A NOTORIOUS unsolved murder has proved to be the inspiration for the debut novel by a Mossley author.
Sophie Parkes turned to the 1832 crime at The Moorcock Inn, known locally as Bills O’Jack’s, for Out of Human Sight.
And it is hoped the story that follows proves a hit in the book charts.
Released on Thursday, January 26, the novel opens with the murders of father and son William and Thomas Bradbury at the isolated Greenfield inn on the Holmfirth Road, which captivated people so much at the time that visitors from across the country arrived in Saddleworth to see the blood-spattered pub for themselves.
Out of Human Sight goes on to explore what happens to the victims’ family, namely granddaughter and niece, Millie, and how she copes with increasing fame.
Described as, ‘a story of grief, family, and longing for home. The journey of a woman seeking a better life, through desperation, resilience, and a will to survive,’ once Sophie was introduced to the Bills O’Jack’s legend – and the story of how a culprit was never found – after moving to the area, she could not resist using it for her title.
She said: “I’m not so much fascinated by who committed the murder, though the fact that it remains unsolved is certainly intriguing; I am more interested in how a young woman could be thrown into the spotlight and deal with such tragic circumstances in a small, isolated place, as Greenfield and Saddleworth would’ve been at the time.
“The real-world case provided what I see as a springboard for a whole new story that hopefully will still feel familiar for local readers.”
In writing the book, Sophie researched the known facts of the case, including the permanent exhibit at Saddleworth Museum.
Out Of Human Sight may be 37-year-old Sophie’s debut novel but she has previously published a biography of musician Eliza Carthy and ghost-written the autobiography of blind endurance athlete Dave Heeley, which earned her a Northern Writers’ Award in 2017.
She is currently studying for a PhD in creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University and founded Mossley Writers, which meets monthly at The Vale on Micklehurst Road.
It has also received praise, with Yvonne Battle-Felton, author of Remembered, describing it as ‘deliciously intense.’
Oliver Harris, author of the Nick Belsey series, calls it ‘a historical novel with the grip of a thriller, steeped in atmosphere and psychological insight.’
He adds: “Sophie Parkes brings 19th century Lancashire and Canada to vivid life.
“Millie is a brilliantly compelling heroine, and I followed her emotional and physical journey on tenterhooks.”
The book is published by Northodox Press and is available in all the usual places. You can pre-order by clicking on: