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Serial killers and perfectly plotted murder mysteries at Granite Noir in Aberdeen

By David Porter

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Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s crime writing Festival, returns to the city this week with a packed programme of events for crime writing fans of all ages, with legendary detectives, code-breakers, spies, serial killers, perfectly plotted psychological thrillers, darkly comic horror, dramatic theatrical performances and murder mystery movies.

The award-winning festival, now in its eighth year, darkens the doors of venues across the city including Aberdeen Arts Centre, The Anatomy Rooms, the Music Hall and Lemon Tree over six days from February 20 - 25 .

David Suchet comes to the Music Hall, Aberdeen
David Suchet comes to the Music Hall, Aberdeen

Sharon Burgess, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, said: “We’re really proud of how this year’s festival is shaping up – we’ve extended the main event to six days, which makes this the longest Granite Noir to date.

"Some of the biggest names in the genre will be joining us alongside a selection of the best up and coming writers for what’s sure to be an unforgettable festival.”

For over 25 years David Suchet captivated millions worldwide as Agatha Christie’s elegant Belgian detective.

Beyond Poirot, this Emmy award-winning actor has been celebrated for his portrayal of iconic roles such as Lady Bracknell, Cardinal Benelli and Freud.

Following Suchet’s first appearance in Aberdeen on Tuesday, February 20 he will also take part in an additional matinee conversation on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 21.

Poirot and More: A Retrospective offers audiences the chance to meet the actor behind the detective and the many faces he’s portrayed on stage and screen over a career spanning five decades.

Poirot fans can also enjoy a conversation with Sophie Hannah, The Sunday Times and New York Times best- selling author of crime fiction who has published four new Poirot novels. She will be taking audience questions on her latest in the series, Hercule Poirot’s Silent Night, a dark and baffling Christmas mystery after a special screening of her new murder mystery musical film The Mystery of Mr E.

Lisa Jewell
Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell, the internationally best-selling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages, discusses her latest masterpiece and upcoming film adaptations while thriller writer Charles Cumming is joined by two of Scotland’s leading novelists Denise Mina and Louise Welsh to explore their most recent novels – a blinding espionage thriller, the Florentine world around the misogynist, anti-corruption campaigner Savonarola and a darkly comic, gritty exploration of organised crime and moral compromise in Glasgow.

The humour continues with Alice Bell’s Grave Expectations, a fast-paced and hilarious debut novel and Olga Wojtas who brings the latest instalment of her Miss Blaine’s Prefect series.

The strong Scottish strand extends across the programme with the Literature at Lunchtime events which welcome Michael J Malone, the author of two poetry collections and six novels, to discuss his latest gothic thriller The Murmers and Alex Nye who presents Gallow Falls, a chilling mystery set on a remote Scottish estate.

Phil Miller and Ajay Close are joined by E S Thomson to share their stories of times past and Aberdeen’s own Emma Christie introduces her brand-new thriller.

Lawyers Catherine Kirwan and Ruth Mancini both bring experience from their ‘day jobs’ to their crime fiction and discuss their clever and compulsive psychological thrillers.

Dr Marie Cassidy
Dr Marie Cassidy

Marie Cassidy was Ireland’s first female state pathologist who has now turned her hand to fiction and her debut, Body of Truth is a page-turner.

Granite Noir continues to champion new writing and this year welcomes Alice Slater who has rocked the book world with her perfectly plotted debut Death of a Bookseller, Lynsey May with her compelling and darkly funny Weak Teeth and Adam Oyebanji, Maud Woolf and Briar Ripley Page who all showcase their first novels.

Award-winning authors Callum McSorley, whose debut Squeaky Clean was inspired by his years working at a car wash in Glasgow’s East End and Sophie White, a novelist and podcaster from Dublin who brings her sixth book, and debut horror, are joined by DV Bishop who introduces the third in his prize-winning Cesare Aldo series.

While Granite Noir is predominantly a crime fiction festival there is something for everyone, and Jackie Uí Chionna unveils the true story of an extraordinary woman at the forefront of British codebreaking.

Emily Anderson may have appeared to the world as the epitome of ordinary but was, in truth, anything but. David Swindle, the Scottish detective who caught serial killer Peter Tobin, delivers a chilling, thrilling and gripping criminology lecture exploring the cases, the circumstances and the detective’s perspective on what really went on in The Makings of a Murderer!

Staged in The Anatomy Rooms, Ten Feet Tall Theatre and Aberdeen Performing Arts present Scared To Death.

This dramatic performance dissects the details of the investigation into the discovery in Aberdeen of a lifeless body of a child, a historic true crime that marked a pivotal moment for forensics in the justice system.

For those looking for something a little lighter, CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation returns with the rip-roaring crime comedy made up entirely on the spot in a fully-improvised, witty and absurd murder mystery where the audience creates the crime. The ever-popular Dr Kathryn Harkup returns with her Poisoned Afternoon Tea, an Agatha Christie inspired afternoon of fabulous food and puzzling poisons, and Cocktails – Shaken not Stirred where she explores the exploits of Ian Fleming’s James Bond over a few glasses of 007’s favourite cocktails.

Events for children and families include a fantastic, interactive fun-filled picture book event with award winning author Alan Windram featuring One Button Benny and the Dinosaur Dilemma. M G Leonard shares her birdwatching adventures as she talks about writing her award-winning Twitchers series and Patrice Lawrence needs her audience to help the Elemental Detectives solve a mystery on the streets of eighteenth-century London in the Case of the Chaos Monster.

A series of workshops are open to all comers. The Scottish BPOC Writers Network hosts an online Writers of Colour workshop, for black writers and writers of colour based in Scotland. A Zine Noir workshop welcomes both accomplished makers and beginners to a laid-back crafting evening making zines inspired by the Festival themes. Sue Lawrence tackles Food and Its Place in Fiction examining how food can be integral to the plot, how best to work it into the story and its impact and lasting legacy. Finally, author and poet Shane Strachan leads a creative writing workshop using Aberdeen-themed artworks as stimuli for writing new poetry or prose set in the city.

The Granite City has always had strong links with Scandinavia, and this year Granite Noir welcomes authors from Norway and Iceland. Agnes Ravatn is joined by Jørn Lier Horst, a former Senior Investigating Officer at Vestfold Police District, as they discuss their latest novels, and one of Iceland’s best-selling crime writers Sólveig Pálsdóttir is joined by Óskar Guðmundsson who brings the first of his books to be translated into English.

Events continue into the evenings with Shane Strachan and Hannah Lavery who bring together friends to thrill with dark poetry and the Scottish BPOC Writers Network who curate an evening of chilling stories.

Launching on Tuesday 20, Gunpowder, Tattoos and Transportation: Aberdeen’s Inked Convicts is a new free exhibition from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives which explores how nineteenth century European criminologists tried to establish a connection between tattoos and the criminal underclass. The exhibition brings back to life the tattoos of some of the city’s most notorious criminals, sentenced to transportation or hard labour for crimes ranging from thievery to murder, and explores their history and meaning.

In an accompanying talk Dr Ashleigh Black, Archive Assistant at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, takes a closer look at the lives of the Victorian working class who were too poor to afford jewellery. Tattoos, for which all you needed was a little gunpowder and a needle, were the next best thing.

Details of all events in the 2024 Granite Noir Programme can be found at aberdeenperformingarts.com/granite-


Tickets for all Granite Noir events are on sale at aberdeenperformingarts.com/granite-noir, by calling 01224 641122 and in person from the Box Office at the Music Hall and His Majesty’s Theatre.

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