From the author of In the Dark…
It’s so difficult to be original in crime. It’s such a crowded genre, for a start, but right now we’re also in the midst of another golden age of crime writing, with fabulous books in every conceivable sub-genre (as well as some completely new ones). And that’s just crime fiction on the page. Add in crime drama and TV documentaries like Making a Murderer and The Staircase, and the very idea of producing something innovative or eye-catching is positively daunting.
But when I started the DI Fawley series I desperately wanted something about it to be different. I already had the idea for the first story, which sprang from a combination of police procedural and domestic noir, so no room for anything whizzy or avant-garde like time travel or a supernatural twist. It had to come from how the story was written, not what the story was.
And that was the genesis of the ‘signature style’ which I developed for Close to Home, and continues in In The Dark. I talked about TV earlier, and that was one of my key inspirations. Crime fiction aficionados are incredible perceptive readers, and series like Line of Duty have added a new layer of sophistication to the way we ‘consume’ crime. Not just extremely complex and demanding plots but an incredibly pacey presentation with lots of short intercut scenes, and different points of view. And that’s what I’ve tried to do in the Fawley books.
There’s a first-person account by Fawley himself, running in parallel with a third-person narrative describing scenes where he isn’t present, as well as social media feeds, news items and verbatim interview transcripts. My readers really seemed to like that in Close to Home, as it gave them the chance to be detectives themselves. Things like that have been done before in crime fiction, of course, but I’m bringing in other types of ‘documents’ in In The Dark.
One of these is the transcript of a true crime TV documentary, and I had a lot of fun researching exactly how these would be laid out by a production company. But my personal favourite is the crime scene sketches of the basement where a young woman and child are discovered in the opening pages of the novel. These were done for me by Joey Giddings, who’s a real-life forensic professional and has been an adviser for the BBC TV series Hinterland (another of my recent favourites). It was absolutely fascinating to work with him as he read the story and developed the sketches based on what I’d written. And then to see how a forensic scientist would identify and tag potential evidence, and what tests that evidence would then be given. I have genuinely never seen anything like that in a crime novel before and I’m so looking forward to what my readers make of it. And as for book three, well, for now my lips are sealed….
In the Dark is published by Penguin