Wednesday 22 May 2024

The Joffe Books Prize



The Joffe Books Prize is looking for a talented new crime fiction writer of colour, with one of the UK’s largest literary prizes for the winner.

This year the Joffe Books Prize judging panel includes A.A. Chaudhuri, bestselling author of She’s Mine, and literary agent Gyamfia Osei from Andrew Nurnberg Associates.

The prize invites submissions from un-agented authors from Black, Asian, Indigenous and minority ethnic backgrounds writing in crime fiction genres including: electrifying psychological thrillers, cosy mysteries, gritty police procedurals, twisty chillers, unputdownable suspense mysteries and shocking domestic noirs.

The winner will be offered a prize package consisting of a two-book publishing deal with Joffe Books, a £1,000 cash prize, and a £25,000 audiobook offer from Audible for the first book.

The submission period ends at midnight on 30 September 2024.


Entrants are invited to submit their full-length manuscript, written in English, along with a synopsis of the book and author biography, to

This prize is open to UK residents and British citizens (including those living abroad) only. The opening date for entries is 15 May 2024. The competition closes 30 September 2024, 23.59 GMT. No entries received outside this period will be accepted.

The full Terms & Conditions can be found on our website:


The winner will be offered a prize package consisting of the following: a two-book publishing contract with Joffe Books on its standard author agreement terms; a £1,000 cash prize; a two-year membership to the Society of Authors; a £25,000 audiobook contract with Audible for the first book. The prize is a package and can only be accepted in its entirety.

The prize will be offered to the selected winner. Joffe Books may choose an alternative winner if acceptance is not confirmed within one week.

Northumberland-based Christie J. Newport won the inaugural prize in 2021, followed by Sam Genever in 2022 and Renita D’Silva in 2023. Christie’s winning entry and debut novel, The Raven’s Mark, is available online and in all good bookshops now!


The 2024 judges are A.A. Chaudhuri, Gyamfia Osei, Emma Grundy Haigh, Jasmine Callaghan, Jasper Joffe and Kate Lyall Grant. The winner of the competition will be selected by these judges based on the quality and commercial potential of the work.

A.A. CHAUDHURI, BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF SHE’S MINE: “I am so incredibly thrilled and honoured to be a Judge on the Joffe Books Prize Panel. Since its inception in 2021 this fantastic competition, which continues to go from strength to strength, has allowed a plethora of exceptionally talented writers of colour in the crime fiction genre to shine through, and I’m beyond excited to be a part of that process this year.”

GYAMFIA OSEI, LITERARY AGENT: “I'm delighted to be judging the Joffe Books Prize this year alongside A.A. Chaudhuri and Emma Grundy Haigh. The cohort of writers were brilliant last year so I can't wait to dive into the 2024 entries!”

EMMA GRUNDY HAIGH, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR AT JOFFE BOOKS: “The Joffe Books Prize, now in its fourth year, just keeps going from strength to strength. The prize is dedicated to amplifying #ownvoices and publishing truly excellent crime fiction. With Audible’s involvement, it is also the largest prize package for crime fiction in the UK. We have great plans for this year and the addition of Jasmine Callaghan as one of the judges is just the start!”

JASMINE CALLAGHAN, PROJECT EDITOR AT JOFFE BOOKS: “I couldn’t be more excited to join the panel of the Joffe Books Prize. I feel honoured to be taking part in the competition, which is actively addressing the lack of diversity in publishing and amplifying underrepresented voices with real passion. I know this is going to be the best year yet.”


A.A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer, turned thriller writer. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, featuring feisty lawyer Maddy Kramer. Her first highly acclaimed psychological thriller, She’s Mine, was named the L.J. Ross Book Club pick of the month. Alex lives in Surrey with her family. Besides being an avid crime fiction reader, she enjoys fitness, films, anything Italian and a good margarita!


Gyamfia Osei represents an array of brilliant authors writing across adult and children's books, including Dean Atta, Busayo Mataluko and Frances Mensah Williams. She is a keen advocate of commercial fiction and, in the crime and mystery space, particularly loves cosy crime, domestic suspense and thrillers with a strong romantic thread. She is always looking for well-plotted, fast-paced narratives with authentic characters who lodge themselves in her mind long after she’s finished reading.


Joffe Books is one of the UK’s leading independent publishers of excellent commercial fiction, especially crime and mystery fiction. Joffe Books is renowned for working closely with authors from across the world to create fantastic books and turning them into bestsellers. Since 2014, Joffe Books has published more than 500 books by more than 70 authors and has sold over 10 million books. The publisher’s roster of award-winning authors and New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestsellers includes Joy Ellis, Faith Martin, Robert Goddard, Rick Mofina, Volker Kutscher, Simon Brett and Stella Cameron. Joffe Books won Trade Publisher of the Year at the Independent Publishing Awards in 2023 and was a finalist for Publisher of the Year at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards 2023 and shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2024 for the fifth year in a row.

While Joffe Books maintains open submissions for all authors, this competition is designed to offer an opportunity to Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, who are particularly underrepresented in crime fiction publishing.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Extract from Murder Under the Midnight Sun by Stella Blómkvist

 I sprint through the ruins of the building.

Alexander is reversing the jeep out of the yard in front of the new farmhouse when I come running down the pasture.

I run for the silver steed.

Sissi sees me coming and opens the driver’s door.

The black jeep’s about to turn onto the road as I haul my car around in a half-circle in the gravel and put my foot down hard. The tyres howl on the dirt road’s surface, kicking up dust that surrounds us like a storm cloud.

He’s heading north.

Where’s the bastard going?’

He’s not making for Sauðárkrókur, that’s for sure.’

I hand Sissi my phone.

Call Lísa Björk,’ I tell him. ‘Make sure she’s in touch with Raggi.’

I’m on the black jeep’s tail.

Alexander isn’t hanging around. But the silver steed is steadily closing the gap. It’s raring to go like a racehorse that doesn’t know the meaning of coming second.

He’s driving fast on the coast road leading north.

Where does this road go?’

First out to Skagatá, from there to Skagaströnd and Blönduós and then onto Highway One,’ Sissi replies.

There’s no more than a few metres between the cars.

Alexander must realise that he’s not getting away from me. I’ll always be on his tail. 

Like a vengeful witch.

What will his desperation make him do?

He could easily do something crazy, like braking hard in the hope of wrecking my silver steed.

It’s a risk I have to take.

He could also make a serious mistake. He could lose control of the jeep.

We hurtle along the coast road at an insane speed in this mad race. I keep the silver steed as close as I dare.

It’s just as well there’s no other traffic. But I know that could change at any moment.

There’s a truck coming the other way!’ Sissi yells.

Alexander has clearly noticed it too late.

He swerves to avoid a collision. But he’s in the loose gravel at the side of the road. Like an idiot, he stamps hard on the brakes.

The black jeep is hurled off the road. It rolls over and over on its way towards the sea. It ends up on the rocky shore.

I stop the silver steed by the side of the road. I jump out and hurry down to the shore where the jeep lies on its side.

Alexander is held in by the seatbelt.

There’s blood on his face. But he’s conscious.

I go to the front of the jeep. I stare at him through the shattered windscreen.

Tell me where you buried Julia’s body,’ I say.

Alexander looks back at me with a wild glint in his eye.

Then he starts to laugh like a maniac.

You’ll never find a body at Gullinhamrar,’ he says, alternately coughing and laughing. ‘Never. Not ever.’

Murder Under The Midnight Sun bycStella Blómkvist, Translated by Quentin Bates (Corylus Books)

What does a woman do when her husband's charged with the frenzied killing of her father and her best friend? She calls in Stella Blomkvist to to investigate - however unwelcome the truth could turn out to be. Smart, ruthless and with a flexible moral code all of her own, razor-tongued lawyer Stella Blomkvist is also dealing with a desperate  deathbed request to track down a young woman who vanished a decade ago.  It looks like a dead end, but she agrees to pick up the stone-cold trail - and she never gives up, even if the police did a long time ago. Then there's the mystery behind the arm that emerges from an ice cap, with a mysterious ruby ring on one frozen finger? How does this connect to another unexplained disappearance, and why were the police at the time so keen to write it off as a tragic accident?

Brutal present-day crimes have their roots in the past that some people would prefer to stay forgotten. As Stella pieces together the fragments, is she getting too close to the truth and making herself a target for ruthless men determined to conceal secret sins?

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival Launch

The full line-up for the 2024 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, held 18-21 July at the Old Swan Hotel, has been revealed with Festival Chair Ruth Ware curating a ground-breaking programme that includes some of the biggest names in crime fiction.              

From cutting edge AI and technology’s impact on criminal investigation, to the complexities and capabilities of neurodivergent sleuths; from the shadowy world of spies and twisty whodunnits, to boundary-pushing psychological thrillers, there is plenty to surprise and thrill in this year’s programme.     

Programme highlights include an all-star lineup of acclaimed writers and global bestsellers including Mick Herron, Louise Candlish, M.W. Craven, James Comey, Lucy Foley, Femi Kayode, Saima Mir and many more. 

They'll join Special Guest headliners Chris Carter, Jane Casey, Elly Griffiths, Peter James, Erin Kelly, Vaseem Khan, Dorothy Koomson, Shari Lapena, Abir Mukherjee, Liz Nugent and Richard Osman in what promises to be an unforgettable celebration of the genre. 

Tickets for individual events are on general sale from 10am on Thursday 16 May. The full programme can be found here. It would be  a crime to miss it!

Friday 10 May 2024

2024 CWA Dagger Short lists announced


The 2024 shortlists for the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Dagger awards, which honour the very best in the crime-writing genre, have been announced.

Created in 1955, the world-famous CWA Daggers are the oldest awards in the genre and have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

 The shortlist for the Gold Dagger, which is awarded for the best crime novel of the year, includes the debut novel Black River from Nilanjana Roy. She is up against stalwarts of the genre, Mick Herron for The Secret Hours, and Dennis Lehane, with Small Mercies. 

The bestselling children’s author Maz Evans also makes the list with her debut adult novel, Over My Dead Body. As does the Irish-American author Una Mannion, with her haunting second novel, Tell Me What I Amand the Chinese-Indonesian author, Jesse Sutanto, with Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers.

Past winners of the prestigious Gold Dagger, include Ian Rankin, John le Carré, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Rendell.

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, sponsored by Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, showcases the thriller of the year.

The shortlist sees relative newcomer Jordan Harper, with his second thriller, Everybody Knows, up against TJ Newman, the former flight attendant who became a Hollywood sensation, with her latest thriller, Drowning, and Japanese author Kotaro Isaka for The Mantis; Kotaro is best-known for Bullet Train, which was adapted into a Brad Pitt movie. 

They’re joined on the Fleming shortlist by SA Crosby, Eli Cranor, and Femi Kayode.

The much-anticipated John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger highlights the best debut novels.

Among the rising stars of 2024 is Jo Callaghan with her BBC Between the Covers Book Club pick, The Blink of an Eye; and the Victorian gothic, The Tumbling Girl from Bridget Walsh. The shortlist also includes Amy Chua’s The Golden Gate, Kate Foster with The Maiden, Dan McDorman’s West Heart Kill and Go Seek by Michelle Teahan.

The Historical Dagger shortlist sees Voices of the Dead by Ambrose Parry in contention with A Bitter Remedy by Alis Hawkins. 

They’re joined by Lucy Ashe with Clara & Olivia, Louise Hare’s Harlem After Midnight, Jake Lamar’s Viper’s Dream, and Scarlet Town by Lenora Nattrass.

The ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction shortlist sees Nicholas Shakespeare’s Ian Fleming: The Complete Man, up against The Art Thief by Michael Finkel, the true story of the world’s most prolific art thief who accumulated a collection worth over $1.4 billion. 

Also in the Non-Fiction category are Matt Johnson and John Murray for No Ordinary Day, Jennifer McAdam with Douglas Thompson for Devil’s Coin, Alex Mar’s Seventy Times Seven and How Many More Women? by Jennifer Robinson and Keina Yoshida.

The shortlist for the Crime Fiction in Translation Dagger includes The Prey from the Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s, translated by Victoria Cribb, and Maud Ventura’s My Husband, translated by Emma Ramadan, which was a sensation in France, likened to Patricia Highsmith and Gone Girl

They’re joined by the Spanish journalist and author, Juan Gómez-Jurado, Sweden’s Âsa Larsson, French author Cloé Mehdi, and Korea’s Im Seong-sun. 

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the CWA Daggers’ committee, said: “Once again, our independent judges across all the Dagger categories have come up trumps. Their selections feature well-established authors and new faces, a refreshingly diverse palette highlighting the talent of writers from all origins and publishers large and small, and a steadfast affirmation of how healthy the crime and mystery field is right now. We at the CWA couldn't be prouder.”

 The CWA Daggers are one of the few high-profile awards that honour the short story.

This year sees the bestselling juggernaut Lee Child with his story Safe Enough. He’s up against Mia Dalia, J Benedict Jones, Sanjida Kay, Ambrose Parry, and FD Quinn.

The Dagger in the Library nominees are voted by librarians and library users, chosen for the author’s body of work and support of libraries. This year sees firm favourites from the genre on the shortlist: Louise Candlish, MW Craven, Anthony Horowitz, Cara Hunter, and LJ Ross.

The Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year Dagger, which celebrates publishers and imprints demonstrating excellence and diversity in crime writing, pits big publishing houses Headline (Hachette), Michael Joseph (Penguin Random House), Simon & Schuster, and Pushkin Vertigo (Pushkin Press) against independent publishers Joffe Books and Canelo Crime. 

The CWA Diamond Dagger, awarded to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, is announced in early spring and in 2024 it was jointly awarded to Lynda La Plante and James Lee Burke.

The CWA Dagger shortlists were announced on 10 May at the UK’s largest crime fiction convention, CrimeFest, hosted in Bristol.

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony at the CWA gala dinner on July 4.

The Shortlists in Full:


Over My Dead Body by Maz Evans, Headline

The Secret Hours by Mick Herron,  Baskerville (John Murray)

Small Mercies by Dennis LehaneAbacus (Little Brown)

Tell me What I Am by Una Mannion, Faber & Faber

Black River by Nilanjana Roy, Pushkin (Vertigo)

Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, by Jesse Sutanto  HQ (Harper Collins)


All the Sinners Bleed by S A Cosby , Headline (Hachette)

Ozark Dogs, by Eli Cranor  Headline (Hachette)

Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper, Faber & Faber

The Mantis, by Kotaro Isaka Harvill Secker (PRH) 

Gaslight, by Femi Kayode Raven Books (Bloomsbury)

Drowning by T J NewmanSimon & Schuster



In The Blink of An Eye by Jo Callaghan Simon & Schuster UK

The Golden Gate by Amy ChuaCorvus (Atlantic Books)

The Maiden by Kate Foster, Mantle (Pan Macmillan)

West Heart Kill by Dann McDorman, Raven Books

Go Seek by Michelle Teahan, Headline Publishing Group

The Tumbling Girl by Bridget WalshGallic Books



Clara & Olivia by Lucy AsheMagpie (Oneworld Publications)

Harlem After Midnight by Louise Hare, HQ (HarperCollins)

A Bitter Remedy by Alis HawkinsCanelo

Viper's Dream by Jake Lamar, No Exit Press

Scarlet Town, by Leonora Nattrass Viper (Profile Books)

Voices of the Dead by Ambrose Parry, Canongate Books


 Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado  (translated by Nick Caistor,) Macmillan

The Sins Of Our Fathers by Âsa Larsson, (translated by Frank Perry), Maclehose Press

Nothing Is Lost by Cloé Mehdi (translated by Howard Curtis), Europa Editions UK

The Consultant by Im Seong-Sun, (translated by An Seong Jae) Raven Books

The Prey by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (translated by Victoria Cribb), Hodder & Stoughton

My Husband by Maud Ventura, (translated by Emma Ramadan), Hutchinson Heinemann



The Art Thief by Michael Finkel, Simon & Schuster

No Ordinary Day by Matt Johnson with John Murray, Ad Lib Publishers

Devil’s Coin by Jennifer McAdam with Douglas Thompson  Ad Lib Publishers Ltd

 Seventy Times Seven, by Alex Mar Bedford Square Publishers

How Many More Women? by Jennifer Robinson & Keina Yoshida  Endeavour

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man by Nicholas Shakespeare  Vintage



Safe Enough by Lee Child from An Unnecessary Assassin, edited by Lorraine Stevens, Rivertree

The Last Best Thing by Mia Dalia from Bang!:An Anthology of Modern Noir Fiction, edited by Andrew Hook, Head Shot Press

The Also-Rans by Benedict J Jones from Bang!:An Anthology of Modern Noir Fiction edited by Andrew Hook, Head Shot Press

The Divide by Sanjida Kay from The Book of Bristol edited by Joe Melia and Heather Marks, Comma Press

The Spendthrift and the Swallow by Ambrose Parry, Canongate Books

Best Served Cold by FD Quinn  from An Unnecessary Assassin edited by Lorraine Stevens, Rivertree


Burnt Ranch by Katherine Ahlert

Unnatural Predators by Caroline Arnoul

Makoto Murders by Richard Jerram

Not a Good Mother by Karabi Mitra

Long Way Home by Lynn McCall

The Last Days of Forever by Jeremy Tinker

The Blond by Megan Toogood


 Louise Candlish 

MW Craven

Cara Hunter

Anthony Horowitz

LJ Ross 





Headline (Hachette)

Joffe Books

Michael Joseph (PenguinRandomHouse)

Pushkin Press

Simon & Schuster

Thursday 9 May 2024

Phoebe Morgan on The Trip and writing about what you know.

When I was first starting out as a writer, I went by the old saying ‘write what you know.’ My first three novels, The Doll House, The Girl Next Door, and The Babysitter, were all set in places that were familiar to me – London, Suffolk, Essex, and a holiday house in France. But then, March 2020 happened, and I began to look a bit further afield for inspiration, driven mad by the lockdowns and with a desperate need to escape, even if only via fiction.

My fourth book, The Wild Girls, was set in Botswana, and with my fifth, The Trip, I’ve taken my characters to Thailand (the clue is in the name I suppose – it’s about four friends who go on the holiday of a lifetime to Bangkok, only for one of them to be confronted by a stranger from her past with a terrifying ulterior motive). I hadn’t actually been to Thailand at the time of writing, but I did a lot of research, watching videos of what arrival into the airport is really like, reading guidebooks and visitor blogs of their time there, and trying to immerse myself in the sights, sounds and smells of Bangkok as best I could. I finished writing the novel last year, but when the chance to go to Thailand came up in February of this year, I jumped at it. Part of me was a bit nervous – what if when I arrived, I realised I’d made tons of mistakes, and it was nothing like I’d depicted it?!

But when I stepped off the plane in Bangkok, relief washed over me (along with the wonderful heat) – the airport was as I’d seen it online, and as we explored the city over the coming days, I found it really odd to actually be in the place I’d spent so long imagining. I visited Koh Samet, a beautiful small island off the coast of Bangkok where my characters go towards the end of the novel (and where the denouement takes place) and sat on the beach with a Chang beer, reminiscing about writing this during the pandemic and feeling incredibly lucky to have the world back. Imagination can only take you so far, after all, and being immersed in the culture of Thailand was an amazing experience. I could picture my four protagonists – Saskia, Theo, Holly and Lucas – setting out on their journey, excited for what was to come – and then confronted by the darkness waiting for them (you’ll have to read it to find out more…!) Thankfully, my own trip was far less eventful and I returned home in one piece in order to be celebrating publication this week and writing this piece – but I’ll never again take for granted how lucky we are to be able to travel, to see the world, to take inspiration from it and, if that opportunity fades, to know that we can create these portals into the world via the words on the page. Reading has always been my escape route and I hope my book can provide that option for you as readers, too.

The Trip by Phoebe Morgan (Out Now) Harper Collins Publishers

The perfect holiday. The perfect crime. Four friends on the holiday of a lifetime. Until a vicious murder shatters their paradise. Four friends who'd do anything for each other, until now. Only one of them committed a crime. But all four know how to keep a secret. And they're all guilty of something

You can find more iformation about Phoebe Morgan on her blog. She can also be found on “X” @Phoebe_A_Morgan and on FaceBook.


Friday 3 May 2024

Short Mystery Fiction Society Derringer Awards


The Short Mystery Fiction Society announced the winners of the 2024 Derringer Awards for works published in 2023. 

 The Referee by C. W. Blackwell (Shotgun Honey, October 12, 2023)
Last Day at the Jackrabbit by John Floyd (The Strand, May 2023)
Good Deed for the Day by Bonnar Spring (Wolfsbane: Best New England Crime Stories, Crime Spell Books)
Mrs Hyde by David Dean (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March/April 2023)
Catherine the Great by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (WMG 2023 Holiday Spectacular Calendar of Stories)
Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer 
Barb Goffman
Hall of Fame
Rex Stout

Congratulations to all the nominated authors and winners.

Thursday 2 May 2024

Shots Magazine talks to John Connolly

With the publication of a new Charlie Parker detective thriller, Shots Magazine’s Spanish editor and English language academic John Parker got an early preview of THE INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS.

“……The novel is structured as a standalone not requiring any understanding [or memory] of backstory, despite the subtle links to previous novels such as The Wolf in Winter, A Book of Bones and The Woman in the Woods. Coupled with judicious editing, it propels the narrative with significant velocity.

The author’s interest in folk horror and the theme of psychogeography is vividly realized, where the ‘past’ striates the landscapes of the ‘present. The Instruments of Darkness is an adroitly plotted mystery-thriller novel full of intrigue, anguish-inducing horror and explosive action. Connolly [as ever] sprinkles gallows humour throughout - leading up to a killer dénouement, making this latest entry in the Charlie Parker series extraordinary…..”

Read More HERE

We have featured John Connolly’s literary work in all its myriad facets over the years, though we have a special interest in his Charlie Parker series, with previous interviews and features and reviews.

As ever, John Parker had some questions for the author, which we present for Shots' readers. Which you can access here: 

John Parker: Hi John. Good to speak to you again.

On reading THE INSTRUMENTS OF DARKNESS, it made me think of cases such as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann or the numerous true crime documentaries that have sprung up on streaming platforms and podcasts in recent years. Was there any inspiration in that sort of thing? 

John Connolly: No, none at all. I read almost no true-crime material, don’t watch those documentaries, and the only podcasts I listen to are Kermode & Mayo and Word In Your Ear. I really do prefer fiction.

JP: The reappearance of Bobby Ocean, the introduction of the extremely smart and dangerous Antoine Pinette and the militia-like camp that he organizes suggests a darker America. Were you thinking in that way?

And to read the remainder of this interview, click HERE