Recent Events

Saturday 31 July 2021

‘Murder Post-Dated’ by Anne Morice

Published by Dean Street Press,
4 July 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-914150-25-8 (PB)

Murder Post-Dated is set in the early 1980s and features young actress Tessa Chrichton who has an instinct for seeking out suspicious deaths. The story starts when Tessa and her husband, Chief Inspector Robin Price of Scotland Yard, are invited by Elsa, a good friend, to attend a lavish party she is holding to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of her daughter, Millie. As well as the formal invitation, Elsa has included a cryptic note that tells Tessa not to worry because the murder has already happened, and it wasn’t a murder anyway. Intrigued, Tessa accepts the invitation, although work commitments mean that Robin cannot accompany her and she ends up seated next to James McGrath, the stand-in that Elsa has arranged. McGrath is a lively if somewhat overwhelming conversationalist, but Tessa prefers his company to the people on her other side, neighbours of Elsa, the grumpy and censorious Tim and Louise Macadam. Elsa claims that Tim Macadam has a heart of gold, but Tessa has seen no evidence of this. Tessa also meets Gregory Laycock, a Harley Street consultant, an arrogant man who is obsessively devoted to his daughter, Andrea, whose mother died when she was a baby. Andrea is an exceptionally beautiful young woman, but she is also shallow, self-centred and a fantasist, with a tenuous grasp on the realities of life, who tells involved and often contradictory stories, including informing people she has only just met that her stepmother is trying to kill her as well as planning to commit suicide.

A few days after the party, Elsa explains to Tessa the reason behind her strange message about a murder that didn’t happen. James McGrath’s wife, Rosamund, has disappeared and McGrath’s stories about her absence have been contradictory. This has aroused the suspicions of neighbours, such as Louise Macadam who makes no secret of her belief that McGrath has murdered his wife. However, Rosamund’s body has not been found, and this means that nobody can prove that she is dead.

Tessa cannot resist probing further, and soon she has more than one murder investigation on her hands, and she has to unravel an intricate tangle of lies, motives and suspects in order to reveal the truth and allow those who are innocent of murder to be absolved.

Murder Post-Dated is the eighteenth book in the series featuring Tessa Crichton and her allies in investigation. It works well as a stand-alone novel, although it takes a few chapters to fully identify the many returning characters and their relationship to Tessa. It was first published in 1970 and has recently been republished with a fascinating introduction and afterword by Curtis Evans, who reports that when the first Tessa Crichton novel was published it received glowing reviews from critics such as Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley) and Edmund Crispin.

Murder Post-Dated has the delightful ambience of a traditional Golden Age crime story with a later twentieth century setting. It is a cosy crime novel with warm and amusing relationships between Tessa and the somewhat eccentric family and friends who support her investigation but is lifted above the ordinary by Tessa’s sharply witty first-person narration. The plot is cleverly constructed, and the psychological insights are convincing. The characterisation is excellent, and Tessa is a lively and engaging protagonist. This is a series that is well worth reading and I will be accessing more of them, starting at a point much nearer the beginning. Murder Post-Dated is an interesting read, which I thoroughly recommend for anyone who enjoys a traditional mystery.

Reviewer:  Carol Westron

Anne Moricenée Felicity Shaw, was born in Kent in 1916. Her mother Muriel Rose was the natural daughter of Rebecca Gould and Charles Morice. Felicity’s older sister Angela became an actress, married actor and theatrical agent Robin Fox, and produced England’s Fox acting dynasty, including her sons Edward and James and grandchildren Laurence, Jack, Emilia and Freddie. Felicity went to work in the office of the GPO Film Unit. There Felicity met and married documentarian Alexander Shaw. They had three children and lived in various countries. Felicity wrote two well-received novels in the 1950’s but did not publish again until successfully launching her Tessa Crichton mystery series in 1970, buying a house in Hambleden, near Henley-on-Thames, on the proceeds. Her last novel was published a year after her death at the age of seventy-three on May 18th, 1989.
Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 5 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

Friday 30 July 2021

‘The Moment Before Impact’ by Alison Bruce.

Published by Constable,
20 October 2021.
ISBN 978-1-47212-389-3 (PB)

Five young students returning home from an evening at a music festival are involved in a car crash, which leaves two of them dead and one badly injured.  Nicci, the driver of the car, serves a three-year prison sentence and, on her release, returns to Cambridge, where she had lived and attended college.  Her life and friendships have been shattered and, as she struggles to re-establish herself, she is fortunate to receive support from Celia, a former journalist and now a lecturer, who knew all those involved in the incident.  She lets Nicci have a place in which to live and set up a business removing tattoos.

As Nicci walks around the familiar streets she inevitably sees someone she knows – Jack, the brother of one of the victims.  He has never forgiven her for the death of his brother and has recently returned to his old family home, where he is trying to cope with the collapse of his marriage.  As a result of this encounter Nicci has a flashback which adds to her memories of the car crash and its aftermath and makes her question the results of the original inquiry.  Celia supports her in her efforts to challenge the official verdict and, with the help of DI Briggs, a friend of Celia’s, they are able to look at the old police files.  Despite his own issues, Jack listens to Celia and Nicci and starts to have his own doubts about what happened on that sad evening.  Together, their investigations open up new suspicions and unexpected dangers.

The plot is clever and full of surprises, making telling use of the catastrophic effects that the sadly-familiar car crashes involving young people have on the lives of the victims, their friends and families.  The role that family and friends can play in hiding the secrets and lies that bind people together is an underlying thread.  Cambridge provides a good backdrop for the story, its networks of small local streets forming part of the characters’ histories.  The characters themselves are well-drawn - their anger, bitterness and guilt, but also their hopes and possibilities.  This is an atmospheric and gripping story, one which should satisfy Alison Bruce’s existing readership and attract new fans.

Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood.
Other books by this author:  The DC Gary Goodhew series of 7 books

Alison Bruce was born in Croydon and grew up in Wiltshire. She has worked in all kinds of jobs, from admin to electro-plating and from DJ-ing to IT management. She didn't always plan to become a full time novelist but can't remember a time in her adult life when she wasn't carrying a notebook and pen and jotting down ideas. One day an idea grabbed her so strongly that she decided to tackle a full-length novel.  Alison had moved to the Cambridge area in 1998 and decided to make it the backdrop for the books because of its unique mix of characteristics. It is a relatively small city but has a worldwide reputation for education and science. On its doorstep lie tiny and relatively primitive rural hamlets yet it has an airport and fast rail links into London. It is traditionally English but multi-ethnic, vastly wealthy in places but under privileged in others. Alison Bruce has also written two non-fiction books, Cambridgeshire Murders and The Billington, Victorian Executioner, both published by the History Press.

Jo HesslewoodCrime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

CWA Opens Membership to Self-Published Authors


For the first time in its 68-year history, the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association will allow self-published authors to join its ranks.

The move comes after the CWA consulted its members, who voted with an 84% majority in favour to accept self-published authors.

Maxim Jakubowski, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, said: “The founding mission of the CWA was to support, promote and celebrate the crime genre and its authors. In the past, we only accepted traditionally published authors into the CWA, as this was the best indicator of quality. The publishing landscape has changed in recent years, and self-publishing has become a route for professional writers, and indeed there are many trailblazers in this field. The time is right to update our membership criteria.”

Maxim added: “We continue to be committed to quality. Successful self-publishing today requires the same professional approach that publishers take, so we felt it was wrong to discriminate against self-published authors. It’s clear the overwhelming majority of our members who voted feel the same way.”

A thriving, growing community with a membership encompassing authors of all ages and at all stages of their careers, the CWA is UK-based, yet attracts many members from overseas.

It supports author members, as well as literary agents, publishers, bloggers and editors, through the CWA and the Crime Readers’ Association (CRA). It distributes a digital monthly newsletter showcasing CWA authors and related news to around 12,000 subscribers. The CRA website provides readers with news and features by CWA members as does the bimonthly ezine, Case Files.

The CWA also supports unpublished writers, many of whom enter the Debut Dagger competition and the Margery Allingham Short Mystery competition.

The CWA has undergone a refresh in recent years, updating and diversifying its Dagger judging panels and its board.

The organisation also supports libraries and booksellers, with two Library Champions and a recently recruited Booksellers Champion, Elly Griffiths, as well as promoting its annual National Crime Reading Month.

Self-published authors wishing to become a CWA member will need to demonstrate a level of professionalism through a simple-to-complete application form. This will be publicised on the CWA website from 13 September, when the CWA will first accept applications.

The Crime Writers' Association (

‘The Other Woman’ by Jane Adams

Published by Joffe Books,
5 May 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-78931759-6 (PB)

Originally Published as Bird

From a baby Marcie was brought up by her grandparents after her mother died and was idolised by her grandfather Jack. His pet name for her was Birdie as she seemed so small and helpless.


We learn that some years ago there was a big falling out within the family and Marcie left. She married Michael and they had twins, a boy and a girl. Marcie has now learned that Jack is seriously ill and decides to visit him in the hospice and perhaps to put aside for a while the bad feeling there had been between them.


He is very disturbed and is really fretting over a woman named Rebekkah. It is revealed that he had an affair with her and she was subsequently murdered by her husband. Reluctantly Marcie with the help of her husband agrees to look into Rebekkah's life and death more closely to try and ease Jack's troubled mind before he dies.


To find out more Marcie has to visit her grandmother and it leads to her being reconciled with her father Alec, who joins her and Michael in the search for what really happened all those years ago. She becomes quite obsessed with Rebekkah and is further disturbed when she sees her ghost, then to make it worse Michael also sees her. Marcie is now convinced that the murdered woman herself wants her to find out what really happened to her.


The truth is slowly revealed, but they are not prepared for the revelations that unfold, especially when they discover the truth about Jack's brother Joe who died many years ago.


Does what Birdie find out about Jack heal the rift after all these years or does it widen it further. Is what she discovers at the end even the real truth after all?


A really creepy thrilling story of family secrets kept hidden for years. It is full of “oh” and “no” moments, especially in the final pages.


Another really absorbing book from Jane Adams which I thoroughly recommend for lovers of ghostly thrillers full of surprises and unexpected endings.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk-rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. In 2016 she started a series set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens.  Bury Me deep is the first book in a new series featuring Detective Inspector Rozlyn Priest.  Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

Tricia Chappell
. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

Thursday 29 July 2021

‘Dead Sorry’ by Helen H. Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
17 June 2021.
ISBN 978-1-78931-831-9

In the northern town of Leesdon, DI Calladine has a lot to contend with.  His personal and professional lives have become entwined, and his body is indicating that he has heart problems.  His sergeant, Ruth Bayliss is worried about him, but will he listen, of course not.

A former adversary, Andrei Lazarov provides Calladine’s main cause for concern.  The DI has busted Lazarov’s drugs empire and turned him into a fugitive. In return, the drugs baron is out to kill Calladine, but before he does that, he intends to maim and kill Calladine’s daughter, Zoe, and her new baby. Only when Zoe and the baby are hidden in a safe house can Calladine concentrate on his work.

Addict Becca O’Brien is found battered to death on the Hobfield estate. It turns out that she was the mother of one of the schoolgirls linked to a 25-year-old unsolved incident in which one of their classmates was murdered.  The Hobfield estate is a centre for drug dealing, but Johnno - a drug dealer and a friend of Becca’s - tells Calladine he has no idea who murdered her. Calladine assumes Becca’s death is probably related to a new drugs war and advises Johnno to lie low and keep out of Lazarov’s way.

Whilst Calladine is leaving the Hobfield estate, his car is “accidentally” pranged by an attractive young woman who introduces herself as Kitty Lake. Kitty manages a nearby café and invites him for a meal to make up for damaging his car.  Why is she so interested in the DI?  Is she out to entrap him or does she fancy him? Calladine plays along because he likes her, though he wonders if Kitty’s involved in the murder. When three young lads are executed on the Hobfield, the number of murders on Calladine’s plate increases to four current plus the historical one.  DCI Greco and Calladine and their juniors divide the work between them.

Just to add a little more spice to life, Calladine’s cousin’s wife, Marilyn is released early from prison – she murdered his cousin. Marilyn insists on moving in with Calladine and her dog Sam whom Calladine has been looking after. What is she and the director of the local museum up to?  Are they involved in the murders, is she helping to get Calladine killed, or could they be more interested in the gold treasure due to arrive at the museum in a few days’ time?

Dead Sorry is a complicated tale. It roars along at an enormous pace and paints a horribly realistic picture of the trials and tribulations of the depressed and deprived lives of those unfortunate enough to end up on the dreadful Hobfield estate. It is the eleventh book in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone story.  Tom Calladine and Ruth Bayliss are likable characters who form a good team.  So far, I have only read one other in the series, but I am looking forward to reading more.  My only hope is that the ladies in Calladine’s life manage to persuade him to look after himself a bit better as I would hate the series to come to a premature end.

Reviewer Angela Crowther

Helen H. Durrant writes gritty police procedurals and is published by Joffe Books. Until six years ago she hadn’t written a word, now she has sixteen titles out there and counting. Her novels are set in the Pennine villages outside Manchester. Writing was a dormant ambition. It was retirement that gave her the opportunity to have a go. The success of her books came as a huge surprise, now she can’t stop!

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

‘Accra Noir’ edited by Nana Ama Danquah

Published by Akashic Books,
2 February 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-913175-21-4 (PB)

‘Consider the context, beward of a pretext, search for a subtext’, warns editor Nana Ama Danquah in her introduction. Stories in Ghana are called Anansesem, after the half-human, half-spider trickster folk hero, and this is a collection of the trickiest stories around, with clever, unrelaible characters in a ruthless world of corruption, double-dealing and the struggle to make ends meet. The mood is definitely the blackest of noir, with no holds barred.

It’s divided into four sections. ‘One day for Master’ allows the underdog a turn at ruling. Chop Money by Nana Ekua Ben-Hammond stars quick-witted kaya girls with a body to dispose of; Shape Shifters by Adjoa Twum has cross and double cross in the criminal underworld. Moon over Aburi by Kwame Dawes is a story in dialogue, where what seems to be a casual chat between a customer and a stall holder goes far deeper. Fantasia in Fans and Flat Screens by Kofi Blankson Ocansey begins with a woman overhearing a murder.

The second section is ‘Heaven Gate, no bribe’ and this three stories are classic twist-in the tale. In The Labadi Sunshine Bar by Billie McTernan a confident young prostitute sets out for a better life; The Driver by Ernest Kwame Nkrumah Addo has a happily-married wife learning more about her husband, and The Situation by Patrick Smith features a lawyer and a banker, scoundrels both.

‘All die be die’, section three, has three classic murder stories: a girl’s revenge on a straying lover (Intentional Consequences by Anne Sackie), an assassination with a twist (Tabilo Wuofo by Gbontwi Anyetei), and a loving husband whose wife is having an affair ... or is she? (When a Man loves a Woman by Nana Ama Danquah).

The final section, ‘Sea Never Dry’, shows the way murder can stretch into the wider community. It opened with Kweku’s House by Ayesha Harruna Attah, in a clever spin on the old dying-patriarch / inheritance tale. The Boy who wasn’t there by Eibhlin Ni Chleirigh was a heartbreaking tale of innocence abused, and a community dilemma, and Instant Justice, by Anna Bossman, began with a crowd killing of a thief.

All the City Noir series showcase the world of the authors, and every volume I’ve read has been excellent. Accra Noir maintained that tradition. Every story was good, and many were outstanding. I was plunged instantly into a completely different world of larger-than-life characters and atmospherically-described places. Highly recommended for lovers of modern and macabre.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Nana-Ama Danquah was born in Accra, Ghana, and raised in the United States. She is the author of the memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, and the editor of three anthologies: Becoming American, Shaking the Tree, and The Black Body. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have been widely anthologized, and she has written for numerous magazines, journals, and newspapers, including Essence, Allure, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. During her tenure as an international speechwriter for the president of Ghana, the addresses she penned were delivered at the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union, the Palace of Westminster, the University of Oxford, and Harvard University. She has taught at Otis College of Arts and Sciences, Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Ghana, Legon. She splits her time between Accra and Los Angeles, and has one daughter, the actress and writer Korama Danquah.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
Death From a Sheland Cliff