Verbal Arts Centre celebrates success of Killer Books festival

The Verbal Arts Centre was transformed into one mammoth crime scene for their Killer Books Crime Festival as part of Derry-Londonderry’s Halloween celebrations this year. 

Picture for blog story Verbal Arts Centre celebrates success of Killer Books festival


The festival, which was supported by Easons and was part of the City of Culture’s Disobey Gravity programme, brought in some of the biggest names in crime literature – including world-renowned author Lee Child – as well as a packed weekend of murder mystery and suspense. 

Crime writers from across the UK descended on the Verbal Arts Centre for a packed weekend of readings and events and experts from major publishing houses were on hand to seek out the next Agatha Christie. 

Authors such as Gerard Brennan, Colin Bateman, Clare McGowan and Des Doherty joined the likes of Alan Glynn, Andrew Pepper, William Ryan and Stuart Neville Blooms for a weekend of workshops, readings and talks. 

Local crime author Brian McGilloway, who has worked closely with Verbal in putting together the festival programme, also launched his latest novel ‘Hurt’ at the festival. 

Families enjoyed the Verbal CSI Lab – exploring fingerprinting, experiments and even slime – and took part in a spooky Murder Mystery night on the city’s Walls as well as a Derry Victorian Crime Ghost Tour. Mini sleuths joined the Verbal Detective Agency and fought crime. There was crime film screenings, interactive crime fighting, Sherlock Holmes storytelling, mug shot corners and treasure hunts. 

For the older crime fans there was talks by pathologists, psychologists and forensic experts and a special Secret Cinema screening of an old crime movie. 

Over 400 people packed into the First Derry Presbyterian Church to witness An Audience with Lee Child, the highlight of the festival.

Verbal Group Chief Executive James Kerr said the Killer Books Festival brought crime book afficionados from across Ireland to the city. 

“We had a wealth of crime writing talent with us for the Killer Books festival,” he said. 

“We are delighted that crime writing heavyweight Lee Child joined us, and indeed emerged himself in the workings of the Verbal Arts Centre when he was here, taking part in our Reading Rooms project. We were also delighted to have some of the finest crime writers in the UK with us. Bringing together leading literary agents to allow budding local crime authors the chance to pitch their work was a big bonus for us as was securing Eason as one of the main sponsors of this new festival”. 

“It has been a privilege to work with Brian McGilloway- he and the team at Verbal really have put together a fantastic programme.  We had thousands of people coming through our doors over the weekend to enjoy the packed programme of events. They were not disappointed. There really was something for everyone.” 

Local crime writer Brian McGilloway, who curated the festival, said it was an amazing event to be part of.

“We had an incredible line up of guests,” he said. “From international bestseller, Lee Child – whose book is sold every four seconds somewhere on the planet - to the finest Irish crime fiction authors. Many of our guests have had their work  translated to both small and big screen and have won prizes around the world. Whether you like darkest noir, CSI or cosy crime, there was something for everyone in the programme.


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