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  • Kate Went

A Criminally Good day

When I read of a new bookshop coming to York, I was pleased and interested.  Then, realising that it would be stocking only books about crime – true and fictitious – I was excited.  I will read almost anything except soupy romances, but a quick audit of my bookshelves is enough to demonstrate my preferred fiction.  Yes.  Crime.  From Dorothy L. Sayers through to Ellie Griffiths via Maurice Procter, John Wainwright, Josephine Tey, Peter Robinson, Malcolm Pryce, Val McDermid and a host of others too numerous to mention.

I have, however, far fewer true crime books: three dealing with forensics and pathology, a couple about Jack the Ripper plus Hallie Rubenhold’s brilliant The Five, about his victims, one on the Yorkshire Ripper, Ludovic Kennedy’s classic 10 Rillington Place, and Paul Foot’s Who Killed Hanratty?  Why such an imbalance?  Probably because although I don’t watch crime drama on TV, I can rarely resist factual programmes such as Written In Blood, Born To Kill, Murder By The Sea and so on.

I’m not, however, averse from acquiring more true crime as well as fiction and I had no doubt at all that once Criminally Good Books opened its door, I would be there, and I was.  What I didn’t anticipate was that I would find myself signing copies of my own novel, Llantathan, for the shop, being photographed and filmed for social media, and to top it all, being interviewed by Maxine Gordon of The Press, York.

It felt surreal, almost fairytale, so how did it come about that a shop selling nothing but crime would be stocking a novel which is listed as horror and which even I, who wrote it, have thought of it as such?  Perhaps because, having got the story out of my head, and onto the pages of a book, I began to see it from a different perspective.  Horrible things happen in that story, but there are no vampires, no zombies, no clowns living in drains, no human-headed bats, no fire dragons, no giant spiders.  What Llantathan is is a murder mystery with a supernatural element.

In that case, was it possible, I wondered, whether it might be something for Criminally Good Books.  I took a chance, offered it to Isla Cooke, the shop’s owner, and, to my delight, she ordered 12 signed copies.  The delivery of those copies from York Publishing Services was my reason (apart from book buying!) for being there when I was, and I coincided with Maxine’s visit to interview Isla for The Press. 

One thing led to another, and, as part of Maxine’s article about the shop, I ended up being featured as a local author, online and in print.  And I still don’t quite believe it.  I don’t think it will be long before I’m back at Criminally Good Books.  To buy something, yes, but also for the pure delight of seeing my book on sale in this wonderful shop.

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