Beneath the Soil

Sixth in the Suzie Fewings series

Beneath the Soil

Suzie Fewings and her family are looking for the farm cottage where her ancestors lived. They are startled by a gunshot and the appearance of the distraught farmer. Next day, his wife is found shot dead.
As their investigations continue, it appears that the ruined cottage in the wood my hold a dangerous secret. At first, Suzie’s evidence is welcomed by the farmer’s solicitor, but then she is warned off. Now she feels that is she who is under threat.
Her husband Nick finds an eccentric who knows more than he should. Son Tom’s return to the woods turns up new evidence which takes things in a totally new direction. It appears even the local MP has reason to want to silence Suzie.
Then, as the tension mounts, it is Nick who goes missing.



There was a moment’s silence. Then a dog barked frantically. Simultaneously, a door Suzie had not noticed opened at the end of the long building. A woman in a floral wrap-around apron came out, overtaken by a noisy black-and-white collie. She was smaller than Millie. Her pale hair straggled around her shoulders in limp curls, a sad contrast to Millie’s white-blonde haircut, yet beneath the apron, her silk shirt and linen skirt looked unexpectedly stylish for this rural setting. Her thin face looked scared.
  ‘Yes’ Her greyish eyes were round with questions.
   Suzie felt a sudden desire to protect and comfort her. She stepped forward impulsively. The collie ran forward, barking.
   ‘Mrs Caseley? We met your husband back in the wood.’ She could not help but see how the woman started back. ‘He said it was all right for us to come on up here and ask you where my great-great-grandparents might have lived in the 1850s. It was in the census that Richard Day was a labourer on the farm here. The address was “Cottage. Saddlers Wood”.’
   She felt the incongruity of what she was asking. It must seem so remote, so trivial, to whatever this frightened woman in front of her was undergoing. Suzie could not help but think, as she knew all the family must be thinking, of that distraught man who had burst out of the trees clutching a recently fired shotgun in his hand.


“This latest in the Suzie Fewings series again makes good use of the genealogy frame to support a murder investigation. Family secrets, after all, can be dangerous. A good choice for genealogists and cozy lovers.” Booklist.


Why I Wrote This Book

I have really enjoyed writing this series. It blends my investigations into my own family history with the chance to create a thrilling modern story. Everything in Suzie’s genealogical discoveries was inspired by incidents and finds in my own research.
This particular book takes Suzie to the fictional Moortown. This closely resembles the little town of Moretonhampstead on the edge of Dartmoor. It is this town, and its surrounding villages, where many of my father’s mother’s family came from.
I have chosen to model this story on the last generation to work in this setting. In the 1850s my great-grandfather Richard Lee and his wife Charlotte Hutchings left their farm labourer’s cottage to make the big move to the village of St Budeaux on the outskirts of Plymouth, where I was born. Previously, my Devon ancestors had moved from parish to parish, but never more than a few miles. Now they moved from the country to town, from farm labouring to work in the dockyard. Their lives were radically changing.
The story was further coloured by the recent digitisation of British newspapers, allowing wonderfully colourful glimpses into the past. The quality of the reproduction has been much improved since then.