The Vice Chair of Bradford Civic Society, Alan Hall, is set to launch his latest novel – entitled Saltaire Blonde – at two special events in the district this week. On Thursday 6 September, Alan will host a launch event at Don’t Tell Titus in the heart of Saltaire village from 7pm, where he’ll also be giving away bottles of the beer Saltaire Blonde courtesy of the world-famous Saltaire Brewery.
Then on Friday 7 September, Alan will be hosting a reading at Tambourine Coffee on Bingley Road in Saltaire from 9.30am onwards as part of the cafe’s Tambourine Tasters series. All are welcome at both events.
About the book
Saltaire Blonde is a gripping murder mystery in which the Aire Valley becomes a backdrop for a terrible unsolved crime laced with shocking secrets along the way.
The book’s central character, Alison Booth, quits London for a new life in sleepy Saltaire, but things take a turn for the unexpected once she meets new neighbour Marta (the eponymous “Saltaire Blonde) – an older lady with a truly fascinating background. Alison soon learns that Marta had arrived in England as a refugee after the Second World War, and that her father Petro was murdered over here in the late 1960s – a crime that has never been solved.
As the case begins to unravel, a shocking link to Nazi war crimes is uncovered, and revenge appears to be the primary motivation for Petro’s killing. But is everything as it seems?
Alan was partly inspired by the real-life social dynamics of Bradford – particularly in the aftermath of the Second World War. Alan says, “West Yorkshire welcomed an influx of displaced people from Poland, Ukraine and other European countries after the Second World War, and few questions were asked at that time about what role some of the newcomers had played during the conflict.”
Although the murder of Petro is entirely fictional, references are made in the Alan’s book to real-life murders in the area – notably those carried out by Peter Sutcliffe [who became commonly referred to as the “Yorkshire Ripper”] in the 1970s and 1980s. There was also the 1977 murder of Mary Gregson in Saltaire, a crime which remained unsolved for many years.
As well as being a straightforward murder-mystery, the story examines the nature of friendship and loyalty, and explores issues of exile (Petro and Marta came to England as refugees; Alison is in self-imposed exile from London), as well as the aftermath of the atrocities perpetrated during the Second World War in eastern Europe.
Alan says, “The very beautiful places of Bradford, Saltaire and beyond most definitely have their fair share of dark secrets too…”
Saltaire Blonde is available in paperback to buy online here, and can also be purchased in Salts Mill Bookshop and Waterstone’s inside Bradford Wool Exchange.