Posted in Put A Book On The Map

Put A Book On The Map #BookOnTheMap #Edinburgh #Portobello

botm-portobello

I am thrilled to welcome Joanne who blogs at Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie author of Sewing the Shadows Together to put a book on the map in the suburb of Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland. Joanne and Alison have taken the role of interviewer and interviewee to bring Portobello to life – they have kindly provided all the wonderful photos that accompany this piece.

Sewing the Shadows Together at Portobello

Sewing the Shadows Together gives us the beautiful setting of a seaside suburb of Edinburgh, Portobello, as the backdrop of a horrible crime, that of the murder of a young teenage girl, Shona McIver.
Can the mystery of who killed her possibly be solved more than thirty years later? Tom, Shona’s brother, hopes so having heard that the man who committed the crime is to be released from hospital which coincides with his return from South Africa to scatter his mother’s ashes and to attend a school reunion.

Portobello is a coastal suburb of Edinburgh the capital of Scotland.  This residential area has a promenade stretching between Joppa and Craigentinny.

Without further ado I will hand over to Joanne and Alison.

 

Hi Alison – when I first heard about your book, I knew I just had to read it as it’s not just set in Edinburgh, but right here in Portobello where I live! What made you decide to set the book here?

Portobello, the beautiful seaside area of Edinburgh, is where my mother was born and brought up. As a child I spent all my holidays here with my grandparents so it has always been a very special place for me. I love the long golden beach, the promenade running along it and the grey-stone Victorian villas. Later my first teaching post was at Portobello High School and it was then that the idea for Sewing the Shadows Together first came to me.

portobello-2
Abercorn PArk affectionately known by all as the Daisy Park

 

Thanks Alison – I know that you were inspired (if that’s theright word) by really awful events which took place in and around Edinburgh. Can you explain about that and say a bit more about what the book’s about?

The Sea at Portobello
The Sea at Portobello

Yes, Joanne. Around that time there were two tragic events that made a lasting impression on me. Firstly, in 1977 two seventeen-year-old girls disappeared from the World’s End pub on Edinburgh’s Roval Mile. I knew this place well as it was near Moray House College where I had done my teacher training. The bodies of the girls were found a few days later, but the identity of the murderers was not discovered for many years. This uncertainty and lack of closure had a devastating effect on the families, and I think every young person in Edinburgh at that time felt very aware of the crime. It could have been any one of us who went out for a drink on a Friday night.

 

Then in July 1983 something happened in Portobello that affected me deeply. A five-year-old girl disappeared while playing on the prom. Her body wasn’t found until twelve days later, three hundred miles away. She was one of the victims of the serial killer, Robert Black. Even though I didn’t know the family, I could identify with them so much as my sons were about the same age and we often played on the beach near the place where she disappeared.

In the days before she was found the atmosphere in Portobello was charged with fear and bewilderment. The whole town was on edge, desperately hoping the little girl would be found. Rumours and suspicions ran through the community, and even my granny’s garden and shed were searched by the police, I will never forget that mixture of hope and apprehension before the body was discovered.

a photo from the Joppa end looking along the prom
a photo from the Joppa end looking along the prom

I wondered then how her family and friends would ever be able to come to terms with what had happened. And so the seeds of Sewing the Shadows Together were sown. In it the lives of Tom, the brother, and Sarah, the best friend, of a teenage girl murdered in Portobello are scarred by the tragedy for their whole lives. They meet up again at a school reunion many years later and when the local misfit who’d been convicted of the crime is proved innocent, suspicions fall on family and friends. They discover dark secrets before the real killer is eventually revealed.

I remember being in holiday in the Borders then and the police searching the river for the missing Portobello girl. I didn’t live here then: I lived in Leith. Both places have a really strong sense of community. When you and I were first in touch we realised we knew a lot of people in common in Portobello. That sense of community is one of the reasons I love living here. Do you have a favourite place in Portobello? 

The sense of community is very strong in Portobello, and it is one of the reasons I loved it, especially as a child. My grandparents had both been born and brought up in Portobello, so they seemed to know everybody and we had relatives on every corner. My grandfather was very sociable and it took ages to walk along the High Street with him as he stopped to tip his hat and greet everyone we met. I loved walking round with my grandmother too as she could talk about the history, the long-gone pier, the ice-cream parlours and the first family to have a motor-car.

portobello
Portobello Swim Centre, a beautiful old Victorian building right on the prom.

My favourite places have to be the beach and the prom. When I go back to Portobello now I always walk there, looking across the Firth of Forth to Fife and smelling the sea air. Sewing the Shadows Together starts with Tom coming back to Portobello and walking along the prom and for him like me the place is full of memories, such as the red-stone swimming baths where we learnt to swim.

Another favourite place has to be my grandparents’ house in St Mary’s Place, a quiet street not far from the prom. I loved it, a typical grey-stone Victorian villa, which I used for HJ Kidd’s house in the book. It was a very short walk down James Street to the beach and when I go back to Portobello I always walk down from there to the prom as I did as a child. My grandmother had lived in one of the red-stone tenements on the corner of James Street and the prom when she was young, and I used that flat for Tom’s childhood home. Just writing about this takes me back to this place I love.

 

portobello-4
Sunrise on the morning of 23 January 2017

Yes I love the prom too. I walked along the beach this morning and even though it was dull and a bit misty, it was still beautiful as the sea was so calm and peaceful.  When I was reading Sewing the Shadows Together, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the geography wasn’t quite as it should be and some places had different names. Why did you decide to do that?

 

I wanted to capture the atmosphere of Portobello, rather than be strictly geographically accurate. I also didn’t want to the scene of tragic events, for example where the body was found, to be too recognisable. I therefore invented an imaginary park, moved buildings to fit in with the story and changed the names of institutions, like the school, because they were not true to life.


Well I think you did an excellent job of making Portobello a character in itself in your book. As you know, I really enjoyed Sewing the Shadows together. If anyone would like to read my review you can read it here

portobello-joanne
Alison Baillie on the Prom Portobello

Book Reviews from around the Blogosphere

Sewing The Shadows Together

Reviewed by Being Anne who tweets @Williams13Anne

Reviewed by Chelle’s Book Reviews who tweets @ChellesBookRevi

Reviewed by By The Letter Book Reviews who tweets @sarahhardy681

 

the-booktrail-logo

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 both Joanne and Alison for this wonderful post which I had a sneak preview of before recently reading Sewing the Shadows Together. It is wonderful to see the pictures, to read the inspiration behind the story and of course read the book itself which is my favourite type of crime fiction, one that brings the past and the present together.

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 cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com if you would like to participate in this feature.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I like my crime fiction to feature past crimes which are bought into the present, that feeling of past and present becoming so tightly linked is really appealing and so the premise to Sewing the Shadows Together called to me from the moment I read the synopsis.

Shona McIver was raped and murdered over thirty years ago, she was just thirteen years old Her brother Tom and her family moved to South Africa following the shocking crime in in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Her best friend Sarah remained in Portobello but what happened left a long shadow over both of their lives.

In the present day it is announced that the once young man, committed to hospital after being convicted of her murder, is to be released. Worse still it has been proved that he wasn’t the murderer. Tom is in Portobello at the time the police re-open their investigation having travelled over on family business and to attend a school reunion. What better background can you conjure up than a reunion organised by just the sort of woman who always organise such events, pushy and shallow with a conviction that everyone must have fun! The question is, is the real killer someone Tom and Sarah know; will the murderer be unmasked?

The emotions are so perfectly drawn in this novel. There is a bit of everything on the entire spectrum and because I was so drawn into the tale, I really felt the highs along with the lows. With a fast-moving plot with a surprising number of potential suspects who could have been part of the secret that Shona mentioned on the evening she disappeared. The result for the reader is many theories built and swiftly dashed to smithereens as another smidgen of information is revealed; just the kind of plotting I most enjoy. Although there was one moment when the coincidence seemed a little too convenient, on the whole I was convinced by the plot, in other words the clues were there.

And then there is the setting, which, because I chose to read Sewing the Shadows Together because Joanne from Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie have kindly provided a piece for the next Put A Book on the Map post which will be up tomorrow, is nothing but evocative. I have never been to Edinburgh and yet the seaside suburb of Portobello lends itself perfectly to the scene of the murder.  Don’t you think a murder committed in beautiful surroundings, seems so much more horrific? It is also presented as a fairly close-knit community back in the 1970s with enough key items from the time as markers but not so many that it feels like a trip into nostalgia. Not that all the action takes place in this setting, we journey to the Outer Hebrides to visit some of Tom’s scary relations and back to South Africa when he returns to visit his beloved aunt for one last time. There is no doubt in my mind that Alison Baillie is not only able to weave a convincing story but is able to make you feel as if you’ve visited the places themselves. Amazing as I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these settings.

There are a wide range of characters in the book, and as there are quite a few the author has managed to keep them distinct and interesting, although in some cases far from likeable and at times I couldn’t help wonder why this beautiful seaside setting hadn’t seen more murders over the years!

First Published UK: 23 July 2015
Publisher: Matador
No of Pages:  377
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 8)

www.This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, another for my Mount TBR Challenge, and also a series that I am reading in completely the wrong order! I read the fourth in the Katie Pirie series last year, Out of Bounds, and this is the third!

The Skeleton Road

Blurb

When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a dark world of intrigue and betrayal.

Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge — but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . . Amazon

Now I’ve been reading quite slowly this year, but as I’m off for a little bit of rest and relaxation for few days, I’m going to make up for it by posting two books that I hope to read while I’m away… The complex hand-luggage rules for the different airlines that will ferry me to and from the mainland mean that kindle reads are a must (although I have to find some space for a paperback just in case of electronic failure) if I want some clothes to wear. I then need to factor in the fact that most of my reading will happen whilst sitting at airports, on planes and trains means that reads that are engaging enough to drown out the other passengers, but still allow me to juggle the constant putting a book aside to queue, to watch various boards and to make sure I don’t miss my stop!

As you can imagine I’ve spent far too long pondering which books to choose but I’ve finally come up with a couple.

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon looks like a fun read and perfect for journeys.

my-sweet-revenge

Blurb

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.
Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.
I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students.
She gave up her dreams so he could make it.
Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors.
And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.
She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing.
And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers.
It will be her greatest acting role ever.
Revenge is sweet.
Isn’t it? Amazon

And if I have a chance Sewing The Shadows Together by Alison Baillie, the next book to star on Put A Book on the Map feature.

sewing-the-shadows-together

Blurb

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us? Amazon

What are your reading this week? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 22)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

Well after my poor reviewing total last week I’ve managed to post four reviews over the last seven days which means I’m now nearly up to date, well apart from those reviews that are being kept back for various reasons…

On Monday I proudly posted my second five star review of the year for The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott which is my favourite of this accomplished series so far. Set in a building renovated from an old Workhouse when teenage Scarlett hears crying she is compelled to investigate…

My excerpt for my Tuesday post was from Julia Crouch’s latest novel, Her Husband’s Lover .

On Wednesday my This Week in Books post proclaimed that I was reading my third of my own books for the Mount TBR challenge, Martin Edwards’  The Cipher Garden which means that I’m bang on target. I’m also thoroughly enjoying choosing from my TBR depending on my mood at the time, it is refreshing.

Next was the Blog Tour for Relativity by Antonia Hayes which used physics metaphors in a surprisingly appealing novel about a young boy who had suffered a brain injury.

Friday had me reviewing the first of those Mount TBR books, Redemption (aka The Murder at the Vicarage) by Jill McGown, the second in the Lloyd and Hill series, one that I loved when they were newly published in the 80s to the early 2000s.

My fourth review for the week was Tattletale by Sarah J Naughton which will be published in March – a cleverly layered novel with a darkness at its heart.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the amazing Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which I loved and read with anguish as the young Agnes Magnúsdóttir met her fate despite my desperate willing that history could be altered to give her a better ending. I don’t think I will ever forget the power of this book, so if like me, you left this one languishing on the TBR, dig it out!
You can read my full review here

Buriel Rites

Blurb

Northern Iceland, 1829.
A woman condemned to death for murdering her lover.
A family forced to take her in.
A priest tasked with absolving her.
But all is not as it seems, and time is running out:
winter is coming, and with it the execution date.
Only she can know the truth. This is Agnes’s story. Amazon

Stacking The Shelves

Having laughed over and loved Jane Fallon’s Getting Rid of Matthew and Got You Back reads of a few years back, I didn’t take to her next couple of books, but then around the blogosphere were reviews for her latest book My Sweet Revenge and I couldn’t resist requesting this one from NetGalley. Not big and not clever as the review slots are fully booked for the first quarter of the year… but I don’t read much ‘lighter’ fiction so this one is for emergencies!

my-sweet-revenge

Blurb

I want to make my husband fall back in love with me. Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’. I want it to hurt.
Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair. She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever. Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it? NetGalley

I was sent a copy of The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett by the lovely publishers Penguin Random House, sadly I will upset many of you as I only recently read The Chemistry of Death which is book one in the David Hunter series, and this is… book five! Despite what Amazon is showing the kindle version will be published on

the-restless-dead

Blurb

It was on a Friday evening that forensics consultant Dr David Hunter took the call: a Detective Inspector Lundy from the Essex force. Just up the coast from Mersea Island, near a place called Backwaters, a badly decomposed body has been found and the local police would welcome Hunter’s help with the recovery and identification . . .

Because they would like it to be that of Leo Villiers, the 31 year-old son of a prominent local family who went missing weeks ago, and they are under pressure to close the case. Villiers was supposed to have been having an affair with a married woman, Emma Derby. She too is missing, and the belief is that the young man disposed of his lover, and then killed himself. If only it was so straightforward.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity of the remains. The hands and feet are missing, the face no longer recognisable. Then further remains are found – and suddenly these remote wetlands are giving up yet more grisly secrets. As Hunter is slowly but surely drawn into a toxic mire of family secrets and resentments, local lies and deception, he finds himself unable, or perhaps unwilling, to escape even though he knows that the real threat comes from the living, not the dead. Amazon

And lastly I have bought one of the books from my wishlist with my Christmas Amazon Voucher: The Ripper of Waterloo Road: The Murder of Eliza Grimwood in 1838 by Jan Bondeson was published on 13 January 2017 and has finally winged its way to the Channel Islands – a sneaky peak inside tells me I’m really going to love this piece of non-fiction Victorian crime.

the-ripper-of-waterloo-road-png

Blurb

When Jack the Ripper first terrorized the streets of London, the Daily Telegraph reported that his crimes were as ghastly as those committed by Eliza Grimwood’s murderer.
Grimwood’s is arguably the most infamous and brutal of all 19th-century murders. She was a high-class prostitute, and on 26 May 1838 she brought a client back home with her. The morning after, she was found with her throat cut and her abdomen viciously ‘ripped’. The client was nowhere to be seen.
The convoluted murder investigation, with suspects ranging from an alcoholic bricklayer to a royal duke, was followed by the Londoners with great interest, including Charles Dickens, who based Nancy’s death in Oliver Twist on Grimwood’s. Indeed, there was much dismay when the murder remained unsolved.
Jan Bondeson links this murder with a series of other opportunist early Victorian slayings, and, in putting forward a credible new suspect, concludes that the Ripper of Waterloo Road was, in fact, a serial killer. Amazon

And finally my Put A Book on the Map project has been steaming ahead behind the scenes. One of the spots has been filled with the pairing of the lovely author Alison Baillie with supportive blogger Joanne from Portebello Book Blog to put her book Sewing The Shadows Together which is partially set in Portebello, a coastal suburb of Edinburgh.

I had Alison’s book on the wishlist and despite the fact that this project wasn’t designed to add even more books to the TBR, when I was preparing my spreadsheet and looking at the synopsis, reviews around the blog etc, I simply couldn’t resist any longer.

sewing-the-shadows-together

Blurb

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

“Shona had been gone for so long but the memories still came unexpectedly, sometimes like a video from the past, sometimes distorted dreams, but she was always there.”

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears. Dark secrets from the past are uncovered, and there is another death, before the identity of the real killer is finally revealed…

Set in Edinburgh, the Outer Hebrides and South Africa, Sewing the Shadows Together is a thoroughly modern murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing to the end. Filled with characters who could easily be friends, family or people we work with, it asks the question:

Do we ever really know the people closest to us? Amazon

What have you found to read this week – do share!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read just 2 books but gained a grand total of 4 new ones making the grand total of 189

Physical Books – 107
Kindle Books – 69
NetGalley Books – 13