Mossley author publishes novel about Saddleworth murders

A novel due out next week explores the infamous Saddleworth pub murders that rocked the community more than 150 years ago.

Sophie Parkes has announced that her debut novel, ‘Out of Human Sight’ will hit shelves next week and is based on an old local murder mystery.

It covers an unsolved case dating back to 1832 in which the innkeeper and his son are found “bloody, battered and unrecognizable” at The Moorcock Inn on Holmfirth Road.

The case became a local legend to people in the area and beyond over the decades, with many flocking from across the country to Saddleworth to see the ‘bloodstained pub’ for themselves.

The Mossley-born author said she was inspired to write about the story when she moved to the area and came across the case, known locally as the legend of Bills O’Jack.

Ms Parkes said she spent a significant amount of time researching the known facts of the case and visited the permanent exhibition at Saddleworth museum, although the book itself is a work of fiction and is her own invention.

The book opens with the murders at the secluded inn, but goes on to explore what happens to the victims’ family, namely their niece and niece, Millie, and how they deal with growing fame.

Parkes said: ‘I’m not so much fascinated by who committed the murder, while the fact that it remains unsolved is certainly intriguing, I’m more interested in how a young woman can be thrust into the spotlight and deal with such tragic circumstances in a small and isolated place, as Greenfield and Saddleworth would have been then.

“This is very much a work of fiction and I have created characters, landmarks and motivations to develop what I hope will be an enjoyable read, driven by realistic characters of their time.

“The real-world case has provided what I see as a springboard for an entirely new story that will hopefully still be familiar to local readers,” he added.

Although this is Ms. Parkes’ debut novel, the author has previously published a biography of musician Eliza Carthy and has written the autobiography of blind endurance athlete, Dave Heeley.

Ms Parkes is currently studying a PhD in creative writing and folklore at Sheffield Hallam University and is the founder of Mossley Writers.

She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2017 and was recently invited to 6Music to discuss her debut novel.

“Out of Human Sight” will be available in both print and ebook versions starting Thursday, January 26.

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