'We should remind readers that crime hurts a lot of people'

Tony Black, the journalist-turned-crime writer, has released the third published book of his fledgling career.

Black, who has fond memories of being brought up in Kelso until the age of eight, drew on his own family's tragic experience for his latest novel Loss.

And the 37-year-old said that his new crime thriller is the most personal of his highly-acclaimed Gus Dury series to date.

"Loss is about the death of a brother," explained Black, who now lives in Edinburgh.

"Gus, a former journalist-turned-private investigator, has to uncover how the brother he lost ended up on the mortuary slab at such a young age, and his discoveries are not at all nice."

Black dedicates the book to his uncle Irving McCormack, who went missing for a number of years before his family discovered he had died in tragic circumstances in Australia in his early thirties.

And he believes writing Loss has proved therapeutic.

"Irving was a late child and more like an elder brother to me, so it was particularly hard to take," added Black, who was born in Australia.

"When I was writing the book I drew on a lot of the feelings of loss I had about my uncle's death at the time. Gus does reminisce a lot about his brother and finds memories they shared cropping up all the time. It's hard for him to carry out the investigation because he really hasn't got to grips with the loss."

A Scottish writer of a series on a hard-drinking private investigator, Black is bound to draw comparisons with a certain Ian Rankin and his famous Rebus character.

But Black is more influenced by Irvine Welsh and has continued to forge a distinctive style of his own, following on from his first two books – Pay For It, and Gutted.

For instance, Loss explores an area of the crime genre that doesn't receive enough attention – that of the victim.

"I also wanted to explore something of what the victims of crime feel," he said."Gus becomes one of the victims when he loses his brother. It's an area that's often left out of the crime novel in favour of the racier, more eye-catching elements. I don't think writers should leave it out, though, we should remind readers that crime hurts a lot of people.

"When you see a reconstruction on Crimewatch you see all these flashy camera shots and shouting and screaming at the time of a burglary or whatever – the aftermath of that kind of thing is often even more brutal. The scars take a lot longer to heal."

Speaking of his own loss, Black added: "My Uncle Irving was a great bloke, really outlandish and friendly and had so much going for him that it was a shock to see him die so young. Everyone in my family felt that way and that's why I dedicated the book to him. He's still on all our minds every day."

Loss is available through www.tonyblack.net