Thursday, 19 October 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Isabelle Grey

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 ...

Daphne du Maurier, especially for Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, both masterpieces of unreliable narration, jealousy and sexual tension. Each time I re-read Rebecca I find the second Mrs de Winter even more sinister.

All The President’s Men and its recent successor Spotlight. The first made me want to be a journalist and the second added invaluable insight to the writing of The Special Girls.

It’s deeply flawed, but I still loved the first season of True Detective for the range of its ambition. It used the format of long-form drama to play with chronology and point of view, had great performances and, in rural Louisiana, a brilliantly gothic backdrop.

Although Count Fosco stops short of actual murder in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, he is morally responsible for the death of Anne Catherick after her escape from the asylum. A cruel and fascinating villain, he is surely a prototype for many of the charmingly psychopathic fictional killers that followed. 

For me it will always have to be Philip Marlowe, for slang so perfect that few guessed Raymond Chandler invented it, for his cynical sense of honour, and his deep and tragic vulnerability. Even if the plots sometimes don’t make sense, I want to know what Marlowe is going to make of it all.

I wrote an episode of Midsomer Murders in which someone was pushed under the turning wheel of a watermill. I spoke on the phone to someone at a National Trust watermill to find out how such a killing might occur. He had no proof of who I really was yet enthusiastically explained in great detail how easily I could murder someone. Perhaps one of us should have been more suspicious.

Dr Watson peering through the keyhole of the door to Bartholomew Sholto’s chamber and seeing by moonlight his bloodless countenance, a ghastly, inscrutable smile upon his face, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four.

The College of Policing There is a huge amount of forensic expertise online about everything from knots and maggots to cadaver dogs, but the best for lending an air of authenticity is the College of Policing website which is packed with useful procedural detail.

Keep asking yourself why you are writing this book, why this is a book that no one else could ever write.

When I first started writing it was black coffee and cigarettes, but now it is green tea and chocolate.


Isabelle Grey is a crime novelist and former journalist who has also written for film, radio and television, including many popular crime dramas. Her crime series - Good Girls Don't Die, Shot Through The Heart and The Special Girls - are set in Essex and feature Detective Inspector Grace Fisher and the veteran tabloid crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. She has also written two earlier novels of psychological suspense.

Find Isabelle Grey on her website and on Twitter - @IsabelleGrey


Publisher's description
'A white trainer caught the light, and Grace tracked the beam along khaki chinos and a smeared sweatshirt to short brown hair glistening with blood.'

DI Grace Fisher investigates the murder of a young doctor working at a summer camp for young girls with eating disorders. Professor Ned Chesham, the man behind the camp deep in the Essex countryside, is hailed as a miracle worker, but the murder of one of his team throws a spotlight on his work and the 'special girls' under his care.
Grace Fisher is pulled from the murder investigation to head up a cold case review involving Chesham himself. She must tread carefully: Chesham has just been knighted, he has friends in high places and any suspicion about his work risks damaging his patients even further. But the deeper Grace probes, the clearer it becomes that there is something rotten at the heart of his treatment programme.

As Grace peels away the lies that led to the young doctor's murder and uncovers the extent of the damage done to Chesham's patients, she realises how few people want her to get to the truth. Is there anyone she can trust with the horrifying secret of the special girls?

The Special Girls was published by Quercus on 6 April 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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