Location, Location, Location: 8 Interesting Places in England and France from my Mystery Novel, Suspicion
Hello, Book Lovers!
One of the best things about being an author is visiting interesting places physically or with the help of modern technology like YouTube videos, pictures taken by other travellers, or simply good ol’ Google Maps. As I outlined, wrote, revised and edited my mystery novel Suspicion, I included eight interesting places across England and France. Sometimes, the real and imaginary blend together in fiction. And, Suspicion is no exception.
Suspicion is set in Northampton, but the story ventures outside this city, and I’ve purposefully avoided using real places with some exceptions. The content of the story fueled the decision behind this. I promise not to share any spoilers, in case you haven’t read the novel yet. So, if you’re a local, you’ll notice how many liberties I’ve taken to create this fictional but very real city of Northampton.
Here is a short list of these locations and what inspired me to choose these as settings in my mystery novel Suspicion, along with details on how you can visit these places yourself.
Northampton Guild Hall
On the cover of my mystery novel Suspicion, you’ll notice the Northampton Guild Hall. Its outside facade inspired the Northampton Museum of Anthropology. The surrounding streets and narrow laneways also appear in Suspicion. Yes, I’m sorry to say that this museum is not a real place you can visit. But, technically, if you are in the city of Northampton in the United Kingdom, you can visit the Grade II listed building as it’s open until 8:30 pm on weekdays. The next location on this list inspires the inside of the Museum of Anthropology.
Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Cambridge
Fear not, fellow museum buffs; there is a museum situated within Cambridge University called the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. It’s interior, and some of the contents were the inspiration behind the Northampton Museum of Anthropology. I loved this small and very fascinating museum so much that I used it as a backdrop to the fight scene in chapters thirty-two through to thirty-eight of Suspicion. And, I have to admit it was a super fun and somewhat tragic scene to write because a few of the beautiful artefacts become damaged or broken.
The good news is, you can visit the museum in Cambridge, UK, every day of the week except for Mondays. Admission is free, and the last entry is at 4:30 pm. You can travel to Cambridge from London by catching a Great Northern Train from Kings Cross Station. The average trip takes approximately 53 minutes, possibly longer, depending on delays.
Carmichael Estate is technically a real place, but instead, it’s called Althorp House and the ancestral home of the Spencer family. While the Spencers are still in residence today, you can visit the property and admire its beautiful gardens and gaze upon the artwork on its walls. Althorp House, or the “Carmichael Estate”, is featured in Suspicion, but it plays a more predominant role in the Lawn. The house is only open in the Summer, so it’s currently closed but expected to open in the Summer of 2023, according to the website.
I chose this place as the home of Alistair Carmichael and his family because of its prestige and beauty. But I took some artistic license and renamed the house, and made subtle tweaks to the grounds to blend fiction and reality. So, while the house is real, the characters are not and are in no way a representation of anyone living or dead.
Tintagel Castle Ruins
Yes, the chateaux featured in this book are real. And you can visit both of them. In chapter 29 of Suspicion, you’ll find the castle ruins of Tintagel used as a location. Tintagel, which is essentially castle ruins, is in Cornwall and can be visited at certain times of the year. Quite tragically, I was unable to visit these beautiful ruins while I was writing this book because it was closed due to renovations to one of the pedestrian bridges.
As you have probably guessed, I’m a bit of a chateau enthusiast, much like James’s grandfather, Dr Francois Lalonde. One of the reasons why I chose this chateau and Pierrefonds is due to their connections to Arthurian legend. The castle ruins are open to the public, and admission is £17.60 for adults, but you need to book in advance, so be sure to check the website for more details about ticket prices and visiting hours.
Chateau de Pierrefonds
The beautiful Chateau de Pierrefonds, literally translated from French to English as the castle of Pierrefonds, is in the small French town of Pierrefonds. It’s approximately two hours from Paris, which is exactly how James chose to travel to the chateau in chapter 30 of Suspicion with his grandfather, Dr Francois Lalonde. Unfortunately, I could not visit this chateau, but this time it was due to the French Railway Strikes making it challenging to travel and hire vehicles during this time. So, in a way, I’m a little jinxed. Or, so it seems.
For those of you who are Merlin fans, you will know this is the filming location for Camelot. And it was also used as a location in the Man in the Iron Mask and a host of other French films, most of which focus on Arthurian lore. Thus, this chateau was chosen for its Arthurian connections. And I just wanted to visit it, so I put it in one of my books. In just under 2 hours from Gard Du Nord in Paris, you can board the TER train, then catch the 657 bus from Crépy-En-Valois. Entry into the Chateau is eight Euros, including taxes.
The Albert Pub in Victoria, London
On the corner of Buckingham Gate and Victoria Street in London is the Albert Pub, which is the inspiration for the Queen’s Head in chapter 14 of Suspicion. The pub in my story is located in Northampton. As I alluded to earlier, I took a bit of creative license with the businesses in and around the town because I didn’t want to risk being sued by accidentally casting a business in a bad light because of the artistic choices I made in a short novel. But you can still have a drink in the pub and recall the events that unfolded in chapter 14 of Suspicion.
The British Library Newsroom
When I first wrote Suspicion, I lived close to The British Library, and I had a membership for a while so I could use the reading rooms and other facilities. I wish I had spent more time there now that I’ve moved away. One of the many facilities in the library is the Newsroom. Just like James did in chapter 20, you can use computers to scan the digital archives of various newspapers, too many to mention. To visit the Newsroom, which is located on floor two in the St Pancras location of the British Library, you need a reader pass which is free and valid for three years.
The New York Times Copy Desk
While we’re talking about things that aren’t quite real, the Northampton Tribune is not a real newspaper unless there’s a small newspaper with a similar name that did not come up during the various stages of research as I wrote and revised Suspicion. But I used this image from the New York Times as the visual inspiration for the newsroom in chapter four of Suspicion. And this newsroom was also used in The Candidate as well.
I hope you found this list of places featured in my mystery novel, Suspicion, interesting. Let me know in the comments section which location you most want to visit. And, also share with me your favourite real-life location from another book.
Happy reading, book lovers!
Click on the location tags to see the locations in Suspicion and Duplicity.
I’m Amelia. I write mystery and thriller novels under the pen name A. D. Hay and I’m the author of Missing the first book in the James Lalonde series. I’m the host of the Book Nerd Podcast and The Authorpreneur Podcast. Right now, I’m editing my soon to be published mystery novels, The Candidate, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity. When I’m not writing, hosting my podcasts or coaching aspiring authors, I love to travel around Europe with my Husband Roland, drink tea, and eat pizza.