Murder in the Cathedral (and on the radio)
January was an interesting month, with two unusual events.
At the end of last year I received a request from an old friend; she'd been co-opted onto the fundraising committee for the choir at St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle - her grand daughters are choristers - and wondered if I could help. I imagined she wanted books to raffle or sell and of course I agreed. It was only later that I realised her idea was rather more ambitious. Could I write a script for a murder mystery set in the cathedral?
She introduced me to the dean and his staff and their enthusiasm and sense of fun was so infectious that I got carried along with it. Sitting in our little appartment in the Chateau de Picomtal over the Christmas holiday the story came together. Back home I contacted my old friend CSI Helen Pepper and with characteristic generosity she gave her time and her expertise. We devised a murder scene in the crypt and the dean, his PA, the manager of the refectory and the organ scholar all agreed to appear as themselves - and as suspects. Meryl my friend persuaded local BBC television news that the event would make an interesting feature.
In the end it was a brilliant event. The suspects were scarily convincing and we attracted an audience of more than a hundred. Just one detective solved the puzzle exactly. My special thanks go to Helen who spent most of the evening freezing in the crypt explaining blood spatter patterns to the people in a very long queue. We made nearly £1000 for the choristers.
And on the Saturday before we killed off a fictitious young woman in St Nicholas, another young woman died on radio 4. The BBC took the decision to adapt RAVEN BLACK for radio nearly a year ago and it was broadcast on the Saturday closest to Up Helly Aa. The play was a pick of the day in the Radio Times and I could understand why. I thought producer Kirsteen Cameron captured the sense of place and the atmosphere of mid-winter Shetland beautifully.