Women Getting Away with Murder

 

It’s a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie: why is it that women commit far less crime than men but so often outdo them when it comes to plotting a really good murder?

Two leading experts in the art of crime writing will search for clues at Buxton International Festival’s Book Weekend in November when they debate the issue in Women Getting Away With Murder.

Sarah Ward (pictured), who created the Detective Connie Childs series based in the Peak District, and Kate Griffin, author of the Kitty Peck Victorian underworld mysteries, will dissect their chosen genre to see why women have always been at the forefront of writing the whodunit.

“There is a big history of women writing crime,” said Sarah, who lives in the Derbyshire village of Chelmorton.

“In the golden age, all the greats were women. There has been some discussion as to whether they were able to take on crime writing because they could flourish in a genre which wasn’t considered to be literary.”

Agatha Christie was the Queen, of course, and she sowed the seeds for later eras which produced greats of their own, from PD James and Ruth Rendell to Minette Walters and Val McDermid.

No-one really knows the proportion of male to female in terms of crime writers, but although there are more women than men in the population, male offenders outnumber female offenders by more than four to one, and in 2017, only 19 per cent of known offenders were women.

But while men may commit most crime, it doesn’t mean they are masterminds, as Sarah knows from her work as a prison visitor, where she meets inmates who are mainly locked up for low level offences of burglary, drug and minor violence.

“There’s a huge debate about it, but it’s really great that crime writing is a profession were women can work on equal terms with men,” said Sarah, who uses Buxton, Bakewell and Matlock to create her atmospheric backdrop of brooding Peak hills and misty, closed-off fields which remind her of the landscape behind her favourite Scandinavian Noir crime dramas.

Women Getting Away With Murder: 12.30pm in the Pavilion Arts Centre on November 24th.

Buxton Book Weekend events are on November 23rd and 24th. Authors taking part include former Home Secretary Alan Johnson on the pop music which became the soundtrack to his life; Richard Van Emden on the final year of the First World War; Peter Moore discusses how Captain Cook’s ship The Endeavour changed the world; Kate Hubbard shows how Bess of Hardwick used four marriages to become one of the most powerful women in English history; Adrian Tinniswood on the domestic history of the royal household; and the host of Countdown, Nick Hewer,  on a life which took him from the boardroom to TV stardom.

For more details, go to www.buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/books

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Author Sarah Ward. Image credit Eleanor Crow.
Book jacket for "The Shrouded Path" by Sarah Ward.

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