I know I’m not supposed to be doing blog tours at the moment, but Robert Crouch has been such a good friend to Linda’s Book Bag and as I live next door to a retired chief environmental health officer (EHO) I simply couldn’t resist taking part in this celebration of No More Lies when Caroline Vincent, tour organiser got in touch to invite me to participate.
It’s a while since I ‘stayed in’ with Robert Crouch in a post you can read here, and Robert has been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after his Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies.
No More Lies is available for purchase here.
No More Lies
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.
A Deadly Combination – a guest post by Robert Crouch
I’d love to know how readers react when they discover my sleuth is an Environmental Health Officer, or EHO.
Are they intrigued, like the literary agent who once read one of my early novels? She wanted to know how an EHO would go about investigating a murder.
I wondered that too. I mean, you don’t pop down to your local council offices, ask to speak to an EHO and report a murder, do you? And someone who works for the local council hardly sounds glamorous, right?
Don’t be too hasty.
Do you know what EHOs do for a living? Aren’t they the people who check restaurants kitchens for hygiene?
They do. They close them down if they’re unhygienic. They can take the owners to court and prosecute them, which involves gathering evidence, interviewing suspects and witnesses, and putting a case together.
Just like the police – following the same rules of investigation and evidence, using many of the same techniques.
EHO are trained law enforcement officers. Okay, they don’t deal with murder, but they have many of the skills and attributes needed. They’re also at the heart of the community with contacts in most public bodies and access to all kinds of information and intelligence.
When it comes to dealing with health and safety in the workplace, EHOs have powers of entry that exceed those of the police. EHOs can also compel people to give evidence, especially where someone has died as a result of an accident at work.
EHOs investigate outbreaks of food poisoning, caused by organisms like E coli O157, which can kill vulnerable people. EHOs deal with complex environmental issues like noise and smoke pollution right through to people living in filthy and verminous premises.
They tackle landlords who provide substandard homes and dwellings.They licence zoos, riding establishments, kennels, tattooing and caravan sites to protect animals and animals, to ensure good standards.
I’ve covered all these areas during my working life as an EHO and hope to give readers an insight into some of them in the Kent Fisher series.
No two days were ever the same. The range of issues and people I dealt with were both vast and intriguing. Most summers, I had so many cases on the go, I couldn’t keep up.
And then a report would come through of a workplace fatality and priorities changed in the blink of an eye. A young boy drowned in a swimming pool at a camp. A worker crushed when he overturned the forklift truck he was operating. An elderly resident fell down a lift shaft in a care home.
Nothing quite prepares you for a fatality, but the professional in you takes over. Like the police, you have an investigation to conduct. You have to find out what happened and why. Ultimately, you have to determine whether laws were broken and by whom.
That’s why I couldn’t help thinking about murder while I drove around my district in the beautiful South Downs of East Sussex. I knew as an EHO I had many of the skills needed to investigate a murder. And the more I thought about it, the more inspired I became.
It couldn’t be a straightforward murder, of course. The police would deal with that. What about a murder disguised as a fatal workplace accident? That became No Accident– the novel that introduced Kent Fisher to the world of crime fiction.
It’s a straightforward murder mystery that pays homage to the classic whodunit. The story owes more to Agatha Christie and Colin Dexter than environmental health, but it allowed Kent Fisher to solve a murder and become a local hero.
Since then, Kent’s investigated missing wives and an old rogue with an unsavoury past. Environmental health features in every story, whether it’s a child at death’s door due to an E coli infection, mobile caterers, dodgy hotel kitchens and standards in care homes.
In the latest novel, No More Lies, the police seek Kent’s professional help as an EHO with a 10 year old cold case. They have an unidentified body with links to a restaurant he once closed down.There’s a second link to someone close, increasing the personal stakes.
It’s another case of environmental health meets murder in a deadly combination that offers readers something unique and distinctive in crime fiction.
(I’ll have to introduce you to my neighbour Robert. You can swap stories!)
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.
You can find Robert on Goodreads and Facebook and visit his website. You can also follow him on Twitter @robertcrouchuk.
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