THE daring exploits of the brave men and women in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) have inspired a new murder mystery series.

Novelist Delle Shepherd, who lives in Branksome, Poole, works for the Dorset Forensic Team at St Ann’s Hospital by day.

By night, however, Delle takes up her pen to write books about courageous and beautiful Ruby McQueen.

Delle’s first book, The Bookworm that Turned, went on sale in 2014.

She said: “The first book in my new series is out, but I’m already writing the third of this particular series.

“The character Ruby McQueen was inspired by a visit to Beaulieu. There was a display about the SOE and the vital work they performed during the Second World War.

“The topic just fascinated me. I was struck by a photograph of these glamorous women in uniform.

“They were so feminine and beautiful, but at any time they could have been sent to do dangerous, frightening work.

“They did exactly what the men did – they’d parachute behind enemy lines to help the resistance.”

The purpose of the SOE was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe, and to aid local resistance movements.

Few people at the time were aware of the organisation’s existence.

Delle said she had enjoyed plotting the course of the novel.

“I really liked the process of hiding the clues, so at the end of the novel, the reader could see how it all took shape,” she said.

Delle began writing crime fiction after a chance encounter in 2007. The Bournemouth Writing Circle had a competition to find the best piece of crime fiction in 1,000 words.

She created a chilling tale about a man who buys his beautiful girlfriend a headstone – before her death – and ended up taking the prize. The winning fiction became her first novel.

The first Ruby McQueen book, Death Moves Silently, is now on sale at Gullivers Bookshop in Wimborne, D J Brooking in Ashley Road, and via the Amazon website.