Just back this morning from Baltimore, where I was attending the biggest event in the US crime fiction calendar, Bouchercon – their equivalent to our Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, with a glittering array of star attendees, including Val McDermid, John Harvey, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, Karin Slaughter, Mark Billingham, John Connelly and many others.

I was on a panel with Natasha Cooper, a great British crime writer, and lovely person, who sells more in the US than here and deserves much higher recognition in the UK, debating the theme of “At what point do you end a crime series?” Well, fear not, with the fun I am having writing the Roy Grace series and with the wonderful enthusiasm of all of you readers I have no end in sight — indeed, I still feel as if I am right at the very start of this series! So plenty more pain for you all to come!

I had tea before I left to catch the plane, with Stuart MacBride, a writer who I really rate. Stewart won the “Breakthrough Author” category at the recent ITV3 Awards. Only problem of course is that he’s a Scot, which meant two of the plum awards going to Scots that evening, the other, Author Of The Year, for which I was shortlisted, being awarded to my nemesis… (Does Rankin rhyme with Moriarty???).

When I told Stewart that I was flying back on the 9.20pm British Airways flight, together with Mark Billingham, John Harvey, Natasha Cooper, Anne Cleeves, Jason Goodwin, and numerous other members of the UK crime writing elite on board, he perked up visibly, with the typical gallows humour of a crime novelist. “Give me the flight number,” he said . “I’ll sit up all night tracking it on the internet. Just think if the plane goes down with all you lot on it… Half of the UK crime writing elite wiped out in a fell stroke. I could then be No 1 for months!”

It’s good to know who your friends are…