|Title||The Four Marks Murders|
|Paperback||332 pages, black and white, colour cover.
|Chapters||20 murders + newly researched ‘History of Four Marks’|
|Content||60 illustrations • 18 maps (8 new)•
2 population charts• 4 appendices
|Publisher||Chattaway & Spottiswood, Hampshire, October 2020 • reprint January 2021 • second edition October 2021|
The Four Marks Murders
Twenty grisly tales from a sleepy corner of Hampshire between the years 400 and 2020.
Also available directly from:
Alresford: Bookseller Laurence Oxley, 17 Broad Street SO24 9AW; 01962 732188
Alresford: Long Barn Garden Centre, Bishops Sutton Road SO24 9EJ; 01962 738684
Medstead: Handy Store Post Office, High St, Medstead, Alton GU34 5LW; 01420 560247
Recommended retail price: £15.99. Second edition: Updated with reader’s suggestions
This book is about a large number of deliberate or untimely deaths in what was thought to be one of the quiet backwaters of Hampshire.
In this true-life thriller, Chris Heal investigates twenty local murders beginning in Roman times, over half of them since 1900 and three within the last few years. They are all here: drug runners, people traffickers, robbers and smugglers; killers of animals, of babies, young children and the senile; those who planned revenge and sought the righting of wrongs; battle slaughter, corruption in the legal processes and mob rule.
‘I don’t hold a magic magnet for attracting this sort of information but you will understand that once you start asking, once you start looking, then people start talking. Odd facts jump out from unrelated pages and take new meanings. People brood for a month or two, then make contact. Collecting murders is like rolling a snowball.’
In the conclusion, Heal asks why Four Marks is the murder capital of Southern England.
Using careful research, the history of the village is revealed. From prehistoric times, Four Marks was an empty squeeze point on the road north. Formed in 1932, it lacked the heart of a medieval village. Its scrub wasteland was only lately filled by a population with far-flung roots. As well as exploding cherished myths, Heal uncovers a surprising secret that links local development to both a great political movement and one of the UK’s largest corporations.
Gripping and sometimes gory, fascinating historical tales brought to life, along with the odd ‘skeleton in the cupboard’. Written in a style that makes you want to read both the next page and the next story. To quote Mark Twain ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ and in this meticulously researched book, it’s quite a challenge to try to determine which is which.
Mike Overy, medstead.org webmaster
An exciting read. Left us fascinated and curious about the history of the village and drama in our own house! Plenty of ‘dinner party’ conversations and tales within.
Kate Hesk, The Observatory, Blackberry Lane
I am a native of Four Marks. I found the information in this very readable book fascinating. For me, it reinforces that Four Marks is a special place. Everyone in the village and around should buy a copy.
Norman Read, butcher and farmer
If you are interested in Four Marks, you should read this book. There is a lot to learn. The mixture of historical material, personal reminiscences and what I think may be fiction is very well done. In places I found myself wondering where one ended and the other began. The material on population growth at the end is very interesting: it must be the first time anyone has done anything like this in a serious way.
Dr Keith Brown, archivist, the Watercress Line
‘The Wild Girl’, The Edward Thomas Fellowship Newsletter, No. 84, August 2020, pp. 56-62
‘Murders in Four Marks’, Wey Radio, Val Valu, 16 October 2020
‘The Four Marks Murders’, Itchen Valley Forum, October 2020, p. 32
‘Is Four Marks really ‘the murder capital of Southern England’?’, Farnham Chronicle series, 17 December 2020, p. 15
‘Murderous tales and gruesome goings-on…’, Farnham Chronicle series, Colin Channon, 24 December 2020, p. 6
‘The Four Marks Murders’, Four Marks News, February 2021, p. 20
Book lecture, Alresford Historical and Literary Society, 21 October 2020
Four Marks Murders Webinar, Cardiac Rehab, Alton, 2 December 2020
Book lecture, The National Trust, Alton, 24 March 2021
‘Murders in Four Marks & Other Things’, Alton U3A, 18 February 2022