Best-selling crime writer David Mark has returned to his Cumbrian roots with his new thriller.

David, best known for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy series, set his standalone new novel, The Mausoleum, in 1960s’ Gilsland, having become fascinated by the village’s history.

David is a Carlisle-born former journalist who started his career at The Cumberland News and the News and Star in the 1990s, aged 17.

His DS McAvoy novels are based mainly in Hull, a city David knows well from his years as crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post.

The Mausoleum is set closer to where David grew up, and to his new home in Northumberland. He moved there from Lincolnshire last year.

He says: “Growing up in Carlisle, you get used to family days out in strange little places with amazing histories. My dad’s side of the family is from Brampton and we were always going to scramble about on bits of the Roman wall when I was a kid.

“My grandad would tell me about the Border Reivers and the Debatable Lands. He painted these gory stories of the violence that had scarred the landscape.

“I wanted to write something that was a complete departure from what I’d done before and I decided the time was right to let myself use the landscapes of my childhood. Gilsland is brimming with character.”

The Mausoleum uses real locations. Much of the mystery is tied up with the prisoner of war camp at Featherstone Castle, near Haltwhistle, and RAF Spadeadam.

Set in 1967, the novel focuses on academic Cordelia Hemlock, who is grieving after the death of her infant son.

In a graveyard during a storm, she witnesses the destruction of a family tomb and realises there is a new body among the old bones. She and a local woman begin to investigate but come up against a wall of lies.

David spent time in Gilsland to research the book. He says: “It started out as half an idea and evolved into something that has a life of its own.

“It’s billed as a thriller but it’s actually a story about friendship and place; about loss and the invisible threads that tie people together in this peculiar little hinterland split by the Roman wall.”

David has been interviewed about The Mausoleum on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. “I was talking about the importance of pubs to the creative process, alongside comedian Al Murray.

“My bit was recorded in the Samson Inn, Gilsland, because it figures in the book and because I do a lot of writing in pubs, observing the people who come and go and snatching them up to become colourful cameos in my work.”

The book has had good reviews in the USA, to David’s surprise. “The big magazines that go to schools and libraries and book groups have really gone to town with the praise, which is very gratifying and a little unexpected.

“American readers went barmy for Scandinavian crime thrillers a few years back so maybe it’s a way for them to visit other countries without having to go to the trouble of leaving the US. Either that or there’s about to be a huge surge in demand for murder mysteries set within 10 miles of Brampton.”

David moved back to the north with his family last summer. “When we were looking for the right house, a lovely old former pub came up and it was perfect. Lots of walks and old mineshafts and miles and miles of nothing very much, where the mind can soar like a red kite.

“It’s nice to hear people saying ‘scone’ the right way. A few too many writers here though. I reckon it’s time to trim the herd a little, though they may say the same about me...”

David’s latest McAvoy novel, Cold Bones, has been longlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award.