Steve Burford on It’s A Sin ~ Excerpt, Guest Blog, Rafflecopter Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Steve Burford for stopping by today.


Title: It’s A Sin
Author: Steve Burford
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Genre: Action/Adventure, Crime Fiction, Drama, Gay, Gay Fiction, Mystery, Thriller


“He is a talented and very promising young policeman. Make no mistakes, he deserves the promotion.”

But when gay Detective Sergeant Dave Lyon is assigned to Detective Inspector Claire Summerskill’s team as part of the Service’s ‘positive discrimination policy’, no-one at Foregate Street Station is happy. And that includes Summerskill and Lyon.

Mutual suspicion and mistrust must be shelved however, when a young man’s beaten body is found on a canal tow path, and a dead-end case of ‘happy slapping’ unexpectedly turns into a murder investigation.

Why would someone want to kill middle class arts student Jonathan Williams? And how is his death linked to that of rent boy and would be ‘adult’ film star Sean?

As Summerskill and Lyon’s investigations proceed, the newly-promoted detectives begin to untangle a web of connections, false assumptions and sheer prejudices that force them both to question closely not just their relationship with each other but with the rest of their colleagues at Foregate Street Station and with the Police Service as a whole.

“It’s A Sin” is the first in the “Summerskill and Lyon” police procedural novels.

Behind the Book

The moment I knew I wanted to write about a gay man working in the police force, I knew he would have to have a working partner. It’s a convention of the genre, right? And so much easier to write a few paragraphs of (hopefully) sparkling dialogue between crime solving buddies, than to have to deal with pages of moody, solo introspection. It’s only when I look back to those first stages of creating the Summerskill and Lyon series, that I realise I never for a second considered making Dave Lyon’s oppo gay as well. Now, I ask myself, why?

The obvious answer would be the old chestnut that difference leads to conflict, and conflict creates drama. The problem though would have been everyone’s expectation that, sooner or later, two gay guys would ‘get it on’. (I’m talking here about the inevitabilities of fiction, rather than any reality I’ve been lucky enough to be part of). And the problem with that is, as soon as you end the ‘will they / won’t they’ shilly-shallying, you’ve lost a big part of your frisson. Given that I hope to make this series run and run, I just didn’t feel I had the energy for a teasing ‘romance’ spanning several years. I mean, there’s patience and there’s masochism!

On a slightly more sobering note, I realise I may simply have been unconsciously reflecting my own experiences. For more years than I care to remember I have worked in a (mostly) professional environment, with around eighty colleagues at any given time, and yet for most of that time I’ve been the only gay in the office. I did have my suspicions about the shaven-headed guy who turned up in combat trousers on a dress-down day – and years later, after he’d left, found out I was right. What is it about some men and camouflage?

I suppose I could have made D.I. Summerskill a straight male, but then old adage about the difference between a straight man and a bisexual one (about four pints of lager) raises its head, and the thought of the nervous excitement I might be causing readers every time Summersill and Lyon stopped off at a pub, was just too much to bear.

So, enter Claire Summerskill – and the relationship seemed so right from the start. I mean, doesn’t every gay man need a fiery, no-nonsense, blunt-speaking Welsh woman to tell him when he’s getting above himself? That’s what one of my best friends always told me. And she’s fiery. And blunt-speaking. And Welsh. (She’s also called Claire.)

As my old English teacher used to say – “Write about what (and who) you know.”


Three people walked past him on the canal path that cold November morning before anyone realised something was wrong.

The first, a professional man, out early for the morning paper, saw him sitting under the small footbridge that crossed the narrow strip of dark water. He took in the face-concealing hoodie, the flashy and doubtless ridiculously expensive trainers, and kept as far away from him as he possibly could without actually walking on the water itself. The skin on the back of his neck prickled nervously as he walked past the youth, and the Guardian was rolled tight in his fist ready to beat the lad off if he leapt on him from behind. But the slouched figure remained immobile, his back to the bridge’s crumbling brickwork, and the man passed by unscathed, relieved and curiously exhilarated.

A young mother pushing her pram had been next. She hesitated when she came upon the sitting figure, glanced nervously at the precious bundle in front of her, then steeled herself and marched straight past him, arms stiff, pram a small juggernaut. She passed safely, and laughed a little to herself at the frantic hammering of her heart and her breathlessness. She cooed nonsense to her child about ‘silly mummys’, and inwardly vowed never to go that way again at that time of the morning.

It was the elderly man walking his dog, diligently employing his pooper scooper, who wondered what a young lad would be doing sitting on the damp grass, propped against a dripping stone wall so early in the day, and who asked himself if, maybe, something might be wrong. He moved a little closer, pulling slightly at the dog suddenly grown restive on its lead. Perhaps the boy was drunk. Well, he’d had a couple of mornings like that himself when he’d been that age. Or maybe he was stoned or high or whatever the hell they called it nowadays. And what were you supposed to do then? He hesitated. His dog whined.

And then it hit the old man: what if the boy in front of him was dead?


It’s A Sin on Goodreads
NineStar Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA


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About the Author

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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