The Coffee Pot Book Club Presents "A Mystery of Murder" by Helen Hollick
Please make welcome to the Tavern the lovely Helen Hollick! We're celebrating her new cozy mystery novel, A Mystery of Murder. I'm eager to find out more, so grab a cup of mead and let's take a peek into Helen's intriguing story...
A Message from Helen Hollick
Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog for this ‘stop’ on my Coffee Pot Book Club tour. A Mystery of Murder is the second in my new Jan Christopher cozy mystery series (the first is A Mirror Murder.)
I wanted to do four things with my series about Library Assistant Jan Christopher:
1. The ‘cozy mystery’ genre is very popular, as are ‘murder mysteries’ on TV, but believability is sometimes stretched when there are so many murders in the same location. A few years back I’d arrived in Oxford for a conference: the first thing I heard when I got to my hotel room was a police siren. ‘There goes Morse or Lewis, off to investigate a murder,’ I thought to myself. Whilst also wondering how safe it was in Oxford! I decided that I would move my protagonist, Jan, around occasionally, to alternate between her ‘residential’ location of a north London public library with different places. Book one is the library, book two is Christmas in Devon, three we’ll be back at the library, four... well, I haven’t decided yet – although it just might be Devon again... which somewhat puts paid to my plans doesn’t it! The trouble is, characters tend to take on a life of their own and have different ideas to us mere authors...
2. I wanted Jan to reflect my own experiences, but not to write ‘autobiographical’. So several of the things that happen in the books are based on real events (for instance, the horses in book one really were my horses.) Working in a public library for over twelve years I have quite a store of hilarious moments to write about, and this second instalment, A Mystery Of Murder is firmly based in and around my own Devon Village... although with some changes of names to places and people. Future books will have the trials and tribulations of working in a library, and then there will be Devon haymaking, geese, a donkey... and who knows what else might inspire me. I can 100% say, however, that I have never been involved, in any way, with a real murder. (Although I will admit to knowing one or two unpleasant people who could have become ideal victims...!)
3. I wanted Jan to be ordinary. She is eighteen when we first meet her, she is shy, a little insecure and naïve, and it is 1971. There was still a two-tier education system in England back then – the clever ones went to grammar school, the not so clevers went to secondary education where we were expected to become shop assistants, hairdressers or housewives. I ended up in the library, but what I wanted was to become a writer. As does Jan, although she dreams of writing science fiction. Equality for women was still very much a new idea, gay issues almost unheard of, and blatant racism was rife. While I do not intend to dwell on these subjects (cozy mysteries are meant to be a little light-hearted) they will be mentioned as and when they pop up in factual history. Which leads me to my fourth aim.
4. I wanted to get my historical facts right. I usually write historical fiction, where the ‘duty of care’ by the author for getting the details right are imperative. I honestly thought, when I set out, that the early 1970s would be easy. Boy was I wrong! I discovered that it can be just as hard to research 1971 as it is to research 1719!
Oh and there is a fifth point.
My prime intention was to have fun writing the series, with the sincere hope that others will have as much fun reading them!
‘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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Meet the Author
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...
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