Martin Edwards (author)

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Kenneth Martin Edwards
Born (1955-07-07) July 7, 1955 (age 60)
Occupation Solicitor
Language English
Nationality  United Kingdom
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford University
Genre Crime novels
Spouse Helena Shanks

Martin Edwards (born 7 July 1955), whose full name is Kenneth Martin Edwards, is a British crime novelist, critic[1] and solicitor.


Martin Edwards was born in Knutsford and educated in Cheshire (at Sir John Deane's Grammar School, where one of his teachers was Robert Westall, who later became a successful children's author) and at Balliol College, Oxford University, where he took a first class honours degree in Jurisprudence in 1977. He qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and joined the firm of Mace & Jones, where he became a partner in 1984, and head of employment law in 1990; in 2011, the firm merged with Weightmans LLP, with whom he is now a consultant. In 1988 he married Helena Shanks and they have two children, Jonathan and Catherine.

Crime fiction[edit]

Martin Edwards is an award-winning crime writer. His first novel, All the Lonely People, introduced Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin[2] and was published in 1991, earning a nomination for the John Creasey Dagger for best first crime novel of the year.[3][4] In 2012 the book was republished by Arcturus in its series of Crime Classics, while Yesterday's Papers was reissued as an Arcturus Crime Classic in 2013. To date, Edwards has written eight novels about Devlin; the most recent is Waterloo Sunset. The Coffin Trail was the first of six books set in the Lake District[5] (The Lake District Mysteries) featuring Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind; it was short-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for best crime novel of 2006. The Arsenic Labyrinth was short-listed for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award in 2008. The Hanging Woode was long-listed for both the Audible Sounds of Crime Award and the Ebook Award at Crimefest 2012. Edwards has also written a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, and completed The Lazarus Widow by the late Bill Knox.[6] 2008 also saw the publication of his first historical novel, Dancing for the Hangman, a fictional account of the life and misadventures of Hawley Harvey Crippen.

Edwards has written over 50 short stories, which have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, and he has edited the Crime Writers' Association’s annual crime anthology since 1996.[7][8] His early stories were collected in Where Do You Find Your Ideas? and other stories, which had an introduction by Reginald Hill. ‘Test Drive’ was short-listed for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger for best short story in 2005. Edwards went on to win the award for best short story in 2008 with 'The Bookbinder's Apprentice.' In 2014, he was the inaugural winner of the CWA Margery Allingham Prize for his story ‘Acknowledgments.’[9]

Edwards was a founder member of the Northern Chapter of the Crime Writers' Association and of the Murder Squad collective of crime writers. He became Vice Chair of the CWA in 2015, and previously spent ten years as chair of the Association's CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award sub-committee. In 2007, Edwards was appointed Archivist of the Crime Writers' Association, and in 2011 the CWA gave him a Red Herring Award for services to the Association. In 2008 he was elected to membership of The Detection Club and in 2011 he was appointed its first archivist. Four years later in 2015 he became the eighth president of the Club, succeeding Simon Brett.

There has been increasing critical interest in and appreciation of Edwards' work, and his skill in marrying people and place with plot. In 2012, new ebook and print editions of the early Harry Devlin novels were published, including introductions by writers such as Val McDermid, Peter Lovesey, Andrew Taylor and Frances Fyfield. In her foreword to All the Lonely People, Fyfield said: "What distinguishes this book and those that follow and what makes them classics of a kind is this marvellous quality of compassion and the celebration of all that is heroic in the corrupted ordinary." In The Mammoth Encyclopaedia of Modern Crime Fiction, Mike Ashley noted that the author's legal knowledge 'provides a solid reliability to the Devlin books, but their strength lies in the evocation of Liverpool both past and present'. Similarly, Russell James noted in Great British Fictional Detectives that the Devlin books 'are all solid and well-informed'. In Scene of the Crime, Julian Earwaker and Kathleen Becker described the Devlin series as 'a blend of classic detection and urban noir', pointing out that 'The bleaker tones of the early books...are superseded by the lighter tone and more complex plotting of the later novels.' In Whodunit?, Rosemary Herbert said that 'Edwards rapidly made a name for himself as a writer whose law expertise informs fiction set in a well-drawn Liverpool...Edwards' work as an anthologist is highly regarded.' In Crime Scene: Britain and Ireland, John Martin said that Edwards has "written two superbly crafted series of crime novels...intricately plotted with subtle twists and turns."[10] Professor Douglas G. Greene, a leading expert on the genre writing in the magazine CADS, described Edwards as “a major detective novelist who has combined Golden Age trickiness in plotting with modern darkness in the telling.”[11] In British Crime Writing: an encyclopaedia, Michael Jecks described him as 'a writer of imagination and flair' and as possessing 'a rare skill for acute description'.[12] In the same volume, Philip Scowcroft praised Edwards' books set in the Lakes 'which he describes idiomatically and evocatively in a series of well-plotted mysteries'.[13] Jecks summed him up as 'a crime writer's crime writer. His plotting is as subtle as any; his writing deft and fluid; his characterisation precise, and his descriptions of the locations give the reader the impression that they could almost walk along the land blindfolded. He brings them all to life.'[14]

Writing about crime fiction[edit]

Martin Edwards is widely recognised as a leading authority on the crime fiction genre. He is the author of The Golden Age of Murder,[15] a widely acclaimed study of the genre between the two world wars. Marcel Berlins said in The Times: ‘Few, if any books about crime fiction have provided so much information and insight so enthusiastically and, for the reader, so enjoyably. No other work mixes genre history, literary analysis and fascinating author biographies with such relish’.[16] For The Guardian, Mark Lawson said it was ‘a book of impressive cultural omniscience...superbly compendious and entertaining’.[17] Michael Dirda said in The Washington Post that ‘Anyone who loves classic English mysteries from the 1920s through the ’40s will revel in the highly anecdotal The Golden Age of Murder.’[18]

He has reviewed crime novels for various publications and websites since 1987 and has written columns for print and online magazines such as Sherlock and Bookdagger. He has contributed essays to a wide range of reference books about the genre, including The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing. He has written introductions to new editions of a wide range of books, including The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers and novels in the Chivers Black Dagger Series such as The Man Who Didn’t Fly by Margot Bennett and Cornell Woolrich’s The Bride Wore Black. In 2014, he was appointed Series Consultant to the British Library’s highly successful[19] Crime Classics series.

He has written introductions to most of the books published in the series, as well as for several of the books published in the British Library’s Spy Classics series. He has been commissioned to edit and introduce five anthologies of classic crime short stories for the series.

Writing about real life crime[edit]

Edwards has also written extensively on the subject of true crime. In addition to his study of real life crime investigation and famous cases, Urge to Kill, he has edited Truly Criminal, a CWA anthology of essays published by The Mystery Press in 2015. Edwards’ essay in the book discusses the ‘Blazing Car’ murder for which Alfred Rouse was hanged in 1931.

Legal writing and career[edit]

Edwards has written many articles and has published seven books on equal opportunities, employment law and other legal subjects. Originally, he established distinct reputations in the fields of employment law and commercial law; his first published book concerned legal aspects of business computer acquisition, and in 1985 he acted as legal adviser to the makers of the feature film Letter to Brezhnev. Since 1990, he has specialised solely in employment law. He was a founder member of the Law Society’s Standing Committee on Employment Law and he was also a member of the Law Society's Working Party on Alternative Dispute Resolution. He regularly receives high rankings in independent legal directories such as The Legal 500 and Chambers Directory UK. He was described in 2007, for instance, in the former as 'one of the leading employment lawyers in the country', and in the latter as 'Mr. Employment'. In 2011, Chambers said he is 'admired for his legendary technical ability', and added in 2012 that he has been 'roundly praised' for his "undoubted expertise, wealth of experience, interpersonal skills and calm approach at difficult times." The 2013 editions of the directories rated him as “highly recommended” and a “top drawer” employment lawyer respectively. In 2014, Chambers said he “is renowned for his expertise in the field and technical proficiency” and ranked him as Liverpool’s only Band I specialist employment lawyer,[20] a ranking he retained in 2015, when he was again recommended by Chambers[21][22] In 2016, The Legal 500 described him as “first class”.[23]

He has acted for many high profile clients, including the Football Association, Wembley Stadium, Alder Hey Hospital, Health and Safety Executive, Liverpool Football Club, Shell UK Ltd, North West Development Agency, North West Regional Assembly, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, Merseyside Police Authority and National Museums Liverpool. In 2008 he was included in EN Magazine's list of the top 50 professional advisers in the North West and was also short-listed for the Insider Professional Liverpool Lawyer of the Year award, while in 2011 he was shortlisted by for an award for the leading North West professional adviser. In 2007 and 2011 his team won the bi-annual Liverpool Law Society Employment Team of the Year Award, and the team has also twice been short-listed for the national employment law team of the year award by "The Lawyer" magazine. In 2014 and 2015, he was selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom.[24]


Harry Devlin Novels[edit]

  • All the Lonely People (1991)
  • Suspicious Minds (1992)
  • I Remember You (1993)
  • Yesterday’s Papers (1994)
  • Eve of Destruction (1996)
  • The Devil in Disguise (1998)
  • First Cut is the Deepest (1999)
  • Waterloo Sunset (2008)

Lake District Novels[edit]

  • The Coffin Trail (2004)
  • The Cipher Garden (2006)
  • The Arsenic Labyrinth (2007)
  • The Serpent Pool (2010)
  • The Hanging Wood (2011)
  • The Frozen Shroud (2013)
  • The Dungeon House (2015)

Other Novels[edit]

  • The Lazarus Widow (with Bill Knox) (1999)
  • Take My Breath Away (2002)
  • Dancing for the Hangman (2008)

Short stories[edit]

  • "To Encourage the Others" in Past Poisons (1998)
  • Where Do You Find Your Ideas? and Other Stories (2001)
  • The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes (2014)
  • Acknowledgments and Other Stories (2014)

Anthologies edited[edit]

  • Northern Blood (1992)
  • Northern Blood 2 (1995)
  • Anglian Blood (with Robert Church) (1995)
  • Perfectly Criminal (1996)
  • Whydunit? (1997)
  • Past Crimes (1998)
  • Northern Blood 3 (1998)
  • Missing Persons (1999)
  • Scenes of Crime (2000)
  • Murder Squad (2001)
  • Green for Danger (2003)
  • Mysterious Pleasures (2003)
  • Crime in the City (2004)
  • Crime on the Move (2005)
  • I.D.: crimes of identity (2006)
  • The Trinity Cat and other mysteries (with Sue Feder) (2006)
  • M.O.: crimes of practice (2008)
  • Original Sins (2010)
  • Guilty Consciences (2011)
  • Best Eaten Cold (2011)
  • Deadly Pleasures (2013)
  • Guilty Parties (2014)
  • Capital Crimes (2015)
  • Truly Criminal (2015)
  • Resorting to Murder (2015)
  • Silent Nights (2015)


  • Understanding Computer Contracts (1983)
  • Understanding Dismissal Law (two editions, the second as How to Get the Best Deal from Your Employer)
  • Managing Redundancies (1986)
  • Executive Survival (two editions)
  • Careers in the Law (six editions)
  • Know-How for Employment Lawyers (with others) (1995)
  • Urge to Kill (2002) (US edition; UK edition is Catching Killers; Australian edition is Motive to Murder)
  • Tolley’s Equal Opportunities Handbook (four editions)
  • The Golden Age of Murder (2015)


  1. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p776-777
  2. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p696
  3. ^ Great British Fictional Detectives, p86
  4. ^ The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction, p148
  5. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p704
  6. ^ The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction, p149
  7. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p25
  8. ^ The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction, p149
  9. ^
  10. ^ Crime Scene: Britain and Ireland, John Martin, published by Five Leaves Publications in 2014, p250
  11. ^ Doug Greene, “The Golden Age of Murder”, CADS 71, October 2015.
  12. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p239
  13. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p704
  14. ^ British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, p240
  15. ^
  16. ^ Marcel Berlins, The Times, 4 July 2015
  17. ^ Mark Lawson, The Guardian, 28 May 2015
  18. ^ Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 2 July 2015
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^


  • 'Martin Edwards' in The Mammoth Encyclopaedia of Modern Crime Fiction ed. Mike Ashley (2002) (Robinson)
  • Scene of the Crime by Julian Earwaker and Kathleen Becker (2002) (Aurum)
  • ‘Martin Edwards’ in Whodunit?: a who’s who in crime & mystery writing ed. Rosemary Herbert (2003) (Oxford University Press)
  • ‘Employment – North West’ in The Legal 500 (2007 and 2013) (Legalease)
  • ‘Employment' in Chambers Directory UK (2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013) (Chambers)
  • ‘Harry Devlin' in Great British Fictional Detectives by Russell James(2008) (Remember When)
  • 'The Shires: Rural England and Regional Crime Fiction' by Philip Scowcroft in British Crime Writing: An Encyclopaedia ed. Barry Forshaw (2009) (Greenwood)
  • 'Martin Edwards' by Michael Jecks, in British Crime Writing: An Encyclopaedia ed. Barry Forshaw (2009) (Greenwood)

External links[edit]