The reason why I set my crime novels in the Solent area was reinforced yesterday as I was crossing it from the Isle of Wight to Portsmouth on the Wightlink ferry on a glorious day
A question I am often asked is why I set my marine mystery crime novels in the Solent area and one of the reasons, among many, was reinforced yesterday as I was crossing from the Isle of Wight to Portsmouth on the Wightlink ferry on a glorious day, in such sharp contrast to when I was crossing on 6 September in an almost hurricane force gale!
Yesterday the Solent was awash with activity. On it was the Hovercraft, the Wightlink Cat, yachts and pleasure craft of all sizes. Coming out of Portsmouth Harbour was the Brittany Continental ferry assisted by the orange and black pilot boat. A laden container ship was making its way across the Solent towards Southampton docks. Another Wightlink ferry passed us on the way across to the Island and a small red and white fishing boat came alongside as we entered the harbour where the green and white Gosport ferry was crossing and the police launch was beside the UK Border Agency Patrol vessel not far from a Royal Navy ship in the Naval Base. And amongst all this you could see the masts of HMS Warrior and HMS Victory.
The waterfront city of Portsmouth has much to offer a writer. It is such a vibrant area full of contrasts and therefore a rich source of material for crime novels. Its inner city poor rub shoulders with the wealthy; its large university population and multi cultural society provide an eclectic mix of personalities and backgrounds. There is the hugely popular shopping and entertainment complex of Gunwharf Quays (renamed Oyster Quays in my DI Andy Horton crime novels); the historic walls of Old Portsmouth and the seafront where Henry VIII watched the Mary Rose sink; the Historic Dockyard with its navy museum and attractions including HMS Victory and the Mary Rose; not to mention Portsmouth being the birthplace of Charles Dickens, whose house is preserved as a museum. And the city was once home to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G Wells. So much to offer: a wealth of history, the Royal Navy, marinas, boatyards, the commercial ferry port, a fishing industry, tug boats, containers, continental ferries and so much more.
Add to this Portsmouth Harbour itself, the surrounding harbours of Langstone and Chichester and across the Solent the magical Isle of Wight with its bays, beaches, countryside and stunning coastline, and an ever changing sea: calm, choppy, turbulent, silver, blue, dark green, grey, dangerous beguiling, bewitching, misleading and mysterious what more could a crime writer wish for in terms of inspiration and atmosphere.