I have to say that I am delighted by the number of positive reviews received for the latest in the Bennett series. “Crossed Out’ is not only being read by people who have grown to enjoy the different and varied cases investigated by Cyril and his team, but it appears it has brought new readers to the fold. It was good to see that people have really taken to the new detective introduced in this book, DC April Richmond. She will certainly have a leading role in book seven. Why suddenly this one book has had such favourable reviews is difficult to determine; for a writer, all the books written have their own personality so it is difficult to pick a favourite.
One of the most difficult tasks for me as the author of a series is to ensure that each book not only shows some development of the characters, the clear progress of their professional and social relationships, but also to ensure that each book can be read as a standalone novel. There was one exception to this and that was due to the conclusion within book four, ‘Game Point’. Once written, I knew that owing to the circumstances that it would prove difficult not to follow the trauma and the human emotional maelstrom experienced by many of the characters through to the next book, ‘Dying Art’. Saying that, I know people who have read all the books out of sequence and they have still enjoyed each in its own right.
I have mentioned before that one of the great pleasures for me, as a writer is the creation and development of these fictitious people and the world in which they live and work; imagining the scenarios where they suddenly come to life, where they live and breathe gives me such satisfaction. To do this with any degree of accuracy means that I do spend a good deal of time watching and listening to the conversations of total strangers in order to pick up those foibles, character traits we so often take for granted. These make us who and what we are as interacting and social human beings. How many of you have known a David Owen? Untidy, rather dishevelled yet hard working, kind man with a heart of gold. His character contrasts wonderfully with Bennett and so each brings with him his own special charm. Hopefully, they are imagined as real. I do know that readers have a special favourite. One reader has even called her Kindle after Cyril spurring another to say that his kindle was full of finger marks, crumbs and tea stains so he should really call his Kindle, Owen! When readers interact on social media in such a way, it makes the hours of hard work writing and researching the Bennett books so rewarding.
So what’s happening now? Well I am two-thirds into the writing of book seven, the final book in my present contract with Bloodhound Books. It will, I hope, be ready for publication in the autumn. I am also working on the production of a previously published short story to commemorate the centenary of the conclusion of the war to end all wars, WW1.
Nicholas Camm, the narrator of the first five DCI Bennett novels to be published as audiobooks, has kindly offered to read, produce and master the audiobook of the short story and so the author royalties for both the eBook and the audiobook will be donated to The Royal British Legion. It is a year that will also see me laying a wreath on the grave of my great uncle, William Hollingdrake who sadly died at the very end of the war after surviving what can only be described as an Armageddon for so long. He was a man I had never known and yet a man often in my thoughts. Strangely I, have never seen a photograph of him and, as a child, I do not remember my family talking about the war nor the man. However, what I do believe is that one never truly dies providing there is some kind of memory, something written, something tangible that might make someone somewhere ask, Who was that man? For this reason, the book will be dedicated to his memory.
So, with books signings, Noir events and writing, life is as busy for me as it is for Bennett and his trusty team.