Chesterfield retired police officer publishes his first crime thriller novel

A retired police officer has written and published a crime thriller novel set in the Derbyshire Dales and Chesterfield.

By Gay Bolton
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 12:06 pm
Retired police officer Steve Winnard has published his first crime thriller novel.
Retired police officer Steve Winnard has published his first crime thriller novel.

Steve Winnard's first book, An Accidental Death, highlights the emotions that people go through when experiencing loss.

He said that he had always wanted to write a book but it was a rainy day last October during the pandemic that gave him the impetus to write instead of going on his daily walk.

Steve, 62, said: "My mind started wandering to the things I had always wanted to do before I shuffled off the plank of life and amongst that bucket list I remembered that one thing I had always promised myself was I would write a novel.

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The front cover of Steve Winnard's paperback novel.

"I had a bit of an idea of a police investigation into a murder based in the Derbyshire Dales but after about a thousand words it just rang out of steam....so I started again...and again...and again."

Steve, who lives in Walton, Chesterfield, drafted a basic plan with a couple of characters and an ending, but realised that extra characters would have to be brought in to move the story along. He said: "I also had to ensure that none of the characters bore any resemblance to people I had either worked with or dealt with in my time in the police service....yet more re-writing.

"I was talking to an ex-colleague one evening about how we dealt with the really horrendous deaths and murders. The conversation sparked an idea for the theme of the novel....how do different people deal with death and loss? I kept the story but re-wrote the novel. This time I tried to envisage how each of the diverse characters would deal with the deaths in the novel emotionally. So I ended up with a sort of love story rolled into a fast paced crime thriller."

After a ten-month labour of love, Steve's finished work, An Accidental Death, came out in paperback this month having initially been published on Kindle. Steve said: "The reviews on Kindle from people who have purchased it have been brilliant. The paperback has only been out a couple for weeks and early feedback has also been very good."

Steve worked as a detective constable and later as a specialist in both domestic and international fraud and money laundering investigations during his 32-year career with Derbyshire Police.

He said: "I loved the excitement of knowing that each day would be different. I really liked working with all the different people and teams throughout the years I was in the police. Most of all I loved knowing that I was making a difference ...that I was helping people who had been victims of crime or circumstance and making what would hopefully be a positive contribution to their lives.”

Steve had a hair-raising experience just after he joined the police as a uniformed officer.

He and a colleague were called out in the early hours of the morning by a resident who had seen a horse in their garden at Starkholmes, near Matlock. Steve said: "It was the biggest horse I had ever seen....I had been brought up as a town lad and it might actually have been the first horse I had met in the flesh." While his colleague, an experienced officer, retreated to the car Steve was instructed to lead the horse out of the garden and along the road until a suitable field was found for the animal. His colleague was to follow in the car to ensure that no vehicles went past and spooked the horse.

Steve got his hand through a halter around the horse's head and slowly walked the horse down towards Cromford. He said: "Some boy racer with one of those loud exhausts that are forever backfiring comes up the hill towards me and the horse and flies past us swerving around both me, the horse and the police car following us.

"The horse got spooked almost instantaneously and decided that it was Red Rum and set off down the road at a gallop dragging a grim-faced police officer along with it firstly in a sprint and then as some black rag bouncing alongside of it trying not to get trampled by its hooves or tripping it up. Eventually my hand was shook free from the halter and I was somersaulted into the hedgerow.

"The horse cleared off towards Cromford and I was cleared off by a laughing colleague to the Whitworth Hospital for a check-up and to get my cuts, bruises and grazes swabbed and cleaned."

Steve's closest shave came when he was investigating a fatal fall at rocks close to a beauty spot near Bakewell. He spotted the victim's sandal on a rock below and as he scrambled to retrieve it he started to slide on the rock. Steve said: "I heard a shout and quickly reached up with my arm that was grabbed at the last second by my sergeant. He pulled me up and I don't think it was ever mentioned again."

After retiring from the police, Steve qualified as a teacher lecturing in public service, law and criminology in colleges and universities before joining the private sector as a management training consultant.

He said: "I am now 'retired' from both policing and teaching but retain a lifelong passion for writing and golf."

His second novel, which will be a sequel to An Accidental Death, is a work in progress.

To order a paperback copy of An Accidental Death, priced £9.99, go to https://swpublishing.co.uk