Lincolnshire novelist Rodney Hobson hopes to put county on crime map
A horrific murder is the last thing residents of Killiney Court in peaceful Lincolnshire expect.
Introducing Detective Inspector Paul Amos, Spilsby-based author Rodney Hobson discusses the first in his series of Lincolnshire Mysteries, out now...
Why set a mystery series in Lincolnshire, and what will local readers recognise in terms of the 'atmosphere' of the county?
There's a whole range of modern murder mysteries set in Oxfordshire, most notably featuring Chief Inspector Morse, but otherwise there is very little outside grim inner cities. I felt that it was time Lincolnshire was put on the crime map. The county covers a large area and is full of contrasts. There are the fens in the south and the wolds in the middle, market towns and seaside resorts, agriculture and industry, and above all a beautiful and picturesque cathedral city. I felt that Lincolnshire was just right for a whole series of detective books. In Dead Money I have tried to capture the atmosphere and way of life of a small market town in the 1990s and of people who live fairly narrow lives, but lives that are important in their own community.
Can you give us a little teaser about the book?
Dead Money looks at first sight to be a classic 'closed room' murder where only a set number of people could possibly have done it. A businessman is found brutally murdered in his apartment in a modern, refurbished block of flats with a security system and a security guard.
Detective Inspector Paul Amos soon discovers that in fact a stranger could gain access so the search widens to all of the businessman's contacts, and there are many with potential grudges. Then doubts arise about whether the killer broke into the wrong flat in the dark. Amos eventually works out who the murderer was and the intended victim – but the only way to prove it is to lay a trap.
Tell me more about Detective Inspector Paul Amos?
Paul Amos is an ordinary kind of man with human strengths and weaknesses. I wanted a character that people could empathise with. The current trend in modern detectives is for them to be deeply flawed, for instance in the case of Morse and Rebus they drink too much, and they have darkly troubled and usually lonely home lives. Amos is not a loner.
He's a good team leader but he is not infallible and he makes mistakes, as we all do. He also had a religious upbringing that has left a legacy of prudishness and a willingness to think the best of people that is not particularly helpful in a detective.
I had a meeting this week with my publishers Endeavour Press and they have agreed to take my second Paul Amos story, which is three-quarters written. The aim is to do a series of six books.
The second is set in Lincoln and readers will recognise some of the places I describe. This story is quite different, with a long forgotten murder coming back to haunt the perpetrator and leading to more deaths. I already have the basic plot for book three and this will be in a rural community.
I understand Arthur Conan Doyle is a crime writer you are inspired by?
I've read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, plus several murder mysteries by a variety of authors such as Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie. While I have felt inspired by all of them, I hope I have created a detective and a style of writing that is all my own and not a secondhand version of someone else's ideas. What I am trying to copy is the idea of the old-fashioned whodunit because I feel that psychological thrillers have taken over the crime genre and there is plenty of room for both.
Dead Money: A Detective Inspector Paul Amos Lincolnshire Mystery. Publisher: Endeavour Press, available in ebook, £2.99.
Rodney Hobson would like to make contact with any Lincolnshire residents who can remember life in the 1990s, particularly any local railway or rugby union enthusiasts for his next book. E-mail email@example.com