The Two Fathers Sam Dyke Investigations Book 11 by Keith Dixon Genre: Mystery
Why does Jessica Hastings come home late several times a week?
Her husband asks Private Investigator Sam Dyke this simple question. Dyke doesn't want the case: he doesn't do divorce work ... but Brian Hastings doesn't want a divorce, he wants an explanation.
When Sam finds out what Jessica is doing, it opens up more questions. And when Brian Hastings goes missing, they're questions he feels compelled to answer.
At the centre of the mystery is a man who most people in Manchester don't know--Larry Stone. But those who do know him, know that far from being the simple florist he seems to be, he's actually the biggest crook in town. He's powerful, he's dangerous, and he's currently working a deal with a Dutchman who's even worse.
And Sam is now caught in Stone's sights as he works to find Brian Hastings, to solve a couple of murders, and to prevent Stone corrupting even more members of his own family than he already has.
Before the biggest deal of Stone's crooked career goes down.
In my line of work it’s not good to hear a knock on your door at eleven o’clock at night. It sends all kinds of images scampering through your imagination and plucking your nerve ends.
But the knuckle-rap was tentative, faintly rhythmic, and suggested an approach by someone who didn’t want to punch my lights out or stick a gun in my stomach.
Both of which I’d experienced at one time or another.
Perhaps, I thought, it was someone selling water purifiers or de-icer sprays and trying a novel sales approach.
Given what was to happen later, perhaps I should have wished harder for either of these options to be true.
Whoever it was knocked again, this time a little louder. I walked from my lounge to the front door and stood a moment. A real private investigator would have had a spy-hole and taken the opportunity to peer through it, or would have strapped on his shoulder holster before drawing back three bolts on the door. I suppose it says something about my professionalism that I did neither.
I turned the knob and pulled the door open.
A slight man a little older than me, perhaps fifty, stood shivering in a dark suit, the knot of his woollen tie pulled away from his scrawny neck. He glanced up at me as though I’d taken him by surprise, and I caught in that glance a universe of suspicion, fear and resentment. He was reasonably good-looking, with short fair hair greying at the temples and a small, pointed nose, and his head was set forward on his shoulders, giving him an air of hunched anticipation. His grey eyes looked past me into the house like a starving man looking at a heaving table of food, both greedy and somewhat resentful at the same time.
Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He's been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. Two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE First in Category award for Private Eye/Noir novel, he's the author of eleven full-length books and one short-story in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing.
This was a real headline in the UK’s Guardian newspaper recently: Russia’s ‘Sausage King’ killed in Moscow in crossbow attack.
I posted it on Facebook, suggesting that it wasn’t a headline you saw every day, and a writer friend commented that there were at least 5 crime novel plots encapsulated in that sentence.
And he wasn’t wrong!
-Who was the ‘Sausage King’ and why was he under threat of assassination?
-Why did the assassin use a crossbow?
-Why did it take place in Moscow?
-Who hired the assassin, and why?
-Did the King know who did it, and would investigators be able to track down the murderer?
So when people ask – as they often do, despite it being somewhat of a cliché – ‘Where do your ideas come from?’, I only have to point them to the news. At least half a dozen of my books took their inspiration from a stray headline or story I happened to see in a newspaper. Here are just two examples:
-there was the story of the mother and daughter pair who were fooled by a Scottish con-woman into paying thousands of pounds for a fake health treatment … in despair, the mother and daughter later committed suicide. (I used the con-woman but softened the ending!)
-there was a trial in Liverpool of two brothers who ran a building firm – officially – but were notorious local gangsters on the side. (I later saw a pair of brothers, massive in black tee-shirts, who became the physical models for my Ginger Twins.)
And in my latest book, The Two Fathers, the beginning of the story was a report that a £50m burglary at a house belonging to Tamara Ecclestone – daughter of former F1 boss Bernie – was carried out by a mother and son team, possibly with some inside help.
In my books I’ve grown more and more interested in family relationships in the world of crime, so a news item like this immediately sparks interest: how did this couple become involved in crime? Which one of them was the boss? Was one of them reluctant to get involved but was persuaded by the other … ? All of these were excellent areas to explore.
I developed the story as part of my Sam Dyke Investigations series, where Sam is a private investigator in the UK, so he was, as usual, the central character. But as the story moved on I began to make the couple more sympathetic than reports of the original crime suggested, and created a Mr Big as the real villain of the piece. And even he solicits some understanding at the end—it’s never good to have your villain be 100% evil!
And this is what usually happens. A character or a situation or a set of facts piques your interest and you can’t stop thinking about it. For me, primarily writing a private eye series, I then have to work on how to fold the headline into a case he can investigate. This is both the hard part and the fun part, and it’s where the fiction begins to diverge from the fact. Inventing the story background, the characters and the plotline that holds them all together is a really creative act and is sometimes more fun than writing it all down afterwards!
But being creative with the facts as they exist is an essential part of the process. Otherwise, I’d just be re-posting the news, and where’s the fun in that?
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