Please welcome UK author Lesley Thomson, to talk about the setting of her new Detective’s Daughter mystery, The Playground Murders.

Writing Nail-Biting Mystery Stories in a sleepy English Village

Each year our small, willful poodle Alfred and I visit Winchcombe in the Cotswolds, an idyllic part of the UK with honey colored cottages on winding lanes, the church spire’s cockerel glinting in the sun. Our modest dwelling has a woodstove and walls as thick as a castle (don’t picture a candle-lit hovel, we’ve got the internet and Alexa.) Winchcombe is perfect place to write a murder story!

Winchcombe’s nineteen-fifties pace suits me as my head buzzes with the drama of my detectives. Stella runs a cleaning company. Jack’s a train driver on the London Underground. She’s logical and sees dust, he’s fanciful and sees ghosts. Many of The Detective’s Daughter novels are set in London, my home town. Like me, Stella’s a city girl, fazed by cows, mud and pitch darkness at night.

There’s an eighteenth-century house in Winchcombe that’s pure Jane Austen with stone steps to the front door. In The Playground Murders, I put a body in the hall. The Death Chamber refers to a Neolithic burial mound outside Winchcombe. Some ask if it’s wise setting novels on my own doorstep. (Actually. one character dies in our sitting room.) ‘No problem’, I have replied,

Until… Alfred and I were splashed over The Gloucestershire Echo. The crime-writer and her dog. Now we’re recognized in shops. I discuss Stella and Jack with the lovely woman who froths my latte. No more flinging myself together with scant care, I linger over my wardrobe and apply make-up before buying a newspaper.

If you’re jittery as you turn the pages of The Playground Murders, doors and windows locked, imagine the tranquil village in which I write. And Alfred snoozing on the mat, paws in the air.

Lesley first novel A Kind of Vanishing won The People’s Book Prize. The Detective’s Daughter was Amazon UK’s longest running No. one in 2013, knocking JK Rowling (Robert Galbraith) down to No. two. Lesley’s protagonist Stella Darnell is ‘one of the most original characters in British Crime Fiction’ Sunday Times. The Detective’s Daughter series has sold over 750K copies. The Playground Murders, latest in the series, came out in 2019(‘As compelling as its predecessors … A white-knuckle read: The Tablet). Lesley is writing a standalone, Death of a Mermaid. She lives with her partner and small poodle called Alfred in Lewes, a little town in Sussex that boasts a castle and a forbidding Victorian Prison.