Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Big Thrill Discusses THE SECRETS OF MORGARTEN with L.S. Mangos

Book Cover: THE SECRETS OF MORGARTENA young nation in peril. A web of deception. A triangle of forbidden love.

The year is 1315. The fledgling nation of Switzerland—the Confederation Helvetica—is under threat from the Habsburg Empire. In France, the Knights Templar have been disbanded and declared heretics by the king. Magda, a beautiful weaver living near the alpine village of Morgarten, befriends Walter, a messenger and tracker who is the son of the legendary Wilhelm Tell. Walter and Magda’s budding romance is threatened by the arrival of Sébastien, a fugitive from France. What secrets is this foreigner hiding? Can Walter solve the mystery of a murder and a stolen religious artefact before a mighty battle with the Habsburgs ensues? And who will be the victors in their turbulent triangle of love?

Author Photo: L.S.Mangos

L.S. Mangos

Award-winning author L.S. Mangos recently sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss their latest mystery, THE SECRETS OF MORGARTEN.

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

I originally started writing this medieval mystery as part of my Masters in Crime Writing at the University of East Anglia. It soon became apparent that the amount of research involved would mean I could not possibly submit a polished manuscript for my dissertation by the deadline. I put the novel aside to work on a psychological suspense The Beaten Track which was published last year. After graduation, my tutors and cohort encouraged me to re-visit and finish the historical work. As it was close to my heart, and being reminded daily as I live in the setting, I knew I had to complete the novel.

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

In terms of books, the wonderful works of Bernard Cornwell and CJ Sansom come to mind, the former for his particularly wonderful battle scenes. Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose also has a mystery at its core. One of my favourite movies is A Knights Tale which I’d seen several times before and during the writing of the novel.

In the summer in the central Swiss Aegerital where I live, the haunting sound of alphorns echoes round the valley every evening at dusk. The music helped evoke a medieval, sometimes melancholic, atmosphere for my creativity.

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

In 2015, the Aegeri Valley in central Switzerland hosted a huge festival for the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Morgarten. The celebrations involved re-enactments of the battle, parades through the streets, musical performances, air-force and military participation and a medieval fayre. It was at these celebrations that the seeds of an idea for THE SECRETS OF MORGARTEN germinated.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

There are three protagonists in THE SECRETS OF MORGARTEN. Not everyone knows about the birth of Switzerland or its turbulent early history, but everyone knows the legend of Wilhelm (William) Tell. I thus made one of the male protagonist the son of the legend, who is named in literature as Walter, the young boy whose father shot an apple off his head. Nothing is mentioned about what happened to Walter past childhood, but I have borrowed his character to create a military messenger and medieval sleuth. Magda is perhaps atypical of this period; I wanted to portray a strong female protagonist always questioning the place of women in medieval times. And who doesn’t want to fall in love with a handsome French Templar knight like Sébastien de Molay?

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I hope people will realise how challenging it was for the Confederation Helvetica—today’s Switzerland—to remain independent from the Habsburg Empire throughout the entire middle ages. The historical events in the novel are correct, so readers can learn a little about European History in the 1300s.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

Since finishing THE SECRETS OF MORGARTEN I’m finding it hard to let the characters go. There may be plans afoot to continue some medieval sleuthing with the characters.

In the meantime, I’ve returned to more contemporary projects. I’ve recently finished Six Fatal Flaws, about a psychotherapist who sets up a self-help group for some of her former PTSD patients. When her baby disappears, each member of the group comes under suspicion, including the therapist herself.


Louise Mangos writes award-winning suspense novels and short fiction which have won prizes, placed on shortlists and been narrated on BBC radio. Her books are set mostly in Switzerland. Louise holds a Masters in Crime Writing from the University of East Anglia in the UK. She lives at the foot of the Swiss Alps a few miles from the site of the Battle of Morgarten with her Kiwi husband and two sons where she enjoys an active life in the mountains.

To learn more about the author, please visit her website.