THE BRIGHTON TRILOGY
The truth will out...
A non-comic trilogy exploring Brighton's criminal past and present. Read the prologue and opening chapter of "City of Dreadful Night", the first in the trilogy, on this website. The second novel, "The Last King of Brighton", received a nice preview quote from Lee Child [See below]
The final book in the trilogy, "The Thing Itself," was judged one of the best mysteries of 2012 by US literary magazine, Kirkus Review.
Some of the characters continue in 'The Devil's Moon' and 'The Thing Itself'.
CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT
The first Brighton mystery
July 1934. A woman's torso is found in a trunk at Brighton railway station's left luggage office. Her legs and feet are found in a suitcase at Kings Cross. Her head is never found, her identity never established, her killer never caught.
But someone is keeping a diary.
July 2010. A massacre in Milldean, Brighton's notorious no-go area. An armed police operation gone badly wrong. As the rioting begins, high-flying Chief Constable Robert Watts, government poster-boy for its policy of routinely arming Britain's bobbies on the beat, makes a decision that will cost him his career. And then, one by one, the police involved in the killings start to disappear.
Meanwhile, young ambitious radio journalist Kate Simpson hopes to solve that Brighton Trunk Murder of 1934. Police files long-thought destroyed have turned up in the cellars of Brighton's Royal Pavilion. She enlists the help of disgraced ex-Chief Constable Robert Watts.
It's only a matter of time before past and present collide.
WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAY:
""A gripping yarn, brilliantly melding Brighton's murderous past with its murderous present. I loved it!".
"Peter Guttridge is a master of comic crime and has now proved himself
equally capable on the darker side of the genre. City of Dreadful Night is
gritty, compelling and meticulously researched. There are two words running
through this darkly delicious piece of Brighton rock: 'must read'."
"This first of the projected Brighton trilogy leaves most of the answers about murders past and present decidedly up in the air. However, Guttridge has created a fine cast of fallible characters, and readers who can handle ambiguity—and are willing to wait for resolution through two more books—are likely to be amply rewarded."
"Guttridge successfully pulls readers in, and many will be eager to pick up the dangling plot threads in the second book."
KIRKUS "STARRED" REVIEW
"Be prepared for a long night. Guttridge combines period mystery, police procedure and noir in a fascinating tale whose only blemish is that you’ll have to wait for the next in the series for its resolution."
HENRY SUTTON, DAILY MIRROR:
'Guttridge has long been one of the UK's most accomplished crime writers. This complex, part-historical, part-contemporary tale of a reworking of a notorious but very cold case is the very welcome first of a new Brighton series."
THE LAST KING OF BRIGHTON
The second Brighton mystery
Barbarians at the gates of Brighton. Pitiless men who want…everything. Vengeful men who kill without conscience and threaten the lives of ex-Chief Constable Bob Watts, his comrade-in-arms Jimmy Tingley, DS Sarah Gilchrist and – above all – Brighton’s crime king, John Hathaway.
But should the three friends help a man who, underneath all his charm, is a monster?
Hathaway wasn’t always that way. Or was he? In the Sixties he wanted to be a pop star but as the decade progressed he was drawn into his father’s murderous life of crime. Perhaps the dark side had always beckoned.
The story moves from the Great Train Robbery through Sixties gang warfare and the cutthroat rock business to the Balkan genocides of the 90s and a vicious present day struggle for power between European and British mobsters.
But, always, in the shadows, is the lurking mystery of the Brighton Trunk Murder.
WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAY:
MARCEL BERLINS, THE TIMES: "Peter Guttridge's second novel of his Brighton trilogy...demonstrates his great skill as a writer of English provincial noir....It vividly provides a bleak account of the seaside town's less salubrious activities and people, some fictional, many others true."
HENRY SUTTON, DAILY MIRROR: "Guttridge knows his crime and more than knows how to tell a story. Sweeping in scope and with terrifying detail, this second novel in his Brighton series finds brutal mobster John Hathaway under a siege like no other."
BARRY FORSHAW, CRIMETIME
"Guttridge combines pithy and evocative scene setting with dialogue that hasa the ring of authenticity and has successfully banished the recurrent problem of the second novel in a sequence (whereby a lowering of temperature is almost inevitable) - this book is every bit as visceral as its predecessor and will have readers impatient for the third and concluding volume."
" Admirers of the first book won’t want to miss the trilogy’s conclusion. After a gory prologue set in the present that leaves the reader hanging in suspense, the action shifts to 1963, starting with some of the fallout from the “Great Train Robbery” of that year and focusing on the coming-of-age of 17-year-old John Hathaway, whose father is one of Brighton’s leading thugs. In the final section, set in the present, Det. Sgt. Sarah Gilchrist and ex-Chief Constable Bob Watts look into a series of sadistic murders that may be connected with an earlier massacre that affected both of them as well as with the unsolved real-life 1934 Brighton Trunk Murder. References to 1960s celebrities lend color..."
"There’s plenty to enjoy in Guttridge’s latest procedural starring Chief Constable Robert Watts of the Brighton police. Good words, well used. Clipped, incisive prose. And it’s fun to meet a type banished too long from crime fiction, literate bad guys, such as a brutal killer quoting The Rubaiyat and providing a translation. Michael Caine’s film career is discussed. Not to be outdone, a copper displays familiarity with E. M. Forster...About an especially nasty gang of Eastern Europeans invading a crime lord’s turf, it moves forward in a series of tableaus, nearly each dazzling in itself.."
WHAT OTHER WRITERS SAY OF "THE LAST KING OF BRIGHTON"
"It's always exciting to see a fine writer flexing new muscles and heading into new territory, which Guttridge does here with complete conviction. I don't need the competition, but honesty demands I confess - this is a great thriller."
THE THING ITSELF
The third Brighton mystery
When bad things happen, the only true account is the thing itself.
The sweeping third part of the Brighton trilogy moves from the horrors of the First World War to heroism in the Second; from the rise of British fascism in the back streets of Brighton and London in the 1930s to the modern-day machinations of the man who engineered the killing of The Last King of Brighton.
Former chief constable Bob Watts, Detective Sergeant Sarah Gilchrist and local radio journalist Kate Simpson are finally getting answers to the questions they’ve been asking since the Milldean Massacre and the discovery of long forgotten police files about the Trunk Murder.
But those answers aren’t coming easy.
Ex-SAS hard man Jimmy Tingley doesn’t have it easy either as he tracks through France and Italy the Balkan gangsters who brought barbarism to Brighton.
Nothing is straightforward in Brighton, the City of Dreadful Night, so the narrative has many twists and turns, including a final shift that turns everything on its head and demonstrates, once and for all, that the only true account is The Thing Itself.
WHAT THE REVIEWERS SAY:
Guttridge’s third Brighton thriller is so well-written that it would be well worth your time even if it were not such a darkly brilliant mystery.
KIRKUS REVIEW (US)
Powerful flashback scenes carry Guttridge’s third Brighton crime novel (after 2011’s The Last King of Brighton)... a fascinating account of the prewar British fascist movement... Guttridge manages to end on a satisfying note with his concluding revelations about Watts’s family history."
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (US)