Cath Staincliffe - Author photo © Paul Herrmann

© Paul Herrmann

Hello, you’ve reached the official website of Manchester based, crime writer Cath Staincliffe. I’m the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, ITV’s hit detective drama starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. I write the Scott & Bailey books, based on the much loved ITV1 police series. My standalone titles, psychological fiction exploring topical moral dilemmas, have been very popular on the Amazon Kindle. Thank you to everyone who has borrowed, bought or downloaded one of my books. Here on the site you can find out about me and my writing, read my blog and flash fiction, sample extracts from my work, watch interviews and readings and find links to buy my latest books.

Happy reading.

Recent Posts

Summer Reads

Summer reads in the sense that it is summer and these are the books I’ve enjoyed this season so far. It’s a varied list with works from famous prize-winning authors as well as from those just starting out.  Some are crime, some not.  Some British, some American. Reading the titles again I’m struck by how each book has a completely distinctive style and voice, creates a unique world. Exactly what the best books do. Take a peek…

Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Safe House by Chris Ewan

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

The Long Fall by Julia Crouch

Luke and Jon by Robert Williams

Other People’s Money by Justin Cartwright

Assisted Dying

This Friday 18th July the House of Lords will give a Second Reading to the Assisted Dying Bill.  I have generally been a supporter of individual liberty when it comes to matters about a person’s health and well-being and in the past thought it would be better to have more options at the end of life but although I’ve supported the principle of assisted dying I hadn’t considered it in much depth until I wrote a novel on the topic – The Kindest Thing.  Researching this, where a woman helps her terminally ill husband end his life and is then tried for murder, convinced me that we need a law to protect and safeguard people who are dying and their loved ones who wish to support them in choosing when to die.   And that having safe, medical means to end our lives would be a far more humane system than the current situation where people are forced either to travel abroad earlier than they might wish or risk a fraught DIY attempt at ending life.  Preparing a paper about the issue for St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime  conference 2011, I was struck by the success of the assisted dying bill in Oregon USA and how the experience there has allayed many of the fears people have about a change to the law, resulting in a much more humane situation than is the case here.

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill would clarify the situation here and (as is the case in Oregon) it would be robustly designed to prevent abuse or coercion of vulnerable people and would enable people who are close to death a chance to die with dignity and care.

As a patron of Dignity in Dying, I’d invite you to visit the website and lend your support to the campaign.  If I may quote Sir Terry Pratchett from his Richard Dimbleby lecture on the topic, ‘Let us consider me as a test case…. if I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as ­precious as a million pounds.  If I knew that I could die, I would live.  My life, my death, my choice.’

UPDATE:  The Bill passed the Second Reading Stage and will now progress to Committee Stage.  For details of the route to legislation see here.

Wonderful Stories

My list of recommended reads is even longer this time – I’ve been away and that meant more reading opportunity. Especially as we were without a TV.  Enjoy!

The Humans by Matt Haig

After the Fire, A Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld

Strumpet City by James Plunkett

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

The Flight by M.R. Hall

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Boat by Clara Salaman

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Countdown City by Ben H. Winters

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty



News From Afar

Most of May I spent in Chengdu, in China, researching my new novel. It was a fantastic trip, a combination of soaking in the sights, sounds, smells and everyday life of the city interspersed with day trips out to surrounding attractions. We were staying with my eldest son who works there as an English teacher. He is fluent in Chinese which was a huge advantage for us in negotiating journeys and talking to Chinese people about some of the questions I had. And he was able to show us the ropes so we could get around and fend for ourselves while he was at work. We learnt a smattering of words before we went but it is possible to order food purely by pointing at pictures and performing energetic sign language. I was delighted to be invited to give an author talk at The Bookworm Chengdu, an English language bookshop, library, restaurant and bar. My first international bookshop appearance. It was a lovely venue and a really enjoyable evening. The Bookworm hosts a large literary festival every March with authors from all over the world appearing at their branches in Chengdu, Beijing and Suzhou.

Bookworm Chengdu small

There was some irony in that we were staying in the city that now makes 20% of the world’s computers but there were swathes of the web that were simply not available to us due to internet censorship. So I had no access to Twitter or any wordpress or blogspot sites. I also discovered that I couldn’t send any emails only receive them. Half-way through our visit I got an email from writer and editor Martin Edwards subject: Short Story Dagger, saying, Hi Cath, By the time you read this, I am sure you will know that you have been shortlisted for the Dagger again. I’m really pleased for you!! Talk about a wonderful surprise! I was too excited to sleep that night. Since then I’ve been able to see the shortlist and I am awed to be in such spectacular company. So a big thanks to Martin and to the CWA for all the work in organising these awards which do so much to promote crime fiction. The results will be announced on June 30th along with the results of the International Dagger, Debut Dagger, Library Dagger, Non-Fiction and the Ellis Peters Historical Dagger as well as the presentation to Simon Brett of the Diamond Dagger. And I shall be tweeting all about it. If there’s a signal…

Bookworm w Cookie, Stephanie and Tim

Letters To My Daughter’s Killer

The idea for this novel was quite simple – a bereaved mother writes to the person who killed her daughter in an attempt to move beyond rage, and the desire for vengeance, and to find some sort of acceptance.  There is a long tradition of novels written in letter form, Shelley’s Frankenstein is one, as is Dracula by Bram Stoker and more recently Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin.  There were challenges in choosing to use this narrative style, in getting the tone right and working out what information was revealed when and what would be divulged to the murderer through the letters, but I found it refreshing to try something so different. These days many of us use emails in place of letters but for the most personal most significant events, around love and death and birth, we still may choose to write a physical letter.  Something that can be held and kept safe and re-read.  When I was younger I wrote regularly to lots of people, family and friends, as a way of keeping in touch.  Now decades later that has shrunk to continuing correspondence with just two.  Prison must be one of the few places where personal letters still predominate, as prisoners are unable to send email or use Skype or mobile phones.  And there is no limit on the number of letters a prisoner can receive.  So the epistolary form did seem to be the best narrative device for the story I wanted to tell.  Hope you like it.