Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon
Was it suicide … or murder? Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray is driven to discover the truth. Whatever the personal cost.
When teenager Nick Buckingham tumbles from the fifth floor of an apartment block, Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray answers the call with a sick feeling in his stomach. The victim was just a kid, sixteen years old. And the exact age the detective’s son was, the son Gray has not seen since he went missing at a funfair ten years ago. Each case involving children haunts Gray with the reminder that his son may still be out there – or worse, dead. The seemingly open and shut case of suicide twists into a darker discovery. Buckingham and Gray have never met, so why is Gray’s number on the dead teenager’s mobile phone?
Gray begins to unravel a murky world of abuse, lies, and corruption. And when the body of Reverend David Hill is found shot to death in the vestry of Gray’s old church, Gray wonders how far the depravity stretches and who might be next. Nothing seems connected, and yet there is one common thread: Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray, himself. As the bodies pile up, Gray must face his own demons and his son’s abduction.
Crippled by loss Gray takes the first step on the long road of redemption. But is the killer closer to home than he realised?
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) Right now home is in the North West of the UK, near Manchester, but I lived in Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet, where I base all my books, for 17 years. All three of my children were born there and we still go back periodically to see friends so I know the area and its people very well.
I’ve been writing on and off since I was 9 years old, it’s always been a ‘thing’ for me. However, I really put my nose to the grindstone about twelve years ago when I started pulling together some ideas for a historical fiction novel (The Eagle’s Shadow) about the Roman invasion of Britain – the Romans’ landing site was just a few miles away from where I lived.
However, these days I primarily write crime / thriller – all my work has a strong mystery element to it. I moved into crime when I got made redundant during the credit crunch. I’d had a bad experience with my management and writing about killing somebody was the best legal way of ‘getting away with it’ so to speak.
Dig Two Graves is the first book in a major new series with Detective Sergeant Solomon Gray as the protagonist. Again it’s Margate based. Gray’s son, Tom went missing a decade ago and he’s never really got over it (who would?!). He’s no idea what happened to Tom; whether he’s alive or dead. He’s in a bit of an emotional hole, but not ready to give up. When the body of a teenager turns up who’s the same age as Tom, Gray’s life gets turned upside down because although Gray and the seeming suicide have never met why is Gray’s number on the kid’s mobile?
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) My writing process is a mixture of development and evolution. As always it starts with one kernel of an idea and grows from there. More often than not that original idea morphs into something else as I work the story.
First I get an idea of who the characters are, where they are in their lives, as all stories emerge through people. Then I’ll start to do some research (for example into County Lines drug sales which was the basis of a recent book) while pulling together a chapter list and the broad ideas that’ll occur at each stage.
Finally, when I feel there’s enough of an outline, I start writing. The story goes on from there, the narrative shifts as more ideas come – that’s the evolution aspect.
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) Anything by Ian Rankin – he’s the reason I moved into crime, specifically his breakout novel, Black & Blue.
Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May novels are vastly under-rated reads.
M.W. Craven’s Washington Poe series too – starting with The Puppet Show. Gruesomely brilliant.
Tim Baker – his CWA nominated Fever City is superb.
And I think we should be supporting indie authors. If you like hard hitting noir look out Martin Stanley’s Stanton Brother’s novels or anything by Mark Wilson. Both are hard-working writers.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) I read a huge amount when I was a kid. Starting with the usual – Enid Blyton’s ‘Five’ mystery stories. Then I moved onto sci-fi – Isaac Asimov and Michael Moorcock in particular, before gravitating onto 1970’s and 1980’s thrillers – Douglas Reeman, Alistair Maclean etc.
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) That’s a really, really difficult one. My career as a writer has been a series of ups and downs, thankfully more the former than the latter. Every year and with each book new stuff happens. A major highlight has been with Dig Two Graves, however. I got the chance to work with a brilliant editing team (award winning writer Allan Guthrie and Eleanor Abraham), had an audio book out (read by London’s burning Ben Onwokwe) and a German translation. But fundamentally I learnt a huge amount as a writer. And I still am.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) First & foremost my wife. She was a bit dubious at first until she read my first crime novel. And the aforementioned Mr Guthrie. He’s been an amazing mentor and made me a better writer. He’s the little devil constantly sitting on my shoulder telling me what I’ve just written needs to be better…
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