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The Names of New Order

From Murders of Substance to Woodhead and Becker

Previously, I announced a change to the Murders of Substance series to The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries, as well as a change of the book titles to The Winterstone Murder and The Bridegroom Murder.

In the last blog post, I talked about the origin of the series title and book names of the Murders of Substance. This post will talk about other ways New Order and their songs wove their way into the books.

Once I decided the song titles would make excellent mystery novels, one of my goals was to tie in the books thematically to the song of the same name. “Ceremony” is about hope in the face of loss (it was the last song Joy Division singer Ian Curtis would write before taking his own life), and “Everything’s Gone Green” is about being adrift, not finding your way out. I had big ideas for the books that would use the titles “Blue Monday,” “Perfect Kiss,” and “Shellshock.”

In addition, the main characters were named after New Order’s band members. The two most visible members, bassist Peter Hook and guitarist/singer Bernard Sumner gave their names as the inspiration for case analyst Bernadette Becker and forensic toxicologist Dr. Kep Woodhead.

  • “Kep” is an Arameic diminutive for “Peter”
  • “Woodhead” is Peter Hook’s given surname
  • “Bernadette” is the feminized form of “Bernard”
  • “Becker” is a shortened form of “Beckoner,” a synonym of “Summoner,” which is the meaning of the surname “Sumner”

The two supporting characters, recurring in each book, are:

  • Maura Stevenson, whose name is based on drummer Stephen Morris
  • Lesley Gill, whose name is based on keyboardist Gillian Lesley Gilbert

Book 1 also features team member Curtis Janek, whose name is based on Joy Division vocalist Ian Curtis (“Janek” and “Ian” being the Czech and Scottish versions of the name “John”).

If you remember the first version of the Ceremony cover, it was stark white with a bit of stylized text on it. That cover was an homage to the Substance album art—but unfortunately made the book look like nonfiction, not a brozy murder mystery series.


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In the next blog post, I’ll discuss why I’m changing the name of the series and the titles of the books