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Just Devlin. No first name. And definitely not Ms Devlin. Not unless you want to end up with a serious bite.

Just in case you're wondering - she's a werewolf.

Writing the biography of a werewolf has to be one of the most thankless tasks a biographer ever has to face. Date of birth? Sorry, not telling. Family? Not telling that either, although she admits she got out of the pack at a very early age - she's much too alpha to make life comfortable - and ran as far north as she could. Hence the fact that she's living in Newcastle upon Tyne now. Marital status? Well, she makes no bones about that. Single and loving it. Though we won't mention a certain ex-Met detective. A human, which makes things ever so slightly difficult. He's puzzling over those dog hairs all over the duvet, for instance, despite the fact that Devlin doesn't have a dog.

If you're thinking about dramatic changes and lots of howling at the full moon, stop it now. Werewolves don't need a full moon to change between their two selves. If you're imagining Devlin running rampant about the streets of Newcastle, tearing people's throats out and converting the entire population to lycanthropy, that's wrong too. Werewolves are born not made, and in any case Devlin is a big soft pussy cat.

She does of course have some rather more dangerous friends. You don't want to come across one of Newcastle's 'vampire community' on a dark night (or any night at all). Zombies can be seen at all times of day or night, but tend not to have such social qualities as tact, compassion and consideration - they tend to think that if they have to put up with being undead, then others can put up with it too.

And then there are the humans. Who can be just as dangerous as the paranormal community, and definitely would be if they knew the paranormal community really existed. Which everyone is dedicated to preventing. Devlin's job as a private investigator puts her in exactly the right place to cover up certain things that would be, well, a bit of a give away, and she has the help of Laura the zombie (a very wealthy heiress), Sal the 1920s vampire (he used to be a tram conductor), and Marcus the ex-detective. And the hindrance of a whole host of other people, alive and dead.

And that very large black wolf, with a white paw and a white tip to its tail. Aaaw …

Just don't try to stoke her.

Charles Patterson

Charles Patterson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1710. His father was an organist at the local parish church of All Saints and a town wait - one of the musicians who accompany civic processions and play at the official dinners of the town council. His mother, who had earned her living as a seamstress before her marriage, died when Charles was young - he was very close to her and treasures her last letter to him. He was not so close to his father who was authoritarian though fair.

There was some doubt whether Charles should take up music-making as a living - it's a notoriously insecure occupation and his father doubted that Charles had the ability to succeed. There was some talk of apprenticing him to a stay-maker but fortunately that proved too expensive, and it was decided that it was cheaper to teach Charles at home. When he was seventeen, he took over much of his father's teaching practice as his father's health deteriorated.

Following his father's death, Charles decided to seek his fortune in London - an enterprise which he now admits was rather naïve. London audiences adore foreign musicians, particularly the glamorous Italians and it's always difficult for British musicians to find a job there.

So after less than two years in London, he came back to Newcastle where things have gone rather better. He has now an extensive teaching practice - owing largely to the fact that he knows exactly how to handle the ladies and gentlemen whose children he teaches. Unfortunately, it's a lot harder to persuade them to pay …

And - totally unexpectedly - he's found he has a talent for solving mysteries. Following the murder of another musician - a murder of which he was himself suspected for a time - he now is the man to go to when something untoward happens. Which can be lucrative - in fact he probably earns more that way than by his music.

And he has a very close circle of friends in the town. There's Hugh Demsey, a local dancing master, who has a habit of blundering in regardless of danger or sense, and Claudius Heron is not so much a friend as a patron, a very elegant if cynical gentleman. His landlady, Mrs Foxton just happens to be dead but is still very much in charge of her business affairs. And Esther Jerdoun, a lady who is very definitely of a much higher social status than a mere musician like Charles, and wealthy too, but with whom he has a great deal in common …

And there is more - this is a Newcastle with a difference. The spirits of the dead infest every corner of every street and are still intent upon demonstrating that they have as much influence as they ever had. Which means they sometimes take a hand in the affairs of the living, sometimes helping, sometimes hindering. And some of the living too object to Patterson investigating their activities. Charles Patterson's life is beginning to be just a little dangerous ….

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