Author interviews, Themes, Thursday Themes

Thursday Themes – Val Penny

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I’m thrilled today to welcome back my friend and fellow Darkstroke author, Val Penny, to talk about the themes of her new book, The First Cut, which is the first in her new series. I can’t wait to read it!


The First Cut – Themes

I am best known for writing crime fiction, particularly, The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, where the main protagonist is DI Hunter Wilson. I like Hunter, I can trust him to do what I expect him to do and he leads an impressive team of talent amongst the members of his team.

A few books ago (Hunter’s Force) an integral member of his team, DS Jane Renwick made the move to the newly created Major Investigation Team (MIT) in the newly created Police Scotland. However, Jane was too interesting a character to lose, so she came back in subsequent novels as the link between Hunter’s team and MIT.

After a great deal of thought, I decided to create a completely new series of Jane Renwick Thrillers. The first novel, The First Cut has been published by Dark Stroke Books and I have drawn on Jane’s background alluded to in previous books to create this story.

Readers of The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries know that Jane had a difficult childhood and grew up in the care system, not knowing her siblings or if they survived to adulthood. In The First Cut, the theme of family is one of the most important. No one can argue the importance of family. Whether loving or trying, our relationships with parents, children, and siblings – or the lack of such relationships – can have a huge impact on our lives.

The same goes for literary characters. Their beliefs about family can be challenged, reshaped, or reaffirmed as a result of their journeys through the story, and Jane certainly has her challenges with her family. She is also confronted by the difference between her own up-bringing and that of her wife, Rachael. Rachael was born into a conventional family. Her father and mother are still married to each other, her sister is a nurse and Rachael is a police detective, like Jane.

Another of the themes explored is sexuality. Jane and Rachael are lesbians in a loving committed relationship. That apart, they are just like the other detectives they work with. They stand their round in the pubs, work long hours and socialise with the people whose company they enjoy. Of course they do!

In The First Cut, the other main themes are loyalty, which is shown both by the police and by those they pursue. Revenge is a theme explored through the criminals. It is how they justify their crimes. Lastly, but not least, The First Cut gives me another chance to explore the theme of love in its many forms. Love for family members, colleagues, life partners and even justice are important in The First Cut. I hope you will enjoy the book and the themes scrutinised in it.


About the Book:

Sometimes it’s hard to escape a brutal past. That’s the case for DS Jane Renwick, who learns via DNA a serial killer could be a family member.

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh’s high society. But Jane is banished to the side-lines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up, because the Murder Investigation Team believes the killer is related to her.

Has someone from Jane’s estranged birth family returned to haunt her? Could one of her relatives be involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This exciting novel is the first in Val Penny’s new series of Scottish thrillers.


About the Author:

This is the first in the new series of novels, The Jane Renwick Thrillers. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.




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