Matt Wesolowski and Michael J Malone make for an interesting duo opening the second year of Aberdeen’s crime fiction festival, Granite Noir. Haunting background music wafts around the Lemon Tree theatre as Wesolowski, looking relaxed in trendy ripped jeans, hair tied in a tight ponytail, shares a joke with Malone, who’s sporting a tweed three-piece suit and plum bow tie. The two appear to get along well, not surprising as they are both masters of the why-dunnit genre, their latest protagonists both wrestling with issues of mental health.

Wesolowski opens with a tantalising reading from the second of his murder mysteries, Hydra (a loose prequel to Six Storiesthough both can be read as stand alone), inspired by the real-life crime of Jennifer Pan, a Canadian student who hired a hit man to kill her parents.

From Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Wesolowski began his writing career penning short horror fiction, which was published in a number of anthologies before creating his first novella and then his debut novel Six Stories, a chilling thriller set around a series of six interviews, in podcast format, where journalist Scott King attempts to understand how the complex relationships between a tight-knit group of teenagers ended in a mysterious death. Both novels are published by Orenda Books.

Next Malone entrances the audience with a reading from the prologue of his latest work, House of Spines. Lyrical and otherworldly, he draws the audience into his psychological thriller with moonbeams and dance, a departure from his hard hitting DI Ray McBain Glaswegian detective series. He describes House of Spines as a love letter to books, making special mention of Jackie Kay’s Trumpet and The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins. Set in Newton Hall, a fictional mansion in Bearsden, House of Spines owes more than a nod to the Gothic.

Malone began writing as a poet, with over 200 published poems and two poetry collections to date, and credits that experience for giving him the confidence to allow space in a novel for the reader to make their own assumptions as to what is real and what imagined. For more of Malone’s psychological thrillers try A Suitable Lie (published by Orenda books) and Beyond The Rage (published by Contraband).

A confident welcome, by both Wesolowski and Malone, to Granite Noir 2018.