August 6, 2011

Guest Author Chris Dolley

If you follow my blog then you know what  my reading habits are. And that is to escape into a great mystery and/or suspenseful book.  And today, we have an author visiting who has just that type of novel to tell us about.  So without further ado, please help me welcome, Mr. Chris Dolley !!

Chris Dolley is an author, a pioneer computer game designer and a teenage freedom fighter. That was in 1974 when Chris was tasked with publicising Plymouth Rag Week.   Some people might have arranged an interview with the local newspaper. Chris created the Free Cornish Army, invaded the country next door, and persuaded the UK media that Cornwall had risen up and declared independence. As he told journalists at the
time, ‘It was only a small country, and I did give it back.’

In 1981, he created Randomberry Games and wrote Necromancer, one of the first 3D first person perspective D&D computer games.

Now he lives in rural France with his wife and a frightening number of animals. They grow their own food and solve their own crimes. The latter out of necessity when Chris’s identity was stolen along with their life savings. Abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insisted the crime originated in someone else's jurisdiction, he had to solve the crime himself. Which he did, and got a book out of it – the International bestseller, French Fried.

I’ve been addicted to mysteries since reading my first Agatha Christie at the age of nine. So it’s no surprise that mystery features strongly in every story I write –whatever the genre. My first published novel – Resonance, published by Baen in 2005 – was an SF mystery. This is a story about a man, Graham Smith, who has grown up believing that the world is so unstable that, unless he follows a strict unchanging daily regime, it will change. He’d seen it happen – people disappearing so completely that no one even remembered they existed, office blocks springing up overnight where the day before there’d been green fields, train lines changing course.

I wrote the book as a layered mystery. Peel back one layer and you find another. It’s a book where everything is a mystery – including the narrator and the world he lives in.

Even my memoir, the bestselling French Fried: one man’s move to France with too many animals and an identity thief, has a mystery in it – a true crime mystery. After the initial shock of discovering that my identity had been stolen and our life savings seized, this turned into a boy detective’s dream. And when the police forces of four countries all decided that the crime belonged in someone else’s jurisdiction, I was more than willing to step up. Except, unlike fictional detectives, I had an 80 year-old mother-in-law and an excitable puppy that insisted they accompany me if I went anywhere interesting – like a stakeout. Which meant I spent as much time tracking down toilets as I did clues.

But, driving back and forth across the Pyrenees, I sifted the evidence, collected statements, tracked down the perp, and turned him over to the gendarmes.

Earlier this year I dipped into the world of Jeeves and Wooster ... and came up with an Edwardian detective, Reginald Worcester, and his gentleman’s personal automaton, Reeves. Yes, Wodehouse Steampunk! The first book in the series –What Ho, Automaton! – came out to enthusiastic reviews in April.

This month Book View Cafe have brought out my first mainstream mystery, An Unsafe Pair of Hands. An early draft of the book was a finalist in Warner’s First Mystery Novel contest. I set the book in South West England, a region I know very well. I was aiming for a blend of Midsomer Murders and Carl Hiaasen. Plus, borrowing from my own experience, I wanted to show how fate can sometimes derail even the most professional investigation. So, I gave my detective – DCI Shand – the most baffling mystery to solve, then ratcheted up the pressure. Would my straightlaced ‘safe pair of hands’ crack? And if he did, what would emerge? A new improved detective, tempered by adversity? Or the Chief Superintendent’s worst nightmare –an unpredictable liability with a penchant for attracting embarrassing newspaper headlines?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

An Unsafe Pair of Hands is a quirky murder mystery set in rural England charting the descent and rise of a detective on the verge of a nervous breakdown. 

Peter Shand is the 'safe pair of hands' – a high-flying police administrator seconded to a quiet rural CID team to gain the operational experience he needs for promotion. On his second day he’s thrust into a high-profile murder case. A woman’s body is discovered in an old stone
circle – with another woman buried alive beneath her. 

The pressure on Shand is enormous. The case is baffling. There appears to be no link between the two crimes. The media is clamouring for answers. And Shand’s convinced his wife is having an affair with someone called Gabriel.

Which just happens to be the name of the two chief suspects. Both are womanisers, and both mention a mystery woman – who sounds suspiciously like Shand’s wife – as their alibi. The pressure builds. Shand can’t sleep, a local journalist is out to discredit him, his wife is about to be dragged into the case and then, goaded at a press conference about lack of progress, he invents a lead. And keeps on lying – to the press, his boss, his team – telling himself that he'll solve the case before anyone finds out.

And then another murder occurs. And had there been a third?

Shand begins to doubt his ability. He's desperate, increasingly unpredictable, pursued by an amorous psychic, and somehow gaining a reputation for arresting livestock.

Which will break first? The case, or Shand?
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Denise Z said...

Thank you for this wonderful post today,I thoroughly enjoyed it.