We weren’t planning on revealing the cover for the fourth Poe & Tilly novel, Dead Ground, until early next year, but Cumbria Life wanted it for their ‘Most Anticipated Reads of 2021’ list, which kinda forced our hand a bit. Never mind though, it’s all good. And no messing about trying to fit other news in this time: first the blurb, then an extract from the back of the book, then the cover (which will have new author quotes, but is otherwise signed off).
What’s it about . . .
“Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.
As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .”
Extract from ‘Author’s Note’ at back:
“Well, here we are again. Another Poe novel in the bag, and one that almost didn’t exist. I’ve had this idea knocking around my empty skull for a few years now. But first came The Puppet Show, the plotline of which was originally earmarked for the third in the DI Avison Fluke series. Those of you who have read my first series might be able to transpose the characters in the first Poe book to the established characters in Born in a Burial Gown and Body Breaker. I then thought I might write it as the sequel to The Puppet Show. Having [REDACTED, SLIGHTLY SPOILERY], so I cobbled together Black Summer, a book that sprang from nothing more than wanting to set an impossible puzzle for Poe and Tilly to solve. I wanted to write what is now Dead Ground as the third Poe book, but, as it was for a new contract, I gave my editor, the supremely awesome Krystyna Green, three potential plotlines. The first was about a magician. Krystyna said absolutely not. Magicians were only one step below clowns and deserved everything they got. The second was my early thoughts on Dead Ground, but it was a bit too much of a thriller then, and Krystyna rightly rejected that as well. The third was what turned out to be The Curator, to which she gave the thumbs up.
But the plot for Dead Ground wouldn’t go away. Whichever book I was working on, it was there in my mind, like background music. But it was still too action-focussed, and that was a problem. Then I remembered I had the seeds of a plot for a safety deposit box heist in which, instead of valuables being stolen, someone was killed and a ceramic rat left at the scene. I did some author gymnastics. Moved things around. Lost bits. Added bits. And so Dead Ground came into the world. Was it exactly as I’d imagined? Of course not. But none of my books end up the way I intended them to. It’s still my favourite of the series, though.”
Dead Ground is out in hardback, ebook audio on 3rd June 2021 and can be preordered everywhere now. The paperback is scheduled for publication on 25th November