Tag Archives: Cardiff

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #20

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Digging in the Dirt will be published on the 16th September as a paperback and eBook, with an audio book to follow. The eBook is now available to pre-order. Here is the blurb:

Someone had posted a dead rat through Jana Jakubowska’s letterbox, and scrawled obscene graffiti on her garden wall. Harmless pranks, or something more sinister? Her boyfriend, Tom Renwick, hired me to find out.

During my investigation, I met Jana’s charming four-year-old daughter, Krystyna, her estranged former lover, Matt Taylor, and a local hoodlum called Naz.

As the case unfolded, the trail led to murder, and a situation that placed Krystyna in danger. The Rat Man had revealed his ruthless streak, but surely he wouldn’t harm a child?

Meanwhile, Faye Collister, my friend and colleague, was trying to reconcile her feelings for Blake the Bodyguard, a handsome hunk, and dismiss her troubled past.

Digging in the Dirt, a story of passionate love, and extreme hate.

I have teamed up with Author Reach 😃 What does this mean for you, dear reader? For a start it means a FREE book. Simply follow the link and you will receive a copy of Sam’s Stories, which includes the stories Over the Edge, A Bad Break and Of Cats and Men, chronicling Sam’s early days as an enquiry agent. You should receive a confirmation email followed by the book instantly, but please check your junk folder because sometimes emails wander into the junk folder.

Author Reach Free Book

SAM'S STORIES

Used fictitiously in Sam’s Song as Castle Gwyn, Castell Coch is a nineteenth century Gothic Revival castle built above the village of Tongwynlais in South Wales. The ruins of the original Norman castle were acquired by the Bute family during the Victorian period. At that time, the Bute family were the richest family in the world and with the aid of architect William Burges they developed their fantasy to create a fairytale castle.

Pictured: the main entrance, the banqueting hall, the drawing room, a bedroom and the castle in its beechwood landscape.

 

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In A Parcel of Rogues Mac builds a coracle. For what reason? All will be revealed in chapter twenty-three 😃

And while you are here, please check out my recently updated Audio Book page 😃 https://hannah-howe.com/audio-books/

 

 

Chess Kings and Detective Queens

Sam visits Tintern, in A Parcel of Rogues. The monastery at Tintern was the first Cistercian abbey founded in Wales, on 9th May 1131. In later centuries, after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, many poets and painters visited the abbey, including William Wordsworth and, in 1794, J.M.W. Turner, who painted the chancel.

Page One containing the historical background to my Ann’s War Mystery Series is now complete. This page tells the story of the 28th Infantry Division and their training in South Wales before embarking on the beaches of Normandy in July 1944. Some of the incidents mentioned on this page will appear in the series. Ann’s War: The Army Camp

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Sam is in the Wye Valley in A Parcel of Rogues. In the eighteenth century, the Wye Valley witnessed the birth of British tourism when the words and pictures of poets and painters enticed those with spare time and money to visit. This railway poster, c1938, was aimed at ‘everyman’ as people from all classes of society flocked to enjoy the valley’s natural beauty.

(c) National Railway Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Last week, I enjoyed coverage of the St Louis Rapid and Blitz chess tournament in which former world champion Garry Kasparov made a ‘comeback’. The event was won by one of my favourite players, Levon Aronian. You can catch up with all the dramatic action on YouTube

Sam’s home patch, Cardiff Bay

 

 

 

 

Sam at #1 for the Fourth Time

This week, Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon private investigator’s chart for the fourth time. Many thanks to everyone who has read the book 😃

Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, features an archaeological dig at Kenfig. The dig explores the legacy of the Second World War, left behind in the sand dunes. From real life, here are two Second World War bombs found in the dunes.

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Kenfig, the setting for Digging in the Dirt, Sam Smith Mystery Series book twelve, is regarded as one of the most important sand dune sites in Europe, and has been designated a ‘Special Area of Conservation’. The dunes and large freshwater pool attract a wide range of rare flora and fauna, including this bee beetle photographed on a pyramidal orchid.

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In A Parcel of Rogues, Sam flies in one of these, a Citabria, with Mac as the pilot.

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And enjoys these aerial views of Cardiff.

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Sam is in Cardiff, in A Parcel of Rogues, searching the streets and parks for a missing husband. Here is a lovely short film about the city.

 

Pontypridd and Cardiff

Chapter One of A Parcel of Rogues, Sam Smith Mystery Series book thirteen, is set in Pontypridd, South Wales. Pontypridd is famous for being the hometown of legendary singer, Tom Jones. It is also famous for its Old Bridge, pictured. The stone bridge spanning the River Taff was built in 1756 by William Edwards. At the time of construction, it was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world. Notable features are the three holes of differing diameters cut through each end of the bridge, placed there to reduce weight. Due to its steep nature, horses and carts found it difficult to cross the Old Bridge, so Victoria Bridge was constructed adjacent to it in 1857.

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As mentioned earlier, Pontypridd is the hometown of the legendary Tom Jones. Towards the end of his career, Tom returned to his roots. And never sounded better.

Sam, my narrator, visited Cardiff City Centre this week, in A Parcel of Rogues. The city centre contains a number of notable buildings, most dating from Edwardian times. The buildings include the City Hall, the Central Police Station, the National Museum, Cardiff University and the Crown Court. A splash of green is provided by Alexandra Gardens, a regular landmark in my books.

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A Parcel of Rogues is set in October. Roath Park will feature in the story, so this autumnal picture of the park seems appropriate.

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This is NOT a Hannah Howe novel. However, this cover created by the multi-talented Cusper Lynn has given me an idea for a story set in the 1920s or 1930s with The Cardiff Caper as the title. This illustrates why I like to have my covers in place before I start writing, because visual clues from the cover can suggest facets of character and that in turn suggests plot development. Two examples of this from my original covers – Sam’s Song and Sam’s long hair, and Ripper and the roses on the river. Both covers had a big impact on the shaping of my characters. So, The Cardiff Caper is not a Hannah Howe novel yet, but with such a striking image to inspire me, it might become one in the future.

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #13, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s World.

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Mind Games is published today, as a paperback and eBook. This story centres on Sasha Pryce, a young chess player. Chess is featured in the book, but the story is about family relationships and the many aspects of love. Amazon Link

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Digging in the Dirt starts with Sam and Faye sitting outside their office houseboat on a hot August day. They are looking towards Cardiff Bay, known in the Victorian era and throughout the twentieth century as Tiger Bay. Much of the land around Tiger Bay was owned by John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute (pictured). In the late Victorian era John Crichton-Stuart was regarded as the richest man in the world. That wealth came from exploiting the great mineral wealth of the South Wales Valleys and exporting it via Cardiff Docks. Through their business acumen and philanthropy the Butes are rightly regarded as the founding fathers of modern Cardiff.

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Ann’s War is a mystery series set against the social history backdrop of the Second World War. Ann Morgan, the reluctant detective in the series, is fictitious. However, she is loosely based on real women of the period. For example, in the 1940s Melodie Walsh established herself as a private detective. Melodie Walsh’s father was a close friend of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Initially, Melodie worked as an actress – along with modelling, a middle-class career path for young women in the 1930s – before establishing her agency. Her bread and butter tasks included divorces and writ-serving, although glamorous assignments also presented themselves – on one occasion, Melodie went undercover as a model to foil a series of fur thefts. With her father’s social connections, Melodie was in demand, hired by people who wished to gain information while avoiding a scandal. In the 1940s, private detective work was still predominantly a male profession. However, through the likes of Melodie Walsh women were beginning to assert themselves.

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Betrayal, the first story in Ann’s War, starts on Friday, 24th March 1944. On that night this remarkable event occurred. Twenty-one-year-old Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade survived – without a parachute – a fall of 18,000 feet when his Avro Lancaster aircraft was shot down over Schmallenberg (pictured). Alkemade’s fall was broken by pine trees and soft snow. Despite the fall of 18,000 feet he only suffered a sprained leg.
The Gestapo captured Alkemade and interviewed him. Initially, they refused to believe his story. However, after examining the remains of the Lancaster they realized that he was telling the truth.
Alkemade spent the rest of the war as a celebrated prisoner of war. He was repatriated in May 1945.

 

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #11, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

The Sam Smith Mystery Series is based in Cardiff. Here is a view of Cardiff Bay. At present, Sam is working from a houseboat. Her office houseboat is moored to the right of this picture, on the River Taff.

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I am researching background material for my 1944-5 mini-series. Although cars were rare in country areas during the Second World War, and petrol was rationed, my heroine, Ann Morgan, will have access to a vehicle because her husband is a flight lieutenant in the RAF seconded to M15, the security service. The Morgan’s car will be this stylish 1938 Jensen S-type. Anyone fancy a ride! 😃

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Currently, I’m reading Above Suspicion and Assignment in Brittany, the first two novels written by espionage novelist Helen MacInnes, pictured. These novels about the Second World War were written during the war, so they carry the stamp of authenticity. Furthermore, Helen MacInnes was married to Gilbert Highet who served in MI6 as a British intelligence agent. It is believed that Highet provided espionage details for many of MacInnes’ books.
An all-male cast, filmed in one room, no special effects…focus groups would never allow this film to be made today, yet it is spellbinding. Twelve Angry Men and Dog Day Afternoon (see below) were directed by Sidney Lumet. The films receive a mention in my book, Mind Games, which incidentally is on course to break the record for pre-orders in the Sam Smith Mystery Series.

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Three posters from Dog Day Afternoon, one of my favourite films, and a film that has influenced my writing. There is a realistic feel to this movie enhanced by the natural interaction between the characters, the lighting and the ad-libbed lines, including the classic Wyoming line. Al Pacino is outstanding, and that can be said for all of the cast. Cinema doesn’t get any better than this.
An interesting insight into the creation of a detective series.

If you would like to follow Ann’s War, my Second World War mini series, on Facebook please follow this link Ann’s War

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Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10

Welcome to Sam’s Sunday Supplement #10, a weekly digest of news from Sam’s world.

Mind Games has been edited and proofread, and the manuscript will be uploaded to Amazon next week. The book is currently available for pre-order and will be published on the 3rd June 2017. A print version will also be made available. All my books are in print and available at discount prices through the Goylake Publishing link on the Amazon product pages.

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I have been having fun this week casting actors and accesses from the 1940s in roles for my 1944-5 mini-series. So far, I have found parts for Gene Tierney (pictured), Joseph Cotton, Dana Andrews, Judith Anderson, Mary Astor, Vincent Price, Trevor Howard and Clifton Webb 😃
One of the chapters in Digging in the Dirt is set in Victoria Park, Cardiff (pictured). As the name suggests, the park was named after Queen Victoria and was created to celebrate her sixty years on the throne. The park also contains a sculpture of Billy the Seal who lived from 1912 to 1939 in what is now the paddling pool. Apparently, Billy got tangled in a trawler’s net and was rescued at Cardiff Docks. Billy was popular with the locals and they were saddened when he died in 1939. However, upon Billy’s death it was discovered that he was a she, and maybe should have been called Billie.

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There are several Second World War strands to Digging in the Dirt. One of those strands is loosely based on the life of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade a remarkable woman who in her early thirties became head of the French underground intelligence network, “The Alliance”. The Alliance’s assignment was to gather information about German troop and naval movements and logistics inside France, and transmit this intelligence to Britain, using a network of clandestine radio transmitters and couriers. It was extremely dangerous work. Many of Fourcade’s closest associates were captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo. Some, however, escaped, including Fourcade herself, on two occasions. On the first occasion, 10th November 1942, she was arrested with her staff, but escaped to London. After returning to France she was captured a second time. Her second escape was more harrowing: in the small hours of the morning, she forced her petite body between the bars of a cell window. At the conclusion of the war, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade was decorated for her outstanding contribution in the fight against fascism.

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In general, I tend to prefer books to movies. However, with the Maltese Falcon I prefer the movie to the book. One of the finest detective films ever made.