Today, I started work on the fifth draft of The Bluebell Informant, the first instalment in my D.S. Giles series. I have spoken a lot about my progress on the story, and the second in the series The Court of Obsessions, but I have been keeping the particulars of the story under my hat.
True, I may have been dropping the occasional hints now and then, but I haven’t actually talked about what it’s all about.
Max is an enigma. A man never seen, only heard. A man never met, but well-known.
A man running for his life…
Enter Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles. The only person who can protect him.
When Detective Sergeant Evelyn Giles is called out to a murder scene, she thinks it is a relatively straightforward affair. But when the prime suspect turns out to be one of her most valuable informants, Giles is forced to choose between bringing him to justice and freeing him so that she can stop an even greater evil.
Set in the Kent countryside and the gritty streets of London, Giles races to get her informant to safety as powerful forces, and even some of her closest colleagues, hunt her down to stop the informant from talking…
What is The Bluebell Informant about?
The story of The Bluebell Informant is about several things really. It’s about deceit, it’s about corruption, it’s about revenge – but at the heart of it, the story is really about the relationship between Giles and her informant, Daniel Baker.
Giles is Chinese by birth and Baker is the former leader of the Britain’s Own Party, a far-right party (with quite extreme anti-immigration policies) that has managed to win a recent General Election and form a government. On the face of it, these two people should absolutely despise each other and, throughout the book, they are constantly sniping at each other and reach points where they just want to be rid of one another.
But both have something substantial to offer the other. Baker has information that is vital to one of Giles’ ongoing investigation and Giles is the only person who can possibly get Baker out of the trouble he’s in. So the two characters have to form an uneasy alliance, learn to trust each other and put aside their differences if they are both going to survive.
Where did the idea come from?
The 2015 UK general election was a massive influence on me. I had been working on another Giles story, The Court of Obsessions, when I decided that I needed to write a prequel. I already knew roughly how I wanted the story to go, but I wasn’t entirely clear on the details.
When the general election was in full swing, there was a lot of stuff flying around on the internet, particularly aimed at UKIP, with a lot of scare-mongering and viciousness thrown into the mix. And it got me wondering, if all these people were right, what sort of world would electing a far right party like that end up creating? From that, I started building up the story of Baker and his fall from grace and it really lifted off from there.
The first part of The Bluebell Informant is set in Edenbridge, where you live at the moment. Is there any reason for that?
A lot of writers say that you should write what you know, which is something I can sort of relate to but at the same time I like researching and writing about the unfamiliar. But the truth is the whole environment around Edenbridge gave me so much inspiration for this book that it would be a disservice not to set it here.
Obviously, writing about Edenbridge makes a lot of sense – I live here, I play rugby here, I work nearby. But actually the real reason why it got set here was because of the breadth of environments you have around here. Just walking from the town and upstream along the river, you move from the old town into a modern housing area, and then from there you hit the playing pitches and beyond that lovely country walks with old WWII pillboxes scattered around.
There is just so much history packed into a small area and so much inspiration around that it is really hard to not be inspired by it all.
Not to mention, on the more logistical side of things, if I ever get stuck, it is so convenient to just walk out of my front door and be at the locations mentioned in the novel in a matter of minutes.
And the murder itself?
The murder is the catalyst that sets everything off. A man is found dead on the river pathway, propped up next to a WWII pillbox with a bullet in the back of his head. He’s a complete John Doe, no way of getting an ID, and Baker is pegged immediately as the prime suspect by the local police.
But, despite all her misgivings towards him, Giles starts to suspect that something isn’t quite right and soon discovers that Baker is actually one of her informants, a guy who calls himself Max. He claims that the murder was all self defence and that he is the victim of an attempted assassination. He also has information that not only implicates quite a powerful man in a string of murders but is also capable of completely toppling the government.
From that point onwards, Giles is left with a bit of a dilemma. Does she take Baker in and try to solve the murder, or does she try to break him out so that she can take down the bigger threat?
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more features about The Bluebell Informant. Stay tuned for all the latest, including sneak peeks and teasers.