When I first started getting to know the characters for this series of books – psychologically frail Gabriel Ash, cheerful young PC Hazel Best, cocky street-kid Saturday – the biggest issue I had was with Ash’s side-kick Patience. Not because she seemed any less real to me, but because I wasn’t sure how readers would react to a serious crime novel featuring a talking dog.
I tried to dismiss the idea. But Patience was having none of it, kept reasserting her personality and her right to a place in the plot. Finally I wrote “Deadly Virtues” in such a way that, when my agent questioned my sanity, it would be possible to remove at least the talking bits of the talking dog.
To my surprise, my agent fell under Patience’s sway as much as I had, wouldn’t hear of downplaying her role. And so it went on. Publishers liked her; reviewers liked her; readers liked her.
So here she is again, worldly-wise and supportive and bringing that special perspective that only a dog can. If Ash – no one else can hear her – wants to rationalise her unusual talent as a side-effect of his post-traumatic stress disorder, I’m happy to allow him that comfort. I know, and readers know, better.
OTHER COUNTRIES is available now in hardcover and ebook. Visit our website for more information.