(Not) Born in the USA

Two Scotsmen and an Northern Irishman walk into a bar and a certain Bruce Springsteen song is playing on the juke box. The first Scotsman looks a bit Cross so to calm his nerves, he orders a beer and waits, tapping his fingers in time to the music. The Irishman goes up to bar, turns up the music and shouts “order at the bar” to the barman, then orders a Guinness. The second Scotsman enters and nods to his two friends. He puts the music on full blast and then waits for either of them to buy him a drink as, well, he’s one of the founders of Bloody Scotland after all. Then a Scotswoman who now lives in America comes in, turns off the music and tells them all to behave. This woman is in charge in here and it’s time for some serious talking...

They’re all here for the Bloody Scotland panel (Not) Born in the USA - a group of Scottish and Irish writers who set their books in the USA. Do they know their APB from their BOLO? Well, you’ll need an all points bulletin for every one of their novels, they’re that gritty - and Be On the Look Out for their panel at Bloody Scotland else Catriona may just come after you...

Mason Cross (on Booktrail)

Mason CrossMason Cross - Scottish by accent and all American by his character Carter Blake. This man is the all American boy as he’s been all over the good old USA, either chasing someone or on the run from someone else. He’s a skilled man hunter and so when the LAPD need help, or the Chicago Sniper is at large, who’s the best man for the job?

Mason writes the ultimate thrillers - a manhunter chasing criminals through cities, deserts and every other landscape you can think of. Conspiracy abound along the highways, byways and backwaters of the USA and provides the ultimate hunting ground.

In his latest novel A Time to Kill, Carter thinks he’s left Winterlong behind, the top secret government agency he used to work for, but as we all know he might leave the world of covert operations and secret deals but that it never truly leaves him.

Steve Cavanagh (on Booktrail)

Steve CavanaghSteve Cavanagh knows all about APBs and BOLOs as his character Eddie is a lawyer who has to know both as he tracks criminals and other undesirables around the streets of New York. Being the city that never sleeps, he too must sleep with one eye open. This is Eddie’s city - as the streets, the taverns and the courthouses of the city are marked with precision on his criminal map of the city. This is the New York where deals are done in dodgy taverns, where those who reside in glass tower blocks close to Central park really shouldn’t thrown stones.

New York - a city whose streets are mapped out in criss cross intersections for targeted viewing like the sniper of a gun. In the firing line here is precise writing, a targeted plot and a heart-stopping visit to a city we all think we know well. But turn it over and its underbelly is dark and cold...

G. J. Brown (on Booktrail)

Gordon BrownG. J. Brown is one of the co-founders of the Bloody Scotland festival. Also known as Gordon Brown but with pen name G. J. Brown, writing political thrillers set in Washington DC, probably just as well. For this man turns the world of American politics upside down, on its head and inside out.

Craig McIntyre might have a Scottish name but this man has worked in Iraq and is now in the middle of a different kind of war right in the heart of the US government. Scandal, hit-men and political dark dealings - these novels could only be set in Washington DC. The city is built on political foundations - the Senate and the White House all feature in the novels and Craig is the link between the high world and the under world.

Craig is a former US military man but he has a great many state secrets he could easily explode. Book three might well be called #Craiggate

Catriona McPherson (on Booktrail)

Catriona McPhersonThree landscapes, three thrilling characters. Someone is needed to keep them all in check. Enter Catriona McPherson who sets her novels all over Scotland and particularly gets gallus about Galloway.

Three men who hail from Scottish and Irish shores who set their novels in America and a woman living in America who sets her books back home in Scotland.

Now let’s turn up that juke box...

Born down in a dead man’s town

The first book to choose from Cross, Cavanagh or Brown

End up as a reader that can’t read enough

So you spend time at Bloody Scotland trying to catch up

Make sure you send out an APB for these fantastic writers and BOLO for their panel at Bloody Scotland!

Get your tickets to (Not) Born in the USA: September 11th, 1:30pm

booktrail-logoThis is the sixth post of the Booktrail blog takeover for a series of posts exploring where setting shapes a number of novels from authors attending Bloody Scotland this year.

Visit the booktrail for maps, travel guides and reviews for the books featuring in Bloody Scotland.


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Scotland the Grave

What a great name for a panel. Hats off to the copywriter who thought of this. It’s actually a very apt title for this panel too as it features four writers who dig and bury bodies all over Scotland for a living. What a day job!

There’s some grisly spots all over Scotland - cities with chilling corners and rural areas with more rot than is reasonable. To see Scotland through the eyes of four crime writers is to peer into its criminal soul and scream....

Gillian Galbraith enthuses about Edinburgh (on Booktrail)

Gillian GalbraithEdinburgh, a capital city with history and heritage right? Yes, but when Gillian Galbraith gets to show you around, the city takes on a much darker tone. Dare to go down to the Troubled Water’s edge and look out at the Forth Bridge and Gillian will whisper the grim secrets this part of the water is hiding in her 6th novel.

A city tour into the heart of Edinburgh itself with Gillian is no more tourist friendly. She’ll drive you through down the Royal Mile and across the bridges but the minute you go down The Road to Hell to the underbelly of the city - Leith Docks, well, you’re in Gillian’s deadly grasp.

“Leith’s glory days were long since over. A few of its street names, Baltic Street and Madeira Place, hinted at its romantic past as a maritime port”.

Pumped full of culture and a seafaring past, read this novel here and breathe in the salt air and the taste of danger on your crime reading lips.

Douglas Skelton sticks the heid in for Glasgow (on Booktrail)

Douglas-SkeltonIt’s a Blood City he’ll tell you, the title of his first Davie McCall novel. He’s also written a number of non fiction titles of real life crime such as Glasgow’s Black Heart: A city’s life of crime, which show you the deepest and darkest recesses of the city in real life. With this and his fictional tour of Glasgow, Skelton’s tour is hardcore. Apt that his name sounds like a certain fairground ride as his novels are thrilling rides of downward spirals and deadly descents.

And at the bottom of society? The shadowy gangster underbelly of the city - from the gang warfare now currently taking place around Glasgow Green and the streets such as Duke Street which, when full of people is likened to “a slaughter house”.

In Glasgow’s Black Heart you’ll discover the real history behind the city’s Tolbooth area and the gruesome goings on on Glasgow Green.

True stranger than fiction or vice versa? That’s a story in itself.

Russel D McLean helps us discover Dundee (on Booktrail)

Russel D McLeanAfter two grisly cities, you’ve be forgiven that a literary journey to a more quieter and small city such as Dundee might in order. Well, best not go to Dundee with Russel then as his A J McNee novels about a former detective who’s now a Private investigator reveal a deadly dark Dundee.

Scotland is grave indeed when it comes to Dundee - Mothers of the Disappeared reveals a serial killer targeting young boys, and you get a gruesome glimpse of the criminal underbelly as you did with Douglas with McNee trying to befriend ageing gangster David Burns.

“Dundee displayed its culture and shining future, its achievement and its potential. I had to wonder: Which was the real city? Was it possible for both to exist side by side?”

Douglas’s Dundee is a city to explore for yourself.

Getting gallus about Galloway with Catriona McPherson (on Booktrail)

Catriona McPhersonCatriona McPherson is a patient lady - she wants to get gallus about Galloway. Dumfries and Galloway is her criminal past. She sets her novels in and around the cities and towns there. The setting is more rural and countryside based - the village of Portpatrick comes under the spotlight in Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses but there’s even the more spiritual bodies if you go to Moffat and see the Haunted Ram which appears in Dandy Gilver and a Deadly Measure of Brimstone.

There are real buildings and real tales of folklore merged into her crime stories so chances are fact and fiction will really give you a taste of what Galloway has to offer.

Scotland The Grave is a map of victims, crime scenes and bloody secrets. But X marks the fictional spot of some criminally good writers who show you into the shadows...

Meet these authors and see their crime scenes at the Scotland the Grave panel at Bloody Scotland. But watch your step, or you could end up in a grave situation of your own.

Get your tickets to Scotland the Grave: September 10th, 12:15pm

booktrail-logoThis is the third post of the Booktrail blog takeover for a series of posts exploring where setting shapes a number of novels from authors attending Bloody Scotland this year.

Visit the booktrail for maps, travel guides and reviews for the books featuring in Bloody Scotland.


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The Booktrail comes to Bloody Scotland

The Booktrail takes over the Bloody Scotland blog for a series of posts exploring where setting shapes a number of novels from authors attending Bloody Scotland this year.

Bloody Scotland is one of the crime writing, literary festivals of the year and this year, more than ever, The Booktrail is investigating some of the best crime fiction celebrated at the three day event.

The Booktrail is all about books set in various cities and countries across the world but there’s nothing like some gritty crime fiction set in Scotland. For every book on the site, there’s a travel guide and map so you see the country through the eyes of the author as well as their characters. It’s a Bloody (Scotland) good way to travel! (Visit Scotland via fiction: http://www.thebooktrail.com/book-trails/?pg=1&location=Scotland)



This year, we’re collaborating with Bloody Scotland and I will be reporting on events, Scottish fiction and the wealth of crime fiction that’s on display up in Stirling. I even got to sit on the rather nice and cosy Judges Sofa as the crime book of the year, now the McIlvanney Prize longlist was drawn up. The winner will be announced on 9th September. Hush, but my favourite is on there so fingers and tartan covered trouser legs will be crossed. Sworn to secrecy about who I voted for though!

Tartan Noir: Crime fiction set here even has its own name - Tartan Noir. It’s a stamp, an identity for the type of crime writing that uses the rough and rugged Scottish landscape as a character in itself.

To use a Craig Robertson turn of phrase, there is a lot that is ‘Gallus’ about this Tartan Land. I have found more out about Scotland via fiction than anything else, despite having holidayed from John O’Groats via the Scottish islands and down to the Scottish borders over the years. And I’ve grown to love my adopted country even more because of it.

From Aberdeen to Edinburgh: No need to visit the Tourist Centre if it’s the literary Scotland you want to see. Aberdeen is known as the Granite City, famous for its stone as well as its oil, but just wait until Stuart McBride shows you the sights and crime underbelly of the docks!



If it’s Glasgow you fancy visiting, then I can assure you that if you allow Douglas Skelton to guide you around, there’s a experience you’ll never forget. He writes of the Glasgow underbelly where gangsters and gritty Scottish banter will not only show you the city but introduce you to the ahem ‘unique’ Scottish vernacular.

From the modern day, Scotland has always had that allure of times gone by and its supernatural, folklore element. Of course this has been incorporated into its crime fiction in more ways than one. Edinburgh’s ghostly gothic tones are as much a character in James Oswald and Oscar de Muriel novels than anywhere else. And just wait until you head up to Orkney. There’s something endlessly ethereal about these islands and this more than comes across via fiction set there.

Oh, but let’s not forget deadly Dundee under the hand of Russel D McLean or the often theatrical Galloway of Catriona McPherson. Scotland is such a diverse country, small but perfectly formed and some of the most stunning landscape in the world. And the home to some of the most memorable characters in crime fiction.

I’ll be writing about these and more in future posts. How writers showcase their part of Scotland on the map and how Scottish greats have come to the fore with their writing no matter where they write about - Val McDermid has even invented her own city of Bradfield in England. The Scottish/English divide no more.

But let’s not forget the lovely Stirling itself - home to the very festival of crime writing greatness. A city where for three days, the finest of the fine will be gathering to talk crime, murder and more. Scotland has never looked so bloody.

Scotland be brave...

Susan, TheBooktrail.com

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