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Rosamund Urwin and Liam Kelly

Making a killing on Antiques Roadshow crime novel

Antiques Roadshow, the sedate Sunday evening show where the frisson comes from a collector finding their trinket is actually a treasure, has now inspired a much more deadly drama.

The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder, born of the author C.L. Miller’s love of the BBC1 series, is the latest example of a trend for “cosy crime” novelists to take inspiration from the small screen. It will be one of the hot books at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week and was sold this month to the publishing house Pan MacMillan in a three-book deal with a six-figure advance.

Cosy crime has become one of the most popular and lucrative sub-genres in publishing, largely due to the success of Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series. Shows referenced in other series include Strictly Come Dancing, Love Island and The Great British Bake-Off.

“Half my submissions are now cosy crime,” said Ben Willis, publishing director for crime and thrillers at Bonnier Books. “On an international level it works really nicely to combine these with a nod to the television shows to take advantage of the fact that Americans … are lapping up Love Island and Bake Off.”

But Sir Ian Rankin, the author of 29 Inspector Rebus novels, said the police detective genre is “dying”, replaced by cosy crime books and “psychological domestic noirs”.

Rankin, 62, said Osma had “caught the zeitgeist” because readers want to be “comforted by the notion that ordinary people can make a difference, can solve problems”. The author told The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival: “The crime novel keeps evolving, because new writers come on board who are: a) dealing with the fears of a contemporary audience, which of course keeps changing; and b) finding fresh ways of doing the technical telling of stories.”

Miller’s debut, to be published in 2024, follows Freya, a young woman whose antique-dealer mentor dies in suspicious circumstances. It culminates in an antique convention in Suffolk, where everyone is a suspect.

Miller, 43, wrote the novel in consultation with her mother, Judith, 71, a collector and expert who appears on Antiques Roadshow. “The idea came from me telling my mum I wanted to write a crime novel,” she said. “And I asked her, ‘What antique would you kill for?’”