You could be visiting Florida and having lunch with bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham to celebrate the publication of Rush of Blood in paperback!

Location is of course central to any novel, but crime fiction especially has always placed great emphasis on a sense of place. It’s almost impossible to imagine Inspector Morse in a city other than Oxford or Philip Marlowe operating anywhere but LA. In the best crime fiction, the location becomes a character every bit as fascinating and fully formed, every bit as integral to the story as the detective or the villain. It has always seemed to me that the best places to set a crime novel are those where all is not quite as it seems; where there is something nasty lurking just beneath the surface. This is why London is the perfect setting for my Tom Thorne series. There is pomp and history, a tourist-friendly façade… but there is also plenty of darkness beneath. There are shadows.

When I wanted to step away from Tom Thorne and write a standalone novel, the location would prove to be no less important. The idea I had centred around something shocking and terrible taking place in somewhere that seemed idyllic. I wanted to write about horror in paradise. And I knew just the place…

I have come to know the Gulf Coast of Florida fairly well in the last few years, particularly the amazing city of Sarasota. With its stunning beaches, friendly natives and incredible hospitality, I knew it would make the ideal setting. The perfect place for my three seemingly ordinary British couples to meet on what should have been the perfect holiday. The paradise beneath which something terrible was lurking. The sizzling, sun-kissed setting for a perfect murder.

Though the fictional holiday in Rush of Blood is memorable for all the wrong reasons, Sarasota remains the perfect place for a real holiday and, if the local tourist board don’t hate me too much, it’s a place I intend going back to again and again. It’s also the place to which the lucky winner of this amazing competition will be going this summer and I’m very much looking forward to taking them for lunch at my favourite Sarasota restaurant – a place that features prominently in Rush of Blood!

For your chance to win a trip to Florida and have lunch with me, simply tell us know where you would set your crime novel in the comments section below.

So, happy reading, best of luck…and see you in Florida.

Mark

Get your copy of Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham in store and online from Thursday 25th April!

Terms and Conditions

This competition is for one winner to receive the first prize. The prize for two people includes return flights from London to Tampa, 5 nights 4* room only accommodation at the Best Western Siesta Key & travel insurance (excluding any pre-existing medical conditions), and to have lunch with Mark Billingham at his favourite restaurant in Sarasota. Date for the lunch to be negotiated depending on Mark’s availability.

The prize must be taken during the period of 24th July – 14th August.

The prize is supplied by Unmissable.

1. Anything over & above this will be at the expense of those travelling, including car hire.
2. Flights to & from London may be indirect.
3. Minimum age 21.
4. The prize is non-transferable & no cash alternative will be given.
5. Where applicable, prices are based on two people sharing a double/ twin room.
6. Please note, where insurance is included, it covers winners up to 69 years of age and there may be a supplement payable for winners 70 or over. Also note that we are not able to insure winners with pre-existing medical conditions.
7. For trips to the USA, under the new regulations the minimum age for check-in at hotels is 21, so at least one winner must be aged 21 or over.
8. Winners are responsible for their own visas, passports and meeting entry requirements.
9. The winner will be selected at random from the correct entries received in accordance with these terms and conditions by Tesco whose decision will be final.
10. The winner may see their entry posted on the Little, Brown website and possibly other websites and Twitter accounts.
11. There is no purchase necessary to enter.
12. The competition opens at 12 midday BST on 23rd April 2013 and closes at 11.59pm 24th May 2013. Any entries received outside these specified times and dates will not be eligible for entry into the competition.
13. The competition is open to any UK residents aged 18 or over except employees of Little, Brown Book Group, Tesco or Unmissable, their families, or anyone professionally connected to the competition either themselves or through their families.
14. Only one entry per person allowed. Second or subsequent entries will be disqualified. Entries will not be accepted via agents, third parties or in bulk.
15. Little, Brown Book Group is not responsible for contacting or forwarding prizes to entrants who provide unclear or incomplete information or for entries lost, misdirected, delayed or destroyed.
16. Little, Brown Book Group reserves the right to alter the prizes or cancel the competition without notice.  No cash alternatives to prizes will be provided.
17. The winner’s name will be published on the Tesco Books Blog within 12 working days of the closing date.
18. Little, Brown Book Group will only use email addresses of the entrants, and the winners’ postal addresses, in compliance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with our privacy policy. The emails from the entrants, and from the winner with their postal addresses (including any other record of the address), will be deleted respectively after the end on the competition and after the prize has been posted.
19. By entering the competition each entrant agrees to be bound by these terms and conditions.
20. This competition is being organised by Little, Brown Book Group.