Today, we have the fab crime author Juliet B Madison, who will be talking to us about her new book Best Served Cold. Please do comment after reading this brilliant post!
Take it away Juliet!
I’m pleased to be here today to talk about Best Served Cold, the latest release in the DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series.
Best Served Cold is much darker than the previous novels in the series since it deals with the issues of paedophilia, hate crime and revenge. It also contains M/M sex scenes and is generally unsuitable for readers below the age of 18.
The story begins with the discovery of the apparent suicide of Ashbeck City Councillor, and former Mayor, George Driscoll by his loyal secretary, Shirley Kingston. However investigation leads to a much darker state of affairs.
So what makes the DI Lyle Mystery Series different from other police procedural thriller series?
I think the main difference is that the stories are told in multiple first person POV format rather than the third person. This enables me to describe events from the point of view of different characters, switching when something happens outside someone’s experience. Some people find this confusing but I don’t see why since the name of the character whose POV the chapter comes from is the chapter heading. Some well known writers use first person multiple POV without indicating who is speaking and this is more confusing, but somehow that doesn’t stop them from being multi-million dollar bestsellers. In addition there are also italicised interludes which relate events outside the knowledge and experience of DI Lyle & his team.
The first person character POV tells us much more about the character than their part in the investigation. It also gives us an insight into their private lives and their relationships with both the rest of the CID team and their families and friends outside the Incident Room. I feel this enables me to show the human side of police work. No doubt if I signed with a traditional publisher, the first thing they would suggest I change would be my narrative style, but then a lot of publishers try to change your book into the one they wish they had had the creativity to write themselves.
Another difference is that the books are set in the 1980s and early 1990s. This means that the characters don’t communicate via smartphones, Blackberrys and email. They actually talk to each other. They listen to tapes, not CDs, and they read books rather than Kindles. I wanted to write a series set in the time when modern forensic science was not as advanced as it is now. In the first novel Second Chances, which is in 2 parts, the initial crime, the rape-murder of seventeen- year- old Rachael Lewis, could not be forensically solved as easily as now because they did not know about DNA profiling or that semen samples were unique to the perpetrator of sexual crime. The killer had issues; he wanted to get DI Lyle’s attention in the only way he felt he would take notice, through his work. Those of you who know me through social media know that I studied for a certificate in the theoretical applications of Forensic Science and I also happen to know a real life CSI, Paul Trembling, who has also helped me out considerably when I have needed it. I research what I need and I have also learnt a lot through crime fiction and UK TV crime dramas such as Inspector Morse, Lewis and A Touch of Frost amongst others. The setting of Best Served Cold coincides with the date when the first episode of A Touch of Frost was screened on British TV so I could not resist mentioning this.
So far, touch wood, I have not received any criticism in the presentation of facts and the way in which I describe post-mortems (I HATE the word autopsy), inquests and searches. Long may this continue!
The DI Lyle series also deals with emotions both positive and negative. It looks at those left behind and those who lived with the killer on a daily basis. Heir to Misfortune, which is a kind of prequel to Best Served Cold, introduced us to the corrupt and twisted Robert “Bob” Kenyon, who stages a repeat appearance in the new novel. His contemptible treatment of those with whom he is in regular contact means he elicits little or no sympathy. He was difficult to create because getting inside his twisted mind really made me feel sick at times. You can get a copy of Heir to Misfortune at http://bookShow.me/B00EQBAKC2
The DI Lyle Series introduces us to a whole range of colourful and hopefully memorable characters. One of my favourites is Canon Thomas Rice, a former police officer, who is brought in to assist DI Lyle and his team with the investigation into the brutal murder of Reverend Martin Hayes during an ecumenical conference. Rice has demons of his own, but will he eventually find peace within himself and leave his past behind? You can get a copy of Unholy Alliance at http://bookShow.me/B00GVGFNHW
As with all book series there is a lot of focus on life, love and death. In Best Served Cold a young detective is forced to face his own mortality and there is a lot in the book about the far reaching effects of one event. I don’t think I can be more specific about this without giving away a huge plot spoiler.
As well as the heterosexual relationships in the series we also have two lesbian and one gay male relationship. DC Paula Mahon’s girlfriend, Janet, a CSI, appears briefly for the first time and shatters the romantic dreams of another young detective who has been sweet on DC Mahon for years. Also Superintendent Martha Kingsley has her girlfriend, Claire, who is yet to make her debut. The driving force though is the relationship between DS Thomas Fox, nephew to the District Coroner, and DI Lyle’s son, James. They will face tough challenges in this novel, but again I am not dropping any spoilers.
Lastly, Best Served Cold raises two moral questions, which readers may already have an opinion on before they start to read. There is every chance this book will do one of two things to these opinions; either it will cement them further or cause you to think completely differently.
The first question is the old Nature Versus Nurture debate. Are people born evil or do the circumstances of their lives make them so?
The second question is whether or not murder can ever be morally justified?
The characters you will meet in Best Served Cold will seriously challenge any opinion many have on this issue.
Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of Best Served Cold.
I went up in the lift and was met by DS Fox.
“Is it grim?” I asked him.
“He looks like his eyes are bulging out of his head,” Fox replied.
“Nothing less than you would expect from a hanging then.” I replied.
“DC Mahon’s working her magic with Shirley Kingston,” Fox added.
DC Paula Mahon was exceptionally good with the friends and families of the deceased in most cases. She had just the right mix of compassion and suspicion, for we knew that not everyone who found a body was innocent of the death.
I followed DS Fox into the office.
Dr Bradley had taken Driscoll down and laid him on a plastic sheet. Two SOCOS were cleaning up the broken china and bagging it. Others were dusting for prints.
My friend, Jim Cox, did not seem to be present. Sensing my confusion a young woman approached me.
“DI Lyle, I’m acting head of SOCO, Ruth Barlow. Jim’s on holiday at the moment.”
“Have you found anything?”
“The smashed china happened when Mrs Kingston brought in tea and came upon the body, but there were two cups already here each with about an inch of cold scummy coffee so we’ve taken those for prints. There was a note pinned to the body,”
A young SOCO handed me a clear folder with the note that Shirley had found.
“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“You’re the detective,” Ruth replied.
“I had a feeling you’d say that,” I said.
I noticed that the team were going through the desk drawers and papers so decided to leave them to it. Mrs Shirley Kingston should be able to confirm whether or not it was Driscoll’s handwriting.
“He’s been dead about nine hours, DI Lyle,” Bradley informed me in response to my standard question, “His corneas are clouded and rigor is advancing although he hasn’t quite reached the total rigidity stage. The hyoid is fractured, but to be honest there are finger marks on his throat,” he indicated reddish purple bruises with white impressions.
“Are you saying what I think you are, Doc?” DS Fox asked, “Only one does pick up things simply by being the Coroner’s nephew, no matter how many scenes I attend.”
“What are you thinking, DS Fox?” Bradley’s brow furrowed in a frown.
“I don’t think ex-Mayor Driscoll committed suicide, Doc. I think he was strangled and then strung up to make it look like suicide. I only hope I’m wrong.”
“So do I,” I said, “He was a good bloke, no one deserves this.”
Bradley shook his head sadly and looked at me.
“I’m afraid that DS Fox is correct, DI Lyle. Councillor Driscoll was almost certainly murdered.”
You can buy Best Served Cold
You can catch up with Juliet B Madison
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