Historical crime #2: Hindsight and misconceptions – Thorne Moore

Thorne Moore writes about the perils of hindsight in understanding the past. Although most of my books have a contemporary setting, history plays a large part too, In my novel, The Unravelling, an adult looks back on events that happened when she was a child and realises how much she misunderstood back then. But more often, the theme I prefer to explore is the ease with which the present can misinterpret past events. Hindsight can cast light on a great many things, but sometimes the light it casts creates wholly deceptive shadows as we struggle to peer through the veil of our modern perceptions. In A Time For Silence, a contemporary woman tries to understand the world of her grandparents in the 1930s and 40s, and simply can’t do it because her life is so utterly different. In Shadows, people rush to the assumption that a medieval body recovered from a bog must surely have been a human sacrifice, because theories...
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Historical Crime #1: the Home Front – Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis explores crime on the home front, when you might have thought world war would be enough for people to cope with. I am a Swansea boy. During World War II, the importance of Swansea’s industry and docks made the town a major target for the Luftwaffe. Between 1940 and 1943, Swansea was the target of 44 raids with 340 people killed, thousands injured and massive destruction of property, including most of the town centre. My mother, fifteen at the outbreak of the war, lived with her family on the heights of the Bigyn in Llanelli. From the back of the house there was a clear view across the Loughor Estuary and the Gower towards Swansea. She told me how the family would gather in the garden on raid nights and watch in horror the macabre spectacle in the distance as the bombs rained down and Swansea burned. I found such personal experiences of the war riveting. Another of my mother’s tales...
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Crime Cymru Abroad #2: Venice with Philip Gwynne Jones

Philip Gwynne Jones invites us to Venice (but definitely not by cruise ship), and it's not all sunshine and Canaletto. I'm an accidental novelist. In fact, when a water taxi deposited Caroline and myself in a chilly Campo San Barnaba in March 2012, burdened with ten suitcases but nothing so conventional as a fixed abode or place of work, I wasn't any sort of writer at all. I was a computer programmer. Or, to be more precise, I was an unsuccessful computer programmer, recently made redundant by one of those banks that had developed the annoying habit of nearly sliding out of business. Having failed at sensible jobs we decided, in middle-age, to do something not very sensible at all. We sold our flat, cashed in whatever savings we had and moved to Venice to teach English. I certainly had no intention of writing a novel. But Venice generates stories. There is something about the city that just makes you want to...
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Wales as a setting #4 – Dylan H Jones

Dylan H Jones writes about Anglesey, Ynys Mon, the island that inspired his Tudor Manx mysteries. Anglesey: An Isle of Inspiration I was attending my father’s funeral on a typically cold and rainy Anglesey day in November that the thought hit me. How, as a writer, the boundaries between real life and fiction become blurred, especially when I’m writing about a place so close to my heart; a place I still call home even though I now live several thousand miles away. I’d written a funeral scene in my first book, Anglesey Blue, which took place on a similar windswept day. There were some details I’d got right; how the low clouds can press the day into shadow and blunt the peaks of the Snowdonia mountain range; how the wind rattling the chapel door can feel like death itself demanding to enter; how the rise and fall of a hundred Welsh voices singing Calon Lan can still create a fist-sized knot in my...
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Crispr Crime – a frightening future

Graham Watkins writes about Crispr engineering, a new twist to crime - or more of a double helix perhaps. Yesterday I was asked where the ideas for my new dystopian crime novel The Enemy Within came from. It's an interesting question which I'll try to answer. I'm not much of a scientist but in May 2018 I read a story in the Daily Telegraph with the headline Criminals could alter their DNA to evade justice with new genetic editing tools. In the article Professor George Church, of Harvard University, who pioneered the use of something called the crispr technique, said it would be possible for criminals to use the technique to disappear from forensic databases or evade detection. Crispr kits, the article said, can now be bought online for around £150, (I checked and, believe it or not, you can buy them from Amazon). It went on to say how former Nasa biochemist Josiah Zayner injected himself with a crispr genetic cocktail...
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Modern Slavery – closer than you think

Matt Johnson writes about contemporary slavery, a crime that should belong to history. CARDIFF FAMILY PROSECUTED UNDER NEW ANTI-SLAVERY LAWS Remember the headline? In 2018? To many, the word ‘slavery’ conjures up a picture of people in chains, abducted and forcibly transported against their will to work on plantations across the world. Today, in a town, a street or a home near you, modern slavery is taking place under our very noses. Quite recently in the news, we heard about the Oxford and Rochdale cases which involved British girls trafficked within the UK for sexual exploitation. But, although sex trafficking makes the headlines, modern slavery is just as prominent in forced labour and domestic servitude. Think car washes. Think window cleaners. Think children begging on the streets of the city. Think workers in garment factories and cannabis farms. People coerced to work in places not of their choosing, paid little or nothing, living in squalor, exploited by others for financial gain – it’s going...
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Wales as a Setting #3 – Eamonn Griffin

Eamonn Griffin explains why Wales is so well suited to dastardly deeds. It’s a good place for a killing, Wales. And not only because the country’s got more than its fair share of forests, ravines, abandoned mines, quarries and old factory sites, not to mention desolate beaches, that make excellent potential sites for a body dump, neither. Though the country has all of these and more. No. Part of the reason why Wales can offer excellent settings is in its diversity of Welshness. Rural locations? Check. Cities? Yep. Affluent communities? Yes. Run-down towns? Absolutely. Touristy ruggedness? No shortage. Concrete post-industrial hellscapes? There’s one or two. Wales offers a bit of everything, and often in close proximity. We’re used in fiction to the usual settings. London, perhaps inevitably, figures large. Ditto other major cities associated with different detectives: the Edinburgh of John Rebus, Harry Bosch’s LA. Wales, though, is comparatively under-used. Cardiff-based folk will chuckle at the ways that Doctor Who recycles the same...
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Wales as a setting #2 – Rosie Claverton

Rosie Claverton, author of the Amy Lane Mysteries, talks about using Wales as a setting for a series. Working on Book #6 of the Amy Lane Mysteries, I sometimes wonder if I am running out of ideas – particularly for how to turn beautiful, exciting places into the ideal location for murder. Binary Witness was my first novel and, between introducing my agoraphobic hacker and streetwise ex-con to the world, I was trying to turn my favourite city of Cardiff into something desperate and sinister. I used Jason’s love for his home town to communicate my own passions for the city, even if my fictional version has a much higher murder rate. The second novel expanded to include Swansea – or, more accurately, HMP Swansea. I also took a detour through the countryside between Bridgend and Cardiff, though not a route ideal for a little light rambling. It was cold and wet and miserable, which is about as far away from a Visit...
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Wales as a setting #1 – Cheryl Rees Price

This is the first in an occasional series on Wales as a setting for crime fiction. Cheryl Rees-Price writes about the inspiration of her locality for the settings of her books. When writing the first book in the DI Winter Meadows series I could think of no better place to set the book than Wales. A place with bleak landscapes, dark brooding skies, and small close-knit communities. I guess it’s not so different from the settings found in popular Scandi crime fiction. I grew up in the Amman valley, so I know the area well. Although I base the location of my books on this area I have changed the names of the villages. Firstly, because I did not want to cause offence by using a well-known building or area as a scene of crime, secondly, I could unwittingly ignite some gossip, particularly as there are some colourful characters where I live, and lastly, it gave me more scope when writing, I can...
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