Daily Archives: May 26, 2011

Crime Fiction at London Writers’ Club

It’s been a very busy but throughly enjoyable week, and I’m sure there will be some reading time over the long weekend ahead, but most of the evenings this week have been spent at bookish events.

On Wednesday evening, having spotted an event which sounded of interest on that modern oracle of all things, twitter, I went online and purchased a ticket for my first visit to London Writers’ Club.

Despite initial concerns as to what the first rule of Writers’ Club might be…maybe not to write about Writers’ Club, I was really looking forward to the event as it was a talk by Rachel Rayner (@thecrimedesk) from Harper Collins about all things Crime Fiction.

Sliding off a little early from the day job to catch train into London, I made my way to the venue, Clerkenwell House in Hatton Garden and arrived in plenty of time.  The event room was the top bar area of the property and very nice it was too (other than a kitchen area which would have been better if a little quieter at times).  There was half an hour to get to know other people there, most of whom were midway through their first or had several novels under their belts and it was great to finally meet Ilaria from Hersilia Press (@hersilia_press) there too.

Rachel gave the group a good overview of the processes by which a novel can reach Harper Collins and then the in-house decision-making processes and considerations that go into selecting books to pursue to the next stages and, hopefully, to publication and great success.

As a case model, she proudly (and rightly too) displayed some of the promotional products used to spread the word about recent new release SANCTUS by Simon Toyne (see review here) – for that book there were promo magazines produced and handed out by monks at railway stations and a whole series of fantastic mini-movie trailers (you can read all about the launch on Simon’s Sanctus website).

Then conversation turned to cover how established series authors work with Harper Collins (which is clearly a core part of the business as Sanctus was the only new acquisition for them in nearly two years!) and then, after a drinks break, to areas of help that members of the group wanted with their own work and submission guidance.

A thoroughly enjoyable event and I’m sure I’ll be returning to London Writers’ Club again soon – maybe to hear another publishing professional speaker, and possibly with a few more pages of my own book written by then too.

If you enjoy writing or are interested in the publishing world and its processes, I’d strongly recommend booking up for a future event here.


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CRIME IN THE COURT (Goldsboro Books).

For anyone who can’t make this year’s big crime festivals, there is still a fantastic chance to mingle with some of the best names in crime fiction, buy their lovely books and have them signed at the new Goldsboro Books next month.

If you are based in or around London, or can get there on the evening of Tues 21st June, then I’d strongly urge you to go to Goldsboro Books site and order up a ticket (just £5) for what promises to be a fantastic evening – one you’re sure to go home from with great memories, some superb photos to treasure new friends made and, most likely a nice bag of newly purchased and signed book to read.

The list of attendees is growing steadily as the event approaches, but here’s the list as it currently stands on their website:

S. J. Bolton

S J Bolton trained as an actress and a dancer, has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has a degree in drama and an MBA. She pursued a successful career in PR and marketing, but her career break to start a family enabled her to write her first novel, Sacrifice, which has been inspired by her fascination with British traditional folklore.

Mary Andrea Clarke

By day Mary Andrea Clarke holds down a responsible position in the Civil Service – but by night she is a Mystery Woman! Her love of crime fiction led her to join the vibrant group of readers and writers (not all female!) who organise events and meetings all over the UK.

Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black . Ann lives in North Tyneside. Her Vera Stanhope series is currently being turned into a major ITV production to be released in May 2011

Rory Clements

Rory Clements has had a long and successful newspaper career including being Features Editor and Associate Editor of Today, Editor of the Daily Mail’s Good Health Pages and, most recently, Editor of the health section at the Evening Standard He is now writing full time in an idyllic corner of Norfolk.

Lesley Cookman

Born in Guildford, Surrey, Lesley spent her early life in south London, before marrying and moving all over the south-east of England. Lesley fell into feature writing by accident, then went on to reviewing for both magazines and radio. She writes for the stage, she has written short fiction for women’s weekly magazines and is a former editor of The Call Boy, the British Music Hall Society journal. Her first Libby Sarjeant novel, Murder In Steeple Martin, was published to much acclaim in 2006, followed in 2007 by Murder At The Laurels and Murder In Midwinter.

Julia Crouch

After a drama degree at Bristol University, Julia Crouch spent ten years devising, directing and writing for the theatre. During this time she had twelve plays produced and co-founded Bristol’s Public Parts Theatre Company. She lives in Brighton with her husband, the actor and playwright Tim Crouch, and their three children. CUCKOO is her first novel.

Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis has written nineteen novels, beginning with The Course of Honour, the love story of the Emperor Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy.

Paul Doherty  

Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough (North-Eastern England) in 1946. He had the usual education before studying at Durham for three years for the Catholic priesthood but decided not to proceed. He went to Liverpool University where he gained a First Class Honours Degree in History and won a state scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, whilst there he met his wife Carla Lynn Corbitt. He continued his studies but decided that the academic world was not for him and became a secondary school teacher.

Patrick Easter

Patrick Easter was a police officer in the Met for thirty years and during that time was part of the Marine Police force. On retirement, he became a successful journalist writing both for technical journals and the national press. His stint with the Marine Police coupled with a love of 18th Century history make him the perfect author for this subject.

Gordon Ferris

Gordon Ferris was born and grew up in Scotland. His first love was writing, but he took the long way round to becoming an author. He now writes thrillers set in post-war Britain; a natural ‘noir’ period of rationing and violence. Gordon’s breakthrough ‘Brodie’ book – The Hanging Shed – has been in the top five of Amazon’s kindle besteller list since January. It’s now available in hardback from Corvus.

Elena Forbes

Elena Forbes has lived most of her life in London. After reading Modern Languages at Bristol University she worked as a portfolio manager for international investment banks. She now writes full time and lives in Notting Hill with her husband and two children. The first chapter and synopsis of her first novel, Die With Me, was shortlisted for a debut dagger in 2005.

James Forrester 

James Forrester is the fiction-writing name (the middle names) of the historian Dr Ian Mortimer – best known as the author of ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England’. He has written two historical novels to date: ‘Sacred Treason’ (set in December 1563) and ‘The Roots of Betrayal’ (set in May 1564). Both have as their central character William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms, a herald in the College of Arms.

Christopher Fowler

Christopher Fowler was born in Greenwich, London. He is the multi award-winning author of thirty novels and ten short story collections, and the author of the Bryant & May mystery novels. His first bestseller was ‘Roofworld’. Subsequent novels include ‘Spanky’, ‘Disturbia’, ‘Psychoville’ and ‘Calabash’. His books have been optioned by Guillermo Del Toro (‘Spanky’) and Jude Law (‘Psychoville’).

Barry Forshaw

Barry Forshaw reviews crime fiction for The Independent and The Express, and edits Crime Time magazine

Meg Gardiner

Meg Gardiner is originally from Southern California, where she practiced law and taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of five Evan Delaney novels as well as the first Jo Beckett thriller, The Dirty Secrets Club, described by Jeffery Deaver as “A winner all the way.” She lives with her family near London.

M R Hall

M R Hall lives and works in the Wye valley in South Wales. Born in London in 1967, he was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated in law. His books include The Coroner, The Disappeared and The Redeemed.

Sam Hayes

Sam Hayes writes gripping emotional thrillers – nail-biting fiction with families, mothers, children and relationships at the core of unexpected drama, crime and tragedy. How would you cope?

David Hewson

David Hewson’s novels have been translated into a wide range of languages, from Italian to Japanese, and his debut work, Semana Santa, set in Holy Week Spain, was filmed with Mira Sorvino. The Fallen Angel is his recently published Nic Costa novel.

Matt Hilton

Matt Hilton quit his career as a police officer with Cumbria Constabulary to pursue his love of writing tight, cinematic American-style thrillers. He is the author of the Joe Hunter thriller series, including Dead Men’s Dust & Judgement and Wrath.

Chris Morgan Jones

For eleven years Chris Morgan Jones worked at the world’s largest business intelligence agency. He has advised Middle Eastern governments, Russian oligarchs, New York banks, London hedge funds and African mining companies. An Agent of Deceit is his first novel.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is a freelance journalist and lives in North London with her family. The Poison Tree is her first novel.

Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr is the author of six other acclaimed Bernie Gunther novels. His last novel, If the Dead Rise Not, won the 2009 CWA Ellis Peters’ Award for Best Historical Crime Novel. Philip Kerr was born in Edinburgh but now lives in London and in Cornwall.

John Lawton

John Lawton is a degenerating misanthrope who lives in a remote hilltop village in Derbyshire. He is not entirely sure why. He likes T.C. Boyle, Chuck Palahniuk and Cormac McCarthy – and considers the seminal text of our time to be Myron by Gore Vidal. He is keen on the cultivation of the onion and obscure varieties of potato. He hates tories, teachers and travel (in that order) – but loves to visit Arizona, Florence … New York …

Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is a freelance writer and lives in England. He is the author of a contemporary spy series featuring Harry Tate,  and the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960’s France.

Colin Murray

Born, raised and educated in London and then at Warwick University; gaining a degree in English and American literature. He worked for a number of years in London publishing before marrying the SF writer Lisa Tuttle and moving up to Scotland.

S J Parris

S J Parris is the author of Heresy and Prophecy featuring Giordano Bruno.

Linda Regan

Linda Regan already has a successful acting career and now she has turned her skills to  being a succesful crime writer.

Mike Ripley

Mike Ripley is the author of the award-winning ‘Angel’ series of comedy thrillers which have twice won the CWA Last Laugh Award. It has been said that he ‘paints a picture of London Dickens would recognise’ and that ‘he writes like the young Len Deighton, wierd and wonderful information and very, very funny’. Described as ‘England’s funniest crime writer’ (The Times), he is also a respected critic of crime fiction, writing for the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times and the Birmingham Post among others. He currently writes the “Getting Away With Murder” gossip column on shotsmag.co.uk.

William Ryan

William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London – having worked as a lawyer in the City of a number of years. In his spare time, he wrote on an occasional basis for television and film before completing a Masters in Creative Writing at St Andrews University in 2005. He is the author of The Holy Thief and soon to be published The Bloody Meadow.

Michael Ridpath

Michael Ridpath spent eight years as a bond trader in the City before giving up his job to write full-time. He lives in north London with his wife and three children.

Imogen Robertson

Grew up in Darlington in the North East of England, studied Russian and German at Cambridge and spent a year in Russia in a city called Voronezh during the early nineties. Lots of vodka. Lots of falling over in the snow.

Before writing full-time she used to direct children’s television, film and radio, including Numberjacks for Cbeebies. She decided to try and make a career out of writing after winning the Telegraph’s ‘First thousand words of a novel’ competition in 2007 with the opening scene of Instruments of Darkness, her first book.

C J Sansom

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D. in history. He lives in Sussex. He is the author of the hugely successful Matthew Shardake series.

Simon Toyne

Simon Toyne graduated from Goldsmiths College in London with a degree in English and Drama then worked in television for almost twenty years before becoming a novelist. SANCTUS is his first book and also the first volume of the Ruin trilogy.

L C Tyler

L C Tyler writes both crime and general fiction. He grew up in Essex and studied at Jesus College Oxford and City University in London. During a career with the Civil Service and the British Council he lived in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sudan, Thailand and Denmark, none of which places provides the slightest inspiration for his work.

Martin Walker

Martin Walker was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and Harvard. In 25 years with the Guardian, he served as Bureau Chief in Moscow and, in the US, as European Editor. In addition to his prize-winning journalism, he wrote and presented the BBC series ‘Martin Walker’s Russia’ and ‘Clintonomics’. He has written several acclaimed works of non-fiction, including The Cold War: A History. He spends his summers in his house in the Dordogne. Visit Bruno’s website at http://www.brunochiefofpolice.com.

Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson’s acclaimed and award-winning crime novels have won her many fans. The first novel in this series, Stratton’s War, won the Ellis Peters Award. Two of her novels have been shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. Laura is the Guardian’s crime reviewer. She lives in Islington, London.

Hope to see you there



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NOW YOU SEE ME by S.J. Bolton

Out now from Bantam Press (Transworld).

‘Dear Boss……. ‘  If you don’t read S.J. Bolton, you don’t know Jack!

Following hot on the success of her three previous crime novels (Sacrifice, Awakening & Blood Harvest), this latest from Transworld‘s S.J.Bolton is, if you’ll excuse the pun, an absolutely ‘ripping’ yarn.

Set initially in London, but with a plot that carries the story elsewhere in the country, NOW YOU SEE ME kicks off in gripping style with serial killer obsessive Detective Constable Lacey Flint discovering a woman dying from stab wounds beside her car, followed swiftly by the arrival of a letter written in blood.  The police are all over the case, desperate to find and stop the killer from attacking others the moment that they realise they may have a copycat ‘Jack the Ripper’ back on the streets of London.  The embarrassment of all those years of such a killing spree going unsolved is something that none of them, DI Dana Tulloch in particular, want repeated.

Links to the original Ripper killings at first seem a little tenuous to the investigation team, but Lacey knows her stuff when it comes to killers and the actions of the almost mythical London character and works to consult her colleagues, most notably Mark Joesbury, as to where the links are appearing and what is likely to happen next.  This is to the extent that, on more than one occasion, her own possible involvement is questioned and she’s being observed from within the team she is working.

Emma Boston, a local reporter, passes a letter to Lacey; it’s addressed to Emma ‘Boss’ton – another reference the killer uses to hark back to the infamous ‘Dear Boss..’ letters penned by Jack the Ripper in blood to the police.

The characters in the book are first rate and, at tonight’s book launch, S.J. commented that whenever she’d been asked when she would write a series novel she’d always said it would be when she’d written characters she thought she could use in a series and that, with NOW YOU SEE ME, she’d now achieved that.

The book also has a tremendous sense of place (something that really un-nerved me as they were very familiar and sometimes local places) whether it be the London backstreets, a disused swimming pool in Forest Hill, or the wonderful Horse Market Place in Camden – all of these and other locations put you right in the centre of the action and peril, whether you want to be there or not.

The book is filled with some very nasty imagery at times, but we are talking about killings based on some of the most brutal murders ever to take place on London streets and I think all the gore where it’s present is justified.  I was more disturbed by the descriptions of the gang-rapes which Lacey Flint is also investigating across South East London as part of a Sapphire Unit team – tough and powerful writing, but everything there for a reason on the page.

And, now I come to the twists, or rather I will just say there are twists aplenty and I wouldn’t want to spoil a single one of them for you.  Suffice to say that I was constantly on my guard thoughout the book as I was thrown curveball after curveball, with the plot taking directions I certainly didn’t see coming.  With it’s relatively short chapters, this is a devil of a book for making you thrash through the pages from one hook to the next.

Tonight saw the book launch event in Central London or, to be more precise, in Whitechapel and Transworld had laid on a real treat for the author and for those of us lucky enough to be invited along.

We assembled at Liverpool Street Station at just after 6.30pm and, grouped together, we waited for our guide to arrive – a guide to take us on a walking tour of Jack the Ripper’s London.  Some time passed and we began to notice a dark clad figure looming behind the railings at the front of the station.  He was carrying a silver lantern, dressed head to toe in black and was staring intently at our number through the rails.

For a while we all thought it was best we ignore this fellow -maybe he’d go away in a while. Besides, we also had another strange young man walking up and down the street shouting ‘Damien!’ at the top of his lungs at regular intervals to contend with – ah, London, how we love ya!  After a while, Lynsey from Transworld approached the dark figure and asked him if he was Ben – our guide.  Turned out he refused to respond to that name, he was now in character and was now ‘Frank’ (see pic).

And so, Frank came to join us, to stare at us, to unnerve us all, but most of all to entertain and inform us on what was a fantastic stroll around the locations of where Jack the Ripper had taken his victim’s lives.  There were locations I had no idea existed along the way; the original Bethlehem (Bedlam) Hospital site just along from Liverpool Street station, an incredible alleyway off of Bishopsgate that felt like something out of Harry Potter and some amazing back of scenes architecture and old streets that busy old London town has hidden away from us all.  The ‘Frying Pan’ public house relief could still be seen high above the more modern Indian Restaurant sign at one of the murder sites and I think we were all amazed to find a plaque stating the location of another murder site on the tour.  We clearly had the best man for the job here, ‘Frank’ was excellent in character and, as it turned out, Ben was a really nice chap when ‘Frank’ went away again later in the evening and joined us for celebratory drinks.  Whilst it was a glorious sunny evening to walk about in, I think we all secretly wished for a bit more darkness and maybe some old fashioned London Whitechapel fog to really set the scene and to make ‘Franks’ lantern seem a bit more of a requirement.

 All in all, it was a superb way to launch the book – an event that I’m sure all who attended will remember for a long time to come.

So, although at this point, I’d normally only be commenting on a book, on this occasion I’d like to make several recommendations.

Do go and grab a copy of NOW YOU SEE ME.

Beautiful signed 1st Editions are available from the fantastic new Goldsboro Books in London’s Cecil Court.

Do go and explore Jack’s London on a walking tour and..

Do also seek out the chance to meet S.J.Bolton and a lot of other great crime writers this July at Harrogate (see link below).

Thanks to S.J.Bolton for a fantastic gripping read and to all the Transworld team for such an entertaining and unique launch event – oh, and of course, thanks to ‘Frank/Ben’ too.

Click here to check out the fantastic and atmospheric trailer for the book over at Crime & Publishing’s site.

To read all about SJ Bolton’s books and her fantastic features on her blog about Jack the Ripper click here.

And, to book tickets to this year’s Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival to see SJ and a feast of other great crime authors, click here.

Keith B Walters


Filed under Book Review