Today I’m thrilled be opening the blog tour for Dead Lock by Damien Boyd to celebrate the occasion I have a guest post from the author himself. I was really excited about this post as the locations mentioned aren’t far from where I live and I’ve visited many of them. Damien Boyd has a new crime thriller out soon, it’s being published by Thomas and Mercer on the 31st May 2018, it’s the eighth book in the The DI Nick Dixon Crime Series. You can find details about the book further down this post.
Choice of setting is probably one of the most important decisions a series author needs to take, but it’s the one I gave the least attention to when I started out. As it turns out, I made the right decision for the right reasons. I just didn’t know it at the time.
I chose Somerset, and in particular the Burnham-On-Sea area — it was always going to be Burnham — for the simple reason that it’s my home and I love it.
Although I live in Devon and have done since 1994, I still feel like I’ve come home when I arrive in Burnham. Always have done and always will too, I hope. My grandfather was the manager of the Bristol Redfield branch of the National Westminster bank and the family left the city during the bombing raids in 1943. They ended up in Herbert Road, Burnham-On-Sea, where we stayed until my parents finally sold up in 1998.
So, I grew up there. It’s my childhood home and spiritual home too.
That’s why I chose to set my series there, but it turned out to be the right decision for so many different reasons.
Firstly, I know it like the back of my hand. Growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s we had greater freedom to run wild as kids, always out and about on our bikes; on the beach too. On a purely selfish level, this kept the research down when I was starting out, because I was still a solicitor in private practice and working full time. I already knew the best and most sinister places to hide a body without spending hours trawling through Google Earth. I’d already spent hours rock climbing in Cheddar Gorge, for example, which became the setting for my first novel, As the Crow Flies.
But, more importantly, it enables me to set the books at places I know and love which, I hope, shines through in my descriptions. Every time I sit down to write it’s like going home.
And seeing old friends. Many of the characters are real people who live in the town, some of whom I went to school with and have known since I was 7 years old! They know who they are…
Secondly, it gives me the opportunity to learn more about the place, as I look for new locations. For Dead Lock I spent hours researching the abandoned Somersetshire Coal Canal that ran from the coal fields around Paulton and Radstock to join the Kennet and Avon Canal just east of Bath. I’ve been caving in the Mendips, explored the Somerset Levels in the aftermath of the catastrophic flooding, and even been out in the local lifeboat!
Readers who have lived in Somerset all their lives find themselves being taken to places they have not been before or didn’t even know existed. That’s part of the challenge and great fun.
Thirdly, there is Somerset itself. I am never ever stuck for an atmospheric spot! From Cheddar Gorge, to Berrow Beach, Brean Down, Taunton Racecourse, the Somerset Levels, caving on the Mendips, to the Somersetshire Coal Canal, the county offers every option a crime writer could ever need.
Except perhaps the big city, I suppose, but the way round that is to have the first murder in Somerset, on Nick’s patch, then he can investigate a connected murder anywhere. Using that device he’s been to London, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol, for those like their crime to have an urban feel.
Lastly, and the best reason of all perhaps, is the people of Somerset themselves. Not only have they embraced Nick Dixon and encouraged me every step of the way, but they have been so very helpful too. I have had guided tours of the new Police Centre at Express Park, Bridgwater, and the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station site, been taken down Swildon’s Hole by members of the Wessex Cave Club, been out in the Burnham lifeboat, and the BARB Search & Rescue hovercraft. Nothing has ever been too much trouble and I can’t thank them enough!
So, there we are. One of the easiest and best decisions I’ve ever made.
Early on a cold Somerset morning, ten year old Alesha Daniels is reported missing by her father, a violent alcoholic. Her mother, a known drug addict, is found unconscious, but it’s her mother’s boyfriend the police are keen to trace.
As the hunt for Alesha gathers pace, a second local girl is taken, plunging another family into the depths of despair.
Cutting short his holiday, DI Nick Dixon races home to join the Major Investigation Team, but no sooner has he identified a network of local suspects than they begin to show up dead.
At odds with his superiors, Dixon is convinced the child abductions are anything but random, but nobody is prepared for the investigation to lead quite so close to home.
Can Dixon and his team crack the case before all the suspects are silenced? And will he find the missing girls before it’s too late?
Pre-order link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧
Damien Boyd is a former solicitor turned crime fiction writer.
Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as a spell in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime thrillers featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon, Avon & Somerset CID.
My thanks to Damien Boyd for his fascinating guest post.