The Sussex Pond Murder centres upon the mysterious death of Michelle Gagneux, a French teacher at St Wilfrid’s Prep School for boys, who is found lifeless in the school pond in the winter of 1983. The story follows Michael Fletcher, a geography teacher who becomes entangled in the investigation.
The police suspect foul play, and with no alibi on the night of the incident, as well as the revelation of a romantic relationship with Michelle, Michael soon becomes the main suspect for her murder. As pressure mounts from the authorities, the media and the school, Michael is compelled to begin his own investigation in a quest to clear his name and uncover Michelle’s true killer.
Could a darts player at the local pub provide crucial information about Michelle’s activities in the lead up to her death? Who was the mysterious French man seen arguing with her? What secrets lie in Michelle’s past?
A meeting with the deceased’s brother leads Michael to discover her groundbreaking research into the harmful effects of Bisphenol A, a chemical leached into drinking water from their plastic containers. The revelation opens up a web of intrigue, revealing the involvement of powerful forces in the oil and plastics industry intent on concealing her findings to protect their own interests.
Michael navigates his personal life against the backdrop of the developing investigation, and his discrete attempts to publish Michelle’s work. His relationship with his new girlfriend Julie provides support and companionship during turbulent times. However, they soon find themselves pursued by mysterious individuals. When key figures involved in the investigation are found dead under suspicious circumstances, Michael realises that his life may be in danger.
A romantic retreat to the Scottish Highlands descends into a desperate bid for survival, and Michael and Julie must outsmart their pursuers in order to unveil the truth behind the death of Michelle Gagneux and ensure that her findings are made public.
The Sussex Pond Murder explores the far-reaching consequences of buried secrets, focusing on an innocent man’s pursuit of justice in a society where powerful people will stop at nothing to suppress the truth.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My experience of the English school system in my youth plus those of my children many years later when the system was much the same. The novel is set in 1983 and I imagined the scenario where a whistleblower becomes alarmed about the exponential increase in use of plastic packaging and explores the chemical stability of the PET bottles to reveal presence of BPA and other toxins. Big business in the form of the plastic and oil and gas sector seeks to supress the research results resorting to murder to try and achieve their ends. Nowadays the growth of plastic has increased fivehold in the last 40 years and the planet is choking under the mass.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Some are based on real people, suitably disguised. Otherwise it's all just imagination.
Trained as a geologist. Working as a marine geophysicist worldwide. Specialising in oil and gas sector and renewables such as offshore windfarms. Father to 5 grown up children. Lives in Wincanton, Somerset, UK
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