Tess Makovesky Interview: “I like to focus on the psychology of human behaviour”

For my final interview of January 2021, I speak to Tess Makovesky about her crime fiction writing and how it’s evolved over the years.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards thriller and mystery writing?

I’ve always loved crime fiction. My grandmother had a stash of it in a cupboard under her dressing table, which introduced me to the likes of Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers at a young age, and I also loved gritty TV series like The Professionals. When I started writing, those influences, plus a natural tendency towards gallows humour, seemed to steer me towards gritty but also darkly comic work. I like to focus on the psychology of human behaviour and what makes people make the choices they do, even if those choices lead to disaster. And my short, sharp, even breathless style seems to suit thrillers and comedy noir.

What is your career background and how did you become a published writer?

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a “career background” as such but I did have a whole series of jobs to pay the bills. All I ever really wanted was to be a writer, though, and I’m so lucky my dream has come true. I wrote under another pen name for many years, and when I started to write crime fiction as Tess I had a lot of short stories published in magazines and anthologies. However, when it comes to having books published, I’m very much indebted to the Crime & Publishment writing courses organised by fellow crime writer Graham Smith. I attended one a few years ago and met Darren Laws, the head of publishing company Caffeine Nights, who expressed interest in my books. He rejected the first novella I submitted but accepted my second offering which went on to become Raise the Blade. Since then, my darkly comic novel Gravy Train has been published by All Due Respect and I have at least one other book in the works.

Tell me all about your books. What was your inspiration?

I have two main sources of inspiration for my crime books: the city of Birmingham (the original one in the UK), and the occasional, wonderfully macabre news items that float to the surface in the local press. In the case of Raise the Blade, this involved a body being fished out of one of the city’s many canals (it famously has more miles of canal than Venice). A conversation with Graham Smith (again) also helped to crystallise the idea of a series of murders, all linked in some way and all leading back to the murderer. Gravy Train was inspired by another news headline, this time of someone finding a bag of money in a different bit of the canal. I also wanted to emulate the format of the movie La Ronde, which I’ve read about but never actually seen. In the movie, ten separate stories are linked as each one features a character from the previous scene. I used a similar format to weave together a whole series of apparently disparate characters, all of them chasing around the city streets after the same bag of money!

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

I’ve collaborated with many authors on anthologies and on running an online magazine (under my other pen name). However, I think I’d struggle to write an entire book with another author because I’m quite possessive about my work – I suspect there would be blood shed at the end of the day! Although I’ve always fancied doing one of those ‛round robin’ type stories, where one person writes a sentence or scene and you have to continue it. That always sounds like fun.

What books do you read yourself and how do they inspire you?

To be honest I’ll read almost anything as long as it’s well written, with engaging but realistic characters and a good or interesting plot. In terms of crime fiction that means well-known names like Peter May and Ann Cleeves, but also relative unknowns such as Joel Lane. I like to think I learn something about the art of writing from every book I read, whether it’s about pacing or using sentence structure to enhance tension, or even just about what makes a ‛good story’.

What does the future have in store for you? Have you got any exciting plans to develop it that you can share with us?

Like many other people I’ve struggled to cope with the pandemic. So far I’ve been relatively lucky in terms of the immediate impact on me, but I’ve found it really hard to read, watch, or write about crime for most of the year and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. I managed to write one short noir story last year, and have been working on and off (but mostly off) on edits of my next book, a blackly comic noir with a working title of Embers of Bridges, which is set around (and even in) the canals of Birmingham. If we start getting some better news I’ll hopefully find myself in a happy enough place to finish that and if so, then I’d like to self-publish it at some point during the year. So hopefully my readers can look forward to that, but obviously I can’t make any promises while this virus is still raging.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to, moving forward?

At the last count, Crime & Publishment had helped launch the careers of nine different writers including Amit Dhand, Mike Craven, Lucy Cameron, Les Morris, Graham Smith, Sharon Bairden, Noelle Holton, and Angela King. They’re all fantastic writers and I’m really looking forward to more great books by all of them in the months and years ahead. I’ve also just discovered the Elsie and Ethelred series by L C Tyler and would love to read more of those.

Anything you’d like to add?

First of all, many thanks to Hannah for letting me witter on about myself to this extent. Second, if anyone’s interest has been piqued, you can find out more about my books, stories and works in progress at my website, www.tessmakovesky.com. Thanks for listening!

Huge thanks to Tess for answering my questions; it’s been amazing to hear from you!

Vesper Flights Review: A Masterful Book About The Wonders Of The Natural World

A couple of weeks ago, I randomly realised that it’s been a long time since I posted any pastoral content on this blog.

That’s a real shame, because I love the pastoral genre and I read a lot of it, so I thought I’d amend this by reviewing an amazing new pastoral book from one of my favourite writers, Helen Macdonald.

Author of the incredible and evocative H Is For Hawk, Macdonald is back with Vesper Flights, an essay collection that aims to bring together her love of the natural world with her fascination with people. The author is a highly respected bird trainer and natural world expert, so over the years she has amassed a lot of knowledge and tales about nature.

The book is collected essays from Macdonald, and span many years and countries. Macdonald takes the reader on a journey across the world and gives us a glimpse into the habitats and lives of many flora, fauna, animals, birds and, most intriguingly of all, people.

In the introduction, Macdonald compares her book to a Wunderkammern, a traditional German house of curiosities that was less ordered than a modern museum. Her aim is to combine nature with humanity and discuss our fragile relationship with Mother Nature.

That’s why each essay features a different topic; from birds’ nests to wild boar, mushrooms to the effects of climate change. In each essay the author discusses both her own personal feelings and the wider way that people interact with wildlife, plants and the environment.

By incorporating literature, history and the opinions of renowned naturalists, Macdonald showcases her passion for nature and brings together many different views and ideas. She also makes amazing points on the ways that people have interacted with the wild in Britain and around the world for centuries.

So, if you love nature and want to learn more about it, then Vesper Flights is the book for you. Macdonald has heavily researched her work, and she incorporates many intriguing facts into her book. For example, I bet you didn’t know that in the early 2000s around 60 captive wild boar were released into the wild in the South of the UK, and that since then, they have blossomed into a hoard of potentially thousands of boar that roam the woods, according to studies.

That and many other facts are sprinkled throughout the book, so you’re always learning and picking up exciting new information. Macdonald has researched heavily and has read a lot of books on the topic of the natural world, so you’ll learn some really intriguing facts and insights. She also delivers her information in an accessible and memorable way, so you’ll find yourself remembering loads of useful nature facts. These are particularly useful when you consider them in the context of the world’s environmental crisis.

The book isn’t exclusively about wildlife and nature; there’s a truly glorious tale about Macdonald’s pet parrot and a young autistic boy whose parents are considering renting her home. There are personal stories, anecdotes, academic-style essays and teachable moments in the book, so there’s something for all readers and every mood. You’ll laugh, cry and learn, all in one, which is pretty cool for one medium sized book.

At the end of the day, if your New Year’s resolution was to learn more about nature or to read more non-fiction books, then Vesper Flights is your ideal read. Even if you didn’t make a New Year’s resolution, or it wasn’t about reading, then you should still check this engaging and beautifully written book. Whether you’re a novice naturalist or you’re already knowledgeable about the world around us, you’ll find this book a creative and heart warming read.

5 Crime Fiction Novels To Help You Escape 2021

After the first few weeks, it’s clear that 2021 is going to be almost as bad as its predecessor.

That’s why we all need a little escapist fiction to help ourselves overcome all this shit.

One of the best ways to leave the real world behind is to escape into another world. Books can transport you and take your mind off reality, and cosy novels that you know you’ll enjoy are always a great bet.

It’s this has helped the book industry out of the water and driven so many of us into the arms of escapist fiction. I’ve already talked about the continued popularity of romanticised fiction from Mills and Boon, which is the epitome of escapist romantic fiction.

However, I’m a fan of reading quality literature, such as crime fiction. Cosy crime fiction is great literature that can also help you to escape the crap that’s out there in the world today.

If you’re looking for escapist crime fiction, then read on. I’ll share some of my favourite cosy crime fiction books that have helped me to escape reality and feel happier despite the current situation.

5. Moonflower Murders: The sequel to Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz’s latest crime fiction novel sees amateur sleuth and former book publisher Susan Ryeland running a hotel on a Greek island with her boyfriend. She might seem happy and at peace, but inside Ryeland’s itching to get back into the swing of her literary life, even if it had previously put her in the thick of a murder plot. Then, a couple comes to stay at the hotel, with a tale of mystery that took place in a hotel where her daughter got married recently. Then their daughter goes missing, shortly after reading a book Ryeland edited featuring renowned fictional sleuth Atticus Pund, putting the protagonist back in the thick of another engaging literary and crime solving caper.

4. The Dead Of Winter: The latest in Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey Mystery series is set in the winter of 1938. The book shows the author, who’s been fictionalised in this engaging and creative series, gathering with friends in Cornwall for a cosy Christmas gathering. Things quickly get creepy, when a renowned film star arrives unexpectedly and seeks shelter. Two deaths also put a damper on the festivities, and with the small Cornish village cut off by bad winter weather, the hunt for a killer gets desperate and fraught. The novel combines traditional Golden Age tropes with modern writing styles to create a captivating cosy crime novel that will transport you to another time and place.

3. The Killings At Kingfisher Hill: The newest in Sophie Hannah’s series of new Poirot novels, which continues Agatha Christie’s legacy, is an engaging tale that’s both cosy and cryptic. Poirot and his new sidekick, Inspector Catchpool of Scotland Yard, are sent a mysterious message to visit a house in the prestigious Kingfisher Hill estate. They visit under the guise of being board game enthusiasts, but they’re quickly exposed and thrust into the thick of an unforgettable adventure. If you’re a fan of the Queen Of Crime and her pernickety Belgium sleuth then you’ll love this new addition to the series, which is full of surprising twists that will keep you guessing until the very final page.

2. The Thursday Murder Club: Written by TV show host Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Clubis a funny, witty and engaging crime fiction romp centred around a retirement home in Kent. When a local gangster turned builder, who also happens to be responsible for the luxury care home around which the story revolves, is battered to death and left with an old photo of himself, a group of bored seniors investigate. The story is brilliantly told and there are plenty of red herrings and twists to keep you hooked, while also full of witticism and funny asides.

1. The Marlow Murder Club: The name and premise are both similar to Richard Osman’s offering listed above, but The Marlow Murder Club is a unique and cosy novel that’ll help you to escape and unwind during these chaotic times. Like Osman’s novel, this new book from the creator of TV’s modern cosy crime caper Death In Paradise, centres around senior characters who form a club to solve a real-life murder case. In this case, the protagonist is a 77 year old crossword setter, who lives alone in a dilapidated mansion, keeping herself busy by indulging in all of her favourite pastimes like drinking whiskey and spending time outdoors. One day, while out swimming in the Thames, she witnesses a murder, but finds that the authorities don’t believe her. So, she joins forces with a down-to-earth dog walker and a vicar’s wife to solve the case. This is another Golden Age style mystery set in the present day that every cosy crime fiction fan should read in 2021.

How Is Mills And Boon Still A Thing?

Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of ‘I can’t possibly be a paedophile/ sex pest because of Pizza Hut’ man and therefore a former part of the UK’s royal family, has recently come out as an author for Mills and Boon.

For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, it’s a publishing house that produces cheap, tacky romance novels. You know the type; they’re usually found in large supermarkets that also sell books and charity shops.

Each front cover features a stock photo of a despondent looking woman in period clothing gazing away wistfully while a child clings to them, or a modern couple in a hotel room staring longingly into each other’s eyes.

The novels usually have twee names that harken to a plot that’s much more complicated than the writer is actually capable of creating. Stuff like Price Of A Bride and The Secrets She Carried.

They’re a favourite of Nans and people with little imagination. Mills and Boon has been publishing 1908 and moved into romantic fiction aimed at women in the 1930s.  

While I’ve always registered that Mills and Boon still existed, and that there are novels by the publishing powerhouse on sale, I didn’t realise that it still released new books. Not only that, but they’re attracting writers who are, for want of a better term, famous. Fergie might be one step above the z list, but hers is still a name that is recognised by most individuals in Britain and around the world. She hasn’t been a member of the royal family in a long time, but the fact that she’s now a writer for Mills and Boon is surprising.

Clearly then, these books are still being read and readers still want to read them. In fact, the romantic escapist novels produced by Mills and Boon are still incredibly popular, which begs the question: who on earth still buys them?

Personally, I think that the key benefit of these novels is the formula. In the Guardian article that I linked to above, a writer of many Mills and Boons books named Sharon Kendrick says ‘there is no formula’. However, if you ask me, she’s just saying that to make it seem harder to create these novels than it actually is, but the fact of the matter is that they always seem to follow a basic structure.

Every Mills and Boon novel revolves around a love story that is in some way in peril. It might be an issue of class, or prejudice, or some other social construct from the time period in which each given novel is set. Whatever it is, there’s very little difference between each novel. The names of the characters might be slightly different, and the dialogue is written by a different author, but the plots lead you to the same place and the centre of each tale is that true love is obtainable for everyone and everlasting.

It’s this combination of fantasy and romance that makes Mills and Boon books the ultimate in escapist fiction. People who enjoy them probably want to get away from their lives and feel like fiery, romantic relationships between people of different classes are likely, despite the unlikeliness of them actually happening. How often does a prince meet a woman in a supermarket and decide to marry her? Not that bloody often, I’ll bet.

With novels set in different countries, centuries or societies, there’s a Mills and Boon for everyone. I’m almost positive that they’re all pretty much interchangeable when it comes to plots, and from what little I’ve read of them, they’re pretty damn forgettable. However, they’re easy to read and they appeal to readers who seek a romanticised view of the world.

If you ask me, I reckon that the reason behind the success of Mills and Boon is its ability to keep creating novels that feel familiar but have a slightly different story. Reading them is a bit like re-watching your favourite sitcom for the umpteenth time. However, because there are so many of them, you can always find a slightly different book to keep you entertained. It’s this comforting sense of the familiar that keeps readers coming back for more, and has made Mills and Boon a publishing titan.

While it might sound like I don’t like Mills and Boon (I really don’t), I think that if you enjoy them then you shouldn’t be ashamed. Reading anything is an achievement, and improves your mind a lot. If you enjoy Mills and Boon novels, then keep at it- it’s better than not reading at all.

Dishonoured Review: A Gripping And Unique Psychological Thriller

From the acclaimed author of Proximity and No Signal, Jem Tugwell, comes a new stand-alone novel, Dishonoured.

I was really excited to check it out, and I wasn’t disappointed. Tugwell creates a gripping thriller that has stayed with me even though I finished reading it at the end of last year.

Dishonoured begins by introducing its readers to Dan. Dan’s a happy dude. He’s got a pretty perfect looking life. He has a family, a nice home and a great job.

He’s also a bit of a creature of habit. One day, one random day, he’s taking his usual train, when he recognises the waitress who served him earlier. In one short moment, everything changes in Dan’s life.

No spoilers, but when Dan gets off the train he’s a criminal with his life in tatters. The waitress said ‘sorry’ to him, but what could she mean by that? Dan’s left to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. He’s a determined guy, so he sets out to try and right the wrongs and find the culprit who’s trying to trash his life.

Through this journey, there are so many twists and turns that, in the hands of a lesser writer, this novel would be hard to follow. Thankfully, Tugwell is a superior writer, so Dishonoured is engaging and unforgettable. It’s remarkably easy to keep up with, despite the fact that there is loads of plot twists to keep you guessing.

Tugwell’s real skill is creating relatable characters, so that the reader invests in them emotionally. Every character is intriguing and enhances the story. The dialogue is also snappy and swift, so the story runs smoothly and you’re kept hooked throughout every plot twist and new piece of information.

One of the best things about this novel is that the really scary thing isn’t violence or monsters, but human nature and cruelty itself. Tugwell creates a psychological thriller that shows the darkest depths of human anguish and how far people will go to destroy each other. If you’re looking for a breathtakingly thrilling tale that will take your mind off the current mad situation, then this is the ideal book for you.

At the end of the day, while Dishonoured doesn’t have the same familiar characters as Tugwell’s past novels, it retains the same cutthroat plotting and razor sharp dialogue as his earlier work. It’s a gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, and with so many twists and you’ll find it almost impossible to put the novel down.

Andrew James Graham: “I want the reader to be taken on a journey”

Andrew James Graham talks me through his writing and the techniques he uses in his work.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

I feel my writing style is quite descriptive. I want the reader to be taken on a journey into the world I’ve created. To not only tell them what the characters are doing but also feel, taste and smell the situations they are in. I want the reader to think, almost act like the detective in trying to work out who the killer is, making them laugh along the way. I got into crime fiction writing mainly by watching crime shows on TV. I’ve always been a fan and thought I’d try writing a crime novel myself.

Please tell me about your career background and how you draw on it in your writing.

I worked for many years as a Housing Officer in some of the most economically and socially deprived areas of North Tyneside. I worked closely with Probation Services, Drug and alcohol treatment centres and Homeless charities. I’ve always found that real life people and situations are always far more interesting.

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 inspiration is often the wonderful characters that I have come into contact with over the years, be it through work situations, or on public transport or even the local supermarket. When it comes to writers block I try to think of subplots for my characters. I think about a particular incident or character that I have had to deal with in the past. How would they react to that situation? What would they do? How would it affect their life?

What books do you read yourself and how do they influence your writing?

I love British Crime fiction, in particular, Ian Rankin, Peter James, Martina Cole, Mark Billingham and Peter Robinson. I love the way their characters interact with each other with workplace banter. Ian Rankin is especially good at this in his Rebus Novels.

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

I would love to work on a screenplay with Quentin Tarrantino. I just love his dark humour and how he writes the dialogue between his characters. It would also help me get an insight into how he successfully gets his ideas from paper onto the big screen. Pure genius.

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

I have started writing my next novel, so finishing that would be good.  I’m also really hoping to improve my website as well as putting together a newsletter and increasing my mailing list. I also hope to be more active on twitter and in the creative writing groups on Facebook.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I would like to get my hands on any new book from my favourite authors. But there is always a new book to read as the first time you pick it up it’s new to you, even though it could have been 20 years since it was first published. I’m also always looking for new authors from my part of the world, as I find Tyneside an excellent backdrop for crime thrillers. Trevor Wood’s new novel, One Way Street is one I would like to read.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I think 2020 has been an awful year for a lot of people, but one positive thing to come from 2020 is that more people have had time to rediscover their love of reading, whether it be through Kindle eBooks or the good old fashioned paperbacks. I hope that as the New Year progresses and this COVID virus is finally controlled, people continue to read, and they will hopefully give my book a try.

It’s been a pleasure Andrew, and thank you very much for answering my questions.

The Thursday Murder Club Review: The Ideal Cosy Crime Novel To Help You Beat The January Blues

Often when writers who are already famous publish books, there’s a degree of nepotism, which automatically makes me suspicious.

Some, like actor Hugh Fraser, turn out to be incredible writers with amazing skills who create phenomenal stories. Others, like social media personality and influencer Zoella, create duds that are ghost written, and badly done at that.

As such, I was unsure about what to think when TV quiz show host Richard Osman released a novel. Named The Thursday Murder Club, the book sounded like a Sunday TV drama on ITV from the off, and I wasn’t sure whether it would be an amazing work of cosy crime fiction or some lame attempt to break into a new market by a quiz show host seeking to broaden his horizons.

I’m pleased to inform you that the former is correct, and Osman’s debut novel is a witty, droll crime fiction caper that is both funny and engaging. Written in Golden Age style, The Thursday Murder Club is set in modern England, but it has a timeless feel that makes it an almost instant classic.

Osman’s smash hit, which has beaten many records for a debut novel, is set in a charming Kentish retirement village named Coopers Chase, where four elderly residents meet every Thursday to discuss real-life cases. Started by a retired policewoman and someone who is covertly referred to as a sort-of spy, the group loses its former cop and now includes a busybody unionist, a former psychiatrist and its newest member, a retired nurse.

The group meets in a small meeting room known as ‘The Jigsaw Room’ to paw over cold cases, although nothing ever comes from their musings. They simply work together to try and figure out a solution and get some kind of personal resolution.

All that changes when Tony Curran, the builder and part owner of Cooper’s Chase, is bludgeoned to death in his kitchen. A cryptic photo is placed beside the victim’s body, depicting him many years before, with a set of friends, including the professional boxer son of Ron, the busybody unionist who forms one forth of the murder club. In front of them sits a huge pile of cash.

The victim had a dubious career as an enforcer/ drug dealer, until he went legit (ish) and helped to create Coopers Chase. As such, there are a lot of suspects to wade through, including Curran’s business partner, the professional boxer, the Polish builder poised to take over Curran’s role at the retirement village and more.

The members of the club, together with a young policewoman that they befriended, start to sift through the clues and uncover new insight into Curran’s fishy background, dodgy dealings and dubious associates. All the while, they share the highs and lows of life in a retirement village, including worries about old age, infirmity, loss of memory, vulnerability, a struggle against the ever-encroaching digital age and more.

Osman switches between perspectives in each chapter, which makes for an interesting read that will keep you hooked. You’ll learn new information not from long, boring descriptions and info-dumps, but from dialogue, diary entries and weird little asides. Each chapter brings something new, and you become drawn into the funny, hum-drum life of the residential home and the cosy life in Fairhaven, where life used to move at a snail’s pace before the murder changed made things interesting. Some of the jokes are surprisingly funny (there’s an ongoing gag about llamas which is surprisingly effective).

The story is both heart-warming and inviting. You’re quickly drawn into the world of the club, and want to find out more about them. Osman makes his characters relatable and entertaining, so you’ll feel an instant connection to them. They’re endearing, particularly Joyce the former nurse, who is the main narrator of most of the first person chapters, written in the form of her diary entries.

With a combination of humour, human interest and murder, Osman manages to create an unforgettable novel that will keep you hooked and leave you wanting more. It’s already been announced that Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to The Thursday Murder Club, and with that stellar Hollywood recommendation as well as the amazing reception that the bestseller has received, it’s clear that we’ve not seen the last literary endeavour from Richard Osman. I’m excited to see what else he can create in the future and how Spielberg will transform this funny and engaging mystery novel into a blockbuster movie.

Andrew Puckett Interview: “The British countryside inspires me”

For my first interview of 2021 I speak to Andrew Puckett about his work and how he creates incredible medical thrillers based on his experience working for the NHS.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards medical thrillers?

Books and writing have always fascinated me.  I read Enid Blyton from the age of eight, but the turning point was finding a tatty paperback in the living room when I was 11: Miss Marple and the Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie.  The discovery that I could actually try and guess whodunnit was a revelation…

I worked my way through suspense writers such as Hammond Innes, and then I graduated onto J B Priestly (still my favourite author) Henry Williamson, Laurence Durrell and Winston Graham.  I think the best crime authors at the moment are Andrew Taylor and C J Sansom.  The best was Minette Walters, but she’s stopped now – unfortunately!

How do you draw on your career in the NHS when you’re writing?  

I started writing in my early twenties, but the acquisition of a girlfriend put a stop to that.  I concentrated on my career in Biomedical Science, we moved to Oxford from Taunton and any ambitions to write were subsumed in career and happy marriage.  I worked in the Blood Transfusion Service, testing donations for Hepatitis, Syphilis and Aids.

Then my wife died.  I decided to have a go at writing again.  It took two not very good novels and seven years to publish my first Medical Thriller, Bloodstains, which was published by Collins.  (Two rules: Write about what you know, and Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration).  I had six novels published by Collins, three by Constable.  These days I publish with Sharpe Books.  These are mostly e books, but some paperback.  All 14 of my books are available from them.

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 main inspiration has been my career in Medical Science.  Specific to various books were the emergence of HIV (Bed Of Nails) a trip to the Scottish Highlands (Bloodhound) a visit to Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Desolation Point) the ruthlessness of some drug companies (A Life For A Life) and Bioterrorism (Going Viral).

I’ve come across some pretty ruthless characters in the NHS – a tiny minority – but they have an effect way beyond their numbers.  Think Harold Shipman.  And the people jailed some thirty years ago for pinching donated blood and flogging it abroad.  Some are in my books, although heavily disguised.

The British countryside inspires me.  I love it and nearly all my books reflect this.  Nearly all are set in the West Country, several completely or partially in Dorset.

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

Collaboration is difficult – at least it is for me.  I did once with a close friend, and wouldn’t do it again!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Books I’m looking forward to reading: the latest Andrew Taylor or C J Sansom.

Thanks to Andrew for answering my questions; stay tuned for other exciting interviews throughout the year! Here’s to an awesome 2021 for Andrew and other awesome crime fiction writers.

Crime Fiction I’m Looking Forward To In 2021

Happy New Year to everyone who’s supported my blog throughout 2020, and here’s to a much better year in 2021.

After a horrific year, 2021 can only get better. It’s hard to imagine that things will get better, and while they might not return to what we consider to be ‘normal’, they’re certainly going to improve as the vaccine roles out, Trump fucks off and we all get used to caring for and supporting each other.

Also, a New Year means new books for readers to dig their teeth into. Following my list of the crime fiction I was looking forward to in 2020, I’ve created a fresh list for a shiny New Year.

If you’re searching for something to read in 2021, especially while we ride out the pandemic and spend more time indoors to protect others, then read on. I’ll share my pick of the crime fiction novels being realised throughout the year.

Dial A For Aunties: A murder mystery mixed with a touch of romantic comedy by Jesse Q. Sutanto, Dial A For Aunties is funny and gripping. Set in a Chinese-Indonesian community living in America, the novel gives readers a glimpse into this society and how far family will go to protect its own. When Meddelin Chan kills her blind date by accident, she turns to her family for help. Her mother reaches out to her aunts for assistance in disposing of the body, which is harder than they initially believe it will be, leading to mayhem and mystery. The family’s wedding business provides a unique opportunity, but also many instances of chaos and calamity.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden: The third novel in Stuart MacBride’s Ash Henderson series, The Coffin Maker’s Garden is an innovative new thriller with a unique setting; a house that’s crumbling into the sea during a vicious storm. The crime scene is falling into the sea, which makes the job of uncovering how many bodies are there, and how they died. The case quickly catches the attention of the local media, and with the region’s leaders searching desperately for a scapegoat to pin the crimes on, the former detective inspector faces a desperate race against time to learn the truth about the coastal garden full of human remains that’s falling into the sea.

Death in Daylesford: The latest in the Phyrne Fisher series by the respected Australian author Kerry Greenwood, Death In Daylesford is one I’ve been looking forward to for some time. It’s been a while since the last in the series featuring the 1920s society flapper turned super sleuth, so this latest novel, launching in June of this year, will be something to enjoy in the summer. When the detective receives an invitation from the owner of a respected spa in Victoria, she’s excited to get her teeth stuck into another thrilling mystery. Taking her faithful maid with her, she embarks on an intriguing trip to the spa, while at home her friends and adopted children work to uncover the truth about a mysterious body pulled from the river.

The Survivors: From the bestselling author of The Dry, the smash hit thriller that took the world by storm, comes the latest mystery. Jane Harper’s new novel, The Survivor, brings us the tale of a small coastal town battling a lot of secrets and mysterious circumstances. A body found on the beach, a sunken wreck and a missing girl cause a stir that will have a lasting impact on the local community and change many lives forever. The incidents particularly impact on recent returnee Kieran Elliott, who has come back to town to nurse old wounds and visit his parents. The novel is full of twists and turns, as the writer brings to life a gripping tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the final chapter.

 Not Dark Yet: Peter Robinson’s popular detective DCI Banks gets yet another outing in the 27th novel featuring the dour detective, Not Dark Yet. A gory double murder at the luxury home of a property developer looks like an open and shut mob hit from the Albanian mafia. However, when Banks’s team uncovers a mysterious stash of videos, the case takes a sinister turn. Meanwhile, one of Banks’s friends is digging into the past to find the men who trafficked her, but her digging puts her, Banks and those he loves in danger. All in all, you can expect a gripping police procedural from Robinson, who’s renowned for his relatable characters and modern thrillers that will keep you enthralled.