Today on The Tattooed Book Geek I am pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for No More Lies by Robert Crouch with a guest post courtesy of the author himself.
My thanks to Caroline Vincent for the tour invite and to Robert Crouch.
No More Lies (The Kent Fisher Mysteries #4).
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1137 KB
- Print Length: 252 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07QCPDZ9Y
- Amazon UK
Kent Fisher gets more than he bargained for when Detective Inspector Ashley Goodman enlists his help with a ten year old murder. She’s on a mission and needs a big case to put her career back on track.
And they don’t come much bigger than Miles Birchill, Downland’s wealthiest and most divisive resident.
Not for the first time, Kent has doubts about the case, forcing him to make choices. But who do you trust when everyone has something to hide?
Caught in the middle, he has no alternative but to solve the murder, unaware that his every move is being watched.
The Kent Fisher novels offer a fresh and contemporary reworking of the classic whodunit and murder mysteries of authors like Agatha Christie.
Guest Post: Avoiding Jessica Fletcher Syndrome.
There you are, waiting for famous author and sleuth, Jessica Fletcher, to visit your town as part of her latest book tour. The posters are in the bookshop window, you’ve ordered extra copies of her latest novel, and social media is buzzing with anticipation.
Then someone says, “I wonder who’s going to die.”
“Everywhere she goes someone gets murdered. The police arrest the wrong person, usually a close friend or relative of hers, and then she solves the murder. Doesn’t leave her much time to sign books, does it?”
That’s JFS – Jessica Fletcher Syndrome.
When Murder She Wrote first appeared on TV, I loved it. Everything from Angela Lansbury’s brilliant characterisation to the premise behind the show was a joy. The stories were imaginative, laced with humour and entertaining.
After the first series, the magic began to fade a little. Jessica Fletcher became a murder magnet. This wasn’t her fault, but she couldn’t go anywhere without having to solve a murder. You would have thought she’d be getting a bit paranoid with all these people dropping like flies when she was around, but she took it all in her stride.
Okay, it’s fiction. You’re not meant to take the idea too literally. But fiction is meant to be a semblance of reality, isn’t it? It may not be the mundane nine to five reality that most of us know, but it should be believable. In turn, this equates to credibility.
Stretch credibility too far and readers start to protest. While they’ll give an author some latitude in the interests of excitement, suspense and tension, lob something in from left field and you can get howls of protest.
That’s what makes crime writing so fascinating. On the one hand, police work is often mundane and slow going as detectives piece together evidence and connections. Criminals are convicted on the basis of DNA and forensic science, not inspired deduction while completing the Times crossword before the fat lady sings.
Moving away from the police arena frees an author from these constraints, but poses bigger challenges. The police work as a team, with access to records, science, profilers, and experts in almost any field you care to mention. They also have the power of arrest.
Your average private eye, more used to carrying out social media checks on job applicants or identifying adulterous behaviour, doesn’t have access to such facilities. But, if they are ex-police, they have skills and former colleagues to call on.
Miss Marple had friends in Scotland Yard. She asked for their help as much as they sought hers. But she operated in less cynical times, when readers weren’t as knowledgeable or critical as they can be today.
But despite the limitations, there’s something appealing about the ordinary person solving a murder. Maybe it’s our love of the underdog, or our desire to see someone ordinary do something extraordinary. Whatever the reason, it can create inspiring fiction.
Can you tip things in favour of the ordinary person so he or she can solve a murder? Clearly, it helps to have a friend or spouse who worked for the police or was an ex-paratrooper.
Solicitors and journalists make useful friends and allies too. And never forget the computer hacker, who can access any system and work his or her way through the toughest firewalls out there.
Even with such an advantage, is it enough to sustain a series of novels without invoking JFS?
That was the challenge when I created my sleuth, Kent Fisher.
I gave him two assists – a friend who was an ex Scenes of Crime Officer, turned caterer. Not only did he have experience of investigating murder, his mobile burger van was a favourite haunt of his former colleagues.
The second assist was less obvious. Like me, Kent Fisher is an environmental health officer (EHO). That makes him a law enforcer, operating to the same codes of investigation that govern the police. He’s used to interviewing, investigating and putting a case together to prosecute in court.
While Kent doesn’t investigate murder, he investigates workplace accidents. So, what if someone disguises a murder as a work accident? An environmental health officer investigates.
No Accident started the series with an ordinary EHO refusing to be side tracked until he had uncovered the truth, along with a host of unwelcome revelations and secrets. He becomes a local hero and an old family friend offers him a second investigation in No Bodies.
Kent protests. “Do I look like Hercule Poirot?”
But you know he’s going to take the case.
Trouble is, you can’t keep having friends and family asking him to solve murders. If people are dying the police pick up the murders. And if there are too many murders, the risk of JFS increases.
What about the effect on Kent? He likes the diversion and thrill, but he has a day job, commitments. If I asked my boss for the afternoon off to investigate a murder, I know the response I’d get.
But this is fiction. It should be fun and entertaining as well as realistic.
With no imminent signs of JFS, Kent embarks on his fourth murder investigation in No More Lies. This time the police seek his help with an unsolved 10 year-old murder linked to a restaurant he once closed down.
But the police already have a suspect, who’s close to Kent.
About Robert Crouch.
Inspired by Miss Marple, Inspector Morse and Columbo, Robert Crouch wanted to write entertaining crime fiction the whole family could enjoy.
At their heart is Kent Fisher, an environmental health officer with more baggage than an airport carousel. Passionate about the environment, justice and fair play, he’s soon embroiled in murder.
Drawing on his experiences as an environmental health officer, Robert has created a new kind of detective who brings a unique and fresh twist to the traditional murder mystery. With complex plots, topical issues and a liberal dash of irreverent humour, the Kent Fisher mysteries offer an alternative to the standard police procedural.
Robert now writes full time and lives on the South Coast of England with his wife and their West Highland White Terrier, Harvey, who appears in the novels as Kent’s sidekick, Columbo.
To discover more, visit http://robertcrouch.co.uk.
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