The CWA Anthology of Short Stories brings together some of the finest international crime writers. The Mystery Tour is edited by Martin Edwards, an award winning crime writer and critic.
Anthologies with a variety of authors are perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, however I find it an excellent way to discover new writers. This way you can try before you buy. You get a glimpse of their writing voice, style and creativity. And if you already know some of them, as is the case with this anthology of short stories, it is just an added bonus. You get to taste their goods with a specific topic in mind.
The Queen of Mystery by Ann Cleeves – Ann Cleeves began her crime-writing career with a series featuring George and Molly Palmer-Jones, and followed it with books about a cop from the North-East, Inspector Ramsay. More recently she has won international acclaim for two further series, featuring Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez, respectively, which have been successfully adapted for television as Vera and Shetland. Raven Black won the CWA Gold Dagger, and in 2017 Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger. Follow @AnnCleeves Visit anncleeves.com
Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – Anna Mazzola writes historical crime fiction. She studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a criminal justice solicitor. Her debut novel was the Unseeing, and her second, about a collector of folklore on the Isle of Skye, will be published in spring 2018. She lives in Camberwell, London with two small children, two cats and one husband. Follow @Anna_Mazz Visit AnnaMazzola.com
You’ll be Dead by Dawn by C.L. Taylor – C.L. Taylor was born in Worcester, studied psychology in Newcastle and has had a variety of jobs, including fruit picker, waitress, postwoman, receptionist, shipping co-ordinator, graphic designer and web developer. her debut novel was Heaven Can Wait and in 2011 she won the RNA Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. More recently she has enjoyed success with psychological thrillers such as The Missing and The Escape. Follow @callytaylor Visit cltaylorauthor.com
The Last Supper by Carol Anne Davis – Carol Anne Davis is the author of seven novels and eight true crime books, the latest of which is Masking Evil: When Good Men and Women Turn Criminal. She is currently one of the judges for the CWA’s Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, and when she’s not reading or writing she loves to dance. Unfortunately she’s dyspraxic so can’t tell her left from her right and has been in the beginner’s flamenco class for the past five years. Visit carolannedavis.co.uk
The White Goddess by Cath Staincliffe – Cath Staincliffe is an award -winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV’s hit series Blue Murder. She was joint winner, with Margaret Murphy, of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. She also writes the Scott & Bailey books, based in the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester. Follow @CathStaincliffe Visit cathstaincliffe.co.uk
High Flyer by Chris Simms – Chris Simms graduated from Newcastle University then travelled round the world before moving to Manchester in 1994. Since then he has worked as a freelance copywriter for advertising agencies throughout the city.The idea for his first novel, Outside the White Lines, came to him one night when broken down on the hard shoulder of a motorway. More recently he has written a series featuring DC Ilona King. Visit chrissimms.info
Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – Before Christine Poulson turned to crime, she was a respectable academic with a PhD in the history of art. Cambridge provided the setting for her first three novels, Dead Letters, Stage Fright and Footfall, which were followed by a stand-alone suspense novel, Invisible. the first in a new series Deep Water, appeared in 2016. Her short stories have been short-listed for a Derringer and for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Follow @ChrissiePoulson Visit christinepoulson.co.uk
Travel is Dangerous by Ed James – Ed James writes crime fiction novels, predominantly the Scott Cullen series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians. He is currently developing two new series, set in London and Dundee, respectively. He also writes the Supernature series, featuring vampires and other folkloric creatures. Follow @EdJamesAuthor Visit Edjamesauthor.com
Take the Money and Run? by Gordon Brown – Gordon Brown lives in Scotland but splits his time between the UK and Spain. He’s married with two children and has been writing since his teens. So far he has had five books published – his latest, Darkest Thoughts, being the first in the Craig McIntyre series. Gordon also helped found Bloody Scotland – Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival. Follow @GoJaBrown Visit gordonjbrown.com
No Way Back by J.M. Hewitt – J.M. (Jeanette) Hewitt is a crime fiction writer living on the Suffolk coast. She is the author of Exclusion Zone, The Hunger Within and The Eight Year Lie. Her short story ‘Fingers’ was published in Twisted50. a horror anthology, and she was the winner of the BritCrime Pitch Competition in 2015, a success that led to the publication of Exclusion Zone. Follow @jmhewitt Visit jmhewitt.com
Mystery Tour by Judith Cutler – Judith Cutler has produced no fewer than five series of crime novels and more than thirty books in all. Her first regular detective was Sophie Rivers, and since then she has featured Fran Harman, Josie Welford, Tobias Campion and Lina Townend. She has also published stand-alone novels, and is a former secretary of the CWA. Visit judithcutler.com
Wife on Tour by Julia Crouch – Julia Crouch has been a theatre director, playwright, drama teacher, publicist, graphic/website designer and illustrator. It was while he was doing an MA in sequential illustration that she realised what she really loved was writing. Her debut novel, Cuckoo, was followed by Every Vow You Break, Tarnished, The Long Fall and Her Husband’s Lover. Visit juliacrouch.co.uk Follow @thatjuliacrouch
The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis – Kate Ellis worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before finding success as a writer. The latest title in her series featuring Wesley Peterson is The Mermaid’s Scream, while she has also published a series about another cop, Joe Plantagenet, and two historical crime novels, including A High Mortality of Doves. Follow @kateellisauthor Visit kateellis.co.uk
Snowbird by Kate Rhodes – Kate Rhodes went to the University of Essex and completed a doctorate on the playwright Tennessee Williams. She has taught at universities in Britain and the United States, and now writes full time. Her books were two collections of poetry, and her novels Crossbones Yard and A Killing of Angels are both set in London, her birthplace. she lives in Cambridge. Visit katerhodes.org Follow @K_RhodesWriter
The Repentance Wood by Martin Edwards – Martin Edwards has published eighteen novels, including the Lake District Mysteries. The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards. He has edited thirty-five crime anthologies and has won the CWA Short Story Dagger, the CWA Margery Allingham Prize and the Poirot Award. He is the president of the Detection Club and current chair of the CWA. Follow @medwardsbooks Visit martinedwardsbooks.com
A Mouthful of Restaurant by Martine Bailey – Martine Bailey writes about food and mystery and was credited by Fay Weldon as inventing a new genre, the ‘culinary gothic’. Her debut in the genre was An Appetite for Violets, and while living in New Zealand she wrote the Penny Heart (retitled A Taste for Nightshade in the US). Martine is an award-winning amateur cook and now lives in Cheshire. Visit martinebailey.com Follow @MartineBailey
Cruising for a Killing by Maxim Jakubowski – Maxim Jakubowski is a crime, erotic, science-fiction and rock music writer and critic. He is also a leading anthologist. Born in England to Russian-British and Polish parents, he was raised in France and ran the Murder One bookshop for many years. He is the current chair of judges for the CWA Debut John Creasey Dagger, and also serves as joint vice-chair of the CWA. He is a frequent commentator on radio and television. Visit maximjakubowski.co.uk
Three on a Trail by Michael Stanley – Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Their first mystery, A Carrion Death introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, and was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. Their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for the Edgar Award. Visit detectivekubu.com Follow @detectivekubu
The Riddle of the Humming Bee by Paul Charles – Paul Charles was born and raised in the Northern Irish countryside. He is the author of the Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy series, set in Camden Town, and the Inspector Starrett series, which is set in Donegal in Ireland. the short mystery in this collection features retired PSNI Detective McCusker from Down on Cyprus Avenue. Paul is currently working on a second McCusker novel. Visit paulcharlesbooks.com
Writer’s Block by Paul Gitsham – Paul Gitsham started his career as a biologist, before deciding to retrain and impart his love of science and sloppy lab skills to the next generation of enquiring minds as a school teacher. Paul lives in a flat with more books than shelf space, where he writes the DCI Warren Jones series of police procedurals and spends more time than he should on social media. Follow @DCIJoneswriter Visit paulgitsham.com
Lady Luck by Peter Lovesey – Peter Lovesey short stories have won a number of international awards, including the Veuve Clicquot Prize, the Ellery Queen Reader’s Award and the CWA Short Story Dagger. When the Mystery Writers of America ran a competition to mark their fiftieth year, The Pushover was the winner. Peter is a recipient of the CWA Diamond Dagger (among many other honours) and also a former chair of the CWA. Visit peterlovesey.com
A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson – Ragnar Jónasson is the author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series. He was born in Reykjavík, where he still lives, and is a lawyer. He teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Visit ragnar-jonasson.squarespace.com Follow @ragnarjo
A Clever Evil by Sarah Rayne – Sarah Rayne is the author of a number of acclaimed psychological thrillers, and ghost-themed books. Much of the inspiration for her settings comes from the histories and atmospheres of old buildings, a fact that is strongly apparent in many of her books. She recently launched a new series, featuring the music historian and researcher Phineas Fox. Visit sarahrayne.co.uk
The Prodigy by Shawn Reilly Simmons – Shawn Reilly Simmons lives in Frederick Maryland, and has worked as a bookstore manager, fiction editor, convention organiser and a wine rep. Currently she serves on the Board of Malice Domestic, is a member of the Dames of Detection, and an editor and co-publisher at Level Best Books. Her red Carpet Catering Mysteries feature Penelope Sutherland, an on-set movie caterer. She has also published several short crime stories, and co-edited crime anthologies. Visit shawnreillysimmons.com Follow @ShawnRSimmons
A Slight Change of Plan by Susi Holliday – Susi Holliday grew up in Scotland and now lives in London. She was shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize with her short story ‘Home from Home’, She has published three crime novels set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun, and her latest novel is a Christmas-themed serial killer thriller, The Deaths of December. Visit sjihollidayblog.wordpress.com Follow @SJIHolliday
Bombay Brigadoon by Vaseem Khan – Vaseem Khan is the author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, a series of crime novels set in India. The books feature retired Mumbai police inspector Ashwin Chopra and his sidekick, a baby elephant named Ganesha. Vaseem says that elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order. He plays cricket all summer, attempting to bat as an opener, while fielding as little as possible. Follow @VaseemKhanUK Visit vaseemkhan.com
Matricide and Ice Cream by William Burton McCormick – William Burton McCormick’s fiction appears regularly in American mystery magazines. A Nevada native, William earned his MA in novel writing from Manchester University, was elected a Hawthornden Fellow in Scotland and has lived in Russia, Ukraine and Latvia. His novel Lenin’s Harem was the first fictional work added to the Latvian War Museum’s library in Riga. Follow William Burton McCormick on Facebook
The Spoils by William Ryan – William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. He was called to the English Bar after university in Dublin, and then worked as a lawyer in the City. He now teaches crime writing at City University. His first novel, The Holy Thief, was shortlisted for four awards, including a CWA New Blood Dagger. His latest book in The Constant Soldier. Follow @WilliamRyan_ Visit william-ryan.com
Personally I think anthologies are a great way to discover new authors. It’s kind of like having a taster session with a book full of talented scribes. You can get a real feeling for writing styles, voices and how creative they can be. Not everyone can draw in a reader with a short story. Short stories are an art-form unto themselves.
This anthology offers a great mixture of authors, and all of them know exactly how to create suspense and tension in a few pages. Some of the stories veer more towards the macabre, others have a noirish quality to them, and then there are those with a wicked sense of humour. I would even go as far as to say some of the stories border on the horror genre.
Now, I could write something about every single story, but instead I will just pick out a few to give you a sense of what you can expect.
Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson – I have to say I enjoyed the story within numbers and receipts. Storytelling in a modern way. In exactly the way you would experience it if you processed the information through sight and thoughts alone.
Return to the Lake by Anna Mazzola – This had a What Lies Beneath feel to it. It would make a great TV plot. Mazzola only infers a certain scenario, and the reader has to imagine what actually happened to the girl who disappeared.
A Postcard from Iceland by Ragnar Jónasson – Short and sweet or rather short and scary. Just enough to get the imagination going and yet not enough to give the reader all the answers.
The Naked Lady of Prague by Kate Ellis – This has a gritty modern feel to it. Reality paired with fear, resentment, shame and betrayal. You never know who you can trust. The closest friend might be the the person you should trust the least.
I could go on and on. The truth is every single story is unique, despite being connected through the element of crime. Each and every author has taken the idea and made it specific to themselves and their own particular style.
The CWA Mystery Tour certainly does not disappoint. It is a compelling mixture of talented authors and their often disturbing, sometimes amusing and certainly always memorable tales.