The story behind the detective - DI Andy Horton in Death Surge

The inspiration for Death Surge came like all the other novels in the series featuring the flawed and rugged detective DI Andy Horton from the location. It is locations that inspire me and with the Horton series,set against the powerfully evocative British marine landscape of the Solent on the South Coast of England, there is always a good place to put a body.

Placing the crime novels against the backdrop of the sea has many advantages. The sea is never constant. In one day it can change from being calm to turbulent. It is also dangerous, misleading and evil like many villains, and although it can look safe beneath 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. It also provides a great backdrop for pace and great settings for a climax, which, of course, I’ve used in Death Surge.

The sea is also completely uncontrollable. No matter how much you think or wish you can control it, you can't, you need to respect it. In life sometimes you need to go with the flow and other times swim against the tide, the trick is knowing when to do which. My detective, Andy 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.

Death Surge,which is the tenth in the Horton series, begins with Andy sailing off the Isle of Wight on the yacht on which he lives. He’s trying to find inner peace after a gruelling investigation which has left him questioning his desire to remain in the job. His ongoing conflict with his nit-picking, control-freak, Alpha female boss DCI Lorraine Bliss doesn’t help matters either. He’s also seeking to escape the mental torment that is being caused by the startling revelations his own private investigations are revealing into the disappearance of his mother when he was ten, just over thirty years ago. A call from Sergeant Cantelli in CID, Horton’s most revered friend, to say that his nephew is missing brings Horton straight back without question.

I like heroes, on screen, reading about them and in real life so when I created DI Andy Horton I knew he had to be that. My husband is a former fire fighter and DI Andy Horton is modelled on a combination of many fire fighters I’ve met in the course of my husband’s career. And in Death Surge as in some of the other Horton novels I’ve drawn on my husband’s knowledge of fires and charred bodies.

Horton is an action man, fit, good looking and with a strong sense of justice. But of course there’s more to the Harley Davidson riding detective, physically strong he may be but he’s also emotionally vulnerable. Abandoned by his mother he’s been raised in a succession of children’s homes, growing up on the rough streets of Portsmouth, surviving on his wits – and with his fists. He knows the dark, seedy recesses of his home city – which he hates and loves in equal measure.

He seeks justice and doesn’t much care how he gets it, just as long as the villains get done. But his childhood has made him psychologically vulnerable and that flaw allows us to penetrate his masculine armoury. Andy is a loner. He doesn’t want to be though, he has a desperate desire to belong but he’s afraid of letting anyone get too close for fear of being hurt and rejected. As a result he always finds himself on the outside. Estranged from his wife and daughter he lives alone on his yacht in a marina.

Cantelli’s missing nephew brings Horton’s personal emotions into focus as he continues his investigation in the disappearance of his mother. Missing persons is a fascination of mine. When someone goes missing it leaves a huge void in the lives of those left behind and leaves so many unanswered question.As the saying goes nature abhors a vacuum but how do we fill that? Each individual is different.

I like complex plots with troubled characters. I like a good mystery, a puzzle to solve and I enjoy delving into the motivations and personalities of people. I’m fascinated about why people do the things they do? What are their fears, their pleasures, their desires, to what extent will someone go to protect himself? Exploring these aspects is what I attempt to examine in my crime novels whilst at the same time, hopefully, providing a riveting and entertaining read.

Death Surge is available from all good bookshops and on line in the UK, Commonwealth and the USA.

You can also buy Death Surge on Amazon.

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