Moving on…..

Thanks for following the blog to date….

…just to let you know that, from this point on, all existing content and all future content will appear on my new website at

I look forward to seeing you there.

All best


29th April 2013

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Framed! At the Penguin Crime Evening.

It’s always wise to tread carefully when invited to Crime Fiction gatherings and events.

DSCF6326You never know when that dagger will be drawn in a dark corner of a room, when your drink might be switched, or worst of all – you get framed in some dodgy photographs.

DSCF6334Such was the case at the otherwise very enjoyable Penguin Crime Evening held recently in London to celebrate their authors and their upcoming titles.

With this solid canon of writers, there’s a lot to look forward from in Penguin Crime books this year:
Nicci Gerrard and Sean French (aka Nicci French)
James Oswald
Felix Francis
Meg Gardiner
Paul Perry and Karen Gillece (aka Karen Perry)
Matthew Frank
Alastair Gunn
Jake Woodhouse



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Modesty Blaise – The Girl in the Iron Mask

Published by Titan Books

51Xf-r5JBvL._SL500_AA300_Features the classic stories Fiona, Walkabout and The Girl In The Iron Mask written by popular British crime writer Peter ODonnell and beautifully illustrated by Enric Badia Romero! Willies admirer Fiona returns, Modesty faces the outback alone and an iron mask could mark her end in this latest gripping volume! Features story introductions by Blaise archivist Lawrence Blackmore!

A lovely and welcome selection of classic strip cartoons originally featured in The Evening Standard, this volume of 1960’s great sassy stories featuring cult bad girl Modesty Blaise feels at once a fresh new character and set of tales and, at the same time the genesis of many a character that have followed on in television and fiction since.

It’s little wonder that she has a celebrity fan-base including Quentin Tarantino and that she’s been called the female James Bond – Blaise could likely kick Buffy’s butt and give Lara Croft a damn good run for her money.

Remaining glamourous as she leaps from one adventure to the next, whilst providing a nice sideline in wit and being able to often belittle the men around her, Modesty Blaise is a cracking creation and it’s to Titan’s credit that they have brought her back to be read by a new audience.

Come on Tarantino – get that Modesty Blaise script back out of the desk drawer!

You can grab a copy of the graphic novel here.


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Criminal London – A Sightseer’s Guide to the Capital of Crime by Kris and Nina Hollington

Published by Aurum

UnknownFrom Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street and Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel to the East End of the Krays and the white-collar crooks of the City, London has played silent witness to countless crimes both real and imagined. Moreover, in print and on screen the city has exported its criminal heritage to the world, becoming a global capital of wrongdoing rivalled only by New York and Los Angeles. Yet there has never been a guide to its darker points of interest – until now.

Traversing centuries of villainy, Criminal London explores the more scandalous moments of the city’s story. Featured herein are three original walks and over 100 sights to see, including: the scenes of infamous murders, watering holes frequented by notorious felons, the homes of great consulting detectives, and locations from London’s rich history of law and order, such as the Clink, Tyburn Tree and Bow Street Police Station.

Perfect for adventurous tourists and curious Londoners, this is a sightseeing guide for the intrepid.

It’s rare that I get sent or read anything that isn’t a work of fiction, but this was right up my (dark and sinister) alley.
A perfectly formed and great size book which will be certain to accompany me on trips into the big smoke of London town from this day forth.
Criminal London is a beautifully executed (no pun intended) volume, packed with great photography by Nina Hollington and text by her husband Kris.
Sub-divided by areas of the capital with great easy to read maps and walking tour information, this is just the book you need if you want to follow in the bloodstained footsteps of Jack the Ripper or even read of the murder that took place in the antique shop that is now the favourite haunt of many a crime fiction fan, Goldsboro Books.

Criminal London is one of those books that I’ll pick up time and time again, and will check every time I head off out to see which of the crime scenes I am about to step over.
Slickly produced, well written and great photography throughout.
Your only crime, as they say, would be to not get a copy – and it’s a steal!

Available here.



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Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Published by Sphere

UnknownPerfect strangers.

A perfect holiday.

The perfect murder…

Three couples meet around the pool on their Florida holiday and become fast friends. But on their last night, their perfect holiday takes a tragic twist: the teenage daughter of another holidaymaker goes missing, and her body is later found floating in the mangroves.

When the shocked couples return home, they remain in contact, and over the course of three increasingly fraught dinner parties they come to know one another better. But they don’t always like what they find: buried beneath these apparently normal exteriors are some dark secrets, hidden kinks, ugly vices…

Then, a second girl goes missing.

Could it be that one of these six has a secret far darker than anybody can imagine?

With the weather showing some signs of finally warming up, here’s a classy but chilling poolside read coming your way in paperback on the 25th of this month.
From the get-go with his first DI Tom Thorne novel ‘Sleepyhead’ Mark Billingham made it clear that he can write victims very well, with the series to date he’s demonstrated that he can handle the twists and turns of a complex Police procedural and, with his first stand-alone ‘In the Dark’ he proved that taking some time away from the series was something that only served to add strength to his writing.
So, what was he to do next?
The result is ‘Rush of Blood’ – a chilling tale of just what can go wrong with those holiday ‘friendships’ that threaten to come home with you after a few weeks in the sun, the forced dinner parties, the feelings of obligation to keep in touch with those you really don’t have much in common with. Or do you?
Tied by a murder, the ‘Florida Six’ return home followed by the shadow of the murder of a young girl – her death a thing that eats away at them, forcing them to confront their own selves and their partners, raising concerns, fears and secrets.

It’s a brave, all balls in the air, risk that the author has taken on here, but he manages to juggle them all successfully, even spinning a few plates towards the end and constantly pulling the rug out from underneath the reader’s feet.

Anyone who loves a deep crime story, one that involves a larger cast and the way that the events take their toll on each and every one of them (think tv’s current hit ‘Broadchurch’), this will totally satisfy.

Squint into the bright Florida sunshine of Rush of Blood and the darkness behind might just reveal itself.

You need this in your suitcase – get a copy here.


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Exclusive: Prologue to THE COLD NOWHERE by Brian Freeman

untitledDue out in hardback from Quercus on 9th May, The Cold Nowhere has already been described as ‘As brilliant as Harlan Coben'(Daily Mail), ‘A great read from a rising star in the crime genre’ (Crimesquad) and, of its author, Lisa Gardner describes Freeman as ‘A master of psychological suspense’.

So, with just a matter of days before you can get to read what all the fuss is about in full, here’s your first taster with the prologue from The Cold Nowhere:

brian freeman hi-res cropPrologue
Despite the ribbons of blood on his face, which were as angry as war paint, the man on the bed was still breathing. She hadn’t killed him.
He lay on his back, sprawled in a tangle of bedsheets. His unbuttoned dress shirt exposed a flat chest, winter-pale and hairless. His pants puddled around his ankles. He smelled of cigar smoke and cologne. The whiskey bottle he’d opened lay tipped on the floor of the old stateroom, dripping Lagavulin onto the emerald carpet. He still clutched a crystal tumbler in his hand. Her blow had come by surprise, knocking him off his feet.
Cat slid a flowery cocktail dress over her nude body. She wanted to be gone before he woke up. She grabbed one of her cowboy boots from the floor. Its heel was slick with blood where she’d swung it into the man’s temple. She shoved her foot inside, and the leather nestled her calf. Her legs were lithe and smooth; young legs for a young girl. She reached into the toe of her other boot, retrieved the chain that held her father’s ring and slipped it over her head. She fluffed her nut-brown hair. Reaching into the boot again, she curled her fingers around the onyx handle of a knife.
Wherever she went, whatever she did, Cat always carried a knife. She felt a wave of desire – as tall and powerful as a tsunami –to unsheathe the blade and plunge it into the torso of the man on the bed, slicing through skin, tissue, organs and bone. Up and down. Over and over. Thirty times. Forty times. A frenzy. She knew what he would look like when she was done, butchered and dead, a slaughtered pig. She could picture herself spray-painted with his blood, like graffiti art in a graveyard.
She’d seen that painting before. She knew what knives did. Cat hid the blade in her boot and left him there, unconscious. He wasn’t worth killing. She felt sick from the images popping in her brain like fireworks. She headed for the bathroom, sank to her bare knees on the cold tile, and vomited into the toilet. She flushed down the puke. When she felt steady on her feet, she hurried down the steps and escaped outside, where the elements assaulted her immediately.
She stood on the deck of the giant ore boat Charles Frederick, but she wasn’t at sea. This ship didn’t go to sea anymore. It was a museum showpiece, locked away from the open waters of Lake Superior on a narrow channel in the heart of Duluth’s tourist district. The long, flat deck, like two football fields of red steel, swayed under her heels. The ship groaned like a living thing. Wind off the lake made a tornado of her hair and sneaked under her dress with cold fingers. It was early April, but in Duluth, April meant winter when the sun went down.
Dots of frigid moisture beaded on her skin from the flurries whipping through the night air. She hugged herself tightly, shivering, wishing she had a coat. Her heels clanged on the deck as, feeling alone and small, she picked her way beside a rope railing sixty feet over the water. When she looked down, she felt dizzy. Her eyes darted with the quickness of a bird, alert to the shadows and hiding places around her. She was never safe.
Cat located a hatch, where steep wet steps descended to an interior room that was like a prison of grey metal, with huge rivets dotting the walls. The room was dark and empty. On the far wall, snow blew inside through an open exit door. She exhaled in sharp relief; all she had to do was hurry to the ground and run. She bolted for the door but at the gangway she stopped and nervously studied the deserted street below the ship. Her boots were on metal landing in the water of the snowmelt. She wiped wet flakes from her eyes and squinted to see better.
Then, with her heart in her mouth, she froze. Even in the bitter cold, sweat gathered on her neck like a film of fear. She backed into the shadows, making herself invisible, but it was too late.
He’d seen her.
He’d found her again.
For days, she’d stayed a step ahead of him, like a game of hopscotch. Now he was back and she was trapped. She pricked up her ears and listened. Footsteps crunched across the gravel and ice, coming closer. She ran to a steel door that led to the mammoth cargo holds in the guts of the ship. She tugged on the door – it was heavy – and slipped through it, closing it behind her. Looking down, she saw only blackness; she couldn’t see the bottom of the steps. The interior was cold and vast, like she’d been swallowed down into a whale’s belly. She was blind as she descended. The air got colder on her wet skin, and the wind made muffled shrieks outside the hull.
When she finally felt the bottom of the ship under her feet, she inched forward, expecting open space. Instead, she bumped against walls, and wire netting scraped her face. Her fingers found grease and peeling paint. With no frame of reference, she lost her sense of direction. Her eyes saw things that weren’t there, mirages in the shadows. Objects moved. Colors floated in the air. Vertigo made her head spin, as if she were on a catwalk instead of safely on the ground.
Something real skittered over her foot – a rat. Cat flailed and couldn’t stifle her cry. She collided with a stack of paint cans that clattered to the floor and rolled like squeaky bicycles. The noise bounced around the walls, rippling to the high ceiling in ghastly echoes. She dropped to her knees, tightened into a ball, and slid her knife out of her boot and clutched it in front of her.
The door high above her swung open. He was here. A flashlight scoured the floor like a dazzling white eye. The light, passing over her head, helped her see where she was. She was crouched behind
a yellow forklift in a maze of makeshift plywood walls. Twenty feet away, a corridor beside the hull led from the cargo hold where she was hiding. That was the way out.
Cat waited. She heard the bang of footfalls. He was on the floor with her now. His light explored every crevice, patiently clearing every hiding place as he hunted her. She heard his footsteps; she heard his breathing. He was on the other side of the forklift, no more than six feet away, and he stopped, as if his senses told him that she was near. She rubbed her fingers on the knife; her sweat made it slippery. She aimed her blade at his throat. His light spilled across the dusty floor in front of her. He took a step closer, until he was a dark shape beside the wheels of the machine.
She saw the light glinting on his hand. He held a gun. Cat’s breath shot into her chest, loud and scared. She sprang up, slashing with the knife, but as she lurched toward him her wrist collided with the cage and the blade dropped to the floor. Helpless, she charged, taking them both to the ground, landing on dirt and scrap wood. The gun fell, and the flashlight rolled. Cat jabbed with her fingers and found his eyes. She poked hard, and when he screamed she squirmed away, scooped up the flashlight and ran.
With the light bouncing in front of her, she sprinted down a narrow passage. He scrambled to follow, but she heard him lose his footing and fall. She widened the gap between them. The passage opened into a second cargo hold, and she saw another set of steps, which she climbed two at a time. Her mouth hung open, gulping air. At the top, she bolted back onto the ship’s deck.
She was out of time. She took off the way she’d come, beside the rope railing with the water far below her. The metal was wet, and she skidded, trying to stay on her feet. He was already closing on her again. She heard his running footsteps behind her, but she didn’t look back. She sprinted on the slippery steel like a clumsy dancer, until she reached the end of the boat and had nowhere else to run. She stood at the stern, with the massive anchor chain beside her and the wind and flurries stinging her face from the midnight sky. The steel floor thundered, reverberating with his heavy footfalls. He was almost here. He almost had her.
Cat clasped her fists in front of her face and stared in despair at the harbour below her. Then she did the only thing she could do.
She flung herself off the ship into the ice-strewn water.


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Harrogate Crime Festival programme is launched !

Last night at the British Library, within the setting of the current A-Z of Crime Writing exhibition, the ‘H is for Hardboiled’ was ignored for one night, replaced by the phrase ‘H is for Harrogate!’.

The full programme and line up for this year’s festival is now up on line – so, go check it out, book loads of tickets and enjoy.

Here’s where to go.



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Creative Thursday at Harrogate !

Aspiring Authors in Life of Crime
Aspiring authors will have the rare chance to pitch their works to some of crime fiction’s most influential names in publishing.
‘Dragons’ Pen’ is the culmination of a day-long creative writing workshop as part of Europe’s biggest celebration of crime fiction, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2013.
The workshop offers the opportunity to pitch concepts to two powerhouse literary agents, Jane Gregory of Gregory and Company and Gordon Wise of Curtis Brown, commissioning editor from Little Brown Jade Chandler, and esteemed publisher Maria Rejt of Pan Macmillan.
Crime is the most lucrative genre. Blockbuster writer Lee Child sells a book a second and the genre dominates our TV and movie screens.
Gemma Rowland, Crime Festival Manager, said: “It’s not surprising then that so many wannabe authors opt for the genre because many probably see it as the equivalent of a lottery ticket, if they get it right, whether it’s commercial or critical acclaim. Everyone thinks they can write crime, it can be formulaic and it can be popular, but in fact to write crime well is a rare skill, which is why our Creative Thursday workshop is in such demand. It’s taught by authors, publishers, agents and editors – so gives a valuable and rare insight into how to really write crime fiction.”
Many of the most successful writers at work today in the genre will feature at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival this July as up to 90 authors gather from around the world including Kate Atkinson, Susan Hill, Ruth Rendell, Ann Cleeves, Lee Child and Ian Rankin.
Creative Thursday precedes the prestigious Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson and the official opening party for Europe’s biggest celebration of crime fiction.
Attendees will be welcomed by the 2013 programming chair, Val McDermid, before undergoing an intensive exercise-based workshop with Henry Sutton, crime novelist and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.
A session will also be co-led by Bafta nominated screenwriter MR Hall and former lawyer William Ryan, with an interactive session also on real life crime scenarios from the Forensic Science Society.
2013 Creative Thursday, Thursday 18 July, Time – 9am – 6pm, Price – £99 per person. For more information or to book your place contact the Festival Office on 01423 562 303 or email

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Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah

Published by Pan

Four a.m on a wet stretch of the A1 and a driver skids out of control. Quick on the scene, Senior Investigating Officer Kate Daniels and partner DS Hank Gormley are presented with a horrifying image of carnage and mayhem that quickly becomes one of the worst road traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history. But as the casualties mount up, they soon realise that not all deaths were as a result of the accident . . . On the other side of town a house goes up in flames, turning its two inhabitants into charred corpses. Seemingly unconnected with the traffic accident, Kate sets about investigating both incidences separately. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and Kate and her colleagues are one always step behind a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Following hot on the heels of her first two great DCI Kate Daniels novels ‘The Murder Wall‘ and ‘Settled Blood‘, Mari Hannah is back with the third book in the series and back with a bang!
The opening scenes of carnage at a pile up on the A1 are ones which will stay with me for some time to come and show that Hannah has all the necessary skills to keep coming at us with great crime stories, even when it comes to leaving a good few pages before bringing her ‘tec to the scene.
Sure, it can be said that having a blurb that indicates that the two incidents, the afore mentioned accident and a house fire, are ‘seemingly unconnected’ will leave very few readers wondering if the cases are going to somehow come together before long, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way to trip even the most constant crime fiction readers. The surprises are skilfully handled and plentiful and provide a very rewarding read from an author not afraid to take risks – risks which, to her credit, are clearly paying off in a big way.

And, with the great news this week that the author has secured a deal for the next two books in the series, with the next book ‘Monument to Murder’ to be published in April 2014 in hardcover.

Exciting times indeed, both for Mari Hannah and for crime fiction fans everywhere.

Waste no time – discover and follow DCI Kate Daniels now with Deadly Deceit.


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Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Published by Angry Robot

Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name. Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
images For some time now I’ve been following Chuck Wendig, reading his entertaining and informative writing blogs at his website terrible, listening to him on writing interview blogs at Angry Robot and The Creative Penn, and downloading his writing guide books for my kindle.
I was more than a little apprehensive about biting the bullet and checking out his fiction, but the buzz surrounding Blackbirds was too strong to resist and disappointed I most certainly was NOT.
Miriam Black is a masterful character – gifted/cursed with the power we’d all struggle to decide if it was a good or bad thing – she can tell how people will die, but cannot do anything to prevent the events from occurring.
From it’s great premise and stunning cover (zoom in to see the details within Miriam’s hair) you could be mistaken in thinking this is Young Adult fiction, but be warned – Blackbirds is tough, brutal, sweary and bloody – oh, and it’s excellent in all those ways too !
Now to grab a copy of the sequel ‘Mockingbird‘ ahead of the next book to also feature Miriam ‘Cormorant’.
I don’t know where Mr Wendig finds the time and energy to be in so many places at once and so good in all of them, but I’m damn glad he does.



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