By BENJAMIN COREN
International best-selling crime author and Henfield man, Peter James released the latest in his Roy Grace series, Dead Man’s Time, yesterday. (Thursday, June 6).
Speaking to The District Post about the novel, Peter said: “It’s a thriller about burglary in Brighton in which 10 million pounds worth of antiques is taken. In particular a watch which is of sentimental value to the family.”
The family take matters into their own hands and will stop at nothing to get the watch back. The story follows Detective Superintendent Roy Grace on a murderous trail through the dark side of Brighton’s antiques trade all the way to New York.
“I’ve always wanted to write about the Brighton antiques world. It’s had a strong criminal heritage. Groups of ‘Knocker Boys’ would go and rip-off people persuading owners to part with high value items for low prices.
“Some antique gangs would look for items such as expensive furniture, and they would carry sawdust on them and sprinkle it under the items and tell owners they had woodworm and take them away. “It was so bad at one point in the 50’s that police in other areas were stopping any vehicles with Brighton plates.”
The new book is set primarily in Brighton, and familiar names appear throughout. Peter said: “I was introduced to retired Detective Sergeant Simon Muggleton who used to run the Sussex Police antiques unit and he gave me a huge amount of information regarding the criminal element of the antiques world.”
Peter first forged his relationship with the police back in 1981 shortly after publishing his first book.
“I had been burgled and a detective came to the house, he noticed the book and said if I needed any help with research to give him a call. I am very interested in human life and as a police officer he saw more of human life than I did. I went to a police social event and after a while I was invited to go on a patrol and see the offices.”
Peter receives a huge amount of information from the police and in turn he has been made the chair of the Brighton and Hove Drugs commission, a patron of Sussex Crimestoppers, and he also made a documentary for Sussex Police, currently been show in schools about how teenagers can avoid date-rape situations.
“I think what people don’t realize is how many different working parts are in the police. The reality is almost without exception, every member of the police I’ve met in Sussex has had their life on the line. It’s a profession people go into because they want to make a difference to the world.
“There is a amount of social responsibility and community good police do that people don’t realize. I try to show that through Roy Grace.
“He is based on a real life officer called Dave Gaylor, he was a DI on homicide, and one day I went to his office and it was a mess, there were crates everywhere. I asked if he was moving and he said they were all his dead friends. Each crate was an unsolved murder in Sussex and each one is a last chance the victim has for justice.”
Peter will be making public appearances in Brighton, Shoreham, Lewes, and Hove from June 6 to June 26, find out more at www.peterjames.com