Last weekend I was privileged to attend CrimeFest in Bristol. It was amazing.

I felt particularly lucky since, having anticipated only being able to attend Saturday’s events, a change in my husband’s plans meant that I was able to attend Sunday’s events too.

What is it?

An international crime fiction convention where authors, publicists, bloggers and avid readers mix and mingle between attending panel discussions, book signings and interviews with featured guest authors. So books, more books, people who’ve written books and people who love to talk about books. This is my kind of heaven, and the only question was – how many books could I stagger back to the car with each day?

What did I do?

I attended several fascinating panels, particularly on women in crime fiction and the role of violence. Like the massive book nerd I am, I took notes on things the authors said that I found particularly interesting and circled several author bios in my programme to remind myself to look into their work in the future. (Okay, okay, so I typically circled them, then made my way to the book room and bought a copy there and then. Good intentions were present. Willpower was not.)


I chatted to the lovely David Young, debut novelist, who was there to discuss ‘Stasi Child‘, his superb Cold-war era thriller set in East Germany, the first of a keenly anticipated series of novels featuring his detective, Karin Muller. I was also able to talk briefly with a couple of the kind authors who signed their books for me, including the renowned Peter James, author of the much loved Roy Grace series and the ghost story ‘The House on Cold Hill‘.

Me meeting an author and NOT blushing

Me meeting Peter James and NOT blushing. Much.

I listened to interviews with Ian Rankin (of Rebus fame) and Peter James, then finished off the whole weekend with the truly wonderful ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a Cluedo’. Inimitable quizmaster Mike Ripley led the proceedings with many a raised eyebrow coupled with a one-sentence putdown, while the ladies (Alison Bruce, Laura Wilson and Susan Moody) racked up the points and the gentlemen (Thomas Mogford, Andrew Taylor and Ian Rankin) failed to fire the pistols. (Yes, pistols. How else would you indicate to the quizmaster at CrimeFest that you had the correct answer first?)

My favourite round was undoubtedly ‘Feel the Author’, which works almost precisely as you might expect (disguises excepted!) and led to some genuine guffaws from the assembled audience.

What did I buy?

So I mentioned a long time ago that I needed to have an extension built onto my house to accomodate my book-buying habit. Unfortunately, we have been astoundingly disorganised this has still failed to magically materialise and so I am fast running out of space to store my books. Shelves have long since disappeared behind a double column of books, and now there are neat stacks of books gently teetering around the foot of the bookcases and obscuring the lower books completely. Obviously, this has made no impact on my book-buying habit.

Now, in my defence, three books were complimentary and provided as part of my swag bag on arrival, so obviously I can’t be held accountable for those. (Kind of like when you’re dieting and you decide that the second bar of chocolate doesn’t really count because you are so stressed out by the utter refusal of your toddler to even contemplate sleeping during “naptime” you did so many laps at the swimming pool earlier that day/week/month/year (delete as applicable).)

I'm particularly intrigued by 'The House on Baker Street'.

I’m particularly intrigued by ‘The House on Baker Street’.

Then there were the panels, and I discovered that not only will I buy a book because I love the premise /cover /author /opening pages, but I will totally buy one just because I heard the author talk about it and I really liked them. Maybe they genuinely made the book sound brilliant; maybe it was their thoughtful discussion of the topics covered in the panels; or maybe sometimes they just seemed like really nice people (despite obviously being a bit murdery at heart). Whatever it was, I somehow ended up selecting a further nine books to take home with me. Yes, nine. There were multiple trips to the book room. In my defence, until I walked outside the hotel and got into the car at the end of a blissfully bookish day, I thought this was my only book-buying-at-CrimeFest16-opportunity.

Look! A non-fiction book slipped in: a history of the detective.

Look! A non-fiction book slipped in: a history of the detective.

Then came Sunday, and – look! – I was feeling a little broke wonderfully restrained and only bought another two books, despite hearing about loads more intriguing books.

See? Restrained.

See? Restrained.

What next?

I’d love to go again, though I already know next year is impossible, and  I have high hopes for a good line-up of authors and events at CrimeFest18! Next time I may even try to be a little bit more sociable and visit the bar once or twice.

I have masses of random notes which will likely find their way onto the blog in one format or another over the next few months, but in the meantime I am enjoying reading through my latest stash, starting with ‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes, in which an obsessive book store employee problem solves his way into becoming a killer. As you do.

Who hasn't wanted to bump off hipsters?

Who hasn’t wanted to bump off hipsters?

Thanks for a wonderful time CrimeFest!


How I Lost You‘ by Jenny Broadhurst
‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes
DM for Murder‘ by Matt Bendoris
Dark Winter‘ by David Mark
Dead Simple‘ by Peter James