Detective Chief Inspector Jon Valberg of the Police Service of Northern Ireland is influenced by the music of Tool, Rush and Led Zeppelin. And the poetry of Seamus Heaney. Valberg is a police officer who defies procedural propriety in an age of conversion from the old Royal Ulster Constabulary to the new PSNI. He is dealing with the past and the past is dealing with him – sometimes in a cruel way.

Risk-bipolar and a recovering alcoholic, in the most predictable sense, Valberg deals with the evils that trouble him in as private a way as possible. Valberg’s mental state plunges him into what seems to be a never-ending dark journey as he deals with a killing spree that is both brutal and seemingly senseless.

I would have found it easier to write a story about a lawyer, down on his luck and waiting for the ‘big case’ to save him, or destroy him. But I thought I could still write about what I know about and what I have experienced. However from the point of view of a troubled policeman. I wasn’t interested in writing a police procedural novel. Quite the opposite. I could have easily dipped into an academic criminal procedural story demonstrating what may appear to be my knowledge of the law. For me that was far too predictable.

Inspired and influenced heavily by many Scandinavian authors, too many to mention here, and I suppose the themes and atmosphere they uniquely create, I wanted to create a character with a Swedish father and Irish mother who lives in my home town of Derry in Ireland.

In the novel a brutal assassin, a spree-killer, with a sinister past is stalking Derry, creating mayhem and fear. More fear than ever created in a city recovering from over thirty years of conflict. As Valberg and his team pursue the killer he is closer to the murderer than he knows.

Of course I had to deal with many legal elements in the book but I tried really hard to keep this to a minimum. What I was interested in was the psychological make-up of the characters, especially Jon Valberg and the killer.

‘Valberg’ has been written as a trilogy. V2 has already been completed and delivered to my publishers at Guildhall Press for potential release in 2014. I am just finishing V3. The story moves to London and Spain and elsewhere. Guildhall Press and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland have been tremendously supportive of me and I am very grateful to them.

The first edition of V1 is selling really well and I have genuinely been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the novel and in particular the main character, Jon Valberg – described by Peter Rozovsky in his blog detectivesbeyondborders as ‘ A sort-of Swede in Ireland’. I think that is exactly what Valberg is. Or as has also been said to me, the Scandinavian feel to the novel creates another description of where I come from – ‘Nordic Ireland.’ I like that.

‘VALBERG’ is the debut novel from Irish Lawyer Desmond J Doherty and published by Guildhall Press, Derry. Available as both book and e-book from and on Amazon. ISBN : 9781906271749. Paperback £7.95.

‘ Compact and compelling. Finely crafted characters, and fast moving tight drama peppered with light touch humour and the tensions of trust. A refreshing change to be immersed in a thriller written by someone who not only knows the territory but also the intricacies of reality rather than improbable fiction.’

Michael Mansfield Q. C.,

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