Oct 032012

Today I have a guest post from celebrated crime writer Pauline Rowson. She’s here to talk about an ideal location for a crime novel.

We all know that location is an important factor for many reasons when choosing where to live, it is also equally important in choosing the setting for a crime novel. There are many great settings for crime novels from gritty Glasgow to captivating Cornwall in the UK, and of course the wonderful diversity of settings in countries around the World. There is also the fictional setting. For me though there is marine mystery country, the location for my crime novels, which happens to be a real place and that is the Solent area on the South Coast of England. Here my rugged Harley Davidson riding detective, Inspector Andy Horton, pitches his wits against the criminal classes, which takes him, and others in the team, into the harbours of Portsmouth, Langstone, Chichester, and to the Isle of Wight.

Every known murder scene has a detective combing for clues. Every detective has a prime enemy – and it’s not always the criminal. For the detective, the first enemy is often the crime scene itself. It is here that the battle begins to uncover the grim truth about the murder. And a detective’s ‘nightmare crime scene’ has got to be a place where all the best clues could be swept away by the tide. There couldn’t be a better place to set a crime story or perhaps a worse depending on your viewpoint.

For me the sea setting has many advantages. For a start it is never constant. In one day it can change from being calm to turbulent thus providing a great backdrop for pace in a novel and great settings for a climax, which I’ve used many times.

It’s also dangerous, misleading and evil like many villains, and although it can look safe on the surface underneath can be a sandbank, a rock, a wreck, a dangerous current all of which can cause havoc and kill and be used to good effect in a crime novel. The sea is also completely uncontrollable. Just as in life we sometimes need to go with the flow at other times we have to swim against it, the trick is knowing when to do which. My detective, DI Horton, hasn’t quite got it sussed, or when he thinks he has something happens to throw him completely off course, just as in life.

The sea provides great inspiration. Many of the marinas and harbours around the Solent are featured in my novels. I can’t pass a boatyard, beach or cove without thinking there must be a dead body or a skeleton there somewhere.

The great variety of locations also provides diversity of scenes. Horton can be on a stony or sandy beach, at an expensive marina or in a rotting boatyard. He can be onboard the police launch in the Solent or crossing on the ferry or Hovercraft. In choosing a waterfront location such as Portsmouth I also have the contrast of a modern city with a historic one complete with a Roman Fort in Portsmouth Harbour; nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest rubbing shoulders with modern tower blocks, a diverse and multicultural population, a busy commercial ferry port, historic dockyard, fishing fleet and home of the Royal Navy. What more could a writer wish for?

Pauline RowsonAbout Pauline Rowson
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Pauline Rowson lives on Hayling Island, England and is the author of the DI Andy Horton series of crime novels and of the thrillers, In Cold Daylight and In For The Kill. A Killing Coast (no. 7 in the DI Horton series) and Death Lies Beneath (No. 8 in the Horton series) were published by Severn House in 2012.

A Killing Coast (DI Andy Horton #7) by Pauline Rowson

Detective Inspector Horton returns and is feeling the heat . . . – When a body is found floating in the sea off Portsmouth harbour, Detective Inspector Horton judges it to be an accidental death, but soon discovers he’s got it very wrong. Under pressure from his superiors, Horton wonders if his ongoing investigation into the disappearance of his mother over thirty years ago has clouded his judgement. Against all the odds, he must now not only find a brutal killer, but also prove to himself, and others, that he is still up to the job.

Death Lies Beneath (DI Andy Horton #8) by Pauline Rowson

When ex-con Daryl Woodley is found dead on the marshes bordering Langstone Harbour, the Intelligence Directorate believe his murder is linked to big-time crook Marty Stapleton, currently serving time in prison. Detective Inspector Horton is not so sure, and is thrown into a complex and frustrating investigation when a body is found on a rotting boat being salvaged in Portsmouth Harbour. As the pressure to solve the case increases, Horton receives a chilling personal message; time, it seems, is also running out for him . . .

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