The outline of the latest Thorne novel – The Dying Hours – began to take shape in my head in a grotty Chinese takeaway in South London at three o’clock in the morning. A few months before, I had been contacted by two female police officers who were fans of the books. They were uniformed coppers and much as they enjoyed Tom Thorne’s adventures as a plain-clothes cop in the Murder Squad, they invited me to come and see what life was like for a police officer at the sharp end.

The night shift I went out on began with a body and ended eight hours later with several more at the scene of a terrible Road Traffic Accident. Though it was something of a baptism of fire, it was great to spend time with these two officers. Kirsten and Nicola were funny, foul-mouthed and hard as nails and, as we ate our mid-shift dinner in a Chinese takeaway they frequented, they told me how much they would enjoy seeing Tom Thorne back in uniform. I had no idea how this could be done, but they told me that a plain clothes detective like Thorne could find himself wearing the "Queens’s Cloth" as a disciplinary measure if he screwed up badly enough. I knew that Thorne screwed up very badly at the end of Good As Dead, so realised immediately that I could do exactly what they were suggesting. By the end of the shift I had a basic outline in my head and had decided that Kirsten and Nicola would feature in the book as thinly disguised versions of themselves. They have both now read the finished book, and I’m thrilled to say that they are delighted with their fictional portrayal…

So, a new book and two wonderful new characters, and all it cost me was a couple of portions of chow mein and a bag of prawn crackers!

THE DYING HOURS is published by Little, Brown

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