Saturday, March 31, 2018

"England Expects"

Sara Sheridan is an Edinburgh-based novelist who writes cosy crime noir mysteries set in 1950s Brighton and historical novels based on the real-life stories of late Georgian and early Victorian explorers.

Sheridan applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, England Expects, and reported the following:
Currently I don’t have a copy of the US edition of England Expects so I am going to use the UK edition. So page 69 is when Mirabelle and her side-kick Vesta visit the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. It’s been deserted and has fallen into disrepair and they are visiting because there has been a suspicious death. A cleaning lady has died in the local Masonic Lodge (she worked there) and Mirabelle has found out that she had another job part-time, cleaning at the palace. Mirabelle and Vesta pick through the overgrown path and consider breaking in but then they are ‘copped’ by a local park keeper who is there to check the grounds once a week. The book is set in the summer of 1953 in Brighton and I had great fun researching it. During WWII the Pavilion had been a recuperation facility for recovering soldiers. It’s the most extraordinary palace - built by the Prince Regent in the 1700s and dripping in exotic architectural detail - as if an Indian/Chinese decorator got absolutely ripped and was given no restriction on budget, just told to go! In 1953, however, Britain was pretty much broke and in real life, the palace had fallen into disrepair - the roof was damaged in a storm. I had been waiting to use it as a location - holding off in the first two books - because it is so stunning and a disused palace is a more or less perfect component for a murder mystery. When I was a kid we had a Victorian nunnery next door and it was closed down around, I suppose 1980. My brother and I sneaked in over the back wall and in a back window. The nuns had been lovely - they used to give us sweets - but we’d never been inside. I used the memories of the long corridors and the artefacts left behind to write the inside of the deserted Royal Pavilion. There is something magical about empty, old buildings - and of course, the electricity is off so the light is eerie. And it’s a palace so there had to be secret passages. I’ll say no more!

The page 69 Test - is it representative of the rest of the book? Hell yes. Mirabelle and Vesta spend this entire book snooping around asking tricky questions in some great locations. They even have a trip to Cambridge in this one - to a college campus where Mirabelle ends up locked in a wine cellar and has to escape. So their approach to Brighton Pavilion is pretty representative. I won’t tell you what happens when they get inside.
Visit Sara Sheridan's website.

My Book, The Movie: England Expects.

--Marshal Zeringue