It was wonderful to visit Chester in Easter week, returning to those hallowed grounds I trod all those years ago when I was a local journalist and resident in the city. These are also, of course, the grounds being currently trod by Detective Constable Dominic Strider of Chester CID, hero of my four (and counting!) detective thriller novels.

I took the opportunity of the bright, sunny weather on one of those days to carry out a long, enjoyable self-guided history tour of the Cathedral (it has opened up its quadrangle garden and water feature to the public, and has redeveloped its outer gardens and built a falconry centre in its grounds).

I also explored the City Walls around the Cathedral and revisited the four main shopping streets lined with the glorious Black & White Tudor buildings which form part of The Rows – a unique two-tiered medieval shopping complex that’s the only one of its kind in the world.

I took photos of all these glorious locations, which I present to you today in this blog. They add to the rich tapestry I hope I’ve been weaving over these past months – and are a visual treat for the eyes.

With each step, I was able to point out different locations used in my books to my wife. As my fourth novel, Till the Fat Lady Sings, is actually set in and around the Cathedral anyway, this was perfect timing. So I showed my wife the Verger’s house where he is killed; the back door to the Cathedral where the killer sneaks him in, in order to dump his body; where the car bombing will take place, and such like.

The Cathedral also played a small but important role in my very first DC Strider novel, as one of the benches in its courtyard is where Strider starts falling in love with visiting New York journalist Kate Laughton, who becomes the love of his life! He later shows her round the Cathedral when he gives her a tour of the city, though that’s just mentioned in passing.

Having these real-life locations in my mind when writing my books really helps bring the story evocatively to life. Especially as they are told in the first-person, so everything that Strider sees, touches and senses, I already have done so myself!

So it was superb to be back there, in my home town, back on familiar turf and walking the very steps, paths and passageways that Strider is treading.

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