I have updated this post which I write five years ago about the seven books in my Radwinter series; #8, Undertow (provisional title), is in its final stages!
I’m not sure when I first thought I might write about a family of brothers, but I know why I did. I’m forever saying about strangers in the pub, people in the street, faces on the TV, ‘gosh doesn’t s/he look just like so-and-so’; I thought I identified a similarity in the faces of a TV baker, a famous chef, and a bloke who works in our local bookshop; mostly it was something about the eyes, and the unnerving stare (although bookshop bloke has a friendly stare) The thought of writing about them came and went until I was out with my cousin and we were driving through Essex, not far from the pretty town of Saffron Walden when we saw a sign to the village of Radwinter – and I had my name!
This was some time ago, and over several years I played about with ideas and thoughts and then in 2013 began to write what became the first book in an unexpected series, about the Radwinter family. The narrator was a new arrival, a fourth brother who looked nothing like them, When I started writing, I little knew that there would be a whole series of books, and now I’m just doing the final editing of number 5!
- Radwinter – Thomas Radwinter goes in search of his family roots; using the internet he traces his family back to war-torn eastern Europe, and follows their journey from arriving in England in the 1830’s, across southern England. However, the more he finds out about his family’s past, the more he sees his own family, his brothers and his wife differently. His relationship with them changes… and he begins to understand his own character, and to find out as much about his present life as his family’s history.
- Magick – Encouraged by his success in discovering his Radwinter ancestors, Thomas Radwinter sets out to investigate his maternal line, starting with the mysterious and alcoholic Sylvia. His life has been somewhat dysfunctional, but now, gaining confidence through his new loving relationship with a beautiful young woman and her son, he is able to confront his own past.
His genealogical searches take him into the tragic histories of his family and other ordinary people who lived and worked under the appalling conditions of the Victorian age. His skills in finding people from the past encourage a friend to beg him to try and trace her long-lost daughter, a woman, who, it seems does not want to be found. He accepts her request, little realising this will lead him into danger.
Then the father of his partner’s son arrives; he’s come for his boy…
- Raddy and Syl – Thomas Radwinter continues his journey into his ancestor’s history; he has followed his paternal line of the Radwinters, “and what an interesting journey that was. I mean journey for me in a non-literal way, but it was an interesting journey for the Radwinters, literally”.
He traced his maternal ancestry, the Magicks, “I followed that side of our family… and it led me to some very dark places I can tell you”.
Now he has to find the history of those closest to him, “in my Radwinter story I found some amazing truths about myself. My childhood was difficult to say the least, and when I started to follow the Magick story, I had to begin to face my past, and confront some of my fears and nightmares. To finish my story I have to look at Sylvia Magick and her husband Edward Radwinter, the people who brought me up… sort of… I think of them now as Syl and Raddy, because it’s easier and less painful.”
During his search Thomas also seeks a woman who vanished seemingly into thin air from a car stopped at a road junction, and he tries to solve the mystery of Badruddin, the Moroccan an elderly female client brought back from a cruise…
Thomas little thinks that he may be risking his life to find these different truths.
- Beyond Hope – Beyond Hope is the fourth in the series of books following the life and genealogical investigations of Thomas Radwinter; in previous stories he has followed family’s history back several centuries and also found some uncomfortable and very painful truths in more recent times.
In ‘Beyond Hope’, Thomas decides to share with his three brothers what he has learned about their mother and father… but telling the truth can be damaging, the truth can hurt, and as Thomas later reflects, “I know at first hand, a very, very painful first hand, how old secrets have the power to wound and how sometimes those dogs snoozing away should be left doing exactly that, sleeping dogs should sometimes just be let lie.”
His revelations cause the close family ties to be tested which doesn’t help Thomas as he struggles with the other commissions he is being paid to undertake; he has been asked by a very elderly lady to find out who leaves lilies on a grave she visits, he has undertaken to investigate a mysterious lama who has a dangerous power over a hard-working teacher and devoted father, and he continues his search for the daughter of a friend who has become involved with a very dangerous man… And all the while his own little family has to face difficult decisions. The fall-out between Thomas and his brothers may only be healed if he can find out what happened to their father who disappeared thirty years ago. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beyond-Hope-Radwinter-Book-4-ebook/dp/B01AKU9XMK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490867200&sr=8-4&keywords=lois+elsden
- Earthquake – Thomas Radwinter’s life seems settled and content as he juggles working as a free-lance solicitor, genealogist and house husband. However a new arrival in the family puts extra pressure on him as he has to balance looking after them and earning some money. A commission from an elderly gentleman to investigate a mysterious death at a little boarding school in 1931 seems intriguing and harmless; a haunted hotel he’s asked to visit seems just to be over-imaginative guests and maybe a less than honest manager. However, during his investigations he has to confront a violent verger, an unbalanced conchologist and a very strange friend from the past…
Thomas took on his commissions, little realising when he began his investigation that he would be putting his life and that of a friend in serious danger… “I tried to work out what was going on, and what to do, and what might happen to us – trying my hardest to keep my thoughts well away from a terminal conclusion to events… “
- Saltpans – Thomas Radwinter’s family has settled into a busy every-day routine – parents at work, children at nursery and school. Thomas settles to be Mr Boring, he wants no more mysteries to put his life at risk: “After last year’s dramatic and traumatic events, I’ve reassessed the commissions I undertake, I’m Mr. Boring now!” He accepts the case of a young woman who was found washed up on the local beach, unharmed but with no memory of who she is or where she has been. Thomas senses that she is afraid – of something or someone, and tries his best to help her. His research into his wife’s family finds French refugees, Zeppelin raids, heroism and tragedy – but also courage and love and a connection to a small town on the Mediterranean. A friend is troubled by an annoying but harmless stalker, and Thomas does his best to find out who is being such a nuisance to him. Meanwhile, his seven year old son is hoping against hope that the boy taking the lead in the school play will be ‘sacked’ and he will take over the starring role… and is there something wrong with the youngest child in the family? He half-heartedly takes on a commission from a professor at the local university, and reluctantly becomes embroiled in some ‘dodgy’ business – why? Because the family needs all the funds they can get; juggling all these different balls, Thomas and his wife are trying to find the right house which can accommodate their growing family. A beautiful property right by the sea would be perfect, but how can they ever afford it?
- Winterdyke – Thomas Radwinter is invited to Athelmond Grange, a huge old place not far from Winterdyke Mere. It’s the home of the very wealthy Robespierre family. Gerald Robespierre, the elderly patriarch wants Thomas to research his family history and invites him to stay while the rest of the Radwinters are away visiting relatives. Right from the start Thomas is baffled because the research, although covering an enormous number of people and wide time span, is actually really quite simple. However, it soon becomes clear that there is a hidden agenda and a particular reason why Thomas was asked to do the genealogical investigation. “I looked at my notes on the somewhat mysterious undertaking. I’d been contacted by the PA of an extremely wealthy family who wanted me to do a complete genealogical survey. I wasn’t exactly regretting accepting, they were paying me way, way over what I’d normally expect, but I had a few doubts. To be honest it seemed a bit odd, and if I had a sixth sense it would be pricking right now – if that’s what sixth senses do. But doesn’t the sixth sense enable you to see dead people? I remembered the film, and then wished I hadn’t.”He uncovers what might have been a murder committed a hundred years ago, which the family may not want to know about. As if that wasn’t enough, two other members of the family separately approach him, asking him to take on different but equally extraordinary commissions, one to look for a Viking hoard, the other to prove the identity of someone claiming to be a Robespierre heir, someone who is now dead. It is the worst winter for many years and Thomas is stuck at Athelmond. Someone doesn’t want him to succeed but with which commission? He begins to wonder if he is safe, or if his life in danger? Who can he trust? There are no friends, but who are his allies, who are his enemies?Thomas is trapped by a big freeze and wonders if he will be able to get home… And will it ever stop snowing?