Monday, 28 September 2015
The Dungeon House
The Dungeon House is the seventh Lake District Mystery, and it has just been published in the UK, by Allison & Busby, and in the US, by Poisoned Pen. As usual with my series novels, I've tried to do something fresh while striving to retain the elements that have appealed to readers of the earlier books. And whilst it's tricky for an author to judge their own work, my feeling is that this is my favouiite in the series to date. This is the first novel I've written since ceasing to be a full-time lawyer, and I think the extra time spent crafting the story was beneficial.
Another key factor, perhaps even more crucial, is that I found the location of the story absolutely inspiring. I've mentioned previously the research that I've undertaken in Ravenglass, and other parts of the west coast of Cumbria. By comparison with other parts of the Lake District, this is a relatively unfrequented area, yet it's rich in history and dramatic landscapes abound.
The first four chapters are set twenty years in the past. A man called Malcolm Whiteley (yet another character who owes his surname to a Derbyshire cricketer!) has made a fortune out of selling his business, and lives in the elegant Dungeon House, just above Ravenglass. But he suspects his wife Lysette (I created her after watching a stage play featuring Lysette Anthony, whose physical appearance helped me to get an image of the character clear in my mind) of having an affair. But is there really a mystery lover, or is it all in Malcolm's troubled mind?
A shocking crime is committed, and immediately the action switches to the present day. Hannah Scarlett and her team are investigating the disappearance, three years earlier, of a teenage girl. Then another girl goes missing, and it emerges that both cases have a curious link to events at the Dungeon House all those years ago. Meanwhile, a woman who was friendly with Malcolm Whiteley's daughter decides to return to Ravenglass, setting in motion a sequence of mysterious incidents. What on earth is going on? To find out, of course, you'll have to read the book!