AWARD-WINNING non-fiction crime writer Kester Aspden has been commissioned to write an exploration of the murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox.
Leading independent publisher Serpent’s Tail is due to publish ‘Things That Divide Us’ in early 2018.
Aspden’s previous book was The Hounding of David Oluwale, an historical reconstruction of the death of a Nigerian homeless man in Leeds at the end of the 1960s.
It was widely acclaimed, winning him the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction. It was later adapted for the stage by West Yorkshire Playhouse.
Aspden, who was raised in Yorkshire, intends Things That Divide Us to be a blend of reportage, social history and memoir.
The book will centre on the police investigation of Cox’s murder and the trial of her killer, but will range more widely to explore the rise of nationalism and far-right politics in Britain.
Rebecca Gray, acting Serpent’s Tail publisher, said of the book: “It’ll be an important addition to the nationwide conversation that is only just beginning. I can’t think of a writer better placed to take on this complex subject.”
Aspden said: “I realise this is a painful subject. Painful for those directly involved but painful also for the community of Birstall and beyond.
“I approach the subject with some trepidation. I’m sure there are many who would rather just move on from the terrible events of June 2016.
“I believe, though, that this is an important historical case and that someone should provide a chronicle of it.”
Aspden attended every day of the two-week trial but left with many questions unanswered.
“Thomas Mair didn’t say a word during the trial. Those of us who watched him for almost two weeks didn’t really know what we were dealing with,” he added.
“It seems that many saw him around Birstall, but few really knew him.”
To help with his book, Aspden is appealing for help from the people of Batley and Spen. He would especially like to talk to anyone who knew Thomas Mair in his younger years.
“At the moment I’m not even sure which school he went to,” Aspden said.
The author would also like to hear from anyone with any information or any thoughts to share on the case.
He would be happy to talk over the phone or to meet people in person.
He can be contacted in the first instance on thingsthatdivideus email@example.com.