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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.

#CrimeFestAwards

I am astonished and delighted and honoured that Running Out of Road is on the shortlist for the eDunnit Award for best novel of 2021 at Crime Fest. It’s a wonderful surprise and awesome to be in such wonderful company. The winners will be announced at the Gala Dinner on May 14th.

Running Out of Road is a race against time, played out in the brooding wilderness, the limestone gorges and gritstone edges of the Peak District. At its heart is eleven-year-old Scarlett, who has survived a great loss, is full of dreams for the future and passionate about protecting the planet. Scarlett is abducted and driven up into the hills with the police in hot pursuit. Scarlett’s path collides with others. Ron has made a living as a house and pet sitter since quitting his career on the front line in the fire service. The solitude suits him. Dylan’s a ‘cuckoo’, dealing drugs on the county line, moving from nest to nest, picking out people who daren’t say no. One step ahead of the law. So far…The action unfolds over a few hours on a wretched February evening, as Storm Dennis barrels in from the north bringing floods and ensuing chaos.

Running Out of Road was written during 2020 when we were all struggling with the dreadful impact of the pandemic. The continuing ban on travel (which came into effect here in the North West swiftly after the first lockdown was lifted) meant I couldn’t visit the Peak District where I love to walk. But writing the book allowed me to escape there in my imagination. To get away from the grim news of the pandemic, Brexit and the climate emergency, and lose myself in Scarlett’s adventure. I relished exploring the terrain through the eyes of the various characters in the novel, and being able to capture some of the beauty and grandeur of the peaks.

I’ve been thrilled at the reception the book has received, especially this nomination. Happy reading!

New Book Deal

I’m delighted to have signed a deal with Joffe Books to publish my four DCI Janine Lewis novels. And I’m really looking forward to the stories reaching a whole new audience. Blue Murder, Hit and Run, Make Believe and Desperate Measures are due out in May. The books are based on my scripts from Blue Murder, the TV series I created almost twenty years ago. It all began with an unpublished novel and a tip from my Murder Squad pal Ann Cleeves, who knew Granada TV were looking for crime-drama ideas with women detectives at the centre. I was incredibly lucky to get Blue Murder commissioned by ITV and the show went on to be broadcast around the world in places from Iceland to Afghanistan, Fiji to Brazil. Now I hope that readers here and abroad will enjoy getting to know Janine Lewis, who juggles a demanding family life and a challenging job, and her Manchester team.

‘Complex and satisfying in its handling of Lewis’s agonised attempts to be both a good cop and a good mother’ The Sunday Times

New Year, New Books

With settings ranging from rural Ireland to Cape Cod, South Africa to Hollywood and with stories that include a reimagining of Sophocles’ play Antigone, the terrors of the Pendle Witch Trials, Bohemian life on a Greek Island in the 60s and London in the Blitz, these books all come highly recommended. Happy reading!

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Brixton Hill by Lottie Moggach

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

The Searcher by Tana French

Twelve Books For Christmas … And After

Something for everyone here – and every one a belting story with memorable characters. Happy reading and wishing you a happy and peaceful 2022.

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Summer by Ali Smith

The Snow Song by Sally Gardner

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

The Survivors by Jane Harper

The City We Became by NK Jemisin

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

More Good Books

Another clutch of wonderful stories, all of which have stayed in my mind after I’ve finished them. Happy reading!

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

No Honour by Awais Khan

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

 

Books for Black History Month

It’s Black History Month and my union The Writers Guild is asking members to share their favourite Black writer or piece of writing to celebrate and amplify under-represented voices. I don’t want to pick just one so here are books I’ve enjoyed and recommended via #FridayReads on Twitter, and in lists on this blog. All highly recommended.

A River Called Time by Courttia Newland

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Running Out Of Road

I’m absolutely delighted with the reception that Running Out of Road has received. The story describes  a race against time, played out in the brooding wilderness, the limestone gorges and gritstone edges of the Peak District. At the heart of it is eleven-year-old Scarlett, who is abducted and driven up into the hills, with the police in hot pursuit. Scarlett’s path collides with that of others. Ron has made a living as a house and pet sitter since quitting his career on the front line in the fire service. Dylan’s a ‘cuckoo’, dealing drugs on the county line, moving from nest to nest, picking out people who daren’t say no. One step ahead of the law. So far.

The action unfolds over a few hours on a wretched February evening, as Storm Dennis barrels in from the north bringing floods and ensuing chaos.

And here’s what reviewers are saying about it:

‘Staincliffe excels herself here with the story of a teenage girl abducted by her real father, who is on the police’s wanted list … the anguish behind life’s tragedies reveals itself in this harrowing but human drama’ Daily Mail

‘Moodily gripping’ Peterborough Telegraph

‘I was hooked from start to finish … a fab fast paced crime thriller… She’s made the Peak District character in itself’ A Knights Reads

‘Dark, visceral and compelling … complex, multi-layered and intelligent crime fiction … a superbly written crime novel and a high stakes emotional drama from a writer who always pushes the envelope and never fails to deliver’ Bookish Jottings

‘Cath Staincliffe’s writing is wonderful, bringing the brooding wilderness of the Peak District vividly to life. With fascinating characters and a gripping storyline’ Cal Turner Reviews

‘Another superb story from Cath Staincliffe’ Compulsive Readers

‘A complex, tense and absolutely gripping read’ Crime Book Junkie

‘She excels at showing what the impact of a crime has on everyone involved’ Crime Pieces

‘Kudos to the author for bringing out an Asian cop’s insecurities so well’ Debjani’s Thoughts

‘The beautiful Peak District is the backdrop for the latest novel by Cath Staincliffe, a gripping cat and mouse chase that brings together some brilliantly crafted characters’ My Chestnut Reading Tree

‘It starts with a bang as it means to go on and from the beginning the pace is relentless’ Portable Magic

‘Staincliffe is an incredible talent. Her writing moves with such a pace, unexpected twists to catch the reader out, and wonderfully created characters who leap from the pages. The reader lives and breathes alongside them. Powerful, gripping and ultimately satisfying. This is going to be up there in my top books of the year, without a doubt’ Random Things Through My Letterbox

‘A tightly plotted crime story with fascinating characters’ Short Book and Scribes

‘Each and every character on the page keeps you guessing, and you root for them all in totally different ways – not a single word or emotion is wasted on the page’ The Glass House

Running out of Road

Running Out of Road, coming in July, is a race against time, played out in the brooding wilderness, the limestone gorges and gritstone edges of the Peak District. It’s the story of eleven-year-old Scarlett, who has survived a great loss, is full of dreams for the future and a passion to protect the planet, when she is abducted and driven up into the hills, with the police in hot pursuit.

Scarlett’s path collides with that of others. Ron has made a living as a house and pet sitter since quitting his career on the front line in the fire service. He’s currently looking after a place deep in the Derbyshire Peaks. The solitude suits him. And managing animals is so much simpler than coping with other people. Dylan’s a ‘cuckoo’, dealing drugs on the county line, moving from nest to nest, picking out people who daren’t say no. Keeping his head down, one step ahead of the law. So far. But now everything’s falling apart.

The action unfolds over a few hours on a wretched February evening, as Storm Dennis barrels in from the north bringing floods and ensuing chaos.

Writing Running out of Road during lockdown, when I could no longer go walking in the hills, allowed me to escape there in my imagination, and become engrossed in Scarlett’s adventure. And I do hope you’ll get the same pleasure from reading it as I did writing it.

Available on offer to pre-order now.

Have You Read…

A new batch of recommendations from me. Superb storytellers whose books made me marvel, made me laugh and cry, hold my breath and – at the end of one of them – shout out loud. Happy reading!

November Road by Lou Berney

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Three-Fifths by John Vercher

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

Body Language by A. K. Turner

Quiet Acts of Violence

‘Jade was buzzing, little shocks and fizzes of adrenalin sparking through her blood. Always the way when they were called to a death. The end of everything for somebody. The start of something for Jade.’

Quiet Acts of Violence is out in paperback now. Also available as an ebook and audiobook.

Quiet Acts of Violence sees the return of DI Donna Bell and DC Jade Bradshaw, the detectives from The Girl in the Green Dress. But you don’t have to have read that book to enjoy this one. In Quiet Acts of Violence they are investigating the death of a newborn baby and hunting for her missing mother. The background to the novel is the landscape of austerity and inequality, the terrible poverty it has resulted in, the immiserating effects on people’s everyday lives. It’s something I’ve been even more acutely aware of seeing the toll of coronavirus on our poorest, most disadvantaged communities and disproportionately affecting BAME and disabled people. We have learned how dependent we are on each other, and how much we rely on those in low paid and insecure work for many of our most essential services.

Donna and Jade are two very different characters. Donna is white, middle-aged and married with a large family. She is a skilled professional, a steady hand on the tiller and one who will give her all for the victims of the crimes she investigates. Jade is in her twenties, of Pakistani and Irish parentage, and has overcome a very difficult childhood to find a role as a police officer. Jade is often impulsive, impatient to get results. She’s also vulnerable, sometimes besieged by the demons from her past and the trauma she carries. I’ve loved spending more time with Donna and Jade in the writing of this novel and hope to come back to them again before too long. Meanwhile – happy reading. (Though if you weep that’s even better).

‘Timely and smart’ Crime Monthly

‘Strong, damaged, lippy northern female police officers — edgy Jade and stressed Donna do not disappoint … Ordinary people are made to matter, as the case reveals some difficult truths’ Sunday Times Crime Club

‘Staincliffe is one of the few authors who can combine political anger with great entertainment and somehow never lose sight of either’ Morning Star

‘Moving and sad … and has all the pace and suspense of a good police procedural’ Ann Cleeves

‘A topical, emotionally charged and compelling story’ Compulsive Readers

‘Combines excellent writing with a clear-eyed view of contemporary issues’ CRIMEPIECES

‘A powerful story, excellently written with compassion and painful honesty. Outstanding’ Random Things Through My Letterbox