Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Pinner writer Leigh Russell talks to Rosy Moorhead about her latest book and how she needs your help
The woman pushed open the doors of the pub and stepped inside. Looking around the bar packed with after-work drinkers, she spied her daughter at a table in the far corner. She pushed through the crowds and came to a halt facing the girl. They locked eyes and the woman nodded, once.
“I’ve done it,” she said. “I’ve found the perfect place to dump a dead body.”
Luckily the woman was best-selling Pinner crime writer Leigh Russell , who had been researching areas in which to set her latest book, Death Bed . (And, luckily, I won’t be trying my hand at any more thriller intros, so don’t worry.)
“This is going to sound really ghoulish but one of the things I research is where the bodies are going to be found,” says Leigh. “If the killer leaves the bodies somewhere that can be linked to him, the book will be over in a couple of chapters. I had the kind of location I wanted in mind so I Googled it and found a place in London that looked perfect, then I went there and it was exactly right. I was so excited.”
Where in London was it?
“You’ll have to read the book to find that out!”
The fourth in the award-winning Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series, Death Bed sees Geraldine transfer to London to work with the Metropolitan Police.
“Writing a series is a kind of juggling act,” says Leigh, who teaches English at a secondary school in Aldenham, “readers like the routine and pattern but they also want something fresh and new. So in Death Bed Geraldine’s got a whole new team around her and a new area, but she still keeps in touch with her old sergeant and colleagues in Kent.”
What is also the same in this latest instalment of the series is Leigh’s fascination with motivation. “What I’m exploring in each book is what drives someone to kill,” Leigh says. “Each killer has their own motivation, they’re unique.
“In a sense, all crime fiction is plot driven,” she continues, “but to some extent everything in my books is driven by my characters – mainly the killer. That’s what really interests me.”
Leigh has also continued her detailed research into the world of policing and crime fighting to ensure her books are as realistic and up-to-the-minute as possible, including researching Geraldine’s new offices in Hendon. “I’ve never worked on the Met force, obviously,” says Leigh, “but I know which staff cafeteria serves fresh banana bread. That sort of thing makes it believable.”
She also visited the human remains unit of the Natural History Museum and used real locations in north London. And she makes sure she’s up to date with all the latest developments in forensics and policing.
“Things are changing all the time. What I was told last year about DNA might be different this year. I don’t have to do quite as much research into police procedures as when I started the series, but I’m definitely doing as much research generally.”
Leigh is currently editing her fifth book – but she needs some help. “I need a title,” she laughs. “It should be out in paperback next June and as an e-book later this year, so if you have an idea for a title please get in touch.” It can’t be too similar to any of her previous books’ names (Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End or Death Bed ) and must be two words of one syllable each, but can’t contain the words ‘dead’ or ‘death’.
“I’ll send you a signed copy of the book if we use it,” says Leigh, “so get thinking about killing and corpses.”
Just make sure you aren’t overheard talking about it in a pub.
- Death Bed is available from No Exit Press. Details: www.noexit.co.uk, www.leighrussell.co.uk