After Derrick Bird's shooting spree in Cumbria on Wednesday, almost inevitably people are looking for someone or something to blame, given that the culprit is now beyond reach of earthly justice. For example, there is a suggestion that the Cumbria police would be more effective if they were part of a larger, merged force.
Now I'm not an expert on police force structures, but the issue of possible merger was a live one four or five years ago, and touched on in my early Lake District Mysteries. Suffice to say that, while merger may bring some advantages, there are also plenty of obvious disadvantages. Not least the risk of reducing locally-based policing, which (at least in my opinion) can contribute to keeping communities safe and cohesive. There might also be a tendency to focus on urban, rather than rural, policing. I do hope that the tragedies in Cumbria don't result in knee-jerk reactions.
On a lighter note, I've contributed a couple more columns to Bookdagger, one on the subject of Eurocrime, and the other taking crime fiction conventions as my topic. Here is a link to the site if you would like to read more: Bookdagger
Last Sunday I had the intriguing experience of discovering that a book of mine featured in The Sunday Times Bookwise quiz. I've had a go at that quiz hundreds of times over the years and I'm not sure I've ever got 100% correct answers, proving I don't know my literature quite as well as I ought to. But there were enough clues for me to identify that the answer to one of the questions was The Arsenic Labyrinth!