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Getting to grips with time frames in novels

Time frames in novels, and particularly when writing a series, as with the DI Andy Horton novels, the Art Marvik mystery thrillers and my 1950s set mystery series featuring Scotland Yard detective Inspector Ryga , are a tricky thing. There is ‘real time’ and there is‘fictional time’.

In ‘real time’ I write a DI Andy Horton Solent Murder Mystery and either an Art Marvik or Inspector Ryga mystery in a year whereas in ‘fictional time’ the novels are set over a shorter time frame.

Andy Horton was thirty nine when I created him in Tide of Death in 2006 - now re-published (2022) as THE PORTSMOUTH MURDERS so by now he should be fifty three. However, in ‘fictional time’ fifteen novels later, he is only forty. The novels take place not over fourteen years but over eighteen months, which means for DI Andy Horton there are an awful lot of murders in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, making it worse than  Midsomer Murder on a good day!

It's said that Agatha Christie regretted making Hercule Poirot sixty when she created him because by the time she finished writing about him he would in ‘real time’ have been about a hundred and eight! In ‘fictional time’ Poirot stayed more or less the same age. I'm not saying that will happen to DI Andy Horton, he may age yet.

Following 'fictional time' allows the author to develop the back story. In DI Andy Horton's case it allows me to chart his marital break-up, his fight to gain access to his daughter, and his search for the truth behind his mother’s disappearance when he was child.  There are currently fifteen in  the Inspector Andy Horton mystery series all being re-published by Joffe books in 2022 so you might have to wait until number fifteen to find out if Andy finally discovers the truth behind his mother's disappearance!

With Art Marvik there is his struggle to adjust to civilian life and, from the second in the series, DANGEROUS CARGO, there is the mystery behind the death of his marine archaeologist parents’ when he was seventeen, thought to be an accident but was it? Marvik has a new mystery to solve in LOST VOYAGE (3) and finally discovers the truth of his parents deaths in DEAD SEA (4).

In my contemporary crime novels I try to avoid mentioning the current year if I possibly can, leaving it to the imagination of the reader. The other problem with real time is that technology changes and so too do the names of police departments as they are merged, re-organised and cut back. In the DI Andy Horton novels I started off talking about the Serious Organised Crime Agency which in October 2013 became the National Crime Agency.  It becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with all the name changes and often by the time the novel is published some of the police departments mentioned no longer exist in that format and that name.

Technology also advances so being specific can in one novel look bang-up-to-date and yet in another written a year or two later look grossly dated. MySpace, which was once all the rage, has been overtaken by Facebook in popularity, which  in turn may very well also fade into the distance just as the iPad could become but a distant memory as something else replaces it. A powerful argument I think to create a police or murder mystery crime series set in the past which is what I have done with my 1950s set Inspector Ryga mysteries. Here I am specific about the year because it is an integral part of the crime novels.

Death in the Cove a 1950 Inspector Ryga MysteryDEATH IN THE COVE is set in 1950 England, 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 in high speed cars and no computers so it was extremely interesting to research and write. 

Pauline Rowson's gripping, entertaining crime novels full of twists and turns

Pauline Rowson's crime novels
If you enjoy reading gripping, fast-paced crime novels full of twists and turns, compelling and multi-layered with great characters and stories that keep you guessing right to the end then Pauline Rowson's crime novels are right up your street. 

Set against the back drop of the ever changing sea on the South Coast of England. 

Where to buy Pauline Rowson's books

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NOVEMBER 12TH, 2021 @ 6:09:47 GMT

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