Before I continue posting extracts, here's a bit about my book:
The Grey Area is a novel of approximately 93,000 words, divided into thirteen chapters. Although in part it uses the tropes of detective fiction, and is subtitled “A Mystery”, it is not a conventional crime or mystery novel.
The narrative is set in a fictional landscape, but one which will be familiar to those acquainted with coastal locations in Sussex and Kent. Most of the action takes place between the village of Deadhurst and the nearby settlement and fishing community of Deadmans Beach, with excursions into the marshlands beyond.
The central characters are:
• Phidias Peralta, a private detective, who is living illegally in a unit within the Dead Level Business Park, and appears to be fleeing some private demons from his past.
• Lucy White, his assistant, a single mother living in Deadmans Beach with her seven-year-old son George.
The story proceeds by way of three “modes”, which alternate:
1. The ongoing narrative of Phidias Peralta, which, despite describing events and situations from his point of view, never uses the first person singular.
2. Diary entries by Lucy White – mainly about her concern for her son, who is not doing well at school, and her relationship with his father.
3. Passages of dialogue in which the speakers are not directly identified, although they nearly always involve Phidias and/or Lucy.
The plot involves an investigation into the unexplained disappearance of a lady in her late eighties, Edith Watkins, who was suspected to be suffering from dementia. It takes the detective into explorations of the hinterland where anything might happen.
Without too much spoiling, it is fair to say that the mystery deepens and is never definitively "solved", although some insight is gained by the end.