The Body In The Marsh – Nick Louth #blogtour

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I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour today for The Body In The Marsh written by Nick Louth and published by Canelo. Many thanks to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour.

When a woman goes missing, it gets personal for DCI Craig Gillard. But he could never imagine what happens next.

Criminologist Martin Knight lives a gilded life and is a thorn in the side of the police. But then his wife Liz goes missing. There is no good explanation and no sign of Martin…

To make things worse, Liz is the ex-girlfriend of DCI Craig Gillard who is drawn into the investigation. Is it just a missing person or something worse? And what relevance do the events around the shocking Girl F case, so taken up by Knight, have to do with the present?

The truth is darker than you could ever have imagined.

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Nick Louth is a best-selling thriller writer, award-winning financial journalist and an investment commentator. A 1979 graduate of the London School of Economics, he went on to become a Reuters foreign correspondent in 1987. It was an experience at a medical conference in Amsterdam in 1992, while working for Reuters, that gave him the inspiration for Bite, which was self-published in 2007 and went on to become the UK No. 1 Kindle best-seller for several weeks in 2014 before being snapped up by Sphere. It has sold a third of a million copies, and been translated into six languages.

The terrorism thriller Heartbreaker was published in June 2014 and received critical acclaim from Amazon readers, with a 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 100 reviews. Mirror Mirror, subtitled ‘When evil and beauty collide’ was published in June 2016. The Body in the Marsh, a crime thriller, is being published by Canelo in September 2017.

Freelance since 1998, he has been a regular contributor to the Financial Times, Investors
Chronicle and Money Observer, and has published seven other books. Nick Louth is married and lives in Lincolnshire.

What is your most recent novel? Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
In The Body in the Marsh, my main character is DCI Craig Gillard. It is his unique connection to the missing woman Liz Knight that gives the book its narrative drive and power. It makes his determination to find out what happened to her much more than professional, it’s personal, and it also intensifies his dislike of her husband Martin, the man who stole her heart all those years ago. That drives him to make assumptions about Martin’s guilt which a more detached officer might not. Love twists reason, and it can also freeze a heart, even in this case that of an otherwise tough professional. Some bloggers have disliked the fact that Gillard is still in love with Liz, even though she dumped him thirty years ago, but enduring love is no stranger to fiction in general, evn though it may be rare in crime fiction. Probably the most extreme case is Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, where the protagonist incubates his obsession for fifty years.

How do you think you have evolved creatively?
My own creative evolution does not derive directly from any of these, but are driven by the plot ideas that come to me, often as I am just waking up. Occasionally such a profusion of ideas come that I have to scramble up and write them down. There is nothing worse than having a great idea at 5am then having forgotten it by 9am! There are always more book plots or vignettes than I can ever use. That means that every book I write is standalone, rather than part of a series, and often crosses sub-genres, because that is where the ideas lead me.

What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have one favourite book. I have always liked the works of Graham Greene, for the moral dilemmas he portrays, and like so many I loved the Lord of the Rings for the astounding mythical word that Tolkien created. If there is one book I wish I had written it is Greene’s The Heart of the Matter because of the way it captures a creeping moral corruption. Among commercial fiction writers I enjoy Robert Harris for protagonists who are ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances, and Gillian Flynn for the evocative quality of her writing. Mo Hayder has written some terrifying and original books, while Nicci French (apparently a writing partnership) has written some consistently excellent psychological thrillers.

Do you read much and if so, which writers inspire you?
I read as much as I have time for, so the answer is ‘not enough’ but it is essential to see what is happening in the market place. Aspiring writers have to be singleminded to just get their book down. Whatever it is, it should be roughed out quickly, chapter by chapter without attempting to make anything firm or fixed. Getting to the end, knowing roughly how your plot will finish is very important in that earliest stage. Too many writers spend a long time trying to get the first few chapters perfected but never finish the book. For me characters only really exist once I have got them down in dialogue, so I know their voices. Others may have different routes.


Scafell, Lake District. Friday, 16 October 2016
Three o’clock on a Friday afternoon. Freezing rain was driving in horizontally, the gunmetal rock face glossy. Craig Gillard gritted his teeth and risked a glance below. Two pitches up Botterill’s Slab on Scafell’s Central Buttress, one of Britain’s toughest rock climbs. Rags and banners of cloud cavorted beneath, masking the harsh fans of scree hundreds of feet below and the serpentine path further out towards Mickledore and Wasdale Head car park.

A long weekend in the Lake District, 300 miles north of his Surrey base, was the way to forget about being a detective. Here he wasn’t a chief inspector, and there was no respect, just one 48-year-old man, a few slings and some slender bits of steel against the elements and the insistent pull of gravity. He was scared. But getting gripped here, on the hardest solo climb he’d ever done, was more intense than the flecks of fear that peppered police work. Over the years he’d faced down knife-wielding drug dealers, been wounded in a shotgun blast and felt the gnawing in the pit of his stomach before a drugs raid. This was different. More than the cold and the wind, it was him against himself. Pushing out to his own unknown limits. Mastering fear. Fighting fatigue.

The next rain blast brought icy fingernails trickling down his neck and between his tensed shoulder blades. The weather had been okay when he started: overcast and a light south-westerly, but the strengthening westerly and rain had come earlier than predicted. His left hand was getting chilled from where he’d dug out the choss, bits of soil and rubble, stuck in one of the cracks lower down. He’d got a skin flapper from a graze, which was bleeding slightly, and he wanted to take a breather to tape the wound closed. Two of those left-hand fingers – third and little – were numb, which wasn’t a great sign as he wasn’t quite halfway up. He let go of the crimp, clipped his sling to the nearest bolt with a karabiner, and fished a roll of medical tape from an external pocket.

A heavy squall blasted in, rocking Gillard on his precarious perch. Heavy cloud filtered only a sallow light, and rivulets of water ran down the rock face. As he wound the tape over the graze he glanced down, drawn by movement on the ground. There was a dog running around something by a boulder in the bracken. He reached around to his rucksack, undid the clips and rooted through for binoculars. He looped the Zeiss Terra’s strap around his neck, insurance against clumsy fingers, and pressed the freezing lenses to his eyes. A woman, lying on her side. She was wearing an olive-green cagoule, dark-blue hat and pink leggings. She was a good few hundred metres above the path and out of view of it. The hurrying walkers below, hoods up, faces to the path, had their backs to the driving sleet, everyone going in one direction. Down, away from her. No one could see her.

A twisted knee or ankle, up here on a day like this. Potentially fatal.

He bellowed down to the woman, but she was upwind. Hopeless. The howling gusts tore his words away. In return came a shower of polystyrene-like pellets of ice which bounced off every surface and stung his face. The temperature had dropped several degrees in just the last minute, and a slate-grey wedge of snow cloud was building to the west. The woman would need help. He reached into his jacket, slid out his iPhone.

And dropped it.

The plastic casing smacked once against the granite face and cartwheeled into the void, lost to sight in a second. He allowed himself two seconds’ inventive cursing, then returned methodically to the task in hand: rearranging his gear, and beginning a series of careful but rapid belay descents, wishing he’d brought a rope to be able to move faster. The wind was sometimes horizontal, sometimes from below, every gust laden with icy, lashing fragments. It felt like an hour, but he was down on the top edge of the scree in less than 20 minutes.

He forced his unfeeling digits to unclip his rucksack, extracting mountain boots, gaiters and mittens. It was as hard as dressing with chopsticks. Then he hunted for heat pads, fumbling to tear the wrapping with his teeth. In the rucksack he had chocolate, water, an exposure bag, an orienteering compass, first aid kit and a powerful LED torch. Once finished, he turned back into the blinding sleet and threw himself diagonally across one scree gully after another, towards where he’d seen her. Long, sliding strides, each bringing a mini-avalanche of rocks and pebbles around his ankles. As he crested a ridge he saw her, now sitting with her back to a house-sized rock in the lee of the snow. She waved frantically at him, and he loped over.

‘Thank God,’ she said, her face pink with cold and framed by fronds of dark wet hair. She was shivering, and her fingers bone-white. ‘I’ve hurt my leg chasing the bloody dog,’ she said. The young black Labrador wagged his tail and leaned against her winsomely.

‘I guessed as much. We need to get you off this mountain quickly.’

She had on cheap-looking trainers – soaked, muddy and worn out. A thin cagoule, a soaking hat. No proper boots, no exposure bag, no gloves, no compass or map, no whistle. No idea, clearly. She looked 30 or so, old enough to know better. A lecture was playing in Craig’s head, but he had other priorities.

‘Put these on,’ Craig said, sliding off his mittens.

‘What about you?’ she said, putting them on anyway. ‘Your hands look frozen too.’

‘I have a thinner pair of gloves in my bag,’ he lied. ‘So what’s your name?’


‘I’m Craig.’

If you would like to follow the The Body In The Marsh Blog Tour, you can do so at the following dates:
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