A chance encounter

I’ve been puzzling over a particular conundrum in the novel I’m writing, the fifth in my Radwinter series of genealogical mysteries. My main character Thomas Radwinter is a solicitor, but he is also an amateur genealogist, and as well as delving into the past and and finding the secrets hidden in his clients’ family histories, he is also commissioned to try and solve other mysteries, often seemingly simple problems such as who leaves flowers on a WW2 soldier’s grave, the motives of a mysterious Moroccan who is the friend of an old lady, and finding missing people. However, in this latest and fifth book, Thomas is trying to discover who someone is, not a lost someone but a found someone, a young woman who was discovered lying on the shoreline of the sea by an early morning dog walker.

I won’t reveal the exact dilemma I have, as that might spoil the surprise in the story if you should read it… but it is something I have been puzzling over for quite a while now, trying to see round my difficulty, looking at it from all different  points of view. I was driving home yesterday, and to avoid a busy junction we always cut down a side street and come out on another road which takes us home. There was a van in front of me which was also turning, and I followed it into the side street. It’s quite wide and had cars parked on either side; the van indicated to turn again and waited for an oncoming car. The driver of the van and the driver of the car obviously knew each other because the car slowed to say hello, smile and wave at the van driver before continuing. It didn’t really delay me, and anyway I was in no hurry, and the car driver raised her hand and smiled to say thank you to me for waiting.

I didn’t know the car driver but as I looked at her nodding and smiling back I had a sudden brilliant idea! The answer to my difficulty! I realised where I needed to go in my writing and what I needed to do! Hurrah! Tra-la! Sorted! It was difficult to tell the woman’s age, she could have been thirty or fifty; she had thick,  light brown hair with blond high,lights, cut in a long bob with a heavy fringe swept to one side – quite an expensive haircut I thought… although I’m not an expert. She was wearing glasses with fashionable rims, quite heavy but again, no doubt expensive. She was very well made-up which was why I couldn’t really tell her age and the colouring of her foundation was quite tanned so I couldn’t even guess what her complexion might be, fair, rosy, or olive. She was wearing a tan jacket with a woolly colour and either a woolly scarf round her neck and up to her chin or a roll neck sweater. The effect was a well-groomed, attractive woman, but somehow nondescript, she looked like so many other well-groomed, attractive women, no outstanding features, nothing to draw attention to herself. The colours I saw were all shades of light brown,although maybe her sweater was a browny grey.

So, without revealing why this woman was so significant or how she has solved my problem… but she has!

If you haven’t read my Radwinter books, or my other stories, here’s a link:


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