How the story arc of JAWS gave me the perfect noir thriller

The man standing at the funeral in bubble-gum pink hair is P.J. Crowe. His career as a detective is in tatters - he's facing dismissal, and his wife's about to leave. Lying low in a small seaside town he spots a ‘Help Wanted’ ad in the kitchen of a local café. It offers him an escape and it's where Thea Farrell worked – until she was found dead at sea.

And herein lies the problem: Thea was an Olympic medallist, silver for swimming and Crowe’s burned-out synapses are starting to join the dots – it wasn't his case, but his cop’s senses tell him that Thea wasn’t the drowning kind.

And the suspect may well be in the congregation…

This is the premise to my latest release, A Kind of Drowning, released on Amazon and Kobo platforms in May 2021. I started writing it in March 2020 during lockdown. I live in a small seaside town on the Northeast coast of Ireland named Rush. With a 2km restriction in place, my daily walk took me along the stretch of beach near my house. On these daily morning walks, I began to develop the fictional town, Roscarrig and the nearby island of Inishcarrig.

A Kind of Drowning is a departure from my usual genre of espionage and escapism adventure. It’s a crime novel. A disgraced detective is forced into hiding in a small seaside town. He learns that a major criminal maybe lying low in the town or close to it. Its only when a young woman goes missing and is found dead in the sea, that the story unfolds.

The plot line was very linear following a series of set pieces to the denouement and showdown. It became mired down and staid. It needed something else.

Then The Daily JAWS Short Story Challenge happened in November 2020. This I couldn’t resist! I stopped work on A Kind of Dr owning and began working on my story ‘Bad Fish’

And read not only Benchley’s JAWS, but also Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log. The story arc in JAWS gave me a new approach to the manuscript gathering dust in the corner. I stripped the ‘Bad guy’, Teflon D, back into the background, made his presence felt by the reactions of the townspeople rather than his appearance in the earlier chapters. Like the great white shark, he’s now out there somewhere, waiting to strike. The reader builds the image of him and his power and menace, so that when he bursts into Detective Crowe’s apartment near the end, it has the same impact as the shark ramming the Orca.

With JAWS, Benchley sets up the narrative of a series of shark attacks leading to three men making three voyages to hunt down the shark; I took that idea of three short voyages; The first a midnight sailing to Inishcarrig and a violent assault, then later in the book, P.J. Crowe takes a kayak to the island, he returns to shore on a lobster boat, with a captain, Ned Donovan, as grizzled and weather beaten as Quint. (I pictured Robert Shaw as I developed him). Donovan tells Crowe that the island is rumoured to be a place where drugs are being landed. The island itself, now a place of threat.

Now I had my book. And I began to complete rewrite the next and final draft, with Benchley and Gottlieb guiding the way and a tremendous shot in the arm with The Daily Jaws short story.

A Kind of Drowning is available here at Amazon

And Kobo here

Robert Craven

@cravenrobert (Twitter)











I've enjoyed reading your countdown of books and how they related to your own work. 


Thanks, hope they gave a little insight - might do another kind of series later in the year!

Robert Craven