The spark for this story came from newspaper reports about human trafficking, with illegal immigrants freed from slave labour in Cornwall. Kept prisoner by intimidation, violence and threats against their families back home, they were working for pennies as prostitutes, nail technicians and agricultural labourers. Saddled with a debt for being brought into the country, they were the cheapest of labour, open to abuse, exploitation and being murdered.
About this time, there were arrests made of body-builders trading in smuggled steroids, cocaine and heroin. Cornwall’s rugged coastline is ideal for concealing smugglers, with its isolated coves and unlit beaches. Astonishingly, there are only five customs and excise patrol boats operating for the entire coast of the UK, so the chances of being caught are slim.
Sadly, Cornwall’s beaches, pounded by powerful waves, encourage swimmers and surfers to take risks. It’s usually holidaymakers who drown, ignoring warnings, but locals perish too taking to the waters in winter, when lifeguard cover is absent. About 25 people drown annually, their bodies washed ashore to be found by beachcombers and dog walkers. It’s not always certain if it’s an accident, suicide or foul play.
There are a dozen nudist beaches in Cornwall, none of them official, more accepted practice through decades of naturism. In plotting Who Kills A Nudist? the inciting incident is the discovery of a seemingly drowned elderly naturist, a man who would have known better than to venture into a tempestuous ocean at night.
I wondered what would happen if such an innocent soul, a pensioner who did charity work, clashed with an evil man who cared only for money.
Such a character is all too common these days, with the 1% of plutocrats exploiting the poor to gain yet more wealth. Cornwall is a strange county, in that it’s beautiful and the playground of the rich, including Royalty and show business stars, yet it’s among the fifty poorest areas of Europe. Wages are low, employment patchy and seasonal, dependent on tourism. Holiday homes owned by agencies and second homes, used for a few weeks of the year, are a source of resentment from locals who’ve been priced out of the property market by incomers.
There are always plenty of multi-million pound mansions for sale in the county, with expensive hotels, spas and restaurants, as well as luxury car dealers. The antagonist of my story yearns for the trappings of prosperity, selling supercars and limousines for a living. He intimidates and controls a gang of underlings through the use of sadomasochistic sex, men who are in positions of power as law personnel, customs officers and importers of foreign goods. They assist him in smuggling weapons, drugs and people.
The scene is set for a struggle between my protagonist Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle representing law and order, a simple man who wants to restore tranquillity to society, and my antagonist Rupert Mansard, a devious man who cares only for dominion over the weak and the poor and acquiring money to reinforce his ego.