02 June 2018

A is for…

Adam, of course. A Detective Inspector based at the St Aldate’s police station. He’s mid-forties, around six foot, dark-haired. One of my early readers described him as ‘kind, compassionate, clever and just that bit out of the ordinary’, and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

A is also for Alex, his wife, who’s a partner in an Oxford law firm. They’re very much in love, but there’s a deep sadness in that love, because they have lost their only child. This happened a few months before the start of Close to Home, and we don’t find out till the end of that book what actually happened. But the pain of it – and the consequences - are still very real as In The Dark begins.

B is for…

DC Andrew Baxter, the stalwart on Fawley’s CID team. A touch on the heavy side (in every sense of the word), an Aston Villa fan, and rather a dab hand with computers: “he doesn’t need to dig that deep to find his inner geek.”

C is for…

Alan Challow, who’s in charge of the CSI team. As Fawley describes him in Close to Home: “He started on the job a few months after I did. Hasn’t aged that well. Too little on top, too much round the waist. But he’s good. He’s good.”

D is for…

Daisy, the little girl who goes missing at the beginning of Close to Home.

E is for…

DC Verity Everett. Loyal, dependable and not as confident of her abilities as she should be. “She may look like Miss Marple must have done at 35, but she’s every bit as relentless. Or as Gislingham always puts it, Ev was definitely a bloodhound in a previous life.”

F is for…

Frampton Road, the prosperous North Oxford road where a young woman and her child are discovered, locked in a basement, at the beginning of In The Dark.

G is for…

DC Chris Gislingham. Hard-working, a bit cheeky, and a die-hard Chelsea fan. His baby son Billy was born prematurely during Close to Home and is the apple of his dad’s eye. “Every CID team needs a Gislingham, and if you were drowning, he’s the one you’d want on the other end of the rope”

H is for…

Superintendent John Harrison, Fawley’s boss. As Adam says of him in book three: “It’s only a suggestion but let’s not forget who’s making it’.

I is for…

In The Dark (what else?)

J is for…

Jake, the Fawleys’ son, who was born after a long struggle to conceive, and whose death still casts such a long shadow.

K is for…

Kidlington, the Thames Valley Police HQ, where many of the scenes are set.

L is for…

Fawley’s ‘first law of policing’: Liars always overkill. “I know I bang on about Fawley’s law, but in my experience three answers to one question is never a good sign.”

M is for…

Nina Mukerjee, one of the members of the forensic CSI team. Like Erica Somer, a rising star.

N is for…

North London, where Fawley was brought up. “A dismal ribbon development that owed its entire existence to the Underground – a stop on the final stretch, thrown down randomly in what had once been meadows, but were long since concrete by the time we lived there. My parents chose it because it was safe, and because it was all they could afford. But it was horrible, all the same.”

O is for…

Oxford, of course, where the books are set. As Fawley says, at the beginning of In The Dark, “If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know: it’s all or nothing in this place - when it rains the stone is piss-coloured, but in the light, when the colleges look like they’ve been carved from cloud, there is no more beautiful place on earth.”

P is for…

The profiler on the team, Bryan Gow: “train-spotter, mainstay of his local pub quiz team and amateur mathematician.”

It’s also for the pathologist: “His name is Colin Boddie. And yes, I know, that’s not funny. Only it is; of course it is. He’s heard the gags so many times he’s developed his own brand of pathological humour to go with it. It can sound crass, if you don’t know him, but it’s just a form of carapace. A way to keep the horror at bay.”

Q is for…

DS Gareth Quinn. Cocky, confident, attractive, and ambitious. As Fawley says, “You know the look. Sharp suit and blunt razor.” Quinn is invariably his own worst enemy: “Gislingham has always been exceptionally good at knowing when to stop digging, but Quinn carries his own set of shovels.”

R is for…

Risinghurst, the 1930s suburb to the north-east of the centre of town, where Fawley lives.

S is for…

PC Erica Somer. An English graduate who worked as a teacher before becoming a police officer. Her name, incidentally is an anagram of ‘Morse’ – my small homage to Oxford’s greatest detective.

T is for…

The Thames Valley police force – following in the fine tradition of Morse and Lewis.

U is for…

Another of Fawley’s catchphrases: ‘UAU’. Unless and Until

V is for…

Fawley’s vehicle – a Ford (not a Jaguar!), and his vices, of which he has only one – smoking. And perhaps one too many glasses of merlot every now and again,

W is for…

Wittenham Clumps, one of the key settings for In The Dark: “The hills command views of the Oxfordshire countryside for miles around and are rich in folklore. Castle Hill once boasted an Iron Age fort, and near the summit there’s a hollow, known as the Money Pit. A hoard of treasure is said to be buried there, guarded by a ghostly raven...”

X is for…

Fawley’s ex-boss (OK, I know it’s a bit of a stretch), Detective Superintendent Alistair Osbourne. “Al Osbourne was one of the legends of Thames Valley. Great copper, and a genuinely nice bloke too, and believe me those two things don’t always go together. More than one person in this station owes a crucial leg-up in their career to him, me included.”

Y is for…

Adam’s youth. He grew up with his younger brother, Julian, but his childhood wasn’t an easy one. He is adopted, but his parents have never actually told him so: “I found out when I was ten, rooting about in my father’s desk where I knew I shouldn’t have been. I knew, instinctively, the way children do, that this was something I could never raise with my parents and even now, I never have.”

Z is for…

Zachary. But to find out who he is, you’ll have to wait for No Way Out ….

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