Creating Strong Central Characters - Adam Greene in the thriller In Cold Daylight

The second in the series of article - creating strong central characters by Pauline Rowson

In Cold Daylight was inspired by a conversation I overheard at the fire station where my husband a former fire-fighter worked. The firemen were talking about how several fire-fighters from one watch had contracted cancer. Many of them believed their cancer was contracted from exposure to hazardous chemicals in the line of duty but this has never been fully investigated. I decided to blend the facts of this case within a dramatic fictional plot, creating a powerful novel unaware that a major International disaster on a massive scale 9/11 would be the catalyst to spark studies in the USA into this controversial area.

Since writing In Cold Daylight, after a three year study prompted by 9/11, research from the University of Cincinnati has found that rates of testicular cancer were a hundred per cent higher and prostate cancer twenty-eight percent higher among fire-fighters. In addition, the researchers also discovered a fifty percent increase in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Researchers say fire-fighters are exposed to many compounds designated as carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents including benzene, chloroform, soot, styrene and formaldehyde. These can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin at the scene of a fire.

Instead of choosing a fire fighter as my hero in In Cold Daylight though, I chose to tell the story through the eyes of a man who is the opposite. This is marine artist, Adam Greene's journey through overcoming depression, a nervous breakdown and leaning on the prop of his strong-willed, ambitious wife as much as discovering why his best friend, fire-fighter, Jack Bartholomew, was killed in the line of duty before he can reveal the cause of his own – and his colleagues’ cancer.

In a cryptic message orchestrated before his untimely death, Jack has left a trail of clues that will lead Adam into a labyrinth of lies, secrets and government conspiracy exposing an environmental scandal that has resulted in the deaths of fire fighters.

When Jack dies in a fire in a derelict building Adam Greene has lost his closest friend. He attends Jack's funeral ready to mourn him when another funeral intrudes upon his thoughts, and one he has tried very hard to forget for the last fifteen years - the death of his girlfriend. But before Adam has time to digest this, or discover the identity of the stranger stalking him, Jack's house is ransacked.

A reluctant hero, Adam is forced to confront his past and his own dark secrets. He's pushed into examining his relationship with his wife, his bullying dead father urging him to achieve, and his successful domineering brother. As the facts reveal themselves the prospects for Adam's survival look bleak. But Adam knows there is no turning back; he has to get to the truth no matter what the cost, even if it means his life.

Adam doesn't give in, although part of him would like to, fear is the trait that holds him back, fear of failing, fear of breaking down and the shame he always felt because of it, but loyalty to the man who helped him through the dark days of isolation and depression push him on and ultimately make him stronger.

Adam makes mistakes and learns from it. And where will he be at the end of the journey? What will he have learnt? Has he changed? Will he be stronger? What will he do next?

I've been urged to write a sequel to this novel by many readers and maybe I will.

In Cold Daylight is dedicated to my husband, his former watch, Red Watch in Portsmouth and fire fighters every where.

Pauline Rowson with some of the fire fighters from Red Watch a couple of years ago


Priscilla said…
No authoritative or regulatory body anywhere in the world classifies styrene to be a known cause of human cancer.

Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC ( is a trade association representing interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene.