Writing The Rich was a new challenge for me after writing eleven Kelly Porter police procedural books, but that was the point; I wanted to explore a new world. The world of the privileged elite and how they seem to stay out of the crime statistics and tend to be treated differently, even when caught, fascinated me.
Diving into a new setting in Cambridge, as well as a host of new characters filled me with both excitement and trepidation. I love crafting new personalities for my books, but pulling it off, after the Kelly Porter books achieving such incredible success, was daunting. Writing a psychological thriller, with untrustworthy characters, numerous villains and a flawed hero made me face a new set of rules. In police procedural, good battles evil and the detective solves the riddle in the end; in the world of the psychological thriller, it’s all about the twists and suspense, and I wanted to make The Rich a true whodunnit right to the last page.
Writing crime from the point of view of those involved, rather than a hero trying to do good, was also new. Doctor Alex Moore is a psychologist to the wealthy of Cambridge, and she counsels an array of clients, but her own life isn’t perfect. She has three children, all of whom struggle with their own pressures, and an alcoholic husband. I wanted to make Alex as vulnerable as her clients, because at the end of the day, she’s human too. Simply because she’s a therapist for other people’s problems doesn’t mean she has none of her own. It was important to me that none of my characters were untouched by trauma because I believe it’s more of a reflection of true life.
In exploring the devastating effects of tragedy on people’s lives, I wanted to shine a light on their secrets and how they lie to protect them. As Alex steers her clients through their healing, she doesn’t stay immune to the impact that one’s past has on the present. As all their pasts unravel, it’s soon clear that when a person carries damage around with them, they’ll go to startling lengths to deceive. The plot was a complex one, but I’m used to that with my Kelly books, and I enjoy giving the reader multiple voices to contend with.
There’s often a serious social injustice theme to my writing and the Kelly books handle tough topics such as knife crime, bullying, people trafficking, drug abuse and serious crime. I wanted to be just as robust with The Rich by exposing the glaring discrepancies in the incidence of crime amongst people with adverse childhood experiences. It’s indisputable that you’re far more likely to go to prison, become an addict, fail in school, or have a shorter life expectancy if you have faced several childhood traumas and I wanted to play with the concept that, as a result of this inequity, The Rich could literally get away with murder, because society believes a certain stereotype of a criminal. This is exactly what Doctor Alex exploits in The Rich and her knowledge of the system puts her at the centre of the race to find out who committed a terrible crime.
I must admit I do have a soft spot for the baddies I create. I have fun with all my characters, and I find writing despicable back stories highly entertaining. I hope that if I enjoy the creative process then it will come across in my writing and give my readers a more satisfying and rounded experience. I don’t shy away from hard-hitting subjects and the ending of The Rich is a good example of that. I like to push the limits of what humans will do, and the lengths they will go to avoid exposure.
It was a fine balance juggling between the two sub-genres when I wrote The Rich. I was completing Kelly Porter book eleven at the time – I’ve just finished editing number twelve – and it was jarring moving between the two. Kelly is a rounded heroine – not perfect – who I’ve been told in reviews is highly relatable. Readers have every right to feel secure when they pick up a Kelly book that she’s going to catch the perpetrators in the end. I find that when psychological thriller fans pick up one of their favourites, they expect something quite different, and the early reviews of The Rich have borne this out. There is common loathing for some of the characters and that is the whole point. It’s not clear who is the perpetrator because they’re all flawed. The detective is inept too, which was difficult for me to craft after writing so many books about Kelly who is a consummate professional. It was hard for me to craft a police officer who is so clearly corruptible, like DS Hunt. Again, that was the point, he is blinded by the status of those he investigates and immediately looks to those with a background he sees as fitting what criminals should look like.
I would like to write more privileged thrillers, and I have plenty of ideas. It’s a well-known fact that, as humans, we judge people within seven seconds of meeting them and much of that assessment balances on appearance, accent, and perceived social status. This is how to get away with murder.
The Rich by Rachel Lynch (Canelo) Out Now
They can buy everything except the truth. Each week, they come to lie on her couch. Carrie, Henry and Grace. They don’t know one another, but Dr Alex knows them all too well. She listens as they reveal their dirtiest little secrets. Then a murderer strikes in their elite neighbourhood. Could her clients hold the answers? As a psychologist, she knows that anyone can be a killer if they’re pushed hard enough. But only some can get away with it.
Rachel Lynch can be found on X at @r_lynchcrime. She can also be found on Facebook.