Sunday, 21 October 2007


One of the joys of writing a crime series is that you can plant ‘clues’ in a novel that foreshadow developments not only in that book, but also in later stories. For instance, in the Harry Devlin series, I once introduced a shadowy character known as ‘the Scissorman’, whose identity was only revealed in the next book. In The Coffin Trail, there is mention of Daniel Kind’s mysterious garden at Tarn Cottage, the secret of which is only uncovered in The Cipher Garden. The snag is that readers often don’t read series books in chronological order, so I work hard to make sure that this kind of trickery doesn’t spoil enjoyment. The key is to avoid revelations that undermine an earlier book.

Right at the end of The Arsenic Labyrinth, Daniel indicates that his next research project will be Thomas de Quincey. I planted that seed a couple of years ago, without knowing how, or if, de Quincey would play a part in the next Lake District Mystery.

I’ve decided that he should. But I’m still hazy about the story-line. At present, I’m reading quite a lot of material by and about de Quincey, one of those literary legends I’ve never paid much attention to in the past. An interesting writer and man. So far as I know, he’s never featured significantly, even in an indirect way, in a crime novel. Yet as the recent introduction to the OUP edition of On Murder says, in some respects he paved the way for the modern fascination with crime.

Plenty to work on, then….

1 comment:

Juliet said...

Oh good! Look forward to being enlightened about de Quincey, about whom I am disgracefully ignorant, except that he took vast quanitites of drugs and repeatedly failed to call on Wordsworth.

Blog looking good - and all links in full working order too!