Quick crime

He watched them walk to the bus stop and catch a bus into the city.

They would not be back for hours.

He entered the yard by the side gate. There was one large window in the rear wall of the house. It was shut. A gentle slide with his gloved hand revealed that it was not locked. The window opened into an open-plan kitchen. He stepped through into a cool interior, saturated with the smell of the bacon and eggs they’d shared for breakfast.

key-408559_640The keys were on the counter.

He backed their car into the street.

Too easy.


Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Here, there be dragons!

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly arrived at my place this week, courtesy of one of my brothers, who thought I might be inspired to continue writing by Matthew’s impressive sales figures – more than 7 million copies in 20 different languages according to the blurb on the book cover. Or maybe he’s trying to get me to stop writing murder mysteries and switch to his preferred read – action thrillers.

In the front of the book, Matthew reminds us that ancient map makers used to write – Here, there be dragons – on those parts of the map which represented unknown or unexplored regions.

That prompted this response from the support crew here in Adelaide.

Here there be dragons

Always happy to promote a fellow Aussie author.

If you’re not into action thrillers – maybe I can tempt you buy one of my murder mysteries and push my sales numbers closer to that mythic 7 million mark!

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

The letter

I walked to the bus stop and there it was – on the ground, under the seat. An envelope with her name on it, torn along the long edge, with a letter inside. Unresisting, I extracted the paper and read his words to her.

What a jerk, I thought. He didn’t even have the courage to confront her and confess his reasons for desertion.

When I’d read his excuses for leaving her to bring up their kids, I understood why she had discarded the letter or not exercised sufficient care to keep it safe.

I obliterated his lies with my lighter.

man on seat




Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Progress report -Inspector West series book 3

Old Book

One thing I now know is – it takes a lot longer to write a murder mystery novel that to read one.

Book 3 in the Inspector West series is slowly taking shape. The first draft holds 22,500 words and, at around 700 words a day, it should be finished by the end of June. Then I’ll have to place it aside for a few weeks before I start on the first round of editing. At least one of my editing assistants will be on hand at that time, visiting from New York.

To date, Inspector West has started investigating the death of an elderly catholic priest and a fire that destroyed an aged care facility for retired priests, while the newly promoted Detective Sergeant Harry Fuller has been somewhat distracted by developments in his love life.

I’m writing to a plan, well a sketched outline really, so it’s always interesting watching the story unfold on the screen. I am always amazed by the way the mind works. I type a few words associated with what I think the storyline is and the story unfolds, almost by itself, as long as I keep typing.

I have to go write today’s 700 words.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Unsolved murders

holmesprofile2If you’re anything like me, you prefer a murder mystery to be solved by the time you get to the end of the book. Even if the sleuth doesn’t work it out, you expect the author to reveal who did the deed and why.

We just don’t like being left hanging, not knowing.

Solving murders is definitely one of those aspects of life which is stranger than fiction.

In South Australia, where I live, there are currently more than 100 unsolved murders on the books of SA Police, dating back to 1902. Apparently they never close a case until it’s solved.

Obviously, real investigators don’t enjoy the same level of success as some of our literary legends.

Perhaps we need a few more unresolved murder mysteries on the shelves.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter


Free ebook fantasy

ebook_penguinDo you download free ebooks?

Do you actually read the free ebooks you download?

Do you write reviews of those same free ebooks?

Do you buy any of that author’s other books?

I suspect there are people who only read free ebooks.

That’s their prerogative.

I’m not writing for them.

I’m writing for people who value what they read and willingly pay a reasonable price for a quality book.

The advent of the ebook has certainly lowered the price of access to information and entertainment in book form. Even print on demand books are relatively inexpensive, when you compare today’s prices with those of a decade ago. I don’t have an issue with that. I think prices were unreasonably high in some parts of the world, and not for the benefit of writers, prior to the arrival of online book retailers.

Readers have always had the option of sampling a book before buying. In a bookstore, you always could, and still can, take a book off the shelf and have a bit of a read before making your buying decision. Online book retailers provide a sample that lets you do the same.

Writing is a business for most writers. Books are the products they have for sale. Once writers sold books to publishers, if they were lucky. Now they can sell them to readers as well, and bypass the publishers altogether if need be, using online retailers.

The challenge for most writers is being discovered by readers, both in bookstores and online, and that’s where the free ebook game got started. Some writers believed that by giving away their product for free they would become known, and readers would come back and pay for their next book.

It doesn’t look like a sustainable business model to me. 100,000 downloads at $0.00 per download still equates to zero income, for both the author and the retailer, with no guarantee the free ebook readers will be back to hand over their cash for any other titles.

In my opinion, the free ebook strategy does little more than undermine the value of books.

I’m happy to provide a sample for readers where books are available for sale, and I’m happy to provide free content to showcase my writing through blogging, and to promote my books through available channels.

I understand that ‘word of mouth’, whether it’s face to face or through social media, is still the most effective marketing strategy for books. That’s right, it’s about readers telling other readers about the book. That’s why online retailers encourage readers to write reviews.

My business plan is to publish quality books people are happy to pay for and tell their friends about.

I’m not doing it for the buzz of seeing 100,000 downloads of a free ebook.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

Writing murder

Most of us do not commit murder, except in our fantasies.

It’s okay, you can admit to those murderous thoughts you’ve had about killing your boss, your spouse, that idiot that cut you off in traffic, or the one that got the promotion you know belonged to you.

Despite our best efforts to suppress our murderous intentions, sometimes we fail. If we’re lucky we stop ourselves or someone else stops us before it’s too late. Sometimes we commit murder.

I write about murder. In the first two novels of the Inspector West series, for example, close to a dozen characters lose their lives. Crime fiction is largely about murder, although it can delve into other types of crime.

It seems we like to read about people being murdered. Maybe, like me, you’re interested in why people commit murder, or how people deal with the impact of sudden loss in their lives. The other thing about crime writing that I find interesting is the impact of what appear to be the random intersections of different storylines.

Some crime readers are into what are known as police procedurals, addicted to following how the police go about their work in solving the crime. I’m not much into police procedures. I take a minimalist approach to how the police go about doing things. I’m more interested in the people involved in the investigation.

From my perspective, the plot needs to have a resolution. Storylines have to be pulled together in a way that does not leave the reader hanging – not knowing what happened or who did it. That does not necessarily mean that the crime has to be solved by the investigating officer.


In After, the first book in the series, the story follows a murder mystery plot. Josie Ford is murdered and the story moves towards finding out who killed her and why.



In The Holiday, the second book in the series, the story follows a mystery suspense plot. Kieran Moore is killed and his grandson, Toby, is abducted. The identity of the killers is known to the reader at the time of the murder, and the story moves towards finding out Toby’s fate and whether the criminals will be caught or not.

What are you looking for when you’re reading a crime novel?

Did I get anywhere near the mark?

Thanks for dropping by, Peter


Using language

IMG_0493Do you remember this guy? Yes, that’s right, he’s that teacher who insisted that you follow the grammar rules, every last one of them.

You don’t see him much these days but he’s still around.

He’s that voice you hear every time you write something, the one that insists that words have to be used in certain ways.

In writing circles he is referred to as the inner critic, and he has his uses if we want to be understood by our readers.

If he was the only critic we had to deal with, life would be more bearable.

Unfortunately, he has a host of followers in the world outside our heads. You may have encountered one or two in your travels. These are the people that like to point out every grammatical error they see, regardless of the context in which it appears.  The language has a word for them: pedants.

I say language usage depends on the context in which the words are being used. If you’re writing an academic paper or sitting for an English language exam it’s probably important to follow all the rules. If you’re writing a letter email it’s not so important. What’s important is that the message sent is clear enough that it is understood. If you use ‘are’ where the rules say you should use ‘is’ (for example, the staff are friendly) we all get the message, even if the pedants insist you should say the staff is friendly.

Here’s a little something on this topic I found, by following a link within a link on Twitter the other night, that I enjoyed watching. I hope you like it.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter