Novel Experience for HT Columnist
HIS Highland Times columns are known for attacking unsavoury practices at the heart of power and Tony Black's latest novel is no exception to the rule.
In Summoning the Dead Tony delves into some of the most harrowing crimes imaginable that also bear an unmistakeable likeness to current events.
"I think when I was writing Summoning the Dead I absorbed all the horrific news coming out of the Operation Yewtree investigation and much of it found its way into the book," said Tony.
"The Westminster paedophile scandal exposed not only a catalogue of errors but outright corruption in the corridors of power.
“The whole episode horrifies me, and scares the life out of me as a parent."
The book opens in the west coast of Scotland, where Detective Inspector Bob Valentine and his team are at the scene of a quite grisly find.
"DI Valentine finds himself in quite harrowing circumstances in his latest investigation," said Tony.
"The team's uncovered the mummified remains of a young boy buried in an oil drum.
“The boy's been missing for many years and it draws them back to the original investigation where they uncover some misdeeds that will chime with today's readers."
When the boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, it re-opens a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable.
When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and a political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power.
The book eerily mirrors current events, with one exception.
"In DI Valentine's case he does manage to get to the root of the corruption and find some form of closure and justice for the families involved," said the 44-year-old author.
"It can never bring back a lost child, of course, but it's the very least that we should be doing for those affected by the most heinous crime imaginable."
Adding to DI Bob Valentine's woes is a recent near-fatal stabbing which has made it difficult to settle back into life on the force.
The detective knows nothing will ever be the same when he begins to be haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams.
Valentine soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland’s darkest secrets.
"It's almost a paranormal element to the book," said Tony.
"Valentine's had a near-death experience, well, he's officially died twice on the operating table and been revived with 50-plus pints of blood so he has died!
"The hangover to this experience is that Valentine has a much closer association with the fragility of this life.
“He has heightened perceptions and may be in the process of acquiring some kind of psychic ability, but he doesn't let on to anyone, except his close associate DS Sylvia McCormack."
Tony's 14th book is already busy picking up glowing reviews.
"Reactions to the book have all been very positive so far," he said. "I think a lot of readers felt very moved by the story.
“There's a split-narrative with one of the victims given a voice which a lot of people have commented on."
"With such emotional content you always worry how readers will react but as a writer you have to choose the stories you feel compelled to write and Summoning the Dead was definitely one of those for me."
Tony Black's Summoning the Dead is published by Edinburgh-based Black & White Publishing and is available in bookstores and online now in paperback priced £7.99 and in eBook for £1.89.
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