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  • janebettany

Novel locations - Bainbridge

Updated: Mar 13

Several people have asked me about the fictional town of Bainbridge, which features in my DI Isabel Blood novels. Many have guessed correctly that it is loosely based on the town of Belper, where I grew up and went to school. Belper is a wonderful town, located on the A6 road, half way between the city of Derby and the town of Matlock. It's packed with independent shops and great places to eat and drink and is well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Writers enjoy sharing the places they know and love with with their readers, and I'm no exception. So far, all of my books have been set in my home county of Derbyshire. However, there are two main reasons why I decided against naming Belper as the setting for the DI Isabel Blood books: firstly, Belper no longer has a police station, let alone a murder investigation team (I remember there being a police station when I was a teenager, although thankfully I never had a reason to visit).

Writers sometimes need flexibility and dramatic license to make the setting fit with the story they are writing.

The second reason for creating the fictional Bainbridge is that it allows me to take liberties with the town's layout and infrastructure (for plot purposes). For instance, in the second book in the series Without a Trace, Isabel visits Bainbridge's further education college (the town of Belper doesn't have a college). Writing about a fictional setting offers the flexibility and dramatic license needed to make the town fit with the story I am writing. It means I'm not constrained by the realities of a place, and I'm free to make things up without fear of contradiction.

Cromford mill pond in foreground, with a row of buildings alongside, including a bookshop

Having said that, I have positioned Bainbridge within the beautiful Derwent Valley - which is a very real and historically important area. DI Blood and her team also visit plenty of other East Midlands towns and villages in the course of their investigations, including Cromford (pictured), Matlock, Wirksworth, Bakewell, Melbourne, Derby and Nottingham.

If you'd like more information about Belper, visit

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