CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition – shortlist announced

Margery Allingham Competition logo

Margery Allingham Competition logo

Time for another competition shortlist, this time it’s for the Margery Allingham Short Story Competition.

Earlier this week the CWA announced the shortlist, and the authors on it are …

Stuart McLean
Alexandar Altman
Alan Orchard
Gail Williams
Paul Curd
Helena Edwards
Ian White
David Buckley
Susi ‘SJI’ Holliday
Martin Edwards

Over 200 entries were received and read by a team of readers from the Crime Writers’ Association and the Margery Allingham Society. The judges are Imogen Robertson, Barry Pike and Anne Zouroudi.

The lucky winner will be revealed at the CWA Dagger Reception being held at CrimeFest on Friday 16th May 2014.

To find out more about the competition hop over to


CTG Reviews: My Criminal World by Henry Sutton

My Criminal World cover image

My Criminal World cover image

What the blurb says: “In awe of his wife, hounded by his agent and ignored by his editor, crime novelist David Slavitt finds his life is spiralling out of control. As his wife grows increasingly distant and his agent insists that his new book needs more violence – a lot more violence – David is getting worried. He needs to do something if he is to save his career, and his marriage. But just how far is this most mild-mannered of crime writers prepared to go? And who is the person really pulling the strings in his story? In this ingenious crime novel, there is more than one mystery to be solved.”

I think the first thing that attracted me to this book was its cover – bright and funky with a rather retro-cool design. So, I picked it up and starting reading, and the story was just as fun – quirky and really intriguing.

It’s like two crime books in one. The first story is of crime writer, David Slavitt, whose career is stalling and knows he needs to pull a bestseller out of the back to keep his publisher, and his agent, on board. The second story is the crime book he’s writing, based in a small, coastal location near his home and seemingly part-based on the strange experiences he begins to have in his day-to-day life.

As he battles to get to his daily word target, and his anxiety about his future reaches break point, events conspire to make him take his head out the sand and face up to the fact that his beloved wife could be having an affair. He uses the confusion, the paranoia, and the fear she’ll leave him, pouring it into his novel and using it as fuel to write some of the more violent, more gory scenes his agent has constantly urged him to. But, just when the novel is going well, disaster strikes in his personal life and it seems that his fiction and real-life could be more connected than anyone around David had ever expected.

This book was great fun to read, packed with mystery and intrigue, and kept me, as the reader, on my toes as it switched between the fictional book David is writing and his own personal life. I loved how he used the things he saw and experienced in daily life, changed them a bit, and put them into his novel, and the endearing, self-doubting inner monologues he often had while writing. Packed with larger-than-life characters, this is a perfect novel to devour in a weekend, or take on holiday to read poolside.

Highly recommended.


[Many thanks to Vintage for my copy of My Criminal World]


Shortlists for the 2014 CrimeFest Awards Announced

CrimeFest logo

CrimeFest logo

The shortlists have been announced for the annual CrimeFest Awards!

Now in its seventh year, the winners of the 2014 CrimeFest Awards will be revealed at the CrimeFest Gala Awards Dinner on Saturday, 17 May 2014. It promises to be a great night, and I can’t wait to find out which of the books from the fabulous novels shortlisted are going to be awarded the prizes.


The shortlisted authors and books are …


The Audible Sounds of Crime Award:  for the best crime audiobook first published in the UK in 2013 in print and audio format, and available for download from (Sponsored by Audible UK).


Ben Aaronovitch for Broken Homes, read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Orion Audio)

John le Carré for A Delicate Truth, read by John le Carré (Penguin)

Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, read by Robert Glenister (Hachette Audio)

Peter James for Dead Man’s Time, read by Daniel Weyman (Macmillan Audio)

Peter May for The Chessmen, read by Peter Forbes (Quercus)

James Oswald for Natural Causes, read by Ian Hanmore (Penguin)


The eDunnit Award: for the best crime fiction ebook first published in hardcopy and  electronic format in the British Isles in 2013.


A.K. Benedict for The Beauty of Murder (Orion)

Thomas H. Cook for Sandrine (Head of Zeus)

Sara Gran for Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway (Faber and Faber)

Elizabeth Haynes for Under a Silent Moon (Sphere)

Val McDermid for Cross and Burn (Sphere)

Derek B. Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)

Denise Mina for The Red Road (Orion)

Thomas Mogford for Sign of the Cross (Bloomsbury)

George Pelecanos for The Double (Orion)

Anne Zouroudi for The Feast of Artemis (Bloomsbury)


The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award: for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2013 (Sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the UK’s largest specialist in first edition, signed books).


Colin Bateman for Fire and Brimstone (Headline)

Alan Bradley for Speaking from Among the Bones (Orion)

Colin Cotterill for The Axe Factor (Quercus)

Shamini Flint for A Calamitous Chinese Killing (Little, Brown)

Carl Hiaasen for Bad Monkey (Little, Brown)

Suzette A. Hill for A Little Murder (Allison & Busby)

Derek B. Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)

Teresa Solana for The Sound of One Hand Killing (Bitter Lemon Press)


CrimeFest runs 15th – 18th May 2014 in Bristol, UK, and will be featuring guest authors including Mark Billingham, Yrsa Sigurdardottir and Simon Brett, who will be joined by the likes of Ben Aaronovitch, Jasper Fforde, Nicci French, Lars Kepler and Peter James.

The CrimeFest programme includes a full schedule of panel events and interviews, and aspiring crime novelists can also attend the CrimeFest Crime Writing Day, which includes a workshop with M.R. Hall and William Ryan, and a Pitch-an-Agent event where aspiring authors can pitch their unpublished manuscript to a top line-up of literary agents.

To find out more about CrimeFest, and the authors attending the convention, pop over to

CTG Reviews: The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham

cover image

cover image

What the blurb says: “When DC Fiona Griffiths says ‘yes’ to her policeman boyfriend, it’s an affirmation that she wants to finally put her psychological breakdown behind her, and become a resident of ‘Planet Normal’ like everybody else. But she still can’t resist the challenge of an undercover policing course and, finding it remarkably easy to assume a new identity, she comes top of the class. So when an ingenious payroll fraud starts to look like the tip of a huge criminal iceberg, Fiona is selected to infiltrate the fraudsters’ operation. Posing as a cleaner, Fiona Griffiths becomes Fiona Grey, hoping the criminals will try and recruit her – knowing that if they discover her real identity, she’s dead meat. But as Fiona penetrates deeper into their operation, coming closer to identifying the mastermind behind it, she faces another, even more frightening danger – that her always fragile grip on her sense of self has now been lost and she may never find her way back.”

The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths is published this week. It’s the third novel in the series featuring Harry Bingham’s quirky, unpredictable protagonist Fiona Griffiths.

This novel picks up where the second book – Love Story with Murders – ended, and sees Cardiff based DC Fiona Griffiths train as an undercover detective. She passes with flying colours, and is soon offered an assignment that requires her to assume the identity of Fiona Grey. She assimilates into the role easily, becoming first a cleaner and then a payroll clerk in order to infiltrate the criminal gang. She’s the perfect undercover officer – where her unpredictable nature and lack of regard for orders is usually a problem, while undercover her quick thinking and improvisation are the things that keep her alive.

But as she gets deeper undercover, the boundaries between her true self and her undercover ‘legend’ begin to blur. She finds herself taking bigger and bigger risks, both with the operation and with her personal relationships as she gets closer to her criminal colleagues. As the criminal ring get closer to pulling off the largest payroll fraud in history, only Fiona has the access and the knowledge to bring them down. Question is, will she?

This is a police procedural with a twist. Quirky, gripping and, rather like its lead character, utterly unconventional. That’s what makes it such a delight to read.

Highly recommended.

[many thanks to Orion Books for my copy of The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths]

Event Alert: Get Writing! conference – Saturday 29th March 2014

Get Writing

If you’re writing a crime novel (or any genre of novel, in fact) then the annual Get Writing! conference organised by Verulam Writers Circle is well worth a visit. Taking place this year on Saturday 29th March at the University of Hertfordshire at their de Havilland Campus, there’s a jam-packed schedule aimed at everyone with an interest in writing.

The day is packed with talks, panels and practical workshops on all aspects of the creative process from idea to publication.

There’s also the chance to fast-pitch to agents and editors, or have a longer facetime session with them to discuss your work.

Workshops of special interest to aspiring crime writers are:

M R Hall (best selling crime thriller writer of many books including The Coroner, The Flight) and William Ryan (critically acclaimed author of the Captain Korolev crime series including The Holy Thief, and most recently The Twelfth Department) will be running a workshop on Constructing Character and Plot. [I attended a workshop run by them at Goldsboro Books last year – it was fantastic: practical, thought-provoking and lots of fun!]

Screenwriter and thriller writer Max Kinnings (author of fast-paced thrillers Baptism and, in 2014, Sacrifice) is running a workshop on How Studying Screenwriting can make you a Better Novelist, showing how he uses the script development model to shape a novel.

Also, there’s The Crime Panel with M R Hall, William Ryan, Max Kinnings, and fabulous thriller writer Emlyn Rees (author of action packed thrillers including Hunted, and dark psychological thrillers including That Summer He Died). And the Get Writing organisers are going to let me chair the panel!

To find out more about what promises to be a fantastic event hop on over to the Get Writing website …


Events Alert: Iceland Noir Festival of Crime Fiction 2014

Iceland Noir banner

Iceland Noir banner

After a hugely successful first year, Iceland Noir – the first Icelandic crime writing festival – will be running again in 2014.

This year it will take place on Friday 21st – Saturday 22nd November at the Nordic House in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The lineup  is still under wraps, but registration is open and you can take advantage of the early bird ticket offer right now.

Hop over to the Iceland Noir Facebook page to find out more at:

Click on the following link to book:

Events Alert: So You Wanna Be A Crime Writer?

Crime Author, Nick Quantrill

Crime Author, Nick Quantrill

As part of the Heads Up Festival in Hull, on Saturday 28th September crime author Nick Quantrill, published by Caffeine Nights and the creator of the Joe Geraghty series, will be joined by fellow crime writers David Mark and Nick Triplow to investigate what it takes to be a crime writer, in the session ‘So You Wanna Be A Crime Writer?’

It promises to be a lively event, with a combination of readings, conversation, panel debate and audience interaction. And what’s more, it’s FREE!

To find out more, pop over to the the festival website at 

Swag from Harrogate TOP Crime Writing Festival

Harrogate swag

Harrogate swag



Okay, so last weekend I went to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

It was a fabulous event, and I’ll be telling you more in my blog post tomorrow, but for today I thought I’d post a photo of all the fabulous goodies I got at the event – a whole bunch of brilliant books (many of which I managed to have signed), an awesome festival goodie bag, and an amazing ‘Reacher said Nothing’ t-shirt.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the event …


Events Alert: Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s “Creative Thursday”

festival logo

festival logo

I’ve just heard that bookings are now open for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival’s creative writing course for aspiring writers – Creative Thursday. Held on Thursday 18th July 2013, and running from 9am to 6pm, it’s a fabulous opportunity for those interested in writing crime.

This day-long programme of workshops and seminars gives aspiring crime and thriller writers access to bestselling crime writers, publishing industry professionals and real-life crime experts.

The workshop will cover topics including:

  • Learning from the Greats
  • Constructing Character and Plot
  • Interactive Session with the Forensic Science Society
  • Plus the return of The Dragons Pen – Dare you enter and pitch your novel idea?

In addition, a lucky few Creative Thursday participants with a completed concept for a crime novel will get the opportunity to pitch their book to two agents

The Creative Thursday workshop costs £99.

To find out more, pop over to the Festival website here:

Or to book your place, contact the festival office on 01423 562 303 or email



Events Alert: Get Writing 2013

Get Writing 2013 logo

Get Writing 2013 logo

The 20th April 2013 is the date of the Verulam Writers’ Circle annual writing conference ‘Get Writing’.

Held at the University of Hertfordshire campus in Hatfield, England, this friendly and variety-packed conference is a one-day event and a must-attend for all writers aspiring to publication.

This year there’s a wide variety of sessions to pick from including workshops and panel discussions on childrens’ fiction, crime writing, historical fiction, writing drama, and some fabulous ‘how to’ sessions on editing, creating tension and a whole bunch of other essential writerly skills. For the conference fee of £55 you also get the opportunity to pitch your novel to an agent of your choice and, for those looking for more detailed feedback, you can pay a little extra and book a longer ‘Face Time’ slot.

I’m especially excited about this years’ event as I’ve been asked to chair the Crime Panel. I’ll be talking with the wonderful crime authors Claire McGowan, Adrian Magson, Ann Cleeves, and Lesley Horton. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m really looking forward to picking their brains on how they get their ideas, their writing process, the essentials of crime thriller writing, and any tips and advice they have for those aspiring to publication.

Also, for those with a novel, or the opening of a novel, ready to go there’s the ‘First Three Pages’ competition. It’s open to all attendees and requires you to submit the first three pages of a novel of any genre. So, Get Writing!

Booking is open now at

Perhaps I’ll see you there?