Hi ,

What with all the disruptions, I forgot to mention the 8th anniversary of the the publication of No Accident on 19th June.

In case you missed my posts on social media, I wrote a blog about The Unsolvable Murder. Simply follow the link below to read the blog in full
Looking back, I'm reminded that I've been either blogging, posting on social media, or sending out a monthly newsletter for a good many years now. Some people have been with me from the beginning and know about me and my books. If you haven't been a member of the Readers Group for long, you may know little about me, why I write murder mysteries, or the novels in the series.

To help you, I'll talk about what inspired me to create Kent Fisher and write the Downland Murder Mysteries. Starting today, and over the coming months, I'll explain more about the books, the ideas behind them and offer a few insights you may not be aware of.

I'd also like to get to know a little more about what you read, what you'd like to know more about, any books or authors you recommend.

The Unsolvable Murder

Have you heard the one about the writer who couldn’t solve the murder in his first crime novel? Yeah, that was me. At the time, it was the kind of luck that seemed to dog my writing career. That’s how it felt after years of rejection slips from publishers and agents. To overcome this, I filled a binder with ideas, …

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Why I wanted to write crime fiction

Joan Hickson's portrayal of Miss Marple in the BBC TV series aroused my desire to write crime fiction. Watching the videos for a second, third and fourth time allowed me to spot the clues and details that were often hidden in plain sight. I also loved the brilliant acting, high production values and adaptations of Agatha Christie's novels.

I began to wonder if I could write a worthy whodunit. In between food hygiene inspections, as I travelled across my South Downs district, my thoughts turned to murder. (I'm not talking about some of the dubious chefs I met, though I did kill one in No Mercy.)

I also loved the idea of an ordinary person solving a murder. Like Miss Marple, you could say. The idea had a certain romance, especially the underdog triumphing against the odds. This was how I saw myself as a teenager and well into my adult life.

The death of my father when I was eight, left us poor in more than just monetary terms. Everything felt like a battle, especially when I went to grammar school. I'd never come up against the middle classes before, which is where the feelings of being an outsider, or interloper, started.

They had so much more than I had.

So, the idea of an outsider, a rebel underdog, solving murders appealed to something deep in my psyche. Coupled with this, I wanted a detective with a difference. Not a cop, as I didn't feel I could compete with the likes of Morse or Columbo, my personal favourites.

A chance offer from WH Smith's Book of the Month Club, netted me an omnibus of the first three of Sue Grafton's Alphabet Murder novels for free. The moment I started to read about Kinsey Millhone, not only was I hooked on the style and narrative, I loved the feisty private investigator with her irreverent view of life.

While the novels provided something of a template for what I wanted to write, I didn't fancy the idea of a private investigator. I wanted an ordinary person solving murders, after all.

It took a while for the obvious to sink in. Buried within the books I'd collected about the craft of creative writing was a golden nugget of wisdom that almost everyone quoted - write about what you know.

Almost instantly, Kent Fisher became an environmental health officer (EHO). Only it wasn't simple or straightforward to set an EHO loose on a murder investigation. After all, the public don't pop into the town hall to report murders to the local EHO.

To make the character and any novels credible, I had to find a way to involve Kent in a murder investigation. EHOs deal with death in many ways, as you'll know if you've read the Downland Murder Mysteries. People can die from food poisoning, such as E. coli or botulism. People who die without any family are buried by the local council. This goes back to Victorian times when a body left in the gutter could spread disease.

Finally, and as it turns out, most appropriately, yours truly had investigated a number of fatal workplace accidents over the years. All I had to do was disguise a murder as a fatal work accident and Kent Fisher would be there to investigate.

Strangely enough, this idea inspired No Accident.
Cover of No Accident by Robert Crouch
If you follow the link earlier and read the blog, you'll discover that writing the novel was anything but inspired.

Reading Recommendations.

I've stopped posting reviews on my website, placing them on my Facebook author page and Instagram instead. Follow either link to find my review of Murder on Tyneside by Eileen Thornton.
Having told you my favourite fictional detective is Kinsey Millhone, perhaps you could tell me your favourite, and what you like about them.

I won't be offended if it's not Kent Fisher. Next month, I'll go into more detail about how he developed from a gung-ho officer in the Parachute Regiment to the character you see in the novels.

Until then, enjoy your reading.
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