Dead Lands by Lloyd Otis is a crime thriller, set in the 1970s, dealing with the intriguing modern-day topic of identity theft and identity fraud. In this guest post, the author explains why, as a victim of identity theft, he felt the need to create this story that raises questions as to who we are.
Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alexander Troy is arrested for the murder.
Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt.
Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy.
Dead Lands is the thrilling debut of award-winning short story writer Lloyd Otis, and intelligently covers issues of race, discrimination and violence in a changing 70s landscape.
Guest Post by Lloyd Otis
Working Identity Theft into Fiction
Dead Lands deals with a few topics within its narrative structure, and one of the consistent themes that run throughout is the issue of identity. As a society, we have become more digitised and as a consequence, the issue of identity theft and identity fraud has grown. Identity theft and identity fraud normally walk hand-in-hand and from the information received from 277 banks and businesses, statistics show that there had been 173,000 recorded frauds in 2016 within the UK. This a huge amount and highlights the scale of the problem, and if you are a victim you can report it to Action Fraud.
So why did I want to work this into Dead Lands? Having been a victim of identity theft and identity fraud myself, the first thing it did was put me in the unfortunate but unique position of explicitly understanding how it felt to have someone pretend to be me. I can tell you, it was not nice but of course, my experience was a modern-day one, amongst computer systems and databases. I wondered how much easier it would have been decades ago? In the past, the perpetrator could take the fraud to unimaginable levels, and there’s the well-known case of Gerald Barnes who began impersonating an orthopaedic surgeon in the late 70s. If a person was convincing enough, knew enough information about their target, then they could fool many into believing that they were that other person.
Committing the crime was one thing but how difficult would it be for those trying to solve it? The answer is that it would be very difficult indeed to get to the truth and having the prime suspect’s identity questioned in Dead Lands created an interesting chain of events. It raised a lot of questions and automatically created deep suspicions. It’s a situation that I threw Breck into and it’s fascinating following him as he tries to work it all out.
Allowing this to be part of the story’s murder investigation really stretches the investigators and keeps the reader guessing. But to make it work I had to consider the resources available to Breck that would to allow him to find the underlying cause of it. I thought about what he’d struggle with and what data he’d look at. His natural frustrations would have to be managed and for the person accused, I gave a lot of thought as to how they would feel. Distrusted and under suspicion, while the victim would feel violated, worried, and in need of reassurance that the problem will be fixed. Identity theft is just one of the themes that run throughout Dead Lands, but a key one that throws up a lot of questions about who we say we are?
About the Author
Lloyd Otis was born in London and attained a BA (Hons) in Media and Communication. After gaining several years of valuable experience within the finance and digital sectors, he completed a course in journalism. Lloyd Otis has interviewed a host of bestselling authors such as Mark Billingham, Hugh Howey, Kerry Hudson, and Lawrence Block. Two of his short stories were selected for publication in the ‘Out of My Window’ anthology; the author currently works as an editor.
|Publisher||Urbane Publications (12 Oct. 2017)|