In the Blood

Severn House
ISBN Hardback 978 0 7278 6776 6
Paperback 978 1 84751 141 6
Large print 978 0 7278 7939 4

First in the Suzie Fewings Genealogical Mysteries

Suzie Fewings is a keen family history researcher. At first she is excited to find an ancestor with the same name as her teenage son, Thomas Loosemore. But what she finds next upsets her.
Can there possibly be a link between the dark past of that earlier Thomas and the increasingly sinister shadow falling over her own Tom?
A teenage girl is missing. And if it’s not Tom, is Suzie’s daughter Millie in danger too?

Sampson deftly weaves historic and modern-day crimes in a cerebral yet exciting tale of guilt, innocence and circumstance.” Publishers Weekly.

 “A gripping story and a believable descrtiption of how a family can be  destroyed by guilt and doubt make this a fine read for crime fans.” Booklist.


Why Did I Write It?

I began researching my family history as a relaxation from writing novels. I should have known better. Instead of getting away from storytelling, I found myself writing scores of stories about my ancestors.
But it was not only the stories I uncovered which were fascinating. It was the process of discovery itself. I love getting back to the primary sources. It’s a real thrill to handle the actual document your ancestor wrote 300 years ago – though nowadays it usually has to be viewed at second hand on microfiche. I’ve been privileged to visit a medieval farmhouse my family lived in. I walk the countryside where they lived and farmed, follow the green lane along which one of them must have walked on Sundays to meet his future wife at the Methodist chapel.
And then there’s the detective work, the problem solving. If the early parish registers have been lost, where else can you turn for information? Churchwardens’ accounts, the expenditure of the Overseers of the Poor, property deeds, wills, court cases. There’s a real thrill when the hunch you have been following is confirmed by the discovery of a document saying what you hoped, or telling you things you hadn’t imagined.
I’ve found everything, from paupers who were agricultural labourers to lords of the manor, with pedigrees (though not always reliable) going back to the Normans. What has astonished me is how much information is available. I thought if my ancestors were labourers, who didn’t write letters or keep diaries, that there would be only baptisms, marriages and burials to record their lives. But I’ve been amazed to find how much detail has survived about them.
Inevitably, I found myself drawn to write about this – not just stories of the past, but the story of how someone discovers her past. And of course, we have families in the present too. That contemporary story forms the other half of this novel. Both involve uncomfortable violence.

A particular feature of this book is the appendix. This gives details of the sources I used, which will be of help to other family history researchers. It also lists the  real-life places which provided the inspiration for many of the scenes in the book.


Read an extract:

‘Then a militiaman, one Thomas Loosemore . . .’
    She stopped, breath held in disbelief. This was more than she had dared to hope for. Now her eye raced on.

   ‘. . . one of his own parishioners, seized him by the hairs of his head and dragged him down the stair of the parsonage house. The venerable rector, being advanced in years, suffered a broken skull of which he died ten days later.’
   She stared at those final words. Could this be the same Thomas Loosemore, churchwarden a few years later, the pillar of village society, who had lain violent hands on his royalist rector, thrown the old man downstairs and . . . killed him?

   She sat back, stunned. This was not what she had expected.