Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Mari Hannah which was first posted in Nov 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Mari’s latest publications.
Multi-award winning Mari is the author of the Stone & Oliver series, the Ryan & O’Neil crime series and the DCI Kate Daniels police procedural series – all offering up dark, twisting, page-turning plot lines.
Mari lives in a small Northumberland village with her partner, a former murder detective.
Her career as a Probation Officer was cut short following an assault on duty. It was then that the idea that she might one day become a writer began to form in her head.
She first pitched her idea for a crime series to the BBC, winning a place on their North East Voices Drama Development Scheme. When it ended, she adapted the screenplay of The Murder Wall into a book she had started years before somehow never finished.
The Kate Daniels series has since been optioned for TV by Sprout Pictures, a production company owned by Gina Carter and Stephen Fry.
Mari was Programming Chair for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019, the biggest of its type in the world.
In 2010, she won the Northern Writers’ Award for Settled Blood.
In 2013, she won the Polari First Book Prize for her debut, The Murder Wall.
In 2017, her body of work won her the CWA Dagger in the Library 2017.
2019: DIVA Wordsmith of the Year.
2020: Capital Crime’s Crime Book of the Year for Without A Trace.
Over to Mari:
Which piece of music/song would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Joni Mitchell: For Free – because the best things in life don’t cost money. Joni is a one-off, the singer/songwriter of my generation. I’m a lifelong fan and could’ve chosen any one of her songs for my personal soundtrack. Amelia is another favourite, a song about pioneer and author Amelia Earhart who fulfilled her destiny by flying solo across the Atlantic. She was from a small Kansas town and became a worldwide legend. Not content with her achievements in the air, she went on to campaign for women’s acceptance in the field of aviation. Let’s hear it for two amazing women!
Mark Knopfler: Going Home. This evokes a very special memory for me. In 2014, the afternoon of the Great North Run Million celebration, I booked into a Quayside hotel (Newcastle) ahead of the event. At some point in the afternoon, that tune floated across the Tyne and in through my window – Mark was practicing for the evening performance. It felt like he was playing just for me – an unforgettable memory. No matter where I am in the world, this is the soundtrack takes me home. It’s also played at every NUFC home game and I’m a big footy fan.
Jackson Browne: For A Dancer because, as the lyrics suggest, you never know what will be coming down. I saw him perform this at a concert at Hammersmith Odeon years ago and was just blown away. It was a treat, my first weekend away with the woman who later became my partner. Fast forward a few years . . . we’re still together and the song, as you might expect, has an extra special significance for us.
Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Nice. My readers know I love the Dixie Chicks. Their songs are littered throughout the Kate Daniels series. This one appeared in my debut, The Murder Wall, when two of my main characters had fallen out. It’s a song about free speech – written after Natalie Mains received death threats for speaking her mind over the Iraq War. There’s far too much of this going on when women dare to share an opinion publicly. It was very brave way to answer her critics and a represents a big tick for free speech.
Alex Parks: Maybe That’s what It Takes (for me to be with you) Such a haunting voice. This one speaks to me like no other. I may also have referenced it in my books. It’s the song I often play when I’m writing an emotional scene and need to get in the mood.
What (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My imagination. I live inside my head most of the time.
Music – a life without which I cannot imagine.
Books – as many as I can read before I pop my clogs.
The sea – I’m happiest by water.
Wheels – two or four. For me, riding/driving equals freedom.
Can you offer a piece of advice for your younger self?
If you want to do something, do it now. Putting it off won’t make it any easier to achieve.
Don’t listen to the doubters.
Trust your gut.
Have fun. Life is too short to dwell on the negatives.
Work and play hard.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
I once shook hands with Diana Ross.
A motorcycle accident put paid to my chances of representing my country: swimming.
Although I love them, I’m wary of horses – one took a chunk out of me as a kid.
I can sail, but wish I’d never volunteered to go first while being instructed on capsize drill in the North Sea in March. Even in a wetsuit, waiting for everyone else to have a go was pretty parky. My hands were still blue when I drove home.
I have a recurring dream that I’m lost in a big city, on my own with no form of communication and no money.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
To own a home with a view of the Northumberland coast: there’s nowhere better in the world.
Witness the Northern Lights: They hid from me when I lived in Norway but I’m taking a trip to Iceland in November. Fingers crossed.
Return to Yosemite National Park: I have fond memories of an amazing holiday, giant sequoias and black bears but nothing to show for it. This was long before iCloud or even decent mobile phones and my camera broke while I was there. I lost every single image. A good excuse to go back?
Explore more of the Scottish isles: I spent some time on Bute recently and loved it. I’ve done Skye and Shetland but would like to see more. I’m a wanderer at heart.
Whale-watching in New Zealand: To see these amazing mammals in their natural habitat would be just perfect.
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DCI Kate Daniels series (Books 1-8)
The Murder Wall
Eleven months after discovering a brutal double murder in a sleepy Northumbrian town, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels is still haunted by her failure to solve the case. Then the brutal killing of a man on Newcastle’s Quayside gives Daniels another chance to get it right, and her first case as Senior Investigating Officer.
When Daniels recognizes the corpse, but fails to disclose the fact, her personal life swerves dangerously into her professional life. But much worse, she is now being watched.
As Daniels steps closer to finding a killer, a killer is only a breath away from claiming his next victim . . .
When a young girl is found dead at the base of Hadrian’s Wall, it’s not long before Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels realizes her death was no ordinary homicide. She was thrown from a great height and was probably alive before she hit the ground.
Then a local businessmen reports his daughter missing, has Daniels found the identity of her victim, or is a killer playing a sickening game?
As the murder investigation team delve deeper into the case, half truths are told, secrets exposed, and while Daniels makes her way through a mountain of obstacles time is running out for one terrified girl.
Four a.m. on a wet stretch of the A1 and a driver skids out of control. Quick on the scene, Senior Investigating Officer Kate Daniels and partner DS Hank Gormley are presented with a horrifying image of carnage and mayhem that quickly becomes one of the worst road traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history. But as the casualties mount up, they soon realize that not all deaths were as a result of the accident . . .
On the other side of town a house goes up in flames, turning its two inhabitants into charred corpses. Seemingly unconnected with the traffic accident, Kate sets about investigating both incidences separately. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and Kate and her colleagues are always one step behind a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Monument to Murder
He selects. They die . . .
When skeletal remains are found beneath the fortified walls of an ancient castle on Northumberland’s rugged coastline, DCI Kate Daniels calls on a forensic anthropologist to help identify the corpse.
Meanwhile, newly widowed prison psychologist Emily McCann finds herself drawn into the fantasy of convicted sex offender, Walter Fearon. As his mind games become more and more intense, is it possible that Daniels’ case has something to do with his murderous past? With his release imminent, what exactly does he have in mind for Emily?
As Daniels encounters dead end after dead end and the body count rises, it soon becomes apparent that someone is hiding more than one deadly secret . . .
Killing for Keeps
It’s in the blood . . .
Two brothers from the same criminal family die within hours of each other, five miles apart, one on the edge of a Newcastle industrial estate, the other in a busy A&E department of a local hospital, unseen by the triage team. Both victims have suffered horrific injuries. Who wanted them dead? Will they kill again? Investigating these brutal and bloody killings leads DCI Kate Daniels to break some rules, putting her career as well as her life on the line.
As the body count rises in the worst torture case Northumbria Police has ever seen, the focus of the enquiry switches, first to Glasgow and then to Europe ending in a confrontation with a dangerous offender hell-bent on revenge.
At dawn on a lonely stretch of road, a body is found hanging from an ancient gallows the morning after a country show. Hours earlier, DCI Kate Daniels had seen the victim alive. With her leave period imminent, she’s forced to step aside when DCI James Atkins is called in to investigate. There’s bad blood between them.
When Kate discovers that Atkins’ daughter was an eyewitness to a fight involving the victim, the two detectives lock horns and he’s bumped off the case. It’s the trigger for a vicious attack on Kate, exposing a secret she’s kept hidden for years and unearthing an even darker one.
Shaken but undeterred, Kate sets out to solve a case that has shocked a close-knit village community. As suspects emerge, she uncovers a curious historical connection with a hangman, a culture of systematic bullying, a web of deceit and a deep-seated psychosis, any one of which could be motive for murder.
Without a Trace
A FATAL CRASH
A plane on route from London to New York City has disappeared out of the sky. This breaking news dominates every TV channel, every social media platform, and every waking hour of the Metropolitan Police and US Homeland Security.
A PRIVATE TRAGEDY
The love of DCI Kate Daniels’ life was on that aircraft, but she has no authority to investigate. This major disaster is outside of her jurisdiction and she’s ordered to walk away.
A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH
But Kate can’t let it lie. She has to find out what happened to that plane – even if it means going off book. No one is safe.
And there are some very dangerous people watching her…
Her Last Request
Some victims leave clues to their killers…
A Hidden Clue
A victim leaves a note for the SIO who will investigate her death. This not what DCI Kate Daniels expects to find concealed at a crime scene.
A Desperate Plea
The note contains a last request: ‘Find Aaron’. But is Kate searching for a potential second victim, or a killer?
The Countdown is on…
Following the clues, Kate becomes the obsession of her adversary who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Will she find Aaron before he does?
Stone and Oliver series (Books 1-3)
‘He was her child. The only one she’d ever have. It would kill her to learn that he was missing.’
Alex arrives home from holiday to find that her ten-year-old son Daniel has disappeared.
It’s the first case together for Northumbria CID officers David Stone and Frankie Oliver.
Stone has returned to his roots with fifteen years’ experience in the Met, whereas Oliver is local, a third generation copper with a lot to prove, and a secret that’s holding her back.
But as the investigation unfolds, they realise the family’s betrayal goes deeper than anyone suspected. This isn’t just a missing persons case. Stone and Oliver are hunting a killer.
‘It was the news they had all been dreading, confirmation of a fourth victim.’
When the body of a young woman is found by a Northumberland railway line, it’s a baptism of fire for the Murder Investigation Team’s newest detective duo: DCI David Stone and DS Frankie Oliver.
The case is tough by anyone’s standards, but Stone is convinced that there’s a leak in his team – someone is giving the killer a head start on the investigation. Until he finds out who, Stone can only trust his partner.
But Frankie is struggling with her own past. And she isn’t the only one being driven by a personal vendetta. The killer is targeting these women for a reason. And his next target is close to home…
When a young man is found stabbed to death in a side street in Newcastle city centre in the run up to Christmas, it looks like a botched robbery to DCI David Stone. But when DS Frankie Oliver arrives at the crime scene, she gets more than she bargained for.
She IDs the victim as Herald court reporter, thirty-two-year old Chris Adams she’s known since they were kids. With no eyewitnesses, the MIT are stumped. They discover that when Adams went out, never to return, he was working on a scoop that would make his name. But what was the story he was investigating? And who was trying to cover it up?
As detectives battle to solve the case, they uncover a link to a missing woman that turns the investigation on its head. The exposé has put more than Adams’ life in danger. And it’s not over yet.
Ryan and O’Neil series (Books 1-2)
The Silent Room
A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. En route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the manhunt.
Desperate to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, Ryan goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth.
When the trail leads to the suspicious death of a Norwegian national, Ryan uncovers an international conspiracy that has claimed the lives of many.
The Death Messenger
Track a stalker. Catch a killer.
When a mysterious DVD is delivered to Northumbria Police Headquarters, DS Matthew Ryan and Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil are among the few to view its disturbing content. With little to go on the only lead comes from the anonymous and chilling woman’s voice narrating the blood-soaked lock-up depicted on screen.
But with no victim visible, nor any indication of where the unidentifiable crime scene is located, Ryan and O’Neil get the distinct feeling someone is playing with them. What is certain is that the newly formed special unit has just taken on its first challenging case.
As further shocking videos start arriving at police stations around the country, the body count rises. But what connects all the victims? And why are they being targeted? As the investigation deepens, the team is brought to breaking point as secrets from the past threaten to derail their pursuit of a merciless killer . . .