I’m thrilled to welcome back Robert Crouch to Linda’s Book Bag today to celebrate his latest book, No Mercy.
Robert Crouch has been a smashing guest several times, most recently when No More Lies was released in a post you can see here. I ‘stayed in’ with Rob in a post you can read here, and he’s been kind enough to provide a guest post (here) shortly after his Fisher’s Fables was released and another here to celebrate No Bodies.
Rob’s latest book, No Mercy, was published on 16th January and is available for purchase here.
COULD YOU KILL WHEN JUSTICE FAILED YOU?
Highways Inspector, Derek Forster, couldn’t go on after the death of his wife. Even though he had a secret lover, he took his own life. Or did he?
Samson Capote, the restaurateur from hell, brutally attacked and left to die in a deep freezer. Did he antagonise too many people? Was he sharing Forster’s secret lover?
Millionaire entrepreneur, Clive Chesterton, falls from his yacht and drowns in Sovereign Harbour. Why did he have Forster’s missing journals in his cabin?
When Kent Fisher becomes a murder suspect, he realises he could be the next victim of a killer who shows no mercy.
Can Kent connect the deaths and solve the mystery before the killer gets to him?
Daring to be different?
A Guest Post by Robert Crouch
When publishers say they’re looking for new talent, something different, a unique voice, it makes me smile. In my experience, they mean something similar to what they already publish.
Different means risk and publishers need to sell books and make a profit, after all.
I didn’t choose to write something different. I chose to write something distinctive.
As an avid fan of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, I love the classic whodunit. Whether the police or an amateur detective investigates, the stories are always complex mysteries that twist and confound with red herrings, plenty of suspects and motives buried deep.
They can be set in a locked room, a country mansion or in today’s world of social media, serial killers and scams. Whatever the setting, whoever the characters, these baffling mysteries must challenge investigators, sometimes leaving deep scars.
When I decided to try my hand at a classic whodunit, it seemed logical and natural to stick to what I knew best. Environmental health officers (EHOs) are law enforcers. They follow the same rules and procedures as the police. EHOs carry out taped interviews with witnesses and suspects, taking offenders to court when necessary.
I’ve no idea how crime fiction readers react when they check out my books and discover an EHO investigating murders. Those who read my books and leave reviews like the concept. Having characters different from the usual crop of traumatised police detectives appeals to these readers. They enjoy the glimpses into the world of environmental health and the distinctive characters and storylines it offers.
But at their heart is a dogged investigator who’s drawn into a murder, literally by accident. Or No Accident, as the first in the series is called. He’s investigating a fatal work accident, which is really a murder. It’s a perfect murder only he can solve.He becomes a local hero and gets drawn into more investigations. He can’t go looking for murders to investigate. The police do that. He’s not a private investigator for hire either.
It’s both a challenge and a delight to come up with new cases for Kent Fisher to investigate and keep it fresh and exciting. I’m sure Agatha Christie faced similar challenges with Miss Marple. And that’s part of the fun, part of the enjoyment, I hope.
There’s also something romantic and appealing about an ordinary person solving a complex murder, especially in this age of DNA profiles and forensics. Not that Kent Fisher is ordinary in any way. He simply doesn’t have the facilities, technology and systems available to the police. He has to use his personal skills and contacts and investigate in a more traditional way.
So far, with the release of the fifth novel, No Mercy, I hope I’ve managed to keep the series fresh and believable. There are jokes, comparing Kent to Jessica Fletcher. Chefs apologise for not having a body in the freezer for him to investigate. His bosses wonder whether he investigates during work time, using work facilities. (He’s already been suspended three times for treading on toes.)
The fun and humour are all part of my goal to entertain people with something distinctive and exciting yet familiar. Were the series to be televised (and I live in hope), I want it to appeal to all the family. I’d like it shown at 8pm on a Sunday evening. This places the novels at the cosy end of the crime fiction spectrum, but they’re still based in today’s world with all its warts.
I also wanted to avoid the traumatised detectives that seem to be everywhere at the moment.
I gave Kent Fisher a healthy lifestyle, a love of running over the South Downs in Sussex, where the novels are set. He owns an animal sanctuary where he cares for abandoned, injured and unwanted animals and pets. He’s a resolute environmentalist, opposing the destruction of the natural environment.
A typical investigator he’s not. But like many law enforcers, he hates unfairness and injustice. He has to speak out, to take action, to fight for the underdog, as I did during my long career as an environmental health officer.
Now I’m happy to let Kent Fisher fight my battles. He’s not your usual investigator and the settings and stories are not your standard police procedural or serial killer thriller. But in most other respects, they remain faithful to the traditional murder mysteries and classic whodunits I enjoy reading.
So, not that different.
That’s such a refreshing approach Rob. I’m with you all the way!
About Robert Crouch
Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read.Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross.
He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world.These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer.
He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often find walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, taking photographs and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.