Author and dog shop owner Stuart Johnstone was brought up in the tiny Scottish village of Dalmally. Having spent 10 years as a police officer he moved to Edinburgh where his writing skills were quickly recognised. Becoming a UNESCO Emerging Writer in turn saw his work endorsed by best selling horror master, Stephen King.
To date Stuart has released three crime novels featuring Don Colyear, a police officer with an unnatural intuition. Here he reflects on his kind of crime…
First crime novel ever read…
There was some kind of adventure compilation in my house growing up and the Sherlock Holmes story, The Sign of Four, was amongst it. I remember reading about the Agra treasure and being quite hooked. Not sure if that counts, though.
Favourite crime writer and why…
Oh, tough one. Is it cheating if I opt for Stephen King? I’m generally a fan, but I’ve been impressed with his Bill Hodges trilogy as well as his recent release Billy Summers, which surely qualify as crime.
Honourable mention also to Chris Brookmyre. Terrific writer and I particularly love the humour in his novels.
If you could re-read only one crime novel, which would it be?
Something from the Thomas Harris Hannibal series. Arm twisted, I’d go for Red Dragon. But they’re all astonishingly good.
What three ingredients does every crime novel need?
An intriguing protagonist – the reader is going to spend a lot of time in their company after all.
An atmospheric setting and fitting backdrop for the grizzly acts.
Thirdly, a good foil is a must. I like a main character to bounce off and be challenged by a secondary character.
What makes a good crime writer?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this, but a writer who understands balance is particularly suited to crime. A good crime novel needs its dark goings-on, but there also needs to be characterisation, levity and a little bit of domestic context.
Agatha Christie or Ngaio Marsh?
Confession here, I have haven’t read Ngaio Marsh. So the short answer is Agatha Christie. The longer version is that I am suitable chastened to now look out for Marsh’s novels next time I go raking through the local bookshops.
Favourite TV cop show?
Another confession, I tend to steer clear of cop shows. Ten years as a police officer means I search for other things when I have time for television. However, I have been enjoying The Rookie. The idea of a 40+ year old joining the LAPD as its oldest rookie is interesting, and it’s turned out to be a really good show.
If you could meet one fictional detective in real life, which one would it be?
Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon, so I could slap him for being terrible.
Describe each of your novels in three words.
Out in the Cold: Highland secrets revealed.
Into the Dark: Chase every lead.
Run to Ground: Bad decisions hunted.
Who would play DS Don Colyear and DC Rowan Forbes in the TV adaptation of your books?
Well, even though there is no suggestion of an imminent screen adaptation, I did have James McAvoy in my mind’s eye while writing Colyear. As for Rowan Forbes, I might suggest Emma Mackey, who is Maeve in Sex Education. I think she could channel Rowan’s sarcasm and charm.
Out in the Cold, Into the Dark and Run to Ground, by Stuart Johnstone, are published by Allison & Busby and available from all High Street and local bookshops (who will be happy to order them if they don’t have them in stock) as well as from Amazon here.
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