A few years ago, a group of hikers discovered the mummified body of a man, high up in the Alps. For some reason they called him Otzi.
After a forensic examination, pathologists discovered that Otzi had died 5000 years ago. Even more, he had been shot in the back with an arrow. Was he running from an enemy? Had someone ambushed him? Was he attacked and robbed?
We'll never know the truth, but that doesn't stop people from speculating. And there lies the beauty of historical detective fiction.
At the most basic level, it's trying to understand a crime that happened in the past, using the limited techniques of that time. That crime may be the real life terror of Jack the Ripper. Or the created horror of C J Sansom.
I'd been writing for most of my life, and had finished a couple of novels without ever publishing them. One day, I was re-categorising my books (as you do) and decided to change from an alphabetical author list to something more akin to the Dewey Decimal Classification.
I know, I know, either I'm terminally OCD or I have far too much time on my hands. Probably both. But I discovered that the biggest section was crime, followed by historical novels, with a wonderful cross-over between the two.
At the time, I was living in Shanghai and loving the city. Particularly, walking around the French concession and discovering the old art deco buildings that still exist in profusion.
Then a visit to the Shanghai Police Museum sealed it for me. Why not bring all those elements together in a historical crime novel set in the 1920s? Danilov was born and I began to write the first book.
I had finally turned to crime.
And, one day, I'll work out who killed Otzi.