Thursday, 24 May 2018

What makes the best crime fiction? by Paul E. Hardisty

I am delighted to be today's stop on the blog tour for Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series, which is published by Orenda Books, and will be published in paperback on 30 May 2018.

What makes the best crime fiction? 
By Paul E. Hardisty

Realism, to me, makes the best crime fiction. When I read thrillers and crime stories (or any other literature for that matter), I don’t want to suspend my disbelief, I want to shudder with the realisation of what is possible, and what people are capable of, good and bad. A great example is the novel-within-a-novel HHhH by Laurent Binet. It is the story of the assassination in 1942 of Nazi SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heidrich by a team of Czech soldiers who parachuted into Prague specifically for the mission. It is a novel, but the chilling reality of the tale adds a poignancy and punch that a purely invented story simply cannot.

So when I write, I go to real events for inspiration. 

In my first novel, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, I used personal experience of working as a young engineer in the wilds of Yemen as civil war erupted around me, corruption ran unchecked, and powerful men scrambled to control the country’s developing oil resources, to build the story.  Fictionalising people and events around that reality, paradoxically, allowed me to tell the truth about what was happening then in a way my official scientific reports never could. 

In the third instalment of the Claymore Straker series, Reconciliation for the Dead, I take the reader back to 1980, onto the front line of a little-known war in Angola, when apartheid South Africa was fighting against the communists. One of the central plot elements of the book revolves around an obscure but bone-chilling secret program run by the South African government of the time, designed to keep the black populace in check. I had heard anecdotally of the existence of such a program many years before, when as a boy, I heard my father speaking with white South Africans who had fled the violence. Later, I heard similar stories from a hardened South African army veteran I met working in the oilfields of the Ukraine. So when it came time to write of Clay Straker’s harrowing past growing up as a child of apartheid, and found reference to these same events in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission transcripts, I knew it had to come into the story. 

The fourth Straker novel, Absolution, out now, is set in Egypt and East Africa, places I have worked in over many years and know well. Again, the key plot elements are built around true events and issues, one of which I experienced first-hand, quite intimately, and the other which (thank God) I only heard about in the news at the time (1997).  

Either way – personal experience or research – these true-life settings allow the rest of the fiction to be anchored in something which is even more thrilling, even more chilling, because it is absolutely real.  That, to me, is the best of crime fiction.

About Absolution

By Paul Hardisty
Published by Orenda Books (E-book- available now; Paperback - 30 May 2018)

Publisher's description
It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches. 

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible. 

Here's a snippet of my review: 'The Claymore Straker series is impactful and thought-provoking, highlighting the damage humans can do, not only to each other but also to the planet. I always feel that I have learnt something by the end of each one - and look at the world through slightly different eyes.'

Click here to read the whole review.

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