Recent Events

Monday 3 February 2020

‘Seven Months of Unruly Sinners: Politically Incorrect Crime’ by Sienna Riddle

Published by S. Riddle,
29 July 2019.
ISBN: 979-1-22004738-8 (PB)

Bertha Goodbody, who runs a funeral parlour, and Marigold Birch, a florist and psychic, meet for tea and scones in Witherington’s Tudor Tea Rooms.  Bertha is hoping that Marigold’s mystic powers might shed some light on the recent death of Cecilia Willows.  Cecilia was found, minus a foot, in the grounds of The Wailing Willow Hotel.  She appeared to have tumbled from one of the upper storey rooms, but local gossip mongers are debating whether the poor woman’s fall was a tragic accident or whether she was pushed to her death by husband James.  There is also speculation regarding the fate of her missing foot and Bertha is hoping that Marigold might be able to discover what really happened by reading the tea leaves from their beverages.  When the task proves too complicated for the reading Bertha suggests they hold a séance to find out the truth.

The opening thus sets the tone for a narrative in which the spirit world intrudes into the physical realm of mortals with unusual, and often bizarre, consequences.  For example, an important character in the book is the late Police Constable Ernest Barnstable.  Ernest is currently waiting, along with other recently departed souls, for the arrival of the so-called Pearly Gates Express, a method of ghostly transport that will deliver them to the heavenly portal where they will be interviewed by St Peter.  When Cecilia arrives to join her lifeless companions, she seems to be as confused as Bertha and Marigold about what has actually happened to her.  Inevitably she turns to Ernest and asks him to use his policing skills to investigate how she died. 

Sienna Riddle allows her imagination to run riot in this zany crime comedy.  As the murder count in Witherington threatens to spiral out of control, the spirits are presented as rather endearing beings whilst the living are generally unsympathetic characters.  The worlds of the living and the dead frequently overlap, and sometimes collide, within the fast-moving narrative.  Invariably this results in gleeful and chaotic misunderstanding. 

Seven Months of Unruly Sinners is whimsical, tongue in cheek and unique; a perfect read for those who enjoy quirky crime, eccentric characters and offbeat humour.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Sienna Riddle was brought up in Yorkshire in the 1950's under strict parental control and censorship. Thanks to this, she sailed through childhood blissfully unaware her parents, the community and national authorities were preparing for an impending nuclear attack while she was in the school library reading fairytales. It was probably this monumental charade that inspired some of Seven Months of Unruly Sinners. Sienna put pen to paper at an early age, fuelled by a love of adventure books and an interest in pirates, secret passages, graveyards, mystery and courageous intrepid explorers on camels.  At the end of the 1960s, after a couple of uninteresting white-collar jobs, she hitch-hiked to Spain on the £50 government currency limit and worked in a pub cooking eggs and fries for the tourists until the money ran out. On the way, she sang in a nightclub in Paris and danced flamenco (after a crash course at a night school in London). Sienna married, had two children, moved to Italy with the family and worked temporarily for a United Nations agency in Rome. She wrote freelance articles related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries which were translated into four languages. A long-term job with a UN humanitarian organization took her to Iraq, Cyprus, Jordan and North Korea. She sings well in English and Italian and rather badly in North Korean. Sienna loves to travel to the UK to visit the rest of the family, connect with other writers and attend events. She makes a good Carbonara, loves Prosecco and likes pottering around gardens with trowel or camera. 

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Dot for reviewing Seven Months of Unruly Sinners. I was delighted with it. My main hero, Constable Ernest Barnstable, would be ticked pink if he knew he was being reviewed by a former police officer.
    Many thanks also to Lizzie. As I live in Italy, "Mystery People" has become a lifeline with the UK. I bless the day I took out a subscription. Well worth it and more.