Writer opens new chapter of regional crime adventures.
A writer has pledged to try to redress the balance in mystery fiction by writing Midland-based stories about crime.
Nick Fletcher has just completed his first crime book, Escaping the Rain, a collection of 18 short stories about revenge, gangsters and hitmen.
One of stories featured, Just a Hat and High Heels, won a prestigious awards from World Wide Writers magazine.
The book features the debut of Birmingham-based private detective, Max Slater, hired to track down the daughter of a Shropshire earl who has become involved with an infamous murder.
Another tale, Miranda's Letters, is set in the author's home town of Stoke.
Mr Fletcher, a former crime reporter, said the ultra-cynical Slater will return in a full-length novel, aimed at redressing the regional bias in crime fiction.
He said: 'Too often, crime books and television programmes are based in either London or Los Angeles, which is a bit unrealistic, or in leafy shires - like Inspector Morse.
'My experience as a journalist taught me that people murder and rob across the country. The Midlands is a big area where a lot of crime occurs, and I thought it was time to redress the balance.'
Mr Fletcher said he wrote his first crime story when he was still at school, but only started writing them again three years ago when he reached the age of 50.
He said: 'I had always been a fan of crime stories and thought I would make the effort. I particularly liked the Raymond Chandler stories which became the films Lady in the Lake, The Big Sleep, and Farewell My Lovely.
'I had spent many years reporting at court, and I came into contact with a lot of very interesting characters and situations, some of which I have tried to incorporate into my stories.
'A lot of criminals hide behind legitimate fronts for example, so I had one of my villains hiding behind a job as a property developer. All the stories are about people who are living on the edge, and in difficult situations but they also have a twist in the tale.'
Escaping the Rain is published by South Star and is priced at pounds 5.99.