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RIP: Nicholas Rhea

Peter Walker, who wrote as Nicholas Rhea, photographed by his daughter Tricia

It is with great sadness but with enormous love that we wish to announce that Peter N Walker (aka Nicholas Rhea) died peacefully on the evening of Friday April 21st, surrounded by his beloved wife Rhoda and their four children Janet, Andrew, Tricia and Sarah. Peter's cancer, originally diagnosed ten years ago, sadly returned two weeks ago with a vengeance. His decline was rapid but he was cared for in those last moments by those who mattered most to him and he spent his final days in his beloved home of fifty years in Ampleforth, a Yorkshireman to the end.

Dad was the author of over 130 books and is best remembered for those turned into much loved TV series Heartbeat which was in continuous production for 15 consecutive years and sold to 41 countries.

Thank you so much to everyone for all your cards, kind words and caring thoughts. Thank you to all the nurses and carers who helped. We are heartbroken and we miss him tremendously already but we are pleased his suffering has ended and we find solace in the knowledge that he is surrounded in love.

With loving kindness,
Rhoda, Janet, Andrew, Tricia and Sarah.

In the Yorkshire Post

On the BBC website

The man who inspired Heartbeat...

Nicholas Rhea on the Heartbeat set - in the Sergeant's officeFor the last 50 years, Nicholas Rhea has been writing books, drawing on his experiences in the police force, his never-ending enthusiasm for Yorkshire and his continuing interest in crime fact and fiction. His best known work, the Constable stories, provided the inspiration for the hugely popular Heartbeat TV series, and he remained involved with the series as a consultant until filming ended in 2009.

This is Nicholas Rhea's official website, and on it you will find not only his news and information about the man, his books and, of course, Heartbeat, but also a country diary kept by Nicholas Rhea himself, in which he shares his observations about the county of Yorkshire, its countryside and traditions - and which is now being regularly updated! Click the link to read a new instalment of his explorations of Yorkshire - and beyond!

Nicholas Rhea has been suffering from an injured back for some months, and has been unable to sit at a computer for very long, although he has continued to produce his regular newspaper and magazine articles! He has now also sent us an update for his diary, which you can read in Nicholas Rhea's Diary  »

Back on the Beat with Constable Nick

Constable in the Farmyard Constable Under the Gooseberry Bush Constable Around the Green

The Constable books are probably Nicholas Rhea's best known work, since they form the rootstock from which the much-loved TV series, Heartbeat, sprang. Author Nicholas Rhea drew on his own experiences as a local bobby for a small Yorkshire village in the 1960s to chronicle the career of Constable Nick, from his first arrival in Aidensfield in Constable on the Hill, through his years on his rural beat, to his retirement in Constable over the Hill (2011). Even after his retirement, Nick wasn't allowed to take it easy: he helped to create a small private police force of monk-constables serving Maddleskirk Abbey and its adjoining college. There were more stories to be told, as well, about Nick's earlier life, explored in Constable on Trial.

Meanwhile Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have been making the original Constable stories available to new readers and long-time fans alike. Month by month, they are publishing the early stages of Constable Nick's career, in paperback and e-book editions. Watch the Constable books page to keep up to date with the latest titles.

More Digital Discoveries - now in paperback

Deadly Cases - the Pluke Omnibus edition

Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have been hunting for treasure on Nicholas Rhea's backlist, and finding more and more gems to offer to readers.

First they reissued two adventures of Detective Inspector Montague Pluke the CID's most superstitious police officer, then they asked Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton to help with their enquiries.

Both of these characters proved so popular that they added additional titles to the list. Whether you prefer the whimsical adventures of Montague Pluke (and a taste of Yorkshire folklore on the side) or the classic detective mysteries featuring Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton, told with Nicholas Rhea's trademark mixture of entertaining story-telling and police procedure based on personal experience, you no longer have to search for a highly collectable copy of that original hardback edition - now, thanks the Criminal Endeavours, it's easy to download an eBook edition!

The next step, of course, was to make those titles available in paperback - and then came an omnibus edition of three of Montague Pluke's 'deadly cases'!

Read about all the Pemberton books  » and about all the Montague Pluke books  »

Constable on Trial

Constable on Trial - the audio edition

Or go back to the start of Nick's career in Constable on Trial, now also available as an audiobook, read by Nick McArdle: Constable on Trial goes back to the beginning, to tell some untold stories about Constable Nick's earlier life, before he came to Aidensfield. This first volume of a projected new series takes us back in time as Detective Constable Rhea, stationed in the popular seaside resort of Strensford as a somewhat raw recruit, is given an attachment to CID. As Nicholas Rhea explains, there is an autobiographical element in this, too: "When patrolling in uniform, especially in the lonely night hours, young constables would dream of becoming a detective or having their own country beat. I was no exception and although the seaside town where I served my two years' probation provided much of interest, the CID promised extra excitement and intrigue.

Throughout his early days Nick, like many other detectives, nurses an ambition to arrest a murderer, but no opportunities come his way - until a killer on the run seeks refuge in Strensford and an elderly lady is found dead at home.

Read more about Constable on Trial and all the Constable books  »

A Century of Diary-Keeping

Chronicles of Kelderdale, in 'The Dalesman'

As well as his intermittent diary on this website, Nicholas Rhea writes a real-life Countryman's Diary every week in the Darlington & Stockton Times What's more, he has been writing it for forty years! In his anniversary column, he modestly points out that his predecessor wrote the column for an even more remarkable sixty years - and that neither of them has ever missed a week, so between the two of them, they have notched up an unbroken century of diary-keeping.

A more recent diary ia Nicholas Rhea's Chronicles of Kelderdale, which first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the Dalesman magazine. It is a bi-monthly account of the goings on in this fictitious village somewhere in the North Yorkshire. So here is a new puzzle for those of you who have solved the riddle 'Where is Aidensfield?' (and for those who haven't, there's a clue in this interview): where is Kelderdale?

Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors

Blessed Nicholas Postgate - the Martyr of the Moors

Since the earliest days of his writing career, Nicholas Rhea has felt the desire to produce a book about Father Nicholas Postgate, the charismatic priest of the North York Moors, but has only recently been able to research his life not only from previous publications and records but also from visits to his native moorland - along with some help from family and computer.

The result was a book rather different book to previous works by Nicholas Rhea - though it too concerns a man whose life's work was the well-being of the Yorkshire moors and those who lived there. Father Nicholas Postgate lived at a time when being a Catholic priest was punishable by a horrible death, yet he walked around his huge 'parish' of Blackamoor, always declining the offer of a horse. He shared his food and clothes and visited people in remote areas to offer both spiritual and practical help, wanting to understand the plight of the poor and to empathise with them in every way. His generosity to all, regardless of their status or religion, earned him the title 'The Good Samaritan of the Moors'.

In addition to the book itself, you can now read some of Nicholas Rhea researches in a new section of this website devoted to Blessed Nicholas Postgate.

Read more about Blessed Nicholas Postgate, the Martyr of the Moors  »

Other Books

Nicholas Rhea is also the author of many other books, among them the 'Assured' series, set in the Yorkshire Dales a generation before Heartbeat, books about Yorkshire folklore, standalone novels and thrillers.

More about all Nicholas Rhea's books  »


If you don't find what you are looking for on this site, try these links to other sites  »


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