I’m truly thrilled to have received a contract for the publication in the United States of Take My Breath Away, which appeared in the UK back in 2002. It’s a book which I’m very proud of, although it’s only fair to admit that it attracted much less attention than my other books.
The idea behind the story was one I was (and am) truly passionate about. It represents a complete break from the Harry Devlin series, even though the setting is a law firm – a glitzy outfit called Creed, based in the heart of London. The first chapter is set at a posh reception organised by a headhunter, and the opening line is: ‘The dead woman smiled.’ Some people whose judgement I respect have said the first chapter is one of the best things I’ve ever written, and the story that develops from there is quite elaborate, following the twin journeys of true crime writer Nic Gabriel, and a mysterious young woman who calls herself Roxanne Wake.
One of the background elements of the book is that there is a vein of political satire. Creed is a very ‘New Labour’ firm, and some of the dialogue of the senior partner, Will Janus, owes much to the inspiration of Tony Blair. I was pleased with the way this worked, but it didn’t seem to be noticed by the critics (except the perceptive Mat Coward, who has long been very supportive of my work – perhaps his insight into left-wing politics explains how he latched on to the political bits more readily than others.) Maybe it was too deeply buried in the text for most people to see it, I’m not sure. But I still think it works, although of course the story can be read as a psychological suspense novel, with various elements of mystery, without any regard to the political dimension.
I left open the possibility that Nic Gabriel might one day return. This may still happen, though I decided to strike out in a new direction with the Lake District Mysteries, and their much greater success means I’ll be sticking with them for the foreseeable future. Oddly enough, those people who did read Take My Breath Away tended to like it a lot. Trouble was, there weren’t enough of them! They included Priscilla Masters, who was kind enough to feature the book in a novel of her own. I’m absolutely delighted the book is to have a new lease of life.