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The man who inspired Heartbeat...

Nicholas Rhea on the Heartbeat set - in the Sergeant's officeFor 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!

Nicholas Rhea's Diary  »

Confession - the new Endeavour Press edition

Digital Discoveries

Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have been hunting for treasure on Nicholas Rhea's backlist. They have already reissued two adventures of Detective Inspector Montague Pluke the CID's most superstitious police officer(see below), and now they have asked Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton to help with their enquiries.

Martin Edwards, reviewing the original edition of Confession for Crime Time magazine, said: "This latest novel illustrates Rhea's particular strengths. It is a book about a serial killer, and gives an unusual and intriguing spin to a well-worn theme..."

Nicholas Rhea explained where he got the idea for this ingenious puzzle: "Suppose a man confessed to murder but no unsolved murder was known to the police?" Confession begins with a dying man confessing to a Catholic priest that he has committed murder. Detective Superintendent Pemberton overhears part of that confession, but the priest cannot divulge what he heard. Pemberton, therefore, must carry out an investigation in reverse - to try and find a murder victim! The author admits "I had great fun with this one..."

For a long time, the only way to resolves the mystery was to track down a collectable copy of that original hardback edition - but now, thanks the Criminal Endeavours, it's easy to download an eBook edition!

Read about all the Pemberton books  »

In the news

The last episode of Heartbeat was broadcast Sunday 12 September 2010, but despite the passage of time the much-loved series is not forgotten. The fictitious village of Aidensfield has been in the papers lately, when the - real - Aidensfield stores was put up for sale. Now comes the news that it has been saved from closure, and will continue as a family business. And that's not all: Nicholas Rhea told The Whitby Gazette that preparations are under way to create a stage play based on the popular TV series. The play will feature four of the original cast members including David Lonsdale and Peter Benson and will tour the UK between March and July next year.

At the same time, he is keeping busy writing books: he told The Yorkshire Post that he is currently working on not one but three books: one of these is Constable on Trial (see below), which revisits the Constable series, but is set ten years earlier, but there is also a crime thriller set in Northumberland and a non-fiction book about the folklore of the North York Moors!

Constable on Trial

Constable on Trial

There are more stories to be told, as well, about Nick's earlier life. Constable on Trial, the first volume of a projected new series, takes us back in time as Detective Constable Rhea, stationed in the popular seaside resort of Strensford as a somewhat raw recruit, is given an attachment to CID. As Nicholas Rhea explains, there is an autobiographical element in this, too: "When patrolling in uniform, especially in the lonely night hours, young constables would dream of becoming a detective or having their own country beat. I was no exception and although the seaside town where I served my two years' probation provided much of interest, the CID promised extra excitement and intrigue.

Throughout his early days Nick, like many other detectives, nurses an ambition to arrest a murderer, but no opportunities come his way - until a killer on the run seeks refuge in Strensford and an elderly lady is found dead at home.

Constable on Trial will be published by Robert Hale on 30th November 2015; place an advance order with Amazon or with any bookshop (ISBN: 978-0-7198-1814-1).

Read more about Constable on Trial and all the Constable books  »

What Constable Nick did next

Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey

At the other end of Nick's career, you can read about his adventures 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, the first book in this new series, showed the monkstables using their knowledge of the abbey, its history, practices and personnel to solve a case of murder - with the help of some old friends. And they were so successful in this that Nicholas Rhea has given them another case to untangle in his next book, coming in April, Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey.

When a woman confesses to Father Will, one of the monk-constables at Maddleskirk Abbey, that she has committed murder, he can do nothing but absolve her from her sin. The Seal of Confession is absolute. He cannot discuss her crime, ask the identity of her victim, or share the responsibility of this information with anyone. His hands are tied.

When a body is found in the nearby woodland, his moral dilemma grows...

Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey was published by Robert Hale on 30th April 2015 (ISBN: 978-0-7198-1575-1). It is available for order from Amazon.

Read more about Maddleskirk Abbey  »

Digital Pluke

Superstitious Death - the new Endeavour Press editionA  Well-Pressed Shroud - the new Endeavour Press edition

Detective Inspector Montague Pluke, the CID's most superstitious police officer, has already been enrolled in the criminal endeavours of Endeavour Press, with two hard-to-find early titles already available, and more promised for the future. So if you prefer your detectives digital, not only can you read A Full Churchyard, the latest adventure of Montague Pluke, you can also catch up with some of his earlier adventures!

A Well-Pressed Shroud finds hardworking Detective Inspector Montague Pluke spending a much-needed holiday from his job at the Crickledale CID in search of the Lost Giants' Horse Trough of Trippingdale. But his holiday is abruptly disturbed when, while searching the closed-down estate, Pluke stumbles upon the body of the estate's heir floating face down in shallow waters...

Superstitious Death finds DI Pluke preparing for the annual shoggling festival in the small Yorkshire town of Crickledale. He realises something terrible has happened when Mrs Cholmondeley's bay tree withers and dies for no apparent reason. His superstition is confirmed when he discovers the body of an attractive young woman in a shallow grave...

And in A Full Churchyard, a cold-case review brings the case very close to home!

Read about all the Montague Pluke books  »

Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors

Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors

Since the earliest days of his writing career, Nicholas Rhea has felt the desire to produce a book about Father Nicholas Postgate, the 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.

The result was a book rather different book to previous works by 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'.

In addition to the book itself, you can now read some of Nicholas Rhea researches in a new section of this website devoted to Blessed Nicholas Postgate.

Read more about Blessed Nicholas Postgate, the Martyr of the Moors  »

Heartbeat - a Yorkshire Icon

Although there have been no new episode of Heartbeat since September 2010, the show is still much loved, in the UK and around the world - and of course that includes Yorkshire! Nicholas Rhea was delighted to find Heartbeat included in a list of 75 Yorkshire icons compiled by the Dalesman magazine. It came in at no. 65, a few positions above rhubarb! Top of the poll was, of course, Yorkshire pudding.

Heartbeat continues to be repeated on television in many countries, and there are now sixteen series available on DVD, 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.

Chronicles of Kelderdale

Chronicles of Kelderdale, in 'The Dalesman'

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!

Other Books

Nicholas Rhea is also the author of many other books, among them the 'Assured' series, set in the Yorkshire Dales a generation before Heartbeat, books about Yorkshire folklore, standalone novels and thrillers.

More about all Nicholas Rhea's books  »


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