Witch Bottles? - JL Merrow - Blog Post - Blow Down (Plumber's Mate Mysteries #4)
Hi, I’m JL Merrow and I’m delighted to be here as part of the Blow Down blog tour.
Today I’d like to talk about hidden things—specifically, things hidden in old houses.
Tom Paretski, hero and narrator of my Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, has a talent for finding hidden things—but not things which have merely been lost. This is an important distinction, and not just to him: currently in Scotland, and up until relatively recently in England and Wales (1996) anyone digging up buried treasure would have a keen interest on whether it had been deliberately hidden, and would therefore count as Treasure Trove.
Anything merely lost, or deposited somewhere with no intention of recovering it, would be subject to the law of finders keepers (although the landowner might well have a claim, particularly in a case of trespass). But under a law dating back to the eleventh century, anything that had been deliberately hidden was deemed to be owned by the Crown, and the finder would have to bid a tearful farewell to that horde of Roman gold.
But it’s not just treasure, i.e. valuables, that were hidden in olden times. Old houses have turned up some startling finds from the medieval and later eras, including stashes of clothes, and witch bottles.
No, we’re not talking about an actual bottled witch, which would be unlikely unless the bottle were very large, or the witch extremely small. A witch bottle was an attempt at breaking a curse. Languishing under a foul enchantment? No problem: simply pee in a bottle, add pins and nails, and hide somewhere inconspicuous in your house—under the hearth stone was a popular spot, but under the plaster of a wall would also serve. The bottle would then, as long as it remained intact, draw out evil and stab it to death with the pointy things.
And these weren’t the only things hidden in an attempt to protect the house’s inhabitants. Other common finds from old buildings include: shoes, clothes, underwear, and—animal lovers look away now—the mummified remains of dead cats.
It’s the last one that really boggles. If a dead cat can ward off evil, wouldn’t a live one be even better? And if nothing else, it’d definitely be more successful at keeping down the mice.
“Did you know the Nether Wallop cache was found to contain literally dozens of garments or garment fragments hidden inside the framework of the building, including hats, shoes, and underwear? So what does that tell you?”
I blinked. “Someone really didn’t fancy doing their laundry?” – Blow Down
Question: Readers, what’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever stumbled across? Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Death is what happens when you're making other plans.
The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He's got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents. Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiance, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer - and there's no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself. As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all different directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they're up against is a ruthless schemer who won't hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren't careful, their love - and all their plans for the future - could be blown down like a house of straw.
Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.
JL Merrow is that rare beast, and English person who refuses to drink tea. She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again. Her one regret is that she never mastered the ability of punting one-handed whilst holding a glass of champagne.
She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour. Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy and her novella Muscling Through and novel Relief Valve were both EPIC Awards Finalists.
JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers' Circle and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team. Find JL Merrow online at www.jlmerrow.com, on Twitter as @jlmerrow, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jl.merrow
Prizes! I’m offering a prize of a signed paperback copy of winner’s choice from the first three Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, plus a $10 gift certificate. I’m happy to ship worldwide, and I’ll throw in some small goodies as well. :)