New general fiction

9780719816253An Unholy Whiff of Death by Joyce Cato

When asked to judge the neighbouring village’s Flower Show, vicar’s wife Monica Noble is thrilled, even if she can’t tell a begonia from an azalea! This year, competition is fierce, and when her fellow judge, a well-liked vicar, is killed, Monica must wake up and smell the roses. A second murder quickly follows, this time a local scientist. Monica must help the local detective to solve the two murders and find the killer – quickly, before anyone else dies.

Joyce Cato was born in Oxford and worked as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer.

Buy your copy of An Unholy Whiff of Death here.

9780719817649Cardinal Obsession by Roy Lewis

D.C.I. Cardinal’s plans to smash the gang of his old adversary Gus Clifford are thwarted by the discovery of a dead man in Northumberland. He assigns D.S. Grout to investigate the murder while he continues to lead the hunt for Clifford. Grout’s investigation begins at Hadrian’s Wall but a second murder leads both men to the centre of an international art-smuggling organization on the Bodensee. Cardinal and Grout must uncover the identity of the killer before he strikes again, and stop the Clifford gang.

Roy Lewis is a well-established crime writer with over sixty novels to his name. A former college principal and inspector of schools, he now runs business training programs and lives in the North of England, where he sets many of his books.

Buy your copy of Cardinal Obsession here.

Inspector Abberline and the Just King by Simon Clark9780719816567

1890: A killer stalks the Isle of Faxfleet – a tiny, independent kingdom on the River Humber in Yorkshire. Faxfleet is inhabited by eccentrics, oddballs and Victorian dropouts, and is ruled by King Ludwig, a man obsessed with creating an academy of geniuses. When one of the academy members is killed by an arrow while climbing a tree, Scotland Yard despatches Inspector Abberline, the world-famous ‘Ripper Detective’, and his assistant Thomas Lloyd, to investigate. The case is as fascinating as it is perplexing, and leads to a series of decidedly peculiar crimes and a thrilling climax that plunges both men into danger.

Since selling his first ghost story to a radio station as a teenager, Simon Clark has had a prolific career as a horror writer. His previous novels include This Rage of Echoes and Midnight Bazaar – A Secret Arcade of Strange and Eerie Tales, also published by Robert Hale. Having previously worked as both a strawberry-picker and a shelf-stacker, Simon Clark now writes full-time and has won a British Fantasy Society Award for his work.

Buy your copy of Inspector Abberline and the Just King here.

9780719816079The Work of a Narrow Mind by Faith Martin

When ex-DI Hillary Greene, now working for the cold-case squad, is assigned to the tragic murder of an old woman, she’s determined to track down the killer. But with her partner pressing for an answer to his proposal of marriage, and a new boss, it won’t be easy, especially as her team’s newest addition seems to have his own agenda for being there – an agenda that’s leading him into big trouble. Luckily Hillary’s a multi-tasker – nobody is going to get away with murder on her watch.

Faith Martin was born in Oxford. She began her working life as a secretary but left to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. A Narrow Victory is the latest book in the thrilling Hillary Greene series.

Buy your copy of The Work of a Narrow Mind here.

New general fiction titles

An Unholy Mess by Joyce Cato9780719815430

In the small Cotswold village of Heyford Bassett, vicar’s wife Monica Noble throws a party for the village’s new residents. The guests include Margaret Franklyn and her philandering husband Sean, a celebrity chef and her cartoonist beau, a retired Oxford Don with a secret, a forty-something divorcee, and the owner of a chain of gyms. A shotgun blast heralds the discovery of the body of Margaret Franklyn and suspicion falls on a community already terrified at the thought of a murderer in their ranks. Who to blame? The husband? Monica’s daughter who had been accused of stealing from the deceased? Monica swings into action with the local DI to save her daughter and solve the crime.

Joyce Cato was born in Oxford and worked as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer.

Buy your copy of An Unholy Mess here.

Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey by Nicholas Rhea9780719815751

When a woman confesses to Father Will, one of the monk-constables at Maddleskirk Abbey, that she has committed murder, he can do nothing but absolve her from her sin. The Seal of Confession is absolute. He cannot discuss her crime, ask the identity of her victim, or share the responsibility of this information with anyone. His hands are tied. When a body is found in the nearby woodland, his moral dilemma grows. Detective Chief Superintendent “Nabber” Napier and his team have a murder to solve, but monks sworn by oath to silence are hardly the ideal candidates for questioning… When the murder weapon is discovered, concealed in the Abbey, and the detectives learn of the mysterious disappearance – and violent past – of one of the Abbey’s monks, the race is on to find the culprit before anybody else gets hurt. Questions need to be answered and confessions must be made.

Nicholas Rhea is the pen name for Peter N. Walker, formerly an inspector with the North Yorkshire Police and the creator of the Constable series of novels, the inspiration for the long-running and critically acclaimed ITV drama series Heartbeat. As Peter N. Walker he is the author of Portrait of the North York Moors. He lives in North Yorkshire.

Buy your copy of Confession at Maddleskirk Abbey here.

Dead and Gone by Bill Kitson

9780719815829Dean Wilson knows any relationship with Naomi Macaulay is doomed. Her family are Wilson Macaulay Industries, founders of Bishopton Investment Group. His sister, Linda, was the Group’s financial director until she vanished four years ago, around the same time as millions of pounds of investors’ money disappeared, and the Group collapsed amidst claims of fraud and embezzlement. When Dean is charged with assault, DI Mike Nash’s enquiries cause him to reopen the fraud case, and soon Nash has several murder investigations on his hands. Meanwhile, when complaints are made about email scams, computer analyst, Tina Silver, is brought in to help examine the software. Connections to executives of Wilson Macaulay Industries begin to emerge. After an independent auditor vanishes, Nash and his colleagues must determine who is guilty, who is innocent, who is dead and who is gone.

Bill Kitson, a retired finance executive, was born in West Yorkshire. He is an avid fan of cricket and cryptic crosswords and is also the former chairman of the Scarborough Writers’ Circle. Dead and Gone is the eight outing for DI Mike Nash, following Kitson’s gripping thrillers Depth of Despair, Chosen, Minds That Hate, Altered Egos, Back-Slash, Identity Crisis and Buried in the Past.

Buy your copy of Dead and Gone here.

The Prosecco Fortune by Stella Whitelaw9780719815386

Emma Chandler has a comfortable life as junior partner of a firm of chartered accountants in London. When she is sent to Venice to investigate the disappearance of their client Signor Marco dell’Orto’s fortune, her safe lifestyle is capsized and she is thrown into a disorientating and fast-paced world of deceit and crime. She begins to fall for Marco while staying in his palazzo, and her arrival does not remain unnoticed in the Venetian backstreets for long. Marco’s computers are hacked and his phone is bugged. Emma is being watched. The body of a young woman wearing Emma’s raincoat is found, floating in a lagoon. Should Emma take these ominous signs as a cue to leave? Or should she stay to complete the job she was sent to do? Emma must figure out, with the help of the Venetian police and the computer expert Professor Windsor, who is behind the stolen fortune.

Stella Whitelaw began her writing career as a cub reporter and rose to become the first female chief reporter in London. She writes short stories for national women’s magazines and has won many competitions. Her previous novels Portrait of a Murder and Money Never Sleeps were also published by Robert Hale.

Buy your copy of The Prosecco Fortune here.

OUT NOW: Deadly Stuff by Joyce Cato

Deadly Stuff by Joyce CatoJoyce Cato was born in Oxford and went on to work as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer.

You can see what Joyce had to say about writing Jenny Starling here.

This is the fifth book in the Jenny Starling series: Birthdays Can Be Murder, A Fatal Fall of Snow, Dying for a Cruise, An Invisible Murder

Deadly Stuff by Joyce Cato

Travelling cook Jenny Starling lands a summer job catering for the conference trade at a prestigious Oxford College, but she doesn’t expect murder to be either on the menu or on the syllabus.

An unpopular member of a taxidermy society is found dead in Hall, and Jenny is reluctantly persuaded by the college bursar to help the suspicious police solve the case. That’s easier said than done when nobody has a particularly strong motive, and absolutely everybody seems to have an iron-clad alibi.

Praise for the Jenny Starling series

‘Joyce Cato has created a wonderful protagonist in Jenny Starling.’ – Mystery Women

‘Jenny is an attractive, intelligent Rubenesque heroine, and the cast of characters above and below stairs are captured affectionately and wittily’ – Euro Crime

‘[a] tenacious cook, with a razor-sharp mind’ – Oxford Times

Deadly Stuff by Joyce Cato is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

Deadly Stuff by Joyce Cato

Joyce Cato discusses the origin of travelling cook Jenny Starling

Deadly Stuff by Joyce CatoJoyce Cato was born in Oxford and went on to work as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer. She returns this month with the latest offering in the Jenny Starling series.

Here, she discusses what made her write such a character.

Having created my own version of an ideal professional police detective in the Hillary Greene series (written under the name of Faith Martin) I found myself yearning for the more nostalgic, classic-style country-house mysteries of the golden age of English crime fiction. Like a lot of readers, I devoured every Agatha Christie novel I could find, from my early teens on, and never forget the delight to be found in coming across a previously unread Dorothy L Sayers or Edmund Crispin.  So, having read everything I could find from that period, I thought, why not write my own!  (Not that I would ever presume or dream to be counted in such esteemed company, naturally!)  Hence Jenny Starling was born – after all, a cook who travelled to country houses and other prime whodunnit destinations, she was just asking to become an amateur sleuth.  Add a dash of humour and a little more modern-day thinking to the mix, and the travelling cook mysteries were born.  And I can only hope that readers have had as much fun reading them as I have had writing them.

Jenny is the only child of a famous celebrity chef, and an eco-warrior mother, who went their separate ways during Jenny’s formative years.  She learned her culinary arts at her capricious Daddy’s knee of course, but also attended a local catering college, where she spent most of her time teaching her tutors how to make a proper Dundee cake.   Her tall, Junoesque figure attracts plenty of male attention, but now firmly in her mid-twenties (or so!) she is dedicatedly single, and likely to remain that way.  Her unrivalled sense of humour and steady head allow her to cope with most of the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune cast her way (usually in the form of murderous mayhem) and her moral compass keeps her (mostly) on the straight and narrow.  Although she doesn’t see herself as a detective, her clever mind and instinctive knowledge of human nature certainly helps her whenever she’s called upon to give the long-suffering local constabulary a helping hand.

– Joyce Cato

Praise for the Jenny Starling series

‘Joyce Cato has created a wonderful protagonist in Jenny Starling.’ – Mystery Women

‘Jenny is an attractive, intelligent Rubenesque heroine, and the cast of characters above and below stairs are captured affectionately and wittily’ – Euro Crime

‘[a] tenacious cook, with a razor-sharp mind’ – Oxford Times

This is the fifth book in the Jenny Starling series:

Birthdays Can Be Murder

A Fatal Fall of Snow

Dying for a Cruise

An Invisible Murder

Deadly Stuff by Joyce Cato is scheduled for publication on 30 April 2014

OUT TODAY: The Invisible Murder by Joyce Cato

The Invisible Murder by Joyce CatoJoyce Cato was born in Oxford and went on to work as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer. This is the fourth book in the Jenny Starling series, the first three, Birthdays Can Be Murder, A Fatal Fall of Snow and Dying for a Cruise were also published by Robert Hale.

THE INVISIBLE MURDER BY JOYCE CATO

When travelling cook Jenny Starling starts her new job for the aristocracy living in a genuine castle, she is thrilled. She envisions nothing more arduous than days spent preparing her beloved recipes. When a fabulous jewelled dagger, one of the castle’s many art treasures, is used to murder a member of the staff and the Lady of the house insists that Jenny – quite literally – helps the police with their enquiries, it seems as if the reluctant sleuth must once again discover the identity of the killer amongst them.

But how was it done, when the murder was committed in front of several impeccable witnesses – none of whom saw a thing?

An Invisible Murder by Joyce Cato is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%

The Invisible Murder by Joyce Cato

OUT TODAY: Dying for a Cruise by Joyce Cato

Dying for a Cruise by Joyce CatoJoyce Cato was born in Oxford and went on to work as a secretary before becoming a full-time writer. This is the third book based on Jenny Starling, the first two, Birthdays Can Be Murder and A Fatal Fall of Snow were also published by Robert Hale.

DYING FOR A CRUISE – OFFICIAL BLURB

When Jenny Starling, the travelling cook with a penchant for trouble, accepts an assignment to cook for a wealthy businessman on his luxurious river-boat, the fabulous Stillwater Sam, she sees nothing but plain sailing ahead. The River Thames is especially lovely in summer, the limited number of guests a doddle to cook for, and even her employer’s parrot has taken a fancy to her. All looks set for a peaceful and happy few days. So when someone is murdered, Jenny finds herself once again in the thick of things. And since anyone aboard could be the murderer, she’d better keep her wits about her – and her sharp knives handy!

Praise for the author:

‘Joyce Cato has created a wonderful protagonist in Jenny Starling.’ – Mystery Women

‘Jenny is an attractive, intelligent Rubenesque heroine, and the cast of characters above and below stairs are captured affectionately and wittily’ – Euro Crime

‘[a] tenacious cook, with a razor-sharp mind’ – Oxford Times

Dying for a Cruise by Joyce Cato is available to buy now with a limited time only discount of 30%.

Author Interview with Jacquie Walton (Joyce Cato / Maxine Barry / Faith Martin)

A Narrow Return by Faith MartinJacquie Walton was born in Oxford. She began her working life as a secretary but left to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Here she tells us what drew her to crime writing, what it’s like working under different pseudonyms and why she loves her characters.

What drew you to writing Crime Fiction?

I’ve always read crime novels for preference, right from my early teens. Like most, I started off with Agatha Christie, but soon discovered all the greats from the classic British era – Dorothy L. Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Margery Allingham et al. And now we have all the great modern thriller/crime writers, like Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Robert Crais. So it was only natural for me to want to write crime.

What do you think is required for a great story to work?

I’ve always liked pace in my reading, and so I try to keep all my novels, be they romance, crime or classic whodunits, really zipping along. I also think a strong central character is absolutely essential. And my favourite character (if I really had to choose one) would be Jenny Starling, with Hillary Greene running a close second. I like Jenny’s humour, competence and humanity, and I really admire Hillary’s strength and intelligence mixed with human fallibility.

You’ve done work under numerous pseudonyms. How is it writing as different people?

I chose my pseudonyms from family members names – thus I have a niece called Maxine and a nephew called Barry (my pen name for romances) another set of the same called Faith and Martin (the Hillary Greene series) and my grandmothers’ maiden names of (Alice) Joyce and (Winifred) Cato for the Jenny Starling series. But all three genres are very different, and I don’t find it all confusing juggling all three. I enjoy writing them all – but the classic whodunits with Jenny Starling are both the most difficult to plot and write, but also, I find, the most enjoyable.

Your Hillary Greene series is set in Oxford. Why did you choose this particular location for this crime series?

I set the Hillary Greene series in Oxford because I’ve lived within twenty miles of the city for all my life, and it’s the only city I know! Plus, I don’t see why Morse should have had all the fun and pleasure of solving crimes within sight of the dreaming spires.

Dying for a Cruise by Joyce CatoWith the digital age upon us and some of your books now out in ebook format, how have you found the transition? Are you an e-convert?

Whilst I am very glad that a lot of my books are going out in ebook format, I don’t own a device that would allow me to ever read them that way, and being a total Luddite when it comes to modern technology, I doubt I ever shall. I think I will always prefer to have the real thing in my hand.

You’ve written romance and crime fiction – which do you find more enjoyable and which do you read in your spare time?

I enjoyed writing the bigger, more glamorous and action-packed romances that really weren’t suitable for the classic Mills & Boon genre, and whilst they were fun to write, (sexy scenes included!) I prefer to stick to crime nowadays. I never read romance in my spare time, only crime – but not the gory or grisly forensic/serial killer type. I prefer escapism in my reading literature.

What do you love to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I have a dog that needs walking a lot, and living in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I’m on the edge of the Cotswolds) walking and wildlife watching are my main pastimes.

What can we expect from you in the future?

In the future, I would certainly like to concentrate more on classic whodunits – maybe do a few other titles for the Jenny Starling series, and maybe even create a second character and series, but still keeping to the classic country-house, cosy, twisting-plot, red-herring formula that I know so many readers like as much as I do. I think the ever-popular television series of Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders-type programmes show just how much-loved they are.

Jacquie Walton writes under the pseudonyms Joyce Cato, Maxine Barry and Faith Martin. Her books can be found on the Robert Hale Ltd website and many of her ebooks – including Beside a Narrow Stream and By a Narrow Margin by Faith Martin – are available to buy at all good ebook retailers.

Out now: A Narrow Return by Faith Martin

Coming soon: Dying for a Cruise by Joyce Cato (available to pre-order now)