Coffee table
Winslow's Jam Business cards Daily Standard article Letter from the Council Lunchity Munchity voucher Oldcastle Map LIRU report Crime scene photo

Winslow's Jam

I might have gone a bit overboard on the design of this one – it’s a custom label, wrapped around a jar of Asda’s Extra Special blackcurrant (which I have to say is a very nice jam), and even though you can’t see it, there’s a barcode, nutritional information, and a proper bit of corporate blurbing:

Because you deserve it!

Winslow’s Spoil Yourself range has been designed to celebrate the finer things in life, like long lazy sunday mornings. Our blackcurrant jam is packed with only the best Scottish berries, lovingly transformed by our Master Jam Makers into a deliciously tangy preserve with lashings of sweetness.

Our blackcurrant jam goes perfectly on your morning toast, but it’s the ideal ingredient to jazz up homemade jam tarts. Or blend 1tbsp with 50ml of your favourite vodka and top up with Winslow’s Spoil Yourself prosecco for a deliciously decadent cocktail!”

Winslow’s is the big supermarket that makes its first appearance in The Coffinmaker’s Garden, where Ash and Alice buy booze and supplies. With that kind of ringing endorsement, you know this is a supermarket own-brand jam that really packs a punch. And as breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s how Lucy starts hers.

Business cards

These, as you can probably tell, are Lucy’s business cards, handed out with gay abandon in crime dramas and novels, usually with the obligatory mobile number biroed in on the back and a plea to call if something else comes to mind – doesn’t matter what time of day, just get in touch…

Lucy’s worked very, very hard to overcome her difficult childhood and challenging family situation to make it this far in the police. Detective sergeant by twenty-six, aiming for DI before she hits thirty. Maybe superintendent by forty. And if everything goes to plan she’ll be running the whole division by forty-five. But of course, nothing ever goes to plan, does it?

In case you’re wondering, “Poileas” is Gaelic for “police”, so no, I haven’t spelled it incorrectly. I can’t imagine why you’d think such a thing. Oh, and before we go: that number at the bottom of her card really is the one for Crimestoppers. If you’ve got information that might lead to the apprehension of any real-life criminal you can give them a call (UK only) and pass that info on anonymously.

Daily Standard article

I love making fake newspapers. This was pretty much exclusively what I did for Flesh House – newspaper clippings kept by that book’s antagonist, the Flesher. There’s something very satisfying about getting to do that in full colour though. As you can see, there’s an article by George Parker about Operation Maypole’s hunt for the Bloodsmith, and some adverts featuring a very handsome bearded crime writer and the magnificent Susan Calman (who has always wanted to be on Doctor Who {as have I, if I’m honest, but I’m guessing she’s got a lot more chance of realising her dream than I ever will}). The hen you see, in ‘Clucking Nora!’ is our very own Officer Barbara, who posed for that photo in exchange for a mini corn on the cob (her favourite).

I had really wanted to mockup an edition of Oldcastle’s very own Castle News & Post, but I ran out of time. Maybe for the paperback?

Letter from the Council

As you can see from the letter, the council has a bee in its bonnet about Lucy. Which, let’s be honest, is probably all the fault of her horrible nosey neighbours clyping on her. What sort of geriatric bumhole rats you out to the Council for not mowing your grass verge? The geriatric bumholes that live in Ballrochie, that’s who. Just because Lucy’s in the Grieve’s Cottage, and they’re across the road in their crappy bungalows. It’s jealousy, that’s all.

Oh, they never complained when Lucy’s dad owned the cottage, did they? No, it’s only since she inherited it that they started their harassment campaign.

But if they think they’re going to win this one, they’re in for a nasty surprise…

Lunchity Munchity voucher

Who wouldn’t like a free soup and sandwich (subject to terms and conditions, of course)? And as Lucy’s sidekick, the Dunk, says: “They do a really nice cream of mushroom…” Those in high office might be expecting higher-value bribes, but when you’re hunting a killer on the streets of Oldcastle, there are times when a small incentive is every bit as good as a lucrative contract for PPE that doesn’t even work.

And where better to enjoy that small incentive than Lunchity Munchity? Voted Oldcastle’s “friendliest café” in 2005, by the local Chamber of Commerce, it’s the perfect place for a tasty weekday lunch, pre-dinner macaroni-cheese-and-chips, or a slap-up Saturday fry-up. Of course, the fact that the owner, Margo McGowan was allegedly having an affair with the Chamber of Commerce’s chairperson, Shona Lawrence, at the time is nothing but a scurrilous rumour and you should pay it no heed at all.

Oldcastle Map

You would not believe how much work it was putting together a proper map of Oldcastle. I was lucky enough to get permission from HarperCollins’ cartography department to use all of their specifications, line thicknesses, colours, and patterns to put together a proper Collins Streetfinder map of the city. A cut down version appeared as the endpapers for A Dark So Deadly, but the whole thing is HUGE. Absolutely massive. I keep a copy on the shelf behind me when I’m writing, and unfold it (yes, it’s a proper tablecloth-sized folding map) to make sure I always keep things in the right place.

I decided early on, when I started writing about Oldcastle, that to make the city feel real it had to be consistent. Things could not shift about, just because it was convenient or because I’d forgotten where I’d put something – if I’d said that you get from St Jasper’s to Divisional Headquarters, by going down Jessop Street, Right onto St. Jasper’s Lane, then left onto Peel Place, that’s how it always had to be. Which probably sounds a bit … pernickety, but I genuinely thing that kind of thing is important.

I don’t get out much.

But if you feel like being pernickety too, you can follow the action on any of the Oldcastle books using the map – even down to the one-way system described in the short story Beans!

LIRU report

Obviously we can’t let you read the entire nine-page report (because it’s classified), but if you’ve read any of my other Oldcastle books you can probably guess who wrote it. I was tempted to give Alice a cameo in No Less the Devil, Lucy wasn’t keen to share the spotlight, though. And Alice does have a habit of taking over any scene she appears in, so I can kind of see where Lucy’s coming from on that one.

As you can see, from the pages we can let you read, there’s some pretty horrible things going on in Oldcastle right now, and there’s every chance that if Operation Maypole doesn’t get its finger out there are going to be a lot more bodies on their way to the city mortuary.

Question is, can Lucy and the team make sense of Alice’s Behavioural Evidence Analysis, and will it help them catch the killer?

Crime scene photo

What could be more Brothers Grimm than a creepy, ramshackle, tumbledown cottage, hidden away deep in the cold, dark woods? If you were going to kill someone, what better place could there be? Imagine how long a body could lie, undetected, while you head off to select your next victim.