December crime question – tartan noir quiz

This month’s Crime question is inspired by a conversation I had with a well know British Crime Author who shall remain nameless, who admited to being a quiz buff. So in his honour I have come up with a Tartan Noir Crime Quiz

1. In Val McDermid The Distant Echo, What was the nickname that the four students give to their group while at University

2. In Lin Anderson Driftnet, What is the name of the island where Rhona Macleod grew up

3. What two Scottish Crime Fiction Novels have has a similar storyline to two major catastrophes that have happend in Scotland

4. In Ian Rankins Malcolm Fox Novels, What is the official name given to the team that Malcom Fox works for

5. How many times has Denise Mina won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

6. What is the name of the Scottish Crime Writing Festival that takes place over a weekend in September in Stirling

7. In Peter Mays The Blackhouse, What is the English equivalent to the Female Gaelic name Marsaillie

8. In Aline Templetons DI Marjory Fleming series, What is the fictional name of the Dunfrieshire town where the Police HQ is set

9. What book won the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year in 2013

10. In Stuart McBrides book Birthdays for the Dead, What is the name of the fictional Scottish city where the book Is set

11. In Gillian Galbraiths Alice Reid Series, The Novel The Road to Hell sees Alice have to deal with two major upsets, What we’re they

12. How many different Series of Books has Tony Black written

13. In Micheal J Malone Blood Tears, How does Ray McBain escape police custody when he became a suspect in the murders

14. Which author has written novels called Ghost in the Machine, Devil in the Detail, Fire in the Blood, Dyed in the Wool and Shot through the heart

15. In Anna Smith’s Rosie Gilmour Series, What newspaper does Rosie work for

16. In Mark Douglas-Home Sea Detective Series, What is the name of Cal McGill ex wife

17. At the moment how many novels and short stories are they in the DCI Andy Gilchrist Series by Frank Muir

18. What are the Jobs of Lorimers wife Maggie and Sollys wife Rosie in Alex Gray Novels

19.  Can you name two authors that have set there books in the city of Discovery, Dundee

20. In Myra Duffy Isle of Bute Mystery Series, What is the name of Alson Cameron’s Husband and Younger Daughter who appear in some of the novels


Can you put Ann Cleeves Shetland Series in Order of Publication

In Ken McClure Steven Dunbar Novels, What is the name of the fictional government body that Steven Dunbar works for

Book Review – Shot through the heart – Ed James


***** 5 STARS

Mark Campbell, historian and author, is desperate to finish his new book on the infamous Highland Clearances when his researcher mysteriously disappears. Abandoning his depressed wife and new baby, Mark rushes to a remote Scottish village to investigate. But when he gets there, all is not what it seems. Who is the attractive landowner, Lady Elizabeth Ruthven, and why is she housebound on a remote loch island? Why are wild dogs hunting him? What really happened to the researcher? Mark’s investigation is soon overwhelmed by a series of unnerving events, plunging him into a nightmare of vampires and devil worship. Can he make it back home to his family in one piece?

When I was given a link to this book about a month ago I was very intrigued by the sound of this book and also I was a bit wary, as this book and new series are a bit different from the D.C Scott Cullen series of books that I have come to really enjoy by author Ed James. Now having finished the first book in the Supernature series I can happily say that my doubts about this have been washed away and I have become a fan. It is obviously not a police procedural but I could still see this novel sitting happily alongside Eds other novels, as nowadays the Crime novel genre includes Mysteries an thrillers of which Shot through the heart is definitely.

As It is a thrilling adventure novel set in the Scottish Highlands that cleverly weaves the supernatural with history. It will have you griped right through its white knuckle ride of nevers and emotions right through to the books shocking conclusion. It just leaves me to say if you get a chance to buy or download this book then I urge you to do so as it is a cracker of a book, you won’t be disappointed. So it looks like 2014 is going to be a great time for fans of Ed James books as we are looking at a new Scott Cullen Book, number 5 called Bottleneck and a new Supernature book called Crash into my Arms.

Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2 Nov 2013)
ISBN-10: 1493632930
ISBN-13: 978-1493632930
Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.7 x 2.2 cm

Coffee – Cake And Crime Event With David Shaw MacKenzie


The police believe that Tom Kingsmill killed himself by jumping off a bridge but Mike Delvan is convinced he is still alive. To solve this mystery Mike will not only have to excavate the past but examine the fears, prejudices and secrets of the people of his home town, Dalmore. This carefully paced, illuminating novel explores, with sensitivity and humour, the complexity of life in a small town where everyone knows everyone else and where affection and friendship stray towards separation, deception and loss.

1.How did you get started writing?
This is actually a very difficult question! I can’t remember. My favourite activity in primary school was writing what were then called ‘essays’. I didn’t write essays, I always wrote stories. I haven’t managed to stop.

2. What drew you to write crime fiction?
I didn’t know that I was writing crime fiction until my publisher told me. There certainly is a mystery in ‘The Interpretations’ and at least one crime, but my intention was to use these devices to explore how the characters cope in a changing world.

3. Which writers past or present have influenced your style of writing?
Well, the first novel I wrote – happily never published – was written in the style of Joseph Heller. Of course, I thought it was much better than Heller, but I was wrong! These days, I don’t know. I’m fond of understatement and I don’t tend to use lots of adjectives or similes but I’m not quite as pared down as, say, Raymond Carver. One of my favourite writers is Chekhov. If I could write one story as good as ‘Lady with Lapdog’ I’d start to be happy.

4.  What was the inspiration behind the storyline of The Interpretations?
As far as I remember – and I began writing ‘The Interpretations’  a long time ago – the starting point was the idea of someone disappearing while running across a bridge: how could this happen and what are the possibilities? The bridge itself brought to mind the Kessock Bridge, because it’s one that I know, as I know the Black Isle, and the Skye Bridge because of the controversies that it raised. From that came the idea of a community divided in its attitude to the construction of a big, new bridge. Everything more or less fell into place after that.

5. When you first started writing did you find it hard to get publisher interest?
Yes. My first novel, ‘The Truth of Stone’, went to several publishers before being taken up by Mainstream Publishing. And I had a bit of luck along the way. I wrote a letter to Jessie Kesson, who had been brought up on the Black Isle (‘Another Time, Another Place’ is an excellent book), and asked her if she would read some of my work. She said no, but… suggested I send my work to her agent. I did this and, two or three years later, ‘The Truth of Stone’ was published.
6. Scottish crime fiction is a very popular novel genre, what makes your book The Interpretations stand out from the rest?
I’m not sure that it does. I don’t actually see myself as principally a crime writer. The mystery or crime in my books – there is a central mystery in ‘The Truth of Stone’ also – is there to promote interest in the characters and enable the development of the main themes.

7. Your first novel was nominated for the Saltire Society First Book Award and your short stories have appeared in many major literary magazines and anthologies, how has that made you feel?
Pretty good! Long may the nominations and prizes continue! Regarding short stories, I’d very much like to have a collection published but that may be some time away. I’m not sure if I’m a novelist who also writes short stories or a short story writer who occasionally writes novels.

8. Your book The Interpretations has a host of really interesting characters, did you have a favourite to write about?
I’m very fond of the Reverend McFarren. I like him because he starts off as a very strict, unbending sort of man but in old age he mellows and becomes more accepting. A good trait, I think.

9. Why did you chose to set your novel in Dalmore?
Dalmore is very loosely based on Dingwall,  a town I know well, with a big bridge not too far away. Also, the setting for the incident in the fish processing plant which opens and ends the book, is based on a couple of months I spent in the 1970s working in Conon Cold Store. It was quite sad for me to see, on my most recent trip north, that the Cold Store was knocked down a few years ago. There’s only some rubble left.

10. Are the characters in your books based on any real life?
I think my answer is the same as most writers would say: some aspects of some of the characters are prompted by people I knew but no character is a complete copy of a real person. The Reverend McFarren, for example, is an amalgamation of several ministers I knew in my childhood, plus a few other bits added in.

11. Since you have started writing have any well known authors given you any advice?
Yes. Some years ago I met Gordon Burn (who sadly died in 2009). He’s best known for his book about the Yorkshire Ripper, ‘Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son’, but he’s also the author of some very fine novels (‘Alma Cogan’, ‘fullalove’ among others). He said, ‘Good writing should not be a distraction. It shouldn’t stop you thinking about yourself, it should make you think about yourself.’ That is a very demanding aspiration. I hope I can get at least some way to fulfilling it.

12. Do you see any of your characters personality in yourself and vice versa?
Inevitably some of my traits slip into my characters. Again, I imagine this is the same for all writers. But which traits, which characters? I couldn’t possibly say.

13. What do you see for the future of Mike Delvan in your books?
Mike Delvan will not appear again. (Aaaaaw…)

14. If you can could you give us a sneaky peak into any books you have written?
I’m close to finishing the final revision of my next book – though I haven’t discussed it with Sandstone Press yet! Let’s just say that there’s another mystery (though no crime) and its settings include: a Scottish Island; London; Capri; the Antarctic. Oh, and it’s brilliant!

15. As a blossoming writer do you have words of advice you can share?
Well, a blossoming writer! Maybe a late blossoming writer – I’m 64! But yes, I’m happy to offer advice. Most important is to read lots and write lots. If you really want success, be prepared for a long apprenticeship. If your aims are fame and fortune, forget it. Also, I got an excellent piece of advice from my primary school teacher, Mrs MacRitchie of Cullicudden Primary School. She said, ‘Never use a big word where a little word will do.’ I was about ten years old and I was outraged! Why was she teaching us these words and then telling us not to use them? It took me about thirty years to realise the significance of what she said. Mrs MacRitchie died in 2009 at the age of 106 and I remember her with great affection.


Other Novels

The Truth of Stone, Mainstream, 1991

Amazon Author Page

Book to look out for


Out 01 December 2013

T.F. (Frank) Muir – A Christmas Tail

At the moment this book is down to the very low price of £0.00 on Kindle so if you are looking for a good short story book to read just now then I suggest that you make it this

When Jayne McLaren is given the devastating news that her ten-year old son, Tim, has only months to live, she decides to take him to St Andrews to see Hamish McHamish, the town’s famous cat who Tim believes can cure him, if only he gets to stroke him.

But Hamish is missing, and when Tim’s health takes a sudden turn for the worse, Jayne asks DCI Andy Gilchrist for help – find Hamish, and give her son his final wish. But in the season of goodwill to all men, will it take a cat to prove that miracles can still happen?

To check out and pre – order this book from Amazon, click on the link below

Coffee – Cake And Crime Event With James Oswald



The body of a man is founding hanging in an empty house. To the Edinburgh police force this appears to be a simple suicide case.

Days later another body is found.

The body is hanging from an identical rope and the noose has been tied using the same knot.

Then a third body is found.

As McLean digs deeper he descends into a world where the lines of reality are blurred and that the most irrational answers become the only explanations.


   Ten years, ten women.

The final victim, Kirsty Summers, was Detective Constable Tony McLean’s fiancée. But the Christmas Killer made a mistake. In a cellar under a shop, McLean found a torture chamber and put an end to the brutal killing spree.

Twelve years later, and a fellow prisoner has just murdered the incarcerated Christmas Killer. But with the arrival of the festive season comes a body. A young woman: naked, washed, her throat cut.

Is this a copycat killer?

Was the wrong man behind bars all this time?

Or is there a more sinister, frightening explanation?

McLean must revisit the most disturbing case of his life and discover what he missed before the killer strikes again . . .


A young girl’s mutilated body is discovered in a sealed room. Her remains are carefully arranged, in what seems to have been a cruel and macabre ritual, which appears to have taken place over 60 years ago.

For newly appointed Edinburgh Detective Inspector Tony McLean this baffling cold case ought to be a low priority – but he is haunted by the young victim and her grisly death.

Meanwhile, the city is horrified by a series of bloody killings. Deaths for which there appears to be neither rhyme nor reason, and which leave Edinburgh’s police at a loss.

McLean is convinced that these deaths are somehow connected to the terrible ceremonial killing of the girl, all those years ago. It is an irrational, almost supernatural theory.

And one which will lead McLean closer to the heart of a terrifying and ancient evil . . .

1.How did you get started writing?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories, but my first attempts to write for an audience were comic scripts that I started writing when I was a student at Aberdeen University. I’d been reading comics since I was small – I still do today – and thought it would be a great way to earn a living!

2. What drew you to crime fiction?

This was entirely the fault of my good friend Stuart MacBride. I first met him when we both signed up as contributors to a comics, SF and RPG fanzine a mutual friend was setting up in Aberdeen. When he had his big breakthrough with Cold Granite, he suggested I stop messing around with dragon fantasy and try my hand at crime. I dusted off an old character who’d appeared as a support character in some of my early comic scripts -Detective Inspector McLean – and gave him a lead role.

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

I’d not read a lot of crime fiction before trying to write it myself. My father was a fan of Ian Rankin’s Rebus books, and I used to nick them when he was done with them. I’ve read all of Stuart’s books, often in early drafts. Both of them have influenced my writing, but I’d say more of style comes from reading non-crime. Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks are two major influences.

4. How do you combine your day job as a farmer with your job as a success full crime novelist?

It’s funny. A lot of my press interviews have focused on this, and it’s a question I get asked a lot by readers too. But probably 90% of the published authors I know (and all of the unpublished!) have a day job. Very few writers get to do it for a living.My living is perhaps unusual, I’ll grant you, but no more so than the bus driver who won the Booker Prize.

Writing and farming fit together reasonably wellanyway, as farming is essentially a daytime job and I write most productively at night. The success of the books, whilst very welcome, has put a bit of a strain on that, as I now have to travel all over the place for promotion, events and so on.

I do a lot less of the hands on farm work than I used to. When I got the call from my agent telling me of the Penguin deal, I was mending a fence up the hill in a snowstorm. Now I can afford to pay someone else to mend my fences for me!

5. Can you tell us why you were inspired to start self publishing your novels as Ebooks?

Put simply, no one else would publish them. Both Natural Causes and The Book of Souls had been short listed for the CWA Debut Dagger, but publishers didn’t like the mixture of crime with the supernatural. They weren’t sure that readers would accept that kind of thing, and didn’t know how to market it.

I’m very conservative when it comes to adopting new technology, so I have to credit Allan Guthrie with giving me the idea. He had self-published some of his novellas as ebooks to great success, and suggested I might try the same with my novels. Up to that point I’d be vaguely aware of the Kindle and other e-readers, but had no idea of the self-publishing industry that was building up behind them.

My partner, Barbara, had bought herself a Kindle as she travelled a lot for work and was tired of carrying around heavy books with her. She loved it, and I guess that’s what convinced me there was mileage in the format.

6. Were you surprised by the success of Natural Causes when you put in up on Amazon?

Very. I had hit on the idea of giving it away for a while, in the hope that people would like it enough to pay for The Book of Souls. It took three months for Amazon’s price matching algorithms to drop the price, during which time I sold about two dozen copies in total. Then when it went free it was downloaded 50,000 times in the first month. I have no idea how it caught the public mood, but once these things build up momentum they take on a life of their own.

7. Why did you decide to set your books in Edinburgh?

Because Aberdeen was taken.

I wanted a real setting, rather than inventing somewhere, and Edinburgh’s the only city other than Aberdeen that I know well enough to use. It’s also a very atmospheric setting for ghost stories.

8. 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?

It’s had an effect already. In the next book, The Hangman’s Song, it’s not happened yet, but the process of gearing up to the change is underway. In the fourth book, which I’m writing at the moment, it’s reflected in the plot – McLean spends some time out in Fife.

In many ways the change is a godsend to crime writers in Scotland, as there’s so many opportunities for stories. On the other hand, I don’t slavishly research and follow exact police procedure in my books. The structure of the police is more of a skeleton to hang the rest of the story on.

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

A lot less than you might think. I work on the principle that if I’m obsessing over some aspect of police procedure, then it’s time to write that detail out of the book. It’s important to have a basic understanding of how the police work, since they’re central to the story, but beyond that I just tend to make stuff up. The police station that McLean works out of doesn’t exist, for example. So nobody can accuse me of getting details about the canteen or the locker rooms wrong!

I was contacted not long after Natural Causes came out by a retired detective inspector from Lothian and Borders, wanting to know who my source was. He was fairly sure he knew who I’d based Charles Duguid on. The truth is I don’t have a source, have never spoken to any Edinburgh policemen and really do just make most of it up.

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

I tend to take traits rather than whole people. I’ll think of someone and ask myself how they would respond in a given situation, and then use that for my characters.

I’m a lot worse with names, which will probably get me into trouble some time. I’ve dragged up people I knew at school, or childhood friends, and used their names for characters. And, of course, there’s Detective Constable Stuart MacBride…

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

I find crime authors in particular to be incredibly supportive and helpful. Advice now tends to be on the lines of how to deal with the press and things like that, rather than how to write. I’m incredibly lucky to have a team at Penguin who organise my publicity, and they also put me through an interview training course, which has been invaluable.

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

There’s always a bit of me in all of my characters. I try to keep it well hidden though.

13. What do you see for the future of Tony McLean in your books

I’m not giving anything away! Penguin have bought another three books from me, after the first three, so there’s a good bit of life in him yet.

Or is there?

Penguin have also just bought five books in my dragon fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro, which kind of brings me full circle. Three of these are already written, but I’ve still to finish the whole cycle. I will be busy for a good few years yet!

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

The ghosts.

Seriously though, we are all different writers, with different styles and different ways of looking at the world. You could give a dozen crime fiction writers a character sketch and story briefing, set them off to write a novel using those and come up with a dozen wonderfully different books set in the ‘same’ place and using the ‘same’ character.

Actually, I think that would be a great idea for an anthology…

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

The most important piece of advice I can give to any aspiring writer is to finish the book. When I was first short listed for the Debut Dagger in 2007, I went to London for the awards and ended up sitting next to one of the other short listed authors – I won’t name him to spare his blushes. He’d been writing his book for many years, and had only finished the first few chapters. He kept on going back to them, working them and reworking them, but never finishing. I couldn’t conceive of even entering the competition with an unfinished novel – even though you only get to send in the first 3000 words and a synopsis.

Get the first draft finished, from start to end. It will be rubbish, but it will be a whole thing that can be worked into shape


Other Novels

The Ballad of Sir Benfro 1 – Dreamwalker

The Ballad of Sir Benfro 2 – The Rose Chord

The Ballad of Sir Benfro 3 – The Golden Cage

Amazon Author Page

November Crime Question

This month’s blog Question is inspired by the amount of new crime films and television programes that have grazed our screens in the last year examples include Douglas Henshall in Shetland  as Ann Cleeves DI Jimmy Perez and James McAvoy in Filth as Irvine Welsh DS Bruce Robertson.

So my Question is if you could choose any British Crime Novel to turn into a film or television adaptation what would you choose and who would star as the lead character. My picks would be as follows



James McAvoy (born 21 April 1979) is a Scottish actor. He made his acting debut as a teen in 1995’s The Near Room and continued to make mostly television appearances until the late 2000s. His notable television work includes State of Play, Shameless, and Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune. Besides screen acting, McAvoy has appeared on stage with loo Three Days of Rain in 2009, and in 2011 he did voice work for animated films including Gnomeo & Juliet and Arthur Christmas.
Starting in 2003, McAvoy began to build his film resume with Bollywood Queen. That film was followed with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), a commercial hit. His performance in Kevin Macdonald’s The Last King of Scotland earned him not only critical praise, but several award nominations. 2007’s critically acclaimed Atonement marked the breakthrough in McAvoy’s career. It also earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and his second BAFTA nomination. Another big point in the actor’s career was starring in Wanted (2008). Since then, he is notable for playing Charles Xavier in the 2011 superhero fix X-Men: First Class, a role he will reprise in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014 and corrupt Dectective Bruce Robertson in the 2013 film adaptation of Irvine Welsh book Filth.



Richard Madden (born 18 June 1986) is a Scottish stage, film, and television actor best known for portraying Robb Stark in the HBO series, Game of Thrones.

David Shaw MacKenzie – The Interpretations


Have been given a link by the lovely author David Shaw MacKenzie for his book The Interpretations if you would like to get a sneak preview of the first 9 pages of the book,  the link is as follows

If you want any more information on this book or any other books he has written, check out his amazon author page which can be found at the following page below


With the cold weather arriving and Christmas time is nearly upon us again, I thought I would give you a sneaky insight into what I will be reading to keep me warm now

1. Ian Rankin – Saints of the Shadow Bible


When a young woman is found unconscious at the wheel of her car, evidence at the scene suggests this was no ordinary crash. Especially when it turns out her boyfriend is the son of the Scottish Justice Minister and neither of them is willing to talk to the police.

Meanwhile, John Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a big demotion and an even larger chip on his shoulder. A new law has been passed allowing the Scottish police to re-prosecute old crimes and a thirty-year-old case is being reopened, with Rebus and his team from back then suspected of corruption and worse.

Known as ‘the Saints’, his colleagues swore a bond of mutual loyalty on something called ‘the Shadow Bible’. But with Malcolm Fox as the investigating officer – and determined to use Rebus for his own ends – the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer.

With political turmoil threatening to envelop Scotland, who really are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other?

2. Aline Templeton – Bad Blood


Marnie Bruce has hyperthymesia; she can remember everything she has ever seen. Everything except from one fateful night when she was eleven; she woke up in an isolated cottage with a head injury and her mother gone.

Twenty years later Marnie heads back to Scotland seeking answers to what happened, but in the small town of Galloway, her mother’s disappearance still burns in the air and Marnie’s return looks set to tear open old wounds for many of the locals.

For DI Marjory Fleming the disappearance of Karen Bruce is a case she would prefer not to re-open but the ripple effect of Marnie’s return makes it clear this is one mystery that must be solved. As Fleming unravels the secrets of the past, she realises Marnie’s life is inextricably, terribly linked to a monstrous crime decades ago.

Can Fleming fit the puzzle together before it’s too late? And will the truth be one Marnie wants to remember?

3. Malcolm Mackay – How a Gun Man Says Goodbye


How does a gunman retire? Frank MacLeod was the best at what he does. Thoughtful. Efficient. Ruthless. But is he still the best? A new job. A target. But something is about to go horribly wrong. Someone is going to end up dead. Most gunmen say goodbye to the world with a bang. Frank’s still here. He’s lasted longer than he should have . .. The breathtaking, devastating sequel to lauded debut The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, How a Gunman Says Goodbye will plunge the reader back into the Glasgow underworld, where criminal organisations war for prominence and those caught up in events are tested at every turn. The final book in the Glasgow Trilogy The Sudden Arrival of Violence will follow soon . . .

4. Douglas Lindsay – A Plague of Crows


Detective Sergeant Thomas Hutton is back in a stark and brutal portrayal of a police officer on the edge and a killer in control.

The Plague Of Crows plants his victims in a forest clearing, bound to chairs embedded in the ground. The lucky ones die quickly, the tops of their skulls missing, birds feeding on the flesh inside.

DS Hutton lives on the side of a Scottish mountain, only coming down for weekly psychiatric sessions in town. But this new serial killer forces Hutton to end his sick leave and return to duty in Glasgow.

As the months pass and the police remain clueless in the face of the horrors perpetrated by the most inhuman serial killer of his time, Hutton finds himself haunted by his past and plummeting further and further into a desperate world of sex, alcohol and guilt.

And while he has no idea where to look for the Plague of Crows, the killer knows exactly where to find him…