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The Wounded Thorn

Hilary and Veronica are in Glastonbury to explore its sacred history. In the Chalice Well gardens, Hilary makes an life-threatening discovery. Who is responsible? The loud-mouthed critic of all things pagan? The veiled Moslem research student? The eccentric devotee of the Goddess, dancing in his garb of motley? And is the same person responsible for the tragedy that strikes next in the High Street?

    The mystery deepens, as the two women  explore the ancient sites of Glastonbury Tor and the ruins of the Abbey and the Somerset Levels. What is the secret which connects it to the Glastonbury Thorn?

"It reminded me of 'Rosemary and Thyme'. However, this has a lot more bite."

"This strong first in a new series from Sampson." Publishers Weekly.

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She followed Veronica as the smaller woman made her way more rapidly this time up the sloping paths to the wellhead. She stood back to allow Veronica the privacy of communion with whatever she had found beside the pool. Steps led up to a seat within an arbour. She climbed them and sat down. Her eyes roamed over the gardens beyond. There was no one else in sight.

   It was only when she allowed her gaze to drop again to the circular enclosure around the well that she saw it. From here, she was behind the well cover, which was thrown back to display its decoration. It was propped against a tall stone shaft.
   Between the lid and this pillar was something that she had not seen before. A canvas strap with a buckle. She moved down a few steps to see further. It was attached to a small black knapsack, which had been pushed out of sight into the shadows. She stared at it idly for a moment before a lump rose in her throat, threatening to choke her.
   'Veronica! Get back! Now!'
 

Why I Wrote "The Wounded Thorn"

Places speak to me. It is not enough for me to set up a crime and then provide clues to point the reader to its solution. To me, the setting is all-important. It is the extra dimension which adds richness to this familiar genre.

     Glastonbury is one of the oldest sacred sites in Britain. Pagans were worshipping on Glastonbury Tor before the coming of Christianity. Legends tell of Joseph of Arimathea bringing the Christ Child here; of the Chalice which held Christ's blood and coloured Glastonbury's Chalice Well red; of Joseph of Arimathea's staff planted on Wearyall Hill and taking root, to become the sacred thorn tree which flowers twice a year; of the burial at the Abbey of Arthur and Guinevere.

   History gives it one of the earliest Saxon churches, when the pagan Saxons became converted to Christianity as their conquest moved west. There are traces of Celtic Christianity before that. The later church on Glastonbury Tor was dedicated to St Michael, as were so many hilltop churches. The warrior archangel has stepped down from heaven to defeat the dragon. The Benedictine Abbey was cast down at the Reformation and its Abbot hanged on the Tor. But today pilgrims flock to the ruined Abbey to celebrate their faith.

     Even today, Glastonbury Tor has a dramatic impact, rising out of the flood plain of the Somerset Levels. It looks like a crouching dragon. And the reed beds of the Levels, with their ancient wooden trackways, are mysterious themselves.

    I found a wealth of choices to to set my scenes. And the landscape interacts with the story, influencing the plot. "The Wounded Thorn" could not have been set anywhere else.

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