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Homicide in Houghton

The small town of Houghton-le-Spring has been holding an annual autumn festival since the middle ages: Houghton Feast may have originated as a Michaelmas celebration, but it survives as an excuse for a fine mixture of community events, not to mention the ox roasting and all the fun of the fair (and of course, it always rains for some of the time at least!)

Sheila Quigley’s crime novels centre on the fictitious Seahills Estate in Houghton; so naturally Houghton Feast plays a large part in her books. She returns the favour by leading a walk, with the help of local historian Paul Lanagan, around some of the sites mentioned in her work. Cornwell Internet joined a group of enthusiastic fans on Saturday afternoon’s tour,

Someone had gone to great trouble to prepare the route beforehand. For example, the windows of the Library (the point of departure) were adorned with “Wanted” posters. And when Sheila paused at the footbridge, to read the opening of Bad Moon Rising in which a young woman’s body is found under that very bridge, she found herself standing next to a sad little bouquet of flowers commemorating the victim.

Although Sheila’s books are genuinely pacy crime thrillers, it was clear that the group of fans following her that afternoon also appreciated her creation of a whole community of characters, and were glad of the opportunity to picture those people going about their lives in a real place. And when would there be more news from the Seahills? Well, admitted Sheila, she should complete the next book, The Road to Hell, that night or the next…

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