As crowds gathered on Aberdeen’s Union Street to watch the Christmas lights switch-on parade things took a much darker turn at His Majesty’s Theatre with the launch of the Granite Noir 2018 programme.

The inaugural Granite Noir, in February of this year, was a great success with a number of events┬ácovered by The Wee Review. Next year’s offering, over the weekend 23 – 25 February, will delve even further into the world of crime, murder, human psychology and police investigation.

Festival ambassador, Stuart MacBride, delivers an uplifting and inspiring speech saying he would like Aberdeen to be known as a city of literature. Then, Lesley Anne Rose and Lee Randall introduce and explore the fascinating array of events which will be on offer including interviews with Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre and Ann Cleeves, the chance┬áto hear other successful authors in conversation, family events, film screenings, workshops, exhibitions, a new dramatic work, music, library events, a walking tour and even a crime writers’ pub quiz. In partnership with SPECTRA, Aberdeen’s Festival of Light, Granite Noir have commissioned a new artwork for HMT, King Orphan by Illuminos, which will no doubt stop people in their tracks.

Three tempting cocktails, including Corpse Reviver No. 2, are introduced by Dr Kathryn Harkup, who provides tantalising titbits about the quantities of poison a protagonist might require to see off a troublesome rival. She will discuss these issues further at the very popular Poisoned Cocktail Party and Poisoned High Tea on the Sunday of the festival.

Local writer, Shane Strachan, who has already enjoyed success with his short fiction and theatre work, treats the audience to an excerpt from a chilling tale, Dennis, to wrap up the evening. Shane will be reading as part of the Locals in the Limelight feature where five local, emerging writers, including myself, have been selected to give five minute readings of their own noir fiction ahead of some of the main events.

The programme for Granite Noir 2018 is rich and varied offering opportunities to explore a spectrum of themes with established authors, debuts, screenwriters, an ex-psychiatrist, a former probation officer and many more. The queues at the Box Office tonight indicate that many events will sell out sooner rather than later so get your tickets now. Discounts are available for attending multiple events and a weekend pass would make a terrific present.