I like reading novels which have different elements, different story-lines woven together, and in many of my novels – certainly my genealogical mysteries I try and do the same. In my Thomas Radwinter stories there is the on-going present day life of Thomas and his family, his wife, children, brothers and their families. Usually it is just background everyday stuff with minor ups and downs – last time it was his son who was only the understudy in the school play ad was desperate to take part. Sometimes there are stronger stories, when Thomas fell out with his eldest brother, or when a nephew was being bullied at school. As well as that they are the historical stories Thomas investigates – sometimes his own and his wife’s family, sometimes clients’ stories they have commissioned him to research. He also accepted more unusual commissions, to find a missing person, to discover who leaves flowers on a grave, and in one story to find out who a found person is, a young woman with amnesia!
Because I have a first person narrator, the different elements of my Radwinter stories have to be discovered and explained by Thomas, although he does come across newspaper articles, letters, and other documents which push the story forward. In novels I read by other people, different techniques are used. Most recently I have noticed it has become a common thing to have a mysterious and unknown narrator interspersing themselves in the normal plot; sometimes through letters or a diary, but usually following the action from their perspective.
Ever since we went to Derbyshire for our family holiday last year, I have been reading a series of novels set there written by Stephen Booth. They are police procedurals with two main characters Diane Fry and Ben Cooper, who have a very strange professional relationship, and an even stranger personal relationship. The other main character which dominates every book is Derbyshire itself, the White Peak district and the Dark Peak district – chalk and limestone grit, white and black. The contrasting moors and dales I guess reflect the contrasting personalities of Fry – dark, and Cooper, white.
The most recent one I have read, which I finished last night, is, I think the best so far! These are some of the threads that Stephen Booth weaves together in ‘Kill Call’:
- the on-going prickly relationship between Fry and Cooper
- hunting and in particular fox hunting, protesters, sabs – saboteurs
- a body found with head wounds which match a horse’s hooves
- 1960’s and the Cold War
- Fry’s past which is catching up on her and how it affects her
- Cooper’s relationship with his girlfriend and his cat
- the village of Eyam, known as the Plague Village – famous for isolating itself during the Great Plague of 1665 to stop spreading the disease to their neighbours; as a result about 260 died, leaving just 83 survivors
- Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Posts – underground structures across the UK, constructed as a result of the Corps’ nuclear reporting role and operated by volunteers during the Cold War, 1955 – 1991.
- the illegal horse meat trade
- accidental death and revenge
- a missing person
… and obviously much more! I enjoyed the novel because of the plot, but there is so much of historical interest which is lightly threaded through the story. I have to say i didn’t guess who was responsible for any of the crimes, the recent and the ones from half a century ago.
Here is a link to Stephen’ Booth’s page:
…and to my Radwinter novels: