Book 4: Sin Killers

As Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle hones in on his suspects, he becomes a target for their retribution. Hunter becomes hunted.

Who is acting as judge, jury and executioner? Someone is running a campaign of retribution against people with lax morals. Kidnapping, arson and blackmail are bad enough, but then the head of a convicted paedophile is found wedged onto a road signpost at a location where ancient public executions took place.

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19th-century gibbet

Various local businessmen and politicians have been blackmailed with incriminating evidence, fined £20,000 to encourage them to improve their behaviour. Sophisticated techniques have been used to surveil the victims and to attack them, including poisons, guns and explosives, implying that the perpetrators have military or secret service training.

The suspect in a series of violent raids on small businesses also appears to be ex-army. The efficient attacks speak of reconnaissance beforehand, and the lone raider strikes swiftly, incapacitating their target, before fleeing on a motorcycle with the loot. Where is the raider living?

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The death of the child abuser escalates the investigation. Neil has mixed feelings about the death of a paedophile, but murderers need to be caught. What is motivating the Sin Killers—financial gain or retribution?

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One of their victims owns a chain of massage parlours. Seemingly unfazed by the pressure, his young son was kidnapped then abandoned, and he vows revenge. His henchman, Cleaver, is a veteran of London gang wars in the 1960s, his heavily scarred face proof of his own capacity for violence with blades.

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Interference from a controversial government minister appears to confirm who the suspects are while muddying the waters. Devon & Cornwall Police are being used to clean up mistakes made by the secret service. Noah and Nina Shrike are ex-MI5 agents gone rogue and likely to turn terrorist, as they punish the sins of their former masters.

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Poison Dart Frog

As Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle hones in on his suspects, he becomes a target for their retribution overpowered by an exotic poison. Cleaver is on the prowl, his knives ready to slice and dice.

Hunter becomes hunted.

Book 3: An Elegant Murder

Investigating the puzzling deaths of two pensioners on Bodmin Moor, Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle uncovers hidden torment, avarice, lust and violence from forty years ago, which has modern day repercussions.

It’s a long, hot summer—good for Cornwall, which depends on tourist income—but, bad for crime. The heatwave drives people mad, and two corpses are found on Bodmin Moor.

The corpse of a mysterious elderly woman is found floating in a flooded quarry. Dressed in a 1950s ballgown, she carries no identification and can’t be traced.

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Days later, a burglar discovers the mummified corpse of a reclusive farmer, who’s been sitting at his kitchen table for five years. His farm is off the grid, and only a short walk from the quarry. Are the two victims connected? No one has missed them.

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The farming community on Bodmin Moor is insular, not given to sharing information, something Neil knows from personal experience, having grown up on a sheep farm. Thieves are around, stealing property from remote barns and rustling livestock. Stolen to order, by armed gangs from upcountry, it’s likely that they have cooperation from locals betraying their neighbours. Farmers are guarding their animals with shotguns. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a shootout.

Not all dead cattle, deer and sheep have been taken by rustlers. A stealthy four-legged killer stalks the land: the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor looks to be a flesh and blood exotic big cat.

In a primitive landscape, unchanged for hundreds of years, and with no CCTV cameras and weak mobile phone signals, Neil Kettle tracks down his suspects, while becoming prey himself!

Ethics and the Novelist

I’d seeded the presence of a knife murderer in the first three stories, referring to his crimes, with my protagonist worrying that he’s responsible for the deaths he’s investigating. The problem is, that the killer exists in real-life.

I’ve written five crime novels in the last four years, and in the winter of 2019, I am halfway through the sixth story. My stories are set in Cornwall, where I live, and follow the investigations of an erudite, but troubled, detective.

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Botallack Mine


So far, I’ve had Chief Inspector Neil Kettle tackle serial killers, rustlers, human traffickers, drugs and armaments smugglers, poisoners, abusive husbands, racists and escaped lynxes and mountain lions. All typical of dozy old Cornwall….

I thought I knew where I was headed as I started writing the fourth book. I’d seeded the presence of a knife murderer in the first three stories, referring to his crimes, with my protagonist worrying that he’s responsible for the deaths he’s investigating. The problem is, that the killer exists in real-life.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases I know of, as the Dogwalk Slayer has been active for 29 years, killing at least three women. Two other deaths are linked to him, and there have been recent attacks on women and children out walking their dogs. It’s unusual for there to be so long between the murders. If you’re interested, there’s a short article about the crimes, here:

‘Dogwalk slayer’ on the loose: One man behind ‘cold case’ murders, says ex-cop

I’ve decided against writing about these hideous crimes. Fictionalising real murders would be wrong, for there are grieving friends and family still around.

There is, of course, a rich tradition of turning real crimes into stories, as well as chronicling them in non-fiction—think of the whole Jack the Ripper industry, for instance. But these books are published long after the crimes were committed.

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ahttps://www.amazon.com/Five-Untold-Lives-Killed-Ripper/dp/1328663817


I changed direction with the fourth novel, called Sin Killers, to write of a sanctimonious husband and wife team who are kidnappers, killers and cannibals.

Have any of you censored your writing over ethical considerations?