“Snowdonia, the perfect backdrop for Welsh Noir” by Simon McCleave

‘It was winter and the rugged hills, valleys and lakes of Snowdonia were snowbound and bleak. This was a landscape that beat to the drum of Arthurian legend. The pounding heart of ancient Wales – a land of folklore and of myth … Llyn Llydaw was dark, deep, and utterly still. Carved into the flanks of Snowdon, the lake was long and thin and had formed in a cwm, a glaciated valley, about one third of the way up the mountain. The valley was believed to be the final resting place of Arthur, King of Britons. The site where a weary, dying King Arthur instructed Sir Bedevere to throw Excalibur to the porcelain hand of the Lady of the Lake. An area of immeasurable power and myth.”

(Excerpt From: Simon McCleave’s “THE SNOWDONIA KILLINGS: A DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller Book #1”)

As a native South Londoner, I’m often asked, ‘Why do you write about Snowdonia?’ It’s a fair enough question. As environments go, South London and Snowdonia couldn’t be more contrasting. But in my Detective Ruth Hunter crime series, that’s the point.

Before I go any further, I should point out that I do have some credentials here. Twenty years ago, I married a beautiful Welsh girl, and after a few years of London life, we moved to North Wales to raise our family. That was over a decade ago. Snowdonia is now quite literally on my doorstep and, as I planned a series of crime novels, it was a landscape that cried out to be the backdrop to these stories. In fact, it was so apt that I had to check several times to make sure it hadn’t already been used. Luckily found it to be a blank canvas.

Like all great settings for storytelling, Snowdonia has become a character in its own right. As a landscape it has it all. The ominous ridges of snow-dusted mountains that touch the sky. Vast lakes formed at the last ice age, and rocky, stormy beaches that border the Irish sea. Added to this, it boasts a mystical atmosphere where folk-tales and history merge to provide a dark and powerful narrative for the 900 square miles of Britain’s largest national park. The Mabinogion, a collection of Snowdonian legends, mythology and the supernatural, are over a 1000 years old. And so, as a backdrop that is dramatic in mood and loaded with meaning, Snowdonia perfectly fits the distinguishing traits and traditions of noir fiction.

Entering this landscape is Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter, a native South Londoner (ah, yes there is a biographical element!), who is suffering from burn-out after decades of dealing with the murder and mayhem in the high-rise, concrete jungles of Peckham. Snowdonia had been the destination of many blissful childhood holidays. Ruth transfers from the London Met to the North Wales Police force confident that her days will be filled with nothing more taxing than sheep rustling or tractor theft. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Crimes in rural North Wales are as brutal, harrowing and complex as anywhere else. And it wouldn’t be much of crime series with nothing more dramatic than an expired shotgun licence.

Just as I had preconceptions of what life in North Wales would be like, so does DI Ruth Hunter. She soon realises that the CID team she now leads are a far cry from the parochial hicks that she had first imagined. The detectives are as sharp, intuitive, and caring as any she had encountered in the London Met. More so, in many ways. And much as I did, Ruth soon relishes the warm, friendly people most of whom value honesty, family and community over pretention, status and the need for skinny, de-caff lattes and smashed avocado on sourdough!

Released in 2020, The Snowdonia Killings has sold over 250,000 copies and reached No. 1 in the Amazon Chart. A television series based on the book is in development and set to start shooting in 2023.

Starting a new life in Snowdonia was always DI Ruth Hunter’s dream. Until a twisted killer turned it into her worst nightmare. 

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Snowdonia Killings is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth. If you like dark police procedurals, psychologically complex characters, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Simon McCleave’s pulse-pounding novels.