John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)


The Tanner's Wife


Freda Davies

Tenby Observer: Set in Pembroke in 1108, the book tells the tale of Roger Fitzhugh who is to be the new shire reeve of Pembroke. He is shocked by the life he must lead in the frontier town and amasses grudges. These are to be repaid when Gerald de Windsor, Pembroke's Constable, takes his family and treasure to the new castle he has built in the north of the shire.

Within days of Gerald leaving Pembroke, Gerwyn, the tanner, is found murdered. His killer proves too elusive for Roger but Gerwyn was well-liked and the townspeople are restless. Suspicion is directed towards Manon, Gerwyn's widow, and Roger is urged to encourage the rumours by the leader of Pembroke's priory, in turn keen to acquire tannery land for his church

Gerald loses his new castle, his wife and children to the raider, Owain, and in the uproar which follows across Wales, the gossips of Pembroke flourish until there is a riot. Manon is arrested and taken to the castle for her trial and possible hanging, but Gerwyn's friends are determined to find the truth and free her.

"After leaving Greenhill Comprehensive School [Tenby] where I enjoyed teaching very much, I wanted to know if I could make it as a writer in the open market place," explained Freda, who lives in Hundleton [near Pembroke]. She gave herself five years, but after three-and-a-half had her first book, a mystery set in the city, published in London.

After that Freda wondered if she could write a police procedural. "I enjoyed myself manipulating characters, situations and forensics," she continued. The resultant Inspector Tyrell series - as it became known - appears in the UK and in the States. "So, it was time for one for Pembroke, although once again, what was one book has become a series," she said. "These are called the Pembrokeshire Stories, each one involving part of the life of Princess Nest and how it affected the ordinary people of the town."

The Tanner's Wife opens the series, which is based on many years of research and it is very much a Pembrokeshire book - the artist who painted the cover picture of Pembroke Castle is Graham Hadlow, of St. Florence - a friend of Freda's from her Greenhill days.

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