Five Awesome Crime Fiction Novels By Black Writers

my sister the serial killer

While the hype around the Black Lives Matter movement might have died down a bit, the fact is that they still matter and racism is still prevalent in most countries around the world.

As such, representation matters; if we can get more black voices heard then we can get people to care about them more. It’s a bloody shame that people can’t care about them just because they’re human beings, but that’s the way of the world, unfortunately.

We need to start reading more writing from members of the BAME community. The best way to read from a more diverse range of authors is to find writers who produce the stories that you enjoy.

As there’s still a serious lack of inclusivity in the literary market, you need to actively search for reading material from a wide range of different writers.

So, with that in mind, here’s a list of 5 incredible crime fiction novels by five unbelievably talented black writers.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but I hope that it helps you to find some inspiration and allows you to expand your reading list and add some diversity to your reading list.

5. Hollywood Homicide: This engaging crime caper is Kellye Garrett’s opener to a series based on the adventures of Dayna Anderson, a down on her luck actress who gets a lucky break when she finds out that the police are offering a hefty reward for anyone with information about a crime that she witnessed. She just needs to find out more information to earn the cash and then she can support her struggling parents and get her own life back on track. With the help of her gal pals she sets to work, and it’s a thrilling ride. Funny and dark at the same time, the plot keeps readers guessing and the characters will keep you engaged.

4. Blanche on the Lam: The debut novel from Barbara Neely introduces readers to Blanche White, a housekeeper who’s on the run after being sentenced to thirty days in jail for writing dodgy checks because of her uncertain circumstances and poor pay in her new job. In her panic, she flees the courthouse and takes a job that she’d previously turned down and which the agency hasn’t found a replacement for. She becomes a housekeeper for a white family, and she and her new employers leave the city for their house by the sea. She is asked to witness a will, and then she realises that she’s caught up in the middle of a bizarre scheme to take control of a mentally disabled relative of the family matriarch, Grace. The novel explores a wide variety of racial and sexist issues, as well as offering a unique crime novel. It spanned a widely popular series, and is great for fans of cosy crime fiction and Golden Age writers.

3. My Sister, The Serial Killer: Oyinkan Braithwaite’s incredible novel is an unusual take on the normal serial killer narrative. Set in Nigeria, the novel tells the story of Ayoola, a woman who often stabs her boyfriends in what she claims is self-defence. The story is told through the perspective of her long-suffering sister Korede. A nurse, Korede is used to clearing up bodily fluids, and as such she is often called upon by her younger sister to clear up after another of her murders. The whole situation changes when Ayoola starts dating a doctor college of Korede’s, who her older sister has long been lusting after. Korede now has a challenging decision to make, and Braitwaite documents the situation with hilarity and humility. The characters are relatable and the story is equal parts funny and thrilling.

2. Where Evil Sleeps: Part of Valerie Wilson Wesley’s incredible Tamara Hayle mystery series, this novel is an amazing private detective tale set in sunny Jamaica. After heading out for an impromptu night on the town with a fellow tourist on her travels, Tamara ends up deep in a devilish murder mystery. She follows a number of leads while trying to find out what really happened and get through her holiday without dealing with another crime.

1. Cotton Comes to Harlem: Chester Himes was a hardboiled crime fiction writer in the same league as Raymond Chandler and other popular writers of the time. Cotton Comes to Harlem was an amazing novel that explores the challenges that black people faced in the 1960s and which is still hailed as a revolutionary text. It begins with a church fundraiser in a black community to send funds to Africa. A violent attack and the theft of the money results in two black detectives being put on the case. Facing racism both from the community they serve and the police force itself, the pair set out to uncover the truth using their wits and powers of persuasion. A wry indictment of the treatment of black people at the time, the novel is also an amazing piece of crime fiction that is not to be missed.

The entire literary market needs to step up and offer a safe, inclusive space for all readers and writers. While the Dorset Book Detective tries to be inclusive and offer a space for every writer to showcase their talents, I realise that there is still more that I need to do to help. If you are, or know of, a talented member of the BAME, LGBTQ+, differently-abled or any other marginalised community and love writing and reading, then feel free to get in touch. Use the contact form and I’d be happy to check out your work and share my thoughts on it with my amazing readers.

All The Ways In Which The Harry Potter Series Shows J.K. Rowling’s Conservative Bias


The Harry Potter series is often hailed as a revolutionary set of novels, and for good reason; on the surface, they seem to promote an inclusive, supportive society where everyone can be their authentic selves.

However, following author J.K. Rowling’s recent series of tweets which prove her to be incredibly transphobic, many fans have denounced her and changed their attitudes towards the series.

Personally, I’ve always noticed that the series shows, in many ways, the Rowling is in fact deeply conservative. Hers is what is often known as ‘white feminism’; not exclusively practised by white people, but mostly, and not by all, it’s a form of feminism that values inclusivity only for themselves, with everyone else, including minorities and the differently-abled, left out in the cold.

While the Harry Potter series does contain some amazing inclusivity that you wouldn’t expect, it is also deeply problematic in many ways. The stories might be about the underdog coming out on top despite incredible odds, but there are some glaring issues.

It might seem like I’m just like Rowling, and unwilling to let things lie, but in light of her recent horrendous comments, I want to put this piece out there. I want people to read my theories and consider them.

I’m not denouncing the series- I still love them, but I feel that, in light of Rowling’s recent proclamation that she doesn’t support the trans community, we should look at the series and how it lets a lot of society down, in more detail.

The Fact That Everyone Marries Before Having Kids

Ever since I first read the series as a kid, I’ve always been struck by the fact that everyone seems to get married before they have kids. I can’t think of any character that had a baby out of wedlock, never mind any single parents who weren’t widowed. Considering that Rowling herself was a single mother for a time, you’d think that she’d be more willing to embrace single parenthood in her work.

Even Merope, Tom Riddle/ Lord Voldemort’s mother tricks her spellbound Muggle husband into marrying her before they conceive a child. It strikes me as odd that there’s such an intense focus on such the institution of marriage- surely love is the only thing you need to become a family?

The Poverty Divide

Another issue that has always bothered me is the stark divide between rich and poor in the Harry Potter books. Mr and Mrs Weasley are poor parents who house, feed, love and care for Harry throughout his school life, yet he has a full vault of gold while they scrape by without much money. Also, money doesn’t need to really mean anything in the wizard world; Rowling could’ve got rid of it as she is the creator of the universe.

In fact, Rowling could’ve got rid of all poverty, famine and everything other issue in the world. Instead, the divisions remain, and some characters still struggle, despite the fact that Harry, the protagonist, is wealthy enough to solve pretty much every poor character’s problems, but doesn’t. It all kind of shows that Rowling still believes in a society with rich and poor. The Ministry doesn’t even offer any kind of benefits or support to wizards, that we’re told, which is a staple of genuine left wing society. 

The Lack Of Non-White Representation

Rowling might say that some characters are black retrospectively, or cast them as black in plays and films, but at the end of the day, there’s very little BAME representation in the Harry Potter series. We’ve got Cho Chang and the Patel twins, but they don’t get a lot of time or the ability to truly express their cultures. A young member of the BAME community would only see a few characters that are like them, very briefly. Even the white foreign characters that arrive during the fourth book, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, are stereotypes of the counties that they come from. The Beauxbatons students are from France, and as such they are the epitome of French chic and elegance; they’re almost all women, and are beautiful, slim and wearing pale blue.

The Durmstrang students are from Bulgaria, and again they are stereotypes of Eastern European people, in an extremely offensive way; they’re all stocky men, led by a corrupt former Death Eater. They even live on a ship, meant to invoke thoughts of pirates, while the French students and their teacher arrive in a carriage that’s reminiscent of the one in Cinderella. As such, the Eastern Europeans are literally shown as sketchy pirates, while the French characters are chic, elegant and in one case, half Veela, a creature that ensnares men. Great way to show kids how to think of people from other cultures.

The Lack Of LGBTQ+ Representation

Before anyone starts, I know that Rowling has alleged that Dumbledore is gay, but frankly, I don’t care. If we can’t see it, then it isn’t true representation. I don’t care if she says that Snape was actually a duck or that Hagrid is a pansexual with a penchant for BDSM and a degree in golf course management. If we can’t see it, then it doesn’t benefit those communities. Queer readers don’t get any benefit from these post-publication additions.

In the actual series, there are loads of heterosexual relationships, but no homosexual or bisexual ones. There are also no trans characters, although it’s now obvious why. As such, the Harry Potter universe is completely heteronormative, like the real world still is, despite the rise in queer representation and the popularity of the Pride movement. This lack of LGBTQ+ representation shows that Rowling’s liberalism and post-publication woke additions are simply for show.


The Do As I Say, Not As I Do Attitude Of Most Of The Adult Characters

As someone who grew up with hypocritical ‘role models’ who would inform me that what they did wasn’t important, as long as I didn’t do it myself, because they knew and were better than me, I understand the manipulative nature of this form of parenting and child rearing. Parents and caregivers need to set a good example, or to explain the rational behind their actions, or else they’re just hypocrites.

Pretty much every adult that supports Harry and his friends says one thing and does another. Sirus is constantly urging caution while living recklessly and leaving the house on every possible occasion (to accompany him to the train and to the Ministry, where he met his death). Dumbledore regularly tells Harry that he needs to know everything about his adventures, while at the same time withholding a lot of information that could help make Harry’s quest easier. Even Arthur Weasley, one of my favourite characters in the whole series, is a serious hypocrite. The man works for the Misuse Of Muggle Artefacts office, but he has an enhanced Ford Angela! The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach is basically parenting dictatorship, and it doesn’t set a good, supportive example to kids.

The Entire Plot Of The Cursed Child

One of the things that annoyed me the most about Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, aside from the other issues such as the extortion of making it two parts, so that people have to pay for two sets of tickets, was the lack of change. Rowling has been needlessly adding to the Harry Potter universe for years, trying to make herself seem more woke. However, in the play version created long after the original series was completed, she doesn’t add any homosexual representation, and while she does turn Hermione into a black woman, which is awesome, it’s kind of pointless.

Hermione is clearly a white woman in the novels, so rather than just turning her black, she could have included more representation in the form of new BAME characters. She could also have included new strong female characters or some LGBTQ+ representation. Instead, we get black Hermione, who is now Minister For Magic but still with Ron, a misogynistic, lazy character who got pissed at their wedding and is clearly still a douche. Rowling had a unique opportunity to improve the series and represent more minority communities, but instead, she just carried right on and didn’t do anything more to show her legions of fans how supportive she is of the communities that need her support more than any other.

By not adding more representation to her follow-up, Rowling shows that she hasn’t evolved or enhanced her opinions at all. After all, we’ve all grown over the years; I’m sure I said some problematic things back in the day when I was a kid, and I’ve definitely had some bloody odd opinions about a lot of things (I went through a phase of loving mullets and dating poets- it was a weird time!). But I grew, and changed, and my writing changed too. Rowling’s, unfortunately, has not.

Look, at the end of the day, I’m not in any way saying that Rowling is a vile person, or that her books aren’t phenomenal pieces of young adult fiction. However, there are gaping problems with them, as shown above.

While the time in which she wrote the work, and her own generational bias and that of her editors/ publishers might have all had an impact, I believe that the novels provide a number of interesting insights in the morals of their author. I hope this article gives you something to think about.

Ultimately, be a Weasley in a world full of J.K. Rowlings. Be genuinely supportive of and delighted by the transgender community, like they are by Muggles. Below is a list of resources to help you get started or continue on that journey.

Josephine Cox Obituary

Jo Cox

As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, it’s with great sadness that I share the news that author Josephine Cox, who also wrote under Jo Cox and Jane Brindle, has died aged 82. 

I can’t find a reliable source on how she died, but I can only hope that she was comfortable and had her loved ones by her side when she passed.

The author is renowned for romantic fiction and novels about the strength of family, such as Two Sisters, one of her most acclaimed titles.

Her novels sold more than 20 million copies during her lifetime, according to her publishers, and she wrote prolifically, publishing more than 60 books throughout her long and illustrious career.

Cox came from humble beginnings, being one of 10 children. She married young and had kids, then started studying once they got older.

She even managed to achieve a coveted place at the prestigious Cambridge University, which she had to turn down due to her circumstances as she was unable to study away from home while she had young children.

From there, she became a teacher and imparted her wisdom and knowledge to the young. At the same time, she started to forge a career in writing, creating memorable characters and innovative plots that featured strong female protagonists like the author herself.

If anything, Cox’s own tale of overcoming adversity and making a name for herself in a world where the odds were stacked against her, being a woman, and a working class one at that, is like something out of one of her novels.

Many of her heroines overcome tough odds to rise above their stations and make something of themselves, and it’s clear that this drive and determination was, at least in part, based on the author’s own life and the challenges that she overcome.

It can’t have been easy, raising children, running a home, teaching and writing novels that would go on to become popular bestsellers, but somehow this intrepid author managed this spectacular feat.

While Cox’s work isn’t to everyone’s taste, there’s no doubt that she has left behind an immense legacy of literary excellence. Even if you can’t exactly remember her name, you’ll definitely have seen some of her books, and will recognise the bold, blocky font and quaint illustrations that characterised their front covers.

Thanks to her bold writing style, relatable characters and romantic plot lines, Cox became the inspiration for many modern romantic writers. She was one of the most prolific, and has kept up the momentum thanks to her knack for writing work that resonated with older readers and idealists.

This year hasn’t been an easy one for anyone, and for fans of romantic bestsellers this is yet another blow. However, Josephine Cox lives on in her immense collection of books, which readers should take comfort in over the coming months.

Heather Barnett Interview: “People from my past pop up in my writing”

Heather Barnett headshot smaller version

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing thriller writer and fellow copywriter Heather Barnett about her debut novel and upcoming projects.  

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What led you to start writing thrillers?

I love the thought that there’s more to life than meets the eye, and I’m naturally drawn to the humour in a situation: both those things always inform my writing style. Which might sound odd for a thriller writer, but my debut is more of a light-hearted mystery than a gritty thriller.

I didn’t set out to write a thriller: I had an idea about a top-secret organisation and when I started exploring it, the story lent itself naturally to the pace and twists of a thriller.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?

My background’s in marketing and my day job sometimes involves copywriting, but it’s a very different kettle of fish to my fiction. I’ve always loved writing and have written short stories, poems and novels throughout my life, but this is the first time I’ve been published. (Unless you count a poem in a children’s anthology when I was ten. Which I do.)

People from my past pop up in my writing – never as whole characters but I’ll amalgamate different personality traits and mannerisms to create the people in my stories. I love larger-than-life characters so whenever I meet someone like that in real life I’m mentally tucking them away for future inspiration.

Talk me through your debut novel and why you think readers will love it.

At its heart, Acts of Kindness is about the power of human kindness – so I hope from that point of view people will find it up-lifting. It’s also a bit of escapism to transport readers into a world that’s softer round the edges than ours, peopled with characters you can root for, characters you can laugh at, and a few you wouldn’t want to meet down a dark alley.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I think for me inspiration is a cumulative process. It’s more like mixing together different ingredients that combine to create a new whole, than one single light bulb moment. The inspiration for Acts of Kindness was witnessing commuters helping a woman who’d fallen down the stairs at Paddington station, intermingled with wondering what was behind some grand stone gateposts that I used to drive past in Wiltshire. Those disparate things swirled around in the back of my mind and came out as the secret OAK Institute, which is at the core of the book.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Jane Austen. Without a doubt. There wouldn’t be any collaboration though, just me watching on in awe and supplying her with pens, paper and cups of tea.

Do you have any projects coming up in the future that you are particularly excited about?

Yes, I’ve written a romantic comedy called Lord Seeks Wife that will be published by Serpentine Books in summer 2021. It’s like a modern-day PG Wodehouse set in a quintessential English village with plenty of eccentric characters and some unexpected twists.

Are there any new books that you are looking forward to reading over the next few months?

It was my birthday recently so I’ve got a whole stack of new books to read including The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and Humankind by Rutger Bregman.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Thanks for asking me to do the interview Hannah!

Thanks Heather for answering my questions, it’s been lovely to learn more about your amazing work.

Emergency Powers Review: A Terrific, and Timely, Modern Spy Thriller

emergency pwers

As I mentioned in my previous post about why you should be reading crime fiction and thrillers this summer, today I’m reviewing the latest in the Imogen Trager novel Emergency Powers.

Author James McCrone writes an engaging and dynamic spy thriller in this latest in this incredible series.

From the very beginning, the reader is plunged into an intriguing conspiracy. Following on where the last novel left off, in the first chapter the new President, Diane Redmond dies in mysterious circumstances.

Her Vice President Bob Moore is installed as the new President following the death, and this sets in motion a diabolical plan, the full details of which are withheld from both the reader and Agent Trager.

The novel follows Trager as she tries to wrangle with her demotion from golden girl to the FBI’s problem child and uncover the truth behind the incredible events unfolding at Capitol Hill and further afield.

The action jumps between Trager’s work, which revolves around hiding her true purpose behind sham taskforces and sifting through data, the new President’s office, where everything is running far from smoothly, and several other intriguing sub-plots.

These include the investigation of Trager’s boyfriend Duncan and the taxi driver who was blamed for the car crash that almost killed them both and the desperate work of an on the run operative who’s now trying to turn into an informant, with the one disadvantage that he actually has very little useful information.

Trager’s personal life quickly catches up to her professional one, leaving the reader on edge as she navigates this challenging issue. The author handles it with skill and weaves tension throughout the narrative, so that the reader is constantly on the edge of their seat.

Throughout the novel, McCrone cleverly makes the mystery not what happened, but why. The reader understands that the Faithless Elector plot revolved around vote rigging and installing specific leaders in the White House, but we’re not told why and what end goal the conspirators are working towards. We know that a takeover is planned, but we’re always slightly unsure of where the action will lead us next, and it’s this that keeps the narrative moving.

By withholding this information and skilfully teasing the reader, the author is able to create a riveting narrative and a novel that is very difficult to put down. I read it surprisingly quickly, because I simply couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Despite the speed at which the plot progresses, and the tedious work that the characters have to involve themselves in to obtain the information they need, McCrone doesn’t just dump information on the reader. He uses his formidable writing skills to craft a novel that is by turns informative and engaging. You never feel like you’re reading a chapter full of explanation and dull facts, for these are skilfully weaved into the narrative. Equally, even when the characters are engaged in mundane tasks, such as sifting through seemingly endless records and files, the inherent danger in their work remains ever-present. It is this feeling of constant menace that pushes the novel forward towards its startling and, frankly, brilliant conclusion.

McCrone has timed the release of Emergency Powers to perfection; after all, America is currently in the grip of one of the most scandalous elections by, quite possibly, the most corrupt president in its history. It might be set in the future, but the novel remains incredibly relevant, particularly given the current situation.

With that in mind, the novel takes on a sobering air, as it serves to prove that even the most innocent of actions on the part of the US government can have sinister consequences.

In all, I’m a huge fan of Emergency Powers and think that the book is the perfect summer read for anyone that loves fast-paced thrillers. It beautifully combines the bureaucracy of a spy thriller with the tantalising chase that’s usually seen in detective novels.

Paul Gitsham Interview: “My earliest scribblings were science fiction based, but often with elements of crime mixed in”

Paul Gitsham Headshot - Hi-Res

Paul Gitsham is the author of the DCI Warren Jones series, as well as a teacher, Trekkie and fan of true crime documentaries- the perfect person for an interview with the Dorset Book Detective! He shares insights into his work and how he’s created such an iconic police procedural series.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing crime fiction?

I was always a book lover, filling my library card each week. I also loved writing stories and always wanted to be an author, but for most of my life it was little more than a hobby. My other passion is science, and after gaining a PhD in molecular biology, I spent some years doing research as a biologist, before finally retraining as a science teacher. But in all that time, I kept on reading and always had something I was tinkering with.

The first DCI Warren Jones novel, The Last Straw, is about the murder of a reviled university professor, and so my background in academia became really useful.

How does your experience as a teacher influence your writing?

The most obvious example is the novella, A Deadly Lesson. The story centres on the murder of a deputy head teacher in her office late one night. Being so familiar with the way modern schools work not only allowed me to write an accurate story, it also suggested ideas and plot twists that I could incorporate into the story.

Like anyone who works in a profession, I cringe sometimes when I see teaching portrayed either in books or on TV. Schools are dynamic, changing places and education evolves constantly. It’s really obvious when a writer is a non-teacher and hasn’t set foot in a school since they were pupils!

The other way in which being a teacher influences my writing is that Warren’s wife, Susan, is a biology teacher and I do bring that into their home life.

What drew you towards writing crime fiction novels?

My earliest scribblings were science fiction based, but often with elements of crime mixed in. When I finally realised that the murder subplot of a Sci Fi novel I was working on was becoming the dominant thread of that story, I finally realised that somebody was trying to tell me something!

By this time, my taste in books had largely gone full-circle; the first books I read as a child were Enid Blyton, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew etc. I then read a lot of science fiction before drifting back to the crime genre. By the time I sat down to write The Last Straw, I was almost exclusively reading crime and thriller.

Please tell me about the DCI Warren Jones series and why you believe that they’re so popular?

The DCI Warren Jones series are modern police procedurals, set in a fictional Hertfordshire town. Starting with The Last Straw, they now number six novels and 4 novellas, with this year’s A Price to Pay, the most recent.

I really love a good, twisty plot with some red herrings. Something that many of my readers comment on is how normal Warren is. I realised very early on, that I didn’t want to write a broken, alcoholic divorcee – not because I don’t like those characters – but because I didn’t feel I could necessarily add something substantial to the host of brilliantly written characters that already exist. So instead, Warren is happily married without any substance-abuse problems or dark, depressive tendencies.

Many readers have found it a refreshing change! That’s not to say I don’t put him through the wringer, and he has experienced more than his fair share of tragedy, but he still passes the ‘Friday night pint test’ – i.e. would I like to go for a pint with him on a Friday evening? And yes, I think I would!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

My partner and I are big true-crime fans; we watch a lot of dodgy documentaries on Freeview! Interestingly, it’s not the story that inspires me -after all, that tale has been told. It’s the tiny little detail that sends my imagination flying off at a strange tangent. I keep a file of ideas on my phone, usually little more than a single sentence, and I am forever adding to them. But nine times out of ten, anyone reading what I jotted down during the programme would probably struggle to make the connection between the idea and what was on screen!

In terms of writer’s block, because I write out of sequence and fit it all together at the end, it’s rarely a big problem. If a section isn’t behaving itself, I put it one side and write something different.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

This is where I have to leave the crime genre and proudly display my geek credentials: I am a HUGE fan of Star Trek and the novels based on the series. I own hundreds and have read even more. Back in the late nineties, two Trek authors – Judith and Garth Reeves-Stevens – teamed up with William Shatner and wrote a series of fantastic novels continuing the story of Captain Kirk after he supposedly died in Star Trek: Generations. They finished after three trilogies and I doubt there will be anymore. I have read them all at least half-a-dozen times. It would be a dream to continue that series, but collaborating with the Reeves-Stevens (ideally with Bill Shatner involved, obviously). If you are reading this Pocket Books, please don’t be shy about emailing …

What do you like to read and how does this influence your own writing?

Aside from the aforementioned Star Trek novels that I still love to pick up now and again, I have been reading a lot during lockdown. Will Dean’s Tuva series are an inspiration when it comes to describing environment – I read Red Snow during a mini-heat wave but had to stop myself from turning the radiators on as I was transported to Sweden.

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series is a masterclass in character growth. Harry is an unmovable constant – yet he never stops changing. It’s a wonderful paradox and I love being immersed in that series. If I could make a returning reader of my Warren Jones series feel just a taste of the warm, comfortable feeling I get when I pick up the latest Bosch, then I will have succeeded beyond my dreams.

Do you have any projects or new books coming up that you are particularly excited about?

The eBook of A Price to Pay came out in June and I’ve been exchanging notes with my audiobook narrator ready for the audio and paperback release on August 6th. By far the bulk of my sales are Kindle, but there is still something special about having the paperback sitting on my shelf, and hearing Malk reading out my words.

I am also into the final stages of next summer’s book, snappily titled DCI Warren Jones Book 7, Title TBC.

I have a ton of editing and rewriting to do, but two days ago, I wrote the scene where Warren finally charges the killer with the murder. It is a wonderful feeling.

Are you planning on using the current crisis in any of your future works, and how do you think it will affect the world in which your characters live?

In terms of the DCI Warren Jones series, I am in the fortunate position that the series’ chronology runs a few years behind the real world. I have another couple of books to go before I have to start thinking about what the hell I’m going to do about 2020 – a year that if you had pitched it to an editor as dystopian fiction 12 months ago would have been rejected as too dark and unrealistic.

The big changes will be to the standalone that I have been writing in my ‘spare’ time. I wrote a large chunk of it over summer 2019, before putting it to one side to start the next Warren Jones. I had been planning on finishing the first draft this summer before starting Warren Jones 8. However, half the book is set in July 2020. Changing the date it is set in will need significant work but won’t be impossible, however things are so uncertain at the moment that it feels risky to assume that everything will be back to normal next summer and just change all the dates to 2021 – I really don’t want to have to do it again!

So, I have decided to push on and write the next couple of Warren Jones before coming back to the standalone when I have the benefit of hindsight. I have written enough that it will definitely be finished one day, but I’m not sure exactly when!

What new books or debut authors are you looking forward to reading and finding out more about in the future?

Last weekend was the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone Locked Up online festival in aid of the Trussell Trust. My partner and I spent a LOT of money at Waterstones the day after it concluded. I’ve bought/pre-ordered a couple of old favourites: Steve Cavanagh’s next Eddie Flynn – Fifty-Fifty will be devoured at an indecent pace. As will Alex North’s latest, The Shadow Friend. Last year’s The Whisper Man was brilliant.

We have all of Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra’s signed and face-out on the bookshelf, so we are intrigued to read Midnight at Malabar House, the first in his new series. And finally, from the New Blood debuts panel, Nadine Matheson’s The Jigsaw Man sounds like it’s just up my street. It’s not due out until next spring, so I will see if I can persuade someone to send me an arc!

Huge thanks to Paul for answering my questions- it’s been a blast!

Are You A Harry Potter Fan And Trans Ally? How To Be Both When J.K. Rowling Is Transphobic


J.K. Rowling keeps doubling-down on her transphobic rhetoric, most recently by sharing a Twitter thread referring to hormone therapy and puberty blockers as ‘the new conversion therapy’.

It’s clear that Rowling has never spoken to a single trans person, never mind a transgender child who she claims she wants to protect. Paris Lees invited her to meet trans kids and discuss her views, but so far I’ve not heard that Rowling has taken her up on this kind offer.

Rowling also uses misleading information to make her points; for example, she points to an isolated case of a clinic that is under investigation for not supporting transitioning children properly, and rather than suggesting that greater support is given to trans children, she continues to defend her views that access to hormone therapy should be even more restricted than it already is.

Given that trans people are under the intense threat of violence and even death, you’d think that an author who’s works inspired millions of children to become better adults and be accepting, would be more supportive of this marginalised community.

For those of us who grew up adoring the Harry Potter series, this latest evidence that Rowling is showing herself to be incredibly transphobic is deeply troubling. This must be especially tough for trans and non-binary fans, who must feel dejected and abandoned by an author who, quite possibly, originally inspired them to be their authentic selves.

After all, Harry Potter is all about being yourself and support those who are different. It’s about enjoying the richness that diversity brings, rather than punishing uniqueness and individuality. It’s about supporting those who rebel against injustice.

So, for Rowling to come out with these disgusting statements, which are filled with misinformation and designed to inspire hate, rather than support, all while using her privileged position and past experiences such as her sexual assault to prompt her hateful ideology, it’s understandable that many fans are heartbroken.

As a Harry Potter fan myself, as well as a dedicated ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve wrestled with a lot of mixed feelings over the past few days.

Clearly, I’m not alone in this: many fans have condemned Rowling over her comments. Most notably, two of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites out there, Mugglenet and the Leaky Cauldron, issued a joint statement denouncing Rowling over her hateful comments.

For the Leaky Cauldron, this appears to be a genuine attempt to show solidarity with the trans community; however, the founder of Mugglenet was the one who initially spawned Rowling’s latest comments by tweeting support for her and claiming that, despite everything she has said, she’s not transphobic. As such, it remains to be seen if Mugglenet’s part in the statement was just lip service designed to placate fans.

After much soul searching and consideration, I’ve reached a conclusion; being a Harry Potter fan doesn’t make you transphobic.

It just means that you have to support trans rights even more than you love Harry Potter. Show your support for the trans community loudly and proudly at any time you can to make it clear that you’re an ally despite the views of the author of your favourite kid’s books.

One bookshop is donating to trans children’s charity Mermaids for every sale of a Harry Potter book, so consider buying your copy from there if you ever need to replenish your collection. Alternatively, you could donate to Mermaids yourself, or check out any of these worthy causes that support trans people and help make the world a safer place for them.

You should also constantly rebel against transphobia and the abuse of trans or non binary people wherever you see it. Whether it’s online, or in a conversation, you should show your support for the trans community.

Additionally, you should also try to read more books written by trans authors and watch more shows and films that are created by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Read some books by trans and non binary authors, and watch films created by trans people, not just about them. I’d recommend the Laverne Cox Disclosure as a starting point; it’s a great way to learn more about the representation of trans people in film and popular culture from the point of view of the trans community.

At the end of the day, it’s tough to deal with the revelation that an author who inspired you as a kid is transphobic, especially during these already challenging times. Just keep supporting trans rights, and remember that if Harry Potter has taught us anything, it is that supporting those who are marginalised is a noble cause that you should take great pride in, no matter who stands against you.

And, if you’re really feeling low, just remember that Arthur Weasley would adore you and be impressed with your Muggle skills: you’re using a computer!

2020 Is The Summer Of Crime Fiction


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the world has gone to shit.

Between Trump, Brexit, murder hornets, the Coronavirus and the shocking way that some world leaders are handling it, police brutality and institutional racism, it’s all going down the pan.

The whole world is dealing with a pandemic and an economic crisis of epic proportions, not to mention additional genocides, political coups and general mismanagement from so called ‘leaders’ which are occurring on a daily basis in countries around the globe. All of that can be wearying for even the most stoic of individuals.

With that in mind, you need to transport yourself to a better world, while still keeping yourself alert and not completely disappearing into a fairy tale.

While books from your childhood can help you to soothe your worries, a good thriller is just what you need to transport you away from the madness and give you something to really think about.

Also, there are loads of great new thrillers out there for you to check out. If you haven’t already read Mark EllisFrank Merlin series, then I’d recommend it. Start from the beginning, or, if you’re already a fan, check out the latest instalment, A Death In Mayfair.

For anyone who loves spy thrillers, then James McCrone has a new one out called Emergency Powers. Without spoiling my upcoming review, it’s an amazing, gripping thriller that I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone who likes spy novels, particularly governmental ones.

If classics are where you’re at, then why not try reading Raymond Chandler’s work, or buy a copy of the Sherlock Holmes short story collection. With new adaptations coming out all the time, including one on Netflix shortly, there has never been a better time than now to start brushing up and enjoying these amazing tales.

Whatever you choose to read, make it something gripping and informative that keeps you on your toes. If you read too much comfort literature, then you might find yourself slipping into complacency, so read a little crime fiction to keep your mind sharp.