Doncaster, York – Bones in the Nest – Helen Cadbury


2000s: Two years after To Catch A Rabbit, Sean Denton is back and Doncaster has another challenge.


Sean Denton is no longer a PSCO but a fully fledged police officer, a constable if you will, and is training and working hard in his home town of Doncaster. He ends up working on  a case which is developing ion the estate where his father lives. A young muslim man has been found murdered and racial tensions are high. Added to this is the fact that the infamous Chasebridge killer has been released from prison. Then there’s chloe, recently released from prison and living in a bail hostel in York. Times are changing and not everyone is able to adapt to their new situation. Yorkshire is not the quiet place you may think it is.

Place and setting

Doncaster and York both feature

Doncaster is the literary stomping ground of Helen Cadbury and this time she takes us to an even darker side and delves into racial tensions together with the anger and frustration in a working class community and its problems.

Doncaster may also be Sean Denton’s patch but when he is called to solve a crime on the very estate where his father still lives, he is in a unique yet difficult position to  work amongst the residents in an area he knows as an insider whilst working as an officer of the law.

Chasebridge Estate is the focal point for the story and there is a Clean Up Chasebridge campaign to help try and sort out the area’s problems. The estate has many problems such as suspected drug dealers and other criminal activity. Tensions are high and neighbours mistrustful of each other. A killer returned to their midst is not going to be well received.

Sean understands better than most the idio-syncrancies of these people, his people and has the trust of many of them. He still cares for the place and so has a fine line to walk in protecting and bringing justice to the killer. The estate is a melting pot and Sean has to be careful about how much he stirs up what’s inside.

Meanwhile in York, a young lady by the name of Chloe Toms has been released from prison and is now living in a woman’s bail hostel and she is struggling to cope with life outside. So much has changed since she was locked up, the world has moved on and that someone however has not forgotten and now she has to deal with someone who seems to be out to get here. Her life is one of a new beginning but in a new strange and alien world and so her journey towards normality of sorts is not going to be easy.

Yorkshire – both Doncaster and York itself showcase a range of characters with working class communities and a past and present which could clash if they are not careful.

Author info: | Facebook @helencadbury


Iceland Noir is here! – Reykjavik -Festival of Crime fiction

Some of the great and varied! Books set in Iceland - sagas, crime fiction and even a Hardy Boys adventure!
Some of the great and varied books set in Iceland – sagas, crime fiction and even a Hardy Boys adventure!

There is a phrase in Icelandic, “Ad ganga med bok I maganum” – which literally means ‘everyone has a book in their stomach’, or everyone has a book inside them.

Iceland has apparently the highest rate per storytellers – published story tellers  – per head of the population than any other country.

So quite aptly, the latest crime festival, Iceland Noir is being held over the next four days in Reykjavik, Iceland – a great setting for chilling crime fiction!  Some of the booktrail’s favourite authors are as we speak getting settled in for a crime fest – Mari Hannah, William Ryan, Peter James and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir to name but a few!

Nordic perspectives and translating crime fiction across cultures is on topic tomorrow and perhaps the one the booktrailers are most looking forward to – Location, location – From Greenland to South America, via Romania and Greece. Well, that would be one fantastic book trail we think!

It’s the Icelandic setting however that we’re going to focus over the next four days as well, the stories that have come out of Iceland over the years never fail to impress us.

It was where we first learned that the word Saga is a literary thing and not just a holiday club for the over 60s. A saga in Iceland is a tale told over the years and passed down from one generation to another, stories  about the country’s earliest settlers, the Norse, stories about culture and tradition. Oh and the legends and myths that this country has!

There are signs of literature all over the city of Reykjavik with story-plaques on public buildings. but where we had a summer of book benches here in London – benches painted in the theme of various books – Iceland has story telling benches where by scanning a QR code on the bench activates a story or reading by a local writer.

Now that’s one kind of self service scanning experience we at the booktrail would love!

Over the next four days, we’ll be looking at Iceland Noir with a keen eye – Sagas, talking book benches and a crisp, Icelandic setting where a bunch of crime fans and crime writers have gathered to make sure your next crime read is the most chilling one yet.

For more information on Iceland Noir – please visit  –

Come back tomorrow for Our Featured Icelandic Read!

Letters to my daughter’s killer – Manchester – Cath Staincliffe


Set in Manchester

Shortlisted in the CrimeThrillerAwards on itv3 –

Ruth’ s daughter Lizzie has been murdered and as the title would suggest, what follows is the heartbreaking account of a woman trying to terms with that fact (if a person ever comes to terms with something so horrific)

She tells her story to a diary which we read thereby getting in to the mind and thoughts of a woman in turmoil. What would you say to a man you believe has murdered your beautiful daughter? Where do you even start? The way in which the book is written  really brings the horror and inner turmoil of Ruth to the fore as the diary is that one medium still left in the world where we share our deepest darkest thoughts that we don’t share anywhere else. Letters are personal between two people giving the writer the power to control events and say whatever they want without being interrupted. As the diary progresses and Ruth works through her emotions, its as if we are there at the murder scene, the arrest,and everything which follows.

This for me was the where the real horror must start – when the funeral is over, the people have gone back to their lives and you wake up the next day as usual. What the hell do you do now?

Ruth’s pain is strongly evident throughout and I had the strange feeling of being so involved that as I was reading I found myself slowing down as if to respect the grief of the people ‘talking’ and sharing their hearts. Only a powerful and very clever writer can do that.

This book is certainly about things we would never want to face or personal situations we would never want to think about but everything is done subtly and without sensationalism so only the raw real emotions are left.

This is  a very emotional read – Anger, sadness, shock, horror, disbelief and something which stays with you after the final page. Don’t be put off if reading someone’s inner conflict is not for you – this is so much more.

For more Manchester based crime fiction visit the lovely Cath Staincliffe here – 

Laidlaw – Glasgow grit – William McIlvanney


If you are looking for a novel set in Glasgow with a difference, then William McIlvanney’s Laidlaw novel may be the one for you. It’s grim, bleak but oh so intriguing. Authentic in language and setting and evocative and suggestive of so much more.


The cars controlled the people. Sauchiehall street was a graveyard of illuminated tombstones. Buchanan Street was an escalator baring strangers.

George Square. You should have known it. How many times had you wanted for one of the  buses  that ran all through the night? The Square rejected you.

you could only walk and be rejected by the places where you walked…


Glasgow of course is a major character in the Laidlaw novel and the descriptions are evocative of a dark side of the city that you won’t necessarily want to visit.

However this is the joy of fiction is it not? to see and wonder about a city that you may or may know. A side to the city that is a fictional creation but a thriling one at that. McIlvanney’s Glasgow is a bleak place indeed.

You could walk for as long as you liked in this city and it wouldn’t know you.  You could call every part of it by name. But it wouldn’t answer.

The novel is a journey around this city of dank despair – and when it opens with a girl’s body found in one of the city’s parks, it is up to Laidlaw and his team to find out what happened. the race is on. However the real race seems to be between them finding the killer and the girl’s father finding who killed his daughter. The father has contacts in the city’s underworld which changes things.

A Glasgow Green B Jocelyn Square (Law Courts) C george square D Buchanan Street E Sauchiehall Street F Kelvingrove park
A Glasgow Green B Jocelyn Square (Law Courts) C George Square D Buchanan Street E Sauchiehall Street F Kelvingrove park

This is the Glasgow of the 1970s – not just the streets and the city atmosphere but the attitudes, lifestyle, drinking culture and of course the language. All focusing on building a highly evocative image of the underbelly of the city, its people and the time period –

“Across the street the door of the Corn Exchange opened suddenly and a small man popped out onto the pavement, as if the pub had rifted. He foundered in a way that suggested fresh air wasn’t his element and at once Harkness saw that he was beyond what his father called the pint of no return.”


The Glaswegian dialect makes for some evocative Tartan Noir gems too  –

To Harkness speech seemed like  a foreign language here.

‘Oh, they’re in an awfy state, sir,’ the old man said. ‘Sadie especially. Ye couldny get sense oot o’her. They’ve had an awfy time , ye know.


The Glasgow humour and foreboding even appears in a simple description of the weather –

Sunday in the park. It was a nice day.  A Glasgow sun was out, duly luminous, an eye with cataract. 

This may not be the kind of tour that a guide from Visit Scotland might offer and indeed remember that this IS fiction and that Glasgow is one of the friendliest and cultural cities in Scotland. Not to mention the  walks beside the canals, the pedestrian city centre and the architecture..

Glasgow's Buchanan Street today
Glasgow’s Buchanan Street today

Definitely a city to explore and admire in real life although if you’re also enthralled by a dark underbelly of a city, and some fine crime writing, then this novel is for you.

Gods of Gotham- New York City – Lyndsay Faye


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Set in mid-19th century New York, this is the tale of Timothy Wilde, a ‘copper star’ in the newly formed police force.

He comes across a young girl in the streets dressed in  blood-soaked night clothes and his first real serious case starts. But this is a case which is going to the core of everything he doesn’t want to get involved in and the worse level of humour nature in a city that is changing beyond recognition.



Setting – 


Ahh think you know New York?


You haven’t seen this side of things the city that never sleeps. For it might not sleep but that doesn’t mean that the criminals have a rest or the worse of human kind come crawling out on the streets.

Five points 1827
Five points 1827

The two most iconic sites in the novel are the Five Points and the tombs – the tombs was the name for the prison and police station at the time and it was situated int he Five points area of the city – a notorious slum full of vice.

Who and want is valued in the city of this time? Talking of vagrant children –


Coral them like cattle, the pack them in a locked wagon rumbling up broadway to the House of Refuge. The urchins are lower in our society that the jersey cows


The river is the centre of it all  – life, the growing city and the arrival of the immigrants close to Nick’s bar –

East River today
East River today

The East River’s bank swarms with rickety foreign creature trying to shake off their sea legs, and Nick’s was on New Street very close to the water.


There is a fire at the start of the novel, an explosion and Manhattan is thrust into chaos and despair –


The Explosion was heard at Flushing and was supposed to be the shock of an earthquake. Cinders fell on Staten Island and for several miles over New Jersey… The New York Herald, July 1845



The author  paints a  very real and utterly convincing portrait of New York in 1845. It is grim, dark, dank and smelly. Extreme poverty and sickness are the bedfellows of many.

Neighbourhoods in New York change quicker than its weather. Spring Street where Val lives, is a mix of people in the usual every sense…

There are churches in Spring Street, eating houses smelling of pork chops with brown onions. It isn’t Broadway north of Bleeker, where the outrageously wealthy bon ton and their servants  peer down their noses at each other , but it isn’t Ward six either.


Ward six  – he enters via Mulberry Street –


“that row of godforsaken Catholic misery”


Mulberry Street
Mulberry Street


A city which has grown rapidly in size due to the influx of the irish immigrants. The Irish jostle at the bottom of the social scale alongside blacks and Catholics.


God save New York city from faraway blighted potatoes


Also of interest on this tour –


A very interesting angle of this book is the Flash vernacular  – the language of the rogues and criminals who walk the streets

It could be said that this was the first recorded language guide and many of our common day words and expressions have come from Flash words

Even the language paints a picture of the struggles of the time


Flash or flash patter is the curious dialect spoken by foister panel thieves, bruisers, dice burners, confidence men , street, rats, new hawkers, addicts and Valentine. I’ve heard tell it’s based on British Thieves’ Cant but damned if I’ve ever heard them compared.


This is a novel and a book trail right at the heart of the dirt, dank dark streets of the city at one of its most pivotal parts of its history.


Evocative is not the word – it places you right there amidst the chaos, with its cold hand on your shoulder guiding the way….


New York – the big apple may be rotten and the city have no chance of sleep in Ward Six but the new police force is fighting back


What an amazing point in time to pay a visit.

Now You See Me- London – Sharon Bolton

Think you’ve read every Jack the ripper inspired novel?

You’ve not read Sharon Bolton

The story in a nutshell –

Lacey Flint – now there’s a character I want to get to know better.

DC Lacey Flint interviews a witness who is reluctant to talk to her and after coming out of her building stumbles onto a woman brutally stabbed in the  car park.

The investigation kicks up a pace when a news reporter receives a letter suggesting that the murder may be a copy cat of the first Jack the Ripper Murder. Chillingly it also mentions Lacey…

If the letter is true, the it would seem that Lacey and the police have only five days to get to the truth before the next victim is killed.

Lacey doesn’t know what to make of the letters taunting her specifically. As she looks into the case more, she has unpleasant flashbacks to things she’d rather forget. But she’s going to have to bring everything from the deepest recesses of her mind if she is going to stop this killer in his tracks.

The setting  

A – Hanbury Street, B- Durward Street, C – Henriques Street, D – Mitre Square, E Dorset Street Spitallfields

London of course but if the mystery of Jack the Ripper was thrilling in the days before CCTV and DNA etc then what could be made of it in  a new and modern light?

Well everything so don’t go thinking this is any less chilling. It isn’t and takes us around the sites, sounds and smells of Whitechapel and London that you both fascinate and shock in equal measure –

She’d been attacked moments ago. Whoever had done it would be close.

My bag had fallen a few feet away. I fumbled inside and found my mobile, summoning police and ambulance to the carp park outside Vitoria House on the Brendon Estate in Kennington

But what about the link with Jack the Ripper? Lacey’s monologues which help us to not only think as she does but see things through her eyes..

I sat back a while, thinking, trying to make a connection between what had taken place in Victorian london and the murder I’d come close to witnessing twenty-four hours ago.

The original Jack the Ripper, a sadistic serial killer known for his brutality and keeping London’s population in complete terror for several years, has never been found.

A drawing of Jack the Ripper
A drawing of Jack the Ripper

SJ Bolton has certainly done her research can see how much work went into just looking up facts and theories about Jack the Ripper. Lacey’s monologues give us a very detailed picture of Jack himself and of the theories theories surrounding the case,making this for a real back to the past but mired in the present state of affairs.
She even mentions the wealth of tours that tourists are still keen to go on –

Tourists go on guide walks around Whitehall, looking at the sites of the murders and hearing someone describe what happened.

The theories behind who the killer is are very gripping too, but no spoilers here!
In fact, I don’t want to mention the plot other to say that the atmosphere is as chilling and as taunting as I imagine the original murders must have been.

The nature of the killings and therefore the descriptions of each is as gory as you would imagine and so maybe not for the faint hearted but you can’t say it’s not authentic!

Take the scene of someone drowning in the Thames –

I surface again. The huge wheel of the London Eye is already small in the distance. I’ve travelled so far already. The tide is hurrying away with me. Then I’m dragged under again.

I’ll be found, days from now, probably in the U-bend around the Isle of Dogs because that’s where most bodies get trapped

Then there is Camden – a nice place for a market or the scene of someone of the scariest and probably dangerous catacombs in London –

Camden Town has long been one of the  trendiest place in North London and especially so since the development of the Camden Stables market. Once an extensive network of tunnels, arches viaducts and passageways….

Camden - who would have thought of what lay underneath?
Camden – who would have thought of what lay underneath?

Sadly this is not a tourist site as its too dangerous apparently but I would love go there – at least I can in the book.

All in all, a great booktrail to the seediest and smelliest parts of London  – the blood and violence are all too realistic but to see regular and modern haunts mixed with a victorian flavour of one of the world’s most infamous mysteries then this makes for quite an explosive mix.


Booktrail around Newcastle – Mari Hannah’s The Murder Wall

mari hannah book

The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah is a debut police procedural set in the North East of England.

Living in the North East made me really really want to read this novel especially so I could see and visit the places where it is set. Now granted, this may sound a bit strange for a crime novel but it is a great book so it was not a hard decision. I admit that I haven’t read much crime fiction due to the often brutal content but I can tell you that this book (and the two further books in the series) has made me change my mind. It’s clever and more CSI than simply a book about murder. It’s about the real people involved in an investigation and the hard and brutal challenges they face.

I admit I was shocked at the opening chapter. It certainly makes you sit up and take notice! But it didn’t put me off – I just didn’t read much of it at night!

Two deaths at the beginning of the book happen in a church and a year later they remain unsolved much to the chagrin of Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels. Now she is called upon to investigate the murder of Alan Stephens on the Quayside who she recognises but is reluctant to reveal for reasons that become clear later on.

The Quayside
The Quayside

It soon becomes apparent that there is a serial killer stalking victims in and around the North-East of England.

I really felt as if I was central witness sitting in the same room in front of the Murder Wall – the wall where all information and photographs of the crime scene are displayed. I was there sat beside Kate and feeling her frustration and vulnerability. Kate had an interesting backstory and personal story which enhanced the novel as it was so different to other ‘detective’ stories I’ve read.

You only get as much information as the police uncover, with the exception of passages from the killer’s point of view. Very very clever…..

So I decided to walk in Kate’s footsteps and see her investigate the crime through her eyes…

1. The iconic Newcastle Quayside where the murder of Alan Stephens takes place  and the Exhibition park where we first meet Jo Soulsby in Chapter two:

The Sage
The Sage
The Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge

The quayside was buzzing with energy. On the south side of the river, the Sage music centre sat like a silver bubble gleaming in the moonlight.  To the left of it, the gateshead millennium bridge…page 12

2. Exhibition park….

The entrance to Exhibition Park
The entrance to Exhibition Park
Getting a taxi outside of the park as Jo Soulsby would have done
Getting a taxi outside of the park as Jo Soulsby would have done

Jo Soulsby looked down at her feet, hoping the two young women hurrying from the northern exit of Exhibition Park hadn’t noticed her.

Hauling herself from the bench, she moved unsteadily toward the perimeter fence…

Almost immediately, a taxi pulled to the kerb – page 18,19

3. Swan house roundabout

55 Degrees North
55 Degrees North
Looking at the Tyne Bridge from 55Degrees North
Looking at the Tyne Bridge from 55Degrees North

Daniels was stationary at the North end of the Tyne bridge , waiting to gain access to the Swan House roundabout. In the centre of the island, looming  high above the city, was a former government block converted to apartments  and renamed 55 o North. She stared up at it, wondering why anyone would want to live above  a traffic nightmare. – page 58

 3. Jesmond – where Kate Daniels lives

Holly Avenue where Kate Daniels lives
Holly Avenue where Kate Daniels lives
Holly Avenue  - the home of DCI Kate Daniels
Holly Avenue – which is the home of DCI Kate Daniels?
Kate's view of her street on her way home?
Kate’s view of her street on her way home?

The leafy suburb of Jesmond was a cosmopolitan area with good shops, hotels, restaurants and trendy bars. Although it was different to the rural area where Daniels had spent her childhood, she liked the fact that it still retained a villagely feel. – page 58

 4. Dene’s deli in Jesmond

The leafy streets of Jesmond
The leafy streets of Jesmond
Dene's Deli - the home of the perfect sandwich
Dene’s Deli – the home of the perfect sandwich

‘The best sandwiches around as far as Daniels was concerned.” – 119

I second that. I mean where else can you get a baguette stuffed with bacon and hot mango sauce! I ate this in one hand with my novel in the other. Food for all the senses hehe

 5. The Baltic on Newcastle’s Quayside:

The Baltic
The Baltic

Daniels walked to the window and  looked out at the Millennium Bridge; a giant  curved structure known locally as the ‘blinking eye’. Her won eyes  followed a large party of students  making their way across the river to the Baltic, a converted flour mill,  now a centre of contemporary art, the largest gallery of its type in the world. – page 162

 6. The living room on Grey street where she meets her colleague Ron Naylor..


Always the policeman, she knew he’d sit facing facing the door, careful never to turn his back on potential trouble. – 181

Murder Wall is the first in the series of  cases for DCI Kate Daniels and I can’t wait to read them next. They are not only fascinating and brilliant insights into police procedures and a well-developed female protagonist but a great way of exploring some lovely areas of Newcastle.

Take the book. Take the bus to Jesmond. Eat at Dene’s Deli and spend time with Kate Daniels on the Quayside. Get into the heart of the story and experience the city that Mari Hannah showcases so well.