The two novels in my Irish detective series both feature an Irish police detective, called DI Ben Jordan. Before I started writing the first book, Houdini’s Handcuffs, I had to choose whether my main character would be a private detective or a policeman. I decided on a police inspector. Looking back, I’ve tried to piece together my reasoning. I believe the principal reason behind the choice was that police detectives have unlimited access to murder scenes and suspects, while private investigators do not. On the other hand, the private eye can operate on the fringes of the law, a luxury not open to the police. Private detectives often work alone, which creates obstacles for explanatory dialogue, while police detectives usually work in pairs. Also, I quite like the institutional etiquette of the police. The classic gumshoe can be much rougher around the edges. Mike Hammer by Mickey Spillane and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe are prime examples.
Of course rogue policemen can be every bit as physical as private investigators, and this is an area fully exploited in both books. Both books are classified as Irish police detective mysteries, but they are much more. Elements in both books put them firmly in the class of Irish thrillers, involving Irish police detectives, hence the classification: Irish police thrillers, or more completely: Irish detective inspector mystery thrillers.
The third book in the series has been percolating through my brain for some time. At the start of the second book, FIND EMILY, Ben Jordan has handed in his resignation and his wife is divorcing him. When the third book starts, we will find him in a Spartan office with
Painted on the glass panel of the door. He will have a sidekick, a beautiful and clever woman, of course, and a mysterious murder to solve.
Which do you prefer – police inspector or private eye?