Fordhamton - a guide to the trilogy of murder mysteries

Fordhamton - a guide to the trilogy of murder mysteries

A guide to Fordhamton
A guide to Fordhamton

Fordhamton is a fictional English town situated somewhere in middle England, possibly but not definitely located in the Home Counties. It is reasonably close to, but a lengthy driving distance from London. There is no train station thanks to Doctor Beeching who cut so many lines in the 1960’s; and buses run to a frugal timetable.

It gets its name from the three suffixes that are found on the majority of all English place names; ‘ford’ (a shallow river crossing), ‘ham’ (an abbreviation of hamlet, a small village) and ‘ton’ (a large estate).

Fordhamton is formed along both sides of a single High Street. On its fringes are the church, the big houses and along its whole length pubs, bars and shops. Around this ribbon of town life, along winding and unmade country roads are a patchwork collection of small villages and settlements that are slowly being assimilated into new housing estates.

The town was once an important staging post on the north-south road and as such was of great importance as a trading route and from this the pubs, hotels and traders grew wealthy.

The decline set in just before the opening volume of the trilogy A Little Local Affair when the bypass was built. As Bill Withers, landlord of the Horse With No Name comments; ‘the only thing the bypass is good for is to bypass trade. I used to get hundreds of travelling salesman and tourists, now all they do is stay on the bypass.’

Along with the effects of the bypass many shopkeepers are suffering with the internet and traditional shops are beginning to close.

There is a Town Council which has ten councillors and from their ranks a Mayor who is elected for a full term. Unfortunately two councillors have resigned, one deceased and it leaves four Conservatives, two Labour and one Independent. There is a part time town clerk to keep things in order and elections are held every four years. The town boasts one of the lowest turn outs for national and local elections; no one seems to care that apathy gets the largest vote

Fordhamton shares a police officer with the other large towns and villages. There is also one senior school.

There is not much employment in town; most residents commute unless working for one of the few remaining companies on the Diesel Park West Industrial Estate. During the day the bars are almost empty but liven up on Friday nights and weekends.

Many residents find themselves in town by reason of job, marriage or just bad fortune. They tend to speak with an educated working class accent heavily scarred by a blend of cockney rhyming slang and English colloquialisms collected as they walk along life’s highway. The rest are quite intelligible and they all seem to share their name with that of a mid-twentieth century pop star

On the surface it is a quiet, peaceful and unremarkable place to live; a perfect slice of England. But it is not quite the chocolate box cover that many of the conservative elements in town believe it to be. Traders struggle to survive and even the Football Club has continued its slide down the local leagues and now rests at the foot of the table.

Nothing happens. Until Alan Price, Councillor, local businessman and benefactor meets his Maker in unusual circumstances. From then on nothing is ever the same again in town; sex rears its head in so many different forms, political ambitions come to the fore and criminal intent is never far from the minds of some of its inhabitants.

Fortunately they all find a common enemy in the investigating police team and more than one person finds themselves the target for revenge. It is not until the final volume in the trilogy The Last Resort, that there is any evidence that things have got back to normal.