Interview with Portico Prize winning author Sally J Morgan

Sally J Morgan - Toto

Debut novel Toto Among the Murderers by Sally J Morgan, is a dark, compelling, and immersive work that recently won the Portico Prize for Literature — a British prize given to a work that evokes the “spirit of the North of England”. The book was also longlisted for the 2021 Acorn Prize for Fiction.

We were thrilled when Sally agreed to talk to us about ‘Toto Among the Murderers’ and what it feels like to win one of the big fiction prizes! She even gave us an exclusive sneak peek into her thoughts about her new book, still at the writing stage. Have a listen and read more about Sally below…

Please note: this interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, an arts and entertainment review show on RadioActive FM. The interview was conducted by Caffeine and Aspirin host, Tanya Ashcroft.

Sally J Morgan was born in the Welsh mining town of Abertyleri and describes her childhood as nomadic — following her father’s career in the motor trade across Britain. Sally graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and eventually moved to New Zealand where she is now a professor at Massey University in Wellington.

As a young woman she was once offered a lift by the serial killers Fred and Rose West. Sally declined, but that experience planted the seeds for Toto Among the Murderers.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Sally for both the interview and for her kind permission to reproduce the photographs in this blog — all © Sally J Morgan. (Photographer: Jessica Chubb)

Toto among the murderers / Morgan, Sally J

“It is 1973 and Jude – known to her friends as Toto – has just graduated from art school and moves into a house in a run-down part of Leeds. Jude is a chaotic wild child who flirts with the wrong kind of people, drinks too much and gets stoned too often. Never happy to stay in one place for very long, her restlessness takes her on hitchhiking jaunts up and down the country. Her best friend, Nel, is the only steady influence Jude has but Nel’s life isn’t as perfect as it seems.”

“Reports of attacks on women punctuate the news and Jude takes off again, suffocated by an affair she has been having with a married woman. But what she doesn’t realise is that the violence is moving ever closer to home: there is Janice across the road who lives in fear of being beaten up again by her pimp and Nel, whose perfect life is coming undone at her boyfriend’s hands. At the same time infamous murderers, Fred and Rosemary West, are stalking the country, on the lookout for girls like Jude.” (Catalogue)

“I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life”: Our new crime & mystery titles for January

“I am sometimes bored by people, but never by life.”
— Nancy Mitford

Welcome to our first newly acquired Crime and Mystery titles roundup of 2022.
One of the titles we have selected for inclusion in this month’s list is The Mitford Vanishing, the fifth instalment of Jessica Fellowes’ Mitford Murders Mystery series, which skilfully and compellingly weaves fact and fiction into mystery stories revolving round the glamorous and eventful world of the Mitford sisters.

The Mitford family were amongst the most colourful and talked about aristocratic families in Britain of the 20th century; especially their six daughters, due in part to their controversial, stylish and privileged younger days, which were often lived out in the public eye. Times journalist Ben Macintyre once succinctly summarised the sisters up in this way “Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur.”

Three of the sisters became acclaimed writers. Perhaps the best known and most famous of which was Nancy, whose novels include The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate,. Her novels are still regarded as sharply observed and wittily written stories about upper class lives in England and Europe at that point in time, though Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death is also regarded as a classic of its type.

The Mitford Vanishing revolves around the disappearance of the communist Mitford sister Jessica in Spain during the Spanish civil war. Other titles that caught our attention were the Neo Noir Shoot the Moonlight Out by William Boyle and not one but two new crime outings set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes & the three winter terrors by James Lovegrove and Miss Moriarty, I presume? by Sherry Thomas.

The Mitford vanishing / Fellowes, Jessica
“War with Germany is looming, and a civil war already raging in Spain. Split across political lines, the six Mitford sisters are more divided than ever. Meanwhile their former maid Louisa Cannon is now a private detective, working with her ex-policeman husband Guy Sullivan. Louisa and Guy are surprised when a call comes in from novelist Nancy Mitford requesting that they look into the disappearance of her Communist sister Jessica, nicknamed Decca. It quickly becomes clear that Decca may have made for the war in Spain – and not alone…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The bloodless boy / Lloyd, Robert J
“The City of London, New Year’s Day, 1678. Eleven years have passed since the Great Fire ripped through the City. Twenty since the death of Cromwell and the restoration of a king. London is gripped by hysteria, where rumours of Catholic plots and sinister foreign assassins abound. When the body of a young boy drained of his blood is discovered on the snowy bank of the Fleet River, Robert Hooke, the Curator of Experiments of the Royal Society for the Improving of Natural Knowledge, and his assistant Harry Hunt, are called in to explain such a ghastly finding — and whether it’s part of a plot against the king. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Shoot the moonlight out / Boyle, William
“Southern Brooklyn, July 1996. Punk kids have to make their own fun. Bobby Santovasco and his pal Zeke like to throw rocks at cars getting off the Belt Parkway.  Fast forward five years: June 2001. Charlie French is a low-level gangster-wannabe trying to make a name for himself. When he stumbles onto a bowling alley locker stuffed with a bag full of cash, he brings it to his only pal, Max Berry, for safekeeping while he cleans up the mess surrounding it…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Double take : a Madison Kelly mystery / Breck, Elizabeth
” San Diego journalist Barrett Brown has been missing for a week, and her boyfriend hires private investigator Madison Kelly to find her. Barrett reminds Madison of a younger version of herself: smart, ambitious, and a loner. As she investigates, Madison realizes that Barrett’s disappearance is connected to a big story she was chasing. She sets out to walk in Barrett’s footsteps– and as the trail grows colder, things begin to heat up between Madison and Barrett’s boyfriend. But he doesn’t seem to be telling everything he knows.. What dirty secrets lie at the heart of Barrett’s big lead? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Lemon / Kwŏn, Yŏ-sŏn
“In the summer of 2002, when Korea is abuzz over hosting the FIFA World Cup, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on is killed in what becomes known as the High School Beauty Murder. Two suspects quickly emerge: rich kid Shin Jeongjun, whose car Hae-on was last seen in, and delivery boy Han Manu, who witnesses Hae-on in the passenger seat of Jeongjun’s car just a few hours before her death. But when Jeongjun’s alibi turns out to be solid, and no evidence can be pinned on Manu, the case goes cold. Seventeen years pass without any resolution Unable to move on with her life, Da-on sets out to find the truth of what happened. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Under color of law / Clark, Aaron Philip
“Black rookie cop Trevor “Finn” Finnegan aspires to become a top-ranking officer in the Los Angeles Police Department and fix a broken department. A fast-track promotion to detective in the coveted Robbery-Homicide Division puts him closer to achieving his goal. Four years later, calls for police accountability rule the headlines. The city is teeming with protests for racial justice. When the body of a murdered Black academy recruit is found in the Angeles National Forest, Finn is tasked to investigate. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The savage kind / Copenhaver, John
“Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She’s lonely until she meets Judy Peabody. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher. When Philippa returns a novel Miss Martins has lent her, she interrupts a man grappling with her in the shadows of the school. Days later, her teacher returns to school altered: a dark shell of herself. And a classmate is found dead in the Anacostia River–murdered…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dolphin Junction / Herron, Mick
“When a man’s wife leaves him under suspicious circumstances, he sets off in search for her, unprepared for the guilty secrets he’s about to drag back into the light. A man is tempted by a luxury apartment with a top-of-the-range kitchen. But there is a heavy price to pay for this glamorous new life. And a couple with their marriage on the rocks go on a hike through the Derbyshire countryside as another way to avoid their real problems. Mick Herron’s skill for tension, humour, and memorable twists are captured in his short stories, collected here for the first time.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sherlock Holmes & the three winter terrors / Lovegrove, James
“1889. The First Terror. At a boys? prep school in the Kent marshes, a pupil is found drowned in a pond. Could this be the fulfilment of a witch’s curse from over two hundred years earlier? 1890. The Second Terror. A wealthy man dies of a heart attack at his London townhouse. Was he really frightened to death by ghosts? 1894. The Third Terror. A body is discovered in the dark woods near a Surrey country manor, hideously ravaged. Is the culprit a cannibal, as the evidence suggests? These three chilling and strangely linked crimes test Sherlock Holmes?s deductive powers, and his scepticism about the supernatural, to the limit.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Miss Moriarty, I presume? / Thomas, Sherry
“Charlotte Holmes comes face-to-face with her enemy when Moriarty turns to her in his hour of need in the USA Today bestselling series set in Victorian England. A most unexpected client shows up at Charlotte Holmes’s doorstep: Moriarty himself. Moriarty fears that tragedy has befallen his daughter and wants Charlotte to find out the truth. Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel to a remote community of occult practitioners where Moriarty’s daughter was last seen, a place full of lies and liars. Is it merely to test Charlotte’s skills as an investigator, or has the man of shadows trapped her in a nest of vipers?”(Adapted from Catalogue)

“I will have them all guillotined in Paris”: New crime, mysteries & thrillers

Bastille Day GIF

“In a few days, I will have them all guillotined in Paris.”

Jean-Paul Marat

One of this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery and thriller fiction titles Murder at Madame Tussauds is set in and around the world-famous Madame Tussauds gallery in London. It isn’t the first time Madame Tussaud’s gallery has featured in fiction; indeed, it features in the Sherlock Holmes story “The Mazarin Stone” and Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days to name but two.

Madame Tussauds the person led a life that wasn’t without historical incident either. She was born Marie Grosholtz in 1761 in France and quickly gained a reputation as a wax sculptor and at the age 17 of she became the art tutor to Madame Elizabeth, the sister of King Louis XVI; something which was to lead to her spending three months awaiting execution as the French revolution unfolded, and it was only the intervention of a close friend that prevented her demise.

After inheriting her mentor Philippe Curtius’ vast collection of waxwork figures she toured Europe for 33 years, first exhibiting in London 1802 in a joint show with lantern and phantasmagoria pioneer Paul Philidor. But it wasn’t until 1835, in Baker Street, that she opened a permanent museum location, moving later to the present location. These days there are various Madame Tussauds museums throughout the globe and some of her original sculptures are still in the various collections.

Amongst the other the titles that caught our eye this month include Booker Prize winning John Banville’s latest work April in Spain and Tim Major’s reimagining of Sherlock Holmes called The Back to Front Murder.

 

Murder at Madame Tussauds / Eldridge, Jim
“London, 1896. Madame Tussauds opens to find one of its nightwatchmen decapitated and his colleague nowhere to be found. To the police, the case seems simple: one killed the other and fled, but workers at the museum aren’t convinced. Although forbidden contact by his superior officer, Scotland Yard detective John Feather secretly enlists ‘The Museum Detectives’ Daniel Wilson and Abigail Fenton to aid the police investigation. When the body of the missing nightwatchman is discovered encased within a wax figure, the case suddenly becomes more complex..” (Adapted from Catalogue)

April in Spain : a novel / Banville, John
“San Sebastian, Spain. Dublin pathologist Quirke is struggling to relax, despite the beaches, cafés and the company of his lovely wife. When he glimpses a familiar face in the twilight at Las Acadas bar, he knows it can’t be April Latimer– she was murdered by her brother, years ago. When Quirke makes a call back home to Ireland, Detective St. John Strafford is dispatched to Spain. But he is not the only one en route: A relentless hit man is on the hunt for his latest prey, and the next victim might be Quirke himself.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The back to front murder / Major, Tim
“May 1898: Sherlock Holmes investigates a murder stolen from a writer’s research. Abigail Moone presents an unusual problem at Baker Street. She is a writer of mystery stories under a male pseudonym, and gets her ideas following real people and imagining how she might kill them and get away with it. It’s made her very successful, until her latest “victim” dies, apparently of the poison method she meticulously planned in her notebook. Abigail insists she is not responsible, and that someone is trying to frame her for his death. With the evidence stacking up against her, she begs Holmes to prove her innocence…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tokyo redux / Peace, David
“Tokyo, July 1949: the president of the Japanese National Railways goes missing just a day after announcing 30,000 layoffs. In the midst of the U.S. occupation, against the backdrop of widespread social, political, and economic reforms, as tensions and confusion reign, American Detective Harry Sweeney–fighting against his own disillusion and demons–leads the missing person’s investigation. Fifteen years later, a resurgent Tokyo prepares for the 1964 Olympics and the global spotlight. Private investigator Hideki Murota, a former policeman during the occupation, is given a case that forces him to go back to confront a time, a place, and the crime he’s been hiding from for the past fifteen years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The madness of crowds / Penny, Louise
“While the residents of the Quebec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request. He’s asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Surete du Quebec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture. When a murder is committed, it falls to Armand Gamache the team to investigate the crime.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark queen watching / Doherty, P. C
“November, 1471. With Edward of York on the English throne and her son, Henry Tudor, in exile in Brittany, the newly-widowed Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, is alone, without protectors. All she can do is wait and watch, planning for a time when she’s in a position to make her move. But new dangers are emerging.  But who has hired them… and why? The discovery of the body of an unexpected visitor, found murdered in a locked room in her London townhouse, heralds the start of a series of increasingly menacing incidents which threaten Margaret and her household. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder most fair : a Verity Kent mystery / Huber, Anna Lee
“November 1919. At the seaside with her husband, Sidney, could almost convince Verity Kent that life has returned to the pleasant rhythm of pre-war days. Then her beloved Great Aunt Ilse lands on their doorstep after years in war-ravaged Germany. Ilse has returned to England for her health– and because someone has been sending her anonymous threats. As she joins Verity’s family deep in the Yorkshire Dales, Ilse encounters difficulties; normally peaceful neighbors are hostile. When Ilse’s maid is found dead, is this anti-German sentiment taken to murderous lengths, or a more personal motive at work?”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

The wrong goodbye / Yahagi, Toshihiko
“After the frozen corpse of immigrant barman Tran Binh Long washes up in midsummer near Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base, Futamura meets a strange customer from Tran’s bar. Vietnam vet pilot Billy Lou Bonney talks Futamura into hauling three suitcases of “goods” to Yokota US Air Base late at night and flies off leaving a dead woman behind. Thereby implicated in a murder suspect’s escape and relieved from active duty, Futamura takes on hack work for the beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hsu. As the loose strands flashback to Vietnam, the string of official lies and mysterious allegiances build into a dark picture of the U.S.-Japan postwar alliance.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A new book from the father of Tartan Noir and other Scottish crime treats

“Writing is a way of sharing our humanity.”
― William McIlvanney (1936 –2015)

The much-vaulted sub-genre of Tartan Noir (which is now occasionally humorously and affectionately maligned) has some very strong entries in this month’s recently acquired crime, mystery and thriller selection, including books from several luminaries such as the Modern Queen of Crime Val McDermid. There’s also a new book from Ian Rankin that takes up the reins from the father of “Tartan Noir”, William McIlvanney. In The Dark Remains Ian completes an unfinished manuscript from William McIlvanney’s archives. The resulting novel brings evocatively to life William McIlvanney’s unique writing style and richly evokes the grimy world of Scotland in the 1970’s as, incidentally, does Val McDermid’s superb 1979.

In many ways William McIlvanney was the pioneering author who trailblazed the path for many modern Scottish crime writers to follow. There’s also a new work from the fabulous  Alex Grey called Before the Storm, a truly gripping read that has plot elements that move between both Zimbabwe and Glasgow.

Other title highlights include a wonderful new (already widely acclaimed)  New Zealand  crime voice  Anne Harré and her debut novel The Leaning Man, set in Wellington with  vivid descriptions of the city itself and  includes scenes in our very own Te Awe Library; it is a compulsive and page-turning read. Keep a close eye out for our upcoming exclusive interview with Anne Harré in conversation with Dame Fiona Kidman!

You can also watch  Professor Val McDermid talk exclusively to us in the interview at the end of this blog, which includes a section on some of her creative thoughts behind 1979.

The dark remains / McIlvanney, William
“Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he’s dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter’s left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow? DC Jack Laidlaw’s reputation precedes him. He’s not a team player, but he’s got a sixth sense for what’s happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

1979 / McDermid, Val
“1979. It is the winter of discontent, and reporter Allie Burns is chasing her first big scoop. There are few women in the newsroom and she needs something explosive for the boys’ club to take her seriously. Soon Allie and fellow journalist Danny Sullivan are exposing the criminal underbelly of respectable Scotland. They risk making powerful enemies – and Allie won’t stop there. When she discovers a home-grown terrorist threat, Allie comes up with a plan to infiltrate the group and make her name. But she’s a woman in a man’s world… and putting a foot wrong could be fatal.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Before the storm / Gray, Alex
“Inspector Daniel Kohi of the Zimbabwean police force returns home one night to find his worst nightmare has been realised. His family dead, his house destroyed, and in fear for his life, he is forced to flee the country he loves. Far away in Glasgow, DSI William Lorimer has his hands full. Christmas is approaching, the city is bustling, and whilst the homicide rate has been relatively low, something much darker is brewing. Counter-Terrorism have got wind of a plot, here in Lorimer’s native city, to carry out an unspeakable atrocity on Christmas Eve. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
 

The Moorland murderers / Jecks, Michael
“July, 1556. En route to France and escape from Queen Mary’s men, Jack Blackjack decides to spend the night at a Devon tavern, agrees to a game of dice – and ends up accused of murder. To make matters worse, the dead man turns out to have been the leader of the all-powerful miners who rule the surrounding moors – and they have no intention of waiting for the official court verdict to determine Jack’s guilt. But who would frame Jack for murder . . . and why?  As Jack’s attempts to find answers stirs up a hornet’s nest of warring factions within the town, events soon start to spiral out of control . . .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 
The distant dead / Thomson, Lesley
“London, 1940. Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover… Tewkesbury, 2020. Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised? (Adapted from Catalogue)

The royal secret / Taylor, Andrew
“Two young girls plot a murder by witchcraft. Soon afterwards a government clerk dies painfully in mysterious circumstances. His colleague James Marwood is asked to investigate – but the task brings unexpected dangers. Meanwhile, architect Cat Hakesby is working for a merchant who lives on Slaughter Street, where the air smells of blood and a captive Barbary lion prowls the stables. Then a prestigious new commission arrives. Cat must design a Poultry House for the woman that the King loves most in all the world. Unbeknownst to all, at the heart of this lies a royal secret so explosive that it could not only rip apart England but change the entire face of Europe…”- (Adapted from Catalogue)

 
In the crypt with a candlestick / Waugh, Daisy
“Sir Ecgbert Tode of Tode Hall has survived to a grand old age – much to the despair of his younger wife, Emma. But at ninety-three he has, at last, shuffled off the mortal coil. Emma, Lady Tode, thoroughly fed up with being a dutiful Lady of the Manor, wants to leave the country to spend her remaining years in Capri. Unfortunately her three tiresome children are either unwilling or unable (too mad, too lefty or too happy in Australia) to take on management of their large and important home, so the mantle passes to a distant relative and his glamorous wife. Not long after the new owners take over, Lady Tode is found dead in the mausoleum. Accident? Or is there more going on behind the scenes of Tode Hall…?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The leaning man / Harré, Anne
“Wellington. The land dips and rolls, the wind has a life of its own. Dig a little deeper and the city is unforgiving and unrepentant. Forget the politicians, they’re poor amateurs in deception and crime. It’s Saturday night down on the wharf. Celebrations are in full swing for the Westons’ fortieth wedding anniversary. Their daughter Stella has returned from London to attend. Once shoulder-tapped as detective material, a few bad decisions and a questionable ethical dilemma saw her leave the force under a cloud. She’s now a private investigator in London, reduced to filming errant husbands for court cases. She doesn’t want to be home. Later that night her best friend Teri is found dead in a lane in the central city. Her phone is missing. It looks like suicide, but Stella won’t believe it. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The many faces of Sherlock Holmes

Ravin' Maven Classic Movies — The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) Basil ...

“Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow

Ever since his creation and first appearance in 1887 the character of Sherlock Holmes has been a firm favourite with the public, enjoying widespread popularity.

And one of the most remarkable characteristics about the Sherlock Holmes character has been its capacity to be adapted and altered in just about every possible way imaginable for theatre, radio, television, and cinema. Indeed, the character Sherlock Holmes holds the Guinness World record for the most portrayed literary human character in film and television history with over 25,000 adaptations.

For example, there are acclaimed television adaptations of Sherlock Holmes to be found in Japan, Poland, Russia and Canada to name just a few. Indeed, a case could be made that several other iconic characters such as Spock in Star Trek or Tom Baker era Doctor Who are thinly veiled versions of the Sherlock Holmes character.

Below are just a few Sherlock Holmes variations we have in our collections. So, go watch as Sherlock would say himself  “It’s elementary.”

 

Sherlock Holmes : the complete collection.
“Basil Rathbone portrays the deductive genius, Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce his mystified colleague, Dr. Watson in these fourteen classic films. Regarded by many as the definitive cinematic version of the characters. The films range from classic reworkings of some of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories to transplanting Holmes to contemporary times  ( i.e. the 1940’s)  where he puts numerous fiendish Nazi plots to rest .    ” (Catalogue)

 

Elementary. The first season
“A contemporary take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Sherlock Holmes investigates crimes in modern-day New York City as a consultant to the NYPD and is assisted by Dr. Joan Watson, a former surgeon, who is hired by Holmes’ wealthy father to help keep the eccentric detective sober.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

We also have seasons two, Three, Four, Five, Six and the Seventh and final season.

 

Star Trek, the next generation. Season 2
“A new Captain, a new Enterprise, but still the same mission. To go where no man has gone before, seek out new life and discover new frontiers. This season includes  Elementary, Dear Data the episode where Data and Geordi take  time out to play Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson on the Holodeck. The story arc for this episode was continued in the season six episode ” Ship in a Bottle  ” (Adapted from Catalogue) We also have all the other Next Generation Series including Season Six.

 

Sherlock Holmes. Volume one
“One of the most acclaimed Television versions of the Sherlock Holmes stories  was the 1980s Granada TV version where Holmes was played by  Jeremy Brett.  Like Rathbone before him Brett was regarded as the actor who created the generation defining version of the role . This season includes the following episodes . A scandal in Bohemia , The dancing man, The hound of the Baskervilles,  The naval treaty and the The solitary cyclist. ” (Catalogue)
We also have seasons two, three and the final fourth season.

 

Mr. Holmes
“In 1947, an aging Sherlock Holmes returns from a journey to Japan, where, in search of a rare plant with powerful restorative qualities, he has witnessed the devastation of nuclear warfare. Now, in his remote seaside farmhouse, Holmes faces the end of his days, with only the company of his housekeeper and her young son, Roger. Grappling with the diminishing powers of his mind, Holmes comes to rely upon the boy as he revisits the circumstances of the unsolved case that forced him into retirement.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hound of the Baskervilles
“Sherlock Holmes comes to the aid of his friend Henry Baskerville, who is under a family curse and menaced by a demonic dog that prowls the bogs near his estate and murders people. In this lush Gothic Horror tinged version of the most famous Holmes story of them all. Peter Cushing  and Sir Christopher Lee  star as Sherlock Holmes and  Sir Henry Baskerville in this  Hammer Film Production from 1959.  ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Murder rooms : the dark beginnings of Sherlock Holmes. The complete television series
“The story of the relationship between the young Arthur Conan Doyle and his real-life mentor and noted forensic scientist, Dr. Joseph Bell, as they unite to solve the most baffling murder cases in Victorian Scotland. This unusual take on the Holmes myth takes the real life relationship between Arthur Conan Doyle and  mentor the  noted forensic scientist, Dr. Joseph Bell ( the inspiration for Holmes ) as the starting inspiration for these fictional tales filmed on location in Edinburgh  ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Murder by decree
“Christopher Plummer and James Mason take on the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this gritty, dark  murder mystery thriller about Jack The Ripper’s series of  murders in the 1880’s. The style and tone of the film is more of a  homage to the horror films of  the Hammer film Studio. The pairing of Plummer and Mason as Holmes and Watson is inspired and the idea of Holmes being in conflict with British Government black-ops is fascinating. It would have been interesting to see Plummer and Mason in other Holmes stories, but sadly this was their only outing. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

 

Crime-writing duo Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell coming to Newtown Library

You may have heard American forensic pathologist and crime writer Judy Melinek and her husband and co-author TJ Mitchell interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand at the end of March. They’re the writing sensations behind the Jessie Teska forensic mystery books — and they’re coming to Newtown Library!

The couple will part of a panel discussion in an exciting line-up that includes three-time Ockhams New Zealand Book Awards listee Brannavan Gnanalingam, 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award and Ockhams winner Dame Fiona Kidman, and 2021 Ockhams long listee Sally J Morgan.

What? A Capital Crimespree – Newtown Mystery in the Library Panel Discussion, an event in association with the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

When? 6pm, Friday 30 April

Where? Newtown Library, 13 Constable Street, Newtown

Facebook Event Link

We’re so excited to host all these crime-writing luminaries, and in subsequent posts we’ll be profiling them all, but because they were recently interviewed on Radio New Zealand, we thought we’d kick off our panellist profiles with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell — two authors with storied pasts who relocated to Wellington from America in July 2020.

Judy Melinek is a doctor and forensic pathologist who trained in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Her working life is the subject of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, co-authored with her husband, writer T.J. Mitchell, and the two also collaborate on their series of novels featuring medical examiner Jessie Teska. Today Dr. Melinek performs autopsies as a forensic pathologist in Wellington, New Zealand.

T.J. Mitchell, as well as being a bestselling author, also has a past as a scriptwriter for Hollywood. To hear more about their remarkable lives and times and how actual forensic practice informs their fictional works, pop along to our Newtown Mystery in the Library event!

Listen to Kim Hill’s interview with this intriguing pair of authors (18 min.)

Please note “Mature/ adult issues of a challenging nature” may be discussed.

Browse their work below:

Working stiff : two years, 262 bodies, and the making of a medical examiner / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation–performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587. An unvarnished portrait of the daily life of medical examiners–complete with grisly anecdotes and chilling crime scenes” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.First cut : a novel / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past. Instead she faces a chilling discovery when a suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving nefarious opioid traffickers and flashy tech titans who got rich off Bitcoin. Autopsy means ‘see for yourself,’ and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all – even if it means the next corpse on the table could be her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.Aftershock / Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
“At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body, located on a construction site, rests under a collapsed beam. But when Dr Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the telltale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice and prevent them from potentially striking again. But when a major earthquake hits San Francisco right before Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

“All things are transient here below and frail” – Our latest crime fiction showcase

“All things are transient here below and frail. Death only standeth fast for evermore”
Lorenzo de’ Medici  1449-1492,

One of the wonderful things about the genre of crime fiction is that it knows no geographical borders,  a wellwritten crime book from any part of the globe will stand a good chance of being quickly translated and released into a worldwide market. There is a huge global readership for good crime novels.  And the truly international nature and appeal of a good crime novel is amply demonstrated in this month’s crime fiction showcase; in this month’s selection we have novels from eight different countries. Ranging from Sweden and Germany to Scotland and Renaissance era Italy we even have a crime novel set in England where HRH Queen Elizabeth is the sleuth.

The family business / Allen, Hania
“In the north of Dundee, DI Dania Gorska is leading the search for a missing boy,  combing the dramatic landscape in hope of finding the child. What they discover in a derelict hut in the hills isn’t the boy, but is the remains of a body, chained to a wall. This body isn’t the missing child but is identified as another young boy. Dania begins to unearth the old case, determined to discover Cameron’s killer and looking for possible connections to the present-day missing child. But as she digs into the past, she realises that the Affleck family are hiding more than they let on and that there are some dark secrets that everyone wants to stay buried.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the dead / Bengtsdotter, Lina
“Thirty years ago, teenager Paul Bergman was found drowned in Gullspang’s lake, and his best friend Francesca vanished from her home. Paul’s death was ruled a suicide, and Francesca was never found. DI Charlie Lager is still haunted by childhood memories of a strange house and the missing girl who once lived there.
Convinced that the original investigation was flawed, Charlie is determined to uncover what really happened all those decades ago. But someone out there is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the truth from coming out.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Windsor knot / Bennett, S. J.
“The morning after a dinner party at Windsor Castle, eighty-nine-year-old Queen Elizabeth is shocked to discover that one of her guests has been found murdered in his room, with a rope around his neck. When the police begin to suspect her loyal servants, Her Majesty knows they are looking in the wrong place. For the queen has been living an extraordinary double life ever since her teenage years. Away from the public eye, she has a brilliant knack for solving crimes. With her household’s happiness on the line, her secret must not get out. Can the queen and her trusted secretary Rozie catch the killer, without getting caught themselves?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

City of vengeance / Bishop, D. V.
“Florence. Winter, 1536. A prominent Jewish moneylender is murdered in his home, a death with wide implications in a city powered by immense wealth. Cesare Aldo, a former soldier and now an officer of the Renaissance city’s most feared criminal court, is given four days to solve the murder: catch the killer before the feast of Epiphany – or suffer the consequences. During his investigations Aldo uncovers a plot to overthrow the volatile ruler of Florence, Alessandro de’ Medici. Can Aldo stop the conspiracy before anyone else dies, or will his own secrets destroy him first?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook .

The dance of the serpents / De Muriel, Oscar
“December, 1889. There have been many bad days in Edinburgh police’s secret subdivision ‘The Commission for the Elucidation of Unsolved Cases Presumably Related to the Odd and Ghostly’. But today is surely the worst. Because the exiled English Inspector Ian Frey, and his Scottish boss ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray are summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night with the Prime Minister himself. And he tells them that Queen Victoria  wants them both dead. To be pardoned they must embark on a mission so dangerous that they might be saving Her Majesty the job of executing them. A conspiracy within the highest office in the land.” (Catalogue)

Jeremiah’s bell : a D.C.I. Daley thriller / Meyrick, Denzil
“When rich American hotelier Alice Wenger arrives in Kinloch, some eyebrows are raised and memories are rekindled. Meanwhile, the secretive Doig family live a solitary existence on a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, without even the basic amenities of modern life. After the family’s patriarch plummets to his death, secrets of stolen gold, whisky smuggling, shipwrecks and brutal events going back decades begin to emerge. With emotions running high in Kinloch Police Office, the team must put aside their own problems and get to the bottom of a sickening crime. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Stasi winter / Young, David
“In 1978 East Germany, nothing is as it seems. The state’s power is absolute, history is re-written, and the “truth” is whatever the Stasi say it is. So when the murder of a woman is officially labeled an “accidental death,” Major Karin Muller of the People’s Police is faced with a dilemma. To solve the crime, she must defy the official version of events. But defying the Stasi means putting her own life–and the lives of her young family–in danger. As the worst winter in history holds Germany in its freeze, Muller must untangle a web of state secrets and make a choice: between the truth and a lie, justice and injustice, and, ultimately, life and death.” (Catalogue)

These women / Pochoda, Ivy
“There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a wilfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

 

Q and A with Professor Val McDermid

For your delight, edification, and enjoyment our very special online Q and A with the Queen of modern crime fiction Professor Val McDermid.

We are absolutely thrilled to be presenting this Online event with Professor Val McDermid.

Filmed at Val’s home by her partner Professor Jo Sharp and using questions specially gathered from the users of WCL and beyond. The interview is a fascinating insightful and entertaining look into one of the most popular and critically acclaimed writers on the planet.

About Professor Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in contemporary crime fiction and ‘Tartan Noir’ — her novels have sold more than 16 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages worldwide. Her novels currently fall into four main series, featuring a host of memorable characters: As well as five standalone novels.

  • The Lindsay Gordon books
  • The Kate Brannigan books
  • The DCI Karen Pirie series
  • The Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series

Val has also written Non-fiction, short stories, and an award-winning children’s book.

Val’s most recent release is the sixth DCI Karen Pirie novel called Still life. 

Val McDermid has also won crime writing’s most prestigious award, the much-coveted Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, for her novel The Mermaids Singing. Along with her plethora of awards, she also holds an Honorary Fellowship from St Hilda’s College in Oxford — where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland ever to attend.

We have an extensive range of Val McDermid books available to borrow click here to view our entire collection.

You can find out more about Val’s activities (and find loads more criminally good recipes besides!) by visiting her website — valmcdermid.com.

We wish to extend to Professor Val McDermid and Professor Jo Sharp our deepest and most sincere thanks for sharing their time with us, and for such a fabulous interview — which you can now view below.

Still life / McDermid, Val
On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets. But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Forensics : what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime / McDermid, Val
The dead talk–to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid’s own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also  available as an eBook.

Overdrive cover Imagine a Country, Val McDermid & Jo Sharp (ebook) “The first step on the road to change is to imagine possibility. Imagine A Country offers visions of a new future from an astonishing array of Scottish voices, from comedians to economists, writers to musicians. Edited, curated and introduced by bestselling author Val McDermid and geographer Jo Sharp, it is a collection of ideas, dreams and ambitions, aiming to inspire change, hope and imagination. Featuring: Ali Smith, Phill Jupitus, A.l. Kennedy, Alan Cumming, Kerry Hudson, Greg Hemphill, Carol Ann Duffy, Chris Brookmyre, Alison Watt, Alasdair Gray, Leila Aboulela, Ian Rankin, Selina Hales, Sanjeev Kohli, Jackie Kay, Damian Barr, Elaine C. Smith, Abir Mukherjee, Anne Glover, Alan Bissett, Louise Welsh, Jo Clifford, Ricky Ross, Trishna Singh, Cameron Mcneish, Alexander Mccall Smith, Carla Jenkins, Don Paterson, and many more…” (Overdrive description)

My granny is a pirate / McDermid, Val
” The perfect story to keep you entertained whilst stuck at home and missing Granny Who knows, when you next see her, she may have turned into a pirate… My granny is a pirate
She’s sailed the seven seas.
She captured many pirate ships
But was always home for tea. When a family secret about Granny is revealed, we discover all about her fiercesome pirate reputation and her swashbuckling ways – from making other rogueish pirates walk the plank to singing sea shanties to her dog, Jolly Roger. Look again at your granny…could she be a pirate too? A must-have book for all pirate fans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Crime and Mystery titles

I don’t think it’s healthy for a man to be always brooding over crime and detective stories, reading up all sorts of cases. It puts ideas into his head.” ― Agatha Christie, Death in the Clouds

One of this month’s Newly acquired crime novels revolves around one of the perennial true-life mysteries surrounding the Golden age of crime the disappearance of Agatha Christie.

On Friday 3 December 1926, Agatha Christie, already a crime writing sensation, went missing for 11 days, sparking a huge manhunt, one of the biggest ever mounted in the UK. Even fellow crime writers Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dorothy L. Sayers were called in to help. With Arthur Conan Doyle trying paranormal techniques to solve the mystery, Agatha was subsequently found 11 days later in a hotel under the assumed name of Theresa Neele (her husband’s mistresses name). And to this day no one really knows what happened to Agatha Christie over these days. Agatha herself always claiming to have no memory of what happened. Marie Benedict postulates a very possible and believable solution to the mystery.

There are lots of other fabulous new offerings including the latest novel from the Ngaio Marsh Shortlisted author Christina O’Reilly Retribution.

The mystery of Mrs. Christie : a novel / Benedict, Marie
“In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car–strange for a frigid night. Her World War I veteran husband and her daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away. The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. What is real, and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play, and what was he not telling investigators? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The coffinmaker’s garden / MacBride, Stuart
“As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains. A house full of secrets… With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped. The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook

The hollow ones / Toro, Guillermo del
“Odessa Hardwicke’s life is derailed when she’s forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn’t the tragedy itself — it’s the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent’s body after his death.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The Thursday murder club / Osman, Richard
” In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Retribution / O’Reilly, Christina
“A young woman has been murdered on Ripton Beach. DSS ‘Archie’ Baldrick and DC Ben Travers eventually identify the body as that of Lucy Martin, who has been renting a bach in the area. Her husband, Oliver, seems to know very little about his wife or her background. What was Lucy hiding? Why has she no family or friends? As the number of suspects mounts up, Archie begins to conclude that the real answer lies in Lucy’s dark and mysterious past, and that the murderer may be just a little too close for comfort …” (Adapted from Catalogue)
No room at the morgue / Manchette, Jean-Patrick
“Eugene Tarpon, private eye, a sometime cop who has set up shop after being kicked off the force for accidentally killing a political demonstrator. Months have passed, and Tarpon desultorily tries to keep in shape while drinking all the time. No one has shown up at the door of his office in the midst of the market district of Les Halles. Then the bell rings and a beautiful woman bursts in, her hands dripping blood. It’s Memphis Charles, her roommate’s throat has been cut, and Memphis can’t go to the police because they’ll only suspect her. Can Tarpon help? Well, somehow he can’t help trying. Soon bodies mount, and the craziness only grows.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The night of the fire : a mystery / Eriksson, Kjell
“Police inspector Ann Lindell has left the Uppsala police and is living a quiet life, producing local cheese in a small town in Uppland. But life in the country is not as idyllic as it seems. On New Year’s Eve someone sets fire to the former village school which is now a home for asylum seekers, and three people are killed. Ann Lindell’s investigative instincts come back to life and soon she takes on the case. She is contacted by a person who has been involved in a previous investigation and who wants to warn her. His message is short and clear: Many will die. A few weeks later a bomb explodes in a suburb of Stockholm.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A catered book club murder / Crawford, Isis
” If anything can be said about the endearingly predictable Margo Hemsley, it’s that she always serves elaborate desserts at her mystery book club meetings. That’s why everyone fears the worst after she doesn’t pick up her order from Bernie and Libby and skips out on the monthly gathering. . When the search ends with the discovery of a dead body, Bernie and Libby agree to help the nine remaining book club members prove their friend was murdered. As the sleuthing sisters unearth scandalous secrets about the book club members, they’ll have to determine who was connected to Margo’s shady dealings–and who sent her to an early grave…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ask the queen of crime fiction, Val McDermid, a question

Browse Val McDermid's books on our catalogue

We’re excited to announce that bestselling queen of crime fiction Val McDermid has kindly agreed to answer questions from her Wellington readers in a Q&A to be recorded on video this month.

Send us your questions for Val by Wednesday 10 February and we’ll do our best to get them answered. A big thank you to Val McDermid for agreeing to do this Q & A session!

Email a question — enquiries@wcl.govt.nz

About Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the biggest names in contemporary crime fiction and ‘Tartan Noir’ — her novels have sold more than 16 million copies and have been translated into 40 languages worldwide. Her novels currently fall into four main series, featuring a host of memorable characters:

The  Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series has also been adapted into a TV series — the critically acclaimed Wire in the blood.

Val McDermid has also won crime writing’s most prestigious award, the much-coveted Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year, for her novel The Mermaids Singing. Along with her plethora of awards, she also holds an Honorary Fellowship from St Hilda’s College in Oxford — where she was the first student from a state school in Scotland ever to attend.

So, send us your questions for Val! You can use the email link above, or contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on or before Wednesday 10 February, and we’ll do our best to put your questions to Val in our interview.

You can also read more about Val at her website below:

Visit valmcdermid.com

Have a browse of Val’s work below, and keep an eye out here and on social media for our Val McDermid interview coming soon!


Still life / McDermid, Val
“On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets. But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there. In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good…”( Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

A place of execution / McDermid, Val
“On a freezing day in December 1963, Alison Carter vanishes from her rural village, an insular community that distrusts the outside world. For the young George Bennett, a newly promoted inspector, it is the beginning of his most difficult and harrowing case – a suspected murder with no body, an investigation with more dead ends and closed faces than he’d have found in the anonymity of the inner city, and an outcome that reverberates through the years.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The mermaids singing / McDermid, Val
“Another body has been found. The fourth. Now even the most reluctant members of the Bradfield police department have to admit they have a serial killer on their hands. A sicko.” “All the victims have been young men, their naked bodies broken and battered. All have been tortured.” “Detective Inspector Carol Jordan has been working around the clock, teamed with criminologist Dr. Tony Hill. While Jordan is hunting for clues, Hill is composing a psychological profile of the murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The wire in the blood / McDermid, Val
” Young girls are disappearing around the country, and there is nothing to connect them to one another, let alone the killer whose charming manner hides a warped and sick mind. Dr Tony Hill, head of the new National Profiling Task Force, sets his team an exercise: they are given the details of missing teenagers and asked to discover any possible links between the cases. For Tony Hill, the murder becomes a matter for personal revenge and, joined by colleague Carol Jordan, he embarks on a campaign of psychological terrorism – a game where hunter and hunted can all too easily be reversed.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Booked for murder : the fifth Lindsay Gordon mystery / McDermid, Val
“Why would anyone want to kill bestselling author Penny Varnavides? Her demise can’t be the freak accident it first appeared to be: it is an exact replica of the unique murder method employed in her forthcoming novel. Only three people seemed to know the details of this unpublished book – her literary agent, her editor, and her ex-girlfriend, Meredith. Who stood to gain the most from Penny’s death? Did anyone else know about this unusual plot device?” “In an effort to clear her friend Meredith’s name, Lindsay Gordon delves beneath the glittering facade of the high-powered, seemingly glamorous world of London publishing in search of a murderer.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Northanger Abbey / McDermid, Val
“A modern re-imagining of the Gothic Classic Northanger Abbey by the bestselling crime author Val McDermid. The second book in The Austen Project. Cartier Diamond Dagger winner McDermid puts her gifts to good use in this update of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which features sheltered young Cat Morland, who’s charmed by Henry Tilney when she visits Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. Jane Austen in the hands of queen of crime, Val McDermid. Get ready for a very different Northanger Abbey.” (Catalogue)

Forensics : what bugs, burns, prints, DNA, and more tell us about crime / McDermid, Val
Val McDermid is one of the finest crime writers we have, whose novels have captivated millions of readers worldwide with their riveting narratives of characters who solve complex crimes and confront unimaginable evil. In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them. It’s a journey that will take McDermid to war zones, fire scenes, and autopsy suites, and bring her into contact with both extraordinary bravery and wickedness, as she traces the history of forensics from its earliest beginnings to the cutting-edge science of the modern day.” (Catalogue)

New crime, thriller and mystery novels

Writers always think their greatest work is just ahead of them.” — Ian Rankin

The crime genre has for a long time been one of those genres that really embraces an international perspective. A good crime novel from any part of the World will often find a ready willing and eager readership. And this month’s highlighted crime, thriller and mystery novels really demonstrate this, the list contains authors from Sweden, Italy, Scotland, Australia, America and Ireland. The tales included range from a New Inspector Rebus story where family and career collide set in Scotland, to an inspector Montalbano outing where the murder clues are in an Italian theatrical production from a Scandinavian lottery winner with a secret double life, to a crime caper set in a magical World. Enjoy.

Snow / Banville, John
“Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford–flinty, visibly Protestant and determined to identify the murderer–faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in the tight-knit community he begins to investigate. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Sicilian method / Camilleri, Andrea
” Montalbano finds his answers to a murder in a theatrical play.Mimi Augello is visiting his lover when the woman’s husband unexpectedly returns to the apartment. Hurriedly, he climbs out the window and into the downstairs apartment, but from one danger to another. In the dark he sees a body lying on the bed. Shortly afterwards another body is found and the victim is Carmelo Catalanotti, a director of bourgeois dramas with a harsh reputation for the acting method he developed for his actors: digging into their complexes to unleash their talent, a traumatic experience for all. Are the two deaths connected? ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The secret life of Mr Roos / Nesser, Håkan
“A man starts a double life after a secret lottery win. But he can’t know just how sour his new life will turn .Every day he travels down to this man-made oasis, returning each evening to his unsuspecting wife. Life couldn’t be better, until a young woman arrives in paradise .Anna Gambowska is a twenty-one-year-old recovering drug addict. On the run from the rehab centre she hated and an abusive relationship she can’t go back to, all Anna’s prayers are answered when she comes across a seemingly vacant hut in the Swedish woodland. Inspector Barbarotti doesn’t take much interest when a woman reports her husband as missing. That is, until a dead body is found near the missing man’s newly-bought hut, and Mr Roos becomes the number one murder suspect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Trust / Hammer, Chris
“Martin Scarsden’s new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it’s shattered by a voicemail: a single scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandaly Blonde. Racing home, he finds an unconcious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why? So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it. And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a mystery man has been discovered, a man whose name she doesn’t know, a man she was engaged to marry when he died. It’s time to face her demons once and for all; it’s time she learned how to trust” (Catalogue)

The searcher / French, Tana
” Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets. THE SEARCHER is a gripping standalone novel from a singular writer who has been called “incandescent” by Stephen King, “absolutely mesmerizing” by Gillian Flynn, and “unputdownable” (People).” (Catalogue)

Dead man in a ditch / Arnold, Luke
” The name’s Fetch Phillips — what do you need? Cover a Gnome with a crossbow while he does a dodgy deal? Sure. Find out who killed Lance Niles, the big-shot businessman who just arrived in town? I’ll give it shot.  Help an old-lady Elf track down her husband’s murderer? That’s right up my alley. What I don’t do, because it’s impossible, is search for a way to bring the goddamn magic back. Rumors got out about what happened with the Professor, so now people keep asking me to fix the world. But there’s no magic in this story. Just dead friends, twisted miracles, and a secret machine made to deliver a single shot of murder.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The postscript murders / Griffiths, Elly
The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death. But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all. ” (Catalogue)

A song for the dark times / Rankin, Ian
He’s gone…’ When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst – and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father – the job always came first – but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast – and a small town with big secrets – he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find.. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Take a look at our Tartan Noir

Scottish crime novels cover a wide diversity of styles and themes. Ranging from gritty neo-realistic urban crime novels, exemplified by writers like Stuart McBride, to a much more genteel pastoral style from M. C. Beaton and Joyce Holm. There are also mavericks in the genre, people like Christopher Brookmyre, who taps into a rich and deep vein of black Scottish satirical humour in his thrilling works. Another person who explores different aspects of the genre is Paul Johnson, whose body politic merges the genres of crime and science fiction in a peculiarly Scottish fashion. Perhaps one of the best indicators for the popularity is the large variety of works translated into film and television series, such as M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth. 

If you’d like to give these authors a try, check out our Tartan Noir display in the Fiction area at Central Library on the ground floor. Our displays change around frequently, so now is the perfect time to come and browse these Scottish crime authors all in one place.

Keen to try some of these authors online? Wellington City Libraries’ collection on Overdrive has a Tartan Noir list with audiobooks and eBooks free to download or listen to online.

Wellington is welcoming Scottish crime author Denise Minain a LitCrawl event in early September. This will be a chance to hear one of Scotland’s great contemporary writers, don’t miss out!


Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
From Edinburgh Castle to the Fourth Bridge these short stories from a range of authors will introduce you to well known Scottish places through the voices of Scottish crime writers including Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Stuart MacBride and more.

Death of a nurse / Beaton, M. C
“James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr Harrison to welcome him to the neighbourhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologises for her employer’s behaviour, and Hamish invites her out for dinner. Hamish waits for Gloria at the appointed restaurant. And waits. But Gloria never shows up. Four days later, her body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again.” (Catalogue)

Want you gone / Brookmyre, Christopher
“What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.” (Catalogue)

Missing link / Holms, Joyce
“A puzzling new case for sparkling detective duo Fizz and Buchanan. Always in search of a good story, Fizz Fitzgerald finds it hard to hide her impatience when elderly Mrs. Sullivan is shown into her office. Genteel and motherly, Mrs. Sullivan can only spell one thing: boredom. Fizz is more than shocked, therefore, when Mrs. Sullivan asks Fizz to help prove her guilty of murder. Could this story be too good to be true? Fizz is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and ropes in long-suffering partner-in-crime, Tam Buchanan.” (Catalogue)

Skeleton blues : a Quint Dalrymple mystery / Johnston, Paul
“Independent Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather’s balmy, there’s a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up — and a tourist is found garotted. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians’ dirty work. For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body, and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found.” (Catalogue)

The long drop : a novel / Mina, Denise
“William Watt’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law are dead, slaughtered in their own home in a brutal crime that scandalized Glasgow. Despite an ironclad alibi, police zero in on Watt as the primary suspect, but he maintains his innocence. Distraught and desperate to clear his name, Watt puts out a bounty for information that will lead him to the real killer. Based on true events, The long drop is an explosive, unsettling novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.” (Catalogue)

Wintery crime: Nordic Noir

The Man Who Died book cover

Exposing the shadowy side of Scandinavian life, these dark tales are gritty and unpredictable. This selection of recent titles from Scandinavia has authors from: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Some are translated from the original, a couple feature writing partnerships that have created award winning television series, authors who have inspired movies and adaptations of classics in a modern setting.


The scarred woman / Jussi Adler-Olsen (from Denmark)
“The body of an elderly woman is found in a Copenhagen park, and since this book features Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, you can bet the case bears resemblance to an unsolved murder dating back a decade. The race is on, and if Morck doesn’t win this one, Department Q will be closed.” (Catalogue)

The silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller /Michael Hjorth (from Sweden)
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered – mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman is at a dead end until he discovers a young girl saw it all happen has disappeared.  Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too – and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardottir (from Iceland)
“In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.” (Catalogue)

Three minutes / Anders Roslund  (from Sweden)
Roslund & Hellstrom are a writing team consisting of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. Follow the link to discover Roslund’s links to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
“One-time Swedish government agent Piet Hoffmann is on the run: both from the life prison sentence, and from the Polish mafia. In order to survive, he ends up as bodyguard and hit man for the Colombian mafia, and is approached by the US DEA to infiltrate the same cartel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died / Antti Tuomainen  (Finland)
“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo (from Norway)
Adapted from the classic as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series.  This grim retelling uses place as well as character to evoke the struggle of flawed individuals under the influence of the headiest of drugs, power. Macbeth is cast as an inspector unexpectedly finding himself in a place foretold by potion brewing sisters. ‘The Lady’ has her own designs on power both have laid out a path of disastrous consequences.

The girl in the woods / Camilla Läckberg  (from Sweden)
Popular author Camilla Lackberg has a series of books based in Fjllbacka as one of her creative pursuits.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjllbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Kjell Ola Dahl  (from Norway)
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated.  Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason (from Iceland)
“A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow. On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavik’s National Theatre. Konrad, a former detective, is bored with retirement, he grew up in “the shadow district” and remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial enquiry.” (Catalogue)