‘So,’ you ask, ‘where did you get the idea for Harry from? I mean, some of those things he gets up to…’ You scrunch your eyes closed for a second as if trying to rid yourself of the memories. ‘Awful, just awful.’
Harry. He’s the killer in my book, Touch. He’s not particularly pleasant, I’ll give you that, but awful? I’m offended. I shake my head. ‘If you think Harry’s bad then you should meet some of my other friends,’ I say.
An uneasy look passes across your face, but I ignore it and begin tell you about Ted, a kind, charming and charismatic young man; Jeffrey, who likes to spend time arranging things in his flat; Dennis, who once had a bit of a problem with his drains; Harold, the odd one out; Fred, who’s got something missing in the IQ department, sure, but a salt-of-the-earth type nevertheless.
Shorn of their surnames my little coterie might appear innocent enough. They could be a bunch of guys who turn out down the park to play cricket on a Sunday afternoon or more likely that group of men who shuffle dominos in the corner of your local on Thursday evenings. There’s something about the decent, old-fashioned names – none of this Joshua, Ethan, Jake nonsense – which suggests dependability. As Fred packs away the dominos you’d go over, ask him what he’s drinking, get one in for him. Pint on the table in front of his big, rough, craftsmen’s hands, you’d ask how’s he placed to come round and sort out that dripping tap for you. Spare key’s under the flowerpot to the side of the back door, you’d say. Let yourself in any time.
Fred’s a builder, see? Surname of West.
On second thoughts maybe you should fix the tap yourself.
A retired Crime Scenes Manager, with 30 years of experience in the force, has agreed to share his memories of one night that has continued to haunt him. As you can imagine, it doesn’t make comfortable reading. Please be aware of that before you begin.
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Most of the murders I have attended are preceded by a phone call in the middle of the night. I remember the phone call late on the night of 11th February 2003. A girl’s body had been found in a field in East Cramlington and a 999 call had been received by a young man claiming to have accidentally killed her.
It was a bitterly cold night. The temperature was 4°C but the strong Easterly wind made it feel a whole lot colder. The scene was exposed to the elements with no shelter from the biting wind. A slope in the field led up to a ridge where there were a few sparse bushes, about 100 yards from the nearest houses. Close to the bushes is where I saw Sarah. She was 14 years old. Two SOCO’s were already there and crime scene tape was being strung across the fields and a common approach path was being established. We always try to estimate where the murderer has entered and left the scene and establish our common approach path away from that area, to avoid disturbance.
“The future of crime fiction lies not in inventing ever more colourful crimes but in focusing on real-life wrongdoing”
This is the opinion of David Peace bestselling author of The Red Riding Quartet and The Damned United featured in the Guardian today. It’s obvious that this formula is something which works for him– The Red Riding Quartet is based on the Yorkshire Ripper murders.
Peace comments that there “isn’t much point making up new crimes” but isn’t that the point of crime fiction, to escape into a frighteningly real -‘unreal’ world were you feel comforted by the fact that it is simple no more than a work of fiction or is the shock and fear that that these crimes really have taken place that fascinates us readers.
Whatever side you choose to take it’s a very interesting debate…