sleuthing shadowed new web

Carry on Sleuthing: A Death on the Ocean Wave sails back into Irvine’s Harbour Arts Centre in February.

The gang will be back together for a special show in aid of the charity Breaking the Silence, which provides support for victims of rape and childhood sexual abuse.

And if you’ve seen it before, don’t worry – there’s new material, although the solution to the mystery remains the same, so keep it to yourself.

Tell us, though, because we’ve forgotten.

Caro Ramsay, Theresa Talbot, Pat Young, Michael J. Malone and myself will be back in costume for the cast of dozens.

Details here:



Sleuthing poster

Sleuthing poster

They called it a triumph in Grantown-on-Spey (or some kind of clapped out old banger, anyway).

And in January, Carry on Sleuthing 2: Murder at the Knickerage is heading for Dumfries – and the oldest working theatre in Scotland.

And if that wasn’t enough to get the funny bone tingling, the Theatre Royal will also host Four Crime Writers in Search of a Plot.


Let Joy be unbound (she’s a lovely girl)!

Carry on sleuthing composote (2017_11_10 11_48_18 UTC)

Yes, indeedy – Gordon ‘GJ’ Brown, Mark Leggatt, Neil Broadfoot and Douglas Skelton will be dusting off the old Tea Cosy of Inspiration (TCOI) and getting their little grey cells in gear to create a crime story before the audience’s very eyes live on stage (well, almost live. A couple of them don’t look too healthy).

Here’s the drill – the audience is invited to suggest a protagonist and a murder weapon and then choose which author will write the next section of the story. While the chosen one is sporting the TCOI and churning out some fantastic prose (it could happen), the others will field question about crime writing from the audience.

It’s fast, it’s fun and it could well be folly.

four blokes byres road 2 (2017_10_12 09_40_46 UTC)

Then the Carry on Sleuthing team – Caro Ramsay, Lucy Cameron, Michael J. Malone and Douglas Skelton – will take over the stage to present a mystifying mystery filled with suspense, danger and, well, mystifying mystery.

Either that or they’ll just do Murder at the Knickerage.

With script in hand, because they’re incapable of remembering lines and you wouldn’t want some of these stuck in your head anyway, they will invite you to listen to the witnesses, find the clues and decide who the murderer was.

However, budding sleuths have to wade their way through a barrage of jokes and sight gags to find the clues!

Don’t miss this tittersome evening of murder, mystery and mirth.

Tickets can be booked now, priced £8 for an individual show, or £12 for the two.


Find out how to book here:


The commemorative brochure from 1977


The commemorative brochure from 1977

The commemorative brochure from 1977

My God, 40 years old.

I can’t believe it.

A Ruby Anniversary.

No, not me.

I’m talking about ‘Star Wars’, of course.

To save you getting your shoes and socks off to do some counting (I’ve already done so), the first one came out in 1977. I was but a slip of a lad. The lad in question being my dad, the slip being me (Thank you, Round the Horne).

I was already well aware of the phenomenon that was this relatively low-budget science fiction romp. The publicity machine really put the hype into hyper space. I already had the John Williams soundtrack, a big gatefold double album, the likes of which you really don’t get anymore, even in these days when the vinyl strikes back. I’d bought it three months before so was well aware of the beats and brass of the music by the time I saw the film. Unlike the CD of The Phantom Menace, there were no spoilers in the track titles (the Menace CD gave away what should’ve been a shock moment, the death of Liam Neeson’s character – by calling one track ‘Quai-Gon’s Noble End.’)

The music plays a vital part in the film’s success. Without John Williams’ genius, Star Wars would not have been icon it became. I firmly believe that. By harking back to the golden age of composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold, while still being incredibly modern, it not only resurrected the notion of the symphonic score but also swept you up into the story and carried you along in a percussive mixture of romance and bombast.  In short, it hit the right note (sorry).

I was glad to hear Mr Williams had not lost any of his magic when he scored ‘The Force Awakens.’

I saw the film in the Odeon Renfield Street, which is now gone, sadly. I saw many great films there and, in those far-off days as a film critic, had fun at press shows, meeting a few stars.

On the way by bus from Glasgow’s south side to see the first film, along with the person who was destined to be the present Mrs Skelton, our forward trajectory came to a sudden and seemingly endless stop on a bridge over the Clyde. The road ahead was blocked by a burst water main, we were told. There was a danger we would miss the screening.

We ran all the way. The Force must’ve been with us because we made it in time.

We were younger then.

Despite already knowing the music so well, I was blown away by the film. It was fun. It was groundbreaking. It gave us new stars in Fisher, Ford and Hamill, although only one of them would really be propelled into the stratosphere. It helped change cinema as we know it.

Image (6)

In case you haven’t guessed, I am a Star Wars fan. No, I don’t dress up as any of the characters (although there are stories about me in a French Maid’s outfit which are, of course, completely untrue). I haven’t named Jedi as my religion. I don’t have a big light sabre (ooh, matron!)

I do still have the soundtrack LPs from the first three films AND the full colour commemorative brochure for the first. I don’t play the vinyl now because I have CDs, including a limited edition anthology box set of the music for the original three films, with outtake cues and tracks never before released. Well, it’s exciting for me.


With the exception of the music, I was unimpressed by the three prequels. George Lucas’s lack of dexterity in the dialogue department was, despite occasional flashes, woefully apparent. As Harrison Ford once said, ‘You can type this shit but you can’t say it.’ Although I recognise that they helped lay down much of the mythology that is in use in the new films, the trilogy was po-faced and, thanks to clunky dialogue, largely poorly acted, with too much attention paid to the technology.

The franchise was saved by ‘The Force Awakens’, despite it being more or less a remake of the original film. ‘Rogue One’, the first standalone spin-off, was breathtaking, with Michael Giacchino making a fine stab at emulating John Williams’ style while also ensuring his own musical voice was heard.

Like it or loathe it, Star Wars has had an effect on our culture. There have been spoofs, spin-offs and specials. The Force Be With You, Jedi Knights, I’ve got a bad feeling about this, These are not the Droids you’re looking for, asthmatic villains with big helmets (nurse, the screens!) – all ideas and lines that have seeped into our consciousness.

Even Stephen Sondheim got into the act with ‘Send in the Clones.’ Then, of course, there was the cookery show ‘Ready, Jedi, Cook.’ I’ll get my coat.

Now the one has been released and I’m looking forward to seeing it. It even has the royal stamp of approval, with Princes William and Harry apparently appearing as stormtroopers. I may even try to make a rare foray to an actual cinema.

However, as Yoda once said, do, or do not. There is no try.

It might be blu-ray, then.


Bloody hell!

That Caro Ramsay’s got a new book heading into the hands of eager fans.

Yes – another one! Does she eat?

I'm chatting to Caro Ramsay for the launch of her new book on November 30

I’m chatting to Caro Ramsay for the launch of her new book on November 30

It’s called THE SUFFERING OF STRANGERS and it’s bound to be another belter.

And she’ll be launching it during Book Week Scotland in the Prima Vera Bistro, courtesy of Waterstones Newton Mearns.

Apparently, she’ll be in conversation with yours truly.

We’ll talk about the book, the inspiration, the symbolism with which her work is replete and the existential angst of writing about crime.

If you’ve ever been to an event with Caro, you’ll know that to be a complete lie.

The book is serious but the event will be fun.

I wouldn’t miss it.

Actually, I’d better not – Caro knows how to kill without leaving a trace.

More info here:



I complete my mini tour of Argyll and Bute for Book Week Scotland in Helensburgh.


I’ll be chatting about how it was the writer’s life for me, after everything else proved – well – not for me.

I’m looking forward to all these events!

As with all the events this week, admission is free.


Info here:

With thanks to Argyll and Bute Libraries and Scottish Book Trust.

7. skeleton-2269764_1920 (2017_10_26 11_36_25 UTC)

The midway point of my three day mini tour of Argyll and Bute takes me to Campbeltown, just down the road from the land of my forefathers (which was Gigha, by the way).

This is another event for the fabulous Book Week Scotland, organised by the Scottish Book Trust (yay for them!)


These next two events are called Skelton’s Skeletons. Will I be pulling anything out of the closet? Of course I will – I’m not heading there naked. It’s the end of November, for goodness sake. I’d freeze my plots off.

I’ll talking about the life of a writer. Luckily, that writer happens to be me so I know a thing or two about it.

I’ll discuss the books, both fiction and non. I’ll talk about the process. I’ll talk about dealing with reviews.

It’s all light-hearted stuff, so if you’re in Campbeltown, come see me.

More info here:


With thanks to Argyll and Bute Libraries and Scottish Book Trust.

Bute event

My first official Book Week Scotland event takes me back to the lovely isle of Bute.


I’ll be teaming up pals Caro Ramsay and Michael J. Malone once again – but not for Carry on Sleuthing, although I’m sure it’ll be mentioned.

Caro Ramsay

Caro Ramsay

Michael J. Malone

Michael J. Malone

The panel is called CRIME AND CUPCAKES and in case you’re wondering, Michael and I are the cupcakes.

Bute event

It’ll be a fun night and if you’re on the island hope to see you there.

More info here:

With thanks to Print Point, Argyll and Bute Libraries and Scottish Book Trust.

Caro Ramsay, Michael J. Malone, Theresa Talbot and some bearded old man in 'Carry on Sleuthing' in Waterstones Argyle Street.

Fresh from its triumph at Tidelines, the Carry on Sleuthing team will, to paraphrase The Monkees, take the last train to Clarkston to bring quality theatre to the city suburbs. Or something.

Yes, you lucky Clarkstonians will have the chance to revel in the mystery and fun that has had audiences both puzzled and incontinent from Sanquhar to Grantown.

We’ll be in the library on Thursday October 5.

Details Here:

Clarkston Library

Caro and Douglas-1 web


We’re back on stage with the play that will give you the most fun you’ll ever have out of brutal murder.

Carry on Sleuthing will bring this year’s superb Tidelines Festival to a dramatic close.

If you haven’t seen it before, then this is a laugh a minute murder mystery with some wonderful performances from some top crime writers.

If you HAVE seen it before then you’ll know there was at least one lie in the statement above.

This is an extended version of the show that has played Glasgow, Paisley, Grantown, Ayr and Sanquhar.

So come along and help our ace sleuth Letitia Luvibod solve the mystery of who killed odious lawyer Hiram Grabbitt on board the SS Naughty Nigel.

SIFT the evidence!

HEAR the suspects give their version of events!

GASP at the incredible performances!

GROAN at the jokes!

Join our star, bestselling author Caro Ramsay, ably supported by Michael J. Malone, Douglas Skelton, Neil Broadfoot and, in a change to the programme, Pat Young, in Irvine’s Harbour Arts Centre for the theatrical event of the season.

Book here:

Carry on Sleuthing at Tidelines

Or phone 01294 274 059.


Byres Road crime writers

Here’s the story so far – Four dashing, debonair, supremely talented young crime writers agree to change the format of their already successful touring panel. It’s daring! It’s brave! It’s astounding!

Meanwhile, Neil Broadfoot, Gordon Brown, Mark Leggatt and Douglas Skelton are doing the same with theirs.

It’s madness!

Madness, I tell you!

The brilliant Byres Road Book bonanza is back – and Four Crime Writers will be looking for that elusive plot in Hillhead Library on Saturday September 23.

The new format sees us create a crime story from scratch, while also engaging in erudite conversation.

Okay, maybe not so erudite but there will be words coming from our mouths, as well as from our fingertips.

We’re not promising they’ll be in the right order or even spelled correctly, but they will be words.

So do get along and see us. We may come this way but once!

Details below and here: