OUT FRIDAY: The Cheshire Cat Murders by Roger Silverwood

The Cheshire Cat Murders by Roger Silverwood is out this Friday and available to pre-order now in hardback, with a 30% discount for a limited time only.

Praise for the author:

‘Solid plotting, unpretentious writing, thoroughly reliable entertainment’  –  Morning Star

‘Silverwood combines a classic mystery plot with well-developed characters’  –  Publishers Weekly

THE CHESHIRE CAT MURDERS – SYNOPSIS

Detective Inspector Michael Angel and his team are desperately searching for a wild cat on a killing spree in the South Yorkshire town of Bromersley. It appears that the cougar is under human control and is trained to kill to order. Retired schoolteacher and well-known cat enthusiast, Miss Ephemore Sharp, becomes the prime suspect, but Inspector Angel is unable to prove her guilt. Matters take a decisive turn when she is found in possession of the antique pot figure of a famous performing cat called ‘Pascha’. Angel is greatly tested and the investigations become more mystifying and dangerous, as he races to find the explanation to stop more mayhem and murder. This is the 18th in the highly successful Inspector Angel series.

To find out what Roger Silverwood thinks makes great crime fiction, check out his author post.

The Snuffbox Murders is out now in ebook.

Crime Writer Roger Silverwood on How to Plot a Thriller

Roger Silverwood is the creator and writer of the Inspector Angel mysteries. The eighteenth book in the popular series The Cheshire Cat Murders is out this month in hardback.

The only valid reason to write is because you want to. There is no golden way to success. It is not a luxury hobby or something to pass two hours on a wet Sunday afternoon. It is hard work, but persist, find the right market, and you have a chance of success.

Below I show you how you might structure (or plot) a story that could be quite chilling. This plot idea of mine was first published in WRITING NEWS and shortly afterwards in RED HERRINGS, the Crime Writers Association’s house magazine. Perhaps it might help you.

Firstly, I need a super ending; one that has to have lots of opportunities to produce chilling/interesting/mysterious/entertaining reading.

‘How about an amateur taxidermist who adores his dog so much that when the old pet dies, he stuffs it? Then his grandmother dies … He adores her too, so he stuffs her and puts her down the cellar. Then his mother, then his wife … It becomes so intriguing that he might (or he might not) go out at nights looking for subjects. Say the girl next door brings a parcel of cosmetics that the postman left, sees the light in the cellar and goes down there … he sees her looking … what does he do? The taxidermy is starting to get out of hand. I’d already decided that if I wrote this, it would be from my pet policeman character’s point of view.

‘The next important thing is to look for a motive. I wouldn’t pursue a storyline if I couldn’t find a strong, valid motive. A history and a fear of loneliness … can’t be away from his loved ones … memories of a super caravan holiday in Mablethorpe … it might work. I would need to fill out the storyline with more nostalgic reflections …

‘Then I’d add a subplot … say there is a woman, Nerissa, who fancies him. One afternoon he gave her a lift to a shop or paid for a cup of tea, or she tripped and dropped her shopping and he helped picking it up … momentarily touched her arm … something trivial. She thinks it’s serious. She cooks, brings him cakes, apple pies, offers to cut his hair … she’s always at the door … in the house …she won’t go away. She mustn’t discover his secret, how can he get rid of her? Is there only the one way?

‘I’d complicate the narrative by having another plot running. Say he used to be a policeman. The regular coppers will talk shop to him about the missing people, confide in him a little maybe … he can “help” them.

He realizes he’ll have to move the bodies, his house might be searched – very dangerous – he has to take them somewhere. It’ll have to be at night …

‘I would introduce another crime. Something close by, so that the “investigation” around him (or of him) possible. A serious traffic offence, fiddling the firm’s petty cash or something … also to provide red herrings.

‘Then I’d want a running tag. He’s driving the neighbours potty learning to play the violin. He keeps taking the exam and failing. Or he’s in the Slim Quick Slimmer’s club, competing hard to lose two stones and become slimmer of the year.
‘All that, is what I know as the writer. Now I have to look from the perspective of the reader (and my pet policeman character).

‘The plot would be fed out to the reader in dribs and drabs … people keep disappearing, lots of chemical, wax, cosmetics and unusual substances are being delivered to number 17 Cheyne Walk. A man annoying his neighbours by playing the violin. Funny smells from the cellar. He says he’s varnishing his violin to improve the tone. Neighbours say they saw his wife in the front seat of his car. He says she’s gone back to her mother.

‘Although they can’t find a single body, the police interrogate him … the answers are not acceptable. They interrogate him again. He can’t answer them satisfactorily. He is arrested. He is eventually tried and found to be insane and sent to Broadmoor. Then the authorities learn he has passed the violin exam, or won the Slim Quick prize.

‘The last lines of the final page of the book might read like a newspaper report:

A Mablethorpe caravan site owner was treated for shock after he found five dead bodies and a dog in a static caravan round a table like a family tea party; they were all wearing excessive make-up.

Will it work as a book? Is it too far fetched? Would it make a good read? I wonder … There is still a lot of work, research and rewrites to do before I finish, celebrate with a bottle of champagne and vow it’s the last book I’ll ever write.

The next day I’ll start another. It’s agony, but I like it.

Actually, after much deliberation, I decided not to go ahead with this plot because I couldn’t make an Inspector Angel story out of it, and everybody wants me to write about him. I gladly forsake the copyright to any reader who wants to take the plot and write a book round it. Why don’t you have a go?

– Roger Silverwood

Previously Published in: Red Herrings/Writing News

Copyright: Roger Silverwood

The Cheshire Cat Murders is available to pre-order now in hardback.

The Snuffbox Murders is out now in ebook.

Roger Silverwood on What Makes Great Crime Fiction

Roger Silverwood was educated in Gloucestershire before National Service. He later worked in the toy trade and as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Roger went into business with his wife as an antiques dealer before retiring in 1997. His Inspector Angel series is now on its 18th book.

Here he talks about how he came up with Inspector Angel and what he thinks makes great Crime Fiction.

Where did the idea for Inspector Angel come from and how has it been developing the character over all the books?

I based Inspector Michael Angel on my father who had most of his virtues; his bad points are all mine; and his good looks are the product of any Hollywood studio in the 1940s.

I was getting tired of reading about the fictional copper portrayed as a hard drinking, smoking, swearing, gruff type who always had women trouble. While I am sure that there must be some policemen like that in real life, I wanted a character that was more likeable and believable. So I dreamt up Inspector Michael Angel, who is a real man with old fashioned standards, good manners and simple charm but could be wily and tough when necessary. He is happily married (most of the time) to a wife who also has a mind and a will of her own. He is attractive to other women and is occasionally propositioned, such situations up to now he has dealt with in a gentlemanly way. I wanted him to enjoy a drink, but be sober, always hard up, well-educated but not an academic. I didn’t want him to be as intellectual as Sherlock Holmes; that sort of clever scientific approach had, I thought, by the turn of the century been well and truly over replicated. He would also be annoyingly pernickety and meticulous over all the nitty-gritty details of an investigation, but it would be the minutiae that would lead him into solving the case. This is well exemplified in The Cheshire Cat Murders, the 18th Inspector Angel Mystery.

What drew you to writing crime?

There is a sort of magic about writing crime stories. The idea of creating a mystery and then solving it seemed to be the appeal to me. As a boy I was fascinated by stories with such naïve titles as, The Duchess’s Pearls, Sir George’s Will, The Mystery of the Locked Room and so on. I read everything like that to do with crime that I could get hold of before graduating as a young man to Dorothy L Sayers, Wilkie Collins, G K Chesterton and then on to Raymond Chandler. I guess crime was the only subject I would ever want to write about.

What key elements does a great crime novel need?

I write setting the scene with familiar elements in it so that the reader can believe that he or she is actually looking over Angel’s shoulder as the story unfolds. I want the reader to feel the tension and be involved in working out who the murderer is, and there should be enough interesting, credible activity and suspense throughout the narrative to keep him or her turning the page right up to the exposé.

THE CHESHIRE CAT MURDERS – SYNOPSIS

Detective Inspector Michael Angel and his team are desperately searching for a wild cat on a killing spree in the South Yorkshire town of Bromersley. It appears that the cougar is under human control and is trained to kill to order. Retired schoolteacher and well-known cat enthusiast, Miss Ephemore Sharp, becomes the prime suspect, but Inspector Angel is unable to prove her guilt. Matters take a decisive turn when she is found in possession of the antique pot figure of a famous performing cat called ‘Pascha’. Angel is greatly tested and the investigations become more mystifying and dangerous, as he races to find the explanation to stop more mayhem and murder. This is the 18th in the highly successful Inspector Angel series.

The Cheshire Cat Murders is available to pre-order now in hardback.

The Snuffbox Murders is out now in ebook.