#GuestPost ~ Robert Crouch #Author of the Kent Fisher Mysteries ~ The Challenges of Writing a Series @robertcrouchuk #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m delighted to welcome Robert Crouch with his guest post about the challenges of writing a series.

Over to you, Robert…

When you publish a novel, you’re never sure if it will appeal to readers.

When you release your novel into the crime fiction market, you’re up against some pretty tough competition.

When you write something different from anything else in the genre, you’re taking a chance.

Knowing this, why did I do it?

I wanted to write the kind of book I liked to read.

My inspiration to write crime fiction began with Agatha Christie. I loved Miss Marple and the classic whodunit. Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse had equally intricate plots, but the characterisation and Oxford set it apart.

When I read Sue Grafton’s ‘A is for Alibi’, the first of the Alphabet series, I fell in love with Kinsey Millhone. Her direct narrative, irreverent humour, determination and unshakeable sense of justice struck a chord. In many ways, she became the role model for Kent Fisher.

In No Bodies, he even refers to spending the night with Kinsey. He means reading one of the novels, of course.

I also had the idea of paying homage to Sue Grafton by using alphabetical titles. No Accident was the first book, No Bodies the second, followed by No Conscience and No Detective perhaps.

I soon abandoned the idea.

I already had enough challenges to overcome. Kent Fisher isn’t a cop. He isn’t a private eye. In fact, he’s not a detective. Like me, he’s an environmental health officer. He carries out hygiene inspections in restaurants and food businesses.

What’s an EHO doing investigating murders?

Environmental health officers (EHOs) enforce laws. They interview suspects and witnesses, prepare evidence and prosecute offenders in court, following the same rules and procedures as the police. EHOs have all the skills to investigate murder, but they don’t have Scenes of Crime Officers, forensic scientists and a national database of offenders.

Neither did Miss Marple or Kinsey Millhone. They had contacts in the police to assist them from time to time, but usually worked alone to collect evidence and solve crimes. This is the traditional murder mystery or classic whodunit, which creates its own challenge.

Why aren’t the police investigating?

Maybe they arrested the wrong killer, as they often did in Murder She Wrote.
Maybe they failed to identify or find the killer. Not all murders are solved.
Maybe they didn’t suspect murder, which offers the most opportunities. Murder can be disguised as an accident or suicide. A missing person offers similar opportunities, especially where there is no body.

You should now be working out where No Accident and No Bodies draw their inspiration.

In No Accident, Kent Fisher investigates a fatal workplace accident. This is part of his normal duties when it comes to health and safety at work. It doesn’t take long for him to realise something isn’t quite right.

Kent becomes a local hero when he solves the murder, prompting an old friend of the family to approach him about a missing wife in No Bodies. Only she’s not missing, of course. The reader knows she was murdered.

Why does Kent keep investigating murders?

I never liked the idea of Kent Fisher simply investigating murders in each book. He needed a reason to become involved and investigate and I wanted to keep things as fresh and original as possible.

In the third book, No Remorse, he takes his Westie, Columbo, to a luxury care home to cheer up the residents. An elderly resident claims someone is trying to kill him. When he dies a few weeks later, Kent’s given a cryptic note from the man and begins to dig.

In No More Lies, the fourth book, I went for an old favourite, the cold case. A new detective inspector reopens a case that involves a café Kent closed down ten years earlier. He’s seconded in his professional capacity, but is soon drawn into investigating himself.

In No Mercy, the latest book, I had the idea that Kent could be set up as a suspect for a murder, forcing him to investigate and clear his name or become the next victim.

In other words, Kent is usually drawn into investigating, often reluctantly.

Doesn’t he have anything else to do?

Kent’s busy enough with his job and his animal sanctuary, which are the basis of the backstory that runs through the series, offering readers regular characters and glimpses into the world of environmental health.

At work, he’s always in conflict with his bosses. Local chefs apologise for the lack of a body in the freezer when he inspects their restaurants. The moment he starts asking questions about someone, people assume he’s investigating another murder.

It’s all part of the humour that tells you the stories are at the cosy end of the scale, though they’re set in today’s world.

I try to keep the stories credible by talking to police officers, detectives from the Major Crimes Team, fire investigators, and many others to ensure even the small details are accurate.

The Kent Fisher murder mysteries are a long way from the cop with a trauma, which seems to be one of the current trends in crime fiction. They’re traditional murder mysteries, driven by both character and plot to entertain readers.

As I said at the beginning, they’re the kind of books I like to read. Maybe they’re the kind of books you’d like to read.

Thanks so much, Robert. I must get acquainted with Kent Fisher…and Columbo 🙂

About the Author

Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read. Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross. He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world. These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer. He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often find walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, taking photographs and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.

Robert’s social media links ~ Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Website

14 thoughts on “#GuestPost ~ Robert Crouch #Author of the Kent Fisher Mysteries ~ The Challenges of Writing a Series @robertcrouchuk #TuesdayBookBlog

  1. This is fascinating! I am an avid watcher of the show Endeavor, and all the great Inspector series on Acorn and Brit Box ( Vera, George Gently, Shetlands, Inspector Lewis, etc) but have yet to read any! Seeing this makes me want to get on it! And, so great to see the author with his Westie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyone who starts by being influenced by Ms Christie gets bonus points! Sounds like a good series – amateur detectives make a nice change from police procedurals sometimes. 🙂


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