WITH Bloody Scotland the latest literary festival to go online because of the coronavirus pandemic, here we continue our list of 20 must-see writers from this year's line-up.


There's a lot of love for Professor Dame Sue Black among the Scottish crime-writing community. When Val McDermid was researching killing techniques for her books, Black – a world-leading expert on anatomy and forensic anthropology – taught her how to break the hyoid, a small horseshoe-shaped bone in the neck. The academic, who headed the British Forensic Team's exhumation of mass graves in Kosovo in 1999 and assisted disaster victim identification following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, has written enthralling, non-fiction books of her own. Her latest, Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind, was published this month.

Professor Dame Sue Black: Written in Bones is on Saturday, September 19, at 12pm


The woman who breathed life into DI Jimmy Perez in the much-beloved Shetland series is queen of the murder mystery. Ann Cleeves fell in love with Scotland many years ago while working as an assistant cook at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory. Her Shetland books have been adapted as a hugely popular BBC Scotland saga with Douglas Henshall playing Perez. The author is also known for her Vera Stanhope books, made into a successful ITV drama starring Brenda Blethyn. Last year, she unveiled her Two Rivers series, set in North Devon and with a new character, Detective Matthew Venn, at its heart. Cleeves published the ninth Vera novel, The Darkest Evening, earlier this month.

The Ann Cleeves and Peter May event is on Saturday, September 19, at 1pm

The Herald:


Another crime writer to see her stellar books make the leap to television is Helen FitzGerald. The author's compelling thriller, The Cry, was adapted for the BBC and graced our screens in 2018 with Jenna Coleman playing a young mother whose baby vanishes on a trip to Australia. Her latest novel, Ash Mountain, is a darkly funny portrait of small-town life as a woman returns home to care for her father. The TV rights have been snapped up by the new Melbourne-based offshoot of Glasgow production company Synchronicity Films, which also made The Cry. FitzGerald comes from Australia and has lived in Scotland for more than 30 years.

Screen to Scene: Robert Crais, Helen FitzGerald and Deon Meyer is on Saturday, September 19, at 5pm

READ MORE: Bloody Scotland: The 20 crime writers you need to see at this year's festival (Part 1)


How to do justice to the indomitable Val McDermid without seeming trite? The Fife-born writer has never shied away from breaking new ground (before embarking upon her literary career, she became the first student from a Scottish state school to study at St Hilda's College, Oxford). Since her crime debut, Report For Murder, was published in 1987, McDermid has barely paused for breath. Last month saw the author chalk up her 36th novel with Still Life, part of her DCI Karen Pirie series. An earlier book, The Distant Echo, is being adapted by ITV as a three-part drama.

Val McDermid is part of The Fun Lovin' Crime Writers– Behind the Music on Friday, September 18, at 9.25pm. Criminal Masterminds: Lee Child and Val McDermid is on Sunday, September 20, at 7pm

The Herald:


Ah, Denise Mina. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Well, there's the Garnethill trilogy, intrepid reporter Paddy Meehan, and the dark underbelly where DI Alex Morrow plies her trade. In recent years, Mina has written The Long Drop, about real-life 1950s Lanarkshire serial killer Peter Manuel, and Conviction, set in the world of true crime podcasts (that one caught the eye of Reese Witherspoon who chose it as a Hello Sunshine Book Club pick). Her latest novel, The Less Dead, draws poignant inspiration from the stories of murdered sex workers in Glasgow during a heroin epidemic in the late-1980s and 1990s.

Keep Them Safe: Lou Berney, S.A. Cosby, Sheena Kamal and Denise Mina is on Sunday, September 20, at 4pm


Blood Orange, the debut novel by Harriet Tyce, is a gripping read that many fans are still raving about more than 18 months after it first hit the bookshelves. The psychological thriller follows a high-flying criminal barrister taking on her first murder case at the same time as her personal life jumps the tracks when an affair leads to dark obsession. It has been optioned by Quibi and World Productions – the makers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard – for development into a TV series. The Edinburgh-born author's newly published second book, The Lies You Told, is also set in the legal world, proffering a twisting tale of ambition, power, jealousy and deception.

Desert Island Crooks: Chris Brookmyre, Ruth Ware, Harriet Tyce and Liz Nugent is on Sunday, September 20, at 3pm


We're big fans of Doug Johnstone's series about the Skelfs, three generations of Edinburgh women running a funeral director business with a sideline as private investigators. The first, A Dark Matter, is shortlisted for the 2020 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year (alongside novels by Andrew James Greig, Ambrose Parry and Francine Toon). Johnstone has newly published a sequel, The Big Chill, which sees the Skelf family continue its adventures straddling the worlds of death and detective work. If you enjoy domestic noir packed with clever observation, warmth and darkly comic undertones, it should tick all the boxes.

Doug Johnstone is part of The Fun Lovin' Crime Writers – Behind the Music on Friday, September 18, at 9.25pm, and The Never-Ending Panel: A Bloody Tour of Bloody Scotland on Sunday, September 20, at 11am


In a past life as a journalist, Craig Robertson, above, covered major world events including 9/11, the Dunblane massacre, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. As a crime writer, he has a keen eye for detail and an ability to stoke spine-tingling tension. His latest novel, Watch Him Die, spans two cities – Glasgow and Los Angeles – and centres on a dark online feed that broadcasts the slow, painful death of an unknown victim. Robertson's growing back-catalogue includes Random, Murderabilia and Witness The Dead. He's a Stirling boy, making Bloody Scotland (even in virtual format) his home festival.

Get on Board: Lin Anderson, Gordon Brown, Abir Mukherjee and Craig Robertson is on Friday, September 18, at 6pm. Robertson is part of The Never-Ending Panel: A Bloody Tour of Bloody Scotland on Sunday, September 20 at 11am

The Herald:


Two for the price of one: Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. They published their first novel together, The Way of All Flesh, in 2018. The duo's second book, The Art of Dying, is in the running for the 2020 McIlvanney Prize. Both novels are part of a historical crime series set in the medical world of 19th-century Edinburgh. Brookmyre is an award-winning author with some 25 books to date, while Haetzman is a consultant anaesthetist whose research for her master's degree in the History of Medicine uncovered the material that inspired the series. Show us a more impressive power couple. We'll wait.

Ambrose Parry is part of The Never-Ending Panel: A Bloody Tour of Bloody Scotland on Sunday, September 20, at 11am. Desert Island Crooks: Chris Brookmyre, Ruth Ware, Harriet Tyce and Liz Nugent is later that day at 3pm

READ MORE: Bloody Scotland: The 20 crime writers you need to see at this year's festival (Part 1)


If you haven't read the brilliant Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh, then get yourself to the nearest bookshop pronto. The award-winning legal thriller, published in 2018, has arguably one of the most tantalising taglines of all-time: "The serial killer isn't on trial. He's on the jury." This month saw Belfast-born Cavanagh publish the much-anticipated Fifty-Fifty, which finds its protagonist Eddie Flynn, an ex-conman turned lawyer, faced with another juicy case. Two sisters are on trial for murdering their father and each is accusing the other. Before turning his hand to writing, Cavanagh (real name Stephen Mearns) was a civil rights and criminal lawyer, so when it comes to courtroom drama, he knows his stuff.

High Concept Thrills: Steve Cavanagh, Simon Mayo and Adrian McKinty is on Saturday, September 19, at 2pm. Catch a snippet of Cavanagh's poetry later that day as part of Crime at the Coo Online, 7.30pm

Bloody Scotland runs from September 17-20. Visit bloodyscotland.com/events