I grew up in Liverpool, and I spent a large part of my childhood on Crosby Beach; cycling along the promenade from the Seaforth Docks to Hall Road, tramping up and down the dunes towards High Town, thinking up never-to-be-written stories. So it was perhaps inevitable that my first novel would begin – with a murder of course – on Crosby Beach. And once I began, I realized what a gift my home city is to the crime writer. With its rich (and sometimes dark) history, unique culture and varied architecture, Liverpool is a city bursting with character.
I also realized that I was by no means the only crime writer with the same idea. I discovered more than a handful of writers publishing crime novels in, and about, my beloved city, and I have been devouring them ever since.
But it’s a surprisingly recent trend. It’s only in the last two decades that Liverpool crime fiction has sprouted. Maybe it’s something to do with the city’s new-found confidence and cultural regeneration since its selection as 2008 European Capital of Culture. Maybe publishers are tapping into the new northern gothic trend in UK fiction. There’s also a great network of independent bookshops (such as Write Blend and Pritchards), local literary festivals, and creative writing programmes at the universities. Liverpool Hope University even has a combined degree in Creative Writing and Criminology. Liverpudlian wit, the beach, the docks, the tunnels, football, clubland, the criminal underworld, the gap between glamour and deprivation; all these tropes make regular appearances in Liverpool crime fiction. Are there enough signifiers to call a new subgenre of scouse noir? Decide for yourself! Here are twelve of the best from Liverpool crime authors. Where there's a series, I have chosen the first book, so you can go on to devour the rest!