Wednesday 31 January 2024

Lynda La Plante and James Lee Burke Join 2024 CrimeFest Headline Acts


CrimeFest - the UK’s biggest crime fiction convention - has announced two iconic crime writers will feature at its 2024 event: Lynda La Plante and James Lee Burke.

Both are co-recipients of the prestigious 2024 Crime Writers' Association's (CWA) Diamond Dagger Award, which was announced this January.

The pair join Denise Mina and Laura Lippman as featured guests for 2024.

CrimeFest, sponsored by Specsavers, is hosted from 9 to 12 May 2024 at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel. Up to 150 authors will descend on Bristol appearing in over 50 panels.

Adrian Muller, co-host of CrimeFest, said: “Each year, CrimeFest invites the CWA Diamond Dagger winner as a featured guest. This is the first time in the CWA’s 70-year history that two authors received the Diamond Dagger, so it is a real honour to be able to host both.”

Lynda La Plante CBE began her career as an actor in TV and theatre. The BAFTA-winning Prime Suspect was released in 1991, starring Helen Mirren as DCI Jane Tennison.

As well as a career as a bestselling author, La Plante set up her own television production company, La Plante Productions, and a global rights and production company, La Plante Global.

Her current book series features Detective Jack Warr. She received a CBE for services to Literature, Drama and Charity in 2008.

Adrian said: “Lynda La Plante is a true icon, and trailblazer of the genre, particularly for women not just in publishing but in TV, thanks to the ground-breaking Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren. She is rare in that not only does she create and produce major TV shows, she also writes hugely successful novels.”

La Plante is set to publish her final book in the young Tennison series, alongside a memoir, detailing her career as an actress, television, and crime writer in 2024.

James Lee Burke will take part remotely in a live interview from America with the chair of the CWA, the crime author, Vaseem Khan.

Commenting on James Lee Burke’s Diamond Dagger award, Vasem Khan said: His prose is often considered among the best to have graced the genre.”

Born in Houston in 1936, James Lee Burkes first novel was compared to the work of Faulkner and Sartre by the New York Times. Despite this, he was out of hardback print for 13 years until his third novel, The Lost Get-Back Boogie was published and submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, after being rejected over 111 times. Over the years, has taught at universities, worked as a case worker with former felons, as a pipe-liner for an oil company, a long-distance truck driver, and a newspaper reporter.

James Lee Burke has two Edgar Awards, a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow. 

CrimeFest has a strong relationship with the CWA – as well as interviewing its Diamond Dagger winners, the convention hosts the annual reception announcing the CWA Dagger nominations each year. 2024’s line-up also includes Simon Brett, who received a Diamond Dagger in 2014, and will host a panel in tribute to PD James, who was awarded the Diamond Dagger in 1987.


Tuesday 30 January 2024

Forthcoming books from Orenda Books

January 2024

A young couple are entangled in a nightmare spiral of lies when they pretend to be someone else … The Guests is an exquisitely dark psychological suspense by the bestselling author of The Bird Tribunal Agnes Ravatn.

A young woman relies on her wits to survive when she’s taken hostage on her first shift at an Edinburgh halfway house for violent offenders. And that is just the beginning. Halfway House is the shocking, darkly funny thriller by Helen FitzGerald.

February 2024

Cub reporter Jonny Murphy is in Buenos Aires interviewing families of victims of Argentina’s Dirty War, when a headless torso has washed up on a city beach, thrusting him into a shocking investigation… Argentina. 1998. Human remains are found on a beach on the outskirts of Buenos Aires – a gruesome echo of when the tide brought home dozens of mutilated bodies thrown from planes during Argentina’s Dirty War. Flights of death, with passengers known as the Disappeared. International Tribunal reporter Jonny Murphy is in Buenos Aires interviewing families of the missing, desperate to keep their memory alive, when the corpse turns up. His investigations with his companion, freelance photographer Paloma Glenn, have barely started when Argentina's simmering financial crisis explodes around them.  As the fabric of society starts to disintegrate and Argentine cities burn around them, Jonny and Paloma are suddenly thrust centre stage, fighting to secure both their jobs and their livelihoods. But Jonny is also fighting something else, an echo from his own past that he'll never shake, and as it catches up with him and Paloma, he must make choices that will endanger everything he knows. Death Flight is by Sarah Sultoon.

The Descent is by Paul E Hardisty. Kweku Ashworth is a child of the cataclysm, born on a sailboat to parents fleeing the devastation in search for a refuge in the Southern Ocean. Growing up in a world forever changed, his only connection to the events that set the planet on its course to disaster were the stories his step-father, long-dead, recorded in his manuscript, The Forcing. But there are huge gaps in the story that his mother, still alive but old and frail, steadfastly refuses to speak of, even thirty years later. When he discovers evidence that his mother has tried to cover up the truth, and then stumbles across an account by someone close to the men who forced the globe into a climate catastrophe, he knows that it is time to find out for himself. Determined to learn what really happened during his mother's escape from the concentration camp to which she and Kweku's father were banished, and their subsequent journey halfway around the world, Kweku and his young family set out on a perilous voyage across a devastated planet. What they find will challenge not only their faith in humanity, but their ability to stay alive.

March 2024

The Collapsing Wave is by Doug Johnstone. Six months since the earth-shattering events of The Space Between Us, the revelatory hope of the aliens' visit has turned to dust and the creatures have disappeared into the water off Scotland's west coast. Teenager Lennox and grieving mother Heather are being held in New Broom, a makeshift US military base, the subject of experiments, alongside the Enceladons who have been captured by the authorities. Ava, who has given birth, is awaiting the jury verdict at her trial for the murder of her husband. And MI7 agent Oscar Fellowes, who has been sidelined by the US military, is beginning to think he might be on the wrong side of history. When alien Sandy makes contact, Lennox and Heather make a plan to escape with Ava. All three of them are heading for a profound confrontation between the worst of humanity and a possible brighter future, as the stakes get higher for the alien Enceladons and the entire human race…

When the crow moon rises, the darkness is unleashed… Martha Strangeways is struggling to find purpose in her life, after giving up her career as an investigative reporter when her young twins died in a house fire. Overwhelmed by guilt and grief, her life changes when she stumbles across the body of a missing teenager – a tragedy that turns even more sinister when a poem about crows is discovered inked onto his back...When another teenager goes missing in the remote landscape, Martha is drawn into the investigation, teaming up with DI Derek Summers, as malevolent rumours begin to spread and paranoia grows. As darkness descends on the village of Strathbran, it soon becomes clear that no one is safe, including Martha… Crow Moon is a debut novel by Suzy Aspley.

April 2024

Hamburg State Prosecutor Chastity Riley and her colleagues investigate the murders of men with a history of abuse towards women … as a startling, horrifying series of revelations emerge. When neatly packed male body parts wash up by the River Elbe, Hamburg State Prosecutor Chastity Riley and her colleagues begin a perplexing investigation. As the murdered men are identified, it becomes clear that they all had a history of abuse towards women, leading Riley to wonder if it would actually be in society’s best interests to catch the killers. But when her best friend Carla is attacked, and the police show little interest in tracking down the offenders, Chastity takes matters into her own hands. As a link between the two cases emerges, horrifying revelations threaten Chastity’s own moral compass, and put everyone at incalculable risk… The Kitchen is by Simone Buchholz.

Fresh from the scandal at Hampstead County PD, Detective Sergeant Casey Wray works a complex double-homicide that points to a killer on a murderous rampage and a shattering series of discoveries that could end her career … Hampstead County Police Department is embroiled in scandal after corruption at the top of the force was exposed. Cleared of involvement and returned to active duty, Detective Sergeant Casey Wray nonetheless finds herself at a crossroads when it becomes clear not everyone believes she’s innocent. Partnered with rookie Billy Drocker, Casey works a shocking daytime double-homicide in downtown Rockport with the two victims seemingly unknown to one another. And when a third victim is gunned down on her doorstep shortly after, it appears an abusive ex-boyfriend holds the key to the killings. With powerful figures demanding answers, Casey and Billy search for the suspect, fearing he’s on a murderous rampage. But when a key witness goes missing, and new evidence just won’t fit, the case begins to unravel. With her career in jeopardy, Casey makes a shattering discovery that threatens to expose the true darkness at the heart of the murders… with a killer still on the loose…Shatter Creek is by Rod Reynolds.

May 2024

Thirty Days of Darkness is by Jenny Lund Madsen. Copenhagen author Hannah is the darling of the literary community and her novels have achieved massive critical acclaim. But nobody actually reads them, and frustrated by writer’s block, Hannah has the feeling that she’s doing something wrong. When she expresses her contempt for genre fiction, Hanna is publicly challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days. Scared that she will lose face, she accepts, and her editor sends her to Húsafjöður – a quiet, tight-knit village in Iceland, filled with colourful local characters – for inspiration. But two days after her arrival, the body of a fisherman’s young son is pulled from the water … and what begins as a search for plot material quickly turns into a messy and dangerous investigation that threatens to uncover secrets that put everything at risk … including Hannah…

June 2024

It is the year 1710, and Thomas True has arrived on old London Bridge with a dangerous secret. One night, lost in the squalor of London’s hidden back streets, he finds himself drawn into the outrageous underworld of the molly houses.  Meanwhile, carpenter Gabriel Griffin struggles to hide his double life as Lotty, the molly’s stoic guard. When a young man is found murdered, he realises there is a rat amongst them, betraying their secrets to a pair of murderous Justices Can Gabriel unmask the traitor before they hang? Can he save hapless Thomas from peril, and their own forbidden love? Set amidst the buried streets of Georgian London, The Betrayal of Thomas True is by A J West and is a brutal and devastating thriller, where love must overcome evil, and the only true sin is betrayal… 

Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions… Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn't grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father's quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’. Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind. Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his name. Theo finds employment in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy in London, and here he meets Captain and his theatrical ‘family’ of performers, freaks and outcasts. But it is Theo’s fascination with Tilly and Keziah that will lead all of them into a web of deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know… Fascination is by Essie Fox.



Monday 29 January 2024

Forthcoming Books from Little, Brown

 January 2024

Random in Death is by J D Robb. It's the best night of her life. It's the last night of her life. Sixteen-year-old Jenna Harbough's parents had finally given in, and there she was, at a New York club with her best friends, watching the legendary band Avenue A, carrying her demo in hopes of slipping it to the guitarist, Jake Kincade. Then, from the stage, Jake catches her eye, and smiles. It's the best night of her life. It's the last night of her life. Minutes later, Jake's in the alley getting some fresh air, and the girl from the dance floor comes stumbling out, sick and confused and deathly pale. He tries to help, but it's no use. It's time to call Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Who could want this level-headed teen, passionate about her music, dead? Was she targeted or could she have been the victim of a random attack? And if she was, who's next.....?

February 2024

A determined reporter and a reluctant FBI agent face off against fascist elements in this gripping historical thriller set in World War II-era Boston. Reporter Anne Lemire writes the Rumor Clinic, a newspaper column that disproves the many harmful rumors floating around town, some of them spread by Axis spies and others just gossip mixed with fear and ignorance. Tired of chasing silly rumors, she wants to write about something bigger. Special Agent Devon Mulvey, one of the few Catholics at the FBI, spends his weekdays preventing industrial sabotage and his Sundays spying on clerics with suspect loyalties - and he spends his evenings wooing the many lonely women whose husbands are off at war. When Anne's story about Nazi propaganda intersects with Devon's investigation into the death of a factory worker, the two are led down a dangerous trail of espionage, organized crime, and domestic fascism - one that implicates their own tangled pasts and threatens to engulf the city in violence. With vibrant historical atmosphere and a riveting mystery that illuminates still-timely issues about disinformation and power, The Rumour Game is by Thomas Mullen. 

Everyone Who Can Forgive Me is Dead is by Jenny Hollander. Nine years ago, Charlie Colbert's life changed for ever. On Christmas Eve, as the snow fell, her elite graduate school was the site of a chilling attack. Several of her classmates died. Charlie survived. Years later, Charlie has the life she always wanted at her fingertips: she's editor-in-chief of a major magazine and engaged to the golden child of the publishing industry. But when a film adaptation of that fateful night goes into production, Charlie's dark past threatens to crash into her shiny present. Charlie was named a 'witness' in the police reports. Yet she knows she was much more than that. The truth about that night will shatter everything she's worked for. Just how far will she go to protect it?

The Maze is by Hania Allen. When the body of a man is found in the countryside outside Dundee with a gun in his hand, DI Dania Gorska dismisses suicide in favour of murder. Italian voice coach, Luca Terranova, in the city to search for his missing twin brother Piero - a fashion designer whose clothes are on display at the V&A there - confirms that the dead man is indeed Piero. Searching for a motive for the murder, Dania's investigation leads her to Alderwood Manor Maze with its famous moving statues and hedges. Who was the person Piero was seen shouting at in the Maze? Could this be his killer? The McGarry family, who live at the manor harbour secrets of their own, and the more Dania delves into the case, the more she finds herself trapped in a maze of lies.But it is when Marek, Dania's investigative journalist brother, takes a trip to Italy and uncovers the history of the Terranova family that Dania learns the shocking truth - a truth that will put her in mortal danger . 

Too Many Cooks is by Rosemary Shrager. Prudence Bulstrode has fond memories of St Marianne's School for Girls, the beautiful Cornish school where she boarded as a girl. It was at St Marianne's that Prudence first learned the joy of cooking, from her dear old Home Economics teacher, Mrs Agatha Jubber. So when she's invited back to the school, to lead a summer holidays course in the fundamentals of cookery, Prudence couldn't be more delighted. What's more, it's a chance to show her grand-daughter Suki the way school used to be in the good old days. But no sooner has Prudence arrived at St Marianne's, a gruesome discovery is made. The builders excavating the old hockey pitch to construct the new dormitories have unearthed human bones - bones dating from Prudence's own time at St Marianne's. Soon, Prudence recollects the story of the vanishing schoolmaster, Mr Scott, and the rumours that spread like wildfire one summer about his illicit affair with Agatha Jubber. So begins Prudence's very first cold case . . 

All Sergeant Hamish Macbeth ever wants is a quiet life in the tranquil surroundings of Lochdubh, his home village in the Scottish Highlands. Although the area he polices is vast, he's happiest when he's working alone, yet the police authorities insist he has an assistant. In the past, they have supplied a variety of problematic misfits, but they surpass themselves with their latest effort - an American named James Bland. Having met Bland previously, when he was left in no doubt that the American led a life coloured by secrets and skulduggery, Hamish isn't surprised when he discovers the real motive behind Bland's police secondment involves him in helping track down a spy ring, some members of which have met grisly ends. That investigation tears Hamish away from Lochdubh at a time when the village is suffering a disturbing spate of increasingly violent burglaries. The identity of the burglar, however, is a perplexing mystery. All of that blows Hamish's quiet life out the window and puts a serious strain on his relationship with female paramedic, Claire. Can Hamish cope with the murky world of espionage, seek out the spies before anyone else is murdered, capture the Lochdubh burglar before his nocturnal rampage runs out of control and rescue his sadly neglected love life? Only time will tell... Hamish Macbeth: Death of a Spy is by M C Beaton with R W Green. 

March 2024

All Us Sinners is by Katy Massey. Leeds, 1977. A chill lies over the city: sex workers are being murdered by a serial killer they are calling the 'Ripper', the streets creeping with fear. Tough, sharp, but tender, Maureen runs Rio's, a clean, discreet brothel in the city. She's a good boss who takes great care of her workers - especially her best girls, Bev and Anette. The Ripper may be terrifying girls who work the street, but at Rio's the girls seem safer. But when Bev's sweet-natured son is found beaten to death, a figure from Maureen's past, DS Mick Hunniford, shows up at her door. Does his arrival herald danger or salvation? And who can Maureen really trust?

After a tense birthday celebration in Haddley, journalist Ben Harper watches his boss, Madeline, get into the car that has come to collect her. He walks home, never imagining that by the next morning, Madeline will be missing. To find Madeline, Ben will have to return to the now infamous murder case that made her journalism career over a decade ago. A case which, Ben quickly discovers, was never as simple as it seemed. But time is of the essence, and soon it's not just Madeline's life on the line. Ten Seconds is by Robert Gold.

Out of Darkness is by Alex Gray. DSI William Lorimer and his wife Maggie are taking their first extended holiday for the first time in years, and they're looking for an adventure. What better place than Zimbabwe, with its bustling cities and beautiful scenery? Back in Glasgow, PC Daniel Kohi, former inspector with the Zimbabwean police, finds himself uncomfortably close to a murder investigation. Why did the murdered man appear at Daniel's house just hours before he was killed? And how he is connected to the troubled family history of Netta Gordon, Daniel's dear friend and lodger? But it's not just Netta's history that's about to resurface. For in Zimbabwe, rumours are circulating about Daniel Kohi, and the couple from Scotland who appear to know him. Rumours which could place the Lorimers in unimaginable peril. 

Who is the other woman? That's for you to decide. Ann devoted years to her mother's care - and now she's gone, Ann feels lost. Justin is also grieving, but his wife is still alive. Deborah is in a coma and she doesn't have long left.  When the two meet, they are instantly drawn to one another and, before long, they've fallen deeply in love. Ann quickly moves in with Justin and his little girl, making them the perfect family. But just as Ann settles into her new life, Justin's is turned upside down. Unexpectedly, his wife has survived. Deborah is coming home. Neither knows what to do. But one thing is certain: Ann has earned the life Deborah left behind, and she plans to keep it . . . In Her Place is by Edel Coffey.

April 2024

Step Inside My Soul is by Nick Curran. He wants your life... Matt Langley used to be somebody. Back in the late '90s his star shone bright. Thanks to his debut novel, the shocking The Devil's Debt, he was at the forefront of the Bright Young Things. He was on chat shows and culture shows. He was the man of the moment. And then it all stopped, because there was no second book. Now, with his marriage to Naz on the rocks, they're trying to start over. They've sold the house that The Devil's Debt built and moved to a farmhouse deep in the wilds of Northumbria, where no one knows them, and for a while their new life is fragile but good. Furthermore, Matt's leading a writing group at the library and is even thinking about writing again. Marlin is part of that writing group. He's a quiet young man who has survived things no kid should ever have to. On meeting Matt he shows him his battered copy of The Devil's Debt. The book is filled with underlinings and notes and, he soon discovers, messages from the young man's dead mother.  That book serves as the basis for a bond between the two. Matt feels like they have a kinship, and wants to help the young writer. So, when he and Naz find him sleeping rough they invite him into their house for a week or so, until Marlin is back on his feet. But Marlin is a malevolent cuckoo they've brought into their home. And that was their first big mistake...

May 2024

The Wrong Hands is by Mark Billingham. This is one case Miller won't want to open . . . Unconventional Detective Declan Miller has a problem. Still desperate to solve the murder of his wife, a young man has just appeared on his doorstep with a briefcase . . . containing a pair of severed hands.n Miller knows this case is proof of a contract killing commissioned by local ne'er do well Wayne Cutler - a man he suspects might also be responsible for his wife's death. Now Miller has leverage, but unfortunately he also has something that both Cutler and a villainous fast-food kingpin are desperate to get hold of. Chuck in a Midsomer Murders - obsessed hitman, a psychotic welder and a woman driven over the edge by a wayward Crème Egg, and Miller is in a mess that even he might not be able to dance his way out of.

Death stalks the streets of Bangalore when the Circus comes to town . . . January 1922. The Bangalore Constabulary is on high alert as The Prince of Wales is scheduled to visit the city to redeem his reputation after disastrous visits marked by violent anti-British riots. Kaveri has none of these concerns on her mind, not when she has just been given VIP tickets to the famous Bangalore circus. But when a celebrity magician, shackled in an iron cage filled with deadly snakes, disappears into thin air, she is stunned to discover her friend and favourite policeman, Inspector Ismail, is telling her to leave the case well alone. After solving two murder cases, Kaveri Murthy thought she had cemented her reputation as Bangalore's favourite lady detective. But when death threats are left at her doorstep, former friends become foes, and the bodies start to pile up, Kaveri realises she has never been in this much danger . . . A Nest of Vipers is by Harini Nagendra. 

The Many of Lives of Veronica Hawkins is by Kristina Pérez. Cursed woman. Beautiful socialite. Tragic heiress. Just who was Veronica Hawkins? When Martina Torres arrives in the glamorous and vibrant metropolis of Hong Kong, newly married to her high school sweetheart, the world seems to be her oyster. But looks can be deceiving. Adrift in a foreign city, with no job and no friends, Martina chafes in her new role as Expat Wife. But her luck changes when she meets Veronica Hawkins. Beautiful, sophisticated, and very, very rich, Veronica is the epitome of Old Hong Kong--the last surviving member of a British mercantile dynasty that built the city during its colonial heyday. Martina can hardly believe her fortune when she's taken under Veronica's wing and into her confidence, with Veronica helping her to find a new apartment, a new career, and most importantly, a new self. Veronica transforms Martina's life and then, shockingly, she dies. She disappears over the side of a yacht during a party attended by Hong Kong's most influential people -- yet somehow there are no witnesses. Was it murder? Suicide? A terrible accident? What really happened to Veronica Hawkins? Somebody knows but nobody's telling.

Murder at the Allotment is by Julie Wassmer. Pearl's tiny garden of Eden is transformed into a battlefield when the out of towners come to Whitstable... Pearl Nolan's coastal allotment has always been a quiet haven - somewhere for her to relax and cultivate special ingredients for her restaurant, The Whitstable Pearl. But a sudden clamour for allotments by the DFLs - Down From Londoners - causes tension in the local community when the council decides to accommodate them by dividing existing plots into smaller parcels. The harmony that once existed between holders of land previously blighted only by slugs and caterpillars, soon transforms into a bitter turf war as a pushy DFL tries to take over by forming an Allotment Association - with herself as its chair. When anonymous complaints are submitted to the council about each of the local allotment holders -- apart from the DFLs --Pearl's services as private detective are called upon to discover the complainant but before she can do so, what began as a tiff among the turnips soon becomes a hunt for a killer when gardening tools are put to murderous use...

Yorkshire, 1969. Nell Lewis is four months into her new role as governor of HMP Brackerley when the prison takes on a catering contract for Brackerley village's wedding of the year. Almost all the female inmates are delighted to be involved in the celebrations, though Linda is desperate to avoid the event in case she is spotted, photographed, and once more appears on the front pages of the gutter press. During the wedding reception, one of the inmates discovers the father of the bride, Mr Chapin, stabbed to death behind the marquee. The murder shocks the close-knit village and police enlist Nell's help to solve the mystery. There are multiple suspects at the wedding, all with strong motives for wanting Mr Chapin dead, but the prison workforce was closest to the scene of the crime . . . Six Motives For Murder is by Frances Brody. 

Thea Fox is just twelve years old when her parents are brutally slain. With Thea's help the police put their murderer - a psychotic serial killer called Ray Riggs - behind bars for life and Thea and her family try to move on. But Ray isn't willing to let Thea go quite so easily... Mind Games is by Nora Roberts.

The Unravelling is by V I Keeland. After experiencing a terrible loss, New York City psychiatrist Meredith McCall feels painfully adrift. When she crosses paths with a man with whom she has a tragic connection, she follows him, sparking an unhealthy obsession with Gabriel Wright. How is he doing so well while her life is in shambles? But when Gabriel walks into her office as a patient, seemingly unaware of who she is, she knows it crosses all ethical and moral bounds to treat him. Yet, Meredith can't bring herself to turn him away and becomes further entangled. With her life and career continuing to unravel, it appears that things could not get any worse . . . until they do.

June 2024

The Shame Archive is by Oliver Harris. How does a secret service confront its past, when its secrets must never be revealed? Buried deep in MI6's digital archives is the most classified directory of all. It doesn't contain war plans or agent profiles, but shame: the misdeeds of politicians, royalty, business leaders and the service's own personnel. There are seven decades' worth of images and recordings, usually acquired for the sake of assessing risk, sometimes as a guard against betrayal, often engineered by MI6 for their own purposes. They are the most sensitive two thousand terabytes of data in the Service's possession. When material from the archive begins appearing online, panic spreads through the Establishment like wildfire.  At first, the security breach only manifests itself in apparently random events: a suicide, a disappearance, a breakdown. But when it's discovered that the individuals concerned were all contacted by the same anonymous person, a connection comes into focus. The archive has been leaked. The hunt is now of unprecedented urgency before the entire political and business systems are fatally weakened. That's when they call for Elliot Kane...

She saw it all. But she can never tell. A young black man is arrested for murder. The case against him is strong - a mum and a teacher saw him standing over a body in a park, a knife still in hand. But his up-and-coming barrister Rosa knows how people prejudge, but most of all, she suspects something is amiss. This boy comes from her neighbourhood. From a good family. So she begins to dig... As Rosa discovers secret upon terrible secret, she moves closer to finding a testimony that could win the case - or bring the whole establishment down on her. The Witness is by Alexandra Wilson and is a frightening thriller about how we judge guilt, about the strength of a young woman, and is the start of a groundbreaking new series.

Storm Child is by Michael Robotham. Some memories are buried for a reason... The most painful of Evie Cormac's memories have been locked away, ever since she was held prisoner as a child - a child whose rescue captured hearts and headlines. Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven's mission is to guide her to something near normality. But today, on a Lincolnshire beach, seventeen bodies wash up in front of them. There is only one survivor, with two women still missing. And Evie's nightmares come roaring back... Whatever happened all those years ago lies at the core of this new tragedy. Because these deaths are no accident. The same dark forces are reaching out, dragging her back into the storm. Evie must now call upon Cyrus's unique skills, and her own, in their search for the missing pieces of this complex and haunting puzzle. But will that be enough to save them? And who will pay for the past?

The Mercy Chair is by M W Craven. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin . . . Washington Poe has a story to tell. And he needs you to listen. You'll hear how it started with the robber birds. Crows. Dozens of them. Enough for a murder . . . He'll tell you about a man who was tied to a tree and stoned to death, a man who had tattooed himself with a code so obscure, even the gifted analyst Tilly Bradshaw struggled to break it. He'll tell you how the man's murder was connected to a tragedy that happened fifteen years earlier when a young girl massacred her entire family.  And finally, he'll tell you about the mercy chair. And why people would rather kill themselves than talk about it . . .  Poe hopes you've been paying attention. Because in this story, nothing is as it seems . . .

Sunday 28 January 2024

Programme for Bodies From the Library 2024


The programme for the conference has now been finalised and they are delighted to confirm the speakers and topics. 

9:30 Doors Open and Registration

9:55 Welcome

10.00 Simon and Lucy Brett: Lord Peter Wimsey on Radio 4

10.30 Martin Edwards and Christine Poulson discuss ‘John Bude and the British Library Crime Classics’

11.00 Mark Aldridge: Agatha Christie’s Marple: Expert on Wickedness  

11.30 COFFEE

12.00 Tony Medawar: The Man Who Lost His Head: The Life and Works of Edmund Crispin

12.30 Dolores Gordon-Smith and Jake Kerridge: True Crime influences on the Golden Age

1.00 – 2.00 LUNCH

2.00 Ronaldo Fagarazzi: BBC’s ‘Detective’: 1960s Golden Age TV Adaptations

2.45 Moira Redmond: Fancy Dressed to Kill: The Costume Party in the Golden Age

3.15 John Curran: Golden Age College Crimes


4.15 Jim Noy: Enid Blyton, Detective Novelist

4.45 Ask the Experts

The organisers reserve the right to amend the programme if necessary.

Tickets can be bought here.

Saturday 27 January 2024

What did winning the HWA Debut Crown Award mean to me?

To explain what winning an award – any award – but particularly the HWA Debut Crown - means to me as an author, I probably need to tell you where I’m from. Not geographically (Milton Keynes) but more in relation to the way I used to see myself as a kid, and the limits I placed on myself as I grew up.

I was a very quiet kid in school and, while I got on pretty well with my studies, I struggled a lot with fitting in. There’s a line in my new novel The Betrayal of Thomas True that reads: ‘In spite of his love of nature and talent for artistic pursuits, boyhood was a skill Thomas could never master.’ I got a bit emotional when I wrote that because it somehow seemed to encapsulate, for the first time, how I still feel about my childhood. 

I wasn’t very good at being a boy. In fact, by the standards of other boys, I was hopeless at it. There wasn’t a football or fist that didn’t hit my face at play times, and there was a lot of wetting myself going on. I would run upstairs and hide at my own birthday parties. I was shy, studious, socially awkward, terrible at anything sporty, and camp as Butlins (though my family were too poor for Butlins so we had to make do with Pontins, which I actually remember enjoying. One of those ice creamy childhood memories filled with endless carefree sunshine. I can see it now: me on a beach in swimmers and a woolly jumper watching a man in a cloth cap killing jellyfish with a rake under the looming shadow of a nuclear power plant). I feel sad that I trained myself to be less camp over the years. There’s a video of me aged 10 and I honestly can’t believe how fabulously expressive my hands are. My eyerolls are magnificent (my mum messed up a pot on the wheel I’d received for my birthday, hopeless matriarch!) I watched the grainy footage of that boy in his fluorescent shell suit realising just how much I’d shut myself down as a teenager in an effort to be popular and safe. I’d cut myself up and rearranged the pieces to be a young man who would go on to look the part, but always feel disarranged.

Ah well, leave your violins where they are. I wouldn’t wish the bullying and homelife I endured on any child, but many had it worse and there was one lovely thing that came from my struggle: I read all the books I could find. I have a sneaking suspicion you were the same for your own reasons, so I’m not going to bore you with how that went but let’s just say it was a love affair that informs everything I do and without it I would honestly have died inside. I might have died outside, but I was an indoors cat. Instead, my books rescued me and showed me a bigger, happier world where fears were overcome and mistakes learned from. I devoured those stories, from The Wind in the Willows to Point Horror, Jeffrey Deaver, then on to the light stuff like Jude the Obscure and The Wasp Factory. I like to think those books made me the grate writer what I is today.

The difficulty, the isolation, the raw emotions in those stories gave me – how to put it? Let me think… well, did you ever get a huge pack of coloured pencils as a present? No, bigger than that; the ones the size of those massive chocolate bars they sell at Christmas where they’ve replaced Dairy Milk with Dave. I can still remember the smell. Not Dave, the pencils. I sometimes go into stationers and sniff their pencils. It is a fetish of the soul. Ochre, vermillion, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, Prussian blue… I think my early years combined with my books gave me a pack of pencils like that, and when I sit down to write, I open them up and know instantly how I’d like to mix them together, and fill the book with as many shades and shadows as possible. Light strokes for the pale sky, then press so hard for the tragedy the paper goes shiny. If I find, on a hangover day, that I’m writing in basic blue and grungy green, I know I’m not drawing on my life properly and make a sandwich.

What is the point of all this? Well, I’m trying my best to explain how I came to be a passionate and confident reader and writer while at the same time suffering constant bouts of paranoia and self-doubt. Even when my debut novel The Spirit Engineer was nominated for an HWA award, I framed it in my mind as an opportunity to let myself down. I even considered asking to be removed, not through ingratitude you understand – nor a pang of false humility – but because I was exhausted after my first experience of publication, and worried the hope might get too much. That I might hide from the party, just as I used to.

I felt my younger self watching. I had dreamed that one day I would leave all the worry and solitude behind and stand among authors with my own book in my hands. That little boy didn’t know very much about awards, but he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. And I didn’t want to let him down.

I had to tell myself to stop being such a self-indulgent idiot, and fully appreciate the fact that my peers were going to take a look at the merits of my writing with a kind eye. If I didn’t win, it was still a big compliment, and there were some truly fantastic debuts in 2022. 

Reader, I won – or rather my book did – and it has changed a lot for me. Booksellers and industry friends have a lot of respect for the HWA and rightly so. I like to think the award reflects the work I put in, research, writing and publishing something different. And when it was revealed that Ayo, Dan, and Susan had chosen The Spirit Engineer as their winner, I was reminded that the kid with no friends had been right to hope. Not because he needed an award to prove anything, but because one day, if he could just hold on long enough and keep trying, there would be people who’d value his imagination and hard work and wouldn’t judge him for writing about himself in third person. 

Love and thanks. Onwards!

The Betrayal of Thomas True by A J West (Orenda Books) Published 4 July 2024

It is the year 1710, and Thomas True has arrived on old London Bridge with a dangerous secret. One night, lost in the squalor of London’s hidden back streets, he finds himself drawn into the outrageous underworld of the molly houses.  Meanwhile, carpenter Gabriel Griffin struggles to hide his double life as Lotty, the molly’s stoic guard. When a young man is found murdered, he realises there is a rat amongst them, betraying their secrets to a pair of murderous Justices Can Gabriel unmask the traitor before they hang? Can he save hapless Thomas from peril, and their own forbidden love? Set amidst the buried streets of Georgian London, The Betrayal of Thomas True is a brutal and devastating thriller, where love must overcome evil, and the only true sin is betrayal… 

More information about A J West can be found on his website. He can also be found on X @AJWestAuthor, on instagram @A.J.West and on Facebook

Friday 26 January 2024

When it comes to murder, it’s location, location, location - Tom Hindle

Tom Hindle, author of Murder on Lake Garda, chats about how location play such a vital role in a murder mystery

Tell us about how you landed on Murder on Lake Garda as the location for your new whodunnit. Was it somewhere you had always wanted to explore?

In a funny sort of way, it actually came to me. I was on holiday, visiting Lake Garda, and having climbed to the top of the watchtower in the breathtaking Castello Malcesine, I happened to look down on a wedding that was taking place in one of the castle courtyards. I can vividly remember taking it all in – the glamour of the ceremony, the magnificent architecture, the natural splendour of the lake – and being immediately convinced that I was looking at a phenomenal opening chapter to a murder mystery.

At the time, I had actually spent three months working on an altogether different mystery, which would have taken place at a funeral in rural Yorkshire. But I was so enamoured with the Lake Garda idea that within a few weeks I’d abandoned the Yorkshire novel completely and shifted all my focus onto writing the manuscript that would become Murder on Lake Garda. 

How important is location to a murder mystery?

It’s vital. Try to imagine Holmes without the gaslit streets of Victorian London or Miss Marple without a quaint country village – it’s a virtually impossible feat. Those locations are as important to the story as the characters that populate them.

I’m constantly trying to emulate that – or to achieve it, rather – in my own writing. Wherever possible, I try to ensure that the mysteries I’m constructing could only take place in those very specific locations. Likewise, I try to make sure that each detail, however small, is as heavily informed by the location as possible. 

For instance, in Murder on Lake Garda, one of our characters – a classic car dealer – lends his soon-to-be son-in-law his favourite car for the weekend of the wedding. In the very first draft, that car was an Aston Martin V8 Vantage; for my money, one of the most beautiful classic cars ever produced. But I quickly realised that, of course, the classic car speeding along beside a glittering Italian lake should in fact be a bright red vintage Ferrari. It’s a change that has absolutely no bearing on the plot, but it helps to achieve a certain tone and atmosphere. It draws the reader in and grounds them even further in that setting.

These are the kind of location-based influences that I’m constantly looking for opportunities to weave in. To that end, in Murder on Lake Garda you’ll also find a priceless Venetian dagger, a secret cove hidden beneath the castle, two members of the Italian mafia and a mysterious boat speeding away across the surface of the lake. Whether they contribute to the overall atmosphere or to the construction of the mystery itself, none would have been at home in either of my previous mysteries.

What advice would you give about choosing a location?

I’ve been thinking a lot, this past year, about the idea of a location being a character in its own right. For a long while, I had a sense of what that was about – an instinctive sort of feeling – but I struggled to articulate exactly what it meant for me as a writer. What it meant for the stories that I write. And the conclusion I’ve now reached is that: every character has to want something – has to be striving for something. So if we consider our location to be a character, and we follow that logic, what does your location want? Does it want to keep secrets? Does it want to welcome you in or does it want to be wild and to push back against human intrusion? Does it want to kill you, even? 

It isn’t always an easy question to answer. But whether I’m writing about a single room, a building, a city or even an entire country, I find thinking about a location in those terms to be incredibly useful.

We know you’re hard at work on a fourth mystery – where in the world are you taking us next?

Somewhere completely different! I don’t want to say too much about it just yet, as I think there’s still about a year to go before it hits shelves. But I will say that in order to research it, I went for a week last summer to Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Circle. Staying in a town called Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost permanent settlement, I saw glaciers, whales, reindeer... I think that probably gives a good idea of the vibe. In any case, readers can expect a much frostier mystery than in Murder on Lake Garda.

Murder on Lake Garda is by Tom Hindle (Century) Out Now.

One happy couple. Two divided families. A wedding party to die for. On the private island of Castle Fiore - surrounded by the glittering waters of Lake Garda - the illustrious Heywood family gathers begrudgingly for their son Laurence's wedding to Italian influencer Eva Bianchi. But as the ceremony begins, a blood-curdling scream brings the proceedings to a devastating halt. With the wedding guests trapped as they await the police, old secrets come to light and family rivalries threaten to bubble over. Everyone is desperate to know...Who is the killer? And can they be found before they strike again?

Tom Hindle can be found on X @TomHindle3