On this first Northern Reads edition of February, we welcome crime novelist Keith Dixon to share his novel The Cobalt Sky set in Cheshire.
Tell us about The Cobalt Sky and how being born in Yorkshire and later living in Cheshire has influenced your writing.
The Cobalt Sky is set in Wilmslow in Cheshire, a very posh town in a very posh county, south of Liverpool and Manchester. The plot concerns the theft of a valuable watercolour painting from the home of the painter, who then hires PI Sam Dyke to find it. To carry out his investigation, Sam has to delve into the family of the painter and the relationships between them – which is not a straightforward job. Sam begins to realise that the past—as so often in crime novels—is having a huge influence on the present.
I was born in Yorkshire but moved south to Coventry when I was 3 months old. As a young man I went to college and then stayed in Cheshire, eventually working in and around the North West – Stoke-on-Trent, Chester, Stafford, and later Manchester and Wilmslow. I lived in the area for over thirty years before moving to France, where I now live. The impetus behind my Sam Dyke series was to explore what it would be like to be a private investigator in the leafy suburbs of Cheshire. My PI is from working-class stock in Yorkshire but finds himself dealing with the rich and wealthy people of Cheshire as his clients and victims. I also wanted to use the style and tropes of the classic private eye novels, being heavily influenced by Hammett, Chandler, Robert Crais and Ross Macdonald. Sam Dyke is even named in honour of Hammett’s Sam Spade (and my mother’s maiden name!).
Living and working with northerners—and being one by birth myself—has led me to value their honesty and warmth. The bad guys that Sam comes up against are often interlopers from the South who try to manipulate people for their own purposes, not understanding that they’re going to be found out and punished in the end. Sam Dyke is also a stranger to the posh environment of Cheshire, but as the series progresses, he understands it more and wouldn’t live anywhere else.
More about The Cobalt Sky:
Edward Ransome is one of England’s most famous artists – rich, a friend to celebrities and known for his devotion to his craft for almost fifty years.
Then someone steals his favourite painting – the painting that set Ransome on course to fame and fortune but was never sold and rarely seen.
Sam Dyke is hired to find the painting, and the thief, but quickly discovers that the loss of the painting is only one of the many losses suffered by Ransome, and his family.
What’s more, whoever stole the painting is keen to keep it a secret, and committing murder to do so is not out of the question.
Soon Dyke finds he has more than a simple burglary on his hands – it’s a case that spans generations and includes more than one ordinary crime.
The Cobalt Sky is a subtle but exciting exploration of the ways in which families can hurt each other over time … without even trying.
From the two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE Award in the private eye/noir category, for The Bleak and The Innocent Dead.
The Cobalt Sky is available in paperback from Amazon and bookstores world-wide. It’s currently available in Kindle format from an Amazon store near you. Click here: http://authl.it/B07W1GBRBQ
Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. Two-time winner of the Chanticleer Reviews CLUE First in Category award for Private Eye/Noir novel, he’s the author of nine full-length books and one short-story in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, as well as two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. His new series of Paul Storey Thrillers began in 2016 and there are now three books in the series.
Find Keith on Social Media and around the web:
Thanks for sharing, Keith! I personally love Sam Spade, too!
Come back next week for a Valentine’s Day edition of Northern Reads as we head to the Lake District with Paula Martin.