Had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Crimefest convention in Bristol last week. The formal sessions became something of a blur, not least because I’d somehow managed to organise a conflicting commitment in the Midlands on Friday, so I spent too much of that day trekking up and down the M5. Probably the most memorable moments were a fascinating interview with Peter James, who seems more in touch with the detail of policing than many Chief Constables, and a hilarious discussion with the great Christopher Brookmyre. For me, though, the greatest pleasure of the weekend was catching up with old acquaintance and making new ones. I enjoyed a couple of lengthy chats with Martin Edwards and Paul Johnston, possibly the two most erudite men in crime fiction (Paul deservedly succeeded to Martin’s crown as Criminal Mastermind in the final session of the weekend), and felt very privileged to enjoy dinner on Friday with Martin, Kate Ellis and Ann Cleeves. I chatted to countless people over the weekend, readers and writers, sometimes through a red-wine haze (mine, but in fairness often theirs as well) and won’t try to name them all, but no-one was less than completely charming. Writing can sometimes be a lonely business, with only an iMac and your own characters for company, so it’s fun to share some conviviality with readers and fellow practitioners. I’ve already booked for next year and I’d urge anyone who’s an enthusiast for crime fiction to do the same.