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  • Writer's pictureAlan Reynolds

The story behind the story (2) Taskers End

Taskers End was, in fact, the fourth book I had written, summer/autumn, 2010, having complete the sequel to Flying with Kites, and a third related book, which remain unpublished.

This book was very different. I am not sure where the idea came from, but psychology and human behaviour has always held a strong interest for me. I started writing it without a clear idea of where the story would lead, which was dissimilar to the process with the previous books where I did have a vague idea of the ending.

I wrote the first chapter and could picture the three psychiatrists going over the notes of an inmate in a secure mental hospital. Their brief was to review the case to determine whether the patient was ready to be released back into society. The reader gains a great deal of background into why the individual had been committed and his progress to recovery. I became absorbed with the character, Gerald Perry, a narcissistic individual, suffering from schizophrenia. Formerly a forensic science graduate, he is not an endearing person, but as the story developed I began to understand him and the trials he had endured that resulted in his incarceration. The story gradually evolved.

He is eventually released, and he creates an alter-ego, Greg Jensen, who will be his persona from now on, to help him cope with the real world. Gerald/Greg are frequently battling for supremacy in his head as he comes to terms with his rehabilitation. While he has been imprisoned, however, his grandparents who raised him from the age of eleven, died in a fire, leaving Gerald their house, Taskers End, and a substantial sum of money. He eventually returns to the house and stumbles on evidence that leads him to question the verdict of their deaths; as a result, he starts his own investigations with devastating results. Who would believe him?

Early in the story, Gerald meets Maureen and their relationship was fascinating to write. She is confident and worldly, in fact everything that Gerald/Greg is not. The affect she has on him and his continued sanity is an important part of the story.

Greg/Gerald was probably the most complex character I have developed. It was very difficult, and at times emotional, to write. I did a great deal of research into the behaviour patterns typical of schizophrenia to ensure the story was accurate from a medical perspective.

Finally, a note about the cover. I took the photograph; it's actually a care-home not far from where I live, but it was exactly as I had imagined Taskers End, with its turrets and imposing facade. The designers at Fisher King did an amazing job in creating an eerie scene, in line with the story.

A reader’s review: ‘This story had me hooked from the outset. I'm sure that my pulse rate must have increased as I progressed through it and circumstances, decisions and fate all began to take effect. I recommend this book to fans of Ruth Rendell and I don't think for one moment they will be disappointed. Gripping stuff.’

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