Monument to Murder – Bamburgh – Mari Hannah

From Bamburgh Castle looking out on to the beach towards Holy Island
From Bamburgh Castle looking out on to the beach towards Holy Island –

“This part of the Northumberland coast was stunning but unforgiving too, completely open to the elements”

Monument to Murder

The fourth installment in the Kate Daniels series, was  a firm favourite here at the booktrail – not only for its setting – but for the plot, development characters and a real twist we didn’t see coming.

As we like to get into the novels by seeing the locations in the eyes of the characters, we walked the steps that Kate, Hank and the rest of the team would have taken when they found the skeletal remains on Bamburgh beach…

Kate has set up a murder room and investigation at Alnwick Police station and are staying at a local B and B when looking into the findings. This setting – a Northumberland village, in the winter, makes for a perfect setting for a chilling and eerie tale.


The story

Prison psychologist Emily McCann has returned to work following the death of her husband and is trying hard to settle back into the job. One offender, Walter Fearon, who is a convicted, brutal sex offender is pleased to see her back since he has created an entire fantasy built around her and missed her when she was off. Needless to say he’s not going to make her return easy.

As Kate and her team try to solve the mystery of the buried bones, Kate wonders about their significance – the setting for one is seen to be very important – midway between Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle – the Monuments to Murder of the title.

The Monument to Murder Booktrail locations including The Ship Inn at Low Newton, Bamburgh Castle and the makeshift incident room in Alnwick
The Monument to Murder Booktrail locations including The Ship Inn at Low Newton, Bamburgh Castle and the makeshift incident room in Alnwick

Bamburgh castle and beach –

Reading on location is always a pleasure and a thrill for any serious booktrailer but it’s not until you get to Bamburgh sands, sit own in the dunes and look up at the castle that you realise just how hidden and remote a location it is. Stunning , yes, but also open to the elements and a sense that this is where two bodies were found  buried on purpose with the setting a real marker –

And there it was – Bamburgh Castle – rising majestically out of the ground on which it stood, a sight of power and beauty, its distinctive red sandstone walls impenetrable to the enemy without, the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria in days gone by.

Majestic Bamburgh Castle
Majestic Bamburgh Castle

Holy Island (in the distance)

The notion that Bamburgh Castle or Holy Island – two of the most revered places in Northumberland – could be some kind of macabre monument to murder stunning them into silence.

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The village of Bamburgh

Kate slowed on the outskirts of the village to observe a 30 mile-an-hour- limit. There were buildings on the right. Some fairly flash houses. The Grace Darling Museum with an RNLI flag on top. Visit it for real here –

The Grace Darling Museum
The Grace Darling Museum

Kate and Hank set up in Bamburgh and try to find somewhere to collect their thoughts and to find somewhere to stay. Hank meanwhile looks for the nearest pub….

"there were no parking space outside the Lord crewe on Church Street"
“there were no parking space outside the Lord crewe on Church Street

Bamburgh is a pretty village Kate thinks and is one that she knows well – a short row of pretty shops and the Copper Kettle tea rooms – (yummy cream teas fyi – well we have to experience cuppa and a cake during a booktrail too of course) – 

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Not far away a Japanese tourist was taking a photograph of a traditional red phone box with his mobile. (none the day we were there but a few bike riders although none of the motorbike variety)

The phone box and the famous pantry where Kate loves the onion marmelade and Francesca's Figgy Pear relish
The phone box and the famous pantry where Kate loves the onion marmalade and Francesca’s Figgy Pear relish

Low Newton

Where Jo is renting a cottage during the investigation – 

the square at Low Newton with the Ship inn in the corner
The square at Low Newton with the Ship Inn in the corner

Twenty two miles away, Kate Daniels parked her car in the fishing village of Low Newton by the Sea, one of her favourite places along the North Northumberland coast

These are the main and hotspots of the Monument tour for us – others are mentioned such as Felton and up near the River Coquet where Emma lives. Oh a birthday meal in the Black Bull pub in Corbridge where Kate grew up. Not forgetting Acklington prison (HMP Northumberland). Bamburgh is the star of the show so to speak and it shines as a setting and a remote landscape for murder and intrigue.

Oh the fun you can have on a booktrail...
Oh the fun you can have on a booktrail…

To see Mari Hannah’s Northumberland  – in fact to see Kate Daniels Northumberland, take a tour around Bamburgh and see the majestic castle, its view of Holy Island, the desolate but stunning beaches and stand on the dunes like Kate and Hank would have done, feeling the nip in the air and the rough sea fret on your face.

What did I see at the end of the booktrail? A lovely touch in the Bamburgh Castle bookshop –

Buy the book right here on location!
Buy the book right here on location!

This is Kate Daniel’s patch – read and experience her world by visiting these places.

And be sure to watch out for a figure, or maybe two, in the distance, walking a dog named Nelson….

A chat over tea with Mari Hannah and me

Mondays are always difficult when you head back to work after a lovely weekend, so I’ve decided to post this charming interview chat I had recently with Mari Hannah to cheer you all up! Sit back with a cup of tea and relax….

Hello Mari!

Mari Hannah - author of the Kate Daniels series of books - Murder Wall being the first
Mari Hannah – author of the Kate Daniels series of books – Murder Wall being the first

Right, kettle on, fancy a piece of cake? Thanks for stopping by to chat with me.


1. Well, I must start with congratulating you on your wonderful nomination on being shortlisted for the Polari First Book prize How do you feel about this recognition?

Thank you. I was completely blown away when I found out. The Polari First Book Prize is a very big deal for me, validation after years of hard work and for having written a lesbian in a lead role. Kate is the character I always wanted to write about but I did wonder how she’d be received. The shortlisting is my answer.

2. When does the final result get announced and what would it mean for you to win?

The winner will be announced on 13th November at the Polari Literary Salon in the Southbank Centre. I’m hoping to be there in person to meet the other four contenders – any one of them would be a worthy winner. I’m so grateful to have come this far but it would be amazing to go all the way, so fingers crossed.

3. The Murder Wall was the feature of one of my book trails     where I travelled to the major settings and places in the novel. Do you agree setting is important in a novel and why did you set it in the North East?

A sense of place is vital in any novel. It plays a major role in all my books. I write about the North East because, even though I wasn’t born here, it’s where I live and where my heart is. I’m lucky because Kate is a detective in Northumbria Police, one of the biggest forces in the country. That means I’m able to ring the changes as far as locations go. It keeps the books fresh, taking my readers to new destinations every time.

 4. You showcase the region well. In particular the area of Jesmond where Kate Daniels lives. What is your connection to the area if any?

Before I moved to the Tyne Valley in 1996, I used to live on the edge of Jesmond Dene. I still visit as often as I can. I use real street names where possible, although I would rename a key building if I had – for example if anything awful was to happen. I’ve not left any dead bodies there . . . yet! Many Jesmond shops, bars and cafés make an appearance in the books.

A screenwriter friend of mine recently put together a presentation of writers and their connection to Jesmond. If memory serves, you were also there when it was delivered. I can’t tell you how proud I was when he included me. Can you spot my flag on his map?

Spot the streets where Kate Daniels would walk down
Spot Mari’s flag on the Jesmond map of honour

5. I loved the character of Kate Daniels. And I hear she’s off to the US! Congrats on that too! If her books were made into a movie, do you have an idea as to who would play the characters?

I’m thrilled that The Murder Wall, Settled Blood & Deadly Deceit have been acquired by Witness Impulse, an imprint of William Morrow/Harper Collins, a major US publisher. I can’t wait for 15th October when the first title goes live.

If a movie was made (I assume you mean a feature film in the US, not the UK) I’d rather not speculate. I don’t think I’d have any say in picking the leads and we all interpret characters differently. It would be interesting to see which actors the producers came up with.

People often tell me that my books would make a great crime series for television. In fact, The Murder Wall was written for TV as part of the BBC Drama Development Scheme long before I adapted it. I hope they make it to the small (or big) screen one day. If a TV series was commissioned in the UK, I’ve been touting Jill Halfpenny to play Kate. She home-grown Geordie talent and I think she’d be terrific.

6. Another congrats is due (phew!) on the inclusion in Diva magazine where you say you had a struggle to get Kate’s story heard due to her sexuality. Are you proud to think that now she is leading the way for strong female leads?

Oh yes, proud that my Diva article The Birth of a Crime Series was one of the magazines ‘most viewed stories’ in June, and delighted that Kate is viewed in such positive terms.

7. Can you tell us about your next book? 

Monument to Murder will be published by Pan Macmillan on 21st November 2013, five months ahead of schedule, and will be launched by Forum Books in Corbridge on the evening of 20th. I have a mini North East book tour scheduled throughout the month of December.

The intriguing title of Mari's new book
The intriguing title of Mari’s new book

8.  And your upcoming events?

In mid-November, I’m in Bedlington Community Centre duelling with fellow Pan Mac author, Dave Jackson, whose wonderful novels are set in New York. That should be a lot of fun.

At the end of November/beginning of December I’m appearing on consecutive days at Newcastle Central Library’s Books on Tyne Festival. I’ll be in conversation with bestselling author Ann Cleeves and Gail-Nina Anderson on 30th November, and on 1st December, I’m appearing with romantic novelist, Hazel Osmond.

Details of all events area available here:

9.How do you go about plotting your novels? Do you have a system?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Once I have an idea, I tend to flesh out it out in an elongated synopsis to make sure it has legs. It’s the way I was taught screenwriting and it stuck with me. Having said that, I’m using a card system for the book I’m currently writing, the obvious advantage being that I can move them around at will, altering the position of scenes or even whole chapters. Then I add them to my murder wall, just as a detective would solve the puzzle of a real murder case, and try and make sense of them. I’ve yet to find two writers who use exactly the same method.

10. What is the best thing about being a writer.

There are so many upsides: doing what I love, working from home, meeting readers who have enjoyed my writing, knowing I have what it takes to entertain. There’s no other job I’d rather have.

Thanks Mari for taking the time to chat with me. Can’t wait for the next installment of the Kate Daniels series!

You can find Mari at: and on Twitter: @mariwriter