The seaside town of Filey is the location for author David W Robinson's cosy English murder mystery, The Filey Connection, now available from Amazon & Smashwords.
Let's head over to the seaside with David...
My name is David Robinson, and I’m the author of the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries. I have a long and varied track record as a writer, turning out everything from short works of non-fiction to hardline psychological thrillers, sci-fi and horror, and all of them have an element of mystery
The Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries were a departure for me. I’ve never written traditional British cosy crimes before, but I’m a great aficionado of the whodunit. From Sherlock Holmes to Poirot and Miss Marple, I love a good mystery, and from a writer’s point of view, I enjoy the intellectual challenge of creating a complex yet airtight plot.
I’ve travelled extensively throughout the UK and wanted to draw upon that experience, so I needed an amateur detective who lived a life where lot of travel was possible. Who better than a 3rd ager. With no family ties, but others to take over the running of his business, Joe Murray and his mob of 3rd age rockers would be free to travel the country as they pleased, and if I gave Joe a home and business in the industrial heartland of West Yorkshire, it was for no other reason than I came from that same area.
Light-hearted in tone, there is no graphic sex, violence or bad language in the Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries, and despite the umbrella title, they are designed to tax the deductive skills of anyone of any age.
Filey is the location for the first title in the series and it was chosen with great care.
Unlike so many of my novels where the area is unnamed or fictitious, Filey is a real English seaside town, nestling in its own bay on the Yorkshire coast, 7 miles south of Scarborough, 10 miles north of Bridlington.
It has a fine, sandy beach, and at the northern end, the waters are safe for swimming and splashing in the sea. On the northern boundary is the greed/red cliff known as Carr Naze. It drops off quickly, several hundred yards out to sea, and becomes a flat spar over which the waters can often be seen breaking. Filey Brigg.
You can walk out on the Brigg at low tide, and take the views or study the sea life which gathers in the rock pools. A word of caution, however. It can be slippery and treacherous underfoot, so you need sensible walking shoes.
The Brigg acts as a natural breakwater which keeps the more vengeful power of the North Sea at bay, and there are times, on a still, summer’s day when the waters beneath Carr Naze are almost mirror-calm.
Although the Beachside Hotel as mention in The Filey Connection, is fictitious, many of the locations are real. The Three Tuns on Murray Street, for example, and the delightfully tended gardens around the bus station.
Coble Landing is another such real location. Filey does not rely solely upon tourism for its economy. There is a small, but busy fishing industry, and at any time of year, you can visit Coble Landing, enjoy a cup of tea and a toasted teacake and watch the tractors pulling the tiny fishing cobles from the sea as described in the novel.
Billy Butlin, surely one of Britain shrewdest entrepreneurs, sited one of his holiday camps at Hunmanby, about two miles south of Filey. It was so large, so popular that the camp eventually had its own railway station, and for many years it appeared on UK maps as “Holiday Camp.” I met my present wife while working on that camp in 1978 (no, I was not a Redcoat, but a driver).
Filey is traditionally seen as an “old folks’” resort, but that’s unfair. Surrounded by caravan parks, it’s just as popular with younger people; especially families. Walk down the steep hill from the town to the promenade and you will see children playing on the safe sands or enjoying rides on the fairground near Coble Landing, seniors ambling along the smart sea front, and teenagers doing what teenagers do best: showing off in the shallows, or arranging impromptu games of football and cricket on the beach. Come back into the town and you will find the usual array of souvenir shops, cafes, pubs and bars as you’ll find in any of the larger resorts. The town is within easy travelling distance of Scarborough, Whitby, Bridlington and the Special Conservation Area of Flamborough Head. It’s only a little further to towns like Driffield and Beverley and cities such as York or Hull.
So if you get the chance, take a day out in Filey. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.
After Nicola Leach is killed a hit and run accident, and Sanford 3rd Age Club member Eddie Dobson drowns in the sea off Filey Brigg, amateur sleuth Joe Murray persuades his companions, Sheila Riley and Brenda Jump that the two events are connected.
If Eddie was such a skilled angler, why did he only take half the equipment he needed for a day’s fishing on the Brigg? What secrets lurk beneath pleasant ambience of the Beachside Hotel, and why does the landlady take such a shine to Joe? Why are the Irwin brothers so belligerent, and who stood to gain what from the two deaths? A drunken accident or murder? Suicide or a second murder? Joe needs answers to many questions and as his two companions know, he will not stop until he gets them.
A traditional, British mystery clothed in a hot summer’s weekend at a traditional British seaside resort, The Filey Connection: A Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery.
In the extract that follows, Joe, Sheila and Brenda are making their way out to Filey Brigg. Joe has just had an argument with Ivan Irwin, which ended when Ivan threatened him.
“What do you make of all that?” Joe asked.
“That fisherman?” Sheila asked. “A nasty piece of work. That’s why I told you to come away. There are times, Joe, when I think you deserve a good smack on the legs, but I wouldn’t want to see you end up in hospital after getting into a fight with a man like that.”
Another tractor was out in the shallows, the driver hooking his chain to an incoming coble, while the fisherman stacked his catch in ice boxes in the prow.
“And you were asking for it, Joe,” Brenda said as the aged vehicle slowly hauled the boat from the water and across the sands. “Accusing him of running Nicola down, like that.”
“I didn’t actually accuse him,” Joe said as the tractor laboured up the ramp.
“As good as,” Sheila countered. “We’re eighty miles from Sanford. What on earth makes you think he would have been there on Tuesday night?”
“He annoyed me,” Joe declared. “Now are we gonna get a move on?”
They set off once more for the most northerly point of the beach and the landward end of Carr Naze.
From there, a rough path led along the base of the cliff until they reached the spur of rocks thrusting out into the sea.
“Interesting legend behind the Brigg,” said Sheila taking Joe’s hand as she stepped between the treacherous rocks and intermittent pools of water. “They say that the Devil dropped his hammer into the sea while he was making the ridge,” she gestured up at the towering cliff. “Then he dipped his hand into the sea to get the hammer back, and when he pulled his hand out, he found he’d picked up a fish instead and shouted, ‘Ha, Dick’, and that’s how the Haddock got its name.”
Helping Brenda across a difficult patch of rock, Joe tutted. “Where do you get this twaddle?”
“It’s legend, Joe,” Sheila insisted. “Myth. Fireside stories from the days before TV, radio and newspapers.”
Joe was not convinced. “Well, if you ask me, it was an insurance fiddle. The Devil claiming for a lost hammer that was hidden in the back of his van.”
Both women laughed.
From the far end of the Brigg, where Constable Flowers and a couple of colleagues were stationed, keeping back sightseers, they had a fine view of Gristhorpe Sands, Cayton Bay and, seven miles to the north, Scarborough with its harbour and prominent lighthouse. To the south, they could now see the cliffs at the furthest point of Flamborough Head, and looking back the way they had come, Filey sat slightly north of centre of the fine, sandy bay.
A number of anglers were still fishing on the south, Filey side of the Brigg, but Joe noticed instantly that there were none on the north side; not just in the area where Eddie had gone into the sea and where the police now kept people back, but all along the length of the spur, there were no anglers.
“Better catches on the other side, sir,” Flowers explained when Joe asked. “You can fish this side, but the waters are fast and your chances of a bite are a lot slimmer. Usually only really skilled anglers fish this side. On the south side, you’re inside the breakwater formed by the Brigg, and the fish come there to feed.” He waved at the north side in general. “But to be honest, we have divers down there, and we don’t want anglers snagging them.”
“Sounds like another fireside tale for the kids before radio,” muttered Joe logging the information in his agile brain.
“Nothing. It’s just that a lot of things don’t add up, Constable, and I think you’re possibly dealing with a suicide.”
Busy wiping mossy weed from his boots, Flowers looked sharply up at Joe. “What makes you say that?”
Patiently, Joe explained his findings and conclusions. Flowers listened with equal patience, occasionally asking questions to clarify one point or another, and when Joe had finished, he ruminated on the matter for a few moments.
Eventually, he said, “I can see where you’re coming from, sir, but it’s largely circumstantial. I’d need more concrete evidence than that before confirming suicide. But I will make a note of it all in my report. The CID bods can make their minds up whether they want to investigate further.”
“I tried asking around at Irwin’s tackle shop in the town, but he gave me the bum’s rush.”
Flowers laughed. “Ivan or Jonny?”
“Jonny. We met Ivan at Coble Landing, and he was none too pleasant, either.”
Flowers smiled again. “This is a close-knit community, Mr Murray, and people like the Irwins are very protective of it. It’s bluster, most of it, but they can be serious trouble if you’re not careful.”
“Well, anyway,” Joe concluded, “We thought you ought to know all this.”
Flowers was eager to encourage him. “No, sir, that’s all right. Despite what most people think, the police are always glad of the public’s help, no matter how trivial things may seem.”
The head of a police diver appeared in the water, close to the edge of the rocks. He held up his arm clutching a wet and bedraggled coat.
“Mike,” shouted one of the officers on the rocks. “We’ve got something.”
“Excuse me, sir,” said Flowers, and hurried off across the slippery surface to join his colleagues.
Joe and his two companions watched as the garment was passed onto land, its pockets searched, a wallet removed and that too searched, before the coat, wallet and its contents were carefully placed in separate, seal-easy evidence bags.
A grim-faced Flowers approached them. “I wonder if any of you could identify this.”
They looked it over, a wax cotton coat in dark green with a twill lining.
“Like I said earlier, I never saw him this morning,” said Joe.
“How about the wallet then?” asked Flowers when the others said nothing.
Again they were unable to comment.
“Anything in the wallet?” asked Joe?
“Just this, sir.”
Flowers held up the evidence bag for them to see a white, laminated card bearing the legend, Sanford 3rd Age Club, beneath which was a passport sized photograph and the member’s name: Edward Dobson.
From somewhere behind Joe, Brenda burst into tears.
David W Robinson's website; http://www.dwrob.com/
Sanford 3rd Age Club Mysteries Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sanfordmysteries
Sanford 3rd Age Club Mystery Twitter account: https://twitter.com/stacinvestigate
The Filey Connection trailer: http://youtu.be/Eu_qa7-fYlQ
A reading from The Filey Connection: http://dwrob96.podbean.com/2012/01/25/the-filey-connection/