Five on Friday with Chris McDonald @cmacwritescrime

Today I’m delighted to feature crime author Chris McDonald. Chris writes at both ends of the crime spectrum with his darker DI Erika Piper series balanced by his cosy crime series, The Stonebridge Mysteries. His latest Stonebridge Mystery, All at Sea was published this week.

Chris grew up in Northern Ireland before settling in Manchester via Lancaster and London. He is a full time teacher, husband, father to two beautiful girls and a regular voice on The Blood Brothers Podcast. He is a fan of 5-a-side football, heavy metal and dogs.

Over to Chris:

Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

The Bartender and the Thief – Stereophonics.

This song is from the album Performance and Cocktails, the first album I ever bought with my own money. I was a very impatient little boy (it came out when I was 10) and I wanted it so much that I bought it on cassette so that I could have it a couple of weeks early. I’d always loved music, and had albums for Christmas and birthdays, but this felt like a big step in my voyage of discovery.

Sweating Bullets – Megadeth.

I started playing bass guitar when I was about 13. I’d saved money for a holiday to Majorca, and just before I went, found out my next door neighbour had got a guitar. We talked about starting a band. I didn’t spend a penny in Majorca, and as soon as we landed back in Northern Ireland, I marched straight to the music shop in my town and bought my first ever musical instrument. I had listened to rock music up until that point, but when I got home to show my friend my bass, she said I should listen to this song by a band called Megadeth because we were going to play it. I listened. I loved. I formed a heavy metal band that afternoon. All I needed to do was learn an instrument… How hard could it be?

Sleep Well Tonight – Fightstar

Fightstar’s first album came out as my friendship group were all passing their driving tests. The song Sleep Well Tonight reminds me of driving too fast, and a complete sense of freedom! No longer did we have to ask parents for lifts, we could go wherever we wanted, and this was the soundtrack to that time – 17 and no responsibility!

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

When I graduated as a teacher from uni in Lancaster, I went back to Northern Ireland for a while, to find that there were no jobs. And so, I applied for jobs anywhere in the world, and the first interview I got was for a school just outside London. I got it, began my new life in England and… hated it. I was miserable. I hated my job, I was sharing a house with people I didn’t get on with, I was lonely. So, I quit my job and decided to move home. And then I met the girl who would become my wife…

We met on a night out, and ended the evening by doing karaoke to The Pogues’ Christmas classic – in April. Every time I hear it, I think of that night, and how that night changed my life.

Photosynthesis – Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

This made the list for two reasons. One, it was the only song that would calm by firstborn when she cried (constantly for the first six months of her existence) and so I owe it a debt of gratitude. Secondly, I love live music and sorely missed it during the pandemic. Me and my friend went to Slam Dunk Festival in September 2021 and standing in a field with a load of strangers, singing along to my favourite bands was a balm for the soul. When Frank Turner took to the stage, I lost it! I had tears in my eyes as the opening chords of Photosynthesis rang out and the loudest singalong of the day began.

What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.

Kindle – I love reading. And, I love my Kindle. It’s perfect for buying books on the sly. It’s lightweight and portable. What’s not to love?

Laptop – As a writer, I would miss my laptop enormously if it were to disappear. I’d have to resort to paper, and I’ve found recently that I can write about five words before my hand gets sore!

Football – I am a massive football fan. I can watch any game, any time of the day and enjoy it. I support Liverpool, which is a blessing and a curse. They’ve been pretty good recently, but my mood relies too heavily on their success. Maybe I’d be better off without it, actually…

Support – The writing community on Twitter is the most wonderful thing in the world. I would have absolutely given up on writing many of the books I have done if it weren’t for the kind words and love from other writers, bloggers and readers. I’ve also discovered some wonderful authors that I probably never would have.

Music – I cannot walk ten steps without my headphones in. I’m constantly listening to music as I find it hard to be productive without it. I recently discovered a load of songs on my old laptop from local bands from Northern Ireland, so I have that on repeat at the minute, reliving my teen years. Live music is also the best thing in the world. Whatever your mood, as soon as the intro music starts up and the lights fade, nothing else matters for the next 90 minutes. The best band I’ve ever seen live is probably Metallica.

Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?

Start writing sooner.

Learn the drums – every band always needs a drummer.

Don’t do three languages for A-Level. They will be good for nothing.

There will be a thing called an iPhone – you should invent it now and make your millions.

Travel more!

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you

The Queen almost ran me over once. I was standing in the road, trying to see where all the police cars were going, when a heard a beep from behind me. I moved out of the way, and when the car passed, the Queen waved at me from the back seat.

I cry easily. This might already be known to people. I cry at songs, films, books, even the thought sometimes set me off. My daughter told me she had made me a Father’s Day card the other day, and I had tears in my eyes instantly.

I constantly wish I had straight hair, as I always wanted to have an emo fringe. I even tried straightening my hair for a while, to not great results. There are photos out there somewhere…

I have never seen many of the classic films – Ghostbusters, Back To The Future, Shawshank Redemption, Indiana Jones. The list goes on. It’s a source of constant frustration to my closest friends.

I love dogs so, so much! I have a dog back in Northern Ireland called Pedro, that I went to get the day after getting back home from uni. My family had a dog when I growing up, and I always wanted one of my own. He was the biggest consideration that almost kept me at home when I decided to move to England!

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

I’d like to be able to write full time.

I’d like to run a marathon.

I’d like to see my daughters grow up to be happy.

I’d like it if my campaign for all chocolate to be stored in the fridge took off.

I’d love for people to continue to enjoy my books.

Thanks for joining me today Chris and congratulations on the launch of All at Sea, I really hope it does well. I was starting to worry about the sort of song you’re daughter had been listening too for 6 months, but I was relieved when I heard it. Definitely a singalong track with a sentiment I can go along with. I’d echo your thoughts on Twitter, for all its negatives (which I mostly avoid) it’s a great way of meeting and sharing with likeminded people. If it makes you feel better I’ve also not seen many of the ‘classic’ films, from your list I’ve managed one of the Indiana Jones series! I’m hoping that a four legged friend might at some stage join the McDonald household, dogs are simply wonderful. I also hope that you get to tick off the items on your to do list, though I suspect the chocolate campaign might be divisive. Personally chocolate never usually last long enough to make the fridge if I’m around!

Chris’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

The Stonebridge Mysteries

Stonebridge is a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Most of its inhabitants are friendly, happy people. Most of them… Because bad things happen even in the happiest of places. It’s a good thing, then, that Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin call Stonebridge home. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of detective shows, a misplaced sense of confidence and a keen desire to see justice done, these two are the closest thing the town has to saviours. Which isn’t that reassuring…

All at Sea: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (6) (The Stonebridge Mysteries) Hardcover

All at Sea: (The Stonebridge Mysteries 6) 


Adam and Colin are aboard The Elysian, cruising towards Italy to see Adam get hitched, and are determined to stay out of trouble…

On the first night, a priceless piece of art is stolen from an eccentric old lady. Adam and Colin offer to help recover it, and are convince the thief was one of their fellow dinner guests from earlier in the evening.

Can the amateur sleuths reunite the painting with its owner before they dock in Venice? And, with danger lurking around every porthole, will Adam even make it to the altar?

Mistletoe and Crime: A classic cosy mystery with a modern touch (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 5) Kindle Edition

Mistletoe and Crime: (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 5)

It’s Christmas!
A year since their last case, and Adam and Colin are called out of semi-retirement when Stonebridge legend and regular town Santa, Gerald Agnew, is found dead in the snow.

The police believe his death to be a drunken accident, but evidence that our amateur detectives uncover points to something more sinister.

When DI Whitelaw dismisses their claims, Adam and Colin must navigate drug dealers, deception, and department store Santas to get to the truth.

The Case of the Missing Firefly: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 4) Kindle Edition

The Case of the Missing Firefly: (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 4)

The notoriously hard-drinking, backstabbing Stonebridge Radio crew are having their Hallowe’en party on Winkle Island, rumoured to be the most haunted place in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, Adam and Colin are there too, having accepted an easy pay day from Colin’s event organising mother.
At dinner, a shocking announcement is followed by an even more shocking murder, and the theft of a priceless Firefly necklace. To top it all, thanks to a raging storm, everyone is trapped on the island.
Now, faced with devious radio presenters, a strange tour guide, and a rampaging murderer, Adam and Colin are back in business.

Meat is Murder: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime heart (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 3) Kindle Edition

Meat is Murder: (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 3)

McNulty’s Meats, one of Stonebridge’s oldest businesses, is about to be taken over in a lucrative deal that would make brothers Ron and Kevin very rich men indeed. Unfortunately for them, local activist Tyler Love has other ideas. Convinced that the deal would be bad for the town, he burns the business to the ground and inadvertently kills himself in the process.
As least, that’s what the police think.
Tyler’s mum disagrees, and pleads with amateur sleuths Adam and Colin to investigate. Although, going up against the psychopathic McNulty brothers, a rival businessman, a group of hippies, and a girlfriend with secrets of her own might not be such a good idea… Someone has something to hide, and will go to great lengths to keep that secret buried.

Dead in the Water: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 2) Kindle Edition

Dead in the Water: (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 2)

The Stonebridge Regatta is looming. The town’s annual face-off against neighbouring Meadowfield is usually a weekend filled with sunshine, laughter and camaraderie. This year is different. A week before the race, the body of Stonebridge team captain Matthew Henderson is found dead in the water.
The police file his passing as a tragic accident however, his grieving widow disagrees and suspects foul play is involved. She enlists the help of Adam and Colin, the town’s amateur (self-proclaimed) private detectives to unearth the truth.
Did Matthew simply slip and fall into the water, or is there more to his death below the surface?

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello: A modern cosy mystery with a classic crime feel (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition

The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello: (The Stonebridge Mysteries Book 1) 

Wedding bells are chiming in the idyllic, coastal town of Stonebridge. For Sam and Emily, it should be the happiest day of their lives. But, on the morning of the ceremony, the best man is found dead. The police quickly write his death off as a tragic accident, but something doesn’t seem right to wedding guest and groomsman, Adam Whyte.
Armed with an encyclopedic, but ultimately ridiculous knowledge of television detective shows and an unwarranted confidence in his own abilities, Adam and his best friend (and willing Watson) Colin, set out to uncover what actually happened to Daniel Costello.

DI Erika Piper Series

Roses for the Dead (DI Erika Piper Book 3) Kindle Edition

Roses for the Dead


Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.

Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?

Whispers in the Dark: An action-packed police procedural thriller with a punch. (DI Erika Piper Book 2) Kindle Edition

Whispers in the Dark

Who will heed the call when Death comes whispering?

Small time drug dealer, Marcus Stone and DCI Clive Burston had never met until one night in August. By the end of that night, both had been shot dead in a small bedroom in the heart of gang territory.

DI Erika Piper is called to the scene but is at a loss to explain what’s happened. How did these two even meet, let alone end up dead in what appears to be a strange murder-suicide? As Erika leads the investigation, another two bodies are found, killed in a similar fashion. One murder, one suicide. But who is controlling this macabre puppet show?

As Erika delves deeper into the lives of the dead, the pieces begin to fit together and a number of nefarious characters crawl out of the woodwork – one of whom is almost certainly pulling the strings.

A catastrophic event and a personal miracle threaten to derail the investigation. Erika must find the strength to continue, before the whispers catch up with her too…

A Wash of Black (DI Erika Piper Book 1) Kindle Edition

A Wash of Black

Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.

The body of a famous actress is found mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, recreating a scene from a blockbuster film she starred in years ago.

DI Erika Piper, having only recently returned to work after suffering a near-fatal attack herself, finds she must once again prove her worth as the hunt for the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer’ intensifies.

But when another body is found and, this time, the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must put aside her demons to crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.

Noir from the Bar: 30 Crime and Mystery Shorts Kindle Edition

Noir from the Bar: 30 Crime and Mystery Shorts 

This anthology, consisting of 30 stories by crime and mystery writers from all over the world has been conceived, created, and published in a month.

All stories have been donated free-of-charge by the authors, with the vast majority of them written specifically for this very special book. Originating from Virtual Noir at the Bar, a weekly online gathering where authors — best sellers, award winners and up-and-coming — join together to read sections live from their works to the public, the organisers of that event put the word out to writers who had appeared to submit a story to help raise funds for NHS charities. The result is this book. Inside you’ll find short pieces that have nothing in common other than their quality and a general tale-from-the-bar theme.

So whatever sort of crime and mystery fiction you enjoy, you’ll find something to appeal:

  • Locked room mysteries
  • Gritty noir
  • Cozy capers
  • Psychological thrillers
  • Twist-in-the-tales
  • Revenge dramas
  • Shocking shorts
  • Longer dramas to savor


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