Modern murder mysteries set in the heart of Hampstead
- Credit: Sabina Manea
Sabina Manea is bringing the classic crime fiction formula into the 21st century. More specifically, she’s bringing it to Hampstead.
Having lived for a long time in Rosslyn Hill, she believes the area lends itself to crime novels.
“I lived there for 10 years and I spent a lot of time fantasising about what people get up to behind their lovely closed doors," she told the Ham&High.
"You’ve got loads of characters that are screaming to be in a murder mystery. You’ve got eccentric academics, arty types, secretive business people, celebrities. It just wants to be written into a book.”
As a teenager, Sabina was fascinated with detective books by authors like Agatha Christie and PD James.
She said: “I was hooked. A puzzle that you solve - that was my cup of tea for years.
"The structure of all those sorts of novels is in a sense quite similar, but I think I’ve put a contemporary spin on it.”
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She said her writing accounts for modern access to the internet and her characters face “contemporary issues”.
Sabina sees herself in protagonist Lucia Steer, and said: “She’s like a fantasy version of me.
"She goes around and does really exciting stuff. She goes from being a corporate lawyer to an interior designer and works for the police in the second book.”
Sabina was a corporate lawyer herself and said some skills transfer into writing.
"It teaches you to have discipline and edit your book about a thousand times, but obviously it doesn’t have the creativity that fiction does, which is why I left it behind," she said.
As a child she combined amateur sleuthing with creating her own narratives. She would imagine stories around what she observed of her neighbours and in a sense, she has continued to do this as an adult. She said “the beautiful 18th century houses” in Hampstead Village “seem to be where all the interesting people live, like the ones in my books”.
Originally from Romania, Sabina grew up in South East England and now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with her husband and three children.
She has released two novels, Murder in Hampstead and Murder on the Heath - available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon - and is writing a third.