Publisher: Electric Reads
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Synopsis: 1643. The armies of King Charles I and Parliament clash in the streets and fields of England, threatening to tear the country apart, as winter closes in around the parliamentary stronghold of Nantwich. The royalists have pillaged the town before, and now, they are returning. But even with weeks to prepare before the Civil War is once more at its gates, that doesn’t mean the people of Nantwich are safe.
While the garrison of soldiers commanded by Colonel George Booth stand guard, the town’s residents wait, eyeing the outside world with unease, unaware that they face a deadly threat from within. Townspeople are being murdered – the red sashes of the royalists left on the bodies marking them as traitors to the parliamentary cause.
When the first dead man is found, his skull caved in with a rock, fingers start being pointed, and old hatreds rise to the surface. It falls to Constable Daniel Cheswis to contain the bloodshed, deputising his friend, Alexander Clowes, to help him in his investigations, carried out with the eyes of both armies on his back. And they are not the only ones watching him.
He is surrounded by enemies, and between preparing for the imminent battle, watching over his family, being reunited with his long-lost sweetheart, and trying, somehow, to stay in business, he barely has time to solve a murder.
With few clues and the constant distraction of war, can Cheswis protect the people of Nantwich? And which among them need protecting? Whether they are old friends or troubled family, in these treacherous times, everyone’s a traitor, in war, law, or love.
When the Winter Siege is through, who will be among the bodies?
Author Bio: D.W. Bradbridge was born in 1960 and grew up in Bolton. He has lived in Crewe, Cheshire since 2000, where he and his wife run a small magazine publishing business for the automotive industry.
“The inspiration for The Winter Siege came from a long-standing interest in genealogy and local history. My research led me to the realisation that the experience endured by the people of Nantwich during December and January 1643-44 was a story worth telling. I also realised that the closed, tension-filled environment of the month-long siege provided the ideal setting for a crime novel.
“History is a fascinating tool for the novelist. It consists only of what is remembered and written down, and contemporary accounts are often written by those who have their own stories to tell. But what about those stories which were forgotten and became lost in the mists of time?
“In writing The Winter Siege, my aim was to take the framework of real history and fill in the gaps with a story of what could, or might have happened. Is it history or fiction? It’s for the reader to decide.”
Guest Post: One of the questions I’ve been asked most since I published The Winter Siege is whether I attach critical importance to historical accuracy when writing, or whether I am simply looking to write crime novels set during a particular point in history, where history provides an atmospheric backdrop to the novel but not the framework.
An interesting question, and one to which there is no straight answer, because the first response always has to be; “It depends what you mean by history.”
Think about it. History is made up of written accounts of events, often recorded by people who are biased and selective in what they report or who have a political agenda of their own. The more obscure the event, the lower the number of contemporary accounts available to the historian to judge what really happened.
What I wanted to do with The Winter Siege was to create a “what-if” scenario by weaving a fictional murder mystery plot into a detailed historical framework based on contemporary accounts and challenge the reader to decide what is history and what is fiction.
Not that I’m the first person to try this. One of the very first historical fiction novels written in English was Memoirs of a Cavalier by Daniel Defoe, best known, of course, for Robinson Crusoe. Defoe wrote his book as though it were a true life memoir, dealing in depth with some of the key events of the English Civil War, albeit with a relatively loose grasp on what really happened. Interestingly, even after Defoe was identified as the author, the book was still held as a true eye-witness account of events and is often quoted as such today.
Now you may say; “Yes, but Defoe was a novelist. He deliberately set out to create a fictional account.” Sure, but how different is this from the differing accounts of the numbers killed in a given event, exaggerated or reduced depending on allegiance and according to political expediency. Is it really true that only three townsfolk died during the Jan 18th assault on Nantwich compared with nearly five hundred royalists, as reported in the (parliamentarian) eye-witness accounts? Everyone has a different reason for skewing the truth. It’s up to you to decide how much you believe.
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