Book News at the Year’s End

Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

This has been a good year for me – I’ve published two novels, Dark Shadow in the William Quest series, and Legend – the final book in The Chronicles of Robin Hood series.

It’s nice to have finished the Robin Hood books as this has been an ambition of mine since boyhood. I may well return to writing another historical series in the future. I’ve several ideas in mind.

At the moment I’m writing a sequel to Balmoral Kill, and my hero Sean Miller is making a return.  This one’s set in 1937 and finds Sean battling enemies on the wilds of Dartmoor. There’ll be lots of action and a detective mystery as well.

I’m also planning the fourth William Quest novel. Following his visit to York in Dark Shadow, Quest will be back in London, working for justice but outside the law. Always fun to be back in Quest’s Victorian world. Get the swordsticks ready!

I’m also hoping to write a walking memoir about my early days on Dartmoor. I’ve written four walking books so far. I get a lot of the ideas for writing when I’m out for a walk.

Not having Rupert Murdoch’s publicity budget, I do rely on word of mouth by readers to promote the books – so please do tell your friends and relatives.

Most of the books are out now in paperback as well as Kindle eBooks. You can get a list by clicking on this link:

A prosperous, happy and peaceful New Year to you all




Looking for a Christmas Read?

Looking for a Christmas mystery? Our Inspector Abbs novella A Christmas Malice – set in wintry Norfolk – is on sale for just 99 pence/cents on Kindle for the next few days. It’s also available in paperback. Here’s the link…

December 1873. Inspector Abbs is spending Christmas with his sister in a lonely village on the edge of the Norfolk Fens. He is hoping for a quiet week while he thinks over a decision about his future. However all is not well in Aylmer. Someone has been playing malicious tricks on the inhabitants. With time on his hands and concerned for his sister, Abbs feels compelled to investigate.. This complete tale is a novella of around 33,000 words. The events take place one month after the conclusion of Inspector Abbs’s first case, A Seaside Mourning.

Legend – Robin Hood Novel Out Today

 The final book in The Chronicles of Robin Hood series is out today, in paperback and as a Kindle eBook. Order it today and it’s cheaper! And a big thank you to everyone who’s bought and read my Robin Hood novels. Here’s the link…

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An action-packed finale to The Chronicles of Robin Hood.AD 1203. Plantagenet England: The mighty overlords of Sherwood Forest wage war against the poor and desperate. The Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne impose a vicious tyranny across the shire.

Where is Robin Hood, the leader of the outlaws and rebels? Has he abandoned the persecuted folk of the Forest?

As the darkness of winter falls across Sherwood, nobody is sure whether Robin Hood lives or not…Has the revolt against the cruel and powerful overlords been put down at last?

This retelling of the Robin Hood legend takes the tale of the famous outlaw back to its origins in medieval reality and brings the saga to a gripping and bloody conclusion. Men die in battle… but a legend is born.

Writing News

The final volume in my The Chronicles of Robin Hood series will be out as a paperback and a Kindle eBook in December. This will be the end of the series, though I’m contemplating a kind of sequel in about a year’s time.

I shall be revealing the title very soon, so keep watching.

Thriller-Gun-Dark-Ebook-CovAfter that, I’ll be writing the second book in the Sean Miller thriller series – a sequel to Balmoral Kill. The new one – set in 1937 – sees Sean battling dangerous spies on Dartmoor. It’ll be full of action, and some of the characters from the first book will reappear. There’ll also be a very tough lady spy…

Balmoral Kill’s still available, so do click on the link below if you want to order a copy.

Next year, there’ll be a new adventure for my character William Quest. Following his visit to York in Dark Shadow, he’ll be back in his more familiar London, be once more operating outside the law, and facing new dangers and new enemies. Some of the Quest crew who weren’t in the last book will be in this one.

Hopefully, there’ll be some other titles as well. Click follow and I’ll let you know.

Regard John

And here’s the link for Balmoral Kill:

A Place Called Robin Hood

We all associate Robin Hood with Sherwood Forest, but as far as place-names go the outlaw appears all over England. I was minded of this the other day as we were strolling around Richmond Castle in Yorkshire. Or Richmondshire of you prefer. There’s a ruined tower in the castle named after the old wolfshead.

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Robin Hood’s Grave, Westmorland. (c) J Bainbridge

As it happens, there’s little historical basis for the name. Popular thought decrees that romantic Victorians called it Robin Hood’s Tower.


I suspect the same happened with lots of other Robin Hood links, the names are either there through the efforts of recent romanticism and…

Then there were lots of Robin Hoods. As some of you might know I’ve spent the last couple of years writing a series of novels in which I’ve tried to root Robin in medieval reality. I’ve set my books in Sherwood Forest, though my Robin makes excursions into Westmorland, where there are lots of Robin sites, briefly Barnsdale, Fountains Abbey, Hathersage in Derbyshire.

My own belief is there was once an original Robin Hood. Who he was and where and when he lived, we shall never know. But rest assured he wasn’t the romantic outlaw of legend. But he obviously made a name for himself, for I believe that that Robin Hood became a generic name for lots of other, possibly bold, outlaws.

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Robin Hood’s Tower (c) A Bainbridge 2018

And that’s why you find the place name in so many places across the land. They were named after their local Robin – lots of successors to the original.


Walking on the Westmorland fells, we often visit Robin Hood’s Grave – its obviously a cairn of questionable age. At Fountains Abbey, there’s a Robin Hood’s Well and Wood. (I used it as a setting for my Robin Hood novel Villain). Tradition alleges – with little evidence – that the monk called Friar Tuck trained at Fountains Abbey, though as far as the old ballads go, Tuck was a late arrival. Much later in the Middle Ages, a robber-monk called Tuck appeared in reality at Lindfield in Sussex. Nothing to do with Robin Hood, though you wonder if the Sussex monk was named after an earlier legend.

You get little help from the Robin Hood ballads. Only a few are very early, the first claiming Barnsdale as Robin’s hideout, though interestingly it also has the Sheriff of Nottingham as a character. I must say that had I been a medieval outlaw I wouldn’t have chosen Barnsdale as a refuge. It was a place then of open heaths and small woods – not a very good place to hide if you are literally outside the law and anyone can ring you down.

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Fountains Abbey (c) John Bainbridge 2018

The problem is, the ballads that we have were probably written down from original oral sources, and the person writing them down localised them so that they referred to places his audience might know. So the original Robin could have come from anywhere. Just fill in the blanks as you rewrite the old verses.

But other place names – there’s a strong tradition that Little John hailed from Hathersage in Derbyshire – you can still see his purported and very massive grave. There are several other Robin Hood graves, including the famous and currently threatened one at Kirklees.

We also have Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire coast, where the outlaw saw off some pirates. There are also several Robin Hood pubs, including one in Penrith in Cumbria – though – as you are getting nearer to Carlisle you are really entering the territory of the outlaw Adam Bell, whose adventures and crew are very similar to Mr Hood’s. There’s Robin Hood’s Stride in the Peak and a lot of other Robin features across the north and Midlands. Geographically, he got about as much as King Arthur.

And, of course, there is Robin Hood International Airport – a sight that would probably have overwhelmed the original ballad writers.

So if you have another Robin Hood location do leave a comment, especially if it’s not one of the famous one.

I’m currently working on the fourth and final novel in my Robin Hood series. The first three are out in paperback and on Kindle if you fancy a read (Just click on the link below for more information).

Get Dark Shadow Cheaper…

Dark Shadow, the third in the William Quest adventure thriller series, is published tomorrow – in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle.

Order it before publication today and you can have it cheaper. Prices rise tomorrow…

Thank you to everyone who has already ordered the book – I very much appreciate your support and hope you enjoy Dark Shadow.

Just click on the link to order your copy today…

Dark Shadow Cover copy

John Lardiner runs down a street in the ancient city of York and vanishes off the face of the earth.

In a dangerous race against time, Victorian adventurer William Quest is summoned to York to solve the mystery – what has happened to John Lardiner?

Forced into an uneasy alliance with the city police, William Quest finds his own life in peril.

Men who pry into the disappearance of John Lardiner end up dead.

In York’s jumble of alleys and narrow medieval streets, William Quest finds himself pursued by a sinister organisation.

Can he solve the mystery of John Lardiner’s vanishing before his enemies bring his adventurous career to an end?

George Borrow and my Books

If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know I’m a great fan of the 19th century writer George Borrow…

Who? you might ask…

Well, I’ll tell you something about Borrow (1803-1881)- the great lost genius of Victorian writing. A man who at one time was outselling Charles Dickens, then went into a rapid decline in popularity.

The author of Lavengro and The Romany Rye is scarcely read these days, his books darting in and out of print. Yet a century ago he was an undisputed influence on a whole generation of readers, the subject of a dozen or more biographies and scores of learned essays.

The early years of the twentieth century were something of a renaissance for the “Gypsy Gentleman”.  His first moment of great fame came in 1843 with the publication of The Bible in Spain which, despite its deadly title, is a rollicking tale of adventure describing Borrow’s journeys around the Peninsula during the Carlist Wars. For a moment in time Borrow was the most famous writer in the land, his exploits praised in Parliament by the Prime Minister, and his book a bestseller. But his later fictionalised autobiographies Lavengro and The Romany Rye, failed to catch the public mood, and Borrow found his reputation eclipsed.

But later, his tales of romantic adventure on the roads of England in the days of stagecoaches, encounters with Gypsies and tinkers, and Borrow’s early struggles as a Grub Street journalist, appealed to those who sought the great outdoors as an escape from the growing blight of industrial Britain.

For much of his childhood, George led a wandering life, on the march with his father’s regiment. As a result he became a considerable walker capable of covering sixty miles a day. He was also something of a linguist, fluent in a couple of dozen languages.

Settling in Norwich he was an unwilling pupil at the Grammar School hard by Norwich Cathedral’s Erpingham Gate, staining his face with walnut juice so that he might seem more the Gypsy, and leading his fellow students into trouble. Borrow agreed to be apprenticed to the law, but spent a good deal of time roaming the countryside and studying languages. On the death of his father in 1824, he headed for London determined to secure a reputation as a writer, failed, and took to the roads, first as a relatively respectable traveller, and then as an itinerant tinker, meeting up with his Gypsy friend Jasper Petulengro and his family.

George Borrow had fallen out of favour once more by the time I discovered his writings as a teenager. But even then he was still anthologised and referred to in books by the older generation of writers about walking. I found a great delight in his work, which has remained with me to this day.

He was much influenced by Defoe, and it shows in the vividness of his writing. We should read Lavengro/The Romany Rye in the way we might read Robinson Crusoe or Moll Flanders.

So determined am I to put George Borrow back on the literary map, I’ve promoted his books in a chapter of my outdoors memoir Wayfarer’s Dole, and I often have characters reading his works in some of my own novels.Dark Shadow Cover copy

My historical mystery character, William Quest, is a Borrow fan. I’ve just written a new Quest adventure – Dark Shadow –  where Quest goes to York to solve a puzzle, taking Lavengro as his bedside read. The volume plays a slight part in the events that follow.

At one point an overwhelmed William Quest takes inspiration from Lavengro as his difficulties mount up, referring to one of his favourite Borrow quotes:

“He (Quest) reached out and picked up the volume of Lavengro by his bedside. It opened at random to a chapter which ended with the words: There are few positions, however difficult, from which dogged resolution and perseverance may not liberate you.  It was one of Quest’s favourite quotations, one he referred to often. He hoped that, on this occasion, Mr George Borrow’s philosophy was to be proved right.”

I shan’t rest until George Borrow’s eclipsed reputation is restored. So why not give him a go…?

You can find out more about him at the excellent George Borrow Society website at

My new Quest adventure, Dark Shadow is published in paperback and on Kindle on the 26th July. Order now for a discounted pre-publication price at

My book Wayfarer’s Dole, which has a Borrovian chapter, is still available in paperback and as an eBook on Kindle.