Lieutenant Columbo

Why murder mysteries?

The simple answer is I love reading crime fiction and watching crime dramas on the TV.

You can blame my love of crime fiction and murder mysteries on a bungalow in the middle of some woods on an estate near Henley on Thames.

As a child, it was a fascinating location with eerie woods, a grand manor house I wasn’t allowed to go inside, and an isolated location. With no one to play with, my imagination filled the void. The adventures of the Famous Five by Enid Blyton fed my imagination.

Cover of Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Books dominated my childhood, before and after the death of my father. They introduced me to fantastic new worlds, heroic characters and epic battles between good and evil. During my teenage years, I plundered the school and public libraries, reading Ian Fleming, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe.

Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express sticks in my mind for its ingenious plot and cast of eccentric characters.

After reading such an inspiring novel, you could be forgiven for thinking I’d rush out and devour the rest of her considerable catalogue. But decades passed before Agatha Christie returned to inspire me to create murder mysteries of my own.

Puzzles have always fascinated me, be they cryptic crosswords, word games or the classic whodunit. The challenge appeals to me. The test of mental agility, often combined with logic and deduction, becomes an irresistible combination.

The unknown or unproven also seduced me, particularly during my teenage years. Was God an astronaut? Did the Egyptian pyramids hold the secrets of visitors from another galaxy? Could you predict people’s personalities from the alignment of planets at birth? Did ghosts exist?

Or on a more terrestrial level, whatever happened to Lord Lucan?

Conspiracy theories always appealed because they hinted at alternative explanations, trickery, a hint of mystery and cover up. Creating alternative explanations, chewing over different possibilities and explanation all fuelled my imagination.

No wonder I had little success with women in those late teenage years.

They must have thought me nerdy, strange or simply scary. But whatever my imagination served up, I remained practical and firmly rooted to the earth. My creative imagination was reserved for reading, writing and television.

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo captured my teenage imagination and made me laugh. I adored Columbo because it was different from every other crime show. In later years I began to appreciate the intricacies and sublime plotting of Miss Marple and Inspector Morse.

Everything from The Famous Five and Sherlock Holmes, through Agatha Christie to modern writers like Sue Grafton and Ruth Rendell came together in a heady mix to produce Kent Fisher. He had to be an environmental health officer (EHO) because it was my profession.

And no one else had an EHO solving murders.

This was the big draw, if you like.

Someone different, if not unique. Someone who would approach murder from a new angle. Someone who would solve murders using methods borrowed from Columbo, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Kinsey Millhone.

Kent and Columbo logo

Someone contemporary, who cared passionately about the world he occupied. But someone who didn’t take himself too seriously.

An environmental sleuth with an irreverent sense of humour and a legacy of great fictional detectives to assist him.

These lofty ambitions inspired my imagination the way the Famous Five did when I was young.

This why I write murder mystery novels.

For more details, check out Kent Fisher – a unique creation

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