THE worlds of criminal masterminds and rhythm and blues are thrashed together in the latest book by an Essex musician.

Steve Barlington’s new novel Messin’ With The Kind was inspired by the well-known established Essex band Automatic Slim.

The story involves a power struggle as a musician attempts to take down criminals while protecting a love interest.

Steve, who lives in Frating, said: “I wanted to explore the vibrant rhythm and blues scene there was in Southend and combine the two worlds.

“I think there can be an assumption that crime and music do not mix much.”

Steve added: “I have always been interested in cockney villains and was a police officer with Essex Police in and around Colchester.

“The main character, Dave Hunter, is based on myself and I wanted to show him in grave danger and how he overcomes criminal leaders while putting his love interest at risk too.

“It raised the stakes and puts his love in danger.

“I have found the drafting process so natural and normal but the real work comes when you finesse and perfect the book.”

The book is a follow-up to Essex Man Blues, which was published last year.

The central character Dave Hunter returns as do his sidekicks Mick and Danny.

It picks up two years on from the first novel.

Dave, Mick and Danny now own a music bar in Southend called Bobby’s Bar, where Dave lives with his glamorous girlfriend, Lianda.

After his last brush with the Essex underworld, Dave has earned himself a reputation as a tough guy, and this is noticed by two ruthless London drug dealers Alex and Samuel Cleaver.

Mr Barlington, 40, said: “I feel proud of myself that the books have been published, and I’ve had people tell me how much they enjoyed them.

“I studied journalism but wanted to be a police officer much more so never pursued it.

“I wouldn’t have believed that I would be a published author.

“The writing process just seems to come to me when I start putting pen to paper.”

The book is priced at £12.50 in paperback and £8 on Amazon Kindle.