The thrilling investigations of DS George Cross are highlighted as our latest Series of the Month. Written by Tim Sullivan, Detective Sergeant George Cross of the Avon and Somerset Police has unfailing logic, determination and the mediating presence of DS Josie Ottey to help maintain his unimpeachable record and conviction rate.
There are six DC Cross thrillers so far, starting with The Dentist first published in 2021, up to The Teacher due to be released on the 18th January. So plenty of compelling, page-turning cases to intrigue you while waiting for the next instalment. You can shop all six books at the bottom of the page.
Tim Sullivan is a crime writer, screenwriter and director, whose film credits include Shrek, Flushed Away, Where Angels Fear to Tread and Jack and Sarah. His crime series featuring the socially awkward but brilliantly persistent DS George Cross has topped the book charts and been widely acclaimed. Tim lives in North London with his wife Rachel, the Emmy Award-winning producer of The Barefoot Contessa and Pioneer Woman.
We're thrilled to have the opportunity to ask Tim Sullivan some questions about George Cross, the series and his writing process, so we'll pass you over to him without delay.
For those who haven't yet met DS George Cross and followed one of his investigations before, can you give a brief introduction to the series?
The series is based in Bristol and centres round a character called DS George Cross. Socially awkward and often unintentionally rude, George has autistic spectrum condition. But his condition is his gift. Patterns, logic and breaks in them fascinate him. But he has no gut instincts, he can only follow the evidence.This rigid adherence to what is in front of him and nothing else means that he has the best conviction rate in his force. He is helped in this by his indefatigable partner at work DS Josie Ottey who often translates the world to him and him to the world. She is his conduit to the Major Crimes Unit. Together they are an unstoppable investigative unit.
In her review for The Politician, our Expert Reviewer described Cross as “Unique as he is unforgettable”. What was your inspiration for the creation of this single-minded Sergeant?
I think in a way he belongs to a long tradition of detectives who are somewhere on the spectrum. But I’ve always been fascinated by autism in the workplace. I like the way he works in a way that those around him don’t and often don’t understand.
The titles for each of the books in this series relate to the victims in each story, how do you choose the victim for each book?
I try to think of worlds that might be interesting to explore and follow on from there.
What was your inspiration for writing this latest instalment, The Teacher?
It’s really based on the torrid experience I had at my first prep school. I was sent away at nine and delivered into the ‘care’ of a sadistic tyrant for whom a wasted day was a day in which he didn’t cane one of us. I couldn’t say anything then, so I’ve bided my time and had him murdered in this book!
Which part of a thriller comes to you first? Do you always know who the killer is from the start of the process?
The victim comes first. But I don’t know who the killer is. I find out as I write. It’s like a voyage of discovery for me, Cross and the reader, all at the same time.
Which kind of scenes flow most freely as you write them? And which are more challenging to write?
This is such a difficult and good question. I think the interview scenes in the books flow quite freely. This is partly because Cross is so good at the interview. He is unaffected by the emotions displayed by the suspect but has trained himself to be able to read them. It means he’s completely unselfconscious in an interview and can ask the same question in the same tone, endlessly until he gets an answer. Plot can be the most challenging thing to write, but immensely satisfying when it works well.
Who have been your favourite characters to write about, and what was it about them in particular that spoke to you?
It has to be George Cross really. I’m so fond of him and the way he works. He can be quite difficult to write because there are so many rules to adhere to. I like his vulnerability and the way people warm to him, despite his foibles, and want to help.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? Where do you write and do you have any writing habits?
I’m a morning writer really. It’s when I do my best work. I never write after 4pm. I may edit but I feel a little written out by then. I have an office at the top of the house that I write in, surrounded by my books.
Which books do you like to read? What was the last book that you read and would recommend?
I read quite a lot of non-fiction about worlds I know nothing about. The most recent book I read was The Scarlet Papers by Matthew Richardson. An espionage thriller set over several decades it holds you and surprises you to the last page.
What is your desert island book, why is it your must-have read?
Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. It’s such a wonderful, masterly piece of writing.
What is next for you in terms of writing? Have you planned where the series will be taking us next?
I’m starting on Book #7 of the DS Cross series which should occupy me for the first half of the year and maybe more!