A RETIRED Runcorn man has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to become a writer.

Brian Formby, aged 60, has published his debut crime thriller, Dark Side of the River.

Set in Liverpool during the 1930s depression, it captures social deprivation and political unrest amid street gangs and dockside bare knuckle fights.

It centres on two detectives as the criminal world and the gentry are investigated following the murder of the son of a Liverpool shipping magnate.

Brian, from Halton Village, said: “It was quite gritty policing at the time. My two main characters bounce off each other. They work together as a team. It’s a bit rougher than Morse.”

It took him a year to write.

Martial arts instructor Brian, who worked as a sports centre manager, said: “I’ve always been a big fan of the classic American noir, Raymond Chandler.

“I’ve focused on Liverpool’s history and culture. I spent a lot of time wandering round the city for inspiration. The book is very atmospheric.”

Brian’s wife, Vivien, has just retired as a head teacher. His daughter, Sarah, aged 28, works in the prison service as a forensic psychologist.

He plans to write a trilogy and has already started the sequel.

Brian said: “I haven’t written anything before but I’ve read a lot of books and taken in a lot of life and experience.

“It’s been my lifelong ambition to be a writer.

“Now I’ve got the characters established, I hope to write at least three. It may even get taken up by TV. I’d love that.”

Dark Side of the River is published by Matador, priced £7.99. Signed copies are available from The Curiosity Bookshop in Runcorn. Paperback and Ebook are available online.