Recent Events

Tuesday 28 May 2024

National Crime Reading Month

National Crime Reading Month Returns this June

This June, readers are being encouraged to #PickUpAPageTurner and delve into the nation’s favourite genre: crime fiction – and feel better about life.

National Crime Reading Month (NCRM)
is a month-long festival of reading hosted by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA)
in partnership with the national charity, The Reading Agency.

Research from The Reading Agency, the national charity who work across the UK to empower people of all ages to read, shows that just 30 minutes of reading a week helps adults to report greater life satisfaction.

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “Through our adult reading work, we know how important crime writing is both for lifelong reading lovers and for those who are just starting out on their reading journey. We’re delighted to be taking part in NCRM once more this year and help new readers discover great reads.”

Karen added: “Research shows that readers of crime fiction report that the strong narratives and structured plots are engaging and comforting, with the distance from events helping give the reader a sense of refuge from the world. So, reading crime fiction can actually be good for your wellbeing.”

Throughout June, a host of author events will take place across the UK. NCRM is designed to celebrate the UK’s most popular genre and get the nation reading. Last year saw 150 author events.

National Crime Reading Month (NCRM)
will launch at the crime writing festival,
Capital Crime in London on 1 June at 6.30pm
with the NCRM Reading Ambassador, book blogger, Stu Cummins,
who will interview authors CL Taylor and TM Logan.

Jess Faraday, Communications Manager at the CWA, said: “There are author talks up and down the country in local libraries, or online. It’s a truly gateway genre as the most popular genre in the UK, and our ambition is to inspire everyone to pick up a page turner this June.”

A highlight for the month is from Cambridge University Library with a brand-new exhibition, Murder by the Book, celebrating 20th century British crime fiction, curated by the award-winning novelist, Nicola Upson. Supported by Arts Council England, the exhibition features rare books, and audio-visual recordings exploring the genre from its origins, with Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens to contemporary bestsellers, such as Val McDermid and Ian Rankin.

There will also be a series of free online events, accessible to all.

On 4 June an online panel discussion, Murderous Inspirations, Crime Novels that Inspire Crime Writers, features writers Fiona Veitch Smith, Abir Mukherjee and Nadine Matheson, who will discuss seminal crime novels, chaired by crime critic and broadcaster Barry Forshaw.

There are also live author events in libraries across the country, such as a session on Reading Crime Fiction at Evesham Library with local authors,
Linda Mather, and Jacqui Rogers.

Ruislip Manor Library present an Evening with Will Dean; the bestselling author will be visiting from his home in Sweden to talk about his latest novel, The Chamber.

Wirral libraries also bring a series of author talks, including
CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Martin Edwards,
who was described by Richard Osman as a ‘true master of British crime writing.’

In the South-west, readers can meet two electrifying crime authors,
Sarah Hilary
and Jane Casey, who will give a talk on their creative process at Lydney Library in Gloucestershire.

On 13 June, Waterstones Piccadilly will celebrate NCRM with an event featuring psychological thriller authors Andrea Mara and Kia Abdullah, hosted by blogger Stu Cummings.

Cambridge University Libraries will also host their online ‘Really Popular Book Club’ with a free online event on 18 June.

In Scotland, Blackwell’s of Edinburgh will host a book launch of Dead Man Driving by Lesley Kelly on 19 June.

And on the 20 June in the North-west, Leigh Library hosts a panel featuring authors Caroline England, Paul Finch, Antony Johnston, and Norman Wells, with a fish and chip supper included in the ticket price.

Historical crime author Lindsey Davis, who has written more than 30 novels, will be offering Coffee and Crime, with a talk about her latest novel, Murder on the Tiber, at Manor Farm Library in Ruislip on 21 June.

Readers are asked to keep an eye on the website as new events are added throughout the month.

National Crime Reading Month also features the Essex Book Festival’s Criminally Good Day Out on 29 June, with multiple author talks, including the bestselling Nicci French, and a film screening at Electric Palace.

For a full programme of events for National Crime Reading Month, go to and follow the conversation online #PickUpAPageTurner @The_CWA

Bloody Scotland Festival 2024




Bloody Scotland will officially launch its 2024 programme in Stirling on Thursday 20 June at noon in the Golden Lion Hotel. Festival Director Bob McDevitt will reveal the names of over a hundred authors taking part over the festival weekend which will run from
 Friday 13 September – Sunday 15 September 2024.

The variety of authors and panels on offer this year has never been greater, from exciting new writers to bestselling authors and household names plus well-known faces from television, film and the media.
The programme launch will be followed by an exclusive standalone event at 1.30pm in The Golden Lion Ballroom with the brilliant Val McDermid. Val who has previously referred to Bloody Scotland as ‘a dizzying weekend of pleasure’ will be in conversation with fellow crime writer, Stirling resident and Bloody Scotland board member Craig Robertson.
Reviewing her latest book, Queen Macbeth, The Herald said
‘who better than Val McDermid, doyenne of detective fiction, to set the record straight on the wrongly reviled Lady Macbeth?’ and The Sunday Post called it ‘Masterful…a favourite read this year’.

Bloody Scotland is particularly keen to welcome local crime fiction fans and those who might never have been to a literary festival to this intimate event with one of Scotland’s most famous authors.

Come and join us on Thursday 20 June.
Tickets only cost £6 (£5 for concessions) and are available
at (What’s On)

Follow us @bloodyscotland #BloodyScotland 

‘Mystery on Meadowsweet Grove’ by Clare Chase

Published by Bookouture, 

2 May 2024.

ISBN: 978-1-83525220-8 (PB)

A competition for the best kept garden is in progress when the body of local jeweller Cleo Marbeck is found in her garden drowned in her own pond. This is not the first death associated with Cleo’s house. A young woman fell down the stairs twenty-five years previously.

On the same day as Cleo’s murder, Stevie has a flashback – the memory of a woman lying at the bottom of a staircase but in another house in the village altogether.

The police appear to believe Stevie killed Cleo. Eve Marlow must rally her trusted friends in an attempt to find the killer before she is arrested. Cleo had upset a great many people and there are plenty of suspects with a credible motive to want Cleo dead nearly all of whom appear to live on Meadowsweet Grove.

This is the twelfth book in prolific author Clare Chase’s Eve Marlow mysteries and, as in most cosy crime series, it can be read as a standalone novel. I confess this is the first of Chase’s books that I have read, and it took several chapters for me to sort out the large cast of characters (there are seven in the first chapter alone) many of whom feature regularly in the series and are therefore familiar to Chase’s fans. That said, the characters are all well drawn, and I quickly found myself rooting for the good guys.    

Chase is a master of misdirection, and the twists and turns of the plot kept me on my toes turning the pages well into the night as the story built up to a satisfying ending.

The village setting is beautifully described, and I had no difficulty in picturing the layout of the village and the surrounding area.

A thoroughly enjoyable read – I already have book one in the series downloaded onto my Kindle – and I recommend Mystery on Meadowsweet Grove to anyone who loves a fast-paced, cosy mystery that will keep you guessing till the end.
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick 

Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations. Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium. As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. 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 her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’  Her most recent book is Passage to Greenland

Monday 27 May 2024

‘Private Monaco’ by James Patterson & Adam Hamdy.

Published by Century,
25 April 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-529-91280-7 (HB)

Following on from the investigation of the murder of Father Ignacio Brambilla and battling with the forces of evil on the streets of the Eternal City, and an arm of a secret society known as Propaganda Tre, Jack Morgan has at last been able to enjoy a vacation with his partner Justine at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

But their pleasure is quickly curtailed when strolling along a tree-lined avenue, there is sequel of tires and three men in ski masks jump out of a white van brandishing pistol’s. Despite a spirited run Jack and Justine are outnumbered, as more join the chase on motorbikes, and the last thing Jack remembers is seeing the masked men dragging Justine to their van.

Jack is the head of the largest and most successful investigations agency in the world. His plan is to set up an office in Monaco. But the kidnappers have different plans for him.  In order to see Justine again he must kill someone i.e. take a life for hers.

Enter Mo-Bot, a formidable white-hat hacker and Seymour Kloppenberg, nicknamed Sci. Terrific characters and good friends of Jacks, if anyone can locate Justine it is Mo-Bot. Amazingly they set up in a penthouse apartment in Monaco. No easy matter to find accommodation as it is Grand Prix week. I know this as back in the 1970’s I used to go down to Monaco for the Grand Prix every year.

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the organisation they have previously tussled with are still active.  But who are they? 

As in most crime fiction stories there are people who are not what they appear to be. And there is betrayal. The action is fast, fierce, and breath-taking. With unexpected, surprising twists this is a roller-coaster of a ride. One of those unputdownable books. I heartily and highly recommend that you don’t miss this one.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Adam Hamdy is an author, screenwriter and filmmaker. In addition to his own original work, Adam has adapted a number of comic books and novels for the screen, including the forthcoming film version of David Mitchell’s novel, Number9Dream. Adam has a law degree from Oxford University and a philosophy degree from the University of London.  He is a seasoned rock climber, skier and CPSA marksman. Adam lives in Shropshire with his wife and three children.

James Patterson was born 194, He is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. His books have sold in excess of 385 million copies worldwide. He is the author of some of the most popular series of the past two decades - the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club, Detective Michael Bennett and Private novels - and he has written many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers.  James is passionate about encouraging children to read. Inspired by his own son who was a reluctant reader, he also writes a range of books for young readers including the Middle School, Dog Diaries, Treasure Hunters and Max Einstein series. James has donated millions in grants to independent bookshops and has been the most borrowed author in UK libraries for the past thirteen years in a row. He lives in Florida with his family.  

‘The Lagos Wife’ by Vanessa Walters

Published by Hutchinson Heinemann,
29 February 2024. 
ISBN: 978-1-52915326-2 (HB)

When Nicole was reported missing, her aunt Claudine couldn’t understand why nobody seemed to be attaching any urgency to finding out what had happened to her.  Claudine had brought up Nicole in London, but the aunt and her niece had not been in regular contact since Nicole and her Nigerian husband, Tonye, had moved to Lagos. Posts on social media showed that Nicole and her two young sons had an affluent lifestyle and lived in a beautiful, large house with Tonye’s parents and his two sisters.

Tonye arranges for Claudine to fly to Lagos so she can see what is going on for herself. His family make Claudine welcome, but she soon understands why they don’t want to make a fuss about Nicole’s disappearance. Tonye’s younger sister is about to marry the son of a very important general and nothing is allowed to interfere with, or overshadow, the upcoming nuptials. Claudine starts investigating. She talks to various people including Nicole’s driver Bilal, and her best friend Kemi. To begin with nobody either can, or will, throw any light on what might have happened to Nicole. Eventually, Claudine’s persistence is rewarded and she is given a harrowing glimpse of the circumstances that led to Nicole’s disappearance.

Alternating with Claudine’s investigations are parallel insights into Nicole’s activities and life before she disappeared. Nicole was not happy.  She was worried that Tonye was involved with another woman and spent a surprising amount of time on her own, visiting old museums and going on river outings.  She was also having an affair with Elias, a relatively poor and sometimes volatile man. 

The Lagos Wife is a tantalizing tale about a missing person that will keep you guessing and grips you to the unpredictable end. But it is far more than that.  It is also a vivid portrayal of the restrictions on the life of even apparently emancipated women in post-war Lagos and underlines how adverse incidents in childhood can influence relationships and wellbeing for the remainder of an individual’s life.
Reviewer: Angela Crowther

Vanessa Walters was born and raised in London and has a background in international journalism and playwriting and is a Tin House resident and a Millay Colony resident. She is the author of two previous YA books and The Lagos wife. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

‘Jack & I’ by Laury A. Egan

Published by Enigma Books,
18 May 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-91590534-5 (PB)

 ‘How I wished I wasn’t trapped with him, that we weren’t glued together in a nightmarish tandem!’

Sixteen-year-old foster child Jack Kennett desperately wants to be part of a loving family and live his best life. There’s just one thing stopping him – the other Jack Kennett; the one who’s sharing his body and who threatens to ruin Jack’s life when he takes control of his host’s mind and actions. Each time this “alter” identity asserts himself, Jack is unable to resist whatever his dangerous companion chooses to have him do.  Even more perturbing is that Jack often cannot recall what has happened.

‘It was rare that I could see what Jack was doing or remember what he had done.’

School friends and his foster parents see only one teenager, they don’t understand Jack’s predicament and blame him when his “alter” behaves badly.  Over time what began as inappropriate behaviour escalates to violent sadism and Jack realises that he, and those he cares about, are in jeopardy.  On the brink of despair, he turns to the one person he feels he can trust, but is it too little too late?

The plot of this gripping thriller is tight, edgy and unpredictable as it explores Dissociative Identity Disorder, previously referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder, through the eyes of a child who is living with it.  Whilst the subject is treated sensitively, there are some events that are both shocking and disturbing as the book outlines Jack’s defilement, mental and physical, by his “alter.” 

The novel is told through two first person narratives.  This allows both identities to describe their battle and highlights the contrast between the host Jack and his “alter.”  Jack tries to subdue his “alter” whilst the “alter” is determined to dominate his host, even to the point of destruction.  Particularly poignant is Jack’s perception that he is somehow to blame for his dilemma.

Jack and I is a well-researched, thought provoking, and inspiring story.  Absorbing, unusual and highly recommended.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Laury A. Egan is the author of five crime fiction novels. She also writes, Fantasy, Gay Romance and general fiction.  Her work has appeared in over 85 literary journals and anthologies. The Psychologist's Shadow, was published 2023. 

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

Saturday 25 May 2024

‘Dead Crude’ by Chris Blackwater

Published by Catisfield Books,
23 May 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-73930502-4

Danny Verity has recently qualified as a private detective.  Not a bad career change after he previously solved a murder whilst working as a medic on an oil rig.  The new P.I. currently has two investigations on the go.  One is an insurance fraud involving a company called Neptune Shipping, the other relates to a young man who has gone missing whilst working at an oil terminal on Mallach, an isolated island in the Orkneys.  When Danny discovers that the fraud might also be linked to the oil terminal on the island, he manages to get a temporary medic’s post there.  He’ll need someone on the outside though; someone who can mingle with, and tease information from, the islanders, most of whom are highly suspicious of outsiders.  He manages to persuade Gemma Gauld, a colleague turned partner from his previous crime adventure and who is as tough as they come.    

The novel opens with a scene as violent and dispassionate as the cruel North Sea itself.  This sets the tone for a case that will prove to be far more complex than Danny had originally thought.  When a second man goes missing the detectives realise that they are dealing with criminals who are as calculating as they are cold blooded.  The closer Danny and Gemma get to discovering the identity of the villains, the more their own lives are jeopardized. 

Dead Crude is the second novel in the Danny Verity P.I. series and it works perfectly well as a stand-alone.  The writing is frequently droll, a nice contrast to the relentless tension that mounts as the narrative unfolds.  This is particularly true of the exchanges between Danny and Gemma which are often amusing whilst betraying their affection for each other.  Another contrast is found in the meticulous descriptions of Mallach.  The island’s remote and craggy landscape that is a sanctuary for birds, is perilous to the unwary visitor.  The perfect setting for a crime thriller. 

The story keeps the reader guessing as bits of the puzzle appear to slot together only to be subverted when another discovery is made.  Each chapter pushes into the next with a cliffhanger or unexpected revelation and there is a delicious final twist.

Dead Crude is a riveting thriller, original, fast moving, edgy and witty. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Chris Blackwater is a chartered engineer from Leeds. He began writing to entertain himself while working away on offshore oil platforms, power stations and shipyards. His career has taken him all over the world to many unusual locations and introduced him to some remarkable characters. His short stories have appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies. In recent years Chris has gradually drifted down to the south coast of England where he now spends his spare time kayaking and sailing on the Solent. Emergency Drill is his first book.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

Thursday 23 May 2024

‘The Wild Swimmers by William Shaw

Published by riverrun,
23 May 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-52942-012-8 (HB)

Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, due to start back on the serious crimes unit after being away because of stress, is sent to investigate the report of a dead body on the beach at Dungeness. It‘s a young woman, later identified as one of a group of women who go wild swimming in the area.

Meanwhile a close friend and colleague of Alex’s, Detective Constable Jill Ferriter, who has never known her father, now receives a message from Stephen Dowles claiming to be that man. The trouble is he is in prison for murder and about to be released. Jill wants Alex’s advice as what to do.

Alex visits the beach where the women swim, the dead woman had been identified as Mimi Greene. Alex asks the other three swimmers about Mimi; they tell her that she was a very strong swimmer and would never have drowned. So begins a murder investigation and Alex and the team need to speak to Malcolm who was in a relationship with Mimi, but no one seems to know his surname.

Meanwhile as Alex is so busy with Mimi’s murder, she hasn’t time to investigate the man claiming to be her friend’s father. Jill therefore asks a close neighbour and friend Bill, a retired police officer, to help her. Reluctantly he agrees to find out more for her. However, little does he know what depths he is getting into.

His enquiries lead to his life being put in grave danger when he unearths evidence of past cover ups within the police force concerning drug dealing. Corruption was rife back in the early 1990’s in his area.

As Alex looks further into the death of Mimi, she also finds connections to the past, dealing with drug trafficking.

It becomes a very complicated and baffling case. Who and where is Malcolm, a person whose name keeps cropping up in connection with the murder and Bill’s enquiries? Who could possibly have killed Mimi and why?

Is Bill’s old friend and colleague from the police force as straight as he always seemed?

A really complex murder enquiry which turns into so much more, set in the wonderfully descriptive wild beauty and desolation of the coast around Dungeness.

Thoroughly recommended for readers who enjoy a very complicated case to unravel.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

William Shaw was born in Newton abbot, Devon, and grew up in Nigeria and lived for sixteen years in hackney. Starting out as assistant editor of the post-punk magazine ZigZag, he has been a journalist for The Observer, The New York Times, Wired, Arena and The Face and was Amazon UK Music Journalist of the Year in 2003. He is the author of several non-fiction books including Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood, about a year spent with the young men of South Central Los Angeles, and A Superhero For Hire, a compilation of columns in the Observer Magazine. A Song from Dead Lips was the first in a series of crime fiction books set in London in 1960’s featuring DS Breen and WPC Tozer. His most recent series features DS Alexander Cupidi. He lives in Brighton.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.