Scotland seems to breed outstanding crime writers, but other countries are catching up fast – from Norway to Niagara Falls, new talent is emerging everywhere.  And crime fiction has at last become a respected genre, one in which a vast number of issues can be explored whilst still providing the reader with the joy of a cracking good story. The 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival offers a rich choice of author events, from crime superstars to writers making their debut.  Don’t forget, booking for the Festival starts TOMORROW (24 June 2014.)  Here (in date order) is a personal top ten of crime:


Stuart MacBride: A Wave of Brutal Crime

You don’t need a strong stomach to enjoy a Stuart MacBride novel, but it helps.  In A Song for the Dying, his latest Logan McRae chiller, the ‘Inside Man’ is back, killing women and leaving a plastic doll stitched within the corpse.  The author discusses where he draws the line on grit and gore, and why audiences can’t get enough of his high-octane fiction.

8.30pm, Monday 11th August, Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre.  £10/£8.


Denise Mina: When Rose Turned on Her Pimp

With her latest novel The Red Road, Denise Mina moves into complex moral territory.  When the perpetrator of a shocking double murder gives up without a fight, justice appears to have been done. But the murderer turns out to be a 14 year old prostitute, and one of the murdered men is a pimp who hired her out to service eight men.  Mina discusses her complex and brilliant thriller.

8.30pm, Friday 15th August, ScottishPower Foundation Studio. £10/£8.


Chris Brookmyre: Darker Than Blood

With 1.5 million books sold (and counting), Chris Brookmyre has become a tartan noir superstar.  We also have the imminent release of his Bedlam computer game to look forward to. In this event he discusses his latest page-turner, Flesh Wounds, with BBC Scotland’s political editor Brian Taylor, and gives an exclusive sneak preview of Dead Girl Walking, the first new Jack Parlabane thriller in seven years.

8pm, Saturday 16th August, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. £10/£8.


© Martin P McAdam

 Val McDermid: The Author with a Gold Dagger

Karen Pirie is a detective specialising in cases that have gone cold.  Her last fictional appearance was in Val McDermid’s Fife-set mystery A Darker Domain in 2008. Now DI Pirie returns to investigate the appearance of an old skeleton that has turned up in the attic of a Victorian house in Edinburgh.  Join McDermid for an exclusive sneak preview  of her psycho thriller The Skeleton Road (and read our review of her much enjoyed appearance at Edinburgh Central Library here.)

6.30pm, Tuesday 19th August, Baillie Gifford Main Theatre. £10/£8.


Craig Davidson and Ray Robinson: Random Acts of Violence

The powerful isolation of the landscape and the arbitrary impact of violence define the new novels from Craig Davidson and Ray Robinson.  Davidson’s Cataract City, set in Niagara Falls, tells of two friends unable to escape the undertow of the town’s violence.  Meanwhile Robinson’s Jawbone Lake sees a family torn apart by a shocking accident in the Peak District.

3.30pm, Wednesday 20th August, Writers’ Retreat. £7/£5.


Parker Bilal and Margie Orford: When Reality is as Strange as Fiction

Africa is a hothouse for new kinds of crime writing.  Parker Bilal’s The Ghost Runner portrays the violence in Egypt after 9/11, and the blind eye turned by the authorities, with loving despair.  There’s a similar mood in Margie Orford’s gripping Water Music, set around Cape Town.  While writing it, a government sponsored massacre of striking miners took place – could Orford ever again imagine a detective seeking justice for the state?

8.30pm, Wednesday 20th August, Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre.  £7/£5.


Natalie Haynes and Helen Walsh: Extremely Human Behaviour

Set in Edinburgh, The Amber Fury is the debut novel by broadcaster and classicist Natalie Haynes. Described by Lionel Shriver as ‘a handsomely structured psychological mystery’ it vividly portrays the dark side of human relationships. Meanwhile Helen Walsh’s Lemon Grove is a frank portrayal of female desire during a family holiday in Mallorca, and according to one review is ‘as psychologically substantial as it is sexy.’  Chaired by Kate Mosse.

10.15am, Thursday 21st August, The Guardian Spiegeltent. £10/£8.


Mason Cross and Thomas Enger: Crime Fiction with a Twist

The latest super-talented Scandinavian to make an international mark, Thomas Enger has chosen the perfect moment to write about murder and political scandal in Oslo in his third Henning Juul novel, Scarred.  Glasgow’s Mason Cross builds his debut The Killing Season around a tale of the FBI, the ‘Chicago Sniper’ and a new kind of investigator who goes by the name of Carter Blake.

7pm, Thursday 21st August, Baillie Gifford Corner Theatre. £7/£5.


Erin Kelly and Dominique Manotti: Crime Writers Make a Killing

Two sophisticated thrillers from writers who balance complex plotting and deep human understanding. Erin Kelly’s The Ties That Bind centres on a young Brighton-based writer whose search for crime material gets him into big trouble.  In Escape, bestselling French author Dominique Manotti details two Italian prisoners who break out of jail.  One assumes a new identity as a bestselling crime writer, which unleashes more chaos than he had anticipated.,

6.45pm, Friday 22nd August, Royal Bank of Scotland Garden Theatre.  £10/£8.


Mark Billingham: The Ever-Changing Detective

Bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham says his readers know as much about Tom Thorne as he does. There’s no fat dossier containing Thorne’s back story: in every book Billingham peels off another layer of the onion, revealing something new about his fictional detective to himself and his fans.  Now Billingham has finished The Bones Beneath, and he joins us to reveal another layer.

7pm, Saturday 23rd August, ScottishPower Foundation Studio. £10/£8.


All events take place in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh unless otherwise stated.

Booking opens at 8.30am on Tuesday 24th June 2014.  For full details see the festival website or pick up a brochure, widely available in libraries, bookshops and many other local venues.