The first novel by former Brighton and Hove police chief Graham Bartlett goes on sale today (Thursday 23 June).
Bad for Good has already garnered rave reviews from fellow crime writers Peter James, Mark Billingham and Elly Griffiths.
Brighton crime writer Peter James, who collaborated with Mr Bartlett on two non-fiction books, described the novel as “masterly”.
Mark Billingham, author of the Tom Thorne crime novels, said: “As an ex-cop, Graham Bartlett knows what he’s talking about and he certainly knows how to tell a good story. Bad For Good is a cracking debut.”
Elly Griffiths, who wrote the Brighton Mysteries, said: “This is the real deal. A thoroughly absorbing crime novel with characters – and events – that will stay with you for a long time.”
Mr Bartlett, a retired chief superintendent who served as divisional commander of Brighton and Hove for four years, said: “Having experienced first-hand the way policing and politics often collide, this story burned inside me.”
But while he was rooted in policing Brighton and Hove – unusually he served at every rank here up to chief superintendent – he needed help with his main character.
The novel follows senior detective Jo Howe and meant that Mr Bartlett had to work hard on his research, seeking help from some of his former colleagues.
He said: “Jo Howe’s world is one that few know and immersing her in the extremes of when good people go bad, with the colossal human cost of that, was an immense privilege.”
In Bad for Good, Jo Howe investigates the murder of a promising footballer who is also the son of the Brighton’s police chief.
She ends up taking over the top policing job in the city in the face of blackmail, corruption in the force and vigilantes on the streets.
Mr Bartlett said that the storyline was fuelled by his imagination, from the germ of an idea as spending cuts were making the job harder.
But he said: “The scale of corruption in Bad for Good is thankfully something I’ve never seen.”
In his experience, he said, “corruption was confined to individuals rather than being an organisational problem – and those corrupt individuals were as detested by their colleagues as they were by the public.”
Mr Bartlett said that the book took about seven years to write from conception to publication – although he wrote two other books in the meantime.
Once his non-fictions books – Death Comes Knocking and Babes in the Wood – were out of the way, he spent about a year working on Bad for Good.
The novel is the first instalment in a two-book deal with publisher Allison and Busby – and the second book has already been completed.
He hopes that it will be the start of a series just as his friend and mentor Peter James has achieved with his Roy Grace novels.
Mr Bartlett already provides advice for other authors and television scriptwriters and runs courses where he shares his expertise.
He thanked many of those who have helped him along the way at a book launch last night at Goldsboro Books, in Ship Street, Brighton.
The bookseller’s founder David Headley, also Mr Bartlett’s literary agent, praised Bad for Good. He has previously said that he likes “stories that I don’t want to end”.
If Bad for Good sells well – and Mr Bartlett’s first book made the Sunday Times bestseller list – then his wish may come true.
Bad for Good by Graham Bartlett is published on Thursday 23 June 2022 by Allison and Busby in hardback at £16.99 and as an ebook.
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