Monday, 3 August 2020

Happy book birthday to DI Andy Horton in LETHAL WAVES

Yes it's the official publication day of the re-issued DI Andy Horton Mystery, LETHAL WAVES in paperback, as an ebook, on Amazon Kindle and Kobo.

LETHAL WAVES is number 13 in the series of 15.

"This heart-breaking story of ambition, greed, jealousy, and revenge makes a good choice for fans of no-nonsense British procedurals." Booklist

"Nothing in this police procedural is as it first appears. The Harley Davidson-riding, boat-dwelling Horton is a fascinating man to get to know, and his thoughtful approach to detection is a pleasure to read." Publishers Weekly

Inspector Andy Horton’s meal with his old friend, Inspector John Guilbert of the States of Guernsey Police, is cut short when a smartly dressed, affluent woman is found dead in her cabin on the ferry from Portsmouth to Guernsey. While there doesn’t appear to be any suspicious circumstances, as soon as Horton returns to Portsmouth he's called in to investigate the death of a vagrant found lying partially covered under a rotting houseboat close to Horton’s boat in the marina. This time, it’s clearly murder and what’s more there could be a disturbing link with the death of the woman in the cabin. 

Troubled by the many unanswered questions surrounding both deaths, Horton must call upon all his skills and intuition to solve a complex case, uncovering dark secrets of ambition and greed that have led to such lethal waves of destruction.

LETHAL WAVES re-isssued 3 August 2020 in paperback, e book on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Apple and Google Books -buy

Saturday, 1 August 2020

On location with DI Andy Horton in A Killing Coast

A DI Andy Horton Mystery

Horton's investigations into his mother's disappearance and the arrival of a former girl friend complicate a complex murder investigation for the troubled detective, DI Andy Horton in A Killing Coast, number seven in the DI Andy Horton series of police procedural mysteries.

A KILLING COAST opens with Horton at Lee-on-the-Solent on the south coast of England where he is visiting the former copper, PC Adrian Stanley, who was detailed to cursorily investigate Andy's mother, Jennifer's, disappearance thirty years ago. Can Stanley tell Horton more about what happened to Jennifer on that foggy November day when she left their council flat in a tower block in inner city Portsmouth and abandoned her ten year old son to the mercies of social services, and a succession of children's' homes and foster parents?

Then a body is found floating in the sea off Portsmouth harbour. Horton initially judges it to be an accidental death. Soon though, to his dismay, he discovers he’s got it very wrong. Accused of being incompetent by his boss, and with the head of the Major Crime Team coming down heavily on him, Horton wonders if he’s allowed his ongoing investigation into the disappearance of his mother over thirty years ago to cloud his judgement. With no clear motive for the murder, Horton is sucked into a baffling investigation that he is determined to resolve despite the odds. Not only does he need to find a brutal killer, but Horton now has to prove to himself, and others, that he is still up to the job. 

'Multilayered, twisted, and complex...a surprising conclusion and a satisfying read.' Booklist  

Here are some location shots for A Killing Coast set against the atmospheric backdrop of the Solent, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Partners in crime at the Festival of Chichester

Crime authors Pauline Rowson, Peter Lovesey and Simon Brett

Owing to the Covid-19 crisis, events and talks are  postponed so I'm continuing my theme of looking back on my talks to some wonderful audiences, in conjunction with some great writers.  Here is a very lively event in which I participated with fellow crime authors, Simon Brett and Peter Lovesey.

On 8 July 2013 it fell to me to grill my fellow crime writers Peter Lovesey and Simon Brett at an event entitled "Under Interrogation" held at Chichester Library as part of the celebration for the Festival of Chichester.

The three of us gave the capacity audience of fifty-five a flavour of how we research, plot and write our crime novels.

Peter Lovesey and I talked about our detectives and how they differed.  My DI Andy Horton is fit and fearless, a real action man, a maverick cop who doesn't conform and who is always on the outside, despite his desire to belong. While Peter's detective, Peter Diamond, is older and more set in his ways, a 'dinosaur' as Peter Lovesey described him who doesn't embrace technology.  Simon Brett told the audience why he chose instead to feature amateur sleuths in his novels.  His reason being he says he knows nothing about police procedure.

Pauline Rowson and Peter Lovesey

The panel and audience at Chichester Library

Crime author Pauline Rowson talks about her mystery novels

We also discussed locations for our crime novels.  The Inspector Andy Horton series is set in Portsmouth, the Solent and the Isle of Wight, an area I  know well and where I live which is a great help when researching.  Portsmouth is also a vibrant waterfront city with great contrasts, rich and poor, historic and contemporary and its urban landscape contrasts sharply with the rural one of the Isle of Wight five miles across the Solent.  The sea almost takes on the role of a character in the Horton series.

Peter Lovesey sets his Diamond series in Bath where he once lived, so he knows it well and Simon Brett has chosen to set his novels in fictitious Fethering which is somewhere in West Sussex.

We discussed many aspects of crime writing and the audience asked us questions.  This was followed by a book signing. 

Pauline Rowson signing one of her crime novels for a reader

It was a highly enjoyable evening. My thanks to Chichester Library for organising it and to the audience who gave up the opportunity to spend a glorious summer evening to listen to us.

Hope that talks might resume in 2021!

Read more

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Midsumer murder and mystery with crime author Pauline Rowson

Crime author Pauline Rowson at Hamble Valley U3AIn my trip down my memory lane of talks and events, back in the heady days pre-Coronavirus pandemic, I was delighted to give a talk to Hamble Valley U3A.

Over a hundred people turned out on a hot July afternoon in 2013 to listen to me talking about murder, mystery and mayhem and my crime busting fictional heroes and how I research and write my crime novels.

Read more and see the pictures

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Policing and detection in the 1950s - Inspector Ryga's world

DEATH IN THE COVE is my twentieth crime novel.  It is set in 1950s England, a country still reeling from the aftermath of war with austerity and rationing biting hard. Newly promoted to detective Inspector, Ryga from Scotland Yard, is on his first solo investigation outside of London, to solve the mystery of why a man in a pin-striped suit is found murdered in an isolated cove on the Island of Portland in Dorset.

The 1950s is a fascinating period. Society and policing in the 1950s was vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about in high speed cars and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write.

Communicating with the police and reporting in

There were, of course, no mobile phones in 1950 and indeed few households had telephones. Mackenzie Trench Police Boxes appeared in London in 1929 and could also be used by the general public. They were a vital communications link. The boxes could be used to report fire, or to summon an ambulance and report crime.

The light on top of a police box illuminated red and could be activated by the station or by a member of the public to attract a police officer. Officers therefore were encouraged to stay within line-of-sight of their Police Box for as much time as possible, although the top of the Police Box lamp contained a gong mechanism which also provided an audible means of attracting attention.

Women in the police force

Between 1939 and 1949 the number of police women rose from 246 to 1148, whereas in 1939, 138 out of 183 forces employed no police women

In 1932 Lilian Wyles was appointed the first woman Chief Inspector in the police force. She joined London's Metropolitan Police in 1919 and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in 1933.

In 1950 women police officers were still fairly rare but a growing number. It wasn't until 1948 that the first two policewomen in the Glamorgan Constabulary, WPC1 Elsie Baldwin and WPC 2 Florence Knight, were appointed on the 13th March. And Liverpool City Police only appointed police women in 1948 (Rawlings, 2002: 199).

On 1 January 1949 the British Transport Commission Police was created, formed from the four old railway police forces, canal police and several minor dock forces. In 1950 the first female BTP sergeants were appointed when WPC's Snell (Paddington) and Barrett (Liverpool Street) were promoted.

Police vehicles

In rural areas this often only consisted of a ‘Bobby on a bicycle’ but in towns and larger areas police vehicles were used. In the 1930s the Met was using Area Wireless Cars’ crewed by CID officers and trained drivers and operators (you can see these in operation in some British films of the period). In more rural areas motor patrols would arrive at a phone box at a fixed time and check in. By the end of the 1940s car fleets began to expand equipped with VHF wireless but not all had them, not in fact until the mid-1960s.

A very different time and way of policing from today and a joy to research and write about.

DEATH IN THE COVE is published in paperback, ebook, Amazon Kindle, Kobo and as an audio book on audible

The second Inspector Ryga mystery DEATH IN THE HARBOUR is now available to pre-order and will be published on 2 November 2020

Monday, 27 July 2020

Lovely tweet from South Ham Library on my crime novels and face masks

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Dead Passage - DI Andy Horton #14 "All the juicy ingredients that make a good story."

 A mysterious telephone call sends Horton on a complex and twisted investigation into the death of a local politician twelve years ago and uncovers a trail of lies, secrets and revenge with roots deep in the past.

A DI Andy Horton crime novel

"A detective novel in the tradition of Rankin and Harvey." Mystery People Magazine

"All the juicy ingredients that make a good story: an historic death of a politician, a daughter who urgently wants to speak to the inspector, as she has ‘something to reveal’ about her father’s death, interesting characters that keep you guessing about who’s telling the truth,and who has something to hide." BH

DI Andy Horton DEAD PASSAGE available in paperback, as an e book and on Amazon Kindle.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

How to write a crime novel - revising and researching a novel with Pauline Rowson

As there are no talks planned for 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic I'm featuring some of my talks which were recorded earlier. This was recorded at a talk I gave to members of Romsey U3A.  Here I am talking about revising and researching the crime novel.

How to write a crime novel - revising and researching with Pauline Rowson

Friday, 24 July 2020

Researching the location for DI Andy Horton DEAD PASSAGE

DEAD PASSAGE. number fourteen in the DI Andy Horton mystery series. is set in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.  A mysterious telephone call sends Horton on a complex and twisted investigation into the death of a local politician twelve years ago and uncovers a trail of lies, secrets and revenge with roots deep in the past. See one of the locations featured in DEAD PASSAGE and read an extract.

Dead Passage, DI Andy Horton mystery 14 by Pauline Rowson

This is No Man's Fort which, like another of the Solent Forts, Spitbank Fort, is now a unique luxury hotel and well worth a stay or a visit for lunch. It is one of the locations used in DEAD PASSAGE, a DI Andy Horton mystery

No Man's Fort - Solent featured in crime novel DEAD PASSAGE

About the Solent Forts

Fear of invasion by the French led by Napoleon III resulted in the commissioning of these sea based defences by British Prime Minister Lord Henry Palmerston. Concerned that the naval fleet and Portsmouth dockyard would be a target, work began on five commissioned forts in the 1860s. With 15ft granite walls and armour plating, these magnificent structures are testament to the skill of Victorian engineering. Taking 15 years to complete, by the time the forts were ready for occupation, the feared French threat of invasion no longer existed and hence, the forts became known as "Palmerston’s follies”.

My grateful thanks to Solent Forts for helping me with my research for DEAD PASSAGE

Pauline Rowson on No Man's Fort, Solent researching for DEAD PASSAGE, DI Andy Horton mystery

On research for DI Andy Horton mystery 14 DEAD PASSAGE

Pauline Rowson writing up notes on No Man's Fort for DI Andy Horton 14 DEAD PASSAGE

An extract from DEAD PASSAGE

Horton drank his coffee and stared out at the grey, increasingly choppy sea. There were only a couple of hardy sailors braving it and a launch which was making its way towards the solid circular granite structure of one of the four Solent forts built to protect Portsmouth from the marauding French in 1867. The French had never made it to Portsmouth in the 1800s but they did now on the ferries that sailed into the international port. In the Second World War the forts had played their part in helping to defend the dockyard, after which they had lain derelict for years until Spitbank Fort, where the launch was heading, had been converted into a luxury hotel like its larger sister, No Man’s Fort, further east and closer to the Isle of Wight. Horton had never been on them.

He will be called upon to do so though, but that would be spoiling the story for you.

DEAD PASSAGE is available in paperback, as an ebook  on Apple Books and Google Books also on Kobo and on Amazon Kindle.

As face mask wearing becomes mandatory in English shops DI Andy Horton is about to break new ground!

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Do writers always write in sequence or do they jump about?

Do you write in sequence?

At a talk I gave I was asked an interesting question - do I always write in sequence – or should that be sequentially?

My answer was in the main, yes but there comes a point when I might start jumping about!

I start at chapter one and crack on with the first draft, having very little idea at that stage where I am going and no idea who done it, why and how. I plot as I write allowing the characters to spring up, form, develop and spark more ideas. That isn’t to say I start with a completely blank sheet. I have a location and usually a victim, not necessarily a dead one, it could be a missing one.
I have my regular cast of characters in the DI Andy Horton series (15)  and the Art Marvik mysteries (3) and my 1950 mystery crime novels with a Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Alun Ryga, and war photographer, Eva Paisely (2).  Alongside all these guys I have a smattering of new characters for each new novel, whose personalities and motivations need to be developed and layered up as I write. Sometimes those who I believe will be main characters fall by the wayside, some who I have given just walk on parts suddenly become a great deal more interesting and move up the ranks. 

I have a plot line or story board that I add to, erase, and alter as I write.  All is going in sequence... that is until I get to about chapter sixteen.  By then I’ve begun to work out who did it and why and I am impatient to get to the end to see if my theories will work. This is when I start jumping about. 

I might write the last chapter (usually chapter twenty five which invariably gets altered in the revisions). Then I might write chapter twenty and go back and write chapter eighteen of seventeen.  I might just write without any real chapter breaks, although that is rare.  Once I’ve sussed out the who, why, when, where and how – of usually more than one murder – I can then, as the late Reginald Hill said, go back to the beginning and put in the plot.  And as the late Ruth Rendell also said, put in the clues. 

It’s messy but it’s binding to quote another "great” only this time an actor, Bob Hope although at the time he was swearing "on a mess of black-eyed peas and candied yams”. (The Lemon Drop Kid). Me? I’ll stick to coffee and rock cakes, oh, and the more than occasional glass of white wine, which, by the way, helps the plot enormously.

A DEADLY WAKE (DI Andy Horton 15) 

A Deadly Wake a DI Andy Horton Mystery

A Deadly Wake DI Andy Horton 15 now available in paperback, as an ebook, on Kindle, Kobo and Google Books

As DI Andy Horton follows the trail of a man found dead in a log cabin on the Isle of Wight, he uncovers some startling revelations into his own mother’s past and the truth behind her disappearance over thirty years ago.

Read more

Death in the Cove, an Inspector Alun Ryga 1950 crime novel

DEATH IN THE COVE - Inspector Ryga Mystery (1)

When the body of a man wearing a pinstriped suit is found in a secluded bay on Portland Island, Dorset Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Alun Ryga is sent to investigate.

'Death in the Cove is a great read and one I recommend to any crime fans.' BH Living Magazine

 Read more

Death in the Harbour an Inspector Ryga mystery by Pauline Rowson

Death in the Harbour - Inspector Ryga Mystery (2)

Scotland Yard's Inspector Alun Ryga is sent to Newhaven, East Sussex to unravel the mystery of why an ordinary police constable was murdered and his wife has gone missing.

"Pure detection… a great read.”

Publication in paperback, e book, Kindle and Kobo on 2 November 2020 -available to pre-order soon.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

DEAD PASSAGE - DI Andy Horton - A detective novel in the tradition of Rankin and Harvey

DEAD PASSAGE (14) in the series of currently 15 (2020) features my rugged and flawed Portsmouth detective, Inspector Andy Horton.

A mysterious telephone call sends Horton on a complex and twisted investigation into the death of a local politician twelve years ago and uncovers a trail of lies, secrets and revenge with roots deep in the past.  

 "A detective novel in the tradition of Rankin and Harvey." Mystery People Magazine  

Here are some pictures of one of the locations used in DEAD PASSAGE with an extract from the novel.


This is Lumps Fort in Southsea  which is now a beautiful roe garden just off the seafront, but it doesn’t look much like this in DEAD PASSAGE which is set in March.

Southsea Rose Gardens - Lumps Fort featured in crime novel DEAD PASSAGE

Read the extract

Horton had left the Harley in the adjacent car park and walked the short distance to Lumps Fort which had become the rose gardens years ago. It was just off the seafront with only the ruined fortified walls and a few mounts for guns to show it had once formed part of the city’s defences built in the mid to late 1800s. In summer the gardens were a riot of colours and scent. Now the bare rose twigs sprouted tentatively above the well-cultivated brown earth. It was just after one o’clock but the gardens were deserted thanks to the almost gale-force gusting wind roaring off the sea and the fitful rain showers that accompanied it. Harnley was huddled in the far left-hand corner under the covered shelter that ran along part of the walls. Horton took a seat beside the fidgety fretful man whose eyes were constantly moving. Harnley, like Pilbeam, looked drawn and ill.

So why does Harnley look ill, what is troubling him and Pilbeam? Who are they? What connects them if anything?

 DEAD PASSAGE, number 14 in the DI Andy Horton series, will reveal all.

Check out all my crime novels on Amazon also available from all booksellers and in UK, USA and Commonwealth libraries.

Some of my mystery novels are also available as audio books.

Happy book birthday to DI Andy Horton in LETHAL WAVES

Yes it's the official publication day of the re-issued DI Andy Horton Mystery, LETHAL WAVES in paperback, as an ebook, on Amazon Kindl...