Five Short Stories to Savour

by Daniel Pembrey’ve just published a new short story, and it prompted to think back over the many short stories that I’ve both savoured as a reader and learned from as a writer. My new one – The Lion Hunter – is set in Tanzania, so it’s hard for me not to think of Hemingway, who wrote about Africa so vividly in the likes of Snows of Kilimanjaro. Still, in what follows, I’ll try to pick some less obvious titles, hoping that you might share some of the inspiration and excitement that came from these discoveries:

1. DH Lawrence – Odour of Chrysanthemums
Lawrence hailed from Nottinghamshire, and in this short story – one of his earliest – he writes about the coal mining communities there that he knew so well. The writing bears an almost forensic level of social insight, telling the story of a pregnant woman waiting for her husband to come home from the pit, or perhaps it’s the pub … In fact, the husband’s fate turns out to have been altogether different. Available here.

2. Roald Dahl – Lamb to the Slaughter
Who can forget the haunting theme tune to Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected once heard on TV? Here is another short tale about a woman suffering through her husband’s return from work one evening … only this time, the husband’s fate is fixed in a most ingenious way. No spoilers, but let me credit SJI Holliday for reminding me of this one in her recent BritCrime blog post. Lamb to the Slaughter is available here.

3. Luca Veste and Paul D. Brazill (editors) – Off The Record 2 - At The Movies
While on the subject of BritCrime authors, what could be better than an anthology of stories inspired by classic films? Strictly speaking it’s not one short story, rather 47 … but who’s complaining when the authors include Eva Dolan, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, SJI Holliday, Steve Mosby, Nick Quantrill, Mel Sherratt and Luca Veste? What’s more, the proceeds go to two great literacy-related charities. Available here.

4. Stephen King – The Gingerbread Girl
There’s nothing quite like a riveting pursuit story, and they don’t come much more riveting than this one. This pulse quickening story type, utilised in such classics as Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, is somehow compressed into 80 pages here. It’s set in the part of Florida that Stephen King calls home for several months of the year, and that seasonal theme turns out to be a key plot point. Available in King’s story collection Just After Sunset, here.

5. Dorothy L Sayers – Suspicion
Suspicion was picked as one of the dozen best short detective stories ever written by a panel including Anthony Boucher and John Dickson Carr. Dorothy Sayers, an active member of the Detection Club, abides by the rule of playing fair with her readers in terms of the clues given out – in this case, about a poisoner at large in an English household. The clever use of main character Mr Mummery, and his increasingly suspicious point of view, will keep you guessing. Available in this collection, here.

And finally, which are your favourite short stories? Which ones have had the biggest affect on you? Do let us know!

Daniel Pembrey’s The Lion Hunter: A Short Adventure Story is available here if you live in the UK or here if you’re in the US.

♠ Daniel is active on Twitter,, and also present on Facebook, His website is

Wallace Shawn and Helen Smith at the National Theatre, London

Helen Smith will be appearing in a post-show discussion with Wallace Shawn at the National Theatre, London, after a production of his new play, Evening at the Talk House, on Friday 27 November, chaired by Chris Campbell, Literary Manager of The Royal Court.

The world premiere of Evening at the Talk House is directed by Ian Rickson. More about the cast and creatives here.

A reunion at the almost legendary club, The Talk House.

Still presided over by the kindly Nellie, there’s the same genteel atmosphere, the familiar drinks and the special snacks.

The playwright, the composer, the actress.
The former television star brutally beaten up.
The possibility of a pleasant night.

Just relax. Nothing has changed. These are nice people.

Wallace Shawn plays Dick in his own play, Evening at the Talk House. His writing includes the plays A Thought in Three Parts, The Designated Mourner, Marie and Bruce, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Our Late Night; and the book, Essays. His theatre work as an actor in England includes My Dinner with André, Aunt Dan and Lemon, Grasses of a Thousand Colours (Royal Court); and his one-man play, The Fever (Royal Court, National Theatre, and on tour). Films include, with André Gregory, My Dinner with André, Vanya on 42nd Street, and A Master Builder (also translator/adapter); Manhattan, Radio Days, Clueless, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, The Moderns, Prick Up Your Ears and The Double. TV includes Taxi, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Murphy Brown, Gossip Girl and The Good Wife.

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright. Her work includes the novels The Miracle Inspector, Alison Wonderland and Being Light; the Emily Castles Mysteries; and children’s books, poetry and plays. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, The Crime Writers’ Association, Killer Women and English PEN, and the founder of BritCrime, She has appeared at literary events and festivals in the UK and US, and her work has been read or performed at the National, Royal Festival Hall, V&A Museum of Childhood, Amnesty International’s Headquarters, Edinburgh Festival and University of London.

Chris Campbell is Literary Manager of the Royal Court, and was the NT’s Deputy Literary Manager for six years. He has translated French plays for the National, Almeida, Donmar, Traverse and Young Vic, among others. As an actor he has worked at theatres such as the National, Royal Court, Traverse, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and Gate, and recently appeared in Trois Ruptures/Three Splits (Chelsea Theatre/The Print Room), and the film, The Iron Lady. He was appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2014.

Tickets here.

BritCrime Assistant Producer Chosen for Mentor Program

Stephanie Cox, who worked with us as Assistant Producer on our BritCrime Festival in July, has been chosen to participate in a prestigious mentorship program in the US.

Stephanie recently organised a conference for the Society of Young Publishers for North and Midlands. There's a write-up here:

Stephanie is an editor at Emerald Group Publishing and also blogs at Bookmachine. You can read her recent interview with publisher Karen Sullivan of Orenda here. Karen founded Orenda a year ago and has already seen huge success with her books (Snowblind got to number one), which she promotes tirelessly. She's a good friend to authors, including many of us who are involved in BritCrime.

Congratulations to Stephanie for everything she has achieved so far. You can follow her on Twitter to keep up with her news.

Pre-Order for 99p: A Bad Death by David Mark
A Bad Death by David Mark is available to pre-order for only 99p in the UK and 99 cents in the US Kindle stores.

A gripping new short story in the DS McAvoy series by David Mark, bestselling author of the Richard & Judy pick DARK WINTER.

Will Blaylock died while on day release from prison.

It was a bad death. But accidents will happen.

Detective Sergeant McAvoy isn't convinced, though. And he owes a debt to Will's cellmate Owen Swainson: a debt formed in blood and fear when they came together to catch a killer.

But their search for a murderer will rip open old wounds, and force old enemies out of hiding...

FREE James Bond literary event in London, 12 November
Daniel Pembrey
Loved SPECTRE? Want to talk Bond?

Thriller writers Thomas Mogford and Daniel Pembrey will be discussing Bond and other legendary spy/thriller characters and their creators at Chelsea Library.

Thursday, 12th November 2015
6:30pm -

Tickets are FREE. Details here.

More about Daniel Pembrey
More about Thomas Mogford

BritCrime Ball Golden Ticket: Mystery and thriller new releases giveaway
Please join us for the BritCrime Ball, a free online Christmas Party to be held Sunday 13 December.

Three golden ticket-holders will be revealed on the night.

Will you be one of them?

Make sure you're on the guest list here.

Alex Marwood wins Best Mystery Novel Award

Alex Marwood has won the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel for The Killer Next Door at Bouchercon, the world's largest crime fiction festival:

The Killer Next Door
The Killer Next Door
No. 23 has a secret. In this bedsit-riddled south London wreck, lorded over by a lecherous landlord, something waits to be discovered. Yet all six residents have something to hide.

Collette and Cher are on the run; Thomas is a reluctant loner; while a gorgeous Iranian asylum seeker and a 'quiet man' nobody sees try to stay hidden. And watching over them all is Vesta - or so she thinks.

In the dead of night, a terrible accident pushes the neighbours into an uneasy alliance. But one of them is a killer, expertly hiding their pastime, all the while closing in on their next victim...

As a cloying heatwave suffocates the city, events build to an electrifying climax in this dark, original and irresistibly compelling thriller.

The Darkest Secret
You can pre-order Alex's new book, The Darkest Secret, at the special price of £2.99 for your Kindle. The price will go up on publication.

The Darkest Secret
Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help. My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family's holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. 

Coco is three years old. When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea. But what really happened to Coco? 

Set across two weekends - the first when Coco goes missing and the second fifteen years later at the funeral of her father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed...Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable 'ripped from headlines' novel that you'll want to talk about with everyone you know.

New Releases by Four BritCrime Authors
Hidden by Emma Kavanagh
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He's unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located urgently... 

Emma Kavanagh is a former police psychologist. Hidden is her second Novel.
Written in The Scars by Mel Sherratt
Scars. Sometimes they’re visible. Sometimes they’re hidden deep within... Welcome to the Estate where even the darkest moments have their lighter side.... 

Mel is one of the bestselling authors in the UK Kindle store. Written in the Scars is book four in her popular Estate series.
 In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

Sarah is judge for the Petrona Award. In Bitter Chill is her first novel.

Taking Pity
Taking Pity by David Mark
Taking Pity is a police procedural thriller that pulls no punches. It is the story of three officers who can take no more, and a merciless nemesis that takes no chances, no prisoners and no pity.

David spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post. Taking Pity is his fourth DS McAvoy novel.

Kindle Deal: Bonfire night bundle on offer today

The London Stories by Helen Smith
Three bestselling British mysteries in one bundle of fun. 

Join twenty-six-year-old amateur sleuth Emily Castles as she investigates a murder at a bonfire night party, blackmail during the end-of-term show at a stage school, and a disappearance at a department store in London.

“Fast paced, funny and mysterious... I can’t wait to see what Emily’s next adventure will be.”

**Limited time offer**  

Amazon UK: 99p
Amazon US: 99¢

Goodreads Readers Choice: Have You Voted?

Mark Edwards has been nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Follow You Home.

If you loved the book, this is your chance to get your voice heard as readers around the world vote for their favourite books.

Vote here if you would like Follow You Home to win:

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards page-turning psychological thriller from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. But after a perfect start, an encounter with a young couple on a night train forces Daniel and Laura to cut their dream trip short and flee home.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what happened that night. But as they try to fit into their old lives again, they realise they are in terrible danger—and that their nightmare is just beginning…

♠ See more about Follow You Home on Amazon.