Interview with Denzil Meyrick
The Scottish crime fiction scene has never been more effervescent. We picked ten of the leading writers, but as Denzil Meyrick told the Crime Hub in our lead piece on this genre, there are many more…
Denzil Meyrick, a former police officer, born in Glasgow, burst onto the scene in 2012 with bestselling, Whisky in Small Glasses. His seventh book in this evocative, tartan-noir series, featuring DCI Jim Daley, A Breath On Dying Embers, is out now.
The Crime Hub tracked him down on the banks of Loch Lomond…
Denzil, a former career as an officer in the Strathclyde Police must have been the perfect training for a crime thriller writer? How much of that life is reflected in your novels?
This was the 80s – very different days, certainly as far as policing is concerned.
My Brian Scott is king of the old days. Ask any police officer, they don’t relate to each other the way they are portrayed on some famous TV police dramas. No clues, apart from OCG, CSM and UCO!
I suppose I also have an idea of the authentic enquiry process. Very handy. Mind you, if a member of the public sat in on a real murder case they’d likely be bored to tears. Our books are fiction, certainly not reportage.
Your books are well known for their light touches of dark humour, a difficult tone to master in this genre. Anyone who has ever worked in the criminal justice system will recognise the gallows humour they share with colleagues just to get through the day. Is that something you remember from your time in the force?
I retained a memory of that dark, gallows humour that pervades the emergency services. Of course, though it may sound strange to the layman, it’s a coping mechanism. These hard working people have to deal with the worst side of humanity on a daily basis. Having a ‘laugh’ as fatalistic as it sounds, is often the only way to keep going.
Another source of it is the unique environs – Kintyre and Campbeltown, the real Kinloch. Here you’ll find much warmth and humour, akin to the Daley books. You should make it your go-to destination.
You had a varied career after you left the police, even a spell managing a distillery! Was there a light bulb moment when you decided to start writing?
I spent much more time in business than in the police. But I did write promotional copy, and worked as a freelance journalist. So, in effect, I was writing all the time.
My ambition was always to pen a novel. When I was bed-bound with arthritis, I decided it was time to realise that ambition. Whisky from Small Glasses was the result.
A Breath on Dying embers, your latest novel in the DCI Daley series, is available now. Can you tell our readers something about the story?
On a UK government trade push, a luxury cruise liner is circumnavigating the British coast. The ship’s passengers are some of the richest and most notable businesses folk on the planet. When they get to Kinloch, what can go wrong?
I explore modern themes.
It’s the most emotional Daley novel I’ve written to date, from a personal perspective. Look out for social issues and conflicts, old and new.
Is there another novel in the pipeline?
I’ve just signed a new agency deal with Bell Lomax Moreton. We have big plans, including a one-off darkly satirical novel and a brand new series. This time from the point of view of the criminal.
Watch this space!
There’s a wealth of great Scottish crime writers out there. Do you have any particular favourites?
The big names are obvious. Rankin, McDermid and MacBride are stand-out writers.
Denzil Meyrick, thanks for talking to The Crime Hub
An absolute pleasure.
Denzil tweets from @lochlomonden