The year is 1729. William Backas, Chief Constable of Whitby, and his wife Margaret are settling down for a cup of tea after returning from a funeral when they are disturbed by the supervisor of the Boulby Alum Works.
A corpse has been found in a barrel of urine. The investigation unearths the beginnings at the Coronation and the subsequent tangled lives of a range of intriguing characters, which involves corruption, smuggling, rape and white slavery. However, with the common sense, wisdom and humour of Margaret, and some other helpers, William solves the intriguingly complex crimes.
Stephen Baines was Yorkshire born and bred, and has ancestors who were mariners of Whitby in the 18th and 19th Centuries, which has been the inspiration of all his books.
After studying Theology at Cambridge University, Stephen took a post-graduate year at Oxford. Then he studied at the London Institute of Education where he met Susan whom he married, after which they settled in East Anglia. Stephen taught English at Philip Morant School in Colchester for a dozen years, and then moved to the Colchester Sixth Form College where he taught Religious Studies, Philosophy (which involved making life easier for his students by transcribing Descartes’ Meditations into rhyming couplets!), and Theory of Knowledge. He introduced the International Baccalaureate (the College being one of the first State Schools in the UK to do so). After retiring from full-time teaching in 2006, he lectured part-time on Ancient Greek Philosophy at the University of Essex for two years.
Stephen has had a range of articles published, including Anglo-Norman sculpture, problem solving, educating very able children, the sheep-breeder Jonas Webb, and mediaeval drinking habits. He has been on radio and television, and some of his poems have appeared in print. His other interests include Geoffrey Chaucer, ornithology, gardening, genealogy, croquet, and playing the ukulele.
His previous books are “The Yorkshire Mary Rose, The General Carleton of Whitby” (Blackthorn Press. 2010) and “Captain Cook’s Merchant Ships: Freelove, Three Brothers, Mary, Friendship, Endeavour, Adventure, Resolution and Discovery” (The History Press. 2015).
He has three daughters and four grandchildren.
Friend or Foe is Stephen’s crime fiction debut.