Welcome to another beautiful day at Life As I Know It. I am so pleased to welcome Author Ray Britain to my site. We have the pleasure of enjoying a lovely and entertaining Q&A with this fabulous author…
Tell us a bit about yourself, Ray. You were a detective I understand?
Thank you, Marlena. Yes. I had a successful and interesting career in both uniform and detective roles. This was in the UK. I completed my career in a high rank but the investigation of crime and the camaraderie amongst detectives was my preference. As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) I led complex crime investigations and I was also a police Negotiator too, on top of ‘the day job’.
Why have you adopted a pen name?
For privacy mainly, but also for family security. I locked up many criminals during my career, some of whom were unpleasant characters.
You were a police negotiator as well? That must have been interesting work.
Yes, for about fifteen years and very challenging on occasions. The full title is Hostage & Crisis Intervention Negotiator, a voluntary role in addition to one’s day to day responsibilities. And for no financial reward, either, which often meant being ‘called out’ of a warm bed in the middle of the night to drive many miles to support police colleagues facing a variety of difficult situations.
Why did you want to be a negotiator?
To help people and because it’s endlessly fascinating. You never knew what you would be facing next. Often it was within a firearms incident where negotiators try to achieve a peaceful resolution such as a controlled surrender to armed officers. More usually, it was spending time, sometimes many hours and often in precarious situations, persuading someone to step back to a place of safety and to get them help. Less often, fortunately, it was negotiating the release of frightened hostages being held at gunpoint or other weapons.
Why did you write ‘The Last Thread’?
Like many people I’ve always wanted to write a book and the common advice is “stick with what you know”. There were other reasons too. I’m often frustrated by the inaccurate and improbable representation of crime investigation in television dramas on TV. Whatever the complexity of the crime, they’re always solved within impossible time frames and, seemingly, with the most sophisticated technology immediately available.
How did you approach the structure of ‘The Last Thread’?
I’ve worked hard to create a story that’s interesting, immersing the reader in the welter of information which can easily overwhelm an investigation whilst keeping them guessing, hopefully, right up to the end. It’s authentically grisly in describing the murder, the crime scene and the post mortem. And there’s also a complicated love interest too, so it has something to offer all crime fiction lovers.
So where in the UK is the story located?
It’s located in and around the beautiful city of Worcester, England, and its surrounding countryside. Anyone with a little knowledge of the area will recognise many of the landmarks referenced in the story.
The story is marketed as having adult content. How adult are we talking?
That’s more to do with Amazon’s guidance, which I’m happy to observe. People in relationships have sex, so why would my protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Stirling be any different? Also, a significant element of the plot has an adult theme but nothing too offensive, I hope, and reflects what happens within some relationships. In short, it reflects real life and how complex relationships can have devastating effects on people’s lives. To say more would spoil the story.
You mentioned your principle character, DCI Douglas Stirling. What’s he like?
DCI Doug Stirling is a thoughtful, reflective character who is notoriously private and has an intriguing, untold back story. He is a consummate professional who expects his people to work hard, but works harder still. Stirling’s drawn to intelligent, interesting women and if they’re attractive, then even more so, which causes complications when his private life collides with the demands of his professional responsibilities. For their part, women find Stirling attractive and interesting but are frustrated by his reserve and his avoidance of an emotional commitment.
So, he’s not one of the dysfunctional, socially ill-at-ease characters we often read about?
No. Stirling’s a good-looking, powerfully built man with a certain reputation for the ladies. He takes pride in his appearance, but is impatient of vanity, in either sex!
And are your female characters simply ‘bit players’?
No, not at all. The story has four prominent female characters, each of whom has a strong personality.
How accurate is your story to real investigations?
The day to reality of investigations is quite different from how they’re portrayed on TV with Senior Investigating Officers juggling scarce resources, with limited investigators and making tough choices about how they spend the budgets they’re allocated.
Without spoiling it for our readers, what’s it about?
Well, perhaps the easiest thing to do is to give you the synopsis:
“Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must watch as the incompetent CI Ballard who is intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.
Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location where they discover a burnt-out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. With a shortage of experienced senior investigators available, ACC Steph Tanner risks her own career and appoints Stirling as the SIO, throwing him the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation.
But, with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation? Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Doug Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?
Things were already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow?”
So where can I buy ‘The Last Thread’?
Sounds great, Ray. Have you started your next book?
I certainly have. I use mind-mapping software to capture my thoughts, ideas and whatever research is needed all in one place. It keeps me organised and helps avoid inconsistencies in the storylines. I particularly enjoy plotting the various twists and turns so that the reader will want to stay with the story to the end. I’ve got about 20,000 words down so far.
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About the Author:
Ray Britain’s debut novel ‘The Last Thread’ was published 17th September 2017. Following a highly successful career in policing it should be no surprise that it is a complex crime investigation story.
As a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Ray led many investigations, some of which engaged specialist, national capabilities. For fifteen years he was also a Hostage & Suicide Intervention Negotiator responding to hostage situations, many firearms incidents and numerous suicide interventions, not all of which ended happily.
In ‘The Last Thread’ Ray’s real-world experience puts the reader in the driving seat of a complex investigation with all the uncertainties and realities of modern crime investigation which will keep the reader guessing to the end.
Ray’s interests include: mountain walking, rugby, skiing, Dad dancing, reading and sailing.
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Word count: 170,000
Genre: Thriller, Detective, Adult, Mystery.
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The Last Thread
by Ray Britain
A teenage boy is dead. DCI Doug Stirling is accused of pushing him to his death. Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered in an isolated spot. Stirling must investigate. Two events seemingly unconnected, or are they?
Accused of pushing a boy to his death, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s enigmatic smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.
Weeks later, a man is found savagely murdered. Taking a professional risk, ACC Steph Tanner throws Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation and appoints him to lead the investigation. But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many “loose threads” as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?
Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, somehow connected to the murder?
THE LAST THREAD is a complex crime investigation written with real life experience that will keep you guessing to the end!
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5* – “The Last Thread is an outstanding debut novel with an exceptional plot …”
“A crime novel with integrity and intelligence which rattles along nicely …”
“Gritty realism drawn from real investigative experience. Well crafted!”
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Until next time……………………………… Stay Creative!!