The LS9 series is about criminals, their families, and their victims...

LS9The Rays have always been synonymous with crime. Spanish immigrant Antonio ‘Tony’ Ray built up an impressive criminal operation in the north of England after arriving in the UK in 1958. But now he’s retired, after several strokes.

LS9 follows the lives and careers of those people connected to the Ray family, and explores the void left by the demise of Tony Ray. The series will eventually comprise nine novels. The endpoint of the saga is already known, and much of what lies in between will involve...

John Ray, the younger of Tony Ray’s two sons and the ‘straight’ one of the family. But after witnessing the fatal shooting of his brother Joe (a career criminal), John decides to return home and take-over the family business, a car showroom on the backstreets of Leeds.

The first person on the scene when John’s brother was gunned down was Denise Danson, a young police constable. She would subsequently help John through the psychological problems he faced after seeing his brother killed. Two years later, as the novel HOPE ROAD opens, she is Detective Constable Danson, and John’s lover.



The car showroom itself, Tony Ray's Motors, is on Hope Road. This is a real street on the immediate outskirts of the city of Leeds, in the north of England. The area is seriously ‘inner city’, a mixture of social housing and the remnants of an industrial-commercial past, with old workshops and run-down businesses. The area is also cut through with a mass of busy roads, circling the city and leading out to the suburbs and beyond. Like many such areas on the peripheries of British cities, it’s almost like a buffer zone between the city centre and the more desireable outlying districts.

When I was first thinking about a crime novel set in Leeds, I drove around the Leeds 9 area with my dad. He worked here in the 1960s, and remembers exactly the backstreet atmosphere it had then, dodgy, often unidentified businesses in old, gated-up courtyards and cobbled alleys.

But back in the 60s this wasn’t a marginal place, it was just one of many such areas where small, local businesses were located. I reckoned that in the 60s a criminal might well set up his base here, on the anonymous, low-rent edge of city but within striking distance of the centre. That morning with my dad, we parked on a side street and got out to look around. The name of the street: Hope Road.

Do you believe in fate? I do. As soon as I saw the name of the street I knew that it would be the title of the first book. The place itself was the perfect setting for ta crime novel: it retained that old-world feel, seedy looking and edgy, definitely not the kind of place where you’d want to walk alone at night. And as I wrote HOPE ROAD I soon realised that this would be the setting for the entire series: LS9.

I hope you enoy it!

December 2011
  Content © 2011 John Barlow.