Tag Archives: Wales

Portmeirion

Currently, I’m writing The Devil and Ms Devlin, Sam Smith Mystery Series book fifteen. Most of my novels are set on the South Wales coast, between Porthcawl and Cardiff. However, The Devil and Ms Devlin is set in Portmeirion.

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Portmeirion was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. In designing the village, Williams-Ellis stated that he wished to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. In particular, the fishing village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera strongly influenced his design.

Williams-Ellis incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects, in his fairytale village. To some, Portmeirion was an overgrown folly. However, Williams-Ellis’ dream was justified for the village and its nostalgia strongly influenced the development of postmodernism in twentieth century architecture.

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Portmeirion has often featured in popular culture with episodes of Danger Man, Doctor Who, Citizen Smith and Cold Feet all shot there. However, Portmeirion’s greatest claim to television fame is as The Village in the 1966–67 cult classic The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan (who also starred in Danger Man). Annual fan conventions are still held there, at locations unchanged to this day.

 

Saving Grace Pre-Order

Based on a true story and available from today, Saving Grace, “the courtroom drama of the year.”

Saving Grace will be published as an eBook, paperback and audio book in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese with more languages to follow. The book will be backed by a major promotional campaign in America, Australia, Britain, Canada and Europe. Reserve your copy now for the special pre-order price of $0.99/£0.99/€0.99

 Amazon Link

The Western Mail

2 August 1876

Sensation in the Charles Petrie Case!

Readers may recall that a young banker, by name Mr Charles Petrie, with every opportunity of succeeding in his profession, and commanding a not illiberal income, returned home after riding his horse to dine with his wife, Grace, and her companion Mrs Quinn. During and after dinner he had nothing to excite him save the receipt of a letter which somewhat annoyed him, and that his wife consumed rather more wine than he considered to be good for her health. Immediately after retiring to his room he was seized with symptoms of irritant poisoning, and despite every effort made on his behalf, he succumbed to its effects. An inquest was held, which vexed the minds of the Coroner’s jury to a degree without precedent in Coroners’ Inquest Law, and an open verdict was returned. However, the matter will not rest there, for after questions in Parliament, a second inquest has been called under suspicion that Mr Charles Petrie was murdered.

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Who poisoned Charles Petrie? Dr James Collymore, a man familiar with poisons, a man harbouring a dark secret that, if exposed, would ruin his career; Florrie, the maid who supplied Charles with his bedtime drink; Bert Kemp, a disgruntled groom, who used poisons in his work, who four months previously had predicted Charles’ dying day; Mrs Jennet Quinn, a lady’s companion with a deep knowledge of poisons, and a deep fear of dismissal; or Grace Petrie, Charles’ wife of four months, a woman with a scandalous past, a woman shunned by polite society.

With crowds flocking to the courtroom and the shadow of suspicion falling upon Grace in the shape of the hangman’s noose, could dashing young advocate, Daniel Morgan, save her?

 

 

Books and Background #3

Sins of the Father, my eighth audio book, is now available from iBooks and Audible 😃

SINS OF THE FATHER AUDIO BOOK

For the first thirty-three years of my life I had no knowledge of my father, no idea what he looked like, his name, whether he was dead or alive. Then fate brought us together. Then, a year later, he decided to hire me.

Although we had talked for a year, my father was still Gawain Morgan to me, a stranger, not my dad. Would the task of locating Frankie Quinn bring us closer together, or drive us further apart?

Frankie Quinn was a con-man, a life-long villain, a member of my father’s old gang. That’s right, my father was a villain too, with dodgy contacts, a shady past and sins he preferred to forget. The police wanted Frankie and, if arrested, he faced the prospect of spending his final years in prison. However, he had a trump card, evidence of my father’s indiscretions. Frankie was looking to cut a deal with the police, my father was looking for Frankie. They knew that one of them would spend the winter of their days in prison; but who would it be?

Meanwhile, the clock was ticking towards my wedding day. Would I enjoy the happiest day of my life, or be left crying into my champagne?

Sins of the Father, ten days that defined my relationship with my dad.

 

Books and Background #2

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

A Parcel of Rogues, Sam Smith Mystery Series book thirteen, was published on 1st January. You can read full details about the book here

The River Wye plays a crucial role in A Parcel of Rogues. This painting of the River Wye was created by Thomas Jones, 1742 – 1803, a highly respected Welsh landscape painter. He was the son of Thomas Jones and Hannah 😃

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The writing of Saving Grace, my forthcoming Victorian novel, has reached the courtroom stage of the story. This is a scene from the Balham Inquest, the true story my novel is based on. As you can see, the courtroom is crowded. Indeed, interest in the case was so great that people were bribing police officers to get in.

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Saving Grace and Professor Vernon Pennington gives evidence on the first day of the inquest into the poisoning of banker Charles Petrie. This is an amazing chapter to write because it contains a dramatic incident that goes beyond the realms of fiction, yet it is true. For an author, true satisfaction comes from a successful writing session 😃

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This morning, while writing my 1944-5 mini-series, I had an idea to take a character forward ten years into the mid-1950s. The story would be a mystery, influenced by classics such as Tiger Bay.

Sam’s Song began the year in the top ten of the private investigator’s chart and, I’m pleased to say, the book ends the year in the top ten of that chart, with five #1 positions in between. Many thanks to everyone who made this possible.

 

 

Books and Background #1

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

While researching my forthcoming Victorian novel, Saving Grace, I discovered this Christmas card, which dates from the 1870s. It is so beautiful I felt that I should share it with you.

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Saving Grace is set in 1876, the year Mata Hari, the famous spy and exotic dancer, was born. Other notable events that year included the premiere of the stage production of the verse-play Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen with incidental music by Edvard Grieg, Elisha Gray (pictured) and Alexander Graham Bell’s application for a patent for the telephone while Wyatt Earp (also pictured) started work in Dodge City, Kansas, serving under Marshal Larry Deger.

The inquest into the poisoning of Charles Petrie, the centrepiece of my forthcoming novel Saving Grace, takes place at the Seabank Hotel, Porthcawl. The Seabank began life in 1860 and was redeveloped ten years later. The building is still in use as a hotel, though much changed from this Victorian photograph.

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I am a big fan of 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s movies and for Christmas this year I received a number of DVDs from those decades, including this classic

And a reminder that Betrayal, story number one in my 1944-5 mini-series is currently available free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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