Two murders. One missing girl.
DI Kate Fletcher is called out to a freezing canal where a woman’s body is found floating in a lock. With no identification, the police struggle to piece together the details of the woman’s life.
In Thorpe a daughter confesses to the murder of her father. She says she helped him escape a painful death from liver cancer, but was her role more active than she claims?
As Kate and her team investigate, the links between the two cases are inescapable and everything seems to lead back to the disappearance of a teenager years earlier.
Then the main suspect vanishes….
Can Kate connect the events of past and present to bring the culprit to justice?
Last September I spent a couple of weeks in Italy. The first week was spent walking in the mountains but then we headed south to Venice, Rome and Naples. There were two reasons why I wanted to visit Naples. Pizza and Pompeii. If I’d not been a teacher I would have been an archaeologist – I was a huge Time Team fan and I’ve done a couple of online archaeology courses. My last novel, Closer to Home, is very much rooted in my personal history and that of the area where I grew up. The village in it, ‘Thorpe’, is quite closely based on the small mining town where I lived until my teens. I haven’t been back since 2008 and there is a part of me that resisted a ‘research visit’ because my memories and the reality will inevitably be dramatically different.
I took a ‘Google’ tour down the main street a while ago and, even since I last visited, the place has changed. The number of fast food outlets has increased, there is now a charity shop and something that looks like a second-hand furniture warehouse/house clearance service. Kwik Save is now a smart-looking Sainsbury’s and the betting shop has moved. I zoomed in to my old school. It’s gone! It’s been replaced by a modern building and is part of an academy chain.
But there are a lot of reminders of the place where I spent the first eighteen years of my life. A hairdresser’s run by the same person for as long as I can remember, the Victorian primary school, the pubs and working men’s clubs and the red-brick council estate where I grew up. It’s also strange what I can’t remember; where some of the alleys lead, how to get from one part of the town to another and exactly which bungalow my grandmother moved in to when she left her ‘pit house’.
I’m sure that most authors have, at some point, been told to ‘write what you know’. That’s what I chose to do in Closer to Home. I knew this place so well that I could almost smell the sticky tar on the streets of the estate in the summer and the maggot farm that lurked down a lane less than a mile from my house. I still feel the fear of exploring the ventilation shafts in the old brickworks and scaling up and down the sides of the disused quarry.
‘Thorpe’ is also the setting for ‘Merciless’, my latest novel, and I was tempted to go back for a research visit but I was worried that I’d feel like an outsider. I was convinced that people would give me funny looks on the street and nudge each other muttering, ‘She’s not from round here.’ I worried that I’d take a wrong turn on a familiar street and feel foolish for making such a mistake. Mostly, though, I worried that I wouldn’t see the reality of the new town because my memories and experiences will be superimposed on the fabric of the place and I’ll be looking at everything through the lens of my past.
Maybe I’ll stick with Google.
About The Author
Heleyne Hammersley is a British writer based in Cumbria. She writes psychological suspense thrillers and crime novels.
Heleyne has been writing since junior school – her first work was a collection of poems called ‘Give Them the Works’ when she was ten years old. The poems were carefully handwritten on plain paper and tied together with knitting wool.
When she’s not writing, Heleyne can often be found wandering on the fells or in the local park with her dog.