Bliss and Chandler: A Guest Post by Tony J Forder

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I have met Tony J Forder, author of The Scent of Guilt, in person and he’s such a charming, lovely man that I am thrilled to welcome him back to Linda’s Book Bag again today. Previously Tony has supplied two fabulous guest posts; one about becoming a writer that you can read here, and another about his comfort zone when writing available to read here. Today, with The Scent of Guilt set in my nearest home town, Peterborough, Tony brings us his protagonists to introduce one another.

Tony’s latest novel, The Scent of Guilt, was published by Bloodhound on 17th February and is available for purchase here.

The Scent of Guilt

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Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation.

Meanwhile, Penny Chandler has been promoted to DS and has been working in

London on the Met’s sexual crimes team. But when two rapes are reported on her old patch in Peterborough, Chandler volunteers to interview the victims.

Chandler joins the hunt for the attacker and soon notices a possible link between the rapes and Bliss’s murder investigation. Could the same man be responsible?

Just as both cases seem to stall, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA with a similar MO. Bliss finds himself travelling to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly imagine.

But in order to catch the murderer, Bliss must discover the killer’s motive. A motive which should have remained buried in the past…

Bliss and Chandler

A Guest Post by Tony J Forder

Bliss on Chandler

Penny is one tough cookie. Coming out of the Fens in East Anglia, she has that rural British stoicism that so typified the pre-snowflake generation. She sees life and all that it holds for what it is, not for how she would like it to be. Unlike me, Pen is not a deep thinker outside work. On the job she’s a dog with a bone, fiercely determined and smart as a whip. Outside of that, she seldom dwells on things beyond her control. I love that about her.

With little education behind her, the moment she realised she was pregnant whilst still in her mid-teens, Pen took a long, hard look at her life and decided it was simply not good enough for the child she was about to bring into the world. She could have wilted, could have allowed herself to be swept up by her family and settled. But that’s just not in her nature. Instead, she did what she had to do to join the police service, and has not looked back since.

Don’t tell her this, but I admire her so much for coping with the pressure of having her daughter abducted by the kid’s father when Hannah was only two. She fought so hard, but when you’re dealing with a foreign country, trying to find your way through the political and legal fog must have been an absolute nightmare for her. But does she complain? Never. If you ask she’ll tell you the latest, but she is so rarely in the doldrums, avoids the happy pills, and gets up each morning to get on with her life. So yes, what’s not to admire.

As a detective she could go as far as DCI – no problem whatsoever. Not so sure about beyond that, because then they look at things like education and background, etc. All that bullshit that has no bearing on solving crimes. But lately, Pen has shown signs of not wanting to progress much further. Certainly not up to DCI, because the last thing she wants is to become desk-bound. To be honest, I wish I was a better role model for her. As a DI I really ought not to be out on the streets so much, but I suppose I’m a control freak. I want to be right on top of my investigations, and the only way I know how is to get out there and crack heads and knock on doors. You can edit out that ‘crack heads’ comment, right?

Penny hasn’t had a great deal of luck with the blokes in her life, but it’ll happen for her. It has to. She’s way too nice, way too smart, way too loving not to find someone to settle down with. She deserves the very best life has to offer. I wish I could do more about getting her little girl back for her, but hopefully she will find someone with whom she can be happy, someone who will support her. She must have dark days, but like I say, she keeps them to herself. Maybe one day – soon, I hope – she will have someone to go home to who can take a share of that burden.

Professionally I hope she makes the move up the ranks, but I’d hate to lose her as my oppo. I sometimes think she’s the other half of me – the better half, but again you don’t share that with her. I reckon she’s my conscience, my moral compass. Quite what I’d do without her is anyone’s guess, but my time has come and gone. Penny’s star is on the rise, and I want to see her make the most of it.

Chandler on Bliss

Where do I start? When I first met him it was like working with a jack-in-the-box – he’d get wound up more and more until he just erupted, but you could never tell when it would happen. He’d move from placid to psychotic in an instant. He’s a lot better these days, now he’s found his ‘chi’ or whatever he calls it. So there’s that. But you’d want him on your side if you were going over the top, if you know what I mean. He’s fiercely loyal – with emphasis on the fierce at times – and that sort of thing is rare these days. People are so career-driven that they’ll happily leave you in the mire as they progress, but not Jimmy.

And what’s that all about, anyway? He’s a grown man… an old man… and still answers to ‘Jimmy’? That’s just between you and me, right? Not for publication. Anyway, Jimmy is the boss, and always will be the boss. He’s old-fashioned, sure, he’s never going to be the most politically correct of men, but why should he apologise for that? He’s never offensive unless he intends to be, and then you probably deserve it and better watch out. I have to turn away sometimes when he’s going off on one, because otherwise I’d laugh. We’re very different in that way, but I think that’s fine. I’ve learned more about being a good detective from Jimmy than anyone else in the job, any lecture I’ve attended, any course I’ve been on. I look at it this way: if I was a victim, would I rather have someone who always plays by the rules but doesn’t solve the case, or someone like Jimmy who does what it takes and gets the results?

He’s been through the mill personally, and although it’s not a touchy subject with him, neither is it something he wants to discuss. Thing is, I can see he’s be hard to live with at times, but I reckon once you got beneath that hard shell of his you’d never want to leave. Trouble is, at times I think he pushes people away, so only those who persevere get to see the real Jimmy Bliss. The man who loved his wife, his parents and his two soppy dogs. The man who always has time for you, who may over-react one day, and the next buy you a drink, who would stop whatever he was doing to help you out if you asked.

Jimmy himself would tell you he’s not the perfect person – are any of us? He’s seen and endured things that would break most people. You’d never know he had a debilitating illness, a chronic condition that will never improve. He’s from the ‘if life knocks you down you pick yourself up again’ generation. His biggest weakness is taking on all the guilt, all the grief, all the heartache going around, as if somehow by doing so no one else need be touched by it. It’s not that he wants to wear a hair shirt, or self-flagellate, he simply always thinks he could have done better and that any error is something for him to be burdened with. He’s terribly hard on himself, but you can only admire him for it.

He could easily be a DCI, but works more like a sergeant – in that he’s out there with us, in the middle of it all, not sitting back in his office or taking meetings all day. The team respect and admire him for that, and for almost always coming out on top. Top copper, top man. But a tough nut to crack.

(Doesn’t that make you want to read more about them in Tony’s books?)

About Tony J Forder

Tony and display

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller Bad to the Bone, the first in a series featuring DI Jimmy Bliss and DC Penny Chandler. The second book in the series, The Scent of Guilt, will be released in March 2018, with a third currently in progress.

On 19 September 2017, Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.

Some years ago, Tony won a short story competition judged by an editor from Pan Books. The story, Gino’s Bar and Grille, went on to be published in Dark Voices 2, part of the celebrated Pan Book of Horror series. Three further short story sales followed: Book End, published in Dark Voices 4Character Role, in FEAR magazine, and finally A Grim Story, which featured in A Rattler’s Tale. It was the start of Tony’s publishing journey.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, Tony will have had four novels published by Bloodhound Books, but believes there is much more to come.

You can follow Tony on Twitter @TonyJForder, visit his website and find him on Facebook.

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