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 July 2020. ASIN: B08DG77HY9 Kindle Format.
In this excellent series, set in
exotic locations, the narrating character is Harry, a young man who was brought
up in Norfolk by his gentle, biddable mother and two of her older sisters, both
of whom have rigid views about how to behave. Harry has spent most of his life
trying to meet his old-fashioned aunts’ rigid expectations, even becoming an
accountant because his Aunt Maud decided it was a sensible career. After he lost
his employment in a bank, Harry found it impossible to find another well-paying
job. He lost all his self-esteem, had to sell most of his treasured possessions
and was about to lose his flat, but then his Aunt Jessica came to his rescue.
Aunt Jessica is very different to her sisters, a career woman who has spent all
of her life in exciting cultural activities. Recently she has been delivering
talks on history, art and archaeology to people on luxury tours to exotic
locations and she invited Harry to join her as her assistant on a trip to
their return from Morocco, Harry remained living with Aunt Jessica, helping to
get her slides ready for her next tour to Japan. Although Harry hopes that he
has made himself useful, when he returns home to visit his mother, his Aunt
Maud again destroys his self-confidence by accusing him of sponging on Aunt
Jessica. Harry knows that he will need to find permanent employment as soon as
they return from Japan.
tour group mainly consists of pleasant middle-aged couples but there are a few
younger people, including one young man, Josh, and two sisters, Lucy and
Joanna. The younger people tend to spend time together but Harry thinks that
Josh is arrogant and, as Harry is gay, he has no interest in the two girls, and
he prefers to spend his time with Aunt Jessica.
is an eclectic mixture of the modern and the traditional and, on the first
evening, the group is taken to a kaiseki meal at an exclusive tea house where
they are entertained by a young trainee geisha, Excellent Jewel. After the
meal, Harry is returning from the toilet when he hears the sound of a scuffle
and discovers another young geisha being attacked by a man. Before Harry can
intervene, the man stabs the girl and escapes. As she is dying the girl
confuses Harry with somebody she had expected to meet. She calls Harry the Fox
and, before she dies in his arms, she tells him to take ‘it’ only to the White
Tiger and mentions a shrine; she also warns him that the Water Dragon is
dangerous. This makes no sense to Harry but later, when he removes his blood-stained
shirt, he finds a key in his breast pocket.
and Aunt Jessica are not sure whether they can trust the police but they feel
it is their duty to finish the mission of the geisha, Jewel of Happiness, and
find the White Tiger and pass on the key. Internet research reveals that the
Fox, White Tiger and Water Dragon are characters from Japanese mythology, and
soon it becomes clear that Harry and Aunt Jessica are facing a dangerous,
corrupt and powerful enemy. Harry is determined to see justice done, even
though he is sure that he is being followed and it seems probable that one of
the criminals is part of the tour group. As Harry persists, more violence
follows and his quest for the truth places him in mortal danger.
is the second book in the series featuring Aunt Jessica and Harry. It is an
unusual style of cosy crime novel because the narrator is a young man. Both
Harry and Aunt Jessica are likeable characters. Aunt Jessica is an intelligent,
professional woman, experienced in foreign travel and very supportive to her
nephew, whom she is determined to empower. In this she is being successful.
Although Harry is still very nervous and uncertain about his own abilities, he
is growing more confident and shows great courage when he is determined to
discover the murderer. One of the most delightful features about this author’s series
featuring foreign places are the wonderful descriptions of these places and their
customs. This book, which takes the reader on a tour of Japan is especially
successful in bringing the country and culture to life. With engaging
characters, an interesting plot and magnificent locations, this is a very
enjoyable read, which I recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Judith Cranswickwas born and brought
up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a
drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little
time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large
comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take
up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga,
Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is
lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the
Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home
page. Judith’s latest book is Blood Flows Southto read a review
click on the title
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the
interview click on the link below.