The strange and fascinating world of THE ALMANACK by Martine Bailey

How did an eBay purchase inspire the dazzling new historical mystery THE ALMANACK? Martine Bailey considers the strange world of the almanack.

The Almanack

1752, Midsummer. Following a summons from her mother, Tabitha Hart departs the pleasures of London for her home village only to discover that Widow Hart has allegedly drowned. Determined to uncover the truth, Tabitha consults her mother’s almanack, which reveals cryptic notes describing her terror of someone she names only as ‘D’. With time running out, can Tabitha solve the almanack’s riddles and bring her mother’s killer to justice?

When I splashed out twenty pounds on a 200-year old Moore’s Almanack on eBay I had no idea how fascinating it would prove. I carefully unwrapped a tatty pocket-sized booklet combining a calendar, astronomical observations, saints’ days, general knowledge and predictions.  For a year I consulted my almanack, following the moon and stars, feasts and festivals.

But it was Old Moore’s sensational predictions that inspired the twisting plot of my novel. What if an almanack seemed to predict a series of murders around the traditional year of an English village?  And what if Tabitha, cut off by the snow in Netherlea, realises the secrets she’s vowed to keep may bring her downfall . . .

THE ALMANACK  is available  from 31 January in the UK and 1 May in the US.  Find out more here.

Get yourself a copy here!

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Get to know Graham Ison, author of the Hardcastle and Marriott historical mysteries

9780727888556Has Captain Guy Stoner been murdered? His uncle, the Reverend Percy Stoner, is convinced he has. He recently received a letter, supposedly from Guy, claiming that there had been a fire at his farm in Ditton, Surrey, and asking for money. Hardcastle and Detective Sergeant Charles Marriott are assigned the case, and make a shocking discovery . . .

 


HARDCASTLE’S QUANDARY is the fifteenth entry in the popular detective series featuring DDI Hardcastle and DS Marriott. Author Graham Ison expands on his thirty-year career in Scotland Yard’s Special Branch where he still finds his inspiration . . .

When I was fifteen years of age, I called in at a London police station and enquired about careers in the Metropolitan Police.  I was told to come back when I was old enough!  I did, and thirty years later commanded the division in which that same police station was situated.

The film that really inspired me to become a police officer was, I suppose, The Blue Lamp, starring Jack Warner (who was resuscitated to appear in the long-running Dixon of Dock Green TV series) and Jimmy Hanley.  By a strange coincidence, the late Dinah Sheridan, an actress and Jimmy Hanley’s widow, later married an Aubrey Ison of Texas, but as far as I know we were not related.

I still possess two books with which I will never part.  Covenant With Death by John Harris is in my view one of the best fictional works about the Great War.  The other book is the ninth edition of Moriarty’s Police Law, published in 1948, the year in which I purchased it, and which is still a valuable research tool.

HARDCASTLE’S QUANDARY is available now in the UK and from 1 April in the US. Learn more here.

Behind the book: DEVIL’S FJORD by David Hewson

9781780291123_fcNew District Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen is looking forward to a peaceful semi-retirement in the beautiful yet isolated Faroe Islands. But when the suspicious disappearance of two boys leads to the discovery of a series of dark secrets, Haraldsen comes to realize that this may not be the rural paradise he imagined…

 

 

David Hewson, author of three novel adaptations of The Killing series, explains how detective Sara Lund’s jumper inspired his new standalone novel set on the Faroe Islands… 

This story began with Sara Lund’s jumper. Lund, you recall, was the detective in The Killing TV series which I adapted for three novels. Her trademark jumper came from the Faroes. At one point we were discussing a new, standalone Lund novel. It never happened but I’d already decided it would take place in the Faroes and explain why Lund had such an attachment to the jumper.

When the project stumbled I had lots of research and ideas on my hands, with a story that started with a mysterious event during a pilot whale hunt. It seemed too good to lose so I set about turning it into an entirely different story that became Devil’s Fjord.

I’m known for meticulous research – moving to Italy to learn the language for the Costa books for example. But just this once I wanted to go back to the way writers used to work – entirely from the imagination. Jules Verne had hardly set foot outside France when he wrote Around The World in 80 Days.  Similarly… I haven’t actually been to the Faroes (though I hope to one day). This isn’t the real place: it’s an imaginary Faroes built up from story, from reading and from what I felt the place in the story should be like.

So apologies to the Faroese from the outset. This is all pure fiction. I’m sure the real place is far too placid and well-behaved to countenance any of the darkness that permeates the remote fishing village of Djevulsfjord here, and comes to wrap an unsuspecting couple, Tristan and Elsebeth Haraldsen, who start the story with Tristan innocently mowing the grass roof of his cottage at the edge of the village.

DEVIL’S FJORD is available from 31 January in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.

Behind the book: NIGHT WATCH by David C. Taylor

9780727888679_fcNew York, 1956. Two bizarre deaths occur under suspicious circumstances. But before Detective Michael Cassidy can begin investigating these cases he is threatened by an unknown man, for reasons which are unclear. Are all three incidents connected? If so, will Cassidy live long enough to find out before his would-be assassin claims his life?

 


NIGHT WATCH is the third thriller to feature detective Michael Cassidy. Author David C. Taylor discusses the first two novels in the series…

Michael Cassidy is a New York City cop with an unusual background and upbringing. There are three Michael Cassidy novels, Night Life, Night Work, and now Night Watch. All three are noir thrillers set in New York in the 1950’s, and all are intersections of fact and fiction. Night Life takes place in 1954 during the Senator Joe McCarthy witch-hunts for Communists in the U.S. Government, the growing rivalry between the FBI and the CIA, and Soviet Intelligence operations in New York. Night Work starts in Havana, Cuba in the Christmas season of 1958 when Fidel Castro’s rebels overthrow the dictator Batista. It moves to New York in the winter of 1959 when Castro first visits the city as the new leader of Cuba. Cassidy is assigned to Castro’s security detail to protect him against an assassination plot put into motion by an alliance of U.S. businessmen and the Mafia who see Castro as a threat to their business and gambling interests in Cuba.

At the end of World War Two, a covert operation originally dubbed Overcast brought roughly sixteen hundred German scientists to the United States to work for America during the Cold War. The goal was to harness German science to help develop America’s arsenal of rockets, biological and chemical weapons. President Truman sanctioned the operation but forbade the recruiting of any Nazis suspected of war crimes. Officials within the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA, feeling the scientists’ knowledge was crucial to the country’s Cold War efforts, often ignored this directive by eliminating incriminating evidence of war crimes from the scientists’ records.

A number of Nazi scientists were assigned to develop mind-controlling drugs for possible espionage and military uses in response to Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean use of mind-control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea. In Night Watch, the latest Michael Cassidy novel, Cassidy stumbles into this shadow world with deadly results.

NIGHT WATCH is available from 31 January in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.

Behind the book: SILENT FOOTSTEPS by Jo Bannister

9780727888648_fc When does a secret admirer become a stalker? When people start dying? For Constable Hazel Best, the pivot point is the attack on her friend Gabriel Ash. That’s when she focuses all her ingenuity on finding her sinister new admirer. In the end, though, Hazel must deal with the stalker alone. And more than her own life will depend on the outcome . . .

 


SILENT FOOTSTEPS is the sixth mystery to feature Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash, and their close friendship is one of the best aspects of the series. However, author Jo Bannister reveals that for some readers, this is not enough . . .

There’s a book reviewer in the States who’s getting really annoyed that I haven’t got Hazel Best and Gabriel Ash into bed before now. Will they, won’t they? – should they, shouldn’t they? – he can’t seem to focus on who’s died and why for wondering why their friendship hasn’t yet turned to romance.

It’s the old Harry & Sally thing, isn’t it? Can a man and a woman really just be friends, or will the biology always get in the way?

I’ll let you into a secret: I don’t know whether Hazel and Ash will ever get it together in that way, and I invented them. Every time one of them seems ready to move up a gear, the other gets distracted. Life was ever thus.

Anyway, isn’t it a slightly old-fashioned thing to be worrying about? There was a time when the main role for female characters was as an addendum to one of the primary (i.e. male) characters – as wife, mother, daughter, lover – but surely those times are past. Looking around, we see real women at the pinnacle of every profession – police chiefs, business leaders, legal authorities, journalists, scientists, politicians. Do we really expect female characters to go on being defined by their relationship to a man?

The other role that was widely reserved for female characters, of course, was that of victim. Ignoring the fact that young men are the victims of crime more than any other demographic, writers and film-makers seemed to get a positively unhealthy kick out of brutalising helpless (preferably young and pretty) women in ever more inventive ways.

Hazel Best is no one’s idea of a victim. She’s strong, she’s smart and she’s kind; she’s tough when she has to be, and resilient; and she has an important job that doesn’t leave a lot of time for curling her eyelashes. She’s also no nun – but she expects to be an equal partner in any relationship.

All this being so, why assume that her friendship with Gabriel Ash, important to both of them as it is, must eventually be consummated so they can be filed away in the pigeon-hole marked COUPLES? Isn’t it the essence of that friendship that they are not bound to one another in any legal or societal fashion, that either of them is free to walk away if they get a better offer – and yet they don’t? Lovers come and go, but the friendship endures. Perhaps the open-ended nature of the commitment is its greatest strength.

Still, I’m not blind to the possibility. Maybe one day the pair of them will step back from salving the world’s ills for long enough to realise that this is what they want. If that’s what they tell me to write, I’ll write it.

If only to make a book reviewer in the States a happy man.

SILENT FOOTSTEPS is available from 31 January in the UK and from 1 May 2019 in the US. Read more here.