A WRITER with a fascination for North-East gangsters has signed a three book deal to create a new crime series for literary heavyweights Penguin Random House books.

Howard Linskey, 45, has three novels set in Newcastle’s seedy underworld to his name.

The writer, formerly of Bishop Middleham, near Ferryhill, has released The Dead, The Drop and The Damage featuring gangster David Blake, to great acclaim.

He wrote initially for the publisher No Exit but he has now moved across to Penguin. His first book for the publisher is set to be released in 2015.

Mr Linskey said: “This is a story that I believed in from the beginning.

“Every author dreams of writing a book that is snapped up by a big publisher and for me that long-held dream is now a reality.

“It doesn’t get any bigger or more iconic than Penguin books. I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining them.

“I’m really looking forward to working on the new series and finding out where the characters will go next.”

The first book of the trilogy, provisionally entitled Death Knocks, features journalist Tom Carney who returns to the North-East after being suspended by his tabloid London newspaper employer.

He works with local reporter Helen Norton to investigate a string of disappearances of young girls as the modern day killer seems unstoppable

The mystery deepens when a body is found but it turns out to be a decades old corpse and not one of the missing youngsters.

Emad Akhtar, an editor within Penguin, said: “This is a brilliant new series by an author who will be a joy to publish.

“Right from the beginning I felt that this is a story that has everything you want in a crime novel.”