-founder of CrimeFest, said: “Generally, the crime writing community is a very friendly one, and CrimeFest has always been a down to earth, welcoming convention open to all. We continue to work hard at creating an inclusive energy.

First introduced in 2022, CrimeFest's bursary for a crime fiction author of colour returns for a third year. The bursary covers the costs of a weekend pass to the convention, with a night’s accommodation and panel appearance. Previous recipients were Saima Mir and Elizabeth Chakrabarty.

The convention also continues its Community Outreach Programme. In partnership with the independent Max Minerva’s Bookshop and participating publishers, CrimeFest gifts thousands of pounds of crime fiction books for children and young adults to school libraries.

Also, with thanks to Specsavers, librarians, students, and those on benefits are offered significantly discounted tickets.



Using Popular Culture in Crime Fiction by Lee Goldberg

It’s impossible to escape popular culture. Not only is it all around us, but it also shapes how we look at the world and, most of all, how we look at ourselves. It also impacts how we interact with the culture itself: the movies and TV shows we watch and the book we read. 

It’s a vicious circle. 

So, if you’re going to write crime novels, you can’t ignore popular culture. Crime fiction fans have been exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of crime stories in books, movies and TV…and they bring that experience to your work. 

That means as an author, you not only have to service (and some would say honor) the tropes and cliches of the genre, but also subvert them in new ways. And be aware that your readers are as familiar with them as you are.

Not only that, but your characters also have to be aware of what has come before…and what popular culture grooms us to expect. Your present-day detectives have watched Inspector MorseThe SweeneyMidsomer MurdersCSI and the ubiquitous Law & Order, too. They come into their cases with the same cultural experiences that you have…and the expectations that come along with them. I would argue that any novel that doesn’t acknowledge popular culture – TV shows, movies, songs, etc. -- is existing in some parallel universe totally unrelated to actual life. You might as well be writing fantasy.

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has often been accused of over-indulging his love of popular culture in his movies, but I would argue he’s actually underplaying the impact TV shows and movies have on us…and on even real-life cops. No police officer wore his badge on a chain around his neck until NYPD Blue came up with it and made is cool. And now juries in courtrooms unreasonably expect to be wowed by the same forensic magic that they see on CSI and NCIS…which, as one homicide cop complained to me, are about as realistic as Star Trek (note even he uses a cultural reference to ridicule the impact of culture).

How we navigate the parallels and conflicts between our lives and popular culture has been a consistent theme in many of my novels, most notably in True Fiction and in my on-going Eve Ronin series. 

So when I wrote Calico, a mash-up of a police procedural set in present day with a traditional Western set in 1883, it would have been author malpractice not to have my characters acknowledge the similarities between what they experience and aspects of popular culture that have covered similar ground….because that’s what readers will be doing, too. 

Readers of Calico will find the novel peppered with direct references to pop culture touchstones like The X-Files, the Gilligan’s Island theme, Marty McFly, the western TV series Bonanza and the cheesy Kirk Douglas movie The Final Countdown.

I don’t see those references an indulgence or a distraction. I think they not only make the characters and story more relatable to readers, but also more realistic and authentic, even as unbelievable things are happening. In fact, it’s grounding everything in authenticity (emotionally, culturally and otherwise), that makes a reader’s suspension of disbelief possible.

Stephen King certainly understands that…look how deftly he uses popular culture to seduce us into believing his fictional reality is our own…and scaring the crap out of us. Mick Herron often refers to James Bond in his excellent Slough House novels…because his “real-life” spies have seen, and been impacted by, those movies, too…and know they don’t live up to the fictional ideal.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go off and solve some real murders. Because, as Jessica Fletcher has taught me, that’s what mystery writers do….

Calico by Lee Goldberg (Severn House) Out 23 November 2023

There's a saying in Barstow, California, a decaying city in the scorching Mojave desert . . .The Interstate here only goes in one direction: Away. But it's the only place where ex-LAPD detective Beth McDade, after a staggering fall from grace, could get another badge . . . and a shot at redemption. Over a century ago, and just a few miles further into the bleak landscape, a desperate stranger ended up in Calico, a struggling mining town, also hoping for a second chance. His fate, all those years ago, and hers today are linked when Beth investigates an old skeleton dug up in a shallow, sandy grave . . . and also tries to identity a vagrant run-over by a distracted motorhome driver during a lightning storm. Every disturbing clue she finds, every shocking discovery she makes, force Beth to confront her own troubled past . . . and a past that's not her own . . . until it all smashes together in a revelation that could change the world.

More information about Lee Goldberg and his work can be found on his website. You can also find him on X at @LeeGoldberg, on Instagram @leegoldberg007 and on FaceBook.

Saturday 11 November 2023

The Unexpected Star of the Show by Sharon Bolton

In July 2015, a car veered off the road near Stirling in Scotland. The driver was killed on impact; his passenger, a young woman, was trapped in the car, badly injured, for three days. She died in hospital shortly after police, finally, found the vehicle. It’s a dreadful story, one that remained with me for a long time. We expect, on our relatively small island, that when we need them, emergency services will be there. On this occasion, something went badly wrong.

Books often begin with a simple, if disturbing, idea and trying to imagine what the poor woman went through as she waited for help to arrive was the start of The Fake Wife. In my story, Olive Anderson, dining alone in a north-eastern hotel shortly before Christmas, is surprised by the arrival of a glamorous stranger who joins her, pretending to be her wife. What starts as an alluring game quickly turns dangerous and Olive is forced to leave the hotel with the stranger, driving into a heavy snowstorm. A split-second’s loss of concentration and the car leaves the road; both women are hurt and snow quickly covers their tracks. 

I like to think of The Fake Wife as my Russian Dolls book: each mystery unfolds to reveal another, deeper puzzle and only as we learn more about the characters at its heart – Olive, her MP husband Michael, the Stranger, Michael’s first wife Eloise, and the elusive and mysterious Maddy, do we start to glimpse the deadly game these people are playing. 

Well, that’s how the book should have panned out. Pretty soon, though, something else kicked in…

The Fake Wife was conceived as a thriller packed full of puzzles, psychological, but with plenty of pacy action along the way. What it wasn’t supposed to be was a police procedural. And yet, as all writers will know, sometimes characters grab a hold of a story and make it their own. As The Fake Wife took shape, gaining flesh on its bones, it became apparent that a character I hadn’t intended to play any sort of leading role was finding himself, increasingly, in the limelight. 

Garry Mizon, a nondescript traffic cop in his mid-thirties, who hates his job and is bored with his life, was supposed to be nothing more than a factotum: a means of getting my narrative from a to b. Garry was there to fill in the gaps, to let my real main characters – Olive, Michael, Eloise and Maddy – shine through. 

And yet, almost from the first chapter, Garry took charge. His personality – awkward, painfully shy but, ultimately, true as steel – shone through. In his clumsy, unassuming, anxious way, he began to dominate the page. He became the character I felt most invested in, the one I loved above all others. Full disclosure now: the team at Orion weren’t sure at first; wasn’t he a bit too – incompetent? Too much of a bozo? I toned him down a bit but clung on to what made this man essentially Garry and as the first proofs went out, I was vindicated. The most frequent feedback comment we got back was, “I love Garry!” Far from merely serving the narrative’s purpose, Garry became the book’s star. (As I write this, proofs are going out to key influencers along with a Garry Mizon winter survival pack and his ‘driving in winter conditions’ Spotify playlist.) 

Frankly, I should have known this would happen. After all, The Fake Wife is not my first rodeo. I should have remembered that when you pack a book with twisty, unsavoury characters, the readers need someone firmly in their corner. Garry is the story’s Everyman, the character with no interesting secrets, shady past or burning ambition. He isn’t particularly good at anything, especially not being a police officer. He has no superpower, no great skill (actually, he has a couple, but being Garry, he discounts both.) In Garry, I guess, we see ourselves, the ordinary man or woman caught up in something extraordinary. Garry’s doubts are our doubts, his insecurities and lack of confidence reflect our own. 

I lost track of this as I set out on the story that became The Fake Wife, concentrating far too much on the ‘glamourous’, much less likeable characters. Had I succeeded, the story would probably have failed. But the muse took charge and the book sorted itself out. 

How does this happen? The truth is, I don’t know. I’m just glad it does. 

The Fake Wife by Sharon Bolton is published by Orion on 9th November 2023. 

You're not who you say you are. But neither is she. Olive Anderson has accepted that tonight she'll be dining alone, without her husband. So when a beautiful stranger appears at Olive's dinner table, telling the waiter she's her wife, Olive is immediately unsettled.  But the stranger wants to talk, and isn't this what Olive wants on this lonely winter night? To vent to a perfect stranger? She's too ashamed to tell her real friends the truth - six months into the marriage they all warned her against, her life is a living nightmare. Perhaps Olive should have asked the fake wife who she's really married to. Perhaps she should have known this chance encounter had something to do with her secretive husband. Because there is a string of missing women connected to Mr Anderson, and by the morning, Olive will be the latest...

More information about the author and her books can be found on her website. You can also find her on X @AuthorSJBolton and on Facebook.

Sunday 5 November 2023

Forthcoming Books From Bitter Lemon Press

January 2024 

Tokyo, 1958. Teiko marries Kenichi Uhara, ten years her senior, an advertising man recommended by a go-between. After a four-day honeymoon, Kenichi vanishes. Teiko travels to the coastal and snow-bound city of Kanazawa, where Kenichi was last seen, to investigate his disappearance. When Kenichi’s brother comes to help her, he is murdered, poisoned in his hotel room.  Soon, Teiko discovers that her husband’s disappearance is tied up with the so-called “pan-pan girls”, women who worked as prostitutes catering to American GIs after the war. Now, ten years later, as the country is recovering, there are those who are willing to take extreme measures to hide that past. Point Zero is by Seichõ Matsumoto.

March 2024

The Translator is by Harriet Crawley. Clive Franklin, a Russian language expert in the Foreign Office, is summoned unexpectedly to Moscow to act as translator for the British Prime Minister. His life is turned on its head when, after more than a decade, he discovers that his former lover, Marina Volina, is now the interpreter to the Russian President. At the embassy, Clive learns of a Russian plot to cut the undersea cables linking the US to the UK which would paralyse communications and collapse the Western economy. Marina stuns Clive with the news that she’s ready to help stop the attack, betraying her country for a new identity and a new life. Clive becomes the go-between, relaying Marina’s intelligence to MI6 back in London. What are the odds that two lovers, running the Moscow marathon with the FSB on their backs, can save Western Europe from economic meltdown?

May 2024

Hot Stage is by Anita Nair. A Bangalore police procedural featuring Inspector Borei Gowda, a splendidly grumpy, hard-drinking, deeply flawed character whose chaotic home life includes an absent wife, an estranged son and an enigmatic mistress. It all begins when elderly Professor Mudgood is murdered in his kitchen at 2 am on a November night. As Gowda investigates, he discovers that many people might have wanted the professor dead. He had been a vocal critic of the Hindutva Movement whose ethnic nationalism has gained traction recently, often at the expense of Islamic and Christian minorities. Also disturbing is the fact that the professor's extensive property in the centre of bustling Bangalore would be a gold mine in the hands of ruthless developers with access to corrupt politicians. And there is no shortage of such characters, even in the professor's immediate entourage. The fast-paced plot has many surprising twists leading to an ominous end, but police work is not just about going out and catching crooks. All kinds of office politics, caste politics and other considerations make Gowda's life complicated. 

June 2024

October 1944, in the Republic of Salò, a German puppet state in the north of Italy and the last fascist stronghold in the country. After months of ferocious fighting on the Gothic Line, Colonel Martin Bora of the Wehrmacht is handed a new, red-hot case. Transferred to the town of Salò on the shore of Lake Garda, he must investigate the theft of a precious painting of Venus by Titian, stolen with uncanny ease from a local residence. While Bora’s inquiry proceeds among many difficulties, discovering three dead bodies throws an even more sinister light on the scene. The victims are female, very beautiful, apparently dead by their own hand but in fact, elegantly murdered. Is it the work of a serial killer, or are the homicides somehow related to the stolen Venus? Why were intriguing clues left behind for Bora to find? And why is there an official attempt to make the investigator himself appear as the culprit? Caught in an unforeseeable web of events, hounded by the Gestapo (for years at his heels on the charge of anti-Nazi activities), hopelessly in love with an enigmatic, real-flesh “Venus,” Bora must resort to all his courage and ability – not only to solve the mystery and expose the perpetrator, but also, in a breathtaking crescendo, to try to save himself from the firing squad and secure an unlikely way out... The Venus of Salò by Ben Pastor.

July 2024

It all begins with Kalmann in hot water. He’s at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, arrested during the Jan 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol Building. All he wanted was to visit his American father in the US for the Christmas holidays – but his dad takes him (and a group of MAGA friends) to the protests in Washington to “regain the house which is ours”. He is promptly arrested during the riots. Thanks to sympathetic FBI agent Dakota Leen, he’s soon on a plane back to Iceland. But not before Dakota informs him that his recently deceased grandfather was on an FBI list of suspected Russian spies working in Iceland during the Cold War. Back home, Kalmann begins to suspect that his grandfather’s death from “heart failure” was a murder. His maverick investigation uncovers another assassination and takes him to the site of a US radar station abandoned in the 1970s. So, there are now two deaths to be solved and the threat of more to come. Much to do for our unlikely amateur detective who somehow never loses heart. Kalmann and the Sleeping Mountain is by Joachim B Schmidt.

Friday 3 November 2023

Capital Crime 2024 headliners announced: Ian Rankin, Irvine Welsh, Ann Cleeves, Anthony Horowitz and Kellye Garrett



Capital Crime 2024 to be held in Spring at the Leonardo Royal Hotel 

for second year, from 30th May to 1st June.

Capital Crime, the celebrated crime and thriller festival led by Goldsboro Books’ co-founder and managing director David Headley, has announced that it will be returning in 2024 to its new home of the Leonardo Royal Hotel, from 30th May until 1st June 2024.

Authors and speakers confirmed so far are:

Ian Rankin, creator of Inspector Rebus

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh

Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland series

Author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz

Rising star of US crime fiction Kellye Garrett

Author and barrister Rob Rinder

Elly Griffiths, creator of the Ruth Galloway series

Silo creator Hugh Howey

Alex Michaelides, author of the global bestseller The Silent Patient

An unforgettable new voice in cosy crime Paula Sutton, otherwise known as the queen of cottage-core and the face behind Hill House Vintage.

The full line-up will be announced early next year.

Also returning are the festival’s Fingerprint Awards, which this year saw authors including Erin Kelly and Adele Parks celebrated for the first time ever; and the social outreach initiative, which aims to demystify the industry for young state-school Londoners considering a career in publishing. Early bird weekend tickets for next year are on sale now at www.capitalcrime.org.

In August 2023, Capital Crime returned triumphantly to London, in its brand-new home of the Leonardo Royal Hotel St Paul’s, with a star-studded three days of panels, events and launches with over 100 leading voices from crime fiction, including a sold-out event with Richard Osman and Miles Jupp.

Capital Crime co-founder David Headley said:

Next year’s line-up is already shaping up beautifully, with some of the most talented writers from all around the country signed up – and from the US, we’re delighted to welcome the enormously exciting Kellye Garrett and Silo creator Hugh Howey. I'm so delighted that Capital Crime champions authors not only on stage, but with our Fingerprint Awards where the readers vote for their winners in each category – every year our line-up reflects what fans are reading and this year's line-up is very exciting.’

Capital Crime Festival Director Lizzie Curle said:

We loved our brilliant new venue in St Paul’s, and from the feedback we’ve received from authors and attendees, so did everyone else! I’m honoured that we’ll be welcoming some of the best crime writers from around the world to join us in London, to celebrate crime and thriller writing with the authors, readers and fans who make Capital Crime possible. Our 2024 festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.’