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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crime creeps through the streets of Scarborough

"The Other Child" by Charlotte Link

Photograph: Britain on View

This is lovely Scarborough on the East Coast of Britain. We are always
pleased to discover new books set in non-mainstream locations, whether,
say, Scarborough or Sheffield or Harwich - they all have their own individual
"feel" which authors bring to life, in tandem with a good storyline. Of course,
at Tripfiction on a daily basis, we accumulate a host of books that evoke
the feeling of places both large and small. "See a location through an author's eyes".
And as we do our researches, we are delighted to find books that perhaps do not come to the forefront in bookshops, or for whatever reason have not got the publicity they deserve - but are in their own way brilliant. And on our blog and Facebook we share them with you!

So, today, we feature a novel set in this part of North Yorkshire - and as it says
in the book: "Yorkshire is becoming one of the most popular holiday destinations
in England."

The author, Charlotte Link is, in fact German and "the Queen of German crime"
so we are incredibly curious to know how came she chose Scarborough
as her location - not the most obvious choice for someone raised and based

The Other child by Charlotte Link
Available from bookshops and through TripFiction: click on the link for more details 

Wander past the North Bay, down Prince of Wales Terrace, Huntriss Row and find yourself at the Crowne Spa Hotel. All of these real locations appear in Charlotte Link's book, The Other Child. It is steeped in the feel of the city. How about this wonderful description of the town: ..."two large semi-circular bays divided by a spit of land, as well as its old harbour, the fine houses up on South Cliff, and all the old-fashioned hotels whose façades had to stand up to the wind and the salt water and so were always peeling a little." (excerpt)

And what of the novel itself? It opens with an early murder and then comes to focus on a group of people have come together at the delapidated farm of Chad Beckett, just outside Scarborough, to mark the proposed engagement of Gwen, Chad's dull daughter and Dave, an itinerant language teacher. Staying at the farm are paying guests, Jennifer and Colin and for good measure their 2 Great Danes. Newly divorced Leslie arrives from London, and attends the gathering with her Grandmother, Fiona. Fiona and Chad have a long standing relationship, going back to World War II, which is explored separately in the book. Investigating the original murder and a second victim are DI Valerie Almond and her side-kick Sergeant Reek. These guys are the weak link in the story and one can only hope their bumbling investigations do not reflect reality.

It is a very readable crime novel, it veres one way, then another and produces a few red herrings. It reinforces the progress of the story by exploring the musings of the various characters and it is fast paced.

There are some anomalies, however, both in the translation and factually - for example, it describes a British family in North Yorkshire, just after the war, eating bread and salami. Er, unlikely. That is what a German family might have been eating but we think it is more likely an English family would have been eating spam! What do you think - Spam v Salami??????

So, this book is very much like the proverbial Curate's Egg -- good in parts. But the author must be doing something right, as on the cover it says "16 million books sold". Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Riotous romp in the Alps

Clamped by David Blackwell, set in Courchevel

This post now appears on the new TripFiction site and can be found here

Monday, 19 November 2012

Percy Passage, Schmidt's and London's Fitzrovia

Postcard from the 1960s - where are they all now?

This blogpost is now on our new website, click here


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Travels in Tuscany, Italy

We are off to Tuscany, that delicious province in Italy, best known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and, of course, food. So the first book we feature has to be about food, it goes without saying..... (Click on the covers to find out more about each book)

Immerse yourself into the life and loves of Victoria Cosford as she spends periods of time in Tuscany, leaving her native Australia behind. It is full of delicious looking recipes and really initiates the reader into restaurant life in this beautiful part of the world. Just transport yourself to this little corner of Italy and savour this description from the book: I had never cared about lunch, until I was introduced to Sunday ones in Tuscan vineyards. Celebrations of food and wine  amongst friends  and family, they transcend the notion of mere meals and transform into a theatre for the senses.  It has as much to do with the setting, the compelling beauty of ancient surroundings, of land which has yielded produce for millennia, of eroded stone walls  and roads which wind through hills, and row upon row upon row of vines. There is little more glorious, in summer, than sitting through hours  of golden afternoons at a long wooden table with twelve or sixteen or twenty others, in winter warming limbs and souls with fires and food  and wine.
"Ciò che  si mangia con gusto non fa mai male"
What you eat with pleasure can never make you ill
Seven Seasons in Siena is the story of Rodi’s love affair with the people of Siena—and of his awkward, heartfelt, intermittently successful, occasionally disastrous attempts to become a naturalized member of the Noble Contrada of the Caterpillar. It won’t be easy. As one of the locals points out, someone who’s American, gay, and a writer is the equivalent of a triple unicorn in this corner of Tuscany. But like a jockey in the Palio outlasting the competition in the home stretch, Rodi is determined to wear down all resistance. By immersing himself in the life of the contrada over seven visits at different times of the year—working in their kitchens, competing in their athletic events, and mastering the tangled politics of their various feuds and alliances—the ultimate outsider slowly begins to find his way into the hearts of this proud and remarkable people.
Over the past several years, "the American in Tuscany," has become a literary sub genre. Launched by the phenomenal success of Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun, bookstores now burgeon with nimble, witty accounts of this clash in cultures - Americans trying to do American things in Italy and bumping against a brick wall of tradition. Before this sub genre exhausts itself, it's only fair that we hear the other side of the story - that of a native Tuscan and of dozens of Americans who have stormed through his life and homeland, determined to find in it whatever they are looking for, whether quaintness or wisdom, submission or direction. There is no one better to provide this view than Dario Castagno. A Tuscan guide whose client base is predominantly American, Dario has spent more than a decade taking individuals and small groups on customized tours through the Chianti region of Tuscany. Reared in Britain through early childhood, he speakes English fluently and is therefore capable of fully engaging his American clients and getting to know them.
Have you come across novels and books that have captured the heart and essence of Tuscany? Share them with others in our Comments Box - we always love to hear from you! And all our novels set in Tuscany can be found here

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Aurora Borealis from the Clarendon Hotel, Quebec and much more...

Bonhomme   Tristesse   l'Amour  Malhomme Cirque du Soleil Caribou

WINTER WONDERLAND by Belinda Jones. 

Our review plus author interview can now be found here

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Author Interview with Mari Hannah

Settled Blood by Mari Hannah 

I met Mari Hannah on a cool, pre-Winter day in a cosy pub in the Tyne Valley to hear about her new book. Over a bowl of steaming soup and crunchy bread, she told me all about the inspiration that led her to write this, the second novel in the series featuring DCI Kate Daniels.

The locations for the new novel - which of course is what drives us here at TripFiction - are County Durham (Land of the Prince Bishops), the Northern Pennines and Hadrian's Wall. It was the remoteness of these locations that she was looking to use as a backdrop for the novel.

A lot of her work has psychological insight. As a former Probation Officer she had a great deal of training in law, sociology and psychology. Many of the police procedures she describes seemingly have a great deal of authenticity about them and she relies very much on her partner, a retired detective, who proofreads and offers a reality check.

Although she has always written poetry for friends, Mari came to professional writing in a roundabout way; an injury at work ended her career and she began writing as a form of physical therapy from a complicated wrist injury. It was then she realised she had a gift, that perhaps a career in writing might not be so difficult to achieve. 

Initially she trained in writing screenplays with the support of Northern Film and Media - and her first success was a romantic comedy, a far cry from what she is doing now! Then she wrote a poilot TV episode for the BBC as  part of a drama development scheme, based on the characters in the was to become her debut novel, The Murder Wall.

With the help of New Writing North she found her wonderful agent, Oli Munson, who has seen and supported her through the highs and lows of publishing. Books 3 and 4 are ready to go and the 5th one is currently a work in progress.

A while ago, local journalist, David Whetstone, commented that he liked the fact she was not afraid to use real place names. He said, 'You can follow the route taken by her heroine, DCI Kate Daniels, as she drives around Tyneside and the Tyne Valley. The pizzeria at the end of my street even gets a mention, as does the deli not far away.' Elizabeth Ashworth - herself an author of historical fiction - summed it up perfectly: "It's the little thrill of familiarity".

And it is great to be able to visualise the author's characters in known locations, whether it is the streets of Jesmond, Housesteads or Café 21 on Newcastle's Quayside!

Settled Blood by Mari Hannah

For more information on the book, and to purchase, just click on the cover, and available in bookshops now. 

'When a young girl is found dead at the base of Hadrian’s Wall, it’s not long before Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels realises her death was no ordinary homicide. She was thrown from a great height and was probably alive before she hit the ground. Then a local businessmen reports his daughter missing, has Daniels found the identity of her victim, or is a killer playing a sickening game? As the murder investigation team delve deeper into the case, half truths are told, secrets exposed, and while Daniels makes her way through a mountain of obstacles time is running out for one terrified girl'

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Passion and Politics in Pompeii

Think archaeology and many of us immediately think of Pompeii. As a city it lay buried for 1700 years, but in 1748 the first discoveries were made. We have chosen a couple of books that will take you back in time, to the drama of the Vesuvius eruption and give you insight into the build up of events as they began to unfold. Smell the ash, meet the people, feel the tension rise. And if you are a modern day visitor to Pompeii, don't forget to pop over to Ercolano (Herculaneum) which is quieter and also has lots to see.  Click on the covers to find out more and buy a copy.

On mountain slopes south of Pompeii a group of Roman citizens flees the doomed city, leaving their footprints in a layer of volcanic ash. Two thousand years later the footprints are rediscovered, and a joint Anglo-Italian dig is set up. Just when the project is making progress, eminent Oxford archaeologist Professor Julian Lockhart vanishes mysteriously. English detectives Nick Roberts and Lucia Fabri go out to assist the Italian police with the investigation, unaware of the sinister forces - both human and natural - that lie in wait for them. Their subsequent race for survival sweeps them up in an eerie re-enactment of historical events.

No virtual trip to Pompeii can be complete without a few words from Britain's 'best communicator on Classics around'... Pompeii explodes a number of myths - from the very date of the eruption, probably a few months later than usually thought; the hygiene of the baths which must have been hotbeds of germs; and the legendary number of brothels, most likely only one, to the massive death count which was probably less than ten per cent of the population. Street Life, Earning a Living: Baker, Banker and Garum Maker (who ran the city), The Pleasure of the Body: Food, Wine, Sex and Baths, these chapter headings give a surprising insight into the workings of a Roman town. At the Suburban Baths we go from communal bathing to hygiene to erotica. A fast-food joint on the Via dell' Abbondanza introduces food and drink and diets and street life. "A glorious insight into Roman life"

And finally from master storyteller, Robert Harris, comes this great novel. A sweltering week in late August. Where better to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples? But even as Rome's richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world - the mighty Aqua Augusta - has suddenly ceased to flow. Through the eyes of four characters - a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt millionaire and an elderly scientist - Robert Harris brilliantly recreates a luxurious world on the brink of destruction.

Early readers working on a review for TripFiction

If you know of any other Pompeii set books that you feel conjure up the era and the place, then please share the details in the Comments Box. As always we love to hear from you.