As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Zaffre, 7 February
2019. ISBN: 978-1-78576-474-5 (PB)
In most English (and Welsh) courts photography of
those taking part in trials and related proceedings, whether criminal or civil,
is not permitted. The gap can be filled by courtroom artists who sketch some of
those involved in the proceedings, not actually from life which also is not
permitted, but from memory and from notes made during the trial. Georgia Sage,
the protagonist in this first crime novel by the author of a number of women’s
novels (see the interview with Kate in the November 2018 Mystery People blog), is such an artist and, like the good artist
that she is, she sees more of the psychological truth about her subjects than
any photographer, particularly the evil aspects of a subject’s character. We
first meet Georgia during the trial of a footballer for rape where she depicts
the smug self-satisfaction of the defendant. And Georgia is going to get a
really big break – a publisher is going to publish a book featuring courtroom
artists with articles about trials which were particularly significant to them
with full-colour illustrations by the particular artist concerned. This time,
however, the publisher wants Georgia to concentrate on a case at the start of
her career in which a young man had been convicted of the murder of his own
mother in a fire which he had started. It was only the action of the young
man’s stepfather, Jim Fielding, that saved his wife’s two children by her
previous marriage. Fielding was hailed as a hero and it is that aspect which
Georgia’s publisher wants her to depict. Certainly, Georgia believed at the
time that her ability to portray the evil that lived behind the defendant’s
youthful, apparently innocent features contributed to his conviction.
But Georgia is not
too keen on the project although it will undoubtedly enhance her reputation. It
is much too near her own past and certain highly distressing memories. Her name
is not Georgia but Suzanne, and the facts of the trial are too like the
dreadful events of her own childhood in which her own father murdered her
mother and her young brother Pip but for some reason let her live. He is now in
prison but the excoriating effect on Georgia has marked her personality. And
now, as she travels down to the Forest of Dean to interview Fielding, not only
does she begin to wonder whether he really was the hero he had been taken for.
And there is another even more unnerving factor: she seems to be being followed
by a young boy who seems to be Pip. But how can he be? Is Georgia suffering
All this makes for an
exceedingly complex yet compelling narrative through which the reader must find
her way before the truth behind the fire in which Jim Fielding’s wife died
emerges and a satisfying ending is achieved. Recommended.
Kate Helm is a successful writer of women’s fiction under
her real name Kate Harrison. She has written for national newspapers and
magazines including the Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Red and Cosmopolitan. Kate
also teaches creative writing and TV development in the UK and abroad, when
time allows. Her first crime novel, The Secrets You Hide, written as
Kate Helm, has just been published as an e-book and will be available in
paperback in February 2019.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.