The Body in Seven Dials is the first book in my new series, The Lady in Blue Mysteries. It is set during the First World War and focuses on the band of suffragettes who created the Women Police Volunteers, which eventually led to women being allowed to join the regular police. The main character is Dorothy Peto, who went on to become the first female superintendent at the Metropolitan Police.
During a Zeppelin raid, Dorothy discovers the body of a young woman and is convinced this death is linked to that of a famous actress, who was found dead in a theatre dressing room. However, she struggles to convince the Scotland Yard detectives that the two cases are connected.
Although the crimes Dorothy investigates are completely fictitious, she does interact with real historical figures, including leading members of the WPV such as Margaret Damer Dawson, Mary Allen and Nina Boyle, as well Asquith, McKenna and other politicians of the day.
It was easy to decide where the story should start. The action begins at Marlborough Street Police Court, where the notorious magistrate, Frederick Mead is presiding. Dorothy is there noting down the many injustices women experienced at the hands of the male dominated legal system, something members of the Women’s Freedom League spent hours doing.
However, I needed somewhere equally atmospheric to end the story. The Houses of Parliament maybe? Trafalgar Square? Or perhaps the docks in the East End, so badly damaged by the Zeppelins? Then I stumbled across Brompton Cemetery. There are over two hundred thousand people laid to rest there including Reginald Warneford VC, the first airman to shoot down a German airship in 1915 and Adelaid Neilson, a poor Yorkshire mill girl who found fame and fortune on the New York stage. Both these remarkable people sounded as if they could have walked into the pages of my book. Also, the cemetery was close to Earls Court where many Belgian refugees were living at the time and the sweeping colonnades and avenues of lime trees were the perfect backdrop for Dorothy to finally catch up with the murderer.
So, Brompton Cemetery it was. And where better to end a book featuring suffragettes than at the final resting place of Emmeline Pankhurst.
About the Author.
H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.