Today I am part of the blog tour for Chloe: Lost Girl by Dan Laughey. He will be sharing how the past affects the present and also the future and how it affected his writing in Chloe: Lost Girl.
A missing student. A gunned-down detective. A woman in fear for her life. All three are connected somehow.
Detective Inspector Carl Sant and his fellow officers get on the case. But what links the disappearance of a university student, the death of an off-duty police sergeant, and a professor reluctant to help them solve the case?
Their only clue is a sequence of numbers, etched by the police sergeant Dryden on a misty window moments before he breathed his last. Soon it becomes clear that Dryden’s clue has brought the past and present into a head-on collision with the very heart of Sant’s profession.
Racing against time, D.I. Sant must find out what’s behind the mysterious events – before the bodies start piling up.
T. S. Eliot once wrote that the best poetry requires a sense ‘not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.’ I would argue that the best crime fiction requires that same sense. A sense that history is not merely how things once were, but on the contrary, history is here and now, living in all of us from this day forward.
A living, breathing history pokes its head through all the best stories of our times. There is no better crime writer out there than the late, great Ross Macdonald. Inspired by Raymond Chandler, Macdonald carried the genre to new heights by blending history into murder mysteries and murder mysteries into history. He did what very few writers can do: become very popular and at the same time write very important novels. Novels which made very deep impressions on readers and other writers who followed him.
My own use of history as an inspiration for what happens in CHLOE: LOST GIRL is something I’m deeply aware of. A real crime – the murder of a police officer in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, back in 1984, when I was still a child – was the launch-pad for my first stab at crime writing thirty years later. I should emphasise that the relationship between my characters and the real people caught up in that past tragedy is purely arbitrary, but certainly the 1984 crime and its subsequent investigation inspired the cold-case enquiry that forms the subplot to my main storyline about a present-day murder of a detective and disappearance of a university student.
Bringing a cold-case investigation to bear on a contemporary murder mystery was a concept I found intriguing. This phenomenon of the historical crime that can be revisited, reassessed, and throw up revelations that effectively rewrite the past, and the present with it, is a fairly recent one in the evolution of our justice system. The idea of what’s gone before informing the here and now is integral to the way I see things in my imaginary looking glass. Cold-case enquiries are cropping up all the time, but not a lot of crime fiction has tapped into this.
No doubt Eliot would have been just as good at crime writing as he was at poetry. That historical sense never left him. It should never leave any writer who wants to connect with the world around them; the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow; and more importantly, the world inhibited by readers.
About the Author:
Dan Laughey is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches a course called ‘Youth, Crime and Culture’ among other things. He has written several books on the subject including Music and Youth Culture, based on his PhD in Sociology at Salford University. He also holds a BA in English from Manchester Metropolitan University and an MA in Communications Studies from the University of Leeds.
Dan was born in Otley and bred in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a hop and a skip away from the Leeds setting of his Chloe novels.
His crime writing was purely academic to begin with. He’s written about media violence and tackled the age-old concern about television and video games influencing patterns of antisocial behaviour in society. After years of research and theoretical scrutiny, he still hasn’t cracked that particular nut.
He’s also written about the role of CCTV and surveillance in today’s Big Brother world, the sometimes fraught relationship between rap and juvenile crime, football hooliganism, and the sociocultural legacy of Britain’s most notorious serial killer – the Yorkshire Ripper.
All in all, Dan’s work has been translated into four languages: French, Hebrew, Korean and Turkish. He has presented guest lectures at international conferences and appeared on BBC Radio and ITV News in addition to providing expert commentary for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.