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I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for “Death’s Silent Judgement” today.  I have a wonderful guest piece written by Anne Coates to share with you.  “Death’s Silent Judgement” is the sequel to “Dancers in the Wind” (I reviewed this back in December 2016 here’s the link to the review).

Description:  

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Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a close friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her pro bono dental practice at St John the Evangelist church in Waterloo. The free surgery Hannah runs is attended by the homeless people who comprise Cardboard City nearby and initially the police are quick to place the blame in their direction.

Hannah is not convinced and nor is Lady Rayman, Liz’s mother who employs the journalist to investigate.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

You can buy a copy of “Death’s Silent Judgement”  via:

Amazon
Urbane Publications
Wordery


My Inspiration for Death’s Silent Judgement

Many people have assumed that my protagonist Hannah Weybridge and her situation are, at least in parts, autobiographical. Of course this is true to a certain extent and I couldn’t put it better than Virginia Woolf who wrote: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Although I would probably have changed his to her!

I have dug deeply into some of my own experiences to create Hannah however her life has been refracted through various prisms. How she reacts to situations is part of her personality not mine. She is, like other characters, one of my imaginary friends. I confess I love the way characters arrive in my narratives – sometimes uninvited. I remember a spiritualist telling me she saw spirits vying for her attention and that’s how I feel. Sometimes they are all clamouring for a bigger role. It can get quite noisy in my head.

So where did the idea of discovering one’s best friend dead in the crypt of a church where she held a free dental clinic for the homeless, came from? In truth I have no idea. I had never been into St John the Evangelist at Waterloo and I do not have friends who are dentists – dead or alive. However I have experienced – as most people have – the loss of a friend either through circumstance or death. In particular I lost touch with one close friend when I was pregnant and I have used that situation to explore feelings and emotions in the interaction between Hannah and Liz, which I have done via flashbacks in Death’s Silent Judgement. But that is a kernel of truth that expands fictionally. A “what if…” that that takes me into the fictional world.

A sense of place is also important to me. The murders in Dancers in the Wind began in Kings Cross. In the sequel, the killings and much of the action has moved further south to Waterloo. This is an area I knew and know well. My mother was born there and a lot of her family lived there. As she was the only child of a second marriage, her half-siblings were between ten and 18 years older than her and died years ago. I modelled two minor characters, Eileen and Kit, on one of her sisters-in-law and her half-sister. That’s to say I took them as a starting point. Although I know the area well from when we visited family when I was a child, I also got to know the area as an adult when I worked at IPC Magazines in Stamford Street. The homeless people in the cardboard city of the Bull Ring (now the Imax Cinema) were a familiar sight.

Another source of inspiration is the amazing work individuals do to make life better for other people. WaterAid is a charity I support and they do such important and life-saving work. I have a charity in Death’s Silent Judgement – but I deliberately made the organisation a small, fictitious one. At the outpost where Liz was based, girls suffered rape and abuse through lack of amenities. Sadly this is a situation which continues today.

As a journalist I have been privileged to share and write about many people’s experiences and situations from celeb interviews to talking to prostitutes (my starting point for Dancers in the Wind) and like most writers I love eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. I always have a notebook at the ready for priceless gems! Plus I am fascinated by how people are dressed and present themselves. I make notes and keep them handy for my characters. (I wish I had a hidden camera that Hannah uses to take photos of people who intrigue me.) And I am indebted to friends who offer insights into their lives and careers.

All of this goes into my mind’s melting pot. I use nuggets of information to go off on a journey in my imagination. Often a character will lead me down a different path and reveal his or her secrets in an unexpected way. I was stunned by how this happened with one character in Death’s Silent Judgement and then I realised that the character had been giving me clues all along the way. I just hadn’t been paying close enough attention!


A huge thank you to Anne for joining me today and sharing where she gets her inspiration from.  I’m sure you will all agree that it’s always fun to find out where ideas for characters and plots come from, just be sure never to say anything too juicy around Anne, she might have that notebook handy to jot down all the details!

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Published: 13 October 2016
Reviewed: 16 December 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by publisher in return for an honest review

Description:

SHE IS HUNTING THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER?

Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Webridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognizable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realize that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah must expose the truth — and stay alive.

My Thoughts & Review:

Yet another brilliant book from what’s becoming one of my favourite publishers this year.  Urbane Publications are bringing more and more wonderful books to the reading populace that are gritty, gripping, thought provoking and generally challenges set perceptions.

Dancers in the Wind was one of those books that I absorbed in the space of an evening (ok I may have read past my bedtime, but it was worth it).
The story follows freelance journalist Hannah Webridge who is working on an article about the red light district in Kings Cross which is to be published around the same time that a documentary will be aired on TV, the main “stars” are a prostitute called Princess and DI Tom Jordan of the vice squad.
What then follows is a tale of danger and intrigue that turns into a very thought provoking read.  Our protagonist Hannah is thrown into a world foreign to her when Princess appears on her doorstep one night in a horrendously beaten state.  Being a caring person, Hannah takes her in and cleans her up, but this leaves Hannah is a precarious position.  Princess demands that the Police should not be told where she is, fearing corruption within the Force but Hannah cannot help but worry about how to keep them all safe, including her young child.

There is a seriousness to this book, it is gritty and at times quite brutal, yet it strangely is utterly absorbing.  There are subjects of a sensitive nature in this book and so I would say that some readers may feel uncomfortable at certain points – namely child abuse, neglect and the beating the Princess receives, however these are written with care and are not gratuitous.
The plot is very well constructed, and short chapters ensure that the pace of the novel move along briskly whilst keeping the reader’s attention rapt with a fantastic narrative.  The setting was also great, the seedier side of London makes for interesting reading but Coates seems to have a skill in making it “come alive” for her audience.

Characters are developed well, and feel that Hannah is the most intriguing character.  Immediately most readers will feel a likening towards her, and it is nice to see that a different type of character can be the driver for a plot like this – a journalist instead of a detective.  She is quite an endearing character, her instincts to take care of others contrasts well with her drive to uncover the truth at any cost.
Princess is also a very interesting character, smarter than she is given credit for by many people.  DI Jordan, well I can’t decide about him and I would say that’s a hat tip to the author really, creating a character that had the reader guessing to the very end as to whether or not they were trustworthy etc.

You can buy a copy of Dancers in the Wind directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

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