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The Inspector Ryga 1950s set mysteries

Death in the Cove an Inspector Alun Ryga mystery by Pauline Rowson
DEATH IN THE COVE is the first in the 1950s set Inspector Ryga mystery series set on the Royal Island of Portland, Dorset with DEATH IN THE HARBOUR number two, set in the port of Newhaven, East Sussex and DEATH IN THE NETS, number three in the series, set in the fishing town of Brixham, Devon.

Why did I choose to set this series in the 1950s?

The 1950s is a fascinating era where memories of the war are still very strong and the fear of more world conflicts haunt people. The country was in the grip of austerity, with rationing still in force on some commodities long after the war has ended. People had hoped and believed that they would be free of such restrictions. There were severe shortages of many consumer products, make-do-and- mend was still very much the order of the day and the black market was thriving. The lack of housing was acute because of the bombing and shortages of building material, with many living in old nissan huts on abandoned airfields and army camps, in railways carriages, shacks and converted torpedo boats.

There  were few vacuum cleaners, even fewer refrigerators and hardly any washing machines.  A mangle in the back yard was  used to squeeze the water from your washing. Bread,milk and coal were delivered to your doorstep, with bread unwrapped and left on the window ledge or doorstep. A  knife sharpener came round regularly. Heavy laundry (sheets and towels) was often sent out to the laundry for those who could afford it, otherwise it was boiling them on the stove, or hand washing and using the mangle.  There were few cars and lorries. There were trams,trolley buses and steam trains.

Open fires, coal dust and soot reigned, along with paraffin heaters and a tin bath in front of the fire once a week unless you were fortunate enough to have a bathroom with a gas geyser. Many houses didn't have running hot water. Families washed in the kitchen (scullery) and toilets were shared between houses and were often out in the back yard (depending on where you lived).

Abortions were illegal and back street practitioners flourished. There was a social stigma attached to illegitimacy. Divorce was not acceptable in many circles. Homosexuality was illegal and capital punishment was still in operation.

The 1950s is the era caught between the war and the social and cultural revolution of the 'swinging sixties.'

And it wasn't only society which was vastly different to today but also policing and detection. there were, of course, no mobile phones, no dashing about and no computers so it was an extremely interesting period to research and write.

Enter my Scotland Yard detective

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. I wanted to feature the sea in my crime novels - my trademark or brand if you like - 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 my former Royal Marine Commando who appears currently in four mystery thrillers, working as an undercover agent for the UK Police National Intelligence Marine Squad. I also sought to differ Ryga from my contemporary Portsmouth based detective, 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, unsung hero. I chose, therefore, to make Ryga a former German prisoner-of-war. Ryga’s ship, while undertaking the treacherous job in the Merchant Navy, of bringing into the UK much needed foodstuffs 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), a special prisoner of war camp for merchant seamen. 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.

Ryga's experiences in the camp, and at sea, have made him an observant, analytical and reflective man. It has given him insights into human behaviour. 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 and that he will also strive to seek justice for those who need and deserve it.

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 his first solo investigation outside of London DEATH IN THE COVE he is tasked 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. Here he comes into contact with former war photographer, Eva Paisley - forthright, confident, self assured, professional and an accomplished photographer who has experienced front line danger in many theatres of war. They team up in the second in the series DEATH IN THE HARBOUR, set in the port of Newhaven, East Sussex and again in number three in the series, DEATH IN THE NETS set in the small fishing town of Brixham in Devon.

Together Ryga and Eva make a formidable crime busting duo.

I have tried to capture the period both socially and in regard to police and detection and have been very fortunate to have been assisted in my research by many people including former policemen who were active during that time in the locations the Ryga mystery novels are set. My grateful thanks to everyone who has helped me and continues to do so as I write number four in the series entitled DEATH IN THE DUNES and set on the Kent coast of Dungeness.

Here is some brief information about the Inspector Ryga Mysteries.

Death in the Cove an Inspector Alun Ryga MysteryDEATH IN THE COVE is Inspector Ryga's first solo investigation outside of London, where he is despatched to solve the mystery of why a man in a pin-striped suit is found murdered in an isolated cove on the Royal Island of Portland in Dorset. Here he meets war photographer, Eva Paisley, for the first time. Ryga quickly realises that her observations could provide the breakthrough he needs in a complex murder investigation and the answer to the haunting circumstances that have sent the man in the pinstriped suit to his death.

Death in the Harbour by Pauline RowsonThe second Inspector Ryga mystery, DEATH IN THE HARBOUR is set in the port of Newhaven, East Sussex where Ryga has to solve a puzzling and disturbing case of why an ordinary police constable was murdered and his sensible law-abiding wife has gone missing.

Death in the Nets by Pauline RowsonNumber three in the Inspector Ryga series DEATH IN THE NETS is set in the small fishing town of Bridport, Devon. It's a cold wet January night in 1951, the body of a man stabbed through the heart, is found tangled up in fishing nets in Brixham Harbour, Devon. After a series of startling revelations, Ryga is tasked to discover why the dead man who left the town eleven years ago has returned and why someone hated him enough to murder him.

The Inspector Ryga mysteries are published in paperback, ebook, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Books and Apple Books.

DEATH IN THE COVE and DEATH IN THE HARBOUR are also available as audio books on Audible, and from B7 Media, narrated by Jonathan Rhodes.

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SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2021 @ 6:21:33 BST

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