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Location, location - a sea setting a must for a juicy crime novel

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 the setting has to be by and around the sea.It is my trademark or brand if you prefer and features in all my crime novels. I was brought up in the coastal city of Portsmouth and I believe that once the sea is in your blood it never leaves you.

For DI Andy Horton (15) Portsmouth and the Solent on the South Coast of England is the setting for the fifteen novels currently in the series.  Here my sailing, Harley- Davidson riding 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 former Royal Marine Commando, Special Boat Services officer, Art Marvik.  In the Marvik mystery thriller series (3) Marvik can be found on his powerful motor cruiser as he helps to solve complex crimes with their roots in the past for the UK Police's National Intelligence Marine Squad ( NIMS). 

Then there is my thoughtful 1950s detective, Inspector Ryga,who is sent out from Scotland Yard to solve baffling coastal crimes. The first on the Island of Portland, Dorset in DEATH IN THE COVE, and the second DEATH IN THE HARBOUR to Newhaven Port in East Sussex. The third in the series DEATH IN THE NETS will be published in 2021 and is set the small fishing town of Brixham in Devon.

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 Andy 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 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 the third LOST VOYAGE at the Seven Sisters Cliffs and Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, Sussex. Number four in the Marvik mystery thriller series DEAD SEA (published in 2021) finds Marvik traversing the seas along the South Coast of England following a trail of theft, abduction and murder.

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?

So if you like crime novels that twist and turn with a coastal flavour, dip into the water with one or more of my fictional sleuths,  DI Andy Horton, Art Marvik and Inspector Ryga.

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NOVEMBER 25TH, 2020 @ 6:21:48 UTC

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