Martin Brunt on SNJ – 28/08/14

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I’m delighted that Britain’s leading crime reporter, Sky News’s Martin Brunt, has read Saturday Night Jack and has written this blog for me.
Martin is a big fan of crime fiction and I’m delighted to say, is also a big fan of SNJ.

Dylan Dronfield’s debut novel, Saturday Night Jack, is a gritty and grim crime story with a strong whiff of reality.

It centres on a relationship between a crime reporter and a detective and reflects a time, not so long ago, when hacks and cops recognised the help they could give one another. They conspired for the common good – to bring criminals to justice.

Today, post phone-hacking scandal and the Leveson inquiry, it’s a fantasy – a world we crime hacks have had to reluctantly move on from.

In the book, Det Chief Insp Simon Sharpe gives local paper reporter Mick Rogers off-the-record briefings, shares his deep thoughts and tips him off on developments.

It’s all based on the common sense that the serial killer police are hunting is probably a local man and any witness with vital information about him is likely to read Mick’s newspaper.

So, the hack gets the story first and the cop reaches his target audience.

The relationship works because the two men have known each other a long time and built up trust.

As a crime writer, Dronfield draws on his experience as a journalist in the city to reveal how Rogers and DCI Sharpe employ their particular skills to try to unmask the psychopath killing young women.

In a race against time the two men use their friendly, but sometimes-uneasy relationship, to follow each twist and turn of a plot as it rises to a chilling climax.

Does it achieve its aim in Saturday Night Jack? You will just have to read it.

Today, such a sharing of information would probably land both the cop and the reporter in court on a charge of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Just look at the stick the BBC is getting for having its cameras and helicopter in place as the police searched Sir Cliff Richard’s home. Not so long ago you’d call that good journalism. A real scoop.

Oh, for the good old days.