Book lovers announce thrilling new festival for fans of crime fiction

Dorothy Koomson. Picture by Niall McDiarmid
Dorothy Koomson. Picture by Niall McDiarmid

To celebrate the best of crime writing in the south east, the Book Lovers’ Supper Club has announced the first Leonardslee Crime Festival.

On Saturday and Sunday, March 2-3, next year, many of the UK’s best-known crime writers will visit Leonardslee Gardens, near Horsham, to entertain, chill and thrill audiences.

Tickets start from £35 and are available on the Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens website – www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk/leonardslee-crime-festival.

“For years I’ve been looking for the right venue to celebrate the outstanding crime-writing talent here in the South East,” said Melanie Whitehouse, founder of The Book Lovers’ Supper Club. “Penny Streeter, the new owner of Leonardslee Gardens, was open to the idea and up for the challenge, for which I am hugely grateful.

“For our first Crime Festival, we’ve combined the exceptional food created by Leonardslee’s award-winning chefs with events that showcase the many talents of our local crime writers, bringing together the Book Lover’s Supper Club’s two great passions: delicious food paired with brilliant crime writing. There is something here for everyone to enjoy, and a ticket to any of these events would make the perfect Christmas present for fans of thrillers.”

The Crime Festival opens with a whodunnit Murder Mystery afternoon tea presented by the Killer Women, a group of top female crime writers who will present an hour-long puzzle for the audience to solve, with a prize at the end. Misleading everyone will be authors Elly Griffiths, Colette McBeth, Mel McGrath and Julia Crouch, plus top cop Graham Bartlett. It will be followed by Leonardslee’s classic afternoon tea.

In the evening, there is a chance to savour the Crime, Wine and Fine Dining experience, and hear acclaimed writer Erin Kelly as after-dinner speaker. Following a gourmet, three-course meal in Leonardslee’s elite Interlude restaurant, Erin will ask: ‘Have we killed the psychological thriller?’

Under chef Jean Delport, Interlude offers the best in fine dining, with menus designed around produce grown, found and foraged on the Leonardslee estate. A selection of wine, hand-picked to complement the menu, will be available.

Waking up delegates on March 3 will be a Crime Writing Workshop with Dorothy Koomson, and former senior policeman and author Graham Bartlett. Ideal for would-be authors to hone their writing skills, this two-hour masterclass will inform, entertain and inspire, and comes with coffee, tea and home-made cake to boost brainpower. Dorothy’s books include The Ice Cream Girls and The Brighton Mermaid. As an author, advisor to Peter James and former Chief Superintendent of Brighton & Hove, police procedure and forensic detail is Graham Bartlett’s forte.

The final event is a Crime Cream Tea, with top authors Simon Brett, Debbie Howells and Julie Corbin debating the many ingredients that go into creating a good crime novel. It will be followed by a classic cream tea.

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