Former Home Secretary to speak at new crime and thriller festival

Alan Johnson
Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson

FORMER Home Secretary Alan Johnson will lead guest speakers at a new crime and thriller festival – Lyme Crime.

Mr Johnson, who served in Tony Blair’s government, will be talking about his first thriller ‘The Last Train to Gypsy Hill’.

He will be in conversation with Sunday Times bestselling crime writer, Harriet Tyce, at 6.30pm on Saturday, June 25, at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis.

Mr Johnson’s contemporary thriller has been described as fast paced, elegantly written and warm hearted.

The former politician, who served as both Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health, is already an acclaimed author.

His childhood memoir, ‘This Boy’, published in 2013, won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and the Orwell Prize, Britain’s top political writing award. The second and third volumes were also prize winners.

“It’s a huge honour to welcome Alan Johnson to our inaugural festival,” said Paddy Magrane, director of Lyme Crime.

“He has an extraordinary hinterland as a senior politician and a deep love of crime fiction. It will be fascinating hearing how he’s brought those two worlds together with his new thriller, which I know is infused with authentic and credible detail about espionage and security.”

One of the UK’s leading forensic scientists will also be among the top speakers at the festival.

Angela Gallop
Angela Gallop CBE, one of the UK’s leading forensic scientists

Angela Gallop CBE is a practising forensic scientist for with more than 45 years of experience. She personally oversaw the cases of Rachel Nickell, Damilola Taylor, Roberto Calvi and Stephen Lawrence.

She will be discussing her latest book, ‘How To Solve A Crime’, which reveals the ways in which criminals, however skilled, always leave a trace.

Acclaimed children’s author turned crime writer, Laurence Anholt, will be also speaking at the festival.

Laurence will be discussing his ‘Mindful Detective’ books, set in Lyme Regis itself, at 10am on Saturday, June 25.

Laurence Anholt
Local author Laurence Anholt

The series features reluctant police officer Vincent Caine, who just wants to be left to meditate in his secluded cabin on the Undercliff, and his wise-cracking colleague, DI Shanti Joyce, who has other ideas.

With their symbiotic skills, the unlikely duo becomes the go-to team for solving weird crimes in the West Country.

In a career spanning three decades, Laurence has written more than 200 books and his titles have sold millions of copies in 30 languages. 

‘The Mindful Detective’ titles are Laurence’s first venture into adult crime fiction, and have been described as “Broadchurch meets Fargo”. 

“I’m so delighted Laurence can join us to chat about these wonderful books,’ said festival organiser Paddy.

“He’s such an entertaining speaker, and with their setting in Lyme and elsewhere in the West Country, the books are sure to appeal to our audience.”

Nicci French, the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writers Nicci Gerrard and Sean French

Nicci French, the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writers Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, will be speaking at 6.30pm on Friday, June 24.

They will be in conversation with Sunday Times bestselling psychological thriller writer, Erin Kelly.

Arguably the most famous double act in contemporary British fiction, Nicci and Sean, both journalists, met when working at the New Statesman.

Their first novel as Nicci French was ‘The Memory Game’. Since then they have collaborated on many standalone psychological thrillers, including ‘Killing Me Softly’, ‘The Red Room’, ‘Secret Smile’ and ‘Catch Me When I Fall’.

In 2011, French wrote ‘Blue Monday’, introducing the psychotherapist Frieda Klein, which became the first novel in a popular series.

Their most recent title is the standalone thriller ‘The Unheard’, which they’ll be discussing with Erin.

Paddy commented: “It’s an enormous honour to welcome Nicci and Sean to our inaugural festival. Whenever you pick up a Nicci French title, you know you’re in safe hands.

“Smart, unsettling, intensely readable and completely addictive, the novels delve into some of the darkest territory in the most thrilling manner. They are legends in the world of crime fiction and we are very privileged to have them at the festival.”

Charlotte Philby will also be attending to speak about her new novel, ‘Edith and Kim’, which looks at the relationship between her double-agent grandfather Kim and Soviet spy, Edith Tudor-Hart.

Other panellists will include Erin Kelly, Fiona Cummins, Heidi Perks, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Harriet Tyce, Antonia Hodgson, Abir Mukherjee.

Lyme Crime will be held from June 23 to 25 at the Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis. For more details and to buy tickets, visit

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