Friday, July 12, 2019


My Derbyshire police detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry are on holiday at the moment (I think they deserved it after 18 novels and all those murders!). 

So my next book, due out in the UK in August, will be something different - a standalone novel with a historical theme, called DROWNED LIVES.

This is set in Derbyshire's neighbouring county, Staffordshire, and in particular around the fascinating city of Lichfield, which is packed with history. 

DROWNED LIVES is a story of family secrets and a centuries-old feud, told against a background of the often dark history of inland waterways, from their origins in the industrial revolution to the restoration projects of recent decades. 

Even now, the West Midlands region of England contains more than 500 miles of canal, which run not only through countryside but right into the centre of major urban areas like Birmingham. 

Canals are very appealing as a setting for crime fiction. They may appear very peaceful on the surface, but they attract all kinds of crime. And who knows what's under the surface? When something (or someone) disappears into water, we tend to think it's lost for ever. But we may be wrong... 

I've always loved to explore the ways the past can affect the present, and in DROWNED LIVES council officer Chris Buckley is about to discover a lot of things from his past which he might have preferred not to know.

I set this book in the late 1990s. That's only 20 years ago, but it feels like a historical period - there were no smartphones, and the internet was just becoming more popular. Remember the bubble? Companies like eBay were starting up, but a lot of investors in other internet start-ups got their fingers badly burned.

The point where the 20th century was about to give way to the 21st felt like an interesting time to explore the buried secrets of the past.

DROWNED LIVES will be published by Sphere in hardback and ebook on 15th August 2019, along with an audio download. 

I hope you enjoy reading something a bit different!

DROWNED LIVES can be pre-ordered in all the usual places, including your local bookshop or online here:


WH Smith:

Amazon UK:

The Book Depository:

The Hive:

*The Book Depository offers free shipping to readers in the USA (and many other countries).

Of course, I'll also be doing a number of events and signings following publication, including:

THURSDAY 15th August, 11am - 1pm
Retford Library, Churchgate, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 6PE - book signing for DROWNED LIVES (in conjunction with Bookworm of Retford). To reserve a signed copy, phone 01777 869224 or email:

SATURDAY 17th AUGUST, 9.30am onwards
Chesterfield Library, New Beetwell Street, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S40 1QN - Derbyshire Noir one-day crime writing festival, with many other local authors including Sarah Ward, Roz Watkins, Sophie Draper, Jo Jakeman, Fran Dorricott, Caroline England, Tony R. Cox, James Ellson, Andrew Lowe, and Sylvia Marsden.
Tickets available now. Book online here:

SUNDAY 18th AUGUST, 1-3pm
High Peak Bookstore, Ashbourne Road, Brierlow Bar, near Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9PY - signing for DROWNED LIVES.

TUESDAY 20th AUGUST, 7 for 7.30pm
Bakewell Bookshop, Matlock Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1EE - talk and signing for DROWNED LIVES. Tickets £5 including glass of wine and nibbles. To book, phone 01629 812818 or email:

THURSDAY 29th AUGUST, time tba
Gillingham Library, High Street, Gillingham, Medway, Kent ME7 1BG - talk and signing.
(Details to follow)

SATURDAY 24th AUGUST, 2 - 4pm
Scarthin Books, The Promenade, Cromford, Derbyshire DE4 3QF - book signing for DROWNED LIVES.

SATURDAY 31st AUGUST, 12 - 2pm
Reading Matters Bookshop, 48 Market Street, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire SK23 0HY - signing for DROWNED LIVES.

Sunday, December 2, 2018


I'm very aware how lucky I am to make a living from writing books (my dream from being 12 years old).

But one disadvantage I had when I was trying to get published was that I really had no idea how publishing works, and I only learned the craft of writing by years of trial and error (hence all the unpublished novels sitting in a drawer!). 

There's plenty on offer for aspiring writers these days. But I know there are many writers who find it impossible to attend conferences, or to afford the courses which might be vital to their development. I recently saw a course advertised at £699, which I'm sure just isn't affordable for many people. Also, they almost always take place in the cities - Writing East Midlands, for example, run excellent writing school programmes, but are only able to offer them in Nottingham and Leicester at the moment:

With this in mind, I'd like to bring opportunities to writers in areas away from the big cities, making them genuinely accessible and affordable. So I've decided to offer my novel writing courses free in my part of the UK's East Midlands region (Nottinghamshire and neighbouring areas). 

I'm aiming to run some courses during 2019, probably in six weekly sessions. The subjects I cover include character, setting and plot, as well some of the essential technical elements of the craft which new writers often struggle with, such as controlling point of view, 'Show Don't Tell' and the use of dialogue, etc. I also share advice on routes to getting published, and some insights into the mysterious world of publishing itself. There's everything from tips for keeping your readers hooked to an explanation of the passive voice and why you should avoid it. 

While my experience is largely in the world of crime fiction, much of the content of my course applies to other types of novel writing. 

If you're an aspiring novelist in the early stages of your writing career, either with a first novel you're working on, or just with ideas you want to develop by learning more about the craft, this might be an opportunity for you. If you know a friend or family member who might benefit, please pass it on. And feel free to share the information with other writers in your area. Adult writers only though, please (18 and over). 

This is for writers based:
- anywhere in Nottinghamshire
- on the eastern side of Derbyshire (Chesterfield, Bolsover, Dronfield, Alfreton etc)

- in Lincolnshire west of Lincoln (such as Gainsborough or Saxilby)
- on the borders of South Yorkshire (around Tickhill, Bawtry, Dinnington etc)

So that I can assess the degree of interest in this idea, please send me an email giving your name, the town where you're located (or that you can get to easily), and a few details about what you're interested in writing and your level of experience. 

I'll choose locations where most people are based and work out suitable dates and venues. The only cost would be the hire of a venue, but I'd need between 6 and 12 people in a group to make this work.

To register your interest, send an email to:

A BIT ABOUT ME: I've been writing all my life - the last 18 years as a full-time novelist - and I first signed with a literary agent nearly 23 years ago, so I think I've gained some experience of the writing business, and a few insights to share. I've worked with several major publishers, both here in the UK and in the USA, as well as foreign publishers in 16 territories around the world. Several of the Cooper and Fry novels have been Sunday Times bestsellers, and the series has won awards on both sides of the Atlantic. I've done countless reader events, at which I get the vital reader's perspective, and I've led courses for Writing East Midlands, as well as running a number of workshops for writing groups, and even for prison inmates. In addition, I've self published 14 titles under my own imprints, so have experience of the self publishing market too. My previous career was in newspaper journalism, with many years as a sub-editor and editor. I have three cats (this may not be relevant!).

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


The 17th Cooper and Fry novel DEAD IN THE DARK is out this week in the USA, released in ebook formats with this wonderful cover from Witness Impulse.

How do you prove a murder without a body?

Ten years ago, Reece Bower was accused of killing his wife, a crime he always denied. Extensive police searches near his home in Bakewell found no trace of Annette Bower's remains, and the case against him collapsed.

But now memories of the original investigation have been resurrected for Detective Inspector Ben Cooper - because Reece Bower himself has disappeared, and his new wife wants answers.

Cooper can't call on the Major Crime Unit and DS Diane Fry for help unless he can prove a murder took place - impossible without a body. As his search moves into the caves and abandoned mines in the isolated depths of Lathkilldale, the question is: who would want revenge for the death of Annette Bower?

Meanwhile, Fry is working on a murder investigation of her own in an entirely different part of Derbyshire, where a community is divided against itself.

A blog tour is now under way in the US, organised by Partners in Crime. Check out all these lovely bloggers who are hosting reviews, features, interviews and guest posts over the next few weeks for the launch of DEAD IN THE DARK:

In particular, check out the interview Stephen did for Crack a Book Cafe, where he talks about his influences, the inspiration for Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, and how he finds time to write (among other things!):

A Rafflecopter giveaway has just started, with the chance of winning one of three copies of the previous Cooper & Fry novel SECRETS OF DEATH. Enter here to be in with a chance of winning:

US readers can download the ebook of DEAD IN THE DARK here:

Amazon Kindle:

Barnes & Noble Nook:



Apple iBooks:

* A US paperback edition of DEAD IN THE DARK will be released in October.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


The new Cooper & Fry novel FALL DOWN DEAD is published THIS WEEK in the UK in hardback and ebook editions, shortly followed by its arrival in several other countries. I love this cover from my UK publishers, Sphere!

During the next few weeks I'll be out and about signing copies of the new book, so check out the dates below for opportunities to get your book signed.

FALL DOWN DEAD is set around one of the Peak District's most iconic locations, Kinder Scout. 

The highest point in the national park, it was also the scene of the famous Kinder Mass Trespass in 1932, which led directly to the creation of Britain's national parks - the first being the Peak District. 

Kinder Scout is a landscape of peat haggs and deeply-scoured groughs, with outcrops of weathered gritstone sculpted into strange and fantastic shapes given distinctive names by local people - the Druid Stone, the Boxing Gloves, Madwoman's Stones, Punch's Nose, Ringing Roger, the Mushroom Garden. Their imaginative names are often due to their shape, or their connection to an old story from Derbyshire history and legend. 

And this can be a dangerous place. When I'm writing a Cooper & Fry novel, I try to reflect what's happening around me in the real world, and this new book is no different. These days, many walkers go up on to the Peak District hills unprepared and badly equipped. It's easy to become disorientated on the Kinder Scout plateau, even in fine weather. If the weather changes - as it can so quickly in this area - walkers are soon lost and straying into danger.

In this case, one member of a walking group lost on Kinder may not make it down alive...

Order your copy of FALL DOWN DEAD online now:



WH Smith:

The Hive:

Or call in at your local bookshop of course!

An ebook edition can be downloaded here: 

An audio download is also available:


Signings for FALL DOWN DEAD start with a publication day event in North Nottinghamshire this Thursday. This will be with my old friends at Bookworm of Retford, but since their bookshop is now closed, the signing will take place at Retford Library. 

I'm looking forward to seeing lots of regular readers of the Cooper & Fry series - and hopefully a few new ones. Just come along between 11am and 1pm for a chat and to get your signed book. Light refreshments are promised, so there should be a cup of tea too!

Then I'll be embarking on a 'mini tour' of Derbyshire, with visits to the Oxfam Bookshop in Matlock this Friday (17th August) to help celebrate their 50th anniversary, and to Reading Matters bookshop in Chapel-en-le-Frith this Saturday (18th August). Next week, I'll be heading off to Bakewell Bookshop (24th), Waterstones Chesterfield and Scarthin Books, Cromford (both on the 25th) and High Peak Bookstore near Buxton (26th). It would be great to see as many of you as possible!

Details of forthcoming signing dates for FALL DOWN DEAD: 

THURSDAY 16th AUGUST, 11am - 1pm
Retford Library, 17 Churchgate, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 6PE - signing in conjunction with Bookworm, Retford. Phone 01777 869224 or email:

FRIDAY 17th AUGUST, 2pm - 4pm
Oxfam Bookshop, 70 Dale Road, Matlock, Derbyshire
DE4 3LT - signing to celebrate 50th anniversary of Oxfam Bookshop. Phone 01629 55799 or email:

SATURDAY 18th AUGUST, 12 - 2pm
Reading Matters,
48 Market Street, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, Derbyshire SK23 0HY - signing. Phone 01298 938166 or email:

FRIDAY 24th AUGUST, 7 for 7.30pm
Bakewell Bookshop, Matlock Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire
DE45 1EE - talk and signing. Phone 01629 812818 or email:

SATURDAY 25th AUGUST, 10am - 12pm
Waterstones, 13 Vicar Lane, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
S40 1PY - signing. Phone 01246 231061 or email:

SATURDAY 25th AUGUST, 2.30 - 4.30pm
Scarthin Books,
The Promenade, Cromford, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3QF - signing. Phone
01629 823272 or email:

SUNDAY 26th AUGUST, 1 - 3pm
High Peak Bookstore, Ashbourne Road, Brierlow Bar, near Buxton, Derbyshire
SK17 9PY
- signing. Phone 01298 71017.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

FALL DOWN DEAD is coming!

I've just opened a box of these beauties - advance copies of the new Cooper & Fry novel FALL DOWN DEAD, due for UK publication in hardback and ebook on 16th August. 

And you can pre-order it right now!


WH Smith:…/fall-down-dead/9780751567618


Or call in at your local bookshop and ask for it, of course.