The latest episode in a well loved series.
A Dangerous Life (The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries, Book 2) by Len Maynard released in July in the Historical Crime Fiction genre.
1959 A body of a man wearing theatrical make up is found hanging from a tree on Norton Common in Hertfordshire. He has been tortured and his throat has been cut.
DCI Jack Callum, a veteran policeman with his own rules for procedure, heads the investigation into this puzzling crime. The clues lead him close to the answer, but the solution remains elusive.
Why was the man killed?
What were the victim’s links to London’s gangland bosses?
When an unsolved murder is uncovered that appears to be connected to the case, Jack realises he must use his team to their full strength to separate the innocent from the guilty.
Jack also faces a challenge he never expected as he is accused of an improper relationship with a young Detective Constable on his team, Myra Banks.
In a breathless climax, Myra puts her own life on the line to deal with a figure from Jack’s past, who has now become a lethal threat in the present.
Born in Enfield, North London in 1953, Len Maynard has written and published over forty books, the majority of them in collaboration with Michael Sims. Ghost story collections, the Department 18 series of supernatural thrillers, stand-alone horror novels, the Bahamas series of action-adventure thrillers, as well as a handful of stand-alone thrillers. As editors they were responsible for the Enigmatic Tales and Darkness Rising series of anthologies, as well as single anthologies in the horror and crime genres. The DCI Jack Callum Mysteries are his first to be written under his own name.
Writing A Dangerous Life, The second DCI Jack Callum Mystery. Who is Jack Callum?
You may well ask.
When I conceived the first Jack Callum novel I had no idea the story of Jack would occupy my life for the next ten years, but after the first book (Three Monkeys) was completed I realized I had just started to scratch the surface of the character.
My initial thoughts about him had been vague to say the least. I knew he had been born in Edmonton, North London in 1912, had fought in the war, rising to Captain and working for Military Intelligence. On demob he rejoined the police force, rising rapidly through the ranks until he reached Detective Chief Inspector.
His life outside the police was sketchy. I knew he was married to his long-time sweetheart, Annie, and they had three children, two girls and a boy.
But what was his character? The one thing I didn’t want to do was to make him a cliche. We’ve all seen and read about them. The middle-aged coppers with issues, be they drink, drugs or random psychoses. I wanted to write about a solid, dependable, ‘good bloke’.
How dull I hear you cry, how boring. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Writing about a decent human being was one of the most difficult challenges I could have set for myself. Not only did I have him a likeable and decent human being, I also had to make him interesting!
As far as I’m concerned, I succeeded. Most actors say that playing villains is easier than playing the hero and I can see their point. But, to be fair to Jack, he’s no saint. He has certain blindspots, especially when dealing with his three children who are all in their teens and susceptible to various temptations which, even in the 1950’s, were just as potent as they are today. So, there’s plenty of room there for conflict. Likewise his relationship with his wife, Annie, a woman whose life is moving away from motherhood and domesticity, towards one of liberation and freedom, guaranteeing Jack would never lead a settled, complacent life.
These domestic issues coupled with dealing with some horrific crimes that test Jack’s tenacity and resolve as a copper and as a family man make for a heady cocktail of story elements that confound the theory that writing about nice people must by definition be boring. In the years I have been writing the series I haven’t been bored once. Instead, I’ve been taken on a voyage of wonder, getting to know Jack, his family, his work colleagues, and following their trials and tribulations.
It’s an adventure I’m not yet ready to let go. Six books are written, taking them into the new decade and I’m almost halfway through book seven set in 1961. There is so much excitement to come in the decade of the Beatles and the Stones, of free love and flower power and the Kray Twins, I don’t think Jack will be putting his feet up and settling for pipe and slippers for some time to come. Watch this space…
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