AVIEMORE could soon be getting a reputation for scares as well as skiing if author Matt Bendoris has his way.
Bendoris, whose day job is as chief Scottish features writer for The Sun, admitted he would like to do for Speyside what the world’s most successful horror writer Stephen King has done for the latter’s own home town in New England.
"I do like coming up to Aviemore," he commented at the Inverness branch of Waterstones last week, where he introduced his latest novel, DM For Murder, to Highland readers and explained why he set the climax in the Cairngorms.
"It’s a bit like Stephen King always has Bangor, Maine, in his books, so why not?
"It also gets you away from that gritty, urban ‘tartan noir’ thing."
Bendoris’s second novel is also the second time that he has made use of the Highlands, even though the plot revolves around the murder of British journalist turned controversial US television sensation Bryce Horrigan — not to be confused with Bendoris’s former boss Piers Morgan — in far off Baltimore.
Nor is the Inverness DJ and newspaper columnist who features in the book anything like our own columnist Nicky Marr, who interviewed Bendoris in Inverness — she jokes that as a former lawyer she has already checked ti make sure there is nothing in the book that would make pursuing a libel case worthwhile.
"It is not Nicky Marr," Bendoris stated.
"I did know Nicky through her column before I wrote the book. I did want to put a DJ in the book and I did want the Highland connection, but the character is an amalgamation of a number of DJs I’ve met and interviewed over the years. The character is more like the Sarah Cox-ladette type, but who’s wound up in Inverness."
Like his previous novel, DM For Murder was written on Bendoris’s daily commute into Glasgow, but with an iPad replacing the Blackberry he used for the first book, explaining why it is constructed in 97 tight, lean chapters.
"I don’t have time for fat," he said.
"Doing that each day, I have 2000-odd words by the end of the week and 10,000 by the end of the month I that I didn’t have before."
DM For Murder, which again features Glasgow journalists veteran hack April Lavender and young gun Connor "Elvis" Presley, has been short listed for the 2015 Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, which will be announced at next month’s Bloody Scotland crime festival in Stirling.
Also on the shortlist are more established Scottish authors Chris Brookmyre, Ann Cleeves, Craig Russell, Louise Welsh and another lover of the Speyside area, Lin Anderson, who has a home in Carrbridge.
However, Bendoris points out his is the only shortlisted book from an independent publisher, Glasgow-based Saraband Books and its crime imprint Contraband.
The third book in the series is already complete and Bendoris promises the Aviemore area will again make an appearance.
"I’m going to check out where I’m going to put some dead bodies while I’m up here," he announced, preparing to head out of Inverness in search of a suitable crime scene.
• DM For Murder by Matt Bendoris is out now from Contraband Books.