Top-ranking barrister and former heavyweight boxer Tony Kent now writes crime fiction. His first novel Killer Intent is set to be adapted for TV. Here he shares his inspirations.

The Winner by David Baldacci

This one always comes first, as it is the book that made me want to write.

My first ever thriller, I read it aged 18 and I was blown away that books like this even existed.

Action packed, fast paced and gripping, it was stuffed with characters I cared about and situations that made my hairs stand on end.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Probably my favourite novel of all time.

Never have I read a book that so effortlessly mixes death, suffering, fear, madness and laugh-out-loud humour.

I recommend Catch 22 to anyone who has the time to truly immerse themselves in a flat-out reading experience.

Every character is so alive (until they aren’t!).

Every chapter is a masterpiece, every image is expertly, even visually rendered.

The Odyssey by Homer

OK, it’s technically an epic poem.

But it’s also the first adventure book ever written, and as a thriller author I know that my genre would not exist without it.

I first read a version of The Odyssey aged seven; it was a funny children’s take by Richard Curtis and Tony Robinson.

I didn’t think I could love that any more than I did at that time.

And then I read the original…

Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser

This is a bit of a cheat because I’d like to bring the entire set of the Flashman papers.

For my money, the best historical fiction series ever written.

The idea of taking a hated fictional character and building a history around him that encompasses practically all of the biggest events of the 19th century was a great one.

But to do it as well as Fraser did?

Just genius.

Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer

The books were adaptions of the brilliant TV scripts from the original ITV series, and yet they are as good as anything that has been written ‘page first’.

Fast, imaginative and hilariously funny, there are few literary characters who are such a pleasure as Horace Rumpole.

And take this from another Old Bailey hack from 40-odd years later: it remains the most realistic depiction of a barrister’s life that has ever been written.