A RETIRED detective inspector from East Lothian has taken a major step forward with his writing career after signing a book deal with a publishing company.

Peter Ritchie, originally from Musselburgh, launched his first crime thriller Noble Cause as an e-book by Amazon back in 2014.

He is now working with Edinburgh-based Black & White Publishing, which is assisting with the editing and design of his self-published novels.

Cause of Death, which launched this week, is a rewritten version of Noble Cause and centres around fictional character Grace Macallan, who is disgraced and heart-broken as she transfers from a covert police operation in Northern Ireland gone badly wrong. Against the will of many in the force, she has testified against a colleague in a case where lives and relationship have been lost.

Now assigned to the newly formed Major Crime Team in Lothian and Borders, Grace has to rebuild her career with a cantankerous colleague who drinks too much as her right-hand and a boss who puts his career ahead of all else to contend with.

The newly formed team is soon under serious pressure when a brutal attack on a prostitute escalates into a series of murders, with a high-profile Edinburgh lawyer as the chief suspect, and lurid tabloid headlines.

Mr Ritchie started out his working life as a fisherman, following his family’s tradition and spending eight years on the boats. He joined Lothian and Borders Police when he was 23 and served in CID, the Serious Crime Squad and then the Regional Crime Squad as a DI.

He then moved to London to head up the Organised Crime Unit in the National Criminal Intelligence Service before being appointed as a UK liaison officer to Europol in The Hague, Netherlands, for five years.

But it was his time after he retired which provide the focus for much of his novel.

He spent four years in Northern Ireland working with the public inquiry by Lord McLean into the murder of loyalist leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison and worked on the Vale of Leven Inquiry.

Peter, who now lives in Port Seton, is delighted at his book deal, saying: “I suppose it’s what every writer wants. It’s great to get the support of Black and White, who are polishing the series.”

Publication of Mr Ritchie’s other books will follow in October and November, with one unpublished novel waiting in the wings and another in the process of being written.