Characters & Location
DI Gilbert (‘Gil’) Markham is the high-flying wunderkind of Bromgrove CID. Legendarily chilly and austere, he nevertheless inspires intense loyalty in his team. A meteoric rise means there is intense pressure on him to maintain his solve rate. Added to which, he must outmanoeuvre his slippery boss DCI Sidney for whom PR trumps every other consideration. Markham has a tragic past, being the victim of child abuse with a brother who died young of drink and drugs. Cultured and refined, he is an object of mystification to the rest of CID whom he keeps at arm’s length. Markham’s girlfriend Olivia Mullen is an English teacher and some years older than him. She too has her secrets including an abortion which left her unable to have children. Witty and simpatico, Olivia is Markham’s soul mate and the only person to whom he ever fully confides what is in his mind and heart.
DS George Noakes (‘Noakesy’) is an outspoken Yorkshireman and the despair of his superiors, being slobbish, uncouth and woefully politically incorrect. DCI Sidney would love to put him out to grass, but Markham won’t hear of it. He and Noakes are a perfect illustration of the maxim that ‘opposites attract’, working in perfect harmony despite differences of age, background and temperament. For all his philistinism, Noakes has a sensitive streak that Markham appreciates. Noakes is devoted to his ghastly social-climbing wife Muriel, but worships Olivia to whose ethereal charms he is highly susceptible. He is a man of hidden talents, being a leading light of the local ballroom dancing circuit.
Keen-as-mustard DS Kate Burton starts the series as a DC but swiftly attains promotion. She experienced a fight to join the police because her parents – in particular, her father – thought it was no job for a woman. She has a degree in Psychology and an MA in Gender Studies. Her university credentials, seriousness and earnestly PC (‘woke’) take on life initially make her an object of suspicion to Noakes. However, they are united in their loyalty to Markham and this gradually draws them closer together. Kate has a thumping great crush on Markham and at times resents the complicity between him and Noakes. She imagines no-one else realizes her feelings for the boss, but Noakes guessed her secret from the start. Kate resigns herself to the fact that her feelings for Markham cannot lead anywhere and becomes engaged to a DS in the Fraud squad. She is diligent and desperate to prove herself. On occasions this leads her into grave danger.
DC Doyle is the fourth and most junior member of the team. This gangling red-head has a close relationship with Noakes and likes to discuss the twin obsessions of football and his love life over a pint or four down the pub. A snappy dresser and ambitious, he was initially only seconded to Markham’s unit on a temporary basis before achieving his promotion to plain clothes. Like Noakes, he has a love-hate relationship with Kate Burton whose eager beaver tendencies he finds somewhat overwhelming. Doyle has a good brain and is toying with the idea of doing a law degree.
The books are set in the provincial backwater of Bromgrove in the North of England.