The 1950s is a fascinating period where memories of the war are very strong, and the fear of more world conflicts haunt people. Society and policing in the 1950s was vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write.
Scotland Yard were frequently called in to investigate murder cases around the UK so rather than have the novel (and series) rooted in London I could move my detective around the country to help solve crimes. Once again, though, I wanted to feature the sea in my crime novels - my trademark or brand if you like - so I created a character with an intimate knowledge of the sea, a former Merchant Seaman.
In addition, I didn't want to make Ryga an action hero but sought to differ him from DI Andy Horton and Art Marvik by creating a man who was more reflective. Neither did I want someone who had been hailed as a war hero but who had been forced to suffer the war in captivity. Ryga, therefore, is one of many who had no option but to wait and hope for endless days, months and years that the war would end and the Nazis would be defeated.
Ryga’s background, and the years of incarceration, have made him unique in his approach to solving coastal based crimes. His experience at sea and four years spent in MILAG (Marine Internierten Lager) after his ship was seized by a German Raider has made him watchful, analytical and reflective and given him insights into his fellow man, along with a promise to himself to keep an open mind.
The war has also unexpectedly resulted in opening up a new career for Ryga. Encouraged by a fellow prisoner to study, Ryga with the help of his mentor made the transition from the Merchant Navy to the Thames River Police. Before DEATH IN THE COVE opens Ryga has been involved in two highly successful criminal investigations at the Port of London and as a result had been catapulted into the Metropolitan Police and then into CID in Scotland Yard. Now he is being called upon to utilize his vast knowledge of the sea on his first solo investigation out of London to discover why a man dressed in a pinstriped suit has been stabbed in the neck and ended up dead on the beach of a small cove on Portland on the Dorset coast.