Isabel Carter has always loved her crime fiction, but it was a stint living in Agatha Christie’s house that really piqued her interest.
The Surfside author’s novel, Down In The Devil’s Hole, has landed on bookshelves in time for the holiday season.
“They say, ‘write what you know’,” the nurse-turned-writer said.
“I live here, it’s what I know. I want to make Batemans Bay glamorous.”
However, when it comes to crime glamour, it is hard to beat the doyenne of the genre.
“When I was a student nurse in England, doing my psychiatric stint, I stayed in Agatha Christie’s house,” Ms Carter said.
“She had died, but left the house for use by nurses at her local hospital.”
Ms Carter lived in the house for three months, loving the atmosphere: “I would go into the front room and know that’s where Agatha Christie wrote.”
Now Ms Carter writes from a room of her own.
“I have an idea in my head and I go into my office to write, but what I think is going to happen, doesn’t” she said.
“These characters go and do something else – I just see where they take me.”
The book opens with a dog walker finding the body of a young woman washed up on Cullendulla Beach.
Ms Carter said, in fiction, dog walkers or gardeners often found the bodies, but for her, art imitated life.
“A girlfriend of mine actually found a body, a couple of years ago, while she was walking her dog” she said.
Although Down In The Devil’s Hole is Ms Carter’s first published novel, she has always been a writer.
“I wrote a book when I was nine,” she said.
“It was kind of Famous Five; just nine pages long.”
She sent it to the publishers for review. They sent it back again.
Ms Carter’s attraction to crime fiction continued, but study and a nursing career, travel and family intervened. It was only after her sons left home Ms Carter found time to write.
Ms Carter said her poker-playing detective, John McGregor, doesn’t like living in the Bay.
“He thinks it is a sleepy, coastal town, where nothing happens,” she said.
It takes a dodgy doctor, a prisoner escaped from Goulburn jail, a trip to Dubbo, and “a good sex scene”, to change his mind.
Ms Carter said it was a fast read, with a few red herrings to keep readers turning the 300-odd pages.
“I’ve had good feedback,” Ms Carter said.
She has started the second novel, with the same characters but this time on a visiting cruise ship.
“There is a death aboard,” Ms Carter said.
“That leads us to South Africa and diamonds, vigilantes and corrupt Canberra politicians.”
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