The Informant by Susan Wilkin (Guest Post)

the informantSummary from Amazon UK

Set in London and Essex, The Informant is a story of ruthless criminals, corrupt cops, obsessive love and the villainy that operates on both sides of the law.

As a drug-fuelled teenage tearaway, Kaz Phelps took the rap for her little brother Joey over a bungled armed robbery and went to jail.

Six years later she’s released on licence. Clean and sober, and driven by a secret passion for her lawyer, Helen, Kaz wants to escape the violence and abuse of her Essex gangster family.

Joey is a charming, calculating and cold psychopath. He worships the ground Kaz walks on and he’s desperate to get her back in the family firm. All Kaz wants is a fresh start and to put the past behind her.

When Joey murders an undercover cop, DS Nicci Armstrong is determined to put him behind bars. What she doesn’t realize is that her efforts are being sabotaged by one of their own and the Met is being challenged at the highest level.

The final test for Kaz comes when her cousin, Sean, gets out of jail. He is a vicious, old-school thug and wants to show Kaz who is boss. Kaz may be tough enough to face down any man, but is she strong enough to turn her back on her family and go straight?

Paperback: 630 pages Publisher: Pan (20 Nov 2014)


By Susan Wilkins

Like most writers my work has been influenced by a lifetime of reading. However here are some of the authors and books that inspired the writing of The Informant in obvious and perhaps less obvious ways.


With twenty-two books published and counting Martina Cole has created a sub genre of hard-boiled but quintessentially English crime fiction, which delves into criminal families and working class lives.

She has created some memorably tough female protagonists, like Maura Ryan. Real women, who make mistakes, struggle to protect their kids, choose the wrong bloke to fall for and pay the price.

Her blend of emotional drama and shocking realism has influenced any number of writers from Kimberley Chambers and Mel Sherratt to Jessie Keane. And I’m proud to add myself to the list.


Author of the Millennium trilogy and creator of Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Larsson was a journalist and political activist, who died of a heart attack without ever seeing his books published. Larsson’s abhorrence of sexual violence against women was said, by his former partner, to be the result of witnessing the gang rape of a young girl in his youth and his own guilt at his failure to intervene and save the girl.

Salander is a kick-arse, bisexual heroine for our times. A skilled computer hacker, who knows her way round the dark web, she sets out to wreak vengeance on those who have abused her. Larsson’s books provide a tough antidote to the usual run of serial killer tales in which the woman is only ever a passive victim.


Tolstoy’s novella, first published in Russia in 1886, is a disturbing and challenging story of a dying man’s struggle with his own mortality. Ivan Ilyich is a judge,

a successful man, who believes he has led a good life and therefore doesn’t deserve the painful and grueling end he is forced to endure.

As a morality tale, which attempts to explore what truly matters in life, Tolstoy’s story has inspired writers, philosophers and filmmakers. Bernard Rose’s film Ivan’s XTC (2000) transports Ivan to contemporary Hollywood, where he is a sycophantic agent with a serious coke habit, who discovers he’s dying of lung cancer.

The bleakness of the story, an unflinching reminder of where we’re all headed, has always struck me as a reminder of how powerful fiction can be.


It’s hard to choose a favourite amongst American crime writers, but Leonard has to be close to the top of the list. As a storyteller and a dialogue writer he’s hard to beat. His characters are straight out of America’s underbelly and have been translated into some memorable screen performances — Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, John Travolta as Chili Palmer, the loanshark, in Get Shorty.

Leonard is a lesson in prose style — pacey, readable, deceptively simple — his use of language is impeccable.


Walters’ books present as slices of social realism, often with press cuttings or emails used to bolster the impression of everyday life. But the stories and characters are far from ordinary.

Many of her protagonists are female, women living independent lives and often relying on other women for support instead of the more usual crime fiction scenario of a female victim relying on a male protagonist to save her and solve the crime.

She sets a mood and a tone, which is compelling and draws you in without pyrotechnic plot flourishes. I’ve been reading her for years and she remains one of my favourites.

About the Author

After a degrepicturee in law and a stint as a journalist, Susan Wilkins embarked on a career in television drama. She has written numerous scripts for shows ranging from Casualty and Heartbeat to Coronation Street and Eastenders. She created and wrote the London-based detective drama South of the Border of which the BBC made two series. The Informant is her first novel and she’s currently working on the sequel. Follow Susan on twitter @SusanWilkins32

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