A rogues’ gallery of crime writers is due to strike again this month with new novels. Check out the police files of this gang of four to find out about their histories of iniquity and their most recent felonious shenanigans.
NAME: Michael Robotham
OFFENDER BIO: Born in the summer of 1960 in a country town with ‘more dogs than people and more flies than dogs’, this journalist gone rogue now runs his criminal dealings from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. His weapon of choice is a Gold Dagger, a prized blade given to him by the UK’s Crime Writers’ Association for the best crime novel of the year. He beat Stephen King to win the dagger in 2015 for his novel Life or Death, which was inspired by double murderer Anthony Lanigan, who escaped from a maximum-security prison through a tunnel he dug over the course of two years. He has never been found, although it is believed that police are organising a warrant to search Robotham’s basement.
CRIMINAL HISTORY: Profilers have speculated that exposure to Stalin’s Hitler files during Robotham’s reporting career may have influenced his turn from respected journalist to dastardly crime writer. After working as a ghostwriter for popstars and politicians, Robotham committed his first major offence in 2004 with The Suspect, a novel about a psychologist who finds one of his patients seemingly stabbed to death by her own hand. A string of psychological thrillers followed, including Lost and Shatter, which both won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Novel, to the authorities’ increasing concern. He now has 12 major novels under his belt, and police are itching for Robotham to make a wrong move – but so far he’s slipped through their fingers every time.
MOST RECENT INFRINGEMENT: The Secrets She Keeps. The one thing Agatha looks forward to all day at her shelf-stacking job is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. She, like Agatha, is pregnant, and their due dates fall within the same month. Now that they have something in common, Agatha finally musters the courage to speak to her. Does it matter that she doesn’t tell Meghan the truth about herself? That her life is a knot of dark secrets? The lives of these two women become dangerously entangled until their secrets are exposed by one shocking act that cannot be undone.
NAME: Karen Dion
OFFENDER BIO: There are images on file of Karen Dionne engaging in seemingly innocuous hobbies, such as gardening, weaving, and building N-scale model train layouts. But it would be foolish to assume this nefarious nanna wasn’t planning something sinister as she clipped her gardenias. This grey-haired malefactor has a penchant for organised crime and sharp short stories. She’s offering handwritten postcards to those who pre-order her books, but it’s yet to be seen whether this correspondence is correlated with a recent spate of anthrax-related deaths in the homes of crime readers.
CRIMINAL HISTORY: After having short fiction and essays appear in dubious publications such as Writer’s Digest and Bathtub Gin, Dionne’s first major misdeed was the writing of Freezing Point, an environmental thriller that involved a shattered ice shelf and an erupting volcano.
MOST RECENT INFRINGEMENT: The Marsh King’s Daughter. When a notorious child abductor escapes from a maximum-security prison in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula wilderness, Helena Pelletier is sure she can use the hunting and tracking skills she learned as a child to find him. After all, no-one is the Marsh King’s equal when it comes to navigating the marshland – except Helena, his daughter. As their cat-and-quarry game unfolds, she must use all of her wilderness skills not only to thwart his plan but also to survive it.
NAME: Laura Marshall
OFFENDER BIO: British writer Laura Marshall grew up in Wiltshire, a quaint county in south-west England, near a facility where a dangerous prisoner armed with a razor blade recently escaped detention. She now lives in Kent with her husband and two children. During her time in the county there has been a spike in prison breakouts; some have speculated that Marshall has a troubling affinity for incarcerated felons and is suspiciously handy with a bobby pin.
CRIMINAL HISTORY: Marshall was indoctrinated through the Curtis Brown novel-writing course, and after three months of intensive training was shaped into a grip-lit writing master. In the same vein as Gillian Flynn and Sophie Hannah, this contemporary crime-writing culprit has the world on the edge of their seats, nervously checking their social media accounts.
MOST RECENT INFRINGEMENT: Friend Request. Louise Williams receives a message: Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook. But Maria Weston has been missing for over 25 years. She was last seen on the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. When another friend’s body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can’t trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth about what happened to Maria.
NAME: Peter Robinson
OFFENDER BIO: After obtaining an honours degree in English literature at the University of Leeds, Robinson fled to Canada, probably to escape the scrutiny of intelligence agencies. He was taken under the wing of Pulitzer Prize finalist Joyce Carol Oates in Ontario, who instilled a dark streak in the fledgling writer. Now 67, he’s written more than 30 books about missing skeletons and bloody body parts from his wintry lair in Toronto.
CRIMINAL HISTORY: Robinson’s brushes with lawlessness began in 1987, when he recruited his (fictional) partner in crime, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks of London’s Metropolitan Police. Throughout 24 books, Banks has busted rapists, peeping Toms and glue-snuffing thugs, and he has sifted through the details of hundreds of suspects to pinpoint the perpetrators of murders across the UK. He’s a quirky character with a cult following, and in recent years, DCI Banks took to screen in a show based on the books, expanding Robinson’s villainous cult to prime-time television.
MOST RECENT INFRINGEMENT: Sleeping in the Ground. A mass murder occurs at a wedding in a small Dales church and a huge manhunt follows. But Banks is plagued with doubts about exactly what happened outside the church that day. Struggling with the death of his first serious girlfriend and the return of profiler Jenny Fuller into his life, Banks feels the need to dig deeper into the murders, and uncovers forensic and psychological puzzles that lead him to the past secrets that might just provide the answers he is looking for.