I have been in love with words ever since I realised, at age three, that those squiggles on the page actually meant something. I edited the school newspaper (is here the place to confess that I was also the author of the section giving all the gossip on who was going out with whom?) and did lots more reading and writing at university (where, of course, I studied English).
For twenty-five years I ran my own anti-money laundering consultancy, which gave me almost limitless opportunity to write about my very favourite subject: money laundering. And the obsession with understanding the mechanics and motivations of financial crime has only grown.
I have spent years haunting the streets of Regency London, in the company of magistrates' constable Sam Plank. He is the narrator of my series of historical financial crime novels set in consecutive years in the 1820s - just before Victoria came to the throne, and in the policing period after the Bow Street Runners and before the Metropolitan Police.
The fourth Sam Plank novel - "Portraits of Pretence" - was given the "Book of the Year 2017" award by influential book review website Discovering Diamonds. And the fifth - "Faith, Hope and Trickery" - was shortlisted for the Selfies Award 2019.
And I am now researching the first in a new series set in Cambridge in the 1820s, narrated by a university constable called Gregory Hardiman.
When did you first start writing?
As a bookish only child I was always reading and writing. The first specific incident of writing I can remember is winning a school prize at age six for a story called "Bonkers the Witch" - when my grandmother died thirty years later, I found it in her jewellery box, carefully folded and preserved. I wrote for the school newspaper and my college magazine, and as an adult always chose jobs that involved writing. And I self-published my first novel in 2013.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Singapore - my father went there in the 1960s for adventure and to run a bank - and went to an international school. This school had a large library and a welcoming librarian, and so I read and read and read. Being an international school, it taught a range of literature - in fact, our classes were called "international literature" rather than "Eng lit". And so I was lucky enough to be exposed to writing by all types of people from all over the world, which made me realise that the locations and situations may vary, but the human condition - what we fear and what we strive for - is universal.
Constable Sam Plank is a magistrates' constable working in London in the 1820s. He tries to understand the "why" of crime as well as the "what", and has a particular interest in financial crime. He is aided at work by his junior constable, William Wilson, and at home by his wife Martha.
A young man returns to London from the family plantation in the Caribbean after an absence of six years to be at his father’s deathbed – and to inherit his estate. But is the new arrival who he says he is? Anyone who doubts his identity meets an untimely end, but his sister swears that he is her beloved brother. Sam Plank comes face to face with the death trade and those who profit from it.
In the autumn of 1829, the body of a wealthy young man is found dumped in a dust-pit. Constable Sam Plank's enquiries lead him from horse auctions to houses of correction, and from the rarefied atmosphere of the Bank of England to the German-speaking streets of Whitechapel. And when he comes face to face with an old foe, he finds himself considering shocking compromises.
Rose Welford, the wife of a bootmaker, is smothered in her bed in the summer of 1828. Her husband quickly confesses to the crime, claiming that a message from beyond the grave told him to do it. In this fifth novel in the series, Constable Sam Plank is drawn into matters beyond his understanding.
An elderly French artist is found dead in his rooms in London clutching a miniature portrait of a little girl. In this fourth novel in the series, Constable Sam Plank delves into the world of art dealing and finds himself navigating the fragile post-war relationship between England and France
In the stifling summer of 1826, the death of a young man in Hyde Park uncovers a web of blackmail and corruption so far-reaching that even the redoubtable Constable Sam Plank is shocked. Susan Grossey’s third Sam Plank novel plunges the magistrates’ constable, his determined wife Martha and his protégé William Wilson into a dark and desperate world.
In this new mystery, Constable Sam Plank suspects there may be a link between a suicide, an embezzler, an arsonist and a thief in Regency London. As his steadfast wife becomes involved in his investigations, and with a keen young police officer now under his command, Sam finds himself leading them all into a confrontation with some ruthless and brutal adversaries.
It is 1824, and trust in the virtual money of the day – new paper financial instruments – is so fragile that anyone forging them is sent to the scaffold. So why would one of London’s most respected bankers start forging his clients’ signatures? Sent to arrest Henry Fauntleroy, Constable Samuel Plank is determined to find out why the banker has risked his reputation - and his neck.