Today I’d like to introduce you to Patrick Brigham, former Editor in Chief of Sofia Western News, journalist and author of two popular mystery novels: Herodotus – The Gnome Of Sofia and Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery.
MysterySequels: Hello Patrick. Welcome to mysterysequels.com. Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing – how did you discover your inner muse?
Patrick: The muse has been with me for years, although The Jinni was only recently let out of the bottle this year when I finally published my two murder mysteries.
MysterySequels: You have recently written two mystery novels, Herodotus -The Gnome of Sofia and Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery. Tell us a bit about them.
Patrick: These two books are quite different in the sense that Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia, sets out to lampoon the diplomatic service, and Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery, is an international crime novel as well as a murder mystery.
MysterySequels: Why did you choose to make your books take place in Bulgaria?
Patrick: I lived in South Eastern Europe from the 90’s onwards, but I had visited Bulgaria in 1985 just before the political changes. So, it is somewhere I am quite familiar with and away from the usual run-of-the-mill detective stories, I thought that my readers would enjoy an introduction to the remnants s of the Cold War and all the undercurrents it has so successfully created, prior to the recent inclusion of Eastern Europe into the EU.
MysterySequels: How much reality do you infuse your stories with?
Patrick: A considerable amount, but this is mainly because the intrigue and duplicity of Communism is an interesting story in itself. Many people from The West often find it difficult to comprehend the mind sets of the Eastern Block – latterly called members of the EU – and as far as I can see, they still don’t! So it is a very interesting backdrop to any story which involves people faced with a thinking processes greatly different to their own, and often far more complicated. The juxtaposition of an easy going British policeman next to somewhat deceptive and duplicitous foreigners – especially the amoral character of the arms dealer Antony Kwong in Judas Goat: The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery – is hard for Detective Chief Inspector Lambert to unfathom at times, as is his brush with the apparently friendly Chief of Police of Pristina in Kosovo.
MysterySequels: What do you like most about Chief Inspector Michael Lambert as a character?
Patrick: He has a rounded off character and he has kept his Englishness intact, despite the abnormality of his surroundings. He keeps an open mind and does not chase after the obvious in his capacity as a murder detective. Despite his own problematic marriage and the feeling of isolation – which he experiences from his impending divorce – he remains resolute and focused on his quest to find out the truth and to seek justice.
MysterySequels: Are you writing a next novel, and if yes, can you tell us a bit about it? Will it feature Chief Inspector Michael Lambert, turning one of the two standalone novels into a mystery series?
Patrick: I have had a busy year and by publishing two books it has also meant that much time has been spent in the publicity. So, the next book is on the ‘starting block’ but is yet to be completed. DCI Michael Lambert appears in Herodotus – The Gnome of Sofia, but only in a cameo role, however he represents most of the action in Judas Goat – The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery, because he is the main character and chief protagonist.
In my next book he has moved away from the UK on secondment to Europol at the Hague in Holland – mainly on account of his changing domestic fortunes – and is involved in tracking down of a little English girl who has been abducted in Italy. Has she been murdered? We we will have to wait and see, but meanwhile he also looks for traces of his late and mysterious father, who once served in Italy as an RAF Pathfinder during WW2. In so doing, he discovers some disquieting facts about his fathers time in Italy, and his strangely secret privet life.
MysterySequels: What is the one major thing that you hope readers to take away after reading your books?
Patrick: A sense of time and place, a feeling of change and the confirmation any reader might have, that he or she is not alone.
MysterySequels: Do you ever get writer’s block, and if yes, how do you overcome it?
Patrick: Most writers have their moments of indecision and procrastination, but having said that I inclined to get on with other things. I come from an old school of writers who believe that we are just scribes for the muse, and when they want to say something through us, we just have to wait a bit!
MysterySequels: Who were your main literary influences growing up?
Patrick: When I was young I regarded most writers as the fountain of all knowledge, after all what had I done in my life? Under the bedclothes with my trusty torch I consumed Dennis Weatley thrillers, and frightened myself to sleep with the various horrors from the dreadful occult. But then it was onto J.D.Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, to Saul Belov’sHertzog and then to all the burgeoning British writers and playwrights, John Braine, Colin Dexter (Morse) John Mortimer (Rumpole) and then into the world of theater with John Osbourne and Samuel Beckett. The richness of the Royal Court Theater in Sloan Square, and finally, the pleasurable appearance of the London fringe theater, did everything to open up a mind that had become full of the witterings of the provincial philistines, who at the time inhabited my world.
MysterySequels: What is your main advice to new writers?
Patrick: Don’t be in a hurry, let the story evolve in your mind. It takes time for a good wine to mature and this is true of the story which is presently at the forefront of your mind. Keep notes and even a diary if it helps, but those of us who have a good memory, will tell you that if you can’t remember yesterdays brilliant idea, well, it couldn’t have been much good in the first place. Always sleep on it!
MysterySequels: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Patrick: I live in Greece and so the sun shines most of the time. Where I live it is an agricultural area and people here work hard. So the landscape changes with the seasons and so does Patrick Brigham. It is the landscape in South Eastern Europe which serves as a picture frame to my writing and the people who inhabit the pages prove that I am a part of it. I like classic cars, books and TV – no theaters here – I even like my cats, but not this morning – and once more the sun is shining as I write to you from my writers world.
Looking down into the valley I can see that the River Ardas is still on its way to the Aegean and in the distance I can hear the singing of the tone-deaf Priest as he calls his flock to the Greek Orthodox village church. It reminds me that another day is here and it is time to write once more.
About The Author
Patrick Brigham was born in Berkshire England to an old Reading family. After attending an English Public School and College, the author Patrick Brigham went into real estate. After the economic crash of 1989 and a few other bitter experiences, in 1993 he decided to abandon London, and he moved to Sofia in Bulgaria.
In a new country with a different culture, and whilst trying hard to set up a home, a new life was definitely in store for him.
A master of the comic vignette especially when consumed with disbelief, he set up the first English Language News Magazine in the Balkans called the Sofia Western News (1995-2000). As a journalist he witnessed the political and economical changes in this once hard core communist country.
Now Patrick Brigham resides in North of Greece, enjoys writing and his collection of classic cars.
You can find Patrick online at:
His Mystery Novels in Overview
Herodotus The Gnome Of Sofia
A good conspiracy theory in an ex communist country or how a career can be destroyed by duplicity, stupidity and a good measure of gossip!
With his pen Patrick Brigham reveals the diplomatic lifestyle of the British Ambassador in Sofia – Sir Arthur Cumberpot – and spins an elaborate web, involving both the intelligence services of Bulgaria and UK. Together they successfully destroy the diplomatic career of the British Ambassador – end it up with the murder of his wife Lady Annabel – who was accused of espionage.
Lady Annabel Cumberpot is guilty of nothing, other than being the biological daughter of Jim Kilbey, Britain’s most famous spy. She is the victim of serendipity, but also of cover ups, thin evidence and total exaggeration.
What gives the book some heft is the author’s sense of humor when he describes the elitist lifestyle and dissect some of the most profound conspiracies theory you can imagine. As with all conspiracy theory he makes you wonder how much of the story may be actually true, or is he just putting together enough or rather too many evidences to suggest how a life can be destroyed for no reason at all.
Judas Goat The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery (click to read my review)
As a journalist for many years and having come in contact with all sorts of people from politicians to criminals, Patrick Brigham has published his most recent and complex murder mystery, involving a murder on the Kennet and Avon Canal in England, a stolen identity, a major arms deal which has gone horribly wrong, and a clever and thoughtful Detective Chief Inspector from Thames Valley Police Authority, who is assigned to untangle and solve this murder mystery.
Patrick Brigham takes his readers on a trip from Reading in the UK to Bulgaria, South Africa to Belorussia and from Taiwan to Peru. A trip which begins with the discovery of a small mobile phone and a dead man on an English Canal and it ends with the murder of a Chinese shipping magnate, in the streets of London. Will anyone’s life be the same again and how will our provincial policeman cope with these different layers of intrigue?