Hello Readers! I’m happy to welcome Robert Crouch, author of No Mercy, fifth in Kent Fisher Mysteries, for an interview on Books Teacup and Review. Check out more about the book and author in this post.
No Mercy (Kent Fisher Mysteries #5) by Robert Crouch
Publication Date: January 16th 2020
Genre: Murder Mystery
COULD YOU KILL IF JUSTICE FAILED YOU?
Highways Inspector, Derek Forster, couldn’t go on after the death of his wife. Even though he had a secret lover, he took his own life. Or did he?
Samson Capote, the restaurateur from hell, brutally attacked and left to die in a deep freezer. Did he antagonise too many people? Was he sharing Forster’s secret lover?Millionaire entrepreneur, Clive Chesterton, falls from his yacht and drowns in Sovereign Harbour. Why did he have Forster’s missing journals in his cabin?
When Kent Fisher becomes a murder suspect, he realises he could be the next victim of a killer who shows no mercy.
Can Kent connect the deaths and solve the mystery before the killer gets to him?
Robert Crouch writes the kind of books he loves to read. Books ranging from the classic whodunit by authors like Agatha Christie, the feisty private eye novels of Sue Grafton, thrillers by Dick Francis, and the modern crime fiction of Peter James and LJ Ross.
He created Kent Fisher as an ordinary person, drawn into solving murders. He’s an underdog battling superior forces and minds, seeking justice and fair play in a cruel world. These are the values and motivations that underpinned Robert’s long career as an environmental health officer.
He now writes full time from his home in East Sussex. When not writing, he’s often found walking on the South Downs with his West Highland white terrier, Harvey, enjoying the scenery and researching the settings for future Kent Fisher mysteries.
Can you tell readers a little about your book, No Mercy? What they can expect from the book?
My books are contemporary murder mysteries, featuring amateur sleuth, Kent Fisher. He’s an environmental health officer by trade, but finds himself drawn into murder investigations.
The stories feature a strong backstory based around his work, relationships and the animal sanctuary he also runs. The characters and events in the backstory often link to the murders and themes of each book and offer readers something in addition to a classic whodunit, such as a glimpse into the world of environmental health.
No Mercy is the fifth novel in the series where Kent has to connect three seemingly random deaths to identify a killer before he becomes a victim himself.
How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I hate injustice and unfairness and wanted to explore what could happen when someone felt the system had let them down. I also wanted to how a restaurateur from hell can abuse social media to give Kent nothing but grief.
No Mercy is fifth in Kent Fisher Mysteries Series. Can readers read it as standalone or should read in order? How do your plot and characters develops in the series?
Yes, it can be read as a standalone, but most readers want to get to know the characters and backstory, starting at the beginning with No Accident. Many of the comments readers and reviewers make concern the relationships and characters as much as solving the murders.
There are running issues in the backstory. Kent’s work as an environmental health officer happens during severe public spending cuts, which affect his ability to do the work he loves. The relationships between characters, especially Kent and Gemma continue to change, offering a romantic element to the stories. Then there is his animal sanctuary, family problems and the effects of solving some testing murders.
You get a flavour if this in No Mercy, but not the full picture.
What is the key theme and/or message in the book?
How far would you go if justice failed you? Would you kill?
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The challenge is invariably the same with all my books – keeping it fresh and credible, which isn’t easy when your main character isn’t a police officer or private detective.
I also want the events to be based on reality, especially as an environmental health officer wouldn’t normally investigate murders. That means accuracy, which is where research comes in. As an environmental health officer in real life, I’ve enforced the law, worked with the police and Coroner’s Officer, so I have a good idea how things work. But I’m always asking friends in the police for help.
I also don’t plan the books. I have a few notes on the subject area, what motivates the killer and the theme, but that’s all. It means I’m never sure if I have enough for a novel when I begin writing. I have only a vague idea where the story will go as it develops chapter by chapter. I simply throw in complications at the end of every chapter and see where they take me. More ideas come to me and sometimes the rest of the story, which forces me to stop and make notes.
Though scary, writing is much more exciting this way. After all, if I knew what was going to happen it wouldn’t be as exciting. I hope it shows in the stories
What type of characters do you love and hate to write? What is your favourite quality in protagonists? Does anyone in real life inspire you to write them?
All characters, whether good or bad, are interesting. Some characters present challenges as it’s easy to slip into cliché with police officers or managers who talk like training manuals. As in real life, where you get to know people slowly over time, my characters grow and develop as they become involved in the stories.
I love writing the female characters, especially those who might become a love interest for Kent. As in real life, he reacts differently to different people, so it’s fascinating to watch these characters in action.
I have lots of favourite qualities – like courage, empathy, sacrifice, selflessness and determination, but top of the list is fighting unfairness and injustice.
I create all my characters from scratch so they were entirely fictional. Of course, there are characteristics, phrases, tics and mannerisms I pinch from people I know and meet. If I want a particular characteristic or type, there may be someone who could act as a role model, but it’s much more fun and more satisfying to create my own people.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
How long have you got? It’s a long journey filled with rejection slips, self-doubt, frustration and unrealistic expectations.
My true journey to publication began when I realised I wanted to write crime fiction, thanks to Agatha Christie and in particular, Sue Grafton, who wrote the brilliant Alphabet series featuring PI Kinsey Millhone. I created Kent Fisher, found a way to draw him into a murder and wrote three novels. The first was okay, but the characters and relationships weren’t right. The next two became the foundations for No Accident and No Bodies. The stories lacked that certain something to tempt a publisher, but the plots were complex, intricate and unique.
When I gave up smoking in 2006, I had to stop writing. The two were so intrinsically linked and I had no intention of smoking again. Roll on about nine months, and the urge to write returned. Feeling rusty and unsure of myself, I started a humorous blog, based on my experiences as an environmental health manager. To disguise my identity, I wrote it as Kent Fisher and called the blog, Fisher’s Fables.
Five years and many blog posts later, I realised I’d found my author voice. I returned to my two novels and rewrote them in this new voice. I showed a couple of chapters to an author friend, who offered to introduce me to a publisher. The publisher liked the first chapter and offered me a contract. He went on to publish No Accident in June 2016.
While I bought back the rights and now publish the novels myself, I’m grateful for that first opportunity and the confidence boost it gave me.
What are your most favourite and least favourite thing about being an author?
Writing and editing the stories are my most favourite. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a pantser, who writes his stories chapter by chapter, never quite knowing how the story will develop. I love it when characters surprise me by not doing what I want or expect them to do. This takes me into uncharted territory. It makes the writing more exciting and dynamic and somehow it all works out in the end.
Editing polishes the rough stone. I love sharpening the prose, lifting the plot when it sags, making the story clearer. With each edit and revision, the word count drops and I can see and feel the story improving, which means it will be better for the reader.
My least favourite things are the covers and blurb. I tried to make life easy by keeping the same background for all the covers, changing only the title, strapline and what appears in the foreground. Yet when I write each book, I have no idea what to put on the cover – with the exception of No Bodies, which is my favourite cover.
Writing the blurb is difficult and frustrating. Once written, it never seems good enough. I often update the blurbs for my books. One day, I’ll work out the secret and enjoy the process.
Do you have any writing rituals?
No. I write morning, five days a week, slipping into the afternoons when I need to. I keep evenings and weekends free.
What is the next project you’re working on?
Book 6 in the Kent Fisher mystery series, is provisionally entitled, No Love Lost. As the title suggests, there’s bitterness and ill-feeling at its core, which leads to murder. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Ice cold. These words have been going around in my head and may well become the strapline.
It’s the most difficult and adventurous book I’ve attempted so far, which adds to the pressure. But I need to stretch myself, to try something different and improve as a writer. I also hope it keeps the series as fresh and interesting as possible.
Can you describe No Mercy in five words?
I struggled with the blurb, so five words feels almost impossible.
Injustice. Betrayal. Baffling. Unusual. Exciting.
And the last one, top 3 tips for aspiring authors.
Find your author voice – it’s what makes you and your work unique. It’s the way you write and express yourself naturally, so don’t fight it or be stifled by grammar or comparing your writing with that of other authors. Cherish your natural style and develop it with lots of practice. Without it, you will never produce your best work.
Read, read, read and keep reading. There are so many great authors and books out there. Let them become your friends and offer you insights and guidance.
Listen to your inner voice – it soon speaks out when something isn’t right, or when you’re pushing your characters into places they shouldn’t go. Trust that voice and become a better writer.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
The best places are my website or my Amazon author page.
Book Links: (Amazon)
All books listed on my Amazon Author page
What do you think about the book and interview?
Have you read this book or any in this series?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
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