It got there in the end. I refer to my new novel, Brothers in Blood which had a strange ride to its publication date. My normal publisher, Robert Hale, thought my story was too violent and with material that was perhaps a little too strong for their readers. Well, I was aiming at strong – nasty even. I was trying to edge my way from the cosy territory towards the gritty end of the market. It certainly is a departure from my Johnny One Eye and Sherlock Holmes novels. I wanted to play in the bloody dark for a while. The plot involves a group of teenagers who, in the 1960s, conceive a brutal game which escalates into murder and a pattern is set for their later life. Led by the charismatic and cunning Laurence, the trio of brothers meet once a year to carry out untraceable, motiveless murders. Just for fun. Just to giver a dark buzz to their otherwise humdrum lives.
Then, years later, they must murder to protect one of their own, leaving them vulnerable to discovery. This killing is investigated by Detective Inspector Paul Snow, a complex man with a secret of his own which links him to the murder victim. As Snow grows closer to unmasking the killers, his professional life begins to unravel in a terrifying fashion.
The setting is mainly in Yorkshire, and Huddersfield in particular, my own home town. It moves from the 1960s to the 1980s and obviously I used my local knowledge to give substance to the scenario. Maybe what Morse did for Oxford, I can do for Huddersfield! I could be creating a new genre: ‘eeh by gum noir’!
In essence the first part of the book charts the development of the brotherhood and Laurence, in particular, takes centre stage. The latter half of the book also focusses on Paul Snow’s involvement with the investigation. One publisher who was very keen to take the book was not happy with the fact that the detective ‘hero’ did not make his presence felt until half way through the story. This was deliberate plotting on my part and I could not see how I could change that without upsetting the rhythm of the novel which I hope surprises and excites all the way to the shocking climax.
However, at long last the book appears in late June from the Mystery Press. This makes me very happy because I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done. Peter James observed that the novel was ‘dark but very compelling. David Stuart Davies knows how to write and how to twist a knife inside the reader’s mind.’ What better endorsement could I ask for?