Shropshire countryside provides inspiration for Wolverhampton author
Mark Edwards spent a lot of time driving around the Shropshire countryside looking for the perfect murder locations.
But, before you call the police, it was purely in the name of research for the Wolverhampton author’s latest psychological thriller The Lucky Ones.
Set in and around Ironbridge, the killer wants to give his targets the happiest send off by ensuring they die in a ‘state of bliss’ thanks to a morphine overdose.
They are then discovered in tucked away spots, such as the tranquil ruins of Wenlock Priory, with a smile frozen on their face.
“I was driving around Shropshire looking for good places for bodies to be left. I needed quite creepy settings like woods or secluded locations. One of the bodies is found on the Long Mynd, one at Wenlock Priory and one just outside Ruyton-XI-Towns – I just loved the name of this town when I found it.
“I wanted places that were picturesque and that people might be able to picture in their mind or Google to see what they look like.
“The victims are killed elsewhere then moved. It’s not a spoiler to mention that but the killer has a reason for doing this, which would be a spoiler.
“They are left with a smile frozen on their face and with no signs of injury, just needle marks from a morphine overdose.
“We have a killer who believes they are killing their victims in the least violent way and that they are leaving the world when they are at their happiest.
“The killer manipulates their lives in lots of ways to make everything go right for them before they die - that’s why it’s called The Lucky Ones,” explains Mark, who lives in Compton.
With a number of best-sellers already under his belt, including last year’s The Devil’s Work, the 46-year-old has become known for making his protagonists’ lives a misery.
From battling nightmare neighbours to enduring a holiday from hell, he has pushed them to their absolute limits. But this time, the father of four has been working in reverse with the victims seeing their fortunes actually improving, unaware that something more sinister is going on behind the scenes.
One of the main characters in The Lucky Ones is Detective Imogen Evans, who realises she is dealing with a serial killer when a woman’s body is found in the grounds of Wenlock Priory.
“She left London and the Metropolitan Police under a cloud to work at West Mercia Police and is based in Shrewsbury.
“She lived in Brixton and is very much a city girl. She’s tough, fiery, rude and says inappropriate things to shock her colleagues. Imogen comes to Shropshire fearing she is going to have a quiet life but then finds herself involved in a serial murder investigation,” says Mark.
While single father Ben Hofland, who grew up in Ironbridge but has been living in London for 20 years, believes is luck is changing at last.
Forced to move back to Shropshire, following the breakdown of his marriage, to care for his mother, he finally finds work and the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear.
“When the book starts Ben is at his lowest point, life is pretty grim for him. But then things start to improve and he feels everything is getting back on track. Little does he know something is going on and there is someone lurking behind the scenes.
“The thing that has been quite challenging is that I usually create characters, make everything go wrong for them and all these scary things happen to them. They usually start in a good place but it all goes wrong. But with the Lucky Ones, it’s the opposite and it can be quite difficult to ramp up the tension when things are going right.
“The reader is in the position that they are know more than Ben because they suspect something is wrong but he has no idea,” says Mark, who lists Stephen King, James Herbert and Clive Barker among his favourite authors.
The book also has scenes set elsewhere in the county including Bridgnorth and Ludlow, as well as in Whitmore Reans, Wolverhampton.
Along with researching locations, he also had to brush up on his medical knowledge. “The killer uses morphine but it’s controlled so it’s not something you and I are going to be able to get hold of easily so I had to find a way for them to get morphine which was believable,” explains Mark who has had five books reach number one in the Amazon best-sellers chart. He said he was looking forward to seeing how The Lucky Ones, which is published by Thomas & Mercer today and available from Amazon, is received.
“I still get really nervous on publication day and worry whether people are going to like it and how it’s going to sell. I’m able to track how sales are going on Amazon so I will no doubt be sat at the computer clicking refresh to get the most update figures,” says Mark.
His next book, called The Retreat, has already been written and the first draft is in the hands of his editor. “I can’t write fast enough really because as soon as a book comes out, people are asking about the next one.
“But that’s not a bad position to be in – it’s nice to think that people are that eager to read what you have written,” says Mark.