I have a special place in my heart for Herne Hill – so it was an obvious spot to kill someone. I was looking for an area where my amateur sleuth heroine, Beth Haldane, could branch out a bit from central Dulwich, yet not get too lost in the wilds of south London. After all, she has only just had a Calamity in Camberwell. So I turned to Herne Hill, where I lived for four very happy years in a tiny road just off the whimsically-named Half Moon Lane.
Half Moon Lane has a collection of lovely shops at the station end, away from Dulwich Village, including the fabulous children’s bookshop Tales on Moon Lane, where I queued at midnight, once upon a time, with my daughters to get the latest Harry Potter hot off the press. They were good, if tiring times, with my girls discovering the magic, in all senses, of the written word, while my own faith in the power of imagination was reawakened and strengthened.
One of the best things about our little house was that every Fireworks Night we could watch the display in Brockwell Park (named Broccoli Park by the girls when they were little) without stirring from the house. True, we all had to cram into my older daughter’s bedroom, which she was sometimes less than thrilled about, but the view was magnificent.
I don’t think that display happens any more, due to the austerity cuts, and sadly we are long gone from the area too. But I still love Herne Hill. It’s getting trendier by the day, with its gourmet market at weekends and its revitalised shops after the terrible floods of 2013. I hope it will forgive me for putting my latest dastardly deed in its midst. Read the book and see how the story goes – and whether Beth can crack her most difficult case yet.