June was National Crime Reading month, a concept created by the CWA (Crime Writers Association) to encourage readers to get to the library, bookshop or local community centre and meet an author, read a new book, be introduced to some new characters.
I participated in two such events. The first was an author discussion and signing at West Barnes Library in Motspur Park where I met local readers and sold autographed copies of my books. It was a great way to interact with readeres, and I will endeavour to do more library events in the future.
The second was a crime writing workshop with author Joy Kluver. Hosted by Wimbledon Bookfest at Wimbledon Library, we taught a hall of beginner crime writers the basic concepts needed to craft your own crime novel. What a great afternoon!
Thanks to the CWA for coming up with the initiative and to Joy Kluver and the other brilliant local authors who took part.
The Soho Killer. Sounds ominous, right? Well, it is. The fifth book in the DCI Rob Miller series (Joffe Books) is one of the darkest yet. Set in the heart of the capital’s West End, it starts with a brutal murder that sends the local community reeling and law enforcement scrambling to understand what happened.
Rob Miller is nearby on personal business, so gets the call to attend the scene, and what he finds both shocks and horrifies him. Set in August 2022, London is about to enter the most intense heatwave in history, and tensions are running high both at the precinct and on the streets. Tempers flare along with the temperature, and the police are inundated with call outs. Still battling the negative press, the Met are desperate to raise their image and rebuild trust, however, the nature of the brutal crimes is making it very difficult for them. The public expect answers, and they can’t give them any.
Who is killing seemingly random homosexual men on the streets of Soho, and why? The killer is clever, illusive, forensically aware, and seems to know the location of every camera in the area.
When I was researching this book, I took my partner with me to Soho and stood in the centre of Soho Square where the first body was found. “Can you see me?” I shouted.
He glanced at the CCTV camera mounted to the lamp post in the south corner and nodded. “Yep.”
I shifted several paces to the left, under the beady eye of the statue of King Charles II. “What about now?”
More shuffling left.
“That’s it!” he called.
And that’s where I placed the body.
I’m surprised we didn’t get called in for questioning ourselves, so furtive was our behaviour. 🙂
I also had a very interesting chat to a guy in a fetish shop about bondage gear, harnesses, colour codes and things that I was not even aware of prior to writing this book. Store owners, street vendors, council clean up workers, bar staff and cafe managers all contributed to my research – and a huge thanks goes out to them.
Soho is a busltling community with a diverse community and I absolutely love it. Having only been in a couple of times in the past, for theatre shows or jazz concerts, I’d never really explored it properly. I can now confidently say I know it extremely well, right down to every CCTV camera , back alley, sex shop and green space.
So if you’re in the area, I highly recommend a panini and coffee at Bar Italia, followed by a lazy early evening visit to ‘Ain’t Nothing But, a local blues bar with a colourful line-up that won’t fail to entertain. Soho has become my new favourite haunt, until the next book, anyway…
I’ve been reading Michael Connelly’s books since I was about twelve, so it was with great excitement that I sat in the front row at the Theakston Peculier Crime Festival to listen to my hero speak. Michael was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award for 2022, an honour well deserved, in my opinion.
Harry Bosch is a familiar name in crime fiction, and now even more so with the well received television series on Amazon Prime. Micky Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer, is almost as famous, and once again, the excellent TV series has brought our favourite somewhat damaged, justice-seeking attorney into our living rooms.
The auditorium was packed, and the audiece breathlessly waited to hear what Michael had to say about his crime novels, his life, how he got into writing and what he plans next for his characters. Mark Billingham set the scene, and the audience settled in for a comfortable chat. Right from the start I was impressed with Michael’s humility and lack of arrogance. I’ve listened to several “big name” authors and Michael is the real deal. He’s not in it for the money, he doens’t co-write (was quite horrified at the thought of someone else writing Harry Bosch), doesn’t sell out to the highest production company (but rather chose the one where the producer used to be a laywer and as a result truly understood what it was like to stand in a court room, even though they were offering much less) and loves the act of writing. A true author who’s in it for the love of the game. I suppose if we were being cynical, we could say, well, he can afford to be, however, I get the feeling that even if Michael hadn’t made a bucket of money, he’d still be sitting in his study writing day after day.
Once a reporter on the crime beat, it was clear that Michael has lost none of his journalistic instinct. He has a nose for delving into crimes, and I found it so interesting that he sets each novel he writes in the year in which he writes it. That’s why they’re such a great commentary on our times, on the lives we’re living and what’s actually going on in the world. Riots, presidential shifts, pandemics, cost of living crisis – he includes it all. Not directly, of course, but incorporating it in the novels so that we hardly notice it’s there, but it’s enhancing the story none the less.
What’s next for Harry Bosch? Well, our favourite crime-fighting cop (or ex-cop as he is now) is getting on, and won’t be able to do what he does for much longer. I had a lump in my throat when I heard that at some point, Harry’s going to have to come to an end. Whetehr it be a graceful bowing out or a sudden, violent death, I have no idea. Either way, his days are numbered. Maddie, Harry’s daughter, has taken the reigns, now becoming a police detective in her own right, while the Bosch and Ballard combination has allowed Michael to extend Harry’s character arc for some time longer.
I walked away feeling exhilirated, inspired and a little bit in awe. What a legacy. What a guy.
I can’t wait to head up to Harrogate for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival next month. This is another highlight in the crime writing calendar, and a great place to spot all your favourite crime writers. This year’s line up features Denise Mina, Paula Hawkins, Adele Parks, Ian Rankin, Mark Billinham to name but a few… Find out more here >> https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime-writing-festival/
CrimeFest in Bristol is always a highlight in my calendar and this year’s was no different. It was a fun weekend of author discussions, panels and talks, and I met some interesting people, made new friends, and caught up in person after two long years of no face-to-face meetings. Long overdue. Thanks to the CrimeFest team who did a brilliant job at organising everything, and my publisher, Joffe Books, for the wonderful gettogether on Friday night.