"A masterpiece. A fantastic book."
"Fallen Idols is a whirlwind of a novel. It would certainly be on my list of recommended books to take with you on a beach holiday, or to while away the dark hours of a winter's evening ... fast-paced, gutsy thriller ... which I defy you to put down!"
"this is a story worth reading ....Neil White will be someone to watch for the future.."
"One to watch"
"a terrific thriller"
Law Society Gazette
"A dazzling debut novel."
"if you want a racy crime thriller, then this book is the one for you."
Deccan Herald, India
EVERYONE WOULD KILL FOR THEIR FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME ...
Fallen Idols was my debut novel, first published worldwide in 2007 by Avon, an imprint of HarperCollins.
The book introduces the two characters who run throughout my first five books, freelance crime reporter Jack Garrett and London-based detective Laura McGanity. The basic sypnosis is this:
When Henri Dumas, a soccer player, is shot and killed in London, Jack decides to write a feature on England's top soccer player, David Watts, as they are both from the same small Lancashire town, Turners Fold. Laura McGanity is working on the Dumas murder, and Jack uses her sometimes as an inside source.
When Jack returns north and delves further into David Watts, he starts to see a connection with the murder of Annie Paxman ten years earlier, and the more he looks into it, the more he puts himself and others into danger.
When I started to write Fallen Idols, I had one goal: to write a book I wanted to read. I read pacy, fast-moving thrillers, and writers like Lee Child were my inspiration.
Despite it's English setting, Fallen Idols does have an American background, as when I started to write it, I wrote it initially set in America, for no other reason than I tend to prefer American thrillers. The story was set around someone shooting baseball players during games, and the connection between the shootings and the murder of a young girl in Indiana ten years earlier, found dead on the high school pitching mound.
I spent some very pleasant time in Rockville, Indiana, as well as Chicago, and Jack Garrett is named after Garrett, Indiana, as it was the high school I used as the model for the fictional high school.
After finishing the book, I decided to rewrite it and set it in England, as I could not get it to feel American enough. A publishing deal quickly followed, and upon its release it was nominated for the World Book Day Award, which was a real thrill.
The story itself is really about celebrity, and although it involves soccer players, it is not about soccer. There is not one single scene in or around a football match. At one point, I considered rewriting it and making Z-list celebrities the nub of the book, as there is nothing more needy, it would seem, than a minor celebrity trying to get into the limelight. I stuck with soccer players in the end, just because sports stars are the ultimate version of celebrity.
The main problem I had in writing the book was deciding where to set it, once I had decided to write it again as an English thriller. The old cotton towns of Lancashire didn't seem particularly glamorous at first but, when I started to look around a little more, I began to see beauty in the landscape and old towns that I hadn't previously noticed, where even the old abandoned wharf and mill buildings have a real melancholy charm, because they told the story of the people around me.
The more precise setting for the book, Turners Fold, is meant to represent a typical small Lancashire cotton town: a bit down on its luck, all green hills and faded glory. I scouted the area, and the town that fitted the bill best was Great Harwood, a small town just outside of Blackburn The old brick aviary and park that appear in Fallen idols were lifted straight from Great Harwood.
The other dilemma I had was in deciding on the occupation of the lead male character. I am a criminal lawyer by profession, so it was tempting to make the lead character a lawyer. In the end, I backed away from that idea, as I realised that I would become obsessed with making the book legally-accurate rather than making it interesting. A crime fiction book should not be inaccurate on the law, but the book should be about the story, not the law. By making Jack Garrett a reporter, it allowed me to tell the story without getting bogged down by the techinicalities of the courtroom, and I liked the conflict created by his involvement with Laura McGanity, as he wants to know things she is not allowed to tell.
I was pleased with the response to Fallen Idols. To see my book on a shelf was great, but to be nominated for an award was pretty special, and four years after the release, it made the top 20 in the ebook chart, following on from the success of Cold Kill.