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**BLOG TOUR** Absent by Emma Salisbury

28617089_1961546927401239_1833483103611132346_oI am pleased to be the latest spot on the blog tour for Absent, the new DS Coupland novel from Emma Salisbury. Emma has very kindly written a brilliant guest post about the locations used in the book, something that always interests me when reading a book set in a real place.

Over to Emma:

My police procedural series is set in the city of Salford, in Greater Manchester. I chose it because I was born there and I married into a family of officers serving in Greater Manchester Police. I think Mancunians – or Salfordians if you want to split hairs, are a lot like the Scots (I now live on the East Coast of Scotland). They speak their mind but are kind spirited and will help a stranger out in the blink of an eye. Coupland represents a typical Northern man in many ways, no heirs or graces, never gets above himself and detests that in others. He calls a spade a spade. 

I have used a lot of my old stomping grounds in my plots: Swinton, where my late mother and father in law used to live. My mother in law used to work in the bakers on the precinct and we’d call in for a chat whenever we were passing. My late husband and I shared a flat in Clifton before moving to Worsley, locals will spot the thinly disguised references to Kirkstile Place and Ellenbrook, and Boothstown, where I used to meet a friend from the local toddler group. My younger son was born in Hope Hospital, and spent a week in the special care baby unit so basing Coupland’s wife Lynn there was my way of paying homage to them. Sometimes I am less explicit about the location – I have changed some place names, and even made up some areas, particularly if I am suggesting something negative, after all my intention isn’t to cause offence.

Salford has changed over the years, I mean the landscape, not the people. When you write in any great detail about a location (which I don’t like doing anyway as it feels like a travelogue) you run the risk of the story becoming outdated, so I tend not to comment on large buildings or regeneration projects, although I couldn’t ignore media city rolling up. It’s the same with coffee shops and restaurants, if I want to mention something and I haven’t been to stay for a while I check with my niece: ‘That Little Chef still off the East Lancs Road?’ ‘Nah, it’s an Indian restaurant now.’ 

I love it when readers tell me they were sitting at the traffic lights and they can envisage a scene from the series right in front of them. Another reader sent me a photo her friend had taken outside a nightclub – she thought the doorman in the photo looked like Coupland.

 I just love it when that happens.

The worst things happen in plain sight.

When he stopped a serial killer in his tracks earlier in the year he thought that would be the end of it, but for DS Kevin Coupland his nightmare has just begun.

A child’s body is discovered hidden in a bag, kicking off a major investigation for Salford Precinct’s murder squad. Soon the National Crime Agency roll into town and Coupland is under strict instructions to play nice.

He’s got enough on his plate to worry about politics. A shock discovery in his personal life is starting to take its toll, causing him to make decisions that bring him to the attention of the powers that be for all the wrong reasons.

DS Alex Moreton returns from maternity leave to find her partner deeply troubled, but with a cold case to review she’s in no position to prevent him hitting the self-destruct button.

As he hunts down the child’s killer Coupland is forced to reflect upon his own life and find an answer to the question he’s been avoiding. Is it possible to accept the things you cannot change?

With thanks to Emma Salisbury for the great post and to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for arranging the blog tour.

Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:

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**BLOG TOUR** Tell No Lies by Lisa Hartley

It is my pleasure to be the latest stop on the blog tour for Tell No Lies, the latest book from Lisa Hartley and also to be able to share a fascinating guest post written by the author herself about the setting in crime novels.

Over to Lisa…

In crime fiction, the setting of a novel can be hugely visible, almost a character in its own right, or it can fade into the background. Many British cities have fictional detectives associated with them: Ian Rankin’s John Rebus in Edinburgh, Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae in Aberdeen, Val McDermid’s Carol Jordan (and Dr Tony Hill) in Manchester. London is the home of several crime series, including Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne books, and it’s also the city I decided to set my Detective Caelan Small novels in.

I already knew I wanted to write about an undercover police officer. My previous books have been set in Lincolnshire, both in the city of Lincoln itself and also in a fictional nearby town. It’s an area I’m familiar with and feel comfortable and confident writing about. The problem is, a small town setting can be limiting. Is it feasible for a city the size of Lincoln to have undercover officers? I didn’t think so. I needed somewhere bigger, somewhere Caelan and her skills would really be needed. My reasoning was that London would be the perfect place for an undercover officer to be based because of its size and diversity. Also, I knew the Metropolitan Police have such units within their ranks.

London is made up of so many different areas, from the most affluent to the most deprived. It’s a city of contrasts, a place where you can make or lose a fortune. There are opportunities to make money, either legally or in the shadows. I wanted Caelan to be a part of both worlds. As she moves through the city, there are recognisable locations, and I hope they help ground the stories, making it easier to picture Caelan policing the streets. I don’t know London well, but I’m lucky in that my partner grew up around the city, and so I have someone I can go to and ask questions. Google maps and street view are also a huge help, and I have visited London a few times, so I’ve seen the “tourist” spots – heard Big Ben chiming the hours, rushed through some of the Underground stations Caelan uses. I wanted to try to capture the feel of moving around London without sounding too much like a guide book. Caelan lives in the city and it’s very familiar to her, so she wouldn’t be constantly noticing landmarks or marvelling at buildings she’d only previously seen in photographs as a visitor would. I have used some real locations, but some are fictional and appear only in the books.

Caelan’s world can be a dangerous place, and I didn’t think it would be fair to use a real location or premises in those situations. I want Caelan’s London to be believable, but not necessarily an exact copy of the real city. There’s a place in TELL NO LIES (it also appears in the previous book, ASK NO QUESTIONS) that I like to imagine exists, or at least that similar places do – a secret, subterranean office. Caelan has been summoned there on a couple of occasions, and I must admit, it’s a place I love writing about, because it encapsulates everything about Caelan’s job that appeals to me, and hopefully to the reader. Its location is secret, it’s well guarded, and it’s right under the nose of people passing by on a busy London street. The idea of the place was partly inspired by a visit I made to the Churchill War Rooms a few years ago. Formerly the underground bunker where Winston Churchill and his staff met and worked during the Second World War, it’s now a museum, and a fascinating, highly atmospheric place that made a huge impression on me. When I was imaging what such an office might be like, I thought back to walking through the warren of underground corridors and rooms and tried to capture some sense of it. To me, the sense of place in a novel doesn’t have to mean your characters walk around an exact replica of a real city. A blend of fact and fiction can be just as effective.

Tell No Lies was published by Canelo on 19th February.

A tortured body is found in a basement. Drug dealing and people smuggling is on the rise. Then police start going missing.

There seems to be no connection between the crimes, but Detective Caelan Small senses something isn’t right.

Plunged into a new investigation, lives are on the line. And in the web of gangs, brothels and nerve-shattering undercover work, Caelan must get to the truth – or be killed trying.

And then there’s Nicky…

With thanks to Lisa Hartley for the brilliant guest post and to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

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