Blog Tour Q&A: Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey

Today, I’m delighted to be hosting a stop on the Blog Tour for Wrong Way Home by Isabelle Grey, published by Quercus. For the tour I have an interview with the author herself discussing her new novel, her writing process and what she’s writing next.

The Blurb:

A cold case leads DI Grace Fisher on the hunt for the most dangerous killer of her career – but after twenty-five years, can she really be sure she will get to the truth?

The same night a local hero saved two people from the burning Marineland resort in Southend, a young woman was raped and murdered minutes from the scene of the fire, the culmination of a series of brutal rapes in the town. The killer was never found.

Twenty-five years on, new DNA techniques have blown the cold case open. DI Grace Fisher relishes the prospect of finally catching the culprit, but when the evidence doesn’t point to one clear suspect, she must reconstruct the original investigation. Any suggestion that the Essex force was less than thorough at the time could alienate her colleagues and destroy her chances of reaching the truth.

Grace finds her investigation shadowed by a young true-crime podcaster backed by veteran crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. As pressure mounts she cannot afford to be distracted. She knows that a cold-blooded killer is slowly being backed into a corner, and a cornered predator is often the most dangerous of all…

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The Interview:

Welcome to the CKT blog, Isabelle.

To start off with, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, Wrong Way Home and what inspired the idea behind this investigation?

I became hooked on what it must be like for the police to go knocking on someone’s door after twenty-five years and say: you know why we’re here, don’t you? It’s an extraordinary moment for the detective and a life-changing event for the suspect who thinks he’s got away with his crimes, as well as for his family who might have no idea of who he really is. A lot can have happened in the intervening twenty-five years.

It occurred to me that this kind of story would also make a great true-crime podcast, so I introduced Freddie Craig, a young man desperate to break into crime reporting.

The whole book then slowly unfolded from there – with a fair bit of expert advice along the way.

Your novel features a cold case set twenty-five years ago. Did you find it difficult to research what the original investigation would have been like and insert this into a modern day investigation?

I’m old enough to remember how violence against women used to be handled. I remember, for example, Roger Graef’s hard-hitting 1982 TV documentary series Police which revealed how appallingly rape victims were treated, and also the shock of the first series of Prime Suspect, which showed the prejudice against a female officer in a senior role. A little later Jackie Malton, the DCI on whom Prime Suspect was based, became a friend, so I’ve learnt a great deal from her experience.

Plus, when DI Grace Fisher has to do the dogged police work that wasn’t done at the time, I loved showing how such painstaking door-to-door detail can pay off just as much as cutting-edge forensic science

DI Grace Fisher, your main protagonist, is not your stereotypical detective. For anyone who hasn’t read your novels, how would you describe Grace?

There are events in Grace’s past that make her root for the victim, to be sceptical about the powers-that-be, and, if necessary, to defy the official ‘line’ to get to the truth. Although she’d hate the idea of being some wounded ‘noir’ maverick, she nonetheless senses that she will always be a bit of an outsider. This makes her value the friends she has – even the loyal but disreputable tabloid crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. Grace has learnt not to care if she breaks the rules, but it’s not second nature – as it’s not for many women brought up to be ‘good’ girls.

Wrong Way Home is the fourth book in the DI Grace Fisher series. How do you manage to keep your series so fresh and exciting?

I suppose that fifteen years as a freelance journalist taught me to keep my antennae alive to what’s going on in the world and especially to shifts in attitude or understanding. Now I can’t help but let that awareness seep into what I’m writing, even unconsciously. Crime fiction has always been good at reflecting social shifts as they happen, and I also really admire TV series such as The Good Wife – now The Good Fight – that snatch hot new issues and feed them straight into drama. That’s exciting.

Can you tell us about your writing process; do you plot the story out first or just dive right in? Or a mixture of the two?

A mixture of the two. I have a good idea of what the set-up is and roughly where I’m going to take it, do enough research to open some unexpected  avenues, and then start writing. Sometimes I have to unpick and go back a bit before I can go forwards again, but it’s worth it.

What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

I’ve recently read Don Winslow’s The Force, which was a real moral and emotional rollercoaster. He brings the reader right up close alongside his protagonist, New York Detective Sergeant Denny Malone, so you feel the full tragic power of his story. I also love going back to earlier classics, everything from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Dorothy B. Hughes In A Lonely Place.

And finally, are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I’m taking a little break from Grace Fisher to return to psychological suspense, writing a novel about women, ambition and motherhood. It’s inspired by a kind of mash-up of all my favourite post-war ‘noir’ movies, and by the spirit of the great screen actresses of that era.

Big thanks to Isabelle for letting me pick her brains!

Thank you, Rachel!

Also big thanks to Anne Cater and Quercus for inviting me to be a part of this fab tour.

About the Author:

Isabelle Grey Author Picture

Isabelle Grey is a television screenwriter whose credits include Jimmy McGovern’s BAFTA award-winning Accused: Tina’s Story as well as over thirty-five episodes of Midsomer MurdersCasualtyRosemary and ThymeThe Bill and Wycliffe. She has also written non-fiction and been a magazine editor and freelance journalist. Isabelle’s previous novels include two psychological thrillers, The Bad Mother and Out Of Sight as well as the first two books in the DI Grace Fisher series, Good Girls Don’t Die, Shot Through the Heart and The Special Girls. Isabelle grew up in Manchester and now lives in north London.

To find out more about Isabelle Grey follow her on twitter @IsabelleGrey.

Sound intrigued? If you haven’t read any of the series yet by Isabelle Grey I would highly recommend!

Wrong Way Home is the fourth in the DI Grace Fisher series and can be ordered from Amazon here.

As always don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this fabulous blog tour!

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Blog Tour Character Q&A: Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley

Today,  I’m super pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley, who has penned a fantastic new standalone novel. For my stop I have managed to interview DI Ray Patrick, the main protagonist from Dead Blind.

First up the Blurb:

How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror?

Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.

As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder.

But it’s a killer he will never remember.

The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant, he feels progressively isolated.

Can he escape with his career and his life intact?

dfw-rb-db-cover-smallNow for the Interview:

Location: Witness interview room, Stoke Newington police station.

Interviewer: Rachel Emms, (RE), Reporter for CKT blog

Interviewee: DI Ray Patrick, (RP), Detective Inspector

 

RE: Thank you for meeting with me Detective Inspector Patrick, or can I call you Ray? How long have you been in the force?

RP: Pleased to meet you, Rachel and yes, feel free to call me Ray. I’ve been in the job so many years I’ve lost count now, probably about 17 years. I spent a good few years in uniform before I joined CID and then did several years as a detective constable getting the basic skills under my belt, then had a stint in a couple of different departments to get a feel for what it was I really wanted to do before I went for promotion. Then I took my exams. First my sergeants exam and then my inspectors. And here we are now, I am a detective inspector of my own unit. 

RE: How do you get on with the rest of your team? Must be difficult after everything…

RP: My team are great. They really are. We deal with some real difficult cases so we have to lean on each other. We trust each other and we know that we, as a team, are the only people who truly understand what it is like to do what we do. To understand what it’s like to tell a parent a child is dead or to inform a child that they are not going to see daddy again because of some thoughtless crime. Or, like the recent case, to deal with the senseless loss of lives due to the desperate actions of people who need organs because their own are failing. We see the dark side of life and it can take a real toll on you. But we are driven, each and every member of the team, and I know I can rely on them. It also helps to go out together and grab a beer.

RE: I’ve heard you’ve had a tough time of it recently. How did you come to have, I look down at my notebook, prosopagnosia, or rather face blindness? I think that’s what the nurse said. What does that even mean?

RP: Elaine Hart, my DS, and I were involved in the pursuit of a guy we wanted for the murder of a couple of women. His driving was erratic, the weather was horrendous and the result was a nasty accident and a head injury which, as you say, means I now live with prosopagnosia.

RE: I’m surprised he’s being so candid with me. How did you feel about it when you heard the diagnosis? Must’ve hurt?

RP: The most painful part of it was the fact that I couldn’t recognise my two children. The fear and upset I brought them when I asked who they were that first time I saw them when I woke up was devastating. I never want to cause them that kind of pain. Looking back at that day, it really was a mess.

RE: I have a thought, once you know who someone is, does that mean you will be able to recognise them again? I mean do you even know who your own kids are now? I lean forward.

RP: No, I never know who anyone is. No matter how many times I see them I will never remember them. Imagine seeing the faces you know upside down and with no hair – you can see the features but you can’t make out who it is. That’s what it is like. I can’t even recognise myself in a mirror. It’s heart-breaking with the children, but Helen, my ex-wife, she’s always with me and supports me with them, makes sure I don’t scare them with my confusion. Luckily one is a boy and the other a girl!

RE: I’m starting to feel for this guy. Must be pretty difficult to deal with as a police officer. How can you expect to keep it hidden?

RP: People with face blindness live by using what we call identifiers. We use markers to recognise people. So, I’ll maybe know you by the way you walk, your accent and your hair. But if you changed your hairstyle or I saw you in a setting I wasn’t expecting to see you in, I wouldn’t know you. So, you would have to forgive me and try not to be offended. Because I am at work I know the identifiers for my team, for the people around me, I can work with it.

RE: Aren’t you afraid you will slip up because of your illness? Don’t you feel it will affect your ability to do your job? This is the thing I am dying to know.

RP: If I was working the frontline, in uniform, going out to immediate response jobs, where there is a need to identify offenders on the scene, then I would be more concerned. I would probably have to walk away from the police service, take a medical pension. But, as it is, we turn up after someone has been murdered, the killer is long gone, our job is steady and I don’t see a situation where I would need to do an identification.

RE: One last question if I may, Ray. I look around and continue in a whisper. I heard something bad went down and you witnessed it. How do you expect to catch the killer if you can’t really recognise them? You must have a plan…I won’t tell.

RP: Ah, yes. This was unexpected. This really was not the normal turn of events. I’m sorry. I can’t say much more about this, it’s an ongoing case, I’m sure you understand.

RE: Great another brick wall.

A massive thank you to Rebecca for answering my questions for DI Ray Patrick – an interesting protagonist!

About the Author:

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Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective. She lives in the UK with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing of course.

She writes the DI Hannah Robbins police procedural series and has also released a standalone novel, Dead Blind, about a cop who acquires prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness.

To find out more about Rebecca Bradley, follow her on twitter @RebeccaJBradley or check out her website Rebeccabradleycrime.com.

Intrigued? Dead Blind is out now and can be ordered from Amazon here.