Tuesday 31 October 2017

Fair Of Face by Christina James @CAJamesWriter @saltpublishing @EmmaDowson1 #BlogTour #fairofface

A double murder is discovered in Spalding some days after it takes place.
The victims are Tina Brackenbury, the foster mother of Grace Winter, a ten-year-old who escapes the killer because she is staying her friend Chloe Hebblewhite's house at the time, and Tina's infant daughter. Enquiries by the police and social services reveal that some four years previously Grace was the sole survivor of the horrific massacre of her mother, grandparents and sister at Brocklesby Farm in North Lincolnshire, a crime for which her uncle Tristram Arkwright is currently serving a whole-life tariff.
Why did Amy Winter, Grace's adoptive mother, send her to live with a foster parent? Is it a coincidence that both of Grace's families have now been brutally killed? And is it possible that Grace's uncle, a notorious con-man, has found a way to contact her from his maximum security cell?
DI Yates and his team face a series of apparently impenetrable conundrums.

Fair Of Face by Christina James was published by Salt Publishing on 15 October 2017 in paperback, and is also available in e book. Fair of Face is book 6 in the DI Yates series.

My thanks to Salt Publishing who sent my review copy. I am going to post my review of Fair of Face separately from the Blog Tour and today I have a fabulous guest post from the author, talking about Lincolnshire. I'm alway really excited when I discover books set in Lincolnshire, there aren't enough, in my opinion. Lincolnshire is a vast, beautiful county and it's a pleasure to live here.

Why Lincolnshire: ‘my’ Spalding
One of my primary school friends was considered ‘borderline’ when we took the eleven-plus examination. She was summoned to the Lincs education authority’s headquarters for a viva (a fearsome ordeal which she dreaded) and asked what she would most miss if she were to leave the Fens. Her answer: the magnificent sunsets. She got her grammar school place!  
I grew up in South Lincolnshire and have many childhood memories of the atmospheric weather there. 
A few examples:
I remember my father driving us home to Spalding in our Ford Prefect, after a visit to a farmer in Fosdyke, on a late summer evening when it was almost dark. There was a red sun low in the sky. Giant moths and flying beetles continually bombarded the car windscreen and headlights, as if we were travelling in a horror film. 
I was a paper girl from the age of thirteen until I left school, working for Toynton’s newsagents in Spalding, and sometimes I was out in fogs so dense I couldn’t see the doors of the houses in West Elloe Avenue when I was standing at their garden gates. 
I recall walking home from school during bitterly cold winters, the snow in drifts several feet deep, and I have one particular memory of packed thick ice arrested, frozen, as it emerged from an overflow pipe. 
I went for bike rides in bitterly cold springs, the daffodils covered in hoar frost, the wind sweeping in off the North Sea. 
I think topography is a very important element of crime fiction. When I began planning the DI Yates novels in 2011, I had first to make the important decision of where to set them. 
As well as considering Lincolnshire, I toyed with the idea of South Yorkshire and the Peak District, where I live now, and also London, parts of which I know quite well, but always I came back to Lincolnshire, especially the Fen country. 
There were several reasons for this: Yorkshire, the Peak District and London are already the settings for much contemporary crime fiction; 
I am more familiar with South Lincolnshire than anywhere else, having cycled most of its roads during a time when children were free to roam as they pleased (as long as they showed up for meals!); and above all, the Fens are steeped in that brooding, potentially frightening, beauty that I’ve just described. 
Of course, I’m not the first author to have discovered this. Dorothy L. Sayers set her Lord Peter Wimsey novels in Lincolnshire. D.H. Lawrence said that he loved the flat Lincolnshire farmlands because there was ‘nothing to get between your soul and God’. Most famously of all, Lady Dedlock, that woman of privilege with a dreadful secret in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, lives in a Lincolnshire that, like her past, is always smothered in fog. And Waterland, by Graham Swift, one of my favourite novels, perfectly captures the undertone of menace exerted by the foggy Fenland sluice-gates and waterways not so very far from where I lived. 
What I think these authors have discovered is the magical paradox of the Fens. On the one hand, they’re ordered, cultivated, prosperous: rolling miles of rich farmland reclaimed centuries ago from marsh and sea. On the other hand, maybe because of this heritage, they have about them more than a hint of the savage, wild, untamed and primeval. Enveloped in one of those frequent Fenland fogs, it isn’t difficult to imagine Hereward the Wake coming striding through the swirling mists. Or a murderer, perhaps. 
As an author, my fascination with the Fens is not confined to the countryside. All of the DI Yates novels take place, at least in part, in the ancient market town of Spalding. Boston, Lincoln, Holbeach, Sleaford, Sutterton and Sutterton Dowdyke also feature (as well as London and, once, New Delhi in India!). 

I feel a special affection for Spalding, however; it’s a town that amazes me every time I return, with its mediaeval church and almshouses, the sixteenth-century White Horse pub, and shops housed in characterful buildings hundreds of years old. (If you should visit Spalding, look up at the first and second storeys of the shops and you’ll see what I mean.) It has twin nuclei: two market squares, the old cattle market and the old sheep market, and it’s one of the very few English market towns whose basic layout hasn’t changed since the eighteenth century. 
There are, in fact, two Spaldings in my life, and in the lives of those of my readers who know the town. There’s the real Spalding that exists today, the bustling centre of a large rural area that has (more or less) kept up with the times; and there is the Spalding of the DI Yates novels, which is essentially the Spalding that I knew in the early 1970s. 
You may wonder why I decided to use such a device, when the town is in any case so steeped in history and the novels are set in the present day, but it makes perfect sense to me. 
‘My’ Spalding is perfect, in that it is sharply etched in my mind and doesn’t change. That means I can’t be caught out by the shape-shifting pitfalls of everyday life: new roundabouts, recently-created one-way streets, new buildings, altered roads, changed pedestrian precincts. 
Even better, Spalding is home to one of the world’s most extraordinary former police stations and magistrates’ courts (though, even stranger, Boston has an exact duplicate) and I can allow DI Yates still to work from it. He hasn’t deigned to move to the new police HQ on the site of the old council school! 
The latest in the DI Yates series, Fair of Face, is about a sensitive subject; I won’t say what it is, as I don’t want to spoil it for readers. 
I’ve been planning to write this novel for a long time. Like the others, it makes extensive use of topography and place. It’s set in Spalding, Lincoln, and a farm just outside Lincoln. It’s about two present day-murders that were triggered by an event that happened at the farm near Lincoln some years before. 
And it’s about a child, Grace, who is ‘fair of face’.
Christina James - October 2017

The Lincolnshire Flag

Christina James is the author of a crime thriller series set in the Fenlands of South Lincolnshire. Her first crime novel, In the Family, finds Detective Inspector Yates investigating a cold case that leads deep into the secrets of a dysfunctional family. 
Almost Love, the second of the series, published in June 2013, concerns the mysterious disappearance of a veteran archaeologist. 
Sausage Hall, published in November 2014, deals with the exploitation of women in both Victorian England and the present day. 
Christina James is the pseudonym of an established non-fiction writer.
For more information visit www.christinajamesblog.com
Follow her on Twitter @CWJamesWriter

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