Category Archives: Cosy Mystery

MURDER BY THE BARREL by Lesley Cookman #MurderMystery #guestpost


Lesley Cookman



Series: Libby Sarjeant series number 18 (can be read as a standalone)

Genre: Cosy crime

Release Date: 5th October

Publisher: Accent Press

When the village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant and friends to solve the puzzle.

Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?





The importance of a Good Title

Titles. Yes. Well, I don’t exactly pick mine. When I started the first Libby Sarjeant book – not that I knew it was the first – I called it Past Imperfect. My publisher said would anybody Get It. Eh? Do people actually know about Tenses these days? Of course, I said. I mean, you get taught them in Latin and French, as well as English Grammar. She looked at me pityingly. So I went home and asked my adult children, one of who I had just seen graduating from Uni, what they thought. They didn’t look pitying, they looked scornful.

So, my publisher said, how about Murder In Steeple Martin? The story does what it says on the tin. Oh – and please could it be a series? And so there we were. Murder has been the non-negotiable part of the title ever since. The next was easy – Murder at The Laurels, about an  old lady being disposed of in a retirement home. The third, well, that was fairly easy, too, as it was set in panto season – so Murder In Midwinter it became. After that it got more difficult. Sometimes I, my editor or one of my children would come up with a blinding title which would then require me to fit a story around it. Other times an idea would be suggested – usually by my elder son – which would mean searching around for a title to fit. The one concerning a ukulele group, for instance, I wanted a quote I could misappropriate, and eventually settled on Murder Out Of Tune, a misquote from Othello. I finally managed to shoehorn “Imperfect” in as Murder Imperfect, the seventh in the series. One which I’ve always loved was when my elder daughter said, while we were watching the May Day parade here in our home town, “That would be great for a murder, Mum.” Our parade, like many others all over the country, is led by a Jack In The Green, a huge wire cage smothered in greenery with a hapless man inside, who is frequently fed beer to keep him going. I saw the possibilities in this immediately and the title was obvious: Murder In The Green.

A couple of years ago, we decided to start another series set in an Edwardian seaside concert party, an idea borne out of an original musical libretto I wrote for the British Music Hall Society, and further used as a back story in Murder In Midwinter. I had no idea where to start with this, so I asked the four children. (I say children – they are all adults. I think.) We had a hilarious Messenger conversation and ended up with Death Plays A Part. Should have realised. Now we’re stuck with Death. So the follow up, after another conversation with the kids, was Entertaining Death and very soon I shall have to think up another one.

Meanwhile, following elder son’s suggestion of a village beer festival setting, Murder By The Barrel is the latest title, out now. And the next one I only have myself to blame. Fired up by all the Shakespearean celebrations last year, a title burst into my head like a rocket: Murder And The Glovemaker’s Son. I emailed it to my publisher and editor, they both loved it and lo! It will be Libby 19. But I had to think of a plot to fit. It has taken me MONTHS! Thought it up – couldn’t make it work. Thought some more. Wrote another outline. And so it went on. I think I’ve got it now, so watch this space.

And, of course, we have to have another conversation about the third Edwardian book. It’s a time consuming business, you know.



Lesley Cookman writes the Libby Sarjeant Mysteries and the Edwardian mystery series, The Alexandrians. She has a varied background as a model, an air stewardess (when it was posh), a nightclub DJ (in a silver sparkly catsuit), editor of a Music Hall magazine, The Call Boy, a magazine called The Poulty Farmer, and pantomime writer and director. She lives on the Kent coast and has four grown up children who are variously musicians and writers, two grandchildren and two cats, not necessarily in that order.







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MURDER AT THE MYSTERY BAY HOTEL by Marcia Spillers#cozymystery #guestpost


Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel


Marcia Spillers



Genre:  Cozy/Amateur Sleuth Mystery

Series: Mystery Bay Series #1

Release Date:  January 18, 2017

Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas-born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.


The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.

“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.

“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over.  Seconds later he sighed in relief.

I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.




Five Pieces of Useful Advice for New Writers

Each time I begin a new book, an essay, a blog, I feel like a novice writer still learning the craft.  At first I’m full of self-confidence, new ideas, creativity; certain this will be the project that makes a difference in the world. Then I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the screen, wondering what in the world made me think I could ever be a writer.

After several minutes of self-examination, I shrug it off and force myself to write a few sentences.  Nothing fancy, nothing earth-shattering- just something to get my fingers moving on the keyboard.  And then the magic happens.  I get into the groove and begin to write.  As I write, I grow interested in what I’m writing, and sentence after sentence shows up on the page.

I said this to introduce you to my first piece of writing advice, which is, above all, be interested in what you write.  Maybe it sounds simplistic, but it rings true with every project you begin. And to be interested in what you write, means selecting the correct genre or project.  Let’s face it-you’ll be spending many long hours with your manuscript so you better make sure you enjoy each other’s company.  My first book, “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel”, took me three years.  I rewrote the manuscript five times before it was published.  The saving grace was that I enjoy humor, which is evident in the book, and of course, South Florida where the book is set.  The fact that I’m in love with the mystery genre didn’t hurt either. Those three key elements allowed me to read the manuscript over and over until my eyes burned, to edit each word, each line for all those elements that turn an idea into a book.

The second thing and I don’t say this lightly, is to learn the craft of writing.  Go to workshops and conferences, take classes, chat up other writers to see how they go about this business of writing.  Not only will you learn how to write, but you’ll form a network of people for support and encouragement.  As weeks turn into months, this encouragement will be crucial to keep you focused on your project.

The third piece of advice, one that I wish I’d known about before I began writing, is to learn the guidelines of your genre if you’re writing fiction.

Genres have specific guidelines that you might want to become familiar with before you begin your project.  “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel” is marketed as a cozy mystery, but it contains elements of romance, paranormal, and suspense, so it crosses genres.  It’s considered to be an “out of the box” type of cozy mystery. My readers either love it completely or don’t like it because it doesn’t follow the traditional lines of what they’re used to reading.  One of the main complaints I received concerned a ghostly Sea Captain who is pivotal to the story line. As a general rule, ghosts don’t normally appear in cozy mysteries. Fortunately, I’ve had many more positive reviews than negative, and if I had to do it again, I’d still write it the same way.  However, for future books, I plan to stay a little closer to standard guidelines.

Something I learned along this journey, just recently, in fact, was to prepare for the unexpected while writing.  I began this post in anticipation, researching a few facts, stretching my fingers as I settled down with the keyboard, prepared to share my thoughts.  Around the second day of this journey, I noticed a slight headache coming on.  I shrugged it off and continued to pound the keyboard.  By that evening, however, the slight headache had morphed into a hand clutching my forehead accompanied by a sore throat and sniffles.  Long story short, after the doctor’s visit, I was now the proud owner of a healthy case of the flu and the writing had to take a back seat while I recovered.

The moral of the story is this.  The best intentions can be sidelined by the unexpected.  If it occurs, take the time you need to deal with whatever is happening, and then begin afresh with your writing.   Writing reflects your state of health, mind, personal life, and other factors, so, try to be at your best when you sit down to write.  And please, no regrets, no beating yourself up because your writing has taken a temporary back seat.  We’re all human – problems come and go. You will write again. Just be sure to stock up on the tissue of your choice in case you get the flu.

My final piece of writing advice is something I’m still working on myself, which is, learn from your mistakes, stay balanced, and move on when the book is finished.

 After my first book, “Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel” was published, I rejoiced in all the good reviews, and sort of squirmed at a couple of not so good reviews.  I pondered what I could have done differently, and should I have done anything differently.  What I came to realize, is that no matter what mistakes I’d made, the book was completed and I’d accomplished a lifelong dream.  I was now a published author and no one could take that from me.   It was time to celebrate, to give the book a chance to find a life on its own, and began the second in the series.  In other words, plan carefully, keep the highs and lows you’ll experience throughout this journey on an even keel, and turn your focus, your passion, onto your next project.  Life will continue as it always does, and you want to make sure you’re moving with it and not standing at the sidelines.

Happy writing and until next time!





Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years.  Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear.  Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.


Website:  www.Marcia



DEATH OF A CUCKOO by Wendy Percival #review

CuckooDeath of a Cuckoo


Wendy Percival


Genre: Cosy Mystery

Series: An Esme Quentin Short Read

Release Date: 6 March 2017

Publisher: sBooks

A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.


I ran down the steps and squeezed my way down the slim passage. In the recess was a narrow door but it didn’t match the faded, peeling paint of the remainder of the house’s decoration. It was brighter, as though it had been protected from the elements. As I stepped closer, I realised that’s exactly what had happened. Under my feet were pieces of broken planking. Until very recently, this doorway had been covered by a decorative panel and disguised. So who had uncovered it? It couldn’t have been there at the viewing.


Buy link:

Goodreads link:

My Review

I found this book an easy read. I finished in one sitting. I loved Esme. She reminds me of a young Miss Marple, determined to get to the bottom of any mystery no matter how big or how small.

Wendy’s writing is strong and her descriptive narrative of the old Victorian institution, I felt like I was there along with her characters.

I’ll definitely be looking for more books by this author.



Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and brought up in the Worcestershire countryside. After training as a primary school teacher she moved to North Devon in 1980 to take up her first teaching post and remained in teaching for 20 years.

An impulse buy of Writing Magazine inspired her to start writing seriously. She won Writing Magazine’s Summer Ghost Story competition in 2002 and had a short story published in The People’s Friend before focusing on full-length fiction.

The time honoured ‘box of old documents in the attic’ stirred her interest in genealogy and became the inspiration for the Esme Quentin mystery novels Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain. She is currently working on the third in the series, where the clandestine past of the Second World War provides the secret world into which Esme must delve to uncover the truth.

When she’s not writing fiction, Wendy conducts her own family history research, sharing her finds on her blog,

Wendy lives in a Devon thatched cottage beside a 13th-century church with her husband and a particularly talkative cat.

You can find more on her website



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