There were two main inspirations for the latest Cooper and Fry novel ‘Already Dead’. The first was the characters themselves, particularly Ben Cooper and Diane Fry, whose lives have driven the series from the start. The dramatic ending of the previous novel ‘Dead and Buried’, which has attracted a lot of comments from readers, created a powerful impetus towards the next novel, and led me directly into writing ‘Already Dead’. I’m so involved with Ben and Diane myself that I need to know what’s going to happen to them next. And the only way I can find out is by writing a new book.

My other constant inspiration is the Peak District. This area has offered me an enormous variety of themes, settings and story lines over the years I’ve been writing about Ben, Diane and their Derbyshire police colleagues. In the case of ‘Already Dead’, Ben Cooper’s state of mind is mirrored by an impending natural disaster, as the Peak District is hit by torrential summer rainfall, and roads and villages begin to be cut off by floods. Hundreds of residents need rescuing from the flooding, but who is going to rescue Ben Cooper from himself? As often happens, the background to this book was inspired by real-life events taking place as I was writing it. I certainly didn’t need to look very far for the images of monsoon rain, cars abandoned on roads that have turned into rivers, houses isolated by rising flood water. Just listening to the local news was enough, or looking out of my office window. As one of the characters says, it really did feel as though the Great Deluge had arrived to cleanse the world, or destroy it.

I was also interested in the story of a small Derbyshire town called Wirksworth, which is at the centre of the action in this book. Once a prosperous community, by the 20th century it was dying – blighted by industrial pollution. Wirksworth has been regenerated now, and is rising from the dead like a phoenix. But for one Wirksworth resident, it’s too late. Lying naked in a flooded stream outside town, he’s already dead…

ALREADY DEAD is published by Sphere

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