So having recently read and adored the latest crime novel from Neil White, I stalked him around the internet a bit until he agreed to answer a few questions for me and here is what he had to tell me.
A second outing for Sam and Joe – Easier or harder to write a second book in a series?
It’s a little bit of both.
When you start to write a book, the first thing you have to do is work out who’s going to be in it. What are their traits, their back-story, what history does each character have. The first one is hard because so much time is spent getting that right. With the second one, that has been done, but on the other hand you are stuck with the decisions you made for the first. Names and traits.
It’s easy to accidentally repeat yourself too, by forgetting that you’ve used a setting before, or sequence of events, or just spend too long reminding people of the characters.
On the whole, because the principal decisions have been made, it’s easier.
As the law is your day job, do you take a lot of inspiration from the cases you see at work?
As a prosecutor, I would not be allowed to base a book on a real case, so I don’t. That’s official.
What I do take from the job is the knowledge that whatever I can think of, I can open a file and find something worse. There are no limits to human depravity.
The main advantage is the fact that I’m comfortable in the field. I’ve come across forensic reports on most things and dealt with the police and courts at all levels, so if I’m researching something I don’t feel like I’m dealing with information that is alien. That doesn’t mean it’s never new or novel, but it makes getting to grips with a little easier.
The downside, of course, is that lawyering all day is mentally tiring, so I don’t often feel like writing when I get home. But the books won’t write themselves ….
I’ve always loved your death scenes, ever emotional and horrific – do they come easy?
Thank you, Liz. I don’t know about coming easy, but I enjoy writing them. Death scenes should make you want to avert your eyes so I try to put a lot into them. I can perhaps get a little too gleeful when I’m writing them.
What made you decide to make your main protagonists Brothers?
It was really the culmination of a thought process.
I enjoy books where there are two characters working alongside each other; in fact, most crime fiction works like this. Even Jack Reacher has someone with him for the ride in each book. What works best is where there is contrast or conflict. Think Watson’s straight man to Holmes’s wayward genius.
In my first five books, I paired a detective and a crime reporter as a couple, as I thought there was conflict. As the reporter, he would want to find out about her cases and, as the detective, she’d want to keep him out of them.
With the new books, I wanted to go down a more legal route. I like legal thrillers. As a younger defence lawyer, I remember well the conflicts with police officers, where often the morality of my job was pointed out to me. I figured, therefore, that the two main characters should be a detective and a defence lawyer, because therein lies conflict.
It wouldn’t work as prosecution and defence lawyers, working on opposite sides, as most lawyers I know think of themselves as lawyers first, and their chosen side second. Most disapproval of defence lawyers is when they do something that isn’t in accordance with their professional obligations, rather than the morality of the client’s actions. There wouldn’t be conflict but mutual respect.
Once I decided that a detective and a defence lawyer was the most conflicted pairing, they had to have a relationship where they could judge each other. Old friends wouldn’t work, as they would just fall out and drift apart. So brothers seemed the obvious choice. Bound together by blood, pulled apart by professional choices.
Can you tell us a little bit about whats next?
More books, hopefully.
The back-story to the Parker Brothers, Joe and Sam, is that their sister Ellie was murdered on Joe’s eighteenth birthday, and the killer is still at large. Each brother was motivated to follow his own career path by that murder. Sam the detective by his admiration for the police, and Joe the lawyer by the prospect that the law might bring him into contact with Ellie’s killer.
The next book, The Domino Killer, brings Joe and Sam face to face with Ellie’s murderer.
Last book you read.
Con Law by Mark Gimenez. Like I say, I enjoy a legal thriller.
If you ruled the world one thing you would change.
I would get everyone to just chill out a bit. Let people have opposite views and stay at peace with your own.
Best thing about being a writer.
The sense of achievement, that you set out to do something that you weren’t sure you’d be able to, and it turned it out that you can.
Thank you so much!
Joe Parker is Manchester’s top criminal defence lawyer and Sam Parker – his brother – is a brilliant detective with the Greater Manchester Police force. Together they must solve a puzzling case that is chilling Manchester to the bone…
Danger sometimes comes in the most unexpected guises. The Death Collector is charming, sophisticated and intelligent, but he likes to dominate women, to make them give themselves to him completely; to surrender their dignity and their lives. He’s a collector of beautiful things, so once he traps them he’ll never let them go.
Firstly this is book 2 in this particular series – whilst it can be read as a standalone novel quite easily I would recommend you read “Next to Die” first if you havent already, if for no other reason than I can be pedantic about these sorts of things and it would make me feel better. Plus you would have two in a row then and that would surely make you feel better.
In this instalment the brothers deal with a miscarriage of justice, a new murder investigation gone awry and a dangerous killer that may be closer to home than they think. Some magnificent plotting once again, added depth to brothers Joe and Sam, at least one of Neil White’s trademark compelling death scenes and some edge of the seat moments made for a superb read once again. I literally bit my fingernails at the possible outcome for one character I loved dearly – Mr White has killed me once before when it comes to horrific outcomes, no way I was falling for safe mode again or making any assumptions.
Tightly woven and absolutely addictive, completely authentic because its coming from a place of knowledge – of the systems, of the people who inhabit that world – and it shows, there were absolutely no downsides here for me, I was in it all the way. I still havent made up my mind which of the brothers I love the most, they are so very different and yet alike as brothers are, perhaps I should do the parent thing and say I love them both equally. The main point is they are very real and you want to follow along with them, in fact you can’t help it.
Crime fiction is one of the biggest markets and it is often difficult to see the gems in the myriad of choices out there – since I read Fallen Idols and fell in love with the writing I have avidly devoured everything Mr White has written and have never once been disappointed. Each one has been better than the last, this is no exception – Next to Die kicked off Sam and Joe’s story, this one improved and expanded on it and I can only see good things to come. If I could have the next 5 or 6 books now that would be fantabulous – where IS the Doctor when you need him…
I’ve been humerously accused of being Neil White’s biggest fan quite often – its a title I’d wear proudly and not in a Kathy Bates kind of way either although I’m sure he would like to hide sometimes. There is a reason for this – its because the books are brilliant. Great writing, great stories, great characters, great mysteries. Every time. Whats not to love?
5 bright shiny stars and a Unicorn for this one.
Find out more here: http://www.neilwhite.net/
Follow Neil on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/neilwhite1965
Purchase Information: The Death Collector: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Collector-Neil-White/dp/0751549479/ref=la_B0034P9CFW_1_7_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402902374&sr=1-7
Purchase Information: Next to Die: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Die-Neil-White/dp/0751549444/ref=la_B0034P9CFW_1_3_bnp_1_har?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402902423&sr=1-3
Happy Reading Folks!