North East England, Norway: The Silent Room – Mari Hannah

mari hannah

Why a booktrail?

2000s – A prisoner sprung from a van on a Newcastle road will lead to a trail of conspiracy reaching all the way to murder.

Story

A disgraced Special Branch officer sits in the back of a prison van on its way to Durham prison. No sooner has it set off then armed men storm the van and hijack the prisoner.

The prisoner, Jack Fenwick is the former boss of Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan who is immediately suspected of somehow being involved. He is suspended and so locked out of the manhunt.

However when the official investigation goes awry, Ryan is determined to find out what really is going on and so he goes ‘underground’ enlisting others to help him get to the truth.

The truth turns out to be  lot darker than Ryan or anyone else could have imagined and will take them to Norway in the grip of an international conspiracy that is by no means over yet.

Place and setting

map-of-mari-hannah

map-of-newcastle
Central Station The old Victorian pub where Ryan goes to meet someone is near to the Centre for Life where a car is tracked. Pitcher and Piano Quayside Several mentions of the Quayside including a drink where Grace and Ryan take time to chat about events Nuns Moor Road, Fenham Grace lives here and it’s where the Silent Room is located Newcastle Crown Court The prison van leaves here and crossed the Swing Bridge before being hijacked close to Durham

 

North East of England

Crown Court Newcastle. From the start as the prison van carrying Jack Fenwick leaves the court at Newcastle’s Quayside and makes its way across the Swing Bridge, making its way into Gateshead and towards Durham, you just know where this is going to happen and the impact when it does it by no means diminished. The hijacking is brutal and vivid, emotions raw and the hunt is on.

The aftermath takes you on a journey in and around Newcastle,  the inner workings of Northumbria police and the Professional Standards branch. The demands of the jobs are brutal and unforgiving, the dedication of the team clear yet there are some characters who seem hell bent on getting their own foot on the ladder and to heck with anyone else.

The team are made up of Eloise O’Neill – a no nonsense taking woman and DI Macguire who represents everything Ryan hates in a copper. The animosity and suspicion of the police of one of their own bristles and rankles with Ryan’s belief in the truth. Grace Ellis a retired officer who worked with Jack in the Serious Incident Squad creates a ‘silent room’ – a secret bunker style of incident room where a team kept out of the official investigation start their own.

The North East is a nice backdrop to the search – local colour is interspersed at regular intervals to place the action. From the small village of Dunstan Steads where Ryan lives to the inner city setting of Fenham where Grace lives and where the local news team headed by the real life presenter Ian Payne (as himself) comes to the fore blends local colour nicely with an author proud of her surroundings.

Norway

The investigation takes a new turn when it is discovered that the death of a Norwegian national could be linked to the case. That’s where this mention of Norway ends however as the events which take place here are central to the novel and so it’s on the booktrail map but you have to read the book to find out why.

Review

Well Mari, you certainly know how to ramp up the tension and create a police team that pulls no punches! With her paintbrush speckled with North East colour, she washes it over the gritty, punchy story, interspersed with action, fast moving events and a trail which leads to a very interesting and unique conclusion!

This is no Kate Daniels. Heck I’m sure she could work in the team but then I was rather afraid of O’Neill and Maguire myself so kudos if the three of them should ever meet. These are the tough guys – the hard men of Northumbria police. These guys mean business – violence, double dealing and a dark dark core makes this a thrilling, bumpy and dangerous ride.

I liked Ryan. He had guts and determination to find out what really happened and the premise of the silent room was intriguing. I shall now wander down Nuns Moor Road where Grace lived and wonder where this place could be…hmm and in quiet Fenham who would have guessed?

The splashes of local colour such as Ian Payne, mention of Gazza, the Quayside and the heritage of the old pub in Central station makes this a novel which stands proudly on the NE literary map.

This is a gritty read and it was a real surprise to see how events took them to Norway and a whole other area of intrigue. Being a language fan, it was great to read the smattering of Norwegian which added to the overall sense of place. The conspiracy unravelled and there were some unexpected and neatly done twists.

Mari I am now going to rest a little, my heart thumping as it is. I need to lie down somewhere quiet although maybe not in the silent room that you write about.

Author Info:

Twitter: @mariwriter

Web: marihannah.com

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Fictional friends from around the world

FRIENDSFictional characters are good people to know. They’re like our friends, share many of our milestones in life – those we meet at school, those in classic novels, the first person we admire and want to be, the person who teaches us about life and those that give us a sense of adventure…

Here we’ve chosen four characters as represented on book covers. Fictional friends and people we admire and want to spend time with for various reasons..

the-enchanted-wood-2A Childhood friend – Moon Face from Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood series

The stories take place in an enchanted forest in which there is the most magical of trees called the ‘Faraway Tree’.  It’s very tall and the top of it disappears into the clouds. Many characters live in the cave like dwellings that are carved into its trunk. When Jo, Bessie and Fanny move into a house nearby and meet Moonface, one of the characters in the novel, I wanted to be his friend and have adventures in the Faraway Tree. He has rounded furniture and a magic slide that goes all the way to the bottom of the tree. How I wanted to go on that slide!

the-miniaturistA friend to introduce you to a new world of intrigue -Nella from The Miniaturist – Set in Amsterdam

The Miniaturist was the hit book of 2014 and deservedly so as this novel, set in Amsterdam 1686 had such an amazing premise of a miniaturist who predicted events in the small objects she created, was an immediate draw. Nella is portrayed on the front cover which I just really wanted to climb inside and explore along with the others in the story. But it was Nella and her journey I wanted to go on – despite the difficulties and heartbreak she suffers as it was her spirit and personality I liked and I wanted to befriend her pet Peebo as well if I’m honest. Put Marin in her place as well perhaps. And furnish that exquisite dollshouse! A world to disappear inside – rather like that in the novel itself. 

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/the-miniaturist-amsterdam-1686/

ann cleevesTough friend you need when in trouble – Vera from Ann Cleeves crime fiction novels set in Northumberland

Vera doesn’t take any prisoners – well she does in her job since she’s a very effective police Detective, but in her coarse comments and witty but gritty asides, you know where you stand.

This is the kind of person I would love to meet for she would be loyal yet honest, brutally so perhaps but you know you can always depend on her and she always gets the job done. She might rub you up the wrong way, like the creases in her raincoat, but you know what you are getting from Vera. No nonsense results and a loyalty that you will never forget.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/silent-voices-northumberland-tyne-valley-ann-cleeves/

BOOK 1A friend to go travelling with – Passepartout from Around the World in 80 Days

Passepartout was my inspiration for everything – from booktrailing to learning languages, this guy has been my lifelong travelling companion. As I followed him and his ideas around the world and even studied French to be more like him. What started as a childhood adventure has taken me to so many places and languages via books and for real and for that I can consider him a friend in a million who I would love to meet for real and shake his hand. He represents travel, adventure, the sense of never giving up and solving problems for his friend Phileas Fogg and I would love to go travelling with him.

Susan Booktrailer

Who are your fictional friends and why?

The Moth Catcher – Northumberland – Ann Cleeves

moth catcherWhy a booktrail?

Vera investigates the murders two Moth enthusiasts in a quiet Northumberland community. Nothing ever happens in Valley Farm/Gilswick does it?

FIND THE NEW TRAIL HERE:

 thebooktrail.com/book-trails/the-moth-catcher-vera-stanhope-7/

Story in a nutshell

In a secluded rural Northumberland community, life seems good. Valley Farm is a small and quiet place tucked in the rolling countryside – a lovely country estate at its heart. Its owners have gone on holiday and have employed a house sitter to take care of things whilst they are away. For Patrick, a young ecologist, it’s the perfect rural retreat..for a while.

For Patrick is found dead in the lane beside the house. Vera comes to investigate but neither she nor Joe is prepared for what they find next. A second body. The two victims seemed to have been entomologists  – particularly interested in moths.

As Vera goes about digging for the truth in her own indomitable style, she finds that Valley Farm is hiding rather a lot of secrets and that like a moth to a flame, getting too close to the truth could prove fateful.

Place and Setting

 Tyne Valley and its villages - Hexham, Corbridge, Wylam, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle Wylam - http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/wylam known for its railway heritage. It’s the birthplace of one of Britain’s railway pioneers, George Stephenson.  Haltwhistle - http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haltwhistle There are some rare plants and birds in this part of the world so maybe a good place to be a moth catcher! Corbridge - pretty market town with old stone buildings, surrouded in gorgeous countryside http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/corbridge Hexham - One of the most famous market towns in England we think! http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/hexham Haydon Bridge - http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haydon-bridge The local countryside could be the inspiration for Fictional Gilswick

Tyne Valley and its villages –
Hexham, Corbridge, Wylam, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle
Wylamhttp://www.visitnorthumberland.com/wylam known for its railway heritage. It’s the birthplace of one of Britain’s railway pioneers, George Stephenson. 
Haltwhistlehttp://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haltwhistle There are some rare plants and birds in this part of the world so maybe a good place to be a moth catcher!
Corbridge – pretty market town with old stone buildings, surrouded in gorgeous countryside
http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/corbridge
Hexham – One of the most famous market towns in England we think! http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/hexham
Haydon Bridgehttp://www.visitnorthumberland.com/haydon-bridge
The local countryside could be the inspiration for Fictional Gilswick

Valley Farm – so typical ( in a good way!) of the lovely rural communities in and around the Tyne Valley in the Northumberland countryside. Gilswick is fictional but the beauty, remoteness and rural aspect of its communities is reminiscent of so many places here.

It’s in this valley with its converted farmhouse and barn conversions which may seem small and non descript that hides more secrets than Vera can shake her head at. Three couples live here, all retired and living the good life in a beautiful part of the world. From the outside looking in, the view is a happy one, but the dark vignette is closing in on the happy scene.

With one couple away, Patrick comes to enjoy housesitting for a while. Next door live a couple expecting their jailbird daughter home any day now. From a window elsewhere, a man sits and watches the desolate view…

For one couple, in particular, the next few days will be charged with emotions as their daughter is due to be released from prison at the weekend.

Two victims in such a unusual and unique location –  two very different victims, a young student and a middle aged man in a smart suit – their interest in moths and this house in Valley Farm is the only link between them.

The setting for this latest Vera outing is claustrophobic and chilling. Such a small community, retired residents….the last place you would expect to find two murders in one day. And who could have wanted to harm either of them?

This community, too small to be described as a village should be a countryside idyll with its trees, surrounding meandering lanes and vast fields. But this turns into a remote, shadowy place where silence is chilling and the peace shattered by fear and suspicion.

And the moths, oh the Moths, creatures which flap and flutter in the dark, in their desperation to find the light. Creatures who are ugly and who form cocoons around them before they emerge- rather apt for this setting and for Vera’s latest case.

Moths are often regarded as pests for the way they eat the very fabric of what they find. Like in this case, the fabric of this society . Vera must do what she can to catch this infestation but it;s not going to be easy.

“Moth News”

There is even, funnily enough, a Northumberland Moth Club if you fancy getting even more ‘involved’ with certain aspects of the book – http://www.northumberlandmoths.org.uk/index.php

There is also a charity dedicated to the conservation of moths and butterflies  http://www.northeast-butterflies.org.uk/index.html

REVIEW

Ann Cleeves is a superb writer for creating something out of nothing – like  a word wizard in which a small and insignificant community like Valley Farm and Gilswick could be such a menacing and secretive place. And Moths? Bbbr even when I read the title, it made me shiver. Not a fan of bugs of any description and this gave me the chills as visions of dark places, insects and murder came into my mind.

And what lies behind those curtains of those picture postcard stone cottages? Roaring fires, cosy interiors or something a bit more hedonistic and wild? It’s always the quiet ones you’ve got to look out for.  I was intrigued to see what Vera would make of it all with her no nonsense attitude. From the way she tackled the claustrophobic nature of Harbour Street, I had every faith in her, and she didn’t disappoint.

More character development here too with Vera, Joe and Holly and also interestingly Vera’s father.

Just found out this is going to be televised on ITV in 2016 – it’s going to be episode 3 of the new series and I for one can’t wait. 

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.

Killing for Keeps – Newcastle, Glasgow, Rojales – Mari Hannah

small-cover

Killing for Keeps is the fifth instalment in the Kate Daniels series – set in and around the North East – in this instance Newcastle and Blanchland. This is a hard-hitting and chilling case for Northumbria Police, the worst torture case they’ve ever seen.

Mari Hannah has raised the stakes this time – the prologue sets the scene for what will follow. And the first chapter (six weeks later) opens the door to a thrilling narrative when we see just what has taken place and what Kate and her team are up against.

The Tyne Bridge with the Sage in the Background
Kate Daniels is back – with a vengeance

Story in a nutshell

Two brothers from a well-known criminal family are found dead within a few miles of each other – tortured to death.

Ripples start to spread across the city – associates of the men are uneasy and witnesses scared. Kate has to break some rules, putting herself and her career in jeopardy. But there is someone out there who lives by his own rules and is prepared to remove anyone who gets in his way.

This is one investigation that Kate and the team will never forget.

Place and setting – the booktrail of Kate Daniels’ Newcastle.

Market Street - police station and Kate Daniels HQ. Mosley Street - where Newcastle’s club scene is centered. Byker Bridge - where a meeting takes place with a informant. RVI - one of two incidents takes place here. Silverlink Industrial Estate - the first of two cases takes place here. Exhibition Park - Kate passes here on her way to meet a witness in Paddy Freeman’s park (Heaton Road)
Market Street – police station and Kate Daniels HQ.
Mosley Street – where Newcastle’s club scene is centered.
Byker Bridge – where a meeting takes place with a informant.
RVI – one of two incidents takes place here.
Silverlink Industrial Estate – the first of two cases takes place here.
Exhibition Park – Kate passes here on her way to meet a witness in Paddy Freeman’s park (Heaton Road)

Kate Daniels, working at the city’s incident room in Market Street, has a lot on her plate. She is called to two crime scenes within a short space of time – Silverlink and the RVI. Two inconspicuous places, but ones that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Investigations take the team deep in to the heart of Newcastle – to ‘Club Land’ in and around Mosley street – to find witnesses and links to the crimes.

Kate has her work cut out. Under pressure to solve this case and to raise the flagging morale of her team, she’s battling tensions from all sides. Kate Daniels backed into a corner? She fights and then she fights some more. This is no ordinary case and she is keen to protect witnesses as she gets to the truth.

Blanchland. Silverlink, Newcastle. Glasgow. Rojales.
Blanchland.
Silverlink, Newcastle.
Glasgow.
Rojales.

As the investigation continues, she heads up to Blanchland – “the exquisitely tranquil village . . . at the heart of Catherine Cookson country . . . built from the stone of a twelfth-century abbey, the village hadn’t changed in centuries.”        http://www.blanchland.org/news.php

Blanchland
Blanchland 

Visiting a local beauty spot as part of such a brutal investigation – as was the case when Whitby flagged up as a place of interest – is in direct contrast to the reasons why she is there. Remote, rural and for Kate, dangerous too.

As the case progresses, the investigation takes her and DS Hank Gormley north of the border to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Links with one criminal family have a bearing on the entire Newcastle case. Yet the ‘fish out of water’ works well for Hank’s wit to shine through here – regarding the ‘funny money’ that the Scots use and the notion of ‘Geordistan’. And the lesser-known and rather less fashionable meaning behind D & G.

“Edinburgh was as grey as Glasgow had been – only prettier. If she hadn’t been such a fan of her home city, this was the one place Kate would choose to live.”

When the net widens and the investigation takes Kate across to the Continent, to the Rojales region of mainland Spain, near Alicante, the book races to a thrilling finale. But we’ll stop there since to say anymore would be to spoil the surprises shocks in store. And there are plenty. Believe us.

Killing for Keeps is dangerous, chilling and skillfully plotted. Mari’s best yet. Recently, the series has been optioned for television and she has been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library award proving, beyond doubt, that she is a crime writer we’re going to hear a lot more about. We’re proud to say that she’s a local author and has put the North East region firmly on the literary 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

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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.