Fresh Blood

Name: Danielle Ramsay

Title of Book: Broken Silence

'If you are missing the irascible, heavy drinker that was Rebus then we may have found the solution for you. Enter Jack Brady...'

DI Jack Brady has been away from work for a while. Having been shot in the groin during a drugs operation, he was then served divorce papers by his wife twenty-four hours later whilst lying in bed after a life saving operation. Since then, Jack has been using alcohol to blot out the bad memories of six months ago and how he screwed up his marriage.

Now he has been called back early into police service. A young girl is found murdered – strangled to death. But that wasn’t the only horrific part of it – more was to happen to the victim post-mortem. As Brady, fighting the hangover-from-hell, delves deeper in to the case he realises that the victim, Sophie, wasn’t the innocent others though she was. As Brady and his team trawl through the debauched scene of clubs, pubs, drugs, drink and sex with underage girls, he begins to find that the truth, distasteful may it be, has permutations from his own past.

It is enough to sober even the most dedicated alcoholic on the force.

I don’t generally like to make comparisons, but I feel it inevitable in this case. If you are missing the irascible, heavy drinker that was Rebus then we may have found the solution for you. Enter Jack Brady, tough police officer based in Newcastle. He’s miserable, self destructive, a heavy drinker, useless at emotions and still hankers after his ex-wife, although she hates the air he breaths.

Ramsay pulls no punches and leaps straight into the story of a murdered school girl who is surrounded by wolves sniffing at the sexual promise she holds. The author gives Brady a depth that is at times gallant and other times can make you cringe, Ramsay brings to the fore a battered knight with numerous chinks in his armour.

‘Broken Silence’ is a marvellous dark start to what is a promising series. There are many hints that all is not good in Brady’s past and some are unresolved, I presume to continue in future books. I have the distinct feeling that we will be reading more about the goings on in the Whitley Bay area and I, for one, am excited at the prospect!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) How would you classify your writing, and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
To be absolutely honest I wouldn’t classify my writing as belonging to any particular style. I am an ardent fan of hard-boiled detective novels and whether that has influenced my work, I couldn’t say. If it was to belong within any genre I would say police procedural, but who knows where the subsequent Jack Brady books will lead.
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
Again, to be perfectly candid, if the book is worthy, I have no preference. With a series you can build a relationship with the characters and with that you typically know what you’re getting and that brings a sense of comfort and reassurance. However, with a standalone book, it can be a rollercoaster ride. One that leaves you so exhausted after such an intense adrenalin surge that you feel relieved to get off the ride, satisfied in the knowledge that you’ve had a unique, thrilling experience.
3) ‘Broken Silence’ is based in and around Whitley Bay. It doesn’t sound a very nice place to visit. Do you have a love/hate relationship with the area?
Whitley Bay can be beautiful, but, and here’s the but, it has decayed from it’s former glory, partly due to the economic climate, and partly due to Local Authority policy. And as I live in Whitley Bay, I have witnessed it’s poignant decline from it’s heyday as a family seaside resort, to a sordid stag and hen weekend destination with strip bars leading down to the sea front. The centre of Whitley Bay is now dominated by charity shops and what were once residential streets have now become Bed and Breakfasts accommodating newly released prisoners and drug users. Add to the mix, beautiful old, Victorian buildings that were once hotels and pubs along the promenade have been allowed to fall into disrepair, contributing to the over-all feeling of a run-down seaside resort. So, what I have done as a writer is write about what I know and that is living in a run-down, seedy resort.
4) Despite his sense of justice for the victim, DI Jack Brady is not a particularly likeable character. Did you do this deliberately and will we see a ‘softer’ side to him?
DI Jack Brady works in a world steeped in evil deeds and cannot sustain this work without becoming scarred. The series brings Brady back from the brink and restores him to his true self, but yes, he appears not very likeable in this first novel, although there are glimpses of his real inner self that will start to come through in the second and subsequent novels.
5) The book opens with Jack being recalled from convalescence after being shot during a drugs bust. Will we be hearing more about this in future novels?
Most definitely. The shooting of Jack Brady during a drugs bust is integral to the second and in particular, third book. There are many cross references to the past throughout ‘Broken Silence’ that will come to the surface in the second book that will affect and greatly impact upon Brady’s life and the novel’s plot.
6) Part of the novel deals with young girls taking part in under-aged drinking, sex and drugs. Is this a problem with society you feel needs to be taken more seriously?
Absolutely, without question. Without going into diatribe mode, Britain’s teenagers are in crisis. We, as a country have the highest rate of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases in Europe. Add into the mix the lethal combination of binge, under-age drinking and drug taking we have a generation who feel completely disenfranchised and are leading nihilistic, desire-driven lives.
7) I liked the tense interaction between Brady and his ex-wife, Claudia. Is their relationship going to develop over the coming books – good or bad?
That would be telling….But on a serious note, Claudia is around to stay and their relationship will definitely develop but not necessarily in the way Brady or the reader might want it to in the second book.
8) Many authors draw on their personal experiences to give depth and insight into the characters and their feelings hopes and desires. Is this something you have conscientiously done or avoided doing, preferring rather to use your imagination?
I have definitely drawn on my own personal experiences when it came to developing the characters, but of course one’s imagination always has a part to play. My troubled, dark past has made me curious about the question of morality, contrasted against the world I live in. So as a writer I have found myself searching to find the answers as to why evil is committed by people who on the surface appear to lead such typical, ordinary lives. I would say that ‘Broken Silence’ epitomises this through the book’s fifteen year old victim, Sophie Washington, and her seemingly ordinary teenage life and the tragic events that led up to her murder.
9) Who would be your dream cast of movie actors for an adaptation of your story?
Without a shadow of a doubt either Jake Gyllenhaal or Robert Downey Jr. Both actors have the right look to play DI Jack Brady and both equally have the talent and depth to successfully bring the character to life on the screen. In particular, Robert Downey Jr has had a difficult personal journey and has overcome serious drug addictions and relationship problems to become an A-list Hollywood star, exceeding his stardom in his youth. I imagine he as a person and an actor could relate to Brady’s tortured state of mind and troubled past. However I must add, the character Brady, was not written with anyone in mind.
10) Without giving away the plot, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
The nineteenth century American poet, writer, editor and literary critic, Edgar Allan Poe’s short story ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1841). Admittedly, my choice is not a novel but ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ has been claimed to be the first ever detective story and no other plot has impressed me as much as this one. The main protagonist, Auguste Dupin and an unnamed personal friend and side-kick investigate the brutal murder of a mother and daughter in Paris. The bodies are discovered in a room that has been locked and sealed from the inside. Dupin, through his friend the narrator, takes the reader on an incredible journey leading to the final, staggering revelation of the identity of the murderer. What is so clever about this story is that the clues are cleverly woven throughout the tale, and so, when Dupin reveals all, the reader can go back through the events and details and understand his reasoning.
11) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
My favourite adaptation is ‘Devil In A Blue Dress’ with Denzel Washington. It is set in Los Angeles, 1948. Ezekiel ‘Easy’ Rawlins is a black war veteran who has just been unfairly fired from his job at a factory and is offered good money at a time when he doesn’t know how he’s going to meet his mortgage payments. The job, offered by a white man in a linen suit is to simply locate a beautiful blonde by the name if Miss Daphne Money known to frequent black jazz clubs…and then the plot unfolds. It is very much a homage to film noir and is stunningly shot. The opening line of the film is in true noir style when Easy says "A man once told me that when you step out of your door in the morning, you're already in trouble. The only question is, are you on top of that trouble or not?" What more can I say?
12) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
When I discovered crime I fell in love with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled detective novels. Soon followed by James Ellroy and Karin Slaughter, and at the different end of the crime spectrum, Janet Evanovitch. Hemming Mankell’s compelling detective, Wallander is also a firm favourite, and of course as is Iain Rankin’s, Rebus. The list then goes on and on with Val McDermid, Tania Carver, Martyn Waites, Mark Billingham and the gung-ho, action-packed, page turners by Simon Kernick. Lastly, I am indebted to Walter Mosley who is one of the most gifted contemporary crime writers around. Would I then describe myself as a crime fan? Absolutely.
13) What is your favourite read crime of all time?
Without hesitation, Walter Mosley’s ‘Gone Fishing’’ (1997), his sixth published novel which predates his Easy Rawlins character. It is in a sense a coming of age story where two young men, Easy and his friend Mouse go on a road trip to Texas on the promise of extorting money from Mouse’s crazy step-daddy, Daddy Reese. However, things don’t quite work out the way the duo expected. Some readers have described it as very dark and weird which is one of the many reasons I am so drawn to it. Add the fact that Mosley’s dialogue is stunning and his frighteningly fast-moving plots keep you desperately wanting more and more. And then there is the end which only a master like Mosley could pull off.