Legendary Leeds detective brought back to life in pages of novel

Dennis Hoban, pictured in 1973.
Dennis Hoban, pictured in 1973.
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He was the Leeds copper so respected that villains reputedly said they were proud to be caught by him.

Now, nearly 40 years on from his death, legendary thief-taker Dennis Hoban has inspired a new book set in the city’s murky criminal underworld of the 1960s.

Criminologist and writer Jane Carter Woodrow’s novel Between Two Worlds has Det Chief Supt Hoban as its central character.

And Jane believes the book – a mix of fact and fiction – will prompt readers to view Leeds in a whole different light.

“Hoban’s character isn’t the only factual element of the book, the entire setting is real,” she said.

“I don’t want to say too much right now, but using a secret underbelly of Leeds, I believe people won’t look at the city in the same way again.”

Jane stumbled across the story of DCS Hoban and his fierce pride in Leeds while researching an earlier book about Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.

The one-time head of Leeds CID led the early hunt for the Ripper and immediately recognised there was a serial killer at large when he saw the body of Sutcliffe’s second victim, Emily Jackson, in January 1976.

Some say that the Ripper would have been caught much earlier if it had not been for DCS Hoban’s sudden death in 1978.

“It’s hard to do him justice,” said Jane, who has been given access to personal papers and photographs by her subject’s family.

“He was probably the most unique officer in the country. He would use a disguise whenever he needed to and sail dangerously close to the wind in order to track down and catch offenders.

“One busy afternoon in a Leeds department store, he defused a bomb placed there by a blackmailer.

“You don’t see tenacity and bravery like Hoban’s very often.”

Jane plans to make Between Two Worlds the first in a series of novels featuring DCS Hoban, who was famed for his Aquascutum suits and other smart attire.

It is available as an e-book from Amazon and can be found by entering ‘Detective Hoban’ in the site’s search engine.