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The Second Difficult Album: The Midnight Killing by Sharon Dempsey

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midnight killing

By Sharon Dempsey

There’s myth, a legend, a well-known fact – take your pick – that any rock band struggles when writing the second album. So much so, that it has even become known as the ‘second difficult album’. The same story goes for writers: the first book, often written before a publishing deal has been secured, is created in a frenzy of optimism, devoid of outside expectations. But once that publishing deal is secured you have people to please. It is a psychologically recognised condition: the ‘sophomore slump’ as some call it, occurs when earlier success has a debilitating effect on the subsequent effort.

The Midnight Killing is not my second novel. It is, in fact, my fifth. But here’s the thing, it never gets easy. You still turn up to the computer screen filled with self-doubt and seriously wonder if you will be able to pull off the magic trick again. For make no mistake, there is a sense of trickery involved in writing. You are engaging in a mass experiment of make believe. You create imaginary people, manipulate them, torture and torment them and hope that your readers will be as emotionally invested in them as you are. These fictional lives take root and let’s be honest, I probably spend more time with them than I do my own family. Often the difficulty is in switching off from writing. I don’t just mean the physical act of typing the story. These characters live in your head and demand attention at the most inopportune times. It has taken me years to understand and accept, that the thinking time, is still work and part of the process.

But for all intents and purposes The Midnight Killing does feel like my second difficult album. It is the second in the Rose Lainey and Danny Stowe mystery series and the second with my publisher Avon. While writing the story, I did feel pressure to deliver a book that satisfies readers who had been good enough to not only buy Who Took Eden Mulligan? and read it, but to share their love for it with me through social media and reviews.

When I set out to write The Midnight Killing I was determined that it would have a strong element of suspense. Afterall, that’s what I love most about crime fiction: the sense that there is something just beyond understanding. I love the slight of hand involved, the mystery, the misdirection and the layering of clues.

This book begins with an apparent suicide but DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey sense that there is something not right. The investigation takes them beyond Belfast and to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing Donegal girl.

Writing this book was intense. The original idea had been nestled in my mind for over a year before I began writing it, but I knew to do the story justice, I needed to find the right characters to carry it. Once I had created my cast of misfits, the rest began to fall into place. I have always loved books or films based on teenage friendships. The intensity of friendship at that age, first love and what ifs, linger long into adulthood. But what if something happens to damage those tender relationships? Something that has far reaching repercussions? The Midnight Killing takes the teenage friendship set up and twists it into something toxic and dangerous.

I really hope readers enjoy this book, that they are please to return to the characters of Rose and Danny and that above, all I have delivered a book worth their time and money. If you have bought and read Who took Eden Mulligan? I thank you from the bottom of my heart and if you are good enough to buy The Midnight Killing, well then, we’re friends for life!

PS. Please find me on twitter @svjdempz and take a pic if you see the book out on bookshelves. I love seeing how far my books travel.

(c) Sharon Dempsey

About The Midnight Killing:

She’d cycled this way hundreds of times before, every twist and turn familiar. She didn’t know this would be the last.
When the body of local architect James McCallum is found hanging in the grounds of his former school one cold, dark night, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey suspect foul play behind his apparent suicide.

To their astonishment, the trail leads to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl, and a teenage party. But what was James’ fascination with the case and how is it linked to his death?

Secrets don’t stay buried forever – but the real killer will stop at nothing to hide theirs…

An absolutely gripping and totally unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night! Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Val McDermid and Rachel Caine.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Sharon Dempsey is a Belfast based crime writer. The first in her new crime series, Who Took Eden Mulligan? was published in 2021, by Avon Harper Collins. The second book in the series, The Midnight Killing, is out now. She is undertaking a creative-critical PhD at Queen’s University, exploring the body as crime scene with reference to class and gender in crime fiction. She has published five novels and three non-fiction books.

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