MysteryFest With Diana Bretherick, Simon Brett, Judith Cranswick, Jeff Dowson, Donna Fletcher-Crow, Christine Hammacott, Dot Marshall-Gent, Graham Minett, Jennifer Palmer, Linda Regan, Leigh Russell, Sally Spedding, Lesley Thomson, Laura Weston and Carol Westron.

Following the success of last year’s MysteryFest event – a collaboration between BookFest and Mystery People – 2019 sees another fun packed day of crime fiction and fact with a host of bestselling authors and speakers!

This year there are fifteen speakers, including twelve authors, many of them bestsellers, and the Guest of Honour is Simon Brett, a bestselling author with both book series and radio series to his credit. The programme includes two author panels and several talks, including an exploration of the theme ‘Bodies in the Library,’ and a talk about the two real life cases that Arthur Conan Doyle became involved in. There will also be an exhibition of Conan Doyle artefacts, and the Hayling Island Bookshop will be present selling books by all the Mystery Fest authors.

Saturday 9th March 10am-5pm, Portsmouth Central Library, £15 includes a light lunch


10.00 Doors open.

10.20-11.30 – Panel 1: ‘In the Reviewers’ Hot Seat.’ Authors Diana Bretherick, Donna Fletcher-Crow, Leigh Russell, Sally Spedding and Carol Westron will be asked questions about their work by Mystery People reviewers Dot Marshall-Gent and Jennifer Palmer.

11.30-12.00 – Talk: Judith Cranswick on Research for Crime Writers.

12.00-12.45 – Lunch

12.45-2.00 – Guest of Honour Simon Brett will give a monologue Lines of Enquiry, followed by a short interview with Jeff Dowson and audience questions.

2.00-3.00 – Panel 2: ‘Single Offender or Serial Killer?’ Authors Jeff Dowson, Christine Hammacott, Graham Minett and Lesley Thomson with Participating Moderator Linda Regan will discuss the stand-alone versus series in crime novels.

3.00-3.15 – tea/coffee/comfort break

3.15-4.00 – Talk: Laura Weston on the real life investigations of Conan Doyle.

4.00-4.20 – Talk: Dot Marshall-Gent on Victorian women crime writers.

4.20-4.40 – Talk: Jennifer Palmer on Bodies in the Library.

4.40-4.50 – Audience Questions for Jennifer Palmer and Dot Marshall-Gent.

500 – Event ends.

Diana Bretherick: Diana’s experiences in working in criminal justice have given her insight into the workings of the criminal mind. She has honed this in her criminological studies, attaining an M.A in Criminology in 1999 and a PhD in 2006. She has now turned her attention to crime fiction, producing her first novel, City of Devils, in 2013, the result of her MA in Creative Writing.
Diana also runs crime writing workshops and regularly performs readings of her work including short stories with a supernatural element.

Simon Brett has published over a hundred books, many of them crime novels, including the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter, Fethering and Blotto & Twinks series. His stand-alone thriller, A Shock to the System, was made into a feature film, starring Michael Caine. Simon’s writing for radio and television includes After Henry, No Commitments and Smelling of Roses. Bill Nighy plays Charles Paris in the Radio 4 adaptations of his books. In 2014 Simon was presented with the Crime Writers’ Association’s top award, the Diamond Dagger, and he was made an O.B.E. in the 2016 New Year’s Honours ‘for services to literature’.

Judith Cranswick is the author of ten published crime novels – seven travel mysteries and three stand-alone psychological suspense novels. Her Fiona Mason is set in Europe and the first of her new Aunt Jessica novels takes place in Morocco. This means that she has to spend a lot of time researching the history and politics of the countries her protagonists visit and, of course, spend time there herself to decide exactly where the murder is going to take place.

Jeff Dowson began his career in the theatre. He moved into television, working as a writer/producer/director.  Screen credits include arts series, entertainment features, drama documentaries, drama series and TV films. Turning crime novelist in 2014, he introduced Bristol private eye Jack Shepherd in Closing the Distance.  The second thriller, Changing the Odds, was published the following year, Cloning the Hate in 2017.  Book 4 is scheduled for release in spring 2019 One Fight At A Time, published in 2018,is the first in the American GI Ed Grover series. Jeff is a member of BAFTA and the Crime Writers Association. Visit

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 50-some books, including Glastonbury, an Arthurian grail search epic. She currently authors 3 series: Lord Danvers Investigates, a Victorian true-crime series; The Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series; and The Monastery Murders contemporary clerical mysteries with clues deep in medieval times. Donna lives in Boise, Idaho. She and her husband have 4 married children and 14 grandchildren. She is an avid researcher and tries never to write about a place she hasn’t visited.

Christine Hammacott writes psychological crime suspense novels in which she explores how ordinary people cope when they are thrown into extraordinary

situations, where crime infringes on someone’s life and a character is forced to confront situations they have no idea how to deal with. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash, exploring

the aftermath of a fire and stalking, is set in Portsmouth.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years before becoming a teacher of English in London and Kent.  She now enjoys writing reviews for Mystery People as well as researching Shakespearean and Marlovian theatre, and early crime and science fiction.

GJ Minett studied Languages at Cambridge University before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which was soon followed by Lie In Wait and Anything For Her. Book 4, which he is currently planning, will appear in summer 2010

Dr. Jennifer S. Palmer enjoys crime fiction immensely. She has read crime fiction since she was a child – starting with the Secret Seven books of Enid Blyton.  When Jennifer lived abroad she found reading a great solace and pleasure and had access to a lot of crime fiction. Jennifer reviews crime fiction for Mystery People and Shots on the web, gives talks to the DLSayers and Margery Allingham Societies and to U3As, and has published scholarly papers on crime fiction. In 2018 Jennifer spoke at Bodies from the Library at the British Library. As a retired historian (at least retired from full time employment) Jennifer lectures on topics of historical controversy as well as on Crime Fiction topics.

Linda Regan is a successful actress. She has worked extensively in television and film and theatre. Having had to be nice to many actors who she secretly would have liked to murder, she started writing crime thrillers, and found she could kill them off legally and they would never know! Her first crime novel, Behind You, set backstage in a pantomime where a serial killer is loose, won the CremeDeLaCrime worldwide search for new authors competition. She has gone on to write eight more successful thrillers.

Leigh Russell has sold over a million books in the Geraldine Steel series, and written trilogies featuring Ian Peterson and Lucy Hall. She is chair of judges for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and a Royal Literary Fellow

Sally Spedding was born near Porthcawl, Wales with a Dutch/German background and having trained in Sculpture, won an international short story competition and was approached by an agent. Her crime thrillers begin with ‘Wringland’, set on the Fens, published in 2001, and her eleventh, ‘The Nighthawk’ – the first in a seven-book deal with Sharpe Books – is out now. She is also an award-winning short story writer and poet. Sally spends part of each year in the haunting eastern Pyrenees where timeslips occur.

Lesley Thomson’s first novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People’s Book Prize. The Detective’s Daughter was Amazon UK’s longest running No. 1 in 2013, knocking JK Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) to no. 2. The UK Sunday Times described Lesley’s protagonist Stella Darnell as ‘one of the most original characters in British Crime Fiction’. The Detective’s Daughter series has sold over three quarters of a million copies. Lesley lives in Sussex UK with her partner and a small poodle called Alfred. The Playground Murders, # 7 in the series comes out in April 2019.

Laura Weston is the Arthur Conan Doyle Learning and Education Officer for Portsmouth City Council.

Carol Westron writes contemporary and Victorian crime novels set in the south of England, she is an expert on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction and an article writer and reviewer.