Wickham Market’s local constable William Palmer spends his days yearning to solve a significant case so he can earn his detective’s badge.
But Palmer is torn, because he is also in love with the school mistress Alice Kemp who doesn’t want to leave the village.
One night, the night of a dramatic storm, there is a murder. A housemaid – Evelyn Maud Roberts – is found stabbed to death at the local vicarage.
Palmer has his chance to make a name for himself.
The local doctor declares that Evelyn was six months pregnant.
And the vicar’s daughter, Charlotte Mellor, names three men who may have reason to commit murder; Walter Fisk, soon-to-be-master at the workhouse; Albert Nunn, the postman; Frederick Hawes, the slow-witted village boy in love with Evelyn.
Palmer investigates. But he only has so much time before Inspector Bloomfield – the veteran detective from Suffolk Police – arrives from Ipswich to take over the case.
And before the killer strikes again.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I worked as a freelance journalist for 25 years before becoming a novelist so I’m still disciplined with work and deadlines. I write Monday to Friday, 9am to about 4pm when my wife Tracey comes in from work and we have a cup of tea and a catch-up.
We live in a house by the sea in Suffolk and I write in a converted attic where I can see the boats going by. I should say that I live in Felixstowe so it’s not just pretty sailing boats but great big container ships too. Even so, it’s nice to be beside the sea.
Do you need peace and quiet when you are writing?
It’s not essential but I prefer it. When I started writing novels, we had a full house with three grown-up children and, at times, their partners too. The house was always lively and so we converted the attic into a quiet writing space for me. Now, it’s just Tracey and myself and our youngest son Adam and our dog, Dolly. And that’s just fine. In saying that, at the moment, I’m hearing a dog barking over and over again from a house across the way and that’s not helpful.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That’s one off the bucket list already. I wrote a family memoir, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016) about our family; more specifically, my eldest son Michael who experienced anxiety and depression and spent five months in The Priory. We then co-wrote a follow-up, Out Of The Madhouse (JKP, 2018), together. We recorded it on audio for Oakhill last autumn. I’ve a semi-autobiographical novel, The Walker, coming next year and Michael will probably illustrate that for me. He’s a hugely talented artist.
Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Funnily enough it’s been done already. There is a series of historical romance novels by American author Julie Garwood … ‘Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land…Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.’ So that’s me sorted, then.
Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I guess, in terms of The Wickham Market Murder, it would have to be Agatha Christie to talk about plotting and pacing and the mechanics of putting a story together. I’d also like to interview those who have adapted her books for TV and film to discuss the changes they’ve made, why, and whether they believe they have improved the story.
Where can I find you when you are reading?
Nowhere special, in the living room stretched out on a sofa in front of the television. As often as not, our dog Dolly is laying on top of me. She is a former Zante stray dog and is incredibly affectionate with humans; less so with any other dogs.
Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Spending time with my family, mostly. I’ve been with Tracey since schooldays 40 odd years ago. We have three children, Michael, Sophie and Adam and they have fab partners Georgia, Glyn and Sophie. We also have two grandchildren, Jonah, 16 months, and Halley, six months. They all live locally and we see a lot of them. Other than that, swimming, walking Dolly along the beach, going to football at Ipswich Town, cinema, theatre etc.
What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Even though I’ve now had a good few thrillers published, Sweet William, Mr Todd’s Reckoning, The Scribbler, The Girl Downstairs and now The Wickham Market Murder, it’s still an emotional moment; a huge thrill. It always will be.
How do you come up with a title for your book?
I’ve come up with the titles of all of my books and tried to make them match what’s inside. I think the title-cover-blurb mix is really important when it comes to selling books, especially online. The Wickham Market Murder is exactly what it says it is. The cover and the blurb then reveal it’s an Edwardian murder mystery; a little Agatha Christie-ish.
How do you pick a cover for your book?
I’ve always found that the publisher does this and I get to see it and offer feedback. Sharpe Books sorted the cover of The Wickham Market Murder and the blurb and did a fine job with both. Readers should maybe now go and have a look and see what they think!
Thank you, Iain Maitland and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Iain Maitland is the author of three previous psych thrillers, The Scribbler (2020), Mr Todd’s Reckoning (2019) and Sweet William (2017), all published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning is coming to the big screen in 2023.
Iain is also the author of two memoirs, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder, 2016), a book of letters written to his eldest son who experienced depression and anorexia, and (co-authored with Michael) Out Of The Madhouse (Jessica Kingsley, 2018).
He is also an Ambassador for Stem4, the teenage mental health charity. He talks regularly about mental health issues in schools and colleges and workplaces.