It is my great pleasure to welcome you to another #damppebblesTakeOver post. Today my guest is J J (Jill) Marsh who writes the Beatrice Stubbs series of European Crime
Mysteries. I have to be honest and say that until recently I hadn’t heard of Beatrice Stubbs, nor was I aware that European Crime is a separate sub-genre. To make up for being so completely clueless I have added Jill’s entire series (that’s very nearly six books) to my wishlist. I look forward to reading them as (you may know) I have a penchant for crime novels set in exotic locations.
Jill is currently writing her sixth Beatrice Stubbs novel which she will tell you about shortly. In the meantime, here is the blurb for Human Rites which is book 5 in the series:
“Adrian Harvey, London wine merchant, has lost the Christmas spirit. Someone is stalking him, stealing his post and vandalising his shop. When the police question him after an anonymous tip-off, he’s more than anxious. He’s scared. And who is that nun? Long time neighbour and friend DI Beatrice Stubbs is dispatched to Germany to investigate a series of apparently related art thefts, so Adrian seizes the chance to flee the city. He follows her to Hamburg to do some Christmas shopping and visit his ex. Yet the stalker is still on his heels. While Beatrice is on the trail of a violent gang of mercenary thieves, Adrian runs from danger to the remote island of Sylt. But danger follows and Adrian has run too far. From the icy streets of Hamburg, to the canals of Amsterdam, and the snowswept beaches of Sylt, Beatrice and Adrian discover how a virtue taken to extremes can lead to deadly sin.”
Yup, now you can see why I’m adding this series to my wishlist!
As I am sure you are aware on 23rd June 2016 the UK held a referendum to determine whether it would remain a part of the European Union. Over 30 million people turned out to vote with 52% voting to leave the EU. To date we don’t know what to expect and how our lives will change. Some people however, knew immediately. J J Marsh was one of those people:
J J Marsh and the Brexit Effect
I’m almost 20,000 words into Lone Wolf, the sixth novel in my European crime series.
But on Friday 23 June, everything changed.
In addition to all the other (rather more significant) implications of the Brexit vote, this book is no longer viable.
The Beatrice Stubbs books so far have shared a common element – the setting as a character in its own right. My main character – the eponymous Beatrice Stubbs – has tracked a serial killer in Zurich, Switzerland; caught smugglers off the coast of Wales; uncovered wine fraud in the Rioja country of Spain; investigated murder on a cruise ship in the Greek islands and pursued organised art theft in wintry Germany. The books immerse the reader in the place: the food and drink, scents and scenery, and the essence of ‘otherness’ which makes a location special.
Lone Wolf was intended to be a tip of the hat to Agatha Christie and the classic murder mystery. A group of people gather in an English country house and someone dies an untimely death. Everyone is under suspicion.
But my twist was that the gathering is a convention of detectives from all over the European Union, aiming to share ideas and practice. So instead of Poirot arriving at a house full of suspects, 27 detectives have to find out which one of them killed the 28th.
After Brexit, the only way that will work is if I go for bitter irony.
In addition, this book was due out in November. No one has any idea where we will be at that time. Will there be a new Prime Minister? Will s/he have triggered Article 50 and begun the divorce process? Whatever the circumstances, it is impossible for a convention of European police officers not to discuss the political events affecting all of them. This becomes even more pertinent if they are in Britain.
There’s one other reason I’m scrapping the Devonshire country house as my setting and relocating the whole story to Portugal. One of the more emotional arguments posed by the Leave campaign was the notion of returning to ‘the good old days’, a rose-tinted 1950s Britain, where old ladies ride bicycles and apple-cheeked children play on the village green.
Whereas the reality of what this referendum has created is a deeply divided society in which the idea of ‘little England’ leaves more of a sour taste than sweet nostalgia.
My books are written to allow the reader to escape reality, to get swept up in a story, in a place, in the characters and forget what’s on the news. In the current climate, my story idea is simply too close to home.
So Beatrice Stubbs of Scotland Yard is packing her plot, characters and premise to get on a flight to Porto. And I have got a lot of work to do. It means publication day will be pushed back to next year, but on the bright side, just think of all that research.
Glass of port, anyone?
Thank you so much for this post Jill. My heart goes out to you, all that hard work and then the outcome of the referendum knocks you sideways. No matter where it is set or what changes have to be made, it sounds a wonderful plot.
As a child, Jill read so obsessively she got kicked out of the school library. But her passion for words continued. She graduated in English Literature and Theatre Studies from the University of Wales and set up a theatre company.
Since then, as an actor, director, teacher, writer and journalist, she’s worked in fifteen countries. She learnt something from each one.
Now, with her husband and three dogs, Jill lives in Switzerland, a country with four languages and mountains of new words.
She works as a language trainer all over Europe, collaborates with Nuance Words and Triskele Books, and contributes regularly to Words with JAM magazine. But most of the time, she writes. And reads.