I’ve been a professional writer for more than twenty-five years, and if you look at my past work you might be surprised to see I’m now writing cosy crime murder mysteries! After all, I created the spy thriller graphic novel Atomic Blonde, on which the movie is based, and I’ve scripted horror videogames like Resident Evil Village. But now I’m writing the Dog Sitter Detective series, starring a retired actress (plus pooches, of course) and I’m having lots of fun. How did that happen?

Antony Johnston Credit: Sarah Walton Photography

Antony Johnston Credit: Sarah Walton Photography

I’ve always loved mystery stories. I grew up reading The Famous Five and The Three Investigators, before moving on to authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. These authors had a big influence on my work – almost everything I write is a mystery at heart, even if it’s a graphic novel or videogame. The first thing I wrote for Marvel Comics was a ‘superhero noir’, and my graphic novel series The Fuse is about two futuristic cops solving crimes on a space station. Atomic Blonde itself, behind all the action, is one big mystery.

Still, nobody would call any of those stories ‘cosy crime’!

I started writing what became The Dog Sitter Detective during the first Covid lockdown, when everything was a bit bleak and there was little else for me to do. I thought working on something light-hearted would cheer me up. Throughout my career I’ve always tried to write things I’d want to read myself, and this was no different. At first I wasn’t even thinking about trying to get the book published. It was purely for my own enjoyment, a fun project to make me smile while everyone waited for the world to return to normal.

But the more I wrote, the more I realised that I really was having a lot of fun writing Guinevere ‘Gwinny’ Tuffel, the detective in question, and that the book had potential… especially when I added a couple of Salukis into the story. Before then the book didn’t even have a title, but from the moment the Saluki siblings Spera and Fede entered the story, I knew it could only be called The Dog Sitter Detective.

You see, the other great love of my life is dogs. I used to own two beautiful Lurchers, but sadly lost them both within a year, just before the pandemic. Adding Salukis to the book was a fun way to pay tribute to their memory, but these unusual hounds also set the story apart from the norm. So I focused on them and their relationship with Gwinny, a retired actress who finds herself having to look after the dogs – while also solving a murder, naturally.

Writing funny, warm mysteries that make people smile and feel touched is certainly a new thing for me. In some ways they’re very different to my graphic novels or videogames… but in other ways they’re quite similar. Most obviously, they’re mysteries; they’re fast-paced page-turners; and no matter what kind of story I’m writing, I believe the key is always memorable, appealing characters. Whether they’re suspects, police, or four-legged friends, the characters surrounding Gwinny are all larger than life and have their own part to play in each book.

(Don’t worry, by the way; nothing bad happens to the dogs!)

So while the genre may be unexpected, I’m having lots of fun and readers have responded in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The Dog Sitter Detective even won the 2023 Barker Book Award for fiction. Now the second book The Dog Sitter Detective Takes the Lead (this time featuring a boisterous tricolour Border Collie)  is published on January 25, and I can’t wait for readers to enjoy Gwinny’s new adventure.

The Author

ANTONY JOHNSTON is a New York Times bestselling writer and podcaster. For more than twenty years he’s writen books, graphic novels, non-fiction, videogames, film, and more. Much of it has been done with a snoozing hound curled up in his study.

Antony’s Dog Siter Detective crime fiction series, which follows a different breed in each book, has been a commercial and critical success. The first book in the series, The Dog Sitter Detective, was awarded the Barker Book Award for Fiction. The series is set to keep growing, with two more additions coming in the near future.

Antony’s crime and thriller titles include the Brigite Sharp spy thriller novels; a series of sci-fi murder mystery graphic novels (starring an older female police detective); adapting Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider books to graphic novels; and the Charlize Theron movie Atomic Blonde, which was adapted from Antony’s work. His productivity guide The Organised Writer has helped authors all over the world take control of their workload, and he interviews fellow writers on his podcast Writing and Breathing.

Antony is joint vice chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. Born in Birmingham, Antony grew up in nearby Redditch, he now lives and works close to Pendle Hill in Lancashire.

The Latest Book

Antony Johnston's book 'The Dog Sitter Detective Takes The Lead' is out now

cover image of The Dog Sitter Detective Takes The Lead by Antony Johnston
The Dog Sitter Detective Takes The Lead by Antony Johnston

Gwinny Tuffel is preparing for her first acting role in a decade in the West End, but she is still dog-sitting on the side to keep the wolf from the door. So, when ageing rock star Crash Double needs help with his Border Collie, she jumps at the chance. After all, looking after the charming Ace on Crash’s Litle Venice houseboat shouldn’t be an onerous task. But that’s before the singer’s dead body surfaces during the annual Canal Carnival festivities.

While the police dismiss the death as an accident, Gwinny suspects murder most foul. With a medley of suspects and some far-fetched motives to make heads or tails of, it is up to Gwinny, with Ace’s on the ground knowledge, to make sure the killer faces the music.

Antony Johnston’s The Dog Sitter Detective Takes The Lead the much-anticipated follow-up to The Dog Sitter Detective promises more mysteries for the lovable Gwinny Tuffel and her canine companions.

25th January 2024 Hardback £16.99 (ISBN 9780749030100) & eBook