Black Thorn Books is a new publishing imprint, specialising in crime fiction, launcing in May 2019. David Hewson is the author of over 25 novels including the Nic Costa series, the Pieter Vos series and the adaptations of the The Killings TV series . His latest novel and the latest installment in the Nic Costa series, The Savage Shore, is published by Black Thorn Books on 2nd May 2019.
David kindly wrote about coming back to a series after a period time away.
Readers love series books. Publishers too. Authors… well, up to a point in my case. I’ve been involved in three different series over the last twenty five years – Nic Costa’s adventures in Rome, the three novel adaptations of Sarah Lund of The Killing in Copenhagen, and four books set in Amsterdam with Pieter Vos. I’ve loved all of them, not least because they gave me the opportunity to explore and get to know some very different locations.
At the same time I’m very aware that I don’t want to be typecast. Some authors write nothing but the same series all their lives and good luck to them with that. I’m afraid I’m too restless for all that. I want to push my own boundaries and see where that leads.
The Costa series went on ice with the ninth book The Fallen Angel nearly a decade ago, though I did write one spin-off Carnival for the Dead set in Venice for Teresa Lupo, one of its key characters. After that came Copenhagen, Amsterdam, three audio adaptations of Shakespeare for Audible and a full-length audio crime drama, Last Seen Wearing which came out earlier this year.
But all the time I kept getting emails from readers and pleas on the web… what about the Romans?
When I finished The Fallen Angel I quite deliberately left matters open. I don’t believe in killing off a series by killing off a character. Unnatural ends for the wrong reasons don’t feel right. So there was something to pick up there. But how?
The first question I always ask myself with any book is… where does it take place? Location dictates a lot of the style and temperament of a story for me. The obvious place to return to was Rome.
But again… I don’t like the obvious, or the easy. Usually Nic Costa and his fellow police officers are at home in their own city, in charge of their own destinies, kings of their lovely, ancient castle.
What if they weren’t? What if, instead, they were the ones being hunted, having to hide out under new identities, stay on the run from their enemies?
That was an idea I liked, and with it soon came the setup for The Savage Shore. A gang lord in Calabria, the toe of Italy, a region quite foreign to Nic and his team, has sent a message to the police to say he wants to give himself up and turn state witness against his fellow crooks. Nic and his colleagues have been dispatched to the wild coastline of the south to try to find to get him and his family safely out of a gang who would surely murder them if they knew.
The trouble is they don’t know the man’s real name, how to contact him, how to organise his escape. They’re at the mercy of the gang lord and must play things the way he wants. So Nic is forced to take on a new identity and join the gang in the wilds of Aspromonte, while the rest of the team hide under new identities on the coast waiting for the chance to act.
There’s the nub of the story, but like all fiction it has a subterranean idea about it too. In this case it’s about identity. Nic and his fellow cops are decent people. It’s hard for them to pretend to be someone else. They’re too honest and too unused to subterfuge. So in a way the story poses the question: can we really choose who we are? Or will we always revert to our inner identity, our true selves, however hard we try to fight that?
As The Savage Shore progresses we begin to learn this isn’t just an issue in the cops in the hills as well. And there you have the heart of my Calabrian tale. Our usual heroes are strangers in a strange land, and discovering it’s really not their place at all.
About the book
The ’Ndrangheta is a ruthless mafia organisation, one of the richest and most powerful organised crime groups in the world. Completely impenetrable to outsiders, merciless when crossed, they run the savage Calabrian coast of Italy, their influence everywhere.
So why has the head of this feared mob, Lo Spettro, offered to turn state witness?
Detective Nic Costa is sent deep into the mountains to infiltrate this mafia family, with Lo Spettro’s help. With a new identity, Nic becomes one of their own. But one slip-up would mean the end not just for the investigation, but for Nic, and his whole team.
About the author
David Hewson is a former journalist with The Times, The Sunday Times and the Independent. He is the author of more than twenty-five novels including his Rome-based Nic Costa series which has been published in fifteen languages. He has also written three acclaimed adaptations of the Danish TV series, The Killing.
*I was asked to host this guest post in order to celebrate the launch of Black Thorn Books and the publication of The Savage Shore. I did not receive any payment for hosting the content but did receive a copy of the book*