New Release A Mystery of Murder (Jan Christopher Mysteries, Episode 2) by Helen Hollick and Meet the Author #Christmas #Mystery

I need to know about the owl though… Such a fun, interesting story!

A Mystery of Murder (Jan Christopher Mysteries, Episode 2) by Helen Hollick released a little over a week ago in the Cozy Mystery genre.

‘Had I known what was to happen soon after we arrived at Mr and Mrs Walker’s lovely old West Country house, my apprehension about spending Christmas in Devon would have dwindled to nothing.’

Library Assistant Jan Christopher is to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, DS Laurie Walker and his family, but when a murder is discovered, followed by a not very accidental accident, the traditional Christmas spirit is somewhat marred…

What happened to Laurie’s ex-girlfriend? Where is the vicar’s wife? Who took those old photographs? And will the farmer up the lane ever mend those broken fences?

Set in 1971, this is the second Jan Christopher Cosy Mystery. Join her (and an owl and a teddy bear) in Devon for a Christmas to remember.

Will the discovery of a murder spoil Christmas for Jan Christopher and her boyfriend DS Laurie Walker – or will it bring them closer together?

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Author Bio:

Helen Hollick and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farm house through being a ‘victim’ on BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show. The thirteen-acre property was the first one she was shown – and it was love at first sight. She enjoys her new rural life, and has a variety of animals on the farm, including Exmoor ponies and her daughter’s string of show jumpers.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Despite being impaired by the visual disorder of Glaucoma, she is also branching out into the quick read novella, ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with the Jan Christopher Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working for thirteen years as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, a news and events blog for her village and the Community Shop, assists as ‘secretary for the day’ at her daughter’s regular showjumping shows – and occasionally gets time to write…

Hello Viviana, thank you for inviting me to your blog as part of my Cozy Mystery Coffee Pot Book Club tour. Where to start? The beginning where all good stories start, maybe?

During the 2020 lockdown here where I live in North Devon, England, I was contemplating what to write. My Sea Witch pirate/fantasy adventure series was briefly on hold and I wanted to write something different from my usual historical-based novels. Stuck for ideas, I turned to reading instead (especially when the sun came out and it was nicer to sit in the garden than at my desk!) I had come across several cozy mystery series. And loved them.

Entertaining, engaging characters, intriguing locations and clever ‘keep-you-guessing’ plots. I liked the ‘who-done-it’ element, but also enjoyed the exploration of the characters, the amateur sleuths who became involved, one way or another, with intricate murders and mysteries.

But they also set me thinking. Could I write something similar?

“Write what you know” is often given as sage advice to new writers. Well, I’m not new – I was first published back in 1994 – but this would be a new genre, so the principle applied.

I knew about working in a public library. I’d done that from 1969 to 1981. I had a mine of anecdotes and experiences. I know nothing about police procedure though… but wait, neither do most of the amateur sleuths, that’s often the whole point of the ‘cozy’ mystery! The germ grew, flourished and blossomed. My character popped into my mind. Jan. Jan Christopher. She gets fed up with people asking her what ‘Jan’ is short for – Janet, Janice? (No spoilers. Read the book to find out!) She’s eighteen years old, a bit shy and naïve. She enjoys working in a library, but she’d rather be a writer and dreams of becoming a sci-fi best selling author.

Her parents are dead (the plot of a future story) and she was adopted by her Aunt Madge and Uncle Toby – he is her dad’s brother. And he’s a Detective Chief Inspector. Then Detective Constable Laurie Walker walked into my creative writer’s mind – and Jan’s life – my romantic interest for the series had well and truly arrived. For a plot, I remembered an old lady who used to come into the library every day to surreptitiously cut out the food coupons from the tabloid newspapers…

So the first of my new series, A MIRROR MURDER was born. A story set in 1971 in and around a public library in the north London suburb of Chingford, where I used to work. The building is still there, but it is now offices. From what I gather the building is due to be pulled down to make way for housing. Such a shame. Housing is important, but so are libraries…

I started writing Episode 2 of the JAN CHRISTOPHER MYSTERIES almost as soon as the first instalment was published. A MYSTERY OF MURDER.

Jan’s boyfriend is now a Detective Sergeant and I decided to alter the location for this story.  Jan and Laurie are to spend Christmas with his parents in Devon (did you spot the ‘write what you know’ link there?)

Jan is a little uneasy because she’s been going out with Laurie for several months now. Did the Christmas invitation perhaps mean their relationship was turning serious? Does she want it to – or not? Will she get on well with Mr and Mrs Walker and Laurie’s dragon of a grandmother? And then a gruesome murder is discovered – will two missing women, a nosy vicar, an unpleasant neighbour and the sister of Laurie’s ex-girlfriend ruin Christmas?

South Chingford Library

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  1. Thank you Viviana for being such a lovely host!
    Oh that owl… he only had a ‘bit part’ and now, every night, he’s hooting a protest from the old oak tree which is almost outside my bedroom window! I’ll have to give him a bigger part in a future book (probably Episode 4 – A Murder In The Meadow…)

    Liked by 1 person

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