The Crime Readers' Association

Martine Bailey

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Martine is a writer and keen reader who enjoys crime, mysteries and the gothic. After writing four acclaimed historical novels she has created a chilling new crime series beginning with Sharp Scratch, based on the premise that psychometric tests might be used to catch a killer.

After studying English Literature while playing in bands on the Manchester music scene she worked as a hospital personnel officer and qualified in psychometric testing. Over her career she assessed staff for Ashworth top security psychiatric hospital and completed an MSc on the ‘Psychic Prisons’ that can trap psychiatric staff in negative behaviours.

As an amateur cook, Martine won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. To lend her historical mysteries authenticity she learned to cook using historic methods with Ivan Day and experienced Georgian food and fashion at first hand with an historic re-enactment society.

Martine’s debut, An Appetite for Violets, takes sharp-witted cook Biddy Leigh on a murderous trip to Italy. Fay Weldon described its mix of crime, gastronomy and history, as a new genre, the ‘culinary gothic’. It was a Booklist top ten crime fiction debut of the year. The Penny Heart (A Taste for Nightshade in the US) is a Sunday Times Best Summer Read that draws on cooking, trickery and revenge. The stars, riddles and murder align in The Almanack, a historical mystery featuring fifty authentic riddles. In its sequel, The Prophet, destiny and murder weave an intricate web around Tabitha’s new life.

Martine’s novels explore the psychological pressures of crime with an interest in social class and the north/south divide in Britain. Her influences are Ruth Rendell, Sarah Waters and the gothic tradition. Married with one son, Martine lives in Cheshire, England, having lived for some years in New Zealand where she gained a Creative Arts Scholarship. She was also Writer in Residence at Hosking Houses Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon and Hawkwood College, Stroud.

Her short story, ‘A Mouthful of Restaurant’, appears in the 2017 CWA Anthology, ‘The Mystery Tour’.

Martine was longlisted for the Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing in 2020.

Other Awards

The Mogford Prize in Food and Drink Writing – longlist, 2020

Books by Martine Bailey

  • Sharp Scratch Sharp Scratch

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  • The Almanack The Almanack

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  • The Prophet The Prophet

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  • The Penny Heart The Penny Heart

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  • An Appetite for Violets An Appetite for Violets

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