A fresh approach to crime fiction

Ups and Downs

Downs

Here in Crouch Corner, the relentless tapping on the keyboard paused briefly for a cheer on Monday afternoon when the Eastbourne Herald reported that the council would not sell off farms they owned on the South Downs after residents voted against the sale.

The Council bought the land many, many years ago for the enjoyment of the people and protection of the environment. To deal with cuts in public spending cuts the council thought it could sell the farms to raise money for local services. After protests the council gave people a stark choice between selling the farms and cutting services. The vote went to keep the farms.

But it’s something of Pyrrhic victory as government austerity measures and public spending cuts are slowly reducing the services councils provide. One resident suggested the council publish details of all its staff, projects and work streams so the public could vote on what they wanted to cut.

It would take a brave council to expose their workings to such scrutiny, but what a wonderful example of democracy it would be. And a welcome breath of a fresh air for local authorities, which get plenty of adverse publicity by the national press about waste and crazy decisions.

The simple truth is that reductions in spending mean people will lose their jobs.

These are people like you and me. Having worked in local government all my life, I know the good work they do, protecting people and environment, providing libraries, looking after the vulnerable and so on.

The quality of our towns and countryside will suffer if the cuts go too deep.

What do you think?

Ups

I finished reading Holy Island by LJ Ross this week. With a plot about ritual killings on the beautiful island of Lindisfarne, it had a complex twisting plot, plenty of motives and suspects, with strong characters and plenty of conflict. The romance between Ryan, the leading detective, and Anna felt a little twee and far-fetched in places, but not enough to spoil a cracking story.

And the unexpected twist at the end took my breath away.

I will definitely read more of LJ Ross, so Holy Island deserves 5 stars.

Smoothly does it

If you missed my interview with brilliant author, Robin Roughley, you can view it here

Cover story

Last weekend, the Crouches headed for Cuckmere Haven to follow the river as it wound its way to the sea. Off the lead and racing back and forth, Harvey had a great time while we battled the bracing winds to enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of the place.

Armed with my trusty Fujifilm camera, I took plenty of photographs, hoping for a potential book cover for No Bodies, the second Kent Fisher novel. Normally, I’m looking for the best shot of a scene, but with a cover, I didn’t want too much detail as the title and author name on the cover need to be clearly visible.

While I downloaded over 50 photographs later, one jumped out, encouraging me to try my hand at cover design. I’ve never tried anything like this, but click here to see how I turned the photo into a couple of covers.

Would the cover get your attention on Amazon or a bookshelf?

First steps – No Remorse

Like Holy Island, which has a romantic subplot, I think a good backstory can add to the appeal of a novel. Alongside the crimes, you deal with the people and the problems which can hamper, or even assist, an investigation.

While many people have heard about environmental health officers, few know what we do or the broad areas of public health we deal with. Having an EHO as the investigator allows me to show the variety of work we do and build it into the storylines. In No Bodies, it’s the pursuit of a mobile caterer that sets Kent on the path to solving two murders.

In the latest novel, the environmental health element of the story will involve the merger of two teams within the department as a result of public spending cuts. This merger also pitches Kent into pollution control work, which will have a bearing on the story, as well as face many challenges as he struggles to cope with all the additional work.

With a residential care home at the crux of the story, I also have a chance to look at social care and the treatment of the elderly, especially when someone at the home predicts their own death and turns up for burial a few weeks later.

I’ve also changed the title of the novel to No Remorse. I think it better describes the theme and feel of the story. It also sounds more sinister.

What do you think?

Subscribers to my mailing list had a chance to the read the opening to the novel in the last newsletter. If you’d like to keep up to date with progress on No Remorse or learn more about the story and the characters, fill in your details below.

I’ll send you a free copy of Volume 1 of my Case Files. It features humorous jobs and incidents from my early career in environmental health, like the case of Dr Windbreaker’s Fart Powder, which caused a bit of a stink one afternoon.

stop by next week for more robservations

2 Responses to “Ups and Downs”

  1. Rachel

    Definitely the first cover of the beautiful moody iconic scene – would get my attention on a bookshelf? But the colour of the type face for the tag line needs to be darker to stand out from the clouds – just my thought a dark sliver/grey? Good luck.

    (still old school, like to feel the book for reading for joy! All work reading is in the iPad and I like to have a physical change to put me in the right mindset)

    Ups and Down – the people should always have a voice, as you say what a breath of fresh air, life would be a lot fairer, clearer and transparency is key – Ive worked for L.A and horrified on some projects that only benefit a few (councillors and friends) whilst key staff roles (the workers) posts are cut, thus depriving the majority on the basics….. enough said and I’m off to the sandy beach to feel the breeze and the sand between my toes – blows away the injust of the world

    Reply
    • mm admin

      Thanks, Rachel. I think we’ve both seen the good and the bad over the years.

      Reply

Please let me know what you think