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Behind the characters - DI Andy Horton, Art Marvik and Inspector Alun Ryga


One of the essentials of a good novel is a strong central character, someone the reader can have empathy with, urge on, and sometimes get angry and frustrated with. He or she doesn't have to be perfect, far from it, after all who is? And strong doesn't mean the character has be forceful, on the contrary he or she can find strength through experience and overcoming adversity i.e. the plot/s. So let's take a look at what has shaped my fictional sleuths: DI Andy Horton, Art Marvik and Inspector Ryga in his 1950s world.

DI Andy Horton

DI Andy Horton, the main character in my contemporary crime novels (14), is very much a flawed individual, he is also instinctive, tough and resilient, and deeply empathetic. A dry sense of humour is how Andy keeps people at arm’s length and stays detached from the crimes he investigates. His greatest strength is his ability to put himself in a victim’s shoes, to imagine events from their perspective (even the moments up to their death), making leaps of deduction few would be able to. And he’s most often right. He's especially tough on bullies, or people who abuse their power or position, as they remind him of the people in the children’s homes in which he’s been raised. When this happens, when his guard slips, he’s like a raw nerve. He fears his emotions will betray him.

He feels a duty of care to the victims of the crimes he investigates and often feels like he’s the only person looking out for them; the only one who can bring the guilty to justice so that the dead can rest. No one cared about him when he was a child; he won’t let that happen to anyone else.

Living on board his small yacht in Southsea Marina since his estrangement from his wife following a gross misconduct charge, the sailing detective is a man rarely at peace, unless he is on the sea or fighting crime. Raised in children's homes after his mother abandoned him as a child, he has a desperate need to belong and yet is always on the outside. Being alone is his greatest fear, yet he is alone. His experiences have taught him never to trust and never to reveal his real self, which leave him on the outside.

Horton's pushed thoughts and memories of his mother to the past, but when, during an investigation, certain information about her comes to light, he is forced to examine it. Soon he is faced with a mystery surrounding her disappearance over thirty years ago and one he knows he will have to solve or never find peace.

Art Marvik

Art Marvik currently appears in three mystery thrillers. I have also written number four in the series which will hopefully be published within the next eighteen months. With Marvik I wanted a character who was not bound by the official rules of the law but who was nevertheless on the right side of it. I also needed to include the hallmarks of my brand - the sea and lots of action. So enter former Royal Marine Commando, Special Boat Services Officer, Art Marvik newly out of the marines.

Tough, fit, highly trained, fearless and intelligent. But, as mentioned above, every character has a back story – the things that have shaped them and indeed shape their future actions. While DI Andy Horton tries to unravel the mystery surrounding his mother’s disappearance Marvik has dismissed his parents’ death on a dive, while undertaking one of their many marine archaeological expeditions, as an accident. He too, like Horton, was abandoned by his parents but whereas Horton was consigned to children’s homes and foster homes in inner city Portsmouth, Marvik was sent to an elite and expensive boarding school at the age of eleven which specialized in outdoor sports, especially water sports, which Marvik excelled at. Despite that he grew up feeling his parents loved their occupation, and their quest for aquatic treasures, more than they loved their son.

After their death, when he was seventeen, he joined the marines and put his parents, their life and their wealth behind him. Langton, the psychiatrist who treated him after a head injury sustained in combat, said Marvik was running away from his emotions, maybe he was, but as far as he was concerned he would continue running, the past was the past, except he soon finds out it has a nasty habit of catching up on you.

Injuries inflicted while in combat have finally forced Marvik to leave the marines and seek a new life in Civvy Street. He thought he’d be able to adjust and carve out a new career for himself, but his first job as a private maritime security operative goes very wrong when the luxury motor cruiser he was travelling on and had been detailed to guard, gets attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, and Marvik finds himself with a bullet in his shoulder and the boat’s owner dead. He’d failed on his first mission in civilian life, and Silent Running opens with him reeling from it.

When Shaun Strathen, Marviks former Royal Marine colleague, enlists his help to find a missing computer scientist and a former girlfriend of Marvik’s goes missing after visiting him in his remote Isle of Wight cottage Marvik finds himself attached to the UK's newly formed and covert National Intelligence Marine Squad (NIMS) led by Detective Chief Superintendent Crowder. Silent Running launches Marvik on a new career as an undercover investigator in which he's trying to find his way in a new bewildering civilian life. At the same time certain facts come to light about his parents deaths. Marvik has to face his inner fears and confront the past, maybe then he will stop running from it.

Inspector Alun Ryga (1950 set mysteries)

DEATH IN THE COVE (the first in the Ryga series with the second, DEATH IN THE HARBOUR, to be published in 2020) is set in 1950 England, a country still reeling from the aftermath of war with austerity and rationing biting hard. Newly promoted to detective inspector, Ryga from Scotland Yard, is on his first solo investigation outside of London, to solve the mystery of why a man in a pin-striped suit is found murdered in an isolated cove on the Island of Portland in Dorset.

The 1950s is a fascinating period where memories of the war are very strong, and the fear of more world conflicts haunt people. Society and policing in the 1950s was vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write.

Scotland Yard were frequently called in to investigate murder cases around the UK so rather than have the novel (and series) rooted in London this meant I could move my detective around the country to help solve crimes. Once again, I wanted to feature the sea in my crime novels - my trademark or brand - so I created a character with an intimate knowledge of the sea, a former Merchant Seaman, Inspector Alun Ryga.

From the first I didn't want to make Ryga an action hero like Art Marvik. I also sought to differ him from DI Andy Horton, an instinctive copper with lots of personal baggage, intuitive, rugged and flawed with a deep sense of justice.

Neither did I want someone who had been hailed as a war hero in the traditional sense, but instead a quiet, unseen hero. I chose, therefore, to make Ryga a former German prisoner-of-war. Ryga’s ship had been seized by a German Raider in 1941 as a result of which he had been incarcerated for the rest of the war in MILAG, (Marine Internierten Lager). Here he had to learn how to cope with the uncertainty, fear and deprivations of forced incarceration with no option but to wait, hope and pray that the war would soon be over and the Nazis would be defeated.

His experience has made Ryga observant, analytical and reflective. It has also given him insights into his fellow man. He’s witnessed compassion, cruelty, cowardice and heroism, mental breakdown and despair. He’s made a promise to himself that whatever happens after the war he’ll keep an open mind and never judge.

The war also unexpectedly resulted in opening up a new career for Ryga. Encouraged by a fellow prisoner to study, Ryga with the help of his mentor, is able to make the transition from the Merchant Navy to the Thames River Police. Before DEATH IN THE COVE opens Ryga has been involved in two highly successful criminal investigations at the Port of London and as a result has been catapulted into the Metropolitan Police and then into CID in Scotland Yard.

His experience at sea, and as a prisoner-of-war, have made him unique in his approach to solving coastal based crimes. In this series he is being called upon to utilize his vast knowledge of the sea and in DEATH IN THE COVE (1) his first solo investigation out of London, to discover why a man dressed in a pinstriped suit has been stabbed in the neck and ended up dead on the beach of a small cove on Portland on the Dorset coast.


Dead Passage - A DI Andy Horton Mystery Silent Running an Art Marvik mystery thriller Death in the Cove, an Inspector Ryga 1950 set mystery


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POSTED BY: PAULINE ROWSON
DECEMBER 27TH, 2019 @ 13:47:16 UTC
 
 


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