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What makes Pauline Rowson's crime novels different - marine mystery country - a fascination with the sea

Sailing out of Portsmouth HarbourWe all know that location is an important factor when choosing where to live, it is also equally important in choosing the setting for a crime novel. There are many great settings for crime novels in the UK from gritty Glasgow to captivating Cornwall and of course the wonderful diversity of settings in countries around the World. There is also the fictional setting.

For me though there is marine mystery country, the location for my crime novels, which happens to be a real place and that is Portsmouth and the Solent on the South Coast of England. Here my sailing detective, the flawed and rugged  DI Andy Horton, pits his wits against the criminal classes, which takes him, and others in the team, into the harbours and marinas around Portsmouth, Langstone, Chichester, and the Isle of Wight.

Freshwater Bay Isle of WightAnd it's not only Andy Horton who gets to solve crime and have adventures around and on the sea but my new character, former Royal Marine Commando, Special Boat Services officer, Art Marvik in the new crime series in which he works undercover for the UK's newly former National Intelligence Marine Squad ( NIMS).  But while Andy lives and sails a yacht, Marvik has a sturdy but modern motor cruiser!

For me the sea setting has many advantages. For a start it is never constant. In one day it can change from being calm to turbulent. It’s treacherous, misleading and evil like many villains, and although it can look safe on the surface underneath can be a sandbank, a rock, a wreck, a dangerous current all of which can cause havoc and kill and be used to good effect in a crime novel.

Woody Bay Isle of Wight used in A Killing Coast, DI Andy HortonThe sea is also completely uncontrollable. Just as in life we sometimes need to go with the flow at other times we have to swim against the tide, the trick is knowing when to do which. My detective, DI Horton, hasn't quite got it sussed, or when he thinks he has something happens to throw him completely off course, just as in life.

The sea provides me with great inspiration. Many of the marinas and harbours around the Solent are featured in my novels. I can't pass a boatyard, beach or cove without thinking there must be a dead body or a skeleton there somewhere.

Dorset Coastline used in Art Marvik, Dangerous CargoThe great variety of locations also provides diversity of scenes. In Silent Running, the first in the Art Marvik series, he gets to travel to marinas in Chichester, Littlehampton and Weymouth, while the second in the series, Dangerous Cargo, sees him on a dangerous mission on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and on the River Thames in London.

Chichester MarinaAs for the enigmatic DI Andy Horton he can be on a stony or sandy beach, at an expensive marina or in a rotting boatyard. He can be on board the police launch in the Solent or crossing on the ferry or Hovercraft.

In choosing a waterfront location such as Portsmouth for my DI Andy Horton series I also have the contrast of a modern city with a historic one complete with a Roman Fort in Portsmouth Harbour; nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest rubbing shoulders with modern tower blocks, a diverse and multicultural population, the busy Portsmouth International Port, historic dockyard, fishing fleet and home of the Royal Navy. What more could a writer wish for?

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JUNE 13TH, 2016 @ 6:21:48 BST

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