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Highland crime writers and books to feature at the international book festival Bloody Scotland from September 15 to 18 in Stirling as some popular live events return to the programme


By Margaret Chrystall

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North crime writers and Highland-set books feature at this year’s 10th Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival in Stirling which continues its hybrid live and online approach, extends to four days, from September 15 to 18, has doubled the number of events and says the authors it presents are more diverse than ever.

The torchlight procession through Stirling returns this year – Sir Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina from Bloody Scotland, Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival in 2017. Picture: Paul Reich
The torchlight procession through Stirling returns this year – Sir Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina from Bloody Scotland, Scotland's International Crime Writing Festival in 2017. Picture: Paul Reich

The usual line-up of top international crime writers this year includes Cromarty resident Sir Ian Rankin, Anthony Horowitz, Lisa Unger, Ann Cleeves, Frankie Boyle, Jeffrey Archer and Sara Paretsky from Chicago.

On video will be Donna Leon from Switzerland, Peter May from his home in France, Dean Koontz in California, Janet Evanovich from New Jersey, David Baldacci from Virginia and Irvine Welsh from Miami.

Crime author Peter May will be online for this Bloody Scotland. Picture: Gary Anthony
Crime author Peter May will be online for this Bloody Scotland. Picture: Gary Anthony

There will be a potential big moment for currently best crime novel longlisted Black Isle-based crime writer Neil Lancaster for his The Blood Tide on the opening Thursday night, when the winner of The McIlvanney Prize will be announced.

Neil Lancaster with his dog Peggy on the Cat's Back near Strathpeffer.
Neil Lancaster with his dog Peggy on the Cat's Back near Strathpeffer.

On Friday at 6pm, Bloody Scotland co-founder Lin Anderson from Carrbridge is on the panel of three writers whose books include “three parties to die for”.

In Lin’s tension-packed The Party House, post-pandemic celebrations in the Highlands lead to a horrific discovery and the reopening of old suspicions. Chris Brookmyre’s The Cliff House and Clare Mackintosh’s The Last Party are the other books under discussion.

Lin Anderson
Lin Anderson

Writing in the Highlands, Gareth Halliday – who writes as GR Halliday – will talk about his Inverness-set crime series – a planned 10-part series –featuring DI Monica Kennedy at the session Serial Killers on Saturday, September 17 with Alice Hunter and Victoria Selman.

Gareth Halliday. Picture: Chris Stuart
Gareth Halliday. Picture: Chris Stuart

On Saturday, Douglas Skelton – whose last series featured the Inverness reporter Rebecca Connolly – will be talking in the session Dangerous Times about his new historic crime series and its first instalment, An Honourable Thief, featuring Jonas Flynt, set in 1715 with rebellion in the air from London to Edinburgh.

Douglas Skelton sets his Rebecca Connolly crime series in Inverness and the Highlands.
Douglas Skelton sets his Rebecca Connolly crime series in Inverness and the Highlands.

Covid had stopped some favourite live events at Bloody Scotland which now return for the first time since 2019.

The torchlit procession through Stirling’s old town led by the pipes and drums of the Royal Burgh of Stirling Pipe Band and Stirling and District Schools Pipe Band, is back. Scotland are to tackle England in the crime writers’ football match at the new venue of King’s Park.

The Crime At The Coo cabaret once again is featuring crime writers showing off their musical talents – and the much-loved quiz this year has Vaseem Khan and Abir Mukherjee’s Red Hot Night Of A Million Games which "mashes up games shows from yesteryear”.

Sir Ian Rankin holding the trophy for the winning Scotland team, at Bloody Scotland in 2017. Picture: Paul Reich
Sir Ian Rankin holding the trophy for the winning Scotland team, at Bloody Scotland in 2017. Picture: Paul Reich

And if you want to get warmed up for the festival itself, there is the year-round presence Bloody Scotland set up with its Bloody Scotland Book Club, back in the spring last year.

The panel rotates every month and those on the panel take responsibility for choosing the three books which are discussed.

To make the festival more affordable for everyone and to mark the event's 10th anniversary it is offering a limited number of tickets at £5 each for 10 of the events (see bloodyscotland.com/10-at-5).

Bloody Scotland wants to be an accessible festival.

All of the venues are accessible by wheelchair and BSL interpretation is available at events on request. Email info@bloodyscotland.com

A free shuttle bus between venues is available for those who need it. Seating is unreserved so the festival asks people to please advise at the time of booking if you need a wheelchair space or have any specific needs and Bloody Scotland will do its best to accommodate them.

Bloody Scotland receives vital funding from Creative Scotland, Stirling Council and Culture and Business Fund Scotland. The event is also grateful to its many sponsors and supporters including The Glencairn Glass, H W Fisher, Stirling Castle, Literary Tours in Egypt, Waterstones, The Open University in Scotland and Go Forth Stirling, along with a wide range of publishers.

Find full information and the brochure with all events at bloodyscotland.com

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