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Award winning author revisits world of witness protection

Award-winning screenwriter Rob Gittins has moved from his usual high profile work with EastEnders to write a taut, psychological thriller – the final book of a trilogy published by Y Lolfa.

Like the rest of the series, Shelter Me, is set in the hidden world of witness protection, in which absolutely nothing should ever be taken at face value.

“It’s this twilight world in which everything the person in witness protection has previously taken for granted – who they are, their life history, their friends and family – is suddenly taken away from them. The Shelter series focuses as much on the psychological implications of that as on the crime that provoked it,” said author Rob Gittins.

It’s the victims of the crime that I’m interested in – rather than those who commit crimes or those who catch them. It is one of the main reasons why, when I wanted to write cop novels, I created cops who don’t actually catch criminals or even investigate crimes. They’re protectors rather than prosecutors. This novel is much more about the impact of crime on the victims than crime itself.”

In the United Kingdom, over three thousand people a year are taken into witness protection. Run by the National Crime Agency, the service exists to protect those whose lives are at risk, usually as a witness to a crime.

“It’s incredibly difficult to research,” said Gittins. “The protection agencies deal with people at the highest level of risk and are very reluctant to speak about their work. It took me years to gain the trust of a small handful of senior officers willing to meet with me and answer questions. But even now all these meetings take place on neutral territory.”

Shelter Me completes the trilogy begun by tense thrillers Gimme Shelter and Secret Shelter, revealing the dramatic conclusion to the gripping story of Ros Gilet. Since the brutal gunning down of her sister when she was a child, Ros has grown up in the Protection system – a world where she can never let down her guard – and is now herself a Witness Protection Officer. 

“Ros Gilet is not only in a unique position to understand and empathise with those also brought into the same programme, each case is an opportunity for her to try and come to grips with – and understand better – her own very complicated past. Ros has spent a lifetime hiding behind masks and is incredibly good at it,” says Gittins.

In Shelter Me a new case of familicide uncovers links to someone closely connected to Ros’s sister’s murder – a man long presumed dead. Determined to finally discover the truth behind what happened to her family, Ros reveals a treacherous case of deception and corruption across the globe. As the trail draws inexorably towards its bloody end, Ros is driven to contemplate a final, deadly revenge.