The CSI Effect: Kate Bendelow talks about forensics and how you can join the next Crime Fiction Masterclass

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Today Kate Bendelow, who is a servicing CSI and teaches the sections on forensics and pathology in the hugely popular Crime Fiction Masterclass, is taking the reins here at the CTG blog to talk about the CSI effect…

“As a serving crime scene investigator of 16 years, I have experienced a lot of issues brought on by the CSI effect. When I first started with the police I was employed as a SOCO (scenes of crime officer) and still refer to myself as such. The unfortunate introduction of ‘that’ awful American programme, led instrumentally to us being rebranded as CSIs as this became the acronym the public began to recognise. As a result, I have been asked at scenes why I am using the wrong torch, (it wasn’t like the ones the actors use on the telly) and why I wasn’t considering searching for traces of fibre at a burglary scene (useless without a suspect’s clothing to compare to and the cost implication of comparison would not be in the public’s interest). Whist frustrating enough in the day-to-day, its worrying that such misconceptions may influence a jury.

By providing writers of page and screen with advice on procedure and highlighting the most popular misconceptions, it gives them the opportunity to write with accuracy and authenticity. In turn, I hope this addresses the misconceptions brought on by the CSI effect and stops people like me throwing things at the television when I see things like detectives trampling through a crimes scene without so much as a pair of nitrile gloves on. I also like sharing anecdotes and talking about office culture to give people an insight into what my job is really like. From the tedious and mundane to the shocking, disturbing and downright hilarious.”

Want to learn more? Here’s how…

The acclaimed Crime Fiction Masterclass is coming to Cambridge! Whether you are a crime writer or just a fan, this is for you.

After a number of successful stints for The Guardian, as well as events in Manchester, Brighton, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, Morecambe & Vice and the Harrogate International Crime Fiction Festival, four experts in their fields bring their unrivalled knowledge and experience to Cambridge.

Featuring bestselling author and tutor Erin Kelly, ex-senior detective, bestselling author and adviser to Peter James, Graham Bartlett, serving CSI and author of The Real CSI, Kate Bendelow, and bestselling author and practising criminal lawyer Neil White, the day-long masterclass will give you the inside track on how murders are really solved to vastly improve your crime writing.

The masterclass will inform, entertain and inspire you. Book direct at https://crimefictionmasterclasscambridge.eventbrite.co.uk

 

Crime In The Court Crime @GoldsboroBooks 2015 – What a great night! #IBW2015

David Headley opens Crime in the Court

David Headley opens Crime in the Court

Fabulous independent bookstore Goldsboro Books in London held their hugely popular Crime in the Crime evening last night. I’ve heard loads of great things about the event before, but yesterday was my first time going along to one.

It was a wonderful evening. With over 70 crime writers in attendance and around 400 people filling the gorgeous bookstore and all the outside space in shop-lined Cecil Court (luckily a pedestrians only street!) it was a friendly, fun and swelteringly hot London night out.

David Headley – Goldsboro owner and literary agent – was the perfect host. With free drinks and the shop’s beautiful shelves to browse, plus lots of laughter and the perfect opportunity to catch up with crime writers and readers – it was a crime fiction addict’s heaven!

Attending authors included: Rebecca Whitney, Elizabeth Haynes, Terry Stiastny, Susan Wilkins, Clare Mackintosh, Antonia Hodgson, Louise Millar, Christobel Kent, Kate Rhodes, RC Bridgestock, Charles Cumming, SD Sykes, William Shaw, V.M.Giambanco, Ali Knight, Elly Griffiths, L.C.Tyler, Dreda Say Mitchell & Tony Mason, Elena Forbes, Julia Crouch, Mick Herron, Colette McBeth, T.R.Richmond, Vaseem Khan, Jenny Blackhurst, Robin Blake, Sabine Durrant, JS Law, Clare Carson, Erin Kelly, Jane Lythell, Stuart Prebble, Simon Toyne, Anya Lipska, Fergus McNeill, SJI Holliday, Helen Giltrow, Claire McGowan, Eva Dolan, Mark Billingham, SJ Watson, Sharon Bolton, Renee Knight, David Hewson, Emma Kavanagh, Sarah Hilary, Alison Joseph, Cal Moriaty, Saul Black, Diana Bretherick, Rod Reynolds and Mark Hill.

crime writers Helen Giltrow, Rod Reynolds & Mark Hill

crime writers Helen Giltrow, Rod Reynolds, Mark Hill (with a copy of Rod’s debut The Dark Inside – out in September)

Definitely an event I’ll put in my calendar again for next year!

In the meantime, be sure to visit Goldsboro Books at Cecil Court, London (just a minute walk from Leicester Square tube) or hop on over to their website at www.goldsborobooks.com

The #KillerWomenLaunch: Criminally Good Writing

Killer Women logo

Killer Women logo

Last night I was thrilled to attend the launch event for the fabulous new Killer Women group. Held at the lovely Collyer Bristow Gallery, with a plentiful supply of gorgeously yummy wine from Naked Wines, it was a brilliant evening.

Set up by Melanie McGrath and Louise Millar, Killer Women is a group of fifteen established female crime writers: Jane Casey, Tammy Cohen, Helen Giltrow, Paula Hawkins, Alison Joseph, Erin Kelly, Anya Lipska, Colette McBeth, Melanie McGrath, Kate Medina, Louise Millar, Kate Rhodes, Helen Smith, Louise Voss, and Laura Wilson.

Between them they write in many sub-genres of crime writing from psychological thrillers to procedurals, to political thrillers and more – just look at the fantastic range of books on display last night (pictured). And as a group they’re looking to connect with readers through a range of fabulous sounding activities from talks at festivals to events at libraries and bookshops, to debates around women and violence, interviews with crime writers and criminal justice experts, and much more.

books by the Killer Women

books by the Killer Women

It sounds like a great idea to me, and I can’t wait to see the Killer Women in action at their next event.

To find out more about Killer Women and their upcoming events, talks, debates, workshops and giveaways hop on over to their website at www.killerwomen.org and follow them on Twitter @killerwomenorg

 

 

The Broadchurch Beacon Blog Tour: The Broadchurch novel by Erin Kelly

Broadchurch novel cover image

Broadchurch novel cover image

What the blurb says: “It’s a hot July morning in the Dorset town of Broadchurch when Beth Latimer realises her eleven-year-old son, Danny, is missing. As Beth searches desperately for her boy, her best friend, local police officer DS Ellie Miller, arrives at work to find the promotion she was promised has been given to disreputable Scottish outsider DI Alec Hardy.

When Danny’s body is found on the beach Ellie must put her feelings aside as she works with DI Hardy to solve the mystery of Danny’s death. As the case becomes a murder investigation, the news hits the press, jolting sleepy Broadchurch into the national spotlight.

As the town’s secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Right now it’s impossible to know who to trust …”

I was so excited to get my hands on this hotly anticipated novel.

Inspired by the BAFTA award-winning ITV series created by Chris Chibnall, Erin Kelly has done a fabulous job of capturing the atmosphere and tone of the show in this translation from screen to page.

True to the characters and honest to the story, what the reader gets from the novel is the chance to experience events from inside the heads of the main characters. It’s like seeing the whole thing in HD through a lens angled slightly differently, exploring the characters inner thoughts and emotional battles for a deeper insight into what happened that dreadful July when Danny died.

Told in the present tense, the novel feels immediate and dynamic. The tension arising from the different styles of DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller vibrates off the page and, as in the TV series, they make for compulsive watching (reading). As the small seaside town of Broadchurch reels from the loss of one of it’s own, and the police (and the journalists) strive to find Danny’s killer, it becomes clear that beneath their smiley exterior some locals have dark secrets in their past that once revealed will change the small seaside town forever.

So, the big question, does the book feel authentic to the characters and the series? Definitely, yes.

And, does it feel like a story and entity in its own right? Absolutely, yes.

Emotive and suspenseful, this is a must-read for fans of the show and crime fiction readers alike.

Highly recommended.

 

To find out more about the book, hop over to The Crime Vault where you can read an extract: http://www.thecrimevault.com/ebooks/broadchurch/

This post is part of the Broadchurch Beacon Bloggers Tour. Check out the other fabulous tour stops here:

Broadchurch Beacon Blog Tour poster

Broadchurch Beacon Blog Tour poster

CTG Reviews: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree cover image

The Poison Tree cover image

What the blurb says: “It is London in the sweltering summer of 1997. Karen is a strait-laced, straight-A university student. When she meets the impossibly glamorous Biba, a bohemian orphan who lives in a crumbling mansion in Highgate with her enigmatic brother Rex, she is soon drawn into their world. As the summer progresses, Karen becomes tangled up in their tragic family history and the idyll turns into a nightmare, culminating in murder.

A decade later, Karen collects Rex from prison. Together with their nine-year-old daughter Alice, they try to settle into family life. While Rex has served his time, Karen keeps dark secrets that mean she has her own life sentence to serve. What happened that summer casts a terrifying shadow over her future. Will the past catch up with her?”

I have to confess that this book has been in my To Be Read pile for months. Having opened it up, I was hooked by the claustrophobic immediacy of the prologue and read the whole thing in a single weekend, cursing myself for not having got to it sooner.

After the panicked situation in the prologue, Chapter One starts with conflict of a different kind, Rex is coming home from prison and Karen, Alice and Rex are all having to adjust. As they start to live, for the first time, as a family, Karen finds herself remembering the sequence of events that led to murder all those years before.

This is one of those books that gets into your head and keeps you trying to guess what happened. The reader knows that Karen has secrets, things she’s never told anyone, not even Rex. As the 1997 timeline unfolds, Karen turns from disciplined student to bohemian party girl. The writing is so vivid, the descriptions so atmospheric, that you can almost feel the heat on your skin, see the wine in your glass and imagine yourself joining in with the endless house parties hosted by Biba. But as the long, hot summer plays out, and Biba’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic,  cracks, tensions and jealousy cause events in the seemingly carefree household to take a deeply sinister turn.

I especially loved the characters of Karen – the diligent student on a journey of self discovery, Rex – the sensible, reliable one who’d do anything for his sister, and Biba – beautiful, neurotic and gifted. As the story progresses, and the events of 1997 return to threaten Karen and her family in the present, the tension reaches its climax and Karen is, once again, pushed to her limits. Like all great psychological thrillers, this story keeps you guessing what will happen right to the very end, and finishes with a shocking dramatic twist.

The Poison Tree was a major ITV drama, a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011, and was longlisted for the 2011 CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Highly recommended.

Notes from Harrogate: Part 1

Social Media: Who Are You? panel

Social Media: Who Are You? panel

This was my first time at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, and to say I was excited doesn’t cover the half of it. I arrived on Thursday evening and had already spotted half a dozen crime writers chilling outside on the lawn before I parked the car.

Anyway, the evening kicked off with the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award presentation, won this year by Denise Mina (who also won the accolade in 2012) for her wonderful novel Gods and Beasts. After the awards ceremony had finished the Festival Opening Party got everyone into the party mood, which continued well into the early hours back in the bar.

I woke on Friday to glorious sunshine and a (mild) hangover. The first panel I attended was ‘Dead In Deutschland’. Barry Forshaw expertly chaired the session with Jan Costin Wagner, Sebastian Fitzek, Nele Neuhaus, and Dane Jussi Adler-Olsen talking about German crime novels or ‘Krimis’. After that, as I felt like I was melting in the heat, I headed outside to the lawn (and the shade of the trees) to cool down before the ‘Social Media: Who are You?’ panel. Mark Billingham chaired with Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Erin Kelly, Steve Mosby and Sarah Pinborough discussing the merits and pitfalls of authors using social media. This was by far the most fabulously sweary and high-spirited session that I attended. I admired the panel’s honesty about the good (and the bad) that they’d experienced through interactions online, and their ability to keep their cool when a member of the audience started firing questions at them. In essence, the panel concluded that social media can be a good thing – letting readers and writers connect in a way that wasn’t possible ten years ago – just so long as it’s used in a respectful and decent way. I immediately wanted to follow each of the panellists on Twitter, and so I did!

'Live' storytelling at the Random House - Dead Good Books party

‘Live’ storytelling at the Random House – Dead Good Books party

After more time chatting on the lawn, I attended the Random House – Dead Good Books party in the fabulous PapaKata Tent. Here I broke my promise to myself of not drinking, and started on the wine. It was great to meet up with lots of fantastic writers and bloggers and I even had my photo taken in the ‘crime scene’ area of the tent – lying ‘dead’ on the carpet with a blood stain by my head! A highlight of the event was a story being written ‘live’ by the Random House authors – with Lee Child starting it off with the first couple of sentences (see photo).

After the party I had meant to head out into Harrogate for dinner, however the bar proved too much of a distraction and I found myself chatting with a bunch of fabulous people until the early hours. I’ll say one thing about crime writers – they certainly know how to party!

The festival was halfway through, and as I went to bed that night I resolved that on Saturday I would attend more panels …