There’s been a murder author interview with Margaret Kirk

1. How did you get started writing? 

I think I’ve always enjoyed writing, even at school. But I never seriously thought about trying to be published until about four or five years ago, when I started writing short stories. I was lucky enough to be place in a couple of competitions, which gave me the confidence to go on.

2. What drew you to write a novel?

Someone commented that my short stories seemed like novels in miniature! And writing at novel length feels like the best way to explore my characters and what they get up to in more detail than a short story would.

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

I’m not sure I’ve been influenced by anyone, but I did find Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ a tremendously helpful book when I started out.

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

Well, my route to publication was a little out of the ordinary. First of all I entered my short stories into various competitions, and did quite well with them. And then my debut novel, ‘Shadow Man’ won the Good Housekeeping First Novel competition 2016! The prize was publication by Orion and representation by LBA Books, so I haven’t gone the traditional route at all.

5. There are many interesting characters in your Novel, do you have a particular favourite one? 

With the exception of the murderer – or is that murderers? 😉 – I’m really quite fond of all of them! But Fergie, DI Lukas Mahler’s scruffy sidekick, always makes me smile.

6. What kind of research have you have to undertake for your Novel? 

I don’t have a police background, but luckily I do have friends who are ex-‘Job’, so basically I just pester the life out of them for info. I do think a feeling of authenticity is very important, no matter what genre you’re writing in.

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

Not directly, but they’re definitely influenced by people I have known!

8. How do you feel about being on being on the list for the not so booker prize?

Hah! Don’t see it happening, but it would be great!

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

I think there’s probably a bit of me in most of them. With, hopefully, the exception of the baddies … 😉

10. If you can, would you give us a sneaky peak into any future novels you might planned?

Oh, there’s a lot more to learn about Lukas and his team. I’m currently working on book two, which opens with a grim discovery on the site of a new housing development near Inverness…

11. If you had the opportunity to write a novel with any crime writer alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Goodness, that’s hard. So many amazing current writers – but who wouldn’t want to write with the all-time queen of the whodunnit, Agatha Christie?

12. Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is interested in writing a novel?

Don’t leave it as late as I did! Seriously, don’t give up – but do be receptive to feedback, both positive and negative. And read. Read a lot, not just in your genre. Read critically, with an eye to studying technique, seeing what works and what doesn’t. And don’t be afraid to tear things up and start again, if you have to.

A gripping Scottish crime thriller from the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing competition 2016.

Two sisters

Just before her wedding day, Morven Murray, queen of daytime TV, is found murdered. All eyes are on her sister Anna, who was heard arguing with her hours before she was killed.

Two murders

On the other side of Inverness, police informant Kevin Ramsay is killed in a gangland-style execution. But what exactly did he know?

One killer?

As ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler digs deeper into both cases, he discovers that Morven’s life was closer to the Inverness underworld than anyone imagined. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is Lukas hunting one killer, or two?




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Jackie Baldwin perfect Dead Blog Tour

Jackie Baldwin was born in Dumfries. She studied law at Edinburgh University returning to Dumfries to practice criminal and family law for the next twenty years. During that time she married and had two children and a variety of pets. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Dead Man’s Prayer is her debut crime novel and is set in Dumfries. When not working or writing, Jackie can generally be found in a forest or by the beach on long muddy walks with her two Retrievers.

A Writing Retreat On The Cheap

Guest Post

Writing retreats can be a marvellous way to claw time out of a busy life and immerse yourself in writing with the company and support of like-minded individuals. They can vary tremendously from fully tutored through to simple communal living whilst each person works on their own writing project. Over the years I have been on a few superb retreats with wonderful tutors that really inspired me to keep moving forwards with my work. These usually lasted from Monday to Friday and, whilst I didn’t begrudge a penny, they were generally not cheap.

However, if money is an issue, and it is for most of us, there is an alternative. For a couple of years now, one of my writing friends has hosted a writing weekend from Thursday to Sunday. Generally about six people attend and are all given their own space to write in. We all pay a small daily sum which goes on the communal food and bring a stash of alcohol. Everyone helps set the table, clear away and wash up. The food has been prepared in advance.

We write all day with a break for lunch and down tools around 6pm. The surroundings are gloriously bucolic with rolling hills and verdant fields. The free range hens are part of the entertainment. They leave no stone unturned in their determination to breach the house. One day we were having lunch outside when a very plump, delightfully militant hen landed on the middle of the table and pecked at a slice of bread before triumphantly re-joining her cohorts. The cats know better than to mess with them.

Every year we do one main thing for evening entertainment. Once we clubbed together to hire a massive hot tub for the weekend. This year we had a Murder Mystery Dinner. Well, we are all crime writers! It involved a 1920’s theme and we all dressed up. My jaw dropped when I turned the last page and saw that I was the murderer!

Plot problems can be mulled over during breaks. Yesterday someone was writing a scene where a character was tied to the chair and couldn’t visualise how it would resolve. She ended up tied to the chair with different knots and in different ways until she had worked it out in her head.

There is peer pressure to write and keep to your area so you don’t disturb others. It is amazing how the word count mounts up when you are sitting in a room with no distractions and nothing to do but write or stare at a wall. Sometimes we share some of our work in the evenings but there’s no pressure to do so. We are all at different stages in our writing. Some are published, a few at the submission stage and some working away on that first draft.

So, if you feel that your writing could benefit from going on a writing retreat then why not get together with a handful of writing friends and hold your own?

Sometimes perfection is worth killing for…

The second gripping crime novel in an exciting new series. Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell finds himself on the trail of a vicious killer in rural Scotland. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, James Oswald and Val McDermid.

Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.

Ex-priest DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?

The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective’, a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.

And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…

***** 5 STARS

Perfect Dead is the second instalment in the DI Frank Farrell series, the follow up to the Two Thousand and Sixteen Debut Dead Men’s Prayer where we met Ex Catholic Priest Frank Farrell now turned Detective Inspector, set in the close net community of Dumfries, when I first picked up the debut novel two years ago I found it difficult to put the book down and ended up reading it in two days as Jackie Baldwin managed from page one to the final page managed to capture the readers attention and took the reader on a emotional roller coasters, the story flowed nicely and the setting, atmosphere and characters were so very believable that you felt as though you were right there along with the characters following in their very footsteps as the action in the story progressed. When two months ago I was asked to be a part of the Blog Tour for Jackie’s follow up novel, Perfect Dead I jumped at the chance and after reading the novel I was not disappointed she has in my option topped my expectations and produced another can’t put down novel that again had be on an rollercoaster ride of emotions and action, a believable story line, loveable characters and a real feeling that even though you have not left your own surrounding you feel like you know Dumfries and the surrounding areas so well. I won’t spoil the novel for you by telling you what it is all about but by using the strap lines of Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death and Sometimes perfection is worth killing for then you will get the idea tthat Perfect death is one creepy and gripping novel that you absolutely need to read for yourself, I can’t wait to see where the next book in this series takes us, though I don’t want to wait another two years to find out what happens next and If you have not started reading these books then I recommend that you do, you won’t be disappointed.

Perfect Dead Amazon Page

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Peter Ritchie Shores of Death Blog Tour

Peter Ritchie is a retired senior police officer. The real-world authenticity in his novels comes from vast experience gained working in CID, murder squads, Serious and Regional Crime Squads and Europol.

Shores of Death is the 3rd book in the Grace Macallan series

A Northern Ireland undercover officer is missing and a young Czech woman is washed up barely alive on the Berwickshire coast. Her story is of witnessing horror on the waters of the North Sea and her subsequent ordeal to survive the trauma turns her world into a series of nightmares.

The story is complex web involving trafficked women from Eastern Europe and alliance of ruthless criminals from Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. At the head is Pete Handyside a career criminal brought up on the streets of North Shields who controls organised crime in the North East of England. He realises that his team has been infiltrated and sets of a train of events where criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on each other in an attempt to clean the trail of evidence leading to them. Macallan pits herself against Handyside leading to a chain of events complicated by high level corruption somewhere in the police service.

So, when I started Shores of Death I decided that I wanted it to be about trafficking women as I’d been involved in various cases over the years involving murdered sex workers and women traded for the sex industry. These cases had a profound effect on me and I still think about them to this day. It was important for me to give a glimpse to the reader of what the reality can be for the victims and the brutality of the trade in human beings.

This is the most complex story I’ve written so far and what I loved about it was I was able to use the experience of my early life as a deep-sea fisherman working for years from North Shields on the banks of the Tyne.  So, I used a fishing boat in the early scenes as the vehicle for trafficking the victims and even called the boat the Brighter Dawn which was in fact the name of my father’s boat when I was a boy. I used my own knowledge and experience of North Shields and Newcastle to set the early scenes and brought in other harbours such as Eyemouth on the Berwickshire coast.

The action takes place on a very broad canvas involving the North East of England, Edinburgh, Glasgow and later scenes in Perthshire and Loch Melfort in Argyll where I’ve spent a lot of time over the years on walking trips. I’ve always said that what I try to do is make the books as authentic as possible and of course organised crime has no borders now so this would reflect the way detectives and criminals operate in the modern world.

I loved doing this book and of course my confidence as a writer has grown with each story so I felt really comfortable letting my imagination go free on this one. It’s a remarkable experience watching Grace develop, she’s become quite real to me over time and I never seem to have to think too much for her. She just seems to appear – sets off on her own and I just follow and describe what she’s doing! One of the developments in the series is that some of the characters including criminals appear again in the next couple of books so I’ll leave that for another time but enough to say that Grace herself is still going strong.

Grace Macallan is facing a crisis, unsure of her future or whether she is strong enough to carry on with a role in serious crime investigation. Asked to take over an enquiry that will test her to the limit, she struggles with events that threaten to run out of control.

An undercover officer is missing and a young woman is washed up barely alive on the Berwickshire coast. Her story is of witnessing horror on the waters of the North Sea and her subsequent ordeal to survive the trauma that turns her world into a series of nightmares, driving her to the edge of madness.

The story is complex, a web involving trafficked women from Eastern Europe and alliance of ruthless criminals from Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh. At the head of this corporation is Pete Handyside a dangerous career criminal brought up on the streets of North Shields who controls organised crime in the North East of England. He realises that his team has been infiltrated and sets off a train of events where some of the most cold-blooded criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on each other in an attempt to clean the trail of evidence leading to them.

Grace must now pit her wits against Handyside, a brutal criminal devoid of pity who will stop at nothing to protect what he has built up over the years. And with lives at stake, one wrong move could end in tragedy.

*****5 STARS

Peter Ritchie’s Grace Macallan series is only on its third book in the series but it is already establishing itself as a new series to watch out for, the settings and the character are so believable it actually feels as though you are right there in the middle of the action with the main characters as the novel moves along, you also feel as though the characters could be real life people instead of fictional characters in a book. This could be down to the fact that the author Peter Ritchie is very good with his research and that he can call on his real life experience of being a detective in CID when he is writing about the cases that his character are drawn into, from his previous trilogy of novels the Grace Den Herder it is clear that the author is a writer that is very detailed with what the reader, sees, hears and feels and that is what keeps the readers engaged and on the edge of their seats while reading his latest novel shores of death which focus heavily on the murky world of human trafficking, there is also the case of a missing undercover police officer and corruption within the force that ties in with the storyline, that makes this latest offering a cant put down book that will have you on the edge of your seat from page one to the end, it will make you feel like your on a rollercoaster as you ride through a million emotions and highs and lows, this book will leave you wanting more from this series and I can’t wait to see where the next book will take us, I recommend if you have not started this series that you look up this author blow and start reading this series you won’t regret it.

Amazon Book Page

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JV Baptie The Forgotten Blog Tour


Edinburgh, 1977

Newly-promoted but not welcome in CID, Detective Sergeant Helen Carter is tasked with investigating a murder in an old abandoned picture house.

The killer has left a clue: the business card of an ex-cop.

Helen must piece together the case before the bodies mount up around her, and before the killer strikes closer to home…

Excerpt from The Forgotten


She was swimming in the sea. The tide was against her; the waves splashed off her face. Salty water filled her nostrils and mouth. She struggled to keep her head above water. Tried to swim, gasping for air. Thrashing and kicking. The water filled her lungs as she sank further. ‘Help me. Help me. Please.’ She tried to scream… but nothing. A burst of energy. She thrashed again. Fighting with every muscle in her body. She started to move. Lights rippled in the water above. She surfaced, panting. A hand grabbed her head and pushed her back down.

Chapter 1

A bus packed with schoolchildren pulled out in front of her. Helen trickled to a stop and rolled her window down a crack, taking in the icy November air. She liked this time of the year – the dark nights and mornings, the frost, and the good reasons to stay at home. Rows of pebble dashed houses lined both sides of the street, some with black bags of rubbish parked outside their gates. A milk float had stopped on the corner, and the milkman was now heading up the garden path of number 5. She tapped on her steering wheel. She was late and Craven wouldn’t like that. The bus driver stuck out a chubby thumb as a sign of thanks from his side cab.

Slipping the Mini into second gear, she took the left turn down a one-way road. This estate reminded Helen of one of the first cases she worked on – a string of petty robberies. A boy of about eighteen who’d do odd jobs for the elderly then rob them blind. She shook her head, remembering chasing him up the street with her little truncheon that was half the size of the ones given to her male colleagues, all the while, trying not to trip over her regulation handbag that kept slipping off her shoulder.

The fire-wrecked building was easy to spot. She watched the shaky single-decker bus accelerate away until it was a speck in the distance. The Boardwalk Picture House had been a triumph of 1930s Art Deco architecture. A once whitewashed building now grey with soot. All its windows either boarded up with chipboard or smashed over the years by kids, and what they couldn’t smash they’d sprayed graffiti on. She parked behind a Rover. Her stomach churned. She pulled the key out of the ignition and slipped it into her tan leather jacket pocket. Helen screwed her eyes shut and wished that time would stop. ‘In for two and out for two.’ She practised her breathing exercise and forced her eyes open. Analysing herself in the rear-view mirror, she noticed her brown eyes looked red and blotchy. Last night at Ted’s she’d only managed a couple of hours sleep before she was needed on shift.

A sharp knock at the passenger-side window pulled her back to reality. She let out a gasp and turned to see the broad features of Detective Inspector Jack Craven peering in. Her cheeks burned.

‘Are you coming in or what?’ Craven walked around to the driver’s side just as she was getting out and opened the door wide for her. He smelt sickly sweet – a combination of Old Spice and smoke.

‘I did wonder when you planned on showing up.’

‘Sorry, Inspector.’

‘I thought you lot were meant to be good at telling the time,’ Craven replied. He was wearing a brown tailored suit that had gone shiny at the cuffs. His yellow shirt was creased at the collar and looked slept in. The top two buttons were open, showing a sprinkling of salt and pepper chest hair. He didn’t seem to be that much older than her – a really handsome guy but his face had been hardened by drink. Even his eyes had a tinge of yellow in them.

He made a show of looking her up and down and smiled. ‘Well, at least we will have something nice to look at in the department. I didn’t mean to give you a fright, pet. Caught you doing your lipstick, eh?’ He looked braced to say something else but instead closed the car door and began to walk towards the crowd.

‘Thank you for this opportunity, sir.’

‘You don’t need to thank me.’ He slipped her a sideways glance. ‘Well, you’re not going to be here long anyway.’

‘I’m planning to be,’ Helen stated.

‘Nah,’ he snorted. ‘You’ll get married, have bairns and that’ll be the end o’ it.’

Not this again. ‘You don’t know that.’ She followed him. ‘I haven’t heard of this place before.’

‘Aye, is that so?’ He looked her up and down again. ‘Suppose you would’ve been too young.’

Craven snorted. ‘We’ve got a nice little one for your first job in CID.’

‘So I’ve been told.’

‘He was found by a couple of wee laddies this morning.’ Craven flicked his roll-up end into a puddle and fished in his pocket for his tobacco pouch. ‘You’ve no’ got any real fags, have you?’

‘I don’t smoke—’

‘Of course, you wouldnae.’

She shook her head. ‘Sorry.’

Craven’s smile faded. ‘I better get you up to speed on what we’ve got here. It’s not pretty in there. There’s no wallet or I.D. on him and the body’s practically still warm.’

‘Could it have been a robbery? Then maybe someone dumped him in an old building? Expecting him not to be found so quickly?’

‘Doubtful.’ Craven shrugged then lit his roll-up. ‘If you want to rob somebody, you don’t torture them slowly to death. Looks like the boy suffered and someone wanted him to.’

Helen’s stomach knotted at the thought and she changed the subject. ‘How long’s this place been shut down?’ Her leather handbag thumped against her thigh. She wished she had left it in the car.

‘Around five years. I think. The door was open and it looks like tramps have been dossing inside.’ He stopped in his tracks and turned to face her. ‘Right, let’s get this out in the open before we get in there. I’ve no’ had a WPC on one of my cases like this before.’  ‘I’m not.’

‘Not what?’

‘A WPC. It’s Sergeant Carter actually, Inspector, and I can assure you that—’

‘Carter… I know, Detective Inspector Richard Carter.’ He shook his head. ‘I know exactly who you are and I know exactly why you are here.’ He pointed his finger at her. ‘I don’t run things like he did.’ He shook his head. ‘This is just a box-ticking exercise for the DCI. It makes him look modern and that’ll help him get his promotion.’

Helen bit down on her lip to stop her saying what she wanted to, that she wasn’t there because of her father. Even though that’s what they all said, it was easy to dismiss her that way. To ignore and belittle her. She thought back to when she told her dad she wanted to be in the police and he burst out laughing, then when he realised she was serious, he couldn’t hide the look of disappointment on his face and his comments about her waste of an education and how he wanted a better life for her.

‘I’m not here because of my dad, sir,’ she finally replied. ‘If I was, life would have been a lot easier for me. I’m here to fill your staff shortage and I’ll do my best for however long I’m needed.’

‘Aye, right.’

‘No, it is right.’ She took a step closer to him and frowned, not wanting to anger her senior officer further.

He gave her a wry smile. ‘Christ, I was only having a laugh, pet. Women dealing with cases like this in the CID, what’s bloody next?’

‘Me being here is nothing to do with anyone else. And this is not my first murder either.’ Her heart pounded. ‘So will we just get in there or do you want to stand out here chatting all day?’ Surprising herself at her own outburst.

***** 5 STARS

The Forgotten is a gritty and compelling thriller novel from new author of the scene JV Baptie, defiantly a page turner that will have the reader captivated from page one to the last chapter, the story takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, you the reader feels if you were right there in the action along with the main character Detective Sergeant Helen Carter.

JV Baptie is a very welcome addition to the tartan noir set with her novel set in Edinburgh, she manages to make it her own though by setting the book the forgotten not in present time or the future which has become a trend in recent years but in the past, 1977 to be precise. This makes for an interesting setting and makes the novel more interesting and stands out. The book has been researched well and it is interesting having the main character being women in the male dominated world of C I D in the seventies, think of a Scottish, Life on Mars and you get the picture.

The characters are believable and the setting of Edinburgh in this decade has been researched well and written well and it so believable that you actually feel as though you are right there in the action along with the characters.

This is a exciting new book from a exciting new face in the scene and I look forward to reading more from this series and this author. I recommend that if you are a crime/thriller fiction fan that you buy this book or download it you won’t be disappointed.


The Forgotten Amazon Book Page


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