American classics inspire Brighton crime writer

Blacklisted by the police, sued by a client and broke'¦ things can't get any worse for Brighton's number-one private detective, Joe Grabarz, hero of the debut novel from Brighton-based Tom Trott.

Tom Trott pic by  Richard Gaskill
Tom Trott pic by Richard Gaskill

But that’s when Joe’s best friend’s body washes up on the beach...

The book is called You Can’t Make Old Friends and is available from Amazon.

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“I published it last year,” Tom says.

“This is the second edition. The book was inspired by my love of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and is about this private detective called Joe Grabarz.

“He is quite difficult to get along with. He certainly speaks his mind. He has been blacklisted by the police which means he starts the book in a bad place, and he is being sued by a previous client.

“Things are not good. But a body is washed up on Brighton beach, and the body has been made unrecognisable.

“An old police friend of his does him a favour by getting him down there to have a look at the body and because of certain specific anatomical irregularities, he believes it is the body of someone he has not seen for ten years.

“The book is set in the present day. It is set at the beginning of 2016. It first came out in April last year and I did a cover myself. It was really well received by friends and family, and because there was such a good reaction from them and other people and good reviews on Amazon, I thought it got to the point where I needed to release it properly.

“I went to a book designer in Brighton for the new cover.

“It is the first in a series. Number two should be out around the same time next year.

“I am about 80 per cent through the first draft with that and I think it would take another two or three months and then I need to get a few people that I trust to read it and then I need to put it away for a month and then come back to it again to make sure that it is the best version of it that it can be.

“But I don’t personally want to be somebody who is on the 20th novel in a series. To me it has got to be a really important release and I would have to have a really important reason to do another one. I am looking to do five in the series but I would write them over ten years and do other books in between.

“I am an IT technician at a sixth form college in Brighton. I’ve been writing for about ten year in various forms.”

His writing roots are in the American classics: “Those detective stories used to be told to tell stories about a wide range of topics about society.

“Detective novels now are quite often just concerned about telling about the detection, about being a police officer, just about the details of the detective work rather than wider things. The reason I have structured it about a private detective was so that I would be free to cover a wider range of topics that I care about, like homelessness, the history of Brighton and other things that are important to me.

“Brighton is a great place to set this kind of story because it is a city that contains every stratum of society but put together really tightly.

“You get the affluent area and the more impoverished area and you get the creative area and the more traditional area in Brighton and they are just down the street from each other.”

To mark the launch, Tom is offering the book free on Kindle from January 19-23.

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