Alexander McCall Smith’s much loved character Precious Ramotswe first came to life on the pages of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency 25 years ago. Join us as we celebrate this global success. The author gives us insights into his writing career and a glimpse of the many series that have been published in the intervening years, including 44 Scotland Street series and a new novel in the Detective Varg series, The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf.
It’s all too easy to think of Agatha Christie as a very proper Edwardian lady of leisure, until you discover she loved fast cars and went surfing in Hawaii, as well as of course writing some of the most enduring and best-loved British murder mysteries. Historian and television presenter Lucy Worsley, joint chief curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, presents a new side of Christie in Agatha Christie – A Very Elusive Woman, her account of the writer’s life, based on personal letters and papers that have rarely been seen. Join Worsley to discover the writer who, despite the obstacles of class and gender, became an astonishingly successful working woman.
Jenny Radcliffe learnt the art of breaking and entering from her family, and is now a professional burglar for hire and con artist. As a social engineer, she uses psychology, stagecraft and charm to gain access to some of the most exclusive properties in the world, exposing their security weaknesses. In People Hacker, Radcliffe reveals how her working class upbringing and femininity in a male-dominated industry helped her become a sought-after social engineer, and shares some of the dangerous situations she’s found herself in, from the back streets of Liverpool to the mansions of gangsters in the Far East. You won’t make a security mistake again after hearing her speak.
Two of our greatest living novelists speak to literary critic Chris Power about their new books. Booker Prize-winner John Banville’s The Lock-Up is the latest novel in his Stafford and Quirke historical crime series, and sees the pair investigate their most puzzling case yet, that of a woman discovered dead in an apparent suicide in a lock-up garage in Dublin. Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Ford’s Be Mine sees him return to the character of Frank Bascombe, now in the twilight of life and finding himself a carer to his son Paul, who has ALS. In Bascombe’s story is a profound, funny, poignant love letter to our beleaguered world.
Go behind the scenes of the justice system with three insiders who have seen the best and worst the judiciary has to offer. Joseph was the only woman judge at the Old Bailey Bench from 2012 until her retirement this year, writes about how the juridic system is failing people in her book Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder – Trials at the Old Bailey. Sands is a writer and lawyer whose latest book The Last Colony: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain’s Colonial Legacy is the story of Liseby Elysé, a victim of British colonialism when the country deported the people of Diego García, in Chagos Archipelago. Lady Hale formerly served as president of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, a career described in her autobiography, Spider Woman: A Life. They talk to lawyer and human rights advocate Baroness Helena Kennedy.
Brothers Mat and Richard Osman discuss turning their hands to fiction. Mat – bassist and founder member of iconic British rock band Suede and a composer of music for TV and films – speaks about his debut The Ghost Theatre, a dazzling punk reimagining of Elizabethan London through the eyes of a clairvoyant, bird-worshipping protagonist and an unlikely theatre troupe. Richard, a producer and television presenter, explores the world of his Thursday Murder Club novels, a cosy crime series set in a retirement community. The latest Murder Club book is The Bullet That Missed.
Three crime writers give an insight into how they create convincing crimes, intelligent (and occasionally infuriating) investigators, and tons of tension in this panel discussion. Abell is a journalist and radio presenter who presents the breakfast show on Times Radio; Death Under a Little Sky is his first crime novel. Griffiths is best known for her Dr Ruth Galloway series; her latest novel is The Last Remains, the 15th Ruth Galloway book. Herron is the author of the Slough House series; the latest book, Bad Actors, is about a missing staffer from a governmental think-tank.