Paul Johnston event for Book Week Scotland

Bloody Scotland presents Sam Alexander
Monday 24th November, 7pm. Free, unticketed.
Waterstones, 174 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G2 8BT

After months of online speculation, we unmasked the identity of Sam Alexander as none other than CWA Dagger Award winner Paul Johnston, author of three bestselling series of crime novels, including Greek detective Mavros. In this exclusive event, we are proud to support an international author from Scotland and his publisher Arcadia Books who have created quite a stir around the author’s mysterious identity.

Paul Johnston is a seasoned hand at crime thriller writing and his first Sam Alexander novel, set in the North of England, represents a new direction in his writing career. Carnal Acts has garnered glowing reviews with a new approach to the police procedural novel.

Join us in Waterstones Argyle Street on Monday 24th November to toast the start of Book Week Scotland with this exciting event.

The event is free and no ticket is required.
Refreshments will be provided.

Part of Book Week Scotland

Bloody Scotland on Tour!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the crime writers...

Bloody Scotland 2013 has come and gone, a trail of books and bodies left in its bloody wake. Jo Nesbo has gone back to Norway, Lee Child has flown back to the USA, and Christopher Brookmyre and Mark Billingham are still standing in the corner like a couple of very naughty boys.

But wait! Like all good crime novels, there's a twist. It's back!

Bloody Scotland on Tour will be coming to a town near you this November. Or at least it will if you live near Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkwall, East Kilbride, Stirling, Glasgow, St Andrews or Lasswade. Yes, Lasswade.

We thought this was an idea so good that it wasn't enough to simply have it in Stirling once a year. We're taking it further and we're taking it on the road.

To mark Book Week Scotland, we're assembling the cream of Scottish crime writers, putting them all in a double decker bus and holding literary events for your pleasure. That's all true except the bit about the bus.

So if you want to hear your favourite author talk about their work, and why wouldn't you, check out the venues and dates below. More dates may yet be added so please come back and see who is appearing.



Edinburgh - Waterstones West End, 6pm
128 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4AD - 0131 226 2666
This event is ticketed, please contact the store for details.

  • Lin Anderson
  • Quintin Jardine
  • Sara Sheridan
  • Aly Monroe

Dundee - Steps Theatre, 7pm
Central Library, The Wellgate, Dundee DD1 1DB - 01382 431533
This event is free but ticketed, please contact the theatre for details.

  • Will Jordan.
  • Chris Longmuir
  • Gillian Galbraith
  • Gordon Brown



Orkney - Orkney Library, 6.30pm
44 Junction Road, Kirkwall,  KW15 1AG - 01856 873166
This event is free but ticketed, please contact the library for details.

  • Craig Robertson
  • Gordon Brown
  • Helen Davis
  • Paul Harrison

Stirling - Central Library, 7pm
Corn Exchange Rd, Stirling FK8 2HX - 01786 432107
This event is ticketed, please contact the library for details.

  • James Oswald
  • Al Guthrie
  • Moderated by Alexandra Sokoloff



Stirling  - Tolbooth Theatre, 7.30pm
Jail Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1DE - 01786 274000
This event is ticketed, please contact the Tolbooth for details.

  • Will Jordan
  • Michael J Malone
  • Bert Mitchell
  • Douglas Skelton
  • (Moderated by Craig Robertson)

Lasswade - Lasswade Library, 7pm
19 Eskdale Drive, Bonnyrigg, EH19 2LA - 0131 271 4534
Free and not ticketed.

  • Alex Gray
  • Marianne Wheelaghan
  • Aline Templeton



Glasgow  - Waterstones Sauchiehall St, 6pm
153-157 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3EW - 0141 332 9105
Free and not ticketed.

  • Craig Robertson
  • Chris Brookmyre
  • Helen Fitzgerald
  • Matt Bendoris



St Andrews  - Town Hall, 2pm
Queen's Gardens, St Andrews, KY16 9TA- 01334 470770
This event is ticketed, please contact the venue for details.

  • Alex Gray
  • Lin Anderson
  • Craig Robertson
  • Gordon Brown
  • Frank Muir


Who was Bible John?

Bible John picked up three women at the Barrowland Ballroom dancehall in the east end of Glasgow in the late 1960s and led them to their deaths. He was never apprehended for the murders of Patricia Docker, Jemima McDonald and Helen Puttock, and his identity remains a mystery to this day.

But why, more than four decades later, are we still fascinated by crimes which took place all those years ago and why do we still need to know who was responsible?

This event was chaired by author Alex Gray, who was joined on the panel by criminologist David Wilson, author of The Lost British Serial Killer, and retired police officer Paul Harrison, who wrote Dancing With the Devil.

The answer to the question above, according to Paul Harrison, is that Bible John is Scotland’s version of the bogeyman; there is still that underlying concern that the case was never solved. And that was the crux of this debate. Who was he and why was he never caught?

who was bible john? credit: Alex Hewitt

Having already read David Wilson’s book, I had a fair idea about his theory. The professor believes Bible John was mobile, that he moved away from the city after the murders took place, and that's why he was never convicted of those particular crimes. And, according to Wilson, he is now, in fact, behind bars after being found guilty of a number of other murders years later.

Wilson revealed how had asked to speak personally to Peter Tobin – the man he says is Bible John – but the request was denied. However, he says serial killers are unreliable anyway, adding: “I don't find them very useful. They construct a narrative.”

As someone with an interest in the subject, I also have Harrison’s book but didn't have a chance to read it before this event so I was interested to hear his own take on the matter. And it was certainly an explosive theory – that Bible John was actually a police officer or someone connected with the police at that time. Harrison says he also thinks the man who terrorised the city is still alive.

Bible John, credit: Alex Hewitt

A member of the audience claimed to know someone who knows who Bible John is, while another wanted to know why he was given the infamous nickname by the Scottish Press at the time. The second question was interesting because it showed that the event attracted people with very little previous knowledge of the case and, yet, they were still intrigued enough to come along.

The answer, for anyone else who doesn't know by the way, is that the killer had introduced himself as John and, during a taxi ride with the third victim and her sister, he had quoted from the Bible.

When asked if Bible John would have been apprehended had he been operating in the modern day, the panel agreed that, yes, he probably would have.

But as for the title of this particular event? Well, we may never know the answer.

Post by Lisa Gray

Jo Nesbø - Daring to Thrill

Everybody knows Jo Nesbø is pretty damn good at writing. You don't sell more than 20 million books worldwide otherwise. But, as we quickly found out early on in this headline event, this is a man of many, many talents.

Long before picking up a pen and notepad and beginning to craft what would become the hugely popular Harry Hole series, he actually had aspirations of being a professional footballer. The star of his local team in Molde, Jo wanted to be Norway’s answer to George Best. But his dreams of one day playing for a top English club were shattered by a serious knee injury and he decided instead to become a stockbroker by day and a rock star by night.

As you do.
Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

Early on in his music career, he told us, his band played in a club in Oslo for no money. And they had to buy their own drinks. And change the name of the band every week so people would keep coming back. It's safe to say he doesn't have the same problem with his books these days.

Jo said he was always going to write at some point – “I see myself as an entertainer, that's my main agenda.” His mum was a librarian, his dad an avid reader. His own reading tastes as a youngster were, shall we say, a bit unusual. He revealed how, as a six–year–old, the first book he asked to be read to him was Lord of the Flies. He liked the skull on the cover, you see. A later influence was the US author Jim Thompson, who wrote The Killer Inside Me. Perhaps this was all a sign of what was to come in his own writing...

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

The first Harry Hole book, The Bat, was published in Norway in 1997 but fans in the UK had to wait until late 2012 for the English translation. That meant a double helping of the troubled Oslo detective in the space of a year with the arrival of the tenth book in the series, Police, just a couple of days before the man himself landed in Stirling. This time, the cops are the victims, showing up dead at the scenes of old crimes they investigated and failed to solve. It’s clearly a case for serial killer expert Harry – but is he, himself, dead or alive? All we know at the start of the book is there is a patient in a coma, guarded by police in an Oslo hospital, and he's showing signs of waking up...

An audience member wanted to know about the film adaptation of another book, The Snowman, which has been optioned by Martin Scorsese. And, more importantly, who should play the main man? Jo said he only wanted a say in who would direct the movie, not who plays Harry. “It's all about the storytelling.” The storytelling in the book clearly had an impact on one fan in the sold–out crowd who confessed: “That Snowman facing towards the house terrified me!”

No doubt with George Best in mind, another member of the audience summed up what we were all thinking when he asked Jo: “Footballer, rock star, international best selling author – where did it all go wrong?”


Post by Lisa Gray

Jo Nesbø Bloody Scotland 2013, Alex Hewitt

Killer Cookbook - the cook off!

Here’s the recipe. You take two Scottish crime writers (more depending on taste and seasonal availability), add cooking apparatus, a large room and a good cause. Stir liberally in front of an audience and simmer gently – or not so gently as the case may be – for an hour.

The result is a book to die for. Yes, it’s the Killer Cookbook – the cook off! Caro Ramsay and Craig Robertson will don aprons, bandanas and big silly white hats to tantalise your taste buds, accelerate your appetite and galvanise your gastric juices.

They will talk about food, crime writing, forensics and the importance of stirring human blood while cooking so that it doesn’t clot.

It is all in the aid of the Million for a Morgue Campaign. This hugely worthwhile project will help the University of Dundee raise a million pounds to build a world-leading forensic centre.
The Dundee team, led by the indomitable Professor Sue Black, has joined forces with crime writers to produce the Killer Cookbook. It features recipes from Bloody Scotland 2013 authors including Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride and Alex Gray as well as such literary luminaries as Jeffery Deaver, Ian Rankin, Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs.

On Sunday September 15 in the MacLaren Suite of the Highland Hotel at 3.30, the dream will become an epicurean reality when Caro and Craig plus special guest authors (so special they don’t know they’re doing it yet) will display the full range of their cooking prowess. It shouldn’t take long.

Craig will be cooking his recipe from the Killer Cookbook – human blood pudding with pan-fried scallops and apple. It’s a crime festival, what other kind of blood would you expect?

Don’t worry, there is a precedent for this. Scottish artists, Beagles and Ramsay made black pudding from their own blood live on stage at the Edinburgh Festival in 2005. Or at least they did until Edinburgh City Council banned them. We’re sure Stirling Council will be much more open-minded about such things.
Caro has no less than three recipes in the cookbook to choose from. That’s partly because she heroically organised the whole thing but mainly because she’s a show-off. So be prepared to be stunned, surprised and possibly traumatised by her production of one or all of vegetarian haggis, potato scones and raspberry cranachan.

You will be able to buy copies of the Killer Cookbook after the event and all – yes all – that’s 100 per cent – of the proceeds goes to the Million for a Morgue campaign.

Be there or be a square meal.

For details on the event, visit the event page.


Please note that due to demand we have now moved The Shetland Quartet with Ann Cleeves to a larger venue. This event will now be taking place at the Tolbooth on Jail Wynd.

Tickets booked for the event when advertised as The Stirling Smith are still valid.

Click here for a Google map of the Tolbooth and please email if you have any questions.



Pitch Perfect 2013

Are you an aspiring crime writer?

We're inviting new writers to pitch their debut novel to us in 100 words. We'll then shortlist up to ten and invite the finalists to the festival to deliver their pitch in person. On the day finalists will have three minutes to sell their idea to a panel of experts including literary agent Mark Stanton of Jenny Brown Associates, editor Alison Hennessey from Harvill Secker and last year’s winner (and Waterstones Crime Fiction buyer) Joseph Knobbs. As well as receiving feedback the finalists are also in with a chance to win some great prizes.

You can find out about last years event and listen again by clicking here. We'll also be posting tips over the next few weeks.

The deadline for entries is Thursday 1 August and you can enter by filling in the form below: