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What is Rock Noir?

A new crime genre for a media generation

Crime writing is infamous for its various genre. They vary from cozy crime to hardboiled. In between, readers have shown their love of police procedural, international thrillers, pulp, forensic and legal genres.

The rise of Scandinavian Noir from Swedish and Norwegian authors is now being met by the deeply flawed Scottish detectives of Tartan Noir.

I’m calling a new trend: Rock Noir.

It’s crime that’s set within the excesses and indulgence of the music and entertainment industries. It taps into the seedy existence that lies beyond the glamour and power that parade so comfortably in the spotlight of media.

Make no mistake, this is a complete different universe to those created by the likes of Ian Rankin, who draws upon the moody ambiance of Edinburgh for his main character Rebus, or Henning Mankell’s Wallender, who endures dark winters and endless summer days in the Swedish town of Ystad.

Rock Noir genre has been building for a while and in the past few years, we’ve seen the rise of bold and edgy new television writing from Netflix and HBO.

Shows such as Ray Donovan, Vinyl, Californication and Ballers, indulge our fascination for learning about complexity and mess of the lives of those who work behind the scenes supporting of the fabulous and famous.

They combine fast-paced and dryly observed action within the outrageous egos, drama and self-destructive behaviour of Hollywood, music, sport and celebrity.

I particularly enjoy Ballers and the performance of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson. Its plot is can be a bit thin but the characterisation of Johnson as a sports agent, and the dysfunctional sports stars and administrations feels spot on.

If you ever needed to be convinced that sport really is just entertainment, this show makes a good case.

When I created Billy Lime, I wanted to place my character in a setting that was not restricted to the streets and alleyways of a particular town. The answer had to offer consistency or the novels would never hold together as a series.

Music was the perfect setting. No industry has been so hammered by the digital revolution yet maintained its popularity and cultural importance across the world. Here was a stage where intrigue and action could mix with real-world principles of integrity and ethics.

The darkness within the cut-throat world of music contrasts against the brightness of the stage spotlights into which every performer steps.

We all have favourite songs, and bands and singers who touch our souls yet many of them lose perspective in their world of excess and struggle to stop their own lives careering hopelessly off course.

In Rock Noir, readers have an opportunity to explore a world that is exciting and fascinating. It also reveals to them the darker side of their favourite stars and the deeds that put them on your pedestal.

Confronting, yes. But you simply cannot turn away.

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