Fresh Talent: Dead Man’s Hand by Mark Lock

Fresh Talent: Dead Man’s Hand by Mark Lock

Dead Man’s Hand – Mark Lock

DI Hal Luchewski is a jaded London cop with a turbulent past and a complicated personal life. The stress of his job is getting to him – usually in the form of hard drink. He’s still living in his dead father’s shadow, his relationship with his daughter is strained, and his love life is complex to say the least… although nearly 40, Hal’s still reconciling himself to the fact he’s gay.

When teenager Danny Wiseman’s butchered body is found in a squalid bedsit in South London, Hal and his team think they have a psychopath on the loose. When a second body is found – that of an ex-guard at Granton Young Offender Institution – Hal fears the worst. Is it a coincidence that Wiseman recently spent time at Granton, a place which has become a byword for corruption and scandal? Is Hal up against a former inmate’s wrath, or something even more sinister? Soon enough, the case gets personal – and in more ways than one…

Read if you loved: Peter James  /  Colin Dexter  /  Mark Billingham  /  Mo Hayder

Mark Lock Biography

Mark Lock was born far earlier than he likes or cares to admit. He spent much of his childhood humming Smiths songs around the rainy South Wales valleys, and would probably have liked to have been Morrissey in a former life (only, Morrissey was alive when he was born, so it wouldn’t really have worked out. Besides, he could never manage the quiff with any degree of success.) Instead he studied maths at university because he was good at adding up, and has taught in colleges for the last twenty years.

He is married to the writer Zillah Bethell with whom he has the two loveliest children that have ever been committed to existence.

Dead Man’s Hand is the first novel featuring DI Hal Luchewski. The second, The Mismade Girl, is currently languishing painfully unfinished on his hard drive.

Mark Lock on the Inspiration Behind Dead Man’s Hand

Darth Sidious.

Emperor Palpatine.

The Chancellor.

Call him what you will. I’ve come to the conclusion that all writers are itsy-bitsy mini versions of him. (Run with me on this one). They hide behind the scenery, pulling all the strings, flicking all the switches, and tweaking all the headgear. They send their little Darth Vaders and Mauls out into the pages to wreak their nefarious havoc before sitting back on their ruby covered thrones laughing maniacally as the disasters unfold. Writers are evil control freaks of the most twisted order. Tyrannical fiends. Merchants of misery. Stay well away from them.

Okay, so I am writing this exactly one week before The Force Awakens opens in cinemas and, yes, like most grown men in their early forties I am getting a tad overexcited at the prospect of seeing some lightsabre on lightsabre action. (I’m pretending that I’m taking my 11 year old son but in reality he’s taking me). However there is some sort of a point to my sci-fi based jibber-jabberings. All stories need some sort of a struggle at their heart. Something for the main characters to, firstly, encounter (or create), secondly to consider (or fight), and lastly to overcome. So the greatest thing any writer can do for their protagonist is to make life very difficult for them. Really squeeze them so it hurts. Give them some pain. Torture them. You don’t have to actually kill your darlings, though. Just poke them in the eye and give them a good kicking.

I’ve loved reading crime fiction for ages – ever since I picked up a Colin Dexter for a pound in a newsagents in Croydon twenty years ago. Over that time, I’ve dipped my toe in lots of writers’ oeuvre and grown to love many of them (Billingham, Hayder, Rankin, Deaver etc.) until the peculiar thought arrived that perhaps I should write my own. I’d written cryptic crosswords in the past and, surely, there wasn’t a great deal of difference between composing cryptic crosswords and writing a novel, was there? It turns out there’s a great deal of difference between the two. For a start, a novel has many many more words in it, and they all have to go across the page. Not down. There are also no little boxes with numbers in the corners. Oh and you have to have a main character. Enter Detective Inspector Hal Luchewski.

Hal Luchewski was always going to be a man – I knew that much – and I also knew he was going to be London based. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure. So I had to think about ways and means to fatten him up and make him real. Cue my Darth Sidious moment. What could I give him or make him so that he suffered? I’m sure the Metropolitan Police Force has become a completely different animal from the 70s and 80s, but I’m pretty certain that being a gay man in such a traditionally alpha-male environment would still not be easy, even today. So gay he became. What if, I Machiavellianly mused, he had married and had a child before it all fell apart? Another box ticked. Never got out of the shadow of his world famous father? Tick. That perennial favourite, borderline alcohol dependency? Why not. Tick. An internationally reknown expert on acupuncture? Er… might be pushing it. Let’s forget that last one.

And so the character was born.

Of course, I then had to come up with the plot with twists and tricks and spikes and all manner of nastiness with which to punish the poor guy further. That though is another story (if you’ll pardon the pun). Perhaps one that needs to be told ‘a long time ago, in a blogpost far far away.’

No. Of course not.

That’s just stupid.

(Can you tell I’m excited? Waves imaginary lightsabre in the air making wooomph wooomph noises.)

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