My big news…

The Maybridge Mysteries

I’ve had to hang onto this news for months while my new publisher, Joffe Books, put together a title and cover for the first of my Maybridge Mysteries.

It’s set in the ancient fictional Cotswold town of Maybridge, which many of my regular readers will know, and features garden designer and very amateur sleuth, Abby Finch.

Turning to crime..

And it’s not just the actual appearance of the book that has taken a long time. Murder Among the Roses, the first story in this new series, began about twenty years ago when I watched a television documentary – Forgotten Lives – about how young women were locked up in mental institutions for “moral delinquency”.

Appallingly, they could be taken to court and locked away on the word of a father, or some man who thought they were a danger to the morals of men in area. It was particularly prevalent in military towns where one of the reasons given was to protect the soldiers from disease. The patriachy wielding their power against defenseless girls living in poverty, who had very little education and no voice.

Many of them stayed in these mental institutions for many years and, when they were eventually released, were what is known as “institutionalized”,  They had lost any ability to fend for themselves.

And so to begin…

That was my starting point. I even wrote a few thousand words back then, but I didn’t have a publisher to approach with the idea.

What I did have were contracts for romance novels and for the next couple of decades they took up my entire writing time.

Then came the pandemic and lockdown.

I had delivered the last of the books on my contract with Mills and Boon – Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss – and somehow the story was there in front of me, demanding to be written.

Switching genres

Switching genres is not easy.  Murder Among the Roses is a much longer book, with many more characters and plot strands but, with a lot of encouragement from my writing group, I dived in and I have now finished the second book in the series, provisionally entitled Murder With Mistletoe, which will be coming out in October.

I think you’re going to love garden designer Abby Finch, her family, her best mate, Megan West, and her love interest, Jake Sullivan.

Do you want a taste? Here’s your starter for ten…

RED-FACED and sweating with the effort, Abby Finch stabbed at the deep tap root, imagining that it was her soon-to-be ex-husband who was on the receiving end of her spade.

‘Damn! Damn! Damn!’

The word echoed the jabbing until, beneath her raised spade, the white glimmer of bone brought her to a juddering halt. It wasn’t the first time she’d disturbed the bones of a long-deceased pet, but the shock never lessened and she stuck her spade into the pile of earth she’d already removed and walked away, stretching her back, ripping off her gloves to scoop up hair that had escaped the scrunchy and was sticking to her face.

Restoring this forgotten corner of the garden where he’d made love to her, proposed to her, for the new woman in his life, was Howard’s punishment for defying him not once, but twice.

He might be done with her as a wife, but she was still useful in the garden and with three children whose needs would always make her hostage to his demands, she’d had no choice but to concede.

For the moment, he had her over a barrel, but she took some comfort from the fact that she’d have an unlikely ally in Izzy Hamilton.

Once the divorce was sorted and Izzy was the new Mrs Finch, she wouldn’t want her predecessor hanging around in the garden.

With that thought to console her, Abby took a steadying breath and, gloves back on and down on her knees, she reached into the cool, damp earth and took out a rib bone. It was a fragile thing, tiny against the clumsy thickness of her gardening gloves. She placed it carefully on the path beside her and then, using her hand fork, began to carefully scrape away the soil.

The animal had lain undisturbed until the roots of the rose had breached the box in which it had been buried, forcing it apart and curling through the ribs, scattering the neat curve of tiny vertebrae.

It had been wrapped in a knitted blanket, rotting now, with soil clinging to the strands of wool. There were damp-pitted brass hinges and, from a piece of the lid that had survived, she could see that it had once been inlaid with the coloured wood and mother of pearl that she was turning up with her fork.

She put everything she found on the path beside the fragments of blanket and the bones so that she could bury it all together.

Then she found the skull.

Abby stared at it for a moment, struggling to equate what she’d expected to find with the reality of what lay before her.

Not the narrow, sharp-toothed skull of a small animal, it was round, with the unmistakable open fontanelle of a new-born baby and she felt her throat constrict, for a moment too shocked to breathe.

A baby?

Want to read on?

Murder Among the Roses will be available at the launch price of 99p/99c from 18th April, so now is the moment to pre-order!

3 Replies to “My big news…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: