Prestonian David Hatton's Catfish novel turns spotlight on vigilante gangs

Former Prestonian David Hatton has just published his third novel - and he knows not everyone will like it.

David Hatton with his new novel The Catfish
David Hatton with his new novel The Catfish

He acknowledges on one of the first pages of the £10 paperback: "This story is for anyone. But it won't be for everyone."

The 32 year old warns that The Catfish " tackles very emotional and disturbing subjects",

Set in Chorley, Horwich, Preston and Bolton it is guided by a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, reproduced before the book's prologue: "Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both".

David Hatton's three novels

It explores the worlds of a vigilante gang, a vulnerable autistic young adult who is lured and kidnapped ,his mother's search for justice and a lawyer who takes up the case.

Contemporary concerns including trial by social media and the ethics of catfishing take centre stage in the fast paced 324 page novel, which David has published on Amazon.

David, who lives in Horwich with his partner David, said he knew vigilante groups had operated in the county and reflected on how a mall community, such as where he lives, would respond in life and on social media.

He also remembered seeing an online report of a vigilante group confronting someone outside the Odeon cinema on Preston docks. He said: "I got inspired by a Channnel 4 documentary called Paedophile Hunters. Catfishing is the process of pretending to be someone else on the internet. It can be trying to entice predators into an environment where they believe they're talking to a child to try to entrap them and expose them or it can be somebody sending a photo so they look better than they are now. It's usually pretending to be something other than you are online."

He had also become aware of reports where people were unfairly targeted.The questions he raises include is it up to the police to deal with such crimes or is there a need for vigilante groups who entice predators and what happens when a vulnerable person gets caught in the crossfire?

He said: "I write where I know and I grew up in this area. It's not been an easy book to write. The feedback I've had so far has been really, really positive."

His previous novels were entitled The Return and The Medium. David, a recruitment manager, says he has come to realise he likes to illuminate both sides of a story in his books: "There's definitely two sides. My natural view is that people should have a proper trial, that people should be protected by the law and everyone deserves a defence. The other side is that parents out there are very scared their children could end up being targeted."

David, who attended Archbishop Temple high school in Preston and Runshaw College before studying at Leeds Met, said the Coronavrus pandemic means he has found extra time to write. Working from home in his day job for Sainsbury's means he is saving two hours commuting each day.

The time has enabled him to work on another timely novel which will be published in the autumn entitled The Exhumation. He first started this 10 years ago inspired by a story about Abraham Lincoln and a re-evaluation of the American President's legacy and attitudes towards slavery. David said: "Ten years ago I wrote this about somebody tearing down the (Lincoln) statue in Washngton D.C."

Recent events in Bristol when slave trader Edward Colston's statue was torn down in protest at Colston's past will, he predicted, make this book especially topical.

."*The Catfish has also been published as an eBook.