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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Promoting Crime Cymru at Newcastle Noir and CrimeFest

Gail Williams, brave soul, writes about her brilliant sterling service on behalf of Crime Cymru. Marketing is probably the hardest part of writing a book, it certainly is for me. But that’s part of why Crime Cymru was set up, to help support Welsh crime writers/writing and to help us all support each other. This year I did my bit by managing to get Crime Cymru panels on the itinerary for both Newcastle Noir and CrimeFest. This was a big step for me, I’ve never done anything like that before and these are Festivals that draw in good names and discerning readers. Okay, I confess, I have done one thing like this before, I organised Dr Noir’s Travelling Crime Show through South Wales last year, and for the first one, Dr Noir was late and I had to step in. It was off the cuff, totally unresearched not to mention unrehearsed, and it wasn’t my finest hour, but I kept the panel talking...
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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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Malice toward everyone – in a good way

Come for the cherry blossoms and stay for the murder! When the last pink petal has fallen, readers and writers who love a nice, light mystery gather in a Bethesda, Maryland hotel, just outside Washington, DC, to celebrate all aspects of their favourite genre. Malice Domestic is a friendly fan convention that features all the usual elements you'd expect when mystery aficionados get together -- dozens of author panels, book sales and signings, interviews with guests of honour, meals and drinks with friends, and the cornerstone of the weekend, a banquet which ends with the announcement of the winners of that year's coveted Agatha Awards and the reveal of the special guests of honour at next year's event.   Two Crime Cymru members from Canada, Cathy Ace and Elizabeth J Duncan, are Malice regulars. In fact, Elizabeth credits her mystery writing career to awards for unpublished writers that she won through Malice. The Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Best First Mystery award includes a one-book contract...
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Crime Cymru at Newcastle Noir

There was a wonderfully warm and energetic welcome from Jackie Collins and her team to the Crime Cymru panel of Gail (G B) Williams, Matt Johnson, Thorne Moore and Phil Rowlands at Newcastle Noir in Newcastle City library on Saturday 4th May. We had a very respectable number at our afternoon session and the chats went well, kept gently on course and time by Gail, after an introduction from Jackie, whose generous parents had sponsored our visit. There were questions from the which could have kept us talking all afternoon if there had been time, but Newcastle Noir is bustling with events so alas we had to stop. But we did succeed in leaving our Crime Cymru bookmarks on every seat! We all enjoyed a chance to attend some of the other sessions, including the evening spotlight on Gunnar Staalesen and John Harvey. Being at NN2019 was a lot of fun for all of us, and for the audience too, we hope. We...
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Crime Cymru Abroad #1: USA with B E Jones

Bev Jones wanders onto dangerous territory, writing about the inspiration for her latest book, Wilderness. Location. Location. Location. Perfect photo opportunity! Stunning scenery! Brilliant place to kill someone? No, not a snapshot of a psychopath’s inner monologue (I hope) but just your average crime writer let loose during holiday season. Unless it’s just me, and I’m a weirdo, I suspect crime writers tend to live in a quantum universe of layered realities, where, even on holiday, especially on holiday, new places always suggest new and dastardly deeds. While we’re taking in the panorama of the azure sea, admiring picturesque ruins or appreciating the Rioja-hazed ambience of an evening al fresco, we’re probably also thinking, that archway is great spot for an assignation, that guy in the terrible suit looks like a spy, you could kill someone with that barbecue fork or that set of slippery steps is an engineered accident waiting to happen… Because, all too often, a great location isn’t just the ‘set dressing’...
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Events for May 2019

May is CRIME READING MONTH, so as is fitting, Crime Cymru is up for a very busy month. Alis Hawkins – well, where to start? She’s on tour for the whole month, visiting as many indie bookshops in Wales as possible, talking about her Teifi Valley Coroner series, starting in Machynlleth on the 1st, Bala on the 2nd, Caernarfon on the 3rd, Llanidloes on the 4th, Carmarthen on the 8th, Chepstow on the 17th, Crickhowell on the 20th, Cardigan on the 25th, Mumbles on the 27th, Haverfordwest on the 28th, Narberth on the 29th and St David’s on the 30th. As if that’s not enough, she’ll be launching her new book, In Two Minds, at Coleford on June 1st! For the full details of places and times, see our Events Calendar.   Another event that spans the month, though less exhausting for the participants, is the Crime Month series of signings (and chattings) at WHSmiths in Cardiff, every Saturday in May. On the...
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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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The Crime Writer’s Accomplice

Jan Newton, author, significantly, of Rather To Be Pitied, writes about the joys(?) of being married to a crime writer. He doesn’t complain, well not about the writing at any rate. To be fair, he doesn’t complain about very much at all, not even the housework, or rather the abject lack of it. He puts up stoically with the fact that we can completely run out of food and that it takes me a minute or two, once I’ve reached a juncture when I can be disturbed from my scribblings, to realise that I’m not actually in a siege situation in the middle of Manchester, and it’s well past teatime. Mervyn has always been completely supportive of whatever I’ve wanted to do. He’s learned to tolerate the aged horse (who, he says, tries to bite him when he brings her in). He’s been heard (but denies) having long conversations with my pygmy goat, and he’s even sat through, or possibly slept through,...
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