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

Binge Reading

I love to read, I’m an unashamed addict and I get the jitters and can’t settle when I’m close to finishing a book and haven’t another one at hand. That usually necessitates a trip to the library or bookshop or some online browsing. Mainly thanks to Twitter, I am now getting way more word of mouth recommendations for books than I ever did in the past and so I  keep a list of those I fancy the sound of, and gradually they migrate to my TBR pile. The ones I like, go on my regular blog list of recommended reads. The ones I don’t, I ditch as soon as I realise they are not for me. I read quite fast, usually in the gap between the end of the working day and the start of my TV viewing – and often in the bath. Always when I travel. But lately I’ve noticed I’m sometimes going too fast, scrambling down the page, scooping up the gist of a story, racing to get to the end. I don’t think this is simply because I read a lot of ‘page turners’ and thrillers, I think it’s probably the result of that teetering pile of books I know I’ve still got to read. An insidious pressure (all of my own making I’m sure) to ‘get through’ another title and tick it off. I always bolted my food as a kid and do even now if I’m not concentrating: hungry and eager to fill the empty space but not really savouring the food. This style of reading feels a little like that though I still relish the books and enjoy being wrapped up in the story. But reading is such a joy I don’t want there to be even the slightest stress connected to it. I’m not sure what I can do about it; certain books, with more lyrical or poetic prose, make it harder to gobble them down, the writing demands a slower read but I don’t want to limit my diet, I like to read widely. And I like to spread the word. As do so many of you!

What I Read On My Holiday

I was away in Corfu last month with the luxury of lots of time to read.  The books I enjoyed took me to all sorts of different destinations from The Isle of Lewis to the Arizona Desert, Dublin to Johannesburg, London to Glencoe, Amsterdam to Glasgow and Majorca (twice). So I arrived back home well refreshed and well travelled.  Thanks to everyone who recommended these titles to me, on Twitter and in person.

The Blackhouse by Peter May

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay

Corrag by Susan Fletcher

The Old School by P.M. Newton

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Faithful Place by Tana French

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

The Shadow Tracer by M.G. Gardiner


Ruthless 30

It’s been a very special week with Letters To My Daughters Killer featured on ITV3 Specsavers Crime Thriller Club on Monday and Ruthless, the third Scott and Bailey novel, out today 9th October to coincide with the new TV series. Today is also Super Thursday. 315 new titles will be in the bookshops and you can find out more about the special day here and here. It’s just three years since I started writing the novels based on the TV show.  I was a big fan of Scott & Bailey before I was approached to write a prequel and it was an honour, as well as a terrifying prospect, to be asked.   I loved the way the series captured female friendships – and fallings out – and the three strong women at the heart of it who are all gifted at the job they do.  Also impressive was the way the investigations were faithful to police procedure and reflected a Manchester I knew.  I’m delighted to be receiving some wonderful reviews for Ruthless.  If you’d like a taster of the novel you can hear an extract from the audio book version.


In case you missed Monday’s Crime Thriller Club, it included me talking about writing Letters To My Daughter’s Killer and a critique of the book from authors Mark Billingham, Sophie Hannah, Kate Mosse, Peter James and Val McDermid as well as guest actor Stephen Tompkinson and host Bradley Walsh.  I was really thrilled by the responses and have been walking on air ever since! You can watch the show on itvplayer - it is Episode 4. The awards ceremony is on October 24th in London and screened on 27th October.  One of the six books selected for the Crime Thriller Book Club will be chosen as best read.  Details of all the shortlists for the awards can be found here.

Now – where’s that bubbly?

Crime Thriller Club

My big news is that Letters To My Daughter’s Killer has been chosen for this year’s Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club.  Six titles will be  featured in the weekly series Crime Thriller Club starting on ITV3 on September 15th and running up to The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards on Sunday October 26th.  (Look out for me in one of the episodes. We had great fun filming this in Manchester earlier this year – though the use of Police Crime Scene Tape and white SOCO suits caused some consternation for the neighbours!)  It’s a real honour to have the book selected.  You can see the shortlists here Happy reading!

Instant Trauma

Can’t get email back.  Can’t hover by the pillar box waiting with a sickly smile for the man with his bunch of keys.  Two clicks of a mouse and it’s gone. Strafing through the ether.  You knew you should have tidied up your address book, if only you’d paused after that first tap, registered the question about which recipient you meant.  But no, tap, tap and zip it went.  Sizzling its way into Auntie June’s Inbox: <> instead of your mate Steph’s: <>.  All the graphic details of the night spent with your new man.  And you couldn’t wait could you?

*Originally published by (now archived)

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.