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 Point Blank, 2
May 2019. ISBN: 978-1-78607-448-5 (PBO)
What could be more fun than to spend Hallowe’en in an
imposing Essex manor house, old Ratchette Hall, Damebury, with a lot of
complete strangers on a week-long Writers’ Course discussing crime and suspense
fiction? Especially when the course administrator is such a kind and gentle
soul as Graham Peacock? And when the participants, tired after their journey to
the manor house, have more than a few drinks and then retire to bed, Graham
stays up to lock up and make sure that all is well. And then he dies. Natural
causes (heart attack) the authorities decide. But one course participant, the
elderly Tabitha Walker, doubts this and she contacts her nephew, the mysterious
Monty Walker of the Occult Bureau, who has featured in previous Essex Witch
Museum Mysteries, and he in turn contacts Rosie Strange, proud Essex girl and owner
of the Essex Witch Museum, and Sam Stone, the museum’s unbelievably handsome, alluring
yet aloof curator. Monty has done Rosie and Sam favours in the past, so he
feels entitled to ask for one now.
So off Sam and Rosie
go, and encounter the mostly elderly course participants, as diverse as only
potential suspects in an Agatha Christie novel can be. Apart from the
intellectually needle-sharp Tabitha, there’s Imogen Green, writer of
psychological thrillers, Scottish Rob Savage, scornful of women crime writers,
the mystic Starla Ocean, the two youngest participants, ultra-posh and vicious-tongued,
Nicholas Blackman, and his girlfriend, the rather less posh Jocelyn, also Cullen
Sutcliffe, writer of serial killer-thrillers, and the embarrassingly coquettish
Margot Lovelock. And there’s also crime writer Laura Taylor-Jacobs, one of the
course tutors, the other being the internationally famous writer of action
thrillers Chris Devlin who arrives late, Sophia, the course administrator, and
Carole Christmas, the housekeeper (with that many staff on the scene no wonder
the course is pretty pricey). And there is a link between the Hall and the
local church where there are tombs of knights one of whose fingers has been
hacked off and is found clutched in Graham’s dead hand. This being Essex Witch
country, there are lots and lots of manifestations, even the Celtic horned god
All in all, great fun, ending with a truly Poirot-esque finale in the day-room
at the Hall where the killer is unmasked.
But . . . But will
Sam ever reveal that he returns Rosie’s desire for him? Readers will be waiting
for further developments on this score in forthcoming books in this highly
entertaining series. Recommended.
Syd Moore lives in Essex, where the Rosie
Strange novels are set. Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked
extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme,
Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and
is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd
has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s
entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts
organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature
programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in
that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening
out for things that go bump in the night.
born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven
years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice.
Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional
work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of
her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published
late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal
flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a
third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology –
and is now concentrating on her own writing.