Organised crime comes to the shores of Loch Melfort

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A former senior police officer turned crime writer, who launched his latest novel Shores of Death this month, says he found fresh inspiration for the book on the shores of Loch Melfort.

Peter Ritchie, a former fisherman and retired senior police officer from Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, delivers real-world authenticity in his novels through his vast experience gained working in CID, murder squads, serious and regional crime squads and Europol.

Peter told The Oban Times he has been holidaying at the Pier Lodges at Melfort Pier and Harbour, Kilmelford for many years: ‘I have put a lot of words on paper there, in between enjoying the wonderful scenery.

‘The north end of the loch is where some dramatic action takes place between a team of Newcastle gangsters and a specialist police team headed by Macallan.’

This is Peter’s third book with protagonist DCI Grace Macallan. Originally reassigned to the newly formed Lothian and Borders Major Crime Team, Grace is facing a crisis, unsure of her future or whether she is strong enough to carry on with a role in serious crime investigation. Asked to take over an enquiry that will test her to the limit, she struggles with events that threaten to run out of control.

An undercover officer is missing and a young woman is washed up barely alive on the Berwickshire coast. The story is complex, a web involving trafficked women from Eastern Europe and alliance of ruthless criminals from Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

At the head of this corporation is Pete Handyside a dangerous career criminal brought up on the streets of North Shields who controls organised crime in the North East of England. He realises his team has been infiltrated and sets off a train of events where some of the most cold-blooded criminals in the North East of England and Central Scotland turn on each other in an attempt to clean the trail of evidence leading to them.

Grace must now pit her wits against Handyside, a brutal criminal devoid of pity who will stop at nothing to protect what he has built up over the years. And with lives at stake, one wrong move could end in tragedy.

Peter continued: ‘This is the most complex story I’ve written so far and what I love about it was I was able to use the experience of my early life as a deep sea fisherman working from North Shields on the banks of the Tyne. Those experiences had a profound effect on the way I saw the world and the hardships at sea taught me some painful lessons.

‘When I fist started my time at sea my first summers were spent working from Oban at the hake and then langoustine fishing, and I fell in love with the whole area and, of course, the islands. One of my favourite spots is Loch Melfort.’

The Grace Macallan books are published by Black and White, and Shores of Death is now available to purchase.