As a thank you for her previous brilliant crime solving, amateur sleuth, Martha Miller is guest of honour at the Winteringham Country Fair. However, this time she is looking forward to simply judging dog shows and eating cream teas rather than apprehending a killer!
And Martha is just beginning to enjoy spending quality time with Vicar Luke Walker away from the prying eyes and gossips of her own village, when disaster strikes, and the local teenage femme fatale is found stabbed to death behind the tea tent by Martha’s trusted red setter Lizzie!
But who would want to kill such a young girl and why? Someone in the village has secrets to hide and it seems Martha and Luke have another case to solve!
Daggers at the Country Fair is a welcome return to the sleuthing duo of Martha and Luke. This time the characters aren’t at home but rather on a weekend away, when their skills are unexpectedly called into use once more.
What follows is an intriguing examination of the inhabitants of Winteringham when a body is found during the country fair. Martha and Luke work to unpick what happened to the deceased and to hunt down the killer, as a collection of likely murderers make themselves known
I do love a Catherine Coles cozy mystery, and Daggers at the Country Fair is a welcome addition to the Martha Miller series. I will definitely look out for book 3 in the series.
Catherine Coles writes bestselling cosy mysteries set in the English countryside. Her extremely popular Tommy & Evelyn Christie series is based in North Yorkshire in the 1920’s and Catherine herself lives in Hull with her family and two spoiled dogs.
They call themselves The Settlement Bureau. A faceless, soulless organization coercing Americans with threats to expose their improprieties and vulnerabilities. Inhumanely persistent, they’ve secretly driven hundreds of victims into bankruptcy, despair – and several even to suicide.
But when this organization tries to blackmail IT expert Terry Reynolds, they make a serious mistake. Terry is down on his luck. He is penniless, divorced and in a dead-end job. Yet, the abuse of his personal information stirs Terry out of his lethargy and he fights back. He embarks on a digital game of cat-and-mouse with the cold, calculating minds behind The Settlement Bureau – and in doing so, uncovers a sprawling criminal conspiracy.
Under The Cloud is a chillingly plausible new thriller by B.R. Erlank. With a plot ripped straight from the headlines, readers warn this book delivers a “roller coaster ride right up to the final pages.”
Boris Erlank grew up in Southern Africa and Namibia. He has lived and worked in places as diverse as Luanda, Cape Town, Singapore and San Francisco. Boris recently gave up his job as Global Privacy Manager with a Fortune 100 company to focus on writing full-time. He has an extensive background in IT, data privacy and cybersecurity, and has drawn on that experience to craft his latest novel, “Under the Cloud”. Boris lives with his family and two dogs in the foothills of Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco. In his spare time, he likes to cycle, hike, sing in a choir, and listen to audiobooks.
1957. Blackleigh is an elite public school for boys in Yorkshire where prejudice and seething hatreds are never far below the surface. Violence erupts against any Junior who the Seniors deem unfit.
Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year, and is self-conscious about being Jewish and having a birthmark on his cheek. He knows that: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching, 2) The student Prefects, not the faculty, have absolute power to discipline and 3) Mr. Paul Wood, the temporary Headmaster, is weak and ineffectual.
Jonathan meets Bobby Stuart, an American transfer student, who is also worried about being accepted. Their friendship binds them together as they soon run afoul of three ruthless and ambitious Seniors in the House; Gabriel, Murray and Hausman – also known by their fanatic followers as ‘The Black Armbands’.
As the pressure mounts, ambitions grow, friendships become closer and scheming increases. As for Jonathan, the year is only beginning…
Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the third novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.
Michael says, “The books in the ‘Oath’ series are all inspired by my incredible experiences at a Boarding School in the North of England and on School Boards in Los Angeles. Each book in the series stands alone with totally separate main themes united by the exploration of prejudice, the unequal playing field in education, and the abuse of human rights. They will appeal to adults as well as young adults and are entirely set in an elite public school in Yorkshire.”
Today, I’m delighted to share an extract from Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons.
Violet & Elizabeth
Extract from Chapter 15 of ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’
The scene takes place outside Daly’s Theatre in London’s Leicester Square in 1905* following a performance of the operetta The Merry Widow, which Elizabeth Chester-Bolt and Violet Graham have attended independently. Miss Chester-Bolt is what’s known in the theatre business as an ‘’angel’, who invests her vast inherited wealth in plays. She is backing a new play written by Robbie Robinson and produced by Violet Graham. The two women have met once before, when the estranged yet not divorced Violet was aware of a distinct frostiness from Miss Chester-Bolt on account of her jealousy of Violet and Robbie’s putative romance.
*I’ve played with chronology a tad here: The Merry Widow actually premiered in London in 1907.
Outside the theatre Violet was contemplating which route to take home when she heard her name called from what appeared to be the inside of a brougham, the door of which stood open.
‘Mrs Graham!’ It was more of a command than a greeting. ‘May I offer you a lift?’
Now that was unexpected. Violet approached the carriage cautiously.
‘That is very kind of you, Miss Chester-Bolt, but I live in quite the opposite direction to you.’
‘No matter, get in.’
She hesitated. She wanted to refuse but she couldn’t immediately think of a reason to do so. And besides, it was late, and it was chilly, and there was a heavy demand for cabs. She climbed in.
She gave Miss Chester-Bolt her address, which the lady relayed to the driver before turning to Violet and saying, ‘What did you think of the show tonight? Extravagant, isn’t it? I’ve seen it five times. It has caused quite a stir here, and in Vienna, and quite right too. For once extreme wealth is not regarded as evil. The notion of a woman who is the centre of attention solely because of her money is a novel one, and I like it very much. And the idea that a man refuses to marry a woman because she is wealthy is clever and ingenious, don’t you agree? I can identify with that myself. You may wonder why I am not yet married, many people do, and it is for the very same reason, not because I have not received offers – because I assure you I have, plenty of them – but because I do not believe they are given honestly.’
She paused, and Violet realised she was expected to respond.
‘It’s a shame,’ she said eventually, ‘you have so little trust.’
‘Whereas you do not have any such excuse. You are lucky. The question is, why would a woman such as yourself remain unmarried? I understand you are estranged from your husband.’
‘That is true, yes.’
‘Not yet divorced. That is an awkward situation to be in, I grant you.’
It was not the direction Violet expected any conversation between herself and Miss Chester-Bolt to take, one-sided as it was. She was intrigued, and not a little apprehensive, as to where this particular one was going.
‘I see there is a certain attraction between Mr Robinson and yourself, am I right?’
Again that was unexpected. She suspected a trap.
‘We are good friends, yes, and working partners.’
‘That is not the impression I get. I have known Robbie for some time and I recognise an attraction when I see one.’
Violet shifted uncomfortably. ‘We are working together to put a show on, there is nothing more to it than that.’ She was trying her best not to sound defensive, or insulted, though she felt both.
‘You must take me for a complete fool,’ said Miss C-B. ‘Or perhaps you think you might be offending me in some way. Perhaps you think I have my own designs on Robbie. And you did not want to upset me because you need my money.’ Miss Chester-Bolt sighed, a touch melodramatically. ‘Because in the end it always comes down to money. And nobody can be completely honest with me so long as there is money involved.’
She had been looking out of the window while she spoke, her eyes on the road. Now she turned to face Violet directly. In the dim light of the carriage interior Violet was aware of a pair of eyes boring into her very soul.
‘I see you are struggling to find an answer, and I understand why. You don’t know whether to agree with me at the risk of offending me, or to continue to disagree with me at the risk of offending me. It is a cleft stick.’
‘I think you’ve rather lost me, Miss Chester-Bolt.’
‘What exactly do you want me to say?’
Miss Chester-Bolt turned her face away from Violet and Vi thought she saw a hint of tears in her eyes.
‘I know I frighten people. I do not have the social skills of some, yourself included, I’ve no doubt. I have a habit of snubbing people, not because . . . ’ She hesitated. ‘Not intentionally.’
She stopped. Violet waited.
‘I do not know who my true friends are. I do not know if I have any true friends. It has made me suspicious, of everyone. Of the most innocent of people, like yourself.’
She stopped speaking again, and it occurred to Violet, with some surprise, that the lady was perhaps attempting to apologise for her abrupt behaviour.
‘So all I wish to say, when it comes to the play, and to Robbie, you do what you like. Take no notice of me. It is your venture.’
‘We will consult with you, obviously.’
The carriage was drawing up outside Violet’s house.
‘Is this where you live?’ Elizabeth peered through the window at the tall house. ‘Gracious me, where on earth are we?’
‘Shoreditch,’ said Violet.
‘Shoreditch? What makes you want to live here?’ she cried. ‘Is it salubrious?’
‘Far from it. But it’s all I can afford. And it suits me. I don’t need much.’
‘You could lodge me with me if you’d like to.’
‘Oh. That’s extraordinarily kind of you, but I would not presume.’
‘You would not be presuming. You could act as a buffer between my mama and myself.’
Violet laughed, and then checked herself. Miss Chester-Bolt was not making a joke.
They sat for a moment in silence. Elizabeth was staring straight ahead.
‘Very well,’ she said. And then leaning across Violet she opened the door and said, ‘Goodnight.’
‘Goodnight,’ said Violet, as she clambered out of the carriage and stood watching as the vehicle, with its extraordinary occupant, sped away down the road.
Here’s the blurb:
London, 1905. A show. A stuttering romance. Two squabbling actresses.
Is it Shakespeare? Is it Vaudeville?
Not quite. It is Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons, a satirical play about suffragettes which its creators – friends and would-be lovers Robbie Robinson and Violet Graham – are preparing to mount in London’s West End.
It is the play rival actresses Merry and Gaye would kill to be in, if only they hadn’t insulted the producer all those years ago.
For Robbie and Violet however the road to West End glory is not smooth. There are backers to be appeased, actors to be tamed and a theatre to be found; and in the midst of it all a budding romance that risks being undermined by professional differences.
Patsy Trench has spent her life working in the theatre. She was an actress for twenty years in theatre and television in the UK and Australia. She has written scripts for stage and (TV) screen and co-founded The Children’s Musical Theatre of London, creating original musicals with primary school children. She is the author of three non fiction books about colonial Australia based on her own family history and four novels about women breaking the mould in times past. Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons is book four in her ‘Modern Women: Entertaining Edwardians’ series and is set in the world she knows and loves best. When she is not writing books she teaches theatre part-time and organises theatre trips for overseas students.
She lives in London. She has two children and so far one grandson.
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The SeeMs Agency detectives, employed in 2019 to discover if Anastasia murdered her first four husbands before she marries the fifth, are following any leads they can find. They discover that the first husband lived and worked in the Shetland Islands in 1987 and Cat, the lead detective, goes there to investigate. As she interviews people who were working on the oil rigs at the time, she finds that Shetland in 1987 was a very different place from the modern island it is today.
The forty-knot wind forced the November downpour into harsh curtains that reversed into spray guns as they hit the tarmac. Inside the Scatsta Airport hut, a young boy looked intently out into the maelstrom. Weather like this was not unusual in Shetland, but why was the helicopter flying out to the oilrigs tonight? What could be so important that they needed to fly in a storm?
Yes, even the best pilots got caught out, but Clement was better than the best. He was infallible.
Peering out into the fading light, the boy rubbed the pane automatically, willing the visibility to improve. Clement will be back, he told himself, his leg tapping up and down in a curiously constant rhythm. Ignoring the goosebumps growing on his arms and legs, his eyes searched the sky, but there was no sign of the helicopter.
The airfield cat rubbed itself against his leg. The boy reached down and stroked it; his gaze still glued to the horizon.
‘Don’t worry Cashy,’ he told the cat, ‘he’ll be here soon. He’s the best pilot in Shetland. And he knows the helicopter and the weather like … like … like you know which cat food is best.’
The cat gave a soft meow and the boy smiled.
‘Sorry, Cashy, are you hungry? We’ll just wait a bit more.’
Then, through the crashing cascades and howling wind, the boy recognised the whoop whoop beat of Bolkow blades. His whole body shuddered and then relaxed.
‘See, Cashy,’ he said. ‘I told you Clement would be OK. I told you he was the best pilot in the world.’
The cat rubbed itself on his leg, purring. The helicopter nosed out of the rain curtain, arcs of steam around its blades reflected in the hangar lights. The boy grabbed the cat and ran like a gazelle, his clothes immediately saturated by the downpour, arriving at the heliport ready with the trolley just as Clement landed.
Measuring the moment to drive the trolley under the helicopter’s belly, the boy’s heart gave a jolt of surprise. Clement was not alone in the helicopter. The boy recognised the people with him and knew it was against regulations.
Why? Clement never broke the rules. He would lose his licence if he was caught, and for Clement flying was life. What could Clement and his passengers have been doing that would be worth risking his licence, and potentially his life, for?
Here’s the blurb:
Is murdering husbands an addiction or merely a bad habit?
This is the question facing Private Investigator Cat Harrington when rich builder, Tom Drayton, dies shortly after his wedding night. Suspicion falls on his widow, Anastasia Rodriguez, the survivor of three previous ‘lost’ husbands.
Two years later, Anastasia is engaged again, to Cat’s friend Angelo, an Italian snail collector.
Angelo’s sister, Gia, employs Cat and the SeeMs Detective Agency to discover if her brother’s financé is a killer.
The search for Anastasia’s lost husbands takes Cat and her team from Scotland to the South of Spain and on to Argentina.
They have just a few weeks before the wedding to discover if Anastasia is a murderer and save their friend from becoming victim number five.
For fans of Arsenic and Old Lace and The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency
Gina has worked as a physiotherapist, a pilot, freelance writer and a dog breeder.
As a child, Gina’s parents hated travelling and never went further than Jersey. As a result she became travel-addicted and spent the year after university bumming around SE Asia, China and Australia, where she worked in a racing stables in Pinjarra, South of Perth. After getting stuck in black sand in the Ute one time too many (and getting a tractor and trailer caught in a tree) she was relegated to horse-riding work only. After her horse bolted down the sand, straining a fetlock and falling in the sea, she was further relegated to swimming the horses only in the pool. It was with some relief the racehorse stables posted her off on the train into eastern Australia to work in a vineyard… after all what could go wrong there?
In the north of Thailand, she took a boat into the Golden Triangle and got shot at by bandits. Her group escaped into the undergrowth and hid in a hill tribe whisky still where they shared the ‘bathroom’ with a group of pigs. Getting a lift on a motorbike they hurried back to Chiang Rai, where life seemed calmer.
After nearly being downed in a fiesta in Ko Pha Ngan, and cursed by a witch in Malaysia, she decided to go to Singapore and then to China where she only had to battle with the language and regulations.
Since marrying the first time, she has lived and worked in many countries including Spain and the USA.
For a few years Gina was a Wingwalking pilot, flying, amongst others, her 64-year-old mother standing on the wing to raise money for a cancer charity. She was also a helicopter instructor and examiner and took part in the World Helicopter Championships in Russia and the USA.
She became a writer because her first love was always telling a good yarn!
Under the name Georgina Hunter-Jones she has written illustrated children’s books such as The Twerple who had Too Many Brains, and Nola the Rhinoceros loves Mathematics.
She now lives in Sussex with her husband and dogs, one of who inspired the Biscuit and Pugwash Detective Series about naughty dogs who solve crimes.
The Mystery of the Lost Husbands is the first in the SeeMS Detective Agency series and Gina’s first crime novel for adults.