Is there a ring of truth in Denzil’s latest thriller?

Jeremiah's Bell, by Denzil Meyrick, was released yesterday.
Jeremiah's Bell, by Denzil Meyrick, was released yesterday.

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Despite being one of Scotland’s best selling crime fiction authors, with sales of his acclaimed DCI Daley novels soaring above one million copies worldwide, Denzil Meyrick insists he will always have time for his fans and friends at home in Campbeltown.

The author, who now lives on Loch Lomondside with his wife Fiona, spoke to the Courier on Monday ahead of the launch of the celebrated book series’ eighth instalment, Jeremiah’s Bell, on Thursday June 4.

The book explores the events surrounding the arrival of rich American hotelier Alice Wenger in Kinloch, the series’ fictional town which is based on Campbeltown.

Meanwhile, the secretive Doig family live a solitary existence on a remote part of the Kintyre peninsula, without even the basic amenities of modern life. After the family’s patriarch falls to his death, secrets of stolen gold, whisky smuggling, shipwrecks and brutal events going back decades begin to emerge.

With emotions running high in Kinloch Police Office, the team must put aside their own problems and get to the bottom of a sickening crime.

Denzil describes the book as ‘a wee bit darker’ than those which precede it in the series.

‘It’s a bit more enclosed,’ he said. ‘Some of the books are painted on a bigger canvas, with a lot of characters, but this one is a bit more focused on this family and its relationship with this woman.’

Denzil explained that the book also delves into some other fascinating issues, including prohibition and unorthodox medical practices.

He said: ‘During prohibition, Campbeltown was a major supplier of whisky to the gangsters in America, and it’s no coincidence that not long after prohibition stopped, Campbeltown, which at one point had 32 distilleries, had very, very few.

‘There is also a wee bit about a terrible medical technique that was used on people suffering from anything from depression to insomnia, which I discovered and was horrified by. I thought I had to include it in a book, not only because it would make a good story but also to expose that the practice had gone on and still does in some parts of the world.

‘It’s hopefully got a wee bit for everyone – there is still the humour and the local warmth and the scenery, everything people expect from the previous books.’

Crucially, Denzil revealed that readers will quickly discover the outcome of the cliffhanger which ended the previous book, A Breath on Dying Embers.

‘I try to make every book a wee bit different,’ he added, ‘to keep them fresh and the readers entertained. A lot of writers find a formula and stick to it so you could say every book is the same, and I never want to fall into that trap.

‘When you have long-running characters like I have, you want them to do something unexpected and different. That happens in this book – things that you think are there forever and are permanent, aren’t necessarily so.’

The book has already had some great reviews, being described as ‘absorbing’ by The Times, ‘compelling’ by Publishers Weekly, and ‘spellbinding’ by the Sunday Post.

Due to the restrictions in place because of coronavirus, there will be no official book launch to mark the release of Jeremiah’s Bell, but there will be plenty of digital offerings to satisfy fans looking for more.

Denzil plans to share an interview he recorded with Stuart Cosgrove, of Off the Ball fame, on his YouTube channel, his website and on his social media feeds on the day of publication, as well as hosting a live question and answer session on Facebook.

He added: ‘I like to come home to do book launch events because without Campbeltown and Kintyre I probably wouldn’t have gotten where I am. People really got behind the first book so I always like to come home and touch base.

‘But books seem very unimportant at a time like this. There is far more going on, like the tragedies that are happening all over the world.’

Denzil believes many people have either rediscovered the joys of reading or are experiencing it for the first time in a bid to battle the boredom of lockdown.

Asked if he is enjoying more free time himself, Denzil explained that he is as busy as ever, having just finished writing a novella, set in 1967 and featuring a young Hamish, as well as another novel which is about Paisley gangsters and is a departure from the DCI Daley series.

And it looks like Denzil won’t have time for a rest anytime soon as he has lots of exciting projects in the pipeline – watch this space for more news.