The Crime Readers' Association

Crime Writing and Reggie Kray, by retired cop Paul Harrison

11th April 2017

As an ex-cop turned crime writer, I have now had 30 plus books traditionally published in the true crime genre. I was still in the police when my first book was published, yet another book about Jack the Ripper! A subject I was warned off, by my, late, great friend Jon Goodman.

My writing career is something of a long story in itself, however, after a radio interview, there followed, a prison meeting with the infamous Reggie Kray. This was followed by a request from him, for me to write what he called, his own ‘no holds barred’ life story. It wasn’t something I could give a direct answer to, so I sought advice from my Chief Constable. Quite properly, he gave me an ultimatum.

‘Go ahead and write the book, but you’ll have to resign from the police if you do.’

Making money from writing a book about a criminal like Reggie Kray, isn’t seen as a good thing for a then serving police officer to have on his CV.  With too much at stake to simply resign and write Reg’s book, I wrote to him and let him know. He was gracious, and told me he understood, and to stay in touch. So I did, as did he.

A dozen books later, and it was my time to leave the police.  I remember, it was said Kray twin who once told me, I was ‘too personable and intelligent to be a copper.’  He didn’t mean in an academic sense, but common sense.  It’s a comment that’s stuck with me since.  It might sound a strange thing for a retired police officer to say, but I was fortunate enough to know Reg on a different level to that of the hardened gangster. Don’t get me wrong, he was still ruthless, and single minded, with a serious distaste for the police. I’d never condone, nor glamorise, anything he or his brother did criminally, or his often ill conceived behaviour to others.  But, the way he was with me, he was an okay guy.

So, you are probably wondering why is a northern lad talking about Reg Kray in a blog about crime writing?  Well, much later, I was invited to visit him on his brief release from prison, in Norwich.  It was the last time I saw him, since he was literally on his death bed.  During one of our last conversations, I asked what type of criminal he most detested. His answer stunned me. ‘Child abusers,’ albeit his description of such people was somewhat more crass. I was surprised how vocal he was!

That day, Reg told me personal things, that perhaps he might not have, had it been in different circumstances.  One opinion he held, was ‘No author will ever dare write about such abominations,’ he said. ‘You must know that abused kids recognise their kindred spirits,’ he winked at me and said nothing more on the matter.

Those prophetic words remain with me to this day.  It was long after Reg’s death that I began to plot my first crime novel, part of a trilogy based on child abuse. Using police and real life experience to create a fast-paced, police procedural book, that leads the reader on a journey, full of excitement, drama, and plot twists. I thoroughly enjoy writing crime fiction, and hope to continue the DCI Will Scott series which is based around the Bridlington area.

The local people in the area have really embraced the first book, Revenge of the Malakim, and termed the books series ‘Bridsummer Murders.’

I was fortunate to find an excellent publisher for my book, Mike Linane of Williams & Whiting, has been superb, he showed belief in me and the book and I was thrilled to sign up for an initial three-book deal.  I wanted to set the Revenge of the Malakim in the North of England, mainly because that’s where my roots lie.  I chose Bridlington, because I love the region, and for a time I lived there.  I also holidayed there as boy and man. I’ll be moving back to the region.

So that’s this northern lad’s true claim to fame: I proved Reggie Kray wrong!

I’m fortunate to have writing bases in both East Yorkshire and in Orkney, Scotland. So I spend my time between both. The latter property, a renovated Victorian school and house is currently up for sale.



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  • CWA Author Paul Harrison

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