Welcome to another instalment of my occasional Barren Island Books spin-off series! 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 DS Joe Lamont, the hero of the paranormal crime novel Incarnate Justice by Juliet B Madison. The Psychic CID series is set in the future so this interview with DS Lamont takes place in autumn 2040.
DS Lamont, thanks for joining us. First of all, could you please tell us a little bit about your work? You’re part of the newly formed Psychic CID, which investigates crimes using a mixture of traditional police procedures and psychic powers. You recently transferred from the regular police and have just completed your first case with Psychic CID.
Psychic CID officers attend crime scenes with regular police and CSIs, but if we detect a paranormal element to the crime then we take over the investigation. We use traditional police procedure, but we also use our psychic connections with the spirit world and our spirit guides to give us the edge. Sadly, though, no psychic powers or imagination can make the Ashbeck police canteen coffee drinkable.
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 mother died seven years ago, when I was just sixteen, and I have no siblings so I spend a lot of time with my aunt, Jude. My Native American spirit guide Running Fox is always around. I have only ever seen him once, but I have no doubt he’s there because he keeps me on the straight and narrow. I also like to read, meditate and go to the cinema.
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?
I liked a book called Elidor, by Alan Garner. It’s about these four siblings, Nicholas, David, Roland and Helen, who get drawn into a mysterious world and when they return to the real world Elidor keeps breaking through into their reality and they have to combine their talents to help vanquish Elidor’s darkness.
I’ve heard 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 or story?
I rather enjoyed A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as that was the first time Holmes & Watson met and worked together.
There have been many great crime novelists writing over the years. Which more recent crime novel would you choose to take with you to the island?
Well, being as this is 2040 it’s not recent in the true sense of the word, but I enjoyed Midwinter of the Spirit by Phil Rickman, which was about a widowed female vicar who became an exorcist or Diocesan Deliverance Consultant in PC phraseology.
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 like historical novels and my all-time favourite is The House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende. I got a real idea of what it must have been like living in Chile during the time of the military coup that saw the murder of President Salvador Allende. The author is Allende's widow. Psychic powers do play a small part in the story.
And finally, 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?
I’m not really a survival manual kind of guy, to be honest, but one non-fictional book I enjoyed and found inspirational was Touching the Void by Joe Simpson; the account of a climber who survived when his partner cut the rope and, against the odds, made it back to civilisation with a badly broken leg.
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 …
I don’t really have a favourite album or song, to be honest. I’m not really into music. I’ll pick The Very Best of the Doors as it has some great songs on it. As far as films go, it has to be an oldie. Truly Madly Deeply, starring Alan Rickman & Juliet Stevenson. It’s a comedy about love and death, but it’s also sensitive to the pain of loss. As to the other item, I’ll take my Black Tourmaline pendant. I may be the only living person who’s going to be on that island, but I can’t vouch for the spirit presence there.
Many thanks for joining us, DS Lamont. I hope your ‘exile’ gives you a chance to relax before your next case.
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You can catch up with Juliet B Madison at Psychic CID and Juliet B Madison Crime Author.
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