Book Review – The Safe House by Louise Mumford

Blurb

She told you the house would keep you safe. She lied.

Esther is safe in the house. For sixteen years, she and her mother have lived off the grid, protected from the dangers of the outside world. For sixteen years, Esther has never seen another single soul.

Until today.

Today there’s a man outside the house. A man who knows Esther’s name, and who proves that her mother’s claims about the outside world are false. A man who is telling Esther that she’s been living a lie.

Is her mother keeping Esther safe – or keeping her prisoner?



My Review

Louise does a wonderful job of taking the ordinary and every day and turning it into something special and unusual, something extraordinary. 

Esther is just an ordinary girl turning twenty-one. All she wants for her birthday is to go on the Yearly. The once a year event when her mother goes Out There, and gathers supplies for a year. Of course, mother says she’s not ready, but uses reverse psychology to ensure that Esther stays home.

Waiting alone, Esther sees something she never expected, a man coming up the drive. And stepping on… well read the book if you want to know.

The point is, the arrival of this man is going to change Esther’s life forever. This story is of the longest and most important journey anyone can ever take, the journey of self-discovery. Esther has to learn who she is and what the world around her is like. Most of us have every year of our childhood to achieve this, but Esther hasn’t been in the world for most of her life and has to learn it in days.

The fall out needs a blast wall. The struggle is a giving birth. The result is messy and glorious.

Reading this story is to watch a flower move to bud to blossom, but Esther remains true to herself throughout, and it’s a beautiful, sometimes painful tale. Discovery, embarrassment, growth, life and death. Fear and courage. It’s all here and it’s wonderful.

Highly recommend.

I have read Louise’s first book too, “Sleepless”, I loved that as well. There’s no link here. They are each standalone, but if you’ve read and enjoyed “Sleepless”, then you’ll love “The Safe House”. If you read “The Safe House” and enjoy it, there’s a good chance you’ll feel the same way about “Sleepless”. Both are excellent.

Book Review – The Unwanted Dead by Chris Lloyd

Blurb

Paris, Friday 14th June 1940.

The day the Nazis march into Paris, making headlines around the globe.

Paris police detective Eddie Giral – a survivor of the last World War – watches helplessly on as his world changes forever.

But there is something he still has control over. Finding whoever is responsible for the murder of four refugees. The unwanted dead, who no one wants to claim.

To do so, he must tread carefully between the Occupation and the Resistance, between truth and lies, between the man he is and the man he was.

All the while becoming whoever he must be to survive in this new and terrible order descending on his home…

My Review

I was reluctant to read this book at first, having studied Nazi history, I remember how harrowing the truth was and I wasn’t keen to dip my toes back into that particular pool.

However, The Unwanted Dead, is a very well written mystery worth reading.

Inspector Giral is a man with a troubled and troubling past. He’s set to investigate the murder of four men in a railway truck. But they were just Poles, and why should the remaining French Police or the occupying Germans care? Only Giral does care and he’s not the giving up kind. Not when another Pole commits suicide, taking his young son with him.

The multilayered structure of the Nazi and German military and officialdom are pitted against Giral in this case, and against each other. There are French soldiers fleeing from the occupiers. There are Poles fleeing and fighting for their lives. There’s evidence that can’t be found. Deserters who may have more evidence, and maybe not.

On the way Giral confronts enemies on all sides, not to mention within. The flashbacks to what he’s suffered are revealing as to his nature, and explain his family situation. None of which is a shining example of good and gracious behaviour. The moment he meets Dax is particularly interesting.

Strangely, that character that kept me reading was not Giral, but Major Hochstetter. Some of the best lines in the book are either about him or said by him.

It has to be said too, that Giral really is put through the wringer during the course of his investigation. Pretty much every side beats him up at least once. Maybe that affected his thinking because the thing that actually annoyed me, was that the evidence when found was in the obvious place, and it shouldn’t have taken over 420 pages to have got there.

I can see why it won a HWA award, it’s well worth reading.

Book Review – The Snowdonia Killings by Simon McCleave

Blurb

Starting a new life in Snowdonia was always DI Ruth Hunter’s dream. Until a twisted killer turned it into her worst nightmare. 

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Snowdonia Killings is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth. If you like dark police procedurals, psychologically complex characters, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Simon McCleave’s pulse-pounding debut novel.

My Review

Okay, hands up, who hasn’t wanted to kill a teacher/headmaster?

There’s a fair amount of setup to read before the first murder, but it’s totally worth it. By the time we reach the first killing, the reader already thinks the victim deserves it and there are plenty of natural suspects. The second killing is less obvious, but again, not without good reason. 

Ruth acts as the readers way into this book. From her life in the Met and Peckham, her personal backstory (I won’t spoiler it for you), and her decision to move to the quiet life of North Wales, she gives a good insight into what it’s like to be the incomer (as I was when I first came to Wales, and I believe as Simon McCleave was when he wrote the novel). It’s awkward and difficult to find your space, but Ruth does this well forming a great partnership with DS Nick Evans who wants her there in opposite proportion to how much he wants his next drink.

Nick’s drinking is an interesting choice here. Though it is a bit of cliché to have a heavy drinking police officer, Nick is attending AA. He doesn’t seem to be working it through most of the book, but he’s attending. While he is a functioning alcoholic, these things never go as unnoticed as the drinker thinks it does. So, while Ruth sees all the great potential in Nick, she also sees the problem.  But can she open his eyes to it?

Annoyingly for me, I figured out who the killer was quite early in the book, and I kept hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t, but that didn’t spoil it because when the killer is finally revealed and we see all the blind alleys and misdirections, the killer’s motivation is solid and understandable. There’s a real sense of feeling that while murder isn’t justifiable, the reader understands what drove the murderer to it. It makes sense, and that’s always important in crime fiction.

This book is a great introduction to the characters and their lives, and the fledgeling professional relationships that they are building. The text also gives a good sense of place too. By the last page, the reader is comfortable with the two main leads and really likes them, while at the same time wondering how things are going to carry on.

This was a really satisfying read, and I would highly recommend it.

Bio

Simon is a million selling crime novelist. His first book, ‘The Snowdonia Killings’, was released in January 2020 and soon became an Amazon Bestseller, reaching No 1 in the Amazon UK Chart and selling over 300,000 copies. His subsequent novels in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller Series (11 so far) have all ranked in the Amazon Top 20 and are Amazon Best Sellers. He has sold over a 1.25 million books since 2020. The Chirk Castle Killings, Book 12, will release on June 28th 2020.

The Dark Tide, new Anglesey series for Harper Collins, has just been released at reached UK top ten in Kindle Chart.

Simon is currently in negotiations to make the Ruth Hunter books into a television series.

Simon McCleave was born in South London. When leaving University, he worked in television and film development. He was a Script Editor at the BBC, a producer at Channel 4 before working as a Story Analyst in Los Angeles. He worked on films such as ‘The Full Monty’ and television series such as the BBC Crime Drama ‘Between The Lines’.

Simon then became a script writer for television and film. He wrote on series such as Silent Witness, Murder In Suburbia, Teachers, Attachments, The Bill, Eastenders and many more. His film, ‘Out of the Game’ for Channel 4 was critically acclaimed – ‘An unflinching portrayal of male friendship.’ (Time Out)

Simon lives in North Wales with his wife and two children.

Simon is also incredibly tall as I found out in CrimeFest this year – but then I am a bit of short-stop at 5’5”. (Simon is 6’ 4”)

Book Review – The Venetian Game by Philip Gwynne Jones

I’ve been getting around to reading some of the work from fellow Crime Cymru members. Started with this one as I usually read UK based books, and this was a little further away.

Blurb

A game of cross and double-cross in Venice, one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

From his office on the Street of the Assassins, Nathan Sutherland enjoys a steady but unexciting life translating Italian DIY manuals. All this changes dramatically when he is offered a large sum of money to look after a small package containing an extremely valuable antique prayer book illustrated by a Venetian master. But is it a stolen masterpiece – or a brilliant fake?

Unknown to Nathan, from a vast mansion on the Grand Canal twin brothers Domenico and Arcangelo Moro, motivated by nothing more than mutual hatred, have been playing out a complex game of art theft for twenty years. And now Nathan finds himself unwittingly drawn into their deadly business …



My Review

Nathan Sutherland is an Englishman aboard. In Venice – unsurprisingly, given the title. Nathan is a man alone, sitting in his Venetian flat not translating lawn mower instructions, not cooking, drinking too much, and getting bored with his position of honorary consul and helping tourists find lost directions, lost passport and their way into the hands of the Venice Police where there is in fact, very little he can do for them. The thing he does really well is feed the cat, but then with Gramsci, he would have to.

What is surprising is how Nathan gets sucked into a world of art crime. Luckily, he knows someone. Turns out, he knows several someones actually. But in this case, Federica, the art restorer, seems to be one of the most useful. Not to mention, probably the prettiest.

There is a game afoot, and one that has rather escalated from the version that turns up in most childhoods. 

The story is intelligent and interesting, and it shows of its landscape well, the physical one of Venice, and the psychological one of Italian culture as seen through the eyes of an Englishman.

This is the first on the Nathan Sutherland books, and a good start it is too. Would recommend.

There are references to some great music in the first part of the book too.

The fact that Gramsci reminds me of Greebo, the cat who runs Nanny Og and everyone else ragged in Terry Pratchett’s books, actually helped make the whole thing more amusing.

About the Author

Philip Gwynne Jones was born in South Wales in 1966, and has since lived in Holland, Germany and Scotland. He first came to Italy in 1994, when he spent some time working for the European Space Agency in Frascati, a job that proved to be less exciting than he had imagined.

He spent twenty years in the IT industry before realising he was congenitally unsuited to it, and now works as a teacher, writer and translator. He lives in Venice with his wife Caroline.

He is the author of the Nathan Sutherland series, set in contemporary Venice, and his books have been translated into Italian, German and Bulgarian. The fifth book in the series, “The Venetian Legacy” will follow in April 2021. His travelogue, “To Venice With Love” is now available.

He enjoys cooking, art, classical music and opera; and can occasionally be seen and heard singing bass with the Cantori Veneziani.

Philip is published by Constable, and be contacted at https://philipgwynnejones.com/

Book Review – Sleepless, Louise Mumford

Back in February I was able to host Louise Mumford in my crime author month, and she introduced us to her novel “Sleepless”. I’m glad to say I have finally got round to reading it.

Here’s my review.

Thea crashes her car, probably due to a microsleep. Thea is a woman who doesn’t sleep much, most of us can relate to that, but for Thea this isn’t a temporary difficulty, it’s a long term, seemingly never-ending situation.  So when she gets a chance to be included on a sleep trial, she jumps at it. It is literally a jump from the frying pan into the fire.
There are lots of wonderful elements in this book, Louise Mumford brings the characters to life in a difficult situation so that even the darkness is readable.  It is an interesting exploration of the way that we convince ourselves that our worries are nothing to worry about, even when they are.

My favourite exchange was:
Thea: The man is a creep. 
Rory: The world is full of them, can’t knee them all in the balls.

Louise – we can try. But honestly, I’d sooner recommend reading “Sleepless”, wonderful book.


Previous interview: Louise Mumford

Booklink: Sleepless





Louise Mumford was born and lives in South Wales. From a young age she loved books and dancing, but hated having to go to sleep, convinced that she might miss out on something interesting happening in the world whilst she dozed. Insomnia has been a part of her life ever since.

In the summer of 2019 Louise was discovered as a new writer by her publisher at the Primadonna Festival. She lives in Cardiff with her husband and spends her time trying to get down on paper all the marvellous and frightening things that happen in her head.

New Crime Writing Festival

The UK has many parts, and it has many literature festivals.  Many, many of these are crime festivals.  They’re everywhere right?

Wrong.

Wales hasn’t had a festival devoted to crime literature – until now.

Crime Cymru was founded in 2017 by Alis Hawkins, Matt Johnson and Rosie Claverton. The group is all about supporting and promoting Welsh crime writing and Welsh crime writers.

I joined Crime Cymru in 2018 and the group is growing all the time and right now, we are working on putting together Wales’ first international crime fiction festival Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival. The inaugural three-day festival will take place on the early May Bank Holiday weekend (29th April – 2nd May) in the lovely West Wales coastal resort and university town of Aberystwyth.

But in the mean time we’re running the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’ll be holding a free, digital festival this year – Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol. This live Zoom-based festival (April 26th – May 3rd) will introduce people from all over the UK/the world to the brilliant crime writing talent we have in Wales, as well as showcasing some of UK crime fiction’s household names. And, during our digi-fest, we’ll be doing our bit to support those who support us – booksellers. Each of Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol’s events will be partnered by a bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order panel members’ books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.

Gwyl Crime Cymru Festival

But in the mean time we’re running the Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU Festival, we’ll be holding a free, digital festival this year – Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol. This live Zoom-based festival (April 26th – May 3rd) will introduce people from all over the UK/the world to the brilliant crime writing talent we have in Wales, as well as showcasing some of UK crime fiction’s household names. And, during our digi-fest, we’ll be doing our bit to support those who support us – booksellers. Each of Virtual CRIME CYMRU Digidol’s events will be partnered by a bookshop from which we’ll be encouraging audience members to order panel members’ books if they’ve been excited by what they’ve heard.

I’m honoured to be part of this, more so to be in event number 1 inn which Crime Cymru associate member, Amy Williams interviews CWA Diamond Dagger winner, Martin Edwards, award-winning Swansea author, Cathy Ace and me about our very different approaches to crime fiction. The event is supported by Swansea based bookshop Cover to Cover.

More importantly – the events are FREE!

All you have to do is register via Eventbrite and you’ll be able to join these events live.

For more information here are some links that you may want to check out:
Crime Cymru
Gŵyl CRIME CYMRU
Eventbrite
Cover to Cover Bookshop

Four Thoughts on Research for Writing

Writing historical fiction requires a lot of research, but it’s not just historical authors that need to think about research, it’s all of us. This is an area that Chris Lloyd knows a great deal about, as and “The Unwanted Dead” releases today, he’s here with his advice on research.

I write novels set in Paris under the Nazi Occupation. Inevitably, this calls for large amounts of time and planning spent on research, which can be immensely frustrating – for example, when you’re trying to find what colour ration tickets for wine were in June 1941 – but it can also be extremely rewarding. This is especially the case when the research turns up a whole story or character – or simply vignettes and small details of everyday life – that I would otherwise never have dreamt of. It can provide the central theme of the novel, or simply background that adds colour and authenticity to the story. And that’s when all the frustrations reduce to nothing and the hours spent tracking an isolated fact down becomes instantly forgotten. Along the way, I’ve come to a few conclusions about research that have helped me and that I hope might be useful to others.

1 Research, Research, Research

You can never do too much research.

I begin with a sort of immersive research. History books, films, documentaries, novels, anything that gives me a sense of the time and the place. This starts with the ‘big’ history – what was going on with the war elsewhere, major events in France, political machinations and so on – and then moves on to the fine detail. How my characters would have dressed, what they would have seen as they walked through the streets of Paris. Were the cafes and restaurants open? How many cars were there? How frequently would ordinary people have seen German soldiers or been stopped by them? How afraid were they? And how much did they simply try to get by despite the soldiers’ presence?

The next stop is to narrow the research down. My stories are set over a specific time period – The Unwanted Dead covers the first ten days of the Occupation, the second book (which I’m currently writing) takes place between September and November 1940. That’s actually extremely helpful and quite a relief. Whereas the immersive research can leave your head reeling with an information overload, the focused research not only pins the story down, it offers all sorts of opportunities for extra threads and characters thanks to the odd snippet of detail here and there that it throws up. This is where the research really helps the story start to gel.

2 Then stop researching

You can do too much research.

I know I’ve contradicted myself, but that’s research for you. Once the story starts to gel, that’s the time to stop researching. And for me, it’s important to know the exact moment. That’s partly because it’s much too easy to send yourself down a rabbit-hole, finding out all sorts of things you don’t need and confusing the issue. It’s all very well knowing what colour ration tickets for wine were in June 1941, but it’s a massive distraction if your story’s set in autumn 1940. There’s nothing like it for taking you off the boil. The main reason, though, is because it’s time to start exploring, time to start getting the story down on screen while it’s still fresh and exciting in your own mind. That’s when you can allow your characters to react to the research you’ve learned and do something with it.

3 Then do a bit more research

This is where it gets frustrating. You’ve got your story, the characters are lined up and waiting in the wings, they’ve already made their first moves, the streets are populated with your extras, and foul and bloody murder has already been committed. And that’s when you find you want Eddie, your protagonist, to go to a café for a glass of pastis with another cop to calm their nerves after the foul and bloody murder. But for them to do that, I have to know if that would have been possible under the Occupation. And it’s that moment of trying to find a very specific and very small piece of research that determines whether a scene can happen or not, or if it has to be adapted. And there’s nothing like it for slowing your writing down, as it can take hours and even days to find out that one minor piece of information. The sad news is you have no choice. If you want your story to be as authentic and accurate as possible, you just have to roll your sleeves up and dive into the deep research. That’s when you learn patience.

And in case you’re wondering – no, they couldn’t have a glass of pastis. The Vichy government had banned all drinks over sixteen per cent proof, so they had to drink wine instead, and use up a ration ticket each. Ration tickets, by the way, whose colour was changed from one month to the next to prevent forgeries being made and sold on the black market.

4 Forget the research

There’s a famous photo of Adolf Hitler taken the one time he visited Paris, in June 1940. In it, he’s standing in the Trocadéro with the Eiffel Tower behind him, on the opposite bank of the Seine. He’s flanked by architect Albert Speer and sculptor Arno Breker. Albert Speer claims the photograph was taken on 28th June, Arno Breker says it was 23rd June. They can’t both be right. My dilemma is which date do I choose.

I’ve got a similar problem with the second book. For the purposes of the story, I need Eddie to go to a specific opera on a specific day. I know the opera was staged in Paris – Fidelio, a story of political prisoners and freedom, a strange choice for the Nazis to have made – and I know it was in the autumn. The problem is I can only find one source for the actual date… and it contradicts itself. It first says Fidelio was staged at the end of October, and a few chapters later, it says it was in December. Again, I have to make my choice.

In both cases, I’ve driven myself up the wall trying to find a definitive date, but it’s impossible. And that’s when you have to forget the research and remember what it is you’re doing. You’re writing fiction. My own research in both cases has led me to a specific date for each of the two events, and I’ve made every effort possible to be accurate, but I also have to realise that this is when another element becomes important – the story. As I said, I write fiction. The history has to be accurate, the research has to be true, but it also has to contribute to the story I’m telling. Faced with contradictions in the research, and there are many, your choice has to come down to one fact. You’re a story-teller. You have to be authentic, you have to respect the past, but your story has to come first.


Chris Lloyd grew up in Cardiff and, after graduating in Spanish and French, spent twenty-four years in Catalonia, where he taught English and worked in educational publishing and as a travel writer and translator. Besides this, he also lived in Grenoble for six months, researching the French Resistance movement, and in the Basque Country and Madrid. He now lives in his native Wales where he works as a writer and translator.

He writes the Eddie Giral crime thriller series, the result of his lifelong interest in resistance and collaboration in Occupied France. Living under the shadow cast by his experiences in World War One, Eddie Giral is a Paris police detective forced to come to terms with the Nazi Occupation of the city. Seeking to negotiate a path between the occupier and the occupied, Eddie struggles to retain some semblance of humanity while walking a fine line between resistance and collaboration. However, his greatest challenge possibly lies in overcoming his own inner struggle in asking what justice is when the notion of justice itself becomes as dangerous, blurred and confused as the times. The first book in the series, The Unwanted Dead, is published by Orion and comes out in paperback on 18 March 2021.

Chris is also the author of the Elisenda Domènech crime series, published by Canelo, featuring a police officer with the devolved Catalan police force.

Hard Return

Amy Lane is an agoraphobic who fights crime from her computer. If you like your crime with a side order of geek, you’ll love this series. Hard Return was the first of the Amy Lane mysteries that I read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even through it is the fifth book in the series, you don’t need to have read the rest to enjoy it.

Rosie Claverton grew up in Devon, daughter to a Sri Lankan father and a Norfolk mother, surrounded by folk mythology and surly sheep. She moved to Cardiff to study Medicine and adopted Wales as her home.

Her crime series The Amy Lane Mysteries debuted in 2014, about an agoraphobic hacker and streetwise ex-con who fight crime in Cardiff.

Between writing and medicine, she advocates for accurate and sensitive portrayals of people with mental health problems in fiction. She is a co-founder of the Welsh crime writing collective Crime Cymru.

Rosie lives with her journalist husband and her young daughters

Cathy Ace

Today the lovely Cathy Ace talks about her start in writing, her garden and the Cait Morgan series

When did you start writing, and why?

I was one of those children to whom their teacher says, ‘I asked for an essay, not a book!’, so I think I’ve always enjoyed writing. Indeed, I’ve been fortunate to have an entire career built on it in advertising, public relations, and training. My criminal side took a while to emerge; the first short story with a criminal bent I ever wrote was called ‘Dear George’. It was written in a car park in 1987, in about an hour and a half.

Why?

Well, I’d been waiting to collect my sister at Gatwick airport, and her flight was delayed. I bought a magazine (I’d forgotten to carry a book – what an admission!) and the one I chose had a headline: ‘Murder, and be published!’. A couple of months later, in the middle of my workday as a sales person for a label-printing company, I left the HQ of one of my clients (Marks & Spencer) on Baker Street in London, and sat in my car in the multi-storey car park writing my short story entry to the magazine’s competition on a notepad. Fast forward a few months, and I was somewhat taken aback when I received a letter to say the story – DEAR GEORGE – would, indeed, be published in an anthology called MURDER AND COMPANY, alongside stories by ‘real’ authors. I was pleased, excited a little, but I’d just remortgaged my flat to be able to set up my own business, so it was a bit of a frisson rather than a ‘this could change my life’ moment. The same short story was then (in 1990) included in another anthology called THRILLERS, which was created for the GCSE English Language syllabus…which blew me away. By the time I was approached by Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres in 2007 asking if they could produce the story for BBC Radio 4, I had sold my business, migrated to Canada, and had written nine marketing textbooks, which had been published around the world. DEAR GEORGE was first broadcast on July 9th 2007 – my family in Swansea listened to it there, while I listened in Canada…it was a special moment. Sadly, my father died soon afterwards, and I decided that if I was going to write fiction I’d better get on with it. So I Indie-published a collection of short stories, then a collection of novellas, and my first novel (The Corpse With The Silver Tongue) was traditionally published in March 2012.

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

Extreme violence, torture, detailed forensics, graphic sexual interactions, military-type activities, action scenes or chases: I don’t think I’d be good at writing about any of these, though I do read them. All that being said, I reserve the right to write about the threat of any/all of them, or the psychological/after-effects of any/all of them.

What do you like to do to relax when not writing?

Since March 2020 I’ve put a fair amount of time and effort into redecorating the house…I dare say I am not alone in this! However, my real passion is gardening. Having five acres to look after means I’m gardening on a scale I couldn’t have imagined earlier in my life, but I love it. Our home is half-way up a little mountain in south-western British Columbia, so our climate is virtually the same as it would be if I lived at the top of Kilvey Hill, in Swansea. Over the past twenty years we’ve planted dozens of roses, hundreds of rhododendrons, hydrangea, and hibiscus (hardy varieties only), as well as many other flowering plants you’d see in any Welsh garden. We’ve also planted a couple of hundred Japanese maples, of many different varieties, as well as other deciduous ornamentals (we’re fortunate to already have a fabulous variety of mature evergreens, many of which are a couple of hundred feet tall). Though it’s hard work, I find it incredibly relaxing (well, okay then, I find the gardening hard, but the sitting in the hot tub with a beer afterwards incredibly relaxing!). 

Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

Whomever I am writing about at the time – and that happens to be Cait Morgan. I’m currently writing the tenth book in Cait Morgan Mysteries series; they’re all written in the first person, from the point of view of Cait Morgan who (like me) was born and raised in Swansea, went to Cardiff University but then (unlike me) went on to Cambridge to gain her Masters degree in criminal psychology. She’s transferred to the University of Vancouver (based on a synthesis of two universities in the area where I taught upon my own arrival in Canada) where she’s now a professor, specializing in research into victim profiling. She’s been to the same schools as me, enjoys the same food and drink that I do (and, trust me, if she eats or drinks something in a book, I have thoroughly researched said victuals myself!) and is short and overweight, like me. She has habits and abilities, however – and a dark background – that I do not personally possess, so she’s not ‘me’. But I like the way she’s bossy – but fragile, always right – until she’s wrong, and thinks quite snarky thoughts – but tries her best to edit her tongue. She first appeared in three short stories in Murder Keeps No Calendar, then in a novella in Murder Knows No Season, prior to these soon-to-be-ten novels (The Corpse With The Iron Will will be published in May 2021).  A strange thing is happening at the moment: I’m having conversations about who will play Cait Morgan in the television movies that are going to be made of the books (by Free@LastTV, who make the Agatha Raisin series) – since she’s so similar to me it’s a bit like trying to cast myself! And, no, we’re not considering Meryl Streep – she can play almost anything, but I really, really want a Welsh woman to play Cait!

Links:
http://www.cathyace.com/cait-morgan-mysteries
http://www.cathyace.com/long-short-stories

The Wrong Boy: Suspense-packed page turner...the ending is a stunner by [Cathy Ace]

Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?

To be honest, every book I’ve written contains characters I’d prefer not to break bread with, but I think the one I grew to hate the most as I was writing him was Bob Thistlewaite, the ex-husband of one of the three women of the Jones family who run a pub called The Dragon’s Head in the village of Rhosddraig, in The Wrong Boy. This is a book of suspense, and every character has their secrets, so it’s difficult for me to say too much about the character here, because folks might not have read the book yet, and his role in it is small, but critical. Suffice to say, he richly deserves what happens to him. By the way, The Wrong Boy has also been optioned for TV, to be broadcast as a three-part miniseries in both Welsh and English, so I’ll be very curious to see who they cast for this character.
http://www.cathyace.com/the-wrong-boy

Tell us about your last book…

The Corpse with the Crystal Skull (The Cait Morgan Mysteries Book 9) by [Cathy Ace]

The Corpse With The Crystal Skull was published in June 2020, and I’m delighted with how well it’s been received. There hadn’t been a new Cait Morgan mystery since 2017, so I was a bit nervous about the long break between books (I’d been contracted to write the third and fourth books in my WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, so Cait took a rest for a while) but I shouldn’t have worried, it seems. This ninth book in the series gave me a chance to take Cait and her husband Bud to Jamaica (each Cait Morgan Mystery is set in a different country) and I actually finished writing the book when I was in the Caribbean…in February and March 2020 when, as we all know now, the world was going to Hell in a handbasket! While editing the book, back in Canada in lockdown, I thoroughly enjoyed reliving the food, drink and HEAT I was missing (and still am). It led the Toronto Star to include this in its review, about me: ‘…more than adept at the Christie thing…’ and in The Jury Box (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine) they said ‘……a mystery involving pirates’ treasure, lust, and greed. Cait unravels the locked-tower mystery using her eidetic memory and her powers of deduction, which are worthy of Hercule Poirot…’ which thrilled me no end!

Here’s the back-cover blurb: Welsh Canadian globetrotting sleuth, and professor of criminal psychology, Cait Morgan, is supposed to be “celebrating” her fiftieth birthday in Jamaica with her ex-cop husband Bud Anderson. But when the body of the luxury estate’s owner is discovered locked inside an inaccessible tower, Cait and her fellow guests must work out who might have killed him – even if his murder seems impossible. Could the death of the man who hosted parties in the 1960s attended by Ian Fleming and Noël Coward be somehow linked to treasure the legendary Captain Henry Morgan might have buried at the estate? Or to the mission Bud and his secret service colleagues have been sent to the island to undertake?

What’s coming next…

The Corpse With The Iron Will, due to be published in May 2021. There’s no back-cover blurb yet (!!) but this time Cait and Bud find their next-door neighbour dead – so, whilst it is absolutely NOT a pandemic book, it does allow me to consider how a globe-trotting sleuth might feel about a murder/murders so close to home…and all of us have reassessed our perspectives of what ‘home’ means to us over the last year, I believe. Besides, I have to keep reminding myself that, as an author who’s enticed readers with the promise of armchair travel as well as a classic, closed-circle, puzzle-plot mystery to solve, I (and Cait!) live in an area many would like to travel to…the pristine wilderness of beautiful British Columbia, a rain forest with fascinating flora, fauna, foods, history, and art. If you want to be updated about my progress please follow me on
Facebook, here: https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Ace-Author-318388861616661 or
Twitter, here: @AceCathy





Cathy Ace’s Welsh Canadian criminal psychologist sleuth Cait Morgan encounters traditional, closed-circle whodunits around the world, while her WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries feature a quartet of soft-boiled female PIs who solve more cozy cases from their office at a Welsh stately home. Her standalone suspense novel, The Wrong Boy, has been optioned for TV (as have her Cait Morgan Mysteries). Shortlisted for Canada’s Bony Blithe Award three times in four years, winning in 2015, she’s also won IPPY and IBA Awards, and has been shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award. Cathy lives in Canada, having migrated from Wales aged 40.




Thank you Cathy. The Wrong Boy was the first of Cathy’s books that I read and knowing the area in which it is set, I found it very evocative not just of the place, but the people too.

Tomorrow, we meet Evonne Wareham.