crime fiction to die for
Murder Squad is a virtual collective of six crime writers from the North of England, comprising, left to right: Martin Edwards, Ann Cleeves, Cath Staincliffe, Kate Ellis, Chris Simms and Margaret Murphy.
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Ann Cleeves writes:
Back in the year 2000 seven crime writers living and writing in the north of England came together to form Murder Squad. It was the idea of the wonderful Margaret Murphy, who went on to chair the Crime Writers Association. She was getting good reviews, but sales were disappointing and in publishing, the marketing budget tends to follow success. So she decided it was vital to promote her own work and thought that it would be much easier to do that collectively than as an individual. I was delighted to join the group and my fellow squaddies have become great friends.
We produced a brochure, contacted libraries, bookshops and festivals and travelled all over the country to talk to readers. We published our first anthology of short stories. We now have two new members to replace John Baker, Chaz Brenchley and Stuart Pawson, who retired due to ill-health. Stuart died in February 2016 and is sorely missed, though his Charlie Priest books live on.
Our careers have moved on since the group was formed - Cath Staincliffe developed work in TV and radio, devising Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin, for ITV. She was commissioned to write the Scott & Bailey books based on the hit show. Martin Edwards changed the settings of his books from Liverpool to the Lake District and continued to work tirelessly editing anthologies of crime fiction for the CWA. My own Vera Stanhope novels and Shetland series have been successfully adapted for TV. Margaret Murphy has been collaborating with forensic scientist Prof Dave Barclay, to create a new strand of forensic thrillers published under the name A D Garrett. Kate Ellis continues to write contemporary novels with a historical storyline. One series is set in Devon and one in a very spooky York. Chris Simms, described by the Guardian as one of the best of the new generation of crime writers, also writes two series, the DI Spicer novels and those featuring DC Iona Khan, Chris is an active force behind the Crime Readers Association. And our second anthology of stories yielded two which were joint winners of the CWA Dagger for best short story of 2012 – very gratifying!
Murder Squad are keen to gain a wider audience for their work, which has been highly praised by both readers and reviewers, and has gained them many prizes. They appear collectively and individually across the country: for details of their joint activities see the links on the left. More information about each of the writers, and their latest books, can be found by following the links on the right.
You’ll see from our list of events that we continue to work with libraries around the country as well as developing links with independent bookshops, visiting readers’ and writers’ groups and contributing to literature festivals. Further afield several of us have new foreign publishers.