Looking like a sleuth

“If you don’t mind me saying… you look rather I like a sleuth yourself,” I said, as I waited for the lift to take myself and fellow passenger up to the first floor of the Oxford Martin School.

Our destination, a talk by three successful thriller authors on ‘How to Find Your Own Detective’.

With crime writers Sophie Hannah, David Mark and Sarah Hilary joining forces to discuss how they created their own best-selling sleuthing characters, the woman beside me looked the perfect fit.

In the few short seconds it took for our lift to rise from the ground to first floor, I imagined her as an elegant Parisian retired teacher who, through sheer charm and guile, manages to expose murderers whose vile crimes have left Paris’s finest investigators flummoxed.

And her answer to my admittedly cheeky enquiry suggests I was pretty close to the mark.

“Actually I was a prosecutor,” she replied, with a strong NY accent. “Oh, and an investigator…”.

Which meant at least one member of the audience would be able to see through the writers flimflam.

Thanks to presenter and interviewer Paul Blezard, the debate crackled as he quite rightly introduced his guests as ‘a helluva panel”.

And neither did they disappoint.

It was a fascinating hour and I noticed the ex-prosecutor - who probably once trod the crime-riddled streets of New York - nodded constantly and benignly.

Do I now know how to create my own fictional detective?

No.

But I do at least appreciate the huge amount of creative effort it requires.