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Which is the easier to write contemporary crime fiction or historical crime fiction

As I write both contemporary crime fiction and historical mysteries I can say that from my point of view they both have their challenges.

DEATH IN THE COVE, my first 1950s set crime novel featuring Inspector Ryga is soon to be followed by number two in the series DEATH IN THE HARBOUR (pub. date 2 November 2020). This will be my twenty second published crime novel and my second historical mystery. My other crime novels are contemporary, with fifteen featuring my rugged and flawed Portsmouth detective, DI Andy Horton; three starring former Royal Marine Commando, Art Marvik, an undercover investigator for the UK’s National Intelligence Marine Squad, and two standalone thrillers.

First then writing contemporary crime fiction - what are the challenges?

The main challenges as I see it, particularly if you write police procedurals, is getting your facts right. In fact it is almost impossible at times and sometimes not strictly necessary anyway. Some authors choose to write general contemporary crime novels to avoid the police procedure, others simply leave it out. And if you were to write a crime novel that adhered strictly to police procedure then it would make very dull reading indeed. Not because police work is dull, far from it, but much of it is routine, slow and choc-a-bloc with paperwork. If you included this in a crime novel then your readers wouldn't get past the first chapter!

The other difficulties with contemporary crime fiction is that scene-of-crime procedures advances, police procedure and technology can also change so swiftly that by the time I’ve written a contemporary novel, and it’s published, the police department I was writing about has merged with another and changed its name. For example, the Serious Organised Crime Agency mentioned in the early DI Andy Horton novels was subsumed into the National Crime Agency by the middle and later novels. Readers might not worry, or even notice this, so it might not be too much of a problem. It is fiction, after all, and therefore cannot truly reflect the police in the raw although it’s good to get at least some of it right some of the time!

The same can be said for technology and, of course, the ubiquitous social media. If a novel mentions My Space, readers now will wonder what the heck you’re talking about. It could very well be the same for Twitter or TikTok in years or maybe months to come, and yes, I know most writers generalise but re-reading my early Horton crime novels recently (first published in 2006) made me realise how drastically things have changed since then.

In addition, in one of my Art Marvik mystery thrillers, Marvik uses a fax machine to avoid a sensitive document being tracked and the possibility of it being hacked if sent by e mail or via the web. The editor I had at the time politely pointed out to me that fax machines weren’t in use anymore. Oh, yes they are, and growing in usage, because of the plethora of internet hackers and security issues, the same can be said for basic pay-as-you-go mobile phones without location tracking and access to the Internet. They are very much in evidence and have seen a resurgence in popularity.

These challenges made me think about turning my hand to historical crime fiction as a change.

I chose to set my Inspector Ryga novels in the 1950s because it’s a fascinating era caught between the aftermath of the war and the beginning of the cultural and social revolution of the ‘swinging sixties’. Society and policing in the 1950s was so vastly different to today, no mobile phones, no dashing about and no computers so these novels are extremely interesting to research and write, and quite restful.

Getting the historical facts are a challenge but to me a welcome and enjoyable one. It is quite surprising the things we take for granted today and can believe they have existed for some time, but an historical fiction writer needs to check these facts with reliable sources. For example, I had one of my characters dumping a tea bag in a cup before I thought hold on, were tea bags around in the UK in 1950 and were they in general use. The answer to both is no.

They were in use in America but didn’t come in general use or sale in the UK until 1953. I also had to check on rationing because I couldn’t have someone liberally applying butter to a piece of toast when butter was still on ration! (Butter was on ration in the UK until 1953.)

No matter which period you choose to write about there are not only the facts to get right but also society's attitudes, habits, customs, fashions, language idioms and more. And with crime fiction there is also the matter of police procedures

I’ve been extremely fortunate to ferret out some very obliging people, including former police officers of the 1950s era, to help me with police procedure, attitude and location research. My crime novels are all set against the backdrop of the sea in coastal locations in real places, so, for example, DEATH IN THE COVE is set on the Island of Portland, Dorset and that looked very different in 1950 to how it is today in 2020.

I absolutely adore the historical research. In fact I enjoy all the research I undertake when writing my crime novels both contemporary and historical. And to me that is the key.
I think it is good to stretch the brain and to experiment which brings me on to my final point, somewhere within me is a niggling itch to create a sci-fi detective but I'll leave that for another day!

The latest Inspector Andy Horton Mystery

A Deadly Wake a DI Andy Horton MysteryNumber 15 in the DI Andy Horton series set against the backdrop of the sea on the South Coast of England in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight

As DI Andy Horton follows the trail of a man found dead in a log cabin on the Isle of Wight, he uncovers some startling revelations into his own mother’s past and the truth behind her disappearance over thirty years ago.

Published in paperback, ebook, on Amazon Kindle and Kobo order on line and from all booksellers

Death in the Cove by Pauline Rowson Scotland Yard's Inspector Ryga who is sent out to solve coastal crimes. His first is on the Isle of Portland, Dorset when the body of a man in a pin-striped suit is found dead on Church Ope Cove - DEATH IN THE COVE.

The second Inspector Ryga 1950 set mystery is DEATH IN THE HARBOUR and will be published on 2 November in paperback, e book and on Kindle. It is available to pre-order. Like the first in the series it is also available as an audio book.

In DEATH IN THE HARBOUR, Ryga is sent to Newhaven, East Sussex to unravel the mystery of why an ordinary police constable was murdered and his wife has gone missing.

In addition to the above there are three mystery thrillers in the Art Marvik series, the former Royal Marine Commando now an undercover investigator for the UK's National Intelligence Marine Squad.

Art Marvik Mystery Thrillers by Pauline Rowson"Fans of Rowson’s DI Andy Horton books will be delighted with her new series featuring former marine commando Art Marvik.A tense, terrifying thrill ride that twists and turns with dizzying speed, combined with a likable, smart, tough, but all too human hero, make this a cracking-good new series—action fans need Marvik on their radar." Booklist on SILENT RUNNING.

The ART MARVIK series of mystery thrillers will be simultaneous published in paperback and ebook, on Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books and Google on 14 September 2020 - Available to pre-order

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AUGUST 28TH, 2020 @ 7:46:05 BST

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