Today The Book on the Map is in Liverpool, a book that once you’ve read it, you will realise couldn’t possibly be set anywhere else. A Tapping at my Door not only has the perfect setting it also made my top ten list of books published in 2016 and so I was particularly thrilled when David Jackson and Karen from Go Buy The Book were both keen to put this particular book on the map!
Right first to the location: Liverpool is in the North West of England and was a key port city giving rise to the kind of diverse population that springs up when ships are docking or leaving on a regular basis with some of the oldest immigrant communities in the whole of the UK. In more modern times Liverpool was of course the home of the Beatles.
I have only visited Liverpool once and I have to admit the biggest thrill was to see the iconic Liver Birds atop The Royal Liver Building. These really are far more impressive in real life than the pictures. But before that, many moons ago, when I first left home, I shared a house with a ‘bunch of Scousers,’ in other words they were all from Liverpool. I have incredibly fond memories of those days but the very early ones were spent with me either trying to get them to repeat what they said, or smiling inanely; The Liverpool accent takes some getting used to. Fortunately I had regular practice when we settled down together to watch the omnibus edition of Brookside on a Saturday afternoon.
Well enough of the trips down memory lane, back to the book!
A Tapping at My Door
A Tapping at my Door is the first of my new crime thriller series set in Liverpool. Before that, I had written four novels in a different series set in a completely different part of the world – New York, in fact. The first book in that series (Pariah) was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards, while the most recent (Cry Baby) was an Amazon top 10 bestseller and listed as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. So why, you might ask, did I decide to embark on a new series?
One reason is that I was on the lookout for a new publisher, and publishers generally want something fresh, particularly if the existing books in a series are owned elsewhere. Another reason is that I felt I was missing out on local support for my books. Setting my novels here in the UK would, I reasoned, increase my chances of getting that important backing from shops and supermarkets in the area. Finally, I needed somewhere that would be easy to get to in order to carry out my research, and possessing enough interesting features to make it stand out as much as the characters in my books.
With all that in mind, Liverpool was the natural choice of location. I was born and raised there, and although I now live on the other side of the Mersey, I still travel in to Liverpool every day for my work as an academic.
As far as I am concerned, Liverpool has everything a novelist needs as a setting: the distinctive waterfront, with its Liver Buildings and Albert Dock; the Liverpool One shopping area; the Georgian Quarter, filled with more Georgian buildings than any other city outside London; the two cathedrals and two premier league football teams; the slavery museum; the Tate; the Beatles connection …
Of course, Liverpool has its darker, tougher side. There are areas of poverty and deprivation here to rival those of any other major UK city. There is also crime, without which I’d be short of material. But balanced against this is the one thing about the city that I don’t think is matched anywhere else: the humour and warm-heartedness of its people. That, above all, is what makes me want to write about Liverpool.
Karen from Go Buy The Book is well qualified to discuss this book as her favourite types of reading is crime fiction and she lives in Liverpool so I’ll hand over to her and her wonderful photos of actual places in this book. You can read her review of the book here
The setting of a book can be just as crucial as the characters and the plot. In the case of A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson, the use of Liverpool is so pivotal to the plot that it couldn’t really be set anywhere else.
Although the first location we encounter is Stoneycroft, the scene of a particularly gruesome murder, it is the second chapter where the city of Liverpool is really introduced. DS Nathan Cody is busking on Bold Street, a cosmopolitan area in the city centre, in front of the former Waterstones book shop, when he embarks on a high octane, if comical, chase through the city centre.
Being from Liverpool, I found the description of the places he passes to be so well-written that I actually envisaged myself running through Central Station, over Ranelagh Street into Clayton Square and up the steps leading towards Lime Street.
A member of the Major Incident Team, Cody works out of Stanley Road station. Situated in Kirkdale, in the north of the city, an area that has witnessed more than its fair share of crime, this is a complete contrast to where he lives in Rodney Street in the heart of the city centre. Known as the ‘Harley Street of the North’, Rodney Street is the home to doctors and dentists as well as many private residents. It is perhaps most well known for being, in 1809, the birthplace of William Ewart Gladstone, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In recent years, it has become a mecca for many television production crews with the likes of Foyle’s War and Peaky Blinders being filmed there.
Heading away from the city centre, the murderer strikes again in Sheil Road, near to Kensington, one of the busiest roads in the city.
This road is not a stranger to crime with numerous cases of anti-social behaviour and violence being reported over the past few years. Despite this, Sheil Road also contains one of the entrances to the 121 acre Newsham Park, opened in 1868.
One of the most iconic images of Liverpool – the Royal Liver Building – plays a vital role in the story. Construction of this building began in 1907 with the building opening a few years later in 1911. This Grade I listed building overlooks the River Mersey and stands at an impressive 90m tall. The building is probably most known for the two Liver Birds adorning each tower. Legend has it that while one looks out to sea, the other looks over the city, protecting its people. They must have been turning a blind eye as the killer struck!
Book Reviews from around the Blogosphere
A Tapping at my Door
There are so many brilliant reviews of A Tapping at my Door out there, if you have one why not share the link on twitter today to help put this book on the map!
Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan The Book Trail to see the details of the book setting on her wonderful map.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Karen and David for this wonderful post bringing to life this brilliant crime thriller set in Liverpool which starts with an excerpt from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
All books featured in this #BookOnTheMap project will get a place on the Master Page listing crime fiction by their destination with links to the wonderful collaboration between authors and bloggers.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate in this feature.