Someone knows where the bodies are buried...Little Susan Verity went missing during the heatwave of 1976. An unprecedented amount of police resource went into finding her, but to no avail. Until now.Convicted serial killer Adrian Wicklow was always the prime suspect. In the past, he's repeatedly lied to the police about where Susan's body is buried - playing a sick game from behind bars.But this time, he says, he'll tell the truth. Because Adrian Wicklow is dying.Detective Ian Bradshaw works with investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney to find the body. However, this is Wicklow's life's work. Would a murderer on death's door give up his last secret so easily...?
The Search by Howard Linskey was published on 4 May 2017 in paperback by Penguin Books.
'Linskey delivers a flawless feel for time and place, mixed with unrelenting pace' The Times
'Linskey is one of the most commanding crime fiction practitioners at work today' The Financial Times
'Linskey has taken a sharp swerve towards the big time ... he has elevated his writing to a level of complexity and humanity seldom approached by British writers previously' Maxim Jakubowski
I'm really pleased to welcome Howard Linskey here to Random Things today, he's talking to us about Inside the Mind of a Killer ......
How can you get inside the mind of a killer and what will it cost you? That’s one of the key themes of ‘The Search’.
We often learn the lurid details of a murder from newspapers that, despite their sensationalism, keep us some distance from the actual crime. There’s something about the way we receive our news, often in the morning over breakfast or during the daily commute on a train, which minimises its impact. Someone, possibly a madman, is found guilty of murdering one or more people and, once that killer has been convicted, the facts of the matter can be told without fear of a libel case, so out they come.
It is usually only then that we get all of the gruesome details; the planning involved, the killer’s twisted reasoning, the horror experienced by the victim but, no matter how terrible the crime, it rarely stays with us for long. If we aren’t close to either the killer or the victim, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact. We live ludicrously busy lives and would get nothing done, if we weren’t able to file these stories away in a dark compartment of our minds and largely forget about them.
More than likely even the worst cases won’t leave us with any deep or lasting emotional scars. Instead, we thank our lucky stars we were not personally affected, tut at the depravity of the world then move swiftly on with our own more mundane lives but what about those more intimately involved in the case? How lasting is the impact on their own lives, the damage to their mental health, the effect on their families? How do you stare into the abyss without it staring back at you?
In my latest book ‘The Search’, Detective Sergeant Ian Bradshaw is forced to have intimate contact with a monster. Serial killer Adrian Wicklow offers to finally tell the truth about the fate of a missing girl who disappeared twenty years earlier but he wants something in return. Bradshaw must listen to the tapes of Wicklow’s memoir; a vile and self-serving account that graphically details his crimes along with a twisted world view. Bradshaw has his own fragilities, which include anxiety, depression and panic attacks and he definitely does not want to go there but feels he has no choice. He must discover the truth about poor, lost Susan Verity, for the sake of her family and the many in her village who still have the cloud of her disappearance having over them.
Much of ‘The Search’ involves the unearthing of clues, which slowly reveal the truth, like archaeologists brushing sand away from a precious object, long since buried but for Ian Bradshaw his digging is far more personal and it invokes night terrors and terrible dreams that leave him fearing sleep. For him, the victims of Adrian Wicklow’s crimes are no longer just faceless names in a newspaper but real people rendered vivid by Wicklow’s highly personal account of their last movements.
One of the themes I wanted to explore in my new book was the impact that dealing with genuinely evil killers must have on the ordinary people forced to investigate their crimes. How can you not be changed when a man calmly tells you what he did to one of his victims? Who could stand to be in the same room as a multiple murderer who delights in causing pain then revels in the misery of the families affected by his vile deeds? How would you begin to lead a normal life after that? I know I couldn’t do it. I’ve even avoided the opportunity offered to me to meet real life gangsters because I know that, whatever their justifications, they have hurt people in the past. The thought of sitting down with someone whose main motive for killing was enjoyment is too much to contemplate. In short you couldn’t drag me into that room. But many people have done this and simply called it a job
I suspect most people reading this would share my view that this kind of work is not for us. We sleep soundly in our beds at night however, knowing that there are people out there who are willing to do what we are not. They regularly sit down with killers in order to discover the truth about their crimes, to bring them to justice, to resolve matters for the grieving families, to learn where the bodies are buried. In my view they are unsung heroes, every last one of them.
Howard Linskey - May 2017
Howard Linskey is the author of the David Blake series, the first of which, The Drop, was selected as one of the 'Top Five Crime Thrillers of the Year' by The Times, and he has been called “one of the most commanding crime fiction practitioners at work today” by the Financial Times.
The Search is perfect for fans of gritty BBC Dramas like Broadchurch and The Fall, as well as psychological thrillers. I was absolutely gripped by The Search from the get go.
Follow him on Twitter @HowardLinskey