Thursday, 20 April 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Lesley Thomson

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


to share her BEST OF CRIME ... 

Elly Griffiths is my favorite contemporary crime writer.  Her Ruth Galloway series invites the reader into a vivid world – the bleak yet rich Norfolk landscape, archeological (or not) remains, a sense of past and present merging – which is peopled with engaging complex characters (Cathbad is genius).  Then Griffiths began the Mephisto/Stephens series and did it all over again.

Blow Up (1966) by Michaelangelo Antonioni. Could be described as a murder story with no named victim or killer in which the ‘detective’ is a fashion photographer. I’ve always taken photographs (once developed in my dad’s dark room, now use my phone), I loved the idea of discovering the victim’s body in a photograph rather than finding it in ‘real’ life. After I saw this film (since seen many times) the sound of wind in the trees has never been the same. It conjures up such a possibility of mystery.

The Killing (Danish version) Season 1. This has influenced many wonderful dramas (Broadchurch being one). Not least that music swelling towards the finale of an episode. It was the first time I’d seen the grief of the victim’s family depicted so realistically and given such prominence on tele. We saw the context for the murder as well as the gradual revelation of the truth of the crime. It was as ground breaking and as absorbing as Prime Suspect had been back in the day. I felt it was a novel come to life (rather than adapted). 

Has to be Tom Ripley in Patricia Highsmith’s novels. Highsmith a hero of mine and her books are where I first came upon the idea of the murderer getting away with it and the reader (me anyway) wanting them to. That’s despite disliking the killer. Ripley is a fabulous creation. 

Ruth Galloway is right up there. She’s methodical, intelligent, brave, informed and intuitive. As a child and young adult, I wanted to be both an archeologist and a detective. Galloway makes me realise that I’m better off sticking to crime-writing. I respect her way of living and working. She legitimizes a certain level of domestic slippage I rather recognize, while doing her job very well indeed. I emulate her! 

I’ve utilised an icicle and a dog lead in my time…. 

The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L Sayers.  Bizarre, but logical and clever. Who knew you could be murdered by a bell? This covers the question directly above too. 

I read widely when writing. I did a crash course in Botany for The House With No Rooms so I haunted the Kew Gardens website. The Dog Walker was mainly written from experience (except the murder bit) so I did lots of tramps along the Kew Towpath with a small canine. The novel involves a subterranean basement which meant I trawled several basement design websites. I’m a regular visitor to the Missing Person’s site despite it having a saddening and sobering effect. 

Write the story you’d want to read rather than the one you think the ‘market’ wants.  Sit down and start writing, if you wait for the muse to hit you, you’ll be waiting a long time. Write through the rubbish and eventually the muse arrives. 


None at all now as I’m being good. But when I was being ‘bad’, nuts, chocolate, digestive biscuits.... I’ve started giving my characters these snacks. Jack Harmon has just consumed a whole packet of digestives in lieu of me.

Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People's Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective's Daughter, was a #1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies. 

Find Lesley Thomson on her website, FB page and on Twitter - @LesleyjmThomson


Publisher's description
A haunted house, a broken family and a body that has never been found. Stella and Jack must reawaken the secrets of the past in order to solve the mysteries of the present.
January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage. Only her dog returns.
Twenty-nine years later, her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago.
But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold...

The Dog Walker was published by Head of Zeus on 6 April 2017.

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