The Wee Crime Writing Festival in Grantown on Spey will host the first outing in public of book nine of the series. Book nine? How did that happen?
It’s called The Suffering Of Strangers, and the cover is both lovely, weird and a lot cleverer that you think.
THE SUFFERING OF STRANGERS
When a six-week-old baby is stolen from outside a village shop, Detective Inspector Costello quickly surmises there’s more to this case than meets the eye. As she questions those involved, she uncovers evidence that suggests this was no impulsive act, as the police initially assumed, but something cold, logical, meticulously planned. Who has taken Baby Sholto – and why?
DCI Colin Anderson meanwhile is on the Cold Case Unit, reviewing the unsolved rape of a young mother back in 1996. Convinced this wasn’t the first – or last – time the attacker struck, Anderson looks for a pattern. But when he does find a connection, it reaches back into his own past …
By now I suppose I should know what the books are going to be about before I start scribbling. I should know where I get my ideas from, but in reality it’s a much more generic process than that, a sequence of ideas that starts it all off. The big What If?
It was the start of the book that got me going. Every mother’s worst nightmare.A young baby, a couple of weeks old, has been crying all night and most of the day. The mum is tired beyond tired and in search of a distraction she nips out to the village shop, driving around bit first as the motion of the car seems to rock the baby to sleep. When she gets to the shop, she’s careful and cautious. She decides to park right outside, considering it unsafe to leave the car in the car park round the corner. Baby Sholto is asleep. He looks at peace so she goes into the shop keeping an eye on the car and the sleeping baby all the time. The shop owner knows her, they chat about Sholto, both of them keep looking out the window, keeping an eye on the car.
Until she puts her head down to put her pin number in the credit card machine. She’s tired, exhausted, she’s been up for 36 hours, she’s covered in baby sick. She likes the chit chat, she’s distracted for a moment.
She goes outside and the car is missing. So is babySholto.
Then somebody spots the car in the carpark and she jogs round, it is her car, she can see the baby seat. She opens the door and there’s a baby in the baby seat wrapped in Sholto’s new coverlet.
But it’s not Sholto. This baby has Downe’s Syndrome.
So hopefully by page four there has already a few twists and turns of emotions. Empathy for mum, then anger at mum’s stupidity, extreme concern for the baby then relief at the baby being found …and then oh! So then more empathy, for both mothers. Has a woman had a Downs baby and in all that emotional turmoil, couldn’t accept it and in the spur of the moment she saw Sholto and swapped them?
Well that’s one theory of the crime.
The bigger picture is about how we value our children as a society, the choices people make about their child and what will happen in a world where children can be genetically engineered to resemble mum or dad, be very academic or very good at sport.
Interesting and in the hands of some, truly frightening.
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