Saturday, 22 November 2014

Will the police find a body in the house.....

In this extract from 'Model Murder' the police go to the murder victim's house to break the news....

No reply at the locked front door.  No reply at the back door which, fortunately, was unlocked.  Chris, who had put on some protective gloves, cautiously opened the door and called, ‘Halloooo!  Anybody home?’
Silence.  Not even a burglar alarm shouting the odds.
‘Do we go in, guv?’
‘Very carefully.  We wouldn’t want to disturb a crime scene.’
‘If there is one.’
Always prepared Chris handed him some plastic bootees to put on over his shoes and did the same for herself.  Sinclair gave her full marks.  Ideally they should have suited up but if Mitch Pepper was merely snoozing or had been knocked out that might scare him.
Together the pair checked out the rooms on the ground floor including what appeared to be a small flat for an absent housekeeper.
‘Might be her night off,’ Chris commented quietly.  Sinclair merely nodded.
Nothing seemed to be out of place so they went upstairs and glanced through those rooms.  Again, there were no signs of damage, nor bodies – alive or dead.
Although there was an office on the ground floor they also found what appeared to be an office upstairs for Amaryllis.  ‘Guv, there’s something written on the wall chart.’
They went to look at it.  ‘She should have been in London.  Went up Saturday and due back tomorrow.  Who’s this Ricky Davison? Name sounds familiar.’
‘He’s an actor, guv.  Looks like they had a function up there.’
‘Address book?’
On the desk.  Very carefully the DC opened it to find details for Ricky Davison. ‘Got it,’ and she jotted the information in her notebook.
‘Is Jonathan Pepper in there?  In case Sergeant Roberts hasn’t had any luck.’
As soon as Chris had that information they returned downstairs to Mitch Pepper’s office.
‘Nothing,’ Chris said with a sigh as she looked at the blank page in his diary.
‘Do we wait for him?’
‘He could be away for the night.’
‘Or for good?’

‘Don’t be a pessimist.  We’ll leave someone here.  Now let’s get out and see who’s arrived.’
Model Murder and all of my books are available on:
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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Editors and Reviewers

Oh dear, I've just finished reading a book by a very well published author and found a howler of a mistake. Do you know of any Spaniards called Paolo? That's Italian - in Spanish it would be Pablo. And I asked myself how could such an author make this mistake? I suspect that her mind set is back in the good old days when her publisher provided an editor. And it is so easy these days to find names in other languages - thanks to web searches.

A friend recently told me that she read a self-published book which was pretty 'dire'. The writer had paid an editor to go through it. The unfortunate thing these days is that there are unqualified people jumping on the bandwagon. You don't need qualifications to advertise your 'service'.

Self-publishers - beware! Get an editor who has been recommended to you or, better still, if you are a member of a group such as the Society of Authors, ask their advice.

Even if you have used a professional editor, always read through your MSS two or three times more. Maybe the editor hasn't quite understood what you meant and so has, inadvertently, changed the context.

Free Reviews

Another area where self-publishers need to be very careful.

Some of these reviewers are simply advertising their service to get free books and don't give you a review. But the worst ones are those who give you a review without actually reading your book.

My worst one was a two-star review by an American man who, not only hadn't read it (just dipped in here and there), but didn't realise it was written in English-English. He said there are lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes!

And on the subject of poor reviews - I was always taught that if you can't say anything nice it's best not to say anything at all!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

How Trudi avoided a nasty crash - from 'Death of a Copycat'

Following two murders it was hard to realise that someone also wanted to kill Trudi - and possibly her friend Lucia.  Read on.....

Following the writers’ circle meeting, as they drove home in Trudi’s car, she and Lucia chatted over the meeting.  Suddenly a car pulled out from a turning on the left, heading for Trudi’s door.   Fortunately that lady’s reflexes were quick.  She spun the wheel to the right and headed onto a driveway.  Unfortunately there was a car parked on it.  She slammed on the brakes, bringing them to an abrupt halt to the tinkling of broken glass.
“Shit!”  Trudi exclaimed then rested her head on her arms on the steering wheel.
Lucia had covered her face with shaking hands.  Both were breathing heavily.
Tap, tap, tap on the window of the driver’s door.  “Are you okay?” a man’s voice asked.
Trudi looked up and gave a rueful grin to the well-built man in his seventies.  She opened the window.  “Sorry about your rear light.”
“No problem.  We saw what happened and are amazed you got out of the way.  Who hates you?” he asked a look of sympathy in his blue eyes. 
His wife, also about seventy years old, joined him and invited them indoors, but Trudi shook her head as she got out of the car.  Her knees were shaking so much she was surprised she could stand up.  She asked, “Did you see who was driving?”
“Sorry, I was watching your fine piece of driving,” the man apologised shaking his head of fine white hair.
“It had tinted windows,” the wife told her.  “By the way, we’re Fred and Poppy Walters.”
Trudi introduced herself and gave them Lucia’s name.  That lady was, Trudi noticed, already on the phone, presumably to Jeff.  “I hate to get you involved in this, but two people we know have been murdered and this may be part and parcel if it.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to call the detective in charge.”
“Oh, my!” breathed the little five-foot-nothing lady with the wiry grey hair and pale sherry coloured eyes.
“Do what you have to do,” Fred reassured Trudi and gave her their address, all of which Trudi relayed to Ricardo.
Although the Walters’ again invited the ladies inside for a drink or at least a cup of tea, they opted to stay outside.  In the event they didn’t have to wait long as Ricardo arrived in short order.
“I was already in the car going to the supermarket when you called.  There are some more coming along to do a house-to-house,” he explained, following a brief greeting.  “Trudi, Lucia, are you okay?”  He looked inside the car and saw that the airbags had not deployed.  “Not too big a hit?”
Fred responded with a grin, “Neatest bit of parking I’ve ever seen.”
The detective frowned, “I thought she hit your car?”
The older man waved his hand.  “A broken tail light.  Pretty good considering she was doing about thirty.”
They stood and examined the cars, then Ricardo said to Trudi, “You didn’t get touched by the other car.  Pity as we’d then have paint to match up.”
“Thanks very much,” she retorted as Lucia gasped.  “The other car was white.  This car is white,” she pointed out through gritted teeth.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  Just thinking technically.”
At this point two marked cars arrived.  One contained Detectives Jeffers and Westland (also known as Tweedledee and Tweedledum) and the other, Jorgenson.  Gomez indicated they should wait on the sidewalk then turned his attention back to Mr. and Mrs. Walters.  “Back to the car which tried to side-swipe Trudi.  You said it was white.  Did you see the tag?”  A pair of shaken heads, “Okay.  Any idea of the make?”
“Could have been a Taurus,” Fred said, “that sort of shape and size.”
The detective made a note.  “Or maybe a Mercury Sable,” he muttered.  “Or similar.  Right,” he became businesslike again, “after I’ve detailed these guys on a house-to-house I’ll follow you, Trudi.”
“There’s no need for an escort,” she assured him.
He raised an eyebrow.  “How about for my peace of mind?”
She relented and, while he went to talk to the uniforms, she turned to Mr. Walters.  “When you get that light seen to send me the bill.”
“No, that’s okay.  It’s not a big job.”
Lucia weighed in.  “That’s not the point, Fred, it’s a matter of principle.  What happened wasn’t your fault.”
“Wasn’t Trudi’s fault either.”  He shook his head and grinned ruefully.  “Why didn’t I have a video camera rolling?  It was just like a movie.”
“But you should not be out of pocket,” Trudi pointed out.  “I have to get my front light repaired.  Depends how much both repairs are.  If more than we expect then the insurance will cover it.  If not, then I’ll pay.”

Fred looked from his seven-year-old Toyota to Trudi’s new Lincoln Town Car, realised she could probably afford it and, encouraged by a nudge from his spouse, agreed.

Death of a Copycat is available on Amazon Kindle and on for all other formats except.....
Kobo.  There search for 'Writing can be Murder' - I wasn't able to work out how to change the cover on that format!

Of course, all of my books are available for e-readers and computer.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Antiques in the Attic - Why and How did Kevin die?

Extract of Police Interview....

"I don't know," she responded doubtfully.  "What a good job I wasn't here," she added as they re-entered the living room.

"I doubt if he would have come in then."

"You mean someone has been watching me?"

"Yes.  Whoever is responsible for those antiques obviously isn't into violence."

"But what about Kev?  They might have killed him!"  She sat heavily on one of the armchairs.

"We don't know why that happened but I doubt if they want to harm you.  They don't strike me as people who do violence for violence sake.  They're what I call high class thieves."

"As in they only steal high-class stuff?"

"Exactly.  And I think they do have a market for what they steal.  Some of it goes abroad so they probably have a storage unit."

"You said there was one in Kev's name so does that mean he was one of them?"

"Maybe," the DI said off-handedly.  "Until we know why he was killed and can catch them we won't know."

"I hope you catch them quickly.  If I stay at Zelda's for too long I'll start to feel like a refugee.  And there's no way I can begin to think about the future now."

"We'll do our best, Sarah.  Now, have you thought of anything else about Kevin?  Something he might have said?  It may not have seemed relevant at the time."

She slowly shook her head.  "Not a thing.  We haven't been in touch since the divorce."

"Have any mutual friends said anything?"

"I don't think he had any friends.  That was one of our problems.  He didn't like Zelda because she and I would sometimes go out.  He felt that I should only go out with him.  Except that he didn't want to go out anywhere."  She added ruefully, "It would have cost money."

When she said that the DI experienced a twinge of doubt.  Perhaps she had killed her former husband?  What if she knew about the antique thefts?  Maybe all she had been doing was setting it up to make her look innocent.

Then he thought about the way her husband had died and felt she wouldn't have done that.  Couldn't have done it.  It would have needed two strong men to hold him down while he had been tortured.  Cigarette burns were painful and there was no way he could have driven the car.  And who would have suspected that he had a bad heart?

"Sarah, did you know that Kevin had heart problems?"

"He what?"

"Had heart problems.  He actually died of a heart attack."

"So he wasn't murdered?"

"Aggravated.  He was tortured, which caused the heart attack."

She paled and whispered, "Tortured?"

"Mostly cigarette burns.  They obviously wanted to get some information from him but I have no idea whether he was able to tell them what they wanted to know.  That's why I'd prefer it if you stayed elsewhere."

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Teenage Holidaymakers in Marbella

Excerpt from the third Cleo Marjoribanks Murder Mysteries, Poltergeists in the Parador.  Cleo and DCI 'Steaming' Kettle are on holiday on the Costa del Sol......

Our speculations were then rudely interrupted by a pair of teenage tourists.
'Don't be so bloody daft, Trace, I've told yer and told yer 'e's probly got a wife 'n' kids,' an Essex accent screeched.  They’re probably about eighteen and were standing on the edge of the pavement ahead of us.
'Uh-oh,' I muttered, 'another oliday romance up the spout.'
'As in she might be?' David queried.
For those of you who don't understand cockney English 'up the spout' is the same as 'up the duff' or 'bun in the oven' - pregnant.
'No.  She's probably fallen for a waiter or barman.  The old, old story.'
''E's stood 'er up.  Hey up!'  David shot forward and grabbed the girl before she was knocked down by a passing car.  The argument had been continuing as we were discussing the subject and, of course, as we got nearer to them, which was how David was able to grab her.
'Oh, gawd, Trace I fought yer was a gonner,' her friend said as she grabbed hold of Trace to pull her away from David's encircling arm and could give her a hug'Grasseus, seenor.'
David grinned.  'I won't say it's nothing.'  He looked severely at them.  'Next time have your argument in private so that when one of you wants to storm off in a temper you won't be in danger of falling under a bus.'
The pair of them looked at the pair of us - incidentally, I'm not in a caftan but cream trousers and a loose top to cover the bits and pieces.  'You're English!' gasped Trace's friend.  'Thank gawd.  Tell 'em, Trace.'
'Why don't we find somewhere in the shade to sit down,' I suggested and they agreed so we headed for the seafront, the two girls - sorry, young women - walked in front of us, whispering.  We exchanged a look but didn't say anything.  They're a pair of modern young things, one (I think she’s really called Tracy) has bleached blonde hair with bright pink stripes.  I know it's bleached cos I can see the dark roots.  Incidentally, her nails - fingers and toes - match the pink stripes in her hair.  No idea the colour of her eyes as she's wearing sunglasses.  The other one's got shoulder length mousy hair with blue stripes and nail varnish.  Dress?  What do you think?  Short shorts, bare midriff and tight fitting top. 
Once seated at a table under a sunshade and with cold drinks we looked at each other and said nothing.  David, being a copper, used his favourite tactic of silence - I know it well!  The young women kept mum.  Okay, so it was up to me.
'So, are you going to tell us about the problem?'  As if I hadn't already guessed.
'Wot d'yer fink, Trace?'
'Fer gawd sake, spit it out.  S'not like we're yer mum and dad,' I exploded.
They looked at each other in amazement.
'Yer from the East End?' gasped Tracy
'Yup.  Now, what's up?'
Tracy sipped her coca-cola or pepsi, whatever.  Probably an imitation as it had been served in a glass.  'It's Angel.'
Angel?  She's been dating an angel?  Oops.  Think, Cleo, it's a Spanish angel pronounced Ankel.  All the men I've met with that name have been far from angelic.
'What's 'e done?'
'Disappeared,' her friend responded succinctly.
Uh-oh, she getting too possessive?
'What makes you think 'e's disappeared?' the statue by my side asked.  Thought he'd gone to sleep.
''Aven't seen 'im fer two days,' Tracy responded.
'Where does 'e work?' I asked, thinking that if he was a waiter or barman he wouldn't be off work for a couple of days.
David and I exchanged a look.  'Policeman?'
'Yeah.  Plaincloves.'
'So 'ow d'yer know 'e's a copper?'
'Showed me 'is card thingy.'
'Do you read Spanish?' David  asked.
'Nah!  'E's English.'
Confusing.  David put his elbows  on the table, clasped his hands and put his chin on them then said slowly.  'The missing Angel is an English copper.  So, is 'e English or Spanish?'
'English.  'E's from London.  'Is parents is Spanish.  'E's wiv the Met.'  (Metropolitan Police force of London).
'So what's 'e doing here?  On ‘oliday?'
'Nah.  'E's workin' on somethin'.  You know.  Undercover like, which is why we've come 'ere on 'oliday.'
'As 'is cover?'  I asked.
'Wot d'yer think, Kathy?'  Oh goody, now we know the friend’s name.
She shrugged her skinny shoulders.  'We was goin' ter go on 'oliday so why not 'ere?'
'Where are you staying?' David asked.
'Got a flat in Torremolinos.'
I could tell the copper's brain was at work.  David didn't want to have this conversation in public.
'So what are yer doin' 'ere in Marbella?'
'Fought we'd come 'n' look fer 'im 'ere.  If we don't find 'im 'ere, I fought we'd go ter Malaga tomorrer.'
'Look, Trace, it's obvious 'e's dumped yer,' Kathy said.
'No!  No, 'e 'asn't.  Don't forget 'e was supposed ter meet me fer lunch yesterday.'
David interrupted before World War Three broke out.  'How did yer get ‘ere?'
'What's the address of where you're staying?'
'Why d'yer want it?'
'So we can sit down and discuss this in private,' he explained patiently.
Kathy turned to Tracy.  'See, told yer they'd 'elp.'  She hadn't actually.  All she'd said was to tell us what the problem was.  I glanced at David and hoped he wouldn't say anything.  He played dumb and Tracy, fortunately, had forgotten.
She looked at her cyclamen nails while she thought about it then, tossing back her pink and blonde hair looked at my tame policeman.  'Okay,' and gave us the address.
So that we didn't lose them they came to our car and we drove them to their car, leaving them with strict instructions to drive straight to Torremolinos.  And not to argue on the way.

'Blimey, I feel like a mother!'  I exclaimed once we were on our way in the Merc.

All of my books are available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo, I-pad, Sony, Barnes and Noble Nook and for other e-readers and computer versions go to

Thursday, 18 September 2014


My luck was in because the Club Secretary, on his way from the bar to, presumably, his office, recognised me.
Kenneth Sibley Johnson approached me with a frown.  "Aren't you the woman who masqueraded as a police officer?"
"No.  I came here with DCI Kettle."
"Which gave everyone the impression that you were a police officer."
"I'm not responsible for people's thoughts, Mr. Johnson.  Impersonating a police officer is a criminal offence," I informed him.
"No matter."  He flapped his hand as if brushing away a long cobweb.  "You'd better come to my office.  You can't sit here.  You're not a member."
I resisted the bait and followed him into his office and went to look out of the window.
"What are you doing here, Mrs - er - . Sorry, I've forgotten your name."
Whether he had or not was a moot point.  I suspected he probably did remember and was trying a put-down.  That don't work with me.  I've been insulted by better than 'im.
"Miss Marjoribanks.  I'm neither married nor have I been neutered."  I do hate being called Ms.  Like calling the chairman or woman a chair.  A chair is a chair is a chair.  An inanimate object.  Wait a minute.  Hey, some chair people could be called that!
"Right, Miss Marjoribanks.  What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for someone who is playing golf."
"And who might that be?"
Snooty bugger.
"That Mr. Johnson is my business."
"No, Miss Marjoribanks it is my business.  Club members are entitled to privacy and to be protected from anyone who might have the intention of pestering them."
"I assume from that that you mean the press. Which I'm not, as I think you know.  The other inference is that I'm a whore and you think I'm here to pick up a man."  Bingo!  Was his face red.  "The only thing I will tell you is that I am here to meet a woman and, no, I'm not a lesbian."  His face flushed again.  "You could, of course, call DCI Kettle and tell him I'm here."
Now that really would be embarrassing for him.  You 'n' I know that David isn't slow on the uptake.
While he had been trying to insult me (and I've been insulted by the best) I'd been keeping an eye out for Stella.  Sure enough she hove into view with three other ladies.  Must have been a good game as they were chatting and laughing.
"Right, I'm off," and I left the office.  I had no intention of letting him know which of the four was my friend so I stood outside the front door until Stella spotted me.  She was about to leave the group but I waved her back and put a finger to my lips.  She got the message and I went round to the car park to wait.  Then my mobile rang.  "What's up with the secrecy, Cleo?"
"Club Secretary.  Tell you later.  I was going to chat with you here but p'raps we'd better meet somewhere else."

She named a nearby pub so I went there and waited for her.

Dirty Deeds in Downdene (as are all of my books) is available for Amazon Kindle
W.H. Smith's Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony, Apple I-Pad
There are other formats and computer version on

Thursday, 11 September 2014

When Cleo meets a horse - excerpt from Homicide in Hampshire

Cleo is a lady from London and recently moved to the New Forest.  Part of her health regime is taking walks in the forest - avoiding the ponies. She's never been close to a horse or pony and is rather scared of them!

"As I was nearing the copse I could see a saddled horse cropping the grass and wondered where the rider was.  “Oh gawd, don’t tell me someone’s fallen off and broken a leg or something,” I muttered.

I looked hard at the horse, it moved and I got the back view.  “’Ere, horse, turn round I want to get a look at your front.”  Keeping me distance I moved slowly round until I could see its face.  “I thought so.  You’re Maggie’s horse, aren’t you?”  I remembered seeing it in a photo Paula had shown me.  “Now what the heck’s your name?”  The reins were hanging down, “Come on, Cleo, be brave.  Be brave.”

I inched towards the horse.  It inched away.  I got a little closer and he moved away again.  “Oh for gawd’s sake, come ‘ere!  I want to take hold of those reins before you break your bloody leg.  Now, come ‘ere!”  Surprisingly the horse did “come ‘ere”.  I got hold of the reins.  “Now what do I do?  I’m not getting up on top of you even if I knew how.

“Come on, where is she?  You’re Maggie’s horse.  Where’s Maggie.  Come on, show me where she is.”  I was actually thinking of the horse as being like a dog.

I began walking into the copse, the horse quite close behind and getting uncomfortably close.  I could almost feel it nudging me and I broke out in a cold sweat.  “Don’t get too close, horse.  Don’t run away with me, either.  Hang on a minute.”  I stopped and it stopped.  We both listened.
I could faintly hear the sound of sobbing.  The horse whickered (I think that’s what that noise is called) and flicked his ears.  “That’s her, innit?  Come on, horse, here we go.  You lead her to me.”  I stood to one side of the footpath and let it go forward and take the lead.

Margaret was sitting on the ground nursing a foot, her helmet on the ground beside her and her fair hair like a waterfall over her face. 

“So why didn’t you use your mobile and phone your mother?”

She shoved her hair back as she looked up and whispered, “Battery’s flat.”

“How clever can you be!  So you’ve fallen off your horse.  Please don’t tell me you’ve broken your ankle.”

“I don’t know.  I don’t know,” she sobbed.

HOMICIDE IN HAMPSHIRE is available on:
Amazon Kindle
W.H. Smith's Kobo
Apple I-Pad
Barnes & Noble Nook

And other e-readers via

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Model Murder - 5* Review

This Five Star Review is published on  There is also a 5* review on Kindle!

'This the first mystery book I have read for years and I really enjoyed it. I loved the introduction, - I was right there with the boy on his bike when the body was found, and I liked the extensive use of dialogue, giving us an insight into the characters, moving the action on or revealing past events or situations. Flashbacks are smoothly integrated into the plot and a few carefully chosen details, such as cars or dancing, add an extra dimension to characters and scenes.

'There are several plausible motives and suspects and you wait in anticipation to see how the threads will be unravelled. The emotional states of the different characters are clearly put across and for me, this is a brilliant psychological thriller where, I'm glad to say, gore and over dramatisation have no place. All in all, it's a book about what makes people tick and how detectives finally find their answers through understanding human emotions and the pressures of society, especially if you happen to be famous. Both the choice of language and the complex web of emotions ground the book firmly into the modern world.

'Model Murder' made me realise how much I have missed by leaving 'mysteries' out of my reading list for so long. Time to catch up.' (Solange Hando).

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Be a Travel Writer by Solange Hando

Or, to give it its full title: Be a Travel Writer, Live your Dreams, Sell your Stories.

How I wish this book had been available a long time ago when I started out to be a travel writer.  This step-by-step guide is full of useful information and tips, and is written in such a way that it is easy to understand. 

Solange explains how to research your markets, check what is available at your destinations and your travel arrangements.  Then there are things that travel writers SHOULD do and things they SHOULDN'T do - such as nagging an editor!

She also uses some of her own experiences - good, bad and funny - to illustrate points she is making.

By following her advice there is no excuse not to follow Solange Hando's example and become a successful travel writer.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Clothes Sizes

I long ago came to the conclusion that clothes sizes vary because they are made in other countries.  I've bought clothes in, for example, 16/18/20 (different styles) but they've all had the same measurements.  Wouldn't it be a good idea if distributors supplied the correct measurements to those overseas factories?

My most recent 'sizing' problem is armholes - especially on nightdresses.  I thought it was just me but after talking to several friends I find it is universal.  Nightdresses are supposed to be loose and comfortable - why make armholes so small that when you turn over in bed you are in danger of cutting off the blood supply to your hands?

My solution?  Opening and hemming the seams.  But, why, having paid good money should I then have to do alterations?

Answers please on a postcard!!!!!!!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

My Life as a Courier

Want to know what I was doing and where I was in the 1970s?  The British magazine Yours (June 24 2014) will tell you all about it under 'Time of my Life'.  This is a section where readers are invited to contribute.  You can even see what I looked like in the 1970s.....

The article covers some of the problems (passports packed in suitcases!), the laughs, the hard work and - of course - the fun time.

Hope you manage get a copy and read all about it. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Meeting their Waterloo?

Recently when watching a quiz programme I was amazed at the answers to questions about the Battle of Waterloo.

Q: When was it?
A: Er... 1066?

Q: Who led the British forces?
A:  Nelson.
(Poor old Duke of Wellington)

Q:  Where is Waterloo?

Wait for it....................

A:  London.

I can honestly say that I am not clever with historic dates.  Apart from the dates of the two World Wars my date knowledge is limited to:

Battle of Hastings - 1066

Fire of London   - 1666

Battle of Waterloo  -  1815   (three years after the Battle of Moscow in 1812 - thanks to that famous overture).

It does make one wonder what history has been taught in schools over the past 20 or so years, doesn't it?

Wonder if the person who thought Waterloo is in London now knows that the station was named after the battle?

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Book Sales Increasing

I'm feeling very happy - the sales of my books are increasing by leaps and bounds.  Especially the Cleo Marjoribanks Murder Mysteries - the first one 'Homicide in Hampshire' is excelling itself! 

Cleo is a lady somewhere the wrong side of 40 and from the east end of London.  Having won the lottery she packed up her job and retired to the New Forest where she bought an old house.  DCI 'Steaming' Kettle came on the scene to resolve the murder of Cleo's housekeeper and they immediately recognised each other.  They had known each other when children.

Following on from Homicide is 'Dirty Deeds in Downdene' where Cleo again gets involved and, as a friend of my said, 'There are as many bodies as in a Midsomer murder'.  The why is a bit of a problem as estate agents and golfers are involved.

The latest Cleo book is 'Poltergeists in the Parador'.  She and Steaming are on holiday in an up-market boutique hotel on the Costa del Sol and come across a body.  Then a pair of English teenaged tourists disappear and.... yes, Cleo and Steaming help the local police with their enquiries.

My most recently published book is 'Model Murder' which is the second book in the South Downs Mysteries series.  In the first book 'Antiques in the Attic' Sarah found some antique silver in the loft but it mysteriously disappeared.  First her ex-husband died - was he murdered? - then strange events occurred and a secretary with whom Sarah works disappeared.  Being scared to stay on her own in the house Sarah moved in with her friend Zelda.  The police team is headed up by DI Sinclair.  Both books contain police procedures and are set in West Sussex.  As the title suggests, Model Murder is about the murder of a model.  Lots of lovely suspects!

Two of my books are set in Florida (where I used to live).  The murder mystery is 'Death of a Copycat' (on Kobo it is called 'Writing can be Murder' - I never did work out how to change the title!).  Trudi is English, belongs to the writing circle and, when another member is murdered the local Sheriff, who is always seeking votes, is sure that she is the killer.  Especially when a second writer is also murdered.  Fortunately Detective Gomez doesn't believe Trudi had anything to do with the killings.  The second book, 'Irresistible You' (using the pen name Jemma Linley) is a romance that takes place in Miami Beach.  Yes, that city with lots of lovely Art Deco, the lively Ocean Boulevard and jazz.  Both Mel and Andy are English musicians with ex-spouses who cause trouble.

Want to know what the rock and roll scene was like in 1958?  'Rock'n'Roll Murders' will tell you.  Blue police boxes, black Wolsey police cars with bells, an inept senior detective who doesn't like teenagers or rock'n'roll.  Two bodies, vandalism and a big surprise at the end.

As well as being available on Amazon Kindle (links alongside), my books are on Kobo, I-pad, Sony, Nook and umpteen others plus

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Dress from 18th Century to the 1960s

I love costume museums, from the Victoria and Albert in London to, for example, Bath in the west of  England. Many of these museums have costumes through the ages from around the 18th century to modern day.

Some museums are lucky enough to have a mantua. One of those fantastic huge dresses with a skirt that sticks out on either side and looks as wide as it is long. Whenever I see something like that I think that you could take afternoon tea with your cup and saucer balanced on one side and plate of sandwiches on the other!

Following the demise of Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans and the arrival of Charles II Court Dress became more elaborate, which brings us to the mantuas. They were made of rich fabrics and were often highly embroidered.

As the sewing machine hadn’t yet been invented it is hardly surprising that seamstresses went blind at a young age. Imagine all that fine stitching, much of it done by candlelight throughout the night because “My lady” wanted her new mantua as soon as possible.

I am sure no portraitist had to work so hard under such conditions to produce his work of art because that is what these vast gowns are.

Fortunately the everyday dress of “ladies” was less elaborate and didn’t require hoops.

It was the Napoleonic Wars that were the chief factor in reducing the size of Court gowns. Obviously in France the gentry were more concerned with their own survival. In Britain high society was still obsessed with fashion and by the lack of materials such as silks and laces from the Continent. Unless they were fortunate enough to know any smugglers, of course.

Which brings us to Regency garments. The most popular line became known as the Empire. High waists, low necks, short sleeves and slim line skirt to the ankles. Often trimmed with ribbons or small imitation flowers. Many of the evening gowns were of fine cotton muslin which daring young ladies would dampen to make it cling to their bodies.

Day dresses would be of wool or cotton (depending on the season of course). The cottons often with a print of flowers or in plaid.

With the end of the Wars and the return of silks and laces ladies again demanded elaborate dresses and hoops. Not as exaggerated as in the 18th century – just a simple crinoline.

By this time, rather than competing with the ladies, Gentlemen’s clothing was far more sober. Dark colours, with trousers, long jackets and top hats being the day time dress. For evening wear a tail coat and fancy waistcoat were obligatory.

As the 19th century progressed the fullness of ladies skirts shifted to the rear in the form of a bustle. This style remained popular into the Edwardian era when bosoms came back into fashion and the front of the skirt was almost straight.

The 20th century was the first one when the styles of clothes changed rapidly over the years. There were several reasons for this – the invention of the sewing machine, wars and, of course, female emancipation.

Probably the silliest early 20th century lady’s dress was the “hobble-skirt”. The long skirt being so tight that the ladies gait became a hobble. Unlike the more elegant gliding steps used previously which made the ladies look as if they were on wheels.

With the outbreak of World War I women began to replace men in certain jobs and found that their skirts were too much to cope with. Together with the lack of money and materials skirts gradually became shorter.

I think we all know the popular 1920s flapper style – highly disapproved of by the older generation. Ironically it was the Flapper Generation which disapproved of Mary Quant’s mini-skirts!

As they say, what goes around comes around.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Taking Care of Older People

As we all know, with so many people leading busy lives it can be easy to forget that neighbour or elderly relative, especially if they are housebound.

Many of us are still able to get out to the shops so we do see people and have a chat - even if it is only with a shop assistant.  Amazingly I have lived in my current flat for four years yet only know two people to chat with.  Of course some neighbours are out at work.  Fortunately I am on the internet and can keep in touch with friends and relatives.  What I do find annoying is that the only time some of them telephone me it is to give me bad news!  For those who can remember that far back, it is a little like dreading the appearance of a telegram.

Sometimes I will phone a friend for a chat and at the end of the conversation their response is either, 'Lovely to chat for a change,' or 'Don't leave it so long next time.'  As if I'm the only one who can make phone calls!  Some elderly people cannot afford to make calls.

Incidentally, when you ask an elderly person how they are and they say 'Fine', don't take that as gospel.  They are either simply being polite or don't want to be a bother to you, assuming that if they tell you about their aches and pains you will think they are hinting to you that they need help.

If you know of an elderly person living near you take a couple of minutes to check that they are alright.  When going to the shops find out if they need anything.

And, although you may give them your phone number and tell them to call you, they probably won't.  Why not?  Because they don't want to be a bother.

If you have elderly friends or relations how about taking them out occasionally?  Even if it is just for a short drive and maybe a stop for a cuppa.  That is something that housebound people really appreciate.

If you or your children have a 'project' that involves the past the best people to talk to are the elderly.  We have long memories!  You might be surprised to discover the history of some of your neighbours.

To learn about other ways to help the elderly go to

Friday, 28 March 2014


Pleased to report that 'Model Murder' my latest book is now available on Amazon, Kobo, I-Pad, Sony and other e-readers via

This is a second book in the South Downs Mysteries series, the first being 'Antiques in the Attic' which proved to be very popular with several people telling me that it was my best yet.  I hope that Model Murder proves to be even more popular.

Anyone can read the beginning of the book - for free - by going to the Amazon or Smashwords copies.

I do hope you enjoy it and, of course, that you will buy my books!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Almunecar on Spain's Costa Tropical

When writer Laurie Lee first saw Almunecar in 1936 it was a small village.  To quote 'a tumbling little village'.  Because it was on the hillside below the Castillo de San Miguel.
In the 1950s when Laurie Lee returned, the village was still coming to terms with the outcome of the Spanish Civil War.  His book 'A Rose for Winter' is based on that.  And there is a rather plain memorial to this British writer
These days there are now hotels and a nice flat promenade for strolling along.  And, of course, shops to browse.
Incidentally, when in the town do wear comfortable shoes as there are a lot of very steep hills here, especially if you go up to the Castle and meander around the old town.  There are plenty of cafes in which to sit and recover but I enjoyed relaxing in the gardens overlooking Playa Puerta del Mar. Good seats and it is reasonable quiet.
The Laurie Lee Memorial
In these gardens, below the Castillo, is the metallic Monument to the Phoenicians near to which is Laurie Lee's Memorial.
Another quiet place where you can sit and relax is the Parque el Majuelo with trees from around the world.  And you can see another part of the area's history - the Roman Fish Salting 'factory'.

If you fancy a trip to Malaga, buses leave from the bus station towards the back of the town.  As there are two companies operating it is not advisable to buy return tickets.  If you do buy them there is a danger that you may get on the rival company's bus for the return journey and have to pay again.  They don't have a reciprocal arrangement!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Train Travel Woes

Although I appreciate the bad weather MAY have had something to do with my recent travel troubles, Southern left me and other travellers feeling abandoned.

On the day I was sailing out P&O had given me a check-in time of 14.45-15.45.  The best train for me to catch was the 13.06 which was scheduled to arrive in Southampton at 14.15.  Plenty of time one would think.

The train arrived 4 minutes late and by the time it reached Chichester it was 11 minutes late.  And it went downhill from there.  At 14.15 we were stuck in the middle of nowhere and eventually the train was sent to Eastleigh.  Not a taxi in sight so I and another lady who was also destined for the ship had to wait with everyone else for a train to Southampton.  Talk about nail biting.  That train arrived at 15.00 and we reached check-in at 13.30.  Probably the last passengers to board.

And did things improve for my homeward journey?  Nope.  First of all I asked the taxi driver to take me to the Platform 4 entrance of Southampton Central and he took me around the houses to Platform 1 - presumably so that he could earn another £1?  Grrrr.

THEN I found that the 9.33 Brighton train had been cancelled.  Had to wait another hour.  The 'ticket collector' (don't know what the gatekeepers are called these days) did suggest I take a train to Haywards Heath, another to Brighton and then a train from Brighton.  Two things against that:

1.  I had a large suitcase, a garment bag (large) and hand baggage and there isn't a lift at Haywards Heath Station.

2.  If I had gone to Haywards Heath I could have caught the Littlehampton train which would have been quicker and lot less hassle.

Had I taken either of these options it could have taken longer than the 1 hour wait + the journey.

Are Southern's staff actually trained?

Think I'm going to have to write to Southern to complain don't you?