Why a booktrail?
Discover Northumberland and the character of Vera Stanhope who works with Northumbria police in her attempts to solve crime. Travel to the beautiful Tyne Valley too.
Story in a nutshell
When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once, it’s a death from natural causes. But then she finds marks on the victim’s neck…..
So Vera starts her investigation by trying to find more evidence, motive and to talk to those who knew the woman in any way. Joe, her sidekick, struggles with balancing his work with his difficult home life but for Vera death almost seems to bring her to life. She looks for something which will make the investigation take a new turn.
So when they discover that the victim had worked in social services – and was involved in a shocking case involving a young child – it seems the two are somehow connected.
But things are rarely as they seem.
Place and setting
When Vera opens the door to the steam room at her local gym and health club, she was probably not expecting to find what she did. This steam room holds secrets you see. Might put you off ever walking into a gym but we’ve never done it before reading this book and so it didn’t put us off…
The steam room smelled of cedar and eucalyptus the steam was so think that she couldn’t make out at first if anyone else was there. She saw that she was sharing the steam room with a woman…..completely relaxed…..Complete relaxation was a state she rarely achieved…..The object of Vera’s envy was dead.
Investigations show that the victim Jenny lister was a caring and normal mother as well as a social worker. Vera starts to investigate these varied threads of the case and they take her from the health club up to the Tyne Valley and the village of Barnard Bridge where the victim lived.
Such an area of beauty but with two villages at the centre of a secret -both enclosed communities where gossip and bad feeling seem to be the order of the day.
And to think Vera only went to the gym as her doctor warns her she needs more exercise!
The setting of the novel – missing children and the exploitation of them is a difficult one yet we see the remote and small communities where this topic could haunt them for years to come.
The Tyne Valley and Vera…
She is to the Tyne Valley what that spy place in Cheltenham is to the security services.
Vera leaves Joe at the scene of the crime –
She left him at the club and the hotel while she buggered off up the Tyne Valley to nose around the victim’s private life.
Barnard Bridge (modelled on the area of Haydon Bridge we believe)
Jenny the victim lived here ‘ worth a bob or two then’ so immediately due to where she lives, judgements are made. Vera drives here from the Willows to Barnard Bridge to record the time it takes.
The Tyne Valley really is a very nice part of the North East known for being home to Hadrian’s Wall and the stunning scenery, rocky hills and sparse and remote villages. A friendly area, one of history and calmness – in real life at least.
And Vera who comes into their midst? Calling everyone Pet which is a very endearing term in the North East from anyone to a family member to a stranger makes Vera very much a part of her landscape. As does the food she always enjoys – at the end of the book she returns to where the murder took place – but this time she enjoys herself.
For more information on the Tyne Valley area and the history of the towns and villages mentioned in the course of the investigation. Pic courtesy of Visit Northumberland.