This was our fourth author event at West Barnes Library and joining us to discuss Euro Noir was David Young and Daniel Pembrey. David’s very successful Karin Müller series is set in East Germany and the latest book, Stasi 77, finds Karin dealing with some particularly difficult murder cases that initially looked like accidents. Daniel has previously written about his Dutch cop Henk van der Pol in The Harbour Master and Night Market but has also moved to Germany for his latest WIP (work in progress) as well as California. For both of them, having a European location actually allows greater freedom for imagination. It’s hard to be objective about a place you know too well.
Imagination is one thing but they both felt it was vitally important to visit the place(s) they’re writing about. It’s one thing to look on Google Earth but quite another to actually be there and fully experience the sights, sounds and smells. As Daniel does a lot of travel journalism, he’s been able to utilise those trips for research purposes too.
David and Daniel each have two threads to their stories. David’s main thread is with Karin in East Germany in 1977 and Daniel’s is contemporary California. Their other threads are both WW2 Germany. Apart from all the research, I also wanted to know if there’s added responsibility to get things right when dealing with historical matters. Both of them spent a lot of time looking at secondary sources to ensure accuracies in their writing. As David’s WW2 thread looks at an actual event, he took the time to visit the places where it happened.
I asked how they created their protagonists. David had already set himself the hard task of writing about a closed European country set in the past, so why add the extra step of a female protagonist? David was keen to point out that women in East Germany were far more likely to be employed than women in the West. So it seemed quite natural to have a female police detective. He did have the benefit of checking with his wife and two female tutors on his MA Crime Writing course to make sure Karin was authentic. Daniel drew on his experience of living in the US for ten years to create his British private investigator who lives in LA.
I asked David and Daniel what’s next for them. David has written a book set in Japan. (I’ve also heard on the grapevine that there may be a book 5 for Karin – hooray!). Despite saying that it’s hard to be objective about a place you know well, Daniel has started something London-based but it’s very early days.
A big thank you to David and Daniel for entertaining us so well. Thank you also to the Friends of West Barnes Library for putting on the event.
To find out more about David Young and buy his books click here.
To find out more about Daniel Pembrey and buy his books click here.
We’ll be back quite soon on Monday 24th June with Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan as we discuss Murder Most Indian. Vaseem will explore the background to his Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, talking murder, priceless diamonds, and corpse-eating vultures. He will also answer the intriguing question: how do you fit an elephant into a crime story? Alex Khan meanwhile will take us behind the scenes of Bollywood where murder, sex and glamour are all in a days’ shooting. Literally.