Severn House. ISBN: 0727889303 978-0727889300
New book in the West Country Mysteries series
Sequel to The Wounded Thorn.
Sleuths Hilary and Veronica sign up for a crime-writing weekend at historic Morland Abbey.
They don’t expect the famous speaker to become a potential murder victim.
‘The plot twists will keep readers guessing as they turn the pages.’
Why I Wrote The Wounded Snake.
I have a deep love of the West Country, especially its sacred places. Totnes has a very unusual one. Sacred wells are common, but they are usually dedicated to a saint who is believed to have performed healing there. The Leech Wells in Totnes are different.
There are three of them. This triple well stands at the meeting place of three narrow lanes bordered by high walls. Three spouts emerge from the wall behind and send water into three shallow rectangular basins.
They form a trinity whose presiding spirits are the Toad, the Snake and the Long Crippler. The last named is the local name for a slowworm. The Toad well is said to be good for skin diseases, the Snake well for snakebite and depression, and the Long Crippler well for eyesight. This is the opposite of what we might expect from the warty toad and the slowworm which is also known as the blindworm.
This unusual place struck me as an evocative place for a murder.
I’ve also enjoyed many literary gatherings at nearby Dartington Hall. Here, I have borrowed from other favourite places to create the fictional Morland Abbey. I have sent my sleuths Hilary and Veronica there for a weekend on crime writing. The participants do not expect their fictions to become reality.
|Gavin’s face looked ashen when he turned from his consultation with the two men to address the room. Ashen. Hilary savoured the word on her tongue. Like the ashes of a fire next morning, a lifeless white streaked with grey. The assured smile of the successful author was gone. But it had become increasingly fragile, even before this. Had what these men just told him been a total surprise to him, Hilary wondered, or the news he had been fearing?
It was a moment before the true impact of the shock wave caught up with her. She had leaped to the conclusion that this was somehow connected with the conversation Veronica had overheard in the tiltyard. But what if it was something even worse? What if Dinah Halsgrove, overturning the good news Gavin had given them, had died in hospital?
Gavin was speaking to them, his voice as strained as his expression. ‘I’m sorry, folks. This is DI Foulks from the local CID and Detective Sergeant Blunt. Contrary to what some people have suggested to me, I can assure you this is not a stunt I have staged for the purposes of this crime weekend. We’re not playing a game of Cluedo. These gentlemen wish to question all of us about our knowledge of events here in the last twenty-four hours.’
There was a shudder of dismay around the room.
Ben, the shorter of the pair of men in Hilary’s group, shot a triumphant look at the sceptical Tania and Rob. ‘Told you! It really is a murder investigation.’ His exclamation rang embarrassingly loud.
Hilary heard her own voice rise above the clamour of disquiet and apprehension. It was something they all had to know.
‘Is Dinah Halsgrove dead?’