Thursday, 1 July 2010

Seaside Crime



Last Sunday was the hottest day of the year so far, and I was due to travel from Middlesbrough to Boroughbridge for the CWA lunch. It seemed a shame to waste such glorious weather. So I decided to take a quick look at a seaside resort I’ve never visited before. This was Saltburn by the Sea, some miles north of Whitby (a resort I know quite well) and lacking Whitby’s Dracula connection, but nevertheless, as I found, a place of real charm.

Saltburn has a pleasant-looking beach, a historic furnicular cliff railway, a pier, and a lovely glen. I took plenty of photos, but although Blogger has today permitted me to upload one, that seems to be the limit! I enjoyed wandering around for an hour or so before it was time to leave. There’s something about seaside resorts that I find quite entrancing. In summer, that is. I’ve visited them often in winter, and of course they can sometimes have a melancholic atmosphere.

Seaside settings do, I think, work very well in crime fiction. Examples of books with a seaside backdrop that I’ve enjoyed are the very different Sunspot by Desmond Lowden, and Light Reading by Aliya Whiteley. Both are entertaining and deserve to be better known. And there are many others that one might name. I’d be interested to know of any particular favourites of readers of this blog.

I’ve never had a seaside setting in my novels (apart from one scene in Take My Breath Away, with a fictional place based on North Yorkshire’s forgotten village, Ravenscar) but the seaside has cropped up in one or two of my short stories. I was especially happy with one called ‘Diminished Responsibility’, which did not attract a great deal of attention at the time – but it’s a story that will, I hope, find a fresh life in some future anthology.

14 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - That's a lovely 'photo - Thanks for sharing. I agree; the seaside makes for a terrific setting for crime fiction. You've given some nice examples, too. Glad you enjoyed your visit.

Linda P said...

Thanks for the photo, Martin! Glad you had a good weekend. I've been wanting to read more crime fiction from North of England writers, but one I've just got from the library is set on the South coast! Dead Man's Wharf Pauline Rowson - a nautical crime series and new to me.

aguja said...

I agree totally with Margot's comments - photo and all!
Your posts always make interesting reading, Martin.

David Cranmer said...

I could get a lot of writing done there. Very scenic.

Deb said...

Jonathan Goodman published an interesting non-fiction book about 20 years ago called THE SEASIDE MURDERS. It was a collection of real-life murders that had taken place at seaside locations.

Apparently, it isn't only writers who think of the seaside as a good place to commit a crime!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Sounds like a great trip! I love seaside locales for mysteries--makes me feel like I'm on a vacation.

Nan said...

We rode the funicular in Aberystwyth years ago, and I still can feel the fear! Now that would be a good place to have a murder.:<)

Juxtabook said...

Never been to Saltburn though we get to the coast there quite a bit. looks well worth a vsiit.

I've never read the Desmond Lowden but I heartily agree with what you say about Light Reading by Aliya Whiteley - wonderful book, atmospheric and imaginative.

Dorte H said...

Very appealing photo and an interesting post on seaside settings. Right now I am researching a Yorkshire setting so I wish you had used it more in "Take My Breath Away" which is on my TBR. :D

As I am planning a cosy mystery in a fictive village called "Knavesborough", it may not matter that I have never visited Yorkshire though.

Martin Edwards said...

A great batch of comments - thanks, everyone.
Linda, I've met Pauline, and as a result I've got to know her marine mysteries, too.
Aguja, a kind remark, much appreciated.
Deb, I'd forgotten that book. Goodman was a very good true crime writer.
Nan, yes, I know the Aberystwyth railway, and last travelled on it a couple of years back.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Juxtabook. I liked Saltburn,and I can recommend the Lowden book - though admittedly it's a long time since I read it.

Martin Edwards said...

Dorte, I'm a big fan of Yorkshire. My mother was a proud Yorkshirewoman, and the county has some marvellous places. Including Knaresborough, which is very appealing, with its castle and Mother Shipton's cave.

Dorte H said...

NB: of course I realize what "borough" means, but do you think it will disturb any reader of a cosy mystery that I use it about a tiny village?

It is just that Knavesborough is such a great name for the story.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Dorte. I don't think it's a problem. In fact, I wouldn't mind betting there are indeed some villages with 'borough' in their name. I can't think of any off-hand, but they might for instance be villages that in past centuries were more important than they are today.