With a Little Bit of Luck*

If you’ve ever had a very lucky thing happen to you, then you know that sometimes, luck really does happen. And lots of people believe in luck, too. They carry ‘lucky’ charms, wear ‘lucky’ clothes, and so on. And there are many people who are just waiting for that one lucky break that will make all the difference to them.

In reality, of course, luck doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes, lucky things happen; sometimes they don’t. And it can be extremely frustrating – and limiting – for people who are just waiting for their break. The way people feel about luck can add to a story. It can provide interesting layers to a character, and it can increase the tension in a plot. We can see how this works, just from a quick look at crime fiction.

In Agatha Christie’s Death in the Clouds, we are introduced to Lady Cecily Horbury. She’s a former chorus girl who’s married Lord Stephen Horbury, and now lives a life of luxury. The problem is, though, that she is fond of gambling – very fond of it – and has run up a great deal of debt. It doesn’t help matters that she is also a cocaine user. She’s convinced that all she needs is one lucky break, perhaps a huge win at the tables, to set things right. Still, her husband has made it clear that he will no longer be responsible for her debts, so she is desperate for money. She borrowed from a French moneylender who does business as Madame Giselle; and, at first, that worked out well. But everything went wrong when she couldn’t pay what she owed. Madame Giselle’s form of ‘collateral’ is to collect compromising information on each of her clients, and reveal it only if the client doesn’t pay. And she’s got evidence that Cecily Horbury has been unfaithful – evidence that she’s planning to send to Lord Horbury. One day, Madame Giselle happens to be on a flight from Paris to London. At the end of the flight, she suddenly dies of what looks like a heart attack, but turns out to be poison. Since she is on the same flight, Lady Horbury becomes a suspect, and a ‘person of interest’ to Chief Inspector Japp and Hercule Poirot.

Gene Kerrigan’s The Rage is, in part, the story of Vincent Naylor. He’s recently been released from prison, but he’s been in and out of trouble with the law for some time. Now, he’s determined that he’s not going to take a big risk any more unless the payoff is worth it. But he and his girlfriend, Michelle Flood, want to get out and start over. And for that, all Naylor needs is a bit of luck – a payoff that will set them up. So, he, his brother Noel, and a few friends, plan an armed robbery. Their target will be Protectica, a security company that transfers cash among banks. The robbery goes off as planned, but then, things start going very, very wrong, and the whole thing ends in real tragedy.

There’s a different sort of luck needed in Belinda Bauer’s Blacklands. Twelve-year-old Steven Lamb lives with his mother, his brother, and his grandmother in a small Exmoor town. But it’s not a happy family. The family hasn’t really been whole since Steven’s Uncle Billy Peters went missing nineteen years earlier. He was never found, and the family is suffering. Steven wants to help his family heal, so he decides to at least try to find Uncle Billy’s body. All he needs, he thinks, is a shovel and some luck. But, of course, it’s a large area, and he finds nothing. Then, he gets another idea. The man long suspected of killing Uncle Billy is Arnold Avery, who’s in prison on other child murder charges. Steven decides to try to get Avery to tell him where Uncle Billy’s body is. So, he writes to Avery. Avery responds. Thus starts an increasingly dangerous game of cat and mouse between the two.

In Patricia Melo’s The Body Snatcher, we are introduced to the unnamed narrator, who is a former telephone salesman. He’s recently moved from São Paulo to the town of Corumbá, not far from the Bolivian border, where he’s settled down. What he and his girlfriend, Sulamita, would really like is a chance to move away, get their own land, and start their lives together. But neither has the money to do that. All that’s needed is some luck, but neither has had much of that. Then, one day, the narrator happens to witness a small plane crash. He rushes to the site, and discovers that the pilot has been killed. But, he’s left behind a backpack and a watch. The narrator takes those things, and returns home, where he discovers to his shock that the backpack contains cocaine. He decides to sell the cocaine – just this once – to get the money he and Sulamita will need to start over. And that’s where the trouble starts. Before long, everything spirals very badly out of control.

That’s also what happens to Gary Braswell in Blair Denholm’s Sold. He’s a car salesman who lives and works on the Gold Coast. He’s gotten himself into some debt to a dangerous (and illegal) bookmaker, and now needs money desperately. All he needs is some luck – some big sales – and he’ll be all right. It seems that al will be well when a Russian land developer arranges for some expensive cars for himself, his wife, and his daughters. And, in fact, Braswell gets the money he needs to pay off his debt. But then, things start to go very, very wrong. He gets drawn into an illegal drug deal, a money laundering scheme, and more. And now, he will need an awful lot more than luck if he’s going to survive and get out of the mess he’s in.

Sometimes, all you need is a little luck. And there are plenty of people, both real and fiction, who are just waiting for that lucky break. But, as crime fiction shows, it doesn’t always work out that way…


*NOTE: The title of this post is the title of a song by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Belinda Bauer, Blair Denholm, Gene Kerrigan, Patricia Melo

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere*

Many young people choose to travel before they settle down to jobs and adult responsibilities. Some do a gap year before university. Others travel after they finish university. Still others travel instead of going to university. Either way, that year or so of travel can add a real richness to one’s life, and some memorable experiences.

Of course, that sort of travel can lead to all sorts of unforeseen circumstance. Just a quick look at crime fiction is all it takes to show that gap years and other travel experiences can have very unexpected outcomes.

In Agatha Christie’s Hickory, Dickory Dock, we are introduced to Sally Finch. She is from the US, but she’s studying in London under a Fulbright Scholarship, and is living in a hostel for students. All goes well until one of a pair of her evening shoes goes missing. At first, it seems like a mean, but not dangerous, prank. Then, other things go missing. Now, Sally’s worried about what’s going on in the hostel. The manager, Mrs. Hubbard, invites Hercule Poirot to do a little discreet investigation, and he agrees. On the night of his visit, another resident, Celia Austin, confesses to taking some of the things (including Sally’s shoe), and everyone thinks the matter is settled. The next night, though, Celia dies. It’s soon proven that she was murdered, and now Sally’s mixed up in it all. It’s certainly not the experience she’d planned when she came to London.

John Dickson Carr’s Hag’s Nook features an American named Tad Rampole. He’s recently finished his university studies and has decided to travel a bit before he settles into adult life. His university mentor suggested that, since he’s planning to be in England, he should pay a visit to Dr. Gideon Fell. Rampole takes that advice and makes the arrangements. On his way to Fell’s home, he meets a young woman named Dorothy Starberth. He’s smitten right away, and the feeling is mutual. Later, Fell tells Rampole a strange story about the Starberths, It seems that, for two generations, the Starberth men were Governors at a nearby prison, which has now fallen into disuse. There’s still a family ritual associated with the prison, and it’s now the turn of Dorothy’s brother Martin, to participate. He’s concerned, because several of the Starberth men have died violent deaths. Tragically, Martin dies, too. Mostly because of his feelings for Dorothy, Rampole works with Fell to find out the truth about the murder.

Cath Staincliffe’s Half the World Away is the story of Lori Maddox, who decides to do a gap year backpacking in South East Asia. Her mother, Jo, and stepfather, Nick, support her choices, although, of course, they’re concerned, as any parents would be. Lori begins her trip and keeps in regular contact at first. She blogs about her adventures, she sends emails, and so on. Then, the contact starts to become a little more erratic. At first, there’s no reason to really worry. The gap year can be the adventure of a lifetime, so it’s natural for young people to get distracted. Then, Lori stops communicating at all. Now, Jo is really worried. She turns for support to Lori’s father, Tom, and together, the two decide they need to go and find their daughter. Lori was last known to be in Chengdu, China, where she was teaching English, so that’s where Tom and Jo travel. When they get there, they get very little help from the local authorities. Even their consul can’t be of much assistance, because it’s in the interest of the local police to preserve the area’s reputation. So, Jo and Tom will have to find out the truth on their own.

In Charity Norman’s See You in September, Cassy Howells and her boyfriend, Hamish, are planning a trip to New Zealand as a break between their university studies and taking up adult life. They’re planning to volunteer for a few weeks, and then explore the country. Cassy’s parents, Diana and Mike, are excited for her, but, of course, concerned, as you’d expect. Things go well at first. But Cassy and Hamish start arguing, as couples do. That adds tension to their relationship. Then, Cassy discovers to her shock that she’s pregnant. When Hamish makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be a father, the two break up, and Cassy’s left alone and vulnerable. She’s rescued by a group of people who live on an eco-commune. They invite her stay with them for a few days so that she can decide what to do next. Cassy gratefully accepts and joins the group. Little by little, she feels comfortable with them, and in the end, she decides to stay with them. Soon enough, it’s clear that she’s joined a cult which is led by a charismatic man named Justin. Meanwhile, her parents, particularly Diana, are quite worried about her. She’s cut off contact, and in other ways is no longer the Cassy they thought they knew. So, they decide to go and get her. By this time, though, Cassy is fully integrated into the cult; she even has a new name, Cairo. In the meantime, Justin has revealed that the Last Day is coming, and that could spell disaster for the group. Now, the question is: can Diana and Mike get Cassy/Cairo to leave before tragedy strikes?

And then there’s Gail Bowen’s A Darkness of the Heart, which features her sleuth, retired academician and political scientist Joanne Kilbourn Shreve. In one plot thread of this novel, her daughter, Taylor, has just finished secondary school, and decides to take a gap year. Her reasoning makes sense, but that doesn’t mean Joanne doesn’t have any concerns. I admit I’ve not (yet) read this book; I’m a book or two behind in the series. But if you want to read more about it, visit Bill Selnes at Mysteries and More From Saskatchewan, who did an excellent review.

Gap years and other travel can be exciting and fulfilling adventures for young people. They can also be quite dangerous, and you never quite know what will happen. Little wonder this plot point comes up in crime fiction.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Alan Menken’s Belle (Reprise).


Filed under Agatha Christie, Cath Staincliffe, Charity Norman, Gail Bowen, John Dickson Carr

In The Spotlight: Stella Duffy’s The Hidden Room

Hello, All,

Welcome to another edition of In The Spotlight. This week, we’re continuing our special look at the finalists for this year’s Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Novel. Today, let’s turn the spotlight on Stella Duffy’s The Hidden Room.

Laurie and Martha have a successful marriage and are loving parents to three teenage children: Hope, Ana, and Jack. Laurie has gotten serious notice as an architect and is starting to enjoy some real success. And she’s finally found some peace. Originally adopted from China, she grew up in a cult, in the American desert. She left the cult, but then returned. It wasn’t until later, in her early adult years, that she made a permanent break. For her, Martha and the children represent the solid normal life she never had.

It’s a good life, too. They’ve got a beautiful home in the country, just the sort of place they want. And Laurie does love her work. Things begin to fray a bit when she and Martha begin to be concerned about Hope. She recently broke up with her boyfriend, so it was to be expected that she’d have a rough time. But she’s now become obsessed with dance. She’s not eating properly, she’s exercising and dancing more than is good for her and is showing other signs that worry her parents.

As if that’s not enough, Laurie learns that her past has caught up with her. Someone she knew long ago, and has been avoiding for years, has found her. And that could spell disaster for her and her family. Now, Laurie is faced with some awful choices. Can she protect her family without revealing too much of her past? And what will those secrets mean for her relationship with Martha? In the meantime, Martha isn’t telling Laurie everything, either. As it turns out, the secrets both are keeping could turn into tragedy for everyone.

This isn’t a traditional crime story, where there is a crime – often murder – and an investigation. That said, though, there are crimes committed in the novel, and we slowly learn about them as we learn the truth about both Laurie and Martha. But this isn’t a case of a guilty person being caught and then led away in handcuffs. Readers who prefer books that end in that way will notice this.

One of the major elements in the story is its depiction of life in a cult. The group that raised Laurie was run by a charismatic man named Abraham, and Duffy shows how his magnetism impacted everyone. At the same time as Laurie was terrified of him, and wanted to get away, she was also deeply drawn to him. Life in the group was quite regimented, with everyone having tasks to do, and very clear expectations for dress, conduct, and so on. Duffy shares the details of what it’s like to live this sort of life, and readers get a chance to ‘go inside,’ so to speak. Since Laurie grew up this way, she didn’t see it as anything but normal, and that still has an impact on her sometimes. But it wasn’t normal at all, and she knows that, too. Her experiences in the cult have left permanent marks on her personality and her reactions to life.

But this doesn’t mean that Laurie is either non-functioning or overly frail. She is bright, successful in her career, and a loving and caring parent. She has a stable relationship with Martha, too, although they have bad moments, as all couples do. Readers who are tired of protagonists who cannot interact or have relationships will be pleased that that doesn’t happen here.

And that’s another important element in the novel: the family and the bonds among them. There are arguments, misunderstandings, bad days, and some resentment. But this isn’t a dysfunctional family where people sabotage one another. The menace – the danger to the family – comes from outside.

And there is real danger. It’s not really so much physical; in fact, there isn’t much physical violence in the novel, although it’s there. The suspense is much more psychological, and so is the tension. I don’t want to say more, for fear of spoilers. But there are moments of real creepiness that come from the psychological tension.

The timeline of the novel isn’t strictly chronological. Some chapters take place in the present, as Martha and Laurie become aware of the danger to them and their family. Other chapters tell Laurie’s story, and we learn, little by little, how she came to be the person she is, and what it all means for her life now. Readers who prefer one timeline will notice this. That said, though, it’s clear (at least to me) which part of the storyline is the focus of each chapter.

It’s also worth noting that the point of view sometimes changes. Much of the story is told from Laurie’s perspective (third person, past tense). Part of it is told from Martha’s (also third person, past tense). Readers who prefer just one point of view will notice this. Readers who prefer to ‘get in the heads’ of more than one character will appreciate it.

The Hidden Room is the story of a family whose future is threatened when a dangerous part of the past comes back to haunt one of its members. It also shows the complications that can come up when people keep secrets, even if they do so to try to protect others. It takes place in the English countryside and in the American Southwest desert and features two strong female protagonists who determined to keep their family safe. But what’s your view? Have you read The Hidden Room? If you have, what elements do you see in it?


Coming Up On In The Spotlight

Monday, 15 October/Tuesday, 16 October – A Killer Harvest – Paul Cleave

Monday, 22 October/Tuesday, 23 October – Tess – Kirsten McDougall

Monday, 29 October/Tuesday, 30 October – Mistakenly in Mallorca – Roderic Jeffries


Filed under Stella Duffy, The Hidden Room

Each Parent Here Expects Their Child to Earn a High Return*

One of the important jobs that teachers often have is to work with their students’ parents. Research shows that a solid home/school relationship contributes to student achievement; students benefit if their teachers are in regular communication with their families. More than that, a solid home/school relationship makes communication much easier and less awkward if there is a problem. So, it makes sense that teachers and other school staff would want to reach out to parents.

But that communication can be fraught with difficulties. For one thing, parents and teachers may not see things the same way. For another, there’s a lot at stake in the relationship. Parents want their children to do well; and for many, their children’s reputations are a reflection of their parenting. Because the home/school relationship is so important, and sometimes so tense, it’s not surprising that it come up in crime fiction. Here are just a few instances; there are a lot more out there.

In Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons, we are introduced to Honoria Bulstrode. She is the headmistress at Meadowbank, an exclusive school for girls. The novel opens as Meadowbank begins the summer term, and parents arrive with their daughters. Miss Bulstrode, her business partner, Miss Chadwick, and her assistant, Eleanor Vansittart, welcome the students, deal with the parents, and try to get everyone settled. There’s a funny scene where one parent arrives, completely inebriated, with the goal of taking her daughters out of the school. Miss Bulstrode sees what’s happening and how it’s handled, and completely misses something important that’s said to her. That comment turns out to be key to the solution when the new games mistress, Grace Springer, is shot late one night. That murder is related to a kidnapping, some stolen jewels, and a revolution in a faraway country.

Peter Robinson’s Gallows View takes place in the Yorkshire town of Eastvale. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alan Banks has recently moved there with his family. Almost immediately, he is faced with some difficult investigations. There’s a voyeur who’s been making the women of Eastvale miserable. And there’s been a series of home invasions. Then, there’s a murder. And one person who may be mixed up in it all is a teenager named Trevor Sharp. He doesn’t fit in particularly well at school and is a bit at loose ends. His teachers have told his father that he doesn’t apply himself, and that he could do better, but Trevor’s father is, to say the least, not helpful. That’s what Banks finds, too, when he tries to talk to the man about his son. The relationship between home and school isn’t a major part of the plot in this novel, but it does add interesting character layers, and it shows what happens when there’s a gulf between parents and teachers.

Paddy Richardson’s Swimming in the Dark is, in part, the story of Ilse Klein, a secondary school teacher in the small town of Alexandria, on New Zealand’s South Island. In one plot thread, she becomes concerned about one of her most promising students, fifteen-year-old Serena Freeman. Lately, Serena has been skipping school a great deal. And when she is there, she takes no interest in what’s going on, and she doesn’t participate. This is so unlike the girl that Ilse alerts the school’s counseling team, who send a representative to Serena’s home. Serena’s mother resents the visit, and in any case, doesn’t have much to say about her daughter’s recent changes. She proves to be more defensive and self-involved than helpful. Then, Serena goes missing. Now, Ilse Klein is very worried, and ends up getting more deeply involved in what’s going on than she ever thought possible.

One of the main characters in Herman Koch’s The Dinner is former teacher Paul Lohman. One night, he and his wife, Claire, meet up for dinner with his older brother, Serge, and Serge’s wife, Babette. The restaurant is ultra-exclusive, and on the surface, it looks like a lovely night out. But underneath, things are quite different. The story is told as the meal progresses, and during each ‘course,’ we find out more about these two couples. One thing we learn is that their sons, each aged fifteen, are responsible for a terrible crime. The reason for the dinner is that the parents want to discuss what to do about what they know. As the novel moves on, we learn the families’ backstories, including Paul’s time as a history teacher. It turns out that he angered some parents (and some of the students) with his comments about the Second World War. The parents complained to the school board and principal, and Paul was urged to ‘take some time off,’ and ‘get some rest.’ In the end, he retired for medical reasons. There are a few scenes in the novel that depict some conversations between Paul and the school principal, and they show how teachers can view things very differently to the way parents do. It’s not spoiling the story to say that Paul is not a very reliable narrator, so it’s also an invitation to the reader to think about what really happened in the classroom.

And then there’s Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. That’s the story of a group of families, all of whose children attend Piriwee Public School, on Piriwee Peninsula, near Sydney. The main focus of the novel is the Kindergarten class and the members of their families. The Kindgergarten teacher, Bec Barnes, is looking forward to a good school year. But that’s not how things turn out. First, one of the most influential mothers at the school, Renata Klein, claims that another boy, Ziggy Chapman, bullied and hurt her daughter, Amabella. Ziggy claims he’s innocent, and his mother, Jane, believes him. But Renata is extremely influential. So, Bec is soon caught in the proverbial crossfire between ‘team Renata’ and ‘team Jane.’ At first, as you would imagine, her impulse is to stop the bullying immediately, and to protect Amabella. But as time goes on, we learn that things aren’t as simple as they seem. As if this isn’t enough, the school’s big fundraiser, a Trivia Night, ends in tragedy. As the story goes on, we learn more about the characters, about what’s behind their closed doors, so to speak, and about what leads to the tragedy.

Students do best when their parents and teachers work together. But that doesn’t always happen, and, in fact, that relationship can be very tense indeed. Perhaps that’s why it can add such interesting ‘spice’ to a crime novel.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater’s Here at Horace Green.


Filed under Agatha Christie, Herman Koch, Liane Moriarty, Paddy Richardson, Peter Robinson

We Each of Us Protect Ourselves*

Most of us have an instinct for self-protection. People do all sorts of things to avoid being embarrassed, or to avoid getting into trouble with family members, or the law. There are other reasons, too, that people have for protecting themselves.

And there are many ways that people go about self-protection. Each of us is different, so each of us has a different way of covering ourselves, so to speak. And if you look at crime fiction, you see how characters go about it. That self-protection can add interesting character layers, tension, and even plot points, to a story.

One way people protect themselves is to lie. Sometimes, those lies aren’t very important; they’re more of a reflex action. Other times, the lies people tell to protect themselves are much more than just ‘little white lies.’ Agatha Christie’s Sheila Webb, whom we meet in The Clocks, is like that. She is a typist/secretary who works for the Cavendish Secretarial and Typing Bureau. One day, she’s sent to the home of Miss Millicent Pebmarsh. When she arrives, she goes into the house, as she’s been directed to do. There, she finds the body of an unknown man on the sitting room floor. She screams and runs out of the house – and straight into the arms of Colin Lamb, a British agent who’s on a case of his own. He gets involved in the mystery of the dead man, and gets his father’s friend, Hercule Poirot, to investigate. One thing Lamb finds out as the story goes on is that Sheila protects herself by lying. She doesn’t do it all the time, or about everything, but it’s a weakness of hers.

Closely related to lying is what you might call bravado. That’s what we see in Blair Denholm’s Sold. As the novel begins, Gary Braswell is a car salesman for the Gold Coast’s South Port Euromotors. He’s good at his job, but he’s made the mistake of borrowing money from an illegal bookmaker, Duncan ‘Jocko’ Mackenzie. He has trouble paying the money back, and he knows full well what will happen to him if he doesn’t pay. He thinks he finds a way out when a wealthy Russian land developer arranges to buy some expensive cars for his wife and daughters. But that’s only the start of Braswell’s troubles. First, Jocko changes his terms, and now requires that Braswell do a drug smuggling trip to Bali. Then, it turns out that his new Russian colleagues are not exactly involved in legal businesses. As he gets in deeper and deeper, Braswell keeps making promises he can’t keep, pretending he’s done things he hasn’t, and so on. He tries to keep up his bravado to save himself and his wife, even as he finds himself in more and more danger.

Some people protect themselves by going into what you might call a full retreat. That’s what happens in A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife. Jodi Brett and Todd Gilbert have been together as common-law spouses for twenty years, but they’ve never legally married. The state of Illinois, where they live, does not have common-law marriage provisions, and this proves devastating for Jodi. Todd begins an affair with a young woman who becomes pregnant. She wants marriage and a family, and Todd tells her that’s what he wants, too. But in reality, he wants to keep his options open, as the saying goes. In fact, Jodi doesn’t even know his intentions until she gets an eviction notice through his attorney. Because she and Todd are lot legally married, Jodi has no legal claim to the couple’s home. As this news sinks in, she begins to retreat from the world. She doesn’t meet with her clients (she’s a psychologist) or leave the home more than she absolutely has to do. Then, Todd is killed in a drive-by shooting incident. Was it random? Was it a paid killer? And if it was a paid killer, who did the hiring? It’s not an easy question, as it turns out that more than one person might have wanted Todd dead.

Some people protect themselves by, if I can put it this way, going on the offensive. For those people, it’s a case of ‘hit before you’re hit.’ That’s what we see in Mark Rogers’ Koreatown Blues. Wes Norgaard is a Los Angeles car wash manager, who gets drawn into a feud between families when he witnesses a murder in a bar that he frequents. The dead man was set to marry a woman named Soo Jin, and Norgaard learns that he was killed for that reason. The Doko family is feuding with the Nang family, and has determined to prevent that family from propagating. So, they kill the husbands and fiancés of all of the Nang woman of childbearing age, of which Soo Jin is the last. Norgaard agrees to marry Soo Jin, using the logic that the Doko family won’t kill a non-Korean. But that’s not how it works out, and Norgaard soon finds out that he has become a target, and so has Soo Jin. Instead of giving in, he goes on the offensive, and looks for a way to stop the feud, and, of course, stay alive.

Some people find it easiest (and safes) to protect themselves by simply saying nothing. In David Whish-Wilson’s Line of Sight, for instance, Superintendent Frank Swann returns to Perth after some time away. A friend of his, Ruby Devine, has been shot, and he wants to find out who killed her. It’s not going to be easy, though. Swann is already a ‘dead man walking’ because he called a Royal Commission hearing into corruption in the Perth Police. And the police officers he’s accused – the so-called ‘purple circle’ – are ruthless and influential. No-one wants to cross them. And, since they may be involved in Ruby’s death, very few people are willing to talk to Swann about that murder. He runs into a ‘wall of silence’ more than once before he finds out the truth.

There are certainly other ways that people protect themselves. And those can make for interesting layers and plot threads in a crime novel. These are just a few examples; I know you’ll think of others.


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from Mick Jagger’s Too Far Gone.


Filed under A.S.A. Harrison, Agatha Christie, Blair Denholm, David Whish-Wilson, Mark Rogers