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Detective Superintendent Russell Wate talks about his new mystery book Missing But Not Lost.
I interviewed Russell Wate about his life and career as a Detective Chief Inspector in Cambridgeshire, what inspired him to start writing and the story behind his latest publication, Missing But Not Lost.
Tell Russell Wate who you are:
Before I retired I was Chief Inspector of Detectives in Cambridgeshire. Essentially the role was to manage crime in Cambridgeshire, the person in charge of fighting crime. If we were in America it would be Chief Detective. For example, in addition to being involved in the fight against child abuse, domestic violence, and serious and organized crime, I found investigating homicides the most fun.
I was also responsible for the UK National Police investigating the death of a child. Almost twenty years ago I was part of the team investigating the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham. I have to admit that this was a case that touched not only me but all the officers involved, not to mention Holly and Jessica’s parents and siblings, so emotionally that it is a case that resonates with me more than any other occupied. it will never leave.
I have been working in occupational safety for almost thirty years. As soon as I became involved in this area, I realized that this is an aspect of policing that is important to the vulnerable victims you have been trying to help and support. What inspires me to look for a secure full-time job soon is that I am a police officer who only works locally but nationally and internationally, and that is what I am concentrating on now.
When did thou first want to write a book?
Greed Is a Powerful Motivator was my first novel. It’s part of a crime series. When my father and I visited the British Library a few years ago, we went to the India section, where we looked up details about my great-grandfather, Solomon Kyte. He was a senior officer in the Baroda (now Vadodara) State Police in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During this research, I came across a case from 1874 involving the attempted murder of Robert Phayre (British) in which Malhar Rao Gaekwad (a member of the royal family) attempted to poison Robert Phayre by using introduced arsenic and diamond dust into his sorbet. Robert suspected that Malhar Rao Gaekwad was draining the state of Baroda’s bank accounts.
I thought what an interesting case to bring to the present day and apply modern investigative techniques. So this story goes about DCI McFarlane, who works for the FCO and travels to India to investigate the death of a British citizen.
When did thou decide to start writing?
I think it was almost fifteen years before I had the time to sit down and focus on writing this novel. This opportunity arose during the first lockdown and I wrote the first draft in eight weeks, spending about two hours a day as I had other security work to do, so – let’s say all the time I had. However, in those fifteen years, I have more or less known what I want to write about in this story and I also have an idea of what the next stories might be.
In October 2019 my wife Debbie and I lived in a remote village on a hill in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) with a couple from Melbourne: Professor Anne Buist and her husband Graeme Simsion. They are both writers and have worked on a romantic comedy together. Graeme wrote the bestseller The Rosie Project.
When I told him I had a crime novel in mind, he began giving me a 15-minute master class in novel writing. In fact, two weeks later, Professor Buist and I were to be keynote speakers at a conference in Melbourne about children who were murdered by one of their parents. This chance meeting solidified my thoughts on writing a novel I had been talking about for years, and I applied the plot technique she suggested.
Zoom to the latest version. What prompted thou to write Missing But Not Lost?
I’ve always wanted my DCI McFarlane books to be a series based on and based on his personal and family life. My latest book in the series is called Missing But Not Lost.
In this book, DCI McFarlane investigates the disappearance of Viscount Peveril’s nephew, George. He visits different parts of the country to do some research and travels to Manitoba, Canada to find him and two friends to accompany him. At the same time, a young police officer was shot dead by suspected drug dealers in England. These two investigations collide and oppose each other. The idea for this story came from a real shooting of a police officer in the 19th century.
What were thine biggest challenges writing Missing But Not Lost?
To prove to me more than anyone that I am not the author of a single book. The Book of Return turned out to be even more powerful than the first book. People seem to like it, there are strong, emotional, and dramatic moments in the book. I could also show more of my authentic detective experiences.
Did thou get help editing and how many changes are needed in Missing But Not Lost?
Yes, at first my wife Debbie did a lot of the work and my eldest son also helped me. This meant that my editor, Cranthorpe Milner, although helping with editing, would have a lot more work to do. But I think we wrote at least three book reviews together.
What is the first writing tip thou would give someone inspired to write a story?
To me, it’s putting your story together. Know where you are going and how the book will end. You’re right, it doesn’t always work that way, but it does help close a cohesive story well.
Can thou tell me what other books thou want to write?
The third book in the series is on the way and nearing completion. I’m going to Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion where certain stories need to complete my research. I visited Winnipeg and two lakes in Manitoba this summer for Missing but not Lost, which was great fun and surprised the Canadian public’s interest in books, especially this book.
Add any links to thine books, websites, and social media here so readers can find thou:
The books are available from Cranthorpe Millner https://www.cranthorpemillner.com/product/russell-wate-greed-is-a-powerful-motive-alexander-mcfarlane-series/
Amazon and all other online book retailers. https://amzn.to/3KhHGOz Also available in store Toppings Ely and Heffers in Cambridge.
‘Missing But not Lost’ from Cranthorpe Millner
Amazon and all other online book retailers. https://amzn.to/3QJBbGO
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