Welcome to an exciting new spin-off of Barren Island Books! The rules remain the same: guests imagine they’re being exiled to a remote island with only five books for company, selected from the categories I give them. But the twist is, these guests aren’t authors but fictional characters.
My interviewee this week is DI Frank Lyle, the protagonist of the DI Frank Lyle Mystery Series by Juliet B Madison. It’s late 1992 and DI Lyle is about to confront an old adversary in his fifth published case, Best Served Cold. But before the grisly events of December unfold, he has taken some time out from his busy schedule to talk to us …
DI Lyle, thanks for joining us. First of all, could you please tell us a little bit about your work. You’re part of the Ashbeck police force – what does your day-to-day role involve? Which of the cases you’ve worked on has had the greatest impact on you so far?
The general day-to-day stuff involves avoiding the abysmal canteen coffee, doing routine paperwork, making phone calls and checking all the case files are together. People think it’s murder scenes all the time but it isn’t like that at all. Most of my cases have had an impact to a degree, but the most memorable would be what I call the Heir to Misfortune case as it involved murder, indecency against minors and blackmail. My wife, Jayseera, was six months pregnant with our daughter at that time.
And outside work, who or what are the most important people or things in your life? How do you like to spend your free time?
My wife Jayseera and daughter Jasmine are very important to me, as is my son, James, who is doing a law degree. Even though he’s an adult now I still feel protective of James and his boyfriend, DS Thomas Fox. I like to spend time with the people I love, I like to read and I always have a Joan Baez record close by.
Now, as you know, the idea of this interview is to choose the five books that you’d take into exile with you. So first of all, what was your favourite book as a child, and why?
Like a lot of kids I loved The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis. I remember my Mum found me crying in her wardrobe once because I couldn’t get into Narnia. I must have been about five or six at the time. I was a young child at the end of WW2 and in the austerity that followed, where sweets were still rationed, escapism was very important as life was hard then. The book offered that in spadefuls.
I know from a previous interview that you’re a fan of classic fictional detectives such as Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. So for your second choice, what is your absolute favourite classic crime novel?
I think I would have to say Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
There are also many great crime novelists writing in the present day (1992) – Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter and PD James, to name only a few. Which recent crime novel would you choose to take with you to the island?
This time I’ll go for P D James’ Shroud for a Nightingale.
It’s no great surprise that you enjoy crime fiction, so for your fourth pick I’d like you to go a bit further afield and choose a book from what might be considered an unexpected genre. For instance, are you a secret romance fan or a lover of sci-fi?
I can’t stand sci-fi or romance books. I have my own real-life romance in my marriage to Jayseera. I think I would have to pick Bram Stoker’s Dracula for this, the original and best vampire book. It’s quite simply a classic.
And finally, since you’re a practical man, I expect you’d want to take something useful with you to a barren island, as well as reading material for entertainment. Which non-fictional book would you choose to help you survive?
Well, since I would be the only person there, all the non-fiction police-related handbooks I’m familiar with wouldn’t be of much use to me. I will take The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s a short but delightful book giving advice for life without the ramming it down your throat aspect the Bible has.
Now you’ve chosen your books, we’ll also let you select one song/piece of music, one film and one other item of your choice to take to the island with you …
The music would be Joan Baez’s album Diamonds & Rust, the film would be the old black and white classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and the other item would be a photo album with pictures of my family and police colleagues.
Many thanks for joining us, DI Lyle. I hope your ‘exile’ gives you a chance to relax before your next case.
If readers would like to learn more about DI Frank Lyle and his next case then they can buy Best Served Cold at bookshow.me/
They can also catch up with Juliet B Madison on her blog,
or follow her on Twitter as @JulietBMadison.
There are a number of DI Lyle related pages on Facebook, but here is a small selection: