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Hello and welcome to my website. 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 ITV police series. My standalone titles, psychological fiction, explore the lives of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events, giving a voice to victims, the bereaved, survivors and witnesses. Thank you to everyone who has borrowed, bought or downloaded one of my books. Happy reading.

Bestseller!

THE LOST GIRLS OF ST ANN’S has succeeded beyond all my wildest dreams. Achieving bestseller status #1 in the Kindle Adoption category, reaching #2 in Sagas and spending weeks in the Kindle Top 100 bestsellers list! Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has bought a copy.

THE LOST GIRLS OF ST ANN’S is a novel very close to my heart (and a change from my crime fiction). The book is rooted in my experience as an adoptee but I also wanted to reflect the many different stories I’ve heard from other adoptees, birth and adoptive parents. And to capture the loss that remains for everyone at the heart of adoption.

Manchester, 1960.
When you’re young, unmarried and pregnant, in a shaming society that will never understand, there’s only one place left to go. St Ann’s mother and baby home. That’s how restless Joan, who dreams of a glamorous new life in the Big Smoke, finds herself shut away with two unlikely new roommates: spirited Megan and timid country-girl Caroline, who fell pregnant on her first time. Abandoned by their families, they have no one to rely on but each other, as they wait out the days before they birth their babies — only to be parted from them forever. On a sultry May night, before the stroke of midnight, three baby girls are born — and given away to three eagerly waiting families. But for Joan, Megan and Caroline, birth is just the beginning. Try as they might to move on with life beyond the convent walls, their mistakes have a way of catching up with them.
When the past comes knocking, the three women are forced to confront the choices they made. Will they ever be reunited with their lost daughters?

The Lost Girls of St Ann’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so pleased that Joffe books are publishing THE LOST GIRLS OF ST ANN’S, previously TRIO. It’s a novel very close to my heart (and a change from my crime fiction). The book, a family saga, is rooted in my experience as an adoptee but I also wanted to reflect the range of stories I’ve heard from other adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents and also to capture the loss that remains for everyone at the heart of adoption. I’m hoping this fresh edition will reach a whole new readership.

Manchester, 1960.
When you’re young, unmarried and pregnant, in a shaming society that will never understand, there’s only one place left to go. St Ann’s mother and baby home. That’s how restless Joan, who dreams of a glamorous new life in the Big Smoke, finds herself shut away with two unlikely new roommates: spirited Megan and timid country-girl Caroline, who fell pregnant on her first time. Abandoned by their families, they have no one to rely on but each other, as they wait out the days before they birth their babies — only to be parted from them forever. On a sultry May night, before the stroke of midnight, three baby girls are born — and given away to three eagerly waiting families. But for Joan, Megan and Caroline, birth is just the beginning. Try as they might to move on with life beyond the convent walls, their mistakes have a way of catching up with them.
When the past comes knocking, the three women are forced to confront the choices they made. Will they ever be reunited with their lost daughters?

SHADOW OF THE HILLS

I am delighted to be launching a new series with Joffe Books. SHADOW OF THE HILLS will be the first outing for DI Leo Donovan and DC Shan Young, based in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.

Kate Lyall Grant – commissioning editor at Joffe says, ‘With its stunning Yorkshire Dales setting and intricately crafted plot, SHADOW OF THE HILLS had me gripped from the outset. Cath has created a memorable new detective duo in veteran cop Leo Donovan and his pregnant rookie partner Shan Young who is tackling her very first case.’

When remains are discovered by a potholer, deep underground, they’re suspected to be those of Vicky Mott who disappeared years ago at a festival in the Dales. A possible fourth victim of a serial killer. Leo and Shan seek to uncover the truth and provide long-awaited answers for Vicky’s family and friends.

It’s such a buzz to be starting out with these new characters who face heartbreak at work and at home but support each other every step of the way.

SHADOW OF THE HILLS will be published in March 2024.

Books Books Books

Here’s another batch of books that I found compelling and memorable. Maybe you’ll find something you like here too.

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Where Waters Meet by Zhang Ling

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry

The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone

The Promise by Damon Galgut

Our Missing Hearts Celeste Ng

Strange Sally Diamond by  Liz Nugent

Leeward by Katie Daysh

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Summer Reading (or any time actually).

It’s almost six months since I posted some recommendations – though I have mentioned a few of these books on Twitter. Check them out, there’s a broad variety here, and I hope you’ll find something you like

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

The Trees by Percival Everett

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

Metronome by Tom Watson

The Maid by Nita Prowse

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford

The Forcing by Paul Hardisty

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

The Perfect Golden Circle by Benjamin Myers

Undercover: Close to Home

Undercover: Close To Home, my three-part thriller aired in June on BBC Radio 4. And is now available on BBC Sounds.

Grace Monroe goes undercover as a live-in nanny at the home of Ben Curtis whose wife Lydia has been missing for a year.

Described as ‘Excellent, high-octane, human drama’ by the Radio Times, I’ve been delighted with the reception it’s had. Massive thanks to the cast, director Nadia Molinari and the sound production team. Happy listening!

Undercover: Close To Home

Undercover: Close To Home, my three-part thriller for BBC Radio Drama starts at 2.15 pm on June 8th on BBC Radio 4, with episodes aired weekly. And is available after on BBC Sounds.

Grace Monroe goes undercover as a live-in nanny at the home of Ben Curtis whose wife Lydia has been missing for a year. Making herself indispensable in the intimacy of the family home, Grace hunts for clues as to what befell the mother of two. It’s a game of cat and mouse with Grace prepared to do whatever she must to win Ben’s trust.

Being involved in the recording was a brilliant experience, such a thrill watching the cast and production team in action. I picked up some tricks of the trade along the way (e.g. you can create the sound of grass underfoot by walking on scrunched up video-tape, or a freezer drawer opening by scraping a piece of wood against a plastic box). I’ve heard the final edits and I’m so pleased with the result. And excited now for it to reach an audience.

A massive thank you to director Nadia Molinari, production coordinators Pippa Day and Jessica Bellamy, technical producers Sue Stonestreet, Simon Highfeld and Sharon Hughes, and to our exceptional cast: Ntombizodwa Ndlovu, Matthew McNulty, Tareq Al-Jeddal, Bebe Massey, Christine Bottomley, Esh Alladi, Emma Cunniffe, Kymberley Cochrane, Lula Marsh, Jessica Bellamy.

Happy listening!!

Undercover: Close to Home

I’ve written a number of radio dramas over the past fifteen years, most of them crime or mystery series. You can see the full list on my TV and Radio page. And during the last year I’ve been working on Undercover: Close To Home, a new three-part thriller for BBC Radio Drama. While the original idea for the story has stayed the same, the scripts have been through many rewrites with changes to the beginning, the ending and much of the middle! As well as alterations to the weight given to some of the characters and developments in the themes.

There’s a lovely intimacy in scripting for radio, with the writer working alongside a producer/director (in my case the wonderful Nadia Molinari) to develop the piece, and then being closely involved in the recording process. At that stage the actors work their alchemy, along with the geniuses in sound design and recording. It’s a pleasure witnessing them bring the story to life and make it their own. We’ve a great cast signed up and I’m so looking forward to that experience later this month.

Undercover: Close To Home will air on BBC Radio 4 at 2.15 pm on June 8th, 15th and 22nd.

Recommended Reads

I love variety in my reading and this batch certainly has that. Settings include a West Yorkshire millowner’s estate in 1904, the Pyrenees in a snowstorm in the 1920s, civil-rights era Harlem, the Glasgow tenements of the 1980s, contemporary Sweden and the Peak District during the covid pandemic. Some tales are creepy, some funny, some suspenseful, most moving and all are captivating. Happy reading!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The Fell by Sarah Moss

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer

The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

Early Warning by Jane Smiley

Amy and Lan by Sadie Jones

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

What Are You Reading?

Looking for some holiday reading? Or a treat for the New Year? Here are some books I’ve really enjoyed. Maybe something here will pique your interest. Happy Reading!

The Last Crossing by Brian McGilloway

Golden Age by Jane Smiley

Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

Rizzio by Denise Mina

Tasting Sunlight by Ewald Arenz and Rachel Ward

56 Days by Catherine Ryan

The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly

Light to the Hills by Bonnie Blaylock

French Braid by Anne Tyler

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead