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Meet some of Canada’s best crime writers live and on stage at the MOTIVE Crime & Mystery Festival, which marks the exciting return of in-person programming for the Toronto International Festival of Authors. MOTIVE runs from June 3 to 5.

Learn how these masters of the whodunit build immersive worlds, indelible characters and clockwork plots that will keep you turning the page late into the night. Just keep the light on!


Linwood Barclay

Linwood Barclay's headshot
Photo credit: Ellis Parrinder.

Linwood Barclay is an American-born Canadian author whose New York Times bestselling novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages and sold millions of copies around the world. Notable books include No Time for Goodbye, which The Daily Express called “a fast-moving rollercoaster of a read,” and Trust Your Eyes, a finalist for the Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read from the Crime Thriller Awards. Barclay’s newest novel, Take Your Breath Away, delves into the cold case of Brie Mason, a woman who mysteriously disappeared six years ago. When Brie’s lookalike returns, her husband Andrew must uncover a trail of accusations, lies and murder. Join master of suspense, Linwood Barclay, as he discusses his infectious new thriller.

Linwood Barclay will participate in the following events:

Take Your Breath Away: Linwood Barclay
Sunday, June 5 at 1:30pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Rabbit Hole: Mark Billingham with Linwood Barclay
Saturday, June 4 at 5pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Ian Hamilton

Ian Hamilton headshot
Photo credit: Iden Ford.

Ian Hamilton is the Canadian author of the acclaimed Ava Lee and Uncle Chow Tung series. The Water Rat of Wanchai won the Arthur Ellis Award for best first crime novel, The Disciple of Las Vegas was shortlisted for the Barry Award and The Wild Beasts of Wuhan was shortlisted for the Lambda Award for best lesbian crime/mystery novel of 2013. BBC Culture named Hamilton as one of ten mystery writers from the last 30 years who should be on your bookshelf. In The Sultan of Sarawak, Chinese-Canadian forensic accountant Ava Lee travels to Malaysia on the trail of the powerful Chong family, who have a criminal stranglehold over the province. Join Ian Hamilton as he discusses his brilliant heroine and intricately crafted plots.

Ian Hamilton will participate in the following event:

The Sultan of Sarawak: Ian Hamilton
Sunday, June 5 at 1:30pm ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Robyn Harding

Robyn Harding's headshot
Photo credit: Tallulah.

Robyn Harding is a Canadian author of many books, including The Party, which was an international bestseller, and The Swap, which reached #1 on both the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star bestseller lists. In The Perfect Family, Harding crafts a fast paced and character-driven thriller that explores the lives of Thomas and Viv Adler and their well-mannered children. When their Porsche is pelted with eggs, it sets off a cascade of attacks against the wealthy family. The police dismiss these as the work of bored teenagers, but the terrified Adlers begin to investigate on their own, only to discover family secrets better left hidden. Join Robyn Harding as she discusses her twisty, page-turner of a novel.

Robyn Harding will participate in the following event:

The Perfect Family: Robyn Harding
Saturday, June 4 at 2pm ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Thomas King

Thomas King's headshot
Photo credit: Harlen Bigbear.

Thomas King is the Canadian-American author of Green Grass, Running Water; The Truth About Stories; The Back of the Turtle; Indians on Vacation; and the DreadfulWater mysteries. He has won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the RBC Taylor Prize and the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. King’s latest crime novel, Deep House, continues the adventures of Cherokee ex-cop Thumps DreadfulWater, who has found peace in small-town Chinook, only to stumble upon a body at the bottom of a treacherous canyon. Join Thomas King as he lays out the clues with his signature wit and wry humour.

Thomas King will participate in the following event:

Deep House: Thomas King with Shelagh Rogers
Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Shari Lapena

Shari Lapena headshot

Canadian Shari Lapena is the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door, A Stranger in the House and An Unwanted Guest. Her books have sold seven million copies in 38 territories around the world. In her latest thriller, Not a Happy Family, Lapena delves into the lives of a rich and seemingly happy family in upstate New York. When Fred and Sheila Merton are brutally murdered the night after Easter Dinner, suspicion falls on their three adult children. Could one of them be a psychopath, and wouldn’t the other siblings know? Join Shari Lapena as she untangles this web of secrets, greed and revenge.

Shari Lapena will participate in the following event:

Not a Happy Family: Shari Lapena
Friday, June 3 at 6pm ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Beverly McLachlin

Beverley McLachlin headshot
Photo credit: Jean-Marc Carisse.

Beverley McLachlin is a Canadian crime writer and #1 national bestseller for her book, Full Disclosure, which was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best First Crime Novel Award. She is also Canada’s longest-serving Chief Justice. Her novels combine thrilling plot twists with realistic courtroom scenes that have been used in law schools to show how trials really work. In McLachlin’s latest bestseller, Denial, brilliant defence attorney Jilly Truitt must use all her legal acumen to untangle the truth in a bizarre “mercy-killing” case. Join Beverley McLachlin as she discusses her process for creating a gripping mystery.

Beverley McLachlin will participate in the following events:

Denial: Beverley McLachlin
Sunday, June 5 at 11am ET, Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre

Critical Conversation: The Ethics of Crime Writing
Friday, June 4 at 2pm ET, Outdoor Stage

Nita Prose

Nita Prose's headshot
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz Photography.

Nita Prose is a Canadian author whose debut novel, The Maid, was a #1 national and New York Times bestseller, and was also a pick for the Good Morning America and Cityline book clubs. Molly Grant is a young woman who struggles with social queues. She takes a job as a hotel maid, delighting in her orderly surroundings. However, when Molly comes upon the body of rich and infamous Charles Black during her rounds, her unusual demeanor makes her the prime suspect for the police. Join Nita Prose as she lays out her Clue-like mystery and hear her unique perspective on the publishing world as an editor-turned-author.

Nita Prose will participate in the following event:

The Maid: Nita Prose
Sunday, June 5 at 7pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Marissa Stapley

Marissa Stapley's headshot
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz.

Canadian Marissa Stapley is a journalist, magazine editor and bestselling author of The Last Resort, Things to Do When It’s Raining and Mating for Life. Her newest book, Lucky, was a New York Times and national bestseller, and was a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick. Meet Lucky Armstrong, a talented grifter who is on the run from the police. When Lucky buys a lottery ticket on a whim, she discovers it is worth millions. Only problem, how to collect her winnings without being arrested? Join Marissa Stapley on this rollercoaster ride of a heist novel that interrogates the ideas of punishment, redemption and forgiveness.

Marissa Stapley will participate in the following events:

Lucky: Marissa Stapley with Hannah Mary McKinnon
Saturday, June 4 at 2pm ET, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Masterclass: Marissa Stapley on the Heart of Character Development
Friday, June 3 at 6pm ET, Main Loft in Harbourfront Centre

Crime Writers of Canada

Crime Writers of Canada logo

After seeing your favourite Canadian mystery writers live on Harbourfront stage, sleuth out the Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) Tent and meet them in-person. CWC is a national non-profit for Canadian crime and mystery writers. All day Saturday and Sunday, authors will be signing books and chatting with fans. The tent and readings are some of the many free, outdoor events at MOTIVE this year, including readings, discussions and activities for the whole family.

Crime Writer of Canada Tent
Saturday, June 4 at 11am to 7pm ET, west lawn at Harbourfront Centre
Sunday, June 5 at 11am to 7pm ET, west lawn at Harbourfront Centre

Crime Writers of Canada Readings
Saturday, June 4 at 6pm ET, Outdoor Stage
Sunday, June 5 at 2pm ET, Outdoor Stage

Linwood Barclay's headshot as the featured image

The Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA), Canada’s largest and longest-running literary festival, is delighted to share the news about our upcoming festivals in 2021 and 2022. Following the success of 2020’s Festival – the largest digital literary festival internationally – TIFA will return in a digital format for the 42nd edition from October 21–31, 2021. This year’s Festival will again offer a dynamic lineup of authors and artists from Canada and around the globe through live conversations and entertaining performances, alongside compelling new events celebrating books, authors and stories.

This year, Festival audiences can expect the return of popular TIFA Kids! events and Write in the Neighbourhood podcast series. Audiences will also discover Can You Hear Me Now?, a new collection of writing commissions from some of the world’s most diverse voices. For these commissions, TIFA invited writers to respond to this phrase – familiar in this age of digital meetings, while also speaking to global movements for change to empower marginalized and disenfranchised voices to be represented, celebrated and heard.

In 2022, as TIFA returns to in-person activities at its iconic home at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, the 43rd Festival will mark the arrival of an exciting new chapter by shifting the festival’s dates to September 22 – October 2, 2022. Building on TIFA’s vision to inspire, empower and connect through the art of stories, and the potential of the Festival’s location, in particular the outdoor spaces, TIFA will enhance the experience for audiences and authors, opening up new creative opportunities for Festival programmes and activities.

“We are inspired by the way audiences responded to our digital format. It provided us with an incredible opportunity to broaden our programme and reach a significantly larger number of readers who share our love of literature and storytelling. We look forward to building on this success and creating new possibilities for audiences and authors in September 2022 and our return to in-person events.” said Roland Gulliver, Toronto International Festival of Authors Director.

Continuing TIFA’s commitment to a year-round calendar of events, 2022 will also witness the launch of a new three-day crime and mystery festival (June 3–5, 2022). From cozy crime to police procedural, psychological thriller to true crime, this genre has created some of the world’s best storytellers who are much loved by readers everywhere. The three-day Festival will celebrate writers from Canada and across the world, with a particular focus on Nordic Noir in partnership with Nordic Bridges 2022, spearheaded by Harbourfront Centre. There will be more than 50 events including in-conversations, writing masterclasses, and youth and children’s programming. It will take place both indoors and outdoors at Harbourfront Centre, with online digital content and activities to complement live programmes.

“The crime and mystery genre is immensely popular in Canada, offering page-turning reads from fantastic storytellers. Alongside being widely accessible and relevant, the genre offers varied perspectives on the world and explores contemporary social issues through captivating narratives. I am incredibly excited to see how our audiences respond to the inaugural Festival,” added Gulliver.

The full programming slate for TIFA’s 2021 edition will be announced in September.

42nd Edition Toronto International Festival of Authors, October 21–31, 2021, Reshaping the world through words banner