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Novels set in Cumbria
The Night Book
The Night Book
A novel of dark suspense set in the Lake District where, beneath the inviting water of the lakes, danger and death are waiting. The summer of 1976 was unprecedented in living memory.
Days of blazing sunshine bled into weeks and months. In the Lake District, Cumbria's mountains and valleys began to resemble a Grecian landscape. People swam in delightfully tropic waters to cool off. But, barely three feet below the surface, the temperature remained just a degree or so above freezing. As the summer blazed on, the drownings began...What if someone wanted to take revenge? To remove an abusive, controlling partner from their life? When and where better to stage a murder and pass it off as an accidental drowning?
Simon and Schuster
Paperback; 198 x 130mm
“You find me on the banks of one of the most beautiful stretches of water in Lakeland as police are poised to reveal the identity of the latest victim in this summer’s unprecedented litany of drownings.” It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and the speaker is Seb Richmond, news reporter on Lakeland FM.
He’s dashed to the shores of Ullswater to report on the eleventh mysterious drowning in the Lakes during the torrid summer of 1976. The waters have been unusually warm, tempting, inviting swimmersfurther and further out. The beautifully warm surface water, heated by day after day of unprecedented temperatures, is but a thin skin over the ice-cold depths, Swimmers have shuddered at the icy cold, their strength has drained away and they have suffered from cardiac arrest.
That is the explanation which perhaps satisfies the coroner in Kendal and the hydrographer from Lancaster University.
But there is something more disquieting about the deaths, something disturbing about Cameron Bruton, one of the wealthiest men in Lakeland.
He and his beautiful young wife had been spending the Sunday afternoon on their yacht on Ullswater. She had been reading the papers and sunbathing and he - he was sixty and twice her age - had swimming gently in the water.
Meriel Kidd and Cameron appeared to have the most perfect of marriages. He was the masterful businessman. He’d swept her off her feet when they first met at a charity auction. He’d paid thousands for a diamong ring and then and there insisted that she take it and all he required from her was that she dined with him the following night. He was charming and handsome and a father figure and for a time she bathed in his love. He converted a wonderful vicarage situated on an east-facing slope abobe Derwentwater into the most luxurious of homes and she had an enviable life - all that money could buy, the most beautiful home in the most beautiful country and her own, independent career as a much-loved agony aunt on Lakeland FM.
And he was generous. His bank accounts were placed in their joint names. She could spend as she wished.
And yet, generous as he seemed to be, he questioned every item of her expenditure. Her every movement came to be more and more controlled. Her idyllic marriage was turning into the tyranny of an older jealous husband fearful of losing the treasure he had purchased.
And Meriel, on the verge of national success - there’s a book deal in the offing and perhaps television - must keep up the pretence of the agony aunt with the perfect marriage.
When Seb, with his dirty blonde hair and old Triumph Spitfire first sees Meriel in the Carlisle radio studio he fluffs his lines, but he is totally smitten.
Richard Madeley has elegantly and skilfully st the scene for an absorbing, psychological thriller, the sort of book that first intrigues, then entertains, and then turn by turn, tightens the screw.
And it is all set in the Lakes, on Derwentwater, Windermere, Buttermere and Ullswater. Richard from those long ago days on Radio Cumbria would have known the old Ford Transit van in which the news reporters raced round the county. He’d have known how the police and the coroners worked and he would have learnt, like young Seb, how to pronounce Torpenhow and Aspatria and how not to fluff Faugh.
He might even have known that four-poster bed in The String of Horses. He certainly remembers driving the roads in a rattling sportscar and he retains a love for the landscape. Meriel tells Seb, “I’d forgotten how beautiful the Eden Valley could be. No wonder they named it after Paradise.”
The Night Book is Richard Madeley’s fourth book. It is a psychological thriller of rare intensity. And it is all the more immediate for being set amid the beauty of the lakes and fells.
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