Recent Events

Thursday 30 July 2020

New CWA Anthology Celebrates Vintage Crime

New CWA Anthology Celebrates Vintage Crime
A new short story anthology with a difference celebrates short stories from the archives of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA).
Vintage Crime gathers gems from the mid-1950’s, when the CWA began, until the twenty-first century. The new compilation features an array of award-winning authors including Andrew Taylor, Kate Ellis, Simon Brett, Liza Cody, HRF Keating, Anthea Fraser and Mick Herron.
Published by Flame Tree Press, the anthology is edited by former Chair of the CWA and CWA archivist, author Martin Edwards.
Martin said: “This is a collection with a difference, celebrating the work of CWA members since the Association was founded in 1953. Entertaining in their own right, the stories also demonstrate the evolution of the crime short story during the CWA’s existence, from the Fifties until the early twenty-first century.”
The CWA was established by John Creasey, the prolific author of over 500 novels with worldwide sales in the 1970’s of over 80 million copies in 28 different languages. The long-standing membership organisation is for authors at all stages of their career and works to promote, support and celebrate the diverse crime genre, from psychological thrillers, paranormal crossovers to police procedurals.
The first CWA anthology, Butcher’s Dozen, appeared in 1956, and was co-edited by Julian Symons, Michael Gilbert and Josephine Bell. Over the years, the anthology has yielded many award-winning and nominated stories in the UK and overseas by such luminaries as Ian Rankin, Lawrence Block and Reginald Hill.
Martin added: “There are countless gems of crime writing in the CWA archives. I’ve picked the juiciest stories from some of the best and most well-known authors, but you’ll also find some hidden treasures by less familiar writers.”
Edwards, author of The Golden Age of Murder, is also President and Archivist of the world-famous Detection Club and series consultant to the British Library’s series of crime classics.
The CWA has for over 50 years run the prestigious, world-famed CWA Dagger Awards, which celebrate the best writing in the genre. It’s also renowned for supporting aspiring and debut writers with its annual Debut Dagger competition and Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition.
To celebrate publication of Vintage Crimes, a special online panel Flame Tree Live: CWA and Vintage Crime will take be screened on Sunday 16 August at 6pm on Facebook. To watch, register in advance at
The panel features authors Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Andrew Taylor and the secretary of the CWA, Dea Parkin, discussing the anthology and crime writing, writers, stories and themes.
A blog tour for the book will also take place. It starts on 10 August at Karen Reads and Recommends ending on 21 August at Bookish Jottings (full schedule in Notes to Editors).
Vintage Crime,
The new CWA Anthology is published in paperback and hardback by Flame Tree Press on 11 August 2020.

For further media info please contact Ann Chadwick,
07534 892715.

About the CWA
The CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey. Its aim is to support, promote and celebrate this most durable, adaptable and successful of genres and the authors who write within it.
It runs the prestigious CWA Dagger Awards, which celebrate the best in crime writing, hosted every autumn.
A thriving, growing community with a membership encompassing authors of all ages and at all stages of their careers, the CWA is UK-based, yet attracts many members from overseas.
It supports author members (plus literary agents, publishers, bloggers and editors) with a monthly magazine; a digital monthly newsletter showcasing CWA authors and their books and events that goes to over 11,500 subscribers; and Case Files, a bimonthly ezine highlighting new books by CWA members.
The CWA also supports the Debuts; as yet unpublished writers, many of whom enter the Debut Dagger competition and the Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition.
In normal times, the CWA run an annual conference and hold chapter meetings throughout the UK so members can access face-to-face networking and socialising.
It supports libraries and booksellers, with two Library Champions and a Booksellers Champion. It has links with various festivals and many other writers’ organisations such as the Society of Authors.  Twitter: @The_CWA

‘Stranger at St Brides’ by Debbie Young

Published by Hawkesbury Press,
24 June 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-911223-59-7 (PB)
Since taking a post as a teacher at St Bride’s school, Gemma Lamb is happier than she has been for years. Until recently, Gemma was in a relationship with a cruel and controlling man, who had limited her career, destroyed her self-esteem and caused her estrangement from her parents and friends. Now, thanks to the supportive and nurturing ambience of a very unusual school, Gemma is regaining her confidence and learning to trust people again, which means that she is capable of renewing old relationships and developing new ones, especially with the attractive sports teacher, Joe Spryke. St Brides is remarkable in many ways. It is a private school for girls, some of whom are extremely wealthy and well-born, while others are less affluent and whose parents are paying reduced fees: the common factor is that the majority of them have been bereaved of at least one parent. The headmistress, Miss Harnett, has gathered a staff of warm-hearted, eccentric and talented teachers, most of whom have secrets of their own. The beautiful house in which the school is situated was the bequest of Victorian philanthropist, Lord Bunting, who had written a will that stipulated that, if he died without issue, the house should be used for a school for girls.

The peace of St Brides is shattered when a man turns up who bears a remarkable resemblance to the portrait of Lord Bunting that hangs in the entrance hall. The man is wearing clothes very similar to that of the portrait and claims that he is the illegitimate descendant of Lord Bunting. Lord Bunting was a life peer and his title was not hereditary, but the new man announces that his name is Earl Bunting. He has a pronounced American accent and claims to have spent his life in America, explaining that he only just discovered about his illustrious ancestor. Earl Bunting claims that the house and estate belong to him, he has paperwork to back this up and the headmistress and school governors have to accept this.

Earl Bunting proves to be arrogant, rude and avaricious. He moves into the house and evicts the Headmistress from her suite of rooms and the Bursar from his study, he insults and shouts at children and staff, and demands that the school authorities give him money that they need for school equipment; despite the money they provide, he runs up large debts in the local village pub. The staff know that it is only a matter of time before the school is evicted from its home. The younger girls play pranks upon him, and so does McPhee, the school cat, but it is clear that it will take more than childish mischief to drive Earl Bunting away. It is up to Gemma and the rest of the St Brides’ staff to discover a way to defeat Earl Bunting and save their school.

Stranger at St Brides is the second in the author’s series of ‘school stories for grown-ups’ and it embodies many of the easy-to-read, amusing and gentle adventures that are typical of the traditional school stories for girls. It also possesses that magical ingredient that urges the reader to read on in hopeful anticipation that the villain will get his just deserts. The story is set in the Cotswolds, near to the fictional village of Wendlebury Barrow that is the setting for the author’s other series, featuring Sophie Sayers. For those who know both series, this crossover adds to the fun by showing familiar characters from a different perspective.

Stranger at St Brides is an enjoyable read with eccentric but engaging characters, an amusing, quirky plot and an attractive setting. It is great fun and recommended for those who enjoy a lively cosy crime with a strong sense of community.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Debbie Young was born and raised in Sidcup, Kent. When she was 14, her family relocated to Germany for her father’s job. Debbie spent four years at Frankfurt International School, broadening her outlook as well as gaining the then brand new IB (International Baccalaureate). She returned to the UK to earn her BA (Hons) in English and Related Literature at the University of York, then lived and worked for a while in London and the West of England as a journalist and PR consultant.  In 1991 she moved to the Cotswolds. In 2002, she married a Scot named Gordon whom she met in Swindon – and not, as village rumour once had it, a Swede named Scottie.  In 2003, her daughter Laura was born.  Best Murder in Show was the first in her series featuring Sophie Sayers. There are now a further three books in this series.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book This Game of Ghosts click on the title.

Tuesday 28 July 2020

‘The Unravelling’ by Thorne Moore

Published by Honno,
21 July 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-909983-48-9 (PB)

A lot happened in 1966. England won the World Cup. Labour won a general election, and future Tory prime minister David Cameron was born. A slag heap engulfed a school in Aberfan. The Moors Murderers were put on trial. The Beatles played their last ever concert, and John Lennon made his notorious claim that they were more popular than Jesus.

And events took place which almost destroyed ten-year-old Karen Rothwell.

Karen is fictional, of course; she’s the protagonist of The Unravelling, Thorne Moore’s powerful novel about how childhood shapes what children grow up to be, and she wasn’t aware of any of those momentous events. She was too concerned with becoming the friend of Serena Whinn, the most beautiful and lovable girl at Marsh Green Primary School.

Flash forward thirty-five years and Karen’s life has not developed well. Following a horrific childhood accident, her body healed but her mind did not; now she lives in near squalor, has difficulty holding down a job, is obsessed with books and occasionally spirals down into a fantasy world where nothing makes sense. Something happened to trigger this state of mind, but she can only remember what it was in flashes and disconnected images. All she knows for certain is that it happened in 1966.

Then more images start to surface; Karen remembers that someone died and feels compelled to go in search of the truth. Sometimes thinking straight and other times feeling herself unravel into one of her ‘episodes’, she hunts down the five girls who were there at the time, now, like her, women in their forties. Mousy Ruth is an embittered housewife. Barbara, always the bossy one, is a self-important solicitor. Angela is an alcoholic, and pious Denise has made it her mission to care for her. And then there’s Serena, the adored centre of their little universe back in 1966.

In The Unravelling, Thorne Moore has not only devised the most original conceit for a crime investigation that I’ve encountered in many years; she has created a cast of characters who live and breathe and illustrate with precision how children were regarded in the 1960s. She has also recreated the feel of that time: a world emerging from the dismal post-war years but leaving some people behind. What’s more, she gets inside Karen’s unravelling mind in such a way that it’s hard not to spiral into mental chaos alongside her; several times I had to lay the book aside in order to return to the real world and ground myself in ordinariness. But as Karen slowly pieced together the truth about those events of 1966 and set out to right a great wrong, I found laying it aside was no longer an option.

This is one of those novels which has it all: a puzzle to untangle, and an ending which is both satisfying and surprising; characters you feel you know; atmosphere in bucketloads; and all rendered in a style which carries the reader along from one revelation to the next like a fast-flowing stream. It’s a novel that will get under your skin.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Thorne Moore grew up in Luton, near London, but has lived in Pembrokeshire in West Wales for the last 35 years. She writes psychological crime, or domestic noir, with an historical twist, focusing on the cause and consequences of crimes rather than on the details of the crimes themselves. A Time for Silence, set in Pembrokeshire, was published by Honno in 2012. It was followed by Motherlove and The Unravelling, set partly in a fictional version of Luton. Shadows, published by Endeavour in 2017, is set in an old house in Pembrokeshire, and is paired with Long Shadows, which explained the history and mysteries of the same house from Medieval times to the late Victorian period.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Monday 27 July 2020

‘The Patient Man’ by Joy Ellis

Published by Joffe Books,
18th June 2020.
ISBN 978-178931279-9 (PB)

I am a fan of Joy Ellis’ best-selling Nikki Galena series and I jumped at the chance to read The Patient Man which is the 6th in her Jackman & Evans books. Both series are set in the Lincolnshire Fens and always evoke the remote misty bleak atmosphere that characterise this area of the country.

The fictional small town of Saltern-le-Fen is suddenly faced with an outbreak of amateurish thefts of a half dozen pigs, a horse, industrial diesel oil and worryingly several firearms from a local gun club. One of those guns is used by a professional sniper who goes on a killing spree. But most disturbing for DI Jackman and DS Marie Evans is the reappearance of their arch nemesis serial killer Alistair Ashcroft.

It is not only the police who are kept on their toes. The reader is swept along at a frantic pace. This is a novel I found difficult to put down. I was desperate to turn the page to find out what could possibly go wrong next and discover just how these many threads could all be drawn together.  

It is not just the nail-biting action that reels in the reader. Joy has the skill of ensuring her readers care about the characters. PC Kevin Stoner is the first officer on the scene when the sniper’s first victim is killed, and the reader feels every bit of his anguish as the psychopathic killer seems intent on pushing the young officer to breaking point by ensuring he is present when the next three victims are shot. Even DI Rowan Jackman’s faith in his own ability is put to the test as he is forced to hide his own fears behind a mask of capable efficiency he does not feel. I was equally drawn to Rachel Lorimer and her dedication to her not very bright sons. There were no cardboard, two dimensional characters in the story. For all the fast-octane action, it’s the characters and their reactions to the traumatic situations in which they are placed that drive the reader onwards.

Although it is possible to enjoy this book to the full without reading the earlier books in the series, I defy you not to want to get hold of the earlier books find out more about what happened when Jackman and Evans first encountered the evil Alistair Ashcroft.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Joy Ellis was born in Kent but spent most of her working life in London and Surrey. She was an apprentice florist to Constance Spry Ltd, a prestigious Mayfair shop that throughout the Sixties and Seventies teemed with both royalty and ‘real’ celebrities. She swore that one day she would have a shop of her own. It took until the early Eighties, but she did it. Sadly the recession wiped it out, and she embarked on a series of weird and wonderful jobs; the last one being a bookshop manager. Joy now lives in a village in the Lincolnshire Fens with her partner, Jacqueline. She had been writing mysteries for years but never had the time to take it seriously. Now as her partner is a highly decorated retired police officer; her choice of genre was suddenly clear. She has set her crime thrillers in the misty fens.   

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page. Judith’s latest book is the Undercover Geisha to read a review click on the title