I confess that I have lately begun killing people. Not here in the United States, of course, but far away, in Cornwall, England. And in fiction.
Which is a round-about was of saying I am pleased to announce that the first book in my new British “Davies & West Mystery Series,” Harm None, is now available in both print and e-book versions online or by order from your favorite local independent bookseller.
But be forewarned: witchcraft is involved. No, I haven’t switched to writing paranormal fiction. But the plain fact is that, in Cornwall, the paranormal is normal. In fact, it is traditional. And that tradition thrives today.
Cornwall is that far southwestern-pointing county at the bottom of England, a bit like the toe of Italy’s boot. It’s the farthest point of southern England you can reach without a boat. Its culture is ancient Celtic and many of its traditions have been preserved by the simple fact that it is on the way to nowhere, has been conquered by few, and has held its traditions steadfast. Even its language, Cornish, is being revived. And pagan traditions from its Celtic past have survived and evolved right up to the present day. Cornwall is the only place I know where there are registered, tax-paying, “village wise women,” a.k.a. witches. I know this because I’ve interviewed them.
Of course there are many pagan believers not just in Cornwall, but elsewhere in England and around the world: Druids, Wiccans, and the like. Each in their different ways, worship the natural order of things, the turn of the seasons, the arcs of the sun and moon, and our place within that natural order.
Village wise women in Cornwall practice the “Old Craft.” Think of them as some combination of local physician, psychologist, even veterinarian. They are healers. If you have a problem of the body, or the heart, or the career, or simply have a cow that’s doing poorly, you check in with your local wise woman. She may prepare a powder, or a potion, or an amulet, or even cast a spell to rid you of your misfortune.
In Harm None, a present day village wise woman, or witch, plays a central role, and I owe the pagans who shared their beliefs and practices with me a deep debt of gratitude. I also had, in my team of advisors, CID detectives from the Devon and Cornwall Police, the crime scene manager for the region’s Scene of Crimes Unit, the forensic pathologist serving those two counties, Cornwall County’s chief archaeologist, the head of the Royal Cornwall Museum, and others.
Here’s what Elizabeth George, the #1 bestselling British murder mystery writer today (the Inspector Lynley series on the BBC and PBS) says about Harm None:
"For lovers of English mysteries with authentic settings and spot-on police procedures, Will North's Harm None is just the ticket!”