Crime Swamps ‘Britain’s Happiest Town’
According to property agents, Harrogate in North Yorkshire is the UK’s happiest town, while nine out of 10 of the grimmest places to live are in London – but Harrogate, with its flower-filled park running through its centre, its famous tea rooms and spa, its affluent kitchen design shops, hides a dark secret.
This Thursday it will be awash with bloodlusting misfits whose minds are diseased with thoughts of serial slaughter and detonating kitchen items.
For while the residents of this sleepy, polite, elegant example of all that’s best in English towns go about their daily business, posting letters and planting abnormal vegetables, a horrific outbreak of violence will occur at the Old Swan Hotel.
Here in Harrogate, where the last big news involved Agatha Christie going missing, Ann Cleeves, MC Beaton, Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Sarah Peretsky, Eddie Izzard (?) and Lee Child among others will be satisfying the local lust for violence at the annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, the biggest event of its kind in the British Isles.
And on Friday morning at 10:30am I’ll be appearing with historical novelists Lindsey Davis and Manda Scott, Stalinist Russia William Ryan and Elly Griffiths, author of the Ruth Galloway archaeological mysteries, to find out why the past is so fascinating to crime writers in a panel called ‘They Do Things Differently There…’, tickets priced £10 from here.
I’ll be staying for most of the festival’s events, and if past years are anything to go by it’ll be glorious weather, with fine argument from crime writers representing the cream of the crop around the world. Join us, and forget about the troubles in the rest of the country…