Written by Caz Frear



"Where do you get your ideas from?” 

It’s a question, as an author, you get asked ALL the time. In fact, it’s usually the first thing people ask when they discover you make up stories for a living (the other being: “And would I have heard of you?” which is always a bit awkward). 

Sometimes, it’s asked in outright awe and you feel a slight pressure to produce an answer that’s either crystal clear (“I scour newspaper articles”) or intriguing (“it’s a kind of alchemy”), when very often the honest answer is simply “I don’t know!” 

This was certainly the case for my first three novels - a series of police procedurals featuring a young detective with the Met. To this day, I don’t recall a single lightning flash or conversation that inspired those stories. In each case, I just had a very loose sense that I wanted to write about a toxic marriage, for example (Stone Cold Heart) or a serial killer cold case (Shed No Tears), and then I’d start with that headline and build from there. 

However, things couldn’t have been more different with my latest novel, FIVE BAD DEEDS. I can remember the exact moment the idea came to me and the incident that preceded it.  


It was early 2020, and I was meeting a couple of friends in a local pub. To be honest, I’d had a stinker of a day for all sorts of reasons, and while I was looking forward to a nice evening, it’s fair to say I wasn’t in the best of moods. Fast-forward a couple of hours, and while we’d generally had a good time, the service had been appalling. And I’m not talking slow or disorganised. No, the waitress had been outright rude. 

Now, I’m generally one of those people who never complains about anything. The stiff-upper-lip type – the type to always insist “yes, everything’s fine, thanks” when in fact, everything is pretty bad. And I think it’s important to state here that I didn’t go out of my way to complain that evening, but as we were leaving the pub, the manager just happened to call out to us, “Everything ok with your meal?” 

And for once - and probably because of the stinker of the day I’d had - I didn’t plaster on a smile. Instead, I answered honestly. It felt weird and uncomfortable, but kind of cathartic to get it out there. I felt empowered for around an hour and then… 

God, I felt bad.  

I felt inexplicably guilty.  

And then I started to catastrophise. 

What if the waitress, like me, had just had a bad day? What if husband left her that morning? What if her best friend was sick? And what if she now gets fired because I made the decision to tell the truth. She could have kids! She could be totally reliant on that job to feed them! 

And on and on it went. I thought about nothing else that night. 

I should probably mention here that I went back after a few days, then again a few weeks later, and the waitress was still there. So no real harm done. But the episode (and my reaction to it) really got me thinking about intention. I mean, it certainly hadn’t been my intention to get her into trouble - I simply gave an honest answer to the manager’s question - but you just never know the impact your decision could have on someone else’s life. With one flippant comment you could upend someone’s world without ever realising! 

And it was out of this notion that FIVE BAD DEEDS was born. The main character, Ellen Walsh, truly believes she’s a good person. She’s the first to offer someone a lift, run an errand for someone, make a stranger feel welcome, etc. But she also can be thoughtless, self-absorbed, and doesn’t always consider the consequences of her actions.  

In a nutshell, she’s a flawed human. Not always “likeable” (that’s a whole different subject!) but hopefully relatable, and FIVE BAD DEEDS is essentially a story about what it truly means to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’.   

I hope you enjoy it!  

Simon & Schuster Hbk 11 April 2024

‘A big high five for Caz Frear’s Five Bad Deeds - a page-gripping, nail-gnawing good read’ Cara Hunter


Author photo © Mike Stotter

Caz Frear

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