Monday, 31 January 2011

An A-Z of Crime Fiction by Anne Cassidy

Every crime novel needs one
A is for Alibi
This is when the person accused of murder insists that they were with someone else at the time. That person is the alibi.
B is for Blood
Blood groups, blood stains, blood traces are crucial to solving murders.
C is for Clue
Clues are the way to find a murderer.
D is for Detective
Every crime novel needs one. It might be a policeman, a private detective or a member of the public.
E is for Exhumation
This is when the murderer thinks they’ve got away with the crime but the police ask for the victim’s body to be dug up and examined again for new clues.
F is for Family
Sometimes the murderer is related to the victim.
G is for Gun
In USA people are allowed by law to own guns. Many murders happen this way. Unlike a knife, a gun leaves behind its own clue, a bullet. The police gain a lot of information from this.
H is for Home
A suitable home for a detective?
The home of the detective might be odd. They might live on a houseboat or in a windmill or in a flat in
Baker Street
. This will be where they do some of their thinking about the case.
I is for Informant
The police have people who will give them information about what is going on in the world of crime.
J is for Justice
Society abhors murder. The machinery of law is there so that society sees the murderer punished.
K is for Knife
Teenagers are the group most likely to be killed by knife crime.
L is for the Law
The Law says that murder is a crime. Murderers go to prison. 1964 was the last time someone was hanged for murder in the UK.
M is for Motive
Why did the killer want to kill? What was their reason?
N is for Night
The cover of darkness is perfect for murder.
O is for Opportunity
The right moment. This is when the murderer strikes.
P is for Police
They are crucial in a crime novel. Either they solve the murder or they hold information that might solve the murder.
R is for Red Herring
In every crime novel there will be red herrings. These are false clues put in by the writer to lead the reader astray.
S is for Scene of Crime
This is the place where the body of the victim is found. It’s important that no one tampers with this area.
T is for Tragic Past
Most detectives, whether they’re police or members of the public have a tragedy in their past.
U is for Undertaker
They organise the funeral of the victim. The detective will always attend. Maybe the killer will attend as well.
V is for Victim
Most murder victims are killed by someone who knows them. If the detective looks into the lifestyle of the victim they are likely to find the killer.
W is for Whodunnit
Much crime fiction takes this shape. A murder and the hunt for whoever did this murder.
 X is for X-Rated
Murder is always something that is too horrible to be seen.
Y is for Youth Crime
This is constantly in the newspapers and sometimes ends in murder. It’s the subject of some of the Young Adult Fiction that’s around.
Z is for Zeal
The detective has to have a passion for finding out the truth. This way the murder will be solved.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Shades of Grey by Linda Strachan

Why would you take the phone?
Checking there is no one there to see her, a girl checks the pockets of some coats hanging on a coat rack. She draws out a mobile phone she slips it into her own pocket,                     
Has she committed a crime?   Possibly.
Do we as readers know for sure, or do we know why? Not yet.
We have questions about her actions and motivations. How we feel about what she has done will probably depend on her reason for taking it.
1-     If we discover she is taking back a phone that is the lifeline for her sick mother and a bully has forcibly taken it from her, we feel she is justified and we're on her side.
2-     If we discover she is a nasty individual who is stealing it through jealousy or maliciously causing trouble for someone else, especially if the phone owner is vulnerable, then we are led to distrust and dislike the girl.
Crime is not straightforward it comes in many shades of grey –

Over to you…
What do you think was going on?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Bearing witness by Keren David

 I’ve only ever witnessed a crime once. As I drove through Putney in south-west London I came across a man (white, middle-aged) struggling with two younger black men.  I had no idea what I was seeing. The idea flashed across my mind that they were trying to abduct him.
These were the days before mobile phones. I stopped the car, sounded the horn, got out and shouted ‘Get off him!’  In retrospect, this was complete madness. In fact I was somewhat gratified that they immediately fled. Their victim was dizzy and shaking. It turned out that they’d run away  -  not because of my intervention -  but because they’d succeeded in their mission to remove his Rolex watch.
‘Can you stay while I call the police?’ he asked. He had a mobile phone, and the police came quickly. A whole van of them. He and they quickly decided that the culprits probably came from a local estate. He and I got into the van to drive around and see if we could find them.
It didn’t take long before he thought he’d spotted them. A skinny black youth was bundled into the van. ‘Is this one of them?’ the policeman asked. ‘Definitely’ said the victim. I wasn’t so sure. The muggers had seemed big and tall to me, and this was just a boy. His eyes looked scared. I shook my head. ‘I don’t think so.’
A week later I was asked to go to the police station and look at some pictures. I went. I looked. But by then the muggers’ faces had faded from my mind. I couldn’t honestly pick one face from another and say for sure who could be guilty. It made me feel as though I was letting the victim and the police down. Better that though, than accusing an innocent man.
When I wrote When I Was Joe about a boy who witnesses a murder I remembered how difficult it was to feel sure of crucial details. The weight of responsibility on a witness, the problem of translating something shocking seen at speed into cold, hard facts.
The premise of my book is much more extreme than the mugging that I witnessed. Ty sees someone killed, his own life is threatened, he has to take on a new identity under the witness protection programme. But what if the attack I witnessed had involved weapons? What if a knife had slipped, hit an artery? How good a witness would I have been? What might have been the consequences for me?
It’s easy to read crime stories in books and newspapers and see than as things that happen to other people. People who have chaotic lives, people who live in dangerous places. But any of us could be a witness, at any time. 
My sister’s colleague phoned one day to tell her boss that she wouldn’t be into work that day – or ever again. ‘My son witnessed a murder,’ she said. ‘We’re being moved for our own protection.’Overnight her old life had disappeared.You see the wrong thing, you do the right thing. And your life is changed forever.

When I was Joe, and the sequel Almost True are published by Frances Lincoln

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Am I Capable of Murder? by Anne Cassidy

My first answer to this question? No, of course not.

I could never hurt anybody or any thing. OK an occasional wasp has felt my wrath but apart from that I am a peaceful person who believes in resolving problems with talk.

But if something happened to someone I love what would I do then?

A couple of years ago I was on a train sitting behind a woman of about my age talking about her son. He was in his twenties queuing up to get cash from a machine. He got into a row with someone else in the queue. That person went off and came back moments later with a knife. The young man was stabbed and died there and then on the pavement next to the cash machine.

I heard this story and immediately put myself in the woman’s position. I felt this crushing anguish inside me. If that had been my son, I thought, almost tearful. A feeling of rage rose up and for a second I thought, Yes, I would capable of murder.

But nothing like that has ever happened to me. I keep my fingers crossed that it doesn’t.

Am I capable of murder? Possibly, maybe, who knows?

Anne Cassidy’s new book HEART BURN is published in Feb 2011

Monday, 10 January 2011

Murder in Mind by Malcolm Rose

Malcolm Rose cooks up a plot
I like to murder people.  Lots of people.  In fact, I’m very good at it.  I must be because I’m not writing this from a police cell or prison.  The police have never questioned me, never even got close.

Really, I haven’t been arrested because it happens only in my mind.  That’s the beauty of being a fiction writer.  A novelist can do anything, be anyone, and go anywhere.  In my imagination, I am a devious murderer, the world’s leading detective, a very bright alien girl, a great musician, the best footballer in the land, and many other characters.  I used to be told off at school for daydreaming.  Now, I make my living from it.  I have the best job in the known universe because I am a professional daydreamer.

I do most of my murdering in my quirky ‘Traces’ series.  My favourite character is the forensic robot called Malc (Mobile Aid to Law and Crime).  He’s fantastic at analysing clues but hopeless with communication.  He thinks a red herring is a type of fish.  He may be beyond modern technology but all the forensic science he does is possible today – and he has a lovely way with dead bodies.

Us humans are weird, aren’t we?  We are entertained by the worst possible thing that one human can do to another.  When we read/write crime stories, we feel uncomfortable and entertained at the same time.  We are working the fear of crime and anger out of our systems and it’s great as long as we are safe while we are doing it.

Malcolm used to be a Lecturer in Chemistry but now writes crime stories and thrillers for young people.  Both scientists and authors have to be creative and keen to write up their work.   Chemists add chemicals together, brew them up a bit and investigate what happens.  Malcolm mixes fictional characters, stirs in a bit of conflict and investigates what happens.  Both can be colourful or explosive.  Because science is always advancing, it provides an endless source of new ideas for a novelist.  Malcolm is happiest when his crime stories are dripping in gruesome forensic science and his bad guys are using terrible poisons.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Feeding on the Spoils by Gillian Philip

Bird of prey...or crime writer on the prowl?

Sometimes I feel like a vulture.
They say (though it’s always hard to pinpoint who ‘they’ are) that writers have hearts of ice. And I think that’s especially true of crime writers. How can we wallow in the worst that humanity can do to itself? Because crime novels do, usually, involve death: deliberate and (more often than not) calculated killing.

Every writer is asked that old chestnut, ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ And the fact is, I get some of mine while I watch terrible stories on the news, or read them in newspapers. I still remember the murder that sparked the idea for Crossing The Line: the stabbing to death of a young man in London, a promising sporting talent, whose only mistake was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I didn’t write about that young man; I don’t take my characters from real people. But I certainly used his story to spark my own. Is that exploitation or is it an attempt at understanding? I don’t know, I really don’t. I think it’s probably somewhere between the two.
I console myself that whatever my more selfish motives, trying to understand can’t be wrong. I think many things motivate us when we write crime and also when we read it. The thrill of the chase and the mystery are part of it, and the sheer chill we get from watching what one human being can do to another. But maybe – I hope – it’s also to do with looking into ourselves, seeing what we’re capable of, and perhaps, with luck, recognising it when it rears its head in real life.
That’s why I write and read crime, I think. Sheer fascination. The good kind and the bad.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Welcome to our hide-out!

We've been working on our masterplan for sometime now, and at last this blog is ready to launch.
We kick off with a competition for a signed book by Anne Cassidy -  see panel - and there will be posts in the next few days about plotting and poisons, motives and murder.
So..spread the word and sign up as a follower.  Looking forward to reading your comments.

Keren David
Anne Cassidy
Gillian Philip
 Linda Strachan