Novella review and Q&A with author, Michael RN Jones

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Her The 1st Victor Locke Story.

The synopsis:

HER is the first of the Victor Locke stories to appear in Michael RN Jones’ debut novel The Accidental Detective.
HER introduces all the main characters and sets the scene for the rest of the stories contained in The Accidental Detective (The Victor Locke Chronicles, Volume One).

We’re certain that after reading this introductory story you’ll be hooked on Victor Locke – the most exciting new detective to arrive on the scene for years.

At first glance, Victor Locke doesn’t exactly look like hero material.

Even at the best of times his closest associates would admit that the wise-cracking, computer-hacking, beer-drinking rascal could be an acquired taste.

Thrown together by the British legal system, Victor and his court appointed psychologist Dr Jonathan Doyle are drawn into a string of initially baffling and occasionally mortally dangerous adventures.

Victor’s natural predilection for data, deduction and logic combine with a healthy disregard for authority and a casual contempt for life threatening danger to ensure that there’s never a dull moment and never a mystery left unsolved.

The game is very much afoot…

My Review:

I don’t know really where to begin with this review, it’s quirky, edgy and a modern spin on a brilliant character. The novella is the first story of the six, that collective is the debut novel, The Accidental Detective. Victor Locke is a modern, edgy Sherlock with a foul mouth and my god, does it make for good reading! I love the idea of a Sherlock not only uniquely quirky in his mannerisms and personality but one that fights back and is physically aggressive and uses the occasional swear word!

The novella is told from the viewpoint of Victor’s addiction counsellor Doctor Jonathan Doyle. It is a case that revolves around a female figure which I assume will be from Victor’s past in the series. The lady’s name is Isabella Spears. I recommend for people to try the novella and see if you buy into the character of Victor Locke, as much as I did.

It is impossible to review a novella without basically telling you the story. Also as I have not read the debut novel yet, Michael RN Jones the author has been kind enough to agree to a Q&A. Hopefully the Q&A can expand further on the biggest question, who is Victor Locke?

Her is currently on offer at Amazon Kindle store for 99p. Also available via Kindle Unlimited here:


Q) Hi Michael, for the readers can you summarise who you are and the idea behind Victor Locke?

A) Hi Abby, my background is quite technical. I’ve been to university a few times to study both engineering and information technology and, coincidently, have worked in both civil engineering and IT. Given my upbringing in the north of England, education tended to be about achieving gainful employment. That I’ve now done something quite arty like becoming a published author is a bit of a surprise. That said, Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot fame and Maxïmo Park lead singer Paul Smith both went to my school, so they clearly had more imagination than me in their formative years.

The idea behind Victor Locke was to take a well know character that had seen numerous interpretations and do something different with it. To do this I stripped the character back to the core characteristics, features the character needed to retain its essence, and then built back up from there.

Q) Victor Locke is clearly influence by Sherlock Holmes, but what/who influenced the other parts of his character?

A) Excellently deduced, my dear Fairbrother. Once I’d identified the elements a Sherlock Holmes character had to have, I placed him in a different time, location and section of society and used those things decide what he would be like. From there it was a problem-solving exercise. For example, considering his core skills, I needed to decide what he would do? Given his predilection for data and logic, it seemed natural that he would have an interest in computers. Fortunately, this is something I know a little bit about. Expanding on this thought, I reasoned that he wouldn’t be constrained by trivial things such as the law, so he became a computer hacker. He couldn’t however be a regular villain and therefore his reasons for breaking the law needed to be things other than criminal gain. That was easy. His dalliances could be more about curiosity and the challenge of something or other rather than personal gain. It’s not like he breaks the law, he just disregards it.

Then I had to figure out how he and Doctor Watson, or Jonathan Doyle as he became, would meet. I liked the idea of there being a middle-class, working-class paring and needed a way of putting them together. The criminality helped there. If Locke had caught in the act of undertaking his nefarious computer activity, this seemed a good reason for their paths to cross. Consequently, Doyle became a psychologist involved in Locke’s rehabilitation. The psychologist thing also works from the perspective that it gives them a reason to stay together. The doctor has an interest in the mind, and his patient has the most unique brain he’s ever seen.

Essentially, that process of problems solving continued through the rest of the piece and included the development of the other characters, the settings and Locke’s various personality foibles. I think my favourite aspect of that is how Locke doesn’t show off his talents as other interpretations of Holmes tend to do. That wouldn’t go down particularly well in Middlesbrough. Consequently, Doyle doesn’t know when he’s winding him up, which adds to the enigma.

Q) In the debut The Accidental Detective, do we see more into the background of Doctor Jonathan Doyle?

A) Given I’ve written a collection of short stories, I can’t spend a lot of time fleshing out a character’s back story. Instead I try to let this seep in through the course of the stories. I think this is a more natural way of doing it. In real life you don’t meet someone and get to know everything about them at the outset. Your knowledge evolves through the course of your interactions with them. So, yes. You do get to know a little more about Doctor Doyle, but only as much as it relates to what they’re both involved in at the time.

Q) What was the process from the idea, to writing, to publication?

A) When I’m writing, I tend to do a fair it of planning. The plan is rarely complete but having a rough framework in place lets me write things out of sequence. This means if I have an idea for a plot direction or funny piece of dialogue I can slot it in when the inspiration strikes. Once the first draft is complete I’ll give it a few reads myself to make sure it still hangs together before handing it over to a few mates / willing volunteers for proofreading. After that it’s over to the publisher for typesetting, more proofreading and cover design.

Q) what other authors/books/series are your favourites? Do they influence your work?

A) I’m not actually a big reader. I’ve read a fair bit of Conan Doyle and Nick Hornby, but most other things have just been one offs. I liked Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and was enjoying Tai-Pan by James Clavell, until I left it on the train on a journey to Southampton. Consequently, I can’t really claim many influences. I am however planning to read some Hemmingway. From what I’ve read about him, I think I would appreciate his minimalist style.

Q) What are your favourite adaptions of Sherlock Holmes? Who do you think has played him the best?

A) That’s got to be Jeremy Brett. For me, he’s the quintessential Holmes and did the logic, deduction and dark moods thing better than anyone. I also like the Robert Downey Jr films and I don’t mind Jonny Lee Miller’s interpretation in CBS’ Elementary. I used to be a big fan on Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, however I’m sorry but in the last few outings the writers appear to have run out of ideas. The series 4 finale seemed to go on forever to the point I just wanted it to be over with. I don’t think it will be coming back and, although this will upset a lot of people, it’s probably for the best.

Q) Like the Sherlock Holmes novels, will each novel revolve around a case for Victor Locke?

A) Yes, the Accidental Detective comprises six stories, the novella, Her, being the first. Each story relates around to a case thrown in Locke and Doyle’s direction. There is however a story that arcs across both the Accidental Detective and the follow up, The Song of the Swan. The original intention was to write standalone stories as Sir Arthur did. The story arc just seemed to happen as I was building towards a climax.

*huge thanks to Michael for agreeing to take part in this Q&A with my blog and I hope to have you back as soon as I have read The Accidental Detective.
Massive thanks back at yer. I hope you enjoy it.


Authors Links:
Twitter: @michaelrnjones

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The Accidental Detective also available via Kindle for just £1.99 here: