Background on the Books

The Hermit of Hisarya is set in Bulgaria, and the dramatic finale takes place on the streets of Plovdiv Old Town, pictured.

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You can read an extract from the book here

One of the characters in Secrets and Lies is loosely based on Dorothy Parker. Here are five of my favourite Dorothy Parker quotes:

“The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

“I’m not a writer with a drinking problem, I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”

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Newton Beach. Sam’s husband, Dr Alan Storey, and a troubled Vittoria Vanzetti walk along this beach in Family Honour.

In the 1920s and 1930s a local physician, Dr Hartland, created an open-air spar on the beach and dispensed spring water. His spar was very popular, and people flocked from miles around.

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Sins of the Father features Sam’s dad and his nefarious past. The story includes a brutal murder, which reminds Sam of Bugsy Siegel’s murder, witnessed through archive photographs. Bugsy Siegel, pictured in a 1928 mugshot, was a mobster, one of the most infamous and feared gangsters of his day. He was a celebrity, a driving force behind the development of the Las Vegas Strip and a founder of Murder, Inc. A bootlegger during Prohibition, Siegel turned to gambling. Noted for his prowess with guns and violence, in 1939 he was tried for the murder of fellow mobster Harry Greenberg, but in 1942 was acquitted. Either due to mobster infighting, or an illicit affair, Siegel was shot dead on 20th June 1947 by an unknown gunman.

Although not as dark as reality or the mobster films of the 1940s through to the 1970s, Sins of the Father is my homage to that strand of the private detective genre.

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The music track is Danny Bailey from Elton John’s classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Danny Bailey is lyricist Bernie Taupin’s composite gangster from the Prohibition era.

Looking ahead to 2018 when Sam will be travelling to Boston, I have been researching the past and present of the city and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Puritan settlers from Boston, Lincolnshire gave Boston its name, on 7th September 1630. The Puritan focus on education led to the founding of America’s first public school, in Boston, in 1635. Throughout the seventeen century Boston continued to develop into the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-eighteenth century. My Sam Smith mystery story, called Boston, will be set at Christmas, amongst the snow.

The picture shows a south-east view of Boston, c1730.

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