Jeremy Craddock lives in Appleton and is a former deputy editor of the Warrington Guardian. His true crime book about a landmark Agatha Christie-era murder case will be released on May 28.

I ALWAYS wanted to be a writer.

It’s why I became a journalist.

Over the years I tried my hand at novels and plays, even seeing a couple of scripts produced at a theatre years ago. But nothing ever came of it.

During my years at the Warrington Guardian, I would come home from the office to work on my latest attempt at a novel. I also got into the habit of rising early to write my daily thousand words before going to work.

I self-published some children’s books but they failed to set the world on fire.

Then when my mum died five years ago it made me take stock.

I read some books she had given me. They included Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, both works of narrative non-fiction, true stories told like fiction. A lightbulb switched on in my head.

I had always loved researching and writing features for newspapers and magazines.

But I also loved writing fiction and drama. Suddenly I could see a way of melding these two disciplines.

I remembered a historic murder case that had happened in Lancaster in the 1930s.

Dr Buck Ruxton had murdered his wife and children’s nanny, dismembered their bodies and discarded the remains in a ravine in Scotland.

Jeremy Craddock

Jeremy Craddock

The subsequent police and forensic work to piece together the macabre human jigsaw puzzle had revolutionised crime-scene investigations.

I had been haunted by the case since childhood, having grown up near Lancaster.

There had never been a full-length, detailed, narrative non-fiction account of the case.

I had found my story and my form.

By now I had left newspapers and was teaching multimedia journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University, which allowed me more time for research and writing.

Nevertheless, it still took me a year of rewriting my book proposal before I found an agent prepared to represent me.

Things were starting to happen and I soon had a publishing deal.

Not long after that I got a call from my agent to say two television production companies were vying to turn The Jigsaw Murders into a drama.

I was thrilled and amazed as I was still several months away from finishing the book.

The Jigsaw Murders

The Jigsaw Murders

In the end, I decided to sell the option to Elaine Collins, the producer who made Vera for ITV and Shetland for the BBC.

It was the perfect spur I needed to complete the book, especially as Covid had made research in archives difficult.

Now the book is ready and will be published on May 28. It has been four years in the making.

It began shortly after my mum died. Sadly my dad passed away just before Easter.

So the culmination of my life’s dream is tinged with sadness.

But one thing I have learned is that you should never give up on your dreams.

The Jigsaw Murders: The True Story of the Ruxton Killings and the Birth of Modern Forensics is published by The History Press.

It is out on May 28.