English Riviera Tourist Board / Events / Tue 20 to Sun 25 Apr 2010 (6 days)

Sleuths! Torbay's Festival of Crime and Thriller Writing

Sleuths! Torbay's Festival of Crime and Thriller Writing

The scene is set for a delightfully devious celebration of crime and thriller writing on the English Riviera, as some of the country’s most scheming criminal minds descend on South Devon’s beautiful bay. Over four days the festival will host talks from eminent authors, murder mystery plays and crime writing workshops, in the birthplace of the greatest selling crime writer of all time, Dame Agatha Christie.

The guilty pleasures begin with an exclusive afternoon audience with prolific whodunit author Simon Brett at the Palace Theatre on Tuesday 20th April. Simon’s detective novels include the Charles Paris, Mrs Pargeter and Fethering series. He’ll be joined by special guest Diane Janes, an author of both fiction and investigative non-fiction specialising in crime.

Following their sell-out event during the annual Agatha Christie festival, the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway will again be hosting a murder mystery in Great Western tradition on Tuesday night. Guests on the train will be able to enjoy a mystery with actors from the Candlelight Theatre Company and delicious cuisine courtesy of the chefs at Hennessy Restaurant in Torquay.

Also on Tuesday evening, the intriguingly titled Murder & Mystery on the English Riviera – the musical takes place at Torquay Library. Local historian, author and musician Mike Holgate will present his popular one-man show featuring songs and stories from the English Riviera’s sensational past. Find out about the man they could not hang, the Titanic helmsman jailed for attempted murder in Torquay and the spiritualist who unmasked Jack the Ripper! Free tickets can be booked at Torquay Library.

On the afternoon of Wednesday (21 April) the historic Spanish Barn at Torre Abbey will be the crime scene for Mayhem in the Middle Ages, with Michael Jecks and Bernard Knight, founding members of the Medieval Murderers crime writing group. Michael Jecks, a resident of Dartmoor, has written a series of medieval crime novels featuring former Knight Templar Sir Baldwin Furnshill and bailiff Simon Puttock. Meanwhile Bernard Knight, a former forensic scientist, returns by popular demand for his second year of Sleuths. He has written various crime novels including the Crowner John series of 12th century historical mysteries. The event includes a tour of Torre Abbey.

The dastardly diversions continue on Wednesday evening when Murder in Mind, a play by Terence Feeley, begins its run at the Palace Theatre in Paignton. The story revolves around Mary, an international art dealer who arrives home to find three ‘strangers’ claiming to be her husband, cousin and sister, with knowledge about intimate details of her family life. The situation gets more and more complicated with the sudden appearance of a murdered man. The play runs nightly until Saturday 24th April.

Also on Wednesday evening, amateur sleuths will love unravelling the Murder in the Abbey. This murder mystery event begins with welcome drinks and an eerie tour of Torre Abbey where a crime is sure to be committed. It’s then over to the nearby Toorak Hotel for dinner in the company of Murder Made to Measure when your team can attempt to finger the fugitive and solve the crime.

Thursday’s programme of crime capers starts with an Audience with MC Beaton, again at the Palace Theatre during the afternoon. M.C. Beaton is the best-known pen name for the hugely prolific author Marion Chesney. She is the best selling author of the Hamish Macbeth novels (televised starring Robert Carlisle) and Agatha Raisin (which starred Penelope Keith in a BBC Radio production), as well as the regency Romances under her own name.

In the evening, you are invited to wine, dine and solve a crime over at the Princess Theatre. Murder at the Princess promises to be an evening of sophistication and suspence, with a liberal dose of fun, as you flex your detective skills to solve the mystery of Who Killed John Wilkie? – a whodunit dinner date from Murder Made to Measure.

On Friday it’s time to put those little grey cells to the test when the Princess Theatre hosts a Master Sleuths Team Quiz. Taking place in Breezes Café Bar with wonderful views across the Bay, it’s time to put your thinking caps on and become detective in this delightfully devious quiz. Best of all, quiz teams will also be rewarded with a delicious Devonshire cream tea as part of this afternoon events. Tickets are extremely limited so book your places asap.

On Saturday morning, An Audience with Ann Cleeves will be taking place at Torquay Library. Ann is a renowned crime writer and author of the Shetland Quartet. Her novel, Hidden Depths is currently being filmed for television as Vera, with Brenda Blethyn in the lead role of Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope.

This year, the English Riviera will host, as part of the festival, the Crime Writers’ Association’s Young Crime Writers Competition Area Awards, which will take place at the Palace Theatre in Paignton on Saturday afternoon.
Young writers from schools and colleges across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay have been setting their creative skills to crafting great crime stories, and the regional winner will go through to the national awards in June. Exmouth based crime writer Graham Hurley (“In No Lovelier Death he proves his standing as one of the UK's finest crime novelists.” -INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY) will host the awards.

Should all of the celebration of crime and thriller writing got your own creative juices flowing, then the crime writing workshop with Andrew Puckett should be a must. Andrew worked for the NHS for twenty one years, fifteen of them as a microbiologist. The Taunton-based writer and teacher has published eleven novels and will be sharing his expertise with budding crime and thriller writers during the afternoon at the Paignton Club on The Esplanade in Paignton.

Should you be suitably inspired after a week of crime and thriller activities, the festival finishes on the Sunday with a book fair at Torquay Museum and a chance to buy all of your crime and thriller reading material for the next 12 months!

Matthew Clarke owner of The Torbay Bookshop and one of The Festival organisers said: “For a festival that's just in its second year, the 2010 programme is bursting with an amazing array of events from drama to 'murder dinners', from a writer’s workshop to numerous opportunities to meet bestselling authors in interesting surroundings. The feedback from the authors and people attending last year was extremely positive and it now looks as though 'Sleuths' will become an integral part of The English Riviera's event calendar.'

For more information on the grisly goings-on, contact our Ticket and Information Hotline on 01803 665800 or log onto www.englishriviera.co.uk/sleuths.

For more information visit http://www.englisriviera.co.uk/sleuths

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