I’ve been an environmental health officer (EHO)all my working life. As an enforcement officer, who worked with the police at times, I felt EHOs had the skills to solve a murder. But I soon realised there was plenty to do if he was going to be a credible character.
Let’s face it, EHOs don’t solve murders. But that was the easy part, come to think of it. Imagine if you wanted to do some sleuthing…
How would you find the time if you worked full-time? With the best will in the world, you can’t do everything at the weekend or in the evening. How would your employers feel if you used their systems and databases to help with your investigations? How would you feel, using confidential information for your own purposes?
What happens if you’re discovered, moonlighting in work’s time? What would ratepayers think of your behaviour?
And finally, what happens if you get into bother while sleuthing?
While this is fiction, I’m with Peter James – it needs to be accurate to be credible.
It became clear at the outset that Kent Fisher needed to be in a privileged position, where his employers couldn’t touch him, or were afraid to do so. I chose to make his father, William Kenneth Fisher, the local MP and a member of the Cabinet. The local councillors are afraid to antagonise him, which gives Kent enough leeway to sleuth and get into trouble. Curiously, I made this decision somewhat spontaneously when I wrote the first Fisher’s Fables blog, called Radio Star.
What I didn’t realise until I started writing, was how adept EHOs are at getting information. They have fantastic networks nationally and locally, and get on well with local businesses and the community in general. People like them and want to help, which makes Kent’s job easier. He also has access to databases and national organisations, and links to the police and all manner of local services.
And, in case anyone wonders if he’s up to the job, Kent has a history of being a hunt saboteur and chaining himself to trees to prevent developers destroying the environment. In other words, he takes action and can look after himself, even if he often comes off worst.