Edinburgh author’s gripping pandemic thrillers get braille release

Long before Covid-19 arrived to blight our lives, Trinity author, Dr Lesley Kelly, envisaged an alternative Edinburgh of the near future in which the Capital’s citizens find themselves emerging from a pandemic.

​Consequently, in her thrilling Health of Strangers novel series, the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team​ ​must fight​ to contain the spreading virus, encountering mystery, murder and corruption along the way.

Now, the four books that currently make up her eerily prescient crime series, penned prior to the pandemic ​between 2016​ and ​2020​, ​are to be published in braille for blind and partially sighted readers.

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Partnering with Edinburgh-based Scottish Braille Press, ​Dr Kelly is delighted that all four titles ​in the ​range - The Health of Strangers​, Songs by Dead Girls​, ​Death at the Plague Museum ​and ​Murder at the Music Factory​ - will now be even more accessible for blind and partially sighted crime fiction fans who read braille.

Author Lesley Kelly the second book in her Heath of Strangers series,  Songs By Dead Girls
Author Lesley Kelly the second book in her Heath of Strangers series, Songs By Dead Girls

​The writer, whose debut novel, A Fine House in Trinity, was longlisted for the William McIlvanney Prize, s​ays,​ “I am thrilled that my books have been published in braille for blind and partially sighted readers. The series is based on my work experiences in emergency planning, and accurately predicted a number of pandemic issues, including vaccine passports, hoarding, and debates about civil liberties. It also deals with isolation, which may reflect some of the experiences of blind and partially sighted people during lockdown.”

The books, part murder mystery, part medical thriller, part futuristic noir, revolve around the work of the North Edinburgh Health Enforcement Team, led by gruff ex-copper Paterson.

Under him are a staff of four, the feisty Mona, timid Bernard, astringent Maitland, and homely Carole, an uneasy mix of seconded Police and health service staff charged with stemming the spread of a mutant strain of influenza by tracking down citizens who have missed their monthly health check.

Dr Kelly adds, “Reading has been a comfort to many people during Covid, and we’ve seen a huge interest in books with contagion themes, from Camus’s The Plague, to Scotland’s own Louise Welsh with her trilogy of virus novels. I hope braille readers enjoy my contribution to pandemic literature.”  Chief Executive of Sight Scotland Mark O’Donnell agrees that the real-life Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and compounded the challenges many blind and partially sighted people face in the community, many experiencing additional challenges such as difficulties with being able to adhere to social distancing and increased social isolation.He says, “We are so grateful to Lesley Kelly and Sandstone Press for allowing the Scottish Braille Press to transcribe and publish Lesley’s Health of Strangers series in braille, enabling us to give braille readers access to Lesley’s fantastic crime thriller series. It is extremely important for equality, inclusion and personal security that accessible formats, including braille, are easily and readily available to people who require them.”

The Scottish Braille Press, which is run by sight loss charity Sight Scotland, is a leading provider of accessible media for businesses and individuals and has been producing accessible formats for more than 125 years.

The Health of Strangers series braille editions are available to buy online at Sightscotland.org.uk through Sight Scotland’s Braille Bookshop, or call 0131 662 4445

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