THE DEBUT novel by a new crime fiction writer is set in Bradford on Avon during the Second World War.

Ralph Spurrier, whose in-laws live in the town, has written his inaugural piece, A Coin for the Hangman, featuring a bookseller who buys an odd collection of books in an estate sale and finds a diary, leather straps and a hood.

He then realises they belonged to England’s last executioner and he follows a mystery that goes back to the Second World War and the town of Bradford on Avon.

“It is an incredible feeling but also slightly frightening, to have a book published” said the 68-year-old. “It will be a surreal moment seeing something you have spent seven years on, from writing the first word of it to it being published, make it onto a bookshelf. It is a great feeling.

“I was looking for a typical West Country town and I thought Bradford on Avon was a perfect fit, particularly the lock-up on the bridge. I should have done this 40 years ago but it is never too late.”

Yvonne Barlow, funder of Hookline Books, who publish Mr Spurrier’s book, said: “So far it has been very well received. We are getting quite a few advance sales for it.

“We often do not get people contacting us to have one of our books in a shop, usually we have to pitch it to them but this one has done the opposite and that really speaks to the quality of the book.”

Copies of the book went on sale on April 5 at the town’s Ex Libris book shop, in The Shambles, and it is available to pre-order on Amazon.