A guest post by Jenny Hilborne.
With its thatched cottages, historic houses, white gravel driveways, charming pubs, and beautiful countryside, the English Cotswolds are idyllic, a gloriously peaceful place in the heart of the England.
A murder in such a tranquil place is unexpected, and all the more shocking. Three murders stun the entire the Oxfordshire community, especially when the deceased are all senior level corporate executives.
As the murder team working the case remind us, murder in England is uncommon, it’s still a rare crime. When two of the murders occur on the same date, it’s extraordinary, and enough to set off a nagging gut reaction that Dean knows more than he is saying.
What connects the dead? What secret is ruthless boss, Charles Dean, desperate to keep concealed?
Charles Dean rejects the detective’s doubts. After all, successful people are enviable targets and someone is always out to bring them down.
True? As I wrote this part, I decided that it’s a plausible argument, which raised another question:
What makes someone enormously successful in the corporate world? Why is this kind of success often accompanied by arrogance, dirty deals, and ruthless management styles? In some of the more competitive industries, senior level executives often abuse their power and buried crimes appear to be disturbingly common. You only have to read the papers or watch the news to see it for yourself.
Who wouldn’t enjoy witnessing the destruction of a corrupt person in power? I know I would, and I wanted to explore this angle and use it. I wanted to get behind the smooth exterior of a cultured senior level exec, expose the unscrupulous side that might exist, and examine the psychological distress it might cause the victims. The story has nagged me at me for several years.
While psychological thriller STONE COLD is a work of fiction, elements of the story are grounded in truth and parts of the plot are loosely based on real life tragedy. I set the transgressions in my home country and chose a setting where crimes of this nature would be least expected in order to highlight the contrast between the powerful and the vulnerable, both physically and mentally. As I wrote, I discovered the true power might lie with those who have less to lose – a prospect I found more chilling as my plot developed.
STONE COLD was written as a standalone, but after I added the last words and read over the story, I wondered if there might be a sequel. When one corrupt businessman is brought down, there’ll another along to replace him.
I hope you enjoy STONE COLD and I look forward to your feedback.
Jenny Hilborne is the author of four suspense novels including Madness and Murder, No Alibi, and Hide and Seek. Jenny is one of my blog partners at the Crime Fiction Collective. You can also find her at her own blog and her website.