The Word Association

Danuta Kot

Danuta Kot Danuta Kot grew up with stories. Her Irish mother and her Polish father kept their own cultures alive with traditional tales they shared with their children. For many years, she worked with young people in Yorkshire who were growing up in the aftermath of sudden industrial decline. She uses this background in her books to explore some of the issues that confront modern, urban society: poverty, alienation and social breakdown, using the contexts of the modern crime novel. She now works as a senior education consultant, work that involves travel to establish education and training in other parts of the world. She is a regular academic speaker at conferences and literary festivals and has appeared on radio and television.

LIFE RUINS was published by Simon and Shuster in May 2019 as e-book, hardback and paperback. The second book in the series, SOMEONE WHO ISN’T ME will be published in April 2021. She is currently working on the third book in the series.

Latest book: LIFE RUINS, published by Simon and Shuster in May 2019 as e-book, hardback and paperback

Danuta Kot - Life Ruins LIFE RUINS is a domestic thriller set on the East Yorkshire coast and the remote shore at Ravenscar. Kay McKinnon, 68, has recently lost her husband. Her only family is her foster daughter Becca who is 21 and living her own life. Becca, a vulnerable young woman with a past of abuse now works at a drop-in centre for homeless young people where she befriends fragile, 15-year-old Paige. A young girl is mutilated beyond identification in a horrific attack. Becca is convinced it’s Paige, who has gone missing. She puts aside her distrust of authority and goes to the police. In the waiting room, she meets Jared Godwin, 28, who witnessed the attack.

Becca and Jared are drawn to each other, unaware that they have both witnessed things it is not safe to see. Kay is the only person who can help them, but Kay’s contacts with Becca have already put her in danger. Someone plans to get rid of them all before they can tell anyone what they know. The chase takes them across the Yorkshire moors and into the dangerous world of the derelict mines with their underground cisterns and long-abandoned tunnels, which now hide a dark secret.


A young detective, Andy Yeatson, in pursuit of a major drugs smuggling gang, is murdered and dumped on Sunk Island, a remote and empty landscape east of Hull. His boss, Mark Curwen, an ambitious and sometimes unscrupulous detective, sees this death as his chance to get the promotion. He decides to use Becca to flush out the gang. In doing this, he creates the impression that Becca is working as a police informer.

Becca and Andy were, briefly, lovers. Now she is struggling to come to terms with the fact that he lied to her, and the fact that she is trapped in a cul-de-sac of work and poverty. Her usual source of help, her foster-mother, Kay, is distracted by a house move to an old, dilapidated property on Sunk Island, close to her new job supporting drug users in Hull.

Someone plans to get rid of Becca, and has no qualms about hurting anyone that might be close to her. Becca is thrown on her own resources to protect herself, the people and things she cares about, and her own life as the gang come after her with everything they have got.

Forthcoming: SNITCH BITCH

DC Dinah Mason persuades Becca to get involved in an investigation into the use of slave labour in East Yorkshire, and asks her to visit some local nail bars and ask a few questions. Becca’s friend Jade goes to one of the nail bars and agrees to report back. But when Becca tries to find her, Jade has gone, leaving her small daughter in care, and a mountain of debt. The police are not concerned about her welfare, but Becca is.

Kay is working as an Appropriate Adult and has been assigned Ben Dodds, convicted of the imprisonment and murder of two young women. Dodds is appealing his sentence, but keeps making oblique references to ‘the others.’ Curwen, who investigated Dodds’ case, knows the man is a killer.

Kay and Becca begin to realise that the cases they are involved in may be linked. Becca is terrified that Jade may be another victim and that she, Becca, sent her into danger.

How can Ben Dodds, sociopath and killer, still be killing women though he is for now behind bars, and how can Kay and Becca stop him?

Praise for Danuta Kot/Danuta Reah

The Bookseller
Multi-stranded psychological thriller about the impact of people trafficking in the style of Barbara Vine and Minette Walters. An author to watch out for.

The Spectator
It's implications and parallels are as sadly contemporary as anything in Buchan or Fleming - and rather more realistic.

Daily Mail
A powerful thriller... (she) brings disturbingly alive the history of the Stalinist terrors and the brutal Nazi persecutions that followed.

Northern Echo
A story to wrench at the heart and haunt the soul.

Times Literary Supplement
Dense with ideas about truth and betrayal, asylum and integration, acceptance and hatred...this is a satisfying crime novel.

Subtle and hauntingly beautiful.


Winner, CWA Short Story Dagger 2005, for NO FLIES ON FRANK.

Short listed, CWA Dagger in the Library, 2006

Winner, CWA Short Story Dagger, 2019, for THE DUMMY’S GUIDE TO SERIAL KILLING.