Returning to the Golden Age of crime-writing

Partridge Green author Robert Whiting is in print with Death at the Bridge Table which has been published by Conrad Press Ltd, paperback £9.99, Kindle £3.99, available from Amazon.

Monday, 3rd January 2022, 9:05 am
Robert Whiting
Robert Whiting

Robert said: “I have always been a fan of crime fiction whether in books or in TV programmes and in recent years through the advent of Nordic Noir media.

“A couple of years ago I joined some cousins at the British Library for a day of lectures entitled The Body in the Library.

“Who could resist? It was clear that the speakers believed the reading public is getting tired with the violence, the sex and the psychological style of novels and are returning to the Golden Age of crime.

“I came home inspired and wrote a book in the style of my favourite genre, the golden years of Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey and many more.

“The Whiting family lived in Faversham for over 400 years. My forefathers were master builders and brickmakers for most of that time.

“My grandfather was a nationally acclaimed archaeologist, researching and collecting Roman artefacts and brickwork many of which are now on display in the local Maison Dieu.

“I was born into that family and grew up in Faversham.

“The home of the story, Corners, there are no fewer than 24 of them around the outside ground floor, built by my grandfather, was the obvious place for a fictional murder.

“I know Faversham, Faversham Creek and Seasalter extremely well and of course during my childhood was able to roam free on my bike throughout the town without the fears that parents have now.

“Faversham with its fragrant hop-fields, salt fresh North Sea water and the Creek’s industrial history, provided the perfect range of locations in which to set the novel.

“I was taught to play bridge from the age of 11 and have played ever since. It’s an absorbing game whether it’s just four people around a table having fun or 60 tables of players in a highly competitive national congress.

“I’ve now been playing throughout the last 60 years and – as my partners will attest – am still learning!

“Since the 1920s authors have incorporated the game of bridge in their novels and writing as if in the Golden Age I felt it important to maintain that history as a central element of the story.

“Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the lady of crime. She used and created just about every plot line there is.

“Death at the Bridge Table is a locked room mystery with only four players and their butler when one of the bridge players dies.

“I have written in the first person following the investigation through the eyes and ears of Alicia, my lady protagonist. The reader comes across the clues and red herrings as Alicia finds them.”

It is set in 1933.

“One of Charles Whitten’s bridge players collapses at the table, apparently from natural causes. Charles’s youngest daughter Patty is convinced it’s murder but pleads with her sister Alicia – a party girl with connections – to help discover the truth.

“Their brother William is a penniless drunkard living rough under the Town Hall, their mother ingenuous, Patty naïve, their father Charles all bluff and bluster and then there is John the seductive butler. It feels as though Alicia is in one of the new Agatha Christie murders: there were four players and their butler in the card room, surely one must be the murderer?

“I carried out deep research in writing the novel and with some authorial licence the locations, properties, weather formations and extraneous events are real. The characters and their relationships are real, though inevitably their names have been changed.

“The story is entirely one of fiction. I believe from what I’ve been told by market leaders and what I hear from crime reading friends and relations that there is a market for this type of cosy crime set in the Golden Age. My plan is to write a series of these books and we’ll take it from there!

“I began writing in 1977 as a hobby, the natural extension to reading children’s mystery books – I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series – and have written four unpublished novels before Death at the Bridge Table.

“The more novels I’ve written, the more I wanted to be published.”