February 16 2021
O.K., I know I only published a book the previous month, and I don’t want it to seem that I’m churning these books out, but it has nothing to do with the Coronavirus and lockdown. In fact, I have been writing it for many years.
This book has been on my mind for decades, and to some extent reflects my own feelings. I originally thought of it for television, especially as it’s quite episodic, but it’s finally emerged as a book.
I hate these self-penned blurbs that say things like “This book will change your life,” or “The funniest book you will read this year, or indeed any year.” I shall just say that it’s meant to be funny …
It’s the story of someone who doesn’t want to just drift idly though life as others seem happy to, without achieving anything memorable. He wants to secure a place in history, as have Brunel, Dickens, Elgar and Shakespeare.
To become immortal …
It is now available on Amazon in paperback (@£4.00)
and Kindle (@ £1.77)
January 11 2021
My eighth collection of puzzling detective short stories, ‘Inspector Pirat’s Pieces of Eight,’ is now out on Amazon in paperback
WARNING : THIS IS NOT A PIRATE BOOK!
The twenty stories include a murder mystery set on the Disorient Express, the murder of an internet troll, and a mysterious case of dognapping. They include my usual references to other detective writers’ books and “inverted jokes” …
I would have thought that this would have appeared much earlier because of the lockdown, but I get most of my ideas on holiday, so this is a little late.
And, as usual, formatting and proofing took a long time.
So, here it is!
July 29 2020
I know my latest collection of Inspector Pirat / Detective Inspector John Pratt books was out in May, but I have been asked (honestly!) whether the next one will be out really early, because of all of us being stuck in the house during the Covid-19 lockdown.
In fact, I have been out and about rather more than usual (apart from not going on holiday). Valérie and I have been using the lockdown period to make use of a system of walks and rambles in the Vale of Glamorgan. However, the downside is that I fell over two stiles (on different days), although a large network of brambles and nettles broke my fall gently, and I also hurt my right knee after we were stampeded by a herd of malevolent cows near Duffryn Mawr (the bull, like most males, just stood and watched).
But the lockdown situation (and the fact that there have been enormous digging machines excavating at the house next door for the past four months) has not been really conducive to thinking up stories with the sort of plot devices that I approve of. And, in fact, going on holiday helped this process best …
So, it may be a while before anything is published (although I am over two-thirds of the way there …)
May 13 2020
The seventh collection of puzzling detective short stories featuring Inspector Pirat (as anglicised as Detective Inspector John Pratt), ‘Inspector Pirat’s Seventh Heaven,’ is now out on Amazon in paperback
Cases include an actress being blown up in her own trailer (whilst afloat!), a murder at a health spa, and a mysterious death during a reality television show.
This should have been out a lot earlier. I’m sure everybody was waiting for this to read whilst in lockdown!
But formatting and proofing took a long time.
So, here it is!
April 30 2020
As I wrote last November, I’ve been working on a new book, but, although it’s been ready since early March, proofreading has had to take a back seat, largely due to the coronavirus, as my proofreader works for the NHS.
However, that is now finished, and I have arranged for a proof paperback to be sent to me, only to discover a glaring error (a repetition of a paragraph in consecutive chapters), which will have to be fixed when I’ve checked the proof and received other feedback.
Publication is now on for the middle to the end of May. By then, if lockdown has finished, everyone will have stopped reading!
November 30 2019
For some months now, I’ve been thinking that it’s about time I published another Inspector Pirat book. And yet the last was published only in June, so there’s certainly no hurry.
Perhaps I’ve had too much spare time, as I’ve been doing no DIY and as little gardening as possible (as usual), although we have had a few longer holidays, to visit the eastern cities of Canada, to stay in a gîte in the Vendée in France, and to see the Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle in Norway for the second time, which was even more satisfying than our first visit.
But, even though I’ve written fourteen stories for the next book, I’m increasingly finding it very difficult to write the standard of stories I want to publish. It’s easy to write stories with good plot ideas for crimes or even with humorous or farcical crimes, but with little else. It’s also easy to write character-driven stories, as all the other crime writers seem to do these days. But I want my stories to hinge on a puzzle or plot point that the reader can work out for himself or herself, in fact, something interactive. As I have often said, there seem few of these being published today, especially as short stories, probably because they use up ideas and plots too quickly,
So, I must try harder.
August 10 2019
I recently decided it was about time I sorted out the many slides (transparencies) that my family took of our holidays, relatives, and, perhaps more importantly, our coaches. As I was unable to secure the use of a reliable projector, a neighbour said he had a slide scanner, and allowed me to borrow it for as long as I needed.
I had two groups of slides. One I brought from my house in Llanishen about thirty years ago, and had stored in boxes in a wardrobe. These were fine.
However, the other batch my mother had kept in her house in Kimberley Terrace, and these had been attacked by damp. I tried to clean them, but without any great success.
Still, I have now managed to scan many slides into the computer, and will put some of these up on my website as soon as I have time.
June 09 2019
My latest Inspector Pirat book, ‘The Scrapbook of Inspector Pirat,’ is now out on Amazon in paperback
Gosh, is it really my sixth Inspector Pirat outing?
But I’m not as happy with my cover as I usually am. Despite my daughter Clare recreating the original cover template style for me, the problem now is that the “cartoon” element I myself set up isn’t quite what I was hoping for. Still, I have had so many problems with the proofreading as well that I am going ahead as it is.
Anyway, it’s the content that matters, not the cover surely? I am certain that Desmond Morris’ ‘The Naked Ape’ would have sold just as well without the naked bodies on the cover.
Anyway, here it is.
I have included a dedication to the usual suspects, plus also to all those people who have read my books.
So, buy a copy and be dedicated to!
May 29 2019
Well, I did say that my next Pirat book would be out in June, but things were progressing so well, it might have been out a few weeks ago.
But my publisher has changed all the cover design templates, and I cannot use the original design without creating it again myself …
… which I have done, or rather which my daughter Clare has done. She runs a software company in Norway with her husband Christer.
But I just cannot get it to fit into the print area available.
This may take a while …
April 26 2019
Because I found that so many of my friends were retiring and yet unprepared for so much leisure (and with so little money), I have written what I have described as a small book or a large pamphlet, full of advice about retirement, entitled ‘How to Retire Ungracefully.’
O.K., so it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but, as I said, it’s free, so you could check it out on Smashwords
But I felt I had to change the cover for this. I had originally used a photograph of a strange piece of street art that I saw in Tonsberg, Norway, where my daughter, Clare, now lives. However, she said it was by quite a famous artist, so I decided to change it in case of copyright issues. Finding a cover for a book with that title was never going to be easy, but I finally settled on a photograph my son, Marc, took of me looking sleazy in a caravan in Yorkshire. O.K., so I wasn’t near retirement age then, but I do look old.
And a new Inspector Pirat book should be out in June.
Do I hear rejoicing?
April 03 2019
Whilst the first Inspector Pirat book, ‘The Return of Inspector Pirat,’ and ‘Joan Malone Alone’ are still available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited scheme until June 02 2019, I have also added the second and third Inspector Pirat books (‘Pirat’s Early Cases’ and ‘The Trial of Inspector Pirat’) to the scheme until July 01 2019.
I suppose I must be fed up making so much money!
February 15 2019
As from the first of January until at least the end of March, two of my books are available free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited scheme.
They are the first Inspector Pirat book, ‘The Return of Inspector Pirat,’ and ‘Joan Malone Alone.’
February 14 2019
If any of my readers were upset to learn that my mother’s longcase clock was no longer working, they might be pleased to know that I have decided to have it repaired.
However, I was not so pleased to learn that that will cost around £500 (and that after St. Fagan’s had advised me they have no interest in my donating it to them, as they already have too many!).
I am sure it will take many millennia before the profits from sales of my book cover the cost of repairing the clock …
January 15 2019
I have been working on this latest book for some time. In fact, one of the stories won first prize in a Mensa International Short Story Competition some years back. But I got spurred on to finish the book only recently.
Whether or not time travel will ever be a reality (especially for the masses) is unclear, but, if it ever does happen, I’ve always wondered about the actual stages of invention, such as how the first pioneers went about it, and what accidents befell the less successful inventors.
So, this little tome tries to consider what might have happened to those early time-travelling pioneers.
However, please note it does not include blueprints on how to assemble one.
The cover picture is of my mother’s old grandfather clock. I had intended to try and convey the concept of “breaking time,” and had already benefited from my darling wife’s smashing the glass on my beloved G.W.R. waiting-room clock. However, images of that weren’t too clear, so I opted for the grandfather clock instead. It has a lovely Victorian feel to it (although it’s possibly a little earlier), and is indeed broken, as the face needs to be reassembled.
Paperback :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/179310204X
Kindle :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MQQCRWX
September 20 2018
Finally, my fifth collection of Inspector Pirat stories is available.
The books are available on Amazon :
Paperback (£5.99) :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1724393782
Kindle (£1.99) :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07HHG8LM5
September 03 2018
Everything seemed to be going so well for my fifth collection of Inspector Pirat stories.
I had written it all, Valérie had proofread it, and I had made any necessary amendments. I then approved the on-line proof copy, and ordered the printed proof to be created and sent to me. And it even turned up ten days earlier than scheduled.
Then I flicked through the printed copy and found that most of two chapters was for some reason printed with (the correct) black letters, but on a grey-shaded background.
The problem appeared to be with my Word documents. We could not find out how to remove the shading. Eventually, the only way we could get around it was to cut and paste the offending text to a point before the error occurred, setting it to ‘Match Destination Formatting.’
Then a few paragraphs had to be shifted around, and the whole chapter proofread again.
I am now waiting for my second printed proof copy. Hopefully, this one will be all right.
February 16 2018
I seem to have been a little quiet of late.
But I have noticed how much interest there is in old Llanishen village (and indeed in our coach company, Falconer and Watts), especially on the various nostalgic Facebook sites, such as ‘Cardiff Now and Then’ and ‘Llanishen and Rhiwbina Past and Present.’
It has also disturbed me that so much of the anecdotal social history of Llanishen has recently been lost with the passing of so many of the older residents of the village.
So I have written ‘Memoirs of a Coach-Operating Man,’ not only to include my memories of my life growing up in the village, but also the history of the coach company and some anecdotes of the highs and lows of the running of a small semi-rural coach operation.
It is available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.
Paperback :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1985262738
Kindle :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079VKWNYM
October 05 2017
It’s that time of the year again!
Yes, my fourth Inspector Pirat book is now out.
It is available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.
Paperback :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1974281523
Kindle :- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0765CJRN3
I was warned that the colour I chose for the cover was a little weak, and it may look as if the cover is all white. Actually, there’s a light brown colour, but you may need good eyes to see it …
This think this will be the last for a while, as my creativity is nigh-drained!
July 12 2017
OK, so you can buy my latest book now … or rather get it for free.
It’s available on Smashwords at
There are a few download options. The “mobi (Kindle)” download is probably best if you have Kindle.
It contains three stories that have been previously published, and one not yet published. So, even if you bought the other books, there’s still one story you haven’t read … and it’s free!
July 04 2017
Don’t buy my latest book!
I wanted to put up a free sample of my Inspector Pirat stories on Amazon (one story from each book, plus one not yet published). But that may take a while as Amazon will not sell Kindle books for free unless they are price-matched. So I’m trying to set it up free on another platform.
March 31 2017
I have had another nice review on Amazon from Dawn F. Taylor, of Mensa’s Whodunnit S.I.G. (Special Interest Group). I hasten to add that she is no relation to me, but I sometimes wonder if she is the only one reading my books!
Dawn F Taylor on 31 Mar. 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
This third collection of short stories is as good, and as varied, as the previous two books.
All the stories contain clever puzzles with ingenious twists but the tone varies between very funny to quite sad and poignant.
Most of the characters are people we can relate to as these stories all have a very human, as well as humorous, quality.
As each story is self contained, this is an excellent book to dip in and out of if you don’t have much time but would work equally well for a one sitting read.
I hope we see more of Rob’s work, and Inspector Pratt, soon.
Thanks again, Dawn!
My proofreaders have been very busy of late, but, unfortunately, not on my third Inspector Pirat book. However, it is now ready and published, both as paperback and Kindle on Amazon.
Details are on the Books page of this website.
I will write more when I have time.
November 30 2016
Sadly, my mother passed away last night. My thanks go to the Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth for their care and attention.
November 20 2016
I’m afraid I haven’t written anything here for a while.
The reason is that my mother, who is 86, had a fall in the middle of July, and has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. After she had been thrown out of hospital even after a bad fall in the bathroom there, I looked after her twenty-hours a day, firstly at her house in Cardiff, and then at ours in Llandough. After four weeks, the Marie Curie Hospice in Penarth suggested that she should go there for a while for assessment. I have to say they were marvellous there. After several weeks there, she returned to her own home, but was clearly unable to cope on her own (even with regular medical and care visitors), so I have moved into her house to care for her. At least my wife can stay with me at weekends!
I did think it might give me plenty of time to myself so I could get some writing done, but I find looking after my mother very time-consuming, from arranging visits from her friends, to liaising with doctors and nurses, preparing her medication, and even racing around the area trying to locate errant prescriptions. I even have to rise every morning at three to turn her over in bed!
So, I’m not getting much done.
However, the third Inspector Pirat book has been finished, and is currently being proof-read (thanks, Marc and Valérie).
June 30 2016
I’m not really sure I should have done this, but I wrote a book for young adults a while ago, and, rereading it, I decided I really liked it …
… so I’ve published it.
The book is entitled “Joan Malone Alone.”
It’s about a thirteen-year-old girl left on her own in her house for a month. She copes with the cooking by eating microwaveable ready meals, fixes a leak in the roof, and even takes part in the Tour de France on her exercise bicycle … well, in her imagination anyway.
The problem is that I’m a little unsure for what ages it’s best suited. It’s not for very young children, certainly, as I don’t like using too many small words, but I enjoyed reading it myself, so perhaps it’s best for children of about my age!
As usual, it’s available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.
The details are in the “Books” section of this website.
May 13 2016
I’ve just had another five-star review from Dawn F. Taylor of the Whodunnit S.I.G. (Special Interest Group), this time for “Pirat’s Early Cases” :
By Dawn F Taylor on 13 May 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
This second collection of short stories from Rob Falconer is just as good as the first.
Each is different, some poignant, some very funny, but all good whodunnits or puzzles to capture the readers imagination.
The plots and characterisation are excellent and the “bite size” stories make this very easy reading.
I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who likes sensitive cosy crime fiction with a few laughs thrown in.
April 30 2016
The on-line edition of the Penarth Times, our local newspaper, has run a story about me!
Llandough author publishes second book of short stories
Anthony Lewis, Penarth Times reporter
AN AUTHOR from Llandough has published his second book.
Rob Falconer has completed his second collection of mainly detective short stories which is available as a paperback or as a Kindle e-book.
His first book was published in 2015 and was entitled The Return of Inspector Pirat: His First Book.
According to Mr Falconer, it was largely written as a result of insomnia.
He said: “Often unable to get to sleep, I started thinking up puzzles to pass the time.
“These were later developed into a series of detective short stories, which were published by CreateSpace on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats in early 2015.”
The Return of Inspector Pirat: His First Book is a series of apparently-unrelated detective short stories, but with a link that may not become apparent until the final chapter.
Mr Falconer added: “And if you think the title is a little strange, you might have to read the book to understand what it means.”
It has gathered a number of very good reviews, as has his second book entitled Pirat’s Early Cases which is now available on Amazon.
“It has a similar format to the first, but without the surprising ending”, said Mr Falconer.
More details are on Mr Falconer’s website at robertfalconer.co.uk.
April 25 2016
At long last!
What you’ve been waiting for!
Well, what I’ve been waiting for …
My second Inspector Pirat Book – “Pirat’s Early Cases” – is now available in paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon :
I’m sorry it’s taken so long. For me, it’s been really frustrating.
The book has been ready since around the beginning of the year, and I had hoped to get both versions of the book out by March 17, one year after the first book.
However, my proof-reader found a stupid error in the first book, so I corrected that first, and then I had to wait for her to read the second book.
When she had approved it, I set the paperback and Kindle versions up on Amazon, but chose the wrong delivery option (the proof comes from America), and so had to wait for that to be delivered. Finally it arrived, and I signed it off.
Both the paperback and Kindle versions were supposed to be ready in three to five working days, which was by April 20, but, although the Kindle version was almost immediately available in all markets, the paperback was not available in the U.K. for a few days more (but it was in America, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain!).
Anyway, it’s now ready. I shall try to be more organised next time.
February 21 2016
It has been suggested that I should include a photograph of myself as well as the caricature I usually use. This is apparently to show that I am (all too) human, but, having adjudged the photograph above to be the best of the bunch, I’m none too sure it was such a good idea.
February 20 2016
In case any of my readers think I have a new book out (but the next one will be published very soon), I hasten to point out that the cover of my first eBook, as displayed on Amazon, has merely been brought into line with the cover of the paperback. To tell you the truth, I never liked the strangely-coloured cover of my eBook, but the facilities for creating it on Kindle did not seem as good as with CreateSpace.
I remember when the publishers rather naughtily started selling the American version of the first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) in Britain under its American title, it appeared (with a brand-new cover) as ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.’ Grandparents were thrilled to be able to buy a “new” Harry Potter book for their grandchildren, not realising that it was only renamed as it was feared that no American would buy a book with the word philosopher in the title, notwithstanding the fact that the Philosopher’s Stone is something that has been around for centuries.
Well, I’m not trying to fool the public by changing my eBook cover. I just hated it!
January 26 2016
I love thinking up puzzles.
I love writing these stories.
I hate proof-reading!
My second Inspector Pirat book was almost all ready. I had even finished proof-reading it.
Of course, the background story of the first book couldn’t really be repeated (apart from a reference to Professor Guiteras), so I had intended this second book to be just an unrelated collection of puzzles, more or less the same as the first, but without the linking intervals and epilogue.
Then I realised that it was really a bit too unconnected, with no linking story and no central character.
So, despite what I wrote at the very end of my first entry in this diary, I suppose I have to have a constant character in most of the stories.
And that involves more than just changing the names, as the way in which they are applied needs to be changed too (for instance, do I use the first or second name in each particular case?). Also, any biographical references may need to be altered.
Ah well, back to proof-reading and a lot of changing.
January 06 2016
One of the questions that authors are asked, for example, on goodreads.com, is what inspires them, or each particular story.
Some of the stories in “The Return of Inspector Pirat” were just written as a story wrapped around a puzzle I’d dreamt up.
But others have more of a history, perhaps as a result of something seen or said, or a particular location.
As I have said elsewhere, I used to have problems getting to sleep, and so, to have something to do, I used to think up puzzles, based on the sort of books I was reading at the time (I have also said elsewhere that Edmund Crispin was a great influence). However, it was many years (until the advent of home computers) before I started to put them down in print.
I cannot remember when I first decided on the format of the collection of short stories. I’m not sure I have ever seen such a book with a unifying theme before (except perhaps Agatha Christie’s “The Labours of Hercules”). I think the concept works, but some readers might be a little confused unless they read through to the end. I think it came to me because I remembered the lecturers’ parties I went to when I was studying in Cardiff University.
Here are a few notes about some of the stories in “The Return of Inspector Pirat.”
Chapter 1 – Snow Job
This was derived from experiences on a group ski holiday I went on to Cerler in the Spanish Pyrenees. Actually, nobody was murdered on that particular trip, although one girl was a little concerned when a fellow-skier insisted on trying to speculate how one might have ‘intimate relations’ on a chair-lift (thus joining the forty-foot high club?). It was also very easy to spot first-time British skiers from their attire. The story just evolved from that … Oh, and some of the personal names in the story were derived from that of one of our ski instructors on a later holiday, to Bulgaria.
Chapter 2 – One-way Ticket
This may be the earliest such story I wrote. I didn’t put it first in the book, because I wanted a very obvious story to begin with, because it has to be recognisable at the end of the book. The story seems to have been two separate stories that I suddenly realised could be combined into one longer story … I think that inspiration came to me whilst in the toilets at my place of work in the mid-1980’s. However, one of the strands was triggered off by a story my father had told me that he had once had a few problems getting all the luggage into the boot of a coach he was driving back from an extended tour. He finally managed it, but, when he got home, a guy walked up and thanked him for carrying his cases home for him, as there wasn’t space in his own car (the coach’s destination was marked clearly on the boot door, of course). I realised that the same ploy could be used by drugs smugglers, trying to get their wares into another country with little risk to themselves. But, as I also like the situation where a crime has a fairly obvious, but high-powered motive, such as espionage or organised crime, but turns out to be have been the result of one of the more basic human emotions, such as love or greed, I decided to merge the two ideas into this story. Oh, and I have known coach operators very much like the one I describe.
Chapter 3 – Cinéma Vérité
I just liked the idea that one of the most famous non-alibis should here be a strong alibi. The story led on from that.
Chapter 4 – On the Warpath
The plot mechanism here I derived from a small incident in a comedy starring Steve Martin. I shall say no more, in case Mr. Martin demands money from me.
Chapter 5 – The Milk of Human Unkindness
Yes, this may be a little contrived, along the lines of the old ‘The Avengers’ television series, but I enjoyed writing it. I had to change the name of the milk company from my original name of Udder Bliss, as some company already had that.
Chapter 6 – The Little Lady Vanishes
This is my favourite story of the book. I feel there are plenty of clues as to the solution, and the final few paragraphs were most satisfying to write. There are also a few paragraphs relating to coach operation, which my family were involved in from 1919 to 1982 in a suburb of Cardiff.
Chapter 7 – Downwardly Mobile
This was just an idea that I hope works.
Chapter 8 – Get Off the Earth
This is written around Sam Loyd’s “Get off the Earth” puzzle. I thought I managed to work it into a story pretty well.
Chapter 9 – A Load of Old Rubbish
This was written because I wondered what people would do with the objects stolen when a murder was made to look like a burglary. I thought it worked well.
Chapter 10 – Going for Baroque
This was written because I wanted to write a first-person story. I did write this with an actor very much in mind for the lead role, but perhaps I shouldn’t mention who it was.
Chapter 11 – Abracadaver
As David Renwick clearly realised, there is a close link between stage magic and detective stories. Both feature puzzles which the spectator or reader is challenged to solve. However, in the former, it is hoped that the puzzles will not be solved, and, in the latter, whilst the hope is the same, the solution is almost always given at the end.
Chapters 12 and 13 – A Hostile Reception / Grotesquerie
These were just puzzles I worked into a story.
Chapter 14 – A Surfeit of Shoes
This was a vague idea I’d had, that finally crystallised into something which I hope works.
Chapter 15 – Foul Whisperings
This was generated when my wife passed her British Sign Language Level Two (she still regularly meets members of a local club for the deaf). The story was submitted to the South Wales Echo as my entry for their Christmas Short-story Competition in December 2012, which had to be on the theme of ‘A Christmas Murder Mystery.’ It won first prize.
Chapter 16 – Justice is Done
This is just a variant on the locked-room mystery.
Chapter 17 – Upstairs and Downstairs, and in My Lady’s Chamber
This is just another variant on the locked-room mystery.
Chapter 18 – Casualty of War
I don’t think there was any real reason I wrote this, other than the fact that I wanted one story where a very cold crime is solved.
Chapter 19 – Truck Stop
This was very definitely conceived whilst we were on a holiday in the Loire Valley. We had booked into a gîte that consisted of a farmhouse and a large barn, separated by a very narrow alley that led directly onto the road, with no pavements in that area. For some reason, perhaps that we had recently been burgled, I often found it difficult to sleep on holiday at that time, and this may have triggered the story.
Chapter 20 – Another Brick in the Wall
I’m not too sure what made me write this. I have always felt that seaside resorts in the winter are often sad and depressing places, especially in relation to the sunny summer months, when the place is filled with happy families on holiday. I also vaguely remember seeing a television series in which someone was murdered in a rainy alleyway at night, so that may have started it off. I think this may have been another instance when two separate stories dovetailed into one, here with plenty of small additions.
January 05 2016
26 Dec. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
November 24 2015
For those of you who want to know what my first book is like, I have now added the first chapter on-line, which you can read free from the home page. Just click on “Snow Job.”
November 11 2015
I now have an author’s page set up on www.goodreads.com. Readers can ask me questions on-line there. Go on, I dare you!
November 10 2015
I’ve just had a lovely five-star review of my book from Dawn F. Taylor of the Whodunnit S.I.G. (Special Interest Group) :
By Dawn F Taylor on 30 Oct. 2015
This collection of seemingly unconnected short stories is simply delightful and the twist which joins them at the end is clever and one I didn’t see coming even though, with hindsight, the clues are there.
It is after the first story that you find out that the link between the stories is seemingly only that they are all told by promising students at a supper party thrown by a Spanish professor with a passion for crime fiction.
Each story is linked by a short piece about the on-going party which involves too much alcohol, girl fights and a very mangy, flea-ridden cat amongst other things. The comedic content of these intervals also comes through in some, but not all of the stories.
There are 20 tales in all, each different from the other, some funny but others touching and poignant. One thing that is consistent throughout is the subtle understanding of human beings as villains, victims and witnesses. This book is full of what Miss Marple would call “village parallels”. I felt I could relate each character to someone I know or have known, with the exception of the only psychopath in the series.
The plotting in all the stories is excellent as is the characterisation. I would recommend this to anyone who likes their cosy crime with a bit of humour thrown in.
November 03 2015
A Few Thoughts on Writing Detective Fiction
So, thanks to Christer and Clare Eckermann of Snuti (based in Horten, Norway), my new web-page is finally up-and-limping.
I’m often asked from where one gets the ideas (one can hardly call them plots) for these short stories.
But no, I have to be honest, nobody’s ever asked me that.
But they should have, so I’ll proceed.
It’s quite difficult to create them. The actual writing itself is easy, and there are plenty of chances to inject a little humour (often at the expense of some rather pompous individuals) … or so I hope.
But creating a device whereby the reader is presented with a puzzle, which hopefully won’t be too easy to unravel, is not so simple. And neither is deciding whether or not to add a point where the writer asks the reader “You have all the information now … so how did it happen?” I try to avoid those situations, because they might seem out-of-place in such a short story, and because it’s rather a blunt instrument. Certainly having all the suspects rounded up in one room for The Great Man to announce the culprit is rather heavy-handed.
And talking about “The Great Man,” you may have realised that I don’t really like the concept of having a famous and popular detective appearing in all one’s books. I think the general public rather likes that concept though, but I find it rather hard to believe that so many incredible things could happen to the same person, especially if he or she is only an amateur detective. And not having The Great Man also means you don’t have to keep changing and distorting his personality, interests and job to fit in with the current puzzle (for instance, I would certainly feel cheated if the victim were killed by a psychopathic bee-keeper, and we discovered for the first time that The Great Man is in fact also a world-famous expert on bees and a passionate apiarist himself).
Another point which few people seem to acknowledge is how easy it is to create serious continuity errors. For instance, you may have noticed in a film (particularly an old film) that someone is first introduced to a character when, quite clearly, they have already met that person earlier in the film. The director, producer and/or editor of the film have decided that a particular section of film would fit in better at an earlier point in the film, but have neglected to realise that things are now out-of-sequence.
It is the same with books. You think of a far better way of presenting the story or the puzzle, and move a section of text, and – hey presto! – the book now suffers from serious continuity errors. It may be even more misleading in a detective story, because the readers may think they have found the mistake in someone’s testimony, for instance, and believe they have solved the puzzle.
A final (for the time being!) problem with detective stories is that you can present a puzzle which the detective deftly solves in ”the only way possible” … for the reader to then realise that there is in fact at least one other solution (and perhaps many others). Or perhaps some vital bit of information is generated by the detective using infallible logic … which the astute reader realises is totally flawed.
There are plenty of such gaffes to be found throughout detective fiction, as long as the writer is not overwhelmed with admiration and respect for The Great Man.
Well, you won’t find Him in my books!
Well, not for the time being anyway.