Crime Picks of the Month!

Crime Picks of the Month!

To finish off a fantastic month of all things crime, Love Reading’s Picks of the Month for June are all crime books. They include Deadline by Holly Watt, winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2019, House of Lamentations by double CWA Historical Dagger winner (2015, 2019) SG Maclean, and House of Correction by Nicci French, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger 2021 – winner to be announced tomorrow night! If you haven’t already done so, book your FREE ticket for this star-studded literary event, live online 7.30pm, Thursday 1 July.

Click here to check out these and the other fantastic crime titles selected by Love Reading for their June Picks of the Month.

Crime Fiction in Translation with Love Reading

Crime Fiction in Translation with Love Reading

This week to celebrate National Crime Reading Month, Love Reading have put together a list of their favourite Crime Fiction in translation, including Antti Tuomainen’s Little Siberia that was shortlisted for the CWA’s Crime Fiction in Translation (CFIT) Dagger in 2020, and Roxanne Bouchard’s The Coral Bride which is on this year’s CFIT list, the winner of which will be announced on 1 July at Daggers Live! Also on their list is CWA member Ragnar Jonasson’s Winterkill, as well as a re-print of the classic The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sebastien Japrisot, which won the CWA International Dagger all the way back in 1968!

Check out the rest of this juicy collection of new and classic books on the Love Reading website.

Countdown to Daggers

Countdown to Daggers

Book lovers and crime fiction fans have a unique opportunity to watch the famed Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Daggers awards, live.

Tickets are free, but limited. To book a place, visit:

The oldest awards in the genre, the CWA Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over half a century.

The annual glittering award ceremony is normally held at an exclusive event in London. This year, due to COVID-19, it will be hosted virtually. The online awards ceremony Daggers Live! will be broadcast on 1 July, from 7.30pm.

The evening will be compered by book reviewer, author and journalist Barry Forshaw, who is one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction.

Guest speaker is Abir Mukherjee, The Times bestselling author of the Sam Wyndham series of crime novels set in Raj era India. Abir won last year’s CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger for his novel Death in the East, as well as the 2017 Historical Dagger for his debut, A Rising Man.

Queen of crime Martina Cole will also feature in the Daggers Live! Event as the recipient of the 2021 Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement, the highest honour in British crime writing.

Barry Forshaw said: “Crime books have provided escapism, solace, entertainment and enlightenment throughout the pandemic. As such, we are delighted to honour the talented and diverse authors at work in this enduring genre. The Daggers are an annual highlight in the literary world, and although virtual, we still promise an entertaining evening for these Oscars of the crime genre.”

Hotly contended shortlisted authors include Robert Galbraith, Elly Griffiths and Chris Whitaker for the CWA Gold Dagger, awarded to the best crime novel of the year.

Michael Robotham, Ruth Ware, and Stuart Turton are among the shortlist for the best thriller, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, which is supported by the family-owned Ian Fleming Publications Ltd that looks after the James Bond literary brand.

Other award highlights include the Sapere Books Historical Dagger, which features Booker prize winner John Banville on its shortlist, the ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, and the Dagger in the Library, which is awarded to an author for their body of work and support of libraries. Shortlisted authors this year include Peter May, Lisa Jewell and L J Ross  – the winner is voted for exclusively by librarians.

The awards take place at the end of National Crime Reading Month (NCRM) this June, a unique festival promoting the crime genre that’s held throughout the UK, promoted by the CWA. Readers and authors can follow #NCRM on Facebook and Twitter @The_CWA or find out more on the Crime Reading Month website

One of the UK’s most prominent societies, the CWA was founded in 1953 by John Creasey; the awards started in 1955 with its first award going to Winston Graham, best known for Poldark. They are regarded by the publishing world as the foremost British awards for crime-writing.

Don’t forget, tickets are free, but limited. To book a place, visit:

Love Reading UK interviews Crime expert Barry Forshaw

Love Reading UK interviews Crime expert Barry Forshaw

As part of Love Reading UK and the CWA’s collaboration for National Crime Reading Month, Liz Robinson interviews the CWA’s very own Barry Forshaw. Barry, who hosts the CWA Dagger Awards evening – don’t miss it this year on 1 July! – also writes on crime fiction and film for the Financial Times and is a contributor to the ezine Crime Time. (But who knew he’d once been an illustrator for girls comics Spellbound and Jackie???). Read the full interview here.

Escaping from Greece with Jason Monaghan

Escaping from Greece with Jason Monaghan

In an ideal world that should be ‘Escaping to Greece’, as like so many other Brits I’m just longing for some sunshine and warm sea. The closest I’ve come so far this pandemic is organising ‘Greek Nite’ for my family bubble, with kebabs, dips, pitta bread, Greek salad and bazouki music on CD. I have a longing to explore, and indeed I quit my day job at the end of 2019 to concentrate on my writing and to travel the world. Well, half the plan worked as I have a new 1930s thriller series accepted for publication from next year. As to the travel I only managed to visit Sri Lanka and Alderney before the curtain came down.

My first agent suggested that I use my background as an archaeologist when writing my first mystery series. Coupling this with my love of Greece and its history brought about Byron’s Shadow now republished as an e-book by Lume. My hero is young archaeologist Jeffrey Flint who discovers too much about the murder of an English professor and he is framed as a suspect. My memories of baking hot afternoons exploring sites covered with scattered ruins came back to me vividly as I wrote. When Greek police call at the taverna where Jeffrey is staying he makes an escape over the back of the toilet block and makes off on a bicycle, ‘an environmentally sound means of salvation’. He tears down the hill, making for the coast and a ruined church he can hide in.

‘Flint cast himself down the pothole-cratered road with reckless speed and was soon able to freewheel. No brake levers graced the handlebars, a fact Flint noticed whilst already passing twenty miles per hour. In four minutes he made a mile, his arms shaking with the strain of holding a steady course over endless ruts and stones. He began to guess how long the police would stay at the taverna and how wide their search would be.’

I’ve hired bikes in Greece and discovered as Flint does that the way to brake is to back pedal. It’s hot, it’s dusty and I miss it. So for now it’s the hills and waterfalls and castles of England that I’m exploring. In the sunshine, and yes in the rain too.

The Jeffrey Flint Archaeology Mysteries are now available as an ebook series. You can find out more about Jason Monaghan and his books here.

Escaping from Lockdown with JC Briggs

Escaping from Lockdown with JC Briggs

Much I have I travelled in the realms of gold …

So wrote John Keats in his sonnet On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, which book took him to ‘goodly states and kingdoms.’ Reading took him to far-flung places where he would never go, and imagination took him to stand with Cortez staring at the Pacific Ocean from ‘a peak in Darien.’

Now South America is obviously out, and Darien – somewhere in Colombia, I think. I won’t be sailing the Pacific Ocean anytime soon, or the Atlantic, or the Channel. The Douro’s out after a brief glorious possibility, and the North Sea, and the South Seas; in fact any realms of golden sands and shores. There was a realm of golden daffodils in my garden a few weeks ago, and now the Welsh poppies glow gold – wherever they want to, and the roses are coming out, so I can escape into the air, or take a stroll by the river and watch the water flowing to the sea where I will be again, I hope, if only to Morecambe by the Irish Sea. Fleetwood’s very nice – in the sunshine.

But I have travelled in time and space, escaping to sixteenth century Stratford with Shakespeare’s dead son, Hamnet – a wonder of a book in which the lost boy is brought to vivid life, and his death and his loss to the poet poignantly realised. I have been Where the Crawdads Sing and felt the heat of the South Carolina Marsh, observed its creatures and its plant life, and felt the loneliness of the heroine. I have been reading the letters to Dear Mrs Bird, the agony aunt in A.J. Pearce’s novel, hilarious and moving by turns – an escape to the 1940s. I have been in Naples in 1633 with The Poison Keeper, following Giulia Tofana’s poisonous career – and finding out how to milk scorpions while wearing chicken skin gloves. Maybe hemlock would be easier. There’s monkshood in my neighbour’s garden – handier, should I be contemplating murder. And speaking of murder, I have trodden the corridors of Windsor Castle where Her Majesty investigates the mystery of The Windsor Knot, and a very canny detective she is. The murderer does not escape her regal eye.

And, of course, I have been in London, too – not along any of those fabled streets paved with gold. I have been following Charles Dickens down some very dark alleys, into some very dank courts, and into some very grim lodging houses into which the stench of the river reeks and foul vapours rise to choke the forty residents packed in one room, or cellar, or attic, like bad oysters in a barrel. They can’t escape the cholera, the typhus, the consumption, or the thousand natural shocks their wasted flesh is heir to. No gardens of daffodils in those mean streets.

It is winter in London in 1851 and there’s fog, of course, and figures appearing like phantoms in sickly gaslight and graveyards noxious with corrupted flesh. I’ve been reading Bleak House, too, and navigating the corkscrew twists of the law. Mr Dickens and Superintendent Jones are very interested in some murky goings-on at Middle Temple where murder has been done. In this new book, The Temple Murders, the Thames floods and Temple Gardens are awash. The murderer is afloat on a barge in the heaving water.

He’ll end up in Newgate if he doesn’t drown, and there’s no escape if it’s the latter, nor, very often if it’s the former, but it did happen. The most famous escapee was housebreaker, Jack Sheppard, who in 1724, got out of Newgate twice – by means of a knotted bed-sheet, after he had employed a smuggled file to loosen his shackles. Ah, the fabled file in the cake, perhaps.

In 1837, one Robert Wicker, a horse thief, escaped from Newgate by means of a rope and a handy wall. He was caught. Found cowering in a cupboard – with his trousers inside out, as the newspapers helpfully reported. Transported for life.

In 1848, Robert Dix escaped from police custody. Sergeant Daniel Reirdon was to take him to the railway station at Woolwich, but they detoured to the pub where ‘they partook of lunch’ and smoked cigars. When Reirdon returned from booking the tickets, his prisoner was gone. Reirdon asked for a refund on the tickets, but he was later fined £5.00 for ‘gross dereliction of duty’.

In his Medical Jurisprudence, Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor mentions the case of The Edgeware Road murderer, James Greenacre who tried to escape his Newgate cell:

‘The mode in which the notorious criminal, Greenacre, attempted to destroy himself by suicidal strangulation, presented some novelty … He was found lying on the floor, with a handkerchief drawn tightly around his neck by means of a loop, into which he had inserted his foot.’

Some noveltyGreenacre failed in his attempt to strangle himself. The hangman did it for him at Newgate on 2nd May, 1837.

But, it’s a grim business this murder lark, and the River Thames in flood is a hazardous place for my detectives. Stinking mud, and not a piece of water you’d want to swim in, but here’s our hero, almost taken at the flood, so to speak:

He felt the strong tug of the water at his thighs and something clutching at his legs. Looking down, he saw that someone was in the water beneath him, a sudden swell dragging the body away. He grasped a fistful of clothing and felt a thin pair of shoulders – a child. With as great a heave as he could manage against the sucking water, he pulled, felt himself sliding, the cloth slipping from his grip. A wave rolled over him. He was floundering under the filthy, freezing blackness, knocking against something hard, and a hand was grabbing…

Can Dickens save the child? Or must he save himself? I think he might have to save himself – the unfinished manuscript of Bleak House is on his desk.

As is mine. But, the sun is shining and the roses are golden, and so is that bottle of Pinot Bianco in the fridge – time for an escape, I think. The filthy alleys and the fog will still be there when I come back. And my murderer won’t escape. He will be caught – when I’ve worked out how to get Dickens out of that water.

And for reading under the trees? Why, Dickens’s Pictures from Italy, of course. I’m leaving for Venice in five minutes or so. Hold that gondola.

You can find our more about JC Briggs and her books here.

Escaping to Find Inspiration with Sam Blake

Escaping to Find Inspiration with Sam Blake

We’re not quite escaping lockdown yet here in Ireland where I live, we can’t travel outside of the country until 19th July and our hotels and restaurants have only opened to outdoor dining this week (2nd June), but I can’t WAIT to travel again. Escape is the perfect way to feed my creative mind, and I find travel is essential to help develop new ideas and come up with new plots – even if it’s only travelling up to the Wicklow Mountains (where I live) for a walk. I’ve written three police procedurals Little Bones, In Deep Water and No Turning Back based in Ireland, and two standalones Keep Your Eyes on Me and The Dark Room. We’ve just had to cancel our annual visit to Cornwall due to the travel restrictions, but the last time I was there in June 2019, the idea for The Dark Room arrived. When I wrote it, I transported the story idea to West Cork and a mysterious country house hotel called Hare’s Landing, but in reality, its heart is just a couple of hundred yards from Frenchman’s Creek.

I write a lot when I’m on holiday, and I was just finishing a book that I thought would follow Keep Your Eyes on Me – another standalone, but set in London rather than Ireland –  when an image popped into my head that wouldn’t go away.

It was the height of summer, and I was in Helford Passage, Cornwall, where we’ve been going for every summer for three weeks for about fifteen years. I was sitting beside the river (only a few hundred yards from Frenchman’s Creek) when a picture arrived in my head of a dark-haired woman in green shorts, jogging down the beach, a German Shepherd lolloping along beside her. I could see her so clearly – her hair pulled up into a loose pony tail, her feet pounding the wet sand.

Directly across the river from where I was sitting is an old cottage and the ruin of what I discovered (with help from author Liz Fenwick who lives on that side of the river) was the original customs officer’s gaol. I felt sure the ruined building and the woman were somehow connected, but I had yet to find out how…

I didn’t know who the running woman was or what her story could be, but a few days later I visited Mel Chambers‘ ceramics studio in the nearby village, and I was struck by the hares on the tiles she makes. A print of running hares had recently lit a creative lightbulb in my head, and suddenly the story of a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing, with a ruin in the grounds, began to unfold – but it wasn’t in Cornwall, it was in Ireland, in West Cork.

In The Dark Room, Rachel Lambert is a film location scout based in London, who, trying to discover the story behind the death of a homeless man, Alfie Bows, is led to Hare’s Landing. In New York, crime journalist Caroline Kelly has been suspended – furious and needing a break, she books a holiday in West Cork. When the two meet, they discover that Hare’s Landing has a story of its own, one which someone doesn’t want them to uncover.

As I worked on the idea, getting closer and closer to what had actually happened at Hare’s Landing, I could hear violins and smell perfume – doors slammed mysteriously and it became clear that Alfie Bows, a violinist, and Honoria Smyth, the original owner of the house, were making their presence felt. I was almost at the end of the first draft when I discovered that in Irish mythology, hares are the messengers between worlds – and everything began to make sense.

While travel is limited at the moment, I hope The Dark Room will give you a glimpse of January in West Cork – and Hare’s Landing, a house full of secrets…it was an Eason No 1 for three weeks and in the Irish top ten for a month –  read an extract here:

You can read more about Sam Blake and her books here.

Love Reading UK focuses on Crime for June

Love Reading UK focuses on Crime for June

The very popular online book club, Love Reading UK, is focusing on all things crime writing for June. Throughout National Crime Reading Month they are showcasing crime-related titles, including many from our CWA member authors.

This week they present a niche list of memoirs and biographies with a crime theme, including the fascinating Murder Under the Microscope, by CWA member Jim Fraser.

Check out Murder Under the Microscope and the other memoirs and biographies here.

And then dip into their Top 100 books with female lead characters here, including titles by these fabulous CWA member authors:

Elly Griffiths
Holly Seddon
Fiona Veitch Smith
Holly Watt
Sharon Bolton
Stella Rimington
Paul Finch
Roz Watkins
Patrick Hoffman
Sam Blake
Douglas Skelton
Johana Gustawsson
William Shaw
T.P. Fielden
Will Dean
Robert Bryndza

Check out which books of theirs made the top 100 here and see if you can pick up a good deal!