There’s been a murder interview with MR Mackenzie

M.R. Mackenzie was born and lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at Glasgow University and has a PhD in Film Studies. In 2016, he contributed a chapter on the Italian giallo film to Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion.

In addition to writing, he works as an independent Blu-ray/DVD producer and has overseen releases of films by a number of acclaimed directors, among them Dario Argento, Joe Dante and Seijun Suzuki.

His debut novel, In the Silence, reached #2 in Amazon UK’s Scottish crime fiction bestsellers chart.

1. How did you get started writing?

I suspect I’d credit my granny with infecting me with the writer’s bug. She was a wonderful storyteller with an incredible memory for events that had taken place eighty years ago or more. A lot of people have fond memories of their grandparents reading books to them as children, but with my granny, she always told her own stories. Unfortunately,when, I told my guidance teacher I wanted to be an author, not long after I started secondary school, she replied that hardly anyone made a living as a writer and that I should aspire to become a vet instead! As a result, I didn’t actually return to writing in any serious way until my mid-twenties… and have been making up for lost time ever since.


2. What drew you to write a novel?

At first, there was an element of expedience involved! When I returned to writing in my mid-twenties, I initially pursued a career screenwriting, seeking to combine my passion for telling stories with my love of film. (In fact, my first novel, In the Silence, was originally written as a screenplay.) Ultimately, though, despite making some promising connections and having some positive feedback from submissions to the likes of Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting and the BBC’s Script Room programmes, my big break never materialised, and I initially turned to novel-writing almost by necessity – concluding that, despite the challenges involved in getting a novel written and published, there are comparatively fewer hurdles to getting it out there than there are to getting your spec script turned into a feature film!

It’s probably somewhat fortuitous, then, that I quickly realised I actually enjoyed writing novels more than scripts. Something about that expanded canvass, that ability to really get inside my characters’ heads without that constant feeling of a need to hit an arbitrary page count, and (perhaps most of all) the lack of a need to satisfy an army of executives, producers and script editors, really clicked with me, to the extent that I’m extremely happy with where I’ve ended up. I certainly don’t miss having to format everything in 12pt Courier!


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

I read more Enid Blyton than was healthy when I was younger, and I’m inclined to credit her with my fondness for writing about amateur sleuths. I find them so much more interesting than professional detectives, possibly because I can relate to the life of a civilian thrust into unfamiliar circumstances in a way that I can’t an officer of the law.

Denise Mina, with her Garnethill trilogy, shattered my preconceptions about what Glaswegian crime was, eschewing hard-bitten, hard-drinking, middle-aged male policemen in favour of characters who were a whole lot more colourful – and more relatable. Her early novels in particular are chock-full of wonderful observations about the human condition and the weird and wonderful characters that exist in everyday life, and I try to capture some of that in my own writing.

Finally, Tana French showed me that crime can be literary. I’m not nearly as good a writer as she is, but I’m constantly inspired by her command of language and her ability to evoke atmosphere with nothing but text on a page.


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

I was actually very fortunate, in that In the Silence was both the first novel I wrote (as an adult – we’ll overlook my no doubt completely embarrassing efforts from when I was younger!) and the first one I ever submitted to any publishers. I spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting it as much as I could, then went through the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbookfrom cover to cover, identifying every publisher who accepted unsolicited submissions in my genre, then fired off a bunch of query letters and sample chapters. Bloodhound Books weren’t the only publisher to express an interest, but they were the first to get back to me and seemed eager to snap me up when they heard I’d submitted to other publishers, so I figured I was onto a good thing with them!


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

Zoe! It has to be Zoe! When I initially wrote In the Silence as a screenplay, my protagonist, Anna Scavolini, wasn’t all that well defined and it took a number of drafts before I started to get more of a sense of who she was and what made her tick. But Zoe, her red-headed, larger-than-life best friend, sprang off the page fully formed from the very beginning. She’s such a flamboyant and iconically Glaswegian character, and, when the time came for me to write the sequel, Cruel Summer(releasing on 28 May), I knew I wanted to switch gears and tell that particular story through her eyes.

Of course, that’s not so say that I’m not also very fond of Anna, and in fact I’m currently in the early stages of work on a third instalment, in which she once again assumes the role of protagonist. But I’ll always have a soft spot for Zoe and herlack of an internal filter. There’s something incredibly satisfying about writing a character who always says exactly what she thinks!


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

Research is probably my least favourite part of the writing process, as it invariably leads to the realisation that a particular plot development I’m desperate to include would never happen in real life. It’s also why I prefer to write about amateur detectives than the professional kind – because they’re so mired in rules and bureaucracy that I’d have to research and then present accurately in order for my writing to have any pretence of authenticity. But that’s not to say I don’t do any research. Right now, for example, I’m completely immersed in Frank Hagan’s Introduction to Criminology. My character, Anna Scavolini, is a criminology lecturer, and, in the in-development third novel in the series, her job comes to the forefront in a way that it hasn’t in the first two, so I feel it’s incumbent on me to get a decent grounding in the topic before I put pen to paper and completely embarrass myself.

Of course, working in a genre with a higher than average body count, part of the research process also involves figuring out gruesome and inventive ways to kill people and making sure I’m describing the effects as scientifically accurately as possible. I don’t mind THAT kind of research!


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

To some extent. I think it’s impossible not to incorporate elements of people you know in real life into your characters, and I think just about everyone has met a Zoe at one point or another! But I try to avoid basing anyone too closely on any single person, not least because a lot of the characters I write about tend not to be particularly nice people, and I don’t want to put anyone’s nose out of joint!


8. Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why?

There’s a scene, about a third of the way through Cruel Summer, in which Zoe, who has been conducting an unofficial investigation into a high-rising politician accused of assault, is confronted by a tag team consisting of her girlfriend Carol and her best friend Anna, who are trying to dissuade her from her current path. It’s a small scene but I think it captures the individual personalities of the three characters very nicely, and also manages to convey both the inherent absurdity in what, to Zoe, resembles an intervention or laying on of hands,and her burning anger at the sense that these two people are trying to control her life.


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

I reckon Zoe is just about the polar opposite from me in every respect. Honest, if I met her in real life, I’d probably be a bit intimidated by her! But I’ve said before that, while Anna is very different from me in a lot of respects, we actually do have a fair amount in common. We’re both PhD graduates, we’re both introverts, we were both born in Glasgow within a couple of years of each other, and we share many of the same socio-political views, though we disagree on certain key issues I won’t go into here for fear of spoiling too much of the story.


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

Well, I’ve already mentioned the third instalment in the Anna Scavolini series, which I’m in the process of plotting at the moment. My intention is for it to serve as the conclusion of sorts to a loose trilogy that began with In the Silence and continues with Cruel Summer. It’s very likely that I’ll continue the series beyond that – in fact, I already have rough ideas for Books 4 and 5 – but I envisage them being more standalone in nature, whereas In the Silence, Cruel Summerand the as-yet-untitled Book 3 are much more intertwined – though they can, of course, be read independently as well.

I’m also working on a standalone mystery called The Library Murders, which draws on my day job experience and which I hope will see the light of day as some point this year as well. Stay tuned for more info on that one in the not-too-distant future (hopefully)!


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

That’s a tricky one to answer as I’m not, by nature, a particularly collaborative person. On the contrary, I tend to resist any and all attempts to change My Vision™, and often have to be dragged kicking and screaming back to my manuscript by admirably patient editors. In contrast to writing for film or television, writing a novel is a very solitary pursuit, and I suspect most authors would probably struggle with the idea of writing with another author, particularly one with their own distinctive style – though I know there have been many successful partnerships, either by established writing teams like Sjöwall & Wahlöö or Nicci French, or one-off pairingslike James Patterson’s recent collaboration with Bill Clinton.


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

I’d definitely encourage anyone thinking about writing a novel to put pen to paper and go for it. The rise of eBooks, self-publishing and independent publishing houses means that the process has been democratised like never before, and while I think that invariably presents challenges of its own when it comes to getting noticed in an increasingly crowded field, I genuinely think this is a really exciting time to be a writer, and that the opportunities are just waiting to be grasped.

I’d also say try not to be too discouraged if you don’t achieveovernight success. Very few authors shoot to the top of the charts and receive critical acclaim right out of the gate. It takes time to build a profile – I’m only in the early stages of it myself – and it can feel like an uphill climb with the summit nowhere in sight. My long-term goal is definitely to be able to make a living doing this full-time, but until then, I would much rather my work was out there and being read by however many people it can reach – whether that’s a bajillion or just a handful – than locked away on my hard drive being read by no one.

In the Silence (2018)

Anna hasn’t set foot in Glasgow for ten years. And for very good reasons…

When Anna, a criminology lecturer, does return to Glasgow from Rome, during the coldest winter in memory, tragedy strikes. While out with her best friend from school, Anna has a chance encounter with a former flame, Andrew, and later that night discovers Andrew stabbed and dying on a blanket of snow.

Soon Anna finds herself at the centre of the investigation as the star witness for the police, and embarks on investigating the case herself. But Anna doesn’t realise the danger she is in and soon finds herself in trouble.

When another body shows up, who has links to the first victim, it appears that the motive may lie buried in the past.

As Anna gets closer to the truth, the killer starts closing in.

But can she solve the gruesome mystery before the killer strikes again?

Cruel Summer (2019)

Zoe Callahan is having the summer from hell… and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.

She’s stuck in a dead-end job, her relationship is going nowhere, and the memory of the Kelvingrove Park Murders three years ago continues to cast a long shadow over every aspect of her life.

When a prostitute is brutally assaulted by Dominic Ryland, a rising political star with a suspiciously spotless personal reputation, Zoe leaps at the chance to distract herself with a noble cause, and sets out on a one-woman crusade to bring Ryland to justice.

But in doing so, she quickly finds herself on the wrong side of some very dangerous people – people who have reputations to protect and who would think nothing of silencing Zoe by any means necessary.

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Sue Lawerence Down to the Sea Blog Tour

As well as writing three very popular and well-reviewed historical mysteries published in the UK and overseas, Sue Lawrence is one of the UK’s leading cookery writers, with eighteen published cookbooks. Having trained as a journalist in Dundee, she won BBC’s MasterChef in 1991 and became a food writer, regularly contributing to Scotland on Sunday, as well as being the Sunday Times’ food writer for six years. Born in Dundee and raised in Edinburgh, she now lives near Newhaven, Edinburgh – the setting for her latest novel. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards and a Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award, and now focuses on researching and writing historical fiction.

When Rona and Craig buy a large Victorian house up from Edinburgh’s Newhaven district – once teeming with fishing boats – they plan to renovate and set it up as a luxury care home. But something is not quite right: disturbing sounds can be heard when the sea mists swirl; their unpredictable neighbour makes it clear that the house was not always a happy family home. And their ‘characterful’ historic pile has a gloomy cellar harbouring relics from days gone by.

Excerpt from Down to the Sea

What d’you mean, they grind up dead babies’ bones?’

Jessie turned to the tall boy who was holding out his tin bowl for porridge. He had just told her he was now old enough to be working with the men, even though he was only fifteen, and their job today was to crush babies’ bones.

The boy leant in towards her. He smelled funny so she wanted to draw back, but he started whispering. Jessie glanced round to where Molly was talking to Matron at the door. They were no doubt discussing whatever delicacy Molly had for Matron and the Governor today. Molly said Matron seemed to take little interest in food, whereas the Governor enjoyed both food and drink. His red nose reminded Jessie of Old Tom who was to be found every day at The Stone Pier Inn opposite the harbour. In summer, he was given a chair outside. He always had a tankard of ale in his hand. Jessie’s mum used to say not to go near him – he would lash out at the children nearby the more he had to drink. The one time she and Dorrie had no choice but to pass close by, the stink of him was enough to make them want to vomit.

‘The dead babies have their bones all hacked up then pounded up into dust and made into porridge.’ The boy nodded at the pot in front of her. ‘That porridge.’

‘That’s not true. It can’t be true.’ Molly waddled back over to the serving table, so Jessie asked, ‘This isn’t made from dead babies’ bones, is it?’

‘Billy, is that you telling tales again? Of course not, Jessie. Now get on with your work. And you, Billy Muir, be on your way.’ Molly thumped down the ladle and said to Jessie, ‘You’ve been here a good few months now. You know that boy’s trouble. Ignore him. Stay clear of all those boys.’

Once the last bowl of porridge had been ladled out, Jessie looked over the dining room where the Governor had finished morning prayers and was sweeping past them with his usual scowl. Squashed side by side on rickety benches at four long tables were the residents, heads bent low over the thin porridge. Two tables were for men and boys, two for women and girls. There was no conversation – no talking was allowed. Everyone had their heads bent low, concentrating on eating. Jessie started clearing the serving table ready to take the pan and ladle back to the kitchen.

Down to the Sea Amazon Book Link

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Free Book Giveaway – Lethal Injection

Last week I interviewed the author of Lethal Injection Dave K MacDonald, up for craps is ten free copies of the book for the first ten people to email him on x

It looked like a routine homicide with traceable DNA and a witness that never lies.

However this was a high profile murder and the stakes were equally high.
The death penalty was on the table.
This case would cast serious doubt over the validity of capital punishment.
It would question the infallibility of forensic evidence.
The political fallout would reach the White House.
What nobody realised was that someone had committed the perfect crime not by
planning but by accident.

There’s been a murder author interview with Dave K McDonald

1. How did you get started

I started writing books on philosophy and psychology, and some poetry, then wrote this latest crime novel.

It’s best to illustrate why we should all write rather than me individually.

I was at Glasgow airport one day, sitting in the lounge, when this rather brash young girl, 8 or 9, came up to me with a copy of my first book. She boldly said “this is you, isn’t it?” (I could not argue as my picture was on the back). I said yes. “well,” she said, “I want you to sign this for me because my mum is over there, and it’s her birthday next week.” I said ok, and asked “do you write?”. She said “oh yes, every night I got bed and write in my notebook, but not anymore because I want to be rich and famous like you.” (Which I am obviously not!). With a child, you should use an analogy to explain your view. I said, “Well, tonight, when you write in bed, imagine your fingers going all the way down to your heart. You pull a small piece out and you write with that. And if anyone ever says to you they don’t like it, you tell them these words are a piece of you, and when we are all gone, and even the mountains and the sea are gone, these words will remain forever. That’s why we should write – to leave behind a piece of our heart that will always be there.”

That cost me an ice-cream, a copy of my book and a hug. A small price to pay.

2. What drew you to write a novel?

After writing on philosophy and psychology (where my heart lies), I thought maybe I could reach a larger audience to put a message across by writing a crime novel.

3.Which writers influenced you?

I would say writers with intrigue, slightly old-fashioned – the novel has not much sex or violence.

It’s more a plot to make the reader think. With that in mind, Frederick Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal) is our best writer I believe.

4. Hard to get published?

Yes, but you must be persistent, and don’t allow refusals to get you depressed. This is hard because the novel will contain your persona, your heart and soul, and to have it rejected can be devastating. However remember J.K. Rowling was rejected 27 times before she found a publisher.

5. Interesting characters?

Probably the lawyer, because he is the cement that binds the case and without his insight and, in a way, legal deviousness, the twins would not have been able to stay together.

6. Research

Quite complex, I had to firstly research what states had the death penalty, and this changes constantly. I then had to review their judicial and appellate system (even American lawyers don’t fully understand it).

The book had to also not just be proofread, but also “Americanised” i.e. we say pavement, they say “sidewalk.” Readers pick up on these things quickly and are keen to highlight any mistakes.


7. Characters focused on real life people

Not particularly,. But there is currently a convict on death row, I think in Texas, where his lawyer has filed for a stay of execution stating that they have found a letter of confession from the accused twin-brother, saying he raped and murdered the victim.

As the evidence was based on DNA (semen), and CCTV, being mitochondrial twins (i.e. from the same egg) this rules this evidence out as inadmissible.

The problem is that this twin brother was killed in a gang fight, so all they have to go on is the written confession. It would be unlikely that they would execute anyone on the strength of a handwriting expert. However this will go to the supreme court.

I would hate to think that this appeal has been lodged because someone has read the novel.

8. Favourite scene

The last one, and that’s because when you write a crime novel you have to write it in reverse. You want to keep an intrigue and spring a surprise at the end, but to do that you must lay the groundwork from the start, trying to leave enough indications of the plot to invite speculation. A classic “who done it” I suppose.

9. Do you see any of the characters personality in yourself, or vice versa?

Strangely enough perhaps with Sandra. She shows a different more caring and more thoughtful insight into her sexuality, and consequently this influences her relationship with the D.A.

10. Sneaky peek into a new novel

I am working on a new crime plot, with a psychological twist. Its got to be different and that’s hard. You must surprise and intrigue the reader.

11. Who would you like to write with, dead or alive?

Probably Frederick Forsyth, Alistair Maclean or Robert Ludlum – all great writers.

For non-fiction, it would be Maslow, Einstein or Allan Turin because of their great insight.

12. Advice to writers

Apart from my reply to question 1, I could add this: someone asked me about a poem I had written and she said “How do you write like that?” I said, “Well first, you buy a big spade because you have to dig deep. Writing is an emotional nakedness so be prepared, because when it’s out there you can’t cover it up.”

An example of this: the poem I treasure the most is one I wrote about the sea. It was also published in our local paper, and one day an old man stopped me in the street and asked if I had written it, and I told him I had. This old man had been at sea all his life, fought in the Second World War, and the sea was everything to him. He never married, and eventually came home to his croft by the sea, However, with the injuries he suffered during the Russian Convoys, the power in his legs was beginning to fail. What he said to me is really the reason we should write. He said “I haven’t read much poetry, but when I read the words you wrote about the sea, I can smell it and taste it, and for that I will always be grateful.”

I think you don’t really read a poem or even contemplate it, it’s the poignancy that counts. A poem is an orchestration of words from your heart that reaches another.


It looked like a routine homicide with traceable DNA and a witness that never lies.

However this was a high profile murder and the stakes were equally high.
The death penalty was on the table.
This case would cast serious doubt over the validity of capital punishment.
It would question the infallibility of forensic evidence.
The political fallout would reach the White House.
What nobody realised was that someone had committed the perfect crime not by
planning but by accident.


A Book of YouEmotional DNA Your Uniqueness Explored

Toby Faber Close to the Edge Blog Tour

As the grandson of Faber’s founder, Toby Faber grew up steeped in the company’s books and its stories. He was Faber’s managing director for four years and remains a non-executive director and chairman of sister company Faber Music.

How did you get started writing?

I first wrote two non-fiction books about Stradivarius violins and Faberge Eggs. That was a relatively gentle introduction to writing a full length book because to get a publishing deal I had to plan both out in advance, but the experience showed me that I could sustain a narrative for 80,000 words

What drew you to write a novel

I had an idea that wouldn’t go away about my protagonist witnessing someone fall off a tube platform. After two more non-fiction proposals that didn’t get off the ground, I decided to have a go at turning that idea into a novel.

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

That’s hard to say. I’ve always admired PD James for her characters and the sense of place she manages to convey, while obeying what she sees as the rules of detective fiction. My book is not, however, a classic detective book.

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

Each new project has involved going back to square one. My agent for the non-fiction books was not keen on thrillers so I had to move, with two false goes before I was taken on by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge & White. He got me to do quite a bit of work on the book before sending it out to publishers, and there were several refusals and near-misses before it was taken on by Muswell Press.

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

I like Laurie – the main character – for the way she develops her own sense of independence in the course of the novel, but hope readers end feeling that her flatmate and father are just as interesting and important.

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

I researched the underground a lot, both online and by exploring physical stations. I did not, however, go down there after hours.

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

There’s quite a lot of my father in Laurie’s Dad, but bits of a few other people too, including me.

Do you have a particular favourite scene in the book and why

I like the scene towards the end when they meet the voluble neighbour Mrs Shilling. It was a chance to inject a bit of humour, and perhaps let the readers see things that are not yet clear to Laurie, before a moment of real tension.

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

When I first thought about the book (a long time ago), I was a 25-year-old commuting on the underground, a bit like Laurie. I think quite a lot of me got into her in my first draft. There’s probably less of me in her now, and more in her Dad: I’ve grown older.

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

I’m not sure I’m finished with Laurie yet. I think she needs to understand a bit more about her childhood and why they ended up leaving Cambridge.

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

George Macdonald Fraser is not a thriller writer but I loved his series of historical novels about Flashman. I’ve got at least two good ideas for other adventures Flashman could have had in the 19th century.

Do you have words of advice you can share with anyone who is intrested in writing a novel

If you want to write it quickly, don’t do what I did, which was to start with an idea and see where it took me. Instead, develop a really good understanding of your characters and plot the book out carefully. You’ll have fewer false starts!

Close to the Edge by Toby Faber is published by Muswell Press on 11th April, priced £10.99

Morning rush hour on the London tube. Laurie Bateman witnesses a terrible accident. Life had been looking up – she’s dating a new man and finally getting praise at work. But after the accident everything seems to plummet downhill. In the space of a few days her flat is burgled and her flatmate assaulted – she loses her phone and then her job. Are these events linked?  Perhaps what she had seen was something more sinister?  Compelled to investigate, Laurie finds herself in serious danger and is soon fleeing for her life through tube tunnels in the dead of night – the hunter has become the hunted.

Toby’s previous books are Stradivarius and Faberge’s Eggs, both published by Macmillan.

His next non-fiction book, Faber & Faber: The Untold Story, is being published by Faber & Faber in May.








Ragnar Jónasson The Island Blog Tour

Ragnar Jonasson is the award winning author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series and the Hidden Iceland series. He has sold over 600,000 books worldwide, thereof over 300,000 thousand books in France in just two years. His books are published in 21 languages in over 30 countries and his debut, Snowblind, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication in the UK. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. The second book in the series, Nightblind, also became a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Ragnar is also a no. 1 Crime Fiction Bestseller in France, with Blackout topping the crime fiction charts in France in 2019. Ragnar is the winner of the Mörda Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Nightblind. His latest book in the UK, The Darkness, was selected as the Sunday Times Crime Novel of the Month and Snowblind was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015. His books have also won praise from publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post. Ragnar is the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. Ragnar has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik. Ragnar has a law degree and works as an investment banker in Reykjavik, in addition to teaching law at Reykjavik University.

Four friends visit the island.

But only three return . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her.

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

Excerpt from The Island

Kópavogur, 1988

The babysitter was late.

The couple hardly ever went out in the evening, so they

had been careful to check she was free well in advance. She had babysat for them a few times before and lived in the next street, but apart from that they didn’t know much about her, or her family either, though they knew her mother to speak to when they ran into her in the neigh- bourhood. But their seven-year-old daughter looked up to the girl, who was twenty-one and seemed very grown-up and glamorous to her. She was always talking about how much fun they had together, what pretty clothes she wore and what exciting bedtime stories she told. Their daugh- ter’s eagerness to have her round to babysit made the couple feel less guilty about accepting the invitation; they felt reassured that their little girl would not only be in good hands but would enjoy herself too. They had arranged for the girl to babysit from six until midnight, but it was already past six, getting on for half past, in fact, and the dinner was due to start at seven. The husband wanted to ring and ask what had happened to her, but his wife was reluctant to make a fuss: she’d turn up.

It was a Saturday evening in March and the atmos- phere had been one of happy anticipation until the babysitter failed to turn up. The couple were looking for- ward to an entertaining evening with the wife’s colleagues from the ministry and their daughter was excited about spending the evening watching films with the babysitter. They didn’t own a VCR but, as it was a special occasion, father and daughter had gone down to the local video shop and rented a machine and three tapes, and the little girl had permission to stay up as late as she liked, until she ran out of steam.

It was just after half past six when the doorbell finally rang. The family lived on the second floor of a small block of flats in Kópavogur, the town immediately to the south of Reykjavík. It was a sleepy sort of place, stuck between Reykjavík and other towns in the metropolitan area, with most of its inhabitants commuting to work in the capital.

The mother picked up the entryphone. It was the baby- sitter at last. She appeared at their door a few moments later, soaked to the skin, and explained that she’d walked over. It was raining so hard it looked like she’d had a bucket of water emptied over her head. She apologized, embarrassed, for being so late.

The couple waved away her apologies, thanked her for standing in for them, reminded her of the main house rules and asked if she knew how to work a video recorder, at which point their daughter broke in to say she didn’t need any help. Clearly, she could hardly wait to bundle her parents out of the door so the video-fest could begin.

In spite of the taxi waiting outside, the mother couldn’t tear herself away. Although they went out from time to time, she wasn’t very used to leaving her daughter. ‘Don’t worry,’ the babysitter said at last. ‘I’ll take good care of her.’ She looked comfortingly reliable as she said this and she’d always done a good job of looking after their daughter in the past. So they finally headed out into the downpour towards the taxi.

As the evening wore on, the mother began to feel increas- ingly anxious about their daughter.

‘Don’t be silly,’ said her husband. ‘I bet she’s having a whale of a time.’ Glancing at his watch, he added: ‘She’ll be on her second or third film by now, and they’ll have polished off all the ice cream.’

‘Do you think they’d let me use the phone at the front desk?’ asked his wife.

‘It’s a bit late to ring them now, isn’t it? I expect they’re asleep in front of the TV.’

In the end, they set off home a little earlier than planned, just after eleven. The three-course dinner was over by then, and, to be honest, it had been a bit under- whelming. The main course, which was lamb, had been bland at best and, after dinner, people had piled on to the crowded dance floor. To begin with, the DJ had played popular oldies, but then he moved on to more recent chart hits, which weren’t really the couple’s sort of thing, although they still liked to think of themselves as young. After all, they weren’t middle-aged yet.

They rode home in silence, the rain streaming down the taxi’s windows. The truth was they weren’t really party people; they were too fond of their creature com- forts at home, and the evening had tired them out, though they hadn’t drunk much, just a glass of red wine with dinner.

As they got out of the taxi, the wife remarked that she hoped their daughter was asleep so they could both crawl straight into bed.

They climbed the stairs without hurrying and opened the door instead of ringing the bell, for fear of disturbing their child. But she wasn’t asleep, as it turned out. She came running to greet them, threw her arms around them and hugged them unusually tightly. To their surprise, she was wide awake.

‘You’re full of beans,’ said her father, smiling at her.

‘I’m so glad you’re home,’ said the little girl. There was an odd look in her eye: something was wrong.

The babysitter emerged from the sitting room and smiled sweetly at them.

‘How did it go?’ asked the mother.

‘Really well,’ the babysitter replied. ‘Your daughter is such a good girl. We watched two videos; a couple of com- edies. She really enjoyed them. And she ate the meatballs you’d prepared – most of them – and a lot of popcorn too.’

‘Thanks so much for coming; I don’t know what we’d have done without you.’

The father took his wallet from his jacket, counted out some notes and handed them to her. ‘Is that right?’

She counted the money herself, then nodded. ‘Yes, perfect.’

After she’d left, the father turned to their daughter. ‘Aren’t you tired, sweetheart?’

‘Yes, maybe a little. But could we watch just a bit more?’ Her father shook his head, saying kindly: ‘Sorry, it’s

awfully late.’

‘Oh, please. I don’t want to go to bed yet,’ said the little

girl, sounding on the verge of tears.

‘OK, OK.’ He ushered her into the sitting room. The

TV schedule was over for the evening but he turned on the video machine and inserted a new cassette.

Then he joined her on the sofa and they waited for the film to begin.

‘It was a nice evening, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes . . . yes, it was fine,’ she said, not very convincingly. ‘She was . . . kind to you, wasn’t she?’

‘Yes,’ answered the child. ‘Yes, they were both kind.’ Her father was puzzled. ‘What do you mean, both?’ he


‘There were two of them.’

Turning round to look at her, he asked again, gently:

‘What do you mean by them?’

‘There were two of them.’

‘Did one of her friends come round?’

There was a brief pause before the girl answered. Seeing the fear in her eyes, he gave an involuntary shiver. ‘No. But it was kind of weird, Daddy . . .’


Dark Iceland series

  1. Snowblind (2010; translation of Snjóblinda, 2009)
  2. Blackout (2011; translation of Myrknætti, 2011)
  3. Rupture (2012; translation of Rof, 2012)
  4. Whiteout (2013; translation of Andköf, 2013)
  5. Nightblind (2014; translation of Náttblinda, 2014)


Hidden Iceland series

  1. The Darkness (2018; translation of Dimma, 2015)
  2. The Island (2019; translation of Drungi, 2016

The Island Amazon book Page

Amazon Author Pageónasson&s=relevancerank&text=Ragnar+Jónasson&ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1


Facebook Author Page


Claire MacLeary Runaway Blog Tour


The third book in the awards-listed Harcus & Laird series

When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.

Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.

Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.



Claire MacLeary: blog tour for Runaway

Having opted to place Cross Purpose, my debut crime novel, in a domestic setting, it seemed logical to develop themes of particular interest to women readers. My protagonists, Maggie and Wilma, two ordinary suburban housewives, face challenges with global appeal: the push and pull of motherhood. The constant guilt trip: having to make daily choices between prioritising children over partner or parents or one child over another. The sheer drudgery: the relentless round of shopping and cooking, washing and cleaning. For, despite the introduction of internet grocery shopping and labour-saving devices, the burden of running a home still falls heavily on the woman.

But just because my protagonists are ordinary women – and my novels are set in suburbia – doesn’t lead me to write ‘cosy crime’. On the contrary, my Harcus & Laird series tackles not the shallow ‘women’sinterest’ topics we are so often told we want, rather the bigger, harsher issues women have to contend with in their daily lives. In Cross Purpose, these include the lack of affordable childcare, where mothers on the breadline may have to compromise their children’s safety to hold down employment. Then there’s the ease of children’s access to drugs, and the corrupting power of the Internet on young minds. Burnout, launched in tandem with Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, tackles white collar domestic abuse: the sexual, financial and psychological control to which even affluent, highly educated women are not immune. In Runaway, home and homelessness are the principal themes: both the mindless routine of raising young children and the physical and emotional toll taken from losing one’s home.

Maggie and ‘Big Wilma’ address these social issues with a fierce determination to combat authority and injustice, but also with a sense of humour. Given thedarkness of the subject matter, Wilma’s couthy wit brings colour to the narrative, the Aberdeen Doricinterest to the dialogue. Think Mannofield meets Happy Valley.

So there you have it, a crime series that is different in several respects: protagonists two non-professional women of ‘a certain age’, Aberdeen domestic setting, tackling big social issues, keeping the Doric alive. And readers seem to enjoy this fresh approach, longlisting Cross Purpose for the McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book 2017 and Burnout for Hearst Big Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year 2018.

1. How did you get started writing?


I read English at university, and I’ve always written, be it advertising copy, training manuals or short stories. Raising a family and a business career diverted my attention. It was only when my children were at senior school that I returned to writing, first attending P/T classes then pursuing a MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Dundee.


2. What drew you to write a novel?


My MLitt studies under novelist Professor Kirsty Gunn, who encouraged me to expand my 17,000-word dissertation into a full length novel.

As to writing crime, the genre featured prominently on the Sunday Times bestseller lists, so seemed a good place to try a follow-up.


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


Chekov, Katherine Mansfield and Lorrie Moore for their short stories, Alice Munro for close observation, Jayne Anne Phillips for dense, lyrical prose.


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


Surprisingly, no. This was due in part to the literary salons held during my MLitt course, which introduced me to agents and publishers, but principally because I had done extensive research before starting to write.

I submitted my debut novel to two publishers and both made an offer. I opted for a two book deal with Saraband. Sara Hunt ‘got’ Maggie and Wilma, women ‘of a certain age’, straight off, and has been hugely supportive ever since.


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


I love Maggie and Wilma, my two protagonists. They’re an unlikely pair: Maggie petite, conservative, lacking in confidence; Wilma big, bold, brash and a bit dodgy. You can’t help but identify with Maggie’s family problems and Wilma’s yo-yoing weight and faux pas. But I have a soft spot for DI Chisolm. He appears stern and unapproachable, but there’s a back story we haven’t yet been party to, and will he and Maggie ever become an item. Who knows?


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


Now the third in the Harcus & Laird series is about to launch, I’ve learned to leave much of my research until last. That’s because you can spend time on a plot line which later gets excised. However, I did do extensive research on people trafficking and homelessness for Runawayand spent an instructive morning playing FOTBs in a betting shop when I was appearing at Newcastle Noir.


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


I think they’re an amalgam of traits from several people, plus others I’ve conjured from my imagination. Maggie Laird started out narrow, judgemental, something of a snob, but her entrenched attitudes are softening. Wilma Harcus is big-hearted, but always looking for shortcuts.I think both change with experience, as often happens in life.


8. How did you feel about being longlisted for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize?


I was thrilled, of course, to win recognition for my debut novel, Cross Purpose, and grateful that readers saw it as a fresh and different approach to the genre.  But it wasn’t until I was standing on stage with the giants of Scottish crime writing – Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Lin Anderson, Ian Rankin and others – that the significance really sank in.



9. Do you see any of your character’s personality traits in yourself and vice versa?


I think Maggie tends to take a run at things, as do I. Otherwise, no. The backgrounds of all my characters to date are very different from my own.


10. If you can, would you give us a sneak peek into any future novels you might have planned?


I’m working on the fourth in the crime series.  All I can say is that it is going to be really creepy.


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


It’s hard to pin down just one individual from the giants of the genre:Conan Doyle through Josephine Tey to Stephen King and the late PD James, whom I greatly admire. I had the privilege of meeting William McIlvanney, godfather of Tartan Noir. But although he has only written one crime novel – Restless, an espionage thriller – I’ll nominate William Boyd who, for me, personifies all that is admirable in a writer: acute observation of the human condition, elegance of style, wry humour, compassion in spades.


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


Persevere. When I first produced a short story for a creative writing class, I wouldn’t have believed I could sustain a full-length novel, far less see it in print. I firmly believe getting published is 95% hard slog and 5% luck, so join a writing group or class to give you the support you’ll need to cope with rejection and keep chipping away.


Runway Amazon Book Page


Claire MacLeary Amazon Author Page









There’s Been A Murder Crime Picks from Aye Write Book Festival 2019 Blog post 2

Val McDermid

23rd Mar 2019  •  1:15PM – 2:15PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Broken Ground

Val McDermid

When a body is discovered in the remote depths of the Highlands, DCI Karen Pirie finds herself in the right place at the right time. 
Unearthed with someone’s long-buried inheritance, the victim seems to belong to the distant past and Karen is called in to unravel a case where nothing is as it seems. 
Broken Ground is Val McDermid aka the Queen of Scottish Crime Writing writing at the very top of her game.

Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne) 

23rd Mar 2019  •  3:00PM – 4:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 

To Kill the Truth

Jonathan Freedland (writing as Sam Bourne)

Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been cancelled. Our Box Office will be in touch with ticket holders to arrange refunds.

Sam Bourne is the pseudonym of award-winning journalist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland. His first novel, The Righteous Men was a number one best-seller. 

He returns with the taut, authoritative and explosive To Kill the Truth in which someone is trying to destroy the evidence of history’s greatest crimes. 

As Black Lives Matter protestors clash with slavery deniers, America is on a knife-edge and time is running out. This deadly conspiracy could ignite a new Civil War and take us to the edge of anarchy and a world in which history will be rewritten by those who live to shape it.

Chaired by Alan Little.

Louise Candlish & Lisa Ballantyne

23rd Mar 2019  •  3:00PM – 4:00PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Secrets and Liars

Louise Candlish & Lisa Ballantyne

On a bright morning in the suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it. Our House by Louise Candlish takes a great premise and waves it into a fresh, fun and engrossing novel. 
While Nick Dean is enjoying an evening at home with his family, he is blissfully unaware that one of his pupils has just placed an allegation of abuse against him. 
Lisa Ballantyne’s Little Liar illustrates the fine line between guilt and innocence, and shows that everyone has their secrets…

Antti Tuomainen & Lilja Sigurdardottir

23rd Mar 2019  •  4:45PM – 5:45PM  •  Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 

Delicious Nordic Noir

Antti Tuomainen & Lilja Sigurdardottir

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot, and intriguing characters, Lilja Sigurdardottir’s Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Antti Tuomainen’s Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

Simon Mayo

23rd Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 

Mad Blood Stirring

Simon Mayo

Simon Mayo has been one of our most popular radio broadcasters for over 30 years and is one half of the most trusted film reviewing duo around, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. 
He is now enjoying a new career as a best-selling novelist. Inspired by a true story, Mad Blood Stirring tells of a few frantic months in the suffocating atmosphere of a prison awaiting liberation. 
It is a story of hope and freedom, of loss and suffering, and how sometimes, in our darkest hour, it can be the most unlikely of things that see us through.
Chaired by Anna Day.

Luca Veste Introduces… B.P Walter & G.R Halliday

23rd Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 

Aye Write Introduces

Luca Veste Introduces... B.P Walter & G.R Halliday

Luca Veste of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast introduces two page-turning crime debuts. In B.P Walter’s A Version of the Truth a devastating secret has simmered beneath the surface for over 25 years. Now it’s time to discover the truth. But what if you’re afraid of what you might find? 
G. R Halliday’s From the Shadows is a stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Shaun Bythell Introduces… Daisy Johnson and Alan Trotter

24th Mar 2019  •  6:30PM – 7:30PM  •  Mitchell Library 

Part of the Aye Write introduces series

Shaun Bythell Introduces... Daisy Johnson and Alan Trotter

Shaun Bythell, owner of the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland and author of Diary of a Bookseller introduces these two extraordinary debuts.

Daisy Johnson’s Everything Under turns classical myth on its head and takes readers to a modern-day England unfamiliar to most. As daring as it is moving, the novel is a story of family and identity, of fate, language, love and belonging that saw Daisy shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2018. 

Drunk on cinematic and literary influence, Alan Trotter’s Muscle is a slice of noir fiction in collapse, a ceaselessly imaginative story of violence, boredom and madness.

Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald

24th Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 

As (Crime) Scene on TV

Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald

As the authors of Killing Eve and The Cry, Luke Jennings and Helen Fitzgerald have seen their novels turned into must-see television. 

In No Tomorrow by Luke Jennings the duel between Villanelle and Eve Polastri intensifies, as does their mutual obsession, and when the action moves from the high passes of the Tyrol to the heart of Russia, Eve finally begins to unwrap the enigma of her adversary’s true identity. 

Helen Fitzgerald’s latest book Worst Case Scenario is a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book – a heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour.

Chaired by novelist and screenwriter Chris Dolan.


There’s Been A Murder Crime Picks from Aye Write Book Festival 2019 Blog post 1

James Oswald, Neil Broadfoot & M.R Mackenzie

14th Mar 2019  •  6:00PM – 7:00PM  •  Mitchell Library


A Central Belt in the Mouth

James Oswald, Neil Broadfoot & M.R Mackenzie

With crime novels set in Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh, these three writers are packing a punch with their latest work.

James Oswald’s Cold as the Grave is the ninth book in the Inspector McLean series which opens with a mummified body hidden in a basement room. 

Neil Broadfoot’s No Man’s Land introduces the rough and ready Connor Fraser as he deals with a mutilated body dumped in the heart of historic Stirling. 

Glasgow librarian M.R Mackenzie’s debut, In the Silence, follows Anna, a criminology lecturer who finds herself as the star witness at the centre of a murder investigation.

 Chaired by Caro Ramsay.

16th Mar 2019  •  6:30PM – 7:30PM  •  Mitchell Library 


The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Hallie Rubenhold

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. 

They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. 

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but ‘Jack the Ripper’, the character created by the press to fill that gap, has become far more famous than any of these five women. 

Historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight in her extraordinary new book.

‘A powerful and shaming book, but most shameful of all is that it took 130 years to write.’ (The Guardian)

‘A poignant, absorbing read’ (The Times)

Ursula Buchan

17th Mar 2019  •  1:15PM – 2:15PM  •  Mitchell Library 


A Life of John Buchan

Ursula Buchan

John Buchan’s name is known across the world for The Thirty-Nine Steps

In the past 100 years the classic thriller has never been out of print and has inspired numerous adaptations for film, television, radio and stage, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s version. 

Yet there was more to him. He was a scholar, antiquarian, barrister, colonial administrator, journal editor, literary critic, publisher, war correspondent, director of wartime propaganda and a member of parliament. 

Ursula Buchan, his granddaughter, has drawn on recently discovered family documents to write this comprehensive and illuminating biography of a remarkable man and his times.

Anna Mazzola, Douglas Skelton & C.L Taylor

17th Mar 2019  •  8:00PM – 9:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 


These Bloody Islands

Anna Mazzola, Douglas Skelton & C.L Taylor

Three Scottish islands provide the setting for these spell-binding crime novels.
Anna Mazzola’s The Story Keeper is set on the Isle of Skye in 1857 where the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. 
In Douglas Skelton’s Thunder Bay, Roddie Drummond’s return to the fictional island of Stoirm causes a sensation as fifteen years before he was charged with the murder of his lover. 
C.L. Taylor’s Sleep sees insomniac Anna takes a job at a hotel on
Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat turns into a deadly nightmare.
Chaired by Theresa Talbot

Alex Gray & Ann Cleeves

22nd Mar 2019  •  6:00PM – 7:00PM  •  Mitchell Theatre 


Catching Up with Lorimer & Perez

Alex Gray & Ann Cleeves

A very warm welcome back to two of our favourite crime writers discussing their latest novels. 
Alex Grey’s The Stalker is a twisty, heart-stopping crime novel. When Detective Superintendent William Lorimer’s wife, Maggie, publishes her first book, he is thrilled for her. But joy soon turns to fear when a mysterious stranger starts following Maggie on her publicity tour. 
Wild Fire by Ann Cleeves has Shetland detective Jimmy Perez called in to investigate the hanging of a young nanny and rumours of her affair with her employer.

22nd Mar 2019  •  7:45PM – 8:45PM  •  Mitchell Library 


Aspects of Gothic

Craig Russell & E.S. Thomson

The Devil Aspect is best-seller Craig Russell’s masterpiece. 
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets. 
E.S. Thomson’s latest book, Surgeons’ Hall: A Jem Flockhart Mystery, divides its time between Victorian Edinburgh and London in a macabre world of mortuaries, anatomy lessons, harvested organs and a bloody pact of silence.

22nd Mar 2019  •  9:00PM – 11:00PM  •  Mitchell Library 


Back due to popular demand: Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste 

The Return of the Fun Lovin' Crime Writers

Back due to popular demand: Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone, Val McDermid, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste AKA The Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers with their unique brand of rock and roll. 
Their set features some new murderous ballads, grisly grooves and bloodthirsty beats to add to their criminal repertoire. 
Like Hendrix at Woodstock, The Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall or Oasis at King Tut’s – you want to be able to say ‘I was there…’


V.Clifford Who is She Blog Tour

Vicki Clifford was born in Edinburgh and until recently taught Religious Studies at the University of Stirling. She has an unusual background as a freelance hairdresser with a Ph.D on psychoanalysis from the University of Edinburgh. She had her first book, Freud’s Converts, published in 2007. She lives in Perthshire, Scotland. When she isn’t writing she’s cutting hair, walking her dogs or making unorthodox tray bakes.

Beyond Cutting was shortlisted for the Rainbow Awards 2014
Digging up the Dead received an Honourable mention in the Rainbow Awards 2016
The Viv Fraser Mysteries were shortlisted for a Diva Literary Award 2017.

Who is She? No one knows that the past is a strange country more than Scottish sleuth Viv Fraser. In this, the fifth Mystery, Viv is compelled to investigate a series of misadventures that are too close to home. Unravelling a veil of deception she discovers just how much of her past is in the present. No stranger to a challenge, she risks more than her pride hunting down the people who have threatened her family. Mac is on hand to help but will she let him?  

Viv sighed and reminded herself that when people revelled in tiny victories it indicated their actual insecurity. But that didn’t justify inappropriate behaviour. You just had to look at the legacy of Hitler or Stalin to witness what insecure people were capable of. Viv was convinced that her mum was unhappy with the way she was treated by this woman but she had too little proof. Once or twice recently when Viv had said she’d ‘get the warden onto it’ her mum had made excuses so that Viv wouldn’t take action. Viv’s mum was no shrinking violet yet this warden had some sort of power over her. Viv glanced round the small tidy room. A box of tissues disguised under a satin and lace cover crouched on the window sill, a bookcase with a few ‘how to’ books sat beneath a framed certificate on the wall stating that the woman had ‘attended’ a course on communication with the elderly. The warden caught her reading it and glared. The place smelled of mock lavender, definitely more chemical than organic and barely masking another stale smell, which Viv recognised as overfull vacuum cleaner. 

The call took two minutes. The warden conceded and turned her computer screen round so that Viv could view it. A few clicks later she watched the film that Mand had talked about. There definitely was a man going directly up a ladder to her mum’s first floor windows. Why would he do that if he was there to do the whole building? Surely he’d start at the top and work down? She stared at the paltry attempt he’d made at cleaning the window. There was more looking in than cleaning. What was he up to? Viv zoomed in to look for a logo on his clothing but she couldn’t see anything. The company that the housing association employed had to wear uniforms. 

The warden said, ‘He’s definitely not one of the usual men. They’re all vetted and I haven’t seen him before. Also, they’re not allowed to work without uniforms and ID cards.’ There was a knock at the office door. A resident wanted help to open the clothes drier. Reluctantly the warden went with the woman, which left Viv free to download the footage onto a USB stick. It was possible that she’d find the man on another database but not one that she would access easily from a public network computer.

She left the office without saying goodbye and nipped upstairs to her mum’s flat. There was no answer when she knocked. She went back downstairs to the public rooms and through a window in the top of the door she saw her mum with a group of men and women concentrating on a watercolour class. Best leave her to it. She jogged home.

Who is She Amazon Page

Amazon Author Page