About the book
‘Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.
Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location and the discovery of a burnt out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. Short of experienced senior investigators, ACC Steph Tanner has no choice but to take a professional risk. Throwing Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation, Tanner appoints him as SIO to lead the investigation.
But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many ‘loose threads’ as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation?
Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?
Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?’
Ray Britain’s debut novel was released just a few days ago and here’s Ray to tell us more.
Who is Ray Britain?
A fair question. I was a police officer in the United Kingdom with a varied career in uniform and detective roles and completed my career in a high rank, but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie amongst detectives remained my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations, some of which engaged discreet national capabilities. For many years I was also a police Negotiator.
Why did you choose a pen name?
For reasons of personal and family security I use the pen name of Ray Britain because, over the years, I locked up many criminals but not all of them seemed to understand it was their actions that led to their imprisonment. Also, as my career progressed I was increasingly involved in discreet, national law enforcement capabilities which I cannot discuss. (The Official Secrets Act still applies!)
Can you explain a little more?
Yes. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator. In the UK it’s a voluntary role, over and above the ‘day job’ – one’s day to day responsibilities – and often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed to support police colleagues faced with a variety of difficult situations.
That’s one of the attractions of the role, you never knew what your next deployment might be. Often, it was negotiating with someone to surrender to armed officers and avoid being killed. More frequently, it was negotiating with people intent on taking their own lives. Less often it was to negotiate the release of hostages being held at gunpoint or other weapons. In the UK, except for a relatively small number of highly trained specialist firearms officers, police officers perform their duties unarmed. One of the few countries in the world still to do so, and long may it continue.
Tell us about your principle character, DCI Douglas Stirling.
Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character, notoriously private with an intriguing, untold back story. He expects his people to work hard but works harder still. Stirling is easily drawn to intelligent, interesting women which can cause complications if his private life conflicts with the demands of his professional responsibilities. Women find Stirling attractive and interesting but can be frustrated by his reserve and his avoidance of emotional commitment.
How about the lead female characters?
There are four prominent female characters, all with strong personalities. The book contains adult themes but to say more would spoil the story.
What prompted you write ‘The Last Thread’?
I’ve always wanted to write a book and the common advice is to stick with what you know. There were other reasons too. As a professional investigator, I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in the many television dramas that enter our homes each evening. Whatever the complexity of the crime, they are solved within impossible time frames with the most sophisticated technology seemingly always available. It provides entertainment, of course, but frequently misleads and raises public expectation beyond what is always achievable, in reality. Like all aspects of the public sector, the police service is cash strapped and must operate within tight, and tightening budgets.
How accurate is your story compared to real investigations?
Very! From the need to work with limited resources, often with dated equipment and in accommodation that’s often inadequate or well past it’s ‘best by’ date, right down to aspects of internal and external political pressures that any SIO can expect to work with in leading his or her investigation.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Everything is drawn from my professional experiences, or as observed through the investigations of colleagues. Apart from drawing on memories of my Father, my characters are fictitious but they are informed by some of the people I’ve had the privilege to work alongside.
How long were you in the police force, and where?
For over thirty years in a police service in the Midlands region of the UK. Police services in the UK are typically based on traditional county lines.
Where can we buy The Last Thread?
It’s available as an eBook at both Amazon and Smashwords.
What was the best and worst part of writing?
The best part is getting the story out of my head and onto the page, plotting its twists and turns and the red herrings to make it interesting for the reader. The worst bit is editing and proof reading! However, it allowed me to strip out irrelevant stuff and, hopefully, made it a better read.
How did you approach the cover design?
I wanted something that was moody, hinted at the sinister theme of the story line and made the reader curious to find out more. I found a local photographer I could work with and, together, we constructed the image you see. I hope you like it as much as I do.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like good crime fiction that reflects real world and is grounded in reality. Some plots are so fantastical that I don’t complete the book. I like biographies too as other people’s lives interest me.
Can you tell us anything about your next project?
I have several story lines and plots already mind-mapped out and will resume writing once I’ve got ‘The Last Thread’ out to market. As an Indie author, I’ve found there’s a lot of work involved in getting your work published to market and in marketing your brand. Having said that, I’m finding it a fascinating and stimulating experience.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The ease of getting your work out there, rather than writing endlessly to mainstream publishers which seems to be the experience of many. But, there’s a hell of a lot of work after that in getting yourself noticed.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I really enjoy walking, the higher, the better. My first love is the Lake District with the French Alps a close second. In the winter, I try to get away skiing with some friends. And reading, of course, is a wonderful pastime.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Only to say thank you. I hope your readers will try the book and do please leave a review.
Thanks very much, Ray.