He pulled in behind the police vehicle straddling the closed double wooden doors of the Historic Dockyard and silenced the Harley. There was no fight and no drunks; just PCs Bailey and Johnson talking to two security officers at the side gate. Removing his helmet Horton asked what was going on.‘Suspicious death, sir,’ Johnson answered.‘Inside?’ Horton asked, troubled as he dismounted.The younger and stouter of the two security officers answered him. ‘We think it’s Dr Douglas Spalding. He gave a public lecture here tonight and he hasn’t signed out.’Horton caught the brief exchange of glances between him and his colleague, a man in his mid-fifties, lean with a haggard face and nervous manner. It didn’t take a mind reader to see that someone had made a balls-up.‘He’s in Number One Dock,’ the younger of the two security officers continued.That meant nothing to Horton except that docks were very deep and sometimes full of water – or was that a basin? Perhaps they were one and the same thing. ‘He’s in the water?’ he asked, suppressing a shiver as he visualized the body floating face down in a dark, icy pool of stagnant water. He’d wished for action but not this kind. He hadn’t wanted anyone dead.‘No, it’s a dry dock. The last one at the end of the Historic Dockyard before you hit Portsmouth Harbour.’ Horton wasn’t sure that conjured up a better picture."
Locations always inspire meAnd so it was with UNDERCURRENT. While on a visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard this is what I saw and it immediately looked like a body under that tarpaulin in Number One Dock, which houses the black and white Monitor M33, one of only two British warships to survive from World War 1 and which has now been restored and is open to the public. But when I wrote Undercurrent Number One Dock was sealed off. So this sight of the tarpaulin with my imaginary body under it sparked a number of questions. Who is it? How did he get there? Why is he dead? How did he die? And so began the twisted tale of UNDERCURRENT.
Undercurrent an Inspector Andy Horton Mystery
When naval historian Dr Douglas Spalding is found dead in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, the Major Crime Team is adamant it is suicide. Detective Inspector Horton is not so sure. Then another body is found in similar circumstances and Horton is convinced they’re looking at murder; but not so his bosses. Angry and frustrated at the lack of investigation, Horton goes out on a limb to prove he’s right. Whichever way he turns, he finds the deaths have all the hallmarks of a cover up at the highest level, but who is behind it and why?
Soon Horton begins to find disturbing similarities with his own private investigations into the disappearance of his mother thirty years ago. As he gets closer to the truth someone is determined to prevent it from ever coming out, even if means death . . .
"Rowson offers up a thorny, multifaceted plot; a profusion of unusual twists; a likable yet complex hero; and plenty of fast-paced, knuckle-biting action." Booklist USA
My grateful thanks to Rowannah Martin-Cottee and Heather Johnson of the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth who helped me with the research for this novel and for answering my numerous questions.