Ann Cleeves writes:
Back in the year 2000 seven crime writers living and writing in the north of England came together to form Murder Squad. It was the idea of the wonderful Margaret Murphy, who went on to chair the Crime Writers Association. She was getting good reviews, but sales were disappointing and in publishing, the marketing budget tends to follow success. So she decided it was vital to promote her own work and thought that it would be much easier to do that collectively than as an individual. I was delighted to join the group and my fellow squaddies have become great friends.
We produced a brochure, contacted libraries, bookshops and festivals and travelled all over the country to talk to readers. We published our first anthology of short stories (our second anthology yielded two CWA Short Story Dagger winners in 2012 – very gratifying!).
John Baker, Chaz Brenchley have since stepped down from the Squad, and Stuart Pawson retired due to ill-health. Stuart died in February 2016 and is sorely missed, though his Charlie Priest books live on.
Our careers have moved on since the group was formed – Cath Staincliffe developed work in TV and radio, creating Blue Murder for ITV and Legacy for BBC Radio 4. She also wrote the Scott & Bailey books based on the hit show. Cath writes stand-alone novels about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. Martin Edwards created a new series set in the Lake District, became consultant to the British Library’s Classic Crime series, and won four awards for The Golden Age of Murder, his study of the Detection Club and its members. My own Vera Stanhope novels and Shetland series have been successfully adapted for TV*. Recently, Margaret Murphy has been writing forensic thrillers under the pseudonym A.D. Garrett, and in 2018 she will launch a new series worldwide as Ashley Dyer. Kate Ellis continues to write contemporary novels with a historical storyline, with one series set in Devon, one in a very spooky York, and she has recently published the first in a powerful new trilogy set in North West England in the aftermath of WWI. Chris Simms, described by the Guardian as one of the best of the new generation of crime writers, is behind the popular DI Spicer of novels and those featuring DC Iona Khan. He is also an active force behind the Crime Readers Association.
[*Note from Margaret Murphy: I’m exerting ‘Founder’s Privilege’ to expand on Ann Cleeves’s comments about her own work. TV adaptations of Ann’s Vera and Shetland series have been stupendously successful worldwide, and Vera, as played by Brenda Blethyn, surely must be one of the best-loved British TV detectives.]
We at Murder Squad are keen to continue growing the audience for our work, which has been highly praised by both readers and reviewers, and has gained us many prizes, including Daggers, Edgars, Macavity and Agatha Awards. We also publish collections of short fiction.
We appear collectively and individually across the country: for details of our joint activities see our events page. More information about each of the writers, and our latest books, can be found by following the links on the drop-down menu at the top of the page.
You’ll see from our list of events that we continue to work with libraries around the country as well as developing links with independent bookshops, visiting readers’ and writers’ groups and contributing to literature festivals. Further afield several of us have new foreign publishers.