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AYE WRITE 14-31 March 2019 Programme launched. @AyeWrite @@mcdevitt_bob #AyeWrite #crimepicksvuik

Line up for Aye Write! 2019 announced – tickets on sale now

Aye Write! is Glasgow’s Book Festival, founded in 2005 and since 2007 has been an annual fixture on Glasgow’s culture calendar. The festival takes place in the beautiful Mitchel Library, one of Europe’s largest public libraries. 

Celebrating the best in national, international and local writing, Aye Write! annually brings national and local speakers to Glasgow’s iconic Mitchell Library, allowing audiences to enjoy appearances from big name writers and emerging talent alike. 

The Aye Write! programme comprises a wide range of ticketed author events for adults and children, but also extends to a schools festival, and a variety of free community and family events.

The line up of this year’s Glasgow festival of writing has now been revealed. It is an amazingly rich programme featuring over 250 authors including Gina Miller, Simon Mayo, Paul Mason, Lionel Shriver, Darren McGarvey, Louise Minchin, Kamal Ahmed and many more. 

Utilising the Mitchell Library, and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall the festival takes place over two jam packed weeks from mid -March.

I’m going to pick out some of the outstanding crime authors, and add in a few of my own personal wants too, but to see the huge variety of authors from all over the world, you really need to take a long hard dive into the programme here.

How authors wish they wrote…

A Central Belt in the Mouth

First up on 14th March from 6-7pm is James Oswald, Neil Broadfoot & M.R Mackenzie. With crime novels set in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh, these three writers are packing a punch with their latest work.
James Oswald’s Cold as the Grave is the ninth book in the Inspector McLean series which opens with a mummified body hidden in a basement room. 

Neil Broadfoot’s No Man’s Land introduces the rough and ready Connor Fraser as he deals with a mutilated body dumped in the heart of historic Stirling. 

Glasgow librarian M.R Mackenzie’s debut, In the Silence, follows Anna, a criminology lecturer who finds herself as the star witness at the centre of a murder investigation

Rise: Life Lessons in Speaking Out, Standing Tall and Leading the Way

After the 3 crime writers, my personal choice would be to hear Gina Miller in conversation with Janice Forsyth at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. She received a standing ovation at the Edinburgh Book Festival last year.

Gina Miller brought one of the most significant constitutional cases ever to be heard in the British Supreme Court when she successfully challenged the UK government’s authority to trigger Article 50 without parliamentary approval. 

For standing up for what she believed was right, Miller became the target of not just racist and sexist verbal abuse, but physical threats to herself and her family.

In Rise, Miller draws on a lifetime of fighting injustice and looks at the moments that made her. To those who say one person cannot make a difference, this memoir demonstrates irrefutably how you can.

As part of Aye Write Introducing, the debut novelist strand, Lesley McDowell introduces Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi & Laura Shepherd Robinson on 15th Mar from 7.45 to 8.45pm at the Mitchell Library.

Journalist and novelist Lesley McDowell introduces a remarkable pair of new voices as part of the Aye Write debut author series.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s Kintu is an epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, which vibrantly brings to life a colourful Ugandan family by blending oral tradition, myth, folktale and history.

Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson is a thrilling historical crime novel which opens in June 1781. An unidentified body hangs upon a hook at Deptford Dock – horribly tortured and branded with a slaver’s mark.

To Kill The Truth Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne) 15th March at the Mitchell Theatre.

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland. His first novel, The Righteous Men was a number one best-seller. 

Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne)

He returns with the taut, authoritative and explosive To Kill the Truth in which someone is trying to destroy the evidence of history’s greatest crimes. 

As Black Lives Matter protestors clash with slavery deniers, America is on a knife-edge and time is running out. This deadly conspiracy could ignite a new Civil War and take us to the edge of anarchy and a world in which history will be rewritten by those who live to shape it.

Another personal non crime pick from me is Laura Bates talks misogynation with Susan Stewart, Director of the Open University in Scotland.

Laura Bates is a pioneering feminist, activist and bestselling author who has given a voice to thousands of women through her international Everyday Sexism project. 

Laura Bates

In her collection of essays, Bates uncovers the sexism that exists in our relationships, our workplaces, our media, our homes, and on our streets, but which is also firmly rooted in our lifelong assumptions and in the actions and attitudes we explain away, defend and accept.

 Often dismissed as one-offs, veiled as ‘banter’ or described as ‘isolated incidents’, Misogynation joins the dots to reveal the true scale of discrimination and prejudice women face.

The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper 16 March Mitchell Library 6.30pm
Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. 

They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but ‘Jack the Ripper’, the character created by the press to fill that gap, has become far more famous than any of these five women. 

Historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight in her extraordinary new book.B


As part of their writing masterclass series on 17th Mar from 1:00PM – 2:30PM at the Mitchell Library, acclaimed award winning novelist Cally Taylor offers a workshop focusing on writing modern crime fiction. Author of psychological thrillers The Accident, The Lie, The Missing, The Escape and The Fear, C.L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have sold in excess of a million copies, been number one on all the e-book platforms, optioned for television and translated into over 20 languages.

These Bloody Islands 17th March  8:00pm Mitchell Library
C.L.Taylor, Douglas Skelton and Anna Mazzola

Three Scottish islands provide the setting for these spell-binding crime novels.

Anna Mazzola’s The Story Keeper is set on the Isle of Skye in 1857 where the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. 
In Douglas Skelton’s Thunder Bay, Roddie Drummond’s return to the fictional island of Stoirm causes a sensation as fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover. 
C.L. Taylor’s Sleep sees insomniac Anna takes a job at a hotel on Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat turns into a deadly nightmare.

Catching Up With Lorimer and Perez  22 March 6pm Mitchell Theatre

Alex Gray and Ann Cleeves discuss their latest novels.

Alex Grey’s The Stalker is a twisty, heart-stopping crime novel. When Detective Superintendent William Lorimer’s wife, Maggie, publishes her first book, he is thrilled for her. But joy soon turns to fear when a mysterious stranger starts following Maggie on her publicity tour. 

Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves has Shetland detective Jimmy Perez called in to investigate the hanging of a young nanny and rumours of her affair with her employer!

Craig Russell & E.S. Thomson

22nd March 7:45pm Mitchell Library

Aspects of Gothic

The Devil Aspect is best-seller Craig Russell’s masterpiece. 
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets. 
E.S. Thomson’s latest book, Surgeons’ Hall: A Jem Flockhart Mystery, divides its time between Victorian Edinburgh and London in a macabre world of mortuaries, anatomy lessons, harvested organs and a bloody pact of silence.

The Return of The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers 22 March Mitchell Library

Back due to popular demand: Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste AKA The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers with their unique brand of rock and roll. 
Their set features some new murderous ballads, grisly grooves and bloodthirsty beats to add to their criminal repertoire. 
Like Hendrix at Woodstock, The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall or Oasis at King Tut’s – you want to be able to say ‘I was there…’

Doug Johnstone Introduces… Harriet Tyce & Anthony Good
23rd Mar 11:30AM – 12:30PM  •  Mitchell Library

Introducing these gripping debuts is Doug Johnstone, a co-founder of both the Scotland Writers Football Club and The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers.

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems… Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce introduces a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.

Waltzing through a brilliant mind put to serious misuse, Anthony Good’s Kill [redacted] is a provocative exploration of the contours of grief and a blazing condemnation of all those who hold and abuse power.

Val McDermid Broken Ground  23 March Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 1.15pm

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. 

Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems. 
Broken Ground is Val McDermid aka the Queen of Scottish Crime Writing writing at the very top of her game.

Secrets and Liars. Louise Candlish & Lisa Ballantyne 23rd Mar 3:00PM – 4:00PM  •  Mitchell Library

On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it. Our House by Louise Candlish takes a great premise and waves it into a fresh, fun and engrossing novel. 

While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him. Lisa Ballantyne’s Little Liar illustrates the fine line between guilt and innocence, and shows that everyone has their secrets…

Delicious Nordic Noir with Antti Tuomainen and Lilja Sigurdardottir Mitchell Library 23 March 4.45pm

Two of my favourite people in the crime universe.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot, and intriguing characters, Lilja Sigurdardottir’s Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Antti Tuomainen’s Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

Inside The DNA of A Crime Writer 23 March Mitchell Theatre 6.30PM Robert Plomin and Mark Billingham

This unique event sees the best-selling crime writer Mark Billingham (The Killing Habit) submit himself to a DNA test and then talk through the results live on stage with Robert Plomin, a pioneer in the field of behavioural genetics. 

The blueprint for our individuality lies in the 1% of DNA that differs between people. Our intellectual capacity, our introversion or extraversion, our vulnerability to mental illness, even whether we are a morning person or not. 
What will Mark’s DNA blueprint reveal? 

Luca Veste Introduces B.P. Walter and G.R. Halliday March 23rs Mitchell Library 8pm.

Luca Veste of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast introduces two page-turning crime debuts.

In B.P Walter’s A Version of the Truth a devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over 25 years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find? 

G. R Halliday’s From the Shadows is a stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Alexander McCall Smith The Department of Sensitive Crimes
24th March  6:30PM  Mitchell Library

The Department of Sensitive Crimes is a Scandinavian Blanc novel. Scandinavian Blanc is different from Scandinavian Noir: there is nothing noir about the world of Ulf Varg, a detective in the Sensitive Crimes Department in the Swedish city of Malmo. 

Ulf is concerned with very odd, but not too threatening crimes – young women who allow their desperation for a boyfriend to get the better of them or peculiar goings-on in a spa on the south coast. 

Join author Alexander McCall Smith as he introduces us to this new character and series of novels.

Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald As (Crime) Scene on TV
24th March 8:00pm  Mitchell Library

As the authors of Killing Eve and The Cry, Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald have seen their novels turned into must-see television. 

In No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings the duel between Villanelle and Eve Polastri intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity. 

Helen Fitzgerald’s latest book Worst Case Scenario is a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book – a heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour.

Sarah Langford In Your Defence: Stories of Life and Law
30th March 4:45 pm Mitchell Library

Sarah Langford

This was one of my favourite books of last year. Sarah Langford is a barrister who represents the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the law and tell it to the courtroom. 
With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She tells compelling stories that are sometimes shocking and often heart-stopping. She shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

Damian Barr in conversation with Kirsty Wark Introducing ‘You Will be Safe Here’ 31st March 1:15pm Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Damian Barr

You Will Be Safe Here is the stunning and shocking debut novel from the award-winning author of Maggie & Me. Set in South Africa, it explores legacies of abuse, redemption and the strength of the human spirit. 
Spanning more than a century of South African history and featuring a cast of memorable characters, this is a deeply moving novel of connected parts. Inspired by real events, it uncovers a hidden colonial history and present-day darkness while exploring our capacity for cruelty and kindness.

The Strawberry Thief Joanne Harris 31st March 8:00pm  Mitchell Library

The Strawberry Thief is the long-awaited new Chocolat novel from author Joanne Harris. 

When old Narcisse the florist dies, the life of the sleepy village is once more thrown into disarray. The arrival of Narcisse’s relatives, the departure of an old friend, and the opening of a mysterious new shop in the place of the florist’s across the square – one that mirrors the chocolaterie, and has a strange appeal of its own – all seem to herald some kind of change: a confrontation, a turbulence even, perhaps, a murder.

Now, we know we said Aye Write was a two week festival, but there’s room all year round for some more Aye Write goodness, so here’s another couple of excellent crime events to come.

Chris Brookmyre Fallen Angel 23rd April 2019  •  8:00pm  Mitchell Library

The popular author launches his brand new book, Fallen Angel.

Photo:Paul Reich

To new nanny Amanda, the Temple family seem to have it all: the former actress; the famous professor; their three successful grown-up children. But like any family, beneath the smiles and hugs there lurks far darker emotions. 

Sixteen years earlier, little Niamh Temple died while they were on holiday in Portugal. Now, as Amanda joins the family for a reunion at their seaside villa, she begins to suspect one of them might be hiding something terrible.

Aye Write presents Denise Mina 22nd May 2019  •  6:30pm Mitchell Library

The award-winning crime writer intoduces the first novel in a new Glasgow series.

Denise Mina photo credit Ollie Grove

Award-winning crime writer Denise Mina’s first novel in a brand new Glasgow set series, starring a strong female protagonist who is obsessed by true crime podcasts, has us very excited indeed. 

In Conviction, Anna McDonald’s husband has left her for her best friend, taking her two daughters with them. Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast featuring multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. 

But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

Now, isn’t that an awesome line-up? And that’s only a hand picked selection designed to appeal to crime aficionados. There’s loads more from Darren McGarvey to Frank Quitely; short stories and poems and masterclasses galore as well as a whole Wee Write programme for children and young people.

It truly is amazing. So have a look at the whole programme and get booking!

The Woman In The Dark by Vanessa Savage @VvSavage @lucydauman @littlebrownuk

Source: Review copy
Publication: 10 January 2019 from Sphere
PP: 384
ISBN-13: 978-0751571523

What she can’t see can hurt her I have this dream. In it, I’m in the house and it’s dark and I know someone’s in there with me Even though I can’t see them . . . For Sarah and Patrick, family life has always been easy. But when Sarah’s mother dies, it sends Sarah into a downwards spiral. Knowing they need a fresh start, Patrick moves the family to the beachside house he grew up in. But there is a catch: while their new home carries only happy memories for Patrick, to everyone else it’s known as the Murder House – named for the family that was killed there. Patrick is adamant they can make it perfect again, though with their children plagued by nightmares and a constant sense they’re being watched, Sarah’s not so sure. Because the longer they live in their ‘dream home’, the more different her loving husband becomes . . . A chilling psychological thriller about dark family dysfunction and the secrets that haunt us, The Woman in the Dark will captivate fans of B. A Paris, Clare Mackintosh and Stephen King’s The Shining.

I wasn’t at all sure about picking up The Woman in the Dark. Something about books with The Woman In –or The Woman At – that instinctively makes me wary.  But Lucy Dauman had been kind enough to send it to me and the blurb did look different to anything I had read recently, so I dived in, and I am so glad I did.

The Woman in the Dark is the story of Patrick and Sarah Walker and their two children, Joe and Mia, both of whom are at a ‘difficult’ age. To all intents and purposes the marriage is a happy one, though the couple have never managed to move from their starter home which is now a little cramped.

 Patrick comes home one day with the news that his old family home, a large Victorian property, is up for sale. Interest in the house is not likely to be high as it was the scene of a tragic triple murder and is known locally as ‘The Murder House’.

It is here that we first start to see the cracks in Sarah and Patrick’s marriage. What Patrick wants, he is relentless in making sure he gets. Sarah, who we quickly learn may not be the most reliable of narrators, especially following the recent death of her mother, allows herself to be persuaded but neither she nor the children are really sure about this move and the house itself is far from the pleasure palace that Patrick remembers.

In fact the house begins to take on the role of a character itself. The walls tell their own story and the violence that occurred there seems to linger like a creaking poltergeist, disturbing, haunting and getting into the cracks in Sarah’s mind. Whether extreme violence and cruelty can change the character of bricks and mortar or whether Sarah’s fragile mental health is giving way is not clear, but something is very wrong indeed.

This is a family that has many secrets and it is those secrets which will ultimately be the catalyst for a number of acts of self-destruction.  The Woman in the Dark is a dark and intriguing read. Fast paced, with lots of interconnecting threads, I did manage to work out the direction of travel, but that in no way detracts from a book that is both thought provoking and really very creepy.

Verdict: A chilling, tension fuelled read to keep you awake at nights wondering what’s under the bed…

Amazon                                                    Waterstones

Vanessa Savage lives by the sea in South Wales with her husband and two daughters.

She started out writing women’s fiction but soon realized she wanted her characters to kill each other rather than kiss each other…

Turning to (fictional) crime, she now writes psychological thrillers.

Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb @StephBroadribb @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TeamLori #IAmLori

Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 Jan 2019 from Orenda Books
PP: 304
ISBN-13: 978-1912374557

A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…

Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.

I’m a proud member of #TeamLori and my love for this series has grown as each of the three books has come out.

Lori hasn’t had a great life until now. Married to an abusive man who turned out also to be a mobster, she incurred the wrath of the Miami mafia boss after her husband was shot dead.

She is only now beginning to get her life back on track, bring her daughter Dakota together with her new man, J.T. and living a good life as a bounty hunter in Florida.

But this is Lori and that peace is never going to last.

To keep Dakota and J.T. safe she is forced to a deal with the mafia. One of their trusted henchmen, their accountant North, has turned informer and is now in FBI protective custody awaiting the trial of the aforementioned Mafioso. The mafia, unsurprisingly, want North back and if Lori doesn’t deliver him on deadline, her small family will never be safe again.

To track North down and spring him from custody won’t be easy, and she knows she’ll have to do it alone, because she needs J.T. to keep Dakota safe while she’s gone.

To make matters worse she only has 48 hours. And what a whirlwind 48 hours that is! Lori moves with the speed of lightning, encountering different dangers and some pretty squirm making characters at every turn. There’s danger and double dealing; in the fetid atmosphere of the Everglades there is more than one kind of dangerous predator at loose and Lori has trouble knowing who to trust.

But then, hasn’t that always been Lori’s problem? Not without cause, she does not trust easily, and this leads her to manage everything she comes up against alone.

Exciting, addictive, full of twists, this is Lori fighting for her life again. A super-fast pace, smart mouthed prose to die for and a plot that will keep your heart in your mouth as you watch Lori navigate the minefields between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Verdict: Deep Dirty Truth is the best Lori book yet and I love her more every book.

Amazon     Orenda Bookstore           Waterstones

Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts.
My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018.

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell @TheCraigRussell @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault @ClaraHDiaz #TheDevilAspect

Source: Netgalley Review copy
Publication: 7 March 2019 from Constable
PP: 496
ISBN-13: 978-1472128355

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.

Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles? Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

I was at Iceland Noir recently and was struck by how many of Scotland’s prominent crime writers cited Craig Russell as a positive influence in their reading journey, and there and then I resolved to try one of his books. Where better, then, than to start with his new novel, The Devil Aspect?

It does not take long to appreciate what a fine writer Mr Russell is. Starting The Devil Aspect, I immediately felt transported to the 1930’s. From the way people speak to an understanding of the culture and community of Czechoslovakia, Craig Russell has captured the mood and mores of a people at a time of turbulence and unwelcome change.

In Prague, these troubled times re underlined by the fear struck into the hearts of the townspeople as a result of the brutal murders of several women; murders which have an unsettling similarity to those of Jack the Ripper. This murderer, dubbed Leather Apron, is being pursued by the police force led by Kapitan Lukas Smolak, but forensic evidence is hard to come by and when at last some is found, it is hard to credit that it could be the work of a known petty criminal whom they take into custody.

German fascism is on the rise and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia is not far away. Our protagonist is psychiatrist Victor Kosárek, headed for the most notorious asylum in central Europe; Hrad Orlu Asylum is a fortress of a castle high on a cliff face, seemingly impregnable. The castle is feared by the villagers that surround it not just because it currently houses six of the most fiendish serial killers known as the Devil’s Six, but also because it has an unpleasant history that goes back into folklore memory.

Victor Kosárek has a head full of theories after studying under noted psychologist Carl Jung and he has come to the high security asylum to test his theory that the incarnate evil that is embodied in each the six sadistic killer patients stems from a common phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect- an aspect of human psychology that is responsible for dark impulses. Viktor believes that if he can, through their subconscious, reach this aspect, he may be able to understand and and possibly cure their malevolent, macabre impulses.

With wonderful detail and precision, never putting a foot wrong, yet laying a trail of false clues up and down the mountain, Russell explores the ways in which folklore, history, religion, and psychology come together to explain how people behave and how they justify that behaviour; all the time with the rise of fascism hovering over our shoulders..

As I was quickly sucked into this fabulously gothic tale of madness, horror and foreshadowing worse to come, I was struck by how beautifully resonant the atmosphere is. In many ways I was reminded of the writing of Bram Stoker and Robert Louis Stevenson, for this is a literary book that will more than hold its own alongside Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein.

Beautifully researched, the parallels between the savage murders and the unspeakable horrors of the Third Reich to come are ever present, leading to a very real sense of dread in this reader.

Verdict: Craig Russell has created an astonishing virtuoso piece of gothic horror writing. It is utterly immersive, authentically complex and completely propulsive. I was by turns transfixed, terrified and gripped. This is a must read for all fans of literary fiction, great crime and horror writing.

Amazon                                                        Waterstones

Craig Russell is an award-winning, best-selling and critically-acclaimed author, published in twenty-five languages around the world. The Devil Aspect was acquired by Jason Kaufman, Dan Brown’s editor at Doubleday. The movie rights to the Devil Aspect have been bought by Columbia Pictures. Biblical, his science-fiction novel, has been acquired by Imaginarium Studios/Sonar Entertainment for development into a major TV series. Four Jan Fabel novels have been made into movies (in one of which Craig Russell makes a cameo appearance as a detective) for ARD, the German national broadcaster, and the Lennox series has been optioned for TV development.

Craig Russell won the 2015 McIlvanney Prize for ‘The Ghosts of Altona’

– was a finalist for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize for ‘The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid’

– was a finalist for the 2013 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger

– was a finalist for the 2012 Crime Book of the Year (McIlvanney Prize)

– won the 2008 CWA Dagger in the Library

– was a finalist for the 2007 CWA Duncan Lawrie Golden Dagger

– was a finalist for the 2007 SNCF Prix Polar in France

– is the only non-German to be awarded the highly prestigious Polizeistern by the Polizei Hamburg.

Follow Craig on Twitter @TheCraigRussell

First Minister to Chair Granite Noir Festival event @GraniteNoirFest

Granite Noir – Aberdeen’s crime writing festival – has announced Scotland’s First Minster, Nicola Sturgeon as chair for one of the festival’s opening events, with Abir Mukherjee.

A voracious reader since childhood, Nicola Sturgeon will chair an event with author Abir Mukherjee, the child of immigrants from India, who was bought up in the West of Scotland, on Friday, February 22 at 7pm at the Music Hall. Their event will explore the shared heritage of Scotland and Bengal and is just one of the festival’s diverse programme celebrating, showcasing and debating the cream of crime fiction from around the world

Ms Sturgeon is well-known for her love of literature and is an advocate for reading. She established the First Minister’s Reading Challenge in 2016, to encourage children to pick up a book and expand their imagination, and her Saturday night Twitter feed is filled with recommendations from her weekly reading. She has described books as “amongst my very favourite things in life”, with crime fiction a favourite genre. Her appearance at Granite Noir follows on from recent appearances at Wigtown Book Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2018.

Ms Sturgeon recommended the acclaimed author Abir Mukherjee as one of the new wave of Scottish crime fiction authors. Abir commented that he started writing “to explore the shared history between Britain and India which…has made such a great impact on the country we live in and the values we share.”

Head of Artistic Development at Aberdeen Performing Arts Lesley Anne Rose said: “Nicola Sturgeon is known for her passion for books as both an escape and as a window into other people’s lives. As a huge fan of crime fiction and the issues and debates these novels often confront, she promises to bring a fascinating discussion to the festival and we are delighted to welcome her to the line up.”  

The First Minister will join headliners including Scottish comedian, author and presenter, Susan Calman in conversation with local crime wiring hero Stuart MacBride who will be sharing secrets of his life and work as well as discussing his latest Logan Macrae novel. As well as Sophie Hannah the author who has revived the career of Hercule Poirot.

Panel chairs include acclaimed author and broadcaster, James Naughtie. James is one of Britain’s best-known broadcasters. Born and educated in Aberdeenshire, he began his journalism career on the Press and Journal and wrote for the Scotsman and Guardian before moving into broadcasting. He’s a former presenter of Today on BBC Radio 4, and host of the network’s monthly Bookclub.

He is the author of acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, including the spy thrillers Paris Spring and The Madness of July.

Joining James on chairing duties will be award-winning broadcaster Edi Stark, as well as Kezia Dugdale, Fiona Stalker, Alex Clark and Craig Sisterson.

Events will take place in city centre venues including The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen’s Central Library, The Belmont Filmhouse, The Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and 1906 Restaurant and include In Conversation sessions; Granite Noir Workshops; film screenings; Young Criminals (family events); other Fringe events and Late Night Noir. Locals in the Limelight runs alongside the festival, offering aspiring local writers to share the stage with top crime fiction authors.

Chief Executive Jane Spiers said: “Granite Noir returns for a third year with more events, more writers, more conversation and more venues.  It’s quirky, inventive, it’s a festival designed for readers and writers alike and it takes us to far flung places.  What makes it unique is the sheer range of events and the fantastic backdrop of the city.”

Produced by Aberdeen Performing Arts, in partnership with the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives and Aberdeen City Libraries, Granite Noir is now entering its third year and, with several events already a sell-out, this year’s festival is set to be the biggest and best yet.

This year the festival will be supported by Granite North gin and Mackie’s who have created a very special Granite Noir ice cream.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks

Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 Feb 2019 in e-book. 18 April 2019 in paperback from Orenda Books
PP: 300
ISBN-13: 978-1912374632

Tonight is the night for secrets…A taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller, reminiscent of Play Misty for Me … from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon and  The Lion Tamer Who Lost…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Wow! Louise Beech’s first foray into crime writing just blew me away. If, like me, you are a fan of Louise’s writing, you will know that her special gift is writing that captivates, entrances, and really makes you care about her characters. Her prose is rich and rewarding; she has the ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. This is writing that somehow manages to shine a light on the beauty of the everyday and her emotional resonance is second to none.

In Call Me Star Girl, she has used her gifts to deliver a fully-fledged dark and twisted psychological thriller that has all the hallmarks of her writing but reinforced with a steel core. This is Louise Beech on steroids and boy, is she motoring at high speed.

Told in two timelines, then and now, and predominantly in two first person voices – those of Stella McKeever and her mother, Elizabeth, with a sparing but critical third person outside perspective provided by taxi driver, Bob Fracklehurst.

Bob is a classic Beech character, full of warmth, heart and goodness. A man who wants to do the right thing and always sees the good in people. A character who does not seem integral to this dark murder story, but whose presence is nonetheless crucial to the book.

Stella is our titular protagonist. A presenter at her local radio station where she conducts a three hour late night show, before the real night hawks come on air. Stella’s mum left her when Stella was only twelve. Just sent her to a neighbour with a note and disappeared, leaving behind only a bottle of perfume that would remind Stella of her for years to come.

Stella never knew her father and all her life she has wanted to know who he was.  Now she is in an all-consuming relationship with Tom, her boyfriend. Theirs is a love affair of passion and intensity. Unpredictable, risky, it’s an all or nothing relationship where Stella’s biggest fear is that Tom will wake up one day and find her boring. So she tries to make sure that will never happen.

Stella’s mum, Elizabeth, is slowly finding a way to come back into her daughter’s life. Though she feels guilty about leaving her only child in the way she did, the sad fact is that she made a choice and if she had that choice to make again, there’s no doubting what she would do. In some ways mother and daughter are not dissimilar.

When pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago, the town was shaken. No-one has been caught and women are nervously looking over their shoulders as they walk home at night, making sure they keep to the well-lit areas as they plan their routes.

Stella too is wary, she thinks she has caught sight of someone hovering around outside the radio station on more than one evening and now she’s receiving calls to the station from a man who says he knows who killed Victoria.

But this is Stella’s last ever show and she’s not going to go quietly. Alone in the radio station, she plays out her last three hours in a show that will have consequences for everyone listening.

Tightly written, with a brilliantly executed story arc, Call Me Star Girl is an immersive dark, aberrant and sometimes very painful psychological drama that is full of memories, secrets, and long felt desires.

Verdict: Honestly, it’s hard to articulate what a powerful book this is, but Call Me Star Girl is a killer read in anyone’s book. It’s destined to be a must read of 2019 in any crime list.


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Reader’s Choice in 2015. The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for the Not the Booker Prize. Her third book, Maria in the Moon was widely reviewed and critically acclaimed. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice.

Louise is currently writing her next book. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull and loves her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. 

Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter

The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola @Anna_Maz @TinderPress @AnneCater #TheStoryKeeper

Source: Review copy
Publication : Paperback on 10 January 2019 from Tinder Press
PP: 368
ISBN-13: 978-1472234803

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.

The Story Keeper is set in God’s own garden, the beautiful, haunting landscape of the Isle of Skye, my favourite place on earth. Set in a time of deep trouble for its residents, when greed and pitiless cruelty were in the forefront of driving every hard-working person from the island. For his is the time of the clearances; a time when Gaelic is about to be put under serious threat; when traditional farming methods can no longer sustain families and when landlords are both increasing rents and turning people off land they have family farmed for generations.

This is the atmospheric and haunting setting for the exploration of the myths and legends of the island. Audrey Hart has travelled from London, she has pretty much run away by the sound of it, though we don’t know why and she takes the long and wet journey to Lanerly Hall on Skye. Presided over by the matriarchal figure of Miss Buchanan, Lanerly Hall is an old, dilapidated house full of stuffed animals and creaking corridors.

 Audrey has come in response to an advert placed by Miss Buchanan, seeking someone who can help her collect the stories of the islanders; the myths and legends of the legendary faerie folk that still form part of their daily superstitions and practices, especially around the sea.

For just as the islanders way of life is under threat, so is the tradition of oral story telling passed down through generations and Miss Buchanan is determined to capture the stories before they are lost for ever.

Arriving into this maelstrom of change, and with an agenda of her own, Audrey must contend with a hostile game-keeper, a laird who seems to have little or no compassion for his tenants; a minister who breathes fire and fury and a group of villagers who are less than impressed by incomers. When girls start to go missing, that suspicion only intensifies and Audrey has no idea who she can trust.

Anna Mazzola creates a beautifully dark and gothic atmosphere in which to explore the folklore and legends of the islanders. Her prose is fluid and flawless and she creates a magical and mysterious environment in which anything is possible.

Sitting at her metaphorical loom, Mazzola weaves a rich and varied tapestry with multiple threads and plot lines which come together to form a magnificent story of death, destruction and stubborn courage.

Verdict : A highly enjoyable, beautifully told story.

Amazon                                                  Waterstones

Anna is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels, which have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime, explore the impact of crime and injustice. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. The Sunday Times called it, ‘A twisting tale of family secrets and unacknowledged desires.’ It won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, was published in July (paperback January 2019). It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper has been longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She also blogs for The History Girls.

Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before accidentally becoming a human rights and criminal justice solicitor. She now tries to combine law with writing, to varying degrees of success.

She lives in Camberwell, South London, with two small children, two cats and one husband.

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