RETIRED Yorkshire firefighter Ian Jarvis has written a contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes - and set it right here in York.
Cat Flap features York 'consulting detective' Bernie Quist and his party-, beer- and girl-obsessed teenage assistant Watson.
Quist is called just before Christmas by the fiancé of a York chemist who apparently committed suicide, and asked to investigate her death. She's one of three chemists to have died in mysterious circumstances. And things get odder when Quist learns the woman whose death he's investigating never got engaged...
Then the man who employed him turns up dead. Quist and Watson's investigation leads to a shady cartel of northern businessmen, a forgotten Egyptian cult - and an ancient evil lurking in York's medieval alleyways...
We asked 57-year-old Jarvis, who now lives in Fairburn 20 miles south of York, a few questions...
Q: What were your most memorable and toughest assignments as a fire officer?
A: Many of the tougher jobs involved fatalities and it would be insensitive to speak of them here. One job that’s difficult to forget involved walking out of a house fire seconds before the whole building exploded. My lasting memories centre more on the camaraderie and the fun, along with the never-ending practical jokes. What joy it is to open a tin of soup at a barn fire in the freezing early hours, only to find someone has switched the labels with a tin of dogfood..
Q: When did you start to write?
A: I’ve been writing stories and magazine articles on and off since 97, although it’s only recently that I’ve become serious about this and swapped the fire hose for a laptop. This was due to my retirement, and the fact that a laptop is useless for extinguishing blazes...
Q: Why did you choose to set the book in York?
A: I’ve travelled extensively, but York remains one of my favourite places by far. York rivals Prague, Vienna and Saltsburg for architectural beauty and medieval splendour. Every stroll through the cobbled streets and snickleways is a stroll through history, with each turn bringing you face-to-face with Elizabethan ramparts, Tudor buildings and ancient taverns. I live close by and it seemed a natural location for these supernatural mysteries.
Q: Which local settings will York readers recognise?
A: The Shambles, the Minster and the circuit of walls, of course, but there are many other places the readers will know: the Victorian streets around Micklegate, the Golden Fleece, the King’s Arms by the river, and the police headquarters on Fulford Road. The Yorkshire Wolds to the east of the city also feature.
Q: What inspired the book?
A: Sherlock Holmes was one of the main inspirations. It’s 130 years since the character first appeared and he still continues to fascinate readers all over the globe. I wanted to write a story with similar characters in a modern setting, but it had to be something a million miles away from the Sherlock television series.
- Cat Flap by Ian Jarvis is published by MX Publishing (the 'world’s largest publisher of Sherlock Holmes stories') priced £11.99 (£5.99 ebook)