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The man who inspired Heartbeat...
For the last 30 years, Nicholas Rhea has been writing books, drawing on his experiences in the police force, his never-ending enthusiasm for Yorkshire and his continuing interest in crime fact and fiction. His best known work, the Constable stories, provided the inspiration for the hugely popular Heartbeat TV series, and he remained involved with the series as a consultant until filming ended in 2009.
This is Nicholas Rhea's official website, and on it you will find not only his news and information about the man, his books and, of course, Heartbeat, but also a country diary kept by Nicholas Rhea himself, in which he shares his observations about the county of Yorkshire, its countryside and traditions - and which is now being regularly updated! Click the link to read a new instalment of his explorations of Yorkshire - and beyond!
What Constable Nick did next
Nicholas Rhea made good his promise to complete his much loved Constable series with the tale of Nick's retirement, titled Constable over the Hill (see below). But Nick hasn't been taking it entirely easy since he retired: he has been helping the monks of Maddleskirk Abbey to create a small private police force of monk-constables serving the Abbey and its adjoining college - not so much Constable as monkstables.
Murder at Maddleskirk Abbey, Nicholas Rhea's latest book, relates how he got on - and if Nick was expecting retirement to be quiet, he has learned otherwise. The monkstables have to use their knowledge of the abbey, its history, practices and personnel to solve a case of murder - with the help of some old friends.
Murder at Maddleskirk Abbey is published by Robert Hale; publication date is 31st October 2013, but demand was so great that stocks ran out before it hit the shops! This problem has now been solved, and copies are available for order from Amazon, direct from the publisher, or from any bookshop, quoting the ISBN: 978-0-7198-1168-5.
It is now also available in an audio edition as well as for Kindle from Amazon UK and from Amazon.com - and if you are looking for some of those hard-to-find Constable books, trying searching the Kindle store - you might be surprised what you find!
Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors
This follows a rather different book from Nicholas Rhea - though it too concerns a man whose life's work was the well-being of the Yorkshire moors and those who lived there. Father Nicholas Postgate lived at a time when being a Catholic priest was punishable by a horrible death, yet he walked around his huge 'parish' of Blackamoor, always declining the offer of a horse. He shared his food and clothes and visited people in remote areas to offer both spiritual and practical help, wanting to understand the plight of the poor and to empathise with them in every way. His generosity to all, regardless of their status or religion, earned him the title 'The Good Samaritan of the Moors'.
Since the earliest days of his writing career, Nicholas Rhea has felt the desire to produce a book about this charismatic priest of the North York Moors, but has only recently been able to research his life not only from previous publications and records but also from visits to his native moorland - along with some help from family and computer.
In addition to the book itself, you can now read some of his researches in a new section of this website devoted to Blessed Nicholas Postgate.
Never too late!
It's never too late to discover a good thing - though sometimes there's a long wait first! After the long awaited DVD release of the first series of Heartbeat, others have followed rapidly, and there are now sixteen series available, plus two of the related hospital drama, The Royal: see the Heartbeat page for details.
Caution: the disks are in Region 2 / PAL format; this means that it may not be compatible with DVD players outside Europe. We know that there are Heartbeat fans all over the world, and hope that this first release will be followed by other formats.
The early chapters of the Aidensfield story are becoming easier to find in book form, too. Although many of these are out of print, and much sought after by collectors, several of the early titles were reissued by Accent Press in a smart matching livery.
New technology has also come to the rescue, and you can download Kindle editions of several of the early (and hard-to-find!) episodes in the annals of Aidensfield, starting with the very first, Constable on the Hill. For an up-to-date list, have a look in Amazon's Kindle store - and US readers will find that Amazon.com can help you, too.
Chronicles of Kelderdale
A new puzzle for those of you who have solved the riddle 'Where is Aidensfield?' (and for those who haven't, there's a clue in this interview): where is Kelderdale?
Nicholas Rhea's Chronicles of Kelderdale first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the Dalesman magazine. It is a monthly account of the goings on in this fictitious village somewhere in the North Yorkshire, and we hope it will win many friends for Kelderdale and those who live there!
Nicholas Rhea is also the author of many other books, among them the Pemberton series (described by one critic as "distinctive and deserves to be better known"). In Murder under the Midnight Sun, the most recent of these, DS Mark Pemberton embarks on a cruise to the Arctic Circle. He simply wants to enjoy his holiday, experience the spectacle of the Midnight Sun and admire the splendour of the glaciers and fjords. But then a man is found stabbed in a locked cabin and the captain turns to Pemberton - can he assist in investigating the death without alarming the other passengers? Murder under the Midnight Sun is now available in audio and Large Print editions.
Others include the 'Assured' series, set in the Yorkshire Dales a generation before Heartbeat, and the Montague Pluke books, about an eccentric detective with a passion for horse troughs. The latest Montague Pluke book is Prize Murder. Nicholas Rhea tells us: "Lots of us have received letters offering chances of winning wonderful competitions, but suppose first prize was your own murder! When Detective Inspector Montague Pluke receives such a letter, he needs all his luck if he is to survive." And Prize Murder is now available in audiobook and large print formats, too.
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Site last updated 14th March 2014.