A Fatal Drug – the new Simon Jardine thriller

The second in the Simon Jardine murder thriller series, A Fatal Drug, has now been published by Fahrenheit Press.
The hectic storyline switches between Derby and Spain in the prog rock days of the early ‘70s. It is the story of how a young, hot-headed reporter, Simon Jardine, and his friends Dave Green and Tom Freeman become involved in a trail of murder and drug dealing as the reporters search for a front page lead.
Fahrenheit Press is probably the most switched-on, vibrant and go-ahead publishing house I’ve encountered. A Fatal Drug will initially be a digital publication with the paperback available in a few weeks.
My first book, First Dead Body, was self-published, and I vowed not to go down that path again, but fight hard to persuade an agent or publisher to take me and my book on to the next stage.
Finding a publisher or agent for a debut novelist is a phenomenally hard, time-consuming and often, or even usually, soul-destroying. The basic reason is that I am a writer, not a publisher: I want to spend 75% of my writing time writing; not 25%, with the rest slogging away at marketing and selling my book. A Fatal Drug was going to travel the well-worn path of submission and rejection.
The publication of A Fatal Drug by Fahrenheit Press (their marketing blurb includes the comment – if you can’t spell it, don’t bother submitting!) is a massive step forwards. They are young, in comparison to a staid and traditional industry norm, but they are leading the field in terms of aggressive sales. The most important thing is to get the book in the hands of readers: it isn’t to have meaningful and cerebral conversations with literary people who only accept free copies.
A Fatal Drug takes a different approach to the crime thriller genre. Most crime books have a police officer as a central character, usually the hero. Very many dig deeply into the lives of the policemen, both at home and on the job and some take it a stage further by explaining police and legal procedures and even the nitty-gritty of inquests, court cases, and disciplinary procedures.
Simon Jardine is not a policeman. He is a young reporter – naive, excitable and with boundless enthusiasm – and he sees his role as getting the news story by whatever legal means he can. The 1970s were a time rife with low grade police corruption, as well as some high level, seriously bad apples. Felons could have a blind eye turned if they helped or made it worth the policeman’s while. There was a cozy relationship between criminals and the law that was trying to keep a lid on serious crime.
The big city scene was looking for pastures new. Drug barons were multiplying and new markets were needed. As skirt lengths shortened and trousers flared, young, provincial Britons wanted a taste of the new and daring.
Throughout the Simon Jardine books there is a thread of rock music, and A Fatal Drug is now exception. It was the glue that brought us together and transcended politics, fashion, education and social class. Then there was sex. The pill offered a new and wonderful world of freedom for women. The ‘Free Love’ of the hippies in the 60s was moving out of London and into the provinces. Attitudes were changing.
1970 was only 25 years since the end of the Second World War; most people in work had done National Service; fashion for all but the young was still stuck in the doldrums. Peace, freedom, rapidly growing spending power and secure employment were resulting in a new fast-paced, hedonistic world. Alcohol in the newspaper industry was de rigeur, or at least well accepted. The idea that the editor or news editor would overlook a four hour boozy lunch if the reporter came back with a story still existed – and the draconian drink-driving laws had not been passed.
The Simon Jardine books, including A Fatal Drug, capture a time when provincial newspapers were at their height. It was the last decade of hot-metal printing; of banging out stories, paragraph by paragraph, on scrappy sheets of paper with a tatty carbon between them; of local stories about local people having as much importance, if not column inches, as the national news.
A Fatal Drug is available on Amazon and other digital outlets and soon as a paperback.

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