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CRA Newsletter
April 2017
Dear Reader,
Welcome to your latest newsletter ram-packed with lots of info about the world of crime writing.

Dagger News and How You Can Join In

The Dagger longlists for the following CWA Awards will be announced at CrimeFest in Bristol at a special reception on 19 May. It’s free for full pass holders to attend and for more details please contact:

CWA Dagger longlists to be announced:
Gold Dagger, Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, Endeavour Historical Dagger,  Short Story Dagger, International Dagger and Debut Dagger (our competition for the opening to an unpublished crime novel, sponsored by Orion Books).

The winner of the CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition will also be announced.

If you can attend CrimeFest you’ll find it a wonderful event with a wide choice of panels and some of the world’s  foremost crime writers – there is always an international flavour to CrimeFest and authors such as Bill Beverly and the Iceland queens of crime will be there – ready to share their experiences and views.

One of those authors is Ann Cleeves, who in 2017 is the recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger. The Diamond is the highest honour awarded in British crime writing. It  recognises authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre. 

Photo credit: Micha Theiner ©

Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said: ‘Ann Cleeves is internationally renowned as the author of the series on which the very popular TV programmes Vera and Shetland are based. But long before her television success, she worked hard writing hugely enjoyable crime novels and short stories. As well as publishing thirty books, she has been a passionate and effective advocate for libraries, while her generosity towards fellow crime writers as well as readers means that this news is sure to be widely welcomed.’

Win a Weekend Pass to CrimeFest!

CrimeFest have a pair of complimentary passes to give away to a reader of the CRA Newsletter.

When is Diamond Dagger recipient Ann Cleeves going to be interviewed?
Entries by email to by 5pm April 14th.
NB Food, accommodation and travel are the winner’s own responsibility!

If you’re not successful, you might want to make sure you attend the last event of CrimeFest on Sunday 21st:

American Noir vs Vintage British Thrillers
* Barry Forshaw
* Mike Ripley
Refereed by Peter Guttridge

– where you can win a pair of 2018 CrimeFest passes and more besides!

Dagger in the Library

The CWA 2017 Dagger in the Library was announced in February based on nominations received from 175 libraries across the UK and Ireland. We need your help to work out the shortlist! Check out the Reading Group information on the website – and on the Reading Group website where you can leave feedback…

Feedback received from reading groups will be a major factor in the judges’ decision as to who should proceed to the shortlist and the eventual winner.

The Dagger in the Library 2017 longlist:
  • Alison Bruce
  • Andrew Taylor
  • Brian MacGilloway
  • Chris Ewan
  • C J Sansom
  • James Oswald
  • Kate Ellis
  • Mari Hannah
  • Nicola Upson
  • Tana French 

So all you have to do now is get reading – and rating. Visit to find out more.

The Dagger in the Library prize will be awarded at Bodies from the Library on Saturday 17 June.

The remaining Daggers will all be awarded at a glitzy ceremony in London on October 26. Put the date in your diary! Check out the CWA and CRA websites for updates.

Crime-Filled Festivals of Fun

Hertfordshire Literary Festival – April & May
Crime events include:
James Runcie: Sidney Chambers and the dangers of temptation
Wednesday 19th April, 7.15pm

Come and find out what Sidney Chambers is up to in the new Grantchester novel (as seen on TV) and discover our stunning new library at Hemel Hempstead

Hemel Hempstead Library,
The Forum,
Hemel Hempstead,
Hertfordshire, HP1 1DN.

Tickets £7.00/ Concessions £5.00

Photo credit: TimCragg ©
Stephen Booth: Secrets of Death
Tuesday, 9th May, 7.15pm

Follow the latest installment in the award winning travails of detectives Cooper and Fry as they race to uncover the connection between a series of suicides.  

Welwyn Garden City Library,
Campus West,
Welwyn Garden City,
Hertfordshire, AL8 6AJ

Tickets £7.00/ Concessions £5.00
Crime Writers Panel: Leigh Russell and Howard Linskey
Wednesday 17 May, 7.15pm

Leigh Russell and Howard Linskey from No Exit Press discuss their writing and getting published. Their latest crime novels are Murder Ring and Behind Dead Eyes.

Borehamwood Library,
96 Shenley Road,
Hertfordshire, WD6 1EB

Tickets £7.00/ Concessions £5.00
Elly Griffiths: The Chalk Pit
Wednesday 24 May, 7.15pm

In her latest mystery Ruth Galloway must unravel the dark secrets of a web of underground tunnels and discover what gruesome mysteries lurk at its heart - before it claims another victim.

Bishops Stortford Library,
The Causeway,
Bishop's Stortford,
Hertfordshire, CM23 2EJ

Tickets £7.00/ Concessions £5.00
More information can be obtained from local libraries or by calling 0300 123 4049.

For tickets book online at: or call 01707 281533.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 
This popular festival returns to the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate on the 20th-23rd July 2017, to mark the 15th annual celebration of the genre.

2017’s Programming Chair Elly Griffiths, the current holder of the CWA Dagger in the Library, has put together a world-class programme of events including Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, Arne Dahl, Joseph Finder, Peter May, Stuart MacBride and Kathy Reichs. There will also be an exclusive Vera TV event with author Ann Cleeves, actors Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty and BBC’s Steph McGovern, as well as a Grantchester TV special with actor Robson Green and author James Runcie. 

The full programme, which will include over 80 fantastic authors in over 20 events, will be unveiled on April 6th. Sign up to the Festival’s newsletter to be the first to hear about author announcements and special events by joining here. You can also follow the conversation online @TheakstonsCrime


Forward Feature

Slaughter in Southwold

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June 2017

Isabelle Grey…  Elly Griffiths… Guy Fraser-Samson… 
Now open for bookings. 
Facebook | Twitter

Don't forget

Hwyl Llandeilo LitFest

27-30 April

The Hwyl Llandeilo LitFest boasts a terrific programme, set in different venues in Llandeilo, a lovely setting in rural Carmarthenshire.  Sherlockian expert David Stuart Davies, Rob Gittins, Sally Spedding, Thorne Moore, Jasper Fforde, Niall Griffiths, Dave Lewis and many more authors will participate. One of those debut festivals where it could prove quite a coup to have attended the very first one!

Finding Time for Crime

E S Thompson balances a full working and personal life with her writing. Here’s a short extract from her blogpost currently on the CRA website:

Often I think I need to be two different people in order to get anything done – either that, or I should give up sleep altogether.  Perhaps with this thought in mind, in Beloved Poison I gave one of my characters a sickness that meant they were unable to sleep at all, a condition that slowly turned them insane.  Equally, being two people is physically impossible.  At least, so it might seem at first.  
All writers – crime writers in particular – live ostensibly normal lives, at the same time inhabiting (inside their heads) a violent and peculiar alternative reality.  For me, that alternative reality is my 19th century medical crime world.   It might seem to the casual observer that I am slicing an onion, or making a cake, but in fact, in my mind I am with Jem Flockhart, the cross-dressing apothecary and amateur detective who confidently stalks through the pages of my novels. The question in my head as I slice and dice, or beat the batter, is ‘where did I leave Jem?’  The answers are entirely up to me.  Was she buried alive?  Was she conducting a post mortem?  Did I leave her incarcerated in Newgate, or fishing a dead body out of a canal?  And, of course, the question which follows from ‘where did I leave her?’ is ‘what shall I do with her next?’  Shall I prostrate her in an opium den?  Send her to a brothel?  Set her up to be accused of murder ... It’s the only way to manage when time is short and there are books to be written: inhabit the imagination, whilst the body gets on with the other things.

E S Thomson’s Dark Asylum (Constable) is the second book featuring cross-dressing apothecary and amateur detective Jem Flockhart and recently received an excellent review in the Daily Express.  

1851, Angel Meadow Asylum. Dr Rutherford, principal physician to the insane, is found dead, his head bashed in, his ears cut off, his lips and eyes stitched closed. The police direct their attention towards Angel Meadow's inmates, but to Jem Flockhart and Will Quartermain the crime is an act of calculated retribution, rather than of madness. To discover the truth Jem and Will must pursue the story through the darkest corners of the city - from the depths of a notorious rookery, to the sordid rooms of London's brothels, the gallows, the graveyard, and the convict fleet. 

Traditional Mystery Writers UK

The Bestseller Lists currently seem to reflect the reading public’s preference for fiction that tends towards the thriller end of the market. If a new book isn’t described as a ‘fast paced, edge of your seat thriller’ it doesn’t stand a chance. If it’s a good police procedural by a well-known author, that’s fine (it will probably still have ‘thriller’ tucked in there somewhere, whether the author agrees or not.)

But there’s another section of the market, and of the reading public. For many years now it has laboured under the faintly derogatory title of ‘cosy’, imported from the US. I write it, but at the beginning of my crime writing career, I didn’t know I did. I’d been reading it for years; standard, traditional mystery. I read my parents’ entire collection, and though I wasn’t fond of Christie (heresy, I know), I adored Marsh, Wentworth, Dickson Carr/Dickson and a myriad others.

So a few of my fellow authors and I have set up a group called Traditional Mystery Writers UK. At the moment, we are only a Facebook group, but we hope to emerge in Real Life soon. We all write what we fondly believe are traditional mysteries – some of us have policemen and women in them, some of us have amateur detectives, all of us have series characters who our readers can identify with and we all deal with murder.  I conducted a totally unscientific research project via social media, and came up with the unsurprising result – to me, anyway – that there were rather a lot of readers who like our sort of fiction. And they gave reasons – jolly good ones, in my opinion.

We also write about sometimes difficult subjects, and don’t shy away from them. Homophobia, incest, immigration and people smuggling, we’ve covered it all. So please come and check us out – you might find we’re not quite as you thought...

Lesley Cookman

WebsiteTraditional Mystery Writers/UK on Facebook

Finally, a book to make you forget it’s spring

The Body in the Ice
by AJ Mackenzie

Published 20 April 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre (hardback and ebook)

Christmas Day, 1796, on Romney Marsh. Two servants, foraging at New Hall for firewood on a freezing afternoon, discover an unexpected Christmas offering: a corpse, frozen into the ice of the horse pond. It falls to Reverend Hardcastle, justice of the peace in St Mary in the Marsh, to investigate.
At first, with the victim’s identity unknown, no murder weapon and no suspects, the task seems hopeless. But as the winter days pass, Rev Hardcastle and Mrs Amelia Chaytor slowly begin to unravel the case – and find more than they bargained for. The body leads them to an American family torn apart by war and intent on reclaiming their ancestral home and to a French spy returning to the scene of his crimes. Ancient loyalties and new vengeance all add up to mystery, intrigue and danger and and explosive climax.

The first book of the series, The Body on the Doorstep (published 2016), introduced readers to St Mary in the Marsh and to the Reverend Hardcastle, hard-drinking clergyman turned reluctant detective, and Amelia Chaytor, the mysterious widow with cool nerves and a steady hand with a pistol. As they solve the mystery of The Body in the Ice, we learn more about them, and why they are here on Romney Marsh. There are many mysteries on the Marsh, and some are still waiting to unfold…

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