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The heel of the hunt
She is part of a rising crop of Irish crime writers. But when it came to her latest chilling opus Arlene Hunt was surprised to discover that the country was just too crowded to serve as a backdrop.
Anne Sexton, 30 Aug 2011
Spending her days hobnobbing with ruthless killers, psychopaths and the men and women who chase them seems to suit Arlene Hunt. She’s in fine form when she speaks to Hot Press and it’s not surprising. Since 2004 Hunt has become one of Ireland’s most prolific and well-regarded crime novelists. Her QuicK Investigations series has won her many fans and her seventh book, The Chosen, is due this October.
“It’s a stand-alone thriller set in the States in the Blue Ridge area on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. In a nutshell, a teacher, Jessie, foils a high-school shooting and in the process becomes hounded by the media. A journalist delves into her past and discovers that she’d changed her name and been married before. She’d shot her husband in self-defence. She’d recreated a new life for herself and never told her new husband.”
“Running parallel to this we have Caleb Switch. He’s a serial killer. I’d call him an apex predator. He categorises people who may be of use to him and people he thinks will fight back and give him the thrill he needs. Because Jessie is so well-known in the media she attracts his attention. The book pits him against her.”
Fans can get a sneak preview when she reads from it at Electric Picnic this September.
“I’ll be reading a section where you get to see how Caleb operates. He works on charity phone lines, where people who have suffered a trauma phone in. Using that he’s able to pick out a steady set of targets.”
Some writers, spending their working hours alone immersed in their imaginations find the shock of having to read in public traumatic, but Hunt enjoys it.
“I think I could be a bit of an actress that way – babbling to people! I like the feedback you get. It’s really good fun because you get to see other people’s interpretations. I really enjoy it!”
The Chosen is Hunt’s first novel set wholly outside Ireland and this she says was for practical narrative reasons.