Author Pauline Rowson goes onboard the Conder Ferry Commodore Clipper for research for a DI Andy Horton Crime Novel

One of the nicest things about being a crime writer is that I get to meet some really interesting people, who do fascinating jobs. On Monday 26 October courtesy of Condor Ferries I paid a research visit to Condor Commodore Clipper, which features in a DI Andy Horton crime novel, number 13, to be published late 2016.

My visit was to check out my facts for that DI Andy Horton novel, and I am extremely grateful to the Condor team who were incredibly helpful and generous with their time and for their patience in allowing me to  badger them with questions. It was also fantastic to see over one of my favourite ships which I watch regularly sailing in and out of Portsmouth - DI Andy Horton's patch.

Being kitted out to go on board the Commodore Clipper Condor Ferry

The Commodore Clipper at Portsmouth International Port

In DI Andy Horton 13 (title yet to be decided), Horton is on the island of Guernsey eighty miles south of Portsmouth, part of the Channel Islands, following up a lead that he hopes will help him discover the truth behind his mother's disappearance just over thirty years ago, when he was ten years old.  He is to dine that evening with his friend, Inspector John Guilbert of the States of Guernsey Police, when something unexpected turns up.

‘Sorry, Andy I’m going to have cry off tonight. We’ve got a death on the Commodore Clipper ferry.’
‘On the face of it no, but––’
‘You can’t take any chances.’
‘Do you want to come? I know you’re not here officially, this is';t your patch,’ Inspector John Guilbert hastily added, ‘but it’s on the sailing from Portsmouth this morning.’
And that was Horton's patch.

In this unique preview of DI Andy Horton 13 here is a taste of what is to come and how the Condor Ferry team helped walk and talk me through the research!

 Early morning, January, a woman arrives at the Portsmouth International Port

Arriving at Portsmouth International Port

She buys a single ticket, cash, to Guernsey at the Condor Ferries desk.  She is travelling as a foot passenger and has hand luggage only, a handbag.

On board the ferry she asks the Cabin Management team at the Information Desk for a double superior en suite cabin. Again she pays by cash.  She goes straight to her cabin and locks the door.


Superior ensuite cabin Commodore Clipper ferry to Channel Islands from Portsmouth

When the ferry docks in Guernsey just after four p.m. there is no sign of her.  She hasn't shown up to board the minibus to take her to the terminal, what's more her cabin is still locked. The deputy cabin manager with a pass key goes to investigate and finds, lying between the cabin beds, the body of Evelyn Lyster. (We didn't go as far as to enact this you'll be pleased to know!)

The Captain is informed and the States of Guernsey Police are called in.  Inspector John Guilbert, along with DI Andy Horton, board the Commodore Clipper.

On the Bridge of the Commodore Clipper from Portsmouth to Guernsey

" Horton peered inside. The dead woman was lying face down in the narrow space between the two beds, facing away from the door. Her highlighted blonde hair lay over her cheek.  Her left leg was doubled up while her right was stretched out. She was dressed smartly in black trousers and a jade green jacket.  Her arms were visible. Her right hand was outstretched and just in front of it was the cabin key. Her left arm was bent into the side of her body.  There was a diamond ring on the third finger of her left hand and another larger diamond ring on the third finger of her right hand.  Her nails were varnished cherry red. Her flesh blueish pink. He could smell her perfume, soft and slightly spicy.

There were no signs of violence.  Horton felt sad that somehow this poor woman had died here and alone. Perhaps she had been suffering a terminal illness or from depression and had decided this was the only way to end her life. The lack of luggage and the single ticket pointed to it being suicide and if that was the case then she must have lived in Portsmouth. There was no sign of any tablets though but they could be either in the coat pocket he could see lying on the left hand bed or in her handbag beside it.  There was also the possibility that she had taken a drug that had been inside the silver and black thermal cup flask on the small table underneath the television screen and cabin window. "

Some facts about Condor Ferries

Commodore Clipper by Chris George

Condor Ferries was founded in 1964 and initially operated a passenger service between France and the Channel Islands. In 1987 the first service linking the Channel Islands with the UK was launched and since then Condor Ferries has operated a year-round service connecting the UK, Guernsey and Jersey and the ports of St Malo and Cherbourg in France.

In March 2015, Condor Ferries introduced a new addition to its fleet - Condor Liberation which serves Guernsey and Jersey from its UK base of Poole.  Each year Condor Ferries carries more than 1 million passengers and 200,000 passenger vehicles.  Condor Ferries Commodore Goodwill, freight only vessel carries 100,000 freight vehicles into the Channel Islands each year as well as exporting tonnes of local produce.

I would like to express my sincere and warm thanks to Condor Ferries for allowing me to feature them in my crime novel and for all their help.  It was a superb visit.

DI Andy Horton 13 is scheduled to be published late 2016.

Fatal Catch a DI Andy Horton Mystery by Pauline Rowson The latest in the DI Andy Horton series, Fatal Catch, is published by Severn House in  hardcover. It will be published as an ebook on 20 December 2015.

Trust  no one, believe nothing….

Detective Inspector Andy Horton is  called out to examine a gruesome catch by two fishermen: a human hand. Is it  that of missing violent criminal Alfie Wright – or is he the killer? And where  is the rest of the corpse?   Soon Horton finds himself  immersed in a complex case where everyone has a reason to lie and no one is who  they seem. Assailed by doubts both in his personal and professional life,  Horton desperately tries to keep his emotional feelings under control and his  focus on his work. His instincts tell him to trust no one and believe nothing;  he’s not sure though whether this time he’ll succeed … Available from all book retailers and for loan in libraries.

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