Retired Edinburgh firefighter writes debut crime thriller set in Berwick Upon Tweed

A retired Edinburgh firefighter has written a debut crime-thriller novel set in his hometown just seven years after hanging up his hose.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 5:29 pm

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Geoff Aird 60, was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed but now lives in Leith with his wife Lorraine. He served for five years in the Royal Navy before joining the Edinburgh and Lothians Fire Service in 1986.

He retired seven years ago and began working on his debut novel “Within The Walls” - a thriller set in the northern seaside town of Berwick-upon-Tweed where a killer is on the loose.

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The synopsis of the book is as follows: Kevin Devine is found dead on a beach, tied to a stake, beaten unconscious and left to die under the incoming tide.

Goagsie Mackay, the rookie detective working on the case, has little evidence and few leads meaning that the investigation is stalling. But he must fear not for Elijah Bootle, a traumatised and burnt out Met Police profiler, arrives in the town seeking refuge from his demons after the murder of a child in London puts him over the edge.

Jez Guiness, a school teacher from Edinburgh, has returned to Berwick for the funeral of his life-long friend. And a chance meeting with Elijah leads to the friendship and a growing interest in the crime.

But behind the sedate tranquility of this seaside holiday town lies a dark underbelly. Among the narrow lanes and worn, cobbled streets there are dark secrets and dangerous men.

Geoff Aird with wife Lorraine.

These dangerous men are perfectly encapsulated by a group of Hibs supporters who go by the name of Berwick United Never Defeated In Green (BUNDIG).

A constant Hibernian theme runs throughout the novel as Geoff is a big supporter having grown up in a part of Berwick that received Scottish television, meaning he was not corralled into supporting Newcastle or Sunderland like the other half of Berwick who received English broadcasts.

So far “Within the Walls” has sold over 600 copies and has become a hit with residents of Berwick for its use of local slang words like ‘Coostie - meaning lovely, brilliant’, ‘Joogle - meaning dog’ and ‘Poosled - meaning beaten up.’

Geoff said: “Growing up in Berwick I always thought that the physical layout of the town would be a great setting for a murder mystery with its bloody history, narrow cobbled streets and dark spindly alleyways. The impressive medieval walls wrap around the old town giving it a great sense of enclosure.

“As I approached retirement from the fire service some years ago, my partner, Lorraine, encouraged me to join a creative writing course. This proved to be a great foundation stone as it covered all aspects of writing. Out of that course I had three short stories published. It was also the catalyst for my debut novel which took me nearly three years to complete.

“I must say that none of this would have been possible without my wife’s support. She provided me with so much guidance and encouragement. Every weekend for three years she would listen to what I had written and would help me with the plot development and problem solving issues. It is why the book is dedicated to her because it couldn’t have happened without her.”

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