One of Scotland’s top crime writers is set to take on a 13-mile walk for charity in a bid to raise awareness of breast cancer. Val McDermid, who has sold more than 15 million books to date, will join the ranks of the pink-bra brigade as she rises to the MoonWalk challenge this summer.
The 61-year-old, from Kirkcaldy, is battling Type 2 diabetes and sees the opportunity to “roll back” her condition while raising funds for a great cause.
McDermid, who will be taking part in the “Half Moon” walk with her partner Jo Sharp, is aiming to raise about £5,000 as she joins thousands of other women and men in Edinburgh for the event on 10 June.
Her debut thriller was a phenomenon, but here an embarrassment of narrators and the clunky withholding of information is death to suspense
More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else, a fact to lend some much-needed plausibility to the overworked genre of domestic suspense, or grip-lit as it’s sometimes known. About 60 debut novels cross my desk every year (I chair the New Blood panel at the Theakston Old Peculier crime writing festival), and for the last three or four years, the proportion of this subgenre has been rising.
The author has to hold back information, hinting at its existence, obliquely suggesting where there might be secrets
Not a problem in itself: if the books were original, well written or thought-provoking, nobody would be happier than I. But sadly that’s not generally been the case. There have been notable exceptions, of course: clever, suspenseful reads such as Renée Knight’s Disclaimer or Ben McPherson’s A Line of Blood. Then there are the mega-sellers such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, SJ Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train, which all gave us interesting twists on the idea of the unreliable narrator.
These books need to deliver at least one shocking moment when the reader realises that they have been looking at the picture the wrong way up. There must be a sudden twist in the direction of travel, taking us to an entirely unexpected destination. We readers journey hopefully, willing that moment to arrive.
Fiona Cummins, Jane Harper, Joseph Knox and Kristen Lepionka have been revealed as the four debut authors picked by crime writer Val McDermid for her influential “New Blood” panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
McDermid has hosted the annual panel since 2004 and has included S J Watson, Stuart MacBride, Clare Mackintosh, Belinda Bauer and Dreda Say Mitchell among her past New Blood picks.
Fiona Cummins’ Rattle (Macmillan) is a serial killer tale set in London’s Blackheath; Jane Harper’s The Dry (Little, Brown) tells of a triple killing in a small Australian town; Joseph Knox’s Sirens (Doubleday) is the story of a teenage runaway; and Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look (Faber) has PI Roxane Weary seeking to prove the innocence of a man on death row.
The New Blood panel will take place on Saturday 22nd July at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, during the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Special guests for the festival, the 15th, will include Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, Brenda Blethyn, Peter May and Arne Dahl.