Literary Locations – Durham

Literary locations – Durham

Think of Durham and what do you see? A lovely flowing river, a city steeped in history (mining and railways) and tradition, a top university, cobbled streets and a grand cathedral overlooking the maze of streets below…

Two books we’ve recently read here at the booktrail paint a rather different yet unique view of the city we love and know so well. Welcome to Durham as you have never seen it before…

BITTER-FRUITS

Bitter Fruits by Alice Clark Platts

In Bitter Fruits, the River Wear is a crime scene and the corridors of Durham University are awash with secrets, lies, cover ups and obsession.

From the moment the novel opens at the discovery of a body, Prebends Bridge flanked by bushy trees and a neat riverside walk, becomes a crime scene. The River Wear has only just been a scene of celebration for the students involved in the famous Durham Regatta weekend. However now, the safety of the students is now a concern as it the reputation of the university itself.

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Set in the old mining landscape of County Durham, where loyalties from the past come back to haunt the present.

Young girls are being abducted and murdered but Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw struggles to find any leads. Journalist Tom Carney is recently returned to his native city and starts investigating. Then another body is found – only this one is decades old. Are the secrets of this mining community buried back in time?

An interesting part of the country to visit both for real and in a book, but you’ll be pleased to know that the reality of Durham is much nicer – the riverbank is a nice place to sit on a summer’s day, the castle and cathedral impressive places to visit, and the cobbled streets around the university, perfect for a wander…

Take both books, a picnic, and make a day of it!

Silent Voices – Northumberland, Tyne Valley – Ann Cleeves

Vera silent voucees

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

Tyne Valley - http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/where-to-go/hadrians-wall-tyne-valley Vera leaves Joe at the scene of the crime to noisy around the victims private life. Bardon Mill, Corbridge and Haltwhistle are three towns there. Haydon Bridge - inspiration for fictional Barnard Bridge  Jenny the victim lived here ‘ worth a bob or two then’ so immediately due to where she lives, judgements are made.  Bardon Mill (Tyne Valley) Could Jenny the vicim live here as she is ‘ worth a bob or two then’  a nice village to the west of Haydon bridge. This is the place to see Hadrian’s wall Newcastle Where Frank is an artistic director of a theatre, and where Vera carries out a great deal of her investigations Durham City “Joe Ashworth liked Durham city - only a few miles down the A1 it was like being in a different world from the centre of Newcastle”
Visit Northumberland – Tyne Valley http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/where-to-go/hadrians-wall-tyne-valley
Vera leaves Joe at the scene of the crime to noisy around the victims private life. Bardon Mill, Corbridge and Haltwhistle are three towns there.
Haydon Bridge – inspiration for fictional Barnard Bridge
Jenny the victim lived here ‘ worth a bob or two then’ so immediately due to where she lives, judgements are made.
Bardon Mill (Tyne Valley)
Could Jenny the vicim live here as she is ‘ worth a bob or two then’ a nice village to the west of Haydon bridge. This is the place to see Hadrian’s wall
Newcastle
Where Frank is an artistic director of a theatre – could this be the Theatre Royal? and where Vera carries out a great deal of her investigations
Durham City
“Joe Ashworth liked Durham city – only a few miles down the A1 it was like being in a different world from the centre of Newcastle”

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.

Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 15.41.05

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.

Tyne Valley – http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/where-to-go/hadrians-wall-tyne-valley

Vera – the true Angel of the North – North East England in fiction

Vera – that no nonsense DCI from North East England is back on our screens this Easter Sunday for an adventure not in any of the books. We can’t tell you how excited we are to have this great drama series back on the television since it showcases both the writing talents of Ann Cleeves, the scriptwriters who come up with even more drama and witty one liners for Vera, and the whole crew working to promote the North East as a good location for crime fiction fans.

The Vera liine up –

Vera-lineup

These books are not only a great set of mysteries, police procedurals and great crime stories, they also showcase the North East of England where they are set in a very interesting light. Most of the locations in the books are real and if not they are based on real places or are inspired by places you can visit for real.

Take the first Vera adventure for example –

The Crow Trap 

Set in the stunning North Pennines which becomes a landscape of murder and hidden secrets when placed in the very capable hands of Ann Cleeves.

Locations featured – Newcastle, Craster, Kimmerton and the North Pennines of course which can be visited here –

The North Pennines The main setting for the novel and  the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too. http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx Cauldron Snout Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it Kimmerston Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections  Craster Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/  Newcastle Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis
The North Pennines
The main setting for the novel and the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too.
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx
Cauldron Snout
Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it
Kimmerston
Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella has connections
Craster
Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/
Newcastle
Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-crow-trap-north-pennines-northumberland-ann-cleeves/

Harbour Street

Set mainly in Newcastle and Northumberland. Mardle and Partington may be fictional names but the places they represent on the map are Amble and the Northumberland coast  –

Amble Harbour Where Harbour street is said to be located near to. Cliff House The building which appears on the HB and PB editions of the book Alnmouth Some of the filming for the TV show took place here Newcastle Fenwicks Where Vera is unexpectedly found shopping Newcastle Lit and Phil The Lit and Phil library?.. It’s where book -lovers hang out’
Amble Harbour
Where Harbour street is said to be located near to.
Cliff House, Amble
The building which appears on the HB and PB editions of the book
Alnmouth
Some of the filming for the TV show took place here
Newcastle Fenwicks
Where Vera is unexpectedly found shopping
Newcastle Lit and Phil
The Lit and Phil library?.. It’s where book -lovers hang out’

Here’s the full article on the book and its setting

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/vera-harbour-street-a-northumberland-booktrail/

So who will be watching the new series of Vera this weekend? We will! Great to see places you know and discover ones you didn’t. Maybe even discover a new book in the Vera series while you’re at it.

Gone – North East England – Rebecca Muddiman

gone

Why a booktrail?

Following on from her success with Stolen – the winner of the 2010 Northern Crime Writers competition in 2012 has done it again and places the North East on the North East Noir map.

Story in a nutshell

250,000 people go missing in the UK every year.

91% of those reported to police are found within 48 hours.

99% of cases are solved within a year.

And 1% stay gone.

Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. The police assumed she was a runaway. But now a body has been found in woods near Blyth.

DI Michael Gardner knows he didn’t take Emma’s disappearance seriously enough back then, but when he and DS Nicola Freeman start to reinvestigate, they discover that the past will come back to haunt them – and others.

Place and setting

Middlesbrough - where DI Gardner was based Blyth woods - where the body is found Alnwick Police station - DS Janet Williams works here Morpeth - links in the case are made here too
Middlesbrough – where DI Gardner was based
Blyth woods – where the body is found
Alnwick Police station – DS Janet Williams works here
Morpeth – links in the case are made here too

The book opens in Middlebrough and Blyth as we meet a series of characters who have just heard the news –

“The body was found in woods near Blyth earlier today”

Their reactions to it could not be more differerent and the trail of suspicion starts to weave and coil its way around each and every one of them throughout the novel.  The missing girl is thought to be Emma who disappeared 11 years ago but it is DI Michael Gardner, based in Middlesbrough who reacts with regret that he failed the girl. Meanwhile, Louise also in Middlesbrough fears that the discovery will mean that ‘they will find out what she’s done’. Then we are in Blyth – the scene of the crime and we  meet Lucas – a vile and sexist individual who ‘ has history’ with the dead girl.

The investigation into the woods and into those who knew Emma takes the police deep into the heart of Northumberland – Morpeth is a place of interest for someone linked to her past. Alnwick police station – the office of DS Janet Williams – becomes a place of investigation too since someone the police become interested in and so before long the trail from her disappearance to her discovery becomes a veritable trail across Northumberland and beyond.

Still it is the woods near Blyth which provide the dark and chilling point of interest. Added to that, the looming presence of Lucas and the dark criminal clouds start to gather in earnest.

Thoughts

A snappy, well structured and well written tale of a chilling and very real to life case. Maybe it was the statistics in the blurb which did it, but this felt like a real case and for that reason the undesirables you meet in and around Blyth are particularly nasty. Very real and believable – just down right nasty.

Told in dual time line –  1999 and 2010 (present day) , this was an effective mix of the confusion and regret of the present day investigation coupled with the dangerous unravelling of the past. very effective two paced thriller which made me want to read just one more chapter in order to fill in another missing piece of the puzzle.

The mix of characters was particularly interesting as the two police officers joined up to solve the crime. The regret and sheer frustration of the investigation past and present rang true and when you add those people Emma knew well – and their past actions – the puzzle grew in complexity and took on  a life of its own.

A missing persons case is perhaps the greatest puzzle of all as everyone seems to have a theory or an explanation of what happened. But peel back appearances and there is a lot more ‘behind the scenes’. You the reader feel very much a part of the investigation and the breadcrumb trail Rebecca leaves you is not as easy to follow as you think. I was left wondering what on earth I would find out at the end of it. And I was not disappointed. Gritty, real and a North East Noir pin on the booktrail map.

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.

Recap

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 – http://www.bamburghcastle.com/

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.

photo (70)

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 – http://bit.ly/1qYV6RR

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) – http://www.copperkettletearooms.com/ 

photo (78)

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….

Hidden Depths – Northumberland and Newcastle – Ann Cleeves

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Set in the North East of England, this is a lovely guide to the region as it features quite a few known and lesser known landmarks and takes us right up the coast and even to Northumberland with a dabbling in the academic world with Newcastle University and Morpeth library mentioned.

What’s it all about?

The discovery of a young man’s body in a bathtub  is something that starts a nightmare for Vera. This is a highly stylized murder and is very strange indeed. His mum Julie discovers him –

Julie stared at him, submerged beneath the bath water, his hair rising like fronds of seaweed towards the surface. She couldn’t see his body because of the flowers.

When a second body is discovered in a similar way in a rock pool at the coast,Vera is keen to find a link between the two murders. Not to mention to explore the group of friends who have discovered the second body. There’s something not quite right about them..

So what does Vera do? Gets straight on the case and starts to investigate taking herself all around the region in the meantime. So -let’s take the Ann Cleeves/Vera tour…

The region really is well drawn and evoked here and is particularly enhanced by Ann’s obvious love and care of the Northumberland coast line. Certainly the acerbic wit of her character Vera is a good accompaniment on any booktrail……as Vera might say 

“Come on pet, get a move on. We haven’t got all day you know.”

Hope you like Fish and chips as the book takes your around the region where the best ones are found –

The Vera tour of Hidden Depths - Geordie accent optional ;)
The Vera tour of Hidden Depths – Geordie accent optional 😉

NORTH SHIELDS

North Shields where Peter Calvert has a flat –

His flat wasn’t far away, in North Shields, an attic overlooking Northumberland Park. Two elderly sister lived in the rest of the house.

And where Tom Sharp has his ‘accident’ – aah the fish quay – (some of THE best fish and chips here – get some covered in salt and vinegar, sit beside the giant buoys on the pier and enjoy. Mind the sea gulls though – they’ll have their eye on you when eating)

The Fish Quay at North Shields where Tom Sharp had the accident? There’s that sheltered bit of the water where the boats tie up. That’s busy until the early hours. Bars, restaurants, people living in those smart and apartments they’ve put up.

SEATON SLUICE (Seaton in the novel)

Where some of the characters live and much of the action centres around this village.

An ex-pit village on the coast.

It would be a good place to live. Not too far from the coast when the wind tuned east and the migrants came in. Not too far from the coast when the wind turned east and the migrants came in.Not to far from the tower for sea watching.

The rock pools at the coast – where  poor Lily is found stylised in a similar style murder –

……the watch tower, which stood on the seaward side of the lighthouse. Once it had been a coastguard  lookout. Now birdwatchers used it to look for seabirds.

And then they find something in the rock pools –

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Whitely Bay –

The cemetery and the high school get a  mention. There is a decent butcher’s in nearby Monkseaton and this is so close to Seaton Sluice and St Mary’s Light house that is a good place to soak up the coastal atmosphere and get  a sense of location by sitting on a park bench in view of the sea and sampling a local portion of fish and chips (helps get into the spirit of the locale hehe)

St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitely Bay/Seaton Sluice
St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitely Bay/Seaton Sluice

NORTHUMBERLAND – then its a little way up the coast to see where the little local library is –

Morpeth

Where Samuel  works in the library and who Vera talks to regarding the investigation –

“I was working on friday afternoon in the library in Morpeth.”

NEWCASTLE

The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

Finally don’t forget to visit Newcastle (Vera’s stomping ground  – often referred to as ‘the big city’. Peter works at the university there and Gary Wright works at the Sage –

I’ve been doing quite a lot of work at the Sage music centre, Gateshead and now they’ve offered me a permanent job.

We get a sort of guided tour thanks to Julie –

'The Blinking Eye' Bridge aka The Millennium Bridge
‘The Blinking Eye’ Bridge aka The Millennium Bridge

On an impulse, she walked across the new Millennium footbridge from Gateshead to Newcastle, she‘d never done that before either. She stood in the centre and looked up at the arcs and towers of the other bridges, the Tyne, the High Level, the Redheugh, landmarks seen in a completely different light.

You’ll see Newcastle and Northumberland in a different light after reading Hidden Depths as it shows some of the lovely costal areas of the region. See it all through Vera’s eyes…….

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Aye Pet,  I see everything me. Don’t miss a thing.

Hope you’ve enjoyed me tour. Leave Joe a tip won’t ye? He appreciates that kinda thing.

The Crow Trap – North Pennines, Northumberland – Ann Cleeves

crow-trap-ann-cleeves-paperback-cover-art

Why a booktrail? Vera burst into the literary scenes back in 1999 and both she and her creator Ann Cleeves have put the North East of England firmly on the literary map.

The area of the North Pennines
The area of the North Pennines

Story in a nutshell

Set mainly in the remote landscape of the  North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey.

They are to stay at a local cottage and live together whilst their work is completed. But each of the woman comes with more baggage that than which contains their soil collecting samples and landscaping equipment.

Each has a link to the land in some way and a personal search for answers of some sort. The land is of interest to a local quarry business and the local farm is at the centre of the area being studied.

But what Rachel finds there on arrival shocks her to the core and reveals a deep seated mine of intrigue and ultimately murder.

Cue Vera and her acerbic wit and investigative style – this is a Northern DCI with a harsh exterior but a softer centre – just don’t underestimate her that’s all we’re saying. This is her patch and she is after the truth…..

Place and setting

The North Pennines The main setting for the novel and  the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too. http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx Cauldron Snout Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it Kimmerston Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections  Craster Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/  Newcastle Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridges although the latter is now John Lewis
The North Pennines
The main setting for the novel and the landscape of the environmental study. Baikie’s cottage is here too.
http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx
Cauldron Snout
Could this be Hope Crag as it made us think of it when we saw it
Kimmerston
Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella has connections
Craster
Anne seems to have a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied –http://www.kipper.co.uk/
Newcastle
Farnons is sadly no more but you can still visit M&S and Bainbridge although the latter is now John Lewis

For the whole range of wonderful locations – two websites have it all – http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

For the Northumberland locations – 

http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/

In the Crow Trap, we head over the North Pennines for the windswept and desolate moors, but not before visiting the stunning sights of Northumberland such as Wooler, RAF Boulmer , Kimmerston and the stunning surroundings of this beautiful part of the world

For this is where three women have gathered in order to carry out an environmental study. But it turns out that the environment is not really what they are concerned with and that they each separately have reasons for being there and secrets that they are careful to keep hidden.

THE NORTH PENNINES

The North Pennines where the team are carrying out a environmental study – the rocks, crags and natural habitat are described with the Ann Cleeves magic. As Rachel, one of the women in the study starts to prepare the area to study –

The moorland patch was less easy to define. The map showed drainage ditches, a dry stone wall, but even in good visibility she knew it would be hard to keep to the transect lines in such a featureless landscape.

This is a region where a lot of natural studies do take place as the North Pennines information page shows –

http://www.northpennines.org.uk/Pages/HeritageSkills.aspx

KIMMERSTON

Kimmerston is central to the novel and is where Bella  has connections –

Dougie, still fit an active then. Brought all other supplies from Kimmerston once a week in his landrover

CRASTER

The area also comes to life with little snippets of insights into the woman’s lives such as –

Anne seemed to survive on scrambled egg and smoked salmon. It seemed she had a friend in the Craster smokery who kept her well supplied.

(For the famous Craster kipper and other delights – this is a must – http://www.kipper.co.uk/ )

A place known as Cauldron snout in the North Pennines. Is this similar to the view the ladies saw from the Hope Crag?
A place known as Cauldron snout in the North Pennines. Is this similar to the view the ladies saw from the Hope Crag?

The area as a whole –

But throughout there is  sense of the rawness, the remoteness and the starkness of the landscape – a perfect backdrop to the novel’s underlying theme of secrets, betrayal and hidden agendas….

From the mine Rachel broke away from the  track and took the direct climb to the top of Hope Crag. From there she could lock onto her moorland survey square.  The land sloped gently  in a series of plateaux to the horizon which was softened by woodland…..

There is a disused lead mine, a quarry, and the mystery of the crow trap, as featured in the title –

The trap was a large wire mesh cage with a funnel in the top.Inside a live, tame crow fluttered provocatively, inviting in another to defend its territory. Once in through the funnel there was not way out. Presumably they had to find some form of co-existence until the keeper came along to put the intruder out of its misery.

Crows were territorial creatures…

crow 1

Newcastle of course gets a mention and for any one who remembers the days of old, this should make you smile –

Farnons for school uniform, Bainbridges for curtain material, lunch in the studenty cafe  opposite the Theatre Royal, M and S for knickers and back to the Haymarket for the 3 o’clock bus

Welcome to the North Pennines and Northumberland

Bookish musings

Vera is everything that you could hope for from a North East DCI. She’s hardy, gritty and no nonsense in her approach. Yet from her appearance and manner you would hardly take her for a DCI.  Shabby, and looking like a bag lady who has wandered in off the street, she may not look the part but that’s sometimes what makes her so effective – people and criminals don’t expect she’ll ever get the upper hand. Haha more fool them.

The mystery of the three women on the environmental survey evokes a lot of the landscape and settings in and around Northumberland and the Pennines. The mystery is neatly done and the threads which appear loose all come together with skill.

Vera has a unique way of solving mysteries, interviewing witnesses and suspects and likes to observe. A very cool character and this first outing is a must read.

Forum Books, Corbridge IBW14

Celebrating Independent Booksellers week has taught me many things

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We have some wonderful booksellers up and down the country whose main passion in life is to ensure each and every one of us finds our perfect read

There is nothing quite like walking into an indie bookstore and taking in a deep book breath 

They promote author events, authors, books and all book related things

We need more of them

At a time where there are bookshops and libraries closing down all too often, it was a joy to hear of Forum Books in Corbridge/Northumberland and the opening of their new children’s bookstore.

The week in celebration at Forum Books
The week in celebration at the main Forum Books

We’ve had lovely Helen Stanton over for tea and cake – our mission to celebrate and say thank you to these wonderful people. Well, we travelled up to Corbridge as well we wanted to visit this lovely little gem in Northumberland – Mari Hannah land you might say since local author Mari Hannah has set a few scenes around these parts (most notably the church opposite this very bookshop in Murder Wall’s opening scenes)

Hi Helen

Now, even if I say so myself, I’ve made rather an ambitious cake for us to enjoy – in keeping with the independent booksellers week, I’ve done an independent design. Plus in homage to your wonderful shop I’ve made the cake in the shape of a fort, a roman fort of course as well we are in the heart of Northumberland and I believe Forum means ‘a public square or marketplace’?

Ta dah!

The Fort Cake
The Fort Cake

Now would you like a tower or the drawbridge to start with?

There you go

Oh tea! How lovely….

think we'll sit here on the special IBW themed sofa!
think we’ll sit here on the special IBW themed sofa!

So, Helen, what do you love about working for Forum?

Have always dreamt of running my own bookshop – the exciting new books coming out, the trusted favourites that never fade, the conversations about books..hard work but never feels like work…if that makes sense

Why is IBW important to you?

It’s great to have an opportunity to make a fuss of what we do all year round

 

The Gruffalo came to Corbridge!
The Gruffalo came to Corbridge!

Tell us about your new children’s bookstore!

Our new bookshop Forum Books Kids was opened a few weeks ago by the Gruffalo and its very exciting to have made a space for children to come and discover books for themselves. We’ve a toy till on the counter ( a lowered easy to reach section!) and a reading den. And a garden to grow into next Spring with any luck. We’re planning regular story times, events and other fun stuff! Watch out!

A new oasis of book loviliness
A new oasis of book loveliness 

What has been your favourite author event at your store?

Miss Hannah Kent - of Burial Rites. The evening she came here - we ate, we drank and we chatted books! FAB novel set in Iceland - perfect for booktrails!
Miss Hannah Kent – of Burial Rites. The evening she came here – we ate, we drank and we chatted books! FAB novel set in Iceland – perfect for booktrails!

Ooh thats tricky…this year I loved Hannah Kent as I was so taken with Burial Rites, but then Tim Winton was special too. And I have a lot of fun with cookery / foodie events – Sabrina Ghayour & Diana Henry were both so lovely, great company & delicious..

Who is coming soon?

Our next is David Bez & Salad Love – with a demo! Another first! A great book of 260 salads – one for every working day – inspirational & practical. July 17th.

Emma Chapman is stopping off as part of her amazing Indie Book Crawl & we’re having a Sunday tea time event with Lucie Whitehouse – cucumber sandwiches & cake! I’m very excited to have got both authors together as they both start with seemingly lovely, working marriages but by the end of each first chapter this fractures & each take us on very uneasy, suspenseful page turning journeys! July 20th

Aah the Miniaturist herself is coming to Forum books! Squeal!!!!
Aah the Miniaturist herself is coming to Forum books! Squeal!!!!

 

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – she’ll be here August 20th – and completely hooked! A gorgeous read!

Which fictional character would you like to meet?

The first that pops into my head would be fifteen year old Charley Thompson from Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin – that kid! And Willy Vlautin’s books always resonate with a truth. So wanted to reach out and grab Charley…

Ah Helen it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you about books. You’re like a book therapist – people should come and see you when they need a book to cheer themselves up and need to talk books to someone who knows.

I feel calm and ready for my next read.

Would you like another window or maybe a part of the battlements? (Back to the cake obviously)

Helen takes the battlements and the shield and sword hanging above it – that’s the sign of a good bookseller through and through – a fighter when the going gets tough even when it comes to cake. Goes straight for the symbols of weapons and protection – Independent booksellers are here to stay!

Cuppa and a cake at Cogito

This booktrail bookshop is coming to an end – one more on the list this week.Oh How I wish I had more to visit….well of course there are loads across the country on my list but for now I’m in sunny Northumberland!

Aah Cogito books - i'm here for a cuppa and a cake today!
Aah Cogito books – i’m here for a cuppa and a cake today!

But before the booktrailer heads home to Booktrail towers to prepare for the next mammoth booktrail (the next one is set in 1950s Malaya), we headed for a nice relaxing Cuppa and a cake with a lovely lady named Claire who owns a beautiful bookshop – Cogito books in Hexham

Now I was on a mission here for Cogito already run a tea and cake offering whereby  you can book a session – rather like that of a personal book advisor – to learn about new literature and what suits you as a reader. All this with tea and cake! Well, Claire deserves a little of her own medicine we thought so…..

Welcome to Cuppa and a Cake Claire!

Hiya 

the perfect spot in Cogito for Cuppa and a Cake
the perfect spot in Cogito for Cuppa and a Cake

Wow what a gorgeous shop! Where should we have our Cuppa and a cake? I’ve brought fresh cream eclairs and two butterfly cakes. Ooh what’s that? Victoria Sponge? Well how do you know that’s one of my favourites!

What do you love about working for Cogito?

I love people and I love books and bookselling is about connecting the two.  It is just brilliant when you introduce someone to a book that they really enjoy or help someone find exactly what it is they are looking for.  I think what independent bookselling offers is the flexibility to offer a better service to customers, to tailor that service to customers as individuals, to be creative and working in Cogito Books is always interesting and you never know what each day will bring!

 

The booktrailer did not fall asleep in this chair....no I did not.....certainly not whilst dreaming of a book I'd been reading..
The booktrailer did not fall asleep in this chair….no I did not…..certainly not whilst dreaming of a book I’d been reading..

Where does the name come from?

The name Cogito comes from the French philosopher Descartes’s  Cogito Ergo Sum which means  ‘I think therefore I am’ .

-Ooh I didn’t know that. That’s interesting. Now then, as we’re sitting here scoffing on victoria sponge and cream eclairs, I’d like to find out a little bit about your book recommendation service…

 The Cogito Reading Treat is our personal book consultation.  Over tea and homemade biscuits we talk about the books people have loved and their interests and from this we suggest a bespoke selection of 6 books that will hopefully become new favourites for them.  It is the perfect gift for a bibliophile or even for oneself!  We have had a great response to the Reading Treat with many people delighted that it has helped them discover new authors they might not otherwise have found.

Cuppa and a cake in a bookshop! I think I might move in here...
Cuppa and a cake in a bookshop! I think I might move in here…

-I would love that! Thinks about booking that for a fellow booktrailer later in the year….

 

You have a lovely sofa in your store – have you ever found someone asleep on it?

I have never found anyone asleep on the sofa, but I had a customer at closing time on a Saturday  say that he’d been more than happy to be left locked in the bookshop and would be completely fulfilled spending time reading until I opened up again on Monday morning!

 

the Children's corner
the Children’s corner

I love your children’s section. What’s the funniest thing that a child in your store has said or done?

We’re so pleased that the children find our children’s area and selection of books so inviting and lots of our younger customers are really enthusiastic about reading which is very encouraging.  We’re always trying to find the books that will spark that enthusiasm for everyone, adults and children alike. 

I think the funniest thing a child has said was a little girl who was telling my dad about her book request letter to Father Christmas. My dad asked if she had sent her letter up the chimney,  she looked at him as though he had absolutely lost the plot and knew nothing, declaring “no… I emailed him”.  Everyone in the shop burst out laughing. 

 

What has been your favourite author event at your store?

We have hosted lots of events over the 13 years that we have been bookselling and we have met so many lovely authors who have been incredibly supportive to Cogito Books.  It is really difficult to choose a favourite event, but some highlights would definitely include Alexander McCall Smith, Jonny Wilkinson, Piers Torday and also events such as magical Harry Potter parties at midnight. Cake is often a feature of our events and I have a lovely comment in an Anne Fine novel saying how much she enjoyed my scones!  

IBW2014
IBW2014 display at Cogito

Why should people support IBW14?

IBW14 is representative of what independent bookshops throughout the country do week in week out – introducing people to good books!  Whether it be through events, conversations, recommendations, or an interesting display in an inspiring shop.  It is a week celebrating the passion of independent booksellers who in their own ways create unique discoveries of books. Time spent reading is so precious that it is important that the book you’re reading is a really good one and this is where independent booksellers come into their own… the enjoyable discovery of excellent books!

 

Ah thanks Claire, right enough questions – time to polish off these eclairs. I’ll put these books down, can’t risk getting cream on them, I’d never forgive myself.

(Claire goes off to find me some books to recommend and comes back with a pile so huge I can’t see her face)

Malaysia, Mallorca, Margate….well that’s the booktrailer sorted for the next few months!

The joys of travelling with a good book – sometimes you don’t know where you will end up!

Visit Cogito here –http://cogitobooksonline.tbpcontrol.co.uk/tbp.direct/customeraccesscontrol/home.aspx?d=cogitobooksonline&s=C&r=10000161&ui=0&bc=0  or better still take a lovely train journey up to Northumberland and spend the weekend reading and enjoying tea and cake! aaah bliss

Visit them on Twitter too – @cogitobooks and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CogitoBooks