September is the perfect time for #comfortread for #rwpchat

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Reading is tiring Reading is tiring, but books are comfortable by Jerzy Kociatkiewicz Flickr Commons

The very act of reading is a comfort to book lovers, regardless of what is being read. Reading itself reduces stress quickly and reliably, but sometimes we need to go straight to our old favourites for ultimate comfort. Jane Eyre, of course, is a beloved happy place, whether in book or film/television form, and many classics act in the same way. Re-reading can be very comforting, for children and adults, so don’t be afraid to revisit childhood favourites. Perhaps an afternoon of childhood games would be just the ticket.

Nigella Lawson finds cooking itself comforting, and has many recipes for bolstering food. Jamie Oliver also understands the power of food to comfort. If cooking is more a chore than a hobby for you, you may like to knit a scarf, some socks or something from…

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Call for Abstracts: A Study in Sidekicks: The Detective’s Assistant in Crime Fiction

Call for Abstracts: A Study in Sidekicks: The Detective’s Assistant in Crime Fiction

Editors: Dr Lucy Andrew (University of Chester), Samuel Saunders (Liverpool John Moores University)

‘I am lost without my Boswell’, Sherlock Holmes says of his trusty sidekick Dr John Watson in ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ (1891). Biographer, narrator, observer, assistant, companion, conscience, foil, fool, audience surrogate – the role of the detective’s sidekick is multifaceted, complex and continually evolving.

This collection aims to explore the changing representations and functions of the detective’s sidekick across a range of forms and subgenres of crime fiction from the nineteenth century to the present day. Forms may include: magazine short stories, serial or non-serial novels, ‘penny dreadfuls’, juvenile story papers, dime and half-dime novels, comics and graphic novels, radio drama, stage plays, film and television, video games. Genres may include: sensation fiction, the locked-room mystery, Golden Age detective fiction (including the clue puzzle and the hard-boiled detective novel), the police procedural, historical crime fiction, supernatural crime fiction, the serial killer thriller, the psychothriller.

The collection aims to pose and explore a number of questions, including:

*   When did the detective’s sidekick first appear and why?
*   How do we define the sidekick? What is the distinction between the partner and the sidekick?
*   What functions does the detective’s sidekick perform?(How) do these functions change over time?
*   (How) does the representation of the sidekick vary between different forms and subgenres of crime fiction?
*   At which point in crime-fiction’s development was the sidekick’s importance at its peak?Is the sidekick tradition declining in the twenty-first century?

Topics may include but are not limited to:

*   The origins and development of the sidekick
*   The functions of the sidekick
*   Detective/sidekick relationships
*   The female sidekick
*   The child sidekick
*   The animal sidekick (e.g. Jerry Lee (K-9); Diefenbaker (Due South); Pedro the bloodhound (Sexton Blake); Snowy (Tin Tin); Flash (Valerie Drew))
*   The sidekick in sensation fiction (e.g. Gabriel Betteredge/Ezra Jennings (The Moonstone); George Talboys (Lady Audley’s Secret); Captain Wragge (No Name))
*   The supernatural sidekick (e.g. Bob in The Dresden Files)
*   The criminal as sidekick (e.g. Dr Hannibal Lecter)
*   The sidekick as suspect/villain (e.g. Dr James Sheppard)
*   The sidekick as narrator and/or biographer (e.g. Dr John Watson)
*   The sidekick as hero(ine)
*   The sidekick as victim (e.g. George Talboys in Lady Audley’s Secret)
*   Multiple sidekicks (e.g. Mervyn Bunter, (Chief) Inspector Parkerand Harriet Vane)
*   Modern interpretations of classic sidekicks (e.g. Joan Watson in Elementary)
*   The sidekick’s comic potential
*   The sacrificial sidekick
*   The corruption of the sidekick
*   The marginality of the sidekick
*   The absence and/or loss of the sidekick
*   Romance, sexuality and the sidekick

Sidekicks under scrutiny may include:

*   Gabriel Betteredge/Ezra Jennings
*   George Talboys
*   Dr John Watson
*   Captain Arthur J.M. Hastings
*   Mervyn Bunter/Chief Inspector Parker/Harriet Vane
*   Robert ‘Robbie’ Lewis/DS James Hathaway
*   Robin (in his various incarnations: Dick Grayson; Jason Todd; Tim Drake; Damian Wayne)
*   Maddy Magellan, Carla Borrego, Joey Ross, Polly Creek (Jonathan Creek sidekicks)

Please submit an abstract of 300-350 words and biography of 50-100 words to Lucy Andrew (<>) and Sam Saunders (<>) by Monday 13th November 2017.

Completed essays of 7-8,000 words will be due by Monday 4th June 2018.

Free Crime Fiction Event: Meet Anya Lipska

An Interview with Anya Lipska


Sponsored by the International Crime Fiction Association


Friday 28th July 2017, 7pm-8.15


Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14/15 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL


Anya Lipska is a British crime writer, TV producer and scriptwriter. Lipska’s crime thriller series, set in East London, follows the adventures and investigations of Janusz Kiszka, tough guy and fixer to the Polish community, and the sharp-elbowed young police detective Natalie Kershaw. The Kiszka & Kershaw series has won critical acclaim and was recently optioned by BBC Drama as a potential TV crime series. A radio story featuring the character of Kiszka was broadcast as part of the BBC’s ‘Poles in the UK’ series on Radio 4 in 2015. Anya’s debut, Where the Devil Can’t Go, led to her selection by Val McDermid for the prestigious New Blood panel at the 2013 Harrogate Crime Festival. It was followed by Death Can’t take a Joke, and A Devil Under the Skin. She is supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in the UK, which is dedicated to bringing an understanding of Polish arts and culture to a UK audience. Anya is currently working on a new standalone novel.


Married to a Pole, Lipska lives in East London. She works as a TV producer and has credits on a wide variety of factual programmes on many different topics, whether it’s Neanderthal archaeology, saving the clouded leopard in the wild, or Italy’s Renaissance Gardens. Check out her website:

Follow Anya @AnyaLipska


This is a free event, which includes a wine reception. Registration is required please email to secure your place.

CFP: Animals in Detective Fiction

CFP: Animals in Detective Fiction

Since its origins in the mid nineteenth century, detective fiction has been populated by a huge array of beasts. If the genre begins, as is widely supposed (though not without some debate), with Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1841), then detective fiction’s very first culprit is an animal. Such beastly instances of criminal violence are among the genre’s most recurrent figurings of the non-human. Accordingly, like Poe’s frenzied ourang-outang on the spree in Paris, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) identifies a murderous aggression as part-and-parcel of animal nature. Detective fiction accommodates gentler and more law-abiding creatures too, however. Wilkie Collins, often thought of as the founder of the British detective novel, depicts the villain Count Fosco in The Woman in White (1859) surrounded by his ‘pretties’, ‘a cockatoo, two canary-birds and a whole family of white mice’, while Koko and Yum Yum, the feline sidekicks of Lillian Jackson Braun’s popular The Cat Who… series from the 1960s show animals living on the right side of the law. Detective fiction is also consistently concerned with the human as animal. From the ‘bloodhound’ Sherlock Holmes to Dashiell Hammett’s ‘wolfish’ Sam Spade, detection involves the development of beastly characteristics. Comparably, the criminal is often imagined as the animal in human form, a sign of the descent back down the evolutionary ladder towards a savage state the founder of criminology Cesare Lombroso identified as ‘criminal atavism’. Though often described as an essentially conservative form, the best examples of detective fiction unsettle rigid binarisms to intersect with developing concerns in animal studies: animal agency, the complexities of human/animal interaction, the politics and literary aesthetics of animal violence and victimhood, animal metaphor and the intricate ideological work of ‘animality’.

This volume will be the first to engage thoroughly with the manifold animal lives in this enduringly popular and continually morphing literary form. We are interested in essays that investigate the portrayal of animals in the detective fiction of any period and any region. It is anticipated that the volume will include essays that explore the genre’s most celebrated figures (Poe, Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Raymond Chandler, Georges Simenon, Hammett, Walter Mosley etc), alongside less well-known authors. We particularly welcome essays which combine questions of genre with attention to broader ethical and political concerns regarding the representation of animals, encompassing relevant theoretical developments in, for example, animal studies, posthumanism and ecocriticism.

Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

Animals as detectives

Detectives as animals


Detection, empire and the traffic in animal bodies

Red herrings

Animal victims


Queer identities

Anthropocene noir

Animal sidekicks

Detective fiction and natural history

Animal clues

Taxonomic mysteries

Animals, animality and discourses of race

Questions of species and questions of gender

Animals as weapons



The volume is intended to form part of Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature, edited by Susan McHugh, Robert McKay and John Miller (

Please email abstracts of no more than 300 words along with a short biographical statement to Ruth Hawthorn ( and John Miller ( by 31st March 2017. Essays will be commissioned by 1st May 2017 for delivery in Winter 2017/2018.



The 6th Warsaw Literary Meeting – – – I-DAY WORKSHOP

DATE: 19 May 2017

COORDINATOR: Dr Lucyna Krawczyk-Żywko, University of Warsaw


The 19th century is described as the time of sensational crimes, (developing) police detection, and “the ascent of the detective” (Shpayer-Makov); it is also the period when crime and its investigation were offered as entertainment on a mass scale in penny dreadfuls, shilling shockers, sensation fiction, and daily papers. However, it is the 18th century that witnessed the beginnings of the attempts at organising official crime prevention (with Henry Fielding, a writer and a London magistrate, as the man behind it), and Victorian detective and sensational fiction have its roots in 18th-century gothic tales and The Newgate Calendar.

We invite scholars working in various disciplines and fields of study to discuss the ways in which they perceive historic and fictional crime and detection across media and centuries.


  • Night Watch, thief-takers, Bow Street Runners,

‘bobbies’ and plainclothes policemen

  • The Metropolitan Police and/vs local police forces
  • the ways and means of detection
  • the ‘gentleman detective’ and the ‘gentleman criminal’
  • fictional female detectives’ exploits
  • class, gender, and race in detective stories
  • crime in London and in the regions; railway crimes; penal colonies
  • the spectacle of crime: public executions, crime and detection on stage
  • narrating crime in literature and the press
  • adapting and appropriating 18th- and 19th- century criminals and detectives

CFP: Captivating Criminality 4

Captivating Criminality 4

Crime Fiction: Detection, Public and Private, Past and Present

29th June – 1st July 2017

Corsham Court, Bath Spa University, UK

The Captivating Criminality Network is delighted to announce its fourth UK conference. Building upon and developing ideas and themes from the previous three successful conferences, Crime Fiction: Detection, Public and Private, Past and Present will examine what is arguably the very heart of this field of critical study.

Crime fiction narratives continue to gain in both popularity and critical appreciation. This conference will consider the ways in which both the public and private aspects of criminality and detection merge and differ from each other. The police detective, bound by laws of the state (however loosely adhered to) brings a different set of skills and methods of detection than the often maverick private eye. Of course, detection includes the criminals who attempt to avoid capture – the term ‘anti-hero’ can apply to both upholders of the law and to those evading it.

A key question that this conference will address is the enduring appeal of crime fiction and its ability to incorporate other disciplines such as Criminology, Film, and Psychology. From the ‘sensational’ novelists of the 1860s to today’s ‘Domestic Noir’ narratives, crime fiction has proved itself exceptionally proficient in expanding its parameters to encompass changes in the wider culture. With this in mind, we are interested in submissions that approach crime narratives from the earliest days of crime fiction up until the present day.

This international, interdisciplinary event is organised by Bath Spa University and the Captivating Criminality Network, and we invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing, as well as interested parties from Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, and Film and Media, to participate in this conference that will address these key elements of crime fiction and real crime. Topics may include, but are not restricted to:

  • The Detective, Then and Now
  • The Anti-Hero
  • True Crime
  • Contemporary Crime Fiction
  • Victorian Crime Fiction
  • The Golden Age
  • Hardboiled Fiction
  • Forensics and Detection
  • The Body as Evidence (silent witness)
  • Crime and Clues
  • Dostoevsky and Beyond: The Genealogy of Crime Writing
  • Fatal Femininity
  • Seduction and Sexuality
  • The Criminal Analyst
  • Others and Otherness
  • Landscape and Identity
  • The Country and the City
  • The Media and Detection
  • Adaptation and Interpretation
  • Justice Versus Punishment
  • Lack of Order and Resolution

Please send 300 word proposals to Dr. Fiona Peters ( by 13th February 2017. The abstract should include your name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please feel free to submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for suggested panels are also welcome.

Attendance fees: £155 (£105 students)

(Scottish) Crime Fiction Here and There

Nowe Szkoty

Between the 13th and 15th of September the 3rd Crime Fiction Here and There conference took place at the University of Gdańsk. This bi-annual conference is organised by Dr Agnieszka Sienkiewicz-Charlish. This year the theme of the conference was “Time and Space”.  The previous conferences included panels devoted to Scottish crime fiction and in 2014 a special guest event with a Scottish crime writer – Paul Johnston.

Although this year there was no special panel devoted to Tartan Noir, the following papers focused on Scottish authors:

  • Jean Bearton, “Converging Routes and Channels in Lin Anderson’s Paths of Dead (2014)”
  • Wolfgang Goertschacher, “Geopolitics, the Yugoslav Wars and Val McDermid’s Poetics of Crime Fiction in The Skeleton Road
  • Emma Robertson, “Reconstructing the Regional Capital in the 1990’s Noir: To Rebuild or to Remember?” (This paper focused on, among other texts, the representation of Edinburgh in Ian Rankin’s…

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The Collaborative Crime Creation

Nowe Szkoty

Have you heard about #ScotLitFest? During that virtual festival which took place in June 2016, sixteen Scottish crime writers created an exciting story on Twitter. Here is the link to the Polish version of the story translated by a group of Gdansk University students under the supervision of Dr Marta Crickmar. Enjoy!

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