IF HE WANTS YOU . . . THERE’S NO ESCAPE. A brutal murder . . . Responding to a tip-off, newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Paolo Sterling arrives at an apartment block to find the dismembered body of a young woman. And with no indication of a break-in, all signs suggest the killer was known to her.
An abduction in plain sight . . . Then the victim’s friend is snatched with no witnesses and the unanswered questions mount up.
At the same time, Sterling’s team are leading the surveillance of a local club, thought to be involved in a drug operation. But when one of his colleagues ends up in hospital close to death, Paolo begins to lose his grip.
A detective on the edge . . . With the odds stacked against him, and time running out, can DCI Sterling uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will this case finally tip him over the edge?
I received a copy of this book from the author and Headline Accent via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my first read from the Detective Inspector Sterling series. Despite this being book five, I quickly connected with the detective and his team. Sterling is newly promoted to DCI. He is grieving the death of a colleague, and friend which affects his rapport with one team member. Overall the investigative team has a good dynamic, but they are overstretched with high profile cases that may have a connection.
The investigation is easy to follow several twists keep the reader guessing. The reader also has insight into the antagonist’s viewpoint, which is chilling and suspenseful. There is a good balance of personal and professional insights into Sterling’s life which makes him believable.
The story flows well, and the ending ties up all the leads nicely. It poses a question to be answered in the next book in the series.
Born and raised in South East London, Lorraine lived and worked in South Africa, on the Island of Gozo and in France before settling on the Costa del Sol in Spain. She lives with her partner in a traditional Spanish village inland from the coast and enjoys sampling the regional dishes and ever-changing tapas in the local bars. Her knowledge of Spanish is expanding. To stop her waistline from doing the same, she runs five times a week.
Author of the D.I. Sterling series of novels, Lorraine has been engaged in many writing-related activities. A columnist for Writing Magazine, she has recently stepped down from writing two columns for Writers’ Forum and also her role as head judge of the magazine’s monthly fiction competitions in order to concentrate on her own writing. She is currently writing two standalone psychological thrillers for Headline Accent.
She also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service.
Grace, Meg and Daphne, all in their seventies, are minding their own business while enjoying a cup of tea in a café, when seventeen-year-old Nina stumbles in. She’s clearly distraught and running from someone, so the three women think nothing of hiding her when a suspicious-looking man starts asking if they’ve seen her.
Once alone, Nina tells the women a little of what she’s running from. The need to protect her is immediate, and Grace, Meg and Daphne vow to do just this. But how? They soon realise there really is only one answer: murder.
And so begins the tale of the three most unlikely murderers-in-the-making, and may hell protect anyone who underestimates them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story contains a powerful commentary on society’s view of older women and young women who are let down by those who should care for them. The issues are disturbing, but whilst the reader is provoked to think about them, it’s delivered in an engaging way that resonates.
The story follows the lives of three women in their seventies and a young woman of seventeen. They are virtually strangers, but a fatalistic meeting draws them together into a world of darkness and depravity. The women have secrets that are revealed to each other and the reader as the story progresses. They are not what they outwardly seem, an important point this story explores for all the women. All have courage and hidden strengths that help secure safety for the vulnerable young woman who asks for their help.
The thriller is well-written with twists and is full of satirical noir humour, but it’s the believable characters, their brave actions and poignant stories that make this such a good read.
When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now, is someone killing off the survivors?
Five years ago, a horrific airline disaster made headlines around the world. On the anniversary of the fatal crash, a number of those who were spared gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.
Clodagh Kinsella recovered from the injuries she sustained in the crash, but lost her sister that day. The bereavement shared by Clodagh and her sister’s husband led them to a romance of their own. Yet lately, Clodagh knows something isn’t right. As the noose tightens on the group and Rachel comes across more questions than answers, it’s only a matter of time before Clodagh will have to face the consequences of a mistake she made before the plane went down… A tense and gripping crime thriller.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo in return for an honest review.
There is a nice balance of murder mystery, police procedural and psychological suspense in this suspenseful story. There are multi-faceted characters and an unreliable narrator, both of which adds to the story’s complexity. The investigation is well developed and paced. There are numerous suspects, clues, false leads and interrelationships which complicate the investigation. The reader gains an extra perspective on the investigation, but can they trust the unreliable narrator?
Sheila grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway (now called NUI Galway) she left Ireland and worked as an EFL teacher, travelling to Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Argentina.
She is the author of a series of crime novels featuring DI Ellen Kelly. The novels are set in South East London, an area she knows and loves.
She now lives in Eastbourne, on the beautiful East Sussex coast. Eastbourne is the location for her series of crime novels featuring investigative journalist Dee Doran.
When she’s not writing, Sheila does corporate writing and storytelling, she runs creative writing courses, is a tutor for the Writers Bureau and is a mentor on the WoMentoring programme. She reviews crime fiction for crimesquad.com and she is a regular guest on BBC Radio Sussex.
Meet DCI Lesley Clarke. She’s a straight-talking city copper who doesn’t suffer fools gladly… and she’s been transferred to rural Dorset. After being injured in a bomb attack, Lesley is presented with a choice – early retirement, or a period of respite in a calmer location. But things don’t stay calm for long. Before she’s even started her new job, Lesley is dragged into investigating a murder at one of England’s most iconic landmarks, the imposing Corfe Castle. Lesley must hit the ground running. Can she get along with her new partner DS Dennis Frampton, a traditionalist who doesn’t appreciate her style? How will she navigate the politics of a smaller force where she’s a bigger, and less welcome, fish? And most importantly, can she solve the murder before the killer strikes again? The Corfe Castle Murders is a compelling, character-driven mystery.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A detective story with some interesting characters, a complex plot and a lovely rural setting. DCI Lesley Clarke is rehabilitating and has taken a rural posting to remain on the job. Her sense of frustration is authentically portrayed and leads to friction with her new team.
The murder investigation has numerous clues, false leads and suspects. There is a good balance of the personal and professional that draws the reader into their world. The setting is engaging, and the rural world-building adds to the story’s authentic quality. This is engaging and entertaining and promises to be a series to look out for.
My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.
What does that mean?
In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.
Do you often get through a thriller at a breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?
My books aim to fill that gap.
If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.
At once a startling, tense psychological thriller, and a sophisticated and twisty police procedural from a rising star in Icelandic literature
When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, it is assumed that she’s taken her own life – until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?
Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the list of suspects grows ever longer and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
The second in the Forbidden Iceland series is a multi-layered plot with clever twists and believably crafted characters. Chilling, compelling and complex, it keeps the reader engaged. An absorbing balance of psychological suspense and police procedural, the Icelandic setting reflects the story’s noir ethos. The reader gets to know the investigation team and what motivates them. This is an emotional, poignant and thought-provoking story.
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen.
After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland. It also went on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. It was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020.
Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.
The Met Police’s Major Investigation Team East has its hands full: a rash of tit for tat gang related stabbings, a strangled housewife, the decomposed remains of a woman found in a ditch and more to come. Adding to their woes is their boss, Chief Inspector Matthew Merry, being distracted by his problems at home.
For Matthew’s wife, Kathy, her only concern is dealing with the aftermath of being drugged and raped by a co-worker. Will the trial of the man responsible be enough to give her the justice she demands. Or, as her therapist states, is it revenge she really desires. She doesn’t know. As her emotions see-saw from elation to depression, her only certainty is that her husband seems more concerned about his work than her.
And Matthew is only too aware of his failings both at home and work. But the police machine grinds on, seeking information and sifting evidence — justice is not their concern.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a well-researched and written police procedural set in London and Europe. It is gritty and disturbing in parts, reflecting the seriousness of the crimes. DCI Matthew Merry is sometimes hard to empathise with. I liked and understood him better in this book. His self-insight is honest, and he endeavours to achieve a more equitable work-life balance.
A lot is going on in this story, which adds to its authenticity. The threads of most of the cases are drawn together well as the story unfolds. The engaging writing style immerses the reader in the investigation, which has cleverly crafted characters and a knowledgeably described setting.
John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.
John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is powerful psychological suspense with authentic characters and a compelling investigation that is addictive reading. Freya finds out her previously unknown father is in prison and possibly a notorious killer. She is determined to discover the truth. What follows is a true-crime investigation with two unlikely detectives and some grisly discoveries. Some of the descriptions are graphic but are integral to the twisty plot and impactful ending.
Pat Black is kind to spiders.
He is the author of The Long Dark Road and the Amazon bestsellers, The Beach House and The Family.
His short stories have been shortlisted for awards including the Bridport Prize and the Bloody Scotland short story competition. He was also longlisted for the William Hazlitt essay prize.
He was named one of the winners of The Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories competition, and his work has been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League.
He lives in Yorkshire, but will always belong to Glasgow. He knows full well what your opinions are about people who talk about themselves in the third person.
Nowhere to hide. London, 1879. As winter grips the city, a group of African travellers seek sanctuary inside the walls of the Quaker Meeting House. They are being hunted by a ruthless showman, who is forcing them to perform in his ethnic exhibition in the London Aquarium.
Nowhere to turn. Private investigator William Arrowood and his assistant Barnett agree to help the travellers avoid capture. But when they arrive at the Meeting House, they find a scene of devastation. Two people have been murdered and the others have fled into the night.
Nowhere to run. The hunt for the real killer leads Arrowood into the dark heart of Victorian London. A shadowy world of freak shows, violence and betrayal, where there are no good choices and only the slimmest chance of survival…
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
A disturbing, late Victorian tale that explores colonialism, depravity, poverty and racism from the point of view of Norman Barnett, assistant to private inquiry agent William Arrowood. In a twisty plot where nothing is what it seems, Arrowood seeks justice.
This well-researched story focuses on the inhumanity of colonialism and the hidden side of Victorian England and its Empire. Vibrant characters draw the reader into a grim Victorian world. The author’s note on his historical research sets the story in context.
The criminal investigation is clever, but it’s the ethos and the inequalities and terrible injustices that resonate.
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – the world’s largest and most prestigious celebration of crime fiction – has revealed its full programme bursting with unmissable talks and panel discussions featuring the hottest stars of crime fiction, curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE. Tickets are available at https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/
Taking place from 22-25 July at the Old Swan Hotel – the infamous scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – the festival features crime-writing royalty in the form of one-on-one interviews with some very Special Guests and group discussions that go to the heart of what’s happening in crime fiction right now.
This year’s panel discussions take in everything from the perennial appeal of historical crime fiction to the rise of cutting-edge science and tech; the demise of the police procedural to Agatha Christie’s inimitable genius; and the appeal of both gung-ho action heroes to slick political thrillers – and so much more. See full programme below.
Special Guests include producer and presenter Richard Osman with the second instalment in his record-breaking cosy crime caper TheThursday Murder Club series; espionage expert Mick Herron, author of the highly acclaimed Slough House series; mystery maestro Elly Griffiths and her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit; fan favourite Vera and Shetland author Ann Cleeves; the masterful Mark Billingham with his Tom Thorne prequel Cry Baby; and an in-conversation with the queens of domestic noir Clare Mackintosh and CL Taylor.
Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author, said: “It is with great pleasure that I can finally share with you the full programme for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2021. After nearly a year-and-a-half of successive lockdowns and restrictions, it is going to be absolutely marvellous to be able to safely gather together and celebrate the genre that we all love so dearly.”
Chief Executive of Harrogate International Festivals, Sharon Canavar, said: “It has been a real journey to bring this year’s festival to life – working in festivals during Covid is not for the faint-hearted! Ian Rankin has brought together a killer line-up of Special Guests and thought-provoking panels that explore our beloved crime genre in a completely unique way. We are so grateful and proud that – after so many challenges – we are at long last able to share this programme with the public.”
Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, said: “It’s finally here – the crime fiction event of the year! What an incredible line up of criminal masterminds and devious debutants! We are always so proud to support the biggest and best crime writing festival in the world and this year’s event feels like a long time coming. We can’t wait to welcome you to Harrogate this summer and look forward to seeing you there, with a glass of Old Peculier in hand, of course!”
FULL FESTIVAL PROGRAMME:
THURSDAY 22 JULY
8PM: THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2021 AWARD CEREMONY
Shortlisted this year are: Chris Whitaker who hopes to claim the trophy on his first ever nomination with We Begin at The End, Sunday Times bestselling author Rosamund Lupton with her thrilling Three Hours, Elly Griffiths with her latest Ruth Galloway whodunnit The Lantern Men, Scottish-Bengali author Abir Mukherjee with his latest Wyndham & Banerjee novelDeath in the East, Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway with his political thriller The Last Crossing, and New Blood alumni Trevor Wood with his acclaimed novel The Man on the Street.
FRIDAY 23 JULY
9.00 AM: SPECIAL GUEST MICK HERRON INTERVIEWED BY N.J. COOPER
10.30 AM: GUNG-HO ACTION HERO
Join A.A. Dhand, Holly Watt, Simon Kernick, Steph Broadribb and Charles Cumming as they discuss the rise and fall (and rise) of the gung-ho action man hero (and heroine). What is next for this well-worn and much beloved crime character?
12.00 PM: HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION
Abir Mukherjee, Antonia Hodgson, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, S.G. MacLean and S.J. Parris join forces to discuss the future of historical crime fiction, taking Philip Kerr’s (alternative) history novels as a starting point. Together, they’ll ask and answer questions like – why does historical crime fiction make for such excellent storylines and gripping characters? Do readers always need real historical characters to underpin the stories? And what are the new trends in the genre?
2.00 PM: PLANNERS VERSUS PANTSERS
Readers are often incredulous when certain crime writers say they do hardly any planning, preferring to see where a story and its characters takes them. Other authors absolutely need to know every twist and turn before starting to write. There are no hard and fast rules of course and this playful panel of Erin Kelly, Helen FitzGerald, Mark Edwards, Sarah Pinborough and Luca Veste will explore the merits and pitfalls of both routes.
3.30 PM: WHO KILLED THE POLICE PROCEDURAL?
It’s been said that some readers are turning away from fictional detectives and heading instead to psychological mysteries and standalone domestic noir titles. We invite a panel of Mari Hannah, Olivia Kiernan, Parker Bilal, Will Dean and James Oswald to interrogate the truth here. Can the police procedural as we’ve known and loved it survive?
5PM: SPECIAL GUEST ANN CLEEVES INTERVIEWED BY STEPH MCGOVERN
8.30PM: SPECIAL GUESTS: CL TAYLOR AND CLARE MACKINTOSH IN CONVERSATION
10PM: TOP OF THE COPS
To close out the first full day of festivities, we ask a group of experts to go head-to-head battling for their favourite detectives! Elly Griffiths, Ian Rankin OBE, Mark Billingham, Martyn Waites and Abir Mukherjee to debate who’s ‘Top of the Cops’. Once they decide on a shortlist – the audience will crown the winner by show of hands. Who will it be? Marple or Columbo? Morse or Tennyson?
SATURDAY 24 JULY
9.00 AM: SPECIAL GUEST ELLY GRIFFITHS INTERVIEWED BY JOE HADDOW
10.30 AM: NAPOLEONS OF CRIME
Join C.J. Tudor, Craig Robertson, Liz Nugent, Luca Veste and Barry Forshaw as they consider what makes a great villain. Asking themselves and each other – who are the greatest baddies of crime fiction and what makes readers so interested in those who plan and commit terrible crimes? Perhaps they tell us something about ourselves or perhaps it is the vicarious thrill we love.
12.00 PM: NEW BLOOD
Val McDermid’s sought-after New Blood panel returns on Saturday 24 July, with this year’s hotly-tipped debut authors including Anna Bailey, Greg Buchanan, Patricia Marques and Lara Thompson.
2.00 PM: THE WRITING LIFE SCIENTIFIC
Panellists Fiona Erskine, Lin Anderson, Sarah Vaughan,Lesley Kelly and Professor Niamh Nic Daeid together explore the science behind a good crime novel, forensics to pathology. This is your chance to hear how crime writers build believable details into their works, and how the experts feel when the facts are misunderstood.
3.30 PM: WATCHING ME, WATCHING YOU, AHH HA
Crime fiction has always addressed readers’ fears and right now we seem to be concerned about surveillance, online stalking, identity theft, and more and writers have started using these tropes along with fictionalised podcasts et cetera to address problems and worries. Join Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Louise Candlish, Matt Wesolowski and Mark Lawson as they explore the impact of new and rapidly evolving technology on the fiction we read.
5.00 PM: PLEASURES AND PITFALLS OF THE SHORT STORY
In 1920, Black Mask magazine was launched, helping to establish a golden age for American pulp fiction and the crime short story. We ask our panellists Cath Staincliff, Jane Casey, Stuart Neville, Susi Holliday and Ian Rankin to share their perspectives of the pleasures and pitfalls of the short story.
8.30 PM: SPECIAL GUEST MARK BILLINGHAM INTERVIEWED BY IAN RANKIN
10.00 PM: LATE QUIZ NIGHT: VAL MCDERMID AND MARK BILLINGHAM
SUNDAY 25 JULY
9.30 AM: CHRISTIE’S ENDURING ALLURE
2020 saw the centenary of iconic Belgian detective Hercule Poirot’s first foray into crime fiction. We ask Ragnar Jonasson, Ruth Ware, Sarah Phelps, Stuart Turton and Elly Griffiths to discuss the highs and lows of the crime genre’s Grand Dame: Agatha Christie, who famously disappeared from the festival’s home, the Old Swan Hotel.
11.00 AM: THE POLITICS OF CRIME
The political thriller is as popular as it has ever been – especially on TV. Join Brian McGilloway, Doug Johnstone, George Alagiah, Sarah Vaughan and Alan Johnson as they explore the rise and rise of the political drama, asking if uncertain political landscapes increase the desire for Machiavellian novels?
12.30 PM: SPECIAL GUEST RICHARD OSMAN INTERVIEWED BY MARK BILLINGHAM
I received a copy of this book from Honno Press and the author in return for an honest review.
Using the setting, some notable characters and style of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this is a classical mystery story investigating the death of Mr Collins.
The lyrical writing style is engaging, and the characters vividly portrayed. The main protagonists’ are constable Archer and magistrate Sir John Bright, the investigation team, but Jane Austen’s characters have delightful cameos which add depth to the well thought out plot. The vulnerability of the servants and their indebtedness to their employers is explored in an insightful way reminiscent of Austens’ acute observations on gender, social class and society.
The mystery is cleverly plotted with comprehensive interviews of the numerous suspects, full of historical details that give an excellent sense of place and time. This is an enjoyable Jane Austen style murder mystery.
Annette Purdey Pugh grew up in Flintshire and graduated in English from Lancaster University. In a varied career, she has worked as a medical librarian, an optical assistant, and a milkwoman, bottling and delivering milk for almost twenty years to customers in Ceredigion. A writer from childhood, she has won awards for her short stories and poetry at the National Eisteddfod of Wales but was inspired to take up her pen more regularly following an Open University course in CreativeWriting.
A Murder at Rosings is her first novel, and has its roots in a lifelong love of Jane Austen. She still lives on the family farm in West Wales with her husband and three hundred sheep.