First Monday Crime – July

It was a warm evening in Browns and sadly, our last time in the old magistrates court for First Monday. The crime panels will be back in October, over at the original venue of City University in Angel. But we left Browns on a high with Fiona Barton, Susie Steiner, T.A. Cotterell and Valentina Giambanco. Jake Kerridge was asking the questions.

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Firstly, a little something about the books.

Fiona Barton’s second novel is The Child. Kate Walters, the reporter from the first book – The Widow – is back and investigating a new story. The inspiration came from an article that Fiona had seen a long time ago when she was a reporter and it had stayed with her – a mummified baby that had been found wrapped in newspaper and buried.

T.A. Cotterell’s debut novel is What Alice Knew. It’s considered to be Grip Lit or as Joanne Harris described it ‘my old man’s a wrong ‘un’. When Alice discovers that her husband has done something wrong, she has a choice to make.

Valentina Giambanco’s book, Sweet After Death, is the fourth in her Detective Alice Madison series, set in Washington state in the US. Leaving Seattle behind, Alice and her team go to Ludlow (not even a one horse town – maybe just a donkey) to investigate the first ever murder in the small, remote town. Valentina wanted to create a locked room mystery with the wilderness as the walls.

Persons Unknown is the sequel to Susie Steiner’s Missing, Presumed. Manon Bradshaw is back but she’s moved from the MET to Cambridge to join the Cold Case team. But when a murder takes place close to the police station where she works, she can’t help but investigate.

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Jake asked about writing multiple viewpoints or very different viewpoints.

Fiona has several voices in her book. The narrator is written in 1st person with her others in 3rd person.

TA Cotterell changed his narrative voice from the husband to the wife after suggestions from agents. His wife was a little dubious that he could write from a female perspective. She did have to give him some tips on how to apply mascara.

Valentina Giambanco has another strand in her story about a 15 year old boy who has an abusive father. She was inspired by a documentary about a man who decided to violate his parole. He took his whole family and barricaded them in for 15 years.

Susie has other viewpoints as well but Jake asked her if she thought of her novel as a campaigning book – highlighting how young black men are dealt with by the police. As well as how young black men are treated in the UK, Susie is particularly concerned with how they’re treated in the US.

And what are our authors reading?

Fiona Barton – The Dry by Jane Harper

Susie Steiner – The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

TA Cotterell – Rock Bottom by Michael Odell

Valentina Giambanco – an Andrea Carter novel but I can’t remember which one she said (sorry, Valentina & Andrea!)


So, as I wrote earlier, First Monday has broken up for the holidays and taking a very well deserved break. I’m sure we’ll hear more in the autumn about the line-up for October.


You can find out more about the authors and buy their books by clicking on the links below:

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Fiona Barton – click here

TA Cotterell – click here

Valentina Giambanco – click here

Susie Steiner – click here






And finally, I just want to pay tribute to the wonderful Helen Cadbury. I’ve only met Helen once and it was at First Monday last year – the first one in fact! I love Helen’s Sean Denton series and I was devastated to hear of her death last week. My thoughts are with her family and friends. It’s lovely to know that her legacy will go on with two more books published later this year – a volume of poetry and the third Sean Denton book.

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