Another test of her limits for May Keaps.

Book cover for Found Drowned by BK Duncan

Now respected in her role as the Poplar Coroner’s Officer, May is tasked with identifying the body of a boy fished from the Thames by the river police. That is only the first of her problems because she must also gather evidence for how he ended up there. Was it a tragic accident, or could it be an unlawful death? As she uncovers webs of intrigue, corruption and vice, there appears to be no one mourning the child’s death. Except her.

Life was tough in the East End of London after WW1, and for the abandoned and orphaned street children the future was bleakest of all. There were institutions offering harsh regimes and/or religion as temporary or permanent refuges; however, many chose to evade the authorities and take their chances rather than enter somewhere like the workhouse. They knew nowhere was truly safe from exploitation for a child alone and unprotected. May and Jack can’t save them all from fates worse than death, but they can offer hope to a precious few.

As well as the May Keaps series, you may also be interested in the Rhythms in Crime Dance Quartet or Walls of Silence

Posts

Vintage photo. Oral history for Ruth Wade

“I remember her wearing this, what a fright . . .”

Oral history is people telling stories. Storytelling.

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Vintage field kit. Wellcome foundation

Murder and medics

So what did they do before DNA?

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Yellow sailing boasts on blue. Pastel by Ruth Wade

London docklands

If you want to learn about what made London

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Oak tree on brown. Pastel by Ruth Wade

Poplar and Limehouse

Mostly I used the 1914 OS maps

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Peach oak tree. Pastel by Ruth Wade representing East End communities. BK Duncan

East End communities

Limehouse was London’s original Chinatown. 

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Poplar Street party for Peace Day 1919. BK Duncan

It was never to be the coming of peace

These residents of Poplar had little money to spare

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Oscar Kirk's 1919 diary

An East End voice

The research for Foul Trade really came alive

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It wasn't all Downton Abbey by BK Duncan

It wasn’t all Downton Abbey by BK Duncan

  History as nostalgic entertainment will always be with us.

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Photograph of Edwardian family. From Ruth Wade collection

The past in the present

Hilary Mantel’s thoughts on historical fiction chime with mine.  

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A writer's influences. The making of novelist Ruth Wade / BK Duncan

The melting pot

As a writer, not all influences are easy to identify.

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Pastel of purple boxes by Ruth Wade

Beneath Foul Trade

It’s often the odd or obscure things

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Author collection 1912 Ruth Wade

Gazing into the eye of the beholder

One of the challenges of writing historical fiction is that we can’t know

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Red and navy saloon cars on green. Pastel by Ruth Wade

Libraries: Poplar’s palaces of learning

  Books and leisure time in which to read them were precious commodities

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Peppermint saloon cars. Pastel by Ruth Wade. Image for moochers & mug-fakers

Moochers & mug-fakers

There are lots of ways to get a tanner from a pocket.

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The Fishing Smack, Cold Harbour. Poplar pubs and waterside taverns

Poplar pubs and waterside taverns

Pubs and taverns have always held a special place in the community 

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Blue racing car on orange. Pastel by Ruth Wade

Slang and cant decoded

Language forms the platform for the words that come and go in fashion.

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Blue racing car on brown. Pastel by Ruth Wade

Slang and cant: the words and the music

Much of my research is around language. In fact, all my writing starts and finishes with the words I choose to use.

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Stylised 20's girl walking hound. Pastel by Ruth Wade. Representing the Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs

The old name for the Isle of Dogs was Stepney Marsh.

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Boats in Thames at Limehouse Reach

Undercurrents of Found Drowned

A writer often has to ditch some of the pieces they enjoyed writing the most 

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