Today we have the immense pleasure of welcoming author Dominic Piper to Marcia’s Book Talk. Dominic, the author of mystery thriller novels DEATH IS THE NEW BLACK and KISS ME WHEN I’M DEAD, provides a character analysis of Daniel Beckett, the protagonist of both his books, and answers questions which readers have posed about this intriguing private investigator. Let us find out more about Daniel from Dominic…
Who is Daniel Beckett?
Daniel Beckett is the name of the enigmatic, fictional private investigator whose adventures can be found in the novels Kiss Me When I’m Dead and Death is the New Black, both written by Dominic Piper, which is me.
A lot of speculation has been made about Beckett, by characters in the novels and by people who have read them. Where he came from, how he has such a wide variety of skills and why he’s working as a private investigator in the first place.
Here are some answers that will only give rise to more questions, which is as it should be.
There’s no doubt that Beckett is in it for the money. He doesn’t do freebies, charity cases or special discounts. He may not charge impossible amounts, but his fee is pretty high. It’s mentioned that he charges one thousand pounds a day (that’s about fifteen hundred dollars), plus non-negotiable expenses. For the type of service he provides, he could doubtless charge more, but then he’d be in danger in pricing himself out of the market and attracting undue attention, something that he doesn’t seem to be too keen on.
HOW DO PEOPLE GET IN TOUCH WITH HIM?
Beckett doesn’t have an office. He doesn’t advertise. He does have a business card, however. This card is made from a thin, silvery metal with miniature micro-grills on the top and bottom, and often gets comments from people who see it. It’s designed like this, he says, so people will want to keep it and not throw it away. The only information on it is his name and mobile number. He seems to rely on recommendations to get work. In Kiss Me When I’m Dead, he was recommended to his client by an Italian called Athos Baresi, who he worked for in Milan as an insurance investigator. This presupposes that Beckett speaks fluent Italian. No reason is given for his presence in Italy or why he returned to the UK, or even if that story was true and the reference somehow faked.
IS BECKETT EX-POLICE?
This seems very unlikely. Many people who he encounters ask him this question. Some of his skills might point to a background in law enforcement, but most of them don’t. He’s wary of the police in general, and even when he has to speak to them in the course of a case (such as DS Olivia Bream in Kiss Me When I’m Dead and Death is the New Black), he keeps them at arm’s length and prevents himself getting involved with them on a personal level. His attitude to what is legal and what is not legal also makes it unlikely that he was a member of the police force, either in the UK or elsewhere. He has no hesitation in breaking the law when he feels it’s necessary and is rarely judgemental about those who do.
WHAT’S WITH ALL THE WOMEN?
Beckett definitely loves, appreciates and respects women and they are very attracted to him, something which he will always take advantage of, unless there are negative connotations (see DS Bream, above). He always treats them as equals. He doesn’t seem to have any preference as to their age, occupation or social standing. If he finds them attractive, he’ll sleep with them, if at all possible. It’s hinted that he is no stranger to deviant sexual practices. He dislikes violence against women and loathes seeing them being insulted or disrespected. He’s comfortable in their presence whether they are top fashion designers like Sara Holt (in Death is the New Black) or the several call girls/madams he encounters in Kiss Me When I’m Dead. In fact, he has more in common with the latter, outsiders in society like he is. Beckett is a somewhat haunted, paranoid character and it may be that he intentionally avoids long-term relationships because of the danger it could bring to any permanent girlfriend.
WHAT’S WITH THE LITTLE PEN?
The only weapon Beckett carries is a tactical pen. It’s made out of aircraft grade aluminium, making it light but tough. This is a harmless-looking substitute for a Kubotan, a small martial arts weapon invented in the 1960s by karate master Takayuki Kubota for use by the American police force. The pen version can also be used as a pen. To the untrained eye it seems innocuous, but can be used to effectively attack pressure points and soft parts of the body. It can also be used for hardening the fist for punching and for manipulating opponents using pain. It’s an unusual skill to be proficient in, and whatever Beckett’s level is, it’s unlikely he was taught it in the UK.
HE SEEMS TO BE A TOUGH BASTARD IN A FIGHT.
Beckett’s reaction to any attempted assault on his person could be described as ‘cold and calculating’. He makes very speedy assessments about an opponent, which takes in their build, weight, intelligence, reaction times and how emotional they get during an altercation. Beckett does not get emotional at all when he’s in a fight. He seems to use a variety of techniques, including karate, aikido, krav maga, KFM and his own brutal version of street fighting. How he learned so many different types of martial art and how long it took him is difficult to calculate. Although he is capable of ending fights efficiently and quickly, it sometimes seems as if he chooses not to, for his own gratification. This would depend upon the opponent and how he felt about them. He doesn’t seem to be keen on people who use knives or other weapons.
WHY IS HE SO SECRETIVE?
There’s a definite feeling that Beckett expects to be pursued. By whom and for what purpose we have yet to find out. He lives in a built up area of London (Covent Garden) where there are lots of crowds. It’s noticeable that his routine constantly changes whenever he returns to his flat on foot. He’s continually taking evasive action and utilising counter surveillance techniques and ins plainly skilled in these things. His flat contains security measures (like the Nightingale Floor), but he never uses electronic security. It’s also remarked upon by visitors to his flat that he has iron bars on the windows when he lives on the third floor. In Death is the New Black, he’s being trailed by another private investigator, but we never find out why.
If you’re interested in reading about Daniel Beckett’s exploits, visit Dominic Piper’s Amazon page here.
Dominic Piper Bio
Dominic Piper is an author living in London, UK. His first novel, Kiss Me When I’m Dead, featuring the enigmatic London-based private detective Daniel Beckett, was a critically acclaimed best-seller. The second Daniel Beckett mystery, Death Is The New Black, has just been released. Both books are published by Endeavour Press, the UK’s leading independent digital publisher.
Dominic Piper Links