Leslie Scase is the author of Fortuna’s Deadly Shadow. His latest novel, Fatal Solution, was published by Seren on 1 May 2021.
Leslie kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Fatal Solution.
Set in 1890’s South Wales, this is a late Victorian crime mystery with themes of industrial espionage, protection rackets and sexual predation.
My central character, Inspector Thomas Chard, is faced with a daunting task. A body has been found in a burnt-out workshop in a village still reeling from an industrial disaster. Whilst struggling with the details of the death, which appear suspicious, Chard is alerted to the news of two men, found collapsed on a park bench. Is this a case of poison, or even worse, a contagious disease? As if this wasn’t bad enough, tensions are rising between the workers of two rival railway companies in the town. Can the inspector manage to keep the town’s inhabitants safe?
2. What inspired the book?
I like real mind-bending mysteries and wanted to match the standard of the previous book. I also wanted to develop my central character by providing a love interest. The panic around the men on the bench was inspired by the recent Salisbury poisonings. I also like to build things around historical events, so you will find that the rivalry between the rail companies was very real (though the characters and most of the scenes are entirely made up) as was the Albion colliery disaster.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Definitely a planner. I couldn’t do it any other way. That’s the beauty of whodunnits; – it’s like creating a jigsaw puzzle, but making sure that the last few pieces are kept out of the box until the very end.
4. Having been through the process a few times, is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?
I think I’ve got to the stage now where nothing much surprises me. However, it is remarkable how little is known about the publishing process outside the industry. Possibly that’s a good thing because otherwise it might put a lot of potential future writers off.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’ve got half a dozen different hobbies and none of them get the time that each of them deserves. The most ‘get away from it all’ has to be fly fishing which I’ve been doing on and off for about the last 7 years.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
In a real-life situation I would say the bible, because it’s a big read; – but that’s cheating because it is a collection of books. Keeping with the spirit of the question, I would say that a close second would be Rubicon by Tom Holland (I read a lot of non-fiction) BUT pipping it to the post would be Flashman’s Lady by George MacDonald Fraser. Full of adventure and a lot of humour.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I don’t think I’ve been asked if I would want to write outside of my current genre. It is something that I’ve thought about and, for example, I have drafted a plot for an historical adventure set in the Dark Ages. I would also like to write comedy as well as TV screenplays BUT I can’t multi-task. Some clever people can write two novels at the same time, but I am not blessed with that ability. The Chard mysteries will hopefully run for at least six, probably seven, books. That is far enough ahead to plan.
About the Book
In this new mystery Inspector Chard is confronted with another murder in bustling Victorian Pontypridd. On the face of it the case appears unremarkable, even if it isn’t obviously solvable, but following new leads takes Chard into unexpected places. A second murder, a sexual predator, industrial espionage and a mining disaster crowd into the investigation, baffling the Inspector and his colleagues and putting his own life at risk as the murderer attempts to avoid capture.
Once again Leslie Scase takes the reader back to a time and place where, despite the pretensions of Victorian society, life is cheap and passions strong. His research brings Pontypridd vividly to life, and historical events drive along the plot of this page-turning story of detection, as Chard navigates a way through the clues and red herrings, and a lengthening list of suspects, towards the poisoner.