The latest of Peter Bartram’s Crampton of the Chronicle mysteries – The Comedy Club Mystery – is out later this month, and I’m delighted to host a guest post from the author himself on where he found the inspiration for his latest release.
Murder has never been such fun…
When theatrical agent Daniel Bernstein sues the Evening Chronicle for libel, crime reporter Colin Crampton is called in to sort out the problem.
But trouble escalates when Bernstein turns up murdered. Colin discovers that any of five comedians competing for the chance to appear on a top TV show could be behind the killing.
As Colin and his feisty girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith investigate, they encounter a cast of colourful characters – identical twin gangsters, an Irishman who lives underground, and a failed magician’s assistant.
And it’s not long before their own lives are in peril as they battle to crack a code that will lead to a fortune. Join Colin and Shirley for a rollercoaster of an adventure in Swinging Sixties England – where the laughs are never far from the action.
INSPIRATION! HOW I GOT THE IDEA FOR MY CRIME MYSTERY SERIES
Guest post by Peter Bartram
When I first walked into a newspaper’s newsroom as a junior reporter, aged 18, I never imagined I’d end up as a crime writer with, at the last count, more than 100,000 readers around the world.
When it came to writing the Crampton of the Chronicle comic crime mysteries, my time in various newsrooms wasn’t wasted. We had plenty of laughs – not all of them intentional.
In fact, the first happened a couple of days after I’d joined the Worthing Herald, my first-ever newspaper job. One of the sports reporters had covered a football match. He’d started his report: “This was a scrappy game of football.” Except that the compositors – the mischievous guys who set the paper in hot metal type in those days – had dropped the “s” of the word “scrappy”.
That morning, you could see people all over town, with their noses stuck in the paper, sniggering at the piece. Later, you could hear the editor yelling at the proof readers.
But that didn’t bother me. The chief reporter had started me off covering batches, matches and despatches – better known as births, marriages and deaths. As it happened, there weren’t many batches to write about. The trick with writing the matches was to avoid double-entendres. Never write, “the bride carried a sheath of flowers,” the chief reporter warned me.
But the despatches carried different perils. I turned up at one house to discover the deceased had been laid out on the dining room table. I was invited to view him. I’m not sure what the rest of the household were doing for dinner that night.
Anyway, years later, after a career in journalism, which had taken me to places as diverse as 700-feet down a coal mine and Buckingham Palace, I was sitting in my office trying to think of a new angle on crime mysteries.
It seemed to me that other writers had exploited about every variation there was with cops and private eyes. I simply couldn’t think of an original idea.
Then I remembered an incident that happened during my early days as a reporter. I’d graduated to court reporting and one day there was a tough guy in the dock who’d been fined for brawling in the street. It wasn’t much of a story and would only make a nib – news in brief – at best, buried deep on one of the paper’s inside pages.
But when I sloped off for lunch the tough guy was waiting for me outside the court. He threatened me with a beating if his name appeared in the paper. He didn’t want his spotless reputation sullied in print. I wished him good afternoon and didn’t let it spoil my lunch.
Later I mentioned the incident to the chief reporter. He passed it on to the editor. And the editor decided we’d splash the story on the front page on the basis that nobody threatens one of Her Majesty’s journalists and walks off scot free.
We ran the story and I watched my back for a couple of days, but the tough guy was never seen again. I remembered the incident while I was sitting in my office in despair that I’d ever find an original idea. Eureka! It seemed to me that a journalist would make a great protagonist in a crime mystery.
And so Colin Crampton, wise-cracking crime reporter on the Brighton Evening Chronicle, was born. When, in one of the books, Colin is threatened with a thumping, he comes up with a better line than I ever did: “Most people who don’t like what I write generally settle for a letter to the editor,” he remarks coolly.
But, then, ten books later – including the latest The Comedy Club Mystery – I find Colin usually does come up with better lines than I ever did!
Peter Bartram is the author of the Crampton of the Chronicle series of comic crime mysteries which have more than 600 five-star ratings. The latest book in the series is The Comedy Club Mystery. http://getbook.at/tccm. There are more Colin Crampton books at www.colincrampton.com.