A FAMILY TREE… SKELETONS FROM THE PAST
Brighton crime reporter Colin Crampton gets on the trail of a big story when Hobart Birtwhistle, a distant relative of feisty model Shirley Goldsmith, is mysteriously murdered.
Colin and Shirley team up to delve into the case. It looks like the mystery may lie a century earlier in the life of an Australian gold prospector… and the death of his partner. As they track down the killer more murders bring the threat closer to home. The pair tangle with London East End gangsters, an eccentric Scottish lord, and a team of women cricketers in their hunt for the truth.
There are laughs alongside the action as the pair uncover the shocking secrets of Shirley’s family tree. But Shirley has one last surprise for Colin.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invitation. I’m delighted to share a post from Peter Bartram for my spot on the tour today.
WHAT’S IN A NAME… COULD IT BE A MYSTERY?
By Peter Bartram
Suppose you were born into a family called Snodgrass. Suppose when your parents got you to the font, they decided to christen you Picklewitch.
There’s a very good chance that by the time you came of age, you’d be an expert in how to change your name by deed poll. You’d be down to the lawyer’s office with the forms filled out before you could say Trumpington Coldbottom.
Some people have a good – and honest – reason for changing their name. Mary Evans decided she’d like to be called George Eliot because she thought that, in the male-dominated literary world of the nineteenth century, a man’s name would sell more books.
Marion Morrison decided to change his name to John Wayne because… well, how may cowboys with a Stetson and six-shooters are called Marion?
Upwards of 85,000 British people change their name each year, according to recently reported statistics. The most common reason given is that they simply don’t like the name they were born with. And in the case of Picklewitch Snodgrass who can blame him?
But when, in The Family Tree Mystery, crime reporter Colin Crampton tries to run to ground two people who he suspects have changed their name, he discovers it’s not such a straightforward task.
For a start, if you want to change your name, all you have to do is tell people what you want to be called in future. Even people who use the deed poll process don’t necessarily have to register it. There are ways to track some name changes through the National Archives. But, as Colin discovers, these can take time.
My fascination with deed polls and name changes was piqued by a mystery in my own family’s background. My grandmother – Dorothy, my mother’s mother – never knew what her real name might be. As an infant in Edwardian Brighton – in the first decade of the twentieth century – she was turned over by her parents to a “baby farmer”.
She never discovered who her real mother and father were. Later, she was sent to a school where all the lessons were in French.
As a teenage girl, she was taken to live in a big house with servants by a property millionaire and his wife. The man denied he was her father but said he would tell her before he died. He never did. He popped his clogs before he could reveal the truth.
Dorothy tried to hunt down the information herself. But her birth had not been properly registered and, as a child, her name had been left off census returns. Whoever her mother and father were, they didn’t want a paper trail leading back to them.
Now, if only Dorothy could have had Colin on the case…
Peter Bartram brings years of experience as a journalist to his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series. His novels are fast-paced and humorous – the action is matched by the laughs. The books feature a host of colourful characters as befits stories set in Brighton, one of Britain’s most trend-setting towns.
You can download Murder in Capital Letters, a free book in the series, for your Kindle from www.colincrampton.com.
Peter began his career as a reporter on a local weekly newspaper before editing newspapers and magazines in London, England and, finally, becoming freelance. He has done most things in journalism from door-stepping for quotes to writing serious editorials. He’s pursued stories in locations as diverse as 700-feet down a coal mine and a courtier’s chambers at Buckingham Palace. Peter is a member of the Society of Authors and the Crime Writers’ Association.
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