Locations inspire me - the story behind DI Andy Horton Solent Murder Mystery THE CHALE BAY MURDERS

Locations are always a great inspiration for me and trigger ideas for many of my crime novels particularly those in the series featuring my Harley-Davidson, sailing detective Inspector Andy Horton, whose patch is Portsmouth on the South Coast of England.

For number seven in the Horton crime series, THE CHALE BAY MURDERS, I was inspired by the beautiful and rugged coastline on the east of the Isle of Wight, in particular the stretch from Ventnor to St Catherine’s lighthouse and the secluded bays, a good place to put a body!

First though I decided to feature a body being found drifting in the Solent, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, just close to one of the four forts built as coastal defences by Lord Palmerston in 1859 to repel a French invasion. The French never arrived, not then although they certainly do now and are welcomed on the ferries that sail into Portsmouth International Port. But I digress. I decided to add a couple of unusual elements to the discovery of this body – a rather ordinary man and former postal worker, called Colin Yately – which I won’t mention here because it would rather spoil it for readers.

The dead man, Yately, lived in a flat at Ventnor and judging by the books in his apartment and the notes on his desk he had a keen interest in local history. There seemed to be no motive for his murder and no suspects. Not until the autopsy conducted by Dr Gaye Clayton reveals some further startling facts.

Along with the location then for this crime novel was the element of local history and I was further inspired and intrigued by a book written by an Isle of Wight based author and one I had met several times while enjoying a cup of coffee at his wife’s cafĂ© on the reventment between Sandown and Shanklin, Diamond Coast, The story of the Isle of Wight’s coast by the now sadly late Ian Williams.

In this gem of a book are stories about naval catastrophes, sunken ships, policing the coast, smuggling gangs and more and I decided to use a chunk of history and mingle it in with a present day crime, not unusual in my crime novels, as my readers know. I’m always fascinated how the past has reverberations through the years right up to the present and of course that includes past crimes. I won’t say which crime of the past I have chosen to interweave in THE CHALE BAY MURDERS because that would be spoiling it for you.

Add to this a connection with Horton’s quest to find the truth behind his mother’s disappearance over thirty years ago, and the unexpected re-appearance of a former girlfriend of Andy’s who has arrived in Portsmouth on her husband’s luxury super-yacht and you have a complex, multi-layered and (dare I say it) a gripping crime story in THE CHALE BAY MURDERS.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ "Once you get to know Andy Horton you'll be sure to name him as one of your favourite police characters in crime fiction.” James C.

'Meticulous police work leads Horton to a particularly callous and ruthless killer as well as theft and blackmail…includes a few unexpected twists.” Publishers Weekly

'Multi-layered, twisted, and complex...a surprising conclusion and a satisfying read.' Booklist

'If you like police procedurals with a twist, plenty of red herrings, and a strong sense of location, you'll like these.' Mysteries in Paradise

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