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The hunger for Scandi TV and fiction has sparked a new interest in crime festivals (as perhaps will JK Rowling’s foray into the genre with Cuckoo’s Calling). No longer solely the domain of die-hard thriller fans, these events are increasingly offering everything from live music and food stalls to film screenings and tie-in tours. If you want the thrill of seeing your favourite crime author in the flesh on a city break, here’s our round-up of the best crime-writing festivals around the world.
Harrogate: Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, 18-21 July 2013
Combine a stay in the former spa town of Harrogate with a sociable four-day crime-writing festival. Author discussion panels cost from £10 each, so you can attend as many or as few events as you like. Tickets are still available for a few special guest events this weekend: a James Bond-themed murder mystery dinner where a crime author sits on your table; and a quiz night hosted by Val McDermid and Mark Billingham. Most authors stay at the Old Swan Hotel, so don’t be surprised to find yourself rubbing shoulders with Ian Rankin, Jeanette Winterson, Kate Atkinson, Ruth Rendell and many others in the bar.
The book to read: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Black Swan, £7.99) tells the story of private investigator Jackson Brodie’s search for an adopted client’s birth family, and how it leads him from Edinburgh to Yorkshire and into a web of dark family secrets.
Take a local literary crime tour: Do a DIY tour by starting at the 200-year-old Old Swan Hotel, where Agatha Christie was discovered in 1926 after a mysterious 11-day disappearance. Then take the no 6 bus from the centre, and follow Jackson Brodie’s trail to the meadows and flower gardens of the 58-acre Royal Horticultural Gardens in Harlow Carr, and have tea at Bettys Café Tea Rooms. To see another location from Atkinson’s book, either drive, or take a bus from Harrogate station, to the 12th-century ruins of Fountains Abbey, 12 miles north of town.
Stirling: Bloody Scotland, 13-15 September 2013
A stunning setting is part of the appeal of Scotland’s crime festival, with views over Stirling Castle and the Forth valley. At the Stirling Highland Hotel this year, you can meet lots of Scottish crime writers, including Denise Mina, Louise Welsh and Stuart MacBride, alongside Jo Nesbø, Lee Child and many more well-known authors. As with Harrogate, events are individually priced (from £7), leaving you time to explore the medieval city. For an extra thrill, attend the festival dinner to hear the live announcement of the Scottish Crime Book of the Year.
The book to read: Cold Grave by Craig Robertson (Simon and Schuster, £6.99) follows DS Rachel Narey’s investigations into a 20-year-old cold case that haunts her retired detective father, that of a young woman who disappeared after walking across the frozen Lake of Menteith in winter.
Take a local literary crime tour: Follow in the footsteps of Ian Rankin’s DI John Rebus in Edinburgh. The guided tour starts at the Royal Oak Pub on Infirmary Street on Saturdays, 12-2pm, £10, rebustours.com. (The tours will be running every day during Edinburgh Festival.)
Munich: Krimifestival, 7-28 September 2013
Is German crime fiction the next big thing after the Scandi trend? Find out by visiting this unique crime festival in Munich. Many author readings and panels – often at least partly in English; check beforehand – take place in unusual crime-themed settings, such as police stations and mortuaries. As an audience member, you will be an “eyewitness”, while the panel moderators cross-examine the authors. With individual events priced between €10 and €15, you can visit Munich’s many museums, parks and baroque palaces in between talks by best-selling German crime writers, such as Rita Falk and Sebastian Fitzek, and well-known international authors, too. There will be a Dexter-themed night, too.
The book to read: Ice Cold by Andrea Maria Schenkel (Quercus, £7.99). When young women cycling on country lanes are raped and murdered in 1930s Munich, a politician is found guilty and executed. But was he the real killer? Farm girl Kathie arrives in the city and finds herself in danger.
Take a local literary tour: Take a daytrip to Schongau, a pretty Bavarian town outside Munich. This is the location of the famous historical thriller The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch. You can walk by the river Lech, where a body is found at the start of the novel, and on the old city walls, which feature prominently. Trains leave hourly from München Hauptbahnhof (1hr 19 mins); for more information email email@example.com.
Reykjavik: Icelandnoir, 21-24 November 2013
Attend a talk by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera Stanhope novels and the books behind TV series Shetland, then go for a dip in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or hunt for the northern lights. That’s the idea behind this first, “friendly and informal”, English-language crime festival in Reykjavik. Author events are free, so you can pick and choose between talks by Icelandic authors, such as Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ragnar Jonasson and Sigurjón Pálsson; British authors Quentin Bates and Michael Ridpath, who write crime series set in Iceland; and visiting authors, including Ann Cleeves and Susan Moody. As well as the ticketed Blue Lagoon and northern lights trips, there are plans for an adventure tour outside the city, and a crime dinner in a Reykjavik restaurant.
The book to read: Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason (Vintage, £7.99). Detective Erlendur’s investigation into the murder of a man accused 40 years previously of rape leads to the discovery of shocking secrets in the Reykjavik’s genetic research centre.
Take a local literary crime tour: Visit city locations in Indridason’s novels. The tour starts at the Reykjavik City Library (Tryggvagata 15) at 5pm-6.30pm. Arrange a date by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices will vary according to the number of participants.
Oslo: Krimfestivalen, 6-8 March 2014
For British fans of The Killing, Stieg Larsson and Borgen, this Oslo-based crime festival offers a fascinating insight into the world of Nordic crime. Only 20% of the author panels are in English, but as all events are free you can attend as many as you like. Afterwards, mingle with authors in the cafe and hang out in bars in the city’s buzzing harbour area. Past guests have included UK writers Tom Rob Smith, Sophie Hannah and RJ Ellory, and Nordic crime authors Lars Kepler and Karin Fossum. (NB line-up and website will be available in English by January 2014).
The book to read: Fear Not by Anne Holt (Corvus, £7.99). Criminal psychologist Inger Johanne Vik tries to find the reason for a number of apparently unconnected and shocking deaths one snowy Christmas in Oslo.
Take a local literary crime tour: Follow in the footsteps of Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø‘s Oslo-based detective Harry Hole, starting at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel Oslo, behind the Royal Palace. The Jo Nesbø tour (in English and Norwegian) takes place every Tuesday, 5-7pm, £22 adults, £11 children.
Bristol: Crimefest, 15-18 May 2014
This popular friendly convention attracts passionate crime fans and puts on a wide range of talks by well-known authors. Author panels and Q&As are held in the Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel. Events are not ticketed individually here, so with a Crimefest pass costing £110 (some events extra), you’ll want to know your Morse from your Montalbano. One highlight is the gala dinner on a Saturday night, where readers mix with authors, guest authors speak, and the winners of the Crimefest Awards are announced.
The book to read: Ritual by Mo Hayder (Bantam, £7.99). After the discovery of the amputated hands of a boy underwater, police diver Flea Marley and DI Jack Caffery head into the Bristol underworld to investigate.
Take a local literary crime tour: MR Hall’s Jenny Cooper coroner thriller series used many central Bristol locations. Take a DIY tour, and have a coffee at No.1 Harbourside cafe, where Cooper meets her contacts, then see the real police station on Broadmead where Hall’s fictional cops work, and visit Clifton Cathedral, an important setting in The Redeemed. To finish, if you are driving, cross the Severn Bridge – scene of dramatic events in The Disappeared and The Flight – and drive to Tintern, Jenny’s picturesque home village, and stop for a drink in a pub by the river.
New York: Thrillerfest, 9-12 July 2014
Add a twist to your city break in New York with a day or two at the “friendly, accessible” Thrillerfest at the Grand Hyatt. Three hundred writers come to this annual crime festival and, as there is no green room, it’s possible to meet many of them socially in the hotel’s common areas. The festival attracts many world-famous crime-writing names. The last event was attended by Ann Rice, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Peter James and Linwood Barclay. The July 2014 line-up and prices are soon to be announced. Early-bird day passes cost from $228.
The book to read: Night Watch by Linda Fairstein (Sphere, £6.99). Inspired by the tawdry real-life story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Fairstein’s novel follows New York assistant DA Alexandra Cooper as she investigates an allegation of sexual assault by a hotel maid against the head of the World Economic Bureau.
Take a local literary crime tour: Visit crime locations from movies, TV and real life, including the church from The Godfather. Your guide is a real NYC cop. The tour starts in Petrosino Square in Little Italy on Saturdays, 10am-12.30pm, $15pp, nycadventuretours.com.
London: Nordicana, 2014
Last month’s inaugural two-day Clerkenwell festival of Nordic crime fiction and film was such a hit that next year’s is already being planned. The organisers aim to offer a broad appeal, more akin to the Latitude and Hay festivals. So, this year, attendees hung out in an outdoor vodka bar with the cast of a hit Scandi-crime TV series, while listening to wistful Swedish pop and eating Norwegian waffles. In between, there were talks by crime writers David Hewson and Ann Cleeves; Q&As with actors from Arne Dahl, The Killing, Wallander and Borgen; Scandi TV and film screenings; and the chance to browse Scandi furniture, travel and food stalls. One- or two-day passes cost £10/£17.50 in 2013, plus £5 for special events.
The book to read: The Dying Hours by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown, £16.99). A series of elderly people commit suicide in south London, and Inspector Tom Thorne believes that one person is responsible.
Take a local literary crime tour: Visit locations in Ian Fleming’s spy novels with a two-and-a-half hour James Bond Walking Tour of London. It starts at Planet Hollywood in Haymarket, where you can see movie props, and continues around Westminster government buildings. Fridays, 2pm, £10 adult , £7 under 12s.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk