A home from Holmes

Environmental health officer turned sleuth, Kent Fisher, faces his most baffling and challenging mystery to date in No Remorse, due for release next Monday, 7th May 2018. The mystery centres on the picturesque village of East Dean. Kent’s faithful assistant and West Highland Terrier, Columbo, has already sniffed out the first clue.

Sherlock Holmes Cottage

Nestled in a valley of the South Downs, a mile inland from Birling Gap on the coast, East Dean once had a famous resident. If you look closely at the left hand side of the flint cottage in the photograph above, you’ll notice a blue plaque on the wall.

Sherlock Holmes plaque

I wanted to pay tribute to one of my favourite detectives in No Remorse, and set Nightingales, the luxury care home at the centre of the mystery, in East Dean. Its owner is Kieran Sherlock, who runs Sherlock’s Homes, a company providing residential care for the well-heeled. It sounds corny, I know, but the links to the fictional detective continue with receptionist, Louise Watson, who soon catches Kent’s eye.

Nightingales is a fictional home, set above the village on the slopes of the South Downs, close to the house you can see in the photo below.

No visit to East Dean would be complete without a stop at the Tiger Inn on the village green. While Kent interviews Miss Watson inside, Columbo sniffs out yet another clue to solve the baffling mystery surrounding Anthony Trimble’s death at Nightingales.

‘No Remorse echoes more modern crime novels, such as the alphabet mysteries of Sue Grafton and Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks books.’
Will Hatchett, editor of Environmental Health News.

Click here to read the full review.

No Remorse is available for pre-order on Amazon and published on 7th May 2018.

A Smuggler’s trail

No Remorse, the third Kent Fisher Mystery, has a cryptic puzzle at its core that has Kent Fisher following in the footsteps of the old smugglers, who made their living in this beautiful part of the South Downs.

Smugglers left their mark on the landscape of East Sussex, landing their contraband on the shingle beach at Cuckmere Haven above. From here, they took boats up the Cuckmere River, past the white horse on the hill near Litlington village.

Cuckmere River

If you look closely, you can make out the river behind Harvey and the chalk horse on the hill beyond. As the inspiration behind Kent Fisher’s dog, Columbo, Harvey’s keen to help me research the settings for the stories, especially if it involves a trip to the local pubs..

In Collins’ time the river was wider, making it easier to move goods by boat past Litlington village, which features in No Remorse, past St Andrews Church to Alfriston.

St Andrews Church

Stanton Collins, who ran the main gang, had his headquarters in Alfriston, a pretty village with many lovely old buildings.

In Waterloo Square at the centre of the village on the opposite side to the building above, stands Ye Olde Smugglers Inne, its weather boarded first floor housing the rooms used by the gangs.

The rich smuggling heritage not only plays a part in the history of this part of the South Downs, but offers some cryptic clues to baffle and test Kent Fisher as he tries to discover why Anthony Trimble was killed.

Belle Tout to Birling Gap and beyond

With the release of No Remorse, the third Kent Fisher Mystery, due on 7th May 2018, I thought it would be good to celebrate some of the settings and magnificent scenery that feature in the novel.

These cliffs and the coastal path hold many memories for Kent Fisher, who regularly walks along them with Columbo, his West Highland white terrier. Kent also runs over the Seven Sisters, which rise and fall with challenging slopes that sap the stamina from your legs.

I share Kent’s view that this is one of the finest sights in England.

Seven Sisters

This is the iconic view of the Seven Sisters, taken from behind the coastguard cottages at Seaford Head. In the distance you can make out Belle Tout, the original lighthouse built on top of the cliffs by ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller.

Having parked below Belle Tout, you can follow the path east until the views towards Beachy Head open out, revealing the new Eastbourne lighthouse.

Looking at the sheer drop, it’s easy to see why Beachy Head is a favoured spot for those wishing to end their lives.

Eastbourne lighthouse

As you follow the road around and head east to climb the cliffs, you pass the Belle Tout lighthouse, which first became operational in 1834. As well as its duties as a lighthouse, it featured in the BBC drama, The Lives and Loves of a She Devil.

In 1999, the Belle Tout was lifted onto runners and moved 17 metres away from the cliff edge to save it from toppling into the sea. The Belle Tout became a residence and is now open for bed and breakfast for those who wish to enjoy the panoramic views from the glass tower.

Belle Tout

Walking west along the top of the cliffs, the breathtaking view of the Seven Sisters soon greets you. The South Downs dip into Birling Gap, which is owned by the National Trust. Coastal erosion and rockfalls means the cafe and coastguard cottages are getting closer to the cliff edge.

Birling Gap

Kent has his own reasons to love this area, having spent romantic times there with Gemma Dean in the past. These memories fill his thoughts when he pays another visit to the area in No Remorse.

I’d love to tell you why, but it would spoil the story.