Author trained to be a sniper and spent time in a prison cell as part of his research for new book

Nigel Cooper learning how to shoot a sniper

Nigel Cooper learning how to shoot a sniper - Credit: Archant

To understand what makes his main character pull the trigger in his new book, an author from St Ives has trained to be a sniper.

Nigel Cooper learning how to shoot a sniper

Nigel Cooper learning how to shoot a sniper - Credit: Archant

Nigel Cooper, 50, spent months researching for his crime thriller – The Sound of Crying – learning how to shoot long-range, observing post mortems, and even spending time in a police cell.

The story follows Cambridgeshire couple John and Helen Kramer, who discover their four-year-old twins, Edward and Jamie, have been kidnapped and murdered.

A failed court case soon sees the murderer – a priest – go free, but Helen is set on avenging the death of her children and decides to take matters into her own hands.

“I think most authors do research, but I really do believe I pushed the envelope and would probably go further than most people would,” Nigel told The Hunts Post.

Pic credit Louise Wessman

Pic credit Louise Wessman - Credit: Archant

“I wanted to fire the gun so I could describe it as a character and how she felt – the kickback in the shoulder, the crack in your ear and everything else, so I wanted to know that but I really wanted to try and get into the head too.”

The author, who has been writing full-time for six years, learned how to shoot with an ex-sniper after getting in touch with a company called Accuracy International.

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He even realised he’s not a bad shot himself.

He said: “I was a natural; I was really good at it. I’m a total pacifist, I hate guns or war and think it’s unnecessary. I hit a target the size of a mango half a mile away on the first shot and the next four were the same again.”

The Sound of Crying

The Sound of Crying - Credit: Archant

During his time there he also met Craig Harrison – a former corporal of horse – and a trained sniper.

And he discovered that everything has to be taken into account before shooting, from how the wind is blowing at points along the bullet’s route to the Earth’s rotation.

Parkside Police Station, in Cambridge, also helped with Nigel’s research, agreeing to lock him away in a cell for five minutes.

He said: “If I hadn’t gone and done that I wouldn’t have known there’s a stink of smelly feet and cheap microwave meals and the combination of these two things is rank. Unless you’ve gone along, you’d never know, so I can write that in and put it across.”

In fact, so detailed is Nigel’s research that he has even mapped out where characters go in the county, with places like St Neots and Cambridge featuring in the book.

“I think it’s good to put in street names because people that are local will know it,” he said.

“I say the car jittered past Love’s Farm and along the A428 towards Cambridge and I mention there’s no CCTV cameras there so he [the priest] wouldn’t have been spotted because I’ve done the route myself as if it was me being the kidnapper.

“I’ve walked through the woods and spotted the place.”

The Sound of Crying is available on Amazon, for £8.99, and on Kindle devices for £3.48.

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