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Thursday, 28 November 2013

A nice little Austenesque Christmas Mystery - perfect stocking filler!

So, here we have it... find it Here and at, also as Kindle. 

Jane and the Christmas Masquerades is a book consisting of two novellas in which Jane and Caleb are guests of Araminta's uncle, Major George Coate. This is the fourth volume in the Jane, Bow Street Consultant series, following the detective capabilities of Jane Fairfax, now Jane Armitage, aiding her Bow Street Runner husband.

Before giving the blurb for the novellas I'd like to talk a bit about why I write murder mysteries. 
I like to write  books about characters who happen to be linked by murder; I  rely on people to hold them together, not the sensation of the crime. I want to write about my detectives using legwork and brainwork, in an era where there are no magical CSI framinstans.   The crime is almost an incidental to permit the peeling off of layers of personalities without dragging in significant psychological events in their childhood and dwelling on the angst of the detective, nor throwing in gore and horror to shock the audience.
A story reliant on shock value is not, in my opinion, a good murder mystery, but should be classed horror or thriller. I find so-called ‘psychological thrillers’ anything but thrilling.
I write books of the kind that I want to read, about people. 
My target audience is, I suppose, the older woman, over 40’s; though I was seeking out gentle, amusing and entertaining murder mysteries since my teens so maybe the target audience is just me and my immediate family – husband of 30 years aged 55, and mother, aged 82.  My son doesn’t read murder mysteries.  Oh, and I’m 48. 

Jane and the Vanishing Valet
On arriving at Major Coate's country house, Jane and Caleb discover a servant crisis as the Major’s son has just given the cong√© to his valet; but the new valet, when he arrives, is really very odd in his behaviour!  

The Major’s disparate relatives are meeting Araminta for the first time, and there are some tensions within the household as personalities clash when confined to the house in inclement weather, with heavy snow blanketing the countryside.

When the Major is struck down in his study, with a cruel blow, and the valet goes missing, it appears that he may have been the culprit.  If indeed the valet had murderous intent, and is not himself a victim, it appears that he may have had more reasons than mere theft for doing so. Finding the vanishing valet becomes a priority for Jane and Caleb; and they must also prevent anyone from finishing the Major off, since a lack of footprints suggest that the valet is still in the house…alive or dead.

Jane and the Unladylike Wife
Invited with Major Coate's other house guests to a dinner party, it is a shock for Jane and Caleb to discover next day that their hostess, Mrs Steggall, was murdered overnight.
A mysterious and outrageously vulgar woman, claiming to be married to one of the Steggall boys, called after Jane and Caleb’s party had left.  It appears that she may have been responsible for shooting Mrs Steggall, but finding her, and who she actually is, proves a challenge.
The victim's well-known meanness apparently leaves no shortage of possible accomplices or indeed killers if the unladylike female caller is more – or less –  than she seems. 
Caleb demonstrates his knowledge of advances Bow Street has made, in matching bullets and wads, to be able to have a very good idea which gun was used to shoot Mrs Steggall, and he and Jane are able to bring the murderer to book, despite the destruction of evidence!
Meanwhile, Miss Bates has a chance to overcome her disappointment over Mr Redmayne and find happiness.

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