Waites, Martyn 1963-

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Waites, Martyn 1963-


Born 1963, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England; married; has children. Education: Attended drama school in Birmingham.


Home—Hertfordshire, England. Agent—Gregory & Company, 3 Barb Mews, Hammersmith, London W6 7PA, England.


Writer. Has worked as a barman, market trader, stand-up comic and an actor. Runs workshops on the arts for disadvantaged teens and young adults, in London and Essex; served as writer-in-residence for two prisons: Huntercombe Young Offenders Institution and HMP Chelmsford; Essex University, Essex, England, RLF Writing Fellow.


Mary's Prayer (crime novel), Piatkus (London, England), 1997.

Little Triggers (crime novel), Piatkus (London, England), 1998.

Candleland (crime novel), Allison & Busby (London, England), 2000.

Born under Punches (novel), Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2003.

The White Room (novel), Simon & Schuster (London, England), 2004.

Also author, with Robert Horwell, of the film Cold Harbour. Contributor of short fiction to anthologies, including World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories and London Noir. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Bizarre, Big Issue, and the Bookseller.


The Mercy Seat, Pocket Books (London, England), 2006.

Bone Machine, Pocket Books (London, England), 2007.

White Riot, Pocket Books (London, England), 2008.


Martyn Waites was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Initially having no idea what he wanted to do for a living, he worked a series of odd jobs, including stints as a barman, market trader, stand-up comic, a stagehand, and teaching former teen offenders how to do improvisational acting. The last job sparked his interest in theater, and he set off to study acting for three years in Birmingham. Preferring live performances to working in either television or film, Waites joined a community theater group in Hull, where he worked in an oral history play for several months before spending a year in a traveling performance of a Catherine Cookson story, in which he played the villain. He continued performing, taking whatever part he could get, but garnering no real success. In order to pay the bills, he finally succumbed to working on television, accepting one-off parts in a number of television series, and also doing some small roles in independent films and a variety of commercials. However, it was during this time he began to talk about writing a novel, more as something to say than as an actual plan. Eventually the idea of writing solidified, though, and he made a few aborted attempts at different projects before he finally finished a manuscript for a short story. Each story after that got a bit longer, until he wrote a novel. His love of crime fiction was reflected in his efforts, and the result was his first book, Mary's Prayer, which was published in 1997.

Mary's Prayer tells the story of London-based journalist Stephen Larkin who works for a borderline-tabloid paper. Sent to Newcastle to cover the funeral of a local gangster, he gets sidetracked upon arriving when his former lover Charlotte asks him to investigate a suicide for her. David Pitt, writing for Booklist, found the book to be "stark and realistic," and declared Larkin "a complex and credible hero." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly opined that readers "able to get past … graphic scenes will be thoroughly entertained by Waites's acerbic wit and flawed but imminently likeable protagonist." Waites brought back Stephen Larkin in his crime novel Little Triggers. In this follow-up effort, Waites revisits the city of Newcastle and his journalist character Larkin, who is trying to track down a child abuser. Larkin focuses on the more-affluent and successful members of the community, but when the answer is revealed, even tough-guy journalist Larkin is shocked.

In The Mercy Seat, Waites introduces a new protagonist, down-on-his-luck investigative journalist Joe Donovan, and kicks off a new series. Donovan's six-year-old son has disappeared, and Joe has never been the same. However, when a teenage boy named Jamal appears, desperate for Donovan's help, something in the boy and in the situation forces him to reengage. Jamal turns out to have something that could reveal all of Donovan's deepest secrets, and only together can they prevent the worst from happening. To complicate matters, a killer is after both Jamal and Donovan, and this killer has never missed a mark. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "what readers are likely to take away from this potent first of a new series is the resilient power of Donovan's feelings." Reviewing for the Library Journal, Roland Person praised the book, noting that "Waites uses real places in a city he knows intimately to portray an underside even many residents wouldn't recognize."

Bone Machine is the next installment in the "Joe Donovan" series. No longer a journalist, and somewhat recovered from his son's kidnapping and continued absence, Donovan has pulled his life together to some extent and opened, along with several characters from the previous book, his own agency. The agency is hired to delve into the circumstances surrounding a number of girls who disappeared, then turned up mutilated. Michael Nell is the primary suspect, and it is his attorney who wants Donovan and company to uncover the truth behind the girls' disappearances and murders. Maxine Clark, in a review for the Euro Crime Web site, remarked: "If you like pulp fiction, you'll like this book. It plays by the rules and pulls no punches in the gradual uncovering of the motivations and roles of the players."

White Riot finds Donovan still attempting to determine what happened to his son, and he has a promising lead. Convinced he has located the people who have claimed his son as their own, Donovan is frustrated by his inability to get close to the boy, as well as by his long-fractured relationship with his wife and daughter. Juxtaposed against Donovan's experiences, Waites tells the story of another kidnapping and a murder at the hands of a terrorist faction. Denise Pickles, writing for ReviewingTheEvidence.com, commented that "Waites is truly a master at building tension. He also has no scruples when it comes to subjecting his characters to violence and, indeed, death. He constructs a plot that is at once horrific yet believable."



Booklist, February 1, 2006, Frank Sennett, review of The Mercy Seat, p. 34; October 1, 2006, David Pitt, review of Mary's Prayer, p. 40.

Bookseller, July 23, 2004, "Readers behind Bars: Books Can Make a Huge and Positive Difference to Men and Women in Prison, as Writer-in-Residence," p. 24.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Mary's Prayer, p. 881.

Library Journal, March 15, 2006, Roland Person, review of The Mercy Seat, p. 68.

Publishers Weekly, March 25, 2002, review of Mary's Prayer, p. 48; February 20, 2006, review of The Mercy Seat, p. 135; September 18, 2006, review of Mary's Prayer, p. 34.

Tribune Books, June 16, 2002, review of Mary's Prayer, p. 6.


Euro Crime,http://www.eurocrime.co.uk/ (January 1, 2007), Maxine Clark, review of Bone Machine.

Gregory & Company Web site,http://www.gregoryandcompany.com/ (February 6, 2008), author profile.

Independent Online,http://arts.independent.co.uk/ (January 13, 2008), Danuta Kean, "Why the Geordie Crime Writer Is Choosing to Keep it Real."

Martyn Waites Home Page,http://www.martynwaites.com (February 6, 2008).

ReviewingTheEvidence.com,http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/ (February 6, 2008), Denise Pickles, review of White Riot.

Shots Magazine,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (February 6, 2008), Martyn Waites, "From the Desk of Martyn Waites."

TW Books Web site,http://www.twbooks.co.uk/ (February 6, 2008), reviews of The Mercy Seat, The White Room, Born under Punches, Candleland, and Little Triggers; author profile.