I’m addicted to crime

Don’t get me wrong, I’d never break the law in real life, I have sleepless nights about getting a parking ticket and I always take my library books back on time. But I cannot get through the day without reading a chapter or two of a whodunit. There’s something about a world in which good triumphs and baddies never prosper that is totally satisfying, and that’s the kind of comfort I want to bring to my readers in Death in Dulwich.

Death in Dulwich

Death in Dulwich

Writing was my first love

I got my first compliment on a well-turned paragraph from a teacher when I was four years old. At that point, I deciding writing was something I could do. While maths and science have remained mysterious closed books, I’ve always believed I could write my way out of trouble.

My mother bribed me to read Agatha Christie

When I was twelve, my mother decided I should be reading adult books, and offered me 50p to try an Agatha Christie. Being a contrary child, I refused point blank, but was secretly intrigued and sneaked it up to my room to read. That book was Sparkling Cyanide and I was hooked. I’ve since devoured every volume the great Dame Agatha wrote, most at least twice. Unfortunately, my mum hasn’t paid me.

My heroine is braver than me

My amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, is a thirty-something single mum who keeps finding herself in deep trouble. It’s not that she loves danger, it’s just that she needs to solve puzzles, she’s really determined and she gets carried away when she’s on the trail of a good clue. I love the way she plunges in where I would definitely fear to tread.

Dulwich is still my dream home

I’ve been a south London girl all my life (apart from moving to Brussels for a while) and spent four great years living in Dulwich. I got to know the place really well and realised it was an ideal setting for murder mysteries. Not because it’s full of psychopaths (though there may be one or two…) but because of its village atmosphere. Everyone knows each other – but there are still plenty of secrets swirling around. I was thrilled when my heroine, Beth, was described as a ‘modern Miss Marple’, because Dulwich is definitely my St Mary Mead.

South London rules!

South London has a bit of a reputation for being down at heel and it’s said that north Londoners can get a bit snooty about those south of the river Thames. But south east London has a distinct identity all of its own, and I think we are justly proud of our robust sense of humour and, most of all, our impenetrable accent. Innit?

I’m owned by two cats

My amateur sleuth, Beth Haldane, has a cat, Magpie, who is quite a character and enjoys a wiggle-on role in all the books. She’s very particular about her catfood, has distinct views about Beth’s on-off police inspector love interest, Harry York, and knows more about what’s going on in Dulwich than anyone. Magpie is an amalgam of my two cats, a tortoiseshell who is ridiculously highly strung (where does she get it from?) and a black moggie male we rescued from Battersea, who is charm catsonified.

Whodunits – long-running series are the best

I enjoy getting really immersed in a story and hate it when the characters I love run out of pages. Some of my favourite authors have written long-running series, notably Sue Grafton with her Alphabet mysteries, Janet Evanovitch’s bounty hunter sleuth Stephanie Plum, M C Beaton featuring Agatha Raisin and Simon Brett, with his Charles Paris, Fethering and Mrs Pargeter books. That’s one of the many reasons why I decided that my own novel, Death in Dulwich, would be the first of a series. The Girl in The Gallery, number 2 in the sequence, is coming out on 19th December 2017.

Bloodier isn’t always better

Although I’m a fan of Jo Nesbo, Patricia Cornwell and other writers who don’t shy away from the gory side of death, my own personal preference is to shield my eyes from the spatter patterns and enjoy a comfy denouement in the library. I don’t like to have to check under my bed before I go to sleep.

I don’t always crack the case

People think a crime writer has all the answers, and can solve a mystery in seconds flat. But often, when I’m relaxing in the evening with a good whodunit, I’ll just allow the author to take me for a ride, and I won’t even try and work out the puzzle – unless the answer leaps out at me. That’s one of the many nice things about a mystery, they work on many different levels – and for me, they’re definitely a perfect solution every time. 

Death in Dulwich is available from Amazon now. 

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10 Reasons I Love Whodunits by Alice Castle