One To Watch October Crime Author of the Month – Douglas Skelton


1. How did you get started writing
I’ve been scribbling stories as far back as I remember. I recall sitting in the living room of the flat in Springburn, must be in the mid-sixties, writing a story called ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ which was a detective story about the murder of a TV star. I’ve written plays, comedy, radio shows. Also two wrote and produced two crime dramas for a Glasgow cable TV company, one of which I directed. The other won a Royal Television society Scottish Centre award for best drama. By then I was channelling the bug it into journalism and that led to writing about true crime and now, fiction.

2. What drew you to crime fiction
Given the first story was a murder story, I guess I’ve always been drawn to the dark side, but it’s also what I read. I started reading Ian Fleming when I was about 11 or 12. Then, of course, writing true crime and history, I learned a thing or two about the real underworld. I also spent a few years actually investigating crime for defence teams, which was a real learning experience. I suppose I could try a children’s story or a romance but I think my friends would wonder when the first body was going to turn up.

3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing
I was very impressed as a teenager with the TV work of Edward Boyd. He created a series called ‘The View from Daniel Pike’, about a Glasgow private eye. I thought it was wonderful and it made me realise that my home city could be used as a backdrop for thrillers. James Mitchell’s ‘Callan’ is also a big influence. My reading tastes do run more to the American writers – Ed McBain being the earliest influence. His use of the city as a living, breathing backdrop I found very impressive. Later I discovered, predictably, Chandler and Hammett. I’d love to be able to write like Dennis Lehane and Robert Crais. John Connolly is another favourite. William Goldman’s books and screenplays taught me about reversals, where a story can change in a sentence or two, while I’d love to be able to do dialogue like Aaron Sorkin.

4. What was the inspiration behind the storyline of Blood City
There is a story in Glasgow, virtually an urban legend, that back in the early 80s a group of top crooks came together to form a cartel to bring heroin into the city in vast quantities. There had been heroin in Glasgow since the 20s but the drug trade really hadn’t boomed. They each dropped a sum of cash into a pot and the trade was born. I’ve taken that story and run with it, using it as backdrop to the troubles facing young Davie McCall and his friends.

5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest
I was very, VERY lucky with my first book, ‘Blood on the Thistle’. I’d written a series of features for the Saturday edition of the ‘Evening Times’ on old crimes and the then features editor, Russell Kyle, thought I should put them together in book form. I rewrote them and sent them to Mainstream in Edinburgh with a chapter list. Bill Campbell came back to me within days, wanting to see more and it took off from there. When I decided three years ago that I’d gone as far as I could with true crime and wanted to do fiction, it became more difficult.

6. Did you find the experience of writing your first novel different than writing your other factional novels
I always approached the non-fiction with a storyteller’s eye, or at least that’s the way I looked at it! So, although I had the factual story to tell I still laid a storyteller’s sheen over the top. I didn’t change facts but I tried to present them in a way that put the reader inside the story. However, the facts were always there to guide me. With fiction, you are in total charge. You create the world, the people in it and the events, even if it’s set against a realistic backdrop. So, yes, it IS different but, for me, it’s still storytelling either way.

7. Why did you decide to set your novel in Glasgow
It’s where I was born, and although I travelled around as a child – Manchester, Cumbernauld, East Kilbride – I still saw it as my home city. I still do, even though I live elsewhere. They say write what you know and I know a wee bit about Glasgow. However, it has to be said that this story could easily have been set in Edinburgh, or Manchester, or Liverpool, or London. Even New York. Anywhere in fact. It’s Glasgow because that is what I know and I hope I bring the city alive but the actual plot, like any good crime novel, could take place anywhere.

8. Bloody City is a novel full of interesting and unique characters, did you have a favourite to write about
Well, Davie McCall’s the central character so I’d have to say him, even though he’s hard to write, given he doesn’t say a lot. But it’s all going on inside him. I do like the two cops Knight and Donovan. Knight’s a bit of a monster but I like writing him while Donovan is more thoughtful. Not to mention honest. I had to be careful they didn’t take over as the book is not a police procedural. Other writers are doing that and doing it well and there was nothing I could add to the genre.

9. what kind of research did you have to undertake for your book
A lot of studying maps, reading old newspaper articles that I have salted away in cupboards, a few questions for friends of mine who knew about certain aspects of the storyline. The rest I drew from my years researching other books and the investigation work.

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life No and I have to stress this – NO. They are all completely fictional.

11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice I did years ago have long conversations with Peter Turnbull, who wrote the ‘P’ Division procedurals set in Glasgow, and he gave me a few pointers. While working on a local paper in Glasgow’s West End, I got to know the Late Jack Gerson, who wrote a fine series of crime novels but also practically invented the three-part TV thriller. He taught me a few things about pace. Until recently, after Blood City was written, they were the only two crime writers I’d ever met.

12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa
I’m not as taciturn as Davie McCall. Well, maybe sometimes. He’s also pretty direct when he takes action, I tend to panic and run around flapping my hands. I suppose the one closest to me is Frank Donovan. I’ve written another book called ‘Queste’ in which the central character really is a mixture of a friend and me, with a few tweaks.

13. What do you see for the future of Davie McCall in your books
There’s a story arc of four books, although there is a self-contained plot in each one. It gets bloody. Will he continue beyond the four? Wait and see….

14. At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest
I don’t believe there is a problem with any number of stories being set in Glasgow. If we were writing about London, or New York, this would never be an issue. Mine is not a police procedural, not that all Glasgow books are in that genre. I hope it carries more than a whiff of reality, although it IS a thriller so it’s not exactly the way things are. I need people to sympathise with certain characters so the city’s underbelly is slightly idealised. It’s tough, it’s gritty but not without humour, which I believe is important. I said the story could be set anywhere, which is true, but I’ve tried to make the city – my city – a vibrant backdrop to the action.

15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share
Persevere. It’s a hard business and rejection is the name of the game. You’ll send your material out and it’ll come back or be ignored. But if you have faith in it, keep plugging away. And keep writing. Don’t just write one book and then push that alone. Write more. And if you can, write every day, even if it’s just a sentence or two. They say writing is rewriting and I think it’s true. You have to work at it, hone it, plane it till it’s as smooth as you can make it. You’ll be discouraged but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again.


Blood on the Thistle Frightener:
The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars (with Lisa Brownlie)
No Final Solution
A Time to Kill
Devil’s Gallop
Deadlier Than the Male
Bloody Valentine
Scotland’s Most Wanted
Indian Peter
Dark Heart
Glasgow’s Black Heart
Bloody City

Douglas Skelton is appearing with Quintin Jardine on October 25 at the Dundee Literary Festival and a Bloody Scotland in the Road event in November in Stirling along with Michael. J. Malone and others.

Amazon Author Page

October Crime Question

At Bloody Scotland last month I attended the pitch perfect sessions where future authors pitched there book idea to a panel of experts in the industry.  This got me thinking if I could write a crime novel what would it be about and what would it look like, so I have done a rough draft for you of my idea.




Do You Remember Me


The Past has Come Back to Haunt Them




An accident or something more sinister is the question on everyone lips, when the body of Dunkeld local Deborah Browning is found slumped dead in her car following a car crash.  First on the scene is local Bobbies PC Steven Whitley and PC Dave Chalmers are sent in to investigate.

That is untill the murdered body of teenager Kirsty Morgan is found floating face down in the River Tay with the words DO YOU REMEMBER ME written on her chest, the Detectives from Perth and Kinross  CID are called in led by DI Michelle McGee and DS Peter Duncan to investigate as it seems that someone is killing of locals with no obvious connection to each other.

Then another body is discovered and it becomes apparent that a serial killers is living and working in this quiet Perthshire town, can the uniformed constables and the detectives work together to stop this killing spree before it is too late.

So if you had the opportunity to pitch a novel , how would it look like and what would it be about

Coffee – Cake and Crime Event With Ferguson Shaw


Some secrets are better left buried…

Keir Harper never could say no to a woman in trouble. Even the woman who tore out his heart and walked all over it.

So when Nicole Dunbar’s father disappears after being blackmailed she knows exactly who to turn to.

Nicole is convinced her father is innocent, but Harper knows everyone has secrets. And when he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun with a body at his feet, Harper knows someone is lying to him.

For Harper isn’t the only one looking for Gordon Dunbar. He may, however, be the only one who doesn’t want him dead.

With a client he can’t trust, a police officer seemingly torn between arresting Harper and seducing him, and a friend still haunted by her brush with a killer, the only person Harper can rely on is his volatile partner, Mack; a man driven to violence by the ghosts of his own troubled past.

Harper won’t walk away from a case, but he’s about to discover that forgetting the dead may be the only way to avoid joining them.


Finding her is only the beginning…

Keir Harper finds people. He knows how they think and he knows where they run to.

So when Janet Bell goes into hiding to escape her violent ex-boyfriend, her father hires Harper to track her down before her ex does.

It looks like an easy payday, but Harper’s hunt for the missing girl uncovers a terrifying secret that has been stalking the streets of Glasgow for months. A secret even the police have kept hidden. A secret that awakens painful memories of another missing girl: one who never made it home.

Harper soon discovers that finding Janet is only the beginning of a journey into the very depths of evil.

As he gets closer to the truth Harper finds himself trapped between warring criminal gangs, a cold-blooded hitman waiting for him to step out of line, and a police officer determined to put him behind bars at any cost.

But someone else is watching Harper too. Someone far worse…

1. How did you get started writing

Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed. I remember writing and illustrating a very short book, when I was just a kid, about a couple of accident prone dinosaurs who managed to escape being eaten by bigger dinosaurs purely through their Olympic level clumsiness. I was a bit of a walking disaster when I was young so I might have been resolving some issues in that storyline: telling myself that my clumsiness would save the day in the end.

2. What drew you to crime fiction

I’ve always loved reading crime and thrillers. When I was young I read all the Famous Five and Secret Seven, then moved on to my Mum’s Agatha Christie’s, and John Buchan’s, and anything else I could get my hands on, including more humorous fare like P.G. Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe. My poor Mum was probably facing bankruptcy trying to keep me in books. But books with a criminal element were always the ones that particularly stayed with me. When I began writing seriously I never even considered what genre to write in. This is what I read and this is what comes out when I put pen to paper.

3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing

I’m sure I’ve been influenced by any writer with more than a couple of books on my bookshelves, but there are some I think of as benchmarks in particular areas: Jeffrey Deaver is fantastic at twisting the story several times in the last few pages, and never so that it feels forced; Joe Lansdale writes tremendous dialogue; John Connolly writes so eloquently and lyrically, and creates some of the greatest villains; Dennis Lehane is another with a great ear for dialogue, and uses his books to ask some tough questions of the reader and society in general; Robert Crais and Jack Kerley really know how to tell a fast-paced story; Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter books have a wonderful line in sly, dark humour… I’ve been influenced by them all in the sense that theirs are the standards I hold myself to.

4. What was the inspiration behind the Keir Harper books

At the time I began writing the series it seemed to me there were a lot of Scottish and UK crime novels that featured police officers as the main characters and I wanted to write something different. I also wanted to write a series in order to develop a character over time, and I knew there had to be a valid reason for the protagonist to be continually investigating crimes. A private detective was the obvious choice given my background. But he had to be someone who was driven and willing to put himself in harm’s way, rather than just picking up a paycheque, and that’s where Harper’s back story came in, which in itself was inspired by two real life cases.

5. Did you find it hard to get publisher interest for the first book The Worst of Evils

Publishing is an extremely difficult industry to break into. A book needs to land in front of the right person at the right time, and so far that hasn’t happened. An agent in London was interested in representing me, but changed her mind before it came to anything. So I decided to publish The Worst of Evils myself and see what happened. The response has been fantastic.

6. Did you find the experience of writing your second novel in the series The Forgotten Dead an easy task or a quite daunting one compared to The Worst of Evils

Finishing The Worst of Evils was a hugely liberating experience for me. I’m very critical of myself, so for me to be happy with the finished work, was a real accomplishment. I’m very proud of the story. In that respect starting to write The Forgotten Dead felt easier because I knew I could do it. But by the same token I had set a benchmark for myself. And I now had characters that I was responsible for; characters that I had to be true to and yet continue to develop, which brought a new set of challenges.

7. Why did you decide to set your books in Glasgow

I’ve lived in the West of Scotland my whole life so it seemed natural to set the books here. Choosing a setting that I knew allowed me to concentrate on characters and plot without having to worry about the minutiae of a location that was alien to me. Of course, Glasgow lends itself perfectly to crime writing. The city has such a rich history, so much brilliance and so much darkness. And the fact it’s a major city with extensive countryside only a very short distance away gives plenty of scope for various landscapes and types of setting.

8. At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what sets yours apart from the rest

For me it’s character. Keir Harper isn’t a grizzled, world-weary old veteran, and he isn’t superman. He’s a young man, with flaws and weaknesses, but with the desire and determination to do what’s right, even at a cost. Something I see time and again in reviews is that the reader finds Harper and the other characters intriguing, relatable and believable. Ultimately though, what sets any writing apart from any other is the voice of the writer. It’s something intangible, something you either like or you don’t. You can read a book that seems to have all the right ingredients – character, plot, setting – and yet there’s something missing, something that just doesn’t connect for the reader. Sometimes this can be the mark of a writer who’s aiming at what they perceive as a market, or writing what they think a reader wants to read, rather than writing the story they simply have to tell.

9. What kind of research did you have to undertake for your books

I worked for a time as a private investigator, so that gives me some background to draw on, and I’ve trained in Muay Thai boxing for a number of years, which I think lends some realism to the fight scenes. But I’ve never wanted my books to pile facts on the reader. There are plenty of books that go into great depth on technical details and do it well, but I wanted my books to focus on characters, and I wanted Keir Harper to be an almost old-fashioned PI: someone who doesn’t rely on technology or gadgets but gets results through walking the mean streets and dealing with real people.

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life

No. There are certain characteristics that I’ve observed in people and have included here or there, only dramatised and exaggerated, but nobody is based on a real person. I have too much fun making up characters to use real people.

11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

Not directly, though you don’t have to look too far on the internet to find all sorts of advice. The problem there, as with any advice, is deciding which has merit and which is best taken with a large bag of salt. Every author’s journey is individual -what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. Everyone has to find their own path. I have a signed copy of The Vanished Man by Jeffrey Deaver, which my Dad got him to sign for me a few years ago. As part of the inscription he wrote “Keep on writing”, and that’s about as good advice as you can get: just keep writing, keep practicing, keep refining your style and your skills.

12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa

Harper is, like any of us, a product of his life experiences and, thankfully, I’ve never had to endure the things he has. I don’t imagine I’d cope quite as well as he does. His sense of humour is probably the closest aspect of his personality to mine. That and his liking for Irn-Bru.

13. What do you see for the future of Keir Harper in your books

Harper is a good man trying to do the right thing, even if it’s not necessarily the legal thing. But he exists in a violent world. How much violence can one person be surrounded by, and directly involved in, before it takes its toll on him? As the series progresses I think we’ll see Harper facing that question. Not only in how it affects him but those he’s close to, his relationships with other people, and the way he is viewed by others. I don’t know the answers yet, but I know I’ll have a lot of fun unearthing them.

14. I’m many of your reviews on Amazon people have stated that your books are both dark and also light hearted do you find it hard to maintain this in your novels

I’ve got a pretty dark sense of humour, as do most of my family and friends, so it was natural for me to bring that to the books. The storylines are violent and bloody at times, which makes the odd well-placed humorous line that much more important in order to lighten the tone. In most cases the humour flows quite naturally in the course of writing the dialogue. I’ll refine the wording during editing, but I find that the actual timing of the lines tends to feel right.

15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

As I mentioned earlier, everyone has to find their own path. However, some people see JK Rowling or EL James making mega bucks and think writing is a path to fame and fortune. If that’s why you’re writing, don’t bother. Writing is fun, but it’s hard work too, and you need to want to do it. If you’re writing for the enjoyment and because you have a story you just have to tell then, as Jeffrey Deaver wrote, “Keep on writing”. Read as much as you can; write as much as you can; go for it like someone’s going to take all your pens away at the end of the day. Grow a thick skin, settle in for the long haul, and write because you love it.


Amazon Author Page

Coffee – Cake and Crime Event With Jemma Brady


Castlecraig is an award winning Scottish primary school with a developing international reputation. A change in management brings hidden tensions and long standing feuds to the surface – leading to murder.
Ex New Zealand rugby player DCI Nathan Quintus and his team from Mid Scotland Police arrive to investigate. Supported by the unassuming but intuitive teacher Cate Morgan, they untangle a tangle of hatred and repression. But can the team discover the murderer’s identity before they kill again?


Cate Morgan has left her old life to set up home with her family in the attractive rural village of Craighill. She and estranged husband Evan find themselves entangled in the affairs of a disparate group of friends led by the glamorous Mhairi Murchison. But Cate’s proximity to the friends leads to danger and distress which turns deadly when one of the group is murdered.
Returning from absence, Quintus and his team find themselves tested by a menacing foe intent on hiding the truth. As Cate lurches deeper into danger, for Quintus the situation becomes personal.

How did you get started writing

1. I think I’ve always had stories running in my head but it wasn’t until I had a period of absence from work that I actually had time to carry things through and write a story from beginning to end. Before that I had never written things down but had mentally explored characters and scenarios. I’ve always loved words and playing with the differences that changing a few words can make to the overall flow of writing. Writing a full novel gave me the chance to indulge myself.

What drew you to crime fiction

2. I love crime fiction and it’s the one genre I would return to reading again and again. I like the element of working out whodunnit but also in looking for the clues left by writers in the text. I enjoy pitting myself against the writer in trying to solve the crime before the protagonist gets there first.

Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing

3. My favourite crime writers include Reginald Hill – I love his wit and the fact that in his books often there are words I’m not familiar with and have to look them up. I also love Tess Gerritsen, Minette Walters – who has deliciously dark plots, Ian Rankin, P.D James and in my teenage years Agatha Christie. There are others – as I say, this is my own favourite genre.

What was the inspiration behind the Cate and Quintus Mystery Series

4. I originally wrote about things I know – working in schools, being a mum and the interactions between different parts of life that often don’t gel.  I put in Quintus as a kind of ideal man who comes along and adds mystery and intrigue to initially quite ordinary situations. I also like the way that people change directions through their lives and come into professions that they never initially saw themselves doing. Cate and Quintus are both like that.

Did you find it hard to get publisher interest for a Primary Killing

5. Finding a publisher is a nightmare and still hasn’t happened. I sent drafts and first chapters to everyone I could find on the internet – both big and small publishers along with some who would charge handsomely for putting your work in print. It became very disheartening and hearing the good fortune stories of others made it worse, knowing that some people could find interest and I couldn’t. It makes you doubt yourself. But I eventually published myself online in e-book form and I’m happy with that for now.

How did you find the experience of writing your Second novel compared to your first one

6. To be honest I didn’t find it any harder or easier than the first book to write the second. There were still issues I had to resolve with plot and dialogue but the story was already in my head so I didn’t feel I had to work harder to create it.

Why did you decide to set your books in Central Scotland

7. The books are set in Central Scotland as that is where I’m from. I could draw on local knowledge to add authenticity and it’s fun to imagine places – some real, some created – as the backdrop for a book.

Do you think that with the amalgamation in April of the Scottish police force in to one organization could effect your books in the future

8. I’m currently writing book number 3 and I’m taking note of changes to the police service and trying to incorporate the feeling of uncertainty and reorganization that this brings to people’s working lives. I’ve done a bit of online reading to try and get a feel for what the change actually means for my local police area and once I am secure in my own mind about how this looks I’ll be confident to include it in my book.

What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book

9. I wrote about things I knew about – teaching, friendships, family dynamics and so on so that part of the story was familiar. Things like police processes after a sudden death I drew on writing from other authors as well as a lot of reading online from things like the Procurator Fiscal, the Court Service and such like. I wouldn’t say I’ve researched extensively like some authors of techno thrillers might, but I have a surface knowledge that adds realism to the plot without going into minute detail.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life people

10. Most of my characters are composites of a range of people rather than a direct translation of one specific person. People reading the books might think they recognize characteristics rather than individuals. At least I hope so.

Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

11. I can honestly say no. Everything I’ve done has been personal and individual. I saw a documentary about Ian Rankin where he discussed his approach and I drew some inspiration from that but I’ve never contacted any other author directly for advice. Maybe I should.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa

12. I’d like to hope that Cate reflects my own integrity and also the importance to her of her family. Beyond that we are very different people.

What do you see for the future of Cate Morgan and D.C.I Nathan Quintus in your books

13. I think Cate and Quintus will become closer – although their friendship is not without its tensions. As a New Zealander of course there is always the potential for Quintus to head away from Scotland but who knows?

In a lot of reviews for your books you have been compared to a lot of other great female crime writers, does this comparison make writing your next novel difficult for you

14. Was that the review my husband did???? Seriously I just write stories that I would like to read. I’m not aware of any comparisons of that nature, nor would I take them seriously if I saw them. My writing is developing and I hope it will continue to do so.

As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

15. As the detectives in so many crime novels say – “Know where you go and go where you know.” I’d say write about something that interests and enthuses you, hope that others will like it too but don’t give up the day job – at least not initially.


Amazon Author Page

Book Review – Hell To Pay – Die Hard For Girls 1 – Jenny Thomson


***** 5 STARS

Nancy Kerr refuses to be a victim – even when she walks in on her parents’ killers and is raped and left for dead. Fourteen months later, she wakes up in a psychiatric hospital with no knowledge of how she got there. Slowly her memory starts to return. Released from the institution, she has just one thing on her mind – two men brought hell to her family home. Now they’re in for some hell of their own.

This is the ultimate book of revenge and this time it is the woman who’s in control and she knows how to get what she wants. That saying this book is not for the faint hearted and is extremely dark and violent, think of a Scottish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and that Nancy Kerr is the Scottish equivalent of Lisbeth Salander and you will begin to get an idea of the level of violent events that take place, though when you think of what Nancy goes through physically and mentally in the first chapters of the book it is no wonder she becomes so bent on taking revenge.

The other thing you should be aware of before you start reading this book is that it is very addictive and once you start you start reading you will not want to put it down, so forget about eating, sleeping or going to work as this is a roller coaster of book that will have leave you on a high and your emotions all over the place. The book gets even better when Nancy joins up with her sidekick Tommy McIntyre and their will they wont they relationship keeps you wanting more and more.

And while we’re are on the subject of wanting more when you get to the last page in the book you will not want it to end as the author leaves the book with a cliff hanger that will make you desperate to get your hands on the sequel.

Paperback: 143 pages
Publisher: Sassy Books (26 July 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1780998864
ISBN-13: 978-1780998862
Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.5 x 20.8 cm

Books to Check Out

Anna Smith

Rosie Gilmour Series Books 1 And 2

At the moment these books are down to the low price of 98p on Kindle so if you are looking for some good books to read just now then I suggest that you make it these ones.

To Tell The Truth


A three-year-old girl is snatched from a beach – Nobody heard a sound. Nobody saw a thing. Rosie Gilmour’s much-needed holiday is cut short when the abduction story breaks and she’s sent to cover it. Her instincts tell her something’s wrong: such a crime must surely have its witnesses, and the girl’s mother’s story doesn’t add up. With a child’s life at stake, Rosie must dig deeper into the seedy depths of the area, making dangerous enemies. As she closes in on the truth, she realises the penalty for missing this particular deadline could be her own death.

The Dead Won’t Sleep


A decomposed body washes up on a beach near Glasgow. The victim, Tracy Eadie. Junkie. Prostitute. Fourteen years old.

Rosie Gilmour, tabloid journalist and crusader for justice, receives evidence linking police officials with Tracy’s disappearance. Digging deeper, Rosie uncovers a sickening network of corruption and abuse, leading back to the very top of the establishment. And to powerful figures who want their secrets kept hidden. Rosie has found the story of a lifetime. Yet living to tell it will be her greatest challenge.

1st There’s Been a Murder Crime Book of the Year Award 2013




Cal McGill watches the young woman through the dirty windscreen of his Toyota. There’s something compelling about her stillness, about the length of time she has been standing square-shouldered, erect, staring out to sea, like an Antony Gormley statue waiting for another of its cast-iron tribe to emerge from the deep. What has brought her to this remote beach, he asks himself. Is she a kindred spirit who finds refuge by the shore? Idle curiosity soon turns into another investigation for oceanographer and loner McGill as he embarks on a quest to discover why, 26 years earlier, another young woman stood on the same beach before walking into the waves. According to the police, she killed herself and her unborn baby. McGill, the Sea Detective, questions this version of events and confronts the jealousies, tensions and threats of a coastal community determined to hold on to its secrets


Doug Johnstone – Gone Again
Michael J Malone – A Taste for Malice
Ed James – Dyed in the Wool
RR Gall – Dumfries Dectective Series 1 – The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit
D.A. Meyrick – Whiskey from Small Glasses
Emma L Clapperton – Beyond Evidence
Chris Longmuir – Missing Believed Dead

Coffee – Cake and Crime Event With Myra Duffy


When she’s offered a job on the Isle of Bute as an assistant scriptwriter with Pelias Productions on the film A Man Alone, Alison Cameron seizes the opportunity for a change of career. It isn’t long before she has cause to regret her decision as a suspicious death and then an on-set accident throw the production into disarray. Someone wants to make sure the film isn’t successful. And what is the domineering Director,Sol,trying to hide?


Commissioned to write a new history of the about-to-be refurbished Rothesay Pavilion, Alison Cameron returns to the Isle of Bute. When an accident turns out to be murder and then a skeleton is uncovered during the renovations,past events cast a long shadow over the present. Who wants what happened long ago to remain hidden? And can Alison find out in time to prevent another murder?
This is the third book in the Isle of Bute cosy mystery series featuring Alison Cameron.


Something strange is going on at the Hereuse Nursing home on the Isle of Bute. One of the residents, Jessie McAdam, thinks her life is in danger. Alison Cameron, who is reluctantly arranging a college reunion on the island, agrees to find out what is causing her mother’s old friend, Jessie, such concern. Before long Alison finds herself involved in a series of mysterious deaths. Meanwhile Alison’s daughter, Deborah, has started a new job at the Regius Gallery, owned by an antiques dealer whose activities are suspicious. Can Alison find out what is happening before it’s too late?


When Alison Cameron’s friend Susie inherits a house on the island of Bute, Alison and her husband Simon agree to help while Susie is in America. But after several unexplained ‘accidents’ Alison realises someone is not happy Susie is the new owner of Ettrick House.
An archaeological dig near the house leads to an unexpected discovery and it appears Susie is not the only claimant to the property.
When the next ‘accident’ turns out to be murder, Alison knows she and Susie are in danger. Other people on the island have an interest in Ettrick House – and one of them is prepared to kill.

Other Books By Myra Duffy

From Mars to Earth
When Old Ghosts Meet – Alison Cameron Novel Not Set On The Isle of Bute

1. How did you get started writing

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I still have a copy of a ‘novel’ written when I was about nine years old called ‘Jewels in the Snow’. Even then I was drawn to mystery and crime. I wrote all through my teen years – short stories, poetry, plays – and was published invarious journals. When I was thirteen I won a writing competition organised by the ‘Sunday Mail’ and the prize was a dog – something that wouldn’t be allowed today!

2. What drew you to crime fiction

For me the main interest of crime fiction is the puzzle:who did it/ why did they do it? Much of my early reading was Enid Blyton, but I also read a lot of science fiction, especially Arthur C. Clarke,a genre that does have lots of ‘mystery’ elements. I prefer crime where there is not too much ‘blood and guts’ and especially like stories with a humorous undertone. Though it may seem strange to suggest these two elements can go together, real life is a mix of the serious and the not-so-serious and those who work in some of the most difficult professions often have a greatsense of humour.

3. Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing

I like writers where the mystery is at the heart of the novel. In my teens I read my way through Agatha Christie but I read widely in all genres, not only crime and my favourite crime writers include Ruth Rendell, Margaret Yorke, Morag Joss, Sue Grafton, Linwood Barclay and in particular Simon Brett. I love his character Charles Paris and from time to time re-read this series for the pleasure of meeting the character again. In addition I find the writing style of someone who doesn’t write crime – Maeve Binchey – an inspiration in the way she connects so easily with the reader. I enjoy finding writers I haven’t read before – which is one of the reasons I like to follow blogs such as this one.

4. What was the inspiration behind the Isle of Bute Mystery Series

One evening we were walking along the sands at Ettrick Bay, one of the favourite beaches on the island, when I suddenly wondered what would happen if there was a large Victorian house on the hill above the bay. The Prologue ‘wrote’ itself in my head and the character of Alison Cameron, who had featured in my very first (non-Bute) novel, seemed the right person to deal with the mystery of the house. ‘The House at Ettrick Bay’ was very well received and it seemed natural to continue from there to write ‘Last Ferry to Bute’. Readers asked for more so I continued with the series – I’m not short of plot lines, thank goodness.

5. When you first starting writing did you find it hard to get a publisher interested

Although I wrote for many years, much of my writing was non-fiction. I had two series of non-fiction management books published before returning to fiction. I was very fortunate and found a publisher for these fairly easily. The discipline of working with an editor for both series was enormously helpful when I came to write ‘The House at Ettrick Bay.’ I still write both fiction and non-fiction: as a Gemini I enjoy the challenge of both.

6. Did you find the experience of writing your first novel an easy task or a quite daunting one

My first novel and my second are in the ‘sock drawer’ and I doubt if either will ever see the light of day. Writing is a great pleasure, editing is hard work! I try to write at least a thousand words a day. Until you have the words down there’s nothing to work with. But then I edit and re-edit and then edit some more before I send it out. I find it hard to let go and am always thinking of ways to improve the story. With all fiction you have to watch out for plot glitches, time or name confusion. But with crime you also have to establish motive, put in enough clues to make the ending believable and yet have a sufficient number of red herrings to keep the reader guessing. As I don’t write police procedurals I don’t have the problems of keeping up to date with the latest developments in forensics and the Rothesay police have been very helpful and very patient with my general questions. I’m always careful tosay any ‘errors’ are my own!

7. What drew you to set your books on the Isle of Bute

The Isle of Bute has been a favourite holiday destination for generations, particularly favoured by those who livein the West of Scotland. Some years ago we bought a tiny bolthole there and spend a lot of time on the island. The island is an ideal place to set a crime novel. It has a population of no more than 6000 people, except in the summer months when the holiday makers descend. This provides the benefit of a location that has strong associations for many people, not only in Scotland but for those of Scottish descent throughout the world. You won’t travel far before meeting someone who remembers going there on holiday as a child or whose granny or other relative lived there! The setting allows me to focus in on the characters and in a small place there are lots of opportunities for local gossip and intrigue to move the plot along. I must add that Bute isn’t the hotbed of crime my novels suggest. In fact there is very little crime and it is a beautiful place with lots of unspoiled beaches and excellent walking, including the West Island Way. A lot of money is being spent on upgrading facilities, including the Art Deco Rothesay Pavilion which featuresin ‘Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion’. 8. You also you Glasgow as a backdrop setting for your books, why did you decide on this

I know Glasgow well, having lived there for many yearsand like to use the city as a complete contrast to Bute. In addition, it was important to have a place where Alison could live but which was within easy reach of Bute.

9. What kind of research do you have to undertake for your books

I try to mix real and imaginary elements in the novels. Most of the places I use are real, but I add or subtract details and include additional settings for purposes of the plot. I do a lot of background reading for each novel and I do have help! For ‘The House at Ettrick Bay’ I sought advice from my son who is a forensic archaeologist and lives on Bute. I researched the world of antiques for ‘Last Ferry to Bute’ and the history of the Pavilion, especially during World War 2, for ‘Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion’. My current book due for publication this autumn -‘Endgame at Port Bannatyne’ – is about a film being made on the island and I had a lot of fun doing the research for that. As a writer you have to be careful to have sufficient detail to make the story realistic, but not to let your interest in the subject take over the novel. Nothing is worse in the kind of crime novel I write than pages of detail. Dickens could get away with it or Walter Scott, but these are different times! I do know a number of people living on the mainland, having read the books, decided to take a trip to the island so I have to make clear the scope of the ‘real’ Bute.

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life people

Definitely not! I’m sure over the years I’ve ‘absorbed’ certain quirks of various people I’ve met, but I try to make it clear any resemblance is co-incidental.

11. Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

I’m very fortunate to be a member of Erskine Writers and members there are both supportive and helpful. The well-known crime writer Alex Gray, who writes thevery popular Lorimer series, has given me some excellent advice based on her own extensive experience. And Chris Longmuir (winner of the Dundee prize), who writes crime novels set in Dundee, has been particularly helpful with my many queries. The genre encompasses so many different kinds of ‘crime’ it’s very useful to have a perspective different from my own.

12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa

I hope I’m not quite as nosey as Alison is! And I think I’d stop at the first sign of trouble. She is, however, a very ordinary woman who finds herself involved in extraordinary events. Having said that, every writer draws on personal experience to some extent and one of the difficulties of using the first person narrative is that readers might confuse the writer with the character. But I like the immediacy of first person as a format.

13. What do you see for the future of Alison Cameron in your books

‘Endgame at Port Bannatyne’ is due for publication this autumn and I’ll be involved with that for a little while, but characters for the next Bute novel are already knocking at the door and I know this one will have a slightly spooky element. I may try to keep the charactersat bay for a little longer, but Alison will certainly feature. I have other, non-Bute novels in various stages of development and I would like to complete at least one of these soon and see how it’s received. However I’m delighted by the reader response to the Bute novels and I’m constantly being asked when the ‘next one’ will be available.

14. Out of all the books you have written featuring Alison Cameron and her family do you have a favourite one so far

Not really. I try to give each one a different focus and I’ve enjoyed writing all of them.

15. As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

I was advised early on to join a writers’ group and I have found being a member of Erskine Writers invaluable, not only for the advice and support I’ve received but also for the social aspect. Writing can be a lonely business and a difficult one and to have input from others who understand what it takes to write a full length novel is invaluable. I try to write a certain number of words each day. No matter how good your ideas, till they actually have shape and form there is little you can do with them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to discard anything which doesn’t work. For ‘Endgame at Port Banntayne I just shortened the original first three chapters and substituted a much shorter one. It’s painful to discard your work, but sometimes it has to be done. Most writers don’t have a choice – writing is something they have to do!


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Coffee – Cake and Crime Event With Alexis Scott


When Moira Forrest – a writer of romantic fiction – is found dead from a stab wound in Patsy McCutcheon’s garden in Glasgow’s southern suburbs Detective Inspector Sarah MacLeod and her side-kick Hearst are allocated the task of investigating the murder. Sarah – born and raised on the Isle of Harris and in the Wee Free Church – finds the neighbours to be quite alienated from the police and the law as well as each other. Living a privatised existence there is no love lost between the Martins, the Hewitts and the Bensons and it is not just the (initial) prime suspect who is found to be telling a tissue of lies to the police.
Set in the very early years of the New Millennium Sarah MacLeod finds herself embarking on a journey of personal discovery as well as the search for the Deaconsbank murderer. Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence, defence solicitor Maria Jannetta is about to embark on a personal journey of her own.

Other Books by Alexis Scott

Eating Wolves
Nice Time with Brendan Howard
Hidden Histories
Tough Times
The Years
Martyrs and Other Stories with Colin Howard

How did you get started writing

1. I started writing as a child. I was one of those children off school for months and with time on my hands and thinking time alone: in my case it was because at the age of seven I fell off a slide and fractured my leg in three places. That apart, I come from a culture which valued the telling of stories (I am Irish). We went to church a lot and had lots of essay competitions at school and church. Cadbury used to give the best in the class a tin of chocolates for an essay on cocoa production. Quite an incentive! However, I only started thinking about getting published, at least in book form, in the late 1990s when I was between jobs and began to seriously write novels. Before that it was more essays – often political. I was active in various campaigns, include feminist groups, in the 1980s and wrote lots of articles.

What drew you to crime fiction

2. I think the crime thing happened partly by accident and also I wanted to see if I could write a crime novel. It took me longer than a lot of the other work I have written (not all of which has been published). The inspiration for some of the characters was undoubtedly the women’s movement in the early 1980s (specifically the Glasgow Women’s Centre). I think also that I realised I had more chance of getting a crime novel published as crime is very popular though I wasn’t sure I could do it! The plot in Deaconsbank is quite convoluted compared with my other books and I had great fun with it.

Which crime writers past or present have influenced your style of writing

3. I don’t really read crime fiction. That said, I have read and very much enjoyed Sarah Waters’ work although I don’t really think of her as a crime writer – more a writer of literary fiction. Recently I have also enjoyed the work of Emma Donoghue, particularly ‘Room’ which is, of course, about a horrendous crime but is not a traditional crime novel. There again, I like Ian MacEwan’s work which, again, is literary but he often covers crime and criminals as well, including murder. I tend to think the classification of books into rigid categories is mainly for the benefit of publishers and distributors but I can see it can make it easier for the reader too, although it can limit what we read. As regards general reading, I read all of Virginia Woolf’s and most of George Elliot’s books before I was twenty. I have been inspired by strong, female characters and intelligent women writers. Virginia Woolf’s work has been inspiring because of her ‘stream of consciousness’ style which helps the reader get into another person’s mind. Elliot was inspiring because of her strong moral stance. Last but not least I did read most of Agatha Christie’s crime novels when I was a teenager (my father took them out of the library and I read them too) and lately I have been watching crime on television so perhaps I am a fan, after all.

What was the inspiration behind the storyline of Deaconsbank

4. I never start writing with a plot in mind. I start from an idea and the storyline develops from there. This means I don’t really know where a book is going to take me. That is the most exciting thing about writing. It is actually rather sad when I get to the end. The very best bit is at least 30,000 words into a novel when I know it is going somewhere but I have no idea how it will end. The novel begins with Patsy and the working title was ‘Patsy’s Party’. Patsy is an accumulation of lots of characters I have met in real life and she is also a little bit of me. She is finding life tough-going, as it often is, and is also a victim of circumstance. I put her in a suburban estate because I was living in a not dissimilar place (in Livingston) at the time I wrote it – a place where people ostensibly lead quite conventional, outwardly uninteresting lives (but who knows what happens behind closed doors?)

When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest

5. I graduated from the bog standard rejection letter to the complimentary one from agents and publishers alike. Some referred me to other agents and publishers along with recommendations and, in one case, a favourable ‘report’ but the only one who eventually made an offer of publication was the tiny publisher Dewi Lewis who no longer publishes fiction. The trouble with small publishers is not just the paltry advances (I suppose they can’t afford more) and the general lack of marketing but the fact that, on Amazon, for example, you generally can’t ‘search inside’ and most people these days like a free sample before they buy. So I decided to republish Eating Wolves as an e-book and gave it a new name too: Nice Times. By mid 2013 I gave up seeking a publisher and decided to embark on the self-publishing route.

Did you find the experience of writing Deaconsbank different than writing your other novels

6. Yes. It took longer to write. I stopped and started a few times. It took a couple of years at least. Because it did become a crime novel I had to solve the crimes. It ended up there were several murders. I had a lot of fun writing it. I think you can mix genres in fiction and there is nothing wrong with having a sense of humour while writing about murder (and it can also be serious at the same time). In other respects the writing process wasn’t that different. Building characters is at least as important as plot development and that goes for all kinds of fiction.

Why did you decide to set Deaconsbank in a suburb of Glasgow

7. I lived in Glasgow for a few years in the 80s and I worked there for longer. Glasgow is always a place that will be dear to my heart. At the risk of sounding trite, I think it is a friendlier place –especially for a city – than the east coast of Scotland which is where I still live. I have never been to Deaconsbank (a real suburb of Glasgow) but years ago a colleague of mine lived there. The idea of setting a crime novel in suburbia is not a new one, but I like to think I have lent it some new aspects. The main characters are from quite different backgrounds but all are ill at ease with certain aspects of their lives: their jobs/ careers, housing environment and, in Sarah MacLeod’s case, the church. Religion is, of course, often used as an excuse for sectarianism in Glasgow but in Deaconsbank I have gone beyond the obvious Orange/green thing and investigated how religious beliefs can stifle individuals, especially with regard to sexuality.

Do you think that with the amalgamation in April of the Scottish police force in to one organization could effect your books in the future

8. I don’t think Deaconsbank is so much a police procedural so the reorganisation would not be particularly significant for any follow up (which I haven’t written yet and am not at all certain I will). Glasgow will always be Glasgow and characters are more important than any changes the new set-up might bring to the force. I might be tempted to write a crime novel set in the fairly distant past when the police (and writers) didn’t have to worry about DNA, the internet and all that stuff.

What kind of research did you have to undertake for your book

9. I trained as a solicitor (I qualified in 1994 but have never practised) so that helped. I did a wee bit of internet research about the gay pubs in Glasgow. I originally set one ‘scene’ in Vintners but discovered it was closed so changed it to Bennets. The actual street in which patsy lives doesn’t exist (I wanted to avoid referring to a real street where real people live because I was using street numbers quite a bit). Really, the book is mainly a work of the imagination so not a lot of research was required although I like to make sure the legal references are accurate.

Are the characters in your books based on any real life

10. They are an amalgam of real-life characters, including myself but no single character is based on a single real-life person. The political and religious backgrounds of Maria and Sarah respectively are also part of my own (although in different ways). For example, I was brought up a Methodist in what was then a very religious country. Needless to say, the north (Derry) was a very political place too.

Since you have started writing crime novels have any known authors given you any advice

11. In a word, no.

Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa

12. Yes, certainly. For the record I have loved a few women in my time. Otherwise I don’t think I could write with passion about my lesbian characters.

What do you see for the future of Sarah Macleod in your books

13. We-ell, not at all sure about this one. We’ll see.

At the moment there are numerous authors setting their books in Glasgow, what do you think sets yours apart from the rest

14. We are all unique because our life experiences are unique. And Glasgow is a big, big city with diverse characters and (sadly) still a lot of crime. There has to be room for everybody. When I worked in Glasgow I worked in (advice work in )various communities (Carnwadric in the south side, Drumoyne in the east) and as a researcher into the experiences of young people leaving residential care all over the city and beyond. I like to think fiction is a way of giving a voice to the dispossessed, if you like. I try and make my characters speak the way people in Glasgow’s communities speak. I don’t know if that sets me apart from ‘the rest’ but the language / dialect of the characters is an important part of my writing.

As a blossoming crime writer do you have words of advice you can share

15. Write what you know but let the writing lead you. All you need is an idea – and passion. Write what matters to you, believe in your characters. Read it out loud (to yourself if no-one else will listen). Reading aloud will let you know what works and what doesn’t. Be prepared to scrap it if it isn’t any good and start again. If you enjoy the writing process – as you should – a rewrite won’t bother you.


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