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National Crime Reading Month Blazing Through June

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As a board member of the Crime Writers Association, at the end of 2021 I was asked to pick up the reins of National Crime Reading Month in the UK and Ireland. I’m thrilled that it’s quickly becoming an exciting and significant ‘festival’ that takes place in June every year, culminating with the hugely prestigious Daggers, the Crime Writers Association’s internationally recognised award at the beginning of July.

In 2022 the ground work was laid for a re-imagined NCRM, run in partnership with The Reading Agency and developing crimereading.com as a site not only that listed all the events running across the country, but one that is packed full of resources for crime writers who plan to run events – from press release templates to posters and tips for successful events.

In 2022 we listed over 100 events at crimereading.com, and in 2023 we have had a magnificent response from crime writers, libraries, independent bookshops and Waterstones nationwide. Kicking off with simultaneous launches in London, Belfast and Edinburgh – appropriately in one of Waterstones flagship stores in Piccadilly; No Alibis, an independent bookshop in Belfast, and in Edinburgh Central Library – crime readers were treated to events with some of the biggest names in the business.

In London, The Reading Agency brought two of their Quick Reads authors Dreda Say Mitchell MBE and Louise Candlish to chat to the fabulous Abir Mukherjee in a fascinating and hilarious discussion. Preceding them, I chatted to Andrew Hunter Murray about genre and the breadth of crime fiction, which is the main theme for this year’s NCRM. Andrew’s critically acclaimed dystopian crime novel The Sanctuary came out on 1 June and shows just how broad ‘crime’ is as a genre.

In Belfast, NCRM Northern Ireland Ambassador Steve Cavanagh and Brian McGilloway chatted to a packed house, hosted by David Torrans in his famous bookshop, and in Edinburgh, Dr Noir (aka Jacky Collins) discussed all things forensic with Professor Jim Fraser, one of our Scotland Ambassadors – to another full house.

Events continued in London at the British Library on 2 June with Mark Billingham and Victoria Selman joining author Kate Jackson whose How to Survive a Classic Crime Novel formed the theme for the evening, hosted brilliantly again by Abir Mukherjee. Over 150 crime lovers braved the train strikes to celebrate the start of NCRM at what was a fabulous event.

The crimereading.com site listed over 150 events happening right across the UK and Ireland, from Scotland to the Channel Islands, online and in person including workshops, talks, panel events, crime board game sessions (what a fabulous idea) with huge support from libraries – there was literally something for everyone. Events can be searched by location at crimereading.com so readers can find one near them easily. Launch events alone brought almost 300 crime lovers together with some of the UK and Ireland’s biggest authors – Steve Cavanagh’s star studded online event reaching another 150. NCRM recorded/online events, podcasts and articles will stay live until NCRM 2024, so readers can watch back.

As well as being embraced by institutions like the British Library and Senate House, in Yavneh College in Borehamwood, librarians ran a series of crime-related events. Students were treated to a crime-themed ‘books and biscuits’, a regular lunchtime reading event for years 7-11s. They ran their first ever school-wide ‘murder mystery’ with clues in the library and beyond to work out whodunnit. The CWA’s Abi Silver was invited to speak on different types of crime fiction; psychologist Brendi Waks ran a fascinating session on psychopaths for sixth formers and Carl Woolf, criminal advocate, discussed his murder cases. They said, ‘We have made book displays, including crime fiction, psychology and true crime, and there is a real buzz amongst our students!’

Waterstones blog featured ten thrilling crime reads as recommended by our ambassadors, and Lovereading.com posted a round up of 100+ Female Led Crime Fiction (which included The Dark Room as one of their ebooks of the month – thank you!) plus several brilliant crime related reading articles.

I was at the launch events at the start of the month and then in Dunstable and St Albans libraries mid month to talk all things crime with some fanstastic readers. Murder One brought internatinal superstar Karin Slaughter to Dublin and the Lexicon Library to an enthralled audience and then I rounded off with a fabulous book club visit to Tregolls bookclub in Truro with authors Roz Watkins and Jo Jakeman.

Check out our #PickUpAPageTurner hashtag on social and www.crimereading.com to see the range of events – and pop over to crimereading.com to watch/listen back.

Edel Coffey in conversation with Karin Slaughter at the LexIcon Library for Murder One
Ceclia Ahern, Sam Blake and Karin Slaughter
Cecelia Ahern, Sam Blake and Karin Slaughter at the LexIcon Dun Laoghaire.

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