It was a cold December morning, the kind that makes you hunch your shoulders and turn up the collar of your jacket against the wind, where the sun is permanently veiled by a ceiling of cloud. This was the morning that Bollo and I headed out on our adventure.
Whilst reading The Devotion of Suspect X, a thriller by Keigo Higashino, what struck me was the sense of place – whether or not you have ever visited Tokyo, you feel that you are transported there by Higashino’s wonderfully descriptive prose. And what is nice is that you feel you can visit at some time in the future and seek out the landmarks she mentions.
An Unfamiliar Murder is set in a fictional town, loosely based on my own in the Midlands, in fact so much so that readers have recognised many local landmarks. Its sequel is set partly between this fictional town and the Scottish Highlands (another of my favourite locations).
However, for book three, I’ve decided to experiment with ideas for completely setting the story in a real place; where tourists flock during the summer months, somewhere with grace and beauty in abundance to provide the perfect juxtaposition with a murder mystery investigation. And I’ve decided on Stratford Upon Avon.
Only an hour from me, I’ve visited Stratford many times over the years, mainly to the Shakespearian sites, to view the wonderful architecture, the history, to attend literary festivals or theatrical productions. What I really wanted to do on this visit was to see the real Stratford: where people live, work, shop, walk across the fields…
I spent the morning wandering around the city centre, then headed out for a rural adventure in the surrounding countryside. And that is where Bollo and I found Clifford Chambers – a delightful village, just a couple of miles outside. I’m not sure if I will be able to use it yet, I’m just putting my ideas together at this stage, but I wanted to share a little of its beauty with you anyway. Here are my highlights in pictures. Enjoy.
Of course I’ll need many more visits before I felt I’ve penetrated the heart of Stratford and found out what makes it tick. But, for now, I think I’ll have to give my faithful assistant, Bollo, a well deserved rest before the next adventure.