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Saturday, 29 September 2012

‘The Triangle Murders’ by Lynne Kennedy

Published by BookBaby,
10th August 2012.

When Lieutenant Frank Aloysius Mead is called to the death of a young reporter pushed from a ninth storey window in Greenwich village, New York, he sees that it is the site where a hundred years earlier, 146 workers lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in March 25th 1911.

Frank’s mother still lives in the Lower East Side in a the tenement she inherited from her husband, Frank’s father, Frank Timothy Mead, which had been in the family dating back to Frank’s great grandfather. Even though everything needs fixing she refuses to move. When she learns of the tragedy she tells Frank that his great grandmother Fiona was murdered during the fire. When he queries this, she says ‘Ask Amanda.’  

Amanda is Frank’s daughter whom he had abandoned seven years earlier following the suicide of his wife. His prime motive in returning to New York is to try to put things right with his daughter.  Now he learns that Amanda was a friend of the dead journalist and that they were both investigating the murder of Fiona in 1911.  

Intrigued Frank starts reading up on the fire, and then finds in the family home old papers dating back to Fiona and Cormac’s wedding in 1909 in a box that had belonged to Cormac, Fiona’s husband.  Then he find’s a ‘Murder Book ’and evidence of the 1911 murder.  With modern forensics can Frank find his great grandmother’s killer, and solve the current murder, and are they linked? And where is his daughter Amanda?

Although the story is set in March 2011, it is interspersed with Fiona’s and Cormac’s story a hundred years earlier.  The two stories running side by side provide a fascinating mystery. To say that I was captivated by this book is an understatement. I could not put it down.  Compelling reading, this book is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

The Triangle Murders ( formerly called Tenement) was a Malice Domestic Finalist in 2011 and won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Mystery Category Award that same year.

Lynne Kennedy  was born in Brooklyn, New York. She obtained a Masters Degree in Science from Hofstra University, New York, and moved to San Diego, California in the early 80’s. In San Diego, Lynne worked as a museum director at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, California for many years. In this capacity, she developed education programs, exhibitions and film projects on a number of timely science subject areas. She also worked with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab and the San Diego Police Department to develop forensic programs for teachers and students and conduct mystery nights for families. She has worked with experts at various historical museums, such as the Tenement Museum in New York, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Coronado Historical Museum, in Coronado, to create innovative ways of bringing history to life. She began writing mysteries in 1995. History, digital photography and forensic science are personal interests and play significant roles in her novels. Her position in the museum community has also enabled her to network the community of experts needed to assist in her research and add authenticity to her books.  Lynne is married to John Kennedy!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

‘More Than Sorrow’ by Vicki Delany

Published by Poisoned Pen Press,
September 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-59058-985-4 (HB) 
978-1-59058-987-8 (TPB

Hannah Manning, a war correspondent injured by an IED in Afghanistan, is recuperating at her sister’s farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario.   Whilst there she is plagued by memories of her life before the bomb and suffers some traumatic flashbacks and extreme headaches.  As she is recovering she meets and makes friends with an Afghan woman, Hila, who is also suffering losses and trauma from the war.  When Hila goes missing and then is found dead, Hannah cannot account for her whereabouts as her brain injuries create lapses in her mind and consciousness.

Alongside Hannah’s story runs the story of Maggie an American Loyalist who fled to Canada in the 1780s, arriving to live on the land in Prince Edward Country at a point when life was cheap and harsh.  Abused by her husband’s relatives and treated like a servant her thoughts and experiences weave throughout the main narrative, creating a parallel between the experiences of prejudice against refugees and the tough nature of working on the land. 

Hannah immerses herself in the letters and diaries of the Loyalist settlers in the attic of the farm and she begins to get some hallucinations or feelings linked with Maggie and her experiences.   Along with the mystery of Hila’s death the two stories start to converge and Hannah and her niece, Lily, are dragged along with it, putting both their lives in danger.

This is a modern style gothic novel, containing some familiar elements: a mystery, an isolated location (even in modern Canada), a supernatural link, hidden treasure, some dominant male characters and a ghostly presence.  The contemporary back drop of the Afghan war and the more historical US Civil war references create a well written and researched suspense novel.   Little details, like those about running a small scale farm and the hardships of Loyalists fleeing the US, ensure that the narrative has a depth which supports both the story lines and makes the writing richer.   

I have only just come across Vicki Delany, having been introduced to her Constable Molly Smith books and, incidentally, Prince Edward County this summer.  More Than Sorrow is a departure from her more traditional mystery stories, but is a nicely written and compelling read from start to finish.
Reviewer: Amanda Brown.

Vicki Delany began her writing career as a Sunday writer: a single mother of three high-spirited daughters with a full-time job as a computer programmer. Sunday afternoon was – and at that, only now and again – the only time she had to spend all by herself, with a single candle on her desk for a bit of atmosphere. After her three daughters, somewhat hesitantly, flew the coop, Vicki had more time to devote to her writing.  She was able to write three novels of suspense, set in Ontario, two of which, Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory were published to critical acclaim by Poisoned Pen Press of Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2007, Vicki took early retirement from her job as a systems analyst with a major bank and sold her house in Oakville, Ontario.  At that time In the Shadow of the Glacier, the first book in a police procedural series set in the British Columbia Interior was published. After travelling around North America for a year with her dog, Shenzi, she bought a home in bucolic, rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she rarely wears a watch and can write whenever she feels like it. Since settling in Prince Edward County, Vicki has continued with her writing career, publishing books in three different sub-genres as well as a book for adults with low literacy skills.

Monday, 24 September 2012

‘Burying the Past’ by Judith Cutler

 Published by Severn House,
September 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-7278-8209-7

This fourth book in the series featuring Chief Superintendent Fran Harman finds her taking the plunge, and moving in with Assistant Chief Constable Mark Turner who has proposed marriage.  Fran has sold her place, and they have bought ‘The Rectory’. Unfortunately it has come complete with a skeleton buried in the vegetable patch.

There is much to be done at The Rectory and money for the renovations is tight, not helped by the fact that the sale of Mark’s house has been held up, as his daughter has taken possession, and nothing will move her.

Meanwhile, the suicide of a colleague and a series of metal thefts take up Fran’s time.  Then a young woman comes forward claiming to have been raped, and to have stabbed and killed the rapist. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with. Mark’s son turns up and it’s clear that he is less than ecstatic at the prospect of his father's forthcoming nuptials.

There is no doubt that dealing with murder must always be stressful, but when the murder is on ones doorstep, and compounded by family problems it becomes unbearable for Mark. Fran does her best but matters rapidly move beyond her control. However, despite all falling about her she continues to keep her focus, first directing her team on the metal thefts, and seeking the truth on the rape, but also delving into the past owner of the Rectory, which she hopes will shed light on the skeleton found in the garden.

Judith Cutler has, with this book, woven several interesting plot lines into a story, that deals equally with life in the police force, chasing thieves and killers, coupled with not only the personal problems in the lives of two main characters, who are senior police officers, but also their families, and additionally the problems and jealousies of the people who report to them in the police force.  Well crafted the reader is drawn into all their lives.  Compelling reading this is a real page turner, and is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in this series are Life Sentence, Cold Pursuit and Still Waters

Judith Cutler was born in the Black Country, just outside Birmingham, later moving to the Birmingham suburb of Harborne. Judith started writing while she was at the then Oldbury Grammar School, winning the Critical Quarterly Short Story prize with the second story she wrote. She subsequently read English at university. It was an attack of chickenpox caught from her son that kick-started her writing career. One way of dealing with the itch was to hold a pencil in one hand, a block of paper in the other - and so she wrote her first novel. This eventually appeared in a much revised version as Coming Alive, published by Severn House. Judith has five series. The first two featured amateur sleuth Sophie Rivers (10 books) and Detective Sergeant Kate Power (6 Books). Then came Josie Wells, a middle-aged woman with a quick tongue, and a love of good food, there are two books, The Food Detective and The Chinese Takeout. The Lina Townsend books are set in the world of antiques and there are five books in this series. There are two books featuring Tobias Campion set in the Regency period. Her most recent series features Chief Superintendent Fran Harman.  Judith has also written two standalone’s Scar Tissue and Staging Death.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

‘A Woman Unknown’ by Frances Brody

 Published by Piatkus,
September 2012.  ISBN: 978-0-7499-5492-5

Kate Shackleton has accidentally become a private investigator. Receiving a telegram at the end of the Great War, informing her that her husband Gerald was ‘missing presumed dead’, Kate decided to try and discover exactly what happened to Gerald. In the course of her investigations she helped others by locating missing loved ones, and so has by reputation, become a private investigator.

Approached by Mr Cyril Fitzpatrick who is concerned about his wife Deirdre, and wants to know just where his wife goes when she is supposedly caring for her sick mother, Kate is wary of the job. She has come across Deirdre Fitzpatrick before.

Chief Inspector Marcus Charles of Scotland Yard asks Kate to meet him at the Hotel Metropole where a man known to Kate has been found by a chambermaid, dead in bed and not from natural causes. The man Everett Runcie is a banker facing ruin and disgrace by some devious dealing. His American heiress wife tired of his infidelities is now seeking a divorce.  But Everett Runcie had not been alone when he checked into the hotel, so where, and who, was his companion?

Cleverly plotted, could seemingly unrelated events be connected?  As Kate investigates she recalls what was put down to an accidental shooting at the start of the grouse season a few weeks back, and begins to wonder if there could be a tie up.  The more she delves, the more convoluted and sinister do matters appear. Can Kate untangle the complex threads and get to the truth?

The story is told by Kate in the first person, and by third person narratives from Kate’s assistant Sykes and Deirdre Fitzpatrick. Whilst Frances Brody has weaved an intriguing set of events for the reader to unravel, much of the pleasure in the book is in the period in which it is set, and which the author portrays brilliantly.  The story also highlights the difficulty of the divorce laws of the time. 

A marvellous instalment, in this excellent series, this book is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are, Dying in the Wool, A Medal For Murder and Murder in the Afternoon.
 Frances Brody is a pseudonym of Frances McNeil who lives in Leeds where she was born and grew up. She worked in the USA as a secretary in Washington DC and New York. Frances studied at Ruskin College, Oxford and read English Literature and History at York University.Starting her writing life in radio, she has written scripts for television and theatre. Frances turned to crime for her first novel, Dying in the Wool, set on the outskirts of Bradford, Yorkshire in the 1920s.

Friday, 21 September 2012

‘The Lost Library’ by AM Dean

Published by Pan,
16 August 2012. 

There is no doubt that the Da Vinci Code has spawned a whole genre of conspiracy thrillers. This one is by a Professor of Theology so his credentials for writing conspiracy thrillers seem pretty good! Adventures come thick and fast for our heroine here, Professor Emily Weiss, as she investigates a full-blooded conspiracy on several levels which reach far back into the past and embroil her in travelling round the world in pursuit of tenuous clues.

Emily is clever, of course, and resourceful in her thinking (also young and attractive!). She teaches at a university in the USA where a famous professor is murdered and has left her a mysterious message. Other dramatic events outside Emily’s ambit add to the thrills of the tale. The Lost Library of the title is that of ancient Alexandria and the adventures concern a fictional history developed into the modern world. I liked the touches of humour, as in this quotation “ [Emily] said the words she would never have expected her sceptical mouth to utter. ‘These two events have to be connected.’

The various settings are beautifully and cogently described as Emily travels to Oxford, Alexandria and Istanbul. The reading room of the modern library that has been built in Alexandria is lovingly portrayed.

Congratulations to Pan for producing a lengthy book in a standard paperback size with a decent size of print. Congratulations to the author for managing to keep destruction to a fairly low level - I recall one recent thriller which destroyed both a world famous theatre and a large university library in the first chapters in addition to losses of life!
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer
This is the first novel by A. M. Dean.

A M Dean is a leading authority on ancient cultures and the history of religious belief, whose expertise in late antiquity has earned him posts at some of the world’s most prestigious universities. An abiding interest in the human tendency toward conspiracies, together with a commanding grasp of the genuinely mysterious contexts of real history, inspire the breadth and focus of his creative works. His debut novel, The Lost Library, has just hit the shelves (released 16 August 2012) as a major-launch title with Pan Macmillan, available now in 12 territories and languages across the globe. His next novel, The Gnostic Key, comes out in 2013.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

‘Lessons for Survivors’ by Charlie Cochrane

Published by Cheyenne Publishing. 
ISBN: 978-1-937692-14-8

It is 1919 and Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith are survivors.  They have survived the Great War and the influenza pandemic that followed it, both of which have claimed the lives of many people they cared for.  The most remarkable thing of all is that their love has survived the ravages of war and, although they are scarred in mind and body, they are together again, ready to take up their disrupted lives.

Now they are back as fellows of St Bride's College, Cambridge, and living together in Forsythia Cottage.  The future looks hopeful; Orlando has been appointed as Professor of Applied Mathematics and he and Jonty have been offered an intriguing murder mystery to solve.  The pair have been approached by the Reverend Ian Bresnan who has asked them to discover whether his uncle, Peter Biggar, died from influenza or was murdered by his young wife, as Peter's twin brother, Simon, had claimed before he too died.  For Ian Bresnan this is a matter of urgency, because under the terms of Simon Biggar's will, if Ian cannot establish a case that proves Rosalind Biggar killed her husband, Peter, he will forfeit much of his uncle Simon's legacy, and he only has a month to find evidence of Rosalind's guilt.

The investigation is not the only call on Orlando's time; he still has to write and deliver his inaugural address and to chair an adjudication on a case of suspected plagiarism.

As Jonty and Orlando probe into the circumstances surrounding Peter's death, they discover that the Biggar family history has dark roots, involving the fate of Peter and Simon's mother nearly eighty years ago. 

A far more personal danger takes the investigators' attention when Orlando is blackmailed to vote against his conscience in the plagiarism enquiry.  If Orlando does not find the accused plagiarist innocent, the blackmailer will tell the world the truth about Jonty and Orlando's relationship.  This would lead not only to disgrace and loss of their academic positions but also two years hard labour.  Once again, Jonty and Orlando have to fight for survival.

Lessons for Survivors is the latest in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries.  I would like to read earlier books in the series and discover how Jonty and Orlando got to where they are now, especially with the interruption of an event as cataclysmic as the First World War.  However Lessons for Survivors works well as a stand-alone novel.

Jonty and Orlando are engaging character and their relationship is warm with a spice of mischief as they try to out-do each other in their pursuit of clues.  The book offers a convincing insight into the language, attitudes and social standards of the time and the mystery is pleasantly intriguing.  Lessons for Survivors is a very enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Carol Westron
As Charlie Cochrane aka Ann Laird, couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice--like managing a rugby team--she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries, but she's making an increasing number of forays into the modern day. She's even been known to write about gay werewolves--albeit highly respectable ones.  She was named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name but her family still regard her writing with a fond indulgence, just as she prefers.  Happily married, with a house full of daughters, Charlie tries to juggle writing with the rest of a busy life.  She loves reading, theatre, good food and watching sport. Her ideal day would be a morning walking along a beach, an afternoon spent watching rugby and a church service in the evening.
Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a core contributor to Women's Weekly.  She also writes contemporary and historical crime and is currently looking for an agent or publisher.  An Adult Education teacher, Carol has always maintained that writing and reading fiction is good for people and has spent much of her

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

‘Killer Move’ by Michael Marshall

Published by Orion, 
11 October 2012. 
ISBN: 978-1409135999 (PB)
Bill Moore works for Shore Realtry. He has a good job selling condos in the Florida Keys.  He is happily married to Stephanie, who is successful in her own right.  They have a beautiful home, but Bill has a five-year plan to achieve super success, and the five-year plan is now in its sixth year. Bill decides to be pro-active and arranges a meeting with his immediate boss Tony Thompson to jig things up a bit. Things go reasonably well.

Returning to his office Bill finds a card on his desk, black with white lettering, just one word printed ‘Modified’. He mentions it to his colleague Karen who says it’s probably an advertising gimmick.  He drops it in the bin and doesn’t give it a second thought. But odd things begin to happen to him, at first he manages to deal with the fall-out, but slowly Bill’s good life begins to spiral out of control.

Unbeknown to Bill there are two fractions at work and neither are initially aware of the other, but Bill is caught in the cross-fire.  Eventually, with people dying around him, in order to survive he has to fight back. 

This is a terrifying story, and with the technology available today quite possibly happening, hopefully, to a lesser degree.   I do not want to spoil the convoluted, fascinating plot, but sufficient to say, it is a real heart in the mouth page turner.

The story is narrated in the first person by Bill Moore, but interspersed by the third person narrative of a man bent on revenge.  Of course there is a moral, Bill was struggling to climb the ladder of success, earn more money, and be ‘someone’ in his chosen way of life.  But now an unknown hand is trying to take from him all that he had. Can Bill Moore stem the tidal wave of events that is engulfing him? Can he save the life he has built up with Steph, of which he now realises the value – but is it too late?

Scary but compulsive reading, this book is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Michael Marshall was born in 1965 in Cheshire, UK. Michael spent much of his early life abroad, growing up in the United States, South Africa and Australia before returning to England. He read Philosophy and Social and Political Science at King’s College, Cambridge. During his university days, he became heavily involved with the famous Cambridge Footlights as writer and performer, including participating in international tours. Before becoming a full-time author, Michael co-wrote and performed two award-winning series of BBC Radio 4’s cult comedy And Now, In Colour. Since the first of his 10 novels was published in 1994, he has earned widespread recognition, huge sales and international accolades. His fourth novel The Straw Men became a massive international bestseller, featuring on the Sunday Times, New York Times and European bestseller lists. Further titles released under Michael Marshall name include The Lonely Dead, Blood of Angels and The Intruders (currently in development with BBC Worldwide in LA).
He is also an accomplished and award-winning short story author, the only person ever to win the British Fantasy Award for short story four times. He has won many other awards, including the August Derleth and Philip K. Dick for Only Forward, six British Fantasy Awards, the International Horror Guild Award, and the Prix Morane in France. Travelling frequently between Los Angeles and London to work on screenwriting projects, Michael has homes in Brighton, England, and Santa Cruz, California. He lives with his wife, Paula — a medical herbalist — and their seven year old son.

Monday, 17 September 2012

‘Little Sister’ by Lucy Dawson

Published by Sphere,
11 October, 2012.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4251-6

The story opens with Anya, gleeful that she is in Mexico in a warm climate with a good looking guy escaping January in the UK where her sister Kate, married with a baby,  will be shivering in the winter cold.

A late night telephone call to Kate informs her that her younger sister Anya has been missing for two days. She was last seen with a diving instructor in a relatively isolated region of Mexico.  Police have recovered her clothes and personal belongings, and they are now sending divers down to the caves.  Kate goes into melt down, and I mean melt down, she screams kidnapping, abduction, and proceeds to alert everyone she can think of.  The Foreign office act as intermediary, but still Kate goes off at a tangent, unwittingly putting her sister in further danger.

The story is related from two first person’s point of view, that of Kate and Anya.  As the story unfolds we learn of a family tragedy that could go some way to explaining Kate’s totally over the top reaction to the fact that her sister is missing. Her parents now separated, her husband suggesting caution until we have more facts, Kate refuses to listen to anyone. She wants action.

Whilst part of the narrative is by Anya, we do not know what has happened to her, she is clearly in trouble, scared and alone, but where or why we don’t know.  The author cleverly racks up the tension as we become aware that wherever, Anya is, time is running out.

A psychological suspense,  that only begins to make sense as Anya alone and frightened relives a period she has tried to put behind her.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books are, His Other Lover, What my Best Friend Did, The One that Got Away.

Lucy Dawson has been a journalist and magazine editor. She lives in Dorset.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Leigh Russell talks to Peter James

Peter James was born in  Brighton.  He was educated at  Charterhouse School and went on to Ravensbourne Film School. Subsequently he spent several years in North America, working as a screen writer and film producer.  He has written 25 books, the most recent of which feature Brighton-based Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. His books have been translated into 35 languages. He has also written supernatural thrillers, spy fiction,  and a children's novel.  Peter is currently the chairman of the Crime Writers Association.
I’m thrilled that Peter James agreed to be the first author featured in my monthly interviews of Mystery People members.

His new novel, Not Dead Yet, went straight to number 1 in the UK hardback bestseller list, Peter’s fifth consecutive number 1. The paperback will be out on September 27th.

Q What did you find most exciting about writing Not Dead Yet?
A It was fun using my experience in the movie business.  Plus I’m a stickler for research so it was fascinating finding out about forensic podiatry, which has never before been used in a novel.

Q It’s encouraging to see a UK author reaching out to overseas readers.  Tell us about your visit to India. 
A Last March I did an author tour in India, which is the only country where print reading is on the increase. My publisher Macmillan have had a presence there for a hundred years and with a billion people inIndia, more and more of whom are reading in English, it’s a huge emerging market. It’s alwaysinteresting to visit different countries. What was lovely there was the amount of press interest, withfifteen to twenty newspaper reporters queuing for interviews. A lot of them asked me why I write crime novels, rather than ‘proper fiction’. Boy, did they ask the wrong person! ‘Do you like Shakespeare?’ I replied. “If he was writing today, I think he’d be writing crime novels.  Over half his plays have acourtroom scene!

Q My own detective recently relocated from the Home Counties to London. Could you imagine DS Grace ever moving away from Brighton to join another force?
A Location is incredibly important in the genre; location is as much part of a book as the central characters. I couldn’t imagine Rebus operating anywhere but Edinburgh, or Mark Billingham’s Thorne anywhere but London, or James Ellroy anywhere but LA. In Brighton it’s interesting that a number of junior police officers have moved up to the Met for higher pay, but most senior officers are passionate about the city. The Divisional Commander Graham Bartlett would have the opportunity to go for promotion to ACClevel, but this would almost certainly involve him in leaving the county, which he doesn’t want to do. This kind of stability places more emphasis on community policing as officers like Graham Bartlett – and Roy Grace -  get to know the local villains. I’ve been driving through Brighton with coppers who point out the drugs dealers,  house burglars, all all the other crims to me. That said, in Not Dead Yetthere are elements from outside the UK, and the book I’m writing now starts in Brooklyn. Criminals don’t stick to boundaries, and Roy Grace is based on a character who has visited the States several times on police business. 

Q You describe yourself as “a stickler for research”.  One of my own favourites was spending an after noon with a team of firemen; research involving live maggots was less enjoyable! Can you tell us about a highlight, and a low point, in your research.
An absolute low point was when I was writing Dead Simple, the first Roy Grace novel. For a wedding prank, a character is buried in a coffin in remote woodland, before the pranksters are wiped out in a car crash. I wanted to know what it would feel like to be shut in a coffin. A funeral director was happy tooblige when I asked him to screw the lid down and leave me for    thirty minutes. A coroner had advised me it was possible to survive for at least three hours in a   closed coffin, unless you hyperventilate. Did I tell you I’m claustrophobic? That was the worst thirty minutes of my life!  There are many highlights. I love going on police raids. The police love it too, driving on blues and twos and getting in what they call a bundle” – a euphemism for a fight. I’m a petrol head so some of my best moments with the police are travelling in a traffic police car late at night. I was recently in the lead car in an hour and a half chaseinvolving seven cars, dog handlers and a helicopter. The sheer adrenaline rush was fantastic. One of the officers said, ‘I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this.’

Q Religion plays a diminishing role in many people’s lives. Is part of the appeal of crime fiction that it offers us some kind of moral compass?
A Yes, part of the appeal of crime fiction is the adventure, usually seen through the eyes of a heroic detective, that takes the reader to a place where everything is all right in the end. In addition. Intelligent people read books to get not just a story, but also to learn something about human life. Look at any bestseller list and half the names on the list will be North of sixty in all genres, on both sides of the Atlantic. We authors (hopefully!) get wiser as we get older.   Good crime fiction understands the world. No one sees more of human life in a thirty year career than a police officer. In good crime fiction the reader learns something new each time about the human condition. That’s why I get angry when people ask why I write ‘genre fiction’.

Q What do you find challenging about having the same protagonist in each book?
If someone picks up my ninth book, and they haven’t read any of the series, I have to describe my main ccharacters.  At the same time, I don’t want to bore people who have read the previous eight books. What to say or not to say about characters and location is a challenge. But I really like having the same main characters. Each time I start a new Roy Grace book, I feel like I’m going back to my family.

Q You touched on this earlier, but do you think your experience working in film and television has influenced your writing, and if so, in what ways?
A Yes, I do. I think we tend to read books in a different way than people did a hundred years ago. We are influenced by television and movies, where there are frequent changes of scene and character perspective. The biggest lesson I learned was years ago when I worked on a sit com in the US. We were told we needed to have a gag every 14 seconds. Fifty per cent of the potential audience channel hop. If we didn’t give them a joke every 14 seconds, they wouldn’t stay. I don’t have a joke every 14 seconds in my books! But I learned the importants of giving the reader something on every page to keep them hooked. 

Q Do you think groups like Mystery People and the CWA, which you chair, are important, and if so, why?
A Yes, I think they are incredibly important to readers who like a particular genre. The crime genre is such a broad canvas, I am constantly coming across writers I have never heard of, who are big selling authors. These groups are the best way of learning about authors in an area of fiction we love.
Superintendent Roy Grace series
Dead Simple (2005) Looking Good Dead (2006) Not Dead Enough (2007)
Dead Mans Footsteps (2008) Dead Tomorrow (2009) Dead Like You (2010)
Dead Man’s Grip (2011) Not Dead Yet (2012)

Under the chairmanship of Peter James, the CWA is introducing a new Manuscript Assessment Service for aspiring crime writers. Peter says,
“The Crime Writers Association is inundated with requests for guidance on manuscripts in the genre, so we think this service is going to be very popular.”
Details will shortly be appearing on the CWA website.  

Leigh Russell is the author of four books Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, and her latest book Death Bed, published May 2012.
Cut Short
(2009) was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award for Best First Novel. Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. A secondary school teacher, specializing in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties as well as teaching English, Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.