Ruth Dugdall is a crime author and ex-probation officer from Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK. She specializes in domestic noir and focuses on forensics. All of her books are inspired by real cases. Dugdall's second novel The Woman Before Me won the Debut Dagger Award in 2005.
Ruth Dugdall holds a BA honors degree in English Literature (Warwick University) and an MA in Social Work (University of East Anglia). After that, she worked in the Criminal Justice System as a social worker, then as a probation officer. For part of that time, she was assigned to a prison where serious criminals were held. There, Dugdall has worked with offenders guilty of serious crimes, including stalking, rape, and murder. This has informed her crime writing.
Ruth's first novel, The James Version (2002), is a historical fiction based on the actual murder of Maria Marten at the Red Barn in Suffolk. The story is re-told with a fresh light on who really killed Maria. It takes first prize at The Winchester Writer’s Conference.
"My first novel, The James Version was a fictionalized account of a notorious Victorian murder. It took years of research, and I initially self-published it," says Dugdall.
The next two novels The Woman Before Me and its follow-up The Sacrificial Man (2011) were published by Legend Press. The former won the Debut Dagger Award, and sold 45,000 copies, becoming one of Legend Press' bestsellers. Rights have been sold in the US and across Europe. It is the story of Rose Wilks, a female stalker imprisoned for killing a child, who claims to be innocent.
The Sacrificial Man set the story on an Internet suicide pact that goes wrong. The novel is inspired by the case of Armin Miewes, the German cannibal killer. Euro Crime described The Sacrificial Man as "a readable, very well-plotted tale, with believable and sympathetic characters".
In 2015, Ruth Dugdall released two books, Humber Boy B and Nowhere Girl. Both books feature Dugdall's probation officer character, Cate Austin, who was the central protagonist of The Woman Before Me.
"Probation officers have more face-to-face contact with criminals than any other profession," she says, "they are the unsung heroes of the Criminal Justice System."
Humber Boy B is about a high-profile case, a child who kills another child. The novelist worked in a specialist prison for children guilty of crimes like this for 2 years.
Her latest book, My Sister and Other Liars (2017) is the story of two sisters, one of whom lost her memory after a vicious attack. Readers say, "It's not an easy or comfortable read, but it's gripping and written with empathy."
Since she started writing, Ruth Dugdall has had short stories published in the Winchester Writers' Conference and the Eva Wiggins Award anthologies. She also was the news presenter on Felixstowe TV and has appeared on BBC Radio's Woman's Hour. Besides Dugdall is a frequent speaker at UK book festivals.
Photo credit: FB @Ruth Dugdall author