Having a presence on the internet in the form of my own domain name “Roger Busby” is a very new experience, of course throughout my working life I have used the “WWW” heavily. Although now being on the other side so to speak and adding content to my own space is a world full of questions, robots, spiders, adwords, SEO. Thankfully my internet Guru is patient and helpful when guiding me in the right direction.
As a crime reporter back in the swinging sixties (1960 – 1974), in the days of the trench coat and trilby, when the 3.4 Jag (i) was the motor of choice for cops and robbers alike, bandits were one-armed and phone hacking meant pressing button B in the hope of loose change. Those were my ambulance chasing days, the long watches whiled away with interminable bouts of nine card brag in the press room at the Law Courts; hanging out with hard boiled detectives and defense lawyers. It was a great time for crime.
One of the capers which stands out from my cuttings book is The Great Train Robbery, or to be more precise, the aftermath when the luckless gang ended up behind bars only to escape from their high security prison cells with Houdini like daring. Charlie Wilson’s escape from Winson Green gaol (Jail) was among the most spectacular, reported in lurid prose by the press corps encamped in the cafe across the street from the prison gate where we would buttonhole off duty warders for scraps of information to the beat of The Kinks hit playing on the juke box: We’ve got to get out of this place! My next encounter with Charlie was in the snows of the small Canadian township of Rigout, a stones throw from Montreal where he was holed up with Pat and the girls, until the day the Mounties surrounded the house and Tommy Butler of The Yard knocked on his door. But more of Charlie later….
Bitten by the crime bug – by now I had a string of Collins Crime Club novels to my name – I signed on with the police force as a press officer, (1974 – 1996) handling the media at murder scenes and honing an insiders knowledge of “police procedure.” More books followed, leading up to my drug wars trilogy, Hunter, Snowman and Crackshot. An attachment to Scotland Yard gave me the inspiration for The Hunter at a time when the Yard Murder Squad would send a detective superintendent and a first class “skipper” out into the sticks to lead the hunt for killers in the days before provincial forces had the capacity to investigate major crime. The theme for Snowman came as a result of an assignment with the West German Bundesgrenshutz Special Operations GSG9 and my time stationed in Dachau with the Bavarian Polizei. By now anti terrorist exercises were top of the police agenda and I took part in hostage taking scenarios from New Salesman to Remount and Aglow when COBRA was activated. Specialising in maritime anti-terrorist ops my naval experience as a Lieutenant Commander RNR (in my youth I had sailed in HMS STARLING, (i) iconic WW2 flagship of ace U Boat hunter Captain Johnny Walker RN) enabled me to act as liaison officer between police and special forces whenever “military aid to the civil power” was invoked. The third book, Crackshot, was conceived during my time with New York’s finest, the NYPD when I was attached to the Street Narcotics Unit (SNU) working out of Manhattan’s Mid Town South Precinct (MTS), once the setting for Telly Savalas’s TV cop series Kojak. In those days the streets of the Big Apple were on a hair trigger so a colour-of-the-day code was strictly observed to avoid blue on blue shootings. Just to reinforce the message, inside the foyer of the MTS precinct house a banner proclaimed: BUSIEST IN THE WORLD.
So to bring my life and times up to date (1996 – 2012), when I took my leave of the police force I harked back to my youth as a teenage sailor and devoted fourteen years to promoting the parent charity of the Sea Cadet Corps in PR and fundraising roles. Now that I have finally “swallowed the anchor” and returned to the old word-smith trade those long ago days when we finally caught up with the fugitive Train Robber in that snowy Canadian township came back like a talisman. Recaptured, Charlie served out his sentence and then took off for the warmer climes of Marbella, but his hard man reputation followed him, and years later he met his violent end, shot dead at the poolside of his villa by a lone assassin. But Charlie lived on so vividly in my memory it was hardly surprising that I weaved his spirit into my first e-book, South Bank Blue: The Reckoning. But that, as they say, is another story.
BUSBY, Roger (Charles). British. Born in Leicester, 24 July 1941. Educated at Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School for Boys; Aston University, Birmingham, Certificate in Journalism, 1968. Married Maureen-Jeanette Busby in 1968. Journalist, Caters News Agency, Birmingham, 1959-66, and Birmingham Evening Mail, Force Information Officer, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, Exeter, 1973-1996. Lieutenant Commander RNR Marine Society and Sea Cadets, London, 1997-2012.