The idea for Deadly Dance came from my chum Chris. I recognized immediately that he had come up with a cleverly chilling basis for a psychological thriller which was quite possibly unique – and it was the first time that any third party had ever suggested a concept which excited me so much I knew I just had to turn it into a book. We were sitting together at the famous London theatrical restaurant Joe Allen – one of my favourites and also a regular haunt of my new series detective David Vogel – when Chris casually dropped into the conversation the little seed which grew into Deadly Dance. As he spoke I felt a shiver run down my spine. Honestly I did!
I began work that night, starting to construct what appears, at first, to be a straightforward murder mystery around the deeply complex psychological scenario Chris had presented, It is not possible to elaborate on this in any detail without revealing the entire plot of Deadly Dance. Suffice to say it involves the most challenging and disturbing aspects of the human mental state, leading to extreme criminality and violence, that I have ever attempted to write about. And I could not have done it without the help of another chum, NHS Consultant Psychologist Doctor Billy Boland. I always research my books first hand, and in this case referred regularly to Billy. And, of course, I placed the whole tangled mess in the hands of DI David Vogel, who finds himself conducting by far the most baffling murder investigation of his career.
Following the discovery of the body of a schoolgirl in the heart of Bristol’s red light district, Vogel is led towards three very different principal protagonists, each of whom grows increasingly chilling. But are they what they seem? And therein lies the crux of Chris’ idea… I asked Chris if he was sure he didn’t want to have a go at it himself. He said he knew he could never do it. ‘It’s yours,’ he said. I just hope I have done him, and Billy, justice.
* * *
All of my books are inspired by a real life event or incident of some kind. Of my earlier books, No Reason to Die, probably the most controversial, was inspired by the notorious series of unexplained deaths at Deepcut Barracks and elsewhere within the British Army. The families of several of the dead soldiers placed their trust in me and helped me produce a conspiracy theory which some of them were kind enough to say they believed might have come quite close to the truth. Friends To Die For, the first featuring DI David Vogel, chronicles a succession of nasty happenings, culminating in murder of course, which befall a group of friends who meet every Sunday at Johnny’s Place, a fictionalised Joe Allen, the famous theatrical restaurant in London’s Covent Garden. They call themselves Sunday Club. Every Sunday when I am in London I meet with a group of friends at Joes. We call ourselves Sunday Club and sit beneath a plaque erected in our honour. If ‘honour’ is quite the right word here! There has so far been no real life murder.
But – it was whilst sitting with these friends one Sunday evening that my horrid crime writers mind began to run away with me. What if one of us is not what he or she seems to be, I thought. What if one of us has a dreadful secret in their past, what if one of us, we chums sitting around a table, is capable of murder? After all, murderers do not wear labels. They can be charming, good looking, educated. Or just plain ordinary, An earlier book, When The Dead Cry Out, draws on my real life experience of living next door to a murderer. And he was quite a charmer. Its inspiration is the case of a man called John Allen, my neighbour – and friend – during the 1980s, who in 2003 was found guilty at Exeter of the murder of his wife and two children 27 years previously. He had a key to my front door and used to water my plants when I was away. The second of my Vogel novels, Death Comes First, published two years ago, begins with a woman receiving a letter which turns her life upside down. It is from her husband, recently killed in a yachting accident, written just before his death. The inspiration was the tragic death from cancer at the age of 43 of our nephew Adam. He wrote a letter to my spouse Amanda and I to be delivered after he died. It was deeply moving and had a profound effect on both of us.
Deadly Dance is very different to both of the earlier Vogel novels. Whilst I was writing the terrifyingly extreme psychological aspects of the book really got under my skin. I frequently needed Billy to reassure me that I was getting it right, that I wasn’t going too far, and that I was writing nothing that any mental health professional would dismiss out of hand. ‘Trust me,’ said Billy. ‘This really could happen.’ Indeed, who knows, it is possible that it already has….
Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner
Publication Date 31 August 2017
ISBN 978 0 7278 8734 3