Today I’m delighted to feature crime writer, Malcolm Hollingdrake. I was first introduced to Malcolm and his wife Debbie at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate in 2018. This was my first introduction to his aptly named Harrogate Crime Series and I was fortunate to be able to attend the book launch for his 6th in the series Crossed Out. I’m happy to report I was able to catch up with them both last year and so it really is a pleasure to have Malcom take part in Five on Friday. So, over to Malcolm.
You could say that the writing was clearly on the wall owing to being born in a library that I might aspire to be an author but to get to that point I have travelled a circuitous route.
I worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before I started writing, a challenge I had longed to tackle for more years than I care to remember.
I have written a number of successful short stories and have nine books now available. Presently I am concentrating on publishing book nine in the Harrogate crime series.
Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, I have never lost my love for my home county, a passion that is reflected in the settings for all of my novels.
I have enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It is a hobby I have bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the main character in my series.
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Witch Queen of New Orleans – Redbone.
I met my wife during the first weekend at Ripon College of Education. I was looking for a student by the name of Sheila and I bumped into a girl coming down the steps as I was going up. Dressed in what looked like her father’s jumper I asked if she could direct me to Sheila’s room. She quickly turned and yelled at the top of her voice, “Sheila, there’s a bloke to see you.” She then disappeared down the steps. I was taken by the blue of her eyes and vowed to find her again.
A short while later at a disco at the college I saw her and asked her to dance. This was our first dance. We’ve been together ever since.
On Days Like These – Matt Monroe
I love this piece of music from The Italian Job. I love driving, driving through Europe is such a pleasure. I spent six weeks driving to and around Hungary thirteen years ago and this music was on the CD. It conjures memories of mountains, twisting roads and magnificent scenery. Driving is something I never tire of.
Ebben, ne andro lontana from La Wally – Alfredo Catalani
My favourite soprano is Renée Fleming and this song always makes me catch my breath. I have a video which I took whilst in Nice, a favourite place of ours. When we were walking in the city, we heard this lady busking under the arches. The sound of her voice, the bells from the city’s trams and the laughter of the child mix to make a marvellous memory. Time perfectly captured.
Broken Boats – The Huers
I met Ian by chance. He saw a poster about The Harrogate Series. His wife, Gill read them and suggested he try. He did and he has been a fan ever since. I heard their music and loved it. We have since teamed up bringing song and story together at the Noir events I organise. Broken Boats is a perfect short story; a beginning, a middle and an end all within four minutes.
Blackbird – Fingersnap
I was driving home one Saturday after working in a friend’s art gallery, listening to Dermot O’Leary play this. I had to pull over and listen, copy the name of the group. It was soon downloaded. I have seen them live since and they have never disappointed. You might remember David, the singer as part of the duo McAlmont and Butler with their song ‘Yes’.
I have had five but … when writing ‘The Third Breath’ I was inspired by Górecki – ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’. There’s an interesting story behind the composing of this music.
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
My wedding ring. A small gift on our special day but the true gift was a lifetime of commitment that was hidden within it.
A gold pencil. It has been with me when writing all of the Harrogate books. I can write, draw, and tap it on my bottom lip for inspiration. It’s treasured.
My glasses and contact lenses. Goodness, life would not be the same without them. I would live in a world of impressionism where everything would be colourful but without focus. I wouldn’t be able to drive nor admire the beauty the horizon and the night sky.
My wrist watch. Bought for my sixtieth birthday. I had been on a waiting list for a few years when I received the call. I remember being shocked and excited. It’s very special to me. Thank you, Debbie.
My laptop. It holds my world of writing. The stories, the music, the friends and acquaintances are all trapped within. Goodness my life is in that small box!
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Think kindly. Perform a daily act of kindness. It goes a long way.
Always try to do your best. You will not always succeed but you will know that you tried. Therefore, never let failure linger longer than the pleasure of success.
Set achievable goals and work to them.
Take sensible risks – be adventurous.
Have no regrets. If you can think it then you can achieve it.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I learned to fly gliders when living in Cairo. I flew from Imbaba airfield and appreciated the skill of the Egyptian instructors and fellow students.
I make stained glass windows. I have windows in houses as far afield as Cyprus, Cairo, France and Germany. The largest commission was for three panels each measuring 6ft by 3ft made for a house near Toulouse.
I love motor cycle road racing even though I have never owned a motorcycle. (Owned a Lambretta in the sixties only). A hero would be John McGuinness.
I don’t own a television and I haven’t since 1984.
I don’t really read fiction. I tend to stick with non-fiction but then it is rare to see me with a book.
Tell us 5 things you’d still like to do or achieve.
To achieve a Best Seller badge in any category of Amazon. I’ve been close but no cigar. Only yesterday I was number one in one area of Hot New Releases but I don’t think that counts. If I ever do it will mean sending flowers to Angie Marsons as she was the one who persuaded me not to give up. That’s another story.
I organise two Noir events annually, one in Harrogate and one in Wigan. These have been very successful. I would love to persuade an international best-selling author to attend the Wigan Noir. Peter James, Ian Rankin, LJ Ross would be made most welcome. As we can’t afford to pay them, I think it might be a pipe dream. However, aim high and they can only say yes or no.
Return to live in Yorkshire. When we married, we promised ourselves to return after four years. You can add a nought to that time. One day maybe.
I wrote a short story, ‘The Penultimate Man’ and I published it to raise money for the Poppy Appeal. It became an audiobook too read by Nick Camm. It’s set on the final day of WW1. It’s been read on radio on Armistice Day but I’d love to see it made into an animated film or even produced as a graphic short story. If you’d like to hear it please click here.
See the first renovated British Mosquito aircraft take to the sky. It has always been my favourite aircraft and I’ve been lucky enough many years ago to sit in the prototype stored at Salisbury Hall. Now it is in the Mosquito museum.
It has been an absolute pleasure. It certainly was not as easy as I first thought. Music has played a massive part in my life and I could have chosen hundreds. Thank you very much for reading to the end. If you haven’t found the Harrogate series yet, there are now nine books written.
Many thanks for taking part Malcolm, you are indeed a man of many parts. I have to say thanks you for including the piece from La Wally in your music choices. It’s a piece if music I love, but over the years when I’ve heard it, I’ve always missed where it came from – now I know. It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck and so emotional. I also allowed you to sneak in Gorecki as it’s another favourite of mine. I think a daily act of kindness sounds something for all of us to try in these troubling times – it would indeed go a long way. As a stained glass lover, I’d love to see some of your work – it’s a skill I’m in awe of. Sincerely hope you get to achieve some of those dreams, surely that Best Seller badge can’t be far away.
Meet DCI Cyril Bennett, a man with a passion for manners and efficiency, as well as an eye for the ladies. His partner, DS David Owen, is naïve and untidy but keen. Together they make a formidable pair.
When the discovery of two infants’ bodies is made at a Teacher Training College, Bennett and Owen are given the case. Soon a number of suspects is identified.
At the same time, a killer is on the loose staging attacks using sulphur mustard.
Is there a link between the infants’ bodies and the sulphur mustard attacks?
Do the answers lie in the past or the present?
Bennett and Owen must work together to bring to justice a killer with revenge on his mind.
A disused railway tunnel where, cruel and sinister deeds are executed.
A policeman on a mission.
A killer who will stop at nothing.
The formidable DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen of Harrogate Police find themselves embroiled in a series of bizarre events.
A domestic dog attack on a child soon leads to a more complex case – the macabre discovery of a jigsaw of featureless, indiscernible body parts amongst bin bags littering a quiet road on the outskirts of the town.
While under the leadership of a Chinese Mafioso, a team of Eastern Europeans spreads its tentacles into the sordid underworld of people trafficking, dog fighting, prostitution and murder.
Bennett quickly has his hands full investigating a gambling syndicate, the discovery of a mutilated corpse, the death of a prostitute and the case of a badly beaten police officer.
As Bennett and his team are stretched to capacity cracks begin to appear.
Is there a link between these cases and can they catch a twisted killer before he strikes again?
In Harrogate things are about to get weird.
Jars of honey containing pieces of tattooed flesh are the first clue in the search for the whereabouts of a missing fourteen-year-old boy. Then another boy goes missing and further jars of honey are discovered.
Serial kidnappings taking place in Harrogate and the culprit is unlike any other Bennett has dealt with before.
A number of leads seem to be going nowhere and the police are running out of time.
Can Bennett and his team catch a psychopath before any more damage is done?
This will be his toughest case yet.
DCI Bennett faces the most harrowing case of his career. A psychopath, who escaped capture, is hell bent on revenge and executes a series of events that will not only impact on Bennett physically, but will have emotional and professional consequences.
A body is found with its fingers amputated. An investigative journalist embroiled in the pornography and drugs scene, is murdered.
Bennett’s team is faced with some baffling evidence. Hatpins and bicycle spokes become pivotal to the inquiry but the police struggle to connect the evidence.
It is only when a Detective Sergeant from the team is kidnapped that Bennett realises that he is the true target.
Can Bennett solve the case before it’s too late? How many people will he lose in the process?
Following his recovery from a personal and professional trauma, Detective Chief Inspector Cyril Bennett has been declared medically fit to resume his police duties. He returns to discover a complex case involving the art world.
Soon Bennett unearths a dark side of the industry where greed, ambition and dubious practices thrive and, where there is money to be made, violence and murder are never far away.
Working their way through a maze of galleries, museums and the Internet, Bennett’s team struggles to make sense of the evidence.
Can Bennett tell the difference between what is real and what is fake?
DCI Bennett and his team are back and called to a house in Ripon that has collapsed into a sinkhole where a body is discovered.
Soon old weathered Remembrance Crosses are found dug up. Each one numbered.
DC April Richmond is assigned to help the team due to her impressive biblical knowledge and soon makes a startling discovery.
Meanwhile, Gideon Fletcher is walking around the streets of Harrogate distributing religious texts. Is there a link between Gideon and the crosses? Do the crosses have anything to do with the body in the house?
Bennett and the team find themselves wondering if the killer is exacting revenge or punishment and whatever the answer, they soon realise the clock is ticking.
DCI Bennett is away on compassionate leave. After much soul-searching, he has decided to attend his father’s funeral. DS Owen is left at the helm when the discovery of a body in a car in the multi-storey car park is reported. Initially, the Coroner rules out suspicious circumstances but when a second body is found with similar symptoms, Bennett is back in the fold. He suspects that the coincidences must be of some significance. Soon Bennett’s team are hunting for a callous and devious killer who has covered his tracks effectively. Will Bennett’s perseverance and attention to detail eventually crack this perplexing case?
Harrogate attracts hundreds of players to the annual Games Convention and for one player it is the perfect opportunity to kill by the mechanics of his own sinister game. Each victim will die in the same way. Each will be classed as the loser and their time will have run out. The escape room and the game table will draw more, each believing they are invincible. However, in every game there is always a traitor waiting in the wings.
The team is seeing changes. Cyril is away and for the second time, Owen finds himself in charge of the investigation. An elderly gentleman dies of a snake bite and unfortunately his carer is also attacked. The second murder is a shooting, an unusual weapon being used, again an elderly victim.
A photograph of four friends celebrating a win at the Great St Wilfred’s Stakes at Ripon races in 1986 seems to be significant, but the relevance, at first, is lost in the investigation.
Another victim, one of the friends in the photograph, is found dead in his home. Only one of the friends remains alive and Owen and his team fight against time to prevent his murder.
The investigation is hampered by two siblings, the Bostock brothers, who have a history of rivalry and hatred; one of them is in the Ripon races photograph.
DS April Richmond’s biblical knowledge proves critical in solving the crime. The snake, Lilith, conjures the Garden of Eden. Two more fatalities occur before the crimes are solved and the motive is revealed.
This fast moving, thought-provoking thriller is set partly in the stunning beauty and history of Turkish Cyprus. The novel follows one man’s struggle against faceless bureaucrats bent on negating the existence of Gulf War Syndrome. Roy Hanna is a driven man. On his return from the Gulf War, in which he was injured and his comrades killed, he appears to be a successful salesman with everything he could want. Behind his facade, he believes he is suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and that the Government is carrying out a massive cover-up. The lives of countless sufferers lie in ruins. He is determined that the Government should pay and he embarks on a bombing spree to ensure that it does.
Imagine joining the Army to fight for Queen and country and then find the Gulf War turns your world upside down. Welcome to Roy Hanna’s world, where we are drawn into his life of anger and betrayal. I found myself lost in his lonely and bitter mind. Descriptive writing that makes you feel as though you are there with Roy, whether it’s in the Gulf War, U.K or Cyprus. Malcolm Hollingdrake has written a powerful, emotive and thought-provoking book with PTSD at its root.
(‘Bridging the Gulf’ was previously published as ‘Engulfed’ as an eBook.)
When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.
With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart-warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.
From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!
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