Category Archives: General ramblings

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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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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Exciting new signing for Harvill Secker Crime Fiction.




In a major acquisition, Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to two books by Elizabeth Little – an exciting new American voice in crime fiction.  Pre-empted by foreign publishers across the world, Alison Hennessey secured a two-book deal for Harvill Secker with Hal Fessenden at Penguin US. The first book, Dear Daughter, will be one of Harvill Secker’s major titles in early 2015 and will be published simultaneously with Viking in the US.


Los Angeles-based Elizabeth Little’s work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and she is the author of two non-fiction titles: Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic, published in 2007 by Melville House, and Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages, published by Bloomsbury in March 2012.


Alison Hennessey said: ‘Dear Daughter is everything I’ve been looking for since I started at Harvill Secker – sharp, spiky, clever and enormously fun, with the kind of acerbic narrator that editors (and readers) dream of discovering.  Dear Daughter is like a glorious combination of Gone Girl meets Mean Girls with a twist of Alice la Plante’s award-winning Turn of Mind, but it has a freshness and vitality that’s all its own. Elizabeth Little is a fiction star in the making, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we’ll be publishing her at Harvill Secker.’


About Dear Daughter:

After a trial that transfixed America, teenager Janie Jenkins – rich, pretty and far too clever for her own good – was convicted of the murder of her mother, a reclusive philanthropist. Ten years later, Janie has been released on appeal but most of the country remains convinced she’s guilty – and even Janie’s not entirely sure what she did that fateful night. All she has to go on are the last words her mother spoke before she was killed, which send Janie on a mission to an odd little town in the very back of beyond but, with the whole of America’s media on her tail, she has to do everything she can to find out the truth about her mother’s death without revealing her true identity.


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As if you needed any more reasons to go to Harrogate….



When you come to compiling your Top British Festivals/ Top Literary Festivals/ Best Boutique Festivals etc. kindly consider the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – celebrating a DECADE OF CRIME this year. It’s the BIGGEST event of its kind in Europe and considered by the crime writing fraternity as their AGM! (albeit over the bar).

Harrogate is a top festival destination (and will be the star backdrop of the Tour De France). Kindly see some killer facts (no pun intended with the crime writing festival) about the town and festivals below.

WHEN: 18 – 21 July 2013


WHERE: The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.


Harrogate: restorative spas, tranquil gardens, quaint tea shops. Believe us, you’ll need them. Brace yourselves. Cordon off the flower beds, lock your valuables in the hotel safe, and steady the old nerves with a pint of Theakstons finest ale…

Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing reveals a strong female line-up of Special Guest Authors as over 80 authors gather for a long summer weekend.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’.

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, whose Jack Reacher novels got the big screen treatment starring Tom Cruise.

The 18th July also sees the return of ‘Creative Thursday’ delivering creative writing and publishing courses and tips direct from acclaimed authors, editors and agents.

Box Office: 01423 562 303

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (there’s no apostrophe and it’s peculier with an ‘e’) is part of the Harrogate International Festivals. Harrogate features a range of festivals including the Summer Festival, Raworths Literature and Lecture Series, Children’s Festival and Fringe (details to be announced for all the above mid-April)


  • Heard of the book Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014? It’s time to GO NORTH! with the North of England’s leading arts festival. The only way is up with our northern soul – last year the Festivals DOUBLED the economic impact on the town to £8.2m despite less than 2% of its income is from the public sector.
  • The Festivals are an UMBRELLA for the arts with a diverse programme delivering over 300 unique events. Come rain or shine, whatever the weather – there’s a Festival for Everyone’s temperament and taste.
  • The Festivals attract 90,000 visitors annually!
  • With Dame Fanny Waterman as its Honorary President and Prince Charles as its patron in a spa town that was home to the Fox acting dynasty’s patriarch – with the once Mayor of Harrogate, Samson Fox – it’s a Festival rolling in heritage.
  • The first Festival was in 1966 in answer to a call by Harold Hyde Walker, Chief Reporter on the Harrogate paper who, since the 1940s, had been urging Harrogate to establish a series of regular concerts and a festival.
  • It’s a platform for launching new talent – as well as giving the likes of Lesley Garrett and Julian Lloyd Webber a platform before they were famous, it also featured Amy Winehouse and cult legends Wynton Marsalis, Van Morrison, Youssou N’Dour, and BB King.
  • 2013’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will have a beer brewed in its honour called ‘A Shot in The Dark’.
  • In 2012 the Harrogate International Festivals outreach and education programmes worked with over 6000 disadvantaged young people in communities across the region.


One of the things that make Harrogate such a boutique, beautiful festival destination is the town itself….

  • Charles Dickens described Harrogate after a visit in 1858 as, “The queerest place with the strangest people in it leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.
  • Agatha Christie famously disappeared in 1926 (her abandoned car triggered the biggest manhunt known to the UK at the time).  She was found in Harrogate. Under a lot of stress she was no doubt swayed by its healing spas, luscious parks, and of course, dancing (she was found in the ballroom of the Old Swan Hotel which is now home to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival). It’s been charmingly dubbed by a national travel journalist as ‘Doing an Agatha’ (escaping to Harrogate to de-stress!)
  • Mark Cavendish will have the chance to take the 2014 Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey in the town where his mother lives (yep, Harrogate!) after it was announced the first stage of the race will finish in Harrogate.
  • Don’t be fooled by the stereotyped retired ‘Blue Rinse’ little old lady! Harrogate was one of the major towns in the suffragette campaign. Their literature secretary, Agnes Wilson, of 4 Studley Road, Harrogate, travelled to London in March 1912, and took part in the window-smashing campaign, and as a result was sentenced to two months’ hard labour, and went on hunger strike.
  • Harrogate became known for its waters in 1571. By 1700 the town’s expansion was linked to the 88 springs discovered and the fashion of ‘taking the waters’. It’s said to have the highest concentration of different mineral springs than any other town in the world.
  • Visitors included Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill – a visit covered in the Harrogate Advertiser on 1 December 1900 noting the race down Parliament Street in bath chairs, which Churchill described as ‘the charge of the Bath Chair Artillery’.
  • Members of every European royal family have visited Harrogate to take the waters in times gone. Princess Alix Hesse and her sister, Princess Victoria of Battenburg, were regular visitors and amused themselves by racing their bath chairs through the streets of Harrogate.
  • The notorious and great Victorian sex writer, Henry Havelock Ellis researched his taboo book on homosexuality in 1889 in Harrogate; today it a favourite destination of the Beaumont Society Transgender Events – the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK.
  • Harrogate is known as ‘The Jewel of the North’ and is the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ featuring some of Yorkshire’s top tourist destinations in its region including Fountain’s Abbey, Lightwater Valley, RHS Harlow Carr Gardens and Harewood House.

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The first review….

I had a perfect start to the week – see here.


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Bitten the bullet…..

Okay, making the decision to put something out there before the end of the year finally became a reality last week when I did exactly that with seven short stories collected, each featuring my lead novel character Detective Inspector George Haven.

Here’s the cover art and the link, and now it’s back to working on the novel ‘A Long December’ which features Haven and his team.


Available on Amazon for kindle here.



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The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

Published by Hodder

imagesIn the past few days I have undertaken quite a surreal experiment.

The last time I can recall reading a book to try and get it under my belt before seeing an adaptation was reading the last pages of Dennis Lehane’s ‘Gone Baby Gone’ whilst in the queue for a preview screening.

When I found out that Erin Kelly’s debut crime novel ‘The Poison Tree’ was about to air in two parts on ITV1 I tried to get it read beforehand, but then work and stuff got in the way so I made sure I was halfway through before watching the first episode, thinking that should put me in about the right place so as not to spoil things.

I watched the first episode, gripped with the knowledge of what I was expecting to happen and, as is often the case with television timings (particularly those which need to cater for advertisement breaks) the pace was changed, the order of events seemed to be swapped around in places and a major scene broke out which I was in no way prepared for with the first half of the novel read.

Then, when the first episode was over, I returned to the book and ploughed through it, finding that although a lot of what I’d just seen on the screen was happening on the page it had been altered to have some characters performing the actions of others and other changes such as where one of the central characters, Rex, worked in prison and what work he was looking for when back in the outside world.

I absolutely loved the book and can only kick myself for not getting around to reading it in its entirety a long time ago, but the television adaptation also seems to be shaping up very nicely with a strong cast and a nice structure to it.

Now, I can’t wait to see the concluding episode this week to see how things tie together in the visual version as, for now, Erin Kelly’s ‘The Poison Tree’ exists in my head like a twisted, haunting dream where the two incarnations share the same themes and major characters and yet each have their own individual lives as though I have walked down two paths of the same dark woodland.

For all those reasons, both the book and the series will remain in my mind for a long long time.



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moving on…..

If you want to see anything else from me, I’m setting forth on new stuff over at a new blog under my own name keithbwalters – that’s warned you 🙂

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THE LAST POST….. (for the time being….)

Last night, and again today, I was truly humbled and touched by a number of tweets I received in response to the news I tweeted out that I have decided to park this blog and to stop reviewing books for the foreseeable future – so, firstly, a big thank you for the very kind messages (you know who you are).

As I mentioned in tweets, I’m remaining on twitter (@keithbwalters) and might tweet the odd short review through that from time to time.

I feel the need, whether you care or not, to spell out just why I’ve made the decision – partly, I guess, to justify this move on my part to myself.

Firstly, I love books and continue to enjoy crime fiction in particular, but am wanting to spend more and more time catching up on old classics that I really should have read by now.  I’m still buying lots of books and they then sit alongside towers of books sent very kindly for me to read and review, I feel their stare into the back of my neck like small children being ignored.  I cannot get away from the fact that with every book I read to review, there are stacks of others sitting alongside, giving a feeling that at all times lots of people are being let down.

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading older stuff, classic Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard, watching lots of dvd’s that I really should have seen years ago – and I’m really enjoying it.

Until recent weeks, I would log every arriving book onto a spreadsheet (grimacing at how many were already on the list as the days/months past publication slipped by), I’d drop an email back to whichever kind publicist had sent the book to let them know it had arrived safely – the admin alone often took more time in my day than my ‘job’ admin, and that’s when it starts to flash up some big warning signs.

I need to spend more time at weekends with my children, not telling them that daddy HAS to finish and review THIS or THAT book, there’s stuff that needs doing on the house, I’m getting fatter through not being active, oh, and did I mention I got into all of this to write my own books?

Yes, as ironic as it might seem, one of my first pieces published was an overview of Mark Billingham and Minette Walters with their Crime Writing Masterclass at the London Book Fair – the article appeared in ‘The Verdict’ – the then crime fanzine in Ottakars (remember them?) bookstores.  I went to the event as a paying punter who wanted to learn the craft of crime writing and came away and wrote about the event itself!  This set a pattern of course, with my initial labour of love write-ups of the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival for Ottakars and then my own blog, turning into my blogger in residence gig for the past two years.  Author interviews from this years event WILL appear somewhere at sometime, but the sheer volume of transcription is daunting in itself.

The last couple of years have been full of amazing experiences – attending recordings of The TV Book Club, having my video review of Before I Go to Sleep broadcast on the show, attending the launch of the first World Book Night in Trafalgar Square, being interviewed by Radio 4 for their World Book Night coverage, going to the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards….and many great festival and book launch events.

In many ways, I only have myself to blame – I created a monster – my second one in fact.

Years ago, when at art college, I wanted to work in special make-up effects and made props and models in my spare time.  This led to me meeting cast and crew from movies such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and Nightbreed.  But guess who ended up writing up signing events and interviewing the cast and crew for my own photocopied fanzines, and one for Marvel Comics? (yes, this was before the internet, and yes it was me, once again spending time writing about the work of others rather than getting on with my own).

I’m fairly certain I’ll be eating my words (or at least some of them) and will return with a blog or website of sorts in the future (maybe even resurrect this one), but with more emphasis on my own writing perhaps, alongside the occasional author feature – who knows?

But for now, just a big big thank you to all that have written great crime books, have sent me great crime books and have kindly shared wine at many a launch event or crime festival.

All very best



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