Wordplay returned to Mareel with a very special festival for 2023 - Shetland Noir. Shetland Noir celebrated all things crime writing, running over 4 days in June with a programme packed full of internationally known writer events, workshops and panel discussions.

Patron Ann Cleeves – world-renowned creator of Jimmy Perez, Vera Stanhope and Matthew Venn - and Marsali Taylor – author of the popular Shetland Mysteries series starring liveaboard sailing sleuth Cass Lynch – pulled together an incredible line-up for the festival, which had a little something for everyone.

“I'm delighted to be involved with Shetland Noir. I can't wait to bring crime readers and writers together in these beautiful islands to celebrate all things noir.” - Ann Cleeves

Shetland Noir Programme 2023

Headline Guests

Richard Osman

Richard Osman is an author, producer, and television presenter. His first two novels, The Thursday Murder Club, and The Man Who Died Twice were multi-million-copy number one bestsellers around the world. The third book in The Thursday Murder Club series, The Bullet that Missed, became the fastest-selling British adult fiction hardback since records began.

He lives in London with his partner and Liesl the cat.

Val McDermid

Dubbed the Queen of Crime, Val McDermid is one of the UK’s most accomplished and respected novelists, selling over 18.5 million books to date across the globe. Her multi-award winning series and standalone novels have been adapted for TV and radio, most notably the Wire in the Blood series featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan.

The first series of the ITV adaptation of the Karen Pirie series, featuring a Scottish cold case detective, aired in 2022 and she will return to Karen Pirie with her 2023 hardback, Past Lying, which will be published in October 2023.

Val’s latest series, featuring young journalist Allie Burns, began with 1979, the first in a quintet, and will follow Allie’s life and experiences at ten year intervals. The second in the series, 1989 is to be published in paperback in February 2023.

Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is the author of the bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway series, the Brighton Mysteries and three stand-alone crime novels. She won the 2020 Edgar Award for The Stranger Diaries and, in 2016, was awarded the CWA Dagger in The Library. The 15th Ruth book ‘The Last Remains’ was published in January 2023.

Elly also writes the Justice Jones series for children. She lives near Brighton with her archaeologist husband and has two grown-up children and a cat.

Martin Edwards

Martin Edwards’ 21 novels include the Lake District Mysteries and the Rachel Savernake books, most recently Sepulchre Street, as well as an acclaimed history of crime fiction, The Life of Crime.

He received the CWA Diamond Dagger for the sustained excellence of his work. He has also won the Edgar, Agatha, CrimeFest H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards, the Short Story Dagger and Dagger in the Library, plus the Poirot award for his outstanding contribution to the genre.

Dr James Grieve

Brought up in Motherwell, Professor Grieve graduated in Medicine from Aberdeen University in 1977. After Pathology training in Aberdeen, an RAMC commission saw him spend time in Washington and London.

He became Senior Lecturer in Forensic Medicine at Aberdeen University in 1989, performing around 550 post-mortem investigations into sudden unexpected deaths annually. Despite retirement in 2014, he now assists part-time, regularly giving evidence in criminal courts and at FAIs. Crime-writing event participation is a regular pastime. Married to Nicola, they have four children, and seven grandchildren.

Shona Maclean

Shona MacLean was born in Inverness and brought up in a series of small Highland hotels run by her parents. She studied History at Aberdeen University and has a PhD in C17th Scottish History.

She is the author of both the ‘Alexander Seaton’ and the ‘Damian Seeker’ historical crime fiction series, as well as the standalone, ‘The Bookseller of Inverness’. She has been shortlisted four times for the CWA Historical Dagger, winning it twice.

Carole Johnston

Carole Johnstone grew up in Lanarkshire, Scotland, and in her twenties relocated to Essex to work as a radiographer.

She has been writing as long as she can remember and is an award-winning short story writer. She now writes full-time and lives with her husband in an old farmhouse outside Glasgow, though her heart belongs to the sea and the wild islands of the Outer Hebrides.


21-25 Sep 2022
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Folk Frenzy
6-11 Aug 2023, 9:00am - 10:00pm
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29 Aug - 3 Sep 2023
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