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Vanished Beneath

I don't know about other writers but when you get to number seven in a series then you like to think you know your characters, know how they will react to any given situation, how they will respond to a problem. This can be a double-edged sword, on the one hand you feel comfortable writing about the characters and on the other hand it can limit you in some ways.

They key is to have them change in subtle ways, anything too extreme and all the careful building of that character can unravel and lead the reader to question whether they would have reacted in such a way.

Riven offered its own set of problems though having introduced Odette in the previous book it gave me another character for Lasser to bounce off and slowly but surely their relationship grew. To be honest, the series needed those subtle changes to hopefully keep it fresh, simply having Lasser and Bannister going at it hammer and tongs could have become tiresome so having Odette as a kind of referee helped to soften the angst.

As with all the other books, Riven started with a crime and then the rest of the book is spent trying to solve it before it happens again. The fact that I am as much in the dark as the reader only adds to the fun, though with Riven I knew early on who the perpetrator was which, believe me, made a nice change.

I suppose in any crime writer's life there comes a time when you have to broach the subject of child abduction and the horrors it creates. Before writing Riven I thought long and hard about the subject matter and was reticent to even attempt it. Eventually I made a tentative start on the book and I soon came to realise that the correct way to approach it was not to concentrate on the crime itself but rather the impact it had on the parents and friends of the victim.

As in most of the books, I like to take the reader so far and then leave the rest to them. Any form of murder is shocking, and it would be easy to go down the shock route and pile the details into the story, but we all have an imagination and it is up to us how much we use it. I know when I used to read I always preferred it when the author let the reader decide on the amount of detail they used to complete the picture in their minds.

Every time I came to a section of the book that involved the victims I tried to sketch the process rather than paint a full picture of what was happening. However, it was in the agonies of the parents and those involved that I gave my own imagination free reign.

Of course, this is a work of fiction and to pretend I knew what it felt like to suffer such loss is plain wrong, but I tried my best to summon a fraction of the pain and anguish that a case like this would have on the families.

Lasser of course is in full-on mode, though by now I was happy with the working relationship he had with Odette. She was turning into a great character to write and has remained so throughout the rest of the series.

I never read any of the books in the back catalogue, though occasionally I may look at the opening chapter to remind myself what the book was actually about (bad memory time again) and the last time I did that was with Riven. I found myself wanting to carry on reading and as a writer I can ask for no more than that.

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