Looking for some gritty Manc Crime Fiction?
Get yourself a brew, cos there’s quite a few!
Greater Manchester is a big place, with a population of almost 3,000,000 people. So it stands to reason that there are plenty of great crime thriller authors here, especially when you consider that Roget’s Thesaurus comes from Manchester!
Take a browse through this impressive list of born, bred and honorary Mancunian writers who set their excellent books right here in the best city. This list includes several superstar authors, as well as plenty of new and emerging writers that you may not have come across before. (If any are missing, please get in touch and help put it right.)
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Alex Walters has worked in the oil industry, broadcasting and banking and runs a consultancy working mainly in the criminal justice sector including police, prisons and probation.
As Michael Walters, he has published three crime novels set in modern-day Mongolia now republished in new re-edited editions. As Alex Walters he has written two books set in and around Manchester and featuring the undercover officer, Marie Donovan, Trust No-One and Nowhere to Hide, three books featuring DCI Kenny Murrain, Late Checkout, Dark Corners and Snow Fallen and four books set on Scotland’s Black Isle featuring DI Alec McKay and DS Ginny Horton, Candles and Roses, Death Parts Us, Their Final Act and Expiry Date. He has also written Winterman, a historical crime thriller set in the East Anglian fens in 1947. His latest book, Small Mercies, the first in a new series set in the Peak District was published in May 2020.
After many years in Manchester, Alex now lives in the Scottish Highlands with his wife, occasional sons and too many cats.
Bill Rogers has written fifteen crime thriller novels to date – all of them based in and around the City of Manchester. Born in London with four generations of Metropolitan Police behind him – his grandfather was a founding member and head of the Flying Squad – he moved north forty-nine years ago and fell in love with the people, the countryside and the City of Manchester. He captures the spirit, exuberance and history of the region in his novels, as well as some of the dark underbelly in which his protagonists work. He has also written a book of walks – Caton’s Manchester – featuring many of the settings for his novels.
Bill’s novels form two series. The first eleven titles feature DCI Tom Caton and his Greater Manchester Police Force Major Incident Team. His latest series, published by Thomas And Mercer, features one of Caton’s former colleagues, Joanne Stuart, headhunted by the National Crime Agency as a Senior Investigator. The Pick,The Spade, And The Crow, and The Falcon Tattoo, both published in 2016, and The Tangled Lock published in the Autumn/Winter of 2017, and The Blow Out, published in 2019.
Bill draws not only on his family background but also on his experiences whilst working closely with Greater Manchester Police as Principal Inspector of Schools for the City of Manchester, and Head of the School Improvement Service. All of his titles have featured in the top ten paid-for bestsellers in the Amazon Kindle British Crime Fiction category. The Cleansing, Backwash, and The Pick The Spade, And The Crow achieved #1 Bestseller status in British Crime Fiction, Thriller, and Police Procedurals categories. Part police procedural, part crime thriller, all of Bill’s titles can also be read as stand-alone novels.
Cath Staincliffe is a best-selling, award-winning novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV’s hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Cath’s books have been short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association best first novel award, for the Dagger in the Library twice and twice for the Short Story Dagger, winning in 2012. She was a winner of the WGGB Best Radio Drama Award in 2019. Cath’s Sal Kilkenny private eye series features a single-parent sleuth working the mean streets of Manchester. Her debut Looking For Trouble was serialised on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4. Trio, a stand-alone novel moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s, informed by Cath’s own experience. Letters To My Daughter’s Killer was selected for Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club in 2014 and featured on ITV3’s Crime Thriller Club. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey novels based on the popular UK TV series. Cath created the probate detective series Legacy for BBC Radio 4 and guest writes on the Stone police drama.
Cath’s recent stand-alone novels examine the impact of crime on ordinary families. The Girl in the Green Dress was inspired by her experience as the parent of a transgender child. Cath’s latest book, Quiet Acts of Violence, sees detective duo DI Donna Bell and DC Jade Bradshaw investigating the death of a newborn baby and launching a hunt for her missing mother. Cath is one of the founding members of Murder Squad – a group of Northern crime writers who give readings, talks and signings around the country. Cath was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, UK and now lives in Manchester, Lancashire with her family. You can follow her on Twitter, @CathStaincliffe, where she hangs about when she should be busy writing!
Chris Simms has worked in airports, nightclubs, post offices and telesales centres. Along with nominations for Crime Writers’ Association Daggers and the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year award for his novels and short stories, Chris was selected by Waterstones as one of their ’25 Authors for the Future’.
The idea for his debut novel, Outside the White Lines, came to him in the early hours of the morning while broken down on the hard shoulder of the M40.
His series of DI Spicer novels – psychological thrillers set very firmly in Manchester – follow the police detective’s fortunes as he pursues mad, bad and deadly individuals through the city’s ever-evolving landscape.
In October 2012, Scratch Deeper was launched – a new series featuring Detective Constable Iona Khan of Manchester Police’s Counter Terrorism Unit. This was followed-up by another DC Khan novel, A Price To Pay.
Most recently, Chris has written two supernatural thrillers, Sing Me To Sleep and Rats’ Nest. Both are receiving Amazon reader reviews that focus on the novels’ frightening qualities.
Chris says he is drawn to books that give insights into unusual minds. The twisted desires of Frederick in John Fowles’, The Collector; the tormented thoughts of Scobie in Graham Greene’s, Heart of the Matter; the violent urges of Francie in Patrick McCabe’s, Butcher Boy are all books Chris states had a major influence in shaping him as a writer.
Col Bury is the former crime editor of award winning ezine, Thrillers, Killers n Chillers. His short stories can be found in many anthologies, including, The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime 9, 10 & 11. His fiction is scattered around the net, at the likes of A Twist Of Noir and The Flash Fiction Offensive, as well as two short story collections on Amazon. Col is busy developing a crime novel series and hopes to ‘grace’ the bookshelves soon.
Col lives in Manchester, UK with his wonderful wife and two beautiful children. When he’s not working, being a daddy, writing, reading or editing, he shoots pool or watches his beloved Manchester City FC. Col warns; “The Manchester Series’ is not for the faint of heart. I promise twists and dark wit of the true ‘Brit Grit’ variety, plus characters to remember. After eBooks of gritty, short crime stories and flash fiction, the plan is to culminate via a crescendo of novels on shelves, featuring my unusual cop, Jack Striker.”
David Beckler writes fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, David spent his first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where his love of reading developed. After dropping out of university David became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start his own business.
He began writing in 2010 and uses his work experiences to add realism to his fiction.
The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of characters support David Beckler’s protagonists. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and the second, The Profit Motive, on December 16th 2019. The third, Unprotected, came out out in 2020. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.
David lives in Manchester, his adopted home since 1984. In his spare time he tries to keep fit – an increasingly difficult undertaking, listens to music, socialises and feeds his voracious book habit.
David Menon is originally from Derby, England but has lived all over the UK and for several years he lived in Paris. He left a long career in the airline industry in 2009 to pursue his long held dream of becoming a writer of crime fiction. He’s into all the arts of literature, TV, film, theatre, and he’s a seriously devoted fan of American singer/songwriter/poet Stevie Nicks who he calls ‘the voice of my interior world’. He’s interested in politics and keeping up to date with international affairs, he loves travelling, Indian food and is rather partial to a gin and tonic, heavy on the ‘g’, light on the ‘t’ followed by a glass or three of red wine. Well, that doesn’t make him a bad person.
Emma Salisbury grew up in Cheetham Hill before moving to Salford. Emma writes gritty, crime fiction that focuses on the ‘why’ dunnit as well as the ‘who’. Emma worked for a housing association supporting ex-offenders into work which provided her with a lot of inspiration for her stories. Emma has featured in the Sunday Mail and on BBC Radio Scotland, Talk Radio Europe and a number of other news and media outlets, her novels have regularly been in the top ten Hardboiled chart and she is a recipient of the Amazon All-Star bonus for being one of the most read authors in the UK.
Fans of Mark Billingham and Angela Marsons should try Emma’s Manchester police procedural series. If you like hard-boiled crime writers Stuart MacBride, Denise Mina and Ian Rankin then Emma’s Scottish crime series is for you.
Heather Burnside grew up in Gorton, a working-class area of Manchester famed as the original location for the TV series, Shameless. She moved from Gorton to Longsight and spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester.
During the 1990s the estate became the headquarters for one of Manchester’s predominant gangs. It regularly featured in the local press due to shootings and drug-related problems. Heather draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels.
After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. During that time she had many articles published in well-known magazines and went on to run a writing services business before focusing on her novels.
Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester which she shares with her two grown-up children.
Helen H Durrant
Helen H Durrant sets her books in the area she has lived in for many years. The towns and villages that sit in the shelter of the Pennine hills. This is an area between two counties, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and between the city and the hills. It offers a rich mix of the industrial and the countryside and all the character therein.
Helen always planned to write crime novels. But until she retired from full-time work in a local further education college, it had to go on the back burner. Once she did retire – there was no excuse. She now writes full-time. Retirement proper will have to wait!
Currently there are ten books in the ‘Calladine & Bayliss’ series available – Dead Wrong, Dead Silent, Dead List, Dead Lost, Dead & Buried, Dead Nasty, Dead Jealous, Dead Bad, Dead Guilty and the latest – Dead Wicked.
When growing up, James fell in love with the Cold War Thrillers of John le Carre and the dark world of Fleming’s Bond. He combined this with his passion for the history and culture of Slovakia and the Czech Republic, to write his first novel, Escape to Perdition, in 2015, and its 2017 follow up, The Prague Ultimatum.
A passionate European and opponent of Brexit, James’s third book, Blood, White and Blue, was written in part as a tribute to the EU citizens living in Britain, scapegoated and abused since the referendum.
James is married to a Slovak national, they have two children and live in the North West.
Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist. Joel writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him). His first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015.
His works of fiction include the bestselling Sam Williams trilogy and the psychological thriller The Lies I Tell. When not spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, cook, play the piano, and make up excuses to avoid walking the dog. There’s the MMA thing, too, but he doesn’t like to show off.
Joseph Knox was born and raised in and around Stoke-On-Trent and Manchester, where he worked in bars and bookshops before moving to London. He runs, writes and reads compulsively.
Sirens, his debut novel, was a Sunday Times bestseller, and his work has now been translated into 18 languages.
The Sleepwalker, his third novel, was released in July, 2019.
Karen Woods was born and raised in the City Of Manchester and is proud to be a Mancunian! Being raised within an Inner City Area inspired Karen to take an unorthodox and very well received approach within her writing.
Karen left school without any formal qualifications and obtained her inspiration from attending an adult literacy course which was offered by her former employers. Karen writes from the heart and always keeps it real to life and she writes about subjects we can all relate to. Having lived a colourful life she uses her own experiences to write her books.
Karen’s fan base is growing every day and soon everyone will know the name Karen Woods. Karen believes that everyone has the power to change their lives around with self belief and determination. “Life doesn’t give. We have to take what we can.”
With a whopping 8 kindle store #1 bestsellers to his name and more than 140 individual genre #1 chart-toppers, Keith Houghton is one of the bestselling crime fiction authors on Amazon, selling equally well on both sides of the Atlantic. His books have been awarded “Best Books of the Year” status by Amazon Editors, published in Italy and Turkey, and nominated for the Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards. All-told, he has sold in excess of 900,000 books and 80,000 audiobooks in 14 countries, and has more than 10,000 Five-Star ★★★★★ Reviews across Amazon, Audible and Goodreads.
For Keith, one of his proudest writing moments was seeing his 3 Gabe Quinn thrillers in the Top 5 bestselling books in the UK Kindle Store all at the same time — and all thanks to his thousands of loyal reader fans.
Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 crime bestsellers in the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Singapore. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States. His book, Ten Birthdays, won the RNA award for Young Adult Novel of the Year in 2018 and Close To You won the International Thriller Award for best ebook in 2020.
As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.
Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry spent way too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.
When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike, hikes up something, or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.
L M Krier
Retired journalist, freelance copywriter and copy editor Lesley Tither writes writes crime fiction, the Ted Darling Crime Series, under the name L M Krier.
The crime books are set in Lesley’s home-town, Stockport, on the edge of Greater Manchester. Books in the series: The First Time Ever, Baby’s Got Blue Eyes, Two Little Boys, When I’m Old and Grey, Shut Up and Drive, Only the Lonely, Wild Thing, Walk On By, Preacher Man, Cry for the Bad Man, Where the Girls Are, Down Down Down and The Cuckoo is a Pretty Bird.
All books are available in eBook and paperback format and the series prequel, The First Time Ever, is now available as an audiobook, read by Christopher Corcoran.
Lesley is a former journalist, working as both a criminal court and coroner’s court reporter. She also worked as a case tracker for the Crown Prosecution Service, and for a firm investigating irregularities in offshore finance. Her other jobs have included owning and running a holiday riding centre and acting as a ‘charity mugger’, lying in wait to sign up shoppers for a wildlife charity.
She secured her first major writing contract at the age of sixteen when she sold a television piece to a Hollywood production company, for what seemed at the time to be a fortune. Her newspaper editor father claimed it was more than he had ever been paid for a single piece of writing.
Her interests centre around nature and wildlife and encompass dogs, wild camping and organic gardening. She lives in the Auvergne region of Central France and holds dual French/British nationality. Her current dogs are two rescued border collies.
M J Lee
Martin spent 25 years of his life working for advertising companies in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai. As a copywriter and a creative director, he has won awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York, the LIAA, and the United Nations.
Today, Martin is a writer of contemporary crime, historical and genealogical mystery novels.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.
Born in Warrington, Mandasue Heller spent many of her childhood years performing in am-dram productions, appearing in plays and pantomimes, and singing in an Old Tyme Music Hall troupe. This love of the stage carried through to adulthood, and at 18 she began to tour working men’s clubs with her country & western band, Missouri Sunshine. She joined Equity during that time, and regularly appeared in such shows as Coronation Street, Brookside, Albion Market, Watching, Boys From The Blackstuff, etc.
After moving to Manchester in the early 80’s, she immersed herself in the underground music scene, fronting an original rock band, and session-singing for various blues, soul, and jazz bands. Forced by illness to temporarily quit singing in the 90’s, she turned her hand to writing, using the notorious Hulme Crescents, where she had spent her first 10 years in Manchester, as the backdrop.
Her first written piece concerned a real-life incident, when a man had broken into her house in the early hours and attacked her as she lay sleeping with her 10 week old son in her arms. He hit her on the head with a claw-hammer, fracturing her skull and leaving a 5” gash. But it was the psychological after-effects that affected her most deeply, and she hoped that writing about it would exorcise the hold it still had over her. The finished piece was too personal for anybody else to read, but she had enjoyed the process of writing, so decided to try her hand at fiction instead – and her first book, The Front, was snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton. She has written 13 books since then, and is currently working on the 14th.
Mother to 3 grown children, and grandmother of 4, Mandasue still lives in Manchester, and spends her time between books and family commitments locked away in the studio, writing and recording music albums with her producer/musician partner, Wingrove Ward.
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.
Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers, tackling the subject of trans-national trafficking, were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she is also the author of Born Bad and The Cover-Up – the critically acclaimed hit series about Manchester’s notorious gangland.
Tightrope is the start of a brand new series, set mainly in the famous footballer-belt of Hale, Cheshire, and introducing flawed but fearless northern PI, Bev Saunders who risks everything to fight the corner of her vulnerable client. A second Bev Saunders novel will follow in early 2020. So far, Marnie has sold an impressive 250,000 books and counting…
When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime-thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting about social media trends and discussing the world of crime-fiction.
Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.
Nick Oldham was born in April 1956 in a house in the tiny village of Belthorn – mums were very hardy in those days – up on the moors high above Blackburn, Lancashire.After leaving college then spending a depressing year in a bank, he joined Lancashire Constabulary at the age of nineteen in 1975 and served in many operational postings around the county. Most of his service was spent in uniform, but the final ten years were spent as a trainer and a manager in police training. He retired in 2005 at the rank of inspector.
He lives with his wife, Belinda, on the outskirts of Preston.
Nick is the author of the popular ‘Henry Christie’ series of books.
Patricia Dixon lives in Manchester and is the best selling author of eight novels.
She has written stories set in her home city and the Loire, a place to close to her heart and from where she gathers inspiration for her characters and tales.
In May 2018 she signed with Bloodhound Books, leading crime and thriller publishers.
Recently Patricia was long-listed for The Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize and has been nominated in the Crime Fiction Addict Readers Choice Awards. Her books regularly appear in the top slots for readers and bloggers book of the year.
Paul Finch is a former cop and journalist now turned best-selling crime and thriller writer, and is the author of the very popular DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and DC Lucy Clayburn novels.
Paul first cut his literary teeth penning episodes of the British TV crime drama, The Bill, and has written extensively in horror, fantasy and science-fiction, including for Dr Who.
However, he is probably best known for his crime/thriller novels, specifically the Heckenburg police-actioners, of which there are seven to date, and the Clayburn procedurals, of which there are two. The first three books in the Heck line achieved official best-seller status, the second being the fastest pre-ordered title in HarperCollins history, while the first Lucy Clayburn novel made the Sunday Times Top 10 list. The Heck series alone has accrued over 2,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Paul is a native of Wigan, Lancashire, where he still lives with his wife and business partner, Cathy.
Phil Martin grew up in the creative cauldron of nineties Manchester when Madchester rocked the charts and the Hacienda ruled clubland. The city has shaped him as a writer. Phil Martin is a proud Mancunian who writes thrillers and crime stories based on the fine folk of Manchester and Salford and sells them online as ebooks.
The Little Girl Lost trilogy is an international thriller taking in Manchester, London, Morocco, Barcelona, Monza, Zurich, Lake Como, Moscow, Chechnya, Buenos Aires, Georgia… and Milton Keynes.
Rachel Abbott’s debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again, The Sixth Window, Come a Little Closer, And So It Begins and The Shape of Lies. Her most recent novel, Right Behind You, was released in January 2020.
Rachel’s novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 4 million copies in the English language.
In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.
Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.
Rob Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man, Morte Point, The Penny Black, Till Morning Is Nigh and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.
Rob Parker writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.
Robin Roughley lives in Wigan in the the North West of England (God’s coal bunker) the mythical land of the pie, clogs that spark and whippets on pieces of string.
He is the author of twenty six novels – twenty of which feature the force of nature that is DS Lasser.
He also writes the haunting DS Marnie Hammond series and Stormcock the first in the explosive Plymouth series, plus Pinches of Salt the first in the dark comedy series featuring TV presenter Charlie Roebuck.
If you love your crime fiction crammed with square jawed heroes driving flash cars and glorious women who shimmer with inner light, then the novels are probably not for you.
However, if you prefer your characters to be flawed, with a sprinkling of dandruff and old acne scars,the plots to be laced with dark humour, then give them a try.
Steven Suttie was born in Kirkcaldy, in Scotland, during the latter part of the last century. Okay, so nearly 45 years ago. He grew up in Tameside and now lives in rural Lancashire. Steven is married and has four children. Steven writes gripping, down-to-earth page-turners which are usually centred around a real-life topic which is dominating the news. This unique story-telling style enables Steven to write exciting, fast-paced crime thrillers whilst inadvertently exploring the themes behind some of Britain’s biggest social problems.
Steven’s best-selling book is a fast paced crime thriller called “One Man Crusade.” Set in Manchester, this was the first of the DCI Andy Miller series and went on to become an Amazon UK best seller in several kindle categories. One Man Crusade is the story of a serial killer who has won the hearts and minds of the British public. This story has plenty of twists and turns which keep you reading for just “one more chapter.” The story generated a great fondness for the DCI in charge of this investigation, which in turn led to Steven writing further “Miller Thrillers.”