The BBC is airing a new documentary on BBC One tonight (29th November) about women who write crime fiction, featuring prominent crime writers Val McDermid, Patricia Cornwell, Martina Cole, husband-and-wife author team Nicci French, Sarah Phelps and Paula Hawkins in interview with presenter Alan Yentob.
The aim of the programme “Serial Killers: The Women Who Write Crime Fiction” is to explore why – with 21 billion crime novels sold last year – the readers of crime are mostly women and more often than not, are the writers too. The same riddle earlier this year sparked the launch of a new women’s crime festival in London, Killer Women, set up by a collective of female crime writers including Hawkins.
The BBC’s programme begins with an introduction to the study of forensics and continues in a series of interviews with the authors, and with one editor, Trapeze’s Sam Eades, as well as with forensic professionals actively dealing with cases, such as Professor Sue Black who has been assisting McDermid with her research for 20 years.
Winner of – Anthony Award for Best Critical/Non-Fiction book at Bouchercon in New Orleans.
McDermid, Val.Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime. Grove. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9780802123916. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780802191052. CRIME
Using historical examples, author McDermid brings to life the various subspecialties within forensic science to show how, and how well, the theories work in practice. The distinct treatment—one chapter on entomology, the next on pathology, and so on—and the juxtaposition within the chapters of histories and case studies produces the experience of reading an introductory forensic science textbook, minus all the colorful photos and elucidative marginalia. While this might leave academic readers feeling shortchanged, average readers will be more than satisfied with a no-frills primer. Additionally, McDermid’s experience as a crime writer and former journalist allows her to present the facts of the individual illustrative cases in compelling ways. Currency of the material is ensured through the use of recent court cases and consultation with practicing forensic scientists.
VERDICT: This title will primarily be relevant to readers with a general interest in forensic science/criminalistics, casual academics, true crime aficionados, and fans of McDermid’s other works.(LJ 6/15/16)—Ricardo Laskaris, York Univ. Lib., Toronto
Serial Killers – The Women Who Write Crime Fiction
Alan Yentob explores the enthralling world of female crime fiction in the company of some of its best-selling authors, including Patricia Cornwell, Val McDermid and Paula Hawkins – the newcomer whose The Girl on the Train was the breakout hit of 2015. While these writers stand on the shoulders of giants such as Christie, Highsmith, Rendell and PD James, their dark imaginings are more likely to have been nurtured at newsroom crime desks, in mortuaries, piecing bones of murder victims back together and in the bedrooms of modern marriages, where dark thrillers are sparked not by strangers in alleyways but by anxieties and paranoia much closer to home. Why are we so willing to be scared out of our wits, and why are women in particular so attracted to the thrills and comforts of crime fiction?
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