DSI Jeff Barton is set to tangle with Russian secret agents in the Manchester streets, in crime writer David Menon’s newest novel.
No Spoken Word sees the inspector wander into the murky realms of espionage, while the Mancunian body count racks up in the seventh instalment of Menon’s series.
And the writer told MM that he has used Manchester as his fictional setting because, in reality and on the page, it is a city that has a lot to offer.
“It has everything and gives a storyteller a lot of scope,” he said.
“I conceived the idea when I was living in the North West, I love Manchester and I know it well – I think it is the northern London.
“It’s a real international city, you can go anywhere in the world and they know Manchester, it’s on the international map.”
He added that his range of characters is inspired by their real-life counterparts in the city.
“Manchester has a very large multi-ethnic mix of inhabitants, every religion, race, colour and creed,” he said.
“The social breadth of Manchester for a crime writer is very fertile ground – as a crime writer you tend to go into all social areas so Manchester is a jewel.”
The author, who now lives with his partner in Paris, was born in Derby and lived in the North West for many years, working for British Airways and standing for European parliament in 2004.
His open approach to his characters means that his books feature heroes and villains from all walks of life.
“I write a broad set of characters,” he said.
“Some are straight, some are gay, some are men and some are women and I don’t like to stereotype anybody.
“When I was creating Jeff I knew he was going to be straight but also a widower, with a little boy – I think there are a lot of examples in fiction of single mums but I wanted to explore the single dad’s perspective.
“He has a brother who is gay who has a partner and they have a very sound, solid relationship and a fulltime housekeeper and nanny, called Brendon, who’s gay.
“I wanted to show straight and gay people co-existing without any prejudice or problem, each accepting the others for who and what they are.”
No Spoken Word has already racked up 1500 pre-orders, as Menon’s popularity goes from strength to strength.
And he told MM that he enjoys exploring very particular elements of the human psyche.
“I’m very interested in two things,” he said.
“The person who’s been aggrieved to get revenge and also in what happens when ordinary people are pushed into extraordinary situations.
“The books are very much character driven – they are not about bodies on slabs or police procedures because I’d rather go into the private lives of the police officers.”
This exploration has seen Menon bring the Cold War to Manchester.
“The latest story features the KGB and echoes of the Cold War coming into contemporary life, which I never thought I’d write about,” he said.
“The internet is a fantastic resource for research.
“I also talk and listen to people and read the newspapers to keep up with what’s going on.
“I take a great interest in international and current affairs – I pick up a lot of information from that which I use in my stories.”
For Menon, writing was a long-held passion that he finally decided to pursue when he was offered voluntary redundancy.
Another of his passions is the music of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac – so much so that every one of his books is named after their songs or lyrics.
“There are two famous women who I owe a lot of inspiration, Stevie Nicks, whose songs are just fantastic and Val McDermid,” he said.
“She is my absolute favourite crime writer and it was her book The Mermaid Singing that finally inspired me to get going with my own career.“