Currently researching and writing the next book in the Cold Case Jury collection. It is titled Move to Murder and is about the Wallace case from 1931. I hope to include a brand new theory of how Julia Wallace was murdered in my book.
For those of you who are unaware of the case, it is one of the most celebrated cold cases of all time, with a plot that could have come from an Agatha Christie novel.
As well as conducting the usual in-depth research, I’ve spoken to authors of previous books on the case – Roger Wilkes and John Gannon. Roger hosted the renowned Radio City broadcasts about the case in January 1981 – fifty years after the killing of Julia. The series was pioneering and worth listening to even today. His regret was not being able to take the evidence he had uncovered to the man he accused of the murder, who died less than a year before the broadcasts and was not able to respond to the allegations and evidence.
It’s a fascinating case and one that still divides people today. Who killed Julia Wallace? This is another true crime mystery for the Cold Case Jury.
Met up with Paul Stickler today, the historical researcher and former detective. We are in the first stages of project planning. Our mission is to search for – and with much luck, find – Ronald Light’s revolver in Leicester.
To re-cap, Light allegedly threw his Webley & Scott revolver (like the one shown) into the Grand Union Canal in Leicester. For more details on this, see my book The Green Bicycle Mystery (published June 2017). By studying what he said and examining old maps of Leicester, we believe we have pinpointed the most likely place. Of course, Light might have lied, but we believe the weapon is in the canal. If recovered, it would be a sensational find – the most important evidence in the century-old unsolved death of Bella Wright.
We have contacted the appropriate authorities and are now contacting river salvage and diver teams to see if the mission is feasible. We should know in the next few weeks if we will be able to go ahead.
Tomorrow my first book – The Green Bicycle Mystery – will be printed. Not published, that happens next month, but actually coming alive on the press. It’s been a long journey.
I suppose it began inside a practically empty classroom with steamed-up windows on the campus of Southampton University. This is where I attended Telling True Stories, a non-fiction workshop for writers run by author Iain Gately, in January 2015.
One of Iain’s golden rules for writing is “2 and 2 not 4” – don’t spoon-feed the reader, let them work things out for themselves. At its most simplistic, if two people are joined by another couple, you don’t need to tell the reader that there are four people in the scene. This idea sank slowly into the depths of my sub-conscious: let the reader work it out for themselves.
It soon reached bedrock where it would continually bubble into my conscious thoughts over the ensuing weeks. Why not write a series of books where readers are invited to deliver their verdicts on what happened? Apply it to true crime, specifically unsolved murders from the past. This was important. We never totally suspend disbelief with a novel, reality often leaving a deeper impression than fiction. But I did not want to examine any unsolved murder. Like many people, I love the fascination of history. I wanted to combine the past with a real-life whodunit, with the twist that the readers are part of the story.
I stopped listening to Iain and started to think of a name for a series of books. It had to be something about a jury, the role the readers would play. Then I remembered there was a famous TV show in the 1960s about pop music called ‘Juke Box Jury’ – I liked the rhythm of the title and it came to me: Cold Case Jury. I bought the domain name that evening.
In subsequent posts I will continue the story – my experience with self-publishing, approaching agents and publishers, and the signing of the deal – which has culminated in a book being printed tomorrow.