Series: Kate Daniels Mystery
by Mari Hannah
Genre: Mystery/Detective/Women Sleuths
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Imprint: Witness Impulse
List Price: $11.99 USD
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In Mari Hannah’s brilliant, dark mystery—set on the beautiful and wild Northumberland coast—skeletal remains have been discovered beneath the menacing shadows of Bamburgh Castle’s fortified walls, and DCI Kate Daniels must solve her most intriguing case yet
Far from their Newcastle base, DCI Kate Daniels and her team find themselves on the rugged Northumberland coast, working their latest baffling investigation. As a blistering weather front closes in, Kate calls on a forensic anthropologist to help identify the remains of a corpse that has been found by the ancient castle on the barren beach. But the more she delves into the case, the more questions surface.
Meanwhile, newly widowed prison psychologist Emily McCann is lured into the twisted world of convicted sex offender Walter Fearon.As his sinister mind games become increasingly disturbing, is it possible that Kate’s case has something to do with his murderous past? With Fearon’s release fast approaching, Emily fears what he might have in store for her.
As the body count rises, Kate must scramble to outwit a clever, diabolical killer whose fatal games have only just begun.
Sense of Place
by Mari Hannah
Landscape, any landscape, has long influenced art: music, painting, poetry and prose. As an avid reader of crime fiction, what I most love about books is that they transport me to places I’ve never been. For example, Richmond, Virginia, a city I know only through Patricia Cornwell’s novels – all of them! Now, through my writing, I’m thrilled to share my own part of the world with new readers in America.
When I was asked to contribute a piece for the Literati website, I jumped at the chance. I thought I’d begin by pinpointing where I live and explain what makes me want to write about it. My home is in the village of Corbridge, Northumberland, population less than 3000, formerly Corstopitum – a garrison town – the most northerly in the Roman Empire. It’s nestled in the Tyne Valley in northern England, once the home of another author you most certainly will have heard of, the late Dame Catherine Cookson.
Corbridge is equidistant, around fifty kilometres, from the Scottish Border, the Land of Prince Bishops (County Durham) and the English Lake District. It is, as we say in this part of the world, ‘a spit’ off Hadrian’s Wall, a location that plays a big part in my second novel Settled Blood when a young woman is found dead at the base of the Roman wall in the shadow of Sewingshields Crags.
I have to admit that when I wrote The Murder Wall, the first book in the Kate Daniels series, I didn’t really think about setting at all. It was only after publication that I came to realise what a major player it was, almost a character in itself – and deservedly so. I know this because crime fiction fans wrote to me in their droves commented on the novel’s strong sense of place.
Now it’s time to ’fess up. I’m not a northerner at all; I was born in Westminster, London and moved here as a teenager. That said, I’ve always credited the region and its writers with inspiring my success. I believe you cannot separate people from places. Once I’d created Kate Daniels as a miner’s daughter from Northumberland, the rest was easy. She took on a life of her own. I couldn’t write about her without making tangible references to her surroundings. Imagine sailing into New York without mentioning the Statue of Liberty. It’s a no-brainer.
So, who is my fictional murder detective and where does she hang out? Well, Kate is a Detective Chief Inspector in Northumbria Police, one of the largest forces in the UK. It serves a population of one and a half million and covers two thousand square miles. The area is my stamping ground too, so I travel widely for research, visiting locations day and night, in fine weather or foul, to really get the feel of the places I’m writing about.
Kate lives in Jesmond – a leafy suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne – the centre of my universe before I moved to the Tyne Valley. I still visit often and I’m proud to have been included in a long list of writers from the 1800s to the present day who have a connection to the area. Not a bad accolade for an incomer! See if you can spot my flag on the photograph below.
When Kate is not investigating crime she likes nothing better than to climb on her Yamaha motorcycle and ride out in the countryside. Her destination of choice is Hartside Pass, the place she goes for solitude after a harrowing case. From there she can see right across the Solway Firth to Scotland as well as Helvellyn, Great Gable and Skiddaw in The Lakes.
There really is nowhere else like Northumberland. The landscape is so diverse; the city isn’t far away and we have the most dramatic countryside right on our doorstep, sweeping coastline and castles – it really is magical, providing a constant flow of ideas and creativity.
I’m not conscious of it but I think my passion for the area shines through in my writing. It prompted The Times’ Marcel Berlins to list Kate as a Northerner to join the roster of top literary detectives. It has been said that I depict the dark side of my region but I’m always sensitive to places and people. Where necessary, I play with the geography a little, changing names of key buildings where I have to! A church for example where two bodies are found in The Murder Wall as alluded to by another journalist in the next paragraph . . .
The Arts and Entertainment Editor of my local newspaper was certainly tickled by the fact that he knew many of the places in my debut. Just after the novel came out, he wrote: “One of the truly great things about Mari’s thriller is that – with the exception of the church, fictionalized as the Catholic St Camillus because she thought choosing St Andrew’s, real-life and C of E, would be a step too far – she is not afraid to use real North East place names. You can follow the route taken by her heroine, DCI Kate Daniels, as she drives around Tyneside and the Tyne Valley. The pizzeria at the end of my street even gets a name check, as does the deli not far away.”
The dramatic and far-reaching landscape around me means that I’m able to ring the changes as far as locations go. It keeps the books fresh, taking my readers to new destinations every time. In Deadly Deceit, we move to a gritty inner city area, Newcastle’s West End, on the eve of a World Cup football (English soccer) match, with the eyes of the world on South Africa.
I think it’s fairly obvious by now that I set my books in the north of England because it’s where I live and where my heart is. When I’m away from the region, it pulls me back. I feel a deep sense of loss, even though I wasn’t born here. I fell in love with the area and I hope US readers will too.
The Murder Wall, Settled Blood and Deadly Deceit will be published by Witness Impulse, digital imprint of Harper Collins/William Morrow.
Readers can find me at: marihannah.com
I am also on Twitter: @mariwriter
About the Author
Mari Hannah was born in London and moved north as a child. Her career as a probation officer was cut short when she was injured while on duty, and thereafter she spent several years as a film/television screenwriter. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner, an ex-murder detective. She was the winner of the 2010 Northern Writers’ Award and is a nominee for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize.
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