As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Zaffre, 20 April 2017. ISBN; 978-1-78576-122-5
I really enjoyed this novel. I’d
not read anything by this husband-and-wife author team previously; I intend to
It was a
pleasure reading a crime novel that had almost everything; authentic and
fascinating characters, a clear writing style that carried me along, a strong
plot with a credible and extremely satisfying climax and resolution and a
superbly evoked setting of time and place.
Marsh in the late eighteenth century comes off the page with the action deeply
rooted in the landscape and the people and politics of the area. Wider politics
were explored too; the American War of Independence was only just over and
played an important part in the plot, as did the French Revolution and
subsequent war still raging just 30 miles across the water and bringing with it
a constant threat of both covert and overt invasion.
in which the story took place, an exceptionally hard winter out on the bleak
and exposed marshes by the sea, added to the atmosphere and was used to good
effect. Reading this in a heatwave had a deliciously cooling effect!
storyline concerned a family who lived in the locality and have now returned
from America, and their home, New Hall, is at the centre of shenanigans which
make comments about differing attitudes to race and slavery, smuggling and
espionage. Perhaps, if we’re being picky, the author made the views of the main
protagonists a little too in tune with those of modern readers, and perhaps
there were some clichéd or too obviously hateful attitudes ascribed to the
villains, but for this reader these foibles made the novel even more readable
and, frankly, more fun.
I found all
the characters believable and nicely drawn – especially Rev Hardcastle, the
local magistrate, a tolerant man of conscience and consideration, from whose
viewpoint much of the story is shown. His accomplice in crime-solving, Mrs
Amelia Chaytor, is a wise yet troubled woman in whose company I felt privileged
to be, and as light relief we have the reverend’s effusive, full-of-herself
sister Calpurnia, and her rather lovely dog, Rodolpho. (A scaredy-cat of an
Irish wolfhound, named after a character in one of Calpurnia’s own romantic
suspense novels that she can’t resist rabbiting on about whether people are
interested or not!)
was sustained beautifully and was always sufficient to ensure a hasty return to
its pages and, in the last chapters, to keep the book firmly in my hands.
also a pleasure to read a book that had been copy-edited to high standards, for
a change. No comma splices and run-on sentences, no misplaced capitals or
errant apostrophes here. Congratulations to the publisher and to the talented
authors, Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, whose work I have been very
pleased to discover.
Reviewer: by Dea Parkin
A J Mackenzieis the
pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, an Anglo-Canadian
husband-and-wife team of writers and historians. The Body on the Doorstep was their first foray into fiction and was
published by BonnierZaffre in April 2017. The 2nd instalment of the Hardcastle
& Chaytor Mysteries, The Body in The
Ice their second book was published 20th April. For a full bio of Marilyn
and Morgen see
DeaParkinis an editor with her consultancy
Fiction Feedback and is also Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association. She
writes poetry and occasionally re-engages with The Novel. When she isn't
editing, managing or writing she is usually to be found on the tennis court –
or following the international tour at home on TV. Usually with several books
on the go, she entertains a penchant for crime fiction, history, and novels
with a mystical edge. She is engaged in a continual struggle to find space for
bookshelves and time for her friends and her cat.